Special Topics

Reminders for Sutra Copying

Copying sutra is like returning once again to the place where Gautama Buddha expounded the Dharma and listening to his teachings. Therefore, when copying sutras, we should sit up straight to handwrite the words of Buddha with a respectful, grateful, and devout mind. We shouldn't write the words of Buddha with our legs crossed or with our arms and head on the table. When transcribing sutras, we should make every word clear enough to read, neither writing illegibly nor making arbitrary alterations. After finishing a paragraph, we should proofread it carefully. If we find a word has been missed while copying the sutra, we should just mark and correct the mistake on the margin instead of altering the text. 

People usually think only sitting in meditation on a zafu (meditation cushion, putuan in Chinese "蒲團") is considered as practice. However, Master Sheng Yen reminded us that, as long as we continue to focus on absorbing and following the right view, as well as on carrying out the Buddhadharma, we are on the right track of practice. The same is true for sutra copying. By fully focusing on copying a sutra and placing our mind on the sutra's contents, we can transform the copied words into seeds of virtue in our mind that are in accordance with Buddha's wisdom and compassion. Through sutra copying, we not only purify and harmonize our body and mind, but we also simultaneously fulfill the practice of Three Studies of Precepts, Concentration and Wisdom. 

How to Copy a Sutra

1. Hand copy the text: the scripture should be written from top to bottom and from left to right.

2. Write the vow and signature: write down your vow after copying the whole text. A vow represents the copier's aspiration to seek enlightenment and to deliver all sentient beings. The vow does not need to be long, but it should be a great one, such as wishing for world peace, etc. Finally, put down your name, time and place where you finish copying a sutra after writing the vow. 

Extended Reading:

Transcribing Sutras

Sutra transcription: A practice that enhances our health

Transcribing Buddhist Scripture as a Method of Practice for the Benefit of Self and Others

The Exceptional Merits of Transcribing Sutras

A Guide to Hand Copying Sutras

Reminders for Sutra Copying

Resource: Issue 371 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 371 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Translation: Pin-an Chen (陳品安)   
Editing: Dharma Drum Mountain Editing Team, Keith Brown