Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Conversion: 2 Feb 2012
Time: 2h
Wiki: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

The book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is
bored with the daily squabbles over food. Seized by a passion for flight,
he pushes himself, learning everything he can about flying, until finally
his unwillingness to conform results in his expulsion from his flock. An
outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his
abilities as he leads an idyllic life.

One day, Jonathan is met by two gulls who take him to a “higher plane of
existence” in that there is no heaven but a better world found through
perfection of knowledge, where he meets other gulls who love to fly. He
discovers that his sheer tenacity and desire to learn make him “pretty
well a one-in-a-million bird.” Jonathan befriends the wisest gull in this
new place, named Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous learning,
teaching him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the
Universe. The secret, Chiang says, is to “begin by knowing that you have
already arrived.” Not satisfied with his new life, Jonathan returns to
Earth to find others like him, to bring them his learning and to spread
his love for flight. His mission is successful, gathering around him
others who have been outlawed for not conforming. Ultimately, the very
first of his students, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, becomes a teacher in his
own right and Jonathan leaves to teach other flocks.

Essays on the Gita

Conversion: 28 Apr 2012, 42h
Google Books: Essays on the Gita
Translation alone: Sri Aurobindo’s Gita, docx
youtube: 18 Lessons – curejoy
Our Demand and Need from the Gita
Quote from:
Page: 3

THE WORLD abounds with scriptures sacred and profane, with revelations and half-revelations, with religions and philosophies, sects and schools and systems. To these the many minds of a half-ripe knowledge or no knowledge at all attach themselves with exclusiveness and passion and will have it that this or the other book is alone the eternal Word of God and all others are either impostures or at best imperfectly inspired, that this or that philosophy is the last word of the reasoning intellect and other systems are either errors or saved only by such partial truth in them as links them to the one true philosophical cult. Even the discoveries of physical Science have been elevated into a creed and in its name religion and spirituality banned as ignorance and superstition, philosophy as frippery and moonshine. And to these bigoted exclusions and vain wranglings even the wise have often lent themselves, misled by some spirit of darkness that has mingled with their light and overshadowed it with some cloud of intellectual egoism or spiritual pride. Mankind seems now indeed inclined to grow a little modester and wiser; we no longer slay our fellows in the name of God's truth or because they have minds differently trained or differently constituted from ours; we are less ready to curse and revile our neighbour because he is wicked or presumptuous enough to differ from us in opinion; we are ready even to admit that Truth is everywhere and cannot be our sole monopoly; we are beginning to look at other religions and philosophies for the truth and help they contain and no longer merely in order to damn them as false or criticise what we conceive to be their errors. But we are still apt to declare that our truth gives us the supreme knowledge which other religions or philosophies …

Page: 4

have missed or only imperfectly grasped so that they deal either with subsidiary and inferior aspects of the truth of things or can merely prepare less evolved minds for the heights to which we have arrived. And we are still prone to force upon ourselves or others the whole sacred mass of the book or gospel we admire, insisting that all shall be accepted as eternally valid truth and no iota or underline or diaeresis denied its part of the plenary inspiration.

It may therefore be useful in approaching an ancient Scripture, such as the Veda, Upanishads or Gita, to indicate precisely the spirit in which we approach it and what exactly we think we may derive from it that is of value to humanity and its future. First of all, there is undoubtedly a Truth one and eternal which we are seeking, from which all other truth derives, by the light of which all other truth finds its right place, explanation and relation to the scheme of knowledge. But precisely for that reason it cannot be shut up in a single trenchant formula, it is not likely to be found in its entirety or in all its bearings in any single philosophy or scripture or uttered altogether and for ever by any one teacher, thinker, prophet or Avatar. Nor has it been wholly found by us if our view of it necessitates the intolerant exclusion of the truth underlying other systems; for when we reject passionately, we mean simply that we cannot appreciate and explain. Secondly, this Truth, though it is one and eternal, expresses itself in Time and through the mind of man; therefore every Scripture must necessarily contain two elements, one temporary, perishable, belonging to the ideas of the period and country in which it was produced, the other eternal and imperishable and applicable in all ages and countries. Moreover, in the statement of the Truth the actual form given to it, the system and arrangement, the metaphysical and intellectual mould, the precise expression used must be largely subject to the mutations of Time and cease to have the same force; for the human intellect modifies itself always; continually dividing and putting together it is obliged to shift its divisions continually and to rearrange its syntheses; it is always leaving old expression and symbol for new or, if it uses the old, it so changes its connotation or at least …

Page: 5

its exact content and association that we can never be quite sure of understanding an ancient book of this kind precisely in the sense and spirit it bore to its contemporaries. What is of entirely permanent value is that which besides being universal has been experienced, lived and seen with a higher than the intellectual vision.

I hold it therefore of small importance to extract from the Gita its exact metaphysical connotation as it was understood by the men of the time, - even if that were accurately possible. That it is not possible, is shown by the divergence of the original commentaries which have been and are still being written upon it; for they all agree in each disagreeing with all the others, each finds in the Gita its own system of metaphysics and trend of religious thought. Nor will even the most painstaking and disinterested scholarship and the most luminous theories of the historical development of Indian philosophy save us from inevitable error. But what we can do with profit is to seek in the Gita for the actual living truths it contains, apart from their metaphysical form, to extract from it what can help us or the world at large and to put it in the most natural and vital form and expression we can find that will be suitable to the mentality and helpful to the spiritual needs of our present-day humanity. No doubt in this attempt we may mix a good deal of error born of our own individuality and of the ideas in which we live, as did greater men before us, but if we steep ourselves in the spirit of this great Scripture and, above all, if we have tried to live in that spirit, we may be sure of finding in it as much real truth as we are capable of receiving as well as the spiritual influence and actual help that, personally, we were intended to derive from it. And that is after all what Scriptures were written to give; the rest is academical disputation or theological dogma. Only those Scriptures, religions, philosophies which can be thus constantly renewed, relived, their stuff of permanent truth constantly reshaped and developed in the inner thought and spiritual experience of a developing humanity, continue to be of living importance to mankind. The rest remain as monuments of the past, but have no actual force or vital impulse for the future.

Page: 6

In the Gita there is very little that is merely local or temporal and its spirit is so large, profound and universal that even this little can easily be universalised without the sense of the teaching suffering any diminution or violation; rather by giving an ampler scope to it than belonged to the country and epoch, the teaching gains in depth, truth and power. Often indeed the Gita itself suggests the wider scope that can in this way be given to an idea in itself local or limited. Thus it dwells on the ancient Indian system and idea of sacrifice as an interchange between gods and men, — a system and idea which have long been practically obsolete in India itself and are no longer real to the general human mind; but we find here a sense so entirely subtle, figurative and symbolic given to the word “sacrifice” and the conception of the gods is so little local or mythological, so entirely cosmic and philosophical that we can easily accept both as expressive of a practical fact of psychology and general law of Nature and so apply them to the modern conceptions of interchange between life and life and of ethical sacrifice and self-giving as to widen and deepen these and cast over them a more spiritual aspect and the light of a profounder and more far-reaching Truth. Equally the idea of action according to the Shastra, the fourfold order of society, the allusion to the relative position of the four orders or the comparative spiritual disabilities of Shudras and women seem at first sight local and temporal, and, if they are too much pressed in their literal sense, narrow so much at least of the teaching, deprive it of its universality and spiritual depth and limit its validity for mankind at large. But if we look behind to the spirit and sense and not at the local name and temporal institution, we see that here too the sense is deep and true and the spirit philosophical, spiritual and universal. By Shastra we perceive that the Gita means the law imposed on itself by humanity as a substitute for the purely egoistic action of the natural unregenerate man and a control on his tendency to seek in the satisfaction of his desire the standard and aim of his life. We see too that the fourfold order of society is merely the concrete form of a spiritual truth which is itself independent of the form; it rests on the conception of right works as a rightly ordered …

Page: 7

expression of the nature of the individual being through whom the work is done, that nature assigning him his line and scope in life according to his inborn quality and his self-expressive function. Since this is the spirit in which the Gita advances its most local and particular instances, we are justified in pursuing always the same principle and looking always for the deeper general truth which is sure to underlie whatever seems at first sight merely local and of the time. For we shall find always that the deeper truth and principle is implied in the grain of the thought even when it is not expressly stated in its language.

