Showing posts with label Bodhisattva Vow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bodhisattva Vow. Show all posts

Also see: For the Benefit of All Beings

Our Duty to Parents

Mr C asked, “What does it mean for you to do things for the benefit of all sentient beings Soh?”

Soh replied, “There are all kinds of ways to do things for the benefit of sentient beings. Bill gates is doing a lot of good to the world in his philanthropy. Buddhists have an additional venue of working for sentient beings: sharing the dharma, which is the highest gift in buddhadharma because this gives other beings a chance to be totally free from suffering and samsara.

This is why I consider those who do not try to share dharma to others in a skillful appropriate way to be having a kind of stinginess. Of course, one has to be very clear in view first in order not to mislead others, and preferably have certain depths of experiential insight (but one can share in one’s capacity even before one has realizations), or one can just guide others to awakened teachers and masters. This applies not just for Mahayanists because the Buddha has instructed us to share his dharma widely, even in Theravada’s vinaya: 

“Go forth for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction. Teach the Dharma which is beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle and beautiful at the end. Proclaim both the letter and the spirit of the holy life completely fulfilled and perfectly pure. — Buddha, Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.”

"If we were to wear the countless kalpas as a crown, and our body spanned across three thousand realms, if we do not teach the Dharma to sentient beings, then we cannot be called repayers of kindness.

If we do not try to enlighten sentient beings, we are not repaying the Buddha's kindness. If we feel incapable of enlightening sentient beings, we should encourage others to listen to the scriptures." - Venerable Master Hui Lu

Original text: “假使頂戴恆沙劫,身為幢座遍三千,若不說法度眾生,是則不名報恩者。 


This does not mean we should neglect our meditation practice because we can only be of utmost benefit to other beings if we attain Buddhahood. So we should both help others and carry out our practice at the same time.

And when working for others, it should be free from delusional perceptions of self or others. Just like the threefold purity I shared earlier. (On threefold purity, see Supramundane Generosity / Threefold Purity)

It is related to this

Kyle Dixon wrote in the Dzogchen subreddit:

u/krodha avatar

The only way to truly engage in action that is legitimately free of attachment and aversion is to awaken and then act during the equipoise of an arya. That equipoise is free of the three spheres of agent, object and action.

Otherwise we are just normal sentient beings under the influence of our karmic vision and our conduct and activities are governed and influenced by mind (sems). Mind and mental factors are completely enveloped in attachment and aversion, subject and object, and so on.

In ati practice, we can sort of fake-it-til-we-make-it though. We can implement the "view" (tawa) to essentially mimic that equipoise, and perform activities while recalling the insubstantiality or absence of these three spheres. We do this ideally in dedicating merit for example. We dedicate merit, free of the three spheres so that it is inexhaustible.

The answer then is yes, there are methods, but you'd have to delve into this with the guidance of a teacher.



“ mr c:

From ren cheng magazine (venerable shen kai was my refuge master) but paraphrased and slightly edited from chatgpt:

“People learning and practicing Buddhist have often heard the need to lead sentient beings (to learn Buddhism). Some then become eager to persuade others to learn Buddhism. Despite their efforts, they realize that people are not always easy to lead (into Buddhism). Discouraged, they stop learning Buddhism themselves, ultimately failing to lead even themselves.

We first need to understand what a sentient being is. There are two types: inner sentient beings and outer sentient beings. The inner sentient being refers to our minds and the endless arising thoughts, while the outer sentient being includes everyone else, as well as any beings with emotional states. As ordinary people, we constantly experience various thoughts and opinions in different situations—these are our inner sentient beings. If we do not transform these inner sentient beings, allowing troubling thoughts and emotions to arise and react to situations, how can we expect to lead others (to Buddhism)? Thus, Master Shen Kai often emphasized: "Lead sentient beings, lead sentient beings, first lead inner sentient beings, outer sentient beings then can be led." Bodhisattvas transform themselves and benefit others, and as we learn from them, we too must first transform ourselves, then lead others.

For example, some people chant the Buddha's name, chant sutras, and bow to the Buddha daily but do not work to eliminate their negative habitual tendencies. They argue, bicker, and criticize others, causing their family members to become reluctant to learn Buddhism. These family members question if such behaviors are the result of learning and practicing Buddhism, unwilling to condone them. Some people are overly eager, failing to discern the right opportunities or conditions, talking about Buddhist concepts to everyone they meet, which causes others to distance themselves. Thus, as Buddhist practitioners, we need to first transform ourselves for the better, maintaining joy and clarity. When others see us and our behaviors, they are more inclined to be near us, and we can then naturally lead them to learn and practice Buddhism.

Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, originally practitioners of other teachings, became ordained Buddhist monks after encountering Bhikkhu Asvajit, whose dignified deportment and brief sharing of the Buddha's teachings led them to enlightenment. This story illustrates how one's demeanor and understanding can inspire significant spiritual transformations in others.

Many people have managed to eliminate negative habitual tendencies, like smoking, drinking, and unnecessary socializing, among others, after taking refuge in Buddhism. They began focusing more on their families and treating family members with respect, leading to a more joyous family environment. This positive change has often encouraged entire families and even friends and colleagues to take refuge in Buddhism, establishing a blissful Buddhist community. This exemplifies the principle of first transforming inner sentient beings, which then enables the guidance of outer sentient beings.

