Tôi phản đối bạo lực vì ngay cả khi nó có vẻ như điều tốt đẹp thì đó cũng chỉ là tạm thời, nhưng tội ác nó tạo ra thì tồn tại mãi mãi. (I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.)Mahatma Gandhi
Một người chưa từng mắc lỗi là chưa từng thử qua bất cứ điều gì mới mẻ. (A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.)Albert Einstein
Con tôi, tài sản tôi; người ngu sinh ưu não. Tự ta ta không có, con đâu tài sản đâu?Kinh Pháp Cú (Kệ số 62)
Không trên trời, giữa biển, không lánh vào động núi, không chỗ nào trên đời, trốn được quả ác nghiệp.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 127)
Những chướng ngại không thể làm cho bạn dừng lại. Nếu gặp phải một bức tường, đừng quay lại và bỏ cuộc, hãy tìm cách trèo lên, vượt qua hoặc đi vòng qua nó. (Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. )Michael Jordon
Hãy tự mình làm những điều mình khuyên dạy người khác. Kinh Pháp cú
Chúng ta không làm gì được với quá khứ, và cũng không có khả năng nắm chắc tương lai, nhưng chúng ta có trọn quyền hành động trong hiện tại.Tủ sách Rộng Mở Tâm Hồn
Người ngu nghĩ mình ngu, nhờ vậy thành có trí. Người ngu tưởng có trí, thật xứng gọi chí ngu.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 63)
Sự ngu ngốc có nghĩa là luôn lặp lại những việc làm như cũ nhưng lại chờ đợi những kết quả khác hơn. (Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.)Albert Einstein
Kỳ tích sẽ xuất hiện khi chúng ta cố gắng trong mọi hoàn cảnh.Sưu tầm

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Essential Summaries of Buddhist Teachings
»» Chapter 91 - Chapter 108

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Phật Giáo Yếu Lược - Chương 91 - Chương 108

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Chapter 91. Cultivation In Buddhism

To lead a religious life. Cultivation in Buddhism is to put the Buddha’s teachings into practice on a continued and regular basis. Cultivation in Buddhism also means to nourish the seeds of Bodhi by practicing and developing precepts, dhyana, and wisdom. Thus, cultivation in Buddhism is not soly practicing Buddha recitation or sitting meditation, it also includes cultivation of six paramitas, ten paramitas, thirty-seven aids to Enlightenment, etc. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that time is extremely precious. An inch of time is an inch of life, so do not let the time pass in vain. Someone is thinking, “I will not cultivate today. I will put it off until tomorrow.” But when tomorrow comes, he will put it off to the next day. He keeps putting it off until his hair turns white, his teeth fall out, his eyes become blurry, and his ears go deaf. At that point in time, he wants to cultivate, but his body no longer obeys him. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that living in this world, we all are like fish in a pond that is evaporating. We do not have much time left. Thus ancient virtues taught: “One day has passed, our lives are that much less. We are like fish in a shrinking pond. What joy is there in this? We should be diligently and vigorously cultivating as if our own heads were at stake. Only be mindful of impermanence, and be careful not to be lax.” From beginningless eons in the past until now, we have not had good opportunity to know Buddhism, so we have not known how to cultivate. Therefore, we undergo birth and death, and after death, birth again. Oh, how pitiful! Today we have good opportunity to know Buddhism, why do we still want to put off cultivating? Sincere Buddhists! Time does not wait anybody. In the twinkling of an eye, we will be old and our life will be over!

There are as many as eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors for cultivating the Path. For the sake of understanding, we should be familiar with each one of these Dharma-doors. You should not limit yourself in just a single method of cultivation. However, for the sake of practicing, we should focus on the dharma-door that is the most appropriate for us. “Tu” means correct our characters and obey the Buddha’s teachings. “Tu” means to study the law by reciting sutras in the morning and evening, being on strict vegetarian diet and studying all the scriptures of the Buddha, keep all the precepts; however, the most important factors in real “Tu” are to correct your character, to eliminate bad habits, to be joyful and compassionate, to build virtue. In reciting sutras, one must thoroughly understand the meaning. Furthermore, one should also practise meditation on a daily basis to get insight. For laypeople, “Tu” means to mend your ways, from evil to wholesome (ceasing transgressions and performing good deeds). According to the first patriarch Bodhidharma, “Requite hatred” is one of the four disciplinary processes. What is meant by ‘How to requite hatred?’ Those who discipline themselves in the Path should think thus when they have to struggle with adverse conditions: “During the innumerable past eons I have wandered through multiplicity of existences, never thought of cultivation, and thus creating infinite occasions for hate, ill-will, and wrong-doing. Even though in this life I have committed no violations, the fruits of evil deeds in the past are to be gathered now. Neither gods nor men can fortell what is coming upon me. I will submit myself willingly and patiently to all the ills that befall me, and I will never bemoan or complain. In the sutra it is said not to worry over ills that may happen to you, because I thoroughly understand the law of cause and effect. This is called the conduct of making the best use of hatred and turned it into the service in one’s advance towards the Path.

In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “He who applies himself to that which should be avoided, not cultivate what should be cultivated; forgets the good, but goes after pleasure. It’s only an empty admiration when he says he admires people who exert themselves in meditation (Dharmapada 209).” According to the Forty-Two Sections Sutra, one evening a Sramana was reciting the Sutra of Bequeating the Teaching by Kasyapa Buddha. His mind was mournful as he reflected repentantly on his desie to retreat. The Buddha asked him: “When you were a householder in the past, what did you do?” He replied: “I was fond of playing the lute.” The Buddha said: “What happened when the strings were slack?” He replied: “They did not sound good.” The Buddha then asked: “What happened when the strings were taut?” He replied: “The sounds were brief.” The Buddha then asked again: “What happened when they were tuned between slack and taut?” He replied: “The sounds carried.” The Buddha said: “It is the same with a Sramana who cultivates or studies the Way. If his mind is harmonious, he can obtain (achieve) the Way. If he is impetuous about the Way, this impetuousness will tire out his body, and if his body is tired, his mind will give rise to afflictions. If his mind produces afflictions, then he will retreat from his practice. If he retreats from his practice, it will certainly increase his offenses. You need only be pure, peaceful, and happy and you will not lose the Way.”

We can cultivate in charity. The pitiable, or poor and needy, as the field or opportunity for charity. We can also cultivate the field of religion and reverence of the Buddhas, the saints, the priesthood. We can also cultivate of happiness by doing offerings to those who are still in training in religion. Or we can cultivate by making Offerings to those who have completed their course. According to The Commentary on the Ten Stages of Bodhisattvahood, there are two paths of cultivation. The first way is “the Difficult Path”. The difficult path refers to the practices of sentient beings in the world of the five turbidities, who, through countless Buddha eras, aspire to reach the stage of Non-Retrogression. The difficulties are truly countless, as numerous as specks of dust or grains of sand, too numerous to imagine; however, there are basically five major kinds of difficulties: externalists are legion, creating confusion with respect to the Bodhisattva Dharma; evil beings destroy the practitioner’s good and wholesome virtues; worldly merits and blessings can easily lead the practitioner astray, so that he ceases to engage in virtuous practices; it is easy to stray onto the Arhat’s path of self-benefit, which obstructs the Mind of great loving kindness and great compassion; and relying exclusively on self-power, without the aid of the Buddha’s power, make cultivation very difficult and arduous; it is like the case of a feeble, handicapped person, walking alone, who can only go so far each day regardless of how much effort he expends. The second way is the Easy Path. The easy path of cultivation means that, if sentient beings in this world believe in the Buddha’s words, practice Buddha Recitation and vow to be reborn in the Pure Land, they are assisted by the Buddha’s vow-power and assured of rebirth. This is similar to a person who floats downstream in a boat; although the distance may be thousands of miles far away, his destination will be reached sooner or later. Similarly, a common being, relying on the power of a ‘universal mornach’ or a deity, can traverse the five continents in a day and a night, this is not due to his own power, but, rather, to the power of the monarch. Some people, reasoning according to ‘noumenon,’ or principle may say that common beings, being conditioned, cannot be reborn in the Pure Land or see the Buddha’s body. The answer is that the virtues of Buddha Recitation are ‘unconditioned’ good roots. Ordinary, impure persons who develop the Bodhi Mind, seek rebirth and constantly practice Buddha Recitation can subdue and destroy afflictions, achieve rebirth and, depending on their level of cultivation, obtain vision of the rudimentary aspects of the Buddha (the thirty-two marks of greatness, for example). Bodhisattvas, naturally, can achieve rebirth and see the subtle, loftier aspects of the Buddha, i.e., the Dharma body. There can be no doubt about this. Thus the Avatamsaka Sutra states: “All the various Buddha lands are equally purely adorned. Because the karmic practices of sentient beings differ, their perceptions of these lands are different.”

According to Buddhist traditions, there are two modes or values of observing commandments: First, prohibitive or restraining from evil. Second, constructive or constraining to goodness. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Thirteen Patriarchs of Pureland Buddhism, Buddha Recitation has two components: Practice-Recitation and Theory-Recitation. The application of harmonizing Theory and Practice. If cultivators are able to practice Buddha Recitation in this way and maintain it throughout their lives, then in the present life, they will attain the Buddha Recitation Samadhi and upon death they will gain Rebirth to the Highest Level in the Ultimate Bliss World. The first way is the “Practice-Recitation”: Reciting the Buddha-name at the level of phenomenal level means believing that Amitabha Buddha exists in His Pure Land in the West, but not yet comprehending that he is a Buddha created by the Mind, and that this Mind is Buddha. It means you resolve to make vows and to seek birth in the Pure Land, like a child longing for its mother, and never forgetting her for a moment. This is one of the two types of practices that Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm mentioned in The Thirteen Patriarchs of Pureland Buddhism. Practice-Recitation means having faith that there is a Buddha named Amitabha in the West of this Saha World, the cultivators should be about the theory: mind can become Buddha, and mind is Buddha. In this way, they practice Buddha Recitation diligently and vigorously like children missing their mother, without a moment of discontinuity. Thereafter, sincerely vow and pray to gain rebirth in the Ultimate Bliss World. Practice-Recitation simply means people reciting Buddha’s name without knowing the sutra, the doctrine, Mahayana, Hinayana teachings, or anything else. It is only necessary for them to listen to the teaching of a Dharma Master that in the Western direction, there is a world caled Ultimate Bliss; in that world there are Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara, Mahasthamaprapta, and Great Ocean Assembly of Peaceful Bodhisattvas. To regularly and diligently practice Reciting Amitabha Buddha’s Name as many times as they possibly can, follow by reciting the three enlightened ones of Avalokitesvara, Mahasthamaprapta, and Great Ocean Assembly of Peaceful Bodhisattvas. Thereafter, sincerely and wholeheartedly vow and pray to gain rebirth in the Pureland of Ultimate Bliss. After hearing the above teachings, practictioners should maintain and cultivate as they were taught, making vows to pray for rebirth in the Ultimate Bliss World for the remainder of their lives, to their last bath, and even after they have passed away, they continue to remember to recite Buddha’s name without forgetting. This is called Practice-Recitation. Cultivators are guaranteed to gain rebirth in the Ultimate Bliss World. The second method is the “Theory-Recitation”: This is one of the two types of practices that Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm mentioned in The Thirteen Patriarchs of Pureland Buddhism. Theory-Recitation is to have faith that Amitabha Buddha in the Western Direction is pre-existing and is an inherent nature within everyone because Buddha arises from within cultivator’s mind. Thereafter, the cultivators use the “Virtuous Name” already complete within their minds to establish a condition to tame the mind and influence it to “Never ever forget to recite the Buddh’a name.” Theory-Recitation also means “the people reciting Buddha” are individuals who learn and examine the sutra teachings, clearly knowing different traditions, doctrines, and deepest and most profound dharma teachings, etc. Generally speaking, they are well-versed knowledgeable, and understand clearly the Buddha’s Theoretical teachings such as the mind creates all ten realms of the four Saints and the six unenlightened. Amitabha Buddha and Buddhas in the ten directions are manifested within the mind. This extends to other external realities such as heaven, hell, or whatever, all are the manifestations within the mind. The virtuous name of Amitabha Buddha is a recitation that already encompasses all the infinite virtues and merits accumulated through the vow-power of Amitabha Buddha. Use the one recitation of “Namo Amitabha Buddha” as a rope and a single condition to get hold of the monkey-mind and horse-thoughts, so it can no longer wander but remain undisturbed and quiescent. At minimum, this will allow the cultivator to have a meditative mind during the ritual or at least for several minutes of that time. Never forgetting to maintain that recitation. Vowing to gain rebirth.

Also according to Buddhist traditions, there are three sources of cultivation: The first method is the cultivation of Compassion and pity. The second method is the cultivation of Patience. The third method is the cultivation of emptiness or unreality of all things. Everything is being dependent on something else and having no individual existence apart from other things; hence the illusory nature of all things as being composed of elements and not possessing reality. For lay people, the Buddha always reminded about the three means to cultivate or practice Buddha dharma in their daily activities: First, to control one’s body for not doing bad deeds. Second, to control one’s mouth for not speaking vain talk or harsh speech. Third, to control one’s mind for not wandering with unwholesome karma. For the hearers, there are also three ways of cultivation: These are also three ways of discipline of Sravaka. These three trainings are the three inseparable aspects for any cultivators. The three Universal Characteristics (Existence is universally characterized by impermanence, suffering and not-self). Three methods according to the Mahayana Buddhism. First, practice on the impermanence: No realization of the eternal, seeing everything as everchanging and transient. Second, practice on suffering: Joyless, through only contemplating misery and not realizing the ultimate nirvana-joy. Third, practice on non-self: Non-ego discipline, seeing only the perishing self and not realizing the immortal self. While according to the Theravadan Buddhism, three ways to Enlightenment are “Sila-Samdhi-Prajna”: First, keeping the precepts, or training in Moral discipline by avoiding karmically unwholesome activities. Cultivating ethical conduct. Second, mental discipline, or training the mind in Concentration, or practicing concentration of the mind. Third, wisdom or prajna, meaning always acting wisely, or training in Wisdom, the development of prajna through insight into the truth of Buddhism. These are also the three studies or endeavors of the non-outflow, or the those who have passionless life and escape from transmigration. In Buddhism, there is no so-called cultivation without discipline, and also there is no Dharma without discipline. Precepts are considered as cages to capture the thieves of greed, anger, stupidity, pride, doubt, wrong views, killing, stealing, lust, and lying. In the same manner with keeping precepts, in Buddhism, there is no so-called cultivation without concentration, or training the mind. The resulting wisdom, or training in wisdom. If you want to get rid of greed, anger, and ignorance, you have no choice but cultivating discipline and samadhi so that you can obtain wisdom paramita. With wisdom paramita, you can destroy these thieves and terminate all afflictions.

Chapter 92. Buddha’s Manifestation

From the Buddhist point of view, all the circumstances of our life are manifestations of our own consciousness. This is the fundamental understanding of Buddhism. From painful, afflictive and confused situations to happy and peaceful circumstances... all are rooted in our own mind. Our problems are we tend to follow the lead of that restless mind, a mind that continuously gives birth to new thoughts and ideas. As a result, we are lured from one situation to another hoping to find happiness, yet we only experience nothing but fatigue and disappointment, and in the end we keep moving in the cycle of Birth and Death. The solution is not to suppress our thoughts and desires, for this would be impossible; it would be like trying to cover a stone over grass, grass will find its way to survive. We must find a better solution than that. Why do we not train ourselves to observe our thoughts withut following them. This will deprive them their supressing energy and is therefore, they will die out by themselves.

Devout Buddhists do not consider the Buddha as one who can save us from the consequence of our individual sins. On the contrary, we should consider the Buddha as an all-seeing, all-wise Counselor; one who discovered the safe path and pointed it out; one who showed the cause of, and the only cure for, human sufferings and afflictions. In pointing out the road, in showing us how to escape these sufferings and afflictions, He became our Guide. The Buddha appeared, for the changing beings from illusion into enlightenment (according to the Lotus Sutra), or the Buddha-nature (according to the Nirvana Sutra), or the joy of Paradise (according to the Infinite Life Sutra).

According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 33, there are ten kinds of instantly creative knowledge of the Buddhas: First, all Buddhas can, in a single instant, appear to descend from heaven in infinite worlds. Second, all Buddhas can, in a single instant, manifest birth as Enlightening Beings in infinite worlds. Third, all Buddhas manifest renunciation of the mundane and study of the way to liberation in infinite worlds. Fourth, all Buddhas manifest attainment of true enlightenment under enlightenment trees in infinite worlds. Fifth, all Buddhas manifest turning the wheel of the Teaching in infinite worlds. Sixth, all Buddhas manifest education of sentient beings and service of the enlightened in infinite worlds. Seventh, all Buddhas, in a single instant, manifest untold variety of Buddha-bodies in infinite worlds. Eighth, all Buddhas can, in a single instant, manifest all kinds of adornments in infinite worlds, innumerable adornments, the freedom of the enlightened, and the treasury of omniscience. Ninth, all Buddhas can, in a single instant, manifest countless of pure beings in infinite worlds. Tenth, all Buddhas can, in a single instant, manifest the Buddhas of past, present and future in infinite worlds. All Buddhas manifest with various faculties and characters. All Buddhas manifest with various energies. All Buddhas manifest with various practical understandings. All Buddhas manifest and attain true enlightenment in the past, present and future.

According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten reasons Enlightening Beings appear as children: First, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to learn all worldly arts and sciences. Second, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to learn the riding military arts and various worldly occupations. Third, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to learn all kinds of worldly things such as literature, conversation, games, and amusements. Fourth, Enlightening Beings manifest as children because of the shedding of errors and faults of word, thought, and deed. Fifth, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to enter concentration, staying in the door of nirvana, and pervading infinite worlds in the ten directions. Sixth, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to show that their power goes beyond all creatures, celestials, human, and nonhuman. Seventh, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to show that the appearance and majesty of enlightening beings goes beyond all deities. Eighth, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to cause sentient beings addicted to sensual pleasures to joyfully take pleasure in truth. Ninth, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to show the reception of truth and respectfully make offerings to all Buddhas. Tenth, Enlightening Beings manifest as children in order to show empowerment of Buddhas and being bathed in the light of truth.

According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 38, there are ten reasons Enlightening Beings appear to live in a royal palace: First, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to cause roots of goodness of their colleagues of the past to develop to maturity. Second, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to show the power of roots of goodness of Enlightening Beings. Third, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to show the comforts of great spiritual power of enlightening beings to humans and celestials who are obsessed with comforts. Fourth, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to adapt to the minds of sentient beings in the polluted world. Fifth, Enlightening Beings appear to live in a royal palace in order to manifest the spiritual power of Enlightening Beings, able to enter concentration in the heart of the palace. Sixth, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to enable those who had the same aspiration in the past to fulfill their aims. Seventh, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to enable their parents, family and relatives to fulfill their wishes. Eighth, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to use music to produce the sounds to the sublime teaching to offer to all Buddhas. Ninth, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to dwell in the subtle concentration while in the palace and show everything from the attainment of Buddhahood to final extinction. Tenth, Enlightening Beings manifest to live in a royal palace in order to accord with and preserve the teaching of the Buddhas.

According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten kinds of certain understanding of the realm of sentient beings: Enlightening beings who abide by these can attain the supremely powerful certain understanding of Buddhas. First, Great Enlightening Beings know that all realms of sentient beings essentially have no reality. Second, Great Enlightening Beings know that all realms of sentient beings enter the body of one sentient being. Third, Great Enlightening Beings know that all realms of sentient beings enter the body of an Enlightening Being. Fourth, Great Enlightening Beings know that all realms of sentient beings enter the matrix of enlightenment. Fifth, Great Enlightening Beings know that the body of one sentient being enters all realms of sentient beings. Sixth, Great Enlightening Beings know that all realms of sentient beings can be vessels of the Buddhas’ teaching. Seventh, Great Enlightening Beings know all realms of sentient beings and manifest the bodies of celestial beings for them according to their desires. Eighth, Great Enlightening Beings know all realms of sentient beings and manifest the tranquil, composed behavior of saints and individual illuminates for them, according to their inclinations. Ninth, Great Enlightening Beings know all realms of sentient beings and manifest to them the bodies of Enlightening Beings adorned with virtues. Tenth, Great Enlightening Beings know all realms of sentient beings and show them the marks and embellishments and the tranquil comportment of Buddhas, and enlighten sentient beings.

According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 38, there are ten reasons Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace: First, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to reject living at home. Second, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to cause sentient beings attached to their homes give up their attachment. Third, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to follow and appreciate the path of Saints. Fourth, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to publicize and praise the virtues of leaving home. Fifth, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to demonstrate enternal detachment from extreme views. Sixth, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to cause sentient beings to detach from sensual and selfish pleasures. Seventh, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to show the apearance of transcending the world. Eighth, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to show indepedence, not being subject to another. Ninth, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to show that they are going to attain the ten powers and fearlessnesses of Buddhas. Tenth, Great Enlightening Beings leave a royal palace to because it is natural that Enlightening Beings in their final life should do so.

According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, there are ten reasons Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps: For these ten reasons they show the act of walking seven steps after birth; they manifest this to pacify sentient beings. First, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to manifest the power of enlightening beings. Second, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to manifest the giving of the seven kinds of wealth. Third, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to satisfy the wishes of the spirits of the earth. Fourth, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to manifest the appearance of transcending the three worlds. Fifth, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to manifest the supreme walk of the enlightening being, beyond the walk of the elephant, the bull, or the lion. Sixth, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to manifest the characteristics of adamantine ground. Seventh, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to manifest the desire to give sentient beings courageous strength. Eighth, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to manifest the practice of the seven jewels of awakening. Ninth, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to show that the truth they have realized does not come from the instruction of another. Tenth, Great Enlightening Beings show the act of walking seven steps to manifest supreme peerless in the world.

According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 38, there are ten reasons why Great Enlightening Beings smile and make a promise in their hearts to tame and pacify sentient beings: First, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise because they think that all worldlings are sunk in the mire of craving, and no one but Enlightening Beings can rescue them. Second, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because all worldlings are blinded by passion and afflictions, and only Enlightening Beings have wisdom. Third, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because based on this so-called body, Enlightening Beings will attain the supreme reality-body of Buddhas, which fills all times. Fourth, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because at the time, the Enlightening Beings, with unobstructed eyes, look over all the Brahma heavens and all the controlling heavens, and think: These sentient beings all think they have the power of knowledge. Fifth, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because they observe sentient beings who have long planted roots of goodness and who now are regressing and sinking. Sixth, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because they observe that though the seeds sown in the world be few, the fruits reaped are many. Seventh, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because they see that all sentient beings who receive the teaching of Buddha will surely gain benefit. Eighth, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because they see that Enlightening Beings who were their colleagues in past ages have become obsessed with other things and cannot attain the great virtues of the Buddha teaching. Ninth, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because they see that the celestials and humans who were in the same communities with them in the past still are in mundane states, unable to detach from them, and not tiring of them either. Tenth, Great Enlightening Beings manifest to smile and make a promise to tame and pacify sentient beings because at that time they are bathed in the lights of all Buddhas and are even more joyful.