Nor shall we deal in any other spirit with the element of philosophical dogma or religious creed which either enters into the Gita or hangs about it owing to its use of the philosophical terms and religious symbols current at the time. When the Gita speaks of Sankhya and Yoga, we shall not discuss beyond the limits of what is just essential for our statement, the relations of the Sankhya of the Gita with its one Purusha and strong Vedantic colouring to the non-theistic or “atheistic” Sankhya that has come down to us bringing with it its scheme of many Purushas and one Prakriti, nor of the Yoga of the Gita, many-sided, subtle, rich and flexible to the theistic doctrine and the fixed, scientific, rigorously defined and graded system of the Yoga of Patanjali. In the Gita the Sankhya and Yoga are evidently only two convergent parts of the same Vedantic truth or rather two concurrent ways of approaching its realisation, the one philosophical, intellectual, analytic, the other intuitional, devotional, practical, ethical, synthetic, reaching knowledge through experience. The Gita recognises no real difference in their teachings. Still less need we discuss the theories which regard the Gita as the fruit of some particular religious system or tradition. Its teaching is universal whatever may have been its origins.

The philosophical system of the Gita, its arrangement of truth, is not that part of its teaching which is the most vital, profound, eternally durable; but most of the material of which the system is composed, the principal ideas suggestive and penetrating which are woven into its complex harmony, are eternally valuable and valid; for they are not merely the luminous ideas or …

1: All the Puranic tradition, it must be remembered, draws the richness of its contents from the Tantra.
2: The cosmic Play.


Conversion: 27 Apr 2012
Time: 2h, 1h
Wiki: Mahabharata

The Mahabharata, is the greatest, longest and one of the two major
Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. With more
than 74,000 verses, plus long prose passages, or some 1.8 million words
in total, it is one of the longest epic poems in the world.

It contains eighteen Parvas or sections viz., Adi Parva, Sabha Parva,
Vana Parva, Virata Parva, Udyoga Parva, Bhishma Parva, Drona Parva, Karna
Parva, Shalya Parva, Sauptika Parva, Stree Parva, Shanti Parva,
Anushasana Parva, Asvamedha Parva, Ashramavasika Parva, Mausala Parva,
Mahaprasthanika Parva and Swargarohanika Parva. Each Parva contains many
sub-Parvas or subsections.

This wonderful book was composed by Sri Vyasa (Krishna Dvaipayana) who
was the grandfather of the heroes of the epic. He taught this epic to his
son Suka and his disciples Vaisampayana and others. King Janamejaya, son
of Parikshit, the grandson of the heroes of the epic, performed a great
sacrifice. The epic was recited by Vaisampayana to Janamejaya at the
command of Vyasa. Later on, Suta recited the Mahabharata as was done by
Vaisampayana to Janamejaya, to Saunaka and others, during a sacrifice
performed by Saunaka in Naimisaranya, which is near Sitapur in Uttar

It is very interesting to remember the opening and closing lines of this
great epic. It begins with: “Vyasa sang of the ineffable greatness and
splendour of Lord Vasudeva, who is the source and support for everything,
who is eternal, unchanging, self-luminous, who is the Indweller in all
beings, and the truthfulness and righteousness of the Pandavas.” It ends
with: “With raised hands, I shout at the top of my voice; but alas, no
one hears my words which can give them Supreme Peace, Joy and Eternal
Bliss. One can attain wealth and all objects of desire through Dharma
(righteousness). Why do not people practise Dharma? One should not
abandon Dharma at any cost, even at the risk of his life. One should not
relinquish Dharma out of passion or fear or covetousness or for the sake
of preserving one’s life. This is the Bharata Gayatri. Meditate on this
daily, O man! when you retire to sleep and when you rise from your bed
every morning. You will attain everything. You will attain fame,
prosperity, long life, eternal bliss, everlasting peace and immortality.”

C Rajagopalachari’s Version

This is the text which is made available on this site.

IT is not an exaggeration to say that the persons and incidents portrayed
in the great literature of a people influence national character no less
potently than the actual heroes and events enshrined in its history. It
may be claimed that the former play an even more important part in the
formation of ideals, which give to character its impulse of growth.

Don Quixote, Gulliver, Pickwick, Sam Weller, Sir Roger de Coverley,
Falstaff, Shylock, King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Alice and her wanderings in
Wonderland, all these and many such other creations of genius are not
less real in the minds of the British people than the men and women who
lived and died and lie buried in British soil.

Since literature is so vitally related to fife and character, it follows
that so long as the human family remains divided into nations, the
personae and events of one national literature have not an equal appeal
to all, because they do not awaken the same associations. A word or
phrase about Falstaff or Uncle Toby carries to English men a world of
significance, which it does not to others.

Similarly, a word or phrase about Hanuman, Bhima, Arjuna, Bharata or Sita
conveys to us in India, learned and illiterate alike, a significance all
its own, of which an English rendering cannot convey even a fraction to
outsiders, however interested in Indian mythology and folklore.

The Prophet

Conversion: 13 Nov 2011
Time: 2h
Wiki: The Prophet (book)

The Prophet is a book of 26 poetic essays written in English by the Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer Kahlil Gibran. It was originally published in 1923 by Alfred A. Knopf. It is Gibran’s best known work. The Prophet has been translated into over forty different languages


The prophet, Al-Mustafa who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years is about to board a ship which will carry him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses many of life and the human condition. The book is divided into chapters dealing with love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

About Kahlil Gibran

Gibran, Photograph by Fred Holland Day, c. 1898

Kahlil Gibran was a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer, born in the town of Bsharri in modern-day Lebanon.

He is chiefly known in the English speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose. Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

Gibran was by no means a politician. He used to say : “I am not a politician, nor do I wish to become one” and “Spare me the political events and power strugges, as the whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen” 1

Garden of The Prophet

Gibran followed The Prophet with The Garden of The Prophet, which was published posthumously in 1933.
The Garden of the Prophet narrates Almustafa’s discussions with nine disciples following Almustafa’s return after an intervening absence. 2

Prometheus Unbound

Conversion: 5 Nov 2011
Time: 4h
Wiki: Prometheus Unbound (Shelley)

Prometheus is a Titan, who in Greek mythology is credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence, and as a champion of mankind.

Prometheus was punished for this theft by Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, who sentenced the Titan to eternal torment for his transgression.

In some stories, Prometheus is freed at last by the hero Heracles (Hercules).

The Romantics drew comparisons between Prometheus and the spirit of the French Revolution, Christ, the Satan of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the divinely inspired poet or artist.

Prometheus Unbound best combines the various elements of Shelley’s genius in their most complete expression, and unites harmoniously his lyrically creative power of imagination and his ‘passion for reforming the world.’ It is the fruit of an outburst of poetic energy under the double stimulus of his enthusiastic Greek studies, begun under Peacock’s influence, and of his delight in the beauty of Italy, whither he had removed for health and rest. It marks his full mastery of his powers. It is, not less than Queen Mab and The Revolt of Islam, a poem of the moral perfection of man; and, not less than Alastor and Epipsychidion, a poem of spiritual ideality. He was himself in love with it: ‘a poem of a higher character than anything I have yet attempted and perhaps less an imitation of anything that has gone before it,’ he writes to Ollier; and again, ‘a poem in my best style, whatever that may amount to,… the most perfect of my productions,’ and ‘the best thing I ever wrote;’ and finally he says, ‘Prometheus Unbound, I must tell you, is my favorite poem; I charge you, therefore, especially to pet him and feed him with fine ink and good paper…. I think, if I can judge by its merits, the Prometheus cannot sell beyond twenty copies.’ Nor did he lose his affection for it. Trelawny records him as saying, ‘If that is not durable poetry, tried by the severest test, I do not know what is. It is a lofty subject, not inadequately treated, and should not perish with me.’… ‘My friends say my Prometheus is too wild, ideal, and perplexed with imagery. It may be so. It has no resemblance to the Greek drama. It is original; and cost me severe mental labor. Authors, like mothers, prefer the children who have given them most trouble.’

