Theme Paper

Sustainable Peace In The Perfect Middle Way, Part V

Author: Nanren Shi

Chairman of The International Hua-Yan Buddhist Federation

 

For the same theme, In the “Diamond Sutra”, Buddha said : “ All conditioned phenomenons are like a dream, an illusion , a bubble, a shadow, like dew or a flash of lighting. Thus we shall perceive them.”

In the “ Diamond Sutra”, Buddha repeated that all conditional arisings are relative existence, are not permanent. As it said: “ “Because when the Buddha speaks of particles of dust, they are not, but are (expediently) called, particles of dust.” “World Honoured One, when the Tathagata speaks of worlds, they are not,but are (expediently) called, worlds. Why? Because if they really exist, they are just agglomerations.” “Subhuti, these so-called Dharmas are not, but are (expediently), called all Dharmas.”What Buddha wants to teach us is that all dependant arisings are relative truth, we give phenomena names for communication purpose, but all are not truthly existence. The essence of phenomena is emptiness. This is also the opinion of Nagarjuna in his “ The Middle Way”.

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Chinese calligraphic writing by chairman Mr. Shi of The International Hua-Yan Buddhist Federation 

Buddhist Yogacara school has its unique way to explain the middle way. As stated in Samdhinirmocana Sutra, one of the most important sutra in Budddhist Yogacara school, the two forms of extremist attachments to existence and nonexistence are wrong. The middle way is none of them. Staying away from both extremist attachments to existence and nonexistence is the perfect middle way. Extremist attachments to existence and nonexistence are relative truth.

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In another Buddhist book “ Nadhyanta- Vibhagakarika Sastra”, it said “ Due to the distinguishing mind of illusion, ignorant mind creates the subject of ego “I” and the objects of ‘I”. Then the duality is given birth. But the truth nature of both “ I” and its objects are emptiness. Duality is nonexistence, is empty. However, the ultimate truth of emptiness can only be manifested when the distinguishing mind of illusion act with conditions.

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According to the Trisvabhava of Buddhist Yogacara school, the Parikalpita-svabhava of the unenlightened is the form produced from conceptual construction. It is nonexistence. This matches the view of “ all phenomenons are emptiness” of the middle way school. Both Buddhist Madhyamaka school and Yogacara school believe that the phenomena are conditional existence. There are no truthly existence. We give phenomenon name as labels for communication purpose.

In the Treatise in Thirty Stanzas, it was said: “The metaphors of self and dharmas, which function in so many different ways, take place in the transformation of consciousness. “

In the Diamond Sutra, it was said:” “Subhuti, these so-called Dharmas are not, but are (expediently), called all Dharmas.” The is how the enlightened mind perceive phenomena. It was also said: “All Bhadras and Aryas differ on account of the Eternal Asamskrta Dharma.” This coincides the concept of Parinishpanna-svabhava (“the form perfectly attained”), the ultimate truth of transcendental emptiness in Buddhist Yogacara school. Therefore, it is said in the Diamond Sutra that “ the Dharma the Tathagata expounds cannot be clung to and cannot be expressed (in words); it is neither Dharma nor Not-Dharma.”

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Through comparing the different views in Agama, Buddhist Madhyamaka school, Buddhist Yogacara school and the Diamond Sutra, we can cultivate our view of the Buddhist middle way. We will realize its true meaning once we can apply it in the real world.

Sustainable Peace In The Perfect Middle Way, Part IV

Author: Nanren Shi

Chairman of The International Hua-Yan Buddhist Federation

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Buddhism with more than 2500 years history, teaches  perfect wisdom and compassion to benefit the world. The current challenge is how Buddhism will adopt  itself to the changing world. The " Three Country Buddhist Forum" in Toronto University  would be the great opportunity for Chinese Buddhism to entering the western. It is the heart felt voice of Buddhists.

 

The middle way or the middle path is the core value and the most important fundamental opinion in Buddhism. Both Buddhist Hinayana and Mahayana practice the middle way. There are differences in how to understand and practice the middle way. However, both schools treat "the middle way"  as the most important view in practice. 

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Venerable Jingyi Shi (center), Chairman Mr. Shi in the United Nations Headquarter Square  during the Vesak day, 2017

 

From the lines in Madhyama Agama, we can see that "the middle way" is a mental process which will not look at the objects of our mind in extreme way. Buddha taught us do not indulge in desire-satisfaction and do not practice extremely ascetic activities. Both way of living will not bring benefits to us. Staying away from both extremists would fit the meaning of the middle way. With the view of the middle way, we could achieve samadhi and attain wisdom through meditation. Finally, we will attain nirvana.

Hinayana's view of middle way was also expounded in its teaching of "The Twelve Links of Interdependent Origination" and  the teaching of " The Eight-fold Path". 

 

Mahayana's view of the middle way focuses on our own mind. We could have comprehensive understanding of the perfect middle way through studying both Buddhist Madhyamaka school and Yogacara school. 

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In Buddhist Madhyamaka school, the core concept of the perfect middle way is regarding the dependent arising of all phenomena.  In Nagarjuna’s “The Middle Way”, it was said: “ All phenomena are dependent arising. Whatever is dependently originated, it is to be empty of true existence. That is dependently designated. Therefore, it is said to be the Middle Way.” ( * please refer the Chapter 4, Section 24 of The Middle Way).

