Sep 4, 2015

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 21 Comments

Letter No. 137 to disciples: How to verify the authenticity of Buddhist sutras? (Thế nào là kinh Phật chính thống?)

Letter No. 137 to disciples: How to verify the authenticity of Buddhist sutras? (Thế nào là kinh Phật chính thống?)

Letter No. 137 to disciples: How to verify the authenticity of Buddhist sutras?

Dear disciples,

Recently, there has been the comment from Chanh Dung who advised that I should study Theravada sutras (Theravada school). In addition, a few disciples who have encountered the Dharma do not understand how to verify the authenticity of Buddhist sutras, so they asked for my clarification on this issue. Relying on the wisdom of Guru Rinpoche (the guru), Hayagriva (the yidam), and Vajravarahi (the dakini), I  make some verification.

cang day xay tuong

The main worker asked: “Done?”. The other answered: “Done ” – meaning “Kinh” in Vietnamese.

I remembered when I was young, there are two masons who built the fence, they strung a rope from the top of this column to the other, they saw until a line of rope straight to two sides, his main worker asked: “Done?”.  The other answered: “Done ” – meaning “Kinh” in Vietnamese. The word “Done” in this case means “straight”, straight from top to bottom, from left to right, from side to side (“Kinh – straight” is the same writing and pronunciation with the word of “Kinh – sutra” in Vietnamese). I kept wondering the meaning of “done” and now I understood it. I asked the disciple named Mat Thanh who is a bricklayers about the meaning of “done(straight)”, he did not still understand what it meant. Turning out, the word “done (straight)” appeared at the age of the 60s in the 20th century, today, is no longer existed.


The word “Kinh” (sutra) is translated from Chinese

In Buddhism, there is also a word  called “Kinh” (sutra) translated from Chinese metaphorically refers to the consistency from beginning to end of what was taught from Buddhist teaching and literally means “straight” above mentioned in construction sector. And, what is the consistency? Because of not clarifying what “sutras” means, many scholars and Buddhists attaching in words (letters) and sectarianism believe that Theravada sutras contain the actual substance of the historical teachings of the Buddha while Mahayana sutras or Vajrayana are Buddhist apocrypha. From that understanding, the meaning of sutras is only relied on the words. But words do not reflect the real essence of the dharma teaching. In Buddhism, sutras usually beginning with the phrase “Thus I have heard” is considered as the authentic Buddhist sutra, whereas “Brahma-Net Sutra”, “Mahàmegha-sùtra”, “The Ullambana Sutra”, “the sutra about the Deep Kindness of Parents and the Difficulty in Repaying it” originating from China with the same phrase are considered as Buddhist apocrypha by scholars (Is The Ullambana Sutra authentic or inauthentic: Misconception? on the site of Therefore, we confirmed that the real meaning of Buddhist sutras is only verified under Buddhist perspective or through Buddhist lens which is consistent (straight from the top to the bottom, from the beginning to the end). This lens illuminates harmful bacteria being cleverly disguised which destroy the real meaning of Buddhist sutras, resulting in harm to the Buddhist practitioners’ spiritual destiny for the benefit of certain groups turning the inauthentic sutras into authentic ones.

Dear disciples,


So, what is Buddhist lens?

So, what is Buddhist lens? When Buddha was living, he foresaw there would be many scholars creating the Buddhist apocrypha for the sake of the selfhood and the sectarianism. He made the following principles:

Definition of sutra: Sutra is the teachings written by the enlightened ones (Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, Saints, enlightened scholars). The teachings not from other above enlightened ones (such as: God, Asura, Human, Animal, Preta) are not sutras.

Evaluation criteria: Sutras called authentic ones which rely on the Buddhist principles as follows:

1, Three principal aspects of the enlightened path: Renunciation, Bodhicitta and Emptiness

2, Four Dharma Seals are the four characteristics which reflect true Buddhist teaching. It is said that if a teaching contains the Four Dharma Seals then it can be considered Buddha Dharma although the Dharma Seals were all introduced after Gautama Buddha died.

Four Dharma Seal includes: (1) All phenomena are empty, (2) All stained emotions are painful, (3) All compounded things are impermanent, (4) Nirvana is true peace. It can be considered (1) and (2) as Emptiness, (3) as Renunciation ; and (4) as Bodhicitta.