The drama was begun in the summer-house of his garden at Este about September, 1818, and the first Act had been finished as early as October 8; it was apparently laid aside, and again taken up at Rome in the spring of 1819, where, under the circumstances described in the preface, the second and third Acts were added, and the work, in its first form, was thus completed by April 6. The fourth Act was an afterthought, and was composed at Florence toward the end of the year. The whole was published, with other poems, in the summer of 1820.

The following extracts from Mrs. Shelley’s long and admirable note show the progress of the poem during its composition, the atmosphere of its creation, and its general scheme:

‘The first aspect of Italy enchanted Shelley; it seemed a garden of delight placed beneath a clearer and brighter heaven than any he had lived under before. He wrote long descriptive letters during the first year of his residence in Italy, which, as compositions, are the most beautiful in the world, and show how truly he appreciated and studied the wonders of nature and art in that divine land.

‘The poetical spirit within him speedily revived with all the power and with more than all the beauty of his first attempts. He meditated three subjects as the groundwork for lyrical Dramas. One was the story of Tasso: of this a slight fragment of a song of Tasso remains. The other was one founded on the book of Job, which he never abandoned in idea, but of which no trace remains among his papers. The third was the Prometheus Unbound. The Greek tragedians were now his most familiar companions in his wanderings, and the sublime majesty of Æschylus filled him with wonder and delight. The father of Greek tragedy does not possess the pathos of Sophocles, nor the variety and tenderness of Euripides; the interest on which he founds his dramas is often elevated above human vicissitudes into the mighty passions and throes of gods and demigods–such fascinated the abstract imagination of Shelley.

‘We spent a month at Milan, visiting the Lake of Como during that interval. Thence we passed in succession to Pisa, Leghorn, the Baths of Lucca, Venice, Este, Rome, Naples, and back again to Rome, whither we returned early in March, 1819. During all this time Shelley meditated the subject of his drama, and wrote portions of it. Other poems were composed during this interval, and while at the Bogni di Lucca he translated Plato’s Symposium. But though he diversified his studies, his thoughts centred in the Prometheus. At last, when at Rome, during a bright and beautiful spring, he gave up his whole time to the composition. The spot selected for his study was, as he mentions in his preface, the mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. These are little known to the ordinary visitor at Rome. He describes them in a letter, with that poetry, and delicacy, and truth of description, which rendered his narrated impressions of scenery of unequalled beauty and interest.

‘At first he completed the drama in three acts. It was not till several months after, when at Florence, that he conceived that a fourth act, a sort of hymn of rejoicing in the fulfilment of the prophecies with regard to Prometheus, ought to be added to complete the composition.

‘The prominent feature of Shelley’s theory of the destiny of the human species was, that evil is not inherent in the system of the creation, but an accident that might be expelled. This also forms a portion of Christianity; God made earth and man perfect, till he, by his fall,

‘”Brought death into the world and all our woe.”

Shelley believed that mankind had only to will that there should be no evil, and there would be none. It is not my part in these notes to notice the arguments that have been urged against this opinion, but to mention the fact that he entertained it, and was indeed attached to it with fervent enthusiasm. That man could be so perfectionized as to be able to expel evil from his own nature, and from the greater part of the creation, was the cardinal point of his system. And the subject he loved best to dwell on, was the image of One warring with the Evil Principle, oppressed not only by it, but by all, even the good, who were deluded into considering evil a necessary portion of humanity; a victim full of fortitude and hope, and the spirit of triumph emanating from a reliance in the ultimate omnipotence of good. Such he had depicted in his last poem, when he made Laon the enemy and the victim of tyrants. He now took a more idealized image of the same subject. He followed certain classical authorities in figuring Saturn as the good principle, Jupiter the usurping evil one, and Prometheus as the regenerator, who, unable to bring mankind back to primitive innocence, used knowledge as a weapon to defeat evil, by leading mankind beyond the state wherein they are sinless through ignorance, to that in which they are virtuous through wisdom. Jupiter punished the temerity of the Titan by chaining him to a rock of Caucasus, and causing a vulture to devour his still-renewed heart. There was a prophecy afloat in heaven portending the fall of Jove, the secret of averting which was known only to Prometheus; and the god offered freedom from torture on condition of its being communicated to him. According to the mythological story, this referred to the offspring of Thetis, who was destined to be greater than his father. Prometheus at last bought pardon for his crime of enriching mankind with his gifts, by revealing the prophecy. Hercules killed the vulture and set him free, and Thetis was married to Peleus the father of Achilles.

‘Shelley adapted the catastrophe of this story to his peculiar views. The son, greater than his father, born of the nuptials of Jupiter and Thetis, was to dethrone Evil and bring back a happier reign than that of Saturn. Prometheus defies the power of his enemy, and endures centuries of torture, till the hour arrives when Jove, blind to the real event, but darkly guessing that some great good to himself will flow, espouses Thetis. At the moment, the Primal Power of the world drives him from his usurped throne, and Strength, in the person of Hercules, liberates Humanity, typified in Prometheus, from the tortures generated by evil done or suffered. Asia, one of the Oceanides, is the wife of Prometheus–she was, according to other mythological interpretations, the same as Venus and Nature. When the Benefactor of Mankind is liberated, Nature resumes the beauty of her prime, and is united to her husband, the emblem of the human race, in perfect and happy union. In the fourth Act, the poet gives further scope to his imagination, and idealizes the forms of creation, such as we know them, instead of such as they appeared to the Greeks. Maternal Earth, the mighty Parent, is superseded by the Spirit of the Earth–the guide of our planet through the realms of sky–while his fair and weaker companion and attendant, the Spirit of the Moon, receives bliss from the annihilation of Evil in the superior sphere.

‘Shelley develops, more particularly in the lyrics of this drama, his abstruse and imaginative theories with regard to the Creation. It requires a mind as subtle and penetrating as his own to understand the mystic meanings scattered throughout the poem. They elude the ordinary reader by their abstraction and delicacy of distinction, but they are far from vague. It was his design to write prose metaphysical essays on the nature of Man, which would have served to explain much of what is obscure in his poetry; a few scattered fragments of observations and remarks alone remain. He considered these philosophical views of mind and nature to be instinct with the intensest spirit of poetry.

‘More popular poets clothe the ideal with familiar and sensible imagery. Shelley loved to idealize the real–to gift the mechanism of the material universe with a soul and a voice, and to bestow such also on the most delicate and abstract emotions and thoughts of the mind….

‘Through the whole Poem there reigns a sort of calm and holy spirit of love; it soothes the tortured, and is hope to the expectant, till the prophecy is fulfilled, and Love, untainted by any evil, becomes the law of the world….

‘The charm of the Roman climate helped to clothe his thoughts in greater beauty than they had ever worn before; and as he wandered among the ruins, made one with nature in their decay, or gazed on the Praxitelean shapes that throng the Vatican, the Capitol, and the palaces of Rome, his soul imbibed forms of loveliness which became a portion of itself. There are many passages in the Prometheus which show the intense delight he received from such studies, and give back the impression with a beauty of poetical description peculiarly his own.’

A Buddhist Bible



First Edition


[1932, Copyright not renewed]

This is the first etext of A Buddhist Bible to appear on the Internet. One of the favorite books of the Beat writers, particularly the ultimate 'Dharma Bum' Jack Kerouac, A Buddhist Bible has had a huge influence on the growth of Buddhism in the English-speaking world in the 20th century and beyond. This etext was scanned and proofed from an autographed copy of the first edition. We are indeed fortunate that this book slipped into the public domain due to a lack of timely copyright renewal.

The first edition, which was tightly focused on source documents of Zen Buddhism, was self-published in Vermont by Goddard and had 316 pages. Subsequently, a second revised and greatly enlarged edition of 677 pages was published in 1938 by E.P. Dutton (New York), and later republished by Beacon Press. The second edition, which has been in print ever since (see box to right), covers a much wider range of Buddhist texts including Southern Buddhism, some related documents such as the Tao te Ching, and modern texts. The reprint also includes introductions by Robert Aitken and Huston Smith.

