Hãy lắng nghe trước khi nói. Hãy suy ngẫm trước khi viết. Hãy kiếm tiền trước khi tiêu pha. Hãy dành dụm trước khi nghỉ hưu. Hãy khảo sát trước khi đầu tư. Hãy chờ đợi trước khi phê phán. Hãy tha thứ trước khi cầu nguyện. Hãy cố gắng trước khi bỏ cuộc. Và hãy cho đi trước khi từ giã cuộc đời này. (Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you retire, save. Before you invest, investigate. Before you critisize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you die, give. )Sưu tầm
Trong cuộc sống, điều quan trọng không phải bạn đang ở hoàn cảnh nào mà là bạn đang hướng đến mục đích gì. (The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand as in what direction you are moving. )Oliver Wendell Holmes
Người thực hành ít ham muốn thì lòng được thản nhiên, không phải lo sợ chi cả, cho dù gặp việc thế nào cũng tự thấy đầy đủ.Kinh Lời dạy cuối cùng
Rời bỏ uế trược, khéo nghiêm trì giới luật, sống khắc kỷ và chân thật, người như thế mới xứng đáng mặc áo cà-sa.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 10)
Chúng ta trở nên thông thái không phải vì nhớ lại quá khứ, mà vì có trách nhiệm đối với tương lai. (We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.)George Bernard Shaw
Hãy học cách vui thích với những gì bạn có trong khi theo đuổi tất cả những gì bạn muốn. (Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want. )Jim Rohn
Cuộc sống ở thế giới này trở thành nguy hiểm không phải vì những kẻ xấu ác, mà bởi những con người vô cảm không làm bất cứ điều gì trước cái ác. (The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.)Albert Einstein
Người hiền lìa bỏ không bàn đến những điều tham dục.Kẻ trí không còn niệm mừng lo, nên chẳng bị lay động vì sự khổ hay vui.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 83)
Chúng ta thay đổi cuộc đời này từ việc thay đổi trái tim mình. (You change your life by changing your heart.)Max Lucado
Hầu hết mọi người đều cho rằng sự thông minh tạo nên một nhà khoa học lớn. Nhưng họ đã lầm, chính nhân cách mới làm nên điều đó. (Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.)Albert Einstein

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Essential Summaries of Buddhist Teachings
»» Chapter 109 - Chapter 120

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Phật Giáo Yếu Lược - Chương 109 - Chương 120

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Chapter 109. Emptiness

Emptiness or void, central notion of Buddhism recognized that all composite things are empty (samskrita), impermanent (anitya) and void of an essence (anatamn). That is to say all phenomena lack an essence or self, are dependent upon causes and conditions, and so, lack inherent existence. Thus, a person is said to be empty of being a “self” because he is composed of parts that are constantly changing and entirely dependent upon causes and conditions. However, the concept of emptiness is viewed by Buddhists as a positive perspective on reality, because it implies that everything is constantly changing, and is thus open toward the future. If things possessed an unchanging essence, all beings would be stuck in their present situations, and real change would be impossible. Devout Buddhists should try to attain the realization of emptiness in order to develop the ability to detach on everything, and utilize all the available time to practice the Buddha-teachings. The more we practice the Buddha’s teachings, the more we approach the attainment of wisdom, that is to say the more we are able to reach the “direct realization of emptiness,” and we realize the “emptiness of all things,” the more we can reach the “perfection of wisdom.”

The term “Sunyata” terminologically compounded of “Sunya” meaning empty, void, or hollow, and an abstract suffix “ta” meaning “ness”. The term was extremely difficult to be translated into Chinese; however, we can translate into English as “Emptiness,” “Voidness,” or “Vacuity.” The concept of this term was essentially both logical and dialectical. The difficulty in understanding this concept is due to its transcendental meaning in relation to the logico-linguistic meaning, especially because the etymological tracing of its meaning (sunyata meaning vacuous or hollow within a shape of thing) provides no theoretical or practical addition to one’s understanding of the concept. According to Dr. Harsh Narayan, Sunyavada is complete and pure Nihilism. Sunyata is a negativism which radically empties existence up to the last consequences of Negation. The thinkers of Yogacara school describe “Sunyata” as total Nihilism. Dr. Radhakrishnan says that absolute seems to be immobile in its absoluteness. Dr. Murti views Prajna-paramita as absolute itself and said: “The absolute is very often termed sunya, as it is devoid of all predicates.” According to Chinese-English Buddhist Dictionary, “the nature void, i.e., the immaterialityof the nature of all things” is the basic meaning of “Sunyata”.

According to other Mahayana sutras, “Sunyata” means the true nature of emperical Reality. It is considered as beyond the Negation or Indescribable. The Buddha used a number of similes in the Nikayas to point out the unreality of dharmas of every kind and it is these similes that have been later used with great effectiveness in Mahayana philosophical schools, especially of Chinese Buddhist thinkers. Emptiness implies non-obstruction... like space or the Void, it exists within many things but never hinders or obstructs anything. Emptiness implies omnipresence... like the Void, it is ubiquitous; it embraces everything everywhere. Emptiness implies equality... like the Void, it is equal to all; it makes no discrimination anywhere. Emptiness implies vastness... like the Void, it is vast, broad and infinite. Emptiness implies formlessness or shapelessness... like the Void, it is without form or mark. Emptiness implies purity... like the Void, it is always pure without defilement. Emptiness implies motionlessness... like the Void, it is always at rest, rising above the processes of construction and destruction. Emptiness impliesthe positive negation... it negates all that which has limits or ends. Emptiness implies the negation of negation... it negates all Selfhood and destroys the clinging of Emptiness. Emptiness implies unobtainability or ungraspability... space or the Void, it is not obtainable or graspable.

At the beginning of Madhyamika Sastra, Nagarjuna gives the fundamentals of his philosophy by means of eight negations. There is neither origination, nor cessation, neither permanence nor impermanence, neither unity nor diversity, neither coming-in nor going-out, in the law of Pratityasamutpada (Dependent Origination). Essentially, there is only non-origination which is equated with Sunyata. Elsewhere he also states that Pratityasamutpada is called Sunyata. Here Sunyata referring as it does to non-origination, is in reality the Middle path which avoids the two basic views of existence and non-existence. Sunyata is the relative existence of things, or a kind of relativity. So, according to the Madhyamika, sunyata does not means absolute non-being, but relative being. Emptiness implies the true nature of empirical Reality or what is the same, the form of true nature of all phenomena. This subject matter of sunyata will cover all the questions concerning the Buddhist outlooks on life and world. Nagarjuna claimed Sunyata as the true nature of empirical Reality: “With sunyata, all is possible; without it, all is impossible”. In the Prajna-Paramita Sutra, Sunyata refers to the world of enlightenment, but it also stated that this world of enlightenment is not separate from the world of delusion: “The world of illusion is identical with the world of enlightenment (form is identical with void), and the world of enlightenment is identical with the world of illusion (void is identical with form).”

The purpose of Sunyata refers to the objective of extinguishing linguistic proliferation and the efforts leading towards this objective: “Sunyata corresponds to ultimate truth, namely, the state in which linguistic proliferation has been extinguished; and the meaning of Sunyata signifies all existent relating to our everyday life in which Sunyata is an actual established fact.” The term ‘Emptiness’ or ‘Sunyata’ is mainly used as a means to achieve Nirvana or Salvation. Psychologically, ‘Sunyata’ is detachment. The teaching of Sunyata is to empty the mind of cravings. Morally, this negation has a positive effect, namely, preventing one from doing evils and making one love oneself and others. It is to foster the virtue of compassion. Epistemologically, Sunyata is an unattached insight that truth is not absolutely true. It teaches that discursive knowledge does not provide true wisdom and that enlightenment is the abandonment of conceptual thinking. Metaphysically, Sunyata means that all things are devoid of definite nature, characteristic and function, and that metaphysical views are unintelligible and should be discarded. Spiritually, Sunyata is freedom, Nirvana or liberation from suffering of the world. Emptiness is not a theory, but a ladder that reaches out into the infinite. A ladder is not there to be discussed, but to be climbed. If one does not even take the first steps on it, it is no use to have the ladder. Thus, Emptiness is a practical concept for cultivation, not a view for discussion. The only use of the Emptiness is to help us get rid of this world and of the ignorance which binds us to it. It has only one meaning which is to help us transcend the world through wisdom.

According to the Culla Sunnata Sutta, the Buddha affirmed Ananda: “Ananda, through abiding in the ‘emptiness’, I am now abiding in the complete abode or the fullness of transcendence.” So, what is the emptiness from that the Buddha abides in the fullness of transcendence? It is nothing else but “Nirvana”. It is empty of cankers of sense-pleasure, becoming and ignorance. Therefore, in meditation, practitioners try to reduce or eliminate the amount of conscious contents until the mind is completely motionless and empty. The highest level of meditation, the ceasing of ideation and feeling, is often used as a stepping stone to realization of Nirvana. The Buddha told Sariputra about Emptiness as follows: “In Emptiness there are no form, no feelings, no perceptions, no actions, no consciousnesses; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, and no mind; no form, sound, odour, taste, touch or mind object; no eye-elements until we come to no elements of consciousnesses; no ignorance and no extinction of ignorance; no old age and death, and no extinction of old age and death; no truth of sufferings, no truth of cause of sufferings, of the cessation of sufferings or of the path. There is no knowledge and no attainment whatsoever. By reason of non-attachment, the Bodhisattva dwelling in Prajnaparamita has no obstacles in his mind. Because there is no obstacle in his mind, he has no fear, and going far beyond all perverted view, all confusions and imaginations... This is a real Nirvana!”

From the standpoint of the Absolute, Sunyata means “Devoid of, or completely free of thought construct, devoid of plurality.” In other words, sunyata as applied to tattva signifies that: it is inexpressible in human language; that ‘is’, ‘not is’, ‘both is’, and ‘not is’, ‘neither is’ nor ‘not is’, no thought, category or predicative can be applied to it. It is transcendental to thought; it is free of plurality, that it is a Whole which can not be sundered into parts. The most striking feature of Madhyamaka philosophy is its ever, recurring use of “sunya” and “sunyata.” So central is this idea to the system that it is generally known as “Sunyavada,” i.e., the philosophy that asserts “Sunya” as the characterization of Reality. Sunya is a most perplexing word in Buddhist philosophy. Non-Buddhists have interpreted it only as nihilism. But that is not what it means. Etymonogically it is derived from the root “svi” which means “to swell” or “to expand.” Curiously enough, the word Brahman is derived from the root “brh” or “brhm” which also means “to swell” or “to expand.” According to the Buddha’s teaching on Sunya tattva and the ‘sunya principle’, the word sunya seems to have been used in an ontological sense in most of Buddhist contexts. The implication of the etymological signification of the word does not seem to have been fully worked out. According to some scholars the word “sunya” has no ontological signification. It has only a soteriological suggestion. But the word “sunya” has obviously been used also in an ontological sense with an axiological overtone and soteriological background. In the ontological sense, “sunya” is the void which is also fullness. Because it is nothing in particular, it has the possibility of everything. It has been identified with Nirvana, with the Absolute, with Supreme Reality or Paramartha, with Reality or Tattva.

Sunyata is an abstract noun derived from “sunya.” It means deprivation and suggests fulfillment. The word “sunya” and “sunyata” will best be understood in connexion with “svabhava.” Svabhava literally means ‘own being.’ Candrakirti says that this word has been used in Buddhist philosophy in two ways: the essence or special property of a thing, e.g., ‘heat is the svabhava or special property of fire.’ In this world an attribute which always accompanies an object, never parts from it, that, not being indissolubly connected with any thing else, is known as the svabhava, i.e., special property of that object; svabhava (own-being) as the contrary of parabhava (other-being). Candrakirti says, “Svabhava is the own being, the very nature of a thing.” While Nagarjuna says: “That is really svabhava which is not brought about by anything else, unproduced (akrtrimah), that which is not dependent on, not relative to anything other than itself, non-contingent, unconditioned.” The word “sunya” has to be understood from two points of view. First, from the point of view of phenomena or empirical reality, it means “svabhava-sunya,” i.e. devoid of svabhava or independent, substantial reality of its own. Second, from the point of view of the Absolute, it means “prapanca-sunya,” i.e. devoid of prapanca or verbalization , thought construct and plurality. According to Buddhism, there is not a thing in the world which is unconditionally, absolutely real. Everything is related to, contingent upon, conditioned by something else.

In reference to “vyavahara” or empirical reality, sunyata means devoidness of self-being, of unconditioned nature (naihsvabhava). In other words, it connotes conditioned co-production or thorough going relativity (pratiyasamutpada). This idea is conveyed in another way by the term, “derived name” (upadayaprajnapti) which means that the presence of a name does not mean the reality of the named. Candrakirti says “A chariot is so named by taking into account its parts like wheel, etc; it does not mean that the chariot is something different in its own right apart from its constituent parts.” This is another instant of relativity. As relativity, sunyata also connotes the relative, non-absolute nature of specific views. Sunyata exposes the folly of accepting any absolute beginning or total cessation and thus connotes taking things as they are and avoiding the extremes ‘is’ and ‘is not’ (madhyamapratipat). Over and above these views, there are other senses in which the word sunyata has been used in Madhyamaka philosophy. In reference to “ultimate reality” (paramartha), sunyata connotes the non-conceptual nature of the absolute. In reference to the practitioner, sunyata implies his attitude of skillfulness of non-clinging to the relative as the absolute or to the absolute as something specific (aunpalambha). The Mahaprajna-paramita Sastra brings out another implication of the sunyata principle, the irrepressible longing for the Real, beyond the passing show of mundane life.

Sunyata is not merely a word of ontological signification. It has also an axiological implication. Since all empirical things are devoid of substantial reality, therefore they are ‘worthless’. It is because of our ignorance that we attach so much value to worldly things. Once sunyata is properly understood, the inordinate craving for such things will automatically disappear. Sunyata is not merely an intellectual concept. Its realization is a means in salvation. When rightly grasped, it leads to the negation of the multiplicity of the dharmas and of detachment from the ‘passing show’ of the tempting things of life. Meditation on sunyata leads to transcendental wisdom (prajna) which brings about the emancipation of the practitioner from spiritual darkness. Nagarjuna puts the quintessence of his teachings about sunyata in the following verse: “Emancipation is obtained by the dissolution of selfish deeds and passions. All selfish deeds and passions are by imaginative constructs which value worthless things as full of worth. The imaginative constructs (vikalpas) are born of activity of the mind ceases when Sunyata, emptiness or hollowness of things is realized.” Sunyata is used in Madhayamka philosophy as a symbol of the inexpressible. In calling Reality sunya, the Madhyamika only means to say that it is inexpressible (avacya, anabhilapya). In the very first verse of Madhyamaka Karida, Nagarjuna makes the standpoint of Sunyavada luminously Prominent. The standpoint consists of the eight notions: Beyond destruction, beyond production, beyond dissolution, beyond eternity, beyond oneness, beyond plurality, beyond ingress, beyond egress.

Chapter 110. Sentient Beings

Sentient beings include the living beings and things. The living beings or the sentient are those with emotions and wisdom; while things, or insentient things are those without emotions nor wisdom. Therefore, sentient beings or those with emtions (the living) or those who possess consciousness; while insentient things or those without emotions. Insentient things survive through the means of their own beings, from sunlight, earth and air. Plants are not considered sentient beings because they do not possess consciousness. Conscious beings or sentient beings which possess magical and spiritual powers. All the living, which includes the vegetable kingdom; however, the term “sattva” limits the meaning to those endowed with reason, consciousness, and feeling; or those who are sentient, sensible, animate, and rational. According to Buddhism, any living being who has a consciousness, including those of the six realms (heaven, human, asura, animal, hungry ghost, and hell). All sentient beings can be said to have inherent enlightenment or Buddha-nature. The term “Living beings” refer to all creatures that possess life-force. Each individual living being comes into being as the result of a variety of different causes and conditions. The smallest living beings as ants, mosquitoes, or even the most tiniest parasites are living beings. However, the majority of conscious beings are ordinary people who always examine themselves and realize they are just unenlightened mortal filled with greed, hatred and ignorance, as well as an accumulation of infinite other transgressions in the past, present and future. From realizing this, they develop a sense of shame and then vow to change their way, be remorseful, repent, and give their best to cultivate with vigor such as chanting sutra, reciting the Buddha’s name, or sitting meditation, seeking to quickly end karmic obstructions and to attain enlightenment in a very near future.

In Buddhist philosophy, a sentient being is one who has a mind, that is, something that is aware of its surroundings and is capable of volitional activity. In Buddhist psychological literature, the minimum necessary requirements for something to be a sentient being are the five “omni-present mental factors” (sarvatraga): 1) feeling (vedana); 2) discrimination (samjna); 3) intention (cetana); 4) mental activity (manasikara); 5) contact (sparsa). Beings are different in various ways, including the good and bad seeds they possess. Each being creates karma and undergoes its individual retribution. This process evolves from distinctions that occur in the five skandhas. Every being is a combination of five elements: rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, and vinnana. Hence, one being is not essentially different from another, an ordinary man is not different from a perfect saint. But is the nature and proportion of each of the five constituents existing in an individual be taken into account, then one being is different from another, an ordinary man is different from a perfect saint. The combination of elements is the outcome of Karma and is happening every moment, implying that the disintegration of elements always precedes it. The elements in a combined state pass as an individual, and from time immemorial he works under misconception of a self and of things relating to a self. His vision being distorted or obscured by ignorance of the truth he can not perceive the momentary combination and disintegration of elements. On the other hand, he is subject to an inclination for them. A perfect man with his vision cleared by the Buddhist practices and culture realizes the real state of empirical things that an individual consists of the five elements and does not possess a permanent and unchanging entity called soul.

According to Buddhism, physically speaking, there are four kinds of beings, including living and non-living beings: flying, swimming, walking, and plants. Those with blood and breath are called animals, and plants refer to all kinds of grasses, trees, and flower-plants. Where do all those four kinds of beings come from? What is their origin? According to Buddhism, their origin is the Buddha-nature. If there was no Buddha-nature, everything would be annihilated. The Buddha-nature is the only thing that passes through ten thousand generations and all time without being destroyed. From the Buddha-nature come Bodhisattvas, Hearers (Enlightened to Conditions), gods, asuras, people, animals, ghosts, and hell-beings. Those are beings of the ten dharma realms, and the ten dharma realms are not apart from a single thought of the mind. This single thought of the mind is just the seed of the Buddha-nature. One true-thought is just another name for the Buddha-nature. Those living beings include beings which are born through the womb; those born through eggs; those born through moisture; and those born through transformation or metamorphoses such as a worm transforming to become a butterfly.

