The First Vow
In all the universe, there is no one like the Buddha. In all the Ten Worlds, there is no one who can compare. In all that I see in this world, there is no one like the Buddha.
The Second Vow
Through countless, vast ages of time, his wonderful Dharma was hard to find. Now I have seen and now I have heard it, and now I vow to understand the Tathagata's Dharma.
The Third Vow
His Sangha are pure, in the clothes of the Tathagata. They are examples of virtue in both Heaven and earth. Through upholding the precepts, they achieve liberation.
The Fourth Vow
With singleness of mind, I bow before all the Buddhas who are Awakened and Noble and who abide throughout the universe.
The Fifth Vow
With singleness of mind, I bow before the Dharma which is completely pure and which abides throughout the universe.
The Sixth Vow
With singleness of mind, I bow before the Sangha who are compassionate and joyful and who abide throughout the universe.
The Seventh Vow
I pay homage to this Saha world and to the master of Heaven and earth, the master of the Three Realms, the compassionate Father of all sentient beings, our root master, the World Honored One, Sakyamuni Buddha.
The Eighth Vow
I pay homage to the inner sanctum of Tushita Heaven, to the Eka-jati-prati-baddha, the next Buddha of this world, Maitreya Bodhisattva.
The Ninth Vow
I pay homage to the Great Compassionate One, who relieves all suffering and hardship and who answers all calls for help, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.
The Tenth Vow
I pray for world peace, human happiness, liberation of both mind and body, and the prosperity of the Dharma.
The Eleventh Vow
I bow for all sentient beings in the Dharma realm, for my parents of many lifetimes, my teachers, friends, enemies, relatives, those to whom I owe debts, and my ancestors; may they all be reborn in a Pure Land.
The Twelfth Vow
I vow not to save only myself, not to pursue the blessings of Heaven and earth, not to follow the Sravaka path or the Pratyeka Buddha path, not to become lost in methods or in worship of the Bodhisattvas, but I vow to rely completely on the highest yana which is the Bodhi mind; I vow to attain anuttara-samyak-sambhodi together with all sentient
Amitabha Buddha: (Amitabha - Sanskrit - "boundless light") The Buddha of mercy and wisdom. Amitabha is one of the most popular Buddhas in Mahayana Buddhism. He presides over the Western Pure Land.
Ananda: (Sanskrit - "bliss") A principal disciple of Buddha. He was also the Buddha's cousin. He is famous for his excellent memory and for his humility and devotion.
anuttara-samyak-sambhodi: (Sanskrit - "unexcelled complete enlightenment") Complete, unexcelled enlightenment, an attribute of all Buddhas.
Arhant: (Sanskrit - "worthy one") One who has attained the highest level of Buddhist learning.
Asoka, King: (280-233 BCE) Ruled in what is now northern and central India. He was a great protector of Buddhism.
Avalokitesvara: (Sanskrit - "she who contemplates the sound of the world") One of the great Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism. Avalokitesvara can manifest herself in any conceivable form to bring help wherever it is needed.
bhikkhu: (Sanskrit - "beggar") A Buddhist monk.
BLIA: See Buddha's Light International Association.
Bodhi: (Sanskrit - "awakened") Awakened to one's own Buddha nature.
Bodhi Mind: See Bodhi.
Bodhi Way: (Bodhi - Sanskrit - "awakened") The "awakened" way to enlightenment. The path of a Buddhist who is actively seeking enlightenment.
Bodhisattva: (Sanskrit - "awakened one") (1) Any person who is seeking Buddhahood. (2) A "saint" who stands right on the edge of nirvana, but remains in this world to help others achieve enlightenment.
Bodhisattva Precepts: The precepts of a Mahayana Bodhisattva. There are ten major and forty-eight minor Bodhisattva precepts.
Bodhisattva Vow: The fundamental vow of a Mahayana Bodhisattva to save all sentient beings from delusion.
Buddha: (Sanskrit - "awakened one") There are innumerable Buddhas in the universe. Sakyamuni Buddha was the "historical" Buddha who taught the Dharma on earth. He is generally thought to have lived between 624-544 BCE.
Buddha nature: The inherent Buddha nature that exists in all beings. In Mahayana Buddhism, enlightenment is a process of uncovering this inherent nature.
Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA): A world-wide Buddhist organization dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism. Founded by Master Hsing Yun in 1992.
Ch'i Hsia Temple: (ch'i hsia - Chinese, literally - "resting place in the colorful evening clouds") One of mainland China's four most famous monasteries. Founded in 488 CE. Master Hsing Yun studied at Ch'i Hsia Temple between 1939-1943.
Chih Yi, Master: (538-597) A great scholar of Chinese Buddhism, and the founder of the T'ien T'ai school.
