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The Meaning of CSS Logo

This logo is very simple. It has three strokes: the first stroke descends to the middle,  the second stroke continues from the middle, going downward again, and the third stroke is an open circular stroke.

These three strokes represent Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, in reference to the three Dharma treasures (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha). The first vertical stroke actually moves upward, standing for the Buddha, the second descending stroke is for the Dharma – Truth (like the Dao Theory of Being Human) and the circular stroke is for the Sangha. This is the religious meaning.



Here is the literal meaning of the strokes:

The ascending stroke represents spiritual transformation. The descending stroke represents serving others. We can call them Spiritual and Social, two very important aspects of life. The ascending stroke is also called Transcending Worldliness – liberation from the mundane life. The downward stroke is called Engaging with the World – entrance into the mundane life. The upward movement of the Transcending Worldliness stroke represents the continuing upward movement of an individual by his/her self-cultivation. 


The stroke’s length and upward movement illustrates the rising, sublimation and liberation from the stagnant, muddiness of our desires. The Engaging with the World stroke is shorter and moving downward, represent service to others. To rise upward is to reach for higher principles, going downward means serving others, not descending to the lower principles. The shortness of stroke shows that we are very close to humanity - more accommodating and constant. Our hearts open wide to truly lower ourselves to serve.


(Hướng thượng: Higher principles –  Xuất Tục: Transcending Worldliness – Nhập Thế: Engaging with the World – Phục vụ: Serving Others)


The lower stroke is thicker than the upper stroke, like the elephant leg that is often used in Buddhism to symbolize the conduct of Bodhisattvas – strong and big. The strong and heavy elephant leg can leave deep footprints. Similarly, when we engage with the world, we are truthful, practical, and steadfast. The upper stroke is long, elegant and transcending. We have these two strokes, but why do they not connect? Why are serving others and spiritual elevation not connected? It turns out that the empty space represents the body.


The body is both a place where we can elevate ourselves to transcend from this mundane world, and an effective instrument for serving others. The body resides between the two strokes, but why do they not connect? There are two reasons:


1) The body is impermanent: It will be destroyed; there is no way to hold on to it indefinitely. That is why we call it emptiness. It is emptiness because it cannot last forever.


2) The nature of the body is Sunyata – true emptiness. This means that with or without the body, the true nature of Emptiness (of Bodhisattvas, Buddha and the universe) is absolute; there is no subject-object duality. Therefore the body exists beyond the five Skandhas - Form, Feeling, Thoughts, Habitual energy and Consciousness; and it is represented by the empty area between the two strokes.

(Thân thể: The Body – 2. Bản tánh của thân là KHÔNG tánh: The nature of the body is Sunyata)


Because the ascending path means reaching to higher principles, the descending path means connecting to humanity, and the body is in between the paths, when we work to serve others, we should always give of ourselves completely. That is true Emptiness. 


Besides this, there are two more very important areas: intellectual and emotional. Emotion is our feeling. Intellect is our thinking. These two aspects are always connected. Across both the upward stroke and downward stroke, the left side is the intellect and the right side is the emotion. In other words, one side is the brain and the other side is the heart. These four dimensions do not change. Still, there is more here that we need to learn and understand.


What is Ethics?


Between the Spiritual and Emotion areas, we have the Ethics. Ethics is the mature expression of love, embracement and forgiveness. How far and how much can we embrace and forgive each other? Ethics is not about living virtuously. The definition of Ethics differs throughout each period of time, and regardless of how the word is defined, the common purpose is to gauge how much love is unfolded and expanded – how encompassing our forgiveness is. Here, Ethics is not about keeping the precepts. Ethics, according to the Ten Stages section of the Avatamsaka Sutra, refers to ways we can express our loving kindness. In the Ten Dwellings section, Dwelling of the Ground of Regulation demonstrates how we can make our hearts and minds become more embracing and forgiving. Ethics is the ability to express maturity in our emotions, our loving-kindness, and our forgiveness. Ethics lies between the Emotion and Spiritual areas in order to harmonize these two areas. Ethics is a very important area.


What is Worldview?


Worldview lies between the Intellectual and Spiritual areas. Worldview is how we view and think about the world. There are two aspects:

1/ The maturity in the level of our view.

2/ The maturity in the magnitude or scope of our view.


How much maturity is in the level and scope of our view? When we climb a mountain, as we reach each height, we see different views. The more we climb, the higher the level of our view becomes and the wider its range grows. Therefore, the higher the level of our view, the more expansive our hearts and minds will be. The more our hearts and minds are opened, the better supported our spirituality will be. The wider the scope of our worldview, the easier it is for us to evolve spiritually. Through the tribal-centric worldview, we are only standing at the base of the mountain. All we can see are our tribes, our own organizations. We think that is the best and that there is nothing better.

Like when we are standing in the forest, surrounded by thick trees, we cannot see the towns beyond.

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