According to The Lankavatara Sutra, from the religious point of view, there are five orders of beings: First of all, those who belong to the Sravaka order are delighted at listening to such doctrines as concern the Skandhas, Dhatus, or Ayatanas, but take no special interest in the theory of causation, who have cut themselves loose from the bondage of evil passions but have not yet destroyed their habit-energy. They have attained the realization of Nirvana, abiding in which state they would declare that they have put an end to existence, their life of morality is now attained, all that is to be done is done, they would not be reborn. These have gained an insight into the non-existence of an ego-substance in a person but not yet into that in objects. These philosophical leaders who believe in a creator or in the ego-soul may also be classified under this order. Second, the Pratyekabuddha order comprises those who are intensely interested in anything that leads them to the realization of Pratyekabuddhahood. They would retire into solitude and have no attachment to worldly things. When they hear that the Buddha manifests himself in a variety of forms, sometimes in group, sometimes singly, exhibiting miraculous powers, they think these are meant for their own order, and immensely delighted in them they would follow and accept them. Third, those of the Tathagata order, or those who may listen to discourse on such subjects as manifestations of mind, or transcendental realm of the Alaya, from which starts this world of particulars, and yet they may not at all feel astonished or frightened. The Tathagata order may be again divided into three: those who gain an insight into the truth that there is no individual reality behind one perceives; those who know that there is an immediate perception of the truth in one’s inmost consciousness; those who perceive that besides this world there are a great number of Buddha-lands wide and far-extending. Fourth, those who belong to no definite order, or those who are of the indeterminate nature. For those who belong to it may take to either one of the above three orders according to their opportunities. Fifth, those who are altogether outside these orders. There is still another class of beings which cannot be comprised under any of the four already mentiond; for they have no desire whatever for emancipation, and without this desire no religious teaching can enter into any heart. They belong to the Icchantika order. Icchantika is a Sanskrit word which means “incomplete faith” and “lacking good roots.” A class of beings who have cut off all their virtuous roots (kusala mula) and so have no hope of attaining buddhahood. The status of icchantikas was once an important topic of debate in East Asian Buddhism, with some groups claiming that they are unable to attain liberation, while others asserted that all beings, including icchantikas, have the buddha-nature, and so the virtuous roots may be re-established. Bhiksus who refuse to enter upon their Buddhahood in order to save all beings. Icchantika is one who cuts off his roots of goodness. The Atyantika are people who are extremely evil and wicked, having lost all senses of goodness. It is impossible to change, transform, or influence them to take a cultivated path. However, this also applied to a Bodhisattva who has made his vow not to become a Buddha until all beings are saved. In the Lankavatara Sutra, he Buddha reminded Mahamati: “Oh Mahamati, the Bodhisattva-icchantika knowing that all things are in Nirvana from the beginning refrains forever from entering into Nirvana. Two sub-classes, however, may be distinguished here. Those who have forsaken all roots of merit, or those who vilify the doctrines meant for the Bodhisattvas, saying that they are not in accordance with the sacred texts, rules of morality, and the doctrine of emancipation. Because of this vilification they forsake all the roots of merit and do not enter into Nirvana. Those who have vowed at the beginning to save all beings. They are Bodhisattvas who wish to lead all beings to Nirvana. Deny themselves of this bliss. They vowed in the beginning of their religious career that until everyone of their fellow-beings is led to enjoy the eternal happiness of Nirvana, they themselves would not leave this world of pain and suffering, but must strenuously and with every possible means work toward the completion of their mission. But as there will be no termination of life as long as the universe continues to exist, Bodhisattvas may have no chance for ever to rest themselves quietly with their work finished in the serenity of Nirvana. The time will come even to those who speak evil of the Bodhisattvayana when through the power of the Buddhas they finally embrace the Mahayana and by amassing stock of merit enter into Nirvana, for the Buddhas are always working for the benefit of all beings no matter what they are. But as for Bodhisattvas they never enter into Nirvana as they have a deep insight into the nature of things which are already in Nirvana even as they are. Thus, we know where Bodhisattvas stand in their never-ending task of leading all beings into the final abode of rest.

According to the Mahanidana sutta and the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are seven stations of consciousness: there are beings different in body and different in perception, such as human beings, some evas and some states of woe; there are beings different in body and alike in perception, such as the devas of Brhama’s retinue, born there (on account of having attained) the first jhana; there are beings alike in body and different in perception, such as the Abhassara Devas; there are beings alike in body and alike in perception, such as the Subhakinna devas; there are beings who have completely transcended all perception of matter, by the vanishing of the perception of sense-reactions and by non-attention to the perception of variety; thinking: “Space is infinite,” they have attained to the Sphere of Infinite Space; there are beings who, by transcending the Sphere of Infinite Space, thinking: “Consciousness is infinite,” have attained to the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness; and there are beings who, having transcended the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness, thinking: “There is nothing,” have attained to the Sphere of No-Thingness. There are seven stages of existence in a human world or in any desire world. They are being in the hells, animals, the hungry ghosts, the devas, the human beings, beings of karma, and beings in the intermediate stage. Besides, there are still seven other kinds of sentient beings: hells, hungry ghosts, animals, demons of higher order, humans, non-humans, and gods (a genius or higher spiritual being). According to the Lotus Sutra, there are still eight other beings: deva, naga, yaksa, asura, gadura, kinnara, gandharva, and mahogara.

According to Buddhist tradition, there are nine kinds of beings: First, sense-desire becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of sense-desires; second, fine-material becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of fine material; third, immaterial becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of immaterial; fourth, percipient becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of perception; fifth, non-percipient becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of non-perception; sixth, neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of neither perception nor non-perception; seventh, one-constituent becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of one constituent; eighth, four-constituent becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of four constituents; ninth, five-constituent becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of five constituents. According to the Sangiti Sutta, there are nine more kinds of sentient beings: beings different in body and different in perception such as human beings, some devas and hells; beings different in body and alike in perception such as new-rebirth Brahma; beings are alike in body and different in perception such as Light-sound heavens (Abhasvara); beings alike in body and alike in perception such as Heavens of pure dwelling; the realm of unconscious beings such as heavens of no-thought; beings who have attained the Sphere of Infinite Space; beings who have attained to the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness; beings who have attained to the Sphere of No-Thingness; and beings who have attained to the Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception.

In the Surangama Sutra, book Seven, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the twelve categories of living beings: 1) Egg-born beings or beings born through egg. Through a continuous process of falseness, the upside-down state of movement occurs in this world. It unites with energy to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that either fly or sink. From this there come into being the egg kalalas which multiply throughout the lands in the form of fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, so that their kinds abound. 2) Womb-born beings or beings born through womb. Through a continuous process of defilement, the upside-down state of desire occurs in this world. It unites with stimulation to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are either upright or perverse. From this there come into being the womb arbudas, which multiply throughout the world in the form of humans, animals, dragons, and immortals until their kinds abound. 3) Moisture-born beings or beings born through moisture. Through a continuous process of attachment, the upside-down state of inclination occurs in this world. It unites with warmth to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are vacillating and inverted. From this there come into being through moisture the appearance of peshis, which multiply throughout the lands in the form of insects and crawling invertebrates, until their kinds abound. 4) Transformation-born beings or beings born through transformation. Through a continuous process of change, the upside-down state of borrowing occurs in this world. It unites with contact to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of new and old. From this there come into being through transformation the appearance of ghanas, which multiply throughout the lands in the form of metamorphic flying and crawling creatures, until their kinds abound. 5) Form-born beings or beings born through form. Through a continuous process of restraint, the upside-down state of obstruction occurs in this world. It unites with attachment to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of refinement and brilliance. From this there come into being the ghanas of appearance that possess form, which multiply throughout the lands in the form of auspicious and inauspicious essences, until their kinds abound. 6) Formless-born beings or beings born through formlessness. Through a continuous process of annihilation and dispersion, the upside-down state of delusion occurs in this world. It unites with darkness to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of obscurity and hiding. From this there come into being the ghanas of formless beings, which multiply throughout the lands as those that are empty, dispersed, annihilated, and submerged until their kinds abound. 7) With thought-born beings or beings born with thoughts. Through a continuous process of illusory imaginings, the upside-down state of shadows occurs in this world. It unites with memory to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are hidden and bound up. From this there come into being the ghanas of those with thought, which multiply throughout the lands in the form of spirits, ghosts, and weird essences, until their kinds abound. 8) Without thought-born beings or beings born without thought. Through a continuous process of dullness and slowness, the upside-down state of stupidity occurs in this world. It unites with obstinancy to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are dry and attenuated. From this there come into being the ghanas of those without thought, which multiply throughout the lands as their essence and spirit change into earth, wood, metal, or stone, until their kinds abound. 9) Not endowed with form-born beings or beings born not endowed with form. Through a continuous process of parasitic interaction, the upside-down state of simulation occurs in this world. It unites with defilement to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of according and relying. From this there come into being those not totally endowed with form, who become ghanas of form which multiply throughout the lands until their kinds abound, in such ways as jellyfish that use shrimp for eyes. 10) Not lacking form-born beings or beings born not toally lacking form. Through a continuous process of mutual enticement, an upside-down state of the nature occurs in this world. It unites with mantras to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of beckoning and summoning. From this there come into being those not totally lacking form, who take ghanas which are formless and multiply throughout the lands, until their kinds abound, as the hiden beings of mantras and incantations. 11) Not totally endowed with thought-born beings or beings born not totally endowed with thought. Through a continuous process of false unity, the upside-down state transgression occurs in this world. It unites with unlike formations to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of reciprocal interchange. From this come into being those not totally endowed with thought, which become ghanas possessing thought and which multiply throughout the lands until their kinds abound in such forms as the varata, which turns a different creature into its own species. 12) Not totally lacking thought-born beings or beings born through not totally lacking thought. Through a continuous proces of empty and harm, the upside-down state of killing occurs in this world. It unites with monstrosities to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of devouring one’s father and mother. From this there come into being those not totally lacking thought, who take ghanas with no thought and multiply throughout the lands, until their kinds abound in such forms as the dirt owl, which hatches its young from clods and dirt, and which incubates a poisonous fruit to create its young. In each case, the young thereupon eat the parents.

According to the Buddha, human beings have not created by a creator god, nor have they been the result of a long process of evolution, as suggested by Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. According to the Buddha’s teachings, , there have always been people, though not necessarily on this planet. The appearance of physical human bodies in any particular location begins with the mental generation of “human karma.” Mind, not physical body, is primary in that process. Human beings are not independent of the other forms of sentient life in the universe and can be reborn in others of the Six Paths of Rebirth. Likewise, other sentient beings can be reborn as human beings. What is ultimately real about all living beings is their Buddha-Nature and that cannot be created or destroyed. At the very beginning, before heaven and earth came into being, there were not any people. There was no earth, no living beings, nor anything called a world. Basically, none of those things existed at all. And then, at the outset of the kalpa, when things were coming into being, people gradually came to exist. Ultimately, where do they come from? Some say that people evolved from monkeys. But what do the monkeys evolve from? If people evolved from monkeys, then why are there no people evolving from monkeys right now? This is really strange. People who propagate this kind of theory basically do not have any understanding. They are just trying to set up some special theory. Why could it not be the case that people evolved from other living beings?

Chapter 111. Five Aggregates

“Skandha” in Sanskrit means “group, aggregate, or heap.” In Buddhism, Skandha means the trunk of a tree, or a body. Skandha also means the five aggregates or five aggregates of conditioned phenomena (constituents), or the five causally conditioned elements of existence forming a being or entity. According to Buddhist philosophy, each individual existence is composed of the five elements and because they are constantly chanching, so those who attempt to cling to the “self” are subject to suffering. Though these factors are often referred to as the “aggregates of attachment” because they are impermanent and changing, ordinary people always develop desires for them. According to The Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra, the five aggregates are composed of form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. Generally speaking, the five aggregates mean men and the world of phenomena. Things that cover or conceal, implying that physical and mental forms obstruct realization of the truth. An accumulation or heap, implying the five physical and mental constituents, which combine to form the intelligence or nature, and rupa. The skandhas refer only to the phenomenal, not to the non-phenomenal. In order to overcome all sufferings and troubles, Buddhists should engage in the practice of profound Prajnaparamita and perceive that the five aggregates are empty of self-existence. The Buddha reminded Sariputra: “O Sariputra, Form is not different from Emptiness, and Emptiness is not different from Form. Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form. The same can be said of feelings, perceptions, actions and consciousnesses.” We, ordinary peole, do not see the five aggregates as phenomena but as an entity because of our deluded minds, and our innate desire to treat these as a self in oder to pander to our self-importance. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five aggregates (Five Skandhas). The aggregates which make up a human being. The five skandhas are the roots of all ignorance. They keep sentient beings from realizing their always-existing Buddha-Nature. The five aggregates are considered as maras or demons fighting against the Buddha-nature of men. In accordance with the Dharma, life is comprised of five aggregates (form, feeling, perception, mental formation, consciousness). Matter plus the four mental factors classified below as feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness combined together from life. The real nature of these five aggregates is explained in the Teaching of the Buddha as follows: “Matter is equated to a heap of foam, feeling is like a bubble, perception is described as a mirage, mental formations are like a banana tree and consciousness is just an illusion.

According to the Surangama Sutra, book Two, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the five skandhas as follows: “Ananda! You have not yet understood that all the defiling objects that appear, all the illusory, ephemeral characteristics, spring up in the very spot where they also come to an end. They are what is called ‘illusory falseness.’ But their nature is in truth the bright substance of wonderful enlightenment. Thus it is throughout, up to the five skandhas and the six entrances, to the twelve places and the eighteen realms; the union and mixture of various causes and conditions account for their illusory and false existence, and the separation and dispersion of the causes and conditions result in their illusory and false extinction. Who would have thought that production, extinction, coming, and going are fundamentally the everlasting, wonderful light of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the unmoving , all-pervading perfection, the wonderful nature of true suchness! If within the true and permanent nature one seeks coming and going, confusion and enlightenment, or birth and death, there is nothing that can be obtained. Ananda! Why do I say that the five skandhas are basically the wonderful nature of true suchness, the treasury of the Thus Come One?” The Buddha taught in the Sati Patthana Sutra: “If you have patience and the will to see things as they truly are. If you would turn inwards to the recesses of your own minds and note with just bare attention (sati), not objectively without projecting an ego into the process, then cultivate this practice for a sufficient length of time, then you will see these five aggregates not as an entity but as a series of physical and mental processes. Then you wil not mistake the superficial for the real. You will then see that these aggregates arise and disappear in rapid succession, never being the same for two consecutive moments, never static but always in a state of flux, never being but always becoming.” And the Buddha continued to teach in the Lankavatara Sutra: “The Tathatagata is neither different nor not-different from the Skandhas.” (Skandhebhyo-nanyo-nanayas-tathagata).

The first aggregate is the Form Skandha: The Form Skandha or the aggregate of matter (four elements of our own body and other material objects such as solidity, fluidity, heat and motion comprise matter). The aggregate of form includes the five physical sense organs and the corresponding physical objects of the sense organs (the eyes and visible objects, the ears and sound, the nose and smell, the tongue and taste, the skin and tangible objects). There are several different categories of rupa. Inner rupa as the organs of sense (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body). Outer rupa as the objects of sense (colour, sound, smell, taste, touch). Visible objects (white, blue, yellow, red, etc.). Invisible objects (sound, smell, taste, touch). Invisible immaterial or abstract objects. Form is used more in the sense of “substance,” or “something occupying space which will resist replacement by another form.” So it has extension, it is limited and conditioned. It comes into existence when conditions are matured, as Buddhists would say, and staying as long as they continue, pass away. Form is impermanent, dependent, illusory, relative, antithetical, and distinctive. Things with shape and features are forms. Forms include all colors which can dim our eyes. Ordinarily speaking, we are confused with forms when we see them, hear sounds and be confused by them, smell scents and be confused by them, taste flavors and be confused by them, or feel sensations and be confused by them. In the Classic of the Way and Its Virtue, it is said: “The five colors blind the eyes; the five musical notes deafen the ears; and the five flavors dull the palate.” Therefore, in the Heart Sutra, the Buddha taught: “If we can empty out the Aggregate of Form, then we can realize a state of there being ‘no mind inside, no body outside, and no things beyond.’” If we can follow what the Buddha taught, we are no longer attached to Forms, we are totally liberated. According to the Suragama Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Ananda! Consider this example: when a person who has pure clear eyes look at clear, bright emptiness, he sees nothing but clear emptiness, and he is quite certain that nothing exists within it. If for no apparent reason, the peson does not move his eyes, the staring will cause fatigue, and then of his own accord, he will see strange flowers in space and other unreal appearances that are wild and disordered. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of form. Ananda! The strange flowers come neither from emptiness nor from the eyes.” The reason for this, Ananda, is that if the flowers were to come from emptiness, they would return to emptiness. If there is a coming out and going in, the space would not be empty. If emptiness were not empty, then it could not contain the appearance of the arisal and extinction of the flowers, just as Ananda’s body cannot contain another Ananda. If the flowers were to come from the eyes, they would return to the eyes. If the nature of the flowers were to come from the eyes, it would be endowed with the faculty of seeing. If it could see, then when it left the eyes it would become flowers in space, and when it returned it should see the eyes. If it did not see, then when it left the eyes it would obscure emptiness, and when it returned, it would obscure the eyes. Moreover, when you see the flowers, your eyes should not be obscured. So why it is that the eyes are said to be ‘pure and bright’ when they see clear emptiness? Therefore, you should know that the skandha of formis empty and false, because it neither depends on causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature. The skandha of form relates to the physical body, while the remaining four concern the mind. The skandha of rupa (or that which has form). According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” matter contains and comprises the Four Great Primaries which are traditionally known as, solidity, fluidity, heat or temperature, and motion or vibration. However, they are not simply earth, water, fire and wind, though conventionally they may be so called. In Buddhist thought, especially in the Abhidhamma, the Higher Doctrine, they are more than that.