Ch'ing Dynasty: (1644-1911) China's last imperial dynasty before the republican era.
conditioned genesis: See conditions.
conditions: The present matrix of phenomena. "Conditioned arising" or "conditioned genesis" means all phenomena arise out of other phenomena and none of them has a nature of its own. "Dependent origination" is a synonym for "conditioned arising."
Confucianism: See Confucius.
Confucius: (551-479 BCE) (Chinese - K'ung Tzu) An early Chinese moral philosopher. Confucianism, the philosophy named after Confucius, has been the official philosophy of China since the third century BCE.
Dharani: (Sanskrit - "holder") The short sutras that contain magical formulas, or mantras.
Dharma: (Sanskrit - "carrying, holding") The teachings of Buddha, which carry or hold the truth.
Dharma Seals: See Three Dharma Seals.
Dharmakaya: (Sanskrit - "body of the Dharma, body of the great order") The Buddha nature which is identical with transcendental reality. The unity of the Buddha with everything that exists. One of the three Buddha bodies (trikaya). The other two are the Sambhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya.
Dragon of Buddhism: Any great Buddhist or protector of Buddhism.
Eightfold Path: The path leading to enlightenment. Taught by Sakyamuni Buddha. It includes: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
Eka-jati-prati-baddha: (Sanskrit - "one hindered by one more birth") A name for Maitreya Bodhisattva who is to be the next Buddha in this world.
empty, emptiness: (Sanskrit - "sunyata") Having no essence or permanent aspect whatsoever. All phenomena are empty. Sometimes translated as "transparent" or "open."
Fa Hsien, Master: (337-422) One of China's great early monks. He is famous for his Record of Buddhist Countries, a journal of his travels through Central Asia to India.
Five Aggregates: (Sanskrit - skandha - "aggregate, heap") The aggregates which make up a human being. They are: form, feeling, perception, mental formation, consciousness.
Five Dynasties: A period of Chinese history between the years 907-960.
Five Precepts: The Five Basic Precepts of Buddhism: no killing, no stealing, no lying, no sexual misconduct, no use of drugs or alcohol.
Five Realms: The Five Realms of existence are: Hell, Hungry Ghosts, Animals, Humans, Heaven. See Six Realms.
Five Vehicles: Five levels of the Dharma. they are: (1) the human, (2) the Heavenly, (3) the Sravakan, (4) the Pratyekan Buddha, (5) the Bodhisattvan.
Fo Kuang Shan: (Chinese, literally - "Buddha's Light Mountain") The largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. Founded in 1967 by Master Hsing Yun. Fo Kuang Shan is about thirty-five miles from Kaohsiung.
Fotuchen, Master: (232-348) One of the earliest monks of Chinese Buddhism, famous for his humanity. Fotuchen was of Central Asian origin. His name probably meant "Buddha monk."
Four Directions: Enterer into the fruit of a stream-winner, enterer into the fruit of a once returner, enterer into the fruit of a never returner, enterer into the fruit of a foe destroyer.
Four elements: Earth, water, fire, air.
Four Fruits: Stream-winner, once returner, never returner, foe destroyer.
Four Immeasurable States of Mind: (Sanskrit - catvari-apramanani) Four boundless aspects of the Buddha mind. They are: boundless kindness (maitri), boundless compassion (karuna), boundless joy (mudita), boundless equanimity (upeksa).
Four Noble Truths: The basic truths of Buddhism. They are: (1) the truth of suffering (dukha), (2) the truth of the origin of suffering (samudaya), (3) the truth of the cessation of suffering (nirodha), (4) the truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering (marga).
Four Virtuous Methods: (Sanskrit - catuh-samgraha-vastu) The four all-embracing virtues of the Mahayana Bodhisattva. They are: (1) (dana) giving others what they like in order to lead them to the truth, (2) (priyavacana) using affectionate speech for the same reason, (3) (arthakrtya) helping others for the same reason, (4) (samanarthata) adapting oneself to them for the same reason.
Four Vows: The four universal vows of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. They are: (1) to save all beings without limit, (2) to end all passions and delusions, (3) to learn all methods for doing this, (4) to become perfect in the Dharma.
Fu Hsi: (2852-2738 BCE) Legendary emperor, said to have invented writing.
Heaven: One of the Six Realms of existence. In Heaven life is very pleasant, but since it is so easy, little, or no, progress can be made toward enlightenment. Eventually, rebirth must be taken in a lower realm.
Hell: The lowest realm of conscious existence. The lowest of the Six Realms. There are many Hell realms. In all of them suffering is so intense little, or no, progress can be made toward enlightenment.