Goddard, particularly in this first edition, took the best available translation of key documents and edited them heavily to eliminate repetitious passages and extraneous material. So this is a readers edition, not a critical edition, of these texts. However, he did nothing to water down or simplify the message of the sutras; quite the contrary. One can read this book repeatedly and still come back with new insights on each reading.

--John Bruno Hare, August 28th, 2004.

Title Page

title.jpg, 47kB


Relating to Zen Buddhism


The Buddha's Golden Path

Laotsu's Tao and Wu-Wei


Essays in Zen Buddhism First Series. 4.00

Translation of the Lankavatara Sutra 4.40

Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra 4.50

These advertisements were part of the text of the original book. They are included for completeness.--JBH.


INDIAN TYPES of ethical and philosophical Buddhism did not easily find acceptance in China; it took centuries of contact before a distinctively Chinese adaptation of Buddhism was effected that proved to be congenial to Chinese soil. This Chinese type of Buddhism is called Chan in China, and Zen in Japan, and Zen seems to be the more familiar name for it in America and Europe. Other sects have risen and decreased but they proved to be more or less exotic, they never became indigenous as did Zen. An exception may be suspected in the case of the Pure Land Sects, but it should be remembered that the Pure Land Sects developed from Zen and not independently.

To tell the story of this adaptation of the Indian type of Buddhism until it became fixed in the teachings of the Sixth Patriarch, is the purpose of this book. The main part of the book is given over to English Versions of the favorite scriptures of the Zen Sect. To this is added Historical and Literary Introductions and a few notes that seem to be called for to make certain phases of the Sutras more easily intelligible.

Let us recall the fact that the knowledge of Buddhism in America and Europe has all come within a hundred years. For seventy-five years of that time it

p. 10

was presented largely by Christian linguistic scholars who were more or less unconsciously prejudiced against it and who very imperfectly understood its deeper implications. It is only within the last twenty-five years that books written by competent and sympathetic Buddhist scholars have begun to appear. Moreover, knowledge of Buddhism has come at first through translations of Pali texts which represent an older and more primitive type of Buddhism. It is only recently that the great Sanskrit texts, revealing the later philosophical and metaphysical riches of the Mahayana type, have been translated and appreciated. Buddhism was represented by the earlier Christian scholars as being "atheistic" and "pessimistic," which a more sympathetic study of the Sanskrit texts has shown to be a misunderstanding and a misrepresentation. Surely, an eternal process based on unchanging law and leading to peace of mind and self-less compassion and the self-giving of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, and the undifferentiated Love and Wisdom which is Buddhahood and Dharmakaya is far removed from "atheism"; and the "Blissful peace and cessation of change," and the self-realisation of Noble Wisdom, have nothing in common with "pessimism." But intelligent interest in Buddhism is increasing and the old time question, that used to be the only question, "What is Buddhism?" is giving way to a new question, "What type of Buddhism is best adapted to meet modern questions and modern problems?" To answer these questions is this book presented.

Chan Buddhism in China and Korea and Zen in Japan, for a thousand years, have been powerful in

p. 11

moulding the spiritual, ethical and cultural life of great nations. Today, when Christianity seems to be slipping, it is the most promising of all the great religions to meet the problems of European civilisation which to thinking people are increasingly forboding. Zen Buddhism, with its emphasis on mind-control, its dispassionate rationality, its cheerful industry, not for profit but for service, its simple-hearted love for all animate life, its restraint of desire in all its subtil manifestations, its subjection of desire to wisdom and kindness, its practical and efficient rule of life, its patient acceptance of karma and reincarnation, and its actual foretaste of the blissful peace of Nirvana, all mark it out as being competent to meet the problems of this materialistic and acquisitive age.


The original texts of these Scriptures are very corrupt, disorderly, loaded with accretions and, in places very obscure. The purpose of the present Versions is to provide an easier and more inspiring reading. For scholarly study students are expected to refer to the more precise translations of linguists.

The rules that have been followed in preparing these Versions are as follows:

To omit all matter not bearing directly upon the theme of the Sutra.

To arrange into a more orderly sequence.

To interweave and condense cognate teachings.

To interpret obscure words and teachings.

p. 12

The need. for this course will be apparent to any earnest minded person who goes to the Scripture for spiritual guidance, inspiration and comfort.

In the Sutras there are certain Sanskrit words that are of great importance to the understanding of the teaching that are difficult to translate in single words. It seems advisable to speak about them at this time.

DHARMA: Law, Truth. Specifically Dharma has come to be used for the Buddha's teaching as a whole, and also as Truth in its universal aspect.

DHARMAKAYA: Truth-body, Truth-principle, Truth-essence. It is used synonymously with such terms as: Buddhahood, Tathagatahood, Nirvana, Noble Wisdom, Universal or Divine Mind, to refer to Ultimate Reality as being universal, undifferentiated, harmonious, inscrutable.

BUDDHA: The Perfectly Enlightened One; the One who has fully attained the goal of spiritual unification.

TATHAGATA: The One who has "thus come." It is used synonymously with Buddha to express the highest personification of Reality. The two terms may be differentiated in the sense that Buddha is the "ingoing" aspect of spiritual attainment, while Tathagata is the "forth-going" aspect of spiritual self-giving and service, both being manifestations of Dharmakaya.

p. 13

PRAJNA: the active aspect of Dharmakaya; Ultimate Principle of unified Love and Wisdom. It is commonly translated Wisdom but it means far more than that as it includes both the differentiating principle of intellection and the integrating principle of Love. In significance it resembles the Chinese Tao.

ARYA-PRAJNA: Noble Wisdom, synonymous with all other terms denoting Ultimate Reality.

TATHAGATA-GARBHA: The Womb from which emerge all manifestations and all individuations. It is used synonymously with Universal or Divine Mind. Dharmakaya refers to the universal, or pure essence, or "such-ness" of Reality, in contrast to the transformations of the Tathagata.

ALAYA-VIJNANA: Universal, or Divine Mind, or all-conserving Mind. It is used synonymously with Tathagata-garbha and Noble Wisdom.

ARYA-JNANA: that which transcends knowledge, or Transcendental Intelligence. It is used synonymously with Arya-prajna, but signifies the realisation-aspect of Noble Wisdom.

BODHI: is the wisdom content of Prajna.

KARUNA: is the love or compassion content of Prajna.

JNANA: is the knowledge, or cognition, or thinking content of Prajna.

p. 14

MANAS: the intuitive mind; the connecting link between Universal Mind and the individual, or conscious, or discriminating, mind.

MANO-VIJNANA: the conscious, perceiving, discriminating, thinking, intellectual, mind.

VIJNANA: the principle of discrimination; the sense-minds.

CITTA: mind in general.


Thetford, Vermont, U. S. A.

History of Ch’an Buddhism


THE TRAFFIC between India and China in very early times was very considerable in spite of the tremendous difficulties and dangers of the passes over the high Himalayas, the Tibetan deserts and the appalling wastes and tempests of the Southern seas. But in spite of the difficulties intimations of Buddhism began to percolate into China certainly as early as the First Century before the Christian Era and by the First Century after eminent Indian scholars were finding it worth their trouble to make the arduous journey for the sake of the welcome and the honor they received at the Imperial Court and by the literati, so that by the Second Century Buddhist scriptures were being rapidly translated into Chinese.

The Chinese while being notably intellectual were not especially philosophical or religiously minded. They were a practical people and their culture was largely given up to ethics, history, poetry and art. The exuberant imagery, subtle symbolism, erudite philosophy, and deep psychological insight of the Mahayana Buddhist Scriptures came as an intellectual revelation to Chinese scholars and was everywhere received

p. 16

with scholarly enthusiasm. For five hundred years this went on with increasing momentum but. with very little adaptation and change to make it more in line with Chinese mentality and racial habits of thought and national customs. To be sure it had found a certain affinity with Confucian scholarship and ethical idealism, and with Taoist mysticism and naturalistic iconoclasm. All the outstanding Buddhist leaders were Indian born and educated and it was an Indian type of Buddhism that was being pressed upon the Chinese converts; it was Indian philosophy that was being studied and Indian ways of meditation that were being practiced; Buddhism was still a foreign cult. It was not until the Fourth Century that signs of the birth and development of a Chinese type of Buddhism began to be apparent.

