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'The world is impermanent; the earth is perilously fragile.'
~ The Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings
 
As unenlightened beings, we are easily pulled this way and that by our conditions. In our state of confusion, we unwittingly pursue fame, fortune, desire, and pleasure. How many of us truly take time to contemplate the meaning of our lives?
 

The Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings contains the fundamental practices allowing us to make the most of our potential as human beings. In her explanation of the text, Dharma Master Cheng Yen uses stories from the Buddha's time and our days to relate these teachings to modern life. In this way, she lays out a path for how to grow in compassion and wisdom by going among people to help those in suffering.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Dharma Master Cheng Yen was born in Cingshuei Township, Taichung County, Taiwan in 1937. When she took refuge with Venerable Yin-shun in 1963, he gave her six simple words of instruction, “For Buddha’s teachings, for sentient beings.” In 1966 she established the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. She continues to tirelessly work to help people realize the Buddha’s compassion and the joy of the Dharma in their lives.
 
Under Master Cheng Yen’s kind and compassionate leadership, the Tzu Chi Foundation has grown into an international Buddhist charity recognized for its compassionate relief efforts. Following the teachings of the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism and the Jing Si Dharma lineage, the foundation’s four major missions are Charity, Medicine, Education, and Humanistic Culture. These missions, along with International Relief, Environmental Protection, Community Volunteerism, and Bone Marrow Donation, comprise the Eight Great Dharma-footprints. Tzu Chi volunteers work directly with people in need, providing comfort and aid with the spirit of Great Love that transcends boundaries of race, nationality, and religion.

  • Preface
  • The Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings
  • Origins–Life’s Big Question
  • About the Original Translator: Tripitaka Sramana An Shigao from Parthia of the Later Han Dynasty
  • About the Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings
  • Opening of the Sutra
  • The First Realization
    • The world is impermanent
    • The earth is perilously fragile
    • Temporary unions of the Four Elements are filled with suffering and are empty in nature
    • There is no self, only the Five Aggregates
    • Everything arises, ceases, and changes and is illusory, false, and beyond control
    • The mind is the source of evil; the body is a basin of wrongdoings. Observing and contemplating this, one gradually breaks free from the cycle of birth and death
  • The Second Realization
    • Desire leads to suffering. The exhaustion from cyclic existence arises from greed and desire. One who has few desires and remains uncontriving is at peace in body and mind.
  • The Third Realization
    • The mind is insatiable, always seeking, thirsty for more, thus compounding evil. Bodhisattvas renounce such conduct. They remain content. At peace with poverty, they follow the Path, their actions guided by wisdom alone.
  • The Fourth Realization
    • Indolence leads to one’s downfall; one must always practice with diligence.
    • One must vanquish all afflictions, overcome the Four Maras, and escape the prison of the Skandhas.
  • The Fifth Realization
    • Ignorance leads to cyclic existence. Bodhisattvas are always mindful of extensively listening and learning so they can increase their wisdom and achieve unobstructed eloquence. They then teach and transform everyone, and give everyone great joy.
  • The Sixth Realization
    • Poverty and suffering breed resentment, so people relentlessly form negative affinities. Bodhisattvas practice giving and treat everyone, friend or foe, equally. They neither harbor grudges nor reject evil people.
  • The Seventh Realization
    • The five desires are serious problems
    • Though they are ordinary people, Bodhisattvas are not defiled by worldly pleasures, and they remain constantly mindful of their three robes, alms bowl, and tools of practice.
    • They vow to renounce the lay life and uphold the pure practice of the path. Their pure conduct is supreme, and they have compassion for all.
  • The Eighth Realization
    • For those trapped in the raging inferno of cyclic existence, the suffering is endless. Bodhisattvas resolve to practice the Great Vehicle and provide relief to all beings. They vow to take on endless suffering for sentient beings so that all beings can attain the ultimate great joy.
  • Summary of the Text
    • These eight are the realizations of Great Beings, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
    • They diligently practice the path and cultivate compassion and wisdom. They sail the ship of the Dharmakaya to reach the shore of Nirvana. Then they return to cyclic existence to deliver and liberate all sentient beings. With these eight teachings, they guide all beings, so that all beings can awaken from the suffering of samsara, let go of and transcend the five desires, and cultivate their minds on the Noble Path. If disciples of the Buddha recite these eight teachings, in thought after thought, they can eliminate countless transgressions, advance toward Bodhi, quickly ascend to perfect enlightenment, end cyclic existence forever, and abide in the state of joy.
  • Editor’s Note I
  • Editor’s Note II
  • Glossary
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