An Introduction to a Systematized Collection of Chenian Booklets No. 1 - 100
|A Short Dictionary of Buddhist Hybrid Pali|
|A Short Dictionary of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, Part I|
|A Short Dictionary of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, Part II|
|A Short Dictionary of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, Tantric Terms|
|A Short Dictionary of Tibetan-English Buddhist Terms, Exoteric and Esoteric, Part I|
|A Short Dictionary of Tibetan-English Buddhist Terms, Exoteric and Esoteric, Part II|
|The Pollution of Human Thought|
|A Talk on Preaching|
|How Ascent is Possible|
|The Merit of Practice in a Cemetery|
|Buddhist Principles: Admonitory & Pragmatical|
|A Chart of Buddhist Essential Principles & Practices in its Whole System|
|Why I Emphasize Three-Yanas-in-One|
|Three-Yana Meditations in One System Related to the Five Poisons|
|Why I Emphasize the Whole System of Buddhist Philosophy|
|The Three-Cs of Each Yana and Their Interconnections within the Whole System of Buddhism, Part I|
|The Three-Cs of Each Yana and Their Interconnections within the Whole System of Buddhism, Part II|
|The Subtle Discriminations between the Practices of Sunyata in the Three Yanas|
|The Special Characteristics of the Nyingmapa School|
|A Comparative Study of Maoism and Buddhism|
|Buddhist Questions Answered|
|The Everlasting Life & Heaven|
|Still More Please! Part I|
|Still More Please! Part II|
|Buddha & Divinity|
|The Final Goal, Buddhist & Hindu|
|Some Suggestions to the Buddhist World|
|The Right Attitude of a Practitioner|
|Correspondences among the Dharma Groups|
|Tang Poems in a Simplified Classical Form, Part I|
|Tang Poems in a Simplified Classical Form, Part II|
|Tang Poems in a Simplified Classical Form, Part III|
|What is the Source of the Best Poems|
|Poems on Ahimsa|
|Cartoons and Poems on Ahimsa (poems same as No. 41 above)|
|How to Become a Bodhisattava|
|Vajrayana Silas, Part I|
|Vajrayana Silas, Part II|
|A Chart of Vajra Love and All Its Related Silas|
|Welcome Hippies through This Way|
|Selected Han-Shan Poems for Hippie Reading|
|A Collection of Chenian Short Lectures in America, Part I|
|A Collection of Chenian Short Lectures in America, Part II|
|Buddhist Views on Contamination, Part I|
|Buddhist Views on Contamination, Part II|
|How to Choose the Doctrine|
|How to Guide the Dying Person|
|Image & Decoration|
|Dragon King Sutra Stanzas|
|A Praising to All the Gods|
|Hymns to Tara|
|The Twenty-One Taras|
|Buddhist Tantric Golden Prayer Book|
|Dharmapadas in Practical Order, Part I|
|Dharmapadas in Practical Order, Part II|
|The Practice of the Pure Land School Simplified, Part I|
|The Practice of the Pure Land School Simplified, Part II|
|Four Foundations of Tibetan Tantra|
|The Yoga of Daily Life|
|Chenian Commentary on the Tantric Ritual of Avalokitesvara, White and Red, Part I|
|Chenian Commentary on the Tantric Ritual of Avalokitesvara, White and Red, Part II|
|How to Transform a Human Body into a Buddha Body, Part I|
|How to Transform a Human Body into a Buddha Body, Part II|
|How to Transmute Human Consciousness into Buddhas Wisdom|
|A Safe Guide for the Practitioner of Hevajra Tantra|
|A Ritual of Fire Sacrifice to the God of Wealth|
|A Ritual of Fire Sacrifice to Kurukula|
|Dreams, their Interpretation, Yoga & Discriminations|
|White Dakini Phowa|
|The Essential Teaching of Adi-Buddha, Part I|
|The Essential Teaching of Adi-Buddha, Part II|
|The Essential Poems of Milarepa|
|Chan & Shivas 112 Meditative Ways|
|A Frank and Sincere Talk on Chan|
|The Essentials of the Chan School|
|Offspring Chan: Its Portraits, Koans & Poems|
|Padmasambhavas Rainbow Body|
|Chunpolongo: His Personal Teaching of Realization|
|Dropakula: His Personal teaching of Perfect Liberation|
|Chenian Activities in Photographs|
|Statues in Yunkang Caves|
|300 Tibetan Images|
|500 Tibetan Images|
|An Introduction to a Systematized Collection of Chenian Booklets No.1 100|
I have tried to classify my booklets into eleven basic categories and within these categories to list the booklets in a sequential order. The basis of each of the individual categories and their relationship to each other I will try to explain below.
