Sutra on the Eight Realizations

First version - Cured by Master Thich Nhat Hanh


Wholeheartedly, day and night, a disciple of the Buddha should recite and meditate on the eight realizations discovered by the mahasattvas, the great beings.

THE FIRST REALIZATION is the awareness that the world is impermanent.
All political regimes are subject to fall; all things composed of the four elements are empty and contain the seeds of suffering.
Human beings are composed of five skandhas, aggregates, and are without a separate self. They are always in the process of change, constantly being born and constantly dying.
They are empty of self, without sovereignty. The mind is the source of all confusion, and the body is the forest of all impure actions. If we meditate on these facts, we can gradually be released from samsara, the round of birth and death.

THE SECOND REALIZATION is the awareness that more desire brings more suffering.
All hardships in daily life arise from greed and desire. Those with little desire and ambition can relax, their bodies and minds free from entanglement.

THE THIRD REALIZATION is that the human mind is always searching for possessions and never feels fulfilled.
This causes impure actions to ever increase. Bodhisattvas, however, always remember the principle of having few desires. They live a simple life in peace in order to practice the Way, and consider the realization of perfect understanding as their only career.

THE FOURTH REALIZATION is the awareness that laziness is the cause of all setbacks.
For this reason, we must practice diligently, destroying the unwholesome mental factors which bind us, conquering the four kinds of Mara, and freeing ourselves from the prisons of the five aggregates and the three worlds.

THE FIFTH REALIZATION is the awareness that ignorance is the cause of the endless round of birth and death.
Therefore, bodhisattvas always remember to listen and learn in order to develop their understanding and eloquence. This enables them to educate living beings and bring them to the realm of great joy.

THE SIXTH REALIZATION is the awareness that poverty creates more hatred and anger, which in turn creates more evil.
When practicing generosity, bodhisattvas consider everyone, friends and enemies alike, as equal. They do not condemn anyone's past wrongdoings, nor do they hate even those who are presently doing evil.

THE SEVENTH REALIZATION is that the five categories of desire all lead to difficulties.
Although we are in the world, we should try not to be caught up in worldly matters. A monk, for example, has in his possession only three robes and one bowl. He lives simply in order to practice the Way. His precepts keep him above attachment to worldly things, and he treats everyone equally and with compassion.

THE EIGHTH REALIZATION is the awareness that the fire of birth and death is raging, causing endless suffering everywhere.
We should take the Great Vow to help everyone, to suffer along with everyone, and to help all beings arrive at the realm of great joy.

These eight realizations are the discoveries of great beings, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have diligently practiced the way of compassion and understanding.

They have sailed the boat to the shore of nirvana, but then they return to the ordinary world, having abandoned the five desires, with their minds and hearts directed toward the noble way, using these eight realizations to help all beings recognize the suffering in this world.

If the disciples of the Buddha recite these eight realizations and meditate on them, they will put an end to countless misunderstandings and difficulties; moment after moment and progress toward enlightenment, leaving behind the world of birth and death, dwelling forever in peace.

Sutra on the Eight Realizations

Second version - Cured by Bhikkhu Upaya


In so far as the Buddha's disciple, they should read day and night piously and earnestly the following eight precepts leading the followers of Mahayana Buddhism to attain the state of enlightenment:

Impermanence characterizes everything in the universe. Both dangerous and frail is the whole earth, subject to disintegration. The human body analyzed into four chief elements, inhere in sorrow and emptiness. The combination of the five elements of life impulse possesses no real ego. It is a law that all conditioned things arise and disappear. All is found to be in a state of change and decay. There is no control at all over the body and worldly objects. Consequently, the mind is the root of evil, while the attachment to worldly objects, the refuge of crimes or sins. Observing all phenomena from this angle, we shall bit by bit free ourselves from the suffering of birth and death.

Excessive desire begets suffering. The suffering of birth and death as well as the leading of a weary life are all caused by greed. Few desires along with no craving make our mind and body comfortable.

The insatiable ambitions seek only for acquisition, thus increasing sins. Those who practice the Bodhisattvaship will never do such things. They should bear contentment in mind, and endure poverty in following the Buddha's doctrine. They are looking for nothing but wisdom.

Laziness degrades a man. One should always go ahead with all one's energy to acquire wisdom. Only by this means, one will destroy all evil of worries and overcome the four devils and put them under one's control, in order to get out of the prison from the five aggregates of life impulses and the suffering world.

Ignorance constitutes the suffering of birth and death. Followers of the Bodhisattvaship must remember to store up knowledge by learning or listening, in order to develop their wisdom and prepare their eloquence for the spread of Buddhist scriptures to all beings, conferring on them the great happiness.

The poor often foster hatred that keeps up everywhere bad term with others. In practicing charity, followers of the Bodhisattvaship should treat friend and foe alike, with the same degree of love, without malice whatsoever nor repugnant feeling towards the wicked persons.

The five passions fall into sins and woe though laymen should not taint with worldly pleasures, yet they have always to think of the three kinds of robes and tiled bowls as well as other instruments used by monks or bhikkus. In case of the desire manifested by laymen to be bhikkhus, they must scrupulously observe the Buddhist scriptures and keep themselves pure from evil. Thus their perfect life may be known for a long time and far and wide. Besides, they will impart a deep compassion with every creature that suffers.

The wheel of birth and death are like the flame burning in the house. There are innumerable sufferings. First we have to dedicate ourselves to the service of mankind, then to suffer for their sake and finally to let them attain Nibbana, the ultimate state of supreme bliss.

These eight precepts are the way leading to the enlightenment for Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and followers of the Mahayana school. When one pursues the Buddhist scriptures with energy and perseverance, one can grow, for his own sake, in compassion and wisdom at the same time. Hence, one can get to the other side of the shore by taking the Buddha's ferryboat. Out of compassion, one may come down again and revolve, as one likes, in the wheel of birth and death with one aim and object: the liberation of all beings.

These eight precepts give us the general idea to grasp the suffering of birth and death and abandon the five passions in order to cultivate our mind in attaining the Buddhist sainthood.

Should the Buddha's disciple read unremittingly the eight precepts mentioned above, they could get rid of countless sins so as to acquire transcendental wisdom and would soon achieve enlightenment. Consequently, they would be exempt from the suffering of rebirth and could stay always in the state of happiness.


First version: Translated from the Vietnamese by Truong Giam Tan and Carole Melkonian

Second version: Translated from Lokottama's Chinese version by Dr. Tetcheng Liao