Some asked Venerable Master Shen Kai how it's possible to lead all sentient beings, given their vast number. He responded by emphasizing the importance of starting with the inner sentient beings, suggesting that once all inner sentient beings are transformed, one can attain Buddhahood. This advice highlights the foundational principle that personal transformation is a prerequisite for leading others effectively.”


Soh: “ I message people everyday. I think it is important to share with people”

Mr M who went from I Am and one mind into anatman after Soh shared with him on reddit said, “ Yeah there’s something positive about evangelisation, even though I think some religions take it too far. I don’t think I would have come across ATR naturally, and there’s no other resource I’ve found that’s as forceful on what full realisation of anatta is and isn’t.”

Soh replied: “Yeah.. a few people on reddit just realised anatta after conversing with me the past few days

Yesterday just another one realised anatta, was at I AM

I personally try to share dharma to people around me even friends and family

But atr may be too deep for them

Usually i pass them the power of now

If there is a good dharma center its good to introduce to people who you think might be open

I have messaged thousands of redditors over the years, most seem positive with my sharing, only a minority seems averse (usually those that hold tightly to view of self) so i just leave them be

But i believe all will benefit as the tien tai teacher miao lo said

“Nichiren use of the word listen is significant. The passage from Miao-lo that Nichiren cites comes from The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra.” In that work, the Great Teacher Miao-lo goes on to say: “Whether one accepts or rejects the teachings, they have entered one’s ear and one has thus established a bond with them. And then, though one may comply with them or go against them, in the end one will because of this bond be able to achieve liberation [i.e., attain enlightenment]” (WND-2, 56). While keeping in mind the specifics of a person’s situation, to allow them to hear the Lotus Sutra plants the “seed of Buddhahood” in that person’s heart and activates the world of Buddhahood within them.”””

Several that were very averse to it at first realised anatta later””


Thusness wrote in Dharma Connection:

"Sometimes I wonder why must the topic frequently oscillate between emptiness and preserving an indestructible essence.

    Perhaps after experiencing the boundless brilliance, the aliveness, we feel deep down we must somehow exist in a true, solid and substantial way. The more we experience our radiance clarity, the more difficult for us to let go. This I understand. Maybe we should channel some bits of our time and energy towards understanding the relationship between compassion and emptiness.

    When watching Garchen Rinpoche movie that Piotr sent me, it seems that to Garchen Rinpoche, nothing matters more than sentient beings. Whether there “is or isn’t” an essence seems to be a non-issue; if there is, he would joyfully and generously sacrifice for the benefits of sentient beings when needed. This is what I gathered from the movie.

    I am beginning to see why Nagarjuna asserted that emptiness is the womb of compassion.

    I am beginning to understand without the awakening of Bodhichitta, there is no true realization of emptiness.

    I am beginning to see why Bodhichitta and wisdom are the causes of Buddhahood.

    May Bodhichitta be awakened in our authentic mindstreams.

    Homage to Bodhichitta."

    February 16 at 6:31pm · Edited · Unlike · 10


Also see: For the Benefit of All Beings

Our Duty to Parents


Someone wrote,

“Funny to even see assumptions of Bill Gates' contribution to the benefit of sentient beings. 

Especially in a group Awakening to Reality.”

Soh replied,

“regardless of bill gates’ controversies or even whether he is a nice person, i was referring to his philanthropic accomplishments:

“- **Global Health Initiatives**: Funding research, treatment, and prevention programs for diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.

- **Polio Eradication**: Major contributions towards global efforts to eradicate polio through vaccination campaigns.

- **Education**: Investing in U.S. and global education through scholarships, school reform initiatives, and support for online learning platforms.

- **Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene**: Supporting projects to improve access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries.

- **Agricultural Development**: Funding research and projects to increase agricultural productivity and food security in poor countries.

- **Financial Services for the Poor**: Promoting financial inclusion through support for mobile banking and microfinance.

- **Climate Change**: Investing in clean energy research and initiatives to mitigate climate change impacts.

- **COVID-19 Response**: Funding vaccine development, supporting equitable distribution, and enhancing healthcare systems.

- **Nutrition**: Addressing malnutrition and supporting efforts to improve health outcomes through better nutrition.

- **Family Planning and Maternal Health**: Supporting programs to provide family planning services and improve maternal health.

- **Neglected Tropical Diseases**: Funding efforts to combat and eliminate neglected tropical diseases.

- **Innovation in Education**: Supporting technological and pedagogical innovations to improve educational outcomes.

- **Global Libraries**: Initiatives to expand access to digital information through libraries.

- **Research and Development**: Funding R&D for new vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics.

- **Scholarship Programs**: Including the Gates Millennium Scholars program, providing scholarships for minority students in the U.S.

- **Health Systems Strengthening**: Working to improve health care systems and infrastructure in developing countries.

- **Emergency Relief**: Contributing to relief efforts following natural disasters and crises.

- **Gender Equality**: Supporting initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.

- **Mental Health**: Investing in mental health programs and research to improve care and reduce stigma.

