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    Post  Bodhicitta on Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:25 pm

    One can absorb the aura of Buddha and his teachings through reciting and pondering on the sutras which reflect his Wisdom, Compassion and Power.  Here are some major sutras, in English, with helpful notes and glossary:

    Mahayana Sutras

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    Buddha nature sutra

    Post  Bodhicitta on Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:03 pm

    The Buddha knows that differing minds find different teachings more spiritually attractive, so he taught many gates to Bodhi or enlightenment.

    This one gives nine ways to suggest the truth that all beings have a Buddha nature hidden within them.

    Tathagatagarbha Sutra

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    Re: Buddhadharma

    Post  Bodhicitta on Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:13 am

    Then the World-Honored One spoke in verse:
    As an analogy, the honey in a tree on a cliff
    Is surrounded by countless bees.
    A honey collector
    First removes the bees by skillful means.

    A sentient being’s Tathāgata store
    Is like the honey in a tree on a cliff.
    It is fettered by fatiguing afflictions,
    As if guarded by bees.

    I expound the true Dharma to sentient beings
    By skillful means,
    To enable them to remove their bee-like afflictions,
    Open their Tathāgata store,
    Acquire unimpeded eloquence,
    Expound the Dharma like showering down sweet dew,
    Attain true enlightenment,
    And benefit sentient beings with great compassion.

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    Need for a Guide

    Post  Bodhicitta on Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:13 pm

    Any traditional spiritual path within any religion requires some person who has followed his teacher's guidance to befriend one and show a safe path to tread.

    The buddhadharma puts the lineage of gurus going back to Buddha as most valuable for real progress on the way to Bodhi.

    Here is the Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism on the Guru:

    guru. (T. bla ma; C. shi; J. shi; K. sa 師).
     In Sanskrit, lit. “heavy,” hence
    “venerable” and thus “religious guide or teacher.” In mainstream Buddhism, the
    UPADHYAYA (novice monk’s preceptor) takes the role of the guru; the
    preceptor and disciple are said to be like father and son; the preceptor teaches the
    disciple and gives him his robes and alms bowl. In MAHAYANA SŪTRA
    literature, the increased importance of the guru is evident in the story of
    SADAPRARUDITA and his teacher DHARMODGATA, from whom he seeks to
    learn the PRAJÑAPARAMITA, and in the GAṆḌAVYŪHA section of the
    AVATAṂSAKASŪTRA, which recounts SUDHANA’s spiritual journey in
    search of enlightenment through a series of fifty-three spiritual mentors
    (KALYAṆAMITRA, a word often synonymous with guru).

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    Re: Buddhadharma

    Post  Bodhicitta on Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:12 pm

    Vast numbers of teachings on the altruistic Mahayana bodhisattva path are available, even in English.  Here is how one begins by the Tibetan bodhisattva Gampopa:

    Having, carefully considered samsara [cyclic existence] in terms of it
    being an illusion, the extent of its suffering, the length of its time, and that
    there is no self-release, strive in all earnestness and with great diligence,
    from this very moment onward, to attain unsurpassable enlightenment.

    What exactly is needed to strive so? The synopsis is:

    Prime cause, basis, condition, means, results, and activity:
    by these six general key terms should the wise know peerless

    This means that one needs to know (1) the prime cause for highest enlightenment,
    (2) the beings whose existence forms a basis for achieving it, (3) the
    condition that incites that attainment, (4) the means by which it is
    attained, (5) the results of it being attained, and (6) the enlightened activity
    once there has been such attainment. 
    These will be explained, in the above order, as being the following:

    The prime cause is buddha nature
    The basis is a most precious human existence.
    The condition is the Dharma master.
    The means is the Dharma master’s instruction.
    The results are the bodies of perfect buddhahood.
    The activity is to nonconceptually fulfill the welfare of beings.

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    Vasubandhu on the Bodhisattva Vow

    Post  Bodhicitta on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:56 am

    Kalavinka Press has a small, profound, traditional shastra on the initial motivation critical to becoming a bodhisattva, and eventually a buddha.  It begins like this:

    Exhortation to Generate the Resolve

    I. Chapter 1: Exhortation to Generate the Resolve
    A. Declaration of Reverence to the Buddhas

    I respectfully pay reverence to the boundless community
    Of past, future, and present-era Buddhas,
    The possessors of unshakable wisdom as vast as space,
    The saviors of worlds, the greatly compassionate Bhagavāns.

