A true story about a female worker who was saved from being locked inside a freezer at work, due to her having a modest and respectful mind. A lady worked for a food processing factory. One day, at the end of her work, she routinely walked into the freezer for a final check. Suddenly, an unfortunate moment happened, the door accidently closed behind her and she got locked inside the freezer. Although she exhaustedly screamed and pounded on the door, no one could hear her crying voice, she was totally out of people’s sight. All the workers were off from factory at this moment and no one could hear what had happened inside. Five hours later, when she was at the brink of death, the security guard of the factory opened that door and miraculously saved her. Afterwards she asked the security guard why he would open the door since that was not his daily job. He explained, “I have been working at this factory for 35 years. Every day there are several hundred workers who enter and walk out: however, you are the only one who greet me with “How are you?” in the morning and say “Goodbye, see you tomorrow.” in the evening. Many people do not see me as if I were transparent. Today, you came to work in the morning as usual and asked me “How are you?”, but at the end of the work day, I did not hear you say to me “Goodbye, see you tomorrow.” As a result, I decided to take a look inside the factory. I anticipated your “Hi” and “Goodbye”, because these words remind me of who I am and make me very happy. Without hearing your word of goodbye, I knew something might have happened. That was the reason why I searched for you in every corner of the factory.”
He who loves others is constantly loved by them; he who respects others is constantly respected by them. Helping others is truly helping ourselves.
Once there was a poor woodcutter who found a wounded dragon snake in the mountains. The woodcutter kindly nursed the dragon snake back to health and later released it into a hole in the mountain. There, a precious ganoderma lucidum grew, which the dragon snake protected day and night.
One day, the emperor fell ill and needed ganoderma lucidum to cure his disease. He offered a heavy reward for anyone who could provide it. The woodcutter remembered the dragon snake and went back to the mountain to find it. The dragon snake, grateful for the woodcutter’s kindness, gave him the ganoderma lucidum. The woodcutter presented it to the emperor, who gave him a lot of gold and silver as a reward.
The woodcutter now lived a life of luxury but was not satisfied. He wanted to become an official and saw an opportunity when the queen lost her sight. The emperor announced that whoever could restore her sight with the eye of a dragon snake would become the prime minister. The woodcutter remembered the dragon snake again and begged for its help. The snake allowed the woodcutter to take one of its eyes with huge pain, which the woodcutter presented to the emperor. The queen’s sight was restored, and the woodcutter was made prime minister.
However, the woodcutter’s greed was insatiable. When the princess fell ill, and the dragon snake’s liver were needed to heal her, the woodcutter asked for the dragon snake once again. The dragon snake, wanting to repay the woodcutter’s kindness, allowed him to cut a small piece of its liver. But the woodcutter, overcome by greed, he went inside dragon snake’s stomach and took a large piece, causing the snake unbearable pain. The snake closed its mouth in agony, and the woodcutter was trapped inside.
This story shows that the woodcutter’s downfall was entirely due to his own actions, driven by his insatiable greed.
Although I am an ordinary RINPOCHE without any deep realization, nevertheless, I am very fortunate to have visited many Rinpoches. I have sought instruction from Great Dharma King Yangwo Yisinubu and from famous Rinpoches, such as Panchen Lama, Dalai Lama, Karmapa, Bo Mi Qiang Ba Luo Zhu, Dorje Losang, Dilgo Khyentse, Jiang Gong Kang Qin, Jiang Gong Kang Ce, Ga Wang, Zong Nan Jia Chu, Chuang Gu, Xia Ma, Hsi Jao, Bei Lu Qin Zhe, Tai Xi Du, Heng Sheng, Jia Cha, and Kalu. Especially with respect to nectar, I have a detailed understanding.
In general, nectar can be divided into five types: Most Precious Nectar, Great Precious Nectar, Long Life Nectar, Vajra Nectar, and Bodhi Nectar. These different types of nectar can also be divided into two different types: nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice and nectar that comes from exoteric Dharma practice. There are several different types of nectar within the category of nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice, depending upon the different manifestations of Dharma by each Buddha. Nectar resulting from exoteric practices is most prevalent in contemporary Vajrayana Buddhism. Basically, any Rinpoche can practice the Dharma to produce such nectar. Medicine or food is mostly used. Added to and mixed together with the medicine or food is sharira or a Dharma object that has been empowered. This is then made into powder to make pills. This powder is then empowered through practice of the Dharma and the recitation of mantras to become various types of nectar. Nectar that comes from exoteric Dharma practice is mostly used for empowerment, curing illnesses, and other reasons.
Nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice is totally different from nectar that comes from exoteric, ordinary Dharma practice. The degree of empowerment from nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice as compared with nectar that comes from exoteric Dharma practice is as different as ten thousand miles and one footstep. No words could adequately praise the nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice. Ordinary Rinpoches and ordinary Dharma Kings who have been conferred such titles by the world cannot successfully practice the sacred Dharma to invoke nectar. Only those who are true Buddhas, or incarnations or transformations of Great Bodhisattvas, can successfully practice such Dharma. In the sacred Dharma practice to invoke nectar, the Dharma King conducting the practice will assemble over 100 Rinpoches to form a mandala. Gold, silver, and other precious items will be burnt as offerings. The Great Dharma King will then practice the holy Inner-Tantric Dharma to invoke the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to bestow nectar from the realm of the Buddhas. The Buddhas will assemble in the sky or will enter the mandala area. This holy scene will be seen by all of the more than 100 Rinpoches in attendance.
At this time, the Buddha who corresponds to the particular nectar that is being invoked will descend. The appearance of that particular Buddha and its bestowing of nectar can be seen. There will be the emission of light and the manifestation of supernormal states when the nectar descends into the bowl. This Dharma bowl must first be thoroughly washed and must be empty. There is absolutely nothing in this world which has the mysterious and changeable shape of the nectar that descends into the bowl. It is exactly as what is described in the book Know the True Doctrines. According to people of great virtue, only this type of sacred nectar is true nectar. According to Tibetan tantra, nectar is the holy material used for initiations. No matter what type of initiation is performed, nectar must be used. Especially for the supreme yoga initiations, true nectar is an absolutely indispensable material for the initiation Dharma water. True nectar represents the causative factor that raises one from the ordinary world to the realm of the Buddhas. If true nectar is not used as the basis for an initiation, such as when man-made nectar created from medicine is used to empower, then such initiation is not an Inner-Tantric Sacred Dharma Initiation. Therefore, according to tantra, nectar is fundamental for liberation. Determining whether a Dharma King is the incarnation of a Buddha or Great Bodhisattva mostly depends upon whether he or she has the depth of realization to successfully practice the nectar Dharma. Can he or she commune with the Buddhas and successfully invoke them to bestow nectar? Any explanation other than this, no matter how many times said, is merely empty talk. This includes explanations such as, “I am the heir to a certain spiritual legacy… Since childhood, I have been officially recognized as a Holy One and have been so for many lives…. I am a Dharma King recognized by a certain Great Rinpoche…I am the head of a certain great temple.” This only proves that they are Rinpoches according to worldly regulations and teachings. Of course, they can save living beings. However, such explanations definitely do not prove that they are able to represent the sacred essence of the supreme tantra. Nevertheless, one cannot dismiss such people. They are persons of great virtue. It is simply a matter of different levels of attainment.