According to Buddhas teaching, there are three stages of Knowledge: the first is hearing, the second is thinking, and the third is practicing.
The first category is under the heading of Dictionaries. A dictionary is a tool of knowledge and as such is a necessary preparation for reading and thinking and therefore appears as the first category. I published several small dictionaries in booklet form with simple word to word translation so that beginners could have some help in understanding Buddhist terms. People who are not yet committed as Buddhists do not want to spend a lot of money on dictionaries, and so for these people I published a compilation of terms necessary for basic understanding of the tenets of Buddhism. This systematized collection of my booklets is intended for serious Buddhists and those followers who have read my works since 1961 should have already possessed their own large dictionaries of Buddhist terms. Therefore, it is not necessary to reprint the small dictionaries previously published. However, I have indicated the name and original booklet numbers of those small dictionaries.
The first two stages of Knowledge, hearing and thinking are both based on Theory. The second category is therefore that of Theory. The term "theory" can refer to the full spectrum from a general idea to a specialized concept. Accordingly, all of the booklets in this category have been arranged to be read from general to specific, from shallow to deep, and from exoteric to esoteric.
Many English readers are not able to differentiate among the precepts of the various Eastern religions, between Buddhism, and Hinduism, Taoism or Chan, and some people even have difficulty with the basic differences between Christianity and Buddhism. For this reason the third category in order of increasing Knowledge is that of Comparative Studies. Under this heading Buddhism is compared with Christianity, with Hinduism and with other modern thoughts and philosophies. All of these ideas can help further clarify and increase comprehension of Theory.
The fourth category is Poetry. It appears that in English literature, poetry and prose developed at equal rates and with equal popularity. In Chinese culture, poetry became a much more highly refined literary style. Much of the poetry sung and written by Tibetan Buddhist sages, such as Milarepa, or by Chinese sages, such as Han Shan, has been translated into English and published. These works have been much appreciated and widely read in the West so that many Buddhist English readers are familiar with and are fond of this kind of poetry.
A poem itself may have an influence that is beyond the Knowledge that comes from other literary forms. The impression made by prose works is often superficial, but a poem can enter the mind and heart very deeply. So to effect a lasting influence on beginning Buddhists, poetry can be very important. For this reason I have published many booklets on poetry. They have been mainly selected for their subject and meaning, as renunciation or impermanence, to stir the reader to understanding of Buddhist doctrine.
I have attempted to translate these poems into English, but I am a Chinese poet, not an English one, and never learned the rules of classical English verse from my teachers. I know that I cannot write good classical English poetry, but I have some sense of rhyme and rhythm and have tried to make these poems a little more interesting than free verse. I have seen many translations in free verse of Chinese poetry, but few in a traditional simplified classical form, which, I believe from my correspondents comments, increases the interest of the reader.
Fifty of my Chinese poems were first put into English by a very good translator who was himself a poet, Dr. Philip Chou. These 50 became Booklet No. 2 "The Flute" and were widely distributed. An English scholar who gained great interest in Buddhism from reading my poetry wished to have more of my poems translated, but we were unable to locate Dr. Chou and so most of my 1200 Chinese poems to date still remain untranslated. It is very difficult to find among the present generation a good classical poet, even in the west. My English prose is very poor, but so much poorer is my English poetry. Nevertheless, I have tried to translate the poetry of the Tang Dynasty into simplified classical form. This poetry was very much influenced by the Chan school of Buddhism. The Tang poets emphasized the identification of poetry and Buddhism and said, in fact, that poetry is Chan and Chan is poetry. I have also tried to translate some Tao poems (Booklet No. 85) and Chan poems (Booklet No. 80).
The above four categories are all related to the Knowledges of hearing and thinking. The next stage of Knowledge is that of Practice, and the first important aspect a practitioner should know about is the Vinayas, which becomes our fifth category.