The second aggregate is the Feeling or Sensation: Feeling is knowledge obtained by the senses, feeling sensation. It is defined as mental reaction to the object, but in general it means receptivity, or sensation. Feeling is also a mind which experiences either pleasure, unpleasure or indifference (pleasant, unpleasant, neither pleasant nor unpleasant). The Aggregate of Feelings refers to the feelings that we experience. For instance, a certain state arises, we accept it without thinking about it, and we feel comfortable or uncomfortable. When we eat some delicious food and its flavor makes us feel quite pleasant, this is what we mean by feelings. If we wear a fine suit and it makes us feel quite attractive, this is also what we mean by feelings. If we live in a nice house that we feel like it, this is a feeling. If we drive a nice car that we love to have, this also a feeling. All experiences that our body accepts and enjoys are considered to be the Aggregate of Feelings. When we meet attractive objects, we develop pleasurable feelings and attachment which create karma for us to be reborn in samsara. In the contrary, when we meet undesirable objects, we develop painful or unpleasurable feelings which also create karma for us to be reborn in samsara. When we meet objects that are neither attractive nor unattractive, we develop indifferent feelings which develop ignorant self-grasping, also create karma for us to be reborn in samsara. All actions performed by our body, speech and mind are felt and experienced, Buddhism calls this “Feeling” and the Buddha confirmed in the Twelve Nidanas that “Feeling” creates karma, either positive or negative, which causes rebirths in samsara. Ananda! Consider the example of a person whose hands and feet are relaxed and at ease and whose entire body is in balance and harmony. He is unaware of his life-processes, because there is nothing agreeable or disagreeable in his nature. However, for some unknown reason, the person rubs his two hands together in emptiness, and sensations of roughness, smoothness, cold, and warmth seem to arise from nowhere between his palms. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of feeling. Ananda! All this illusory contact does not come from emptiness, nor does it come from the hand. The reason for this, Ananda, is that if it came from emptiness, then since it could make contact with the palms, why wouldn’t it make contact with the body? It should not be that emptiness chooses what it comes in contact with. If it came from the palms, it could be readily felt without waiting for the two palms to be joined. What is more, it it were to come from the palms, then the palms would know when they were joined. When they separated, the contact would return into the arms, the wrists, the bones, and the marrow, and you also should be aware of the course of its entry. It should also be perceived by the mind because it would behave like something coming in and going out of the body. In that case, what need would there be to put the two palms together to experience what is called ‘contact?’ Therefore, you should know hat the skandha of feeling is empty and false, because it neither depends on causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature. According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” all our feelings are included in the group of “Aggregate of feeling”. Feelings are threefold: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. They arise dependent on contact. Seeing a form, hearing a sound, smelling an odor, tasting a flavor, touching some tangible thing, cognizing a mental object, either an idea or a thought, man experiences feeling. When, for instance, eye, form and eye-consciousness (cakkhu-vinnana) come together, it is their coincidence that is called contact. Contact means the combination of the organ of sense, the object of sense, and sence-consciousness. When these are all present together there is no power or force that can prevent the arising of feeling. Practitioners of mindfulness should always contemplate various kinds of feelings such as pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings. To understand thoroughly how these feelings arise, develop after their arising, and pass away. To contemplate that “feelings” only arise when there is contact between the senses. To contemplate all of the above to have a better understanding of “feelings.” No matter what kinds of feelings, pleasant, unpleasant or indifference, they all lead to sufferings.

The third aggregate is the Thought, Cognition or Perception, or Aggregate of Pperception: Activity of recognition or identification or attaching of a name to an object of experience. Perceptions include form, sound, smell, taste, bodily impression or touch, and mental objects. The Aggregate of Thoughts refers to our thinking processes. When our five sense organs perceive the five sense objects, a variety of idle thoughts arise. many ideas suddenly come to mind and are suddenly gone: ideas of forms, ideas of feelings. According to the Surangama Sutra, Đức Phật dạy: “Ananda! Consider the example of a person whose mouth waters at the mention of sour plums, or the soles of whose feet tingle when he thinks about walking along a precipice. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of thinking. Ananda! You should know that the watering of the mouth caused by the mention of the plums does not come from the plums, nor does it come from the mouth.” The reason for this, Ananda, is that if it were produced from the plums, the plums should speak for themselves, why wait for someone to mention them? If it came from the mouth, the mouth itself should hear, and what need would there be to wait for the ear? If the ear alone heard, then why doesn’t the water come out of the ear? Thinking about walking along a precipice is explained in the same way. Therefore, you should know that the skandha of thinking is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence, nor is spontaneous in nature. According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” the function of perception is recognition of objects both physical and mental. Perception, like feeling, also is sixfold: perception of forms, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily contacts, and mental objects. Perception in Buddhism is not used in the sense that some Western philosophers like Bacon, or Descartes, etc. used the term, but as a mere sense perception. There is a certain affinity between awareness (a function of consciousness) and recognition (a function of perception). While consciousness becomes aware of an object, simultaneously the mental factor of perception takes the distinctive mark of the object and thus distinguishes it from other objects. This distinctive mark is instrumental in cognizing the object a second and a third time, and in fact, every time we become aware of the object. Thus, it is perception that brings about memory.

The fourth skandha is the Formation Skandha: Also called impression, or mental formation. Aggregate of mental formation is a conditioned response to the object of experience including volition, attention, discrimination, resolve, etc. The Aggregate of Activities refers to a process of shifting and flowing. The Aggregate of Activities leads us to come and go, to go and come without end in a constant, ceaseless, flowing pattern. Our idle thoughts compel us to impulsively do good or do evil, and such thoughts then manifest in our actions and our words. According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Ananda! Consider, for example, a swift rapids whose waves follow upon one another in orderly succession, the ones behind never overtaking the ones in front. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of mental formation. Ananda! Thus the nature of the flow does not arise because of emptiness, nor does it come into existence because of the water. It is not the nature of water, and yet it is not separate from either emptiness or water. The reason for this, Ananda, is that if it arose because of emptiness, then the inexhaustible emptiness throughout the ten directions wold become an inexhaustible flow, and all the worlds would inevitably be drown. If the swift rapids existed because of water, then their nature would differ from that of water and the location and characteristics of its existence would be apparent. If their nature were simply that of water, then when they became still and clear they would no longer be made up of water. Suppose it were to separate from emptiness and water, there isn’t anything outside of emptiness, and outside of water there isn’t any flow. Therefore, you should know that the skandha of mental formation is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature.” According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” aggregate of volational formations include all mental factors except feeling and perception. The Abhidhamma speaks of fifty-two mental concomitants or factors (cetasika). Feeling and perception are two of them, but they are not volitional activities. The remaining fifty are collectively known as mental or volitional formations. Volition (cetana) plays a very important role in the mental realm. In Buddhism, no action is considered as “kamma” if that action is void of volition. And like feeling and perception, it is of six kinds: volition directed to forms, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily contacts and mental objects.

The fifth skandha is the Skandha of Consciousness: Aggregate of consciousness includes the six types of consciousness (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and mental consciousness). Awareness or sensitivity to an object, i.e. the consciousness associates with the physical factors when the eye and a visible object come into contact, an awareness of a visible object occurs in our mind. Consciousness or a turning of a mere awareness into personal experience is a combined function of feeling, perception and mental formation. The Aggregate of Consciousness refers to the process of discrimination. As soon as a situation appears, we begin to discriminate in our thoughts about that situation. For example, when we see something beautiful, we have thoughts of fondness towards it; and when we hear ugly sounds, we have thoughts of dislike for those sounds. All such discriminations are part of this Aggregate. According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Ananda! Consider, for example, a man who picks up a kalavinka pitcher and stops up its two holes. He lift up the pitcher filled with emptiness and, walking some thousand-mile way, presents it to another country. You should know that the skandha of consciousness is the same way. Thus, Ananda, the space does not come from one place, nor does it go to another. The reason for this, Ananda, is that if it were to come from another place, then when the stored-up emptiness in the pitcher went elsewhere, there would be less emptiness in the place where the pitcher was originally. If it were to enter this region, when the holes were unplugged and the pitcher was turned over, one would see emptiness come out. Therefore, you should know that the skandha of consciousness is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature.” According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path”, Aggregate of consciousness is the most important of the aggregates; for it is the receptacle, so to speak, for all the fifty-two mental concomitants or factors, since without consciousness no mental factors are available. Consciousness and the factors are interrelated, inter-dependent, and co-existent. Aggregate of consciousness has six types and its function is varied. It has its basis and objects. All our feelings are experienced through the contact of sense faculties with the external world. Although there is this functional relationship between the faculties and their objects, for instance, eye with forms, ear with sounds, and so on, awareness comes through consciousness. In other words, sense objects can not be experienced with the particular sensitivity without the appropriate kind of consciousness. Now when eye and form are both present, visual consciousness arises dependent on them. Similarly with ear and sound, and so on, down to mind and mental objects. Again, when the three things, eye, form, and eye-consciousness come together, it is their coincidence that is called “contact”. From contact comes feeling and so on. Thus, consciousness originates through a stimulus arising in the five sense doors and the mind door, the sixth. As consciousness arises through the interaction of the sense faculties and the sense objects, it also is conditioned and not independent. It is not a spirit or soul opposed to matter. Thoughts and ideas which are food for the sixth faculty called mind are also dependent and conditioned. They depend on the external world which the other five sense faculties experience. The five faculties contact objects, only in the present, that is when objects come in direct contact with the particular faculty. The mind faculty, however, can experience the sense object, whether it is form, sound, smell, taste, or thought already cognized by the sense organs. For instance, a visible object, with which the eye came in contact in the past, can be visualized by the mind faculty just at this moment although the object is not before the eye. Similarly with the other sense objects. This is subjective, and it is difficult to experience some of these sensations. This sort of activity of the mind is subtle and sometimes beyond ordinary comprehension.

Chapter 112. Four Elements

Four great elements of which all things are made (produce and maintain life). These four elements are interrelated and inseparable. However, one element may preponderate over another. They constantly change, not remaining the same even for two consecutive moments. According to Buddhism, matter endures only for 17 thought-moments, while scientists tell us that matter endures only for 10/27th of a second. No matter what we say, a human body is temporary; it is created artificially through the accumulation of the four elements. Once death arives, the body deteriorates to return to the soil, water-based substances will gradually dry up and return to the great water, the element of fire is lost and the body becomes cold, and the great wind no longer works within the body. At that time, the spirit must follow the karma each person has created while living to change lives and be reincarnated into the six realms, altering image, exchange body, etc in the cylce of births and deaths. According to the Sastra on the Prajna Sutra, there are four hundred and four ailments caused by the four elements in the body: One hundred one fevers caused by the Earth element. One hundred one fevers caused by the Fire element. One hundred one chills caused by the water element. One hundred one chills caused by the Wind element.

Solid Matter: Solid matter or earth. The Sanskrit term Prithin means the element of extension, the substratum of matter. Without it objects have no form, nor can they occupy space. The qualities of hardness and softness are two conditions of this element. After death, these parts will decay and deteriorate to become soil. For this reason, they belong to the Great Soil. Earth is considered as one of the four poisonous snakes in a basket which imply the four elements in a body (of which a man is formed). According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” solidity is the element of expansion. It is due to this element of expansion that objects occupy space. When we see an object we only see something extended in space and we give a name to it. The element of expansion is present not only in solids, but in liquids, too; for when we see the sea stretched before us even then we see the element of expansion or Pathavi. The hardeness of rock and the softness of paste, the quality of heaviness and lightness in things are also qualities of the element of expansion, or are particular states of it.

Liquid Matter: Also called water or fluidity. Unlike the earth element it is intangible. It is the element which enables the scattered atoms of matter to cohere together. After death, these water-based substances will dry up. In other words, they have returned to water. Fluidity is considered as one of the four poisonous snakes in a basket which imply the four elements in a body (of which a man is formed). According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” fluidity is the element of expansion. It is the element that heaps particles of matter together without allowing them to scatter. The cohesive force in liquids is very strong, for unlike solids, they coalesce (stick together) even after their separation. Once a solid is broken up or separated the particles do nor recoalesce. In order to join them it becomes necessary to convert the solid into a liquid by raising the temperature, as in the welding of metals. When we see an object we only see an expansion with limits, this expansion or shape is possible because of the cohesive force.

Heat Matter: Fire element includes both heat and cold, and fire element possesses the power of maturing bodies, they are vitalizing energy. Preservation and decay are due to this element. After death, the element of fire is lost and the body gradually becomes cold. Heat is considered as one of the four poisonous snakes in a basket which imply the four elements in a body (of which a man is formed). According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” temperature is the element of heat. It is the element which matures, intensifies or imparts heat to the other three primaries. The vitality of all beings and plants is preserved by this element. From every expansion and shape we get a sensation of heat. This is relative; for when we say that an object is cold, we only mean that the heat of that particular object is less than our body heat, in other words, the temperature of the object is lower than the temperature of our body. Thus, it is clear that the so-called “coldness”, too, is an element of heat or temperature, of course in a lower degree.

Air Matter: Also called wind, motion, or energy of motion. Air element is the element of motion in the body. After death, breathing ceases, body functions become catatonic or completely rigid because the great wind no longer works within the body. Air is considered as one of the four poisonous snakes in a basket which imply the four elements in a body (of which a man is formed). According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” wind or air is the element of motion. It is diplacement, This, too, is relative. To know whether a thing is moving or not we need a point which we regard as being fixed, by which to measure that motion, but there is no absolutely motionless object in the universe. So, the so-called stability, too, is an element of motion. Motion depends on heat. In the complete absence of heat atoms cease to vibrate. Complete absence of heat is only theoretical, we can not feel it, because then we would not exist, as we, too, are made of atoms.

Chapter 113. Fifty Demonic Obstructions in the Five Skandhas

Demonic obstructions can be demonic afflictions. These demons represent the afflictions of greed, anger, resentment, delusion, contempt, doubt and wrong views. They also include the demons of the Five Skandas, the Six Entrances, the Twelve Sense Fields, and the Eighteen Elements. These demons are also called “internal” as they created by topsy-turvy, delusive states of mind. Therefore, they must be overcome by the bright, enlightened mind. The human mind is easily moved, developing afflictions not only because of personal karma but also because of the common karma of living in an environment filled, for the most part, with evil beings. Some persons cannot resist the attractions of the five Dusts and thus fall into evil ways. Others, encountering adverse conditions, grow sad and mournful and lose their determination to progress. Such developments depending on their severity, render the cultivator despondent, indignant and ill, or worse still, cause him to abandon the Buddhist Order or even to commit suicide out of despair. More harmful still, they can lead to loss of respect and good will toward other cultivators, sometimes even hatred and avoidance of clergy and lay people alike. Loss of faith in cause and effect, bad karma and finally, descent upon the three Evil Paths are the end result. To counteract these demons, the practitioner should reflect that all afflictions are illusory, upsetting, suffocating, binding, evil and conducive only to suffering for both himself and others. To eliminate afflictions is to return to the True Mind, free and liberated, fresh and tranquil, bright and clear, happy and at peace, transcendental and wondrous. The cultivator should also meditate in the same way on all attachments, from the Five Skandas to the Eighteen Elements. In the Lotus Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha said: “You should not be greedy and attached to gross and vile forms, sound, smell, taste, touch and dharmas. If you do, they will burn you up.” Manjusri Bodhisattva once asked a female deity, “How do you see the Eighteen Elements?” The deity replied, “They are similar to the eonic fire burning up the whole world.” These are words of warning, reminding us to eliminate the demons of afflictions. If the demons of afflictions or internal demons are not subdued, they will attract external demons which wreak havoc. The ancient have said: “If inside the door there are mean-spirited people, mean-spirited people will arrive at the door; if inside the door there are virtuous, superior people, noble superior people will arrive at the door.” As an example, when thieves try to enter a house through the side door, if the owner calmly scolds them in a loud voice, they will naturally be frightened and leave. If on the other hand, he is terrified and panic-stricken, and begs them to desist, he will unwittingly be inviting them into his house.

Ten States within the Form Skandha: The Form Skandha or the aggregate of matter (four elements of our own body and other material objects such as solidity, fluidity, heat and motion comprise matter). The aggregate of form includes the five physical sense organs and the corresponding physical objects of the sense organs (the eyes and visible objects, the ears and sound, the nose and smell, the tongue and taste, the skin and tangible objects). There are several different categories of rupa. Inner rupa as the organs of sense (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body). Outer rupa as the objects of sense (colour, sound, smell, taste, touch). Visible objects (white, blue, yellow, red, etc.). Invisible objects (sound, smell, taste, touch). Invisible immaterial or abstract objects. Form is used more in the sense of “substance,” or “something occupying space which will resist replacement by another form.” So it has extension, it is limited and conditioned. It comes into existence when conditions are matured, as Buddhists would say, and staying as long as they continue, pass away. Form is impermanent, dependent, illusory, relative, antithetical, and distinctive. Things with shape and features are forms. Forms include all colors which can dim our eyes. Ordinarily speaking, we are confused with forms when we see them, hear sounds and be confused by them, smell scents and be confused by them, taste flavors and be confused by them, or feel sensations and be confused by them. In the Classic of the Way and Its Virtue, it is said: “The five colors blind the eyes; the five musical notes deafen the ears; and the five flavors dull the palate.” Therefore, in the Heart Sutra, the Buddha taught: “If we can empty out the Aggregate of Form, then we can realize a state of there being ‘no mind inside, no body outside, and no things beyond.’” If we can follow what the Buddha taught, we are no longer attached to Forms, we are totally liberated. According to the Suragama Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Ananda! Consider this example: when a person who has pure clear eyes look at clear, bright emptiness, he sees nothing but clear emptiness, and he is quite certain that nothing exists within it. If for no apparent reason, the peson does not move his eyes, the staring will cause fatigue, and then of his own accord, he will see strange flowers in space and other unreal appearances that are wild and disordered. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of form. Ananda! The strange flowers come neither from emptiness nor from the eyes.” The reason for this, Ananda, is that if the flowers were to come from emptiness, they would return to emptiness. If there is a coming out and going in, the space would not be empty. If emptiness were not empty, then it could not contain the appearance of the arisal and extinction of the flowers, just as Ananda’s body cannot contain another Ananda. If the flowers were to come from the eyes, they would return to the eyes. If the nature of the flowers were to come from the eyes, it would be endowed with the faculty of seeing. If it could see, then when it left the eyes it would become flowers in space, and when it returned it should see the eyes. If it did not see, then when it left the eyes it would obscure emptiness, and when it returned, it would obscure the eyes. Moreover, when you see the flowers, your eyes should not be obscured. So why it is that the eyes are said to be ‘pure and bright’ when they see clear emptiness? Therefore, you should know that the skandha of formis empty and false, because it neither depends on causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature. The skandha of form relates to the physical body, while the remaining four concern the mind. The skandha of rupa (or that which has form). According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” matter contains and comprises the Four Great Primaries which are traditionally known as, solidity, fluidity, heat or temperature, and motion or vibration. However, they are not simply earth, water, fire and wind, though conventionally they may be so called. In Buddhist thought, especially in the Abhidhamma, the Higher Doctrine, they are more than that. According to The Surangama Sutra, book nine, there are ten states within the form skandha. These are big demonic obstructions for Buddhists on their paths of cultivation. The first demonic obstruction is that body can transcend obstructions: The Buddha told Ananda that at the point, as the person intently investigates that wondrous brightness, the four elements will no longer function together, and soon the body will be able to transcend obstructions. This state is called “the pure brightness merging into the environment.” It is a temporary state in the course of cultivation and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demon’s influence. The second demonic obstruction is that the light pervades internally and he can extract intestinal worms: Ananda! As the person uses his mind to intently investigate that wondrous light, the light will pervade his body. Suddenly he will be able to extract intestinal worms from his own body, yet his body will remain intact and unharmed. This state is called “the pure light surging through one’s physical body.” It is a temporary state in the course of intense practice, and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demon’s’influence. The third demonic obstruction is that the essence and souls alternately separate and unite: As the person uses his mind to intently investigate inside and outside, his physical and spiritual souls, intellect, will, essence, and spirit will be able to interact with one another without affecting his body. They will take turns as hosts and guests. Then he may suddenly hear the Dharma being spoken in space, or perhaps he will hear esoteric truths being pronounced simultaneously throughout the ten directions. This state is called “the essence and souls alternately separating and uniting, and the planting of good seeds.” It is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence. The fourth demonic obstruction is that the Buddhas appear: When a person’s mind becomes clear, unveiled, bright, and penetrating, an internal light will shine forth and turn everything in the ten directions into the color of Jambu-river gold. All the various species of beings will be transformed into Tathagatas. Suddenly he will see Vairocana Buddha seated upon a platform of celestial light, surrounded by a thousand Buddhas, who simultaneously appear upon lotus blossoms in a hundred million lands. This state is called “the mind and soul being instilled with spiritual awareness.” When he has investigated to the point of clarity, the light of his mind shine upon all worlds. This is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vunerable to the demons’ influence. The fifth demonic obstruction is that space takes on the color of precious things: As the person uses his mind to intently investigate that wondrous light, he will contemplate without pause, restraining and subduing his mind so that it does not go to extremes. Suddenly the space in the ten directions may take on the colors of the seven precious things or the colors of a hundred precious things, which simultaneously pervade everywhere without hindering one another. The blues, yellows, reds, and whites will each be clearly apparent. This state is called “excessively subduing the mind.” It is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence. The sixth demonic obstruction is that the person can see thing in the dark: As the person uses his mind to investigate with clear discernment until the pure light no longer disperses, he will suddenly be able to see various things appear in a dark room at night, just as if it were daytime, while the objects that were already in the room do not disappear. This state is called “refining the mind and purifying the vision until one is able to see in the dark.” It is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence. The seventh demonic obstruction is that the person’s body becomes like grass or wood: When his mind completely merges with emptiness, his four limbs will suddenly become like grass or wood, devoid of sensation even when burned by fire or cut with a knife. The burning of fire will not make his limbs hot, and even when his flesh is cut, it will be like wood being whittled. This state is called “the merging of external states and blending of the four elements into a uniform substance.” It is a temporary state and does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence. The eighth demonic obstruction is that the person sees everywhere turn into Buddha-lands: When his mind accomplishes such purity that his skill in purifying the mind has reached its ultimate, he will suddenly see the earth, the mountains, and the rivers in the ten directions turn into Buddhalands replete with the seven precious things, their light shining everywhere. He will also see Buddhas, Tathagatas, as many as the sands of the Ganges, filling all of space. He will also see pavilions and palaces that are resplendent and beautiful. He will see the hells below and the celestial palaces above, all without obstruction. This state is called “the gradual transformation of concentrated thoughts of fondness and loathing.” It does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence. The ninth demonic obstruction is that the person sees and hears distant things: As the person uses his mind to investigate what is profound and far away, he will suddenly be able to see distant places in the middle of the night. He will see city markets and community wells, streets, and alleys, and relatives and friends, and he may hear their conversations. This state is called “having been suppressed to the utmost, the mind flies out and sees much that had been blocked from view.” It does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then this will be a good state. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence. The tenth demonic obstruction is that the person sees good advisors: As the person uses his mind to investigate to the utmost point, he may see a Good and Wise Advisor whose body undegoes changes. Within a brief interval, various transformations will occur which cannot be explained. This state is called “having an improper mind which is possessed by a li-ghost, a mei-ghost, or a celestial demon, and without a reason speaking Dharma that fathoms wondrous truths.” It does not indicate sagehood. If he does not think he has become a sage, then the demonic formations will subside. But if he considers himself a sage, then he will be vulnerable to the demons’ influence.