When visiting Rinpoches, I would speak of this matter of the Buddhas bestowing true nectar. Some Rinpoches who do not have the ability to successfully invoke true nectar become quite unhappy when this subject is raised. I think that this is not a big problem. If you think that you are a Great and Holy Dharma King or a Great Rinpoche, then conduct a Nectar Dharma Assembly in order to prove that you are someone whom living beings can fall back upon. Let everybody see that you have the Buddha Dharma within you and that the Buddha Dharma is true. This is saving living beings! Otherwise, use empowered medicine as nectar and save living beings while cultivating yourself with a heart of humility!
I would like to raise the following question for everybody’s consideration. Are the Dharma Kings who successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow nectar in front of everybody able to represent the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or are the Dharma Kings who only speak empty words able to represent the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? This question is worthy of deep consideration! I and many people of great virtue believe that those who can commune with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are definitely Great Dharma Kings. Those who can only reach ordinary states are ordinary Rinpoches!
If monastics do not abide by the Buddha Dharma precepts and tenets, there will be mistakes in their practice, and their practice will become superficial. Such practice will not produce any true accomplishment. Sakyamuni Buddha spoke of those monks who do not abide by the precepts of Buddhism. He said that even if they do not covet the affection and love of others, they still covet personal gain and the offerings of disciples. This means that those monastics who do not abide by the precepts will covet worldly gain and will thus not have minds set upon cultivation. Naturally, it will not be possible for them to become accomplished. Most contemporary practitioners who have gone forth from the household life do not abide by the precepts. These range from certain Dharma Teachers and Rinpoches all the way down to the myriad monastics. Before monastics went forth from the household life, they were attached to worldly feelings of affection and love. They therefore had thoughts of worldly affection and desire. They were no different from the ordinary person. After they cut off their hair and went forth from the household life, if they did not renounce worldly desires, the defilements that obstruct enlightenment naturally would not vanish. They would not be able to cut off the defilements. At this time, even though they are not allowed to give rise to feelings of desire, it is difficult for them to stop coveting their own gain and the offerings of disciples. Thus, the longing they have at this time is longing for their own gain and the offerings of disciples. Therefore, their attachment to the five aggregates is still strong. As monastics, they are not able to abide by the Dharma and precepts. Their practice becomes false, and in the end they are not able to accomplish anything. Many monks do not abide by Buddhism. They covet their own personal gain and the offerings of disciples. They pretend to be pure. They quietly sit in meditation, yet their thoughts run wild. They long for the objects of the five desires and are deluded by sounds, smells, and tastes. They have hearts covered with ignorance and are bound by craving. Such phenomena are described in writings on the Dharma and are manifested in the practice of a portion of those practitioners who have gone forth.
Many monastics have the appearance of being pure. While practicing, they show refined and exquisite expressions. They lower their heads and are serious in speech. They often say “Amitabha!” They are frequently seen meditating in a remote, quiet place. They very much appear to be true cultivators, but in fact they are not.
Although these monastics give the impression of being very pure and scrupulous in their practice, they still have not understood the principle that all Dharmas and all things are empty. Why have they not understood this? Because their six bases are not yet pure. Their attachment to things of the world is not yet broken. Thus, they still crave forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and thoughts. They still think that the five aggregates of form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness are not empty. They cannot cut off their infatuation with things of the world and thus engage in distorted, dreamlike thinking. They still allow themselves to be tossed about by the illusory things of the world. They cannot see clearly that such things, in essence, are empty. Thus, they are constantly obstructed from attaining enlightenment due to the defilements. Both day and night, they cannot avoid such confusion. Hence, this type of monastic, although appearing to be at peace, in truth has not yet become aware. Although they meditate, their thoughts run wild and are manipulated by the outside environment. Their thoughts are confused due to both inner and outer devils. They are unable to give rise to right mindfulness. Their thoughts are affected by the external environment. Their negative karma, born of ignorance, covers their original bright nature. They are obstructed and disturbed by the defilements. Although their bodies are in one place, who knows where their minds have roamed! Other people meditate and enter into a state of concentration. Their thoughts, however, are scattered, and they think of other things. They sit in the meditative posture, but they allow their good and bad thoughts – the two types of obstructions in attaining concentration – to pour into their minds in waves. They cannot attain peace.
There are a number of those who have gone forth from the household life, including some Dharma Teachers, who covet personal gain and the offerings of disciples and who devise ways to obtain money. In the end, they ruin their reputation and destroy their moral integrity. Those who ruin the reputation of Buddhist disciples are numerous. One often hears about such things.
Since monastics of this type have not yet cut off their defilements and are not permitted to fulfill their desire for love and affection, they then turn to seeking improper gain. It is just as Sakyamuni Buddha said. They will definitely turn to coveting personal gain and the offerings of disciples. Many monastics, under the pretense of furthering Buddhist affairs, cheat good Buddhist followers out of their money and property. Every now and then, some of them secretly embezzle such money or property. Some of them openly incite others to do bad. Some even brazenly steal money and property that would have been used in the furtherance of Buddhism.
There are also those who use the Buddha Dharma in other ways in order to cheat people. For example, there are many people who stand in front of certain Buddhist temples in Tibet. Holding an alms bowl, they force others to contribute money to them. Additionally, some people prostrate themselves a few times on the ground before another person, get up, and then thrust their alms bowl before this person, forcing him to contribute something.
There are many who covertly accumulate wealth. It can be said that they are experts in making money. In the end, they ruin the reputation of true monastics, who are the majority of monastics. They cause people of the world to think that all Dharma Teachers and monks cheat people out of their money, that all of those who have gone forth, whether true or false monastics, are birds of the same feather who hoodwink devout men and women out of their money. These monastics do not abide by the precepts of the Buddha Dharma. They not only destroy themselves since they ultimately cannot become accomplished and will descend into the hell realm, they also destroy the Buddha Dharma. When their lowly, foul conduct is revealed to the world, it not only causes a great uproar in Buddhist circles, it also causes some practitioners to be unable to practice in peace. These practitioners fall into a state of improper desires. It further causes people of the world to be unable to distinguish between who is true and who is false, who is sincere and who is fake. It causes people to think of leaving the Buddha Dharma. It stirs up prejudice towards even those who are upright monastics. It causes those who have roots of kindness to stay away from the Buddha Dharma. It thus cuts off people’s interest to learn Buddhism and realize liberation. If this continues, it will be a huge disaster for the Buddha Dharma and a great misfortune for living beings. If these practitioners who have gone forth do not immediately cease such behavior and repent, they will harm themselves by descending into the hell realm. This might not matter to them. However, causing countless sentient beings to stay painfully trapped in the burning house of the six realms of samsara for eons and cons without attaining liberation is an offense that is extremely worrisome. The consequences of such an offense are too dreadful to contemplate! I have thus vowed not to accept any offerings. This demonstrates that one can cultivate oneself, propagate the Dharma, and benefit living beings without accepting offerings. It is easy for living beings to give rise to prejudicial thoughts that will cut off their interest to learn Buddhism and realize liberation. This is caused by some monastics who neglect the Dharma and violate the precepts. It can be said that these people cannot possibly become accomplished. Even if they meditate and recite sutras every day just like others, their cultivation will always be superficial. It will not produce any results.