- **Data and Innovation**: Funding the collection and analysis of data to inform health and development policies.

- **Advocacy and Public Policy**: Engaging in advocacy to influence policy and raise awareness on critical global issues.””

as an alternative, these are some other similar organisations. Chatgpt:

Rating philanthropic activities, including those of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is subjective and depends on various criteria such as impact, transparency, effectiveness, and public perception. These ratings are not definitive but can provide a general sense of how these organizations are viewed in terms of their philanthropic efforts. Here's a hypothetical table rating the Gates Foundation and ten other notable philanthropic organizations, based on perceived impact and public reception:

| Organization                         | Rating (Out of 10) | Comments                                                                                                 |


| Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation      | 9                  | High impact on global health and education, though faces criticism for influence and approach.           |

| Ford Foundation                      | 8                  | Significant contributions to social justice but criticized for influence on policy and academic research.|

| Rockefeller Foundation               | 8                  | Pioneering philanthropic efforts with a broad impact, though not without its controversies.              |

| Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching | 7.5                | Major impact on education and peace, with a strong legacy, but less visible in recent years.             |

| Open Society Foundations             | 8                  | Prominent in promoting democracy and human rights, but faces criticism for political bias.               |

| Wellcome Trust                       | 8.5                | Significant contributions to global health, praised for research funding, but faces scrutiny for investment choices. |

| MacArthur Foundation                 | 7                  | Known for the "genius grant," innovative in arts and culture support, but impact sometimes questioned.   |

| The Howard Hughes Medical Institute  | 8.5                | Significant in biomedical research support, though its focus is very specialized.                        |

| The MasterCard Foundation            | 8                  | Impacts financial inclusion and education in Africa significantly, though its focus is relatively narrow.|

| The Walton Family Foundation         | 7.5                | Significant in education and environment, but its association with Walmart leads to mixed perceptions.   |

| The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation  | 7.5                | Focused on child poverty and education, with impactful programs, though less known than others.          |

This table reflects a combination of the organizations' perceived effectiveness, impact, transparency, and the controversies they might have faced. The ratings are illustrative and based on general perceptions rather than a rigorous evaluation framework. Actual assessments might vary significantly based on different criteria and personal perspectives.


Also see: For the Benefit of All Beings

Our Duty to Parents

Also See: Spiritual Inspiration of Avalokitesvara (Guan Yin) Bodhisattva, Chanting Da Bei Zhou - Great Compassion Dharani, Tara and "Manifestation"

“When your primordially pure awareness is free from all obscurations that cover it, its omnipresence and omniscience will naturally arise, with infinite manifestations for the benefit of all sentient beings without exception. Nothing more needs to be done. You would have reached the goal of Mahayana Buddhism. You would be fully awake to reality. You would be a buddha, and you would never regress from this awakened state.  

There are countless buddhas already, and each one effortlessly manifests infinite forms simultaneously throughout all of the planes of cyclic existence for the benefit of all sentient beings. However, at any given time, each individual sentient being will have a stronger karmic connection with certain buddhas, compared to other buddhas. 

 Likewise, if you were a buddha, since a huge number of sentient beings throughout cyclic existence would have a stronger karmic connection with you during certain times, you would be able to benefit them much more directly than the many other buddhas would be able to. Never forget this fact! At different times, you might be their best and only chance of freedom from their samsara - their uncontrollable recurring rebirth with all of the uncertainty, problems, and every type of suffering that they experience. 

The deeper that you realise this fact, the greater your bodhicitta motivation becomes. In other words, the greater your sincerest heartfelt loving and compassionate wish to attain the enlightened state of a buddha for the benefit of all sentient beings without exception, as soon as possible! ~ Chamtrul Rinpoche”

I asked ChatGPT to make these pictures for me using Dall-E, as well as generate short descriptions for each. I like many of them, although they may not be fully accurate (for example, Garab Dorje shouldn't look Tibetan?). Basically it has not perfected the art of depicting a person's look accurately, but future versions will surely get even better.

I also attempted to recreate how Amitabha Buddha looks like in Sukhavati (Western Pure Land) and how Medicine Buddha looks like in his Bhaiṣajyaguru's eastern pure land based on the descriptions provided from excerpts from the Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra and Medicine Buddha Sutra.

"Embark on a spiritual exploration featuring Śākyamuni Buddha, Avalokiteśvara, Śyāmatārā, Ākāśagarbha, Kṣitigarbha, Mahāsthāmaprāpta, Maitreya, Samantabhadra, Vairocana, Vajrasattva, Milarepa, Garab Dorje, Jamgon Mipham, Tsongkhapa, Dōgen, Nāgārjuna, Mañjuśrī, Padmasambhava, Bodhidharma, Bhaisajyaguru (Medicine Buddha), and Amitābha, as we delve into their teachings and iconography in Buddhist tradition."


Picture above: Shakyamuni Buddha teaching dharma to his first five monks 2600+ years ago.

