Sutra of the Eight Realizations
of Great Beings
Translated by the Chung Tai Translation Committee
From the Chinese translation by
Shramana An Shi Gao, 2nd Century
Sutra annotations: May 2008
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Day and night, at all times,
Buddha’s disciples should
Mindfully recite and contemplate
The eight realizations of Great Beings.
The First Realization:
All the world is impermanent.
The earth is fragile and perilous.
The four great elements inhere in suffering and emptiness.
In the five skandhas there is no self.
All that arise, change, and perish,
Are illusive, unreal, and without a master.
Mind is the root of evil;
Body a reservoir of sin.
Thus observing and contemplating,
One gradually breaks free from birth and death.
The Second Realization:
Excessive desire is suffering.
Birth, death, and weariness in life
All originate from greed and desires.
Desiring less, being empty of effort,
Body and mind are at ease and free.
The Third Realization:
The mind is insatiable,
Always seeking, thirsty for more,
Thus increasing our sins.
Bodhisattvas renounce such conduct.
Always remember to follow the Way,
Be content and at peace with poverty,
With wisdom as the sole vocation.
The Fourth Realization:
Indolence leads to degradation.
Always practice with diligence,
Vanquish all vexations,
Subdue the four maras,
And escape the prison of the skandhas and realms.
The Fifth Realization:
Ignorance leads to birth and death.
Bodhisattvas are always mindful
To study and learn extensively,
To increase their wisdom
And perfect their eloquence,
So they can teach and enlighten all beings,
And impart great joy to all.
The Sixth Realization:
Poverty and hardship breed resentment,
Creating harm and discord.
Bodhisattvas practice dana,
Beholding the friendly and hostile equally;
They neither harbor grudges
Nor despise malicious people.
The Seventh Realization:
The five desires are perilous.
Even as laity, be not sullied by worldly pleasures;
Think frequently of the three robes,
The tiled bowl, and instruments of Dharma;
Aspire to the monastic life
And cultivate the Way with purity;
Let your actions be noble and sublime,
Showering compassion on all.
The Eighth Realization:
Birth and death are like a blazing fire
Plagued with endless afflictions and suffering.
Vow to cultivate the Mahayana mind,
To bring relief to all;
To take on infinite sufferings for sentient beings,
And lead all to supreme joy.
These are the eight realizations of Great Beings,
Buddhas, and bodhisattvas.
They practice the Way with diligence,
Develop compassion, and cultivate wisdom.
They sail the ship of dharmakaya
To the shore of nirvana,
Returning again to samsara
To liberate sentient beings.
With these eight principles,
They point out the Way,
So that all beings may awaken
To the sufferings of life and death,
Relinquish the five desires, and
Cultivate the mind on the noble path.
If Buddha’s disciples recite these eight realizations,
In thought after thought,
They will eradicate countless sins,
Advance on the bodhi path,
Promptly attain enlightenment,
Be forever freed from birth and death,
And always abide in joy.