Ten States within the Feeling Skandha: Feeling is knowledge obtained by the senses, feeling sensation. It is defined as mental reaction to the object, but in general it means receptivity, or sensation. Feeling is also a mind which experiences either pleasure, unpleasure or indifference (pleasant, unpleasant, neither pleasant nor unpleasant). The Aggregate of Feelings refers to the feelings that we experience. For instance, a certain state arises, we accept it without thinking about it, and we feel comfortable or uncomfortable. When we eat some delicious food and its flavor makes us feel quite pleasant, this is what we mean by feelings. If we wear a fine suit and it makes us feel quite attractive, this is also what we mean by feelings. If we live in a nice house that we feel like it, this is a feeling. If we drive a nice car that we love to have, this also a feeling. All experiences that our body accepts and enjoys are considered to be the Aggregate of Feelings. When we meet attractive objects, we develop pleasurable feelings and attachment which create karma for us to be reborn in samsara. In the contrary, when we meet undesirable objects, we develop painful or unpleasurable feelings which also create karma for us to be reborn in samsara. When we meet objects that are neither attractive nor unattractive, we develop indifferent feelings which develop ignorant self-grasping, also create karma for us to be reborn in samsara. All actions performed by our body, speech and mind are felt and experienced, Buddhism calls this “Feeling” and the Buddha confirmed in the Twelve Nidanas that “Feeling” creates karma, either positive or negative, which causes rebirths in samsara. Ananda! Consider the example of a person whose hands and feet are relaxed and at ease and whose entire body is in balance and harmony. He is unaware of his life-processes, because there is nothing agreeable or disagreeable in his nature. However, for some unknown reason, the person rubs his two hands together in emptiness, and sensations of roughness, smoothness, cold, and warmth seem to arise from nowhere between his palms. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of feeling. Ananda! All this illusory contact does not come from emptiness, nor does it come from the hand. The reason for this, Ananda, is that if it came from emptiness, then since it could make contact with the palms, why wouldn’t it make contact with the body? It should not be that emptiness chooses what it comes in contact with. If it came from the palms, it could be readily felt without waiting for the two palms to be joined. What is more, it it were to come from the palms, then the palms would know when they were joined. When they separated, the contact would return into the arms, the wrists, the bones, and the marrow, and you also should be aware of the course of its entry. It should also be perceived by the mind because it would behave like something coming in and going out of the body. In that case, what need would there be to put the two palms together to experience what is called ‘contact?’ Therefore, you should know hat the skandha of feeling is empty and false, because it neither depends on causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature. According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” all our feelings are included in the group of “Aggregate of feeling”. Feelings are threefold: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. They arise dependent on contact. Seeing a form, hearing a sound, smelling an odor, or tasting a flavor, touching some tangible thing, cognizing a mental object, either an idea or a thought, man experiences feeling. When, for instance, eye, form and eye-consciousness (cakkhu-vinnana) come together, it is their coincidence that is called contact. Contact means the combination of the organ of sense, the object of sense, and sence-consciousness. When these are all present together there is no power or force that can prevent the arising of feeling. Practitioners of mindfulness should always contemplate various kinds of feelings such as pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings. To understand thoroughly how these feelings arise, develop after their arising, and pass away. To contemplate that “feelings” only arise when there is contact between the senses. To contemplate all of the above to have a better understanding of “feelings.” No matter what kinds of feelings, pleasant, unpleasant or indifference, they all lead to sufferings. According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the ten states of Feeling Skandha, the big demonic obstructions for Buddhists on their paths of cultivation as follows: The first demonic obstruction is that the suppression of the self leads to sadness: Ananda! In this situation the good person experiences a brilliant light. As a result of the excessive internal pressure in his mind, he is suddenly overwhelmed with such boundless sadness that he looks upon even mosquitoes and gadflies as newborn children. He is filled with pity and unconsciously burst into tears. This is called “overexertion in suppressing the mind in the course of cultivation.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. If he realizes that and remains unconfused, then after a time it will disappear. But if he consider himself a sage, then a demon of sadness will enter is mind. Then, as soon as he sees someone, he will feel sad and cry uncontrollably. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The second demonic obstruction is that the Praising Oneself is being equal to the Buddhas: Further, Ananda, in this state of samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. At that time he has a sublime vision and is overwhelmed with gratitude. In this situation, he suddenly evinces tremendous courage. His mind is bold and keen. He resolves to equal all Buddhas and says he can transcend three asamkheyas of eons in a single thought. This is called “being too anxious to excel in cultivation.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. If he realizes that and remains unconfused, then after a time it will disappear. But if he considers himself a sage, , then a demon of insanity will enter his mind. As soon as he sees someone, he will boast about himself. He will become extraordinarily haughty, to the point that he recognizes no Buddhas above him and no people below him. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The third demonic obstruction is that the Samadhi out of balance brings much reverie: Further, in this state of samadhi the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. With no new realization immediately ahead of him, and having lost his former status as well, his power of wisdom weakens, and he enters an impasse in which he sees nothing to anticipate. Suddenly a feeling of tremendous monotony and thirst arises in his mind. At all times he is fixated in memories that do not disperse. He mistakes this for a sign of diligence and vigor. This called “cultivating the mind but losing oneself due to lack of wisdom.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of memory will enter his mind. Day and night it will hold his mind suspended in one place. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The fourth demonic obstruction is that the Wisdom out of balance brings much arrogance: Further, in this state of samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. His wisdom becomes stronger than his samadhi, and he mistakenly becomes impetuous. Cherishing the supremacy of his nature, he imagines that he is Vairocana Buddha and rests content with his minor achievement. This is called “applying the mind, but straying away from constant examination and becoming preoccupied with ideas and opinions.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a lowly demon that is easily satisfied will enter his mind. As soon as he sees someone, he will announce “I have realized the unsurpassed absolute truth.” Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The fifth demonic obstruction is that the Passing through danger leads to anxiety: Further, in this state of samadhi the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. He has not yet obtain any results, and his prior state of mind has already disappeared. Surveying the two extremes, he feels that he is in great danger. Suddenly he becomes greatly distraught (crazy), as if he were seated on the Iron Bed, or as if he has taken poison. He has no wish to go on living, and he is always asking people to take his life so he can be released sooner. This is called “cultivating, but not understanding expedients.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of chronic depression will enter his mind. He may take up knives and swords and cut his own flesh, happily giving up his life. Or else, driven by constant anxiety, he may flee into the wilderness and be unwilling to see people. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The sixth demonic obstruction is that experiencing ease leads to joy: Further, in this state of samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. As he dwells in this purity, his mind is tranquil and at ease. Suddenly a feeling of boundless joy wells up in him. There is such bliss in his mind that he cannot contain it. This is called “experiencing lightness and ease, but lacking the wisdom to control it.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon that likes happiness will enter his mind. As soon as he sees someone, he will laugh. He will sing and dance in the streets. He will say that he has already attained unobstructed liberation. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The seventh demonic obstruction is viewing oneself as supreme and arrogant: Further, in this state of samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. He says he is already satisfied. Suddenly a feeling of unreasonable, intense self-satisfaction may arise in him. It may include pride, outrageous pride, haughty pride, overweening pride, and pride based on inferiority, all of which occur at once. In his mind, he even looks down on the Tathagatas of the ten directions, how much the more so the lesser positions of Hearers and Those Enlightened by Conditions. This called “viewing oneself as supreme, but lacking the wisdom to save oneself.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of intense arrogance will enter his mind. He will not bow to the stupas or in temples. He will destroy sutras and images. He will say to the danpatis, “These are gold, bronze, clay, or wood. The sutras are just leaves or cloth. The flesh body is what is real and eternal, but you don’t revere it; instead you venerate clay and wood. That is totally absurd.” Those who have deep faith in him will follow him to destroy the images or bury them. He will mislead living beings so that they fall into the Relentless Heels. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The eighth demonic obstruction is that with wisdom comes lightness and ease, which leads to complacency: Further, in this state of samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. In his refine understanding, he awakens completely to subtle principles. Everything is in accord with his wishes. He may suddenly experience limitless lightness and ease in his mind. He may say that he has become a sage and attained great self-mastery. This is called “attaining lightness and clarity due to wisdom.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon that likes lightness and clarity will enter his mind. Claiming that he is already satisfied, he will not strive to make further progress. For the most part, such cultivators will become like Uncleaned Bhikshu. He will mislead living beings so that they will fall into the Avichi Hell. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The ninth demonic obstruction is that Becoming attached to emptiness and slandering precepts: Further, in this state of samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. In that clear awakening, he experiences an illusory clarity. Within that, suddenly he may veer towards the view of eternal extinction, deny cause and effect, and take everything as empty. The thought of emptiness so predominates that he comes to believe that there is eternal extinction after death. This is called “the mental state of samadhi dissolving so that one loses sight of what is right.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of emptiness will enter his mind. He will slander the holding of precepts, calling it a “Small Vehicle Dharma.” He will say, “Since Bodhisattvas have awakened to emptiness, what is there to hold or violate?” This person, in the presence of his faithful danapatis, will often drink wine, eat meat, and engage in lust. The power of the demon will keep his followers from doubting or denouncing him. After the ghost has possessed him for a long time, he may consume excrement and urine, or meat and wine, claiming that all such things are empty. He will break the Buddha’s moral precepts and mislead people into committing offenses. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall. The tenth demonic obstruction is that Becoming attached to existence and indulging in lust: Further, in this state of samadhi, the good person sees the disintegration of the form skandha and understands the feeling skandha. He savors the state of illusory clarity, and it deeply enters his mind and bones. Boundless love may suddenly well forth from his mind. When that love becomes extreme, he goes insane with greed and lust. This is called “when an agreeable state of samadhi enters one’s mind, lacking the wisdom to control oneself and mistakenly engaging in lustful behavior.” If he understands, then there is no error. This experience does not indicate sagehood. But if he considers himself a sage, then a demon of desire will enter his mind. He will become an outspoken advocate of lust, calling it the Way to Bodhi. He will teach his lay followers to indiscriminately engage in acts of lust, calling those who commit acts of lust his Dharma heirs. The power of spirits and ghosts in the Ending Age will enable him to attract a following of ordinary, nạve people numbering one hundred, two hundred, five or six hundred, or as amny as one thousand or ten thousand. When the demon becomes bored, it will leave the person’s body. Once the person’s charisma is gone, he will run afoul of the law. He will mislead living beings, so that they fall into the Relentless Heels. Lacking proper samadhi, he will certainly fall.