Shakyamuni Buddha

  • Chinese: 释迦牟尼佛 (Shìjiāmóunífó)
  • Sanskrit: Śākyamuni Buddha
  • Meaning: "Sage of the Śākyas"
  • Summary: Shakyamuni Buddha, known as the historical Buddha, was a spiritual teacher from ancient India and the founder of Buddhism. Born as Siddhartha Gautama, he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and spent the rest of his life teaching the path to liberation from suffering. His teachings form the basis of the Buddhist religion.


Guan Yin/Chenrezig/Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva

  • Chinese: 观音菩萨 (Guānyīn Púsà)
  • Sanskrit: Avalokiteśvara
  • Meaning: "The Lord Who Looks Down" (in compassion)
  • Summary:
  • Avalokitesvara, known as Guan Yin in Chinese and Chenrezig in Tibetan Buddhism, is the embodiment of the compassion of all Buddhas. Guan Yin is one of the most widely worshipped bodhisattvas in Asia. As the Bodhisattva of Compassion, he is deeply revered for his infinite compassion and willingness to help all sentient beings. According to the "Lotus Sutra", Avalokitesvara can manifest in any form needed to relieve suffering, which has led to a multitude of representations across different cultures. In China, Guan Yin is often depicted as a female figure, signifying gentle compassion and mercy. One of the most famous depictions is with a thousand arms and eyes on each hand, symbolizing his omnipresent ability to assist the suffering beings in the samsaric world. His mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum", is one of the most widely used in Buddhism, encapsulating the essence of compassion and the altruistic desire to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

Green Tara

  • Chinese: 绿度母 (Lǜ Dùmǔ)
  • Sanskrit: Śyāmatārā
  • Meaning: "Green Savior"
  • Summary: Green Tara is a revered female Bodhisattva in Tibetan Buddhism and is considered a manifestation of the active, compassionate force of all Buddhas. She is one of the most popular deities in Tibetan Buddhism, known for her swift response to those who invoke her. Green Tara is especially associated with protection from fear and the eight great dangers in samsaric existence, such as pride, delusion, and jealousy. She is often depicted in a posture of ease and readiness for action, reflecting her commitment to assist beings swiftly. Her green color symbolizes the active and energetic aspect of compassion, and her hand gestures (mudras) represent the granting of wishes and protection. Green Tara's practice involves various meditations and mantras, central to which is the mantra "Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha", seeking her quick intervention and aid. Her role in Buddhist practice is profound, offering an accessible path to liberation and enlightenment through compassion and active engagement in the world.

Update: Jean-Sebastien Thorn generated another one with sword

Manjusri Bodhisattva

  • Chinese: 文殊菩萨 (Wénshū Púsà)
  • Sanskrit: Mañjuśrī
  • Meaning: "Gentle Glory" or "Beautifully Auspicious"
  • Summary: Mañjuśrī is the bodhisattva associated with transcendent wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism. Often depicted wielding a flaming sword in his right hand, which cuts through ignorance and delusion, and holding the Prajñāpāramitā Sutra in his left, he represents the embodiment of enlightened wisdom. Mañjuśrī's presence is invoked in Buddhist teachings to dispel darkness and to illuminate the path of understanding, and to see the interconnectedness and emptiness of all phenomena. He is typically portrayed as a young prince, symbolizing the freshness and vibrancy of wisdom. His presence in Buddhist teachings emphasizes the importance of developing insight and understanding as the means to achieve enlightenment. His mantras and meditations are used to sharpen intellect, enhance memory, and deepen understanding of the Buddhist teachings, making him a patron for scholars and students of Buddhism. His teachings encourage the clear seeing of reality beyond dualities, and he is revered for his insight into the true nature of phenomena.

Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva

  • Chinese: 虚空藏菩萨 (Xūkōngzàng Púsà)
  • Sanskrit: Ākāśagarbha
  • Meaning: "Boundless Space Treasury"
  • Summary: Ākāśagarbha, meaning 'Treasury of the Boundless Void', represents the vastness of space and the profound depth of Buddhist wisdom. He is often associated with memory and intelligence, aiding devotees in retaining and understanding the Dharma teachings, helping devotees to understand the emptiness of phenomena. In Mahayana Buddhism, Ākāśagarbha is revered for his role in helping beings develop a vast and open mind, akin to limitless space. He is typically depicted holding a precious jewel and a lotus, symbolizing the light of wisdom shining in the void and the purity of enlightenment emerging from the murkiness of ignorance. His practices are particularly beneficial for those seeking to deepen their meditation, enhance their understanding of emptiness, and cultivate a vast, compassionate perspective towards all beings.

Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva

  • Chinese: 大势至菩萨 (Dàshìzhì Púsà)
  • Sanskrit: Mahāsthāmaprāpta
  • Meaning: "Great Strength Arrived"
  • Summary: Mahāsthāmaprāpta is a figure of great power and wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism, often associated with Amitabha Buddha in the Pure Land tradition. He embodies the power of wisdom and is considered one of the principal Bodhisattvas who assists Amitabha in guiding beings to the Western Pure Land, Sukhavati. Mahāsthāmaprāpta's insight helps in understanding the emptiness of all phenomena, leading to liberation from suffering and samsara. He is typically depicted as a majestic figure, often alongside Amitabha and Avalokitesvara, representing the virtues of wisdom, compassion, and power in Pure Land Buddhism. His role is crucial in aiding beings on their path to enlightenment, especially in cultivating the wisdom necessary to comprehend the deeper teachings of the Buddha. His practice is linked to the realization of the non-duality of phenomena.

