Eight Realizations

The Eight Realizations Of 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
the five skandhas (form, feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness), 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  are  able  to  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 of the extent to which laziness is an obstacle to practice. For this reason, we  must  practice  diligently  to  destroy  the  unwholesome mental  factors,  which  bind  us,  and  to  conquer  the  four
kinds of Mara (unwholesome mental factors, five aggregates, death, distractions (e.g. fantasies or forgetfulness), in order to free ourselves from the prisons of the five aggregates and the three worlds (world of desire and passion, the world of form (without desire and passion), the world of formlessness (only mental functioning)).

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 hatred and anger, which creates a vicious cycle of negative  thoughts and  activity.  When  practicing  generosity, Bodhisattvas consider   everyone, friends and enemies alike, as equal. They do not condemn anyone’s past wrong-doing, nor do they hate those who are presently causing harm.

The  Seventh  Realization is  that  the  five  categories  of desire (being wealthy, being beautiful, being ambitious, finding pleasure in eating, being lazy) lead to difficulties. Although we are in this world, we  should  try  not  to  be  caught  up  in  worldly  matters.  A monk, for example, has in his possession three robes and one bowl. He lives simply in order to practice the Way. His precepts keep him free from 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 with everyone, and to guide all living beings to the realm of great joy.


-from The Sutra On The Eight Realizations Of The Great Beings,

Translated from the Chinese with Commentary by Thich Nhat Hanh;
Translated from the Vietnamese by Diem Thanh Truong and Carole Melkon.