His Holiness Karmapa, when he came to the United States, performed the initiation granting permission for practitioners to accept and keep the Bodhisattva vows. These vows were carefully itemized by the ancient sages, but most of those Americans did not know what exactly the vows consisted of. All those who had read my booklet No. 12, "Mahayana Silas," knew all the Bodhisattva vows traditionally taken by Buddhists. The reprinting of these vows will be very helpful to many people and my booklets on the Vajrayana Silas, Nos. 27 and 28, may serve to aid serious Buddhists in keeping the Vinayas and prevent them from committing a sin and falling into bad realms. These works are very important and I hope readers will pay attention to them and read them over carefully one by one before taking a vow to practice them.
The sixth category, also under Practice, is that of Admonitions. When the lists of necessary vows for serious Buddhists were written down by the ancient sages, they only covered the cultural and moral situation of that time. But many new conditions and activities have come about in this modern era and there has been no attempt to update the vows to correspond to the new situation. In this section, I have tried to give advice to help serious practitioners keep the Buddhist precepts and to rid themselves of mistaken habits. For example, we know that wine was forbidden by the ancients, but as new drugs such as LSD were not available then, they were not expressively forbidden. Some teachers today use this as an excuse to encourage and continue the use of drugs. Certainly if Buddha were here now he would forbid LSD and marijuana, as well as wine and alcohol. In this section I have given advice about this problem.
Many other important practical problems are brought up and discussed under this heading. I am a person who has always promoted the Dharma in a traditional manner, not in a modernized version which may wrongly guide and mislead others, and I have tried in this section to give good advice to beginning practitioners. Many young American Buddhists follow their own habits and do not understand contamination in a Buddhist sense so I wrote two booklets to give counsel on this subject: Booklet Nos. 82 and 83, "Buddhist Views on Contamination," Parts I and II. This category of practical Admonitions directly follows that of the Vinayas, as it is basically an attempt on my part to bring the understanding of Buddhist practice into the context of our modern age. It is an important section as it directly relates to the thoughts and actions in our lives today.
The third practice and the seventh category is that of Prayers. Chanting sutras and repetition of hymns and prayers is a basic foundation of Buddhism that inspires belief and leads to higher practices. Prayer is a simple preparation practice and as such is discussed before the higher practical knowledge gained through Meditation. I have written several booklets translating important Tibetan prayers such as Booklet No. 58, "The Dragon King Sutra Stanzas," and Booklet No. 7, "Hymns to Tara."
The eighth category is Meditation. Everyday Buddhists come and ask me for instruction in Meditation. Actually, there are many different degrees of Meditation practice, each involving a large number of preliminary steps. Not only is this category the most important but also the sequence of the meditation practice is most essential, from simple to complex, shallow to profound. the reader must carefully follow the correct order. Do not practice the higher meditation exercises before successfully completing the lower ones.
The first booklet of this series is on Samatha and I emphasize this practice as the initial necessary condition of meditation. Many centers teach meditation but none teach the nine stages of Samatha as a basic foundation. Other forms of meditation are just a waste of time until Samatha is achieved. Without it, no meditation can be fruitfully practiced. Very detailed instruction on this subject is given in my work, "Buddhist Meditation - Systematic and Practical."
Some of the meditations described in my booklets are very high doctrine and require initiation from a knowledgeable guru before they can be successfully practiced. The reader is admonished here once again not to attempt these practices before receiving the proper instruction. One must ask his Holiness Karmapa or Kalu Rinpoche for initiation and permission to follow and practice these higher teachings.
The ninth category is that of Chan, or as it is called in Japan, Zen. Chan is a school of realization, not meditation. For Chan is the truth itself, the very Dharmakaya and highest achievement. In China, Chan is treated as Mahayana practice, but I consider it as Vajrayana, even higher than Mahamudra and the Great Perfection Doctrine. That is why I place Chan in a separate category following Meditation. There are many wonderful stories concerning Chan, some of which are in this reprinted collection, but for greater depth and insight my whole book The Lighthouse in the Ocean of Chan should be read.
The first to the fourth categories may be thought of as in the Position of Cause. The fifth to the ninth categories may be considered as in the Position of Course. Theory is within the first group and may be thought of as Cause because one must have such knowledge as a base before beginning to practice. Practice is within categories five through nine and stands in the Position of Course, for it is the active means of achieving an end.