    B. Introducing Bodhi Exhortation and the Practices Flowing Therefrom

    There exists among the vast teachings the most superior
    and sublime of dharmas. Drawn from the wisdom treasury and cultivated
    by the Bodhisattvas and the Mahāsattvas, it is:

    1. The exhortation to delight in cultivating and accumulating
    [the bases for realization of] the unsurpassed bodhi.

    C. The Practices Flowing from Exhortation to Resolve on Bodhi

    By resort to it, one is able to influence other beings:

    2. To generate the profound and vast resolve;
    3. To establish the vows to carry out the most definite form of adornment;
    4. To relinquish lives and wealth in subduing covetousness;
    5. To cultivate the five groups of moral precepts, teaching and leading forth those transgressing against the prohibitions;
    6. To practice the ultimate patience by which they control and subdue the hindrance of hatred;
    7. To generate the heroic vigor through which they establish and stabilize beings;
    8. To accumulate the dhyāna absorptions for the sake of knowing the minds of the many varieties of beings;
    9. To cultivate wisdom, destroying and eliminating ignorance;
    10. To enter the gateway of according with reality, thus abandoning all forms of attachment;
    11. To propagate and explain the extremely profound practices of emptiness and signlessness;
    12. And to proclaim praises of the associated merit, thus preventing the lineage of the Buddhas from being cut off.

    Each of the 12 points has a chapter wherein Vasubandhu bodhisattva expounds the meaning.

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    Bodhisattvas helping Amitabha Buddha

    Post  Bodhicitta on Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:04 am

    In the summer of 769, in a Dharma assembly at the nearby Hudong Temple, 
    Fazhao led a group practice of chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name in
    five parts. Their sincere calls were answered by the appearance of colorful clouds
    all over the sky. In the clouds stood towers, temples, and the Three Holy Ones—
    Amitabha Buddha, flanked by Bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara and
    Mahasthamaprapta. The people of Hengyang all witnessed this display, which
    lasted for a long time. They all burned incense and made obeisance.

    That evening, Fazhao came across an old man, who said to him, “You made a
    wish to visit the golden world on Wutaishan, to make obeisance to Mañjusri
    Bodhisattva. Why do you linger here?”
    Fazhao answered, “The times are hard and the journey is rough.”
    The old man said, “If one has strong aspiration, what difficulty can there be?”
    Then the old man disappeared.

    On the thirteenth day of the eighth month of 769, Fazhao, together with a
    team of fellow monks, set off on a pilgrimage to the Wutai Mountain. On the
    sixth day of the fourth month of 770, they safely arrived at the Foguang (Buddha
    light) Temple in Wutai County.

    Before dawn, Fazhao saw a beam of white light shining on him. He followed
    it for fifty lis, and arrived at a mountain, under which was a steam. On the north
    bank of this stream was a stone gate, at which stood two youths. They introduced
    themselves as Sudhana and Nanda. Escorted by them, Fazhao went inside the
    gate and walked five lis to a temple which bore a sign that read “Zhulin Temple
    of the Great Holy.” The ground there was gold and adorned with jeweled flowers
    and trees, just as he had seen in his vision.

    Fazhao entered the auditorium of the temple and found Bodhisattvas
    Mañjusri and Samantabhadra, each seated on a jeweled lion throne and
    surrounded by a multitude of Bodhisattvas. Fazhao approached them, made
    obeisance, and said, “Ordinary beings in this Dharma-ending age have low
    capacities and severe hindrances. They are unable to uncover their Buddha
    nature. Which Dharma Door can easily lead them to the essence of the vast
    Buddha Dharma?”

    Mañjusri Bodhisattva replied, “Your question is opportune. In this Dharma-ending
    age, no Dharma Door can better fulfill one’s wisdom and merit than the
    double Dharma Door of thinking of Buddhas and making offerings to the Three
    Jewels. In past kalpas, through thinking of Buddhas and making offerings to the
    Three Jewels, I acquired [sarvajña-jñana] the knowledge of all knowledge. All
    good dharmas, such as paramita and profound dhyana, are born from thinking of
    Buddhas, which is the king of dharmas.”

    Fazhao asked, “How does one think of Buddhas?”
    Mañjusri Bodhisattva replied, “West of here is a world in which resides
    Amitabha Buddha. The power of His vows is inconceivable. You should think of
    Him without interruption. After death, you will definitely be reborn in His land,
    standing on the Ground of No Regress.”
    Bodhisattvas Mañjusri and Samantabhadra both extended their golden arms
    and rubbed the crown of Fazhao’s head. They said, “Because you think of
    Buddhas, you will soon attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. If good men and good
    women single-mindedly think of Buddhas, they too will quickly attain anuttarasamyak-
    Exultantly and exuberantly Fazhao made obeisance to them. He left the
    auditorium, and the two youths escorted him outside the temple. No sooner did
    he raise his head than the temple vanished. Fazhao then made a pile of stones to
    mark the site.

