The guiding principles of an organization are very important. They express the purpose of the organization and they establish the basis for the activities of its members. It is, therefore, necessary that all members of the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) fully understand its guiding principles.
The guiding principles of the BLIA can be grouped under the following four headings.
The BLIA is founded on belief in the teachings of Buddha, on respect for the Triple Gem of Buddhism, and on the desire to preach the Dharma for the good of all sentient beings. The Triple Gem of Buddhism – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha – is the center of our belief, and the means by which we are able to transcend the mundane world. The wonder and power of the Triple Gem is without limit.
Buddha is like a brilliant light that shines on all beings, no matter where they are. He is our teacher, and his teachings will save us.
The Dharma is like water that flows everywhere and nourishes all beings. It is the truth by which we must live our lives.
The sangha is like a field in which virtue can be planted and grown. It is the place that supports the Dharma and helps us manifest it in our lives.
The BLIA was formed so that its members could practice Buddhism together. The BLIA is dedicated to preaching the Dharma and helping all sentient beings. It is only through helping people under- stand the truths of Buddhism that we can ever hope to fully overcome the suffering of this world. Only through the truths of Buddhism will this world succeed in uniting, so that all of us can live wise and compassionate lives for all sentient beings. It will be found only in this way and not in another.
The Dharma is for people
As BLIA members, we must advocate a living Buddhism that seeks to make a Pure Land of this world.
Our job is to preach the Dharma in this world and to practice compassion for the good of this world.
Sakyamuni Buddha was born in this world, cultivated himself in this world and was enlightened in this world. The teachings of the Buddha are based on human nature, and Buddha disseminated them for the good of people living in this world. The Buddha taught a Human- istic Buddhism. Those of us who follow the Buddha should consider the spreading of his teachings to be one of our most important tasks.
The Vimalakirti Sutra says, “The Dharma is to be found among people.”
Huineng (638-713), the Sixth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism said, “The Dharma is to be found in this world and not in another. To leave this world to search for the Dharma is as futile as searching for a rabbit with horns.”
The Dharma cannot be separated from life. If the Dharma could somehow ever be separated from life, it would have no significance at all!
Over the years, there have been many people who have tried to separate themselves from life while practicing Buddhism. None of them succeeded. People like that not only fail to obtain the benefits of Buddhism for themselves, but they also cause enormous trouble for those around them. Often they treat their spouses like enemies and their children like burdens on their freedom. They think money is evil and a good reputation an insult to their independence. They place all their hope in the next life and do everything they can to be reborn in the Pure Land.
The truth is, one can live fully in this world and practice Buddhism at the same time. The two endeavors support each other perfectly.
Money is not a bad thing. If one has a little extra money, it can be used to help Buddhism. If one has a good reputation, then one is setting a good example that can inspire others to better themselves, too. We should all place more emphasis on the peace and well-being of this world than on advantages to be gained only in the next life.
This present era is especially critical. The darker the times, the more the light of Buddhism is needed. The more turbulent the times, the more the peace of Buddhism is necessary. The more tragic life becomes, the more the joy of Buddhism is wanted.
All members of the BLIA must embrace the compassion of Buddha. We must take the Dharma as our guide in establishing peaceful and harmonious family lives. From there, we can begin to build on our relationships until more and more people are included in our circle of compassion. At last, one day this mundane world itself will become a Pure Land in its own right.
We must revere the practices bequeathed to us by the Buddha. We must complete the development of our characters by practicing the Three Studies: morality, meditative Concentration and wisdom.
The sutras say that all throughout the three periods of time – past, present and future – one can only achieve Buddhahood in the human realm and not in another. This is why Master Taixu (1889-1947) said, “We achieve Buddhahood through our human nature. This is the deepest truth of Buddhism.” The human path is the path that leads to Buddhahood.
The practice of Buddhism is divided into five vehicles, or levels, because each sentient being’s character is unique and different from all others. Human beings take refuge in the Triple Gem and observe the Five Precepts. The heavenly beings observe the ten wholesome acts. Sravakas follow the Four Noble Truths. The pratyekabuddhas observe the twelve links of dependent origination, and the bodhisattvas practice the six perfections.