Besides, there are many other manifestations: First, manifest be awake to all truths and expound their meanings, definitively, without duality. All Buddhas can manifest be awake to all truths and expound their meanings, definitively, without duality, one of the ten kinds of mastery of nondual action of all Buddhas. Second, manifest for external aid: This is the aid in the blessing and powers of this life. In contrast with invisible or mysteric aid, in getting rid of sins, increasing virtue. Third, manifest physical forms to do Buddha-work for sentient beings, one of the ten kinds of performance of Buddha-work for sentient beings of all Buddhas. The fourth kind of manifestation is the manifest virtue: To manifest virtue (positive in deeds and thoughts as expounded in the Avatamsaka Sutra-Kinh Hoa Nghiêm), in contrast with to repress the passions. The fifth kind of manifestation is the manifestation of the body. The sixth kind of manifestation is the manifestation of dharma-body. The seventh kind of manifestation is the manifestation of untold Buddhas in the world. The eighth kind of manifestation is the manifested Buddha (Sakyamuni Buddha). The ninth kind of manifestation is the manifesting the autonomous spiritual capacities of all Enlightening Beings. Manifesting the autonomous spiritual capacities of all Enlightening Beings is a grove for enlighening beings because they use great spiritual powers to turn the wheel of teaching unceasingly and civilize sentient beings. This is one of the ten kinds of grove of Great Enlightening Beings. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can achieve the Buddhas’ unexcelled peaceful, happy action, free from sorrow and affliction. The tenth kind of manifestation is the manifesting birth in the phenomenal realm but having no attachment to anything. Imbued with the qualities of Buddhahood, they manifest birth in the phenomenal realm, their physical features perfect, their associates pure, yet they have no attachment to anything.

Chapter 93. Mind-Only

Mind-only or idealism, the theory that the only reality is mental, that of the mind. Nothing exists apart from mind. Similar to “Only Mind,” or “Only Consciousness” in the Lamkavatara Sutra. Mind-only is the theory that the only reality is mental, that of the mind. The theory that the only reality is mental, that of the mind. Nothing exists apart from mind. A Sanskrit term for “Mind only.” A term that implies that all of reality is actually a creation of consciousness. It is commonly associated with the Yogacara tradition of Indian Buddhism, although it is only rarely mentioned in Yogacara works, which generally use the term Vijnapti-matra, or “Cognition-only.” Even though the term is rare in Yogacara literature, it is used by Tibetan Buddhism to designate the tradition, instead of the better-attested term “Yogacara,” or “Practice of Yoga.” From the Alaya arise two kinds of consciousness, manyana and vijnapti causes all feelings, perceptions, concepts, and thoughts to appear. It is based in the sense organs, the nervous system, and the brain. The object of vijnapti is reality in itself and is possible only when feelings and perceptions are pure and direct. When seen through the veil of conceptualization, the same object can be only an image of reality or a pure image such as a dream while asleep or daydream. Although the object of a pure sensation is reality in itself, when this reality is seen through concepts and thoughts, it is already distorted. Reality in itself is a stream of life, always moving. Images of reality produced by concepts are concrete structures framed by the concepts of space-time, birth-death, production-destruction, existence-nonexistence, one-many. Within vijanpti, there are six consciousnesses: consciousness of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking. The mind-consciousness has the broadest field of activity. It can be active in conjunction with the other senses, for example, awareness of seeing. It can also be active on its own, such as in conceptualizing, reflecting, imagining, and dreaming. Following the five consciousness of the senses, mind-consciousness is called the sixth consciousness. Manyana or manas and alaya are the seventh and eighth consciousnesses.

According to the theories of Vijnanavada, the doctrine of consciousness, or the doctrine of the Yogacaras that only intelligence has reality, not the objects exterior to us. Dharmalaksana sect, which holds that all is mind in its ultimate nature. The doctrine of Idealism School concerns chiefly with the facts or specific characters (lakshana) of all elements on which the theory of idealism was built in order to elucidate that no element is separate from ideation. Although it is usually expressed by saying that all dharmas are mere ideation or that there is nothing but ideation, the real sense is quite different. It is idealistic because all elements are in some way or other always connected with ideation. This doctrine was based on the teaching of the Buddha in the Avatamsaka Sutra, that the three worlds exist only in ideation. According to Ideation Theory, the outer world does not exist but the internal ideation presents appearance as if it were an outer world. The whole world is therefore of either illusory or causal nature and no permanent reality can be found. In India, two famous monks named Wu-Ch’o and T’ien-Ts’in wrote some sastras on Vijnana. They had an outstanding disciple named Chieh-Hsien, an Indian monk living at Nalanda monastery. Later, Chieh-Hsien established the Vijnanavada school and contributed much to the arrangement of the Buddhist canons. In China, Hsuan-Tsang, to whom Chieh-Hsien handed over the sastra, founded this school in his native land. Later, the school was also called Dharmalaksana (Fa-Tsiang-Tsung) and was led by Kwei-Chi, a great disciple of Hsuan-Tsang.

There are five kinds of wisdom or insight or idealistic representation in the sutras and sastras: The first four are objective and the fifth is subjective. First, wisdom or insight in objective conditions. Second, wisdom or insight in interpretation. Third, wisdom or insight in principles. Fourth, wisdom or insight in meditation and practice. Fifth, wisdom or insight in the fruits or results of Buddhahood. According to The Lankavatara Sutra, there are six proofs for the “Mind-Only”: First, things are not what they seem is proved from the analogy of a dream and magical creations. When Ravana, king of Lanka, saw images of the Buddha all around him, which later disappeared, he thought, “Could this be a dream? Or a magical phenomenon like the castle of the Gandharvas?” He reflected again, “This is no other than the projection of my own mental creations.” As we do not truly understand things as they are, we separate the seen from the seer, thus producing a world of dualities. “Where there is no false discrimination, one really sees the Buddha.” As long as we are in the dream, we do not realize that we are all dreaming, that we are slaves of false discrimination. For it is only when we are awakened from it that we know where we have been. The analogy of dream is quite a strong argument against the reality of an external world, but it is not all effective for them who are actually dreaming. So it is with magical creations. The Indians have been noted for their skill in the art of conjuration, and thee are no people among whom the use of mantrams and dharanis is so universal. Hence the frequent allusions to magic in the literature of Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism. The magician is so wonderfully proficient in making the spectators see objects where there are none whatever. As long as they are under his spell, there is no way of making them realize that they are the victims of hypnotism. The favorite analogies besides the dream and magic that are resorted to in the Lankavatara to show the unreality of objects seen externally and internally are: paintings, a hair-circle to the dim-eyed, a revolving fire-wheel, a bubble looks like a sun, reflected trees in water, images in a mirror, an echo, fata morgana, a mechanical man, a floating cloud, and lightning. Second, all things are relative and have no substance (svabhava) which would eternally and absolutely distinguish on from another. Things are nothing but relations; analyze them into their component elements and there will be nothing left. And are not all relations the constructions of the mind? Thus the citta seeing itself reflected is due to reflection and discrimination; so far no harm is done, for the mental constructions are perceived as such and there are no wrong judgments about them. The trouble begins at once when they are adhered to as externally real, having their own values independent of the valuing mind itself. This is why the sutra emphasizes the importance of looking at things (yathabhutam), as they really are. When they are thus looked at things, they are no more than the mind itself. The principle of relativity creates a world of individuals, but when it is transcended, there is Mind itself. The third proof, names and images are mere signs (samketa) and have no reality whatever (abhava) in themselves, for they belong to the imagination (parikalpita). Imagination is another name for false discrimination, which is the mischievous agency of creation. The fact of One Mind (ekacittam) is thus buried in the differentiation of individual existence.

According to words they discriminate wrongfully and make statements concerning reality; and because of these statements they are burned in hell. How much we owe in our daily intercourse to words! And yet what grave consequences, not only logically but spiritually, we suffer from words! The light of the mind is altogether beclouded in and with words. The mind has, indeed, created words, and now taking these words for realities independent of their creator, it gets entangled in them, and is swallowed up in the waves of transmigration. The ignorant take what is presented by the mind itself for objective realities which do not really exist, and because of this wrong representation, discrimination is falsified. This, however, is not the case with the wise. The wise know that names and signs and symbols are to be taken for what they are intended from the beginning. While the ignorant cling to them as if they were realities and let their minds blindly follow up this clinging. Thus, they get attached to a variety of forms and entertain the view that there are really “I” and “mine,” and by doing so, they hold fast to appearances in their multiplicity. Because of these attachments, their higher wisdom is obstructed; greed, anger, and infatuation are stirred up, and all kinds of karma are committed. As these attachments are repeatedly committed, the ignorant find themselves hopelessly enwrapped within the cocoons woven out of their wrong discriminations. They are swallowed up in the waves of transmigration, and do not know how to go ahead in the work of emancipation for they turn round and round like the water-wheel. It is owing to their ignorance, indeed, that they fail to realize that all things, like maya, the shining mote, or the moonlight on water, have no self-substance, that there is nothing in them to take hold of as “me” and “mine;” that all things are unreal (abhuta) born of wrong discrimination; that ultimate reality is above the dualism of marked and marking, and the course of birth, staying, and disappearance; that is manifested due to the discriminating by one’s own mind of what is presented to it. Imagining that the world is born of Isvara, Time, Atom, or Universal Soul, the ignorant are addicted to names and forms thereby allowing themselves to be swayed by them. The fourth proof, “that which is unborn has nothing to do with causation, there is no creator, all is nothing but the construction (vyavasthana) of the mind, as I teach that which is unborn.” That there is no creator such as Isvara or Pradhana or Brahma is one of the principal theses of Mahayana Buddhism. According to the Lankavatara, the notion of a creator is due to discrimination, which always tends to lead the mind in a wrong direction. When it is seen that all is mind-only (cittamatra), that which is unborn will present itself instead. No birth, not because of non-existence, nor because existence is to be regarded as mutually dependent, nor because there is a name for existence, nor because name has no reality behind it. That all is unborn does not belong to the realm of Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, or philosophers, or of those Bodhisattvas who are still on the seventh stage; no-birth is constructed on the truth of the Mind-Only. Fifth, the absolutely idealistic monism, the logical necessity of reaching the ultimate notion of unity; thus, the Lankavatara accepts the doctrine of “Mind-Only” instead of “Matter-Only.” When no creator is recognized and all forms of dualism are set aside as not in accord with the real state of things, there remain two ways for achieving the unification of thought, realism and idealism; and the Lankavatara denies the reality of an external world (vishaya), or outside objects (bahyabhava) that are characterized with multitudinousness (vicitrata), the doctrine of “Mind-Only” seems to be the natural conclusion. Thus the absolutely idealistic monism is to use the transcendental knowledge (prajna or jnana) to take cognisance of the manifoldness of an objective world, not by the relative knowledge (vijnana). Again, this transcendental knowledge is not within the reach of the two Vehicles, as it, indeed, goes beyond the realm of beings; the knowledge of Sravakas moves by attaching itself to beings which they take for realities, while the pure transcendental knowledge of the Tathagata penetrates into the truth of the Mind-Only. While the objective world disturbed this unity and makes the mind, thus disturbed, perceive manifoldness within its own body. It then clings to these individualizing disturbances as real, thus losing its original purity or unity altogether in them. This is the source of spiritual tribulations. Sixth, the proof of three worlds are mind itself. This is the strongest of all the proofs that can be advanced for the statement that the world is mind itself (tribhavas-vacittamatram), is that of intuitive knowledge (pratyaksha). While this is what is final in all form of conviction, speculative or practical, the force is especially strongly felt in religious truths, which are not founded upon reasoning but upon immediate perception. So with the Lankavatara, its thesis is derived from its immediacy and not from its intellectual precision. The ultimate principle of knowledge is not dependent upon anything logically reasoned: it is “I see and I believe.” It is what is realized within oneself means of the supreme wisdom (aryajnana) of the Tathagata, or rather it is the supreme wisdom of itself, for the awakening of this wisdom means the grasping of the ultimate principle, which is the same thing as the realization within one’s inmost consciousness of the truth that there is nothing in the world but the Mind. This truth is beyond the realm of discursive knowledge. This special knowledge which may be called intuitive. The Buddha taught Mahamati in The Lankavatara Sutra: “Oh Mahamati, if they form any notion at all about it, there will be no supreme wisdom taking hold of reality (vastu). By this we know that knowledge that takes hold of the ultimate cannot be brought into a system of categories; for if anything is to be said about it, it turns into an idea of it and the real thing is no more there, and what is left behind is nothing but confusion or delusion. Attachment to realities as having self-substance is produced from not knowing (anavabodha) that there is nothing but that which is projected and perceived by one’s own mind. Avabodha is really awakening; something is awakened within the consciousness, and it is at once recognize that all is mind. The awakening is above the dualism of “to be” (sat) and “not to be,” (asat), the latter being due to false discrimination (vikalpa). The awakening is, therefore, the sight of the ultimate principle of existence as it is in itselt and not determined by any form of confusion or otherness. This is what meant by “To see yathabhutam.”

During the first centuries of Christian Era, a new Buddhist school known as the Mind-Only (Yogacarins), began to form. After 500 A.D. it came to dominate the thought of the Mahayana more and more. The distinctive doctrine of the Yogacarins taught that the Absolute is “Thought.” This doctrine is not really a new one. It had been clearly stated in the scriptures of all other schools. Between 150 and 400 A.D., we have several other literary documents which teach “Thought-Only.” The Lankavatara Sutra, the Avatamsaka, and the Abhisamayalankara occupy a position midway between Madhyamikas and Yogacaras. The Abhisamayalankara is an influential commentary on the Prajnaparamita which has guided its exegesis from 350 A.D. onward, and which is still the basis of the explanation of the Prajnaparamita in the monasteries of Tibet and Mongolia. The Avatamsaka takes up the teaching of the sameness of everything, and interprets it as the interpenetration of every element in the world with everything else. Dharmalaksana sect, which holds that all is mind in its ultimate nature. The doctrine of Idealism School concerns chiefly with the facts or specific characters (lakshana) of all elements on which the theory of idealism was built in order to elucidate that no element is separate from ideation. Although it is usually expressed by saying that all dharmas are mere ideation or that there is nothing but ideation, the real sense is quite different. It is idealistic because all elements are in some way or other always connected with ideation. This doctrine was based on the teaching of the Buddha in the Avatamsaka Sutra, that the three worlds exist only in ideation. According to Ideation Theory, the outer world does not exist but the internal ideation presents appearance as if it were an outer world. The whole world is therefore of either illusory or causal nature and no permanent reality can be found. In India, two famous monks named Wu-Ch’o and T’ien-Ts’in wrote some sastras on Vijnana. They had an outstanding disciple named Chieh-Hsien, an Indian monk living at Nalanda monastery. Later, Chieh-Hsien established the Vijnanavada school and contributed much to the arrangement of the Buddhist canons. In China, Hsuan-Tsang, to whom Chieh-Hsien handed over the sastra, founded this school in his native land. Later, the school was also called Dharmalaksana (Fa-Tsiang-Tsung) and was led by Kwei-Chi, a great disciple of Hsuan-Tsang.

Chapter 94. Blessedness & Virtues

Blessedness: Practices of blessing are various practices in cultivation for a Buddhist such as practicing charity, distributing free sutras, building temples and stupas, keeping vegeterian diet and precepts, etc. However, the mind is not able to focus on a single individual practice and it is difficult to achieve one-pointedness of mind. Thus, it is difficult to be reborn in the Pure Land. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that we must create our own blessings. If we cultivate blessings, we will obtain blessings; if we cultivate wisdom, we will obtain wisdom. However, to cultivate both blessings and wisdom is even better. Blessings come from ourselves. If we perform good deeds, we will have blessings. On the contrary, if we commit evil deeds, we will not have blessings. Buddhists should make demands on ourselves, not to make demands on others and seek outside appearances. Ancient Virtues taught: “Calamities and blessings are not fixed; we bring them upon ourselves,” or “Sickness enters through the mouth; calamities come out of the mouth”. We are beset with callamities on all sides, careless talking may very well be the cause. We may momentarily enjoy all kinds of good tasty foods such as steak, chicken, and seafood, but in the long run, these foods may cause us a lot of deadly diseases because nowadays animal flesh contains a lot of poisons from their chemical foods that help make them grow faster to be ready for selling in the market. However, Buddhist practitioners should always remember that in cultivation, a deed is considered to be totally pure when it is done without any thought of reward, whether worldly or divine. It is called ‘deed of no merit’. For no merit is sought, it is a deed of immeasurable merit, of infinite merit. For a deed to be great, it is not necessary that it be grandiose. What is important is the motive behind the deed and not the magnitude of the deed itself. If the motive is pure, then the deed is pure; if the motive is impure, then, no matter how big the deed is, it is still impure. Perhaps this is why, when Emperor Liang Wu-Ti asked Bodhidharma how much merit he had acquired for promoting Buddhism in large-scale way, and Bodhidharma replied ‘No merit at all’.

“Punya” is the result of the voluntary performance of virtuous actions, also means field of merit, or field of happiness. Merit, karmic merit gained through giving alms, performing worship and religious services, reciting sutras, praying, and so on, which is said to assure a better life in the future. Accumulating merit is a major factor in the spiritual effort of a Buddhist layperson. Mahayana Buddhism teaches that accumulated merit should serve the enlightenmen of all beings by being transferred to others. The commitment to transfer a part of one’s accumulated merit to others is a significant aspect of the Bodhisattva vow. Perfection in this is achieved in the eighth stage of a Bodhisattva’development. However, in Theravada countries, making merit is a central focus of the religious lives of laypeople, who are generally thought to be incapable of attaining the higher levels of meditative practice or Nirvana. In early Buddhism, it appears that it was assumed that merit is non-transferable, but in Mahayana the doctrine of “transference of merit” became widespread, and is said to be one of the key virtues of a Bodhisattva, who willingly gives away the karmic benefits of his or her good works for the benefit of others. All good deeds, or the blessing arising from good deeds. The karmic result of unselfish action either mental or physical. The blessing wealth, intelligence of human beings and celestial realms; therefore, they are temporary and subject to birth and death. Various practices for a Buddhist such as practicing charity, distributing free sutras, building temples and stupas, keeping vegeterian diet and precepts, etc. However, the mind is not able to focus on a single individual practice and it is difficult to achieve one-pointedness of mind. Thus, it is difficult to be reborn in the Pure Land.

In Buddhism, the term “field of blessing” is used just as a field where crops of blessedness can be grown. People who grow offerings to those who deserve them will harvest blessing results accordingly. Sincere Buddhists should always cultivate the Field of Blessing by offerings to Buddha, His Dharma, and the Sangha. In short, the field of blessedness or the field for cultivation of happiness, meritorious or other deeds, i.e. any sphere of kindness, charity, or virtue. Someone who is worthy of offerings. Just as a field can yield crops, so people will obtain blessed karmic results if they make offerings to one who deserves them. According to Buddhism, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats and all sentient beings, whether friends or foes, are fields of merits for the cultivator because they provide him with an opportunity to cultivate merits and virtues. Filial piety toward one’s parents and support them, serve and respect one’s teachers and the elderly, maintain a compassionate heart, abstain from doing harm, and keep the ten commandments. One of the four fields for cultivating happiness (blessing). The Buddha taught: “Children should pay special attention to their parents. As parents age, it is inevitable that their bodies will gradually weaken and deteriorate in a variety of ways, making them increasingly susceptible to physical illnesses that can affect every organ in their system. This is natural and there is no escape. Even though, children have no forceful obligation to care for their aged and sick parents, and aged parents have to depend on their children’s goodwill. Buddhist practitioners should take good care of their parents piously, and practitioners should always remember that there is no better institution to care for the aged parents other than the family itself.” Beside the filial piety toward one’s parents and support them, Buddhist practitioners should take refuge in the Triratna, and should always serve and respect teachers and the elderly, maintain a compassionate heart, abstain from doing harm, and keep the ten commandments.

Virtues: Virtue is practicing what is good like decreasing greed, anger and ignorance. Virtue is to improve oneself, which will help transcend birth and death and lead to Buddhahood. In the Samyutta Nikaya Sutta, the Buddha mentioned about eleven virtues that would conduce towards the well-being of women both in this world and in the next. Merit is the good quality in us which ensures future benefits to us, material of spiritual. It is not difficult to perceive that to desire merit, to hoard, store, and accumulate merit, does, however meritorious it may be, imply a considerable degree of self-seeking. It has always been the tactics of the Buddhists to weaken the possessive instincts of the spiritually less-endowed members of the community by withdrawing them from such objects as wealth and family, and directing them instead towards one aim and object, i.e. the acquisition of merit. But that, of course, is good enough only on a fairly low spiritual level. At higher stages one will have to turn also against this form of possessiveness, one will have to be willing to give up one’s store of merit for the sake of the happiness of others. The Mahayana drew this conclusion and expected its followers to endow other beings with their own merit, or, as the Scriptures put it, ‘to turn over, or dedicate, their merit to the enlightenment of all beings.’ “Through the merit derived from all our good deeds We wish to appease the suffering of all creatures, to be the medicine, the physician, and the nurse of the sick as long as there is sickness. Through rains of food and drink We wish to extinguish the fire of hunger and thirst. We wish to be an exhaustible treasure to the poor, a servant who furnishes them with all they lack. Our life, and all our re-birth, all our possessions, all the merit that We have acquired or will acquire, all that We abandon without hope of any gain for ourselves in order that the salvation of all beings might be promoted.” According to Buddhism, “Virtue” is fundamental (the root), while “Wealth” is incidental. Virtuous conduct is the foundation of a person, while wealth is only an insignificant thing. Virtuous conduct begins in small places. Sincere Buddhists should not think a good deed is too small and fail to do it, then idly sit still waiting around for a big good deed. As a matter of fact, there is no such small or big good deed. A mountain is an accumulation of specks of dust. Although each speck is tiny, many specks piled up can form a big mountain. Similarly, virtuous deeds may be small, yet when many are accumulated, they will form a mountain of virtue. In addition, virtue will help transcend birth and death and lead to Buddhahood.

In the Lotus Sutra, chapter 19, the Buddha taught about the merit of the eye as follows: “That a good son or good daughter, with the natural pure eyes received at birth from his or her parents (it means that they already brought with them from previous lives the merit of the eyes), will see whatever exists within and without the three thousand-great-thousandfold world, mountains, forests, rivers, and seas, down to the Avici hell and up to the Summit of Existence, and also see all the living beings in it, as well as see and know in detail all their karma-cause and rebirth states of retribution. Even though they have not yet attained divine vision of heavenly beings, they are still capable of discerning the real state of all things, they can receive the power to do so while living in the Saha world because they have pure eyes unclouded with mental illusion. To put it more plainly, they can do so because their minds become so pure that they are devoid of selfishness, so that they view things unswayed by prejudice or subjectivity. They can see things correctly as they truly are, because they always maintain calm minds and are not swayed by impulse. Remember a thing is not reflected as it is in water boiling over a fire. A thing is not mirrored as it is on the surface of water hidden by plants. A thing is not reflected as it is on the surface of water running in waves stirred up the wind.” The Buddha teaches us very clearly that we cannot view the real state of things until we are free from the mental illusion caused by selfishness and passion.