 

In Nagarjuna’s another commentary “ Great Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom”, He said: “ The truth reality of the dependent origination of all phenomena is emptiness. We can call it relative truth, or call it  the middle way. If all phenomena is truthly existence, then it should have no birth. But since phenomena has birth, it is not truthly existence.”

 

 

To be continued..... 

Chairman Mr. Shi's Chinese calligraphic handwriting  

Chairman Mr. Shi's Chinese calligraphic handwriting  

Sustainable Peace In The Perfect Middle Way, Part III

Author: Nanren Shi

Chairman of The International Hua-Yan Buddhist Federation 

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The Perfect Wisdom of Buddha inspired and helped me  during my years as a Buddhist. From a child with native happiness and ignorance, I became a man who can enjoy the inner peace of myself. I learned to take care daily responsibility with The Perfect Wisdom. I tried to dilute human's desire little by little with spiritual elements. I learned to adopt my understanding of The Perfect Wisdom to my practice of listening, contemplation and meditation. Once we can see all phenomena equally, we will achieve inner peace. This kind mind state would correspond the mind world of The Perfect Wisdom. 

Author's Chinese Calligraphy 

Author's Chinese Calligraphy 

The Buddhas dwell in non-abiding nirvana with the perfect wisdom. We are all future Buddhas. Through practice buddha's teaching, eventually we will realize our own nature of mind, which is the same as Buddha's nature mind. Out of compassion, Buddha utilized countless methods to teach The Perfect Wisdom. Even the method is different, but the final purpose is the same. It is said: " For the same practice path,  we can come from different directions."  Understanding is one thing, put it into practice is another thing. Only through putting Buddha's teaching in action, we would get real benefits. We would make it possible to be a man with the confidence of The Perfect Wisdom. We will not be fear no matter where we are. This is what I am looking for. It is the perfect combination of wisdom and compassion.

 

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Sustainable Peace In The Perfect Middle Way, Part II

Author: Nanren Shi

Chairman of The International Hua-Yan Buddhist Federation  

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The perfect wisdom is a Buddhist terminology. In the chapter 4 of the Surangama Sutra, it is said:"

Thus Tathagata said that the basic natures of earth, water, fire, and wind are perfectly interfused,  pervade the Dharma Realm, and are tranquil and eternal. " The Tiantai and Huaya school of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism have more detailed teachings about the meanings and the applications of The Perfect Wisdom. The perfect  means fulfillment, fully fledged and fully attained. The perfect has nothing missed. If there is even minor missing , it wouldn't be the perfect.  Everybody wants a perfect life. For instance the perfect amount of wealth, a perfect career, a perfect family and more. When one's personality becomes fully developed without any impurity, we would call him or her a " perfect person ". Therefore, we all wish ourselves to become a fully developed perfect person.

 

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Realizing The Perfect wisdom is the highest mind state in Buddhism, but not in the extreme way. All phenomenas are perfectly interfused and pervade in our universe, and of course also in the Dharma Realm. "The Perfect Nature of All Sentiment Beings have" is the original Buddhist concept of equality. Buddhism not only believes that all human beings are equal, but also believes that all sentient beings from all 10 spiritual realms are equal. Buddhists perceive rivers, mountains, earth are equal in its nature. If we can treat people in a perfectly reasonable way, people will complain less about us. Once we can treat all sentient beings equally, it is a phenomenon of perfect reality. Once we could perceive that all phenomenas are equally conditional existing, we would live in a perfect awakening world of tranquility ourselves.

 

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The Buddhist methodology of entering the real world to benefit people has been observed since Buddha's time. Shakyamuni Buddha taught the perfect wisdom through his 1st Turning of Dharma Wheel, his teachings on the Vulture Peak Mountain and his parinirvana.  Since Buddhism was introduced to China, all Chinese enlightened ones emphasized the importance of The Perfect Wisdom in The Middle Way. Without extremist views ourselves in Buddhism, we  will properly teach and help people according to the demand of the people.

 

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Sustainable Peace In The Perfect Middle Way, Part I

Author: Nanren Shi,

Chairman of The International Buddhist Federation 

Buddhist Pilgrim in Vaisali, India  

Buddhist Pilgrim in Vaisali, India  

The Buddhist Forum is organized by Buddhist organizations from three countries: China, Canada and America, will be held in the Toronto University. It will be the milestone in world Buddhist history, and will be  a breakthrough event for Chinese Mahayana teaching and Chinese traditional culture to participate their roles in Northern America. A powerful country and nation must have same international influence  through its culture.

Buddhism has been in China for more than 2500 years. It's a very important component of Chinese culture.  Introducing the precious Chinese traditional culture---Chinese Mahayana Buddhism  to Northern America, and even the world, is a realistic step to fulfill the strategy of " The Belt and Road" and "Chinese Dream", are  initiated by Chinese leaders。 The success of three-country "Buddhist Forum"  will play an important role in further promoting both Chinese and Buddhist civilizations in Northern America. It also will present Buddhism on the world historical stage in a more positive and vigorous way.

The theme of the 1st " Buddhist Forum of China, Canada and America " is " Sustainable Peace in The Perfect Middle Way". This innovative theme was given by the chairman of Chinese Buddhist Association, Venerable Xuecheng Shi. My understanding for this theme has three parts.

 

  1. It emphasizes the importance of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
  2. It emphasizes the Buddhist view of perfect middle way which see the world as one with the efforts of everyone. A peaceful world starts from me.
  3. Sustainable peace is the long-term goal of the three country Buddhist forum, and also the wish of all world.

 

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhigaya, India 

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhigaya, India