The tenth category then is in the Consequence Position, and is that of Examples of real-life Buddhists who gained realization through their practice. They are able to exemplify to us the truth of Buddhas teachings through their own achievement. The Position of Consequence follows Cause and Course and is the final realization accomplished through understanding of Theory and practice.
The last and eleventh category is Images. I previously published in Booklet No. 30, "Tibetan Art," drawings of many Buddhist deities. Also printed was two large sheets of 300 Buddhist images and another set of more than 500 images. All of these copies have already been distributed to more than 800 readers and 100 libraries all over the world, and they cannot be conveniently reprinted in this collection of my work.
China has a proverb which says, "A sparrow is a little bird, but his five organs are complete" which means that although the sparrow is a small creature, all of his necessary organs are present and complete in themselves. My booklets are small in size but the basic principles of the most important doctrines of the three yanas are whole and complete within them. They contain every kind of literary form: prose and poetry, criticism and essays, lectures and letters; dictionaries, translations, biographies, charts and lists, Chinese and English calligraphy, cartoons, portraits, and engravings, images in black and white and photographs in full color. It is my hope that this new schematized edition of my work will allow my readers to gain greater understanding and realization of Buddhas teachings. This opportunity is made possible through the support of Dr. C. T. Shen, to whom I have written this poem:
In past lives I merited no riches Im ashamed!
Little donations to spread the Dharma sometimes came!
As the globe turns over I stand here in the West,
I am so blessed to have met Doctor Chia (C.) Theng (T.) Shen!
With tears I experienced the difficulty of a poor hermit to propagate the Dharma all over the world, as described above in my recollections. Yet I have now received more than ample consolation in meeting the Bodhicitta practitioner Dr. C. T. Shen who encourages me by his generosity. Through his merit this systematized collection of my booklets 1 to 100 is being published and distributed to all my readers. What a rare opportunity we are favored with! I beg all of my readers to give thanks with me to Buddha and the Bodhisattva C. T. Shen.
This book will end with the presentation of images and it is also the auspicious ending of this introduction. I pray that every person after reading this book will begin to practice and achieve full realization and will become himself a Buddha as depicted in the images. This is my last wish and hope for this preface.
C. M. Chen
29 March 1977
Booklet No. 1: A Short Dictionary of Buddhist Hybrid Pali
Booklet No. 2: A Short Dictionary of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, Part I
Booklet No. 3: A Short Dictionary of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, Part II
Booklet No. 4: A Short Dictionary of Hybrid-Sanskrit Tantric Terms
Booklet No. 5: A Short Dictionary of Tibetan-English Buddhist Terms Exoteric and Esoteric, Part I
Booklet No. 6: A Short Dictionary of Tibetan-English Buddhist Terms Exoteric and Esoteric, Part II
The above-mentioned dictionaries are not being reprinted within this work. The first edition of these dictionaries may be found in and borrowed from the National Libraries of most nations of the world.
No. 7. The Pollution of Human Thought (posted May 16, 1999)
No. 8. A Talk on Preaching (posted on May 16, 1999)
No. 9. How Ascent is Possible (posted on May 16, 1999)
No. 10. The Merit of Practice in a Cemetery (modified on May 16, 1999)
No. 11. Buddhist Principles: Admonitory & Pragmatical (posted on May 16, 1999)
No. 12. A Chart of Buddhist Essential Principles & Practices in its Whole System (posted May 26, 1999)
No. 13. Why I Emphasize Three-Yanas-in-One (posted on May 16, 1999)
No. 14. Three-Yana Meditations in One System Related to the Five Poisons (posted on May 17, 1999)
No. 15. Why I Emphasize the Whole System of Buddhist Philosophy (modified on May 16, 1999)
No. 16. The Three-C's of Each Yana and Their Interconnections within the Whole System of Buddhism, Part I (posted on May 17, 1999)
No. 17. The Three-C's of Each Yana and Their Interconnections within the Whole System of Buddhism, Part II (posted on May 17, 1999)
No. 18. The Subtle Discriminations between the Practices of Sunyata in the Three Yanas (posted on May 17, 1999)
No. 19. The Special Characteristics of the Nyingmapa School (posted on May 17, 1999)