The Sutra on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings

Sutra on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings

Translated by Venerable An Shi Gao in the Later Han Dynasty.

A disciple of the Buddha should whole heartedly and often, whether day and night, recite and reflect on the eight realizations of bodhisattvas.

One: Understand that the world is impermanent, nations are fragile and prone to collapse by nature. The four elements are empty, depending only on causes and conditions, and lead to suffering. Living beings are only a collection of the five aggregates of form, sense, thought, actions, and consciousness that they accumulate through time and have no independent self. Life is constantly changing and comes to an end. It is an illusion and impermanent. The mind is the source of all evil and the body is a marsh of sin. If we reflect on these things, we can gradually become free of Sansara, the abyss of suffering.

Two: Understand that greater desire leads to suffering. Difficulty in life arises from greed and desire. People with few desires let events run their natural course are able to be at ease in body and mind.

Three: Know that that the mind is never satisfied and always pursues more. This leads to an ever increasing number of impure actions. Bodhisattvas are not like this. They are content with reciting the sutras and practicing in a simple way as they wisely choose as their only pursuits.

Four: Realize that laziness will lead to degeneration. Always try to improve yourself and break through the vexation of bad vices, destroy the four kinds of evil, which hide, and break free from the the five skandhas and the eighteen dhatu.

Five: Realize that ignorance leads to the cycle of life and death. Bodhisattvas often recite the sutras, study widely and ask many questions to increase their knowledge. With the wisdom and eloquence that they gain they are able to teach everybody to realize great joy.

Six: Realize that poverty creates resentment, which leads to a negative cycle of causes and conditions. When practicing giving, bodhisattvas treat everyone equally, friends and enemies alike, Bodhisattvas do not hold grudges or judge based on past mistakes, nor do they hate or treat any other beings as enemies.

Seven: Be aware that the five desires lead to misfortune. Even though we are ordinary people, we should not pursue worldly desires. A monk has needs only three robes and one bowl. He wishes only to be a monk and to practice the Way. Holding his precepts keeps him free of worldly attachments and he has compassion for all.

Eight: realize that the fire of Sansara are raging and causing immeasurable suffering. We should take the vow to help everyone cross to the other shore. Take the vow to help relieve the suffering of all living beings and lead them to great joy.

These eight realizations are the realizations of the buddhas and bodhisattvas. They have diligently practice the Way with compassion and wisdom to ferry the Dharmakaya boat to Nirvana, to be reborn in Sansara to help all living beings. These eight realizations can enlighten all living beings, to understand the suffering of life and death, to give up the five desires, and to practice the Noble Eightfold Path. If a Buddhist disciple recites these eight realizations then he or she will extinguish immeasurable sin. He or she will enter into enlightenment and quickly ascend to the correct understanding, forever breaking the cycle of suffering in life and death and attaining eternal joy.

Translation by Thich Nhat Hahn