Ten States within the Thinking Skandha: Activity of recognition or identification or attaching of a name to an object of experience. Perceptions include form, sound, smell, taste, bodily impression or touch, and mental objects. The Aggregate of Thoughts refers to our thinking processes. When our five sense organs perceive the five sense objects, a variety of idle thoughts arise. Many ideas suddenly come to mind and are suddenly gone: ideas of forms, ideas of feelings. According to the Surangama Sutra, Đức Phật dạy: “Ananda! Consider the example of a person whose mouth waters at the mention of sour plums, or the soles of whose feet tingle when he thinks about walking along a precipice. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of thinking. Ananda! You should know that the watering of the mouth caused by the mention of the plums does not come from the plums, nor does it come from the mouth.” The reason for this, Ananda, is that if it were produced from the plums, the plums should speak for themselves, why wait for someone to mention them? If it came from the mouth, the mouth itself should hear, and what need would there be to wait for the ear? If the ear alone heard, then why doesn’t the water come out of the ear? Thinking about walking along a precipice is explained in the same way. Therefore, you should know that the skandha of thinking is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence, nor is spontaneous in nature. According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” the function of perception is recognition of objects both physical and mental. Perception, like feeling, also is sixfold: perception of forms, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily contacts, and mental objects. Perception in Buddhism is not used in the sense that some Western philosophers like Bacon, or Descartes, etc. used the term, but as a mere sense perception. There is a certain affinity between awareness (a function of consciousness) and recognition (a function of perception). While consciousness becomes aware of an object, simultaneously the mental factor of perception takes the distinctive mark of the object and thus distinguishes it from other objects. This distinctive mark is instrumental in cognizing the object a second and a third time, and in fact, every time we become aware of the object. Thus, it is perception that brings about memory. According to The Surangama Sutra, the Buddha taught Ananda about the ten states of thinking skandha, the big demonic obstructions for Buddhists on their paths of cultivation as follows: The first demonic obstruction is the Greed for cleverness and skill: Ananda, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright cencentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves its perfect brightness, so he sharpens his concentrated thought as he greedily seeks for cleverness and skill. At that time a demon from the heaven seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutra and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks cleverness and skill, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. In an instant, he may appear to be a Bhikshu, enabling that person to see him as such, or he may appear as Shakra, as a woman, or as a Bhikshuni; or his body may emit light as he sleeps in a dark room. The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking that the other is a Bodhisattva. He believes the other’s teachings and his mind is swayed. He breaks the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires. The other person is fond of speaking about calamities, auspicious events, and unusual changes. He may say that a Tathagata has appeared in the world at a certain place. He may speak of catastrophic fire or wars, thus frightening people into squandering their family wealth without reason. This is a strange ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The second demonic obstruction is the Greed for adventure: Ananda! In the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves to roam about, so he lets his subtle thoughts fly out as he greedily seeks for adventure. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the sutra and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks to roam, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. His own body does not change its appearance, but those listening to the Dharma suddenly see themselves sitting on jeweled lotuses and their entire bodies transformed into clusters of purple-golden light. Each person in the audience experiences that state and feels he has obtained something unprecedented. The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. Lust and laxity corrupt his mind. He breaks the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires. The other person is fond of saying that Buddhas are appearing in the world. He claims that in a certain place a certain person is actually a transformation body of a certain Buddha. Or he says that a certain person is such and such a Bodhisattva who has come to teach humankind. People who witness this are filled with admiration. Their wrong views multiply, and their Wisdom of Modes is destroyed. This is a drought ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The third demonic obstruction is the Greed for union: Ananda! In the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves spiritual oneness, so he clarifies his concentrated thought as he greedily seeks for union. At that tiem a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutra and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is actually possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks union, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. Neither his own body nor the bodies of those listening to the Dharma go through any external transformations. But he makes the minds of the listeners become “enlightened” before they listen to the Dharma, so they experience changes in every thought. They may have the knowledge of past lives or the knowledge of others’’thoughts. They may see the hells or know all the good and evil events in the human realm. They may speak verses or spontaneously recite Sutras. Each person is elated and feels he has obtained something unprecedented. The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. His thoughts become entangled in love. He breaks the Buddha’s’moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires. He is fond of saying that there are greater Buddhas and lesser Buddhas, earlier Buddhas and later Buddhas; that among them are true Buddhas and false Buddhas, male Buddhas and female Buddhas; and that the same is true of Bodhisattvas. When people witness this, their initial resolve is washed away, and they easily get carried away with their wrong understanding. This is a Mei-Ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The fourth demonic obstruction is the Greed to analyze things: Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves to know the origins of things, so he exhaustively investigates the nature of physical things and their changes from beginning to end. He intensifies the keenness of his thoughts as he greedily seeks to analyze things. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks to know the origins of things, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. His body has an awesome spiritual quality which subdues the seeker. He makes the minds of those gathered beside his seat spontaneously compliant, even before they have heard the Dharma. He says to all those people that the Buddha’s N’rvana, Bodhi, and Dharma-body are there before them in the form of his own physical body. He says: “The successive begetting of fathers and sons from generation to generation is itself the Dharma-body, which is permanent and never-ending. What you see right now are those very Buddha-lands. There are no other pure dwellings or golden features. Those people believe and accept his words, forgetting their initial resolve. They offer up their lives, feeling they have obtained something unprecedented. They are all beguiled and confused into thinking he is a Bodhisattva. As they pursue his ideas, they break the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly undulges their greedy desires. He is fond of saying that the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue are the Pure Land, and that the male and female organs are the true place of Bodhi and Nirvana. Ignorant people believe these filthy words. This is a poisonous ghost or an evil paralysis ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The fifth demonic obstruction is the Greed for spiritual responses: Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves revelations from afar, so he pours all his energy into this intense investigation as he greedily seeks for imperceptible spiritual responses. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and Dharma. This person, completely unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks revelations, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. He briefly appears to his listeners in a body that looks a hundred or a thousand years old. They experience a defiling love for him and cannot bear to part with him. They personally act as his servants, tirelessly making the Four Kinds of Offerings to him. Each member of the assembly believes that this person is his former teacher, his original Good and Wise Advisor. They give rise to love for his Dharma and stick to him as if glued, feeling they have obtained something unprecedented. The good person is beguiled and fooled into thinking the other is a Bodhisattva. Attracted to the other’s thinking, he breaks the Buddha’s moral precepts and covertly indulges his greedy desires. He is fond of saying, “In a past life, in a certain incarnation, I rescued a certain person who was then my wife, my mistress or my brother. Now I have come to rescue you again. We will stay together and go to another world to make offerings to a certain Buddha.” Or he may say, “There is a Heaven of Great Brilliance where a Buddha noe dwells. It is the resting place of all Tathagatas.” Ignorant people believe his ravings and lose their original resolve. This is a pestilence ghost that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The sixth demonic obstruction is the Greed for peace and quiet: Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves deep absorption, so he restrains himself with energetic diligence and likes to dwell in secluded places as he greedily seeks for peace and quiet. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks seclusion, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. He causes all of his listeners to think they know their karma from the past. Or he may say to someone there, “You haven’t died yet, but you have already become an animal.” Then he instructs another person to step on the first person’s tail,” and suddenly the first person cannot stand up. At that point, all in the assembly pour out their hearts in respect and admiration for him. If someone has a thought, the demon detects it immediately. He establishes intense ascetic practices that exceed the Buddha’s ’oral precepts. He slanders Bhikshus, scolds his assembly of disciples, and exposes people’s ’rivate affairs without fear of ridicule or rejection. He is fond of foretelling calamities and auspicious events, and when they come to pass, he is not wrong in the slightest. This is a ghost with great powers that in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The seventh demonic obstruction is the Greed for past lives: Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves more knowledge and understanding, so he diligently toils at examining and probing as he greedily seeks to know past lives. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks knowledge, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. There in the Dharma Assembly, inexplicably, that person may obtain an enormous precious pearl. The demon may sometimes change into an animal that holds the pearl or other jewels, bamboo tablets, tallies, talismans, letters, and other unusual things in its mouth. The demon first gives the objects to the person and afterwards possesses him. Or he may fool his audience by buying the objects underground and then saying that a “moonlight pearl” is illuminating the place. Thereupon the audience feels they have obtained something unique. He may eat only medicinal herbs and not partake of prepared food. Or he may eat only one sesame seed and one grain of wheat a day and still look robust. That is because he is sustained by the power of the demon. He slanders Bhikshus and scolds his assembly of disciples without fear of ridicule or rejection. He is fond of talking about treasure troves in other locations, or of remote and hidden places where sages and worthies of the ten directions dwell. Those who follow him often see strange and unusual people. This is a ghost or spirit of the mountain forests, earth, cities, rivers, and mountains that in its old age has become a demon. The person it possesses may advocate promiscuity and violate the Buddha’s precepts. He may covertly indulges in the five desires with his followers. Or he may appear to be vigorous, eating only wild plants. His behavior is erratic, and he disturbs and confuses the god person. But when the demon tires, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The eighth demonic obstruction is the Greed for spiritual powers: Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves spiritual powers and all manner of transformations, so he investigates the source of transformations as he greedily seeks for spiritual powers. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, truly unaware that he is possessed by a demon, also claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks spiritual powers, he aranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. The possessed person may hold fire in his hands and, grasping a portion of it, put a flame on the head of each listener in the Fourfold Assembly. The flames on top of their heads are several feet high, yet they are not hot and no one is burned. Or he may walk on water as if on dry land; or he may sit motionless in the air; or he may enter into a bottle or stay in a bag; or he may pass through window panes and walls without obstruction. Only when attacked by weapons does he feel ill at ease. He declares himself to be a Buddha and, wearing the clothing of a lay person, receives bows from Bhikshus. He slanders dhyana meditation and the moral regulations. He scolds his disciples and exposes people’s private affairs without fear of ridicule or rejection. He often taks about spiritual powers and self-mastery. He may cause people to see visions of Buddhalands, but they are unreal and arise merely from the ghost’s power to delude people. He praises the indulgence of lust and does not condemn lewd conduct. He uses indecent means to transmit his Dharma. This is a powerful nature spirit: a mountain sprite, a sea sprite, a wind sprite, a river sprite, an earth sprite or a grass-and-tree sprite that has evolved over long ages. It may be a dragon-goblin; or a rishi who has been reborn as a goblin; or again a rishi who, having reached the end of his appointed time, should have died, but whose body does not decay and is possessed by a goblin. In its old age it has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The ninth demonic obstruction is the Greed for profound emptiness: Further, in the nhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves to enter cessation, so he investigates the nature of transformations as he greedily seeks for profound emptiness. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks emptiness, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. In the midst of the great assembly, his physical form suddenly disappears, and no one in the assembly can see him. Then out of nowhere, he abruptly reappears. He can appear and disappear at will, or he can make his body transparent like crystal. From his hands and feet he releases the fragrance of sandalwood, or his excrement and urine may be sweet as thick rock candy. He slanders the precepts and is contemptuous of those who have left the home-life. He often says that there is no cause and no effect, that once we die, we are gone forever, that there is no afterlife, and that there are no ordinary people and no sages. Although he has obtained a state of empty stillness, he covertly indulges his greedy desires. Those who give in to his lust also adopt his views of emptiness and deny cause and effect. This is an essence that was created during an eclipse of the sun or moon. Having fallen on gold, jade, a rare fungus, a unicorn, a phoenix, a tortoise, or a crane, the essence endowed it with life, so that it did not die for a thousand or ten thousands of years and eventually became a spirit. It was then born into this land and in its old age has become a demon. It disturbs and confuses the good person. But when it tires of doing so, it will leave the other person’s body. Then both the disciples and the teacher will get in trouble with the law. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells. The tenth demonic obstruction is the Greed for immortality: Further, in the unhindered clarity and wonder that ensues after the feeling skandha is gone, this good person is untroubled by any deviant mental state and experiences perfect, bright concentration. Within samadhi, his mind craves long life, so he toils at investigating its subtleties as he greedily seeks for immortality. He wishes to cast aside the birth and death of the body, and suddenly he hopes to end the birth and death of thoughts as well, so that he can abide forever in a subtle form. At that time a demon from the heavens seizes the opportunity it has been waiting for. Its spirit possesses another person and uses him as a mouthpiece to expound the Sutras and the Dharma. This person, unaware that he is possessed by a demon, claims he has reached unsurpassed Nirvana. When he comes to see that good person who seeks long life, he arranges a seat and speaks the Dharma. He is fond of saying that he can go places and come back without hindrance, perhaps traveling ten thousand miles and returning in the twinkling of an eye. He can also bring things back from wherever he goes. Or he may tell someone to walk from one end of the room to the other, a distance of just a few paces. Then even if the person walked fast for ten years, he could not reach the wall. Therefore, people believe in the possessed person and mistake him for a Buddha. He often says, “All beings in the ten directions are my children. I gave birth to all Buddhas. I created the world. I am the original Buddha. I created this world naturally, not due to cultivation.” This may be a chamunda sent from the retinue of the demon in the Heaven of Sovereignty, or a youthful pishacha from the Heaven of the Four Kings that has not yet brought forth the resolve. It takes advantage of the person’s luminous clarity and devours his essence and energy. Or perhaps without having to rely on a teacher, the cultivator personally sees a being that tells him, “I am a Vajra Spirit who has come to give you long life.” Or the being transforms itself into a beautiful woman and engages him in frienzied lust, so that within a year his vitality is exhausted. He talks to himself; and to anyone listening he sounds like a goblin. The people around him do not realize what is happening. In most cases such a person will get in trouble with the law. But before he is punished, he will die from depletion. The demon disturbs and confuses the person to the point of death. You should be aware of this in advance and not get caught up in the cycle of transmigration. If you are confused and do not understand, you will fall into the Relentless Hells.

Ten Kinds of Demonic Obstruction of the Formation Skandha: Aggregate of mental formation is a conditioned response to the object of experience including volition, attention, discrimination, resolve, etc. The Aggregate of Activities refers to a process of shifting and flowing. The Aggregate of Activities leads us to come and go, to go and come without end in a constant, ceaseless, flowing pattern. Our idle thoughts compel us to impulsively do good or do evil, and such thoughts then manifest in our actions and our words. According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Ananda! Consider, for example, a swift rapids whose waves follow upon one another in orderly succession, the ones behind never overtaking the ones in front. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of mental formation. Ananda! Thus the nature of the flow does not arise because of emptiness, nor does it come into existence because of the water. It is not the nature of water, and yet it is not separate from either emptiness or water. The reason for this, Ananda, is that if it arose because of emptiness, then the inexhaustible emptiness throughout the ten directions wold become an inexhaustible flow, and all the worlds would inevitably be drown. If the swift rapids existed because of water, then their nature would differ from that of water and the location and characteristics of its existence would be apparent. If their nature were simply that of water, then when they became still and clear they would no longer be made up of water. Suppose it were to separate from emptiness and water, there isn’t anything outside of emptiness, and outside of water there isn’t any flow. Therefore, you should know that the skandha of mental formation is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature.” According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” aggregate of volational formations include all mental factors except feeling and perception. The Abhidhamma speaks of fifty-two mental concomitants or factors (cetasika). Feeling and perception are two of them, but they are not volitional activities. The remaining fifty are collectively known as mental or volitional formations. Volition (cetana) plays a very important role in the mental realm. In Buddhism, no action is considered as “kamma” if that action is void of volition. And like feeling and perception, it is of six kinds: volition directed to forms, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily contacts and mental objects. According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha remined Ananda about the ten big demonic obstructions of Zen practitioners caused by the Formation Skandha as follows: The first demonic obstruction is the two theories on the absence of cause: First, perhaps this person sees no cause for the origin of life. Why? Since he has completely destroyed the mechanism of production, he can, by means of the eight hundred merits of the eye organ, see all beings in the swirling flow of karma during eighty thousand eons, dying in one place and being reborn in another as they undergo transmigration. But he cannot see beyond eighty thousand eons. Therefore, he concluded that for the last eighty thousand eons living beings in the ten directions of this and other worlds have come into being without any cause. Second, perhaps this person sees no cause for the end of life. And why? Since he perceives the origin of life, he believes that people are always born as people and birds are always born as birds; that crows have always been black and swans have always been white; that humans and gods have always stood upright and animals have always walked on four legs; that whiteness does not come from being washed and blackness does not come from being dyed; and that there have never been nor there will be any changes for eighty thousand eons. He says: “As I now examine to the end of this life, I find the same holds true. In fact, I have never seen Bodhi, so how can there be such a thing as the attainment of Bodhi? You should now realize that there is no cause for the existence of any phenomena.” Because of this speculation, he will lose proper and pervasive knowledge, fall into externalism, and become confused about the Bodhi nature. The second demonic obstruction is the four theories regarding pervasive permanence: According to the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, in the part of the ten states of the formation skandha, the Buddha reminded Ananda as follows: “Ananda, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’’ mind is unmoving, clear, and proper and can no longer be distrubed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on its pervasive constancy, he could fall into error with four theories of pervasive permanence.” Attachment on Permanence on the Mind and its states: First, as this person throroughly investigates the mind and its states, he may conclude that both are causeless. Through his cultivation, he knows that in twenty thousand eons, as beings in the ten directions undergo endless rounds of birth and death, they are never annihilated. Therefore, he speculates that the mind and its states are permanent. Attachment on Permanence on the four elements: Second, as this person thoroughly investigates the source of the four elements, he may conclude that they are permanent in nature. Through his cultivation, he knows that in forty thousand eons, as living beings in the ten directions undergo births and deaths, their substances exist permanently and are never annihilated. Therefore, he speculates that this situation is permanent. Attachment on Permanence on the sense faculty, the manas, and the consciousness: Third, as this person thoroughly investigates the sixth sense faculty, the manas, and the consciousness that grasps and receives, he concludes that the origin of the mind, intelect, and consciousness is permanent. Through his cultivation, he knows that in eighty thousand eons, all living beings in the ten directions revolve in transmigration, this origin is never destroyed and exists permanently. Investigating this undestroyed origin, he speculates that it is permanent. Attachment on Permanence on the thought:. Fourth, since this person has ended the source of thoughts, there is no more reason for them to arise. In the state of flowing, halting, and turning, the thinking mind, which was the cause of production and destruction, has now ceased forever, and so he naturally thinks that this is a state of nonproduction and nondestruction. As a result of such reasoning, he speculates that this state is permanent. Because of these speculation of permanence, he will lose proper and pervasive knowledge, fall into externalism, and become confused about the Bodhi nature. The third demonic obstruction is the four upside-down theories: First, as this person contemplates the wonderfully bright mind pervading the ten directions, he concludes that this state of profound stillness is the ultimate spiritual self. Then he speculates, “My spiritual self, which is settled, bright, and unmoving, pervades the ten directions. All living beings are within my mind, and there they are born and die by themselves. Therefore, my mind is permanent, while those who undergo birth and death there are truly impermanent.” Second, instead of contemplating his own mind, this person contemplates in the ten directions worlds as many as the Ganges’ sands. He regards as ultimately impermanent those worlds that are in eons of decay, and as ultimately permanent those that are not in eons of decay. Third, this person closely examines his own mind and finds it to be subtle and mysterious, like fine motes of dust swirling in the ten directions, unchanging in nature. And yet it can cause his body to be born and then to die. He regards that indestructible nature as his permanent intrinsic nature, and that which undergoes birth and death and flows forth from him as impermanent. Fourth, knowing that the skandha of thinking has ended and seeing the flowing of the skandha of formations, this person speculates that the continuous flow of the skandha of formations is permanent, and that the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking which have already ended are impermanent. Because of these speculations of impermanence and permanence, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. The fourth demonic obstruction is the four theories regarding finiteness: First, this person speculates that the origin of life flows and functions ceaselessly. He judges that the past and the future are finite and that the continuity of the mind is infinite. Second, as this person contemplates an interval of eighty thousand eons, he can see living beings; but earlier than eighty thousand eons is a time of stillness in which he cannot hear or see anything. He regards as infinite that time in which nothing is heard or seen, and as finite that interval in which living beings are seen to exist. Third, this person speculates that his own pervasive knowledge is infinite and that all other people appear within his awareness. And yet, since he himself has never perceived the nature of their awareness, he says they have not obtained an infinite mind, but have only a finite one. Fourth, this person thoroughly investigates the formations skandha to the point that it becomes empty. Based on what he sees, in his mind he speculates that each and every living being, in its given body, is half living and half dead. From this he concludes that everything in the world is half finite and half infinite. Because of these speculations about the finite and the infinite, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. The fifth demonic obstruction is the four kinds of sophistry: Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on what he knows and sees, he could fall into error with four distorted, false theories, which are total speculation based on the sophistry of immortality. First, this person contemplates the source of transformations. Seeing the movement and flow, he says there is change. Seeing the continuity, he says there is constancy. Where he can perceive something, he says there is production. Where he cannot perceive anything, he says there is destruction. He says that the unbroken continuity of causes is increasing and that the pause within the continuity are decreasing. He says that the arising of all things is existence and that the perishing of all things is nonexistence. The light of reason shows that his application of mind has led to inconsistent views. If someone comes to seek the Dharma, asking about its meaning, he replies, “I am both alive and dead, both existent and nonexistent, both increasing and decreasing.” He always speaks in a confusing way, causing that person to forget what he was going to say. Second, this person attentively contemplates his mind and finds that everything is nonexistent. He has a realization based on nonexistence. When anyone comes to ask him questions, he replies with only one word. He only says “no,” Aside from saying “none,” he does not speak. Third, this person attentively contemplates his mind and finds that everything is existent. He has a realization based on existence. When anyone comes to ask him questions, he replies with only one word. He only says”yes.” Aside from saying “yes,” he does not speak. Fourth, this person perceives both existence and nonexistenceExperiencing this branching, his mind becomes confused. When anyone comes to ask questions, he tells them, “Existence is also nonexistence. But within nonexistence there is no existence.” It is all sophistry and does not stand up under scrutiny. Because of these speculations, which are empty sophistries, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. The sixth demonic obstruction is the sixteen ways in which forms can exist after death: Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving and proper and can no longer be disturbed be demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate the endless flow, he could fall into error with the confused ideas that forms exist after death. He may strongly identify with his body and say that form is himself; or he may see himself as perfectly encompassing all worlds and say that he contains form; or he may perceive all external conditions as contingent upon himself and say that form belongs to him; or he may decide that he relies on the continuity of the formations skandha and say that he is within form. In all these speculations, he says that forms exist after death. Expanding the idea, he comes up with sixteen cases of the existence of forms. The seventh demonic obstruction is the eight ideas about nonexistence of forms: Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving and proper, and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of being and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking, which have already ended, he could fall into error with the confused idea that forms do not exist after death. Seeing that his form is gone, his physical shape seems to lack a cause. As he contemplates the absence of thought, there is nothing to which his mind can become attached. Knowing that his feelings are gone, he has no further involvements. Those skandhas have vanished. Although there is still some coming into being, there is no feeling or thought, and he concludes that he is like grass or wood. Since those qualities do not exist at present, how can there be any existence of fors after death? Because of his examinations and comparisons, he decides that after death there is no existence. Expanding the idea, he comes up with eight cases of the nonexistence of forms. From that, he may speculate that Nirvana and cause and effect are all empty, that they are mere names and ultimately do not exist. Because of those speculations that forms do not exist after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. The eighth demonic obstruction is the eight kinds of negation: Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting and constant fluctuation. In this state where the skandha of formation remains, but the skandhas of feeling and thinking are gone, if he begins to speculate that there are both existence and nonexistence, thus contradicting himself, he could fall into error with confused theories that deny both existence and nonexistence after death. Regarding form, feeling and thinking, he sees that existence is not really existence. Within the flow of the formations skandha, he sees that that nonexistence is not really nonexistence. Considering back and forth in this way, he thoroughly investigates the realms of these skandhas and derives an eightfold negation of forms. No matter which skandha is mentioned, he says that after death, it neither exists nor does not exist. Further, because he speculates that all formations are changing in nature, an “insight” flashes through his mind, leading him to deny both existence and nonexistence. He cannot determine what is unreal and what is real. Because of these speculations that deny both existence and nonexistence after death, the future is murky to him and he cannot say anything about it. Therefore, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. The ninth demonic obstruction is the seven theories on the cessation of existence: Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving and proper and can no longer be distrubed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate that there ie no existence after death, he could fall into error with seven theories of the cessation of existence. He may speculate that the body will cease to exist; or that when desire has ended, there is cessation of existence; or that after suffering has ended, there is cessation of existence; or that when bliss reaches an ultimate point, there is cessation of existence; or that when renunciation reaches an ultimate point, there is cessation of existence. Considering back and forth in this way, he exhaustively investigates the limits of the seven states and sees that they have already ceased to be and will not exist again. Because of these speculations that existence ceases after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. The tenth demonic obstruction is the five kinds of immediate Nirvana: According to the Surangama Sutra, book nine, in the section of the ten states of formation skandha, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the five kinds of immediate Nirvana: “Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be distrubed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on existence after death, he could fall into error with five theories of Nirvana. Because of these speculations about five kinds of immediate Nirvana, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. He may consider the Heavens of the Desire Realm a true refuge, because he contemplates their extensive brightness and longs for it. He may take refuge in the First Dhyana, because there his nature is free from worry. He may take refuge in the Second Dhyana, because there his mind is free from suffering. He may take refuge in the Third Dhyana, because he delights in its extreme joy. He may take refuge in the Fourth Dhyana, reasoning that suffering and bliss are both ended there and that he will no longer undergo transmigration. These heavens are subject to outflows, but in his confusion he thinks that they are unconditioned; and he takes these five states of tranquility to be refuge of supreme purity. Considering back and forth in this way, he decides that these five states are ultimate.