There is the following old story. A monk went to a certain village on his alms round. He constantly reminded himself that he must carefully abide by the precepts and must not violate the Buddha Dharma or proper etiquette. When he arrived before the door of a certain house, the woman of the house invited him inside in order to test whether he strictly abides by the precepts. She said that she greatly respects those who cultivate themselves and that she wanted to offer him the best roasted barley flour and cheese. Who would have known that as soon as he stepped into the house, this woman immediately jumped up and locked the door shut! She then said, “There are three things – if you do any one of them, I will give you the key and let you go. Otherwise, do not even think of leaving here.” This monk, having no other choice, could only ask, “Tell me, what three things?” The woman cunningly smiled and replied, “First, I have here a jar of wine. Drink it all. Second, on the table there is high quality mutton. Eat it. Third, if you and I engage in sexual relations, I will let you go. Of these three, you must do one. You choose!” After the monk heard this, he was greatly surprised, since all three things involved violating the precepts. He was at his wits’ end and did not know what to do. He thought of grabbing the key away from her, opening the door, and escaping. However, she was a woman, and such conduct was not befitting of practitioners who have gone forth from the household life. On the other hand, he feared that if he did not leave, people would certainly become suspicious. He reasoned that of those three things, sexual misconduct and eating meat were both serious violations of the precepts, whereas drinking wine was the lightest violation of the precepts. After thinking it over again and again, he decided to drink the wine. After he drank the entire jar of wine, he was completely drunk. He could not tell the difference between north, south, east, and west. Thus, he ate all of the mutton and engaged in sexual misconduct with that woman. He committed all three violations of the precepts. One can imagine the consequences of such conduct! This story has been passed down and disseminated widely within Buddhist circles. Its meaning is self-evident. It tells all practitioners, especially monastics, of the seriousness of violating the precepts. Not one of the precepts may be violated. Even if it appears to be an insignificant precept, one must be very scrupulous and absolutely must not violate it. If one violates one precept, then there will inevitably be a second violation. After one violates a relatively minor precept, there is the possibility of violating a major precept. If monastics cannot scrupulously abide by the precepts, then they may violate all of the precepts. In the end, they can only blame themselves and will reap what they have sown. Thus, the practice of monastics who do not abide by the precepts will certainly be superficial. For them, becoming accomplished will be like the reflection of flowers on water or the appearance of the moon on a mirror – something that, in the end, they will not obtain.
There is the following saying in Buddhism: “At the door of hell are many monastics.” Its meaning is what I just described. Those practitioners who have gone forth must be vigilant. They must be careful in upholding the precepts! Violating the precepts is committing an offense. Committing offenses will not lead one to the land of the Buddhas. Rather, it will lead one to the three evil realms to spend time in endless suffering!
Even if you keep yourself to a strict bedtime each night, there’s so much more to maintaining a good sleep schedule and achieving healthier sleep habits. Sleep patterns play a crucial role in how well-rested you may feel, especially over time — despite hitting a consistent amount of sleep every night (even within your recommended range), you can still find yourself feeling unprepared for busy schedules in the day ahead if you’re stuck in a late-night rut.
Sleep hygiene, or the collective steps to ensure you’re enjoying your best sleep on a regular basis, can look and feel very different for each individual based on one’s lifestyle. This usually depends on when you may need to be up and active or working, as well as when you eat meals; translating to a different sleep schedule and subsequent habits. In any case, your body is often relying on cues surrounding these daily routines in order to regulate what’s known as your internal circadian rhythm. Nestled in a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, your circadian rhythm is largely governed by the environment you’re in or by other cues in your surroundings, like a gradual shift from light to dark.
But issues involving hormones, body temperatures and metabolic influences may also impact your circadian cycle, even after just one night’s worth of disruptions or significant changes.
There are a few ways you can work to reverse any disturbance to your sleep schedule and be extra considerate of your circadian rhythm to set yourself up for better sleep tonight. Try troubleshooting your sleep schedule by doing a reset; follow along as we highlight proven tricks and tips for getting back to a good night’s sleep.
How to reset your sleep schedule:
If you’re trying to improve your sleep hygiene but don’t know where to start, try working your way through this list of proven tactics before moving on to other resources available to you.
1. Build-in pockets of break times during your day — especially before bed.
Taking time to wind down in the hours leading up to sleep is indeed important. But often people who are experiencing disruptions to their sleep routine are in the midst of an overbearing schedule that extends throughout the entire day and into the evening. If you’re having trouble staying asleep at night, it may be due to a condition known as hyperarousal, explains Jade Wu, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University.
“It’s basically because your body and mind are too revved up,” she says. “The problem may be what you’re doing, or failing to do, during the day. You must make sure you have time to rest, instead of being on the go all day long.”
Being busy, either physically or through mental exhaustion, is an easy way to tire yourself out — but if you’re not building in periods of time to allow yourself to rest, this may lead to disrupted sleep functions later in the evening. This is especially true for people who are working right up until their bedtime; simply shutting off a computer or stopping chores and making a beeline for a dark bedroom doesn’t ensure immediate sleep.
2. Practice a soothing function prior to bed.
It goes hand in hand with scheduling breaks throughout your day, but offsetting stress and cortisol in your body (the hormone that stress produces) is essential to set yourself up for a mindset that’s conducive to sleep. If you can tell that the day’s stress is following you into your bedroom at night, Wu advises focusing on a relaxing ritual in the hour before you lay down to signal to your brain that it’s time to shut down for the evening.
The activity can be something of your choice, and it can be as simple as zoning out over a favorite show or scrolling through a social media feed — as long as you’re putting boundaries in to ensure you’re not self-sabotaging your bedtime. Sleep specialists have long advocated for meditation or journaling during this time, or even something physical that can be practiced easily in your quarters, like yoga or stretching exercises. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to consistently practice it within the hour you plan to turn off your lights and put your head on the pillow; building this routine may help guide your circadian rhythm over time.
“Make sure to have some dedicated time to process your thoughts, too, or else they’ll be pent up and ready to disrupt you during the night,” Wu adds. “If you’re prone to overthinking or worry during the night, get out of your head and into your body with mindful breathing or another exercise beforehand.”
3. Monitor what you eat and drink at night.
Your metabolism has a direct impact on your body’s internal clock, says Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., a sleep medicine instructor at Harvard Medical School and sleep expert to Oura. Some of the things you consume at night may be obvious culprits for keeping you awake: Caffeinated beverages and sugary sweets, which stimulate you and keep you up later than you may intend. Spicy or acidic foods may also trigger acid reflux or heartburn which may keep you up longer than you’d like.
Alcohol is a nervous system depressant and may seem like it helps you get to sleep, but research confirms that booze before bed may reduce the quality of your sleep by impairing your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Alongside a heavy meal late in the day, these kinds of dietary choices may impact you over time — and definitely impacts sleep quality if you have a temporary disruption in routine.
Stick to decaffeinated teas and other soothing beverages, and try reaching for a portion-controlled unprocessed snack if you’re hungry before bed; fresh fruit or even a dose of lean protein can help lull you to sleep. There is a wide range of foods that you can incorporate into your end-of-day routine which promotes better sleep if your snacking habits are impeding bedtime.