The Four Seals are as follows:

  •       * All phenomena are empty: All phenomena are non-self, mutual dependence and no permanency.
  •       * All stained emotions are painful: All conditioned phenomena and experiences are unsatisfactory
  •       * All compounded things are impermanent: all dharma and their functions are impermanent in nature. Everything is a result of the convergence of the seed and the maturing conditions. Converging conditions are ever changing, too – no permanency.
  •       *  Nirvana is true peace: Nirvana is the ultimate tranquility. Nirvana is beyond all terms of duality and relativity. It is therefore beyond our conceptions of good and evil, right and wrong, existence and non-existence.

Lotus Flower Estrade in Song Nguyen Tantra House

3, Four reliance principles—the four trusts of Dharma—four basic principles for thorough understanding Buddhism:

  •       * Relying on the Dharma, not on the people who expound it—trust in the Law, not in men—relying in on the teaching, not merely on any persons (relying on the teaching and not on the person who teaches it).
  •       * Relying on the meaning, not just on the words—trust in truth, not in words (letters). Relying on the true meaning or spirit of Dharma statement in sutra, not merely on the words of the statement (relying on the meaning of the teaching and not on the expression). Buddha’s teachings demonstrated examples of not attaching to the words being used because there are many case that the sutras were counterfeited in words called Buddhist apocryphal.
  •       * Rely on the complete teaching, not on the partial teaching—Rely on the sutras that lead us to enlightenment, not on those that do not. Trust in sutras containing ultimate truth, not incomplete one. Relying on the sutras that give ultimate teachings, not on those which preach expedient teachings resulting in rebirth of Human, God, Asura, Animal and Preta.
  •       * Rely on the wisdom, not on the conscious and perception—trust in wisdom growing out of eternal truth and not in illusory knowledge. Relying on intuitive wisdom, not on intellectual or normal understanding. Wisdom is the pure knowledge to attain the enlightenment. Conscious is the worldly perception causing the bad seeds and conditions for the cycle of rebirths and deaths. Thus, understanding the authenticity of Buddhist sutras should base on wisdom, does not rely on your feeling and your subjectivity to praise or defame.

4, Conclusion: Relying on Buddhist evaluation criteria, you can verify which Buddhist sutras are authentic, which Buddhist sutras are counterfeited, not relying on the name of Theravada sutras, Mahayana sutras or Vajrayana to identify which Buddhist sutras are true or untrue.

Dear disciples,

kinh dien

Buddhist scriptures always teaches us the enlightened path as Buddhist’s saying that water in ubiquitous sea is always salty

It is said that the Buddhist discourses considering  as rain pouring down, small or big trees all get the benefits without the bias, so they are sure that  The Ullambana Sutra with humanistic significance, and richness in piety should not be thought as untrue Buddhist text. It is careless argument because the real meaning of Buddhist scriptures always teaches us the enlightened path as Buddhist’s saying that water in ubiquitous sea is always salty, all Buddhist’s teachings only help all sentient beings attain the ultimate liberation, or as the Buddha said: “I teach you the path to liberation. Know that liberation itself depends on you (Mahaparinibbana Sutta). Liberation is free from the cycle of deaths and rebirths. So Buddhist sutras do not accept the dharma practice to be reborn as human, god or asura. If not attaining liberation, it is because the cultivators do not practice diligently the proper Dharma, or betray the Buddha’s teachings before his entering into Nirvana.

Hành giả Phật giáo là từ bỏ toàn bộ sự chấp thủ đó để hướng tới giác ngộ tối thượngFrom the reference viewpoint, I believe that you all rely on these evaluation criteria (the holy teachings) to identify and distinguish which sutras are true or untrue. Do not confuse the residue with gold. Do not consider the residue as gold.

Also, I want to send a message to the reader named Chanh Dung that many sentences of my nearly 600 articles have been quoted from Theravada sutras , but I have never thought that which sutras are from Theravada, or from Mahayana or from Vajrayana. I just specify this is the Buddhist sutra with dialectical criteria to make the assertion. In addition, originating from the Buddha’s time when there were no scripts (letters), he just preached dharma by oral, then where is the original text while ensuring by the scripts? Theravada scriptures were also written after about 200 years from the death of the Buddha, so which criteria can we verify the original sutras without relying on “the Four Seals”, “Four reliance principles” and“Three principal aspects of the enlightened path”? So only relying on Buddhist schools to assess the nature of Buddhist orthodoxy makes no sense. If the teachings in Buddhism are prove to have practical, beneficial results to attain the true peace and happiness, then the teachings are authentically Buddhist sutra. As Buddhists, what Buddha taught to get the ultimate liberation, we obey his teachings, do not cling to Buddhist schools that cause the conflict in Sangha, and the attachment to sectarianism.