When Buddhism reached China it found two main currents of cultural conditions with which it had to contend and make terms, namely, Confucianism and Taoism, neither of which, strictly speaking, were religions. The teachings of Confucius were intellectual and were almost wholly devoted to inculcating habits of ethical idealism among all classes of people. By its presentation of an ideal "superior man" and its emphasis on "propriety" and "obedience" it appealed principally to the educated and official classes and tended to conservatism and the perpetuation of ancient customs and intellectual ideas. It was an admirable culture that resulted in a high type of social ethics and customs second to none even today. It was no mean protagonist for Buddhism to meet, but it had little in common with the rationalistic and disciplinary

p. 17

and self-less ideals of Buddhism. It tended to individual pride of intellect and averice for position and power, while effecting at the same time ideals of a noble and courteous social structure. Buddhism tended toward mind-control; Confucianism tended toward mind culture; Buddhism was revolutionary and iconoclastic; Confucianism was conservative and inert.

As we have said, at first Confucianists welcomed the amazing and abounding philosophy and metaphysics and psychology of Indian Buddhism, but later they came to realise that ultimately it would undermine the foundations of Confucianism. In its distrust of Buddhism during the centuries from the Sixth to the Ninth it inspired wave after wave of nationalistic persecution. It was not until the Eighth and Ninth centuries that it came to appreciate the good qualities of Buddhism and learned not only to tolerate it but also to accept it as supplying those mystical elements which the human heart craves and which in its own teachings were entirely lacking.

The teachings of Taoism on the other hand had many things in common with Buddhism; it can be truly said that Laotsu by his doctrines of Tao and Wu-wei had prepared the way and made ready a welcome for the coming of Buddhism. Nevertheless, there was something in the easy-going laissez-faire naturalism of Laotsu that was diametrically opposed to the austere restraint and discipline of Buddhism. They both loved the quiet of solitude, but the Taoist sage wanted a little congenial company with whom to play checkers and drink wine and quote poetry; while the

p. 18

[paragraph continues] Buddhist saint sought real solitude that he might be less hindered in his strenuous concentration of mind in the attainment of a self-realisation of ultimate truth.

The doctrines of Tao and Buddha could be harmonised without strain in both their active aspect and their essence of mingled wisdom and beneficence. As the Sanskrit terms of Indian Buddhism slowly gave way to Chinese, the term Tao was freely used for Buddhahood both by itself and in many compounds; in fact at one time it looked as though the term Tao would almost entirely displace the Sanskrit term of Buddha. If a distinction is made in the meaning content of the two terms perhaps the term Buddha came to have a more static significance colored as it was by the conception of the Buddha in samadhi with all its realisation of blissful peace and equanimity; while Tao always carried a significance of dynamic activity. The words Tao and Buddha are often used almost synonymously, but still there remains a shade of distinction between the active and passive sides of reality. One of the early Chan Masters said: "Buddha is Tao, Tao is dhyana." The common use of Tao in Buddhist names is also very significant.

To illustrate this free use of Tao by the Chan Masters, let me quote a strictly Buddhist production written by Rinsai which is much admired even down to today. It was given to me by my own Master as part of his instruction.

"Buddha-nature is the symbol of purity;
Dharma-mind is the symbol of enlightenment;
The Tao is the Way of unobstructed truth
. p. 19
In essence these three are truly One,
But by themselves they are merely words.
The mind of the Tao-man should be pure, enlightened and free

Originally Laotsu had a conception of the value of mind-concentration as an intuitive method of arriving at a self-realisation of reality, but in Taoism it had become buried under a burden of self-induced trance and vision and revelation as a guide for the attainment of success and good luck. Nevertheless, there was an underlying similarity or affinity between the conceptions of the value of concentration of mind in both Buddhism and Taoism.

When Buddhism came to China it most decidedly had to make terms with Taoism, for while Confucianism was the cult of the literati, Taoism was the faith of the common people. Taoism was indigenous and while the teachings of Laotsu had been atheistic and sensible, in the course of a thousand years Taoism had taken up into itself the crude animism of a great racial inheritance to make it most decidedly spiritistic and superstitious and geomantic.

Moreover there was the Taoist doctrine of Wu-wei. Wu-wei can be translated, "non-assertion." In Taoism it generally carries the meaning of the acceptance of Tao as being infinitely wise and beneficent and powerful, and therefore Taoism emphasises the futility of Interfering with the cosmic currents, and the wisdom of falling in with the natural unfoldment of the Tao in both nature and human affairs. To Taoists, the human interference either by force or legislation or

p. 20

culture with the course of nature is looked upon as the height of foolishness. To take things as they are and as they come is the teaching of Taoist wisdom. In one sense this is what Buddhism by its doctrine of "patient acceptance" teaches, but in another sense, Buddhism is quite opposed to any lazy inertness in meeting the difficulties of life. While Buddhism teaches the patient acceptance of the results of old karma, it also teaches that good karma is to be attained by the disciplined restrain of desire, habits of clear thinking, the extinction of egoism, and concentrated meditation, thus making a rational interference with the course of nature which if yielded to would result in suffering, the course of wisdom.

Another circumstance that tended undoubtedly to the yielding of Buddhism to Taoist influences in these early days was to escape the virulence of the nationalistic persecutions which were fomented by Confucianists and which for two hundred years were directed against all forms of Buddhism as being a foreign religion prejudicial to the welfare of the state. This persecution was largely escaped as Buddhism became disguised as a form of Taoism. And often it was not so much a disguise as it was the real thing. For instance, in the case of Hsuanchien who is usually reckoned as a Chan Buddhist of a rather extreme type, he is reported to have said to his disciples:

"Here there is no Buddha, nor Patriarch. Bodhidharma was only an old bearded barbarian. The Bodhisattvas are only dung-heap coolies. Nirvana and bodhi are dead stumps to tie your donkey to. The twelve divisions of the Tripitika are only lists of

p. 21

ghosts and sheets of paper fit only to wipe the puss from your skin. And all your four merits and ten stages are mere ghosts lingering in their decaying graves. Can these have any thing to do with your salvation?"

Of course such words as these must not be taken too literally for the literature of Chan Buddhism abounds with the most extravagant and seemingly foolish remarks of the Masters that to be understood and make sense of must be considered intuitively rather than logically. But they all go to show how serious and deep was the reaction between Buddhism and Taoism in those early centuries. At this distance of time it is hard to realise how difficult was the process toward adjustment between these two cults that had so much that was similar. For a century it was a question whether the result would be Taoism as modified by Buddhism, or Buddhism modified by Taoism. Most fortunately it proved to be the latter. Even down to day Taoist temples and Taoist monks are often indistinguishable from Buddhist temples. In 1927 the writer visited a Taoist friend at his hermitage-temple just outside of Nanking; it was arranged and decorated precisely like a Buddhist temple, had a Buddhist image of Amida, but when we left, the Taoist monk gave us as a parting gift, a copy of Laotsu's Tao Teh King. In Henri Borel's well known essays�1 dealing with Laotzu's philosophy, his Taoist monk gives to his parting guest a beautiful image of Kwanon and in the essays themselves it is hard to say whether they are more Taoist or Buddhist.

p. 22

Dr. Hu-shih, the eminent Chinese philosopher and. historian in a tentative and as yet unpublished study of this very subject and period, speaks of this reaction as "a revolt of Taoism against Buddhism"; while Dr. Daisetz Suzuki, the equally eminent authority of Zen Buddhism, speaks of it as the natural evolution of Buddhism under Taoist conditions. Of the two it would seem as though Dr. Suzuki was the nearer right, but in either case the result was the same: the development of a type of Buddhism that was free from the extravagancies of Indian philosophising and intellectual inertia and sentimental personalisations, and true to the original commonsense practicality of Shakyamuni.