Hungry Ghosts: The second lowest of the Six Realms of existence. If Hungry Ghosts eat or drink, the food turns into fire in their throats.
Hsuan Tsang, Master: (600-664) One of China's four great translators of Buddhist sutras. Hsuan Tsang is famous for having traveled to India to obtain Buddhist sutras. He was one of the founders of the Fa Hsiang School, the Chinese form of Yogachara.
Hsi Lai Temple: (Hsi Lai - Chinese - "west coming") A branch temple of Fo Kuang Shan and headquarters of Buddha's Light International Association. Hsi Lai Temple is located in Hacienda Heights, near Los Angeles, CA. It was established in 1988.
Hui Neng, Master: (638-713) Hui Neng was the Sixth Patriarch, or leader, of Chinese Zen (Ch'an) Buddhism.
Hui Yuan, Master: (334-416 CE) A student of Tao An and the first patriarch of Pure Land Buddhism in China.
humanism, humanistic: These words are used generally. They indicate human nature, human relationships, the human heart and growth within these areas. (Chinese - "jen tao")
Jetavana: A retreat built for Sakyamuni Buddha and his monks by Anathapindaka.
kalpa: (Sanskrit - "world cycle, world age") An extremely long period of time.
karma: (Sanskrit - "work, action") The universal law of cause and effect. All intentional deeds produce effects. The effects of a deed may be experienced instantly or they may not be felt until many years, or even many lifetimes, after.
karmic fruits: Karmic effects. See karma.
Koya, Master: (903?-972) Japanese Pure Land master.
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva: (Sanskrit - "womb of the earth.") One of the great Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism. Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva has vowed to remain in Hell until all sentient beings have been released from it.
Kumarajiva: (344-413) Born in Kucha, Central Asia. One of China's four great translators of Buddhist sutras. Kumarajiva's translations are remarkable for their fluidity. They are still popular today.
Mahayana: One of the two great branches of Buddhism (Theravada is the other one). Mahayana Buddhism stresses compassion above asceticism.
Maitreya Buddha: (Sanskrit - "loving one") Maitreya is the Buddha of the future. He will be the fifth, and last, earthly Buddha.
Manjusri Bodhisattva: (Manjusri - Sanskrit - "noble and gentle one") The Bodhisattva of wisdom.
Medicine Buddha: (Sanskrit - Bhaisajya-guru-buddha) The Buddha of healing. He presides over the Eastern Pure Land.
Mencius: (circa 319 BCE) (Chinese - Meng Tzu) A disciple of Confucius. One of China's great formative philosophers.
Milarepa: (1038?-1122) Tibet's most famous saint. Milarepa endured very difficult hardships to attain enlightenment.
Mind Only: (Sanskrit - cittamatra) The Chinese form of Yogachara, whose central notion is that everything knowable can only be known through the mind, and thus, everything is "mind only."
Mo Tzu: (circa 390 BCE) One of China's formative philosophers, remembered especially for his doctrine of "universal love."
Nirvana: (Sanskrit - "extinction") Extinction of all causes leading to rebirth. The ultimate goal of all Buddhist practice. Nirvana is not complete annihilation, but rather another mode of existence.
Nirvana without remainder: Nirvana achieved at death.
Paramita: (Sanskrit - "that which has reached the other shore") Transcendental truth.
Parinirvana: The Great Nirvana of the Buddha Sakyamuni. His death.
Prajna: (Sanskrit - "consciousness, wisdom") Prajna wisdom. The highest wisdom. Insight into the emptiness of all phenomena.
Pratyeka Buddha: (Sanskrit - "solitary awakened one") One who attains enlightenment on his own, without having heard the Dharma.
Pure Land: Buddha Realm. In Mahayana Buddhism, there are countless Buddhas and countless Buddha Realms.
Republic of China, ROC: The government of Taiwan. Distinguish from the People's Republic of China (PRC), the government of mainland China.
Saha: (Sanskrit - saha-lokadhatu "enduring-world") This world of delusion, the world in which Sakyamuni Buddha preached.
Sakyamuni: Sakyamuni Buddha. The founder of Buddhism. He is generally thought to have lived between 624-544 BCE.
Samadhi: (Sanskrit - "establish, make firm") A very high level of meditative concentration.
Samantabhadra: (Sanskrit - "he who is all-pervadingly good") One of the great Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism, and one of the four most revered Bodhisattvas of Chinese tradition.
samsara: (Sanskrit - "journeying") Delusion. Deluded mental formations that keep the mind trapped in the cycle of birth and death.
Sangha: (Sanskrit - "crowd") The Buddhist community. All followers of Buddhism. In Chinese, Sangha usually refers only to Buddhist monks and nuns.