Maitreya Bodhisattva

  • Chinese: 弥勒菩萨 (Mílè Púsà)
  • Sanskrit/Tibetan: Maitreya
  • Meaning: "Loving-Kindness" or "Friendly One"
  • Summary: Maitreya, known as the future Buddha, is revered in both Mahayana and Theravada traditions. He is currently in the Tushita heaven, awaiting his turn to descend to Earth and attain Buddhahood. Maitreya's coming is believed to bring a period of heightened Dharma and understanding. He is the embodiment of loving-kindness and is often depicted with a smiling, benevolent face, sometimes seated in a relaxed posture. In Buddhist art, he is sometimes shown with a stupa in his headdress, symbolizing his connection to the future enlightenment. His teachings emphasize the cultivation of loving-kindness and the importance of preparing for future challenges through ethical living and the development of wisdom. The expectation of Maitreya's arrival inspires hope and a forward-looking attitude in Buddhism, emphasizing the potential for future enlightenment and the continual evolution of the Dharma.

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva

  • Chinese: 普贤菩萨 (Pǔxián Púsà)
  • Sanskrit: Samantabhadra
  • Meaning: "Universal Worthy"
  • Summary: Samantabhadra, known as the Bodhisattva of Great Activity, is a symbol of virtue and practice in Buddhism. He is renowned for his "Ten Great Vows" which are a blueprint for the path of a Bodhisattva, emphasizing altruistic actions to benefit all beings. Often depicted riding a white elephant, Samantabhadra represents the strength and steadfastness of moral discipline. His teachings focus on the importance of making and fulfilling great vows, engaging in virtuous deeds, and diligently practicing the teachings of the Buddha. Samantabhadra's presence is often paired with Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, symbolizing the unity of wisdom (prajna) and action (karuna) in the Buddhist path. His emphasis on practice and ethical conduct, and on the importance of making vows and putting them into action is particularly significant for those who seek to embody the teachings of Buddhism in their daily lives.

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

  • Chinese: 地藏菩萨 (Dìzàng Púsà)
  • Sanskrit: Kṣitigarbha
  • Meaning: "Earth Treasury"
  • Summary: Ksitigarbha, known as the 'Earth Store' Bodhisattva, is revered for his vow to help and guide beings who are suffering in the hell realms and to continue his compassionate work until all hells are empty. This vow reflects his deep commitment to save all beings, no matter their circumstances. Ksitigarbha is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds between the death of Gautama Buddha and the rise of Maitreya Buddha. He is particularly important in East Asian Buddhism as a guardian of children and patron of deceased souls. Ksitigarbha is often depicted holding a staff to open the gates of hell and a wish-fulfilling jewel to light up the darkness, symbolizing his role as a guide and savior. His teachings and vows are especially meaningful for those practicing filial piety and devotion, and for those seeking guidance and protection during times of transition, particularly after death.

Garab Dorje

  • Tibetan: དགའ་རབ་རྡོ་རྗེ (Dga' rab rdo rje)
  • Summary: Garab Dorje is revered as the first human master of the Dzogchen tradition in Tibetan Buddhism. His name, meaning "Indestructible Joy", reflects the profound bliss of the Dzogchen realization. He is known for introducing the teachings of Dzogchen, which emphasize the natural, primordial state of being, transcending the dualities of subject and object. Garab Dorje's legacy is pivotal in the Nyingma school and is considered a direct transmission of knowledge from the Buddhas. His teachings focus on recognizing the inherent perfection of every moment and state of being, encapsulating the essence of non-dual awareness and spontaneous presence. Garab Dorje's life and teachings are considered a direct path to enlightenment, bypassing intellectual analysis and ritual practices, and are deeply revered for their simplicity and profundity.

Garab Dorje

  • Tibetan: དགའ་རབ་རྡོ་རྗེ (Dga' rab rdo rje)
  • Summary: Garab Dorje is revered as the first human master of the Dzogchen tradition in Tibetan Buddhism. His name, meaning "Indestructible Joy", reflects the profound bliss of the Dzogchen realization. He is known for introducing the teachings of Dzogchen, which emphasize the natural, primordial state of being, transcending the dualities of subject and object. Garab Dorje's legacy is pivotal in the Nyingma school and is considered a direct transmission of knowledge from the Buddhas. His teachings focus on recognizing the inherent perfection of every moment and state of being, encapsulating the essence of non-dual awareness and spontaneous presence. Garab Dorje's life and teachings are considered a direct path to enlightenment, bypassing intellectual analysis and ritual practices, and are deeply revered for their simplicity and profundity.