By the Fourth Century most of the outstanding Mahayana scriptures had been translated into Chinese. Among them were many books about the Indian yoga practices of breathing and other methods for the attainment of mind-control and concentrated meditation, that made up the Indian practice of Dhyana. The Chinese were a practically minded people and had never cared very much for philosophy and metaphysics; being intellectual they were amazed and excited by the elaborate metaphysics and exuberant literature of the Mahayana, but they were more particularly attracted to the practical systems of dhyana that promised tangible results of enlightenment and ecstasy and blissful peace that could be tested and evaluated. It naturally came about, therefore, that the first serious popular acceptance of Buddhism was in the practice of Dhyana, and as the most popular subject for meditation and concentration was the Divine Name, with its

p. 23

promise of re-birth in the Pure Land, the later sects that go under that name, on the surface, appear to have a certain claim to priority. But it is a question whether this earliest acceptance can rightly be called a "salvation by faith" type of Buddhism, for its emphasis on dhyana practice would mark it as a "meditation" type. Much depends on whether the phrase, "Na-moo-mit-to-fu" was used in those early days as a subject for meditation and concentration, or as a mantra with magic working powers. Dr. Suzuki has discussed this question at length in his Essays in Zen Buddhism, Second Series, where it can be studied to advantage.

The first name that emerges in this connection is Tao-an (���-385). He was a notable monk, learned in both Confucian and Taoist lore and books of his are still extant dealing with these yoga practices of dhyana and commenting upon them. It is easy to see from them that he looked upon these Indian practices as good working methods for attaining Taoist ideals of non-activity and non-desire.

Tao-an left a disciple, Hui-yuan (333-416), who was also a great scholar and learned in Taoist mysticism. He is most remembered as the founder of a Buddhist center or fraternity near Kuling, known as the White Lotus Society, whose characteristic was their concentration on the Divine Name, in consequence of which he is commonly looked upon as the founder of the Pure Land Sects of China and Japan. But history shows that he was more interested in the serious practise of dhyana and to him the repetition of the Divine Name was the best method for attaining concentration of mind. There was nothing new in the practice of

p. 24

dhyana; it had existed in India for a millennium and was taken over by Shakyamuni and given a new content of meaning as the Eighth Stage of his Noble Path. As it appeared in China it was at first largely a practise of Indian yoga methods as an aid to meditation but it had degenerated into a popular and easy going "still-sitting" and a lazy habit of thinking. The characteristic that now began to emerge in the teachings and interest of Tao-an and Hui-yuan was the more definite focussing of mind and its more energetic character.

After Hui-yuan there came into prominence one of his disciples, Tao-seng (���-434), who with his disciple, Tao-you, developed the doctrine of "Sudden Awakening," as against the almost universal belief in the "Gradual Attainment," that thereafter entered into Chinese Buddhism to condition its distinctive characteristic. By this teaching the old conception of the gradual attainment of Buddhahood through myriads of kotis of re-births was challenged and in its place was offered, through the right concentration of dhyana, the possibility of sudden and perfect enlightenment. The Chinese Chan Buddhism that came to monopolise the religious field was the mingling of these two distinctively Chinese elements: A more strenuous dhyana, and the possibility of a sudden awakening and attainment of enlightenment, with the Indian philosophy of the Mahayana.

The next outstanding name, and the one to whom is usually given the chief credit for being the founder of Chan Buddhism in China, is Bodhidharma. He was an Indian monk of princely family who must have arrived in South China about 470 A.D., and who lived

p. 25

and travelled in China for fifty years until about 520. This length of stay in China is much longer than is usually given but it appears to be necessary to account for all that is recorded concerning him. He must have been a most extraordinary man, a great personality, stubborn, taciturn, gruff and positive, but withal, honest, straightforward and clear minded. There are two incidents in his life that will bear repeating. Emperor Wu of Liang was very favorably inclined toward Buddhism; he founded temples, supported monks, and translated scriptures, but when he asked Bodhidharma during an interview what credit he had earned, the gruff old monk replied, "None whatever, your majesty." To the question, "What is the first principle of the holy doctrine?" Bodhidharma replied, "Vast emptiness, and there is nothing in it to be called 'holy,' Sire."

"Who is it, then, that confronts me?" asked the Emperor.

"I do not know, Your Majesty."

There is a famous poem that refers to the above incident, that has for these present times a deep significance:

"I don't know," replied Bodhidharma,
Baffled by the classical speech of the Imperial Court;
But if the Emperor had been a man of insight and spirit
He would have chased after Bodhidharma,
Over the desert sand to Tien-mu."

Bodhidharma, finding in the North no interest in his presentation of Buddhism, returned to the South and shut himself in his own monastery of Shao-lin, to

p. 26

which few disciples ever came and where, tradition says, he practised for nine years a kind of concentrative dhyana that came to be called, "wall gazing." It consisted in an honest and earnest effort to definitely realise the oneness of one's true Buddha-nature with Universal Buddhahood, by the single method of mind-concentration on Mind-essence. To Bodhidharma, books, logical ideas, study, ritual, worship were useless; only simple but "seeking" and tireless "wall-gazing" was sufficient. All distinctions of self and not-self, comfort or discomfort, joy or suffering, desire or aversion, success or failure, and mental discrimination of all kinds must be ignored and left behind, in the sole effort to merge oneself with Mind-essence which alone is reality, Inasmuch as one's own inner conscience is Mind-essence, why seek for it elsewhere? This "treasure of the heart" is the only Buddha there ever was, or is, or ever will be. "There is no Buddha but your own. thoughts. Buddha is Tao. Tao is dhyana. Dhyana cannot be understood by the definitions of the wise. Dhyana is a man's successful seeing into his own fundamental nature." "I have come from India only to teach you that Buddha is thought. I have no interest in monastic rules, nor ascetic practises, nor miraculous powers, nor merely sitting in meditation."

In Bodhidharma's distrust of scriptures and intellectual knowledge, he made an exception of the Lankavatara Sutra. The reason for this exception was because that Sutra alone taught the doctrine of the Self-realisation of the Oneness of all things in Mind-essence. When at last after nine years of "wall-gazing" he gained one disciple who understood him, Hui-ke

p. 27

[paragraph continues] (486-593). Bodhidharma gave him certain instruction that could only be transmitted from mind to mind, and gave him his begging-bowl and his robe and his copy of the Lankavatara Sutra, which afterward became the insignia of the Patriarchate, thus constituting Hui-ke as the Second Patriarch. There is a tradition that Bodhidharma soon after returned to India, but the place and time of his death is unknown.

There is no doubt that at first and for a long time the "Sudden Awakening" Chan school was a hard one to attend. It was well over the border of asceticism and self-denial, with no marks of sympathy between Master and disciple to make it bearable, but from that hard school rose a succession of great Masters and deep experiences and an extraordinarily virulent social influence.

Concerning the teachings of Bodhidharma and the Chan sect, Dr. Suzuki quotes the following passage:

"The Master (Bodhidharma) first stayed in Shao-lin Temple for nine years and when at last he taught the Second Patriarch it was in this manner. Externally keep yourself away from all relationships, and internally cherish no hankerings in your heart. When your mind becomes like an upright wall (that is, resistant to the entrance of discriminative ideas) you will enter into the path. At first Hui-ke tried in various ways to explain (to himself) the reason of mind-only but failed to realise the truth itself. The Master would say: 'No, no,' but would do nothing to explain it or make clear what Mind-essence in its undifferentiated, no-thought, state might be. Later on Hui-ke said to the Master, 'Now I know how to keep myself away from all relationships.'

p. 28

[paragraph continues] When the Master asked him to demonstrate it, Hui-ke replied: 'I know it always in a most convincing manner but to express it in words--that is impossible.' Thereupon said the Master, 'That is the Mind-essence itself that is transmitted by all the Buddhas. Have no doubt about it.'"