Regarding the Merit of the Ear, the Buddha teaches that any good son or good daughter who has improved in the five practices of the preacher will be able to hear all words and sounds with his natural ears. A person who has attained a serene mind through cultivation in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings can grasp the subtle shifting of things through their sounds. With a serene ear, one can grasp distinctly the movements of nature just by hearing the sounds of crackling fire, of murmuring water, and of whistling wind. When such a person hears the sounds of nature, he can enjoy them as much as if he were listening to beautiful music. However, the most important thing for you to remember in cultivation for the merit of the ear is that a person can listen without being under their control and he will hear without harm to his organ of hearing. It is to say even if he hears the sounds of beautiful music he is not attached to them. He may be fond of music for a short time, but he has no permanent attachment to it, nor is lulled into forgetting other important matters. An ordinary person hears the sounds of worry, of suffering, and of grief on one side and the sounds of dispute and quarrels on the other, he will be thrown into confusion, but a sincere and devout practitioner of the Buddha’s teachings will not be overwhelmed; he will dwell calmly amid the noise and will be able to hear these sounds with serenity.

According to the Kayagatasati-Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, cultivation of mindfulness of the body means when walking, a person understands that he is walking; when standing, he understands that he is standing; when sitting, he understands that he is sitting; when lying, he understands that he is lying. He understands accordingly however his body is disposed. As he abides thus diligent, ardent, and resolute, his memories and intentions based on the household life are abandoned. That is how a person develops mindfulness of the body. One becomes a conqueror of discontent and delight, and discontent does not conquer oneself; one abides overcoming discontent whenever it arises. One becomes a conqueror of fear and dread, and fear and dread do not conquer oneself; one abides overcoming fear and dread whenever they arise. One bears cold and heat, hunger and thirst, and contact with gadflies, mosquitoes, wind, the sun, and creeping things; one endures ill-spoken, unwelcome words and arisen bodily feelings that are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, distressing, and menacing to life. One obtains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhanas that constitute the higher mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now. One wields the various kinds of supernormal power: having been one, he becomes many; having been many, he becomes one; he appears and vanishes; he goes unhindered through a wall, through an enclosure, through a mountain as though through space; he dives in and out of the earth as though it were water; he walks on water without sinking as though it were earth; seated cross-legged, he travels in space like a bird; with his hand he touches and strokes the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; he wields bodily mastery even as far as the Brahma-world. One understands the minds of other beings, of other persons, having encompassed them with one’s own mind. He understands the mind of other beings, of other persons, having encompassed them with his own mind. He understands a mind affected by lust as affected by lust and a mind unaffected by lust; he understands a mind affected by hate as affected by hate and a mind unaffected by hate as unaffected by hate; he understands a mind affected by delusion as affected by delusion and a mind unaffected by delusion as unaffected by delusion; he understands a contracted mind as contracted and a distracted mind as distracted mind; he understands an exalted mind as exalted and an unexalted mind as unexalted; he understands a surpased mind as surpassed and an unsurpassed as unsurpassed; he understands a concentrated mind as concentrated and an unconcentrated mind as unconcentrated; he understands a liberated mind as liberated and an unliberated mind as unliberated. One recollects one’s manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births…, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion. “There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reapppeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared here. Thus with their aspects and particulars one recollects one’s manifold past lives. With the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human. One sees beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and one understands how beings pass on according to their actions. By realizing for oneself with direct knowledge, one here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints.

King Liang-Wu-Ti asked Bodhidharma: “All my life I have built temples, given sanction to the Sangha, practiced giving, and arranged vegetarian feasts. What merit and virtue have I gained?” Bodhidharma said, “There was actually no merit and virtue.” Buddhist practitioners should always remember that whatever is in the stream of births and deaths. Even conditioned merits and virtues lead to rebirth within samsara. We have been swimming in the stream of outflows for so many aeons, now if we wish to get out of it, we have no choice but swimming against that stream. To be without outflows is like a bottle that does not leak. For human beings, people without outflows means they are devoided of all bad habits and faults. They are not greedy for wealth, sex, fame, or profit. However, sincere Buddhists should not misunderstand the differences between “greed” and “necesities”. Remember, eating, drinking, sleeping, and resting, etc will become outflows only if we overindulge in them. Sincere Buddhists should only eat, drink, sleep, and rest moderately so that we can maintain our health for cultivation, that’s enough. On the other hand, when we eat, we eat too much, or we try to select only delicious dishes for our meal, then we will have an outflow.

In the Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch emphasized that all acts from king Liang-Wu-Ti actually had no merit and virtue. Emperor Wu of Liang’s mind was wrong; he did not know the right Dharma. Building temples and giving sanction to the Sangha, practicing giving and arranging vegetarian feasts is called ‘seeking blessings.’ Do not mistake blessings for merit and virtue. Merit and virtue are in the Dharma body, not in the cultivation of blessings.” The Master further said, “Seeing your own nature is merit, and equanimity is virtue. To be unobstructed in every thought, constantly seeing the true, real, wonderful function of your original nature is called merit and virtue. Inner humility is merit and the outer practice of reverence is virtue. Your self-nature establishing the ten thousand dharmas is merit and the mind-substance separate from thought is virtue. Not being separate from the self-nature is merit, and the correct use of the undefiled self-nature is virtue. If you seek the merit and virtue of the Dharma body, simply act according to these principles, for this is true merit and virtue. Those who cultivate merit in their thoughts, do not slight others but always respect them. Those who slight others and do not cut off the ‘me and mine’ are without merit. The vain and unreal self-nature is without virtue, because of the ‘me and mine,’ because of the greatness of the ‘self,’ and because of the constant slighting of others. Good Knowing Advisors, continuity of thought is merit; the mind practicing equality and directness is virtue. Self-cultivation of one’s nature is merit and self-cultivation of the body is virtue. Good Knowing Advisors, merit and virtue should be seen within one’s own nature, not sought through giving and making offerings. That is the difference between blessings and merit and virtue. Emperor Wu did not know the true principle. Our Patriarch was not in error.”

Buddhist practitioners should always remember that merit is what one establishes by benefitting others, while virtue is what one practices to improve oneself such as decreasing greed, anger and ignorance. Both merit and virtue should be cultivated side by side. These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there is a crucial difference. Merits are the blessings (wealth, intelligence, etc) of the human and celestial realms; therefore, they are temporary and subject to birth and death. Virtue, on the other hand, transcend birth and death and lead to Buddhahood. The same action of giving charity can lead to either Merit or Virtue. If you give charity with the mind to obtain mundane rewards, you will get Merit; however, if you give charity with the mind to decrease greed, you will obtain virtue. Merit is what one established by benefitting others, while virtue is what one practices to improve oneself such as decreasing greed, anger, and ignorance. Both merit and virtue should be cultivated side by side. These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there is a crucial difference. Merits are the blessings (wealth, intelligence, etc) of the human and celestial realms; therefore, they are temporary and subject to birth and death. Virtue, on the other hand, transcend birth and death and lead to Buddhahood. The same action of giving charity with the mind to obtain mundane rewards, you will get merit; however, if you give charity with the mind to decrease greed and stingy, you will obtain virtue. Merit is obtained from doing the Buddha work, while virtue gained from one’s own practice and cultivation. If a person can sit stillness for the briefest time, he creates merit and virtue which will never disappear. Someone may say, ‘I will not create any more external merit and virtue; I am going to have only inner merit and virtue.’ It is totally wrong to think that way. A sincere Buddhist should cultivate both kinds of merit and virtue. When your merit and virtue are perfected and your blessings and wisdom are complete, you will be known as the ‘Doubly-Perfected Honored One.’ Any Buddhist would want to amass merit and virtue, but not be attached to the process. People who cultivate the Way should act as if nothing is being done. We should sweep away all dharmas, should go beyond all attachment to views. A sincere Buddhist should not say, “I have this particular spiritual skill,” or “I have some cultivation.” It is wrong to say “I have such and such a state,” or “I have such and such psychic power.” Even if we have such attainment, it is still unreal and not to be believed. Do not be taken in. Faith in strange and miraculous abilities and psychic powers will keep us from realizing genuine proper concentration. We should realize that proper concentration does not come from outside, but is born instead from within our own nature. We achieve proper concentration by introspection and reflection, by seeking within ourselves. According to the Buddha, the practice of generosity, morality, patience, and energy will result in the accumulation of merit, manifested in the form dimension; while the practice of energy, meditation and wisdom will result in the accumulation of knowledge, manifested in the truth dimension (formless).

In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The scent of flowers does not blow against the wind, nor does the fragrance of sandalwood and jasmine, but the fragrance of the virtuous blows against the wind; the virtuous man pervades every direction (Dharmapada 54). Of little account is the fragrance of sandal-wood, lotus, jasmine; above all these kinds of fragrance, the fragrance of virtue is by far the best (Dharmapada 55). Of little account is the fragrance of sandal; the fragrance of the virtuous rises up to the gods as the highest (Dharmapada 56). Mara never finds the path of those who are virtuous, careful in living and freed by right knowledge (Dharmapada 57).”

Chapter 95. Discipline-Meditation-Wisdom

Overview and Meanings of Discipline-Meditation-Wisdom: Discipline-Meditation-Wisdom are threefold training, or three studies or endeavors of the non-outflow, or those who have passionless life and escape from transmigration. Discipline or morality consists in observing all the precepts laid down by the Buddha for the spiritual welfare of his disciples. Discipline (training in moral discipline) wards off bodily evil. Meditation is the exercise to train oneself in tranquilization. Meditation (training the mind) calms mental disturbance. Wisdom (training in wisdom). In other words, Wisdom or Prajna is the power to penetrate into the nature of one’s being, as well as the truth itself thus intuited. If we do not hold the precepts, we can continue to commit offenses and create more karma; lacking trance power, we will not be able to accomplish cultivation of the Way; and as a result, we will not only have no wisdom, but we also may become duller. Thus, every Buddhist cultivator (practitioner) must have these three non-outflow studies. Discipline wards off bodily evil, meditation calms mental disturbance, and wisdom gets rid of delusion and proves the truth. Without purity of conduct there will be no calm equipoise of thought; without the calm equipoise of thought there will be no completion of insight. The completion of insight (prajna) means the perfection of intellect and wisdom, i.e., perfect enlightenment. It is the result of self-creation and the ideal of the self-creating life. Obviously, all these three are needed for any Buddhist. But after the Buddha, as time went on, the Triple Discipline was split into three individual items of study. The observers of the rules of morality became teachers of the Vinaya; the yogins of meditation were absorbed in various samadhis and became Zen Masters; those who pursued Prajna became philosophers or dialectricians.

Generally speaking, morality forms the foundation of further progress on the right path. The contents of morality in Buddhism compose of right speech, right action, and right livelihood. The moral code taught in Buddhism is very vast and varied and yet the function of Buddhist morality is one and not many. It is the control of man’s verbal and physical actions. All morals set forth in Buddhism lead to this end, virtuous behavior, yet moral code is not an end in itself, but a means, for it aids concentration (samadhi). Samadhi, on the other hand, is a means to the acquisition of wisdom (panna), true wisdom, which in turn brings about deliverance of mind, the final goal of the teaching of the Buddha. Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom therefore is a blending of man’s emotions and intellect. Dainin Katagiri wrote in Returning to Silence: “The Triple Treasure in Buddhism, ‘I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha,’ is the foundation of the precepts. The precepts in Buddhism are not a moral code that someone or something outside ourselves demands that we follow. The precepts are the Buddha-nature, the spirit of the universe. To receive the precepts is to transmit something significant beyond the understanding of our sense, such as the spirit of the universe or what we call Buddha-nature. What we have awakened to, deeply, through our body and mind, is transmitted from generation to generation, beyond our control. Having experienced this awakening, we can appreciate how sublime human life is. Whether we know it or not, or whether we like it or not, the spirit of the universe is transmitted. So we all can learn what the real spirit of a human being is... Buddha is the universe and Dharma is the teaching from the universe, and Sangha is the group of people who make the universe and its teaching alive in their lives. In our everyday life we must be mindful of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha whether we understand this or not.”

The Threefold study of “Precept-Concentration-Wisdom” completely encloses itself in the Eightfold Noble Path is eight main roads that any Buddhist must tread on in order to achieve enlightenment and liberation. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that even the higher practice of calming concentration or samadhi does not assure and place us in an ultimate position of enlightenment, for defilements or latent tendencies are not totally removed yet. We only calm them down temporarily. At any moment they may re-appear when circumstances permit, and poison our mind if we don’t always apply right effort, right mindfulness, and righ concentration in our own cultivation. As we still have impurities, we are still impacted by unwholesome impulses. Even though we have gained the state of calm of mind through concentration or samadhi, but that state is not an absolute state of purity. Thus the efforts to develop concentration never an end itself to a Buddhist cultivator. The most important thing for any Buddhist cultivator here is to develop his “Insight” for only “insight” can help us eliminating perversions and destroying ignorance, and to advance on the Path of Enlightenment and Liberation. In Buddhism, the path of liberation includes Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom, which are referred to in the discourses as the “Threefold Training” (Tividha-sikkha) and none of them is an end in itself; each is a means to an end. One can not function independently of the others. As in the case of a tripod which falls to the ground if a single leg gives away, so here one can not function without the support of the others. These three go together supporting each other. Virtue or regulated behavior strengthens meditation and meditation in turn promotes Wisdom. Wisdom helps one to get rid of the clouded view of things, to see life as it really is, that is to see life and all things pertaining to life as arising and passing away. According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhism lays stress on the Threefold Learning (siksa) of Higher Morality, Higher Thought, and Higher Insight. That is to say, without higher morals one cannot get higher thought and without higher thought one cannot attain higher insight. In other words, morality is often said to lead to samadhi, and samadhi to prajna. Higher thought here comprises the results of both analytical investigation and meditative intuition. Buddhism further instructs the aspirants, when they are qualified, in the Threefold Way (marga) of Life-View, Life-Culture and Realization of Life-Ideal or No-More Learning. These are three stages to be passed through in the study of the Fourfold Truth by the application of the Eightfold Noble Path; in the second stage it is investigated more fully and actualized by the practice of the Seven Branches of Enlightenment, life-culture here again means the results of right meditation; and in the last stage the Truth is fully realized in the Path of No-More-Learning. In other words, without a right view of life there will be no culture, and without proper culture there will be no realization of life. In the Dhammamapada, the Buddha taught: “By observing precepts, one can reach concentration and mindfulness; from concentration and mindfulness, one can achieve knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge brings calmness and peace to life and renders human beings indifference to the storms of the phenomenal world.”

Threefold study of Precept-Concentration-Wisdom Are Excellent Means in Cultivation: The path of liberation includes Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom, which are referred to in the discourses as the “Threefold Training” (Tividha-sikkha) and none of them is an end in itself; each is a means to an end. One can not function independently of the others. As in the case of a tripod which falls to the ground if a single leg gives away, so here one can not function without the support of the others. These three go together supporting each other. Virtue or regulated behavior strengthens meditation and meditation in turn promotes Wisdom. Wisdom helps one to get rid of the clouded view of things, to see life as it really is, that is to see life and all things pertaining to life as arising and passing away.

The Training of Morality, Concentrating, and Wisdom and the Practitioners’ Whole Breath in Meditation Practice: According to the Anapanasatisuttam, ‘A practitioner trains thus: “I shall breathe in experiencing the whole breath (body) clearly.” He trains thus: “I shall breathe out experiencing the whole breath (body) clearly.”’ He trains himself with the following idea: ‘I shall breathe in making known, making clear to myself the beginning, middle, and end of the whole body of in-breaths. I shall breathe out making known, making clear, to myself the beginning, middle, and end of the whole body of out-breaths. And he breathes in and out with consciousness associated with the knowledge that makes known, makes the breaths clear to himself. In this case you should not misunderstand that you have to note the breath as: ‘this is the beginning, this is the middle, and this is the end.’ Just knowing the whole breath continuously is enough. To a bhikkhu in the tenuous, diffused body of in-breathing or body of out-breathing only the beginning is clear, not the middle or the end. He is able to take up only the beginning. In the middle and at the end he has trouble. To another only the middle is clear and not the beginning or the end. To a third only the end is clear. The beginning and the middle are not clear and he is able to take up only the breath at the end. He has trouble at the beginning and at the middle. But to a fourth all the three stages are clear and he is able to take up all. He has trouble nowhere. To point out that this meditation subject should be developed following the example of the fourth one. The Buddha said: ‘He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the whole breath (body) clearly.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the whole breath (body) clearly.’’ At the early stage of this meditation there is nothing else to be done but just breathing in and out, as it is said: When he breathes in long, he understands: ‘I breathe in long’ When he breathes out long, he understands: ‘I breathe out long.’ When he breathes in short, he understands: ‘I breathe in short.’ When he breathes out short, he understands: ‘I breathe out short.’ Thereafter he should endeavour to bring about knowledge and so forth, therefore it is said, ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the whole breath body.’ Knowing the breath clearly is the training of wisdom; concentrating on the breath is the training of concentration; restraining the mind from defilements is the training of morality. He should endeavour to fulfill the three trainings while breathing.

Discipline-Meditation-Wisdom According to Great Master Shen-Hsiu: According to the Platform Sutra, one day, Master Chi-Ch’eng obeyed Shen-Hsiu’s order to go to Ts’ao-Ch’i to learn what Great Master Hui Neng taught his disciples, then came back to report to Shen-Hsiu. However, after grasping the purport of Hui Neng’s teaching, Chi-Ch’eng stood up and made bows to Hui-Neng, saying: “I come from the Yu-Ch’uan Monastery, but under my Master, Hsiu, I have not been able to come to the realization. Now, listening to your sermon, I have at once come to the knowledge of the original mind. Be merciful, O Master, and teach me further about it.” The Great Master said to Chi-Ch’eng: “I hear that your Master only instructs people in the triple discipline of precepts, meditation and transcendental knowledge. Tell me how your Master does this.” Chi-Ch’eng said: “The Master, Hsiu, teaches the Precepts, Meditation, and Knowledge in this way ‘Not to do evil is the precept; to do all that is good is knowledge; to purify one’s mind is meditation’. This is his view of the triple discipline, and his teaching is in accord with this. What is your view, O Master?”

Discipline-Meditation-Wisdom According to the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng: After listening to Chi-Ch’eng’s report about Shen-Hsiu’s Three Studies, Hui Neng told Chi-Ch’eng about his teaching: “The Mind as it is in itself is free from illnesses, this is the Precepts of Self-being. The Mind as it is in itself is free from disturbances, this is the Meditation of Self-being. The Mind as it is in itself is free from follies, this is the knowledge of Self-being. The triple discipline as taught by your Master is meant for people of inferior endowments, whereas my teaching of the triple discipline is for superior people. When Self-being is understood, there is no furher use in establishing the triple discipline. The Mind as Self-being is free from illnesses, disturbances and follies, and every thought is thus of transcendental knowledge; and within the reach of this illuminating light there are no forms to be recognized as such. Being so, there is no use in establishing anything. One is awakened to this Self-being abruptly, and there is no gradual realization in it. This is the reason for no establishment.” Hui-neng, the Sixth Ancestor, said that for true understanding, we must know that dhyana is not different from prajna, and that prajna is not something attained after practicing meditation. When we are practicing, in this very moment of practicing, prajna is unfolding itself in every single aspect of our lives: sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, cooking the food, everything we do. This was the very original teaching of Hui-neng, and it marked the beginning of true Zen Buddhism. Everything is teaching us, everything is showing us this wonderful Dharma light. All we have to do is open our eyes; open our hearts.

Chapter 96. Beginninglessness-Endlessness According to the Buddhist Point of View

Some people wonder, “How dis this process start? Was there a beginning to our universe and the beings in it?” To watch the rise and fall of objects, we must first decide from which angle to view them. Only then can we make sure when an ‘event’ actually started, for how long it abides, and when it terminates. A ‘being’, for example, taken as a ‘being’ began when it was born, stops when it dies, and abides in between. However, no one among us has that kind of good luck to observe our universe from the time when it was born, when it destroys, and the period of time of its life. So, from a Buddhist point of view, it’s senseless to search for the beginning of our existence and the start of our disturbing attitudes. The Buddha was extremely practical, stressing that we deal with the present situation and try to remedy it. Getting lost in useless speculation prevents us from focusing on the present and improving it. For example, a person wounded by a bullet, but before he would accept medical attention, he insists on knowing who shot the bullet, who manufactured it, and when it was made, etc. He would die before he is able to obtain the information he is asking. We would say such a person is foolish. Knowing the origin of the bullet doesn’t change his wound, nor does it save his life. He would have been wiser to deal with his present situation, get medical attention and recover. Similarly, it’s better to examine our present difficulties and their causes and disturbing attitudes, and remedy them, rather than to get lost in speculation about a non-existent beginning. The Buddha didn’t discuss the origin of the universe, because knowing that doesn’t help us solve our problems or improve the quality of our lives. Instead, he explained how our minds cause our experience through motivating us to act or to create karma. Understanding this enables us to gain control over and purify this process.

The physical evolution of our universe is a matter for scientific research. Science examines the continuity of physical material in our universe, how cause and effect operate physically to produce the various things in our universe. Matter in our universe has a cause: a previous moment of matter or energy. It would be difficult to prove there was a time when neither matter nor energy existed. If there once was nothing, then out of what did matter arise? How could things be produced without causes? Our present universe is a transformation of the physical energy that existed previously. Our mind isn’t made of physical material and therefore its causes aren’t material. Our mind arises from the previous moment of mind in its continuity. We can trace our consciousness back moment by moment to childhood. Our mind has changed since then, but our present mind is related and caused by our mind when we were younger. In this way, the existence of our mindstream can be traced back to the time of conception. The consciousness that entered the fertilized egg in our mother’s womb must also have had a cause. From a Buddhist perspective, this is a previous moment of mind, i.e. our consciousness of a previous life. This continuity of mind goes back indefinitely. There was no beginning. Just as the mathematical numberline has no beginning, one more can always be added, neither has the continuity or our consciousness. Our disturbing attitudes, which include ignorance, also arise from causes: the previous moments of disturbing attitudes. Their continuity goes back infinitely. If there were a first moment of disturbing attitudes, then we should be able to point ot what caused it. If it were initially pure and later became ignorant, where did ignorance come from? It’s impossible for pure beings who perceive reality to later become ignorant. If someone becomes ignorant, he or she wasn’t completely pure before. In addition, no other being can make us ignorant. No one can put ignorance into our mindstreams the way water is poured into a cup.

The temporal or functional teaching applied the term to noumenal or absolute, being considered as infinite; while The real or reliable teaching applied the term to the phenomenal, being considerd as infinite. We, Buddhists, believe in the theories of “Cause and Effect,” and “Rebirth”, so when say that there must be a previous life, then, there had been another previous life, another previous life, and another previous life, and so on. In other words, “Rebirth” is beginningless. Similarly, when say that there must be a future life, then, there will be another future life, another future life, and another future life, and so on. That is to say “Rebirth” is endless. If we believe that our present mental experiences come in a continuum or succession of mental states and includes memories of our past experiences in this life, and persuading ourselves that it is inconceivable it could ever have been otherwise because what is non-mind cannot be made a so-called ‘mind’ in a certain being. That means the so-called ‘mind’ in a certain being had flown, flew, is flowing, and will flow forever without beginning or ending.