4. Invest in an air purifier and air conditioning as necessary.
Many people may already know that sleeping hot is one surefire way to damper the quality of your sleep and set yourself up for tossing and turning during the night. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) review suggested that temperatures higher than 75°F in your bedroom overnight (as well as below 54°F in cooler months) may prompt you to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the night.
But temperature and a good air conditioner isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to the air inside your bedroom. Poor ventilation and air quality may impact your lungs and overall sleep quality, especially if you have pets or share your bedroom with more than one person.
“If you have a small bedroom and share it with other humans or animals consistently, the air quality may not be ideal for good quality sleep,” Wu says, adding that humans’ oxygen saturation levels drop significantly as breathing becomes more shallow during certain stages of sleep. “Keep doors and windows open if possible to keep the air flowing.”
5. Limit your exposure to light in the hours before bed.
Whether it’s light emitted from an electronic device or if you’re someone who needs to sleep during the day to work at night, you need to curtail your exposure to light in order to stimulate your body into a good period of sleep.
For most, this means dimming or turning off lights in your home and in your bedroom; doing so may prompt your circadian rhythm to communicate to your brain to produce melatonin, a sleep hormone that makes you feel naturally tired and drowsy. This includes light produced by electronic screens, from television and computers to smartphones that you may wish to use while lying in bed.
On the flip side, you’ll harness natural light and other devices in your home to help you feel more awake when you need to be — a key regulatory function of the circadian rhythm. “When we spend all day indoors, we don’t get enough broad-spectrum light exposure, which makes it harder for our circadian clocks to function,” Wu explains. “At least half an hour of outdoor light during the day can improve sleep quality.”
6. Try sleeping a bit longer.
If you’re frequently fighting to drag yourself out of bed in the morning despite sticking to a strict bedtime, this could be your body’s way of signaling that you’re just not getting enough sleep. “If you are falling short of the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep for adults, you might consider trying to build in a bit more time into your routine by adjusting your bedtime slowly,” Robbins advises.
You may need to adjust your sleep habits on a seasonal basis, too, due to the limited amount of sunshine that most experience during the winter. This is especially true if you’re experiencing what’s known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is much more common and goes undiagnosed in many individuals with mild cases.
“Our brain is less able to understand when it should be tired and when it should be alert [during the winter],” she adds. “If this is an issue for you, try to get outside and into the light when the sun is up to help train your brain to understand appropriate sleep and wake times.”
7. Don’t categorize your sleep routine between weekdays and weekends.
Sticking to a strict schedule and good habits during the weekday and then slacking off on weekends may seem innate for some; after all, you don’t have to wake up when you’re not at work or in school. But doing this on a cycle can easily damage your quality of sleep and make it impossible to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, due to a phenomenon that sleep experts call “social jetlag.”
“When we sleep and rise at very different times on workdays versus days off, it’s like we’re traveling multiple time zones throughout the week and getting jetlagged,” Wu says. “This confuses our circadian clocks, making our sleep quality and daytime functioning worse.”
If you’re finding that you’re having a lot of trouble getting to sleep or are feeling particularly restless on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, social jetlag is likely a root cause — and a key indicator you’ll need to maintain a recurrent wake-up time each morning to avoid the issue. Organizing your sleep schedule around a consistent wake-up time rather than a consistent bedtime will ensure your circadian rhythm helps you truly feel sleepy at the end of the day rather than tossing and turning in bed.
8. Avoid getting into bed when you don’t feel sleepy.
This is also true for someone who frequently wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Consistently using your bed to signal your brain that it’s time to sleep — rather than simply lounging, eating a meal, binging shows or doomscrolling — can become part of a routine that helps those who frequently are tossing and turning from becoming frustrated and being unable to sleep.
“If you toss and turn after getting back into bed, start over again — get out of your bed and only get back when you actually feel tired,” Robbins advises, adding that people can also use this tactic if they have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Setting boundaries in your bedroom to truly delegate sleeping to your bed on its own can be very helpful if you can’t seem to find a solution for tossing and turning on end. Don’t try to adhere to a bedtime by begrudgingly laying in bed if you feel alert and awake; try other techniques listed in this guide to calm down, and feel out your circadian clock to really know when you’re ready to lay down and hit the pillow.
9. Skip naps and hold out for your bedtime.
Taking a power nap seems like a good solution if you’ve recently experienced an interruption in your sleeping routine — whether it’s traveling into another time zone or simply because you’ve been sleeping poorly at home recently. But napping can inevitably cause you to feel more tired and groggy than you did before in most cases, as it only takes between 60 and 90 minutes for your body to slip into REM sleep, and waking up from that prematurely contributes to this sensation.
To avoid impacting your circadian rhythm, try avoiding naps altogether — if you can’t skip a nap for whatever reason, be sure to keep it to 30 minutes or less and make it as early in the day as possible. Doing so may leave your circadian clock better positioned for a regular bedtime later, as Mayo Clinic officials have noted.
10. Don’t quit your current sleep habits cold turkey.
This may sound counterintuitive, but you can’t expect results overnight — adopt all of these techniques and new objectives on a rolling basis, as abruptly changing your sleeping habits can easily lead to more disaster before any growth. One key aspect to think about is an adjusted bedtime; it’s very easy to dip into sleeping time than it is to make more of it, so be easy on yourself at first.
Both Robbins and Wu, alongside many other sleep experts, advise easing into a new, optimized bedtime by training yourself to get into bed earlier in 15-minute increments every three days. If you have a sleep routine already, including wind-down activities, bumping these up too can help impact your circadian rhythm naturally over time.
Temporary issues that may be impacting your sleep schedule:
A disruption in your sleep schedule and subsequent quality of rest can be expected due to a myriad of lifestyle choices, most of which you can immediately address by using some of the tactics we’ve highlighted in the sections above.
You should expect that your sleep schedule will be impacted due to issues like:
Pulling an all-nighter
Traveling through multiple time zones on long-haul trips
Jet lag on extended trips
Temporary evening work shifts
Light pollution at home
Temporary illness as well as stress and anxiety
While it’s normal for your sleep schedule to be temporarily disrupted or impaired due to these issues, there may be other root causes behind declining sleep quality that you’ll need help addressing. Since having an inconsistent sleep schedule often quickly leads to poor sleep, chronic health issues or lifestyle choices that are leading you to experience sleep disruption should be addressed with your healthcare provider. Without working to reverse these chronic disruptions, research suggests that poor sleep quality and an impacted circadian rhythm can lead to depression, other sleep disorders, seasonal affective disorder (known as SAD), as well as physical drawbacks like an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
Sleep can easily be impacted by lifestyle choices that you may need help from a doctor in managing in the long run; namely, proper nutrition, sustained exercise and stress management, explains Ali Rodriguez, M.D., an Arizona-based OB-GYN and women’s health expert to health technology brand Oura. “A lot of people don’t realize that exercise, for example, helps our sleep; moving your body for at least 30 minutes five days a week contributes to better sleep,” Dr. Rodriguez says.
Mental health may also come into play and require a helping hand, Robbins adds. “Managing stress across the day is important and can help with sleep; research suggests those who practice meditation and mindfulness get better sleep and take a bit less time to fall asleep than those without these skills,” she says.