Sariputra: One of the principal disciples of Sakyamuni Buddha. He is remembered for his wisdom and learning.
Seven Buddhas of the Past: Vipasyin Buddha, Sikhin Buddha, Visvabhu Buddha, Krakucchanda Buddha, Kanakamuni Buddha, Kasyapa Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha.
Seven Sacred Graces: Faith, upholding the precepts, shame for ourselves, shame with respect to others, listening to the Dharma, renunciation and wisdom.
Shen Nung: (circa 2838 BCE) Legendary emperor, taught animal husbandry and medicine.
Six Harmonies: Basic moral principles of Buddhism. The Six Harmonies are peace, joy, benefit, cleanliness, good speech, caring.
Six Paramitas: Generosity, upholding the precepts, patience, energetic progress, meditation, wisdom.
Six Realms: The Five Realms of existence plus the realm of Asuras, the lower gods. See Five Realms.
Sixth Patriarch: see Hui Neng
Sravaka: (Sanskrit - "one who heard") Any one of the Buddha's personal disciples.
Sun Yat-sen: The "father" of modern China. Sun penned the "Three Principles of the Chinese People," which were standards around which the republican revolution of 1911 rallied.
sutra: (Sanskrit - "threads") That which is "threaded together," the sacred scriptures of Buddhism.
Ta Hsing, Master: (1900-1952) An early proponent of humanistic Buddhism.
Tathagata: (Sanskrit - "thus gone, thus come") One of the ten titles of the Buddha.
T'ai Hsu, Master: (1899-1947) An early reformer of modern Chinese Buddhism, and the first proponent of modern humanistic Buddhism.
Taiwan: An island off the southeast coast of China. Present seat of the Republic of China (ROC). Distinguish from mainland China which is controlled by the People's Republic of China (PRC).
T'ang Dynasty: (618-905) Until the imperial suppression of Buddhism in 845, the T'ang Dynasty was China's greatest period of Buddhism.
Tao An, Master: (312-385) One of China's greatest Buddhist preachers. Tao An was famous for his ability to speak about the Dharma.
Ten Great Sharings: Part of the Fifty-two Stages on the Bodhi Way. See the Avatamsaka Sutra, or Master Hsing Yun's Basis of Humanistic Buddhism for more detail.
Ten Necessary Practices: Part of the Fifty-two Stages on the Bodhi Way. See the Avatamsaka Sutra, or Master Hsing Yun's Basis of Humanistic Buddhism for more detail.
Ten Wholesome Deeds: No killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, no duplicity, no harsh words, no flattery, no greed, no anger, no ignorance.
Theravada: One of the two great branches of Buddhism (Mahayana is the other one). Theravada Buddhism stresses individual enlightenment above all else.
Thirty-seven Conditions Leading to Buddhahood: The thirty-seven basic conditions which lead to enlightenment. See the Agama Sutra or Master Hsing Yun's Basis of Humanistic Buddhism for more detail.
Three Dharma Seals: The three basic characteristics of existence. They are: (1) impermanence, (2) the interconnectedness of all things and thus the absence of a self or essence in anything, (3) nirvana.
Three Learnings: Upholding the precepts, concentration, wisdom.
Three Realms: (Sanskrit - triloka) Three different realms that make up samsara. The cycle of the existence of all beings in the Six Realms takes place within the Three Realms. The Three Realms are: the realm of desire (Kamaloka), the realm of form (Rupaloka) and the realm of formlessness (Arupaloka).
T'ien T'ai Mountains: One of China's major Buddhist centers. The T'ien T'ai school of Buddhism takes its name from these mountains. Located in present-day Chechiang Province.
Triple Gem of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. (Buddha, his teaching, the community of Buddhists)
Trayastrimsa Heaven: The Thirty-three Heavens of the second sphere of the desire realm (kamaloka).
Trividya: (Sanskrit - "three insights") The three insights that all phenomena are impermanent, sorrowful, and devoid of essence.
Tushita Heaven: (tushita - Sanskrit - "contented ones") The land of all Buddhas who must take one more birth in the human realm. The land of Maitreya Bodhisattva.
Twelve Nidanas: (nidana - Sanskrit - "link") The twelve links in the chain of conditioned arising. They are: ignorance, impulse, consciousness, name and form, the six senses, contact, sensation, craving, clinging, existence, birth, death.
Twelve Vows: See appendix.
upaya: (Sanskrit - "skillful means") The methods and skills used by a Bodhisattva to guide others toward enlightenment.
Warring States: (403-221) A long period of civil war in Chinese history.
Yin Hsun, Master: (b. 1906) A great contemporary Buddhist scholar and writer.
Yin Kuan, Master: (1862-1940) The thirteenth patriarch of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism.