III. Saddharma-Pundarika Stage (aspiration) – engendering bodhicitta, benefitting oneself and others
a) Saddharma-Pundarika Practice
At the Vulture Peak Mountain, the Buddha propounded the Saddharma-Pundarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra), which revolves around the aspiration of bodhicitta and bestowals of prophecy on the arhats’ attainment of Buddhahood in future. Regardless of the practitioners of various vehicles might be involved, all would return to Ekayana (One vehicle) towards the path to become the Buddha. Yet, everything starts with the rise of bodhicitta.
Since the seclusion among cemeteries in Yilan to the Fa Hua Cave retreats in Fulong, Master Hsin Tao established the prajna view of the Middle Way, as well as the inseparability of emptiness and existence. After he reemerged, Master Hsin Tao contemplated on the next step for life between solitude practice and teaching. Eventually, Master aspired to walk the path of Bodhisattva to make vast dharmic connections with more beings. People are inspired to regard Dharma practice and the enlightenment as the ultimate goal. With such prayer, Master Hsin Tao devoted into the Saddharma-Pundarika Stage tirelessly even if it means to offer his own life.
b) Saddharma-Pundarika Stage Description
Before entering parinirvana, Buddha taught the sutras of the Saddharma-Pundarika section with the importance of aspiration emphasized. The basis of enlightenment lies within bodhicitta. To attain Buddhahood, one needs to engender bodhicitta, make dharmic connections widely, and to encourage others to study Dharma and exert for Buddhahood. With the perpetuation of aspiration, the wisdom of Buddhas prospers in continuity.
Lead a life based on the Three Higher Trainings in order to administer bodhicitta thoroughly. Then, be aspired to liberate sentient beings. The power of aspiration is the drive for irreversible force until the supreme enlightenment is reached. Saddharma-Pundarika Stage accentuates the “engendering of Bodhi aspiration”. Give rise to bodhicitta, affirm it, and fulfill it.
It all begins with making positive connections widely with others. Beneficial activities train students to aspire to bodhicitta and advance on the path of Bodhisattva. In the Six Perfections, the former five serves as the moving feet whereas the sixth perfect, prajna, acts as the eyes. Having to realized emptiness and seeing the dependent arising of dharmas, we travel on the Bodhisattva path that is illusory (on the level of absolute truth) for the welfare of sentient beings that are also illusory. The pervading compassion sets an origination for the attainment of enlightenment.
- Engendering bodhicitta, aspiration, and fulfillment.
- Progressing individual practice and the propagation of Dharma at the same time.
- Affirming the goal and vision to be prophesized as a future Buddha.