Dear disciples,

I have had some words about verifying the authenticity of Buddhist sutras, in front of the holy body of our Yidam, I pray:

To you, Guru Rinpoche, I pray: please lead my mind stream to Buddhist Dharma

To you, all enlightened ones, I pray: please don’t let me enter into the lower pagan.

To you, compassionate Guru and others, please inspire me with your blessings

Phuoc Thanh Village on September 1st  2015

Thinley – Nguyen Thanh

Translated by Mat Dieu Hang

Original Vietnamese Post: Thư gửi các trò 137: THẾ NÀO LÀ KINH PHẬT CHÍNH THỐNG

recources in vietnamese

  1. Mật Kính says:
    From the bottom to my heart, I would like to express my thankfully to your translations with the letter 137: How to verify the authenticity of Buddhist sutras. It’s really admire you when you took the time to translate the precious letter from our Guru to disciples and make lot of beneficial for foreigner who visit Hopefully, with the seed of reading and the Drama teaching from this website and they will have the right perception, the introspection as well as the mindfulness . Through the letter, we know that the consistency from the Mayhayana, Hinayana and Vajrayana sutras still that based on Three principal aspects of the enlightened path: Renunciation, Bodhicitta and Emptiness ; Four Seals (1) All phenomena are empty, (2) All stained emotions are painful, (3) All compounded things are impermanent, (4) Nirvana is true peace; and Four reliance principles. The helpful lens help us to destroy the harmful bacteria and give the great helpfully to Buddhist pratitioners.
    May our Guru long live for the benefit of all sentient beings.
    May all the sentient beings achieve the happiness of Buddha’s nature.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.
  2. Diệu Viên Nguyên says:
    Mô Phật!
    Đệ hoan hỷ và xin được tán thán thiện hạnh của Đạo huynh Mật Diệu Hằng đã chuyển Pháp ngữ của vị Thầy sang tiếng Anh, giúp cho nhiều người trên toàn thế giới tiếp cận và hiểu về Mật Tông Tây Tạng. Đệ hy vọng rằng sẽ có thật nhiều bạn đọc quốc tế đọc được bài của huynh và của các đạo huynh khác trong đạo tràng Mật Gia Song Nguyễn để được nhiều lợi lạc.
    Đệ xin cám ơn Đạo huynh và cầu chúc cho gia đình Đạo huynh luôn mạnh khỏe, an lạc.
    Cầu mong cho tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc Phật Tánh.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.
  3. Mật Lễ says:
    Mô Phật!
    Pháp đệ hoan hỷ với thiện hạnh này của Đạo huynh Mật Diệu Hằng đã dịch bài viết ” Thế nào là kinh Phật chính thống” sang tiếng Anh ” How to verify the authenticity of Buddhist sutras?”
    Cầu chúc Đạo huynh và gia đình luôn vui tu.
    Cầu mong tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc Phật tánh!
    Om Ah Hum!
  4. Mật Hoàng Mai says:
    Mô phật,
    Pháp đệ vô cùng hoan hỷ và tán thán công hạnh của Đạo huynh Mật Diệu Hằng đã dịch bài giảng “Thế nào là kinh Phật chính thống” của Thầy sang tiếng Anh.
    Đệ chúc Đạo huynh và gia đình huynh luôn nhiều sức khỏe, tinh tấn và hanh thông đường Đạo lẫn đường Đời.
    Con cầu nguyện cho Thầy, Cô thật nhiều sức khỏe và trường thọ vì lợi lạc của tất cả chúng sanh.
    Cầu mong chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật tánh.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.
  5. Mật Giác Phương says:
    Mô Phật!

    Pháp đệ xin được tán thán thiện hạnh của Đạo huynh Mật Diệu Hằng đã dịch bài viết của vị Thầy sang tiếng Anh, giúp các bạn đọc quốc tế hữu duyên có thể đọc hiểu.

    Cầu nguyện cho ánh sáng Phật pháp chiếu rọi khắp muôn nơi.

    Om Ah Hum.