When it’s time to see a doctor: One key indicator is a chronic toss-and-turn that lasts for more than 30 minutes. If you’ve experienced this issue almost every night during the week and have done so for more than 3 months, it’s time to seek out medical input. This time frame remains true for most sleep issues, like chronically waking up in the middle of the night — or having trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
Dr. Rodriguez stresses checking in with your healthcare provider is also crucial when you can no longer get through essential tasks within your daily routine. Given that current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures peg more than 70 million Americans as being influenced by underlying sleep disorders, some of which may silently impact circadian rhythms, there may be an issue that requires medical attention before you’re able to truly enjoy a good night’s sleep.
At the International Art Museum of America in downtown San Francisco, there is a special exhibition room, dedicated to Professor Yuhua Shouzhi Wang. This installation was established in 2018, containing a variety of water and ink paintings as wells as sketches. Professor Wang’s acclaimed works have been displayed all over the world, including an exhibition at Congress in 2008, where they called her work a ‘treasure of the world’. In 2019, Professor Wang’s art was exhibited at Shanghai Exhibition Center in China and the Louvre Museum in Paris. An art critic Aude de Kerros praised this event in Paris, saying ‘I have curated and critiqued so many art exhibitions, yet I have never seen an exhibition like this where all the guests are so touched and amazed by the art.’ Following the Paris exhibition, Professor Peter Drake, the Provost of the New York Academy of Art, presented a certificate to Professor Wang, recognizing her extraordinary contributions to representational and abstract art. In December 2020, the Chairman of Centre for Peace in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Guy Djoken awarded an “International First-Class Artist” title to Professor Wang for her accomplishment. Professor Wang is the only Asian artist who has ever received such a title. On December 29th 2020, Chairman Guy Djoken came to the museum to personally present the title certificate to Professor Wang.
Many people are aware that Professor Yuhua Shouzhi Wang is a world-renowned artist. However, the true identity of Professor Yuhua Shouzhi Wang is revealed as Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva. She embodies great wisdom and compassion, noble morality, kindness, altruism, and selflessness in a perfect manner. She always considers other people’s well-being and is humble and very approachable. The compassion and kindness of Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, are pure and flawless. For example, in 2015, someone sneaked into the International Art Museum of America in San Francisco and tried to steal an artwork that had been acclaimed by the World Federation of UNESCO (WFUCA). This person was arrested by the police on site and subsequently detained. Since the artwork that he tried to steal was one of Fomu’s masterpieces, the court repeatedly requested Fomu to provide a valuation of the artwork, so that they could use her valuation to determinethe term for sentencing. When Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, knew about this person’s distress, She provided a statement saying that the artwork was rather ordinary and had no value. The court had no way of sentencing the person to any term and had to release him.
Another time, Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, saved a butterfly that had fallen into the water. Worried about the butterfly’s safety, Fomu brought it home and kept it for a few days to make sure the butterfly is well-recovered before letting it fly away. Fomu relentlessly led disciples to conduct life-releases. She went every week to woodlands to feed ducks and birds and never missed a week. She paid for it with Her own money and never accepted offerings from Buddhist disciples. Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, is well known for Her diligence and thriftiness. For many decades, the noble Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, always cooked Her own meals and washed Her own clothes. She never entrusted others to do Her chores. She would save the food that She could not finish eating and finish it the next day or two. She was never wasteful. Usually, Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, would even save the water that She did not finish drinking, the water used for washing vegetables or hands, or wastewater from the filter and use it for irrigating flowers or flushing toilet. Through Her deeds, the Great Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, was teaching us how to start with the small things, cherish our good fortune, and actualize our cultivation practices.It is impossible to recount all the numerous exemplary deeds of Fomu.
Wherever Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, went, dragon Dharma protectors were present, and holy miracles manifested. When Fomu performed initiation and transmitted Dharma, holy states were manifested. For example, at the Antelope Valley, Fomu’s hat turned into a black garuda. In New Jersey, the hair of Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, suddenly went up and wrapped around a tall building in Manhattan on the opposite shore. In San Francisco, a twin Buddha light suddenly appeared, centered around where Fomu stood. All cultivators are touched by the compassion and morality of Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva.
In the “Buddha Imparts The Parables Sutra,” Sakyamuni Buddha explained a story to King Shengguang that conveyed the true meaning of life. The story goes like this: A thousand eons ago, there was a man wandering in the wilderness who was suddenly chased by a ferocious elephant. With no place to rely on, he ran in fear and came across an empty well with a large tree beside it. Desperate to escape, he followed the roots of the tree and hid in the well. However, the well was not a safe place either. There were two mice, one black and one white, constantly gnawing at the tree roots. And there were four poisonous snakes surrounding the well, ready to strike, and a poisonous dragon at the bottom of the well. The man was afraid of the snakes and the dragon, and also worried that the mice would eat away the tree roots. Just then, five drops of honey from a honeycomb on the tree fell into the man’s mouth, and he immediately forgot his fear and worries. But soon, bees from the honeycomb stung him due to the shaking of the tree, and a wildfire suddenly broke out and burned the tree.
The Buddha told King Shengguang that the wilderness represents the long night of ignorance, the man represents all sentient beings, the elephant represents impermanence, the well represents life and death, the tree root represents life, and the black and white mice represent night and day. The four poisonous snakes symbolize the four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind; the honey represents the five desires of wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep; the bees represent evil thoughts; the wildfire represents aging and disease; and the poisonous dragon represents death. The Buddha emphasized that birth, old age, sickness, and death are inevitable and frightening. One should always be vigilant and not be consumed by the desires for wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep. Upon hearing the Buddha’s teachings on the parables of life and death, King Shengguang was deeply moved.
This story serves as a reminder for us as well. Have we become absorbed in the sweetness of “honey” in our lives, forgetting that the “black and white mice” are constantly nibbling away at our time? Life is like a fleeting dream, and it is empty. It is crucial for us to awaken from this dream of fleeting existence.
On April 3, 2008, a solemn and dignified first-publishing ceremony of a fact-recording book entitled H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, which published jointly by the World Buddhism Publishing LLC and the World Dharma Voice, Inc., was held at the Library of the Congress of the United States. The book was also formally accepted into the collection of the Library of the Congress of the United States. Only since that time, did people in the world know that Master Wan Ko Yee, who had been broadly respected by the great masses and who had also been known as Great Dharma King Yangwo Yeshe Norbu, had been recognized by the world’s leaders, regent dharma kings, and great rinpoches of Buddhism through official documents as the third incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha, who is the primordial Sambhogakaya Buddha of the universe. The Buddha’s name is H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Since then, people began to address His Holiness the Buddha by “NamoDorje Chang Buddha III.” This is similar to the situation that Sakyamuni Buddha’s name was Prince Siddhartha Gotama before attaining Buddhahood. However, after Sakyamuni Buddha had attained Buddhahood, His title changed to “Namo Sakyamuni Buddha.” That is why we now address His Holiness the Buddha as “H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III”
In particular, on December 12, 2012, the Senate Resolution No. 614 of the United States Congress officially used “His Holiness” in the name addressing Dorje Chang Buddha III (That is to say, “H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III”) Since then, the title and status of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has been definitive by nature. And, as a matter of fact, “Dorje Chang Buddha III” is a name used legally in governmental and official legislative documents. Therefore, the previously used respected name and titles such as “Wan Ko Yee,” Great Master, and Great Dharma King no longer exist.