Human beings and heavenly beings practice a Buddhism that places its major emphasis on life in this world. This practice includes the three blessings of generosity, upholding the precepts and meditative concentration. The Buddhism practiced by sravakas places its main emphasis on the transcendental practices of wisdom, patience and a gradual movement toward enlightenment.
BLIA members should do their best to follow a middle path between these two practices.
We should fully live and practice in this human realm, even as we cultivate in ourselves all the virtues and strengths of sravakas who transcend this world. In blending these paths, we will learn to help others as we help ourselves, and by that means, we will achieve the ultimate rewards of the Buddha realm.
In the Lotus Sutra Buddha says, “I speak of one Dharma, not two Dharmas and not three.” When Buddha said that, he was speaking of the bodhisattva path, which benefits all sentient beings.
There are countless forms of virtue, but in the end, all of them can be subsumed under three basic headings: upholding the precepts, meditative concentration and wisdom. Simply stated, these three indispensable kinds of virtuous behavior, if practiced diligently, will cure us of the defilements of greed, ignorance and anger. If we patiently and consistently practice these virtues, we will soon begin to elevate our characters, purify our spirits, improve our friendships and increase our effectiveness in all areas of our lives.
The Mahavaipulya-mahasamnipata Sutra says, “Upholding the precepts, meditative concentration and wisdom are the incomparable Dharani. They have the power to cleanse all karma of body, mouth and mind, and they are beloved by all people.”
The three studies and the six perfections are the fountainhead of all practice. Through them, BLIA members will succeed in incorporating the five vehicles, in helping all sentient beings and in realizing in themselves the awesome beauty of the bodhi mind.
As BLIA members, we must cultivate broad-minded characters capable of embracing all cultures and societies in the world. It is the philosophy of the BLIA that the whole world is our home and that all people are one. This requires us to open our hearts and do whatever we can to help others.
We must publish books and magazines, teach, and do other necessary chores to bring the Dharma to its fullest fruition. BLIA members should make no distinction as to race, nationality, creed, age or gender. Wherever we find ourselves, that is where we should expend our energies in preaching the Dharma and helping others.
In the Diamond Sutra, Buddha says, “I will save all beings, whether they are born of eggs, of moisture, of wombs or of transformation. I will lead all of them into Nirvana without remainder. I will save all sentient beings, and not one will be left behind.”
One can see in this statement that Buddha saw no distinction between himself and others. When we help others, we help ourselves. Helping others does not just mean helping them materially. It is much more important for us to help them understand Buddhism, because through the practice of Buddhism, they will be able to help themselves. Buddhism will lead them to Nirvana. This is the goal of the BLIA, and it will be accomplished only if we fully engage ourselves in publish- ing, teaching and disseminating the Dharma.
Through cultural activities like these, we will be instrumental in spreading the Dharma to all parts of the globe and in educating people everywhere. Many verses in the sutras sing the praises of spreading the Dharma. Over and again they tell us that a single act of preaching carries more merit than thousands of acts of material generosity. Compassion and the generosity of preaching will save countless beings from the dangers of ignorance, and they will impart a far-ranging influence on the world that will be felt for all time.
For these reasons, since its inception, the BLIA has engaged itself not only in disaster relief, but also in many international activities such as: camps for young people, international good-will visits, international study groups, the World Buddhist Examination, and international cultural exchanges. In addition to those activities, the BLIA provides scholarships for Buddhist studies. It has also published the entire Chan Buddhist canon. Copies of this fifty-one volume canon have been given to libraries and individuals all over the world.
In sum, the guiding principles of the BLIA can be stated as follows:
As BLIA members, we must advocate a living Buddhism that seeks to make a Pure Land of this world. Our job is to preach the Dharma in this world and to practice compassion for the good of this
As BLIA members, we must revere the practices bequeathed to us by the Buddha, and we must fully develop our characters by practicing the three studies: morality, meditative concentration and
As BLIA members, we must cultivate broad-minded characters capable of embracing all cultures and societies in the world. We must always be willing to open our hearts and do whatever we can to help others.