- The fundamental foundation is the philosophy of ‘Engaging with the World while Transcending Wordliness’. ‘Transcending Wordliness’ means to free oneself from earthly habits, habits due to clinging such as greed, egoism, jealousy, hatred… ‘Engaging with the World’ means to immerse oneself in the world to reduce suffering and afflictions. Engage in the world to take on responsibilities to bring peace, joy and happiness, to help people attain higher level of consciousness and not to gain wealth and respects.
- The guiding light for the above philosophy is the Flower Adornment Sutra, a sutra which describes the leading principles of the way of the Bodhisattva. According to this way, to progress toward supreme enlightenment for oneself while providing benefits for others, the practitioner follows the Bodhisattva ideal to forget ourselves and devote all efforts to help others.
- The ultimate goal of the practice is reached when the engaged path and the transcending path are completed. The Transcending Path is completed when all passions, bad habits and limited knowledge have transformed and bloomed into Buddha-wisdom, wholesome habits, unlimited vision, unbounded compassion, knowing and acting without obstacles, and serenity transcending time and space. The Engaged Path is achieved when all sentient beings in the infinite worlds have been enlightened, innumerable worlds enjoy peace and joy, and innumerable consciousnesses become great Buddha-wisdom. We are often reminded of this ultimate aim in the following vows:
However innumerable beings are, I vow to save them; However inexhaustible the passions are, I vow to extinguish them; However immeasurable the Dharmas are, I vow to master them; However incomparable the Buddha-truth is, I vow to attain it (Prof. DT Suzuki’s translation of the Four Great Vows,Manual of Zen)
- The object of the Bodhisattva way is anyone who has consciousness and senses, who has developed a desire tending toward higher ideals, and who strives to improve themselves. Therefore, everyone can follow the path of the Bodhisattva, whether they are lay practitioners or leave-home monks and nuns, rich or poor, human or heavenly beings, saints or animals.
- The methodology is the holistic cultivation. To cultivate is to evolve, to progress toward perfection, to metamorphose, to change our life, just as the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is a process of change inside out, from outside appearance to actions, from habits to way of life. Holistic Cultivation means the sublimation of our life with respect to all of life’s dimensions: psychological, intellectual, social, interpersonal relationship and relation with the environment. Holistic Culitvation demands a synthesis and harmonious mix of all aspects of cultivation, and the result is balance in our daily life, freshness in our consciousness, a never ending eagerness to become more opened and to progress toward higher ideals.
The Techniques or Practices to realize the above philosophy is the training of our body, our mind, our spirit,…as shown in the table below:
|Aspect||Techniques or Practices|
|Physical||Practice Integral Tai Chi|
|Psychological||Develop Emotional Intelligence|
|Intellectual||Attend Dharma Lectures, inspired reading, professional development|
|Service||Perform volunteer works|
- The key to the beginning of cultivation is the five Ts. They are also the mottos that guide us on the way of the Bodhisattvas, opening our hearts in a genuine manner. The 5 Ts are as follows:
- Unselfish Love (Thương): Love which is unconditional, not selfish nor possessive. To have unselfish love is to give, to bring warmth to others, to make sufferings and afflictions disappeared in the hearts and mind of others. Clinging to the self and egoism will fade away with Unselfish Love.
- Forgiveness (Tha thứ): the ability to see goodness, qualities and beauty, and as a result the mind will dwell in an opened, generous and embracing consciousness, thus the ability to forgive and forget pains, sufferings and afflictions inflicted. Forgiveness here refers to an opened, generous and kind heart. It is not mere action.
- Let Go (Thôi): to stop, to cease action, to not react, do not move, no thoughts arising… “Letting Go” can be described in several ways, but they all lead to the ultimate aim of inaction or non-duality. The ceaseless creation of karmas maintains the cycle of reborn or transmigration of sentient beings. The bodhisattva’s way is the way to recognize and realize the stillness and non-arising, non-birth, non-creating of True Nature then engage in the world with a mind settled in that non-dual (non-creation non-destruction) state, using our body, speeches, ideas as means to help others recognize and realize that Truth.
- Adaptability/Flexibility (Tùy): to follow the flow, to yield, to flow with conditions, with circumstances and with affinities… There are many ways to describe Adaptability. Adaptability is a manifestation of the serenity of a consciousness in all circumstances. When we do not follow our egoistic self, our consciousness will be more adaptable.
- Follow affinity force: not controlled by egoism and let intuition guide us according to the normal operation of the universe.
- Yield: is flexibility, amiability, gentleness and letting the light of compassion and love shine through you and lead you, resulting in the dissolution of meanness, violence, anger, jealousy…
- Act according to circumstances: fully realize the circumstances, the current condition and all acting forces and do not get lured by desires. To be able to act according to circumstances means to know the way of the gentlemen and the saintly beings.
- Rejoice in all goodness: recognize and realize goodness and beauty in people, things or events and find joy in imitating or emulating those actions. From this state of mind, we will want to help others succeed and we will not want to destroy anyone’s success.
- Openness (Thoáng): When it is hot in a room and there is a cool breeze, we have openness. When we are angry and have annoying thoughts and there arises gentle thoughts which make heavy feelings disappeared, that is openness. In the course of our life, we often make others feel uneasy, suffocated, hurt (such as when we find faults in others, speak ill of others, make indiscriminate comments, yell ferociously…), openness is the moment that we suddenly feel calm, kind and self-controlled and can act in a calm and gentle manner. Openness is the characteristic of an open mind, an open heart, and a caring, calm and self-controlled way of life. Openness is the wings that help us escape from the earthly dust of passions and oppressive heat and fly without fear in the skies of the boundless spiritual world.