Chuyển tới nội dung
Trang chủ » Blog » Ten Features of the Great Compassionate Heart Dharani

Ten Features of the Great Compassionate Heart Dharani

Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva taught that the Great Compassion Dharani Sutra has the following ten features: great kind and compassionate heart, equal heart, Unconditioned heart, unattached heart, emptiness-observing heart, respectful heart, modest heart, uncluttered heart, non-clinging view heart, and utmost Bodhi heart.

1. The great kind and compassionate heart. Kindness is to bring joy to living beings; compassion is to help living beings end sufferings. The kind and compassionate heart has the physical and mental strength to generate good deeds, therefore, it consists of wisdom and courage. This is the first step of the Bodhisattva path. May our hearts attain a gradual decrease in envious habits, not be angered by our living environments, and appreciate what we currently have. We vow to do our best to offer happiness to and alleviate sufferings of living beings, especially orphans, children with disabilities, those who are severely ill, impoverished, vulnerable, and victims of tsunami, earthquake, flood, or hurricane. Thanks to these practices, more love and understanding shine in our hearts so that we can enter the abundant source of Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity.      

2. The equal heart. The equal heart no longer discriminates based on social class, gender, religion, or race, nor distinguishes between foes and friends, subject and object, minds and surroundings. We see ourselves within all beings, and all beings exist within us, just as mirrors reflect images of one another. Practicing the equal heart, we easily accept differences in the daily life. This heart does not coerce others to be at our level, instead we willingly open our heart to graciously accommodate others, from our friends and family to the community, humanity, and living beings.

While practicing this heart, we contemplate on how we and others are similar. Whether donating to charity or performing good deeds, we should pay attention to the grace and joy rather than the quantity. By practicing the equal heart, our worldview becomes vast and wonderful. We see how all beings are beautiful, precious, and important. We and the Buddha are different in the level of attainment but similar in the Buddha-nature. Since our mind is obscured by the clouds of delusion, we can only exist as living beings. Once our mind is still, without a thought arising, then our Buddha-nature immediately appears.

3. The Unconditioned heart. TheUnconditioned” means not being dependent, affected, or born. So, the Unconditioned neither changes nor loses. It is the Non-born, another word for Nirvana. In the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha spoke of the 33 synonyms for Nirvana: the Unconditioned, the uninclined, the taintless, the truth, the far shore, the subtle, the very difficult to see, the unaged, the stable, the undisintegrating, the unmanifest, the non-proliferation, the peaceful, the deathless, the sublime, the auspicious, the secure, the destruction of craving, the wonderful, the amazing, the non-ailing state, Nirvana, the unafflicted, the dispassionate, the purity, the freedom, the nonattachment, the island, the shelter, the asylum, the refuge, and the destination (Bodhi, 2005, p. 365).

The way leading to the Unconditioned is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Thanks to practicing the Unconditioned heart daily, our mind is transformed into a state of serenity and tranquility. Life becomes blissful, gentle, free, and peaceful. Then our mind is empty like a mirror: reflecting images whenever they are present but becoming clear once they leave.

            As a clear mirror reflecting all images

            No matter what comes and goes when there is no mind nor scene.

4. The unattached heart. The unattached heart does not depend on the gossips of right and wrong nor does it gravitate towards bad habits and conducts. Thanks to practicing the unattached heart, we can attain self-control. As a result, when our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind make contact with the corresponding six sense objects, we know them but are not attached to them. While practicing the unattached heart, we vow to hone our humility, reducing greed of money, beauty, fame, gluttony, and sleep. While practicing charity, we are not attached to praise and criticism. We also will not let disagreement disturb the harmony between brothers, sisters, and friends. Once our six sense organs are pure, then their objects are pure, and this Saha world instantly becomes the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

5. The emptiness-observing heart. The word “emptiness” in Buddhism is often misunderstood as nothingness, as opposed to being. In truth, emptiness means that there is not a “selfness” because all things depend on each other to exist, there is no dharma that can arise and exist separately. In other words, all phenomena are temporarily formed by conditioned causes. For example, the table is right in front of you, but deeply looking at it, nothing really is a “table” because it is a combination of wood, nails, labors, and beyond that, trees, light, water, air, or space, etc. So, emptiness-observing is looking deeply into the nature of all phenomena to see the interdependent co-arising, impermanence, and non-self of dharmas. It is through the emptiness of dharmas that the universe can be created and transformed. If there is already a fixed A, then A cannot be transformed into B or C as in chemical reactions.

Impermanence means changes over time. Non-self is change over space. Because we are attached to the things we love and hope for forever, when they are lost, it is very painful. Through the practice of emptiness-observing heart, we can transform our deepest habit, which is attachment to “self” and “mine”, both individual self and collective self. Those who have achieved Perfect Wisdom do not become pessimistic because of emptiness of dharmas. On the contrary, they go into the sea of fire to save living beings, for they have achieved “the true emptiness as well as the wonderful existence”.

