Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Three Foundations of a Serious Buddhist Practice

The Three Foundations of Our Practice
From Human-Centered Buddhism by Venerable Master Yin Shun

For the serious student of the Buddha, for a disciple of our teacher, Master ji Ru, the Venerable Master Yin Shun explains that there are three foundations to our practice.

The three mind factors that form the foundation of our practice are (1) confidence in and a vow to attain One Mind, (2) development of bodhicitta, of great compassion mind, and (3) a vision of emptiness.

ONE Generating One Mind–meaning confidence in and the vow to achieve One Mind.

In brief, this is to have such confidence in One Mind (our inherent Buddhanature) that One Mind become our ideal and goal. It also means to make a great vow, a vow that is the omnipresent and directing in all of the decisions of daily life, the vow to attain One Mind. This begins with having trust and appreciation for the profundity of the practice: the profundity and thoroughness of its wisdom, the expansiveness of its compassion, and the ultimate purity of mind it generates. This confidence must not be based on speculative thoughts, but on our own practice experiences.


(1) While we may get a momentary glimpse of one mind in certain mindful daily activities, although more likely not, the commitment to generating One Mind must include a commitment to attending silent retreats, retreats that are long enough to allow our One Mind to arise and produce the confidence in One Mind that allows us to achieve it stably. Commit now.

(2) Contemplate the Xinxinming (attached below)

If we could improve the affairs of the everyday world, of course it would be good but it would not be a thorough solution. When we have deep confidence that One Mind is the ultimate answer, and not doing worldly “good” deeds, we have the impetus to commit to the path and its way so as to purify the world and relieve all sentient beings from their suffering. Only then are we are vowing to seek One Mind for the greatest good of all beings while helping those around us along the way. So that we don’t stray, we must constantly reaffirm this aspiration.

TWO Develop Bodhicitta, or great compassionate mind, which is the union of compassion and wisdom through One Mind as the foundation of bodhisattva deeds.

Buddhism regards liberating sentient beings from the suffering as its highest ideal. The relative degree of relief from suffering here and now is secondary. Compassion has to be practiced with the understanding that mankind and all living beings are equal and interdependent until one realizes all beings and phenomena are empty of real substance. If all of our actions were based on self-interest then even if we were engaged in charitable enterprises, such activities would not qualify as bodhisattva deeds, as deeds of a great compassion mind.


Contemplate the three kinds of dana: material, spiritual and the giving of no-fear. Contemplate Chadrakirti’s model for compassion. Contemplate Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva, Chapter Three: Taking hold of Bodhicitta.

THREE Develop a vision of emptiness that is based on dependent origination.

Start by gaining a serious understanding of karma: the wholesome and unwholesome, cause and effect–the action and consequence sequence that comes from dependent origination. Going a step further, contemplate how everything in the world is based on conditioned origination. Of course suffering results from causes and conditions and therefore the ending of suffering has its causes and conditions. Likewise, birth and death and the ceasing of birth and death have their causes and conditions.

Contemplate: Emptiness from these perspectives: the two truths, the five aggregates, and dependent origination,.