  • Chinese: 莲花生大师 (Liánhuāshēng Dàshī)
  • Tibetan: པདྨ་འབྱུང་གནས་ (Padma 'byung gnas)
  • Meaning: "Lotus-Born"
  • Summary: Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, is a seminal figure in Tibetan Buddhism credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. He is revered as the second Buddha by many schools of Tibetan Buddhism and is seen as the founder of the Nyingma tradition, the oldest of the Tibetan Buddhist schools. Padmasambhava's legendary activities include subduing malevolent spirits and demons to lay the foundation for the spread of Buddhism in Tibet. His iconography often shows him holding a vajra, symbolizing his power, and a skull cup, representing liberation from the cycle of samsara. His teachings are deeply embedded in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly in the form of terma (hidden spiritual treasures). Padmasambhava is believed to have had miraculous birth on a lotus flower and possesses immense power for spiritual transformation and enlightenment.


  • Chinese: 菩提达摩 (Pútídámó)
  • Sanskrit: Bodhidharma
  • Meaning: "Awakening Teaching"
  • Summary: Bodhidharma is recognized as the founder of the Chan school of Buddhism in China, which later became Zen in Japan. An Indian monk, he is attributed with the transmission of meditative practices and emphasized a direct experience of one's own nature as the path to enlightenment. Bodhidharma's journey to China and his subsequent teachings laid the groundwork for the development of Zen's distinct approach to Buddhism. His legendary encounter with Emperor Wu and the subsequent wall-gazing meditation at the Shaolin Monastery underscore his commitment to a spiritual path that transcends mere words and scripture. Bodhidharma is often depicted as a deeply insightful yet somewhat enigmatic figure, with a bearded, intense visage, wide eyes, and a monk's robe.

Bodhidharma was an Indian monk who is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Chan Buddhism to China and is regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, sometime in the 5th or 6th century CE, Bodhidharma arrived in the kingdom of Wei where his practice and teaching would establish the school that would become known as Chan, or Zen in Japanese.

After crossing into China, Bodhidharma travelled northwards to the kingdom of Wei, where he initially met with Emperor Wu of Liang, a devout Buddhist. However, the emperor failed to understand Bodhidharma's teachings which stressed meditation and the Lankavatara Sutra's doctrine that insight into one's own nature is the path to enlightenment, rather than performing good deeds as a means to accumulate merit. Disappointed by the emperor's lack of understanding, Bodhidharma left the court and travelled to the Shaolin Monastery.

At Shaolin, Bodhidharma began a nine-year meditation, famously facing a wall in a cave near the monastery. His intense practice attracted many would-be disciples, but he refused them all. Among these was Hui Ke, who stood in the snow outside Bodhidharma's cave for days, seeking the teachings and the transmission of the Dharma. To demonstrate his sincerity, Hui Ke cut off his own arm and presented it to Bodhidharma as a sign of his earnestness.

Moved by this act, Bodhidharma finally agreed to teach Hui Ke. Bodhidharma asked Hui Ke what he wanted, to which Hui Ke replied that he sought peace of mind. Bodhidharma instructed Hui Ke to bring forth his mind to be pacified. After a long search within, Hui Ke responded that he could not find the mind. Bodhidharma then replied, "I have pacified your mind for you." With this exchange, Hui Ke attained a deep realization and Bodhidharma acknowledged Hui Ke's understanding by naming him his Dharma heir, thus making Hui Ke the Second Patriarch of Chan Buddhism.

The teachings of Bodhidharma emphasize direct experience and the importance of meditation over scripture or doctrine. This encounter between Bodhidharma and Hui Ke is one of the most iconic stories in Zen, representing the transmission of the Dharma from master to student and the idea that enlightenment is beyond words and intellect. This story also illustrates the principle of "no mind" or "emptiness of mind," which is central to Zen practice, where the absence of fixed notions and the absence of the ego are considered essential for realizing one's true nature.


  • Chinese: 米拉日巴 (Mǐlārìbā)
  • Tibetan: Milarepa
  • Summary: Milarepa is a legendary figure in Tibetan Buddhism, renowned for his journey from a vengeful black magician to a highly revered yogi and poet. His life story is a remarkable example of redemption and transformation. Born in the 11th century, Milarepa faced hardships and betrayal in his early life, leading him to seek revenge through sorcery. However, realizing the destructive path he was on, he turned to the Dharma for salvation. Under the guidance of his guru Marpa, Milarepa endured extreme hardships and eventually attained enlightenment. He is best known for his beautiful and profound songs of realization, which express the teachings of Buddhism in a deeply personal and poetic way. Milarepa's life and songs are central to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and embody the potential for profound transformation through dedication to the spiritual path, meditation, and guru devotion.


  • Japanese: 道元 (Dōgen)
  • Summary:
  • Dogen Zenji, the founder of the Soto school of Zen in Japan, is one of the most revered figures in Japanese Buddhism. Born in 1200, he traveled to China for deeper Buddhist study, returning to Japan to introduce Soto Zen. Dogen profoundly emphasized zazen, or seated meditation, as the direct expression of enlightenment. His teachings stress the importance of 'just sitting' (shikantaza) and the unity of practice and realization. Dogen's extensive philosophical and religious writings, including the monumental "Shobogenzo" (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye), explore themes like impermanence, the nature of Buddha-nature, and the integration of spiritual practice into daily life. His teachings have had a significant impact on the development of Zen Buddhism and continue to influence modern Buddhist practice and philosophy.

