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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.

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.

Tâm Linh:  Spiritual - Tâm Lý: Emotion - Trí Năng: Intellect - Xã Hội: Social - Vú Trụ Quan: Worldview - Đạo Đức Quan: Ethics - Muc do truong thanh trong nhan thuc ve to chuc va quan ly: The maturity in the organization and management skills – Muc do truong thanh cua su nhan thuc ve quan he voi tha nhan: The level of maturity in interpersonal relationships)


The Buddha at the peak of his cultivation path no longer had the tribal-centric worldview but the cosmocentric worldview. He saw the whole universe. That was how he knew that there were countless universes beyond this world, innumerous and limitless universes.

Therefore he recognized the need for sacrifice in life, no need to hold on to or stay in the small tribe.

Thus, we have many levels of worldview, from tribal-centric to egocentric, then ethnocentric to globalcentric and finally, cosmocentric. When cultivate, we need to raise the level of our worldview.


The meaning of the circular stroke


1/ The circular stroke shows the maturity in the organization and management skills. We do not live alone, without any organizations. An organization can be a family, a group, a class, a school or a union, a community, a political party, a nation, or even an international community. Maturity in this area is very important. When we think from an egocentric point of view, the scope of our organization and management is very limited. When thinking and organizing with a group mentality, we can do more. Each organization is like a person. A person has many different parts, cells, and organs. If we are only the cells, we cannot know the whole picture that is the person. If we knew the whole person, then that knowledge would change our perception. The amount of knowledge we have when we get involved in an organization is very important. We need to know what we should do, and how we should organize and manage it. It requires a certain level of maturity to do that.

This logo shows that not only should we cultivate the spiritual, social, emotional and intellectual aspects, but we also need to cultivate mature management and organization.


2/ The next meaning is the awareness of the level of maturity interpersonal relationships. Each of us has this kind of relationship. The measure of maturity in our relationships with others is our ability to empathize, embrace, and forgive. How much can we empathize with someone? Can we easily apologize, make up, renew, and move on? It is because of our ability to accept, to love, to control ourselves, and to nurture those relationships that we will have more friends instead of enemies.


The level of maturity we bring to each relationship is very important. In our daily lives, this maturity will help us in our cultivation. When we lack this maturity in our relationships with others, the relationships will be broken and our efforts in cultivation will not turn out well. This area lies between the emotional and social areas. 

We all have these four dimensions, Spiritual, Intellectual, Social, and Emotional. They cannot be changed. These four aspects have their own ways of evolving. We are better off looking into how we can evolve in Worldview, Ethics, and the level of organizational and interpersonal maturity discussed above. These are the areas that we can cultivate.

Of course, there are more ways, more strokes, and more points among many in this circular path, but we have only mentioned these four easy-to-cultivate aspects. Together with the four original area, that is enough for us.


We cultivate all these aspects. When the logo is drawn out, the upward stroke moves continuously higher, the downward stroke grows thicker and the circular stroke opens wider to express that we should be like the light, constantly expanding in all directions. This way of cultivation is called the Holistic Cultivation.


This logo expresses a special feature – our continuous unfolding and evolution – called the holistic cultivation.

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