Chapter 97. Study and Beyond Study

In Buddhism, “studies” means one who is still learning. One who is still studying religion in order to get rid of illusion. Learning refers to the stage in which one must still undergo religious exercises to reach the level of Arhat. In Hinayana those in the first three stages of training as stream-entry (srota-apanna), once-return (sakradagamin), and non-return (anagamin); while Arhats is the fourth and last stage being those beyond the need of further teaching or study. However, the term “Learning” in Buddhism does not indicate any worldly learning. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who spends all her time studying worldly subjects and neglects to cultivate his or her spiritual teachings and practices, commits an Expression of Regret Offense. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni can study a worldly subject to upgrade his or her worldly knowledge so he or she can enrich his or her knowledge for preaching in Buddhism. However, he or she cannot invite female or male teacher to come to his or her place to receive private tutoring. If he or she does that, he or she commits an Expression of Regret Offense. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who reads worldly books and magazines, including videos, video discs, television and internet programs, as well as conversations on telephone and other images or sounds that have toxic effect, watering the seeds of sexual desire, fear, violence, sentimental weakness, and depression, commits an Expression of Regret Offence. However, in addition to reading books on Buddhism, he or she can read books on the history of civilizations of the world, general history and teachings of other religious faiths, applied psychology, and most recent scientific discoveries because these areas of knowledge can help him or her to understand and share the teachings to people in a way that is appropriate to their situation. In Buddhism, there are two kinds of study or learning: reading and reciting sutras, and meditation and thought. The first important thing is that we must see the benefits of studying the Dharma, only then will we develop the strong desire to study it, for owing to our study, we understand Dharma; owing to our study, we stop committing wrong doings; owing to our study, we abandon the meaningless behaviors; owing to our study, we eventually achieve nirvana. In other words, by virtue of our study, we will know all the key points for modifying our behavior. Owing to study, we will understand the meaning of the Vinaya Basket and, as a result, will stop committing sins by following the high training of ethics. Owing to study, we will understand the meaning of the Sutra Basket, and as a result, we will be able to abandon such meaningless things as distractions, by following the high training in single-pointed concentration. Also owing to study, we understand the meaning of the Abhidharma Basket, and so come to abandon delusions by means of the high training in wisdom. Study is the lamp to dispel the darkness of ignorance. It is the best of possession that thieves cannot rob us of it. Study is a weapon to defeat our enemies of blindness to all things. It is our best friend who instructs us on the means. Study is a relative who will not desert us when we are poor. It is a medicine against sorrow that does us no harm. It is the best force that dispatches against our misdeeds. Devout Buddhists should always remember that when we know one more letter, we get rid of ourselves a bit of ignorance around that letter. So, when we know the other letters, we have dispelled our ignorance about them too, and added even more to our wisdom. The more we study the more light of wisdom we gain that helps us decrease ignorance. Besides, a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni should not study teaching without applying the basic and essential practices of Buddhism in order to transform his or her afflictions and habit energies. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who is studying teachings of a profound, metaphysical, and mystical nature, should always ask himself or herself how he or she may apply these teachings in his or her daily life to transform his or her suffering and realize emancipation.

In Buddhism, the term “Asaiksa” or beyond learning stage refers to the stage of Arhatship in which no more learning or striving for religious achievement is needed (when one reaches this stage) because he has cut off all illusions and has attained enlightenment. The state of arhatship, the fourth of the sravaka stages; the preceding three stages requiring study; there are nine grades of arhats who have completed their course of learning. “Asaiksa” is one who is no longer studying because he has cut off all illusions—One who has attained enlightenment. Arhat (Worthy of Offerings) is the Asaiksa or No-birth in the Hinayana, while the Mahayana consider the Buddha, the Asaiksa. In Buddhism, “Asaiksa-marga” is the fifth and last of the Buddhist paths. Following the fourth, the “path of meditation” (bhavana marga), the meditator overcome the subtlest traces of afflictions and of the conception of a truly existing self (atman), together with their seeds. In this period, all defilements and perverse views about the knowable, such as belief in an inherent, permanent self or atman, are overcome. It is at this point one becomes enlightened as either an Arhat or a Buddha. A Theravada Buddhist who completes this path is then referred to as an Arhat. A Mahayanist who completes this path becomes a Buddha, and according to Sarvastivada at the end of this path one becomes either a sravaka buddha, pratyeka-buddha, or Samyak-sambuddha. According to Buddhist traditions, there are nine grades of arhats who are no longer learning, having atained their goal. These nine paths include the stage beyond study, where intuition rules, ungrasping mark, immortal mark, undwelling mark, mark of advancement. indestructible mark, unpleasurable mark, mark of wisdom of liberation, and mark of complete release.

Chapter 98. Four Fields of Grace

In Buddhism, the field of grace consists of parents, teachers, elders, monks, in return for the benefits they have conferred; one of the three blessing fields. According to The Infinite Life Sutra, filial piety toward one’s parents and support them, serve and respect one’s teachers and the elderly, maintain a compassionate heart, abstain from doing harm, and keep the ten commandments. The other two fields include the field of commandments for those who take refuge in the Triratna, observe other complete commandments, and never lower their dignity as well as miantaining a dignified conduct; and the field of practice for those who pursue the Buddha way (Awaken their minds a longing for Bodhi), deeply believe in the principle of cause and effect, recite and encourage others to recite Mahayana Sutras. Four Great Debts or four fields of grace include the debt to the Triple Jewel, the debt to our parents and teachers, the debt to our spiritual friends, and the debt to all sentient beings. The first debt is the debt to the Triple Jewel (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha): Through the Buddhadharma sentient beings thoroughly understand sutras, rules, and commentaries. Also through the Buddhadharma sentient beings can cultivate to achieve wisdom and realization. And the Sangha provide sentient beings opportunities to come to the Buddha’s truth. Sentient beings with few virtues and heavy karma, born in the Dharma Ending Age. It is extremely difficult to become a member of the Sangha. It is impossible to witness the Buddha’s Golden Body. Fortunately, owing to our planting good roots in former lives, we still are able to see the Buddha’s statues, still be able to hear and learn proper dharma. If we have not heard the proper dharma teaching, how would we know that we often receive the Buddha’s Blessings? For this grace, no ocean can compare and no mountain peak can measure. Thus, if we do not vow to develop Bodhi Mind, or to cultivate the Bodhisattva’s Way to attain Buddhahood, firmly maintain the proper dharma, vow to help and rescue all sentient beings, then even if flesh is shredded and bones are shattered to pieces, it still would not be enough to repay that great grace. The second debt is the debt to our Parents and Teachers: Parents give us lives; teachers teach us to follow the right ways. We should respect, serve and try to cultivate to repay the grace of the parents. Childbirth is a difficult and arduous process with nine months of the heavy weight of pregnancy, then much effort is required to raise us with a minimum of three years of breast feeding, staying up all night to cater our infantile needs, hand feeding as we get a little older. As we get older and become more mature, our parents invest all their hopes we will succeed as adults, both in life and religion. Unexpectedly, some of us leave home to take the religious path, proclaiming ourselves as Buddha’s messenger and, thus are unable to make offerings of food, drink nor can we help our parents with day to day subsistence. Even if they are living, we are unable to take care of them in their old age, and when they die we may not have the ability to guide their spirits. Upon a moment of reflection, we realize : “Our worlds are now ocean apart, as grave lies melancholy in tall grass.” If this is the case, such is a great mistake in life, such a mistake is not small in religion either. Thus, with both paths of life and religion, great mistakes have been made; there is no one to bear the consequences of our transgressions but ourselves. Thinking these thoughts, what can we do to compensate for such mistakes? Cultivate the Bodhisattva Way in hundreds and thousands of lifetimes. Vow to aid and rescue all sentient beings in the Three Worlds of the Ten Directions. If this is accomplished, not only our parents of this life, but our parents of many other lives will benefit to escape from the unwholesome paths. And not just the parents of one sentient being, but the parents of many sentient beings will benefit to escape from evil paths. Even though our parents give birth to our physical beings, if not the worldly teachers, we would not understand right from wrong, virtue, ethics, etc. If we do not know right from wrong, know how to be grateful, and have shame, then how are we any different from animals? If there were no spiritual teachers for guidance, obviously, we would not be able to understand the Buddha-Dharma. When we do not understand the Buddha-Dharma, the Doctrine of Cause and Effect, then how are we different from those who are ignorant and stupid? Now that we know a little bit of virtue, how to be grateful, having shame, and somewhat understand the Buddha-Dharma, where did such knowledge come from? Moreover, some of us are fortunate enough to become Bhiksus and Bhiksunis, showering ourselves with precepts, cultivating and understanding the virtuous practices, wearing the Buddhist robe, and gaining the respect of others. Thus none of this would happen if not for elder masters. Knowing this, if we pray for the “Lesser Fruits,” then we can benefit only ourselves. Therefore, we must develop the Great Bodhi Mind of a Maha-Bodhisattva to wish to rescue and aid all sentient beings. Only then would our worldly teachers truly benefit, and our Dharma Masters truly be happy. The third debt is the debt to our Spiritual Friends: The Buddha talked about being a Good Knowing Advisor in Buddhism as follows: “When speaking of the good knowledgeable advisors, this is referring to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Sound Hearers, Pratyeka-Buddhas, as well as those who have faith in the doctrine and sutras of Buddhism. The good knowledgeable advisors are those capable of teaching sentient beings to abandon the ten evils or ten unwholesome deeds, and to cultivate the ten wholesome deeds. Moreover, the good knowledgeable advisors’ speech is true to the dharma and their actions are genuine and consistent with their speech. Thus, not only do they not kill living creatures, they also tell others not to kill living things; not only will they have the proper view, they also will use that proper view to teach others. The good knowledgeable advisors always have the dharma of goodness, meaning whatever actions they may undertake, they do not seek for their own happiness, but for the happiness of all sentient beings. They do not speak of others’ mistakes, but speak of virtues and goodness. There are many advantages and benefits to being close to the good knowledgeable advisors, just as from the first to the fifteenth lunar calendar, the moon will gradually become larger, brighter and more complete. Similarly, the good knowledgeable advisors are able to help and influence the learners of the Way to abandon gradually the various unwholesome dharma and to increase greatly wholesome dharma. For these reasons, the debt to our spiritual friends is so great that we must cultivate develop the Great Bodhi Mind of a Maha-Bodhisattva to wish to rescue and aid all sentient beings. The fourth debt is the debt of all Sentient Beings and Donators: From infinite eons to this day, from generation to generation, from one reincarnation to another, sentient beings and I have exchanged places with each other to take turns being relatives. Thus, in one life, we are family and in another we are strangers, but in the end we are all connected in the cycle of rebirths. Thus, though it is now a different life, our appearances have changed, having different names, families, and ignorance has caused us to forget; but knowing this concept, we realize we are all family, so how can we not demonstrate gratitude to all sentient beings? Those animals with fur, bearing horns and antlers in this life, it is possible we may have been their children in a former life. Insects such as butterflies, bees, worms, crickets of this life, may for all we know, be our parents of a former life. What about those who scream in agony in the realm of Hungry Ghosts; and those who cry in sufferings from the abyss of Hell. Even though our eyes cannot see and our ears cannot hear, they still pray and ask for our assistance. Therefore, the Bodhisattvas look upon bees and ants as their parents of the past; look upon animals as future Buddhas; have great compassion for those in the suffering realms, often finding ways to aid and rescue them; Remember the kindness of the past, and often think about finding ways to repay such kindness. Nowadays, especially Bhiksus and Bhiksunis who cultivate the Way are all dependent on the people who make charitable donations, from clothing, food, to medicine and blankets. These charitable people work hard, and yet they don’t have enough to live on. Bhiksus do nothing except enjoy the pleasure these gifts, how can Bhiksus find comfort in their doing so? People work assiduously to sew robes, not counting all the late nights. Bhiksus have abundance of robes, how dare we not appreciate them? Laypeople live in huts, never finding a moment of peace. Bhiksus live in high, big temples, relaxing all year round. How can Bhiksus be happy in receiving such gifts knowing laypeople have suffered so? Laypeople set aside their earnings and profits to provide services to Bhiksus. Does this make sense? Therefore, Bhiksus must think: “I must be determined to cultivate for enlightenment, practice to find the Budhist wisdom so charitable beings and sentient beings may benefit from it. If this is not the case, then every seed of rice and every inch of fabric shall have their appropriate debts. Reincarnated into the realm of animals, debts must be repaid. Besides, devout Buddhists should always remember the ten great graces of the Buddha: First, grace of Initial resolve to universalize (salvation). Second, grace of self-sacrifice in previous lives. Third, grace of complete altruism. Fourth, grace of descending into all the six states of existence for their salvation. Fifth, grace of relief of the living from distress and mortality. Sixth, grace of profound pity. Seventh, grace of revelation of himself in human and glorified form. Eighth, grace of teaching in accordance with the capacity of his hearers, first Hinayan, then Mahayana doctrine. Ninth, grace of revealing his nirvana to stimulate his disciples. Tenth, pitying thought for all creatures, in that dying at 80 instead of 100 he left twenty years of his own happiness to his disciples; and also the tripitaka for universal salvation.

Chapter 99. Non-Dual Dharma-Door

Most of us are still attached to duality and have not reconciled essence and marks, existence and non-existence, noumenon and phenomena. We embrace essence and reject marks, we embrace non-existence (emptiness) and reject existence and so on. This kind of wrong view creates a lot of disputes, doubts and perplexity. In fact, there is mutual identity between noumenon and phenomena, phenomena are noumenon, noumenon is phenomena. Buddhist cultivators should reconcile all things and eliminate this unnecessary attachment. Sincere cultivators should try to reconcile essence and marks, existence and non-existence, noumenon and phenomena. We embrace essence and reject marks, we embrace non-existence (emptiness) and reject existence and so on. This kind of wrong view creates a lot of disputes, doubts and perplexity. In fact, there is mutual identity between noumenon and phenomena, phenomena are noumenon, noumenon is phenomena. Buddhist cultivators should reconcile all things and eliminate this attachment. The nonduality is the central Mahayana doctrine. The nonduality or non-differentiation of samsara and nirvana. According to the Heart Sutra, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva says that form is not different from emptiness and emptiness is not different from form. The other aggregates, too, are not different from emptiness, and emptiness is not different from the aggregates. Thus samsara and nirvana, the aggregates and emptiness, phenomena and conditioned, the conditioned and the transcendental are all alternatives that are relative to each other. They have no independent existence. Indeed, because they are relative to each other, they are, each of them, ultimately unreal and empty. Hence the duality of samsara and nirvana is dissolved in the vision of emptiness. Emptiness is the way out of all extremes, even the extremes of samsara and nirvana.

According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, chapter nine, Initiation into the Non-Dual Dharma, Upasaka Vimalakirti discussed with other Bodhisattvas about the Non-Dual Dharma. At that time, Vimalakirti said to the Bodhisattvas present: “Virtuous Ones, each of you please say something about the non-dual Dharma as you understand it.” In the meeting a Bodhisattva called “Comfort in the Dharma” said: “Virtuous Ones, birth and death are a duality but nothing is created and nothing is destroyed. Realization of this patient endurance leading to the uncreate is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva called “Guardian of the Three Virtues” said: “Subject and object are a duality for where there is ego there is also (its) object, but since fundamentally there is no ego, its object does not arise; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Never Winking” said: “Responsiveness (vedana, the second aggregate) and unresponsiveness are a duality. If there is no response to phenomena, the latter cannot be found anywhere; hence there is neither accepting nor rejecting (of anything), and neither karmic activity nor discrimination; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Highest virtue” said: “Impurity and purity are a duality. When the underlying nature of impurity is clearly perceived, even purity ceases to arise. Hence this cessation (of the idea of purity) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Winner of Samadhi by Looking at the Star” said: “(External) disturbance and (inner) thinking are a duality; when disturbance subsides, thinking comes to an end and the absence of thought leads to non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Skilful Eye” said: “Monistic form and formlessness are a duality. If monistic form is realized as (fundamentally) formless, with relinquishment of formlessness in order to achieve impartiality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Wonderful Arm” said: “The Bodhisattva mind and the Sravaka mind are a duality. If the mind is looked into as void and illusory, there is neither Bodhisattva mind nor Sravaka mind; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Pusya said: “Good and evil are a duality; if neither good nor evil arises so that formlessness is realized to attain Reality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Simha (Lion) said: “Weal and woe are a duality; if the underlying nature of woe is understood, woe does not differ from weal. If the diamond (indestructible) wisdom is used to look into this with neither bondage nor liberation (coming into play), this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Lion’s Fearlessness” said: “The mundane and supra-mundane are a duality. If all things are looked into impartially, neither the mundane nor the supra-mundane will arise, with no differentiation between form and formlessness, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Pure Interpretation” said: “Activity (ju wei) and non-activity (wu wei) are a duality, but if the mind is kept from all mental conditions it will be (void) like space and pure and clean wisdom will be free from all obstructions. This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Narayana said:

“The mundane and the supra-mundane are a duality but the underlying nature of the mundane is void (or immaterial) and is but the supra-mundane which can be neither entered nor left and neither overflows (like the stream of transmigration) nor scatters (like smoke). This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Skillful Mind” said: “Samsara and nirvana are a duality. If the underlying nature of samsara is perceived there exists neither birth nor death, neither bondage nor liberation, and neither rise nor fall. Such an understanding is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Direct Insight” said: “The exhaustible and the inexhaustible are a duality. If all things are looked into exhaustively, both the exhaustible and the inexhaustible cannot be exhausted; and the inexhaustible is identical with the void which is beyond both the exhaustible and the inexhaustible. Such an interpretation is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Upholder of Universality” said: “The ego and non-ego are a duality. Since the ego cannot be found, where can the non-ego be found? He who perceives the real nature of the ego will not give rise to dualities; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Lightning Perception” said: “Enlightenment and unenlightenment are a duality, but the underlying nature of unenlightenment is enlightenment which should also be cast away; if all relativities are discarded and replaced by non-dual impartiality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Priyadarsana said: “Form (rupa) and voidness are a duality, (but) form is identical with voidness, which does not mean that form wipes out voidness, for the underlying nature of form is void of itself. So are (the other four aggregates) reception (vedana), conception (sanjna), discrimination (samskara) and consciousness (vijnana- in relation to voidness). “Consciousness and voidness are a duality (yet) consciousness is identical with voidness, which does not mean that consciousness wipes out voidness for the underlying nature of voidness is void of itself. A thorough understanding of this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Understanding the Four Elements” said: “The four elements (earth, water, fire and air) and their voidness are a duality (but) the underlying nature of the four elements is identical with that of voidness. Like the past (before the four elements came into being) and the future (when they scatter away) which are both void, the present (when they appear) is also void. Identical understanding of the underlying nature of all four elements is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Deep Thought” said: “Eyes and form are a duality (but) if the underlying nature of the eye is known with neither desire nor anger nor stupidity in relation to things seen, this is nirvana. “Likewise, the ear and sound, the nose and smell, the tongue and taste, the body and touch, and the mind and ideation are dualities (but) if the underlying nature of the mind is known with neither desire, anger and stupidity in relation to things (heard, smelt, tasted, touched and thought), this is nirvana. Resting in this state (of nirvana) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Inexhaustible Mind” said: “Charity-perfection (dana-paramita) and the dedication (parinamana) of its merits towards realizing the all-knowledge (sarvajna) are a duality, (but) the underlying nature of charity is dedication towards the All-knowledge. “Likewise, discipline perfection (sila-paramita), patience-perfection, (ksanti-paramita), zeal-perfection (virya-paramita), meditation-perfection (dhyana-paramita) and wisdom-perfection (prajna-paramita), with dedication to the All-knowledge, are (five) dualities, but their underlying natures are but dedication to the All-knowledge, while realization of their oneness is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Profound Wisdom” said: “Voidness, formlessness and non-activity are (three different gates to liberation, and when each is compared to the other two there are) three dualities, (but) voidness is formless and formlessness is non-active. For when voidness, formlessness and non-activity obtain, there is neither mind, nor intellect nor consciousness, and liberation through either one of these three gates is identical with liberation through all the three. This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Unstirred Sense Organs” said: “Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are three different treasures and when each is compared to the other two there are three dualities (but) Buddha is identical with Dharma, and Dharma is identical with Sangha. For the three treasures are non-active (wu wei) and are equal to space, with the same equality for all things. The realization of this (equality) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Unimpeded Mind” said: “Body and its eradication (in nirvana) are a duality but body is identical with nirvana. Why?

Because if the underlying nature of body is perceived, no conception of (existing) body and its nirvanic condition will arise, for both are fundamentally non-dual, not being two different things. The absence of alarm and dread when confronting this ultimate state is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Superior Virtue” said: “The three karmas (produced by) body, mouth and mind (are different when each is compared to the other two and make three) dualities (but) their underlying nature is non-active; so non-active body is identical with non-active mouth, which is identical with non-active mind. These three karmas being non-active, all things are also non-active. Likewise, if wisdom (prajna) is also non-active, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Field of Blessedness” said: “Good conduct, evil conduct and motionlessness are (different and when each is compared to the other two make three) dualities (but) the underlying nature of all three is voidness which is free from good, evil and motionlessness. The non-rising of these three is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Majestic Blossom” said: “The ego and its objective are a duality, (but) if the underlying nature of the ego is looked into, this duality vanishes. If duality is cast away there will be no consciousness, and freedom from consciousness is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Treasure of Threefold Potency” said: “Realization implies subject and object which are a duality, but if nothing is regarded as realization, there will be neither grasping nor rejecting, and freedom from grasping and rejecting is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Moon in Midheaven” said: “Darkness and light are a duality. Where there is neither darkness nor light, this duality is no more. Why? Because in the state of samadhi resulting from the complete extinction of sensation and thought there is neither darkness nor light, while all things disappear. A disinterested entry into this state is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Ratna Mudra( (Precious Symbol) said: Joy in nirvana and sadness in samsara are a duality which vanishes when there is no longer joy and sadness. Why? Because where there is bondage, there is also (desire for) liberation, but if fundamentally there is no bondage nor liberation, there will be neither joy nor sadness; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Gem on the Head” said: “Orthodoxy and heterodoxy are a duality, (but) he who dwells in (i.e. realizes) orthodoxy does not discriminate between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. Keeping from these two extremes is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Joy in Reality” said: “Reality and unreality are a duality, (but) he who realizes reality does not even perceive it, still less unreality. Why? Because reality is invisible to the ordinary eyes and appears only to the eye of wisdom. Thus (realization of) the eye of wisdom, which is neither observant nor unobservant, is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” After the Bodhisattva had spoken, they asked Manjusri for his opinion on the non-dual Dharma. Manjusri said: “In my opinion, when all things are no longer within the province of either word or speech, and of either indication or knowledge, and are beyond questions and answers, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” At that time, Manjusri asked Vimalakirti: “All of us have spoken; please tell us what is the Bodhisattva’s initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” Vimalakirti kept silent without saying a word. At that, Manjusri exclaimed: “Excellent, excellent; can there be true initiation into the non-dual Dharma until words and speech are no longer written or spoken? After this initiation into the non-dual Dharma had been expounded, fie thousand Bodhisattvas at the meeting were initiated into it thereby realizing the patient endurance of the uncreate.

Chapter 100. Opening-Demonstrating-Awakening

-Entering the Enlightened Knowledge and Vision of the Buddha

After mighty and terrible struggles with himself, through meditation, the Buddha had conquered in his body all those natural defects and human appetites and desires that prevent our ability of seeing the truth. Also through meditation, He had to overcome all the bad influences of the sinful world around Him. First of all, the Buddha had cultivated the Four stages of memory or four subjects of reflection, for four foundations of mindfulness are related to the five skandhas as well as to our body, feeling, mind, and dharma. Secondly, He had cultivated the four proper lines of exertion, or four perfect efforts. Thirdly, had cultivated the four steps towards supernatural power, or the four bases of miraculous powers. The fourth step, He had cultivated the five spiritual faculties, or five good roots. The fifth step, He had cultivated the power of five faculties, or five strengths. The sixth step, He had cultivated the seven degrees (factors) of enlightenment or intelligence. The seventh step, He had cultivated the eightfold noble path. Like a soldier fighting desperately in battle against many enemies, He struggled like a hero who conquers, he eventually gained his objects. He also discovered supportive conditions leading to bodhi or Buddhahood.