6. The respectful heart. Respect comes from the bottom of our heart. We respect not only the Venerable but also to all people, living beings, or children with disability because all of them possess the Buddha-nature. We vow to follow Never Disparaging Bodhisattva, whose message is that everybody will attain Buddhahood. Thanks to the respectful heart, we are deeply grateful to people and to all things. Life is so beautiful, people are so nice, animals, plants, and air are so precious! Without this living environment, whether good or bad, beneficial or harmful, how would we survive in this world?

Instead of being dissatisfied with our living situation, we need to change our attitude in life ourselves. With the respectful heart, we will feel the serene and solemn world right here on earth. If our hearts are kind, we will attract good people. If our mind is full of afflictions, we will attract those who disturb us. Instead of lamenting this life without the Holy Monks, we should ask ourselves if our heart has opened to welcome the Holy Monks. If not, when they stand beside us, we will not be able to feel them. Why? Because each person, depending on his/her selfish or generous heart, touches a corresponding realm. We have the good fortune to bow to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The more we respectfully bow, the more we feel the presence of the Bodhisattvas and the Buddhas close to us, and our Buddha-nature shines day by day.      

7. The modest heart. Modesty is to put oneself in the lowest position, thus becoming gentle but not weak. Having a modest heart makes it easy to practice patience, like water flowing downstream, so the shallower area does not dry out. Similarly, people with a modest heart are often loved, helped, and have fewer conflicts caused by pride and anger. Anger is terrifying. It is like a slow-exploding bomb within, very easily ignited, and when it explodes, it can devastate all families, relatives, friends, community, society, nation, and the world. The Buddha taught: “A burning spark of anger fire can burn a whole forest of merit”.

As humans, we are easily prone to pride. Our arrogance drastically grows as we age, gain fame, attain wealth, education, and power. Pride is one of the six main factors that contribute to the recycle of birth and death (the remaining five factors are greed, hatred, delusion, doubt, and false views). The path towards the shore of Enlightenment starts with lowering our pride. By abating our arrogance, we can appreciate the beauty of daily life. Prostrating to the Buddha and repenting the sins caused by the body, mouth and mind are effective practices to lower our ego.

8. The uncluttered heart. The heart is uncluttered as our mind becomes still, calm, conscious, and peaceful. When facing trouble, we can control it and transform complexity to simplicity, difficulty to easiness, and danger to safety. With diligent practice, the uncluttered heart leads to the cessation of thoughts and attains samadhi.

            “The Buddha is like the fresh, full moon,

            that soars across the immense sky.

            When the river of mind is truly calm,

            the moon is reflected perfectly upon the surface of the deep waters.”

Our mind has the habitual behavior to wander and cannot remain still. Thoughts arise constantly which prevent the appearance of our Buddha-nature. Once thoughts settle, the Buddha-nature instantly appears like moonlight reflecting on a tranquil lake. There are numerous methods to practice calmness. Common practices are meditation, reciting the Buddha’s name, prostrating to the Buddha, chanting the Sutra, reciting Dharani, walking in the garden and so on. All practices share the same fundamental principles: relaxing the body and mind, following the breath softly and deeply, and having no thoughts.      

9. The non-clinging view heart. Non-clinging view encourages practitioners to not hold on to their obstinate viewpoint. Our viewpoint has been influenced by our family, education, culture, society, religion, politics, even habits rooted from previous lives. Clinging to our viewpoint is one of the big obstacles on the way to cultivation. Thanks to a non-clinging view heart, we do not talk badly about any monks, nuns, or Buddhist congregations. While encouraging other religious leaders to cooperate to save our planet, why do we avoid our monks, nuns, and Buddhist friends! While voluntarily doing good deeds, we patiently invite people to open their hearts or bend down to pick up every can and bottle for recycles, why do some of us tend to not respect and praise the Three Jewels!? Instead of wasting time criticizing others, we vow to sit together, discuss, and live in accordance to Buddha’s teachings. Realizing that each day that passes reduces our time on earth, we vow to practice right understanding, relying on this illusory body to diligently cultivate.

10. The utmost Bodhi-heart. Utmost Bodhi-heart encourages Buddhists to diligently cultivate to attain Enlightenment and save all beings. This is the essence of the Bodhisattva path and the fundamental teachings of the Mahayana tradition. In the past, we had the inferiority complex that we only needed to do good deeds to enjoy the blessings of karma in the future. Therefore, we did not apply the Buddha’s teachings, “Light the torch yourself, light up with the Dharma.” Now we bravely take up the vow to practice the way of the Bodhisattva, both to awaken ourselves and help others awakening. The Madhyama Agama Sutta teaches that no matter how many good deeds you do, never forget that Enlightenment is the goal of your life. Feeling the joy of Buddha-Dharma in the here and the now, without waiting until tomorrow or the future, we dedicate this merit to all living beings to attain Enlightenment.

These Ten hearts are the core of the Great Compassionate Heart Dharani Sutra and the Five Hundred Names of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva Sutra. Contemplating them daily helps practitioners expand their altruism. We blame no one, tolerate all people, and are flexible to the conditions in our daily life on the way to cultivation. The more we practice, the closer we are to the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. May we become their extra hands to help living beings. May the Three Jewels support our vows.

Thông Đạo, 2021