--Gatha and commentary written by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua

--Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih.

The holy sage who understands conditions

Dozes alone on a lonely mountain peak;

Springtime's flowers wither in the fall.

Consecutive conditions through twelve connecting links.


      The holy sage who understands conditions...When there is a Buddha in the world sages are called those "enlightened to conditions." When there is no Buddha in the world they are called "solitary enlightened ones" or Pratyekabuddhas because they are able to become enlightened by themselves.

Dozes alone on a lonely mountain peak. They prefer to doze alone in the high desolate mountains.

Springtime's flowers wither in the fall, consecutive conditions through twelve connecting links. In the spring the myriad things arise. Those enlightened to condition watch the white blossoms open in the spring and watch the yellow leaves fall in the autumn. They awaken to the knowledge that all phenomena are non-existent, that everything is spontaneously born and extinguished, and thus they enlighten to the Twelve Conditioned Links.

They contemplate ignorance. Where does it come from? What is its beginning? It cannot, be classified as either conditioned or unconditioned, but falls between the two. They investigate and find that ignorance conditions activity.

Activity is a conditioned dharma and when it appears, consciousness, which discriminates the manifestations of activity, arises. With this discrimination the trouble starts.

Name and form are the trouble. Just mentioning this is asking for trouble, because you're bound to say, "How are name and form troublesome? I don't understand." Before I said anything, you didn't have the problem of not understanding, but once I referred to name and form as trouble, the problem of your not understanding arose and with it the desire to know.

This quest for knowledge results in the use of the six entrances, the faculties through which you attempt to achieve understanding. You decide you want to know, and suddenly a visual consciousness appears, as do the consciousnesses of the ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. You think you can gain understanding through these six entrances without realizing that the more you "understand" the more confused you become, and the more confused you are, the less you understand.

Since you still do not understand, you want to become further involved. This involvement takes the form of contact. You constantly seek encounters east, west, north, south, above and below, like a fly madly bouncing off walls. All that results from this desperate attempt to understand is a lot of bruises from all the bumps.

After the determination to understand sets in and the encounters occur, there is feeling. "OW! It hurts!" you exclaim when you're bumping into things, and "Boy, do I feel good!" when you're not. "If no one bothers me I'm fine, but I can't stand criticism." This is where feeling lies. Don't look for it anywhere else.

Once there is feeling love arises. With love comes hate. You like to get involved in pleasant situations, but you detest painful circumstances. Happiness and unhappiness come from love, and every day the trouble grows.

Wishing to prolong your contact with the objects of love, you indulge in grasping. The reason you clutch at objects of love is because you wish to become one with them.

You want them to be inseparable from you, and this grasping conditions becoming.

Your attempt to have them for your own results in further births, which lead to

Old age and death. These are the Twelve Conditioned Links cultivated by Pratyekabuddhas.


The Sino-American Buddhist Association invites all elders, of at least sixty years of age, to come to Gold Mountain Monastery and join the members of the Association in a pure vegetarian meal. These meals are served daily at eleven o'clock in the morning; the only requirement is that those wishing to attend arrive or call in before nine in the morning to let us know you are coming.

What easier way is there to plant good roots, derive wealth and honor, lengthen your life, and help your children prosper than by eating pure vegetarian food?