Opening-Demonstrating-Awakening-Entering the Enlightened Knowledge and Vision of the Buddha are the four main reasons for a Buddha’s appearing in the world. The first reason is the “Introduction”: Introduction means to disclose, or to open up treasury of truth, or to introduce and open the Buddhas’ views and knowledge to sentient beings; so they can follow, learn, understand the truths, and clearly distinguish right from wrong. The second reason is the “Guidance”: Guidance means to display or to indicate the meanings of Buddhas’ teachings, or to teach sentient beings to learn and patice the views and knowledge introduced by Buddhas, to help them know clearly the proper path from the inproper path, right from wrong, in order to eliminate the various false views and knowledge. The third reason is the “Awaken”: Awaken means to realize or to cause men to apprehend it, or to be awakened to the Buddha Dharmas, avoid false doctrines in order to escape from sufferings of births and deaths in the three evil paths of hell, hungry ghost, and animal, and be able to be reborn in the more peaceful and happier realms of heaven and human. The fourth reason is the “Penetration”: Penetration means to enter, or to lead them into it, or to penetrate deeply into the enlightenment fruit of the saintly beings, being able to transcend and to find liberation from the cycle of rebirths.

According to the Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra, Chapter Seventh, the Sixth Patriarch said: “If you can live among marks and yet be separate from it, then you will be confused by neither the internal nor the external. If you awaken to this Dharma, in one moment your mind will open to enlightenment. The knowledge and vision of the Buddha is simply that. The Buddha is enlightenment.” There are four divisions: Opening to the enlightened knowledge and vision, Demonstrating the enlightened knowledge and vision, Awakening to the enlightened knowledge and vision, Entering the enlightened knowledge and vision. The Sixth Patriarch further explained about” Opening-Demonstrating-Awakening-Entering” to Fa-Ta: “If you listen to the opening and demonstrating of the Dharma, you can easily awaken and enter. That is the enlightened knowledge and vision, the original true nature becoming manifested. Be careful not to misinterpret the Sutra by thinking that the opening, demonstrating, awakening, and entering of which it speaks is the Buddha’s knowledge and vision and that we have no share in it. To explain it that way would be to slander the Sutra and defame the Buddha. Since he is already a Buddha, perfect in knowledge and vision, what is the use of his opening to it again? You should now believe that the Buddha’s knowledge and vision is simply your own mind, for there is no other Buddha. But, because living beings cover their brilliance with greed, and their love with states of defilement; external conditions and inner disturbance make slaves of them. That troubles the World-Honored One to rise from Samadhi, and with various reproaches and expedients, he exhorts living beings to stop and rest, not to seek outside themselves, and to make themselves the same as he is. That is called ‘Opening the knowledge and vision of the Buddha.’ I, too, am always exhorting all people to open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha within their own minds. The mind of worldly people are deviant. Confused and deluded, they commit offenses. Their speech may be good, but their minds are evil. They are greedy, hateful, envious, given to flattery, deceit and arrogance. They oppress one another and harm living creatures, thus, they open not the knowledge and vision of Buddha but that of living beings. If you can with an upright mind constantly bring forth wisdom, contemplating and illuminating your own mind, and if you can practice the good and refrain from evil, you, yourself will open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha. In every thought you should open up to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha; do not open up to the knowledge and vision of living beings. To be open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha is transcendental; to be open to the knowledge and vision of living beings is mundane. If you exert yourself in recitation, clinging to it as a meritorious exercise, how does that make you different from a yak who loves his own tail?”

Chapter 101. Ten Non-Seeking Practices

Ten Non-Seeking Practices for Buddhists. First, we should not wish (yearn) that our bodies be always free of diseases, because a disease-free body is prone to desire and lust (because with a disease-free body, one tends to be tempted with desire and lust). This will lead to precept-breaking and retrogression. Second, we should not wish that our lives be free of all misfortune, adversity, or accident because without them, we will be easily prone to pride and arrogance. This will lead us to be disdainful and overbearing towards everyone else. If people’s lives are perfect, everything is just as they always dreamed, without encountering heartaches, worries, afflictions, or any pains and sufferings, then this can easily give way to conceit, arogance, etc.; thus, becoming the breeding ground for countless transgressions and offenses. Sincere Buddhists should always use misfortunes as the opportunity to awaken from being mesmerized by success, fame, fortune, wealth, etc. and realize the Buddha’s teachings are true and accurate, and then use this realization to develop a cultivated mind seeking enlightenment. Third, we should not wish that our mind cultivation be free of all obstacles because without obstacles, we would not have opportunities to excell our mind. This will lead to the transgression of thinking that we have awakened, when in fact we have not. Fourth, we should not wish that our cultivation be free of demonic obstacles, because our vows would not be then firm and enduring. This leads to the transgression of thinking that we have attained, when in fact we have not. Fifth, we should not wish that our plans and activities meet with easy success, for we will then be inclined to thoughts of contempt and disrespect. This leads to the transgression of pride and conceit, thinking ourselves to be filled with virtues and talent. Sixth, we should not wish for gain in our social relations. This will lead us to violate moral principles and see only mistakes of others. Seventh, we should not wish that everyone, at all times, be on good terms and in harmony with us. This leads to pride and conceit and seeing only our own side of every issue. Eighth, we should not wish to be repaid for our good deeds, lest we develop a calculating mind. This leads to greed for fame and fortune. Ninth, we should not wish to share in opportunities for profit, lest the mind of illusion arise. This leads us to lose our good name and reputation for the sake of unwholesome gain. Tenth, when subject to injustice and wrong, we should not necessarily seek the ability to refute and rebut, as doing so indicates that the mind of self-and-others has not been severed. This will certainly lead to more resentment and hatred. Thus, the Buddha advised all of us to consider:

Turn suffering and disease into good medicine (consider diseases and sufferings as miraculous medicine). Turn misfortune and calamity into liberation (take misfortune and adversity as means of liberation). Turn obstacles or high stakes into freedom and ease (take obstacles as enjoyable ways to cultivate ourselves). Turn demons or haunting spirits into Dharma friends (take demonic obstacles as our good spiritual advisors). Turn trying events into peace and joy (consider difficulties as our joy of gaining experiences or life enjoyments). Turn bad friends into helpful associates (treat ungrateful people as our helpful aids). Turn apponents into “fields of flowers” (consider opponents as our good relationships). Treat ingratitude as worn-out shoes to be discarded (consider merits or services to others as ragged slippers). Turn frugality into power and wealth (take frugality as our honour). Turn injustice and wrong into conditions for progress along the Way (consider injustice or false accusations as our virtuous gate to enlightenment).

Chapter 102. Relativity & Absolute

Relativity: According to the Random House Webster College Dictionary the term “Relative” means something is existing or having its specific nature only by relation to something else. “Relative” also means not absolute or independent. The word for “Reciprocal Identification” is more literally “mutual” and “regarding,” that is “mutually viewing from each other’s point,” “mutual identification,” which is as much as to say and “exchange of views.” It is indispensable to bring about a reconciliation of conflicting opinions or effect a syncretism among opposing speculative systems. This trend of thought, in fact, served greatly to restore the original idea of tolerance which was revealed in the Buddha’s teaching but was almost entirely lost in the various Schools of Hinayana which resulted from differences of opinion. According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, Hinayana Buddhism is generally satisfied with analysis and rarely inclined to synthesis. The Mahayana, on the other hand, is generally much inclined to the reciprocal identification of two conflicting ideas. If one party adheres to his own idea while the other party insists on his own, a separation will be the natural result. This is what happens in the Hinayana. The Mahayana teaches that one should put one’s own idea aside for a moment and identify one’s own position with that of the other party, thus mutually synthesizing the opposed positions. The both parties will find themselves perfectly united.

“Reciprocal identification” is more literally “mutual” and “regarding,” that is, “mutually viewing from each other’s point,” “mutual identification,” which is as much as to say an “exchange of views.” It is indispensable to bring about a reconciliation of conflicting opinions or to effect a syncretism among opposing speculative systems. This trend of thought, in fact, served greatly to restore the original idea of tolerance which was revealed in the Buddha’s teaching but was almost entirely lost in the various Schools of Hinayana which resulted from differences of opinion. According to Buddhism, the relative truth, or the truth of the unreal, which is subject to change, manifests ‘stillness but is always illuminating,’ which means that it is immanent in everything. Pure Land thinkers accepted the legitimacy of conventional truth as an expression of ultimate truth and as a vehicle to reach Ultimate Truth. This method of basing on form helps cultivators reach the Buddhahood, which is formless. According to the Madhyamaka philosophy, phenomena have no independent, substantial reality of their own. Relativity or dependence is the main characteristic of phenomena, and that which is relative is not really the highest sense of the word. The Absolute is the reality of the appearances. The Absolute and the world are not two different sets of reality posited against each other. Phenomena viewed as relative, as governed by causes and conditions constitute the world, and viewed as free of all conditions are the Absolute.

According to relative truth all things exist, but in absolute truth nothing is; in absolute truth one sees that all things are devoid of self-nature; however, in relative truth, a perception where there is no self-nature. The doctrine of mutual dependence or relativity of all things for their existence, i.e., the triangle depends on its three lines, the eye on things having color and form, long or short. A table, for example, if you take the table as the object which you put your hand on but search to discover what is actuallyis among the parts, whether this is it or that is it, then there is not anything that can be found to be it because the table is something that cannot be analytically sought and it cannot be found. If we take the ultimate reality or emptiness of the table as the substratum and search to see if it can be found; then it becomes a conventional truth in terms of itself as the substratum. In relation to the table, its emptiness is an ultimate truth, but in relation to its own reality, i.e., the reality of the reality, it’s a conventional truth.

In our daily life, in almost all circumstances, the “Reciprocal Theory” has been applied. Reciprocal identification by mutual self-negation, when realized, has a great practical value in smoothing out conflicting opinions or in creating sympathy among opposing parties. Through one or more of these methods diversity can be brought to union, and illusory existence is synthesized with the enlightened life. Such ideas as seeing noumenon in phenomenon, regarding motion as calm or calm as motion, identifying action and inaction, purity and impurity, perfection and imperfection, one and many, the particular and the general, permanence and impermanence, are all attainable by this theory. It is one of the most important ideas of Mahayana and is indispensable for a clear understanding of the Buddhist doctrine as taught in the Mahayana. The most important application of this doctrine concerns the identification of life and Nirvana. Life itself is Nirvana, just as water and wave are identical. Life is one thing and Nirvana is another lifeless thing. If one attains Nirvana while yet living, life becomes identified with Nirvana but only in the sense of a state of mind because the body still exists. But perfect or complete Nirvana is attained at death. The extinction of the body is the perfect Nirvana, just as the cessation of the wave results in the perfect quiescence of the water. Time and space are relative. They are relative to a particular consciousness. What for us would be a year, for someone who has manifested a subtler consciousness would be a shorter period of time. Similarly, it is possible for person who has obtained higher meditative stabilization to consider an aeon a moment, or a moment an aeon.

Absolute: According to Buddhism, “Absolute” means “Beyond Comparison”. The Absolute is the Reality of the appearances. The Absolute is always of uniform nature. Nirvana or the Absolute Reality is not something produced or achieved. According to the Madhyamaka philosophy, Candrakirti, to the saints, the Absolute is just silence, for it is inexpressible by speech. The absolute knowledge is the highest truth or tathata, the absolute. The illusory knowledge and empirical knowledge correspond to relative truth (samvrti-satya), and the absolute knowledge to the highest truth (paramartha-satya) of the Madhyamika system. In Buddhism, “Absolute” is a synonym for “Suchness”. It is unalterable, without modification, unaffected by anything, and a mark common to all dharmas. It also means “Emptiness” for it is the absence of all imagination. Some people define it as “Reality-limit” for it is that which reaches up to the summit of truth, to the utmost limit of what can be cognized, and is quite free from error or perversion. Some other people define it as “Signless” for it is the absence of all marks. The Absolute is further “Ultimate true”, or the “Supreme object” because reached by the supreme cognition of the saints. Furthermore, it also means non-duality, the realm of non-discrimination, non-production, the true nature of dharma, the inexpressible, the unconditioned, the unimpeded (nishprapanca), the actual fact (tattva), that which really is (yathabhuta), the truth (satya), the true reality (bhutata), nirvana, cessation, Buddhahood, wisdom, enlightenment, the cognition which one must realize within oneself, the Dharma-body (dharmakaya), the Buddha, and so on, and so on. According to Buddhism, “Absolute” has many other meanings as follows: suchness (tathata), emptiness (void, sunyata), nirvana (nibbana), non-dual, unproduced, the realm of non-discrimination, the true nature of dharma or the essence of being (dharmadhatu or dhamrata), the inexpressible, thatness (tattva), free of verbalization and plurality, that which really is, the true reality, truth, the womb of Tathagatas (Tathagata-garbha), reality which one must realize within oneself, and so on. According to the Yogacarins, the absolute idealism is the most characteristic doctrine and is their so-called ‘idealism’, which is ‘subjective’ with regard to the empirical and ‘absolute’ with regard to the transcendental subject. As to the first, it denies the independent reality of an external object, and merely continues the traditional ideas about the primacy of ‘thought’ over all objects, though it may perhaps give them a somewhat sharper edge and a more pronounced epistemological content than they may have had before. In every mental act thought and its concomitants are of decisive importance, and the ‘object’ is a shadowy appearance largely shaped and to some extent conjured up by thought.

Chapter 103. Kusala & Akusala Dharmas

Kusala: “Kusala” means volitional action that is done in accordance with the Aryan Eightfold Noble Path. So, Kusala is not only in accordance with the right action, but it is also always in accordance with the right view, right understanding, right speech, right livelihood, right energy, right concentration and right samadhi. According to the Dharmapada Sutra, verse 183, the Buddha taught: Not to do evil, to do good, to purify one’s mind, this is the teaching of the Buddhas.” Kusala karmas or good deeds will help a person control a lot of troubles arising from his mind. Inversely, if a person does evil deeds he will receive bad results in this life and the next existence which are suffering. Thus, wholesome deeds clean our mind and give happiness to oneself and others. Kusala means good, right, wholesome. It is contrary to the unwholesome.According to Buddhism, kusala karma means volitional action that is done in accordance with the Aryan Eightfold Noble Path. So, Kusala karma is not only in accordance with the right action, but it is also always in accordance with the right view, right understanding, right speech, right livelihood, right energy, right concentration and right samadhi. According to the Dharmapada Sutra, verse 183, the Buddha taught: Not to do evil, to do good, to purify one’s mind, this is the teaching of the Buddhas.” Kusala karmas or good deeds will help a person control a lot of troubles arising from his mind. Inversely, if a person does evil deeds he will receive bad results in this life and the next existence which are suffering. An honest man, especially one who believes in Buddhist ideas of causality and lives a good life. There are two classes of people in this life, those who are inclined to quarrel and addicted to dispute, and those who are bent to living in harmony and happy in friendliness. The first class can be classified wicked, ignorant and heedless folk. The second class comprised of good, wise and heedful people. The Buddha has made a clear distinction between wickedness and goodness and advises all his disciples not to do evil actions, to perform good ones and to purify their own heart. He know that it is easy to do evil action. To perform meritorious one far more difficult. But His disciples should know how to select in between evil and good, because wicked people will go to hell and undergo untold suffering, while good ones will go to Heaven and enjoy peaceful bliss. Moreover, Good one even from afar shrine like the mountain of snow with their meritorious actions, while bad ones are enveloped in darkness like an arrow shot in the night.”

According to The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, Chapter Ambapali, there are two starting points of wholesome states: First, virtue that is well purified which includes basing upon virtue and establishing upon virtue. Second, view that is straight. According to The Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are three good (wholesome) roots. For Monks and Nuns, there are the wholesome roots of non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion (no selfish desire, no ire, no stupidity); the wholesome roots of almsgiving, kindness, and wisdom; and the wholesome roots of good deeds, good words, good thoughts. Three good roots for all moral development: the wholesome root of no lust or selfish desire, the wholesome root of no ire or no hatred, and the wholesome root of no stupidity. For Ordinary People, there are three wholesome roots: the wholesome root of almsgiving; the wholesome root of mercy; and the wholesome root of wisdom. There are also three good upward directions or states of existence: The first path is the wholesome path: This is the highest class of goodness rewarded with the deva life. The second path is the path of human beings: The middle class of goddness with a return to human life. The third path is the path of asuras: The inferior class of goodness with the asura state. According to The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Sangiti Sutra, there are three kinds of wholesome element: First, the wholesome element of renunciation. Second, the wholesome element of non-enmity. Third, the wholesome element of non-cruelty. According to the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are three kinds of right conduct: right conduct in body, right conduct in speech, and right conduct in thought. Three good deeds (the foundation of all development) include no lust (no selfish desire), no anger, and no stupidity (no ignorance). According to the Abhidharma, there are three doors of wholesome kamma pertaining to the sense-sphere. First, bodily action pertaining to the door of the body: not to kill, not to steal, and not to commit sexual misconduct. Second, verbal action pertaining to the door of speech: not to have false speech, not to slander, not to speak harsh speech, and not to speak frivolous talk. Third, mental action pertaining to the door of the mind: not to have Covetousness, not to have Ill-will, and not to have wrong views. According to The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Sangiti Sutra, there are three kinds of wholesome investigation. First, the wholesome investigation of renunciation. Second, the wholesome investigation of non-enmity. Third, the wholesome investigation of non-cruelty. According to The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Sangiti Sutra, there are three kinds of wholesome perception. First, the wholesome perception of renunciation. Second, the wholesome perception of non-enmity. Third, the wholesome perception of non-cruelty.

According to the Mahayana, there are four good roots, or sources from which spring good fruit or development: Sravakas, Pratyeka-buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas. According to the Kosa Sect, there are four good roots, or sources from which spring good fruit or development: the level of heat, the level of the summit, the level of patience, and the level of being first in the world. According to the Surangama Sutra, book Eight, There are four good roots, or sources from which spring good fruit or development. The Buddha reminded Ananda as follows: “Ananda! When these good men have completely purified these forty-one minds, they further accomplish four kinds of wonderfully perfect additional practices.” The first root is the level of heat: When the enlightenment of a Buddha is just about to become a function of his own mind, it is on the verge of emerging but has not yet emerged, and so it can be compared to the point just before wood ignites when it is drilled to produce fire. Therefore, it is called ‘the level of heat.’ The second root is the level of the summit: He continues on with his mind, treading where the Buddhas tread, as if relying and yet not. It is as if he were climbing a lofty mountain, to the point where his body is in space but there remains a slight obstruction beneath him. Therefore it is called ‘the level of the summit.’ The third root is the level of patience: When the mind and the Buddha are two and yet the same, he has well obtained the middle way. He is like someone who endures something when it seems impossible to either hold it in or let it out. Therefore it is called ‘‘he level of patience.’’ The fourth root is the level of being first in the world: When numbers are destroyed, there are no such designations as the middle way or as confusion and enlightenment; this is called the ‘level of being first in the world.’ According to the Long Discourses of the Buddha, Sangiti Sutra, there are eight right factors: Right views, Right thinking, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, and Right concentration.

In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “As a flower that is colorful and beautiful, but without scent, even so fruitless is the well-spoken words of one who does not practice it (Dharmapada 51). As the flower that is colorful, beautiful, and full of scent, even so fruitful is the well-spoken words of one who practices it (Dharmapada 52). As from a heap of flowers many a garland is made, even so many good deeds should be done by one born to the mortal lot (Dharmapada 53). If a person does a meritorious deed, he should do it habitually, he should find pleasures therein, happiness is the outcome of merit (Dharmapada 118). Even a good person sees evil as long as his good deed has not yet ripened; but when his good deed has ripened, then he sees the good results (Dharmapada 120). Do not disregard small good, saying, “it will not matter to me.” Even by the falling of drop by drop, a water-jar is filled; likewise, the wise man, gathers his merit little by little (Dharmapada 122).” In the Forty-Two Sections Sutra, chapter 14, the Buddha taught: “A Sramana asked the Buddha: “What is goodness? What is the foremost greatness?” The Buddha replied: “To practice the Way and to protect the Truth is goodness. To unite your will with the Way is greatness.”

Akusala Dharmas: Unwholesome deeds (anything connected with the unwholesome root or akasula mula) accompanied by greed, hate or delusion and cause undesirable karmic results or future suffering. There are two kinds of causes in the world: good causes and bad causes. If we create good causes, we will reap good results; if we create bad causes, we will surely reap bad results. According to The Path of Purification, unwholesome deeds are both unprofitable action and courses that lead to unhappy destinies. Unwholesome mind creates negative or unwholesome thoughts (anger, hatred, harmful thoughts, wrong views, etc), speech (lying, harsh speech, double-tongued, etc), as well as deeds which are the causes of our sufferings, confusion and misery. Unwholesome or negative mind will destroy our inner peace and tranquility. According to Buddhism, if we create bad causes, we will surely reap bad results. People who create many offenses and commit many transgressions will eventually have to undergo the retribution of being hell-dwellers, hungry-ghosts, and animals, etc. In general, doing good deeds allows us to ascend, while doing evil causes us to descend. In everything we do, we must take the responsibility ourselves; we cannot rely on others. According to The Path of Purification, “Bad Ways” is a term for doing what ought not to be done and not doing what ought to be done, out of desire, hate, delusion, and fear. They are called “bad ways” because they are ways not to be travel by Noble Ones. Incorrect conduct in thought, word or deed, which leads to evil recompense. Unwholesome speech or slanderous or evil-speech which cause afflictions. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Do not speak unwholesome or harsh words to anyone. Those who are spoken to will respond in the same manner. Angry speech nourishes trouble. You will receive blows in exchange for blows (Dharmapada 133). If like a cracked gong, you silence yourself, you already have attained Nirvana. No vindictiveness (quarrels) will be found in you (Dharmapada 134).” Unwholesome views or wrong views mean seeing or understanding in a wrong or wicked and grasping manner. There are five kinds of wrong views: wrong views of the body, one-sided views, wrong views which are inconsistent with the dharma, wrong views caused by attachment to one’s own errouneous understanding, and wrong views or wrong understandings of the precepts.

Unwholesome deeds are bad, wrong, cruel, evil or mischievous acts. Unwholesome or wicked deeds which are against the right. Maliciousness is planning to harm others. It includes thinking how to revenge a wrong done to us, how to hurt others’ feelings or how to embarrass them. From the earliest period, Buddhist thought has argued that immoral actions are the result of ignorance (avidya), which prompts beings to engage in actions (karma) that will have negative consequences for them. Thus evil for Buddhism is a second-order problem, which is eliminated when ignorance is overcome. Thus the definition of sin and evil is pragmatic: evil actions are those that result in suffering and whose consequences are perceived as painful for beings who experience them. Unwholesome or evil karmas of greed, hatred and ignorance, all created by body, mouth and speech. Unwholesome or harmful actions, or conduct in thought, word, or deed (by the body, speech, and mind) to self and others which leads to evil recompense (negative path, bad deeds, or black path). Unwholesome or negative Karma includes: greed, anger, ignorance, pride, doubt, wrong views, killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and unwholesome thoughts. According to the Sigalaka Sutra, there are four causes of unwholesome or evil actions: unwholesome action springs from attachment, ill-will, ignorance, and fear. According to the Sigalaka Sutra, the Buddha taught: “If the Ariyan disciple does not act out of attachment, ill-will, folly or fear, he will not do evil from any one of the four above mentioned causes.” In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “As rust sprung from iron eats itself away when arisen, just like ill deeds lead the doer to a miserable state (Dharmapada 240).