Ten Demonic Obstructions of the Consciousness Skandha: Aggregate of consciousness includes the six types of consciousness (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and mental consciousness). Awareness or sensitivity to an object, i.e. the consciousness associates with the physical factors when the eye and a visible object come into contact, an awareness of a visible object occurs in our mind. Consciousness or a turning of a mere awareness into personal experience is a combined function of feeling, perception and mental formation. The Aggregate of Consciousness refers to the process of discrimination. As soon as a situation appears, we begin to discriminate in our thoughts about that situation. For example, when we see something beautiful, we have thoughts of fondness towards it; and when we hear ugly sounds, we have thoughts of dislike for those sounds. All such discriminations are part of this Aggregate. According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Ananda! Consider, for example, a man who picks up a kalavinka pitcher and stops up its two holes. He lift up the pitcher filled with emptiness and, walking some thousand-mile way, presents it to another country. You should know that the skandha of consciousness is the same way. Thus, Ananda, the space does not come from one place, nor does it go to another. The reason for this, Ananda, is that if it were to come from another place, then when the stored-up emptiness in the pitcher went elsewhere, there would be less emptiness in the place where the pitcher was originally. If it were to enter this region, when the holes were unplugged and the pitcher was turned over, one would see emptiness come out. Therefore, you should know that the skandha of consciousness is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature.” According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path”, Aggregate of consciousness is the most important of the aggregates; for it is the receptacle, so to speak, for all the fifty-two mental concomitants or factors, since without consciousness no mental factors are available. Consciousness and the factors are interrelated, inter-dependent, and co-existent. Aggregate of consciousness has six types and its function is varied. It has its basis and objects. All our feelings are experienced through the contact of sense faculties with the external world. Although there is this functional relationship between the faculties and their objects, for instance, eye with forms, ear with sounds, and so on, awareness comes through consciousness. In other words, sense objects can not be experienced with the particular sensitivity without the appropriate kind of consciousness. Now when eye and form are both present, visual consciousness arises dependent on them. Similarly with ear and sound, and so on, down to mind and mental objects. Again, when the three things, eye, form, and eye-consciousness come together, it is their coincidence that is called “contact”. From contact comes feeling and so on. Thus, consciousness originates through a stimulus arising in the five sense doors and the mind door, the sixth. As consciousness arises through the interaction of the sense faculties and the sense objects, it also is conditioned and not independent. It is not a spirit or soul opposed to matter. Thoughts and ideas which are food for the sixth faculty called mind are also dependent and conditioned. They depend on the external world which the other five sense faculties experience. The five faculties contact objects, only in the present that is when objects come in direct contact with the particular faculty. The mind faculty, however, can experience the sense object, whether it is form, sound, smell, taste, or thought already cognized by the sense organs. For instance, a visible object, with which the eye came in contact in the past, can be visualized by the mind faculty just at this moment although the object is not before the eye. Similarly with the other sense objects. This is subjective, and it is difficult to experience some of these sensations. This sort of activity of the mind is subtle and sometimes beyond ordinary comprehension. In the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the ten states of consciousness whis are big demonic obstructions for Buddhists on their paths of cultivation as follows: The first demonic obstruction is the attachment to causes and what which is caused: Ananda! You should know that the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty, and he must return consciousness to the source. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. He can cause the individual sense faculties of his body to unite and open. He also has a pervasive awareness of all categories of beings in the ten directions. Since his awareness is pervasive, he can enter the perfect source. But is he regards what he is returning to as the cause of truepermanence and interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of holding to that cause. Kapila the Sankhyan, with his theory of returning to the Truth of the Unmanifest, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the first state, in which he concludes that there is a place to which to return, based on the idea that there is something to attain. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of externalism. The second demonic obstruction is the attachment to ability that is not actually ability: Further, Ananda, the god person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. He may regard that to which he is returning as his own body and may see all beings in the twelve categories throughout space as flowing forth from his body. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of maintaining that he has an ability which he does not really have. Maheshvara, will manifests his boundless body, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the second state, in which he draws conclusions about the workings of an ability based on idea that he has such an ability. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being born in the Heaven of Great Pride where the self is considered all-pervading and perfect. The third demonic obstruction is the attachment to a wrong idea of permanence: Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. If he regards what he is returning to as a refuge, he will suspect that his body and mind come forth from there, and that all things throughout space in the ten directions arise from there as well. He will explain that from which all things issue forth is the truly permanent body, which is not subject to production and destruction. While still within production and destruction, he prematurely reckons that he abides in permanence. Since he is deluded about nonproduction, he is also confused about production and destruction. He is sunk in confusion. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not permanent to be pemanent. He will speculate that the Sovereign God (Ishvaradeva) is his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the third state, in which he makes a false speculation based on the idea that there is a refuge. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of perfection. The fourth demonic obstruction is the attachment to an awareness that is not actually awareness: Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. Based on his idea that there is universal awareness, he formulates a theory that al the plants in the ten directions are sentient, not different from human beings. He claims that plants can become people, and that when people die they again become plants in the ten directions. If he considers this idea of unresticted, universal awareness to be supreme, he will fall into the error of maintaining that what is not aware has awareness. Vasishtha and Sainika, who maintained the idea of comprehensive awareness, will become his companions. Confused about theBodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the fourth state, in which he draws an erroneous conclusion based on the idea that there is a universal awareness. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of awareness. The fifth demonic obstruction is the attachment to birth that is not actually birth: Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. If he has attained versality in the perfect fusion and interchangeable functioning of the sense faculties, he may speculate that all things arise from these perfect transformations. He then seeks the light of fire, delights in the purity of water, loves the wind’s circuitous flow, and contemplates the accomplishments on the earth. He reveres and serves them all. He takes these mundane elements to be a fundamental cause and considers them to be everlasting. He will then fall into the error of taking what is not production to be production. Kashyapa and the Brahmans who seek to transcend birth and dath by diligently serving fire and worshipping water will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the fifth state, in which he confusedly pursues the elements, setting up a false cause that leads to false aspirations baed on speculations about his attachment to worship. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of transformation. The sixth demonic obstruction is the attachment to a refuge that is not actually a refuge: Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. He may speculate that there is an emptiness within the perfect brightness, and based on that he denies the myriad transformations, taking their eternal cessation as his refuge. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not a refuge to be a refuge. Those abiding in the Shunyata of the Heaven of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the sixth state, in which he realizes a state of voidness based on the idea of emptiness within the perfect brightness. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of annihilationism. The seventh demonic obstruction is the attachment to an attainable craving: Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. In the state of what seems to be perfect permanence, he may bolster his body, hoping to live for a long time in that subtle and perfect condition without dying. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of being greedy for something attainable. Asita and those who seek long life will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the seventh state, in which he sets up the false cause of bolstering and aspires to permanent worldly existence, based on his attainment to the life-source. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for false thoughts of lengthening life. The eighth demonic obstruction is the attachment to truth that is not actually truth: Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. As he contemplates the nterconnection of all lives, he wants to hang on to worldly enjoyments and is afraid they will come to an end. Caught up in this thought, he will, by the power of transformation, seat himself in a lotus flower palace, conjure up an abundance of the seven precious things, increase his retinue of beautiful women, and indulge his mind. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not the truth to be the truth. Vignakara will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the eighth state, in which he decides to indulge in worldly enjoyments, based on his wrong thinking. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for becoming a demon of the heavens. The ninth demonic obstruction is the fixed nature Hearers: Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. In his understanding of life, he distinguishes the subtle and the coarse and determines the true and the false. But he only seeks a response in the mutual repayment of cause and effect, and he turns his back on the Way of Purity. In the practice of seeing suffering, eliminating accumulation, realizing cessation, and cultivating the Way, he dwells in cessation and stops there, making no further progress. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall and become a fixed nature Hearer. Unlearned Sanghans and those of overweening pride will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhis of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the ninth state, in which he aspires toward the fruition of cessation, based on perfecting the mind that seeks responses. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for becoming enmeshed in emptiness. The tenth demonic obstruction is the fixed nature Pratyekas: Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. In that perfectly fused, pure, bright enlightenment, as he investigates the profound wonder, he may take it to be Nirvana and fail to make further progress. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall and become a fixed-nature Pratyeka. Those Enlightened by Conditions and Solitary Enlightened Ones who do not turn their minds to the Great Vehicle will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the tenth state, in which he realizes a profound brightns based on fusing the mind with perfect enlightenment. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being unable to surpass his attachment to the brightness of perfect enlightenment.

Chapter 114. Seven Emotions and Six Desires

The term “Seven emotions and six desires” is usually used by everybody to imply demonic obstructions in daily life. We all know that negative emotions lead to suffering, whereas positive ones lead to happiness, and the purpose of all Buddhists is to achieve happiness. So should try to achieve things that cause happiness, and whatever causes suffering we should deliberately happiness. According to Buddhism, seven emotions are seven different kinds of emotions that lead to sufferings and afflictions. The seven emotions or sentiments comprise of: joy (happiness, pleasure), sorrow (grief), love, hate, desire, anger, and fear. What can be borne with ease is happiness. Ordinary happiness is the gratification of a desire. However, as soon as the thing desired is achieved, then we desire something else or some other kind of happiness, for our selfish desires are endless. Money cannot buy happiness, or wealth does not always conduce to happiness. In fact, real happiness is found within, and is not be defined in terms of wealth, power, honours, or conquests. The Buddha enumerates some kinds of happiness for a layman. They are the happiness of possession, health, wealth, longevity, beauty, joy, strength, property, children, etc. The Buddha does not advise all of us to renounce our worldly lives and pleasures and retire to solitude. However, he advised lay disciples to share the enjoyment of wealth with others. We should use wealth for ourselves, but we should also use wealth for the welfare of others. What we have is only temporary; what we preserve we leave and go. Only karmas will have to go with us along the endless cycle of births and deaths. The Buddha taught about the happiness of lay disciples as follows: “A poor, but peace life is real happiness. Leading a blameless life is one of the best sources of happiness, for a blameless person is a blessing to himself and to others. He is admired by all and feels happier, being affected by the peaceful vibrations of others. However, it is very difficult to get a good name from all. The wisemen try to be indifferent to external approbation, try to obtain the spiritual happiness by transcending of material pleasures.” Then the Buddha continued to remind monks and nuns: “Nirvana bliss, which is the bliss of relief from suffering, is the highest form of happiness.” Thus, the Buddha taught on Happiness in the Dharmapada Sutra: “Happy is the birth of Buddhas! Happy is the teaching of the True Law! Happy is the harmony in the sangha! Happy is the discipline of the united ones! (Dharmapada 194). Oh! Happily do we live without hatred among the hateful! Among hateful men we dwell unhating! (Dharmapada 197). Oh! Happily do we live in good health among the ailing! Among the ailing we dwell in good health! (Dharmapada 198). Oh! Happily do we live without greed for sensual pleasures among the greedy! Among the greedy we dwell free from greed! (Dharmapada 199). Oh! Happily do we live without any hindrance. We shall always live in peace and joy as the gods of the Radiant Realm (Dharmapada 200). Victory breeds hatred, defeat breeds suffering; giving up both victory and defeat will lead us to a peaceful and happy life (Dharmapada 201). If by giving up a small happiness or pleasure, one may behold a larger joy. A far-seeing and wise man will do this (a wise man will leave the small pleasure and look for a larger one) (Dharmapada 290). It is pleasant to have friends when need arises. Enjoyment is pleasant when shared with one another. Merit is pleasant when life is at its end. Shunning of (giving up) all evil is pleasant (Dharmapada 331). To revere the mother is pleasant; to revere the father is pleasant; to revere the monks is pleasant; to revere the sages is pleasant (Dharmapada 332). 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). According to Buddhist thoeries, sorrow and joy, each producing the other, or each being inherent in the other. There is no greater love in this world than the love of the mother and father. If a person, carrying father on the left shoulder and mother on the right shoulder, were to walk around the Sumeru Mountain hundreds of thousands of times, with blood covering both feet, it would still not be enough to repay the love and hardship of child rearing (Dhammapada). The Buddha taught: “Love is the only way to destroy hatred. Hatred cannot be defeated with more hatred.” Buddha taught: “When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy.” In order to eliminate “hate,” you should meditate on loving-kindness, pity and compassion. Greed and lust are unrestrained desires for material possessions such as food, sleeping, sexual intercourse, etc., all related to sensual pleasures. We also have a desire for appropriations, showing off, authority, and profits. The cover of desire which overlays the mind and prevents the good from appearing. Since they are like bottomless barrel, neither obsessive greed nor desire can be stopped or satisfied. Through tricks, expedients, and manipulations we try to reach our goal irrespective of whatever happens to others. We Buddhists must see that greedy people are generally selfish, wicked, and prone to cause sufferings to others. As a result, they transform this world into a battlefield where tears are shed like streams, and sufferings rise like an ocean tide. Desire for and love of the things of this life, such as craving (greed, affection, desire). Most people define happiness as the satisfaction of all desires. The desires are boundless, but our ability to realize them is not, and unfulfilled desires always create suffering. When desires are only partially fulfilled, we have a tendency to continue to pursue until a complete fulfillment is achieved. Thus, we create even more suffering for us and for others. We can only realize the true happiness and a peaceful state of mind when our desires are few. This is one of the great steps towards the shore of liberation. The Buddha taught: “Craving and desire are the cause of all unhappiness or suffering. Everything sooner or later must change, so do not become attached to anything. Instead devote yourself to clearing your mind and finding the truth, lasting hapiness.” Knowing how to feel satisfied with few possessions help us destroy greed and desire. This means being content with material conditions that allow us to be healthy and strong enough to cultivate. This is an effective way to cut through the net of passions and desires, attain a peaceful state of mind and have more time to help others. In nowadays society, one fears everything, fear of no money, fear of homelessness, fear of sickness, old-age and death, etc. In fact, because of lack of understanding about the real nature of life, we try to maintain things that we are unable to, that’s why we feel fear of everything. Buddhists should always remember that life is changeable and it composes of a bundle of changeable (impermanent) elements. Once we understand the real nature of life, we don’t have the feeling of fear in life anymore.

The six desires or six sensual attractions comprise of: desire for color, form, carriage, voice or speech, softness or smoothness, and features. Emotions, negative or positive, are impermanent (they would not last), but we cannot say we don’t care about our emotions because they are impermanent. Buddhists cannot say both suffering and happiness are impermanent so we need not seek nor avoid them. We, Buddhists, should try to achieve things that cause happiness, and whatever causes suffering we should deliberately happiness. According to Buddhism, six emotions arising from the six organs of sense: Emotions arising from the eyes. Emotions arising from the ears. Emotions arising from the nose. Emotions arising from the tongue. Emotions arising from the body. Emotions arising from the mind. Practitioners of mindfulness always consider the six senses are objects of cultivation. 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: eye is now in contact with forms (rupa); ear is now in contact with sound; nose is now in conatct with smell; tongue is now in contact with taste; body is now in contact with touching; and mind is now in contact with all things (dharma).

Chapter 115. Dharma Seals In Buddhism

Dharma seal or the seal of Buddha-truth, expressing its reality and immutability. Its universality and its authentic transmission from one Buddha or patriarch to another. In Buddhism, there many different kinds of dhrama seals in both Mahayana and Theravada Traditions. Three Dharma Seals: Three Dharma Seals are yhree marks of existence, or three characteristics of existence that the Buddha declared are common to all phenomena, or the three marks that refers to impermanence (anitya), suffering or unsatisfactoriness (duhkha) and egolessness or anatman. There are three other kinds of dharma seals: impermanence, suffering or unsatisfaction, and nirvana. Some Buddhist sects believe that there are four kinds of dharma seals: suffering, impermanence, non-ego, and nirvana. For Buddhist practitioners, these three dharma seals are not three different things but rather one thing that is your life from three different perspectives. So you can appreciate your life from these perspectives and see how easily they overlap. For example, when you understand impermanence, you understand the nature of suffering and no-self. When you understand no-self that is the peace of Nirvana. Three Dharma Seals are three characteristics of existence are universal in daily life. Any devout Buddhist who becomes aware of these three characteristics is a step closer to enlightenment. Many people are not aware of this, like the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, the Principle of Cause and Effect, Precepts and Samadhi, and so on. As a matter of fact, the three characteristics of existence are also part of what we call the doctrinal contents of wisdom. In other words, when we thoroughly understand the real meanings of the three characteristics of existence, we are reaching the wisdom that is necessary for the cultivation of liberation. Even though we speak of the three characteristics, we really speak of a three-legged chair of the “real nature of things”. One characteristic or one leg of this chair is closely related to the other. If we miss just one characteristic, the principle of the three characteristics becomes meaningless; or if the chair lacks one leg, it cannot stand steadily. The Buddha always emphasized on the “Three Characteristics of existence” because, first, they refer to facts about the nature of existence, second, they are always found in daily life, and third, they are standards that Buddhism uses to determine real teachings of its own.

So when the Buddha said that there are three characterisitcs of existence, He meant that these characteristcs are always present in existence, and that they help us to understand what to do with existence in order to have an eternal happiness for ourselves. Devout Buddhists should always remember that any lectures that do not meet these three characterisitcs of existence of three Dharma Seals, they do not belong to Buddhism. What kind of view regarding forms and trilaksana should Buddhist practitioners have? According to the Anattalakkhana Sutta, the Buddha taught: “O, Bhiksus, is the form not the self. If the form, o Bhiksus, were the self, the body would not be subject to disease and we should be able to say ‘Let my body be such and such a one, let my body not be such and such a one. But since this body, o Bhiksus, is not the self, therefore, the body is subject to disease, and we are not able to say ‘Let my body be such and such a one, let my body not be such and such a one.’” The Buddha further said: “Now what do you think, o Bhiksus, is the body permanent or perishable?” “It is perishable, Lord.” The Buddha added: “And that which is perishable, does that cause pain or joy?” “It causes pain, Lord.” “And that which is perishable, painful, subject to change, is it possible to regard that in this way: ‘This is mine, this am I, this is myself?’” “That is impossible, Lord.” By the method of analysis the Buddha pointed out to his disciples that attachment to things without a correct view as to their true nature is the cause of suffering.