  6. Mật Đức says:
    Mô Phật
    Pháp đê xin tán thán với những thiện hạnh của huynh Mật Diệu Hằng đã chuyển Pháp ngữ của Thầy sang tiếng Anh, giúp cho mọi người trên thế giới tiếp cận và có sự hiểu biết về pháp môn Mật Tông Tây Tạng.
    Cầu chúc cho huynh và gia đình vạn sự kiết tường.
    Con xin cầu nguyện cho sức khoẻ và sự trường thọ của Thầy Cô vì lợi lạc chúng sanh.
    Cầu mong cho tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật Tánh.
    Om Ah Hum
  7. marta irene guagliana says:
    DEAR GURU : Thank you for sharing these articles .The Three main aspects of the enlightened way are …Renunciation ,Bodhichita and Vacuum ,,,Four allmarks . 1) All phenomena are empty 2) All emotions are painful 3 ) All compounded things are impermanent 4 ) The Nirvana is true peace …All the sutras de Mahayana ,Hinayana and Vajrayana must have as common denominador these aspects… Wich are the basic of the Dharma . The Guru has health and can live many years for the benefit of all sentient beings .OM MANI PADME HUM
    • Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con xin phép dịch comment của đạo hữu Marta Irene Guagliana như sau ạ:


      Con cảm tạ ơn Thầy đã cho con được đọc bài viết này. Con hiểu rằng tiêu chí để xác định kinh Phật chính thống là ba tính yếu giác ngộ: xả ly, bồ đề tâm và tánh không, cùng với tứ pháp ấn: (1) pháp vô ngã (2) thọ thị bất tịnh (3) tâm vô thường (4) Niết Bàn tịch tĩnh….. Và tất cả các kinh Đại thừa, Tiểu thừa và Kim cang thừa đều phải có những tiêu chí này mới được xem là kinh Phật chính thống.

      Con cầu nguyện cho sức khỏe và sự trường thọ của Thầy vì sự lợi lạc của chúng sanh.


  8. Jennifer says:
    Dear holy guru,

    Thank you for this article. It had cleared up some misunderstandings about which type of Buddhism there are.  I practice Buddhism as true Buddhism not as a label.  Thank you again for teaching us and for teaching me.  May all be blessed and have a wonderful day.

  9. Salvatore Antonio Fois says:

    Venerable Guru;

    My name is Tantra Siramitra.

    Thank you very much for the explanation about authentic sutras, and the true understanding of the Holly Dharma.



    • Mật Diệu Hằng says:
      Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con xin phép dịch comment của đạo hữu Tantra Siramitra (Salvatore Antonio Fois) sang tiếng Việt như sau:

      “Kính bạch Thầy tâm linh tôn quý!

      Con là Tantra Siramitra.

      Con cảm tạ ơn Thầy đã luận giảng rõ ràng và đưa ra tiêu chuẩn để xác định kinh Phật chính thống và Thầy giúp con hiểu đúng về chánh pháp.

      Om Mani Padme Hum.

      Con xin đảnh lễ Thầy!”

  10. Avinash Kumar Srivastava says:

    I touch your feet

    Is is really a very informative paper on Buddhist Hermaneutics aimed to

    decipher the real meaining and import of the Buddhist text.

    I too have written a paper on this theme entitled “Buddhist Hermeneutics” It comprises one chapter of my book , Living Buddhism. Herein I have tried to explain the Catuhpratisharan sutta of Abhidharm Kosha Bhasya. But you have explained it in a lucid and very interesting way. It is devoid of linguistic jargons.

    So kind to you .




    • Mật Diệu Hằng says:
      Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con xin phép dịch comment của bạn đọc Avinash Kumar Srivastava sang tiếng Việt như sau:

      “Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con xin đảnh lễ dưới chân Thầy.

      Bài viết này của Thầy rất bổ ích, lợi lạc trong việc đánh giá kinh Phật chính thống để hiểu rõ ý nghĩa thật sự trong lời dạy của đức Thế Tôn và thâm nhập các kinh văn giáo điển Phật pháp.

      Con vừa viết bài báo về chủ đề “thông diễn Phật học” (giải thích các bản kinh văn đạo Phật). Con viết thành một chương trong quyển sách của con mang tên “Living Buddhism” (Đạo Phật vào Đời). Trong chương này, con cố gắng giải thích bài kinh Catuhpratisharan của Abhidharma kosha-bhashya. Nhưng bài viết của Thầy đã luận giảng rõ ràng và sinh động. 

      Con cảm ơn vì lòng tốt và sự quảng độ của Thầy.”

  11. Dr.C H Lakshmi narayan says:
    Respected Guruji, I bow my head at the lotus feet of Guruji.

    I am Tantra Nirvadeva.

    Sometimes, lay Buddhists or a few Buddhist Scholars of different schools of Buddhist teachings  interpret the same sutras in two different ways which do not concur each other !

    What is most important is one should not confuse the residue with Gold and consider the residue as Gold !

    Theravada Sutras contain the actual substance of the historical teachings of Buddha while Mahayana or Vajrayana sutras are of Buddhist apocrypha.