    On the eighth day of that month, Fazhao and his group went to the Huayan
    Temple and settled down. On the thirteenth day, he and fifty or so
    fellow monks went to the Vajra Cave of the Wutai Mountain. They reverently
    chanted thirty-five Buddhas’ names, making obeisance to each name. After only
    ten prostrations, Fazhao saw the cave turn into a vast clean place where stood a
    palace made of pure aquamarine. Present inside were holy Bodhisattvas,
    including Mañjusri and Samantabhadra.

    Hoping to see Mañjusri Bodhisattva once again, Fazhao later returned to the
    cave alone. He prostrated himself on the ground and prayed. Suddenly he saw an
    Indian monk who called himself Buddhapala.
    Buddhapla led him to a sparkling jeweled temple with a sign above its door, the
    golden words on which read “Vajra Prajña Temple.” In the temple compound
    stood hundreds of majestic towers and mansions, and Mañjusri the Great Holy
    was surrounded by the multitudes. Fazhao wanted to stay there, but Buddhapala
    did not permit him. He led Fazhao outside and said, “Train assiduously. When
    you return, you may stay.”

    In the twelfth month of that year, Fazhao began a meditation retreat at the
    Huayan Temple. He fasted and vowed to be reborn in the Pure Land. On the
    evening of the seventh day, an Indian monk entered the hall and asked him,
    “Why do you not tell people what you have experienced here on Wutaishan?”
    Then the Indian monk vanished.

    Next day, in the afternoon, Fazhao saw another Indian monk, about eighty
    years of age, who sternly said to him, “If you share with sentient beings your
    extraordinary experiences on Wutaishan, they will be inspired to activate the
    bodhi mind. Why do you not do it?”
    Fazhao replied, “I do not dare to conceal the holy Way. However, I fear that
    people might doubt my words and slander me.”
    The old monk said, “Even Mañjusri the Great Holy, who resides on this
    mountain, cannot avoid slanders. It is more important to induce sentient beings
    to activate the bodhi mind than to save yourself.”

    After his retreat ended, Fazhao wrote down his experiences, and circulated
    his stories for the world to know.

    From Rulu's translation Thinking of Amitabha Buddha, pp. 205-06

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    Bhadrakalpika Sutra

    Post  Bodhicitta on Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:59 am

    From the Preface of the four volume Dharma Publishing edition, translated as The Fortunate Aeon:

    The Bhadrakalpika Sūtra occupies a special place in the
    hearts of the Tibetan people. Its teachings support the
    efforts of all who seek enlightened knowledge, and its presentation
    of the one thousand Buddhas of our aeon inspires
    confidence in the enduring nature of the Dharma. The teachings
    emphasize the pāramitās, the perfections that culminate
    in the prajñāpāramitā: the perfection of enlightened
    knowledge, “mother of all the Buddhas.” The pāramitās are
    the keys that open our hearts to the meaning and value of
    the Buddha, and reveal a direct channel to complete and
    perfect enlightenment.
    Reading, reciting, and listening to the Bhadrakalpika Sūtra
    invokes the blessings of all the Buddhas whose coming it
    heralds; thus the Bhadrakalpika has always been counted
    among the most auspicious of texts. So important has this work
    been considered in Tibet, that the original compilers of the
    Tibetan Buddhist Canon placed the Bhadrakalpika first in the
    general Sutra section, immediately preceding the Lalitavistara
    Sūtra, the detailed account of the life and teachings of the
    Buddha Sakyamuni.

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    Re: Buddhadharma

    Post  Bodhicitta on Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:46 am

    The qualities of the bodhisattvas surrounding Buddha:

    Now, the Bodhisattvas in the assembly were only such as
    had obtained illumination. They had obtained the imprint of

    the mental patterning of dhāranī; they had obtained samādhi,
    and were endowed with the five super-knowledges. They had
    gained the ability of clear retention; they were free from artifice,
    free from the thought to gain profit from knowledge, and free
    from attachment. They taught the Dharma without being
    distracted by worldly things. They had reached the perfection
    of patient conviction with respect to the profound Dharma, and
    obtained fearlessness. They had completely passed beyond the
    reach of Māra’s actions, had cast off the defilement of karma,
    and had obtained freedom from doubt concerning the nature of
    all dharmas.

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    Re: Buddhadharma

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