Impermanence and change are inherent in the nature of all things. This is their true nature and this is the correct view, and as long as we are at variance with it, we are bound to run into conflicts. We cannot alter or control the nature of things, and the result is disappointment or suffering. The only solution to this problem lies in correcting our own point of view.

Four Dharma Seals: Some Buddhist schools consider that there are four dharma seals or four dogmas: suffering, impermanence, non-ego, and nirvana. The first dharma seal is Suffering: The term “Dukkha” is often translated as “Suffering”. However, this English word is sometimes misleading because it connotes extreme pain. When the Buddha described our lives as “Dukkha”, he was referring to any and all unsatisfactory conditions. These range from minor disappointments, problems and difficulties to intense pain and misery. Therefore, Dukkha should be used to describe the fact that things are not completely right in our lives and could be better. “Suffering” means “unsatisfactoriness.” This is the first of the four noble truths of Buddhism, which holds that cyclic existence is characterized by unsatisfactoriness or suffering. This is related to the idea that since the things of the world are transitory, beings are inevitably separated from what they desire and forced to endure what is unpleasant. The main stated goal of Buddhism from its inception is overcoming “duhkha.” The second dharma seal is Impermanence: Anitya is the state of not being permanent, of lasting or existing only for a short time, of changing continually. Physical changes operating from the state of formation, to that of development, decay and disintegration are exact manifestations of the law of transformation. All things in the universe, from the small grain of sand, the human body, to the big one such as the earth, moon and sun are governed by the aove law, and as such, must come through these four periods. This process of changes characterizes impermanence. Anitya is one of the three fundamental of everything existing: Impermanence (Anitya), Suffering (Duhkha) and Non-ego (Anatman). The third dharma seal is Egolessness: Buddhism teaches that human beings’ bodies are composed of five aggregates, called skandhas in Sanskrit. If the form created by the four elements is empty and without self, then human beings’ bodies, created by the unification of the five skandhas, must also be empty and without self.

Human beings’ bodies are involved in a transformation process from second to second, minute to minute, continually experiencing impermanence in each moment. By looking very deeply into the five skandhas, we can experience the selfless nature of our bodies, our passage through birth and death, and emptiness, thereby destroying the illusion that our bodies are permanent. In Buddhism, no-self is the most important subject for meditation. By meditating no-self, we can break through the barrier between self and other. When we no longer are separate from the universe, a completely harmonious existence with the universe is created. We see that all other human beings exist in us and that we exist in all other human beings. We see that the past and the future are contained in the present moment, and we can penetrate and be completely liberated from the cycle of birth and death. Impersonal Tone is one of the eight chief characteristics of ‘satori.’ In Zen. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Zen experience is that it has no personal note in it as is observable in Christian mystic experiences. There is no reference whatever in Buddhist satori to such personal feelings. We may say that all the terms are interpretations based on a definite system of thought and really have nothing to do with the experience itself. In anywhere satori has remained thoroughly impersonal, or rather highly intellectual. Not only satori itself is such a prosaic and non-glorious event, but the occasion that inspires it also seems to be unromantic and altogether lacking in super-sensuality. Satori is experienced in connection with any ordinary occurrence in one’s daily life. It does not appear to be an extraordinary phenomenon as is recorded in Christian books of mysticism. Sometimes takes hold of you, or slaps you, or brings you a cup of tea, or makes some most commonplace remark, or recites some passage from a sutra or from a book of poetry, and when your mind is ripe for its outburst, you come at once to satori. There is no voice of the Holy Ghost, no plentitude of Divine Grace, no glorification of any sort. Here is nothing painted in high colors, all is grey and extremely unobstrusive and unattractive. The fourth dharma seal is Nirvana: Nirvana consists of ‘nir’ meaning exit, and ‘vana’ meaning craving. Nirvana means the extinguishing or liberating from existence by ending all suffering. So Nirvana is the total extinction of desires and sufferings, or release (giải thoát). It is the final stage of those who have put an end to suffering by the removal of craving from their mind (Tranquil extinction: Tịch diệt, Extinction or extinguish: Diệt, Inaction or without effort: Vô vi, No rebirth: Bất sanh, Calm joy: An lạc, Transmigration to extinction: Diệt độ). In other word, Nirvana means extinction of ignorance and craving and awakening to inner Peace and Freedom. Nirvana with a small “n” stands against samsara or birth and death. Nirvana also refers to the state of liberation through full enlightenment. Nirvana is also used in the sense of a return to the original purity of the Buddha-nature after the disolution of the physical body, that is to the perfect freedom of the unconditioned state. The supreme goal of Buddhist endeavor. An attainable state in this life by right aspiration, purity of life, and the elimination of egoism. The Buddha speaks of Nirvana as “Unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed,” contrasting with the born, originated, created and formed phenomenal world. The ultimate state is the Nirvana of No Abode (Apratisthita-nirvana), that is to say, the attainment of perfect freedom, not being bound to one place. Nirvana is used in both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhist schools. For Buddhist practitioners, when you understand no-self, that is the peace of nirvana. The word “Nirvana” is translated in different ways, such as “perfect bliss” or “extinction of all desires.” But nirvana and impermanence are like front and back. When you understand impermanence, you find peace. When you truly see your life as nirvana, then impermanence is taken care of. So, Buddhist practitioners rather than figuring out how to deal with impermanence, consider these dharma seals all together as the dharma to be realized. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha told Mahamati: “Oh Mahamati, Nirvana means seeing into the abode of reality in its true significance. The abode of reality is where a thing stands by itself. To abide in one’s self-station means not to be astir, i.e., to be eternally quiescent. By seeing into the abode of reality as it is means to understand that there is only what is seen of one’s own mind, and no external world as such.” After the Buddha’s departure, most of the metaphysical discussions and speculations centered around the subject of Nirvana. The Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Sanskrit fragments of which were discovered recently, one in Central Asia and another in Koyasan, indicates a vivid discussion on the questions as to what is ‘Buddha-nature,’ ‘Thusness,’ ‘the Realm of Principle,’ ‘Dharma-body’ and the distinction between the Hinayana and Mahayana ideas. All of these topics relate to the problem of Nirvana, and indicate the great amount of speculationundertaken on this most important question.

Chapter 116. Bodhisattva’s Practices & Bodhisattva’s Vows

Some 200 or 300 years after the Buddha’s death, a new variation of the Buddhist ideal began to emerge. Dissatisfied with the seemingly limited goal of the arhat, this new vision emphasized the Bodhisattva as the highest aspiration for all. A Bodhisattva is a being who resolves to become a fully enlightened Buddha and who dedicates his efforts to helping other sentient beings to attain salvation. These compassionate beings figure predominantly in the Mahayana tradition; indeed, the most distinguishing feature of Mahayana Buddhism may be its advocacy of the Bodhisattva as the vehicle to liberation. The Bodhisattva follows a long and arduous path, often described as having ten stages and spanning many lives at the end of which he attains complete Buddhahood. Bodhisattva’s Practices: Bodhisattva practice (Bodhisattva’s practising) according to the tradition of Northern Buddhism. A Bodhisattva must achieve the following Bodhisattva’s practices: to vow to devote the mind to bodhi (bodhicita), to practise the four immeasurables, to practise the six Paramitas, and to practise the four all-embracing virtues. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, Bodhisattvas are those who were well known for having achieved all the perfections that lead to the great wisdom. They had received instructions from many Buddhas and formed a Dharma-protecting citadel. By upholding the right Dharma, they could fearlessly give the lion’s roar to teach sentient beings; so their names were heard in the ten directions. They were not invited but came to the assembly to spread the teaching on the Three Treasures to transmit it in perpetuity. They had overcome all demons and defeated heresies; and their six faculties, karmas of deeds, words and thoughts were pure and clean; being free from the (five) hindrances and the (ten) bonds. They had realized serenity of mind and had achieved unimpeded liberation. They had achieved right concentration and mental stability, thereby acquiring the uninterrupted power of speech. They had achieved all the (six) paramitas: charity (dana), discipline (sila), patience (ksanti), devotion (virya), serenity (dhyana) and wisdom (prajna), as well as the expedient method (upaya) of teaching which completely benefit self and others. However, to them these realizations did not mean any gain whatsoever for themselves, so that they were in line with the patient endurance of the uncreate (anutpattika-dharma-ksanti). They were able to turn the wheel of the Law that never turns back. Being able to interpret the (underlying nature of) phenomena, they knew very well the roots (propensities) of all living beings; they surpassed them all and realized fearlessness. They had cultivated their minds by means of merits and wisdom with which they embellished their physical features which were unsurpassable, thus giving up all earthly adornments. Their towering reputation exceeded the height of Mount Sumeru. Their profound faith in the uncreated was unbreakable like a diamond. Their treasures of the Dharma illuminated all lands and rained down nectar. Their speeches were profound and unsurpassable. They entered deep into all (worldly) causes, but cut off all heretical views for they were already free from all dualities and had rooted out all (previous) habits. They were fearless and gave the lion’s roar to proclaim the Dharma, their voices being like thunder. They could not be gauged for they were beyond all measures. They had amassed all treasures of the Dharma and acted like (skillful) seafaring pilots. They were well versed in the profound meanings of all Dharmas. They knew very well the mental states of all living beings and their comings and goings (within the realms of existence). They had reached the state near the unsurpassed sovereign wisdom of all Buddhas, having acquired the ten fearless powers (dasabala) giving complete knowledge and the eighteen different characteristics (of a Buddha as compared with Bodhisattvas (avenikadharma). Although they were free from (rebirth in) evil existences, they appeared in five mortal realms as royal physicians to cure all ailments, prescribing the right medicine in each individual case, thereby winning countless merits to embellish countless Buddha lands. Each living being derived great benefit from seeing and hearing them, for their deeds were not in vain. Thus they had achieved all excellent merits.

According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 21 (Ten Practices), there are ten kinds of practices, which are expounded by the Buddhas of past, present and future: the practice of giving joy, beneficial practice, practice of nonopposition, practice of indomitability, practice of nonconfusion, practice of good manifestation, practice of nonattachment, practice of that which is difficult to attain, practice of good teachings, and practice of truth. According to the Lotus Sutra, there are ten practices of respects of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. First, worship and respect all Buddhas. Second, praise the Thus Come Ones. Third, make abundant offerings. Fourth, repent misdeeds and hindrances. Fifth, rejoyce at others’ merits and virtues. Sixth, request the Buddha to turn the Dharma Wheel. Seventh, request the Buddha to remain in the world. Eighth, follow the teachings of the Buddha at all times. Ninth, accommodate and benefit all sentient beings. Tenth, transfer merits and virtues universally. According to the Buddha in The Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, Great Enlightening Beings have ten kinds of practice which help them attain the practice of the unexcelled knowledge and wisdom of Buddhas. The first practice is the practice dealing with all sentient beings, to develop them all to maturity. The second practice is the practice seeking all truths, to learn them all. The third practice is the practice of all roots of goodness, to cause them all to grow. The fourth practice is the practice of all concentration, to be single-minded, without distraction. The fifth practice is the practice of all knowledge, to know everything. The sixth practice is the practice of all cultivations, to be able to cultivate them all. The seventh practice is the practice dealing with all Buddha-lands, to adorn them all. The eighth practice is the practice dealing with all good companions, respecting and supporting them. The ninth practice is the practice dealing with all Buddhas, honoring and serving them. The tenth practice is the practice of all supernatural powers, to be able to transform anywhere, anytime to help sentient beings.

In the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the ten necessary activities, or practices of a Bodhisattva: The first practice is the conduct of happiness: The practice of joyful service, or giving joy. The Buddha told Ananda: “Ananda! After these good men have become sons of the Buddha, they are replete with the limitlessly many wonderful virtues of the Thus Come Ones, and they comply and accord with beings throughout the ten directions. This is called the conduct of happiness.” The second practice is the conduct of benefitting: The practice of beneficial service, or beneficial practice. The Buddha told Ananda: “Being well able to accommodate all living beings is called the conduct of benefitting.” The third practice is the conduct of non-opposition: The practice of never resenting, or non-opposition. The Buddha told Ananda: “Enlightening oneself and enlightening others without putting forth any resistence is called the conduct of non-opposition.” The fourth practice is the conduct of endlessness: The practice of indomitability, or without limit in helping others. The Buddha told Ananda: “To undergo birth in various forms continuously to the bounds of the future, equally throughout the three periods of time and pervading the ten directions is called the conduct of endlessness.” The fifth practice is the conduct of freedom from deluded confusion: The practice of nonconfusion. The Buddha told Ananda: “When everything is equally in accord, one never makes mistakes among the various dharma doors. This is called the conduct of freedom from deluded confusion.” The sixth practice is the conduct of wholesome manifestation: The practice of good manifestation, or appearing in any form at will to save sentient beings. The Buddha told Ananda: “Then within what is identical, myriad differences appear; the characteristics of every difference are seen, one and all, in identity. This is called the conduct of wholesome manifestation.” The seventh practice is the conduct of non-attachment: The practice of nonattachment, or unimpeded practice. The Buddha told Ananda: “This continues until it includes all the dust motes that fill up empty space throughout the ten directions. In each and every mote of dust there appear the worlds of the ten directions. And yet the appearance of worlds do not interfere with one another. This is called the conduct of non-attachment.” The eighth practice is the conduct of veneration: The practice of exalting the paramitas amongst all beings, or the practice of that which is difficult to attain. The Buddha told Ananda: “Everything that appears before one is the foremost paramita. This is called the conduct of veneration.” The ninth practice is the conduct of wholesome Dharma: The practice of good teaching, or perfecting the Buddha-law by complete virtue. The Buddha told Ananda: “With such perfect fusion, one can model oneself after all the Buddhas of the ten directions. This is called the conduct of wholesome dharma.” The tenth practice is the conduct of true actuality: The practice of truth, or manifest in all things the pure, final and true reality. The Buddha told Ananda: “To then be pure and without outflows in each and every way is the primary truth, which is unconditioned, the essence of the nature. This is called the conduct of true actuality.”

Bodhisattvas’ Vows: The fundamental vow of a Mahayana Bodhisattva to save all sentient beings from delusion. According to The Studies in The Lankavatara Sutra, written by Zen Master D.T. Suzuki, according to his transcendental insight into the truth of things, the Bodhisattva knows that it is beyond all eradicates and not at all subject to any form of description, but his heart full of compassion and love for all beings who are unable to step out of the dualistic whirlpools of “becoming” or not becoming,” he directs his vows towards their salvation and emancipation. His own heart is free from such attachments as are ordinarily cherished by the unemancipated, but that which feels persists, for his insight has not destroyed this, and hence his Purvapranidhana, his Upayakausalya, his Nirmanakaya. Yet all that he does for the maturity of all beings in response to their needs, is like the moon reflection in water, showing himself in all forms and appearances he preaches to them on the Dharma. His activity is what is in Mahayana phraseology called “Anabhogacarya,” deeds that are effortless, effectless, and purposeless. When the Bodhisattva enters upon the first stage called Joy or Pramudita, in the career of his spiritual discipline, he makes the following solemn vows, ten in number, which, flowing out of his most earnest determined will, are as all-inclusive as the whole universe, extending to the extremity of space itself, reaching the end of time, exhausting all the number of kalpas or ages, and functioning uninterruptedly as long as there is the appearance of a Buddha. First, Four Magnanimous Vows: The magnanimous Vows mean the four universal vows of a Buddha or Bodhisattva (four magnanimous Vows or four all-encompassing vows). The four great vows are basically a Mahayana reinterpretation of the Four Holy Truths. In addition to ending one’s own suffering, one vows to end the suffering of all living beings. In addition to eliminating one’s own afflictions, one vows to end the inexhaustible afflictions of all living beings. In addition to learning only the single Dharma-door necessary for one’s own enlightenment, one vows to learn all the Dharma-doors, so that one can teach all living beings appropriately. Rather than being satisfied with reaching the stage of the Arhat, one vows to become a Buddha. However, it is not enough just to recite the vows. You have to return the light and think them over: The vows say that I will save countless number of beings. Have I done so? If I have, it should still be the same as if I had not saved them. Why? It is said that the Thus Come One saves all living beings, and yet not a single living being has been saved. This means that even though you have saved quite a few numbers of living beings, but do not attach to the mark of saving living beings.

According to the Mahayana, the four great magnanimous vows, that are part of the Bodhisattva vow as they recited three times successively in a Zen monastery after ending the practice of sitting meditation. These vows are also recited at the end of any Buddhist ceremonies. First, Vow to save all living beings without limits. Sentient beings are numberless (countless), I vow to save them all. According to the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng Sutra, good knowing advisors, did all of you not just say, “I vow to take across the limitless beings? What does it mean? You should remember that it is not Hui-Neng who takes them across. Good Knowing Advisors, the ‘living beings’ within your mind are deviant and confused thoughts, deceitful and false thoughts, unwholesome thoughts, jealous thoughts, vicious thoughts: and these thoughts are ‘living beings’ The self-nature of each one of them must take itself across. That is true crossing over. What is meant by ‘the self-nature taking across?’ It is to take across by means of right views the living beings of deviant views, affliction, and delusion within your own mind. Once you have right views, use Prajna Wisdom to destroy the living beings of delusion, confusion, and falsehood. Each one takes itself across. Enlightenment takes confusion across, wisdom takes delusion across, goodness takes evil across. Such crossong over is a true crossing. Second, Vow to put an end to all passions and delusions, though inumerous. Afflictions (annoyances) are inexhaustible (endless), I vow to end (cut) them all. Also according to the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng Sutra, ‘I vow to cut off the inexhaustible afflictions.’ That is to use the Prajna Wisdom of your own self-nature to cast out the vain and false thoughts in your mind. Third, Vow to study and learn all methods and means without end. Schools and traditions are manifold, I vow to study them all. The teachings of Dharma are boundless, I vow to learn them all. Also according to the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng Sutra, ‘I vow to study the immeasurable Dharma-door.’ You must see your own nature and always practice the right Dharma. That is true study. Fourth, Vow to become perfect in the supreme Buddha-law. The Buddha-Way (Truth) is supreme (unsurpassed), I vow to complete (realize) it. Also according to the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng Sutra, ‘I vow to realize the supreme Buddha Way,’ and with humble mind to always practice the true and proper. Separate yourself from both confusion and enlightenment, and always give rise to Prajna. When you cast out the true and the false, you see your nature and realize the Buddha-way at the very moment it is spoken of. Always be mindful; cultivate the Dharma that possesses the power of this vow.”