Jamgon Mipham

    • Tibetan: འཇམ་མགོན་མི་ཕམ (‘Jam mgon mi pham)
    • Summary: Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, a luminary of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, lived in the 19th century and was a leading figure in the non-sectarian Rime movement. He was renowned for his scholarly brilliance and his ability to harmonize the teachings of different Buddhist traditions. Mipham wrote extensively, authoring numerous texts on philosophy, logic, literature, and medicine, which are considered masterpieces of Tibetan literature. His works blend the exoteric and esoteric teachings of Buddhism, providing clear and accessible commentaries on complex philosophical topics. Mipham's teachings emphasize the union of wisdom (prajna) and compassionate action (karuna), and he is revered as an embodiment of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. His influence extends beyond the Nyingma school and is revered across all schools of Tibetan Buddhism for his profound insights and contributions to Buddhist learning.


  • Chinese: 宗喀巴 (Zōngkǎbā)
  • Tibetan: ཙོང་ཁ་པ་ (Tsong kha pa)
  • Summary: Je Tsongkhapa, who lived in the 14th and 15th centuries, is one of the most influential figures in Tibetan Buddhism. He is the founder of the Gelug school, which emphasizes monastic discipline, ethical purity, and scholarly learning. Tsongkhapa's teachings are known for their clarity, systematic approach, and profound understanding of Buddhist philosophy. He revitalized many aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, including monastic discipline, scholastic tradition, and the practice of tantric Buddhism. His most famous works include "Lamrim Chenmo" (The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment) and "Ngagrim Chenmo" (The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Tantric Path). Tsongkhapa's legacy includes the establishment of the Ganden Monastery and the tradition of the Dalai Lamas, who are considered his spiritual heirs. His annual commemoration, the Ganden Ngamchoe, is celebrated by millions of Buddhists worldwide.

Above: Here is the illustration of Amitabha Buddha in Sukhavati, inspired by the detailed descriptions from the The Sutra of Contemplation on Amitabha Buddha. The image captures the ethereal paradise with its jeweled trees, magnificent pavilions, and the grand Bodhi-tree, creating an atmosphere of peace and spiritual fulfillment.

Amitabha Buddha

  • Chinese: 阿弥陀佛 (Āmítuófó)
  • Sanskrit: Amitābha Buddha
  • Meaning: "Infinite Light"
  • Summary: Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life, is a principal buddha in the Pure Land sect of Mahayana Buddhism, embodying the qualities of compassion and wisdom. Amitabha made a series of vows when he was a bodhisattva, the most famous being his 18th vow: to create a Western Pure Land (Sukhavati) and to ensure that all beings who call upon his name with sincerity would be reborn there, away from the sufferings of samsara. His Pure Land is described as a place of great beauty and peace, where beings can practice the Dharma more easily. Amitabha is typically depicted in a meditative posture and his iconography is rich in symbolism, often showing him in a red robe, representing love and compassion. His teachings and vows play a crucial role in the faith and practice of Pure Land Buddhism, emphasizing devotion and mindfulness of the Buddha.

Above: Here is the illustration of the Medicine Buddha, Bhaiṣajyaguru, depicted as described in the Medicine Buddha Sutra, surrounded by the serene and harmonious environment of his pure land, Vaidūryanirbhāsa.

Medicine Buddha

  • Chinese: 药师佛 (Yàoshīfó)
  • Sanskrit: Bhaisajyaguru
  • Meaning: "Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light"
  • Summary: Bhaisajyaguru, commonly known as the Medicine Buddha, is a revered figure in Mahayana Buddhism, embodying the healing aspect of the Buddha-nature. He made twelve great vows, primarily focusing on relieving physical and spiritual ailments and bringing health and longevity to all beings. His teachings are detailed in the "Medicine Buddha Sutra", where he is described as having a deep blue (lapis lazuli) color, symbolizing purity and healing. Holding a medicine bowl in one hand and a medicinal plant in the other, he represents the healing power of the Buddha's teachings. The practice of Medicine Buddha is a fundamental therapeutic and spiritual practice in many Buddhist traditions, often involving meditation, mantra recitation, and visualization techniques. His teachings are particularly relevant for those seeking to alleviate suffering, both their own and others', and to cultivate a deep understanding of the Dharma as a remedy for ignorance and delusion.

Vajrasattva Bodhisattva

  • Chinese: 金刚萨埵 (Jīngāng Sàduǒ)
  • Sanskrit: Vajrasattva
  • Meaning: "Diamond Being"
  • Summary: Vajrasattva is a seminal figure in Vajrayana Buddhism, embodying the principle of purity. As a 'Diamond Being', he is unbreakable, indestructible, and clear like a diamond. In Tibetan Buddhism, he is central to purification rituals and practices. He is often depicted in a white color, symbolizing his pure, untainted nature. Vajrasattva holds a vajra (thunderbolt) in his right hand and a bell in his left, representing wisdom and compassion – the two paramount qualities on the path to enlightenment. His famous hundred-syllable mantra is a cornerstone in Vajrayana practices, recited for the purification of negative karma and the clearing of obstacles on the spiritual path. His teachings and practices are especially important for those who aspire to transform their minds and hearts, embodying the pure, enlightened qualities of the Buddhas.