The story runs that Hui-ke before he was finally successful had tried again and again to gain Bodhidharma's consent to become his Master, even waiting at his gate one cold winter's night while the snow fell to his knees, and was finally successful only when he cut off his right arm to show the earnestness of his desire. Hui-ke was very learned in the Chinese classics and also in the common lore of Buddhism; he seems to have come to Bodhidharma at first more to win his approval than with any great expectation of added instruction, but after he had attained his deep experience with Bodhidharma, he made light of his great learning, became very humble minded and earnestly' sought for perfect enlightenment. After the passing of Bodhidharma, Hui-ke did not at once assume leadership as the Second Patriarch, but withdrew to a hermitage in the mountains and lived quite humbly with the lowest classes of society. He did not shun preaching but tried to do it quietly and inconspicuously. He was finally murdered by an envious Master whose disciples Hui-ke had unintentionally drawn away.

The Third Patriarch was Seng-tsan (���-606) about whom very little is known. One tradition has it that he suffered from leprosy and therefore retired to a hermitage in the mountains. There is a record of his transmitting the begging-bowl and the robe to Tao-

p. 29

hsin (580-651). Tao-hsin was also a recluse and very little is known of him except that he left a composition which has always been highly valued by disciples of Chan Buddhism.

The Fifth Patriarch was Hung-jen (605-675). It is recorded of him that he was a near neighbor or relative of Seng-tsan and came to be with him when quite young. With his assumption of the Patriarchate there was introduced a decided change in the character of the presentation of Chan Buddhism. Hitherto the Patriarchs had been of a retiring disposition, or else the times had changed making it possible for the Masters to work more publicly and assemble disciples. At any rate we find Hung-jen the head of a great establishment with hundreds of disciples and attaining imperial favor.

Among the disciples of Hung-jen were two who afterwards came into great public notice; Hui-neng whose Sutra we shall study in the following chapters and Shen-hsui, who was second only in rank in the great monastery to Hung-jen. Shen-hsui was a very learned man and a notable orator and teacher, but he was egoistic and deficient in the insight that marks the true Chan Master. Hung-jen was aware of this and so when the time came for him to appoint a successor, he passed by Shen-hsui and appointed Hun-neng. Having failed in securing the coveted rank of Sixth Patriarch, Shen-hsui returned to the North from whence he had originally come and there established a rival school that for a time was very successful and he came to be highly honored by the Emperor. His school differed from that of Hung-jen and came to be known as

p. 30

the "Gradual Attainment," or Northern School of Chan Buddhism, but at his death it was less successful and finally lost standing.

This brings us to the main interest of this book, the life and Sutra of Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch, but before we do so it is wise to say a few words about the general character of Chan Buddhism as it was in his day and show how it differed from the ordinary run of Buddhism throughout China. As we have already pointed out Buddhism as generally held was of the foreign type which had been presented by Indian monks and Indian scriptures. It was largely given up to a study of the various scriptures and an easy-going practice of dhyana. It was still a foreign religion, and only slightly affected by its Chinese environment. On the contrary Chan Buddhism was not at all intellectual, was far from being easy-going, and had become profoundly influenced by Chinese Taoism and Chinese customs.

In closing this introductory chapter it is well to sum up the characteristics of Chan Buddhism as they differed from the orthodox Buddhism of that early period. Negatively, it was more atheistic. Shakyamuni had been more agnostic concerning the nature of Reality, Nestorian Christianity was emphatically theistic, while Taoism was decidedly atheistic, looking upon Tao as being Ultimate Principle rather than personality. Mahayanistic Buddhism in contact with the great theistic religions of Central Asia had grown to be more philosophic, looking upon Reality in its three phases of essence, principle, and transitory appearances as existing in a state of undifferentiated Oneness.

p. 31

In contact with the polytheism of India and the animistic spiritism of Tibet it had absorbed much of their love for differentiated images and ranks of divinities; but that was for the accommodation of its more ignorant believers than for its elite. Under the influence of Taoism, Chanism became at first quite decidedly atheistic and iconoclastic, shading off later on into a more tolerant attitude, but even down to today, Chan in China and Zen in Japan make very little of their images which are used more for decoration than for worship. The deification of Shakyamuni Buddha that marked the Hinayana of Ceylon and Burma is almost entirely absent in Chan; in fact, the adoration shown Amitabha is much more apparent, and images of Kwan-yin, Manjushri and Kasyapa are just as frequently seen, while adoration to the image of the Founder of each particular temple and even for the Master of the Founder, seems to be more sentimentally sincere and earnest.

Further, under the influence of Taoism, Chan Buddhism had very little use for the Sutras that the Buddhism of those early days made so much of, the Lankavatara being the only exception. Chanists, intent in their strenuous practice of Dhyana, had found a more direct and immediate realisation of Reality and therein were satisfied. The same can be said of all the rest of the common paraphenalia of worship; they had no use for ritual, or public services, or prayer, or priests, or ranks of Dignity, or sentimentalism or emotionalism of any kind whatever. Every thing had to give way to the one thing of self-realisation of Oneness.

p. 32

The result of this contact of Indian Buddhism with Taoism, therefore, was to develop in Chan a type of Buddhism that was coldly rational, experiential, positive and iconoclastic, and that led to a life of extreme simplicity, strict discipline, humility, industry, sympathy with all animate life, and to an equitable and cheerful peace of mind. At first Chan Buddhists had no temples of their own, nor organisations of any kind; they were either isolated individuals living a solitary life, or were groups of disciples gathered about a Master. This later developed into the calling of Chan Masters to be the heads of monasteries belonging to other sects, and still later to the acquiring of their own monasteries and temples, with all their vested abbots of high degree, and ceremonial ritual and worldly pride. Nevertheless, as of old, the true Chan monk is more often to be found in some solitary hermitage, busy and cheerful at his manual work, humble and zealous at his practice of Dhyana, intent on the one goal of self-realisation of enlightenment, Nirvana and Buddhahood.

While Bodhidharma is usually credited with being the founder of Chan Buddhism and rightly so, it was Hui-neng the Sixth Patriarch who gave it more definite character and permanent form that time has tested and approved. Chan Buddhism seems to have discerned the essentials of Shakyamuni's teachings and spirit better than any other sect, and to have developed their deeper implications more faithfully. This development came through its contact with Chinese Taoism under the lead of Bodhidharma and Hui-neng, making it a virile and wholesome influence for all

p. 33

nations thereafter. Hui-yuan yielded to the seduction of the Divine Name and thereby gained the credit of being the founder of the Pure Land sects with all their glamour of "salvation by faith." Chih-chi (���-597), one of China's greatest philosophic minds, grew up as an earnest Chan Buddhist but yielding to the lure of his profound study of the Scriptures became known as the founder of the Tien-Tai school of philosophic Buddhism, Shen-shui, the learned Master of the very temple where Hui-neng worked as a laborer in the granary, yielded to the lure of egoism and popularity to become the founder of the passing school of "Gradual Attainment."

But Hui-neng more or less illiterate as he was said to be, had the force of personality, and insight and common-sense, to determine the essentials of the Dharma and the humble and patient zeal to work out and to apply them in the wisest way. The outstanding features of Hui-neng's Chan were as follows:

1. Distrust of all Scriptures and dogmatic teachings.

2. An enquiring mind and earnest search into the depths of one's own nature.

3. Humble but positive faith in the possibilities of such an enquiring search, in a sudden self-realisation of enlightenment, Nirvana and Buddahood.

4. Loyal and patient acceptance of such self-realisation in a following life of simplicity, self-restraint, industry, and sympathy with all animate life.

In arriving at these convictions Hui-neng's inherited and experiential acquaintance with Taoism was

p. 34

very influential. He was said to be illiterate but this could have been only relatively true of one who had mastered the Diamond Sutra and frequently discoursed to his disciples about the other great Sutras of the Mahayana. His study of the Diamond Sutra had convinced him of the truth of "Emptiness" and prepared his mind for the later truth of "Self-realisation of Mind-essence" which the Lankavatara taught him. But it was the conception of the Tao, active, limitless, inscrutably wise and benevolent, universal, eternal, ineffable, that gave depth and substance to his convictions and brought sympathy and patience with himself and with all animate life. It was the blending of all these elements in the mind and spirit of Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch, that through him gave Chinese Chan, and Japanese Zen, Buddhism their characteristic form and spirit.