There are three kinds of unwholesome paths (the states of woe, realms of woe, evil realms, or evil ways). Also called evil ways or three evil paths, or destinies of hells, hungry ghosts and animals. These are three paths which can be taken as states of mind, i.e., when someone has a vicious thought of killing someone, he is effectively reborn, for that moment, in the hells. Sentient beings in evil realms do not encounter the Buddhadharma, never cultivate goodness, and always harm others. Sometimes the Asura realm is also considered an unwholesome or evil realm because though they have heavenly merits, they lack virtues and have much hatred. There are four fundamental unwholesome passions. These four are regarded as the fundamental evil passions originating from the view that there is really an eternal substance known as ego-soul. First, the belief in the existence of an ego-substance. Second, ignorance about the ego. Third, conceit about the ego. The fourth fundamental unwholesome passion is self-love.

All karmas are controlled by the threefold deed (body, speech, and mind). Three deeds of the body, four deeds of the mouth, and three deeds of the mind. Accoridng to Buddhism, evil phenomena refers to supernatural phenomena which are said to be side effects of Zazen, such as clairvoyance and othe magical abilities, as well as hallucinations. They are considered to be distractions, and so meditators are taught to ignore them as much as possible and to concentrate on meditative practice only. “Akusala” is a Sanskrit term for “bonds of assumptions of bad states.” These are obstructions of body (kayavarana) and of mind (manas-avarana). Some Buddhist exegetes also add the third type, obstructions of speech (vag-avarana). These are said to be caused by influences of past karma, in imitation of past activities, and are the subtle traces that remain after the afflictions (klesa) have been destroyed. An example that is commonly given is of an Arhat, who has eliminated the afflictions, seeing a monkey and jumping up and down while making noises like a monkey, but the subtle traces still remain deep in the conscious.

According to Buddhism, an unwholesome person means an evil person, one who has evil ideas of the doctrine of voidness, to deny the doctrine of cause and effect. Thus, the Buddha advises us not make friends with wicked ones, but to associate only with good friends. He points out very clearly that if we yearn for life, we should avoid wickedness like we shun poison because a hand free from wound can handle poison with impurity. The dhammas of the good ones do not decay, but go along with the good ones to where meritorious actions will lead them. Good actions will welcome the well doer who has gone from this world to the next world, just as relatives welcome a dear one who has come back. So the problem poses itself very clear and definite. Wickedness and goodness are all done by oneself. Wickedness will lead to dispute and to war, while goodness will lead to harmony, to friendliness and to peace. Also according to the Buddhism, the unwholesome people are those who commit unbelievable crimes and whose minds are filled with greed, hatred and ignorance. Those who commit lying, gossip, harsh speech, and double-tongued. Those who abuse others’ good heart; those who cheat others for their own benefits; those who kill, steal; those who act lasciviously; those who think of wicked plots; those who always think of wicked (evil) scheme.

Great Master Ying-Kuang reminded Buddhist followers to singlemindedly recite the Buddha’s name if they wish for their mind not to be attaching and wandering to the external world. Do not forget that death is lurking and hovering over us, it can strike us at any moment. If we do not wholeheartedly concentrate to practice Buddha Recitation, praying to gain rebirth to the Western Pureland, then if death should come suddenly, we are certain to be condemned to the three unwholesome realms where we must endure innumerable sufferings and sometime infinite Buddhas have in turn appeared in the world, but we are still trapped in the evil paths and unable to find liberation. Thus, cultivators should always ponder the impermanence of a human life, while death could come at any moment without warning. We should always think that we have committed infinite and endles unwholesome karmas in our former life and this life, and the sufferings awaiting for us in the unwholesome realms. Upon thinking all these, we will be awakened in every moment, and we no longer have greed and lust for the pleasures of the five desires and six elements of the external world. If condemned to hell, then we will experience the torturous and agonizing conditions of a moutain of swords, a forest of knives, stoves, frying pans; in each day and night living and dying ten thousand times, the agony of pain and suffering is inconceivable. If condemned to the path of hungry ghost, then the body is hideously ugly wreaking foul odors. Stomach is large as a drum but neck is as small as a needle; though starving and thirsty, the offenders cannot eat or drink. When seeing food and drinks, these items transform into coals and fires. Thus, they must endure the torture and suffering of famine and thirst, throwing, banging their bodies against everything, crying out in pain and agony for tens and thousands of kalpas. If condemned to the animal realm, then they must endure the karmic consequences of carrying and pulling heavy loads, get slaughtered for food, or the strong prey on the weak, mind and body always paranoid, frightened, and fearful of being eaten or killed, without having any moment of peace.

There are five kinds of unwholesome deeds in this world: The first kinds of unwholesome deed is Cruelty. Every creature, even insects, strives against one another. The strong attack the weak; the weak deceive the strong; everywhere there is fighting and cruelty. The second kinds of unwholesome deed is Deception and lack of Sincerity. There is a lack of a clear demarcation between the rights of a father and a son, between an elder brother and a younger; between a husband and a wife; between a senior relative and a younger. On every occasion, each one desires to be the highest and to profit off others. They cheat each other. They don’t care about sincerity and trust. The third kinds of unwholesome deed is Wicked behavior that leads to Injustice and wickedness. There is a lack of a clear demarcation as to the behavior between men and women. Everyone at times has impure and lasvicious thoughts and desires that lead them into questionable acts and disputes, fighting, injustice and wickedness. The fourth kinds of unwholesome deed is Disrespect the rights of others. There is a tendency for people to disrespect the rights of others, to exaggerate their own importance at the expense of others, to set bad examples of behavior and, being unjust in their speech, to deceive, slander and abuse others. The fifth kinds of unwholesome deed is To neglect their duties. The is a tendency for people to neglect their duties towards others. They think too much of their own comfort and their own desires; they forget the favors they have received and cause annoyance to others that often passes into great injustice.

According to the Long Discourses of the Buddha, Sangiti Sutra, there are eight unwholesome factors: wrong views, wrong thinking, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness, and wrong concentration. Eight wrong perceptions of thought: desire, hatred, vexation with others, home-sickness, patriotism or thoughts of the country’s welfare, dislike of death, ambition for one’s clan or family, and slighting or being rude to others. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are nine unwholesome causes of malice which are stirred up by the thought: “There is no use to think that a person has harmed, is harming, or will harm either you, someone you love, or someone you hate”. First, he has done me an injury. Second, he is doing me an injury. Third, he will do me an injury. Fourth, he has done an injury to someone who is dear and pleasant to me. Fifth, he is doing an injury to someone and pleasant to me. Sixth, he will do an injury to someone who is dear and pleasant to me. Seventh, he has done an injury to someone who is hateful and unpleasant to me. Eighth, he is doing an injury to someone who is hateful and unpleasant to me. Ninth, he will do an injury to someone who is hateful and unpleasant to me. Ancient virtues taught on unwholesome doings as followed: “Those who spit at the sky, immediately the spit will fall back on their face.” Or To harbor blood to spit at someone, the mouth is the first to suffer from filth.

Five practical suggestions to prevent evil thoughts given by the Buddha: First, harbouring a good thought opposite to the encroaching one, e.g., loving-kindness in the case of hatred. Second, reflecting upon possible evil consequences, e.g., anger sometimes results in murder. Third, simple neglect or becoming wholly inattentive to them. Fourth, tracing the cause which led to the arising of the unwholesome thoughts and thus forgetting them in the retrospective process. Fifth, direct physical force.

In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Let’s hasten up to do good. Let’s restrain our minds from evil thoughts, for the minds of those who are slow in doing good actions delight in evil (Dharmapada 116). If a person commits evil, let him not do it again and again; he should not rejoice therein, sorrow is the outcome of evil (Dharmapada 117). Even an evil-doer sees good as long as evil deed has not yet ripened; but when his evil deed has ripened, then he sees the evil results (Dharmapada 119). Do not disregard (underestimate) small evil, saying, “it will not matter to me.” By the falling of drop by drop, a water-jar is filled; likewise, the fool becomes full of evil, even if he gathers it little by little (Dharmapada 121). A merchant with great wealth but lacks of companions, avoids a dangerous route, just as one desiring to live avoids poison, one should shun evil things in the same manner (Dharmapada 123). With a hand without wound, one can touch poison; the poison does not afftect one who has no wound; nor is there ill for him who does no wrong. (Dharmapada 124). Whoever harms a harmless person who is pure and guiltless, the evil falls back upon that fool, like dust thrown against the wind (Dharmapada 125). Some are born in a womb; evil-doers are reborn in hells; the righteous people go to blissful states; the undefiled ones pass away into Nirvana (Dharmapada 126). Neither in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, nor in mountain cave, nowhere on earth where one can escape from the consequences of his evil deeds (Dharmapada 127). The evil is done by oneself; it is self-born, it is self-nursed. Evil grinds the unwise as a diamond grinds a precious stone (Dharmapada 161). Bad deeds are easy to do, but they are harmful, not beneficial to oneself. On the contrary, it is very difficult to do that which is beneficial and good for oneself (Dharmapada 163). The foolish man who slanders the teachings of the Arhats, of the righteous and the Noble Ones. He follows false doctrine, ripens like the kashta reed, only for its own destruction (Dharmapada 164). By oneself the evil is done, by oneself one is defiled or purified. Purity or impurity depend on oneself. No one can purify another (Dharmapada 165). Not to slander, not to harm, but to restrain oneself in accordance with the fundamental moral codes, to be moderate in eating, to dwell in secluded abode, to meditate on higher thoughts, this is the teaching of the Buddhas (Dharmapada 185).”

In the Forty-Two Sections Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The Buddha said: “When an evil person hears about virtue and intentionally or voluntarily comes to cause trouble, you should restrain yourself and should not become angry or upbraid him. Then, the one who has come to do evil will do evil to himself.” There was one who, upon hearing that I protect the way and practice great humane compassion, intentionally or voluntarily came to scold me. I was silent and did not reply. When he finished scolding me, I asked, ‘If you are courteous to people and they do not accept your courtesy, the courtesy returns to you, does it not?’ He replied, ‘It does.’ I said, ‘Now you are scolding me but I do not receive it. So, the misfortune returns to you and must remain with you. It is just as inevitable as the echo that follows a sound or as the shadow that follows a form. In the end, you cannot avoid it. Therefore, be careful not to do evil.” An evil person who harms a sage is like one who raises his head and spits at heaven. Instead of reaching heaven, the spittle falls back on him. It is the same with one who throws dust into the wind instead of going somewhere else, the dust returns to fall on the thrower’s body. The sage cannot be harmed; misdeed will inevitably destroy the doer.”

In order to terminate the suffering and affliction in life, The Buddha advises his fourfold disciple: “Do no evil, to do only good, to purify the mind.” In the Agama Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Do not commit wrongs, devoutly practice all kinds of good, purify the mind, that’s Buddhism” or “To do no evil, to do only good, to purify the will, is the doctrine of all Buddhas.” These four sentences are said to include all the Buddha-teaching. The Buddha’s teachings in the Dharmapada Sutra: “A wise man should abandon the way of woeful states and follows the bright way. He should go from his home to the homeless state and live in accordance with the rules for Sramanas (Dharmapada 87). A wise man should purge himself from all the impurities of the mind, give up sensual pleasures, and seek great delight in Nirvana (Dharmapada 88). Those whose minds are well-trained and well-perfected in the seven factors of enlightenment, who give up of grasping, abandon defiled minds, and eradicate all afflictions. They are shinning ones and have completely liberated and attained Nirvana even in this world (Dharmapada 89).”

However, the Buddha’s teachings are usually easy to speak but very difficult to put in practice. Yes! “Not to commit any sin, to do good, to purify one’s mind.” Buddha’s teaching is so easy to speak about, but very difficult to put into practice. The Buddha’s teaching is so easy that a child of three knows how to speak, but it is so difficult that even an old man of eighty finds it difficult to practice. According to the Forty-Two Sections Sutra, Chapter 18, the Buddha said: “My Dharma is the mindfulness that is both mindfulness and no-mindfulness. It is the practice that is both practice and non-practice. It is words that are words and non-words. It is cultivation that is cultivation and non-cultivation. Those who understand are near to it; those who are confused are far from it indeed. The path of words and language is cut off; it cannot be categorized as a thing. If you are off (removed) by a hair’s breadth, you lose it in an instant.”

Chapter 104. Vinaya in Buddhism

At the time of the Buddha, in the beginning a follower was accepted into the Sangha, the Buddha talked to them with the simple words “Ehi-bhikku” (Come, O monk)! But as numbers grew and the community dispersed, regulations were established by the Buddha. Every Buddhist undertakes the “Five Precepts” in the cultivation of the moral life, and monks and nuns follow follow five additional precepts, which are elaborated as training rules and referred to collectively as the “Pratimoksa.” The five additional precepts are to abstain from eating after midday, from dancing and singing, from personal adornments, from using high seats or beds, and from handling gold or silver. Later, situations arised so the number of rules in the “Pratimoksa” varies among the different traditions, although there is a common core of approximately 150. Nowadays, in Mahayana and Sangha Bhiksu traditions, there are about 250 rules for monks and 348 for nuns; while in the Theravadin tradition, there are 227 rules for monks and 311 for nuns. In all traditions, both Mahayana, including Sangha Bhiksu and Theravada, every fortnight these rules are recited communally, providing an occasion for the members of the Sangha to confess and breaches.

The worldly way is outgoing exuberant; the way of the devoted Buddhist’s life is restrained and controlled. Constantly work against the grain, against the old habits; eat, speak, and sleep little. If we are lazy, raise energy. If we feel we can not endure, raise patience. If we like the body and feel attached to it, learn to see it as unclean. Virtue or following precepts, and concentration or meditation are aids to the practice. They make the mind calm and restrained. But outward restraint is only a convention, a tool to help gain inner coolness. We may keep our eyes cast down, but still our mind may be distracted by whatever enters our field of vision. Perhaps we feel that this life is too difficult, that we just can not do it. But the more clearly we understand the truth of things, the more incentive we will have. Keep our mindfulness sharp. In daily activity, the important point is intention. ; know what we are doing and know how we feel about it. Learn to know the mind that clings to ideas of purity and bad karma, burdens itself with doubt and excessive fear of wrongdoing. This, too, is attachment. We must know moderation in our daily needs. Robes need not be of fine material, they are merely to protect the body. Food is merely to sustain us. The Path constantly opposes defilements and habitual desires.

Basic precepts, commandments, discipline, prohibition, morality, or rules in Buddhism. Precepts are designed by the Buddha to help Buddhists guard against transgressions and stop evil. Transgressions spring from the three karmas of body, speech and mind. Observe moral precepts develops concentration. Concentration leads to understanding. Continuous Understanding means wisdom that enables us to eliminate greed, anger, and ignorance and to obtain liberation, peace and joy. Rules and ceremonies, an intuitive apprehension of which, both written and unwritten, enables devotees to practice and act properly under all circumstances. Precepts mean vows of moral conduct taken by lay and ordained Buddhists. There are five vows for lay people, 250 for fully ordained monks, 348 for fully ordained nuns, 58 for Bodhisattvas (48 minor and 10 major). The Buddha emphasized the importance of morals as a means to achieve the end of real freedom for observing moral precepts develops concentration. Concentration leads to understanding. Continuous understanding means wisdom that enables us to eliminate greed, anger, and ignorance and to advance and obtain liberation, peace and joy.

Secondary commandments, deriving from the mandate of Buddha, i.e. against drinking wine, as opposed to a commandment based on the primary laws of human nature, i.e., against murder. The moral code taught in Buddhism is very vast and varied and yet the function of Buddhist morality is one and not many. It is the control of man’s verbal and physical actions. All morals set forth in Buddhism lead to this end, virtuous behavior, yet moral code is not an end in itself, but a means, for it aids concentration (samadhi). Samadhi, on the other hand, is a means to the acquisition of wisdom (panna), true wisdom, which in turn brings about deliverance of mind, the final goal of the teaching of the Buddha. Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom therefore is a blending of man’s emotions and intellect. The Buddha points out to his disciples the ways of overcoming verbal and physical ill behavior. According to the Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha taught: “Having tamed his tongue, having controlled his bodily actions and made himself pure in the way he earns his living, the disciple establishes himself well in moral habits. Thus he trains himself in the essential precepts of restraint observing them scrupulously and seeing danger in the slightest fault. While thus restraining himself in word and deed he tries to guard the doors of the senses, for if he lacks control over his senses unhealthy thoughts are bound to fill his mind. Seeing a form, hearing a sound, and so on, he is neither attracted nor repelled by such sense objects, but maintains balance, putting away all likes and dislikes.”

The code of conduct set forth by the Buddha is not a set of mere negative prohibitions, but an affirmation of doing good, a career paved with good intentions for the welfae of happiness of mankind. These moral principles aim at making society secure by promoting unity, harmony and mutual understanding among people. This code of conduct is the stepping-stone to the Buddhist way of life. It is the basis for mental development. One who is intent on meditation or concentration of mind should develop a love of virtue that nourishes mental life makes it steady and calm. This searcher of highest purity of mind practises the burning out of the passions. He should always think: “Other may harm, but I will become harmless; others may slay living beings, but I will become a non-slayer; others may wrongly take things, but I will not; others may live unchaste, but I will live pure; other may slander, talk harshly, indulge in gossip, but I will talk only words that promote concord, harmless words, agreeable to the ear, full of love, heart pleasing, courteous, worthy of being borne in mind, timely, fit to the point; other may be covetous, but I will not covet; others may mentally lay hold of things awry, but I will lay mental hold of things fully aright.” In fact, observation of morality also means cultivation or exercise of right thoughts of altruism, loving-kindness and harmlessness; observation of morality also means cultivation of the right speech because that enables one to control one’s mischievous tongue; right action by refraining from killing sentient beings, and from sexual misconduct; and right livelihood which should be free from exploitation misappropriation or any illegal means of acquiring wealth or property.

According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta and the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five dangers to the immoral through lapsing from morality (bad morality or failure in morality): First, precept breaker suffers great loss of property through neglecting his affairs. Second, precept breaker gets bad reputation for immorality and misconduct. Third, whatever assembly the precept breaker approaches, whether of Khattiyas, Bramins, Ascetics, or Householders, he does so differently and shyly. Fourth, at the end of his life, he dies confused. Fifth, after death, at the breaking up of the body, he arises in an evil state, a bad fate, in suffering and hell. Also according to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta and the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five advantages to one of good morality and of success in morality: First, through careful attention to his affairs, he gains much wealth. Second, precept keeper gets a good reputation for morality and good conduct. Third, whatever assembly he approaches, whether of Khattiyas, Brahmins, Ascetics, or Householders, he does so with confidence and assurance. Fourth, at the end of his life, he dies unconfused. Fifth, after death, at breaking up of the body, he arises in a good place, a heavenly world. According to the Uttarasanghati Sutra, there are five benefits for the virtuous in the perfecting of virtue: First, one who is virtuous, possessed of virtue, comes into a large fortune as consequence of diligence. Second, one who is virtuous, possessed of virtue, a fair name is spread abroad. Third, one who is virtuous, possessed of virtue, enters an assembly of Khattiyas, Brahmans, householders or ascetics without fear or hesitation. Fourth, one who is virtuous, dies unconfused. Fifth, one who is virtuous, possessed of virtue, on the break up of the body after death, reappears in a happy destiny or in the heavenly world. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The scent of flowers does not blow against the wind, nor does the fragrance of sandalwood and jasmine, but the fragrance of the virtuous blows against the wind; the virtuous man pervades every direction (Dharmapada 54). Of little account is the fragrance of sandal-wood, lotus, jasmine; above all these kinds of fragrance, the fragrance of virtue is by far the best (Dharmapada 55). Of little account is the fragrance of sandal; the fragrance of the virtuous rises up to the gods as the highest (Dharmapada 56). Mara never finds the path of those who are virtuous, careful in living and freed by right knowledge (Dharmapada 57). To be virtue until old age is pleasant; to have steadfast faith is pleasant; to attain wisdom is pleasant; not to do evil is pleasant (Dharmapada 333).

In Buddhism, there is no so-called cultivation without discipline, and also there is no Dharma without discipline. Precepts are rules which keep us from committing offenses. Precepts are considered as cages to capture the thieves of greed, anger, stupidity, pride, doubt, wrong views, killing, stealing, lust, and lying. Although there are various kinds of precepts, i.e., the five precepts, the ten precepts, the Bodhisattva precepts, etc, the five precepts are the most basic. Learning by commandments is one of the three important practices of all Buddhists. The other two are meditation and wisdom. Learning by the commandments or prohibitions, so as to guard against the evil consequences of error by mouth, body or mind. According to Bhikkhu Piyadassi Mahathera in The Spetrum of Buddhism, it is essential for us to discipline ourselves in speech and action before we undertake the arduous task of training our mind through meditation. The aim of Buddhism morality is the control of our verbal and physical action, in other words, purity of speech and action. This is called training in virtue. Three factors of the Noble Eightfold Path form the Buddhsit code of conduct. They are right speech, right action, and right livelihood. If you wish to be successful in meditation practice, you should try to observe at least the five basic precepts of morality, abstinence from killing, stealing, illicit sexual indulgence, speaking falsehood and from taking any liquor, including narcotic drugs that cause intoxication and heedlessness. According to the Potaliya Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, there are eight things in the Noble One’s Discipline that lead to the cutting off of affairs: “With the support of the non-killing of living beings, the killing of living beings is to be abandoned.” So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? Here a noble disciple considers thus: ‘I am practicing the way to abandoning and cutting off of those fetters because of which I might kill living beings. If I were to kill living beings, I would blame myself for doing so; the wise, having investigated, would censure me for doing so; and on the dissolution of the body, after death, because of killing living beings an unhappy destination would be expected. But this killing of living beings is itself a fetter and a hindrance. And while taints, vexation, and fever might arise through the killing of living beings, there are no taints, vexation, and fever in one who abstains from killing living beings.’ So it is with reference to this that it was said: “With the support of the non-killing of living beings, the killing of living beings is to be abandoned.”: “Y cứ không sát sanh, sát sanh cần phải từ bỏ”. “With the support of taking only what is given, the taking of what is not given is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as in the above). “With the support of truthful speech, false speech is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as the above). “With the support unmalicious speech, malicious speech is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as the above). “With the support of refraining from rapacious greed, rapacious greed is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as the above). “With the support of refraining from spiteful scolding, spiteful scolding is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as the above). “With the support of refraining from angry despair, angry despair is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as the above). “With the support of non-arrogance, arrogance is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as the above).