Here is the illustration of Vairocana Buddha as described in the Vairocanabhisambodhi Sutra, capturing his majestic presence and the profound symbolism associated with his depiction.

Vairocana Buddha

  • Chinese: 毘卢遮那佛 (Pílúzhēnàfó)
  • Sanskrit: Vairocana
  • Meaning: "He Who Is Like the Sun" or "Illuminating"
  • Summary: Vairocana Buddha is a major deity in Mahayana Buddhism, often referred to as the Cosmic Buddha. He represents the embodiment of the Dharma body (Dharmakaya), signifying the omnipresence and omniscience of the Buddha. In Vajrayana, he is regarded as the source of the entire Buddhist teaching, and his wisdom is considered all-pervading. Vairocana is central in many Buddhist mandalas, symbolizing the universe and its interconnected nature. His teachings are profound and encompass the concepts of sunyata (emptiness), the interconnectedness of all beings, and the manifestation of enlightenment in every aspect of existence. Vairocana's presence in Buddhist art is majestic, often depicted with a serene expression, symbolizing the ultimate truth and wisdom beyond conventional understanding. His role in various sutras, such as the "Avatamsaka Sutra", underscores his significance in exploring the nature of consciousness and reality.

The illustration of Vairocana Buddha, as inspired by the Vairocanabhisambodhi Sutra, captures several key elements described in the text:

  1. Radiant Complexion and Golden Appearance: The sutra describes Vairocana as having a radiant complexion, likened to precious gems, and a golden appearance. This is reflected in the illustration where Vairocana is shown with a luminous, golden hue, symbolizing his enlightened and pure nature.

  2. Crown of Hair in a Topknot and Monastic Robes: Consistent with traditional depictions of Buddhas, Vairocana is described as having a crown of hair done in a topknot. This feature, along with his monastic robes, is clearly visible in the illustration, signifying his status as a Buddha and his renunciation of worldly matters.

  3. Seated on a White Lotus Flower: The white lotus flower on which Vairocana is seated symbolizes purity and enlightenment, which are central themes in the sutra. The lotus is often used in Buddhist art to represent how enlightenment rises pure and unsullied from the mud of worldly existence.

  4. Surrounded by a Wreath of Flames: The sutra mentions a wreath of flames surrounding Vairocana, indicative of his transformative power and the illumination of wisdom. The flames can be interpreted as the burning away of ignorance and the illumination of the teachings of the Dharma.

  5. Cosmic and Ethereal Background: The background in the illustration is designed to represent the Dharma realm, a cosmic and transcendent dimension. This aligns with Vairocana's association with the embodiment of the Dharma and the cosmic realm.

  6. Symbolism of the Letter 'A': In the sutra, the letter 'A' is significant as it symbolizes the essence of all Buddhas and the nature of the Dharma. Although not explicitly visible in the image, this concept can be inferred from the overall depiction, which aims to capture the essence and teachings of Vairocana.

The illustration attempts to visually translate these detailed descriptions from the sutra, creating an image that embodies the spiritual attributes and symbolism associated with Vairocana Buddha.

Here is the illustration of Mahāmāyūrī, the Peacock Wisdom Queen, depicted with a benevolent expression, three faces, and six hands, riding atop a peacock and holding symbolic items, set against a harmonious and majestic environment.


  • Chinese: 孔雀明王 (Kǒngquè Míngwáng)
  • Sanskrit: Mahāmāyūrī
  • Meaning: "Great Peacock"
  • Summary: Mahāmāyūrī, known as the Peacock Wisdom Queen, is a bodhisattva and female Wisdom King in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Her name, meaning 'great peahen' in Sanskrit, reflects her connection to the peacock, symbolizing beauty and the transmutation of poison into wisdom. Mahāmāyūrī is revered for her power to protect devotees from physical and spiritual poisoning. Unlike the wrathful male personifications of the Wisdom Kings, she is portrayed with a benevolent expression. Her iconography often includes her riding atop a peacock, holding various items such as a citron, bael fruit, lotus flower, and a peacock tail feather. Seated in the half (vajrasana) posture and with the moon as her backrest, she embodies peace and spiritual protection. Mahāmāyūrī's cult was well-developed in India and has been integrated into Buddhist practices focusing on healing and protection.


  • Chinese: 龙树 (Lóngshù)
  • Sanskrit: Nāgārjuna
  • Meaning: "White Tree"
  • Summary: Nāgārjuna is a towering figure in Buddhist philosophy, often regarded as the second Buddha in Mahayana traditions. He is the founder of the Madhyamaka (Middle Way) school of Buddhist philosophy, which profoundly explores the concept of Sunyata (emptiness). His teachings challenge inherent existences and propose that all phenomena are empty of intrinsic nature, thus avoiding the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. Nāgārjuna's works, including the fundamental text "Mūlamadhyamakakārikā" (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way), provide deep insights into the nature of reality, compassion, and wisdom. He is sometimes depicted holding a text, symbolizing his contributions to Buddhist literature, and a snake, representing his mastery over the naga serpents and his deep understanding of the nature of reality. Nāgārjuna's intellectual legacy continues to influence various schools of Buddhism and has been pivotal in the development of Buddhist thought in both the East and West.