Several decades ago, Elder Dharma King Dorje Losang approached the Great Dharma King seeking clarification on certain Buddhist questions that troubled living beings. Provided below are the English translations of these questions.
The elder Dharma king asked: Living beings have certain questions, which I would like to ask on their behalf. Great Dharma King and respected Master who is supreme, would you instruct us? The Great Dharma King answers: If you have any questions, then raise them.
Q: What types of practitioners of Buddhism have the ability to successfully invoke nectar? A: Those Holy Ones and Great Dharma Kings who have reached the level of a Buddha or Mahasattva. Q: According to what the Great Dharma King just said, do all Dharma Kings within Vajrayana Buddhism have the ability to successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow nectar? A: Not all of them are able. Q: Why are not all of them able? A: It is not necessarily true that all Dharma Kings are able to successfully invoke nectar. Q: What is the reason for this? A: Since there are those who are Dharma Kings in name but who have not attained the realization of a Dharma King, they are, therefore, not true Dharma Kings. Naturally, they are unable to commune with the Buddhas. How, then, could nectar be bestowed? Q: Can the present Dalai Lama successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow nectar? A: I have not heard it said that he has such ability. Q: What is nectar? A: Holy food that corresponds with the miraculous powers and great wisdom of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Q: What is the function of nectar? A: To plant the holy seeds of Vajra in order to realize enlightenment. It can eliminate all karma one produced in this world. Ending the cycle of birth and death becomes as easy as turning one’s hand. Q: How big is the difference in power between true nectar and the five types of nectar in this earthly world? A: As big as the difference between the great ocean and a drop of water, between 10,000 miles and a small step. There is no comparison. Q: What is the reason for this? A: Those five types of nectar are called nectar. In fact, they are ordinary things of this world that are empowered by mantras. True nectar bestowed by the Buddhas is something sacred that has come from the realm of the Holy Ones and Buddhas. There is a world of difference. It is the difference between the ordinary and the sacred. How could they be mentioned in the same breath? Q: Have there been any ordinary Rinpoches who have successfully practiced the nectar Dharma? A: Throughout Buddhist history until the present, there has not been one. Q: You are the Great Dharma King and Holy Master in our world. Could you invoke some nectar to empower everybody? A. When certain causes and conditions of living beings mature, nectar will fall naturally. If the Buddhist practitioner does not possess enough merit, there will be no nectar. I am an ordinary practitioner of Buddhism. I do not have the ability to successfully invoke nectar. Q: Then why did I personally see you successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow nectar? A: That was due to the fullness of merit of those who were able to partake of the nectar. I alone do not have the depth of realization to successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow nectar. Q: In this world, how many Rinpoches are able to successfully practice the Dharma of invoking the Buddhas to bestow true nectar? A: All of those who have attained the realization of a true Dharma King can successfully practice it. Furthermore, they must practice it. O: Is it unacceptable not to practice it? A: It is unacceptable. Q: Why is that? A: With respect to the highest Dharma within Vajrayana Buddhism, the initiation of Ati Yoga, Great Perfection of the Vajra division, nectar is an indispensable holy element for cleansing one’s negative karma and is the resource for planting the seeds of Vajra. If the truc nectar Dharma is not practiced, then it is an ordinary initiation.
Q: The level of realization of Amang Nopu Pamu is extremely high. She is also able to successfully invoke nectar. Is she a Dharma King?
A: In order to successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow true nectar, one must recite the holy mantras of a Dharma King, must put one’s hands in the mudra of a Dharma King, and must ascend to the throne of a Dharma King. Q: I would like to ask if the Great Dharma King’s Buddha Dharma is any different from her Buddha Dharma? A: The Buddha Dharma is the same. It is all passed down from the ancient Buddhas. Q: Does the Great Dharma King study the Buddha Dharma with Pamu? A: I have not seen her yet in this lifetime. Until now, I have not yet spoken to her. The Buddha Dharma is not the study of Buddhism. It does not contain the element of study. Only ordinary people of the world study it. Q: Generally speaking, what is the Buddha Dharma? A: It is cultivating yourself to live in accord with the law of cause and effect or karma. It is that simple. It is the same with nectar. Q: What is the reason for that? A: No reason. For example, you, Dorje Losang, have attained the position of an Elder Dharma King. However, your realization deepened and your beard grew only after you received empowerment from Pamu. This is cause and effect. Q: Can the Eight Great Rinpoches of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow nectar? A: Even the Four Great Dharma Princes do not have such power. Q: Why does each and every Rinpoche in today’s world have nectar pills? A: This is correct, but such pills are ordinary things of this world, such as medicine or other things, that are empowered by adding shar-ira and chanting mantras. After such empowerment, they are called nectar or the five great pills. Q: Thus, can 100 out of 10,000 Rinpoches successfully invoke nectar? A: It would not be a disappointing result if there were only 1 out of 10,000 Rinpoches who can successfully invoke nectar. O: If there are so few, how can they save living beings? A: All 84,000 Dharma methods can be used to save living beings. As long as any method is the Buddha Dharma, it can be used to save living beings. O: Which Dharma is the best and easiest method for attaining liberation? A: It is best to learn the Dharma spoken by Sakyamuni Buddha and the Dharma of true Great Dharma Kings. In today’s world, the Buddha Dharma that can liberate living beings most easily can be found in Buddhist books which are composed of commentary and instruction by Amang Nopu Pamu! O: Is there any usefulness in being initiated without real nectar? A: There is usefulness in being initiated by ordinary Rinpoches. As long as it is the correct Buddha Dharma, accomplishment can be achieved.
Q: If accomplishment can be achieved through both real nectar and ordinary nectar, then why distinguish between real nectar bestowed by the Buddhas and nectar made from ordinary objects that have been empowered? A: The difference lies in whether the accomplishment is great or small and the time it takes for such accomplishment. If one cultivates oneself according to the Dharma after having been initiated with real nectar, then one day of such cultivation would be better than 10 years, or even 20 or 30 years, of cultivation after having been initiated with ordinary nectar of this world. After having been initiated with real nectar, one can achieve in this lifetime the Three Bodies. Q: Why are the initiations performed by many Rinpoches not called nectar initiations? A: Nectar is the basic ingredient used in any initiation. This basic ingredient of nectar is then mixed with other things according to different tantra. Therefore, there are different names for various initiations. Q: Are those who were able to receive an ordinary initiation also able to receive a true nectar initiation or a true nectar empowerment? A: If one devotedly practices the Buddha Dharma and lives in accordance with Buddhism, then this will be clearly known by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. When one has accumulated enough merit, a Great Dharma King will initiate such person with nectar bestowed by the Buddhas! I already told you. Everything is cause and effect.
Emperor Fu-Chien (337-385), also known as Fu-Jian, became increasingly interested in Buddhism. In 379, he conquered the city of Hsiang-yang and invited Tao-an to establish his renowned center for the translation of Buddhist scriptures and texts in the capital of Ch’ang-an, which Fu Chien fully supported. Tao-an, impressed by Kumarajiva’s spiritual, philosophical, and linguistic abilities, urged Fu Chien to invite him to Ch’ang-an. However, the warlord-emperor, in his aggressive manner, dispatched Lu Kuang with an army to conquer Kucha and capture Kumarajiva. Kucha fell to Lu Kuang, and Kumarajiva willingly accompanied the conquering general to Ch’ang-an in 383.