    Sutras are called authentic ONLY WHEN THEY RELY ON :

    1. The 3 principles of path of Enlightenment, namely:

    a)  Renunciation

    b) Bodhicitta.

    C) Emptiness      AND

    ” 4- Dharma Seals”(the details given in the body of this article).  AND

    ” 4- Reliance Principles “(the details of which given in the body of this article ) irrespective of different schools of thought !

    That is the right view of understanding and following Buddha’s teachings !

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Long live our beloved Guruji for upholding Dharma.

    Dr C H Lakshminarayan.






  12. Jaison Chakma says:
    Dear Holy Guru

    At first take my best regard and heartiest wishes.
    I took an opportunity to read your this awesome article.  I learned
    many things from your article.  I became clear about Sutras and
    I also learned about Mahayana, Hinayana and Bajrayana.
    Thank you so much for deliver such important speeches.
    May you stay healthy and live long.

    Best regard

    • Mật Diệu Hằng says:
      Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con xin phép dịch comment của bạn đọc Jaison Chakma sang tiếng Việt như sau:

      “Kính bạch Thầy tâm linh tôn quý!

      Đầu tiên con xin được thỉnh an Thầy và cầu nguyện Thầy thân tâm an tịnh.

      Con có được cơ hội đọc bài viết tuyệt vời này của Thầy. Con học được rất nhiều điều từ bài viết của Thầy. Con hiểu rõ về tiêu chuẩn xác định kinh Phật chính thống.

      Con cũng biết thêm về Đại thừa, Kim Cang thừa.

      Con chân thành cảm tạ ơn Thầy vì đã viết bài viết quan trọng này.

      Con cầu nguyện Thầy khỏe mạnh và trường thọ.”

  13. Tantramikaya ( Jane) says:
    dear holy guru. Thank you for the explanations in your article, which I read several times to follow this article mentally exactly. I also thank you for the translation into English and the kindness that you share this article with us. I gather from your article that for the people who practice the Great Way, the focus is on the development of wisdom and active love and compassion. Our priority is to make life more meaningful and richer for all beings and ourselves. It is mainly about the underlying motivation and therefore to perfect our abilities to serve and use all living beings in the best possible way. In Theravada we can still clearly see the clear lines of the Buddha’s teaching. But the Hinayana, Mahayana and Theravada are the basic of the Dharma. The clear core is the focus on the liberation of suffering and attachments to human ideas and concepts. But it is also clear that Hinayana Theravada and Mahayana work as one unit. As in Hinayana, immeasurable love, compassion, immeasurable joy, and immeasurable equanimity are fundamental components. On the way to enlightenment we understand that nothing is permanent, all emotions are painful and true peace is nirvana. We ourselves can train and strengthen our minds and screw down our ego. When we approach all living beings with mindfulness and compassion and practice the boddhicitta daily. I think my great lesson in life is not clinging and understanding that nothing is permanent. Compassion has always been and always is my companion. Maybe I expected things and that was a mistake. I thought that if every human gives only good, then this human being experiences only good in this world. But the real endeavor is enlightenment. But I am learning and striving to grow. May our holy Guru life long for the sake of all sentient beings. May all creatures feel healthy and happy. May all beings achieve the happiness of Buddha s nature. Om Mani Padme Hum
  14. Ahmed Khan says:

    Dear Guru,

    Thank you for sharing this article. It is very informative and helpful.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  15. Chris Larson says:
    Thank you so much for explaining the four Reliance principals. I have never heard that explained before,  and found it very enlightening. I will use this as I read and study.
    • Kính bạch Thầy! 

      Con xin được dịch comment của bạn đọc Chris Larson sang tiếng Việt như sau:

      Con chân thành cảm tạ ơn Thầy vì đã luận giảng cho con hiểu về tứ pháp ấn. Con chưa được đọc những luận giảng dễ hiểu và thấu đáo như bài viết này của Thầy. Bài viết này soi sáng cho con rất nhiều. Con sẽ dựa trên những tiêu chí Thầy đưa ra trong bài viết này để phân biệt kinh Phật chính thông với ngụy kinh khi đọc và nghiên cứu về Phật pháp. 

  16. Abrar Bhatti says:

    Dear Guru,

    Thank you for teaching and clarifying  the Buddhist principles in order to understand which Sutra is part of Buddhism. The purpose of Buddha teachings is to have peace and happiness, if a sutra fulfill this need of human, that is part of Buddhism.



    Abrar Bhatti.

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