Chapter 105. Prajna

Prajna is ordinarily translated as “knowledge” in English, but to be exact “intuition” may be better. It is sometimes translated as “transcendental wisdom.” The fact is even when we have an intuition, the object is still in front of us and we sense it, or perceive it, or see it. Here is a dichotomy of subject and object. In prajna this dichotomy no longer exists. Prajna is not concerned with finite objects as such; it is the totality of things becoming conscious of itself as such. And this totality is not at all limited. An infinite totality is beyond our ordinary human comprehension. But the prajna-intuition is this “incomprehensible” totalistic untuition of the infinite, which is something that can never take place in our daily experience limited to finite objects or events. The prajna, therefore, can take place, in other words, only when finite objects of sense and intellect are identified with the infinite itself. Instead of saying that the infinite sees itself, it is much closer to our human experience to say that an object regarded as finite, as belonging in the dichotomous world of subject and object, is perceived by prajna from the point of view of infinity. Symbolically, the finite then sees itself reflected in the mirror of infinity. The intellect informs us that the object is finite, but prajna contradicts, declaring it to be the infinite beyond the realm of relativity. Ontologically, this means that all finite objects or beings are possible because of the infinite underlying them, or that the objects are relatively and therefore limitedly laid out in the field of infinity without which they have no moorings. There are two kinds of prajna. First, temporal wisdom. Second, supernatural wisdom. There are also original wisdom and contemplative wisdom. Original wisdom is the first part of the Prajnaparamita. Contemplative wisdom is the second part of the Prajnaparamita, or the wisdom acquired from cultivation or contemplation. There are also prajna of the three stages of Sravaka and Pratyeka-buddha and the imperfect bodhisattva sect. The prajna of the perfect bodhisattva teaching. Prajna means “Enlightened wisdom,” the wisdom which enables one to reach the other shore, i.e. wisdom for salvation; the highest of the six paramitas, the virtue of wisdom as the principal means of attaining nirvana. It connotes a knowledge of the illusory character of everything earthly, and destroys error, ignorance, prejudice, and heresy. There are three prajnas or perfect enlightements. The first part of the prajnaparamita. The wisdom achieved once crossed the shore. The second part of the prajnaparamita. The necessary wisdom for actual crossing the shore of births and deaths. Third, the wisdom of knowing things in their temporary and changing condition. The necessary wisdom for vowing to cross the shore of births and deaths.

According to the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Treasure, the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-Neng, taught: “Good Knowing Advisors, Maha Prajna Paramita is a Sanskrit word which means ‘great wisdom which has arrived at the other shore.’ It must be practiced in the mind, and not just recited in words. When the mouth recites and the mind does not practice, it is like an illusion, a transformation, dew drops, or lightning. However, when the mouth recites and the mind practices, then mind and mouth are in mutual accord. One’s own original nature is Buddha; apart from the nature there is no other Buddha. Good Knowing Advisors, what is meant by ‘Prajna?’ Prajna in our language means wisdom. Everywhere and at all times, in thought after thought, remain undeluded and practice wisdom constantly; that is Prajna conduct. Prajna is cut off by a single deluded thought. By one wise thought, Prajna is produced. Worldly men, deluded and confused, do not see Prajna. They speak of it with their mouths, but their minds are always deluded. They constantly say of themselves, ‘I cultivate Prajna!’ And though they continually speak of emptiness, they are unaware of true emptiness. Prajna, without form or mark, is just the wisdom of the mind. If thus explained, this is Prajna wisdom. Prajna is a Sanskrit term which means wisdom. There are three kinds of prajna: real mark prajna, contemplative prajna, and literary prajna. Prajna also means the real power to discern things and their underlying principles and to decide the doubtful. The Prajna-paramita-sutra describes “prajna” as supreme, highest, incomparable, unequalled, unsurpassed. Prajna means real wisdom or transcendental wisdom. According to the Mahayana Buddhism, only an immediate experienced intuitive wisdom, not intelligence can help man reach enlightenment. Therefore, to achieve prajna is synonymous with to reach enlightenment. One of the two perfections required for Buddhahood—The wisdom which enables us to transcend disire, attachment and anger so that we will be emancipated (not throught the mercy of any body, but rather through our own power of will and wisdom) and so that we will not be reborn again and again in “samsara” or transmigration.

At anywhere and at all time, Devout Buddhists’ actions must be in accordance with “Prajna” at all time. Worldly people always brag with their mouths, but their minds are always deluded. This is one of the three kinds of Prajna, the prajna or wisdom of meditative enlightenment on reality, for prajna is wisdom for salvation, and through wisdom is the mother or source of all Buddhas. Prajna is the spear of wisdom, which is able to cut off illusion and evil. Prajna is the intuitive understanding. In general, this refers to the development of intuitive understanding of key Buddhist concepts. According to the Mahayana Buddhism, the “prajna paramita” or the “perfection of wisdom” is the sixth of the perfections that a Bodhisattva cultivates on the path to Buddhahood, and only an immediate experienced intuitive wisdom, not intelligence can help man reach enlightenment. Therefore, to achieve prajna is synonymous with to reach enlightenment. One of the two perfections required for Buddhahood. The wisdom which enables us to transcend disire, attachment and anger so that we will be emancipated (not throught the mercy of any body, but rather through our own power of will and wisdom) and so that we will not be reborn again and again in “samsara” or transmigration. Prajna is abruptly seeing. Prajna is really a dialectical term denoting that this special process of knowing, known as “abruptly seeing,” or “seeing at once,” does not follow general laws of logic; for when prajna functions one finds oneself all of a sudden, as if by a miracle, facing Sunyata, the emptiness of all things. This does not take place as the result of reasoning, but when reasoning has been abandoned as futile, and psychologically when the will-power is brought to a finish. The use of prajna contradicts everything that we may conceive of things worldly; it is altogether of another order than our usual life. But this does not mean that Prajna is something altogether disconnected with our life and thought, something that is to be given to us by a miracle from some unknown and unknowable source. If this were the case, prajna would be no possible use to us. It is true that the functioning of Prajna is discrete, and interrupting to the progress of logical reasoning, but all the time it underlies it, and without Prajna we cannot have any reasoning whatever. Prajna is at once above and in the process of reasoning. This is a contradiction, formally considered, but in truth this contradiction itself is made possible because of Prajna.

That most of religious literature is filled with contradictions, absurdities, paradoxes, and impossibilities, and demands to believe them, to accept them, as revealed truths, is due to the fact that religious knowledge is based on the working of Prajna. Once this viewpoint of Prajna is gained, all the essential irrationalities found in religion become intelligible. It is like appreciating a fine piece of brocade. On the surface there is an almost bewildering confusion of beauty, and the professional fails to trace the intricacies of the threads. But as soon as it is turned over all the intricate beauty and skill is revealed. Prajna consists in this turning-over. The eye has hitherto followed the surface of the cloth, which is indeed the only side ordinarily allows us to survey. Now the cloth is abruptly turned over; the course of the eyesight is suddenly interrupted; no continuous gazing is possible. Yet by this interruption, or rather disruption, the whole scheme of life is suddenly grasped; there is the “seeing into one’s self-nature.” It is Prajna which lays its hands on Emptiness, or Suchness, or self-nature. And this laying-hands-on is not what it seems. This is self-evident from what has already been said concerning things relative. Because the self-nature is beyond the realm of relativity, its being grasped by Prajna cannot mean a grasping in its ordinary sense. The grasping must be no-grasping, a paradoxical statement which is inevitable. To use Buddhist terminology, this grasping is accomplished by non-discrimination; that is, by discrete, an act of the conscious; not an unconscious act but an act rising from self-nature itself, which is the unconscious.

Prajna must once be awakened in self-nature; for unless this is experienced we shall never have a chance of knowing the Buddha not only in ourselves but in others. But this awakening is no particular deed performed in the realm of empirical consciousness, and for this reason it is like a lunar reflection in the stream; it is neither continuous nor discrete; it is beyond birth and death; even when it is said to be born, it knows no birth; even when it is said to have passed away, it knows no passing away; it is only when no-mind-ness or the Unconscious is seen that there are discourses never discoursed, that there are acts that never acted. According to the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng in the Platform Sutra, Prajna is awakened in self-nature abruptly, and the term “abrupt” not only means ‘instantaneously’, ‘unexpectedly’ or‘suddenly’, but signifies the idea that the act of awakening which is seeing is not a conscious deed on the part of self-nature. In other words, Prajna flashes from the Unconscious and yet never leaves it; it remains unconscious of it. This is the sense of saying that “seeing is no-seeing, and no-seeing is seeing,” and that the Unconscious or self-nature becomes conscious of itself by means of Prajna, and yet in this consciousness there is no separation of subject and object. Therefore, Hui-Neng says: “One who understands this truth is without thought, without memory, and without attachment.” But we must remember that Hui-Neng never advocated the doctrine of mere nothingness, or mere-doing-nothing-ness, nor assumed an unknown quantity in the solution of life. Also according to Hui-Neng, Prajna is the name given to self-nature, or the Unconscious, as we call it, when it becomes conscious of itself, or rather to the act itself of becoming conscious. Prajna therefore points in two directions to the Unconscious and to the world of consciousness which is now unfolded. The one is call the Prajna of non-discrimination and the other the Prajna of discrimination. When we are so deeply involved in the outgoing direction of consciousness and discrimination as to forget the other direction of Prajna pointing to the Unconscious, we have what is technically known as “Prapanca,” imagination. Or we may state this conversely: when imagination asserts itself, Prajna is hidden, and discrimination has its own sway, and the pure, undefiled surface of the Unconscious or self-nature is now dimmed. The advocates of “no-thought” or “no-mind” want us to preserve Prajna from going astray in the direction of discrimination, and to have our eyes looking steadily in the other direction. To attain “no-mind” means to recover, objectively speaking, the Prajna or non-discrimination. When this idea is developed in more detail we shall comprehend the significance of “no-mind” in Zen thought.

Chapter 106. Nature

Nature means fundamental nature behind the manifestation or expression. Nature is unchangeable. In Buddhism, nature stands in most cases for the ultimate constituent, or something ultimate in the being of a thing or a person, or that which is left after all that accidentally belongs to a thing is taken away from it. It may be questioned what is accidental and what is essential in the constitution of an individual object. Though it must not be conceived as an individual entity, like a kernel or nucleus which is left when all the outer casings are removed, or like a soul which escapes from the body after death. Nature means something without which no existence is possible, or thinkable as such. As its morphological construction suggests, it is ‘a heart or mind which lives’ within an individual. Figuratively, it may be called ‘vital force.’ According to Buddhism, nature is the mind, and mind is Buddha. Mind and nature are the same when awake and understanding, but differ when the illusion. Buddha-nature is eternal, but mind is not eternal; the nature is like water, the mind is like ice; illusion turns nature to mental ice form, awakening melts it back to its proper nature.

In the Platform Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng defined ‘nature’ as follows: “The nature, or mind or heart is the dominion, nature is the lord: the rules over his dominion, there is ‘nature’ and there is the ‘lord’; nature departs, and the lord is no more; nature is and the body and mind subsists, nature is not and the body and mind is destroyed. The Buddha is to be made within nature and not to be sought outside the body. In this, Hui-Neng attempts to give us a clearer understanding of what he means by ‘nature.’ Nature is the dominating force over our entire being; it is the principle of vitality, physical and spiritual. Not only the body but also the mind in its highest sense is active because of nature being present in them. When ‘nature’ is no more, all is dead, though this does not mean that ‘nature’ is something apart from the body and mind, which enters into it to actuate it, and depart at the time of death. This mysterious nature, however, is not a logical a priori but an actuality which can be experienced, and it is designated by Hui-Neng as “self-nature” or “self-being,” throughout his Platform Sutra. According to Buddhism, the true nature means the Buddha nature. The Buddhata is also called True Nature or Buddha Nature. The enlightened mind free from all illusion. The mind as the agent of knowledge, or enlightenment. In the Thirteen Patriarchs of Pureland Buddhism, the Tenth Patriarch Ching-She confirmed: “Mind, Buddha, and Sentient Beings, all three are not any different. Sentient beings are Buddhas yet to be attained, while Amitabha is Buddha who has attained. Enlightened Nature is one and not two. Even though we are delusional, blind, and ignorant, but even so our Enlightened Nature has never been disturbed. Thus, once seeing the light, all will return to the inherent enlightenment nature.”

The Dharmalaksana Sect divided nature into five different groups: First, Sravakas for Arhats, who are able to attain non-return to mortality, but are unable to reach Buddhahood. Second, Pratyeka-buddhas for Pratyeka-buddhahood, who are able to attain to non-return to mortality, but are unable to reach Buddhahood. Third, Bodhisattva for Buddhahood. Fourth, the indefinite, who have some unconditioned seeds, but are not able to attain to non-return to mortality. Fifth, those who have no Buddha-mind. They are outsiders who have not the Buddha-mind, or men and devas with passions and devoid of natures for enlightenment, hence destined to remain in the six paths of transmigration. According to Complete Enlightenment Sutra, there are five kinds of nature: First, the nature of ordinary good people. Second, the nature of Sravakas and Pratyeka-buddhas. Third, the Bodhisattvas’ nature. The fourth nature is the indefinite nature. Those with the following natures: undeterminate, unfixed, unsettled, and uncertain. The fifth nature is the nature of heretics or outsiders who have no Buddha-mind.

Chapter 107. Eighteen Realms

According to Buddhist traditions, there are eighteen realms. They are six senses, six objects, and six consciousnesses. According to Bhikkhu Bodhi in Abhidhamma, there are eighteen elements: eye element, ear element, nose element, tongue element, body element, visible form element, sound element, smell element, taste element, tangible element, eye consciousness element, ear-consciousness element, nose-consciousness element, tongue-consciousness element, body-consciousness element, mind-element, mental-object element, and mind-consciousness element. The six senses are objects of meditation practices. According to Bikkhu Piyananda in The Gems Of Buddhism Wisdom, you must always be aware of the sense organs such as eye, ear, nose, tongue and body and the contact they are having with the outside world. You must be aware of the feelings that are arising as a result of this contact. The eye is now in contact with forms (rupa); the ear is now in contact with sound; the nose is now in conatct with smell; the tongue is now in contact with taste; the body is now in contact with touching; and the mind is now in contact with all things (dharma). The six objects are corresponding to the six senses. The six objective fields of the six senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and idea or thought; rupa, form and colour, is the field of vision; sound of hearing, scent of smelling, the five flavours of tasting, physical feeling of touch, and mental presentation of discernment. Six sense-data or six consciousness or six conceptions. The perceptions and discernings of the six organs of sense, which include sight consciousness, hearing consciousness, scent consciousness, taste consciousness, body consciousness, and mind consciousness.

In the Surangama Sutra, book Three, the Buddha explained to Ananda the reasons why he said that the eighteen realms were basically the wonderful nature of true suchness, the treasury of the Thus Come One. From the first to the third realms of eye, form, and consciousness: The Buddha taught: “Ananda! As you understand it, the eyes and form create the conditions that produce the eye-consciousness. Is the consciousness produced because of the eyes, such that the eyes are its realm? Or is it produced because of form, such that form is its realm? Ananda! If it were produced because of the eyes, then in the absence of emptiness and form it would not be able to make distinctions; and, so even if you had a consciousness, what use would it be? Moreover, Ananda, your seeing is neither green, yellow, red, nor white. There is virtually nothing in which it is represented. Therefore, what is the realm established from? Suppose it were produced because of form. In emptiness, when there was no form, your consciousness would be extinguished. The, why is it that the consciousness knows the nature of emptiness? Suppose a form changes. You are also conscious of the changing appearance; but your eye-consciousness does not change, where is the boundary established? If the eye-consciousness were to change when form changed, then there would be no appearance of a realm. If it were not to change, it would be constant, and given that it was produced from form, it should have no conscious knowledge of where there was empty. Suppose the eye-consciousness arose both from the eyes and from form. If they were united, there would still be a point of separation. If they were separated, there would still be a point of contact. Hence, the substance and nature would be chaotic and disorderly; how could a realm be set up? Therefore, you should know that as to the eyes and form being the conditions that produce the realm of eye-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Thus, the eyes, form, and the form realm, these three, do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.” From the fourth to the sixth realms of ear, sound, and consciousness: The Buddha taught: “Ananda! As you understand it, the ear and sound create the conditions that produce the ear-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the ear such that the ear is its realm, or is it produced because of sound, such that sound is its realm? Ananda! Supose the ear-consciousness were produced because of the ear. The organ of hearing would have no awareness in the absence of both movement and stillness. Thus, nothing would be known by it. Since the organ would lack awareness, what would characterize the consciousness? You may hold that the ears hear, but when there is no movement and stillness, hearing cannot occur. How, then, could the ears, which are but physical forms, unite with external objects to be called the realm of consciousness? Once again, therefore, how would the realm of consciousness be established? Suppose it was produced from sound. If the consciousness existed because of sound, then it would have no connection with hearing. Without hearing, then the characteristic of sound would have no location. Suppose consciousness existed because of sound. Given that sound exists because of hearing, which causes the characteristic of sound to manifest, then you should also hear the hearing-consciousness. If the hearing-consciousness is not heard, there is no realm. If it is heard, then it is the same as sound. If the consciousness itself is heard, who is it that perceives and hears the consciousness? If there is no perceiver, then in the end you would be like grass or wood. Nor is it likely that the sound and hearing mix together to form a realm in between. Since a realm in between could not be established, how could the internal and external characteristics be delineated? Therefore, you should know that as to the ear and sound creating the conditions which produce the realm of the ear-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Thus, the ear, sound, and sound-consciousness, these three, do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.”

From the seventh to the ninth realms of nose, smell, and consciousness: The Buddha taught: “Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the nose and smell create the conditions that produce the nose-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the nose, such that the nose is its realm? Or, is it produced because of smell, such that smell are its realm? Suppose, Ananda, that the nose-consciousness were produced because of the nose, then in your mind, what do you take to be the nose? Do you hold that it takes the form of two fleshy claws, or do you hold it is an inherent ability of the nature which perceives smells as a result of movement? Suppose you hold that it is fleshy claws which form an integral part of your body. Since the body’s perception is touch, the sense organ of smelling would be named ‘body’ instead of ‘nose,’ and the objects of smelling would be objects of touch. Since it would not even have the name ‘nose,’ how could a realm be established for it? Suppose you held that the nose was the perceiver of smells. Then, in your mind, what is it that perceives? Suppose it were the flesh that perceived. Basically, what the flesh perceives is objects of touch, which have nothing to do with the nose. Suppose it were emptiness that perceived. Then emptiness would itself be the perceiver, and the flesh would have no awareness. Thus, empty space would be you, and since your body would be without perception, Ananda would not exist. If it is the smell that perceives, perception itself would lie with the smell. What would that have to do with you? If it is certain that vapors of fragrance and stench are produced from your nose, then the two flowing vapors of fragrance and stench would not arise from the wood of Airavana or Chandana. Given that the smell does not come from these two things, when you smell your own nose, is it fragrant, or does it stink? What stinks does not give off fragrance; what is fragrance does not stink. Suppose you say you can smell both the fragrance and the stench; then you, one person, would have tow noses, and I would now be addressing questions to two Anandas. Which one is you? Suppose there is one nose; then fragrance and stench would not be two. Since stench would be fragrance and fragrance would become stench, there would not be two natures, thus what would make up the realm? If the nose-consciousness were produced because of smells, it follows that it is in existence just because of smells. Just as the eyes can see but are unable to see themselves, so, too, if it exists because of smells, it would not be aware of smells. If it is aware of smells, then it is not produced from smells. If it had no awareness, the realm of smelling would not come into being. If the consciousness were not aware of smells, then the realm would not be established from smells. Since there is no intermediate realm of consciousness, there is no basis for establishing anything internal or external, either. Therefore, the nature of smelling is ultimately empty and false. Therefore, you should know that, as to the nose and smells being the conditions which produce the realm of the nose-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Thus, the nose, smells, and the realm of smelling, these three, do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.”

From the tenth to the twelfth realms of tongue, flavors, and consciousness: The Buddha taught: “Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the tongue and flavors create the conditions that produce the tongue-consciousness. Is the consciousness produced because of the tongue, such that the tongue is its realm, or is it produced because of the flavors, such that the flavors are its realm? Suppose, Ananda, that it were produced because of the tongue. Then all the sugar, black plums, Huang-lien, salt, wild ginger, and cassia in the world would be entirely without flavor. Also, when you taste your own tongue, is it sweet or bitter? Suppose the nature of your tongue were bitter. Then, what would it be that tasted the tongue? Since the tongue cannot taste itself, who would have the sense of taste? If the nature of the tongue were not bitter, there would be no flavor engendered by it. Thus, how could a realm be established? If it were produced because of flavor, the consciousness itself would be a flavor. The case would be the same as with the tongue-organ being unable to taste itself. How could the consciousness know whether it had flavor or not? Moreover, flavors do not all come from one thing. Since flavors are produced from many things, the consciousness would have many substances. Suppose that the consciousness were of a single substance and that the substance was definitely produced from flavor. Then, when salt, bland, sweet, and pungent were combined, their various differences would change into a single flavor and there would be no distinctions among them. If there were no distinctions, it could not be called consciousness. So, how could it further be called the realm of tongue, flavor, and consciousness? Nor can it be that empty space produces your conscious awareness. The tongue and flavors could not combine without each losing its basic nature. How could a realm be produced? Therefore, you should know that, as to the tongue and flavors being the conditions and that produce the realm of tongu-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Thus, the tongue, flavors, and the realm of the tongue, these three, do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.”

From the thirteenth to the fifteenth realms of body-consciousness, objects of touch: The Buddha taught: “Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the body and objects of touch create the conditions that produce the body-consciousness. Is the consciousness produced because of the body, such that the body is its realm, or is it produced because of objects of touch, such that objects of touch are its realm? Suppose, Ananda, that it were produced because of the body. When there was no awareness of the two conditions of contact with and separation from objects of touch, what would the body be conscious of? Suppose it were produced because of objects of touch. Then you would not need your body. Without a body, what could perceive contact with and separation from objects of touch? Ananda! Things do not perceive objects of touch. It is the body that perceives objects of touch. What the body knows is objects of touch, and what is aware of objects of touch is the body. What is objects of touch is not the body, and what is the body is not the objects of touch. The two characteristics of body and objects of touch are basically without a location. If it united with the body, it would be the body’s own substance and nature. If it were apart from the body, it would have the same appearance as empty space. Since the inside and the outside don’t stand up, how can one set up a middle? The middle cannot be set up either. The inside and the outside are by nature empty. From what realm, then, is your consciousness born? Therefore, you should know that, as to the body and objects of touch being conditions that produce the realm of body-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Thus, the body, objects of touch, and the realm of the body, thse three, do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.”