Then, a series of unexpected events occurred. Tao-an died in 385, and six months later, the Yao family attacked and conquered Ch’ang-an, killing Fu Chien. The new dynasty continued the policies of the previous rulers, such as preserving Tao-an’s translation center and promoting Buddhist studies, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Kumarajiva in the capital. Lu Kuang, upon hearing of the conquest of Ch’ang-an, halted his return and declared himself independent, establishing a state known as Later Liang with its center at Ku-tsang. Although Lu Kuang was not a Buddhist and did not care for spiritual matters, he recognized the political value of Kumarajiva.
Lu Kuang held Kumarajiva captive for sixteen years, subjecting him to numerous indignities while also using him as a military adviser. During this time, the rulers of Ch’ang-an pleaded for his release, but to no avail. Kumarajiva found this period of his life difficult and frustrating, as he was mocked for his beliefs and practices and could not pursue the work he felt destined to do. Despite this, he did not become passive or disheartened. Instead, he used this time to learn about China from the rugged soldiers who had traversed much of the country. He also quietly gathered texts to take with him to Ch’ang-an and thoroughly mastered the Chinese language.
Eventually, Yao Hsing, the second ruler of the new dynasty at Ch’ang-an, grew tired of fruitless negotiations with Lu Kuang and took a daring risk. In 401, his armies attacked and conquered Ku-tsang (in present-day Afghanistan). Kumarajiva was rescued unharmed, and in 402, he was welcomed into Ch’ang-an. He finally realized a dream he had conceived in his twenties, but it took until his fifties to come to fruition.
Kumarajiva was warmly received by Yao Hsing, who bestowed upon him the title Teacher of the Nation. The fruitful phase of his life, which has profoundly influenced Chinese Buddhist tradition from the moment he entered Ch’ang-an to the present day, began with his arrival and lasted barely a decade. Within six days of taking up residence in his new home, he accepted the suggestion of a monk named Seng-jui, later one of his chief disciples, and began to translate a text on meditation, the Tso-ch’an san-mei ching. He found that the translation centre founded by Tao-an had been preserved and supported by Yao Hsing, and he marvelled at the quality of the work his predecessor had undertaken. He found himself surrounded by an enormous group of knowledgeable monks who were ready to continue the work of translation under his guidance. He rapidly reorganized the centre so that new translations could be made even while the accomplishments of the previous generation could be reviewed and revised. Within the next few years he translated almost fifty works in about three hundred volumes.
Like Tao-an, Kumarajiva thought that the ko-i or ‘matching the meaning’ method of translation, in which unfamiliar Sanskrit Buddhist concepts were replaced by well-known Chinese Taoist words, compromised Buddha’s teachings. A review of Tao-an’s work convinced him, however, that too strict an insistence on literal translation, sometimes requiring the creation of awkward neologisms, rendered beautiful texts obscure. His belief that a translation should accurately convey the tone and texture of a teaching inseparably from its content compelled him to adopt a new methodology for translation. He chose to emphasize the central theme of a text or treatise and to edit passages which would seem unnecessarily repetitive to Chinese readers. Once he had arranged the working force at his disposal to his satisfaction, he would read a text aloud, sentence by sentence, before a large congregation. Yao Hsing would often attend these sessions, and sometimes he held the original palm-leaf manuscript in his own hands while Kumarajiva explained it. After each sentence, Kumarajiva explained its meaning and offered an oral translation in Chinese. The congregation would comment on the results and suggest improvements. Meanwhile, a recorder would write down the approved translation, and later an editor would review the whole text for style and internal consistency. Finally, a calligrapher would correct the Chinese ideographs to be sure there were no ambiguities in transmission of the texts.
Kumarajiva’s influence was not limited to the so-called barbarous kingdoms of northern China. In 378 Hui-yuan, one of Tao-an’s chief disciples, had gone south and made his abode in a monastic community at Lu-shan, a mountain famous amongst Taoists, Confucians and Buddhists for its majesty and mystery. Within a few years, he became the informal leader of the Southern Chinese Buddhist community. Shortly after Kumarajiva’s arrival in Ch’ang-an in 402, Hui-yuan wrote to him and encouraged him to continue the work of Tao-an. A year later, hearing that Kumarajiva might return to Kucha, he wrote again, strongly urging him to remain in China. During the next few years the two monks exchanged letters on philosophical and monastic subjects, and eighteen of these exchanges survive. Hui-yuan enquired about many issues, but he was most interested in gaining a clear understanding of the dharmakaya, the highest vehicle of a Buddha. Kumarajiva distinguished between dharmakaya, the ultimate body of Buddha, and dharmadhatujakaya, the invisible body consciously evolved by a Bodhisattva to serve humanity in the world even after physical death. Thereby he showed how that which is ultimately real is reflected in subtle material form through one-pointed and universal consciousness. In these letters answering questions posed by a serious disciple of buddhadharma, one can glimpse something of Kumarajiva’s own profound insight and understanding. In general, he preferred to remain hidden behind the lustre of his translations and refrained from writing treatises setting out his own views.
Seng-jui is said to have rejoiced after attending a translation session with Kumarajiva, because for the first time he caught a glimmer of understanding of the enigmatic concept of shunyata. The collective work of Kumarajiva and his colleagues produced texts which were readable, comprehensible and inspiring. After a millennium and a half his translations are still read and studied, and they are often used as the basis for new translations into other languages, including English. Even though he translated a range of sutras and commentaries from a variety of Buddhist teachings, such as the Prajnaparamita literature, the Vimalakirti Sutra and the Surangama Sutra, his most famous and influential work was his powerful rendition of the Lotus Sutra, known in Sanskrit as the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra and in Chinese as Miao-fu lien-hua. In it one finds harmoniously combined Kumarajiva’s astounding linguistic facility and his profound grasp of the scope and depth of buddhadharma. Perhaps less obvious to the modern reader is the remarkable support Yao Hsing gave to this sort of project. Also, Kumarajiva never hesitated to point out the enormous support he received from knowledgeable and enthusiastic monks who worked together with an exemplary spirit of harmony and cooperation.
Within just 11 years, Kumarajiva and his team translated 384 volumes, including sutras, commentaries, and other Buddhist texts. Since that time, his translations have been held in high regard by modern scholars due to the smooth flow of the work which conveys deeper meaning than just literal rendering. If it wasn’t for Kumarajiva, many of the great Mahayana texts may not have been preserved until today.