Hui-neng was deeply influenced by his inherited and personal acquaintance with Taoism. In his leadership and teachings he made little of the personal Buddha and very much of Prajna in which he saw the Ultimate Principle of Tao in both its irradiant and integrating forms, as both intellection and compassion. The term he used for Ultimate Reality, and made so much of, was Mind-essence. A self-realisation of this was all the Buddha he cared about. It was Dharmakaya and Buddhahood and Nirvana and Tathata and Prajna. It was universal, undifferentiated and inscrutable, but was clouded over and hidden by karma and discriminative thought and desire and grasping. If these clouds could be driven away, and they all might be, then it would shine forth in all its pristine purity

p. 35

and potency. To Hui-neng, perfect enlightenment and self-realisation of Mind-essence and Buddhahood were the same thing. This perfect culmination of life would come suddenly as the result of an earnest and sincere concentration of mind on the search for it with in one's own mind, and this was the only way it could come. In his mind all scripture and all teachings were subordinate to the self-realisation attained suddenly by earnest Dhyana and Samadhi.


21:1 Laotsu's Tao and Wu-wei, by Dwight Goddard and Henri Borel. Pub. by Brentano.

A Buddhist Bible has had a huge influence on the growth of Buddhism in the English-speaking world in the 20th century.

Conversion: 26 Oct 2011
Time: 3h, 1h
Wiki Source: Buddhism in the United_States

Autobiography of a Yogi

This book, which introduced many westerners to meditation and yoga, describes Paramhansa Yogananda’s search for a guru, and his encounters with leading spiritual figures, blended with priceless superphysical information needed to balance the Western material efficiency with Eastern spiritual efficiency.

Conversion: 17 Oct 2011
Time: 22h, 1h
Wiki: Autobiography of a Yogi

Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramhansa Yogananda

Original First Edition, Copyright 1946,
First Online Edition

Purchase a copy of Autobiography
of a Yogi

Ananda and Crystal Clarity
are pleased to announce the online publication of the complete first edition of
Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi.

Through this online version, we hope to make Yogananda’s spiritual classic freely available to
seekers throughout the world. The print version of the 1946 Autobiography is available direct from Crystal Clarity Publishers through secure
online ordering. We hope you enjoy this free gift of the first online edition.

Ananda was founded by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of
Yogananda. Kriyananda was inspired by his guru to start ‘World Brotherhood Colonies’.
Ananda, and its sister colonies throughout the world, are the fulfillment of Yogananda’s
dream. See Chapter 48, in this 1946 edition, to read Yogananda’s own words on World
Brotherhood Colonies.

Autobiography of a Yogi is not an ordinary book. It is a spiritual
treasure. To read its message of hope to all truthseekers is to begin a great adventure.

This is a verbatim reproduction of the original 1946 edition, complete with the original
photos, many of them not seen since earlier editions. Although subsequent printings, reflecting
revisions made after the Yogananda’s death in 1952, have sold over a million copies and have
been translated into more than 19 languages, the few thousand of the original have long since
disappeared into the hands of collectors.

Now, with this online version, the 1946 edition is widely available, with all its inherent
power, just as Yogananda first presented it.

Notes on Using the Online Autobiography of a Yogi, by

You can begin by going straight to Chapter 1, or finding your favorite chapter in the Table of
Contents. All the photos are linked from the List of Illustrations, or you can link to the
photos from each chapter, where they appeared in the 1946 edition.

All the original footnotes appear in this first online edition. Just click on the linked number
of the footnote as it appears in the text.

Publishers Notes, from Crystal Clarity Publishers, gives information about this edition of the
Autobiography of a Yogi, along with frequently asked questions about this great book.

How is Ananda able to publish the Online Autobiography of a Yogi? See
article on Self-Realization Fellowship*
lawsuits against Ananda.

*CBPP Note: This should mean the ability to Publish, though I have yet to ask either body if I may.
The Court ruled that Self-Realization Fellowship did not own the copyrights for certain books Yogananda
published before his passing. Based on this decision, Ananda was able to publish the first edition of
Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi.

Ananda was founded in 1968 by Swami Kriyananda
(J. Donald Walters)
, a direct disciple of Yogananda, and is dedicated to sharing the
teachings of Yogananda worldwide.


Conversion: 4 Sep 2011
Time: 8h
Wiki: Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol

“Sri Aurobindo’s epic Savitri has already inaugurated the New Age of Illumination and is probably the greatest epic in the English language… The most comprehensive, integrated, beautiful and perfect cosmic poem ever composed. It is perhaps the most powerful artistic work in the world for expanding man’s mind towards the Absolute.”
– Dr. Raymond Piper, Professor of Philosophy at Syracuse University

It’s style inspired by Shelly’s Prometheus Unbound, the central theme revolves around the transcendence of man as the consummation of terrestrial evolution, and the emergence of an immortal supramental gnostic race upon earth.

The tale of Satyavan and Savitri is recited in the Mahabharata as a story of conjugal love conquering death. But this legend is, as shown by many features of the human tale, one of the many symbolic myths of the Vedic cycle. Satyavan is the soul carrying the divine truth of being within itself but descended into the grip of death and ignorance; Savitri is the Divine Word, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save; Aswapati, the Lord of the Horse, her human father, is the Lord of Tapasya, the concentrated energy of spiritual endeavour that helps us to rise from the mortal to the immortal planes; Dyumatsena, Lord of the Shining Hosts, father of Satyavan, is the Divine Mind here fallen blind, losing its celestial kingdom of vision, and through that loss its kingdom of glory. Still this is not a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations or emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life.

Angels Among Us – Alabama

youtube: Ey0HrEvh44c

I was walkin’home from school
On a cold winter day,
Took a short cut through the woods
And I lost my way.
It was gettin’ late, and I was scared and alone.
Then a kind old man took my hand, and led me home.
Mama couldn’t see him,
But he was standing there,
And I knew in my heart
He was the answer to my prayer.
Oh, I believe there are Angels Among Us,
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love.
When life held troubled times
And had me down on my knees
There’s always been someone
To come along and comfort me
A kind word from a stranger
To lend a helping hand
A phone call from a friend
Just to say I understand
Now ain’t it kind of funny
At the dark end of the road
Someone light the way with just a single ray of hope.
Oh, I believe there are Angels Among Us,
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love.
They wear so many faces,
Show up in the strangest places
And grace us with their mercies in our time of need.
Oh, I believe there are Angels Among Us,
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love.
To guide us with a light of love

Coming Back To Life – Pink Floyd

Artist: Pink Floyd
youtube: Indian Fusion (curated by Mohan, Apr 2018)

Where were you when I was burned and broken
While the days slipped by from my window watching
And where were you when I was hurt and I was helpless
‘Cause the things you say and the things you do surround me

While you were hanging yourself on someone else’s words
Dying to believe in what you heard
I was staring straight into the shining sun

Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime

I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life

I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the waiting had begun
And headed straight …into the shining sun

Published Works

All Works (17) : Book (6)   /  Poem (1)   /   (10)

17 Works
Hour of God Sri Aurobindo
Lay of Leithian JRR Tolkien
Quran -
I Am ThatBook -
Illusions Richard Bach
MahabharataBook C Rajagopalachari
A Buddhist BibleBook Dwight Goddard
Autobiography of a YogiBook Paramhansa Yogananda
Problem of RebirthBook Sri Aurobindo
Prometheus UnboundPoem Shelley
The ProphetBook Kahlil Gibran
Essays on the Gita Sri Aurobindo
Vishnu Sahasranamam -
Bhagavad Gita Swami Paramarthananda
Leaf By Niggle JRR Tolkien
Savitri Sri Aurobindo
Jonathan Livingston Seagull Richard Bach


Imran at Auroville, 2011

I am Imran and have been whittling away at an Idea called for some five years now. You can see my full introduction here. And meet our whole team here.

We follow the mantra – Learn, Heal, Share, Express, Inspire, Curate, Promote & Publish. See What we are (How were similar to and differ from Google, Facebook, Wikipedia etc)

When describing YM in December, we put it as: “an experiment in humaneness” and “a social venture that puts perspectives, services and help at the disposal of its visitors/beneficiaries”.

Continue reading “About”