From the sixteenth to the eighteenth realms of mind, dharmas, and consciousness: The Buddha taught: “Moreover, Ananda, as you understand it, the mind and dharmas create the conditions that produce the mind-consciousness. Is this consciousness produced because of the mind, such that the mind is its realm, or is it produced because of dharmas, such that dharmas are its realm? Suppose, Ananda, that it were produced because of the mind. In your mind there certainly must be thoughts; these give expression to your mind. If there are no dharmas before you, the mind does not give rise to anything. Apart from conditions, it has no shape; thus, what use would the consciousness be? Moreover, Ananda, is your conscious awareness the same as your mind-organ, with its capacity to understand and make distinctions, or is it different? If it were the same as the mind, it would be the mind; how could it be something else that arises? If it were different from the mind, it should thereby be devoid of consciousness. If there were no consciousness, how would it arise from the mind? If there were consciousness, how would it differ from the mind? Since it is by nature neither the same nor different, how can a realm be established? Suppose it were produced because of dharmas. None of the dharmas of the world exists apart from the five defiling objects. Consider the dharmas of form, the dharmas of sound, the dharmas of smell, the dharmas of taste, and the dharmas of touch, each has a clearly distinguishable appearance and is matched with one of the five organs. They are not what the mind takes in. Suppose your consciousness were indeed produced through a reliance on dharmas. Take a close look at them now. What does each and every dharma look like? Underlying the characteristics of form and emptiness, movement and stillness, penetration and obstruction, unity and separation, and production and extinction there is nothing at all. When there is production, then form, emptiness, and all dharmas are produced. When there is extinction, then form, emptiness, and all dharmas are extinguished. Since what is causal does not exist, if those causes produce the consciousness, what appearance does the consciousness assume? If there is nothing discernable about the consciousness, how can a realm be established for it? Therefore, you should know that, as to the mind and dharmas being the conditions that produce the realm of the mind-consciousness, none of the three places exists. Thus, the mind, dharmas, and the realm of the mind, these three, do not have their origin in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.”

Chapter 108. Eight Poisonous Winds

At the time of the Buddha, in India, material comfort was much less than it is today and human sufferings and afflictions were more noticeable. Nowadays, with all the progress in human civilization that has brought mankind to an age that people can travel to remote planets, but human beings are still unable to lessen or abolish the basic sufferings and afflictions. Why do people in the modern civilization have no ability to lessen their sufferings and afflictions? Buddhism sees in our world that terrific realm of desires and sensual love, where men are constantly disturbed from both within ourselves and from social influences. This is, as the Buddha called it, the “world of desire”, which brings forth the growth of the four marks of birth, existence, decay and death, and ultimately all sufferings and afflictions. Even with the world of those who are superior to ours, that is the “world of pure form,” the world of deities and fairies whose life rises above all desires to the sphere of interplaying motives of forms, there still exist sufferings and afflictions. Or even with a higher world, the world of no-form (arupadhatu) which excludes all desires and form; there exists only mind, this world is still subject to sufferings and afflictions. Desires cause people rush about using their energy trying to collect many more materials, and when they have them they find that these do not satisfy them, but they must have more materials. In fact, the more they have the more they desire to have. That is to say they never feel happy and content with what they have. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are eight winds or influences (or worldly conditions) which fan the passions and prevent cultivators from advancing along the right path to enlightenment. They are also called the Eight Worldly States. They are so called because they continually succeed each other as long as the world persists; the approval that has the gain, etc., and the resentment that has the loss, etc. They are so called “Eight Winds” because they prevent people from advancing along the right path to enlightenment and liberation. When these eight worldly winds blow, men find themselves torn between them, they try to run toward one end to flee the other, so they continue endlessly in the cycle of birth and death. These eight poisonous winds are big demonic obstructions for Buddhists on their paths of cultivation.

The first poisonous wind is Gains: People are often swayed either by their attachment to gain, fame, praise, and pleasure, or by their aversion to loss, disgrace, blame, and suffering. In fact, life is a process of gain and loss, but people only satisfy with gain and feel miserable with loss; therefore, people continue to suffer. If life is a continuous process of temporary happiness of gain and suffering of loss, life would not worth living any more. Thus, the Buddha taught: “It is under adverse circumstances one should remain high and moral courage and maintain proper equilibrium. Our life, especially that of lay people, has ups and downs while struggling in daily activities, in order for us to have less disappintment, we should be prepared to accept both the good and the bad.” In the time of the Buddha, a noble lady was offering food to the Venerable Sariputra and some other monks. While serving them, she received a note stating that certain misfortunes had affected her family. Without becoming upset, she calmly kept the note in her waist-pocket and continued to serve the monks as if nothing had happened. A maid who was carrying a pot of ghee to offer to the monks was so startled that she slipped and broke the pot of ghee. Thinking that the lady would naturally fell sorry at the loss, Venerable Sariputra consoled her, saying that all breakable things are bound to break. The wise lady remarked: “Bhante, what is this trivial loss? I have just received a note stating certain misfortunes have occurred in my family. I accepted without losing my balance. I am serving you all despite the bad news.” Such brave courage of the lady should be highly commended. According to the Vimalakirti, Chapter Tenth, the visiting Bodhisattvas (from Fragrant Land) asked: “How many Dharmas should a Bodhisattva achieve in this world to stop its morbid growth (defilements) in order to be reborn in the Buddha’s pure land?” Vimalakirti replied: “A Bodhisattva should bring to perfection eight Dharmas to stop morbid growth in this world in order to be reborn in the Pure Land.” First, benevolence towards all living beings with no expectation of reward. Second, endurance of sufferings for all living beings dedicating all merits to them. Third, impartiality towards them with all humility free from pride and arrogance. Fourth, reverence to all Bodhisattvas with the same devotion as to all Buddhas (i.e. without discrimination between Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. Fifth, absence of doubt and suspicion when hearing (the expounding of) sutras which he has not heard before. Sixth, abstention from opposition to the Sravaka Dharma. Seventh, abstention from discrimination in regard to donations and offerings received with no thought of self-profit in order to subdue his mind. Eighth, self-examination without contending with others. Thus, he should achieve singleness of mind bent on achieving all merits; these are the eight Dharmas. According to the Buddhist points of view, the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five kinds of gain: gain of relatives, gain of wealth and gain of health. Devout Buddhists should always remember that no beings arise in a happy, heavenly state after death because of the gain of relatives, wealth and health. The next two gains are gain of morality and gain of right views. Devout Buddhists should always remember that beings are reborn in a happy or heavenly state because of gains in morality and right views. According to the Buddha in The Flower Ornament Scripture, the Buddha, the one who realizes Thusness, the worthy, the truly awake, becomes manifest, not by one condition, not by one phenomenon, but by means of infinite phenomena. It is accomplished by ten infinities of things: First, it is accomplished by the mind of enlightenment that took care of infinite sentient beings in the past. Second, it is accomplished by the infinite supreme aspirations of the past. Third, it is accomplished by great benevolence and compassion, which infinitely save all sentient beings in the past. Fourth, it is accomplsihed by infinite continuous commitments of the past. Fifth, it is accomplished by infinite cultivation of virtues and knowledge tirelessly in the past. Sixth, it is accomplished by infinite services of Buddhas and education of sentient beings in the past. Seventh, it is accomplished by infinite pure paths of wisdom and means in the past. Eighth, it is accomplished by infinite pure virtues of the past. Ninth, it is accomplished by infinite ways of adornment in the past. Tenth, it is accomplished by infinite comprehensions of principles and meanings in the past.

The second poisonous wind is Loss: According to the sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five kinds of loss: The first three losses include loss of relatives, loss of wealth, and loss of health. No beings fall into an evil state or a hell state after death because of loss of relatives, wealth or health. The next two losses include loss of morality and loss of right view. Beings do fall into an evil state or a hell state by loss of morality and right views. The Buddha taught: Buddhists should courageously accept losses. One must face these losses with equanimity and take them as an opportunity to cultivate our sublime virtues. At the time of the Buddha, once the Buddha went seeking alms in a village. Owing to the intervention of Mara, the Buddha did not obtain any food. When the Mara questioned the Buddha rather sarcastically whether he was hungry or not, the Buddha solemnly explained the mental attitude of those who were free from impediments, and replied: “Ah, happily do we live, we who have no impediments. Feeders of joy shall wee be even as the gods of the Radiant Realm.” On another occasion, the Buddha and his disciples observed the rainy season in a village at the invitation of a Brahmin who, however, completely forgot to attend the needs of the Buddha and the Sangha. Throughout the period of three months, although Venerable Moggallana volunteered to obtain food by his psychic powers, the Buddha making no complaint, was contented with the fodder of horses offered by a horse dealer.

The third poisonous wind is Yaso or Fame: Honour and dishonour are a pair of inevitable worldly conditions that confront us in the course of our daily lives. We always welcome honour or fame and dislike dishonour. Honour gladdens our heart; dishonour disheartens us. We desire to become famous. We long to see our pictures in the papers. We are greatly pleased when our activities, however insignificant, are given publicity. Sometimes we seek undue publicity too. We must agree that human natue is to feel pleasant and happy when our fame is spread far and wide. But through our practical experience, fame and glory are passing away; sooner or later they will vanish. To obtain honour, some are prepared to offer gratification or give substantial donations to those in power. For the sake of publicity, some exhibit their generosity by giving alms to a hundred monks and nuns and even more, but they may be totally indifferent to the sufferings of the poor and the needy in the neighbourhood. According to the Sutra In Forty-Two Sections, Chapter 21, the Buddha said: “There are people who follow emotion and desire and seek for fame. By the time their reputation is established, they are already dead. Those who are greedy for worldly fame do not study the Way and wear themselves out in wasted effort. It is just like a stick of burning incense which, however fragrant its scent, consumes itself. So too, greed for fame brings the danger of a fire which burns one up in its aftermath.”

The fourth poisonous wind is Dishonour: We will surely perturbed when receiving dishonour. This is again the human nature. It takes a long long time to build up a good reputation, but in no time the hard-earning good name can be ruined. This matter is not difficult to understand because human nature is always like that, we always like to praise ourselves and to dishonour others. Nobody is exempt from the ill-famed remark even the Buddha. You may live the life of a Buddha, but you will not be exempt from criticisms, attacks, and insults. At the time of the Buddha, the Buddha was the most famous for his virtues, but he was the one who received the most criticisms, attacks and insults. Some antagonists of the Buddha spread a rumour that a woman used to spend the night in the monastery, but they failed because noone believed them. Having failed in this mean attempt, thay spread false news among the people that the Buddha and his disciples murdered that very woman and hid her corpse in the rubbish-heap of withered flowers within the monastery. The conspirators admitted that they were the culprits. It is needless to waste time in correcting the false reports unless circumstances compel you to necessitate a clarification. The enemy is gratified when he sees that you are hurt. That is what he actually expects. If you are indifferent, such misrepresentations wil fal on deaf ears. It is not possible to put a stop to false accusations, reports and rumours; therefore, in The Gems of Buddhism Wisdom, most Venerable Dhammananda taught: In seeing the faults of others, we should behave like a blind person. In hearing unjust criticism of others, we should behave like a deaf person. In speaking ill of others, we should behave like a dumb person. Dogs bark, but the caravans move on peacefully. We should expect mud to be thrown at us instead of roses. Then there will be no disappointments. Though difficult, we should try to cultivate nonattachment. Alone we come, alone we go. Nonattachment is happiness in this world. Unmindful of the poisonous darts of uncurbed tongues, alone we should wander serving others to the best of our ability. It is rather strange that great men have been slandered, vilified, poisoned, crucified or shot. Great Socrates was poisoned, Noble Jesus Christ, and Gandhi was shot, etc. The world is full of thorns and pebbles. It is impossible to remove them all. But if we have to walk, in spite of such obstacles, instead of trying to remove them, which is impossible, it is advisable to wear a pair of slippers and walk harmlessly. In The Dhammapada Sutta, the Buddha taught: Be like a lion that trembles not at sounds. Be like the wind that does not cling to the meshes of a net. Be like a lotus that is not contaminated by the mud from which it springs. We are living in a muddy world. Numerous lotuses spring therefrom without being contaminated by the mud, they adorn the world. Like lotuses we should try to lead blameless and noble lives, unmindful of the mud that may be thrown at us. Wander alone like a rhinoceros. Being the kings of the forest, lions are fearless. By nature they are not frightened by the roaring of other animals. In this world, we may hear adverse reports, false accusations, degrading remarks of uncurbed tongues. Like a lion, we should not even listen to them. Like a boomerang, false reports will end where they began. Great men are indifferent to honour, or dishonour. They are not upset when they are criticized or maligned for they work not for fame, nor for name or honour. They are indifferent whether others recognize their services or not. To work, they have the right but not to the fruit thereof.

The fifth poisonous wind is Praise: Special characteristics of Pasamsa is that it is natural to be happy when praised and to be depressed when blamed. Praise, if worthy, is pleasing to the ears. If unworthy, as in the case of flattery, though pleasing, it is deceptive. However, they all are sounds which will produce no effect if they do not reach our ears. From a worldly standpoint, a word of praise may bring forth special grace, special benefit, or special authority. The wise man do not resort to flattery; nor do they wish to be flattered by others. The praiseworthy, they praise without being envious. The blameworthy, they blame not contemptuously but out of compassion with the object of reforming others. In summary, the praiseworthy, one should praise seriousnessly. According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 27, there are ten praise-worthy qualities. In the concentration of the differentiated bodies of all sentient beings, Enlightening Beings are lauded for ten praise-worthy qualities. First, enter into True Thusness, and so are called Tathagata, those who have arrived at Thusness. Seceond, are aware of all truths, and so called Buddha, Enlightened. Third, are praised by all worlds, and so are called teachers of truth. Fourth, know all things, and so are called omniscient. Fifth, are resorted by all worlds, and so are called refuge. Sixth, have mastered all teaching methods, and so are called the guides. Seventh, lead all beings into universal knowledge, and so are called great leaders. Eighth, are lamps for all worlds, and so are called light. The ninth praise-worthy quality includes their aspirations are fulfilled; they have accomplished salvation; they have done their tasks; they abide in unobstructed knowledge; and individually know all things, so they are called adepts of the ten powers. Tenth, thoroughly comprehend all cycles of the Teaching, so they are called all-seers.

The sixth poisonous wind is Blame: Most of ordinary people are prone to seek the ugliness in others but not the good and beautiful. A sincere Buddhist should follow the Buddha’s teaching in dealing with “Praise and blame” in the secular world. For instance, assume that blame has just been made about you or your work. Very often in such a situation you may feel insulted. Your ego may be damaged. But before you let such thought to arise, examine that blame objectively. On the one hand, if the blame given is well-founded and arises with good intention, you should accept that blame in good faith so as to use it constructively for self-improvement. On the other hand, if it is unjust, ill-founded and given with bad intention, there is still no reason to lose your temper and damage your own mental health. Just ignore the blame since it is untrue and you are under no obligation to accept it. The ancient said: “The uncultivated man always blames others; the cultivated man blames himself most of the time, and the fully-cultivated man blames no one.” A sincere Buddhist should learn to face and handle his problems like the fully-cultivated man that the ancient just taught. A sincere Buddhist should never try to find a scapegoat on which to place the blame. A sincere Buddhist should not try to blame anyone, not even on himself or herself, for, to Buddhism, blaming on others or on self, is a negative attitude and will not help the person advance on the cultivating path to perfect himself or herself. Instead of blaming on anyone, a sincere Buddhist should have the courage and understanding for a better solution to the problem. This should be more positive, and a positive frame of mind will help solve many problems, and also make the world a much better place to live for everyone. The Buddha says: “Those who speak much are blamed, those who speak little are blamed, and those who are silent are also blamed. In this world there is none who is not blamed.” In this world, except the Buddha, nobody is perfectly good and nobody is totally bad. Blame seems to be a universal legacy of people, for one may serve and help others to the best of one’s ability; however latter, those very persons whom one has helped will not only find fault with him who once incurred debts or sold property to save them; but they will also rejoice in his downfall. On one occasion, the Buddha was invited by a Brahmin to his house for alms. When the Buddha arrived at his house, instead of entertaining the Buddha, he poured a torrent of abuse with the filthiest words. The Buddha politely inquired, “Do visitors come to your house, good Brahmin?” The Brahmin said: “Yes.” The Buddha asked: “What do you do when the visitors come?” The Brahmin replied: “Oh, we prepare a sumptuous feast.” If they don’t eat the food you serve, then what would you do?” The Brahmin said: “We gladly partake of it.” The Buddha then said: “Well, good Brahmin, you have invited me for alms and you have entertained me with abuse. I accept nothing. Please take it back.” Through this story, we see that the Buddha did not retaliate. The Buddha exhorts: “Hatreds do not cease through hatreds but through love alone they cease.” Sincere Buddhists should always remember the Buddha’s teaching: “Whoever harms a harmless person who is pure and guiltless, the evil falls back upon that fool, like dust thrown against the wind.” (Dhammapada 125). The Buddha says: “He who can keep silent himself when attacked, insulted and abused, he is in the presence of Nirvana although he has not yet attained Nirvana.” In history, there was no teacher so highly praised as the Buddha and so severely criticized, reviled and blamed as the Buddha. When the Buddha arrived at a Brahman village to beg for alms, non-Buddhists accused the Buddha and his disciples of murdering a woman, and they criticized the Buddha to such an extent that the Venerable Ananda appealed to the Buddha to leave for another village. The Buddha said: “How, Ananda, if those villagers also abuse us?” Ananda replied: “Well then, Lord, we will proceed to another village.” The Buddha then reminded Ananda: “Then, Ananda, the whole of India will have no place for us. Be patient. These abuses will automatically cease.”

The seventh poisonous wind is Dukkha: The Buddha teaches that suffering is everywhere, suffering is already enclosed in the cause, suffering from the effect, suffering throughout time, suffering pervades space, and suffering governs both philistine and saint. Suffering is already enclosed in the cause; so it is said that the Bodhisattva fears the cause while the philistine fears the effect. In fact, human beings do not care about the cause when doing what they want. They only fear when they have to suffer from their wrong-doings. Suffering from the effect; we always reap what we have sown. This is a natural law, but some people do not know it; instead they blame God or deities for their misfortune. Suffering throughout time; humankind has suffered from time immemorial till now, because suffering never ceases; it is part of the law of causality. Suffering throughout space; suffering goes together with ignorance. Since ignorance is everywhere, in this world as well as in the innumerable other worlds, sufering also follows it. Suffering governs both philistine and saint. Those people who are damned in Hell, in the realm of the starved ghosts, the animals, and Asura undergo all kinds of suffering. Human beings driven by greed, anger, and ignorance are condemned to suffer. Deities, when their bliss is over, suffer from their decay body. All saints of Hinayana school, except the Arhats, including the Stream Enterer, the Once-Returner, the Non-Returner who are still infatuated with their so-called attainment, are subject to the suffering from the cycle of birth and death. Only the Bodhisattvas are exempt from suffering since they voluntarily engage themselves in the cycle in order to save people with their six Noble Paramita Saving Devices.

The eighth poisonous wind is Sukkha: According to the Abhidharma, “Sukha” is a jhana factor meaning pleasant mental feeling. It is identical with “joy” or “bliss.” Sukha is identical with Somanassa, joy, and not with the sukha of pleasant bodily feeling that accompanies wholesome-resultant body-consciousness. This “Sukha” rendered as bliss, is born detachment from sensual pleausres; it is therefore explained as unworldly or spiritual happiness (niramisasukha). Though “Piti” and “Sukha” are closely connected, they are distinguished in that “Piti” is a conative factor belonging to the aggregate of mental formations, while “Sukha” is a feeling belong to the aggregate of feeling. “Piti” is compared to the delight a weary traveler would experience when coming across an oasis, “Sukha” to his pleasure after bathing and drinking. “Sukha” helps us encountering the hindrances of restlessness and worry.

According to Most Venerable Thich Giac Nhiên (President of the International Sangha Buddhist Bhiksu Order), the eight winds that blow people who lack samadhi-power. They are dharmas that test our mind, to see whether adverse or favorable situations will upset our equilibrium. If they upset us, our cultivation still lacks maturity and we are deficient in the power of samadhi. The first wind is Praise: This means adulation (flattery). When others praise us, it tastes as sweet as honey; it is a comfortable sensation. The second wind is Ridicule: This means somebody makes fun of us. If someone mock us, even a little, we can not stand it, and it is a very uncomfortable sensation. The third wind is Pain: This means suffering. When we experience a little bit of suffering, we become afflicted. Whenever suffering befalls us, it is a test to see whether or not we can forbear it. The fourth wind is Pleasure: This refers to happiness. We should not let a little happiness overwhelm us. All kinds of happy states are tests, to see what we will do with them. The fifth wind is Gain: This refers to getting advantages. We become pleased when we gain benefits and are sad when we lose them. This shows a lack of samadhi-power. The sixth wind is Loss: This refers to failure. No matter what difficulties arise, we ought to take them in stride and not be upset when we lose out. The seventh wind is Defamation: This means slander. If someone insults us and spreads tales about us, we should not mind. We should let it pass, come what may. The entire episode will eventually calm down all by itself. The eighth wind is Honor: This refers to situations of exaltation. If we are praised by someone and he makes our name known, we should take it in stride and regard glory and honor as no more important than forst on the window pane at dawn.

When these eight winds blow, men find themselves torn between them, they try to run to one end to flee the other. But when the mind is poised in the tranquil state of meditation, it can remain steadfast like a mountain, even when we are subjected to all kinds of abuse. The Buddha had a lay disciple who often neglected his wife in order to practice the Way or to go to listen to the Buddha’s teachings. This made his wife feel very angry. She was angry not only with her husband, but also with the Buddha. She believed that the Buddha was using some mystical power to steal her husband. One day, after her husband had come home late, she went to the Buddha and yelled at Him with very harsh words. The Buddha sat listening quietly without speaking a word. His disciples tried to push the woman away, but the Buddha instructed them not to do that. The woman continued to yell at the Buddha and then left when she was tired. After she left, the Buddha asked his disciples: “If someone offers you a gift that you like, what would you do?” The disciples replied: “Lord, we would accept it.” The Buddha asked again: “If someone offers you a gift that you do not like, what would you do?” The disciples replied: “Lord, we would not accept it.” The Buddha added: “If you did not accept it, what would become of it?” The disciples replied: “It would remain in the owner’s hands.” The Buddha continued: “Now just that has happened with the woman who was here. She offered me a disagreeable gift, and I did not accept it. So that gift is still in her hands.” Thus, if we do not go after these poisonous winds of gain, loss, fame, defamation, praise, ridicule, sorrow, and joy... there is no way they can impact us.

In the Sung Dynasty, a poet named Su Tung Po was adept in Buddhist study. Although his skill in Zen concentration was immature, he felt himself to be quite accomplished. One day, feeling exuberant and possessed by a sudden inspiration, he penned a verse:

“I pay my respect to the chief of gods,
Whose hairmark-light illumines the universe;
The Eight Winds blow me not, as I
Meditate on this purple-golden lotus.”

He thought he had already gained enlightenment, and he wanted this enlightenment certified by Zen Master Foyin. Thereupon, he sent his servant to Gold Mountain Monastery across the river from his home. The elderly Zen Master took a look at the verse the messenger handed him and wrote two words on the paper: “Fart! Fart!” and told the attendant to take the message back. Su Tung Po read the reply and blew up in a fit of anger. He thundered, “How dare you! This is my enlightenment testimonial; how dare you call it a fart?” He promptly rowed across the river to talk with the Zen Master. Unexpectedly, as soon as he reached the gate of Gold Mountain, Zen Master Foyin was waiting for him, to say “Oh, welcome! Welcome to the Great Adept Su Tung Po, one who is unmoved by the Eight Winds, but who let a couple of tiny farts blow him all the way across the river. Welcome!” The two were old friends and fellow cultivators, and they were in the habit of joking with each other. Su Tung Po’s vocanic anger, right on the verge of exploding, was cooled off completely by the truth Zen Master Foyin’s statement. All he could do was admit that his samadhi still lacked maturity and bow Master Foyin. He apologized for making a scene, and thereafter he avoided bragging. Zen skill is proven by practice, not by skill of mouth. If we do not practice what we preach, it does not count.


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