The major scriptures translated by Kumarajiva between 401-413 CE include:
Smaller Sukhavati-vguha (Amitabha Sutra) in 1 volume, 402 CE
Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (Diamond Sutra) in 1 volume, 402-412 CE
Satyasiddhi Shastra, (Treatise on the Completion of Truth) in 20 volumes, 402-412 CE
Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesha (Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra) in 100 volumes, 402-405 CE
Shatika-shastra (Treatise in One Hundred Verses) in 2 volumes, 404 CE
Sarvastivadin Vinaya (Ten-Category Vinaya) in 61 volumes, 404-409 CE
Panchavimshati Sahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in Twenty-five Thousand Lines) in 27 volumes, 404 CE
Vimalakirti Nirdesha Sutra (Vimalakirti Sutra) in 3 volumes, 406 CE
Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (Perfection of Wisdom Sutra) in 10 volumes, 408 CE
Madhyamaka-shastra (Treatise on the Middle Way) in 4 volumes, 409 CE
Dvadashamukha Shastra (Treatise on the Twelve Gates) in 1 volume, 409 CE
Maitreyavyakarana Sutra in 1 volume
Shurangama-samadhi Sutra in 2 volumes
Karunikaraja Prajnaparamita Sutra in 2 volumes
Brahmajala Sutra (Brahma Net Sutra) in 2 volumes
Saddharmapundarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra) in 8 volumes
Dasabhumikavibhasa in 17 volumes
On his deathbed, Kumarajiva prophesied to his closest disciples that his cremation would serve as a criterion of his success as a translator. If he had made errors – a possibility he was always willing to acknowledge – his entire body would be consumed by the funeral flames. However, if he had not erred, then his tongue would remain untouched by the fire. His disciples testified that his tongue survived the cremation of his body unharmed. This precious tongue relic is now preserved at the Kumarajiva Temple, located in Wuwei, in northwest China’s Gansu Province. It is the only temple in the world named after Kumarajiva. Additionally, the Kumarajiva Pagoda, built in the 4th century, was an important structure on the Silk Road. The elegant 12-storey brick pagoda was destroyed during a great earthquake in 1927, but was later rebuilt.
The judgement of history concurs with Kumarajiva’s disciples: his work became the backbone of the grand organic edifice of Buddhist thought and teaching that arose in China, even as the buddhavachana began to wane in India. Kumarajiva gave his life to a sacred mission, the full significance of which his contemporaries could not fathom. However, they correctly sensed from the magnetic force of his presence that subsequent generations would benefit immensely from his selfless service.
Kumarajiva’s translations were instrumental in the development of Buddhism in China, as he was able to transmit the true meaning of Buddhism through his works, which contributed to the development of schools such as the Pure Land, Tian Tai, San Lun, and many others. His translated sutras were always considered central to their principal readings.
Here is one thing author Robert Wright and I agree on when it comes to Buddhist meditation: It’s really, really boring. At least, it’s boring in the beginning. But there is another thing we agree on, too. That initial meditative boredom is actually a door. It’s an opening that can lead us to something essential, and essentially true, that Buddhism has to teach us about being human.
Wright’s insight on this point is just one of the many truths in his delightfully personal, yet broadly important, new book Why Buddhism Is True.
The “true” in Wright’s title doesn’t refer to the traditional kinds of scriptural truths we think of when we think of religions and truth. Wright is explicitly not interested in the traditional aspects of Buddhism as a religion. The book, for example, makes no claims about reincarnation or Tibetan rainbow bodies or the like. Instead, Wright wants to focus on Buddhism’s diagnosis of the human condition. The part that is relevant to the here and now. It’s Buddhism’s take on our suffering, our anxiety and our general dis-ease that Wright wants to explore because that is where he sees its perspective lining up with scientific fields like evolutionary psychology and neurobiology.
To his credit, Wright is more than cognizant that exploring just these aspects of Buddhism means he is filtering out quite a bit of its history. As he reminds his readers:
“Two of the most common Western conceptions of Buddhism — that it’s atheistic and that it revolves around meditation — are wrong; most Asian Buddhists do believe in gods, though not an omnipotent creator God, and don’t meditate.”
Wright also acknowledges that even within this “scientific” Buddhism he is interested in, there are also enormous differences between various philosophical schools of thought, many with 1,000-year histories.
“I’m not getting into super-fine-grained parts of Buddhist psychology and philosophy,” he tells us.
“For example, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, a collection of early Buddhist texts, asserts that there are eighty-nine kinds of consciousness, twelve of which are unwholesome. You may be relieved to hear that this book will spend no time trying to evaluate that claim.”
I was happy to see Wright address these issues of history and interpretation head-on. No matter where Buddhism’s encounter with the West takes it, ignoring history doesn’t do anyone any good (I’ve tried to explore these issues myself here at 13.7 and elsewhere, including here and here).
But with those important caveats, Wright is then forceful in his main argument that “Buddhism’s diagnosis of the human predicament is fundamentally correct, and that its prescription is deeply valid and urgently important.”
To back up this claim, Wright leans heavily on evolutionary psychology, which he says, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “is the study of how the human brain was designed — by natural selection — to mislead us, even enslave us.” That misleading and enslaving, however, is all in the service of getting our genes into the next generation. As he writes:
“Don’t get me wrong: natural selection has its virtues, and I’d rather be created by it than not be created at all — which, so far as I can tell, are the two options this universe offers.”
These lines give you hint of Wright’s tone throughout the book. He is very funny and uses his own experiences to drive to the book’s questions. In particular, it was his first experience at a week-long meditation intensive two decades ago that launched his journey into Buddhism and “contemplative practice” (i.e. meditation). His accounts of time spent on “the cushion” are full of self-effacing humor and real insights.
Wright’s main point is that evolution hardwires us with intense emotions that are in fact delusions. (He has discussed this in an interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.) They developed as survival responses to the environments we evolved in and they were tuned to those environments. Now they just don’t make sense and need to be seen for what they are. As he puts it:
“These feelings — anxiety, despair, hatred, greed — … have elements of delusion, elements you’d be better off without. And if you think you would be better off, imagine how the whole world would be. After all, feelings like despair and hatred and greed can foster wars and atrocities. So if what I’m saying is true — if the basic sources of human suffering and human cruelty are indeed in large part the product of delusion — there is value in exposing this delusion to the light.”
According to Wright, Buddhism, at least its more contemplative side, offers specific insights into, and a path out of, these delusions. In particular, the direct experiences gained via contemplative practice can, he says, weaken the hold of these evolutionary once-needed delusions. In the process, Wright argues, we can all learn to wreak a little less havoc on ourselves and the rest of the world. As he puts it:
“There are other spiritual traditions that address the human predicament with insight and wisdom. But Buddhist meditation, along with its underlying philosophy, addresses that predicament in a strikingly direct and comprehensive way.”
That broad nonsectarian approach is an important part of Wright’s approach. Raised as a Southern Baptist, he left the church in his teens. But he doesn’t look back in anger. Perhaps that is why he isn’t arguing that people need to become a Buddhist to practice its truths. As he writes: “Asserting the validity of core Buddhist ideas doesn’t necessarily say anything, one way or the other, about other spiritual or philosophical traditions.” Later, he reminds us of the Dalai Lama’s admonition: “Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a better Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.”
Which takes me back to that whole meditation is boring (at least in the beginning) thing. One of the best parts of Wright’s book is its realism. No matter how many books you read on Buddhist insights into human beings, they won’t mean much unless you find yourself a regular practice. It’s the practice that counts. It’s the practice that slowly lets you see the delusion in our constant stream of desires and aversions. That is, after all, why they call it practice. Wright does an excellent job of unpacking this reality for his readers, demonstrating again and again how contemplative practice can lead to understanding and how understanding can lead to an important kind of freedom.