Second, Ten Bodhisattvas’ Vows: According to The Studies in The Lankavatara Sutra, written by Zen Master D.T. Suzuki, a Bodhisattva has ten original vows: The first vow: To honour and serve all the Buddhas, one and all without a single exception. The second vow: To work for the preservation and perpetuation of the teaching of all the Buddhas. The third vow: To be present at the appearance of each Buddha, wherever and whenever it may be. The fourth vow: To practice the proper conduct of Bodhisattvahood which is wide and measureless, imperishable and free from impurities, and to extend the Virtues of Perfection (paramitas) towards all beings. The fifth vow: To induce all beings in the most comprehensive sense of the term to turn to the teaching of the Buddhas so that they may find their final abode of peace in the wisdom of the all-wise ones. The sixth vow: To have an inner perception of the universe, wide and inexhaustible, in all its possible multitudinousness. The seventh vow: To realize the most closely interpenetrating relationship of each and all, of all and each, and to make everyland of beings immaculate as a Buddha-land. The eighth vow: To be united with all the Bodhisattvas in oneness of intention, to become intimately acquainted with the dignity, understanding, and psychic condition of the Tathagatas, so that the Bodhisattva can enter any society of beings and accomplish the Mahayana which is beyond thought. The ninth vow: To evolve the never-receding wheel whereby to carry out his work of universal salvation, by making himself like unto the great lord of medicine or wish-fulfilling gem. The tenth vow: To realize the great supreme enlightenment in all the worlds, by going through the stages of Buddhahood, and fulfilling the wishes of all beings with one voice, and while showing himself to be in Nirvana, not to cease from practicing the objects of Bodhisattvahood. Third, Ten Principles of Universally Good of Enlightening Beings: According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten principles of Universally Good which Enlightening Beings have. First, vowing to live through all future ages. Second, vowing to serve and honor all Budhas of the future. Third, vowing to settle all sentient beings in the practice of Universally Good Enlightening Beings. Fourth, vowing to accumulate all roots of goodness. Fifth, vowing to enter all ways of transcendence. Sixth, vowing to fulfill all practices of Enlightening Beings. Seventh, vowing to adorn all worlds. Eighth, vowing to be born in all Buddha-lands. Ninth, vowing to carefully examine all things. Tenth, vowing to attain supreme enlightenment in all Buddha-lands. Fourth, Ten Pure Vows of Great Enlightening Beings: According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 18, there are ten pure vows of Enlightening Beings: First, vow to develop living beings to maturity, without wearying. Second, vow to fully practice all virtues and purify all worlds. Third, vow to serve the enlightened, always engendering honor and respect. Fourth, vow to keep and protect the true teaching, not begrudging their lives. Fifth, vow to observe with wisdom and enter the lands of the Buddhas. Sixth, vow to be of the same essence as all Enlightening Beings. Seventh, vow to enter the door of realization of Thusness and comprehend all things. Eighth, vow that those who see them will develop faith and all be benefited. Ninth, vow to stay in the world forever by spiritual power. Tenth, vow to fulfill the practice of Universal Good and master the knowledge of all particulars and all ways of liberation. Fifth, Ten Kinds of Unimpeded Function Relating to Vows of Great Enlightening Beings: According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten kinds of unimpeded function relating to vows of Great Enlightening Beings: First, make the vows of all Enlightening Beings their own vows. Second, manifest themselves attaining enlightenment by the power of the vow of attaining of enlightenment of all Buddhas. Third, attain supreme perfect enlightenment themselves in accordance with the sentient beings they are teaching. Fourth, never end their great vows, throughout all eons, without bounds. Fifth, detaching from the body of discriminating consciousness and not clinging to the body of knowledge, they manifest all bodies by free will. Sixth, give up their own bodies to fulfill the aspirations of others. Seventh, edify all sentient beings without giving up their great vows. Eighth, cultivate the deeds of Enlightening Beings in all ages, yet their great vows never end. Ninth, manifest the attainment of true enlightenment in a minute point (a pore), pervade all Buddha-lands by the power of vowing, and show this to each and every sentient beings in untold worlds. Tenth, explain a phrase of teaching, throughout all universes, raising great clouds of true teaching, flashing the lightning of liberation, booming the thunder of truth, showering the rain of elixir of immortality, fulfilling all sentient beings by the power of great vows.

Chapter 117. Ordinary People’s Mind

According to Buddhism, although Sinners and Saints are of the same fundamental nature that is the Buddha-nature. The saint is the opposite of the common or unenlightened man. The Sainted ones are those who are wise and good, and are correct in all their characters. While ordinary people who always examine themselves and realize they are just unenlightened mortal filled with greed, hatred and ignorance, as well as an accumulation of infinite other transgressions in the past, present and future. Ordinary people is a term for “the common man,” or a man of lower caste of character or profession. In Buddhism, an ordinary person unenlightened by Buddhism, an unbeliever, sinner; childish, ignorant, foolish; the lower orders. In Mahayana, the mind of ordinary people are the mind of those who have not reached the path of seeing (darsana-marga), and so have not directly perceived emptiness (sunyata). Due to this, they assent (tán thành) to the false appearances of things and do not perceive them in terms of their true nature, i.e., emptiness. In Theravada, this refers to beings who have worldly aspirations (loka-dharma). They are contrasted with noble people, which includes those who have attained one of the supramundane paths, from stream-enterers up to Arhats. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Long is the night to the wakeful; long is the road to him who is tired; long is samsara to the foolish who do not know true Law (Dharmapada 60). If a traveler does not meet a companion who is better or at least equal, let him firmly pursue his solitary career, rather than being in fellowship with the foolish (Dharmapada 61). These are my sons; this is my wealth; with such thought a fool is tormented. Verily, he is not even the owner of himself. Whence sons? Whence wealth? (Dharmapada 62). A foolish man who knows that he is a fool, for that very reason a wise man; the fool who think himself wise, he is indeed a real fool (Dharmapada 63). If a fool associates with a wise man even all his life, he will understand the Dharma as litle as a spoon tastes the flavour of soup (Dharmapada 64). An intelligent person associates with a wise man, even for a moment, he will quickly understand the Dharma, as the tongue tastes the flavour of soup (Dharmapada 65). A fool with little wit, goes through life with the very self as his own greatest enemy. In the same manner, evil doers do evil deeds, the fruit of which is bitter (Dharmapada 66). The deed is not well done of which a man must repent, and the reward of which he receives, weeping, with tearful face; one reaps the fruit thereof (Dharmapada 67). The deed is well done when, after having done it, one repents not, and when, with joy and pleasure, one reaps the fruit thereof (Dharmapada 68). As long as the evil deed done does not bear fruit, the fool thinks it is as sweet as honey; but when it ripens, then he comes to grief (Dharmapada 69). Let a fool, month after month, eats only as much food as can be picked up on the tip of a kusa blade; but he is not worth a sixteenth part of them who have comprehended the truth (Dharmapada 70). An evil deed committed may not immediately bear fruit, just as newl drawn milk does not turn sour at once. In the same manner, smouldering, it follows the fool like fire covered with ashes (Dharmapada 71). The knowledge and fame that the fool gains, so far from benefiting; they destroy his bright lot and cleave his head (Dharmapada 72). The fool always desire for an undue reputation or undeserved honour, precedence among the monks, authority in the monasteries, honour among other families (Dharmapada 73). Let both monks and laymen think, “by myself was this done; in every work, great or small, let them refer to me.” Such is the ambition of the fool; his desires and pride increase (Dharmapada 74). One is the path that leads to worldly gain, and another is the path leads to nirvana. Once understand this, the monks and the lay disciples of the Buddha, should not rejoice in the praise and worldly favours, but cultivate detachment (Dharmapada 75).”

In English “mind” means “heart,” “spirit,” “psyche,” or “soul.” Mind with a small “m” means the seat of the intellect. Mind with a capital “M” stands for absolute reality. From the standpoint of Zen experience, “mind” means total awareness. In other words, just listening when hearing. According to Most Venerable Dhammananda in The Gems of Buddhist Wisdom, mind may be defined as simply the awareness of an object since there is no agent or a soul that directs all activities. It consists of fleeting mental states which constantly arise and perish with lightning rapidity. “With birth for its source and death for its mouth, it persistently flows on like a river receiving from the tributary streams of sense constant accretions to its flood.” Each momentary consciousness of this everchanging lifestream, on passing away, transmits its whole energy, all the indelibly recorded impressions, to its successor. Every fresh consciousness therefore consists of the potentialities of its predecessors and something more. As all impressions are indelibly recorded in this everchanging palimpsest-like mind, and as all potentialities are transmitted from life to life, irrespective of temporary physical disintegrations, reminiscence of past births or past incidents become a possibility. Mind is like a double-edged weapon that can equally be used either for good or evil. One single thought that arises in this invisible mind can even save or destroy the world. One such thought can either populate or depopulate a whole country. It is mind that creats one’s paradise and one’s hell. Citta or Mind is defined as the whole system of vijnanas, originally pure, or mind. Citta is generally translated as “thought.” In the Lankavatara Sutra as well as in other Mahayana sutras, citta may better be rendered “mind.” When it is defined as “accumulation” or as “store-house” where karma seeds are deposited, it is not mere thought, it has an ontological signification also. In The Dhammapada Sutta, the Buddha taught: “Mind fore-runs deeds; mind is chief, and mind-made are they.” The mind is like a monkey, let it moves wherever it will; however, the Diamond Sutra suggests: “Cultivate the mind and the awareness so that your mind abides nowhere.” The mind without resting place (a mind which does not abide anywhere, a mind which let “bygone be bygone). The mind without resting place, detached from time and space, the past being past may be considered as a non-past or non-existent, so with present and future, thus realizing their unreality. The result is detachment, or the liberated mind, which is the Buddha-mind, the bodhi-mind, the mind free from ideas or creation and extinction, of beginning and end, recognizing that all forms and natures are of the Void, or Absolute. According to Great Master Chi-Sun, the Twelfth Patriarch of the Thirteen Patriarchs of Chinese Pureland Buddhism, there are two kinds of karma, mind power and karmic power. Even though karmic power is great, the mind power is even greater. Because karma does not have an inherent nature. It means that karma is not a pre-existing phenomenon, but it relies entirely on the mind to arise. Therefore, if the mind gives it importance, then the karma will become stronger. The mind can give rise to karma, it can also destroy it.

In Buddhism, there is no distinction between mind and consciousness. Both are used as synonymous terms. Mind always deeply affects the whole body of sentient beings. If allowed to function viciously and entertain unwholesome thoughts, mind can cause disaster, it can even kill a being, but it can cure a sick body. When the mind is concentrated on right thoughts with right effort and understanding the effect it can produce is immense. A mind with pure and wholesome thoughts really does lead to healthy relaxed living. Thus, the Buddha taught: “No enemy can harm one so much as one’s own thoughts of craving, thoughts of hate, thoughts of jealousy, and so on. A man who does not know how to adjust his mind according to circumstances would be like a corpse in a coffin. Turn your mind to yourself, and try to find pleasure within yourself, and you will always find therein an infinite source of pleasure ready for your enjoyment. It is only when the mind is controlled and is kept to the right road of orderly progress that it becomes useful for its possessor and for society. A disorderly mind is a liability both to its owner and to others. All the havoc in the world is created by men who have not learned the way of mind control, balance and poise. Calmness is not weakness. A calm attitude at all times shows a man of culture. It is not too difficult for a man to be calm when things are favourable, but to be calm when things are going wrong is difficult indeed. Calmness and control build up a person’s strength and character. The mind is influenced by bad mood, provoke, emotion, and worry. We should not come to any hasty decision regarding any matter when you are in a bad mood or when provoked by someone, not even when you are in good mood influenced by emotion, because such decision or conclusion reached during such a period would be a matter you could one day regret. Angry is the most dangerous enemy. Mind is your best friend and worst woe. You must try to kill the passions of lust, hatred and ignorance that are latent in your mind by means of morality, concentration and wisdom. The secret of happy, successful living lies in doing what needs to be done now, and not worrying about the past and the future. We cannot go back into the past and reshape it, nor can we anticipate everything that may happen in the future. There is one moment of time over which we have some conscious control and that is the present. In The Gems of Buddhism Wisdom, Most Venerable Dhammanada confirmed: “If you want to get rid of your enemies you should first kill your anger which is the greatest enemy within you. Furthermore, if you act inconsiderately, you are fulfilling the wishes of your enemies by unknowingly entering into their trap. You should not think that you can only learn something from those who praise and help you and associate with you very close. There are many things you can learn from your enemies also; you should not think they are entirely wrong just because they happen to be your enemies. You cannot imagine that sometimes your enemies also possess certain good qualities. You will not be able to get rid of your enemies by returning evil for evil. If you do that then you will only be inviting more enemies. The best and most correct method of overcoming your enemies is by radiating your kindness towards them. You may think that this is impossible or something nonsensical. But this method is very highly appreciated by all wise people. When you come to know that there is someone who is very angry with you, you should first try to find out the main cause of that enmity; if it is due to your mistake you should admit it and should not hesitate to apologize to him. If it is due to certain misunderstandings between both of you, you must have a heart to heart talk with him and try to enlighten him. If it is due to jealousy or some other emotional feeling you must try to radiate your loving-kindness towards him so that you will be able to influence him through your mental energy. Buddhist practitioners should always cultivate tolerance, for tolerance helps you to avoid hasty judgments, to sympathize with other people’s troubles, to avoid captious criticism, to realize that even the finest human being is not infallible; the weakness you find in other people can be found in yourself too. Humility is not weakness, humility is the wise man’s measuring-rod for learning the difference between what is and what is yet to be. The Buddha himself started his ministry by discarding all his princely pride in an act of humility. He attained sainthood during his life, but never lost his naturalness, never assumed superior airs. His dissertations and parables were never pompous. He had time for the most humble men. Be patient with all. Anger leads one through a pathless jungle. While it irritates and annoys others, it also hurts oneself, weakens the physical body and disturbs the mind. A harsh word, like an arrow discharged from a bow, can never be taken back even if you would offer a thousand apologies for it. According to Bikkhu Piyananda in The Gems of Buddhism Wisdom, you cannot run away from your mind. By meditation, you can train the mind to keep calm and be free from disturbances either from within or outside. Apply concentrated awareness to the internal confusions and mental conflicts, and observe or pay attention to all the changing states of your mind. When the mind is properly developed, it brings happiness and bliss. If the mind is neglected, it runs you into endless troubles and difficulties. The disciplined mind is strong and effective, while the wavering mind is weak and ineffective. The wise train their minds as thoroughly as a horse-trainer train their horses. Therefore, you should watch you mind. When you sit alone, you should observe the changing conditions of the mind. The task is only a matter of observing the changing states, not fighting with the mind, or avoid it, or try to control it. When the mind is in a state of lust, be aware that we are having a mind of lust. When the mind is in a state of hatred or when it is free from hatred, be aware that we are having a mind of hatred or free from hatred. When you have the concentrated mind or the scattered mind, you should be aware that we are having a concentrated or a scattered mind. You should always remember that your job is to observe all these changing conditions without identifying yourself with them. Your job is to turn your attention away from the outside world and focus in yourself. This is very difficult, but it can be done.

In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: Of all dharmas, mind is the forerunner, mind is chief. We are what we think, we have become what we thought (what we are today came from our thoughts of yesterday). If we speak or act with a deluded mind or evil thoughts, suffering or pain follows us, as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox (Dharmapada 1). Of all dharmas, mind is the forerunner, mind is chief. We are what we think, we have become what we thought. If we speak or act with a pure mind or thought, happiness and joy follows us, as our own shadow that never leaves (Dharmapada 2). As rain penetrates and leaks into an ill-thatched hut, so does passion enter an untrained mind or uncultivated mind (Dharmapada 13). As rain does not penetrate a well-thatched hut, so does passion not enter a cultivated mind (Dharmapada 14). The wavering and restless, or unsteady mind, difficult to guard, difficult to hold back; a wise man steadies his trembling mind and thought, as a fletcher makes straight his arrow (Dharmapada 33). As a fish drawn from its watery abode and thrown upon the dry land, our thought quivers all over in its effort to escape the realm of Mara (Dharmapada 34). It is good to control the mind, which is difficult to hold in and flighty, rushing wherever it wishes; a controlled mind brings happiness (Dharmapada 35). The mind is hard to perceive, extremely subtle, flits whenever it wishes. Let the wise person guard it; a guarded mind is conducive to hapiness (Dharmapada 36). Traveling far, wandering alone, bodiless, lying in a cave, is the mind. Those who subdue it are freed from the bonds of Mara (Dharmapada 37). He whose mind is not steady, he who does not know the True Law, he whose confidence wavers, the wisdom of such a person will never be perfect (Dharmapada 38). He whose mind is free from lust of desires, he who is not affected by hatred, he who has renounced both good and evil, for such a vigilant one there is no fear (Dharmapada 39). Whatever harm an enemy may do to an enemy, or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind can do one far greater harm (Dharmapada 42). What neither mother, nor father, nor any other relative can do, a well-directed mind can do one far greater good (Dharmapada 43). Like the earth, Arhats who are balanced and well-disciplined, resent not. He is like a pool without mud; no new births are in store for him (Dharmapada 95). Those Arhats whose mind is calm, whose speech and deed are calm. They have also obtained right knowing, they have thus become quiet men (Dharmapada 96). In the past times, this mind went wandering wherever it liked, as it wished and as it pleased. But now I shall completely hold it under control as a rider with his hook a rutting elephant (Dharmapada 326). Take delight in heedfulness, check your mind and be on your guard. Pull yourself out of the evil path, just like the elelphant draws itself out of the mud (Dharmapada 327).

Chapter 118. The Saint’s Minds

The saint is the opposite of the common or unenlightened man. The saints are those who are wise and good, and are correct in all their characters. According to Buddhism, the holy multitude or sacred assembly are all considered the saints. The Bodhisattva saints who have overcome illusion, from the first stage upwards. The holy or saintly one, or enlightened one who has started on the path to nirvana. According to the Vijnanamatrasiddhi, the life of holiness apart or distinguished from the life of common unenlightened people. According to Buddhism, the saints are those who have realized the saintly fruits and have completely comprehended the truth without further study. Practitioners proceed to the last stage, i.e., the Path of No-More-Learning. Then the firm conviction that they have realized the Fourfold Truth will present itself. When the Ariya reaches this stage, he becomes an arhat. According to the Hinayanistic view this is the perfect state of enlightenment, but according to the Mahayanistic view an arhat is thought to be only partially enlightened. The purpose of Buddhism is to perfect a man’s ’haracter, or to let him attain Buddhahood on the basis of wisdom and right cultivation, i.e., the highest personality. Such are the characteristics of Buddhism.

Sainted Minds are the holy minds, that of Buddha. The sainted minds are always still and peaceful, without seeking gain, support or respect. The Saints’ mind is the mind of the Buddha because it is a mind of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity... It is a mind of good thinkings on other people. At the same time, it is the mind of a Bodhisattva: Above to seek bodhi, below to save (transform) beings, one of the great vow of a Bodhisattva. The sainted minds are minds of detachment or renunciation includes physical: wealth, body, form, sound, smell, taste, touch, etc., and mental biased minds, wrong views, self-grasping, ego-grasping, etc. In other words, the sainted minds delivered from all desires. “Mind” is another name for Alaya-vijnana. Unlike the material body, immaterial mind is invisible. We are aware of our thoughts and feelings and so forth by direct sensation, and we infer their existence in others by analogy. The mind is the root of all dharmas. In Contemplation of the Mind Sutra, the Buddha taught: “All my tenets are based on the mind that is the source of all dharmas.” The mind has brought about the Buddhas, the Heaven, or the Hell. It is the main driving force that makes us happy or sorrowful, cheerful or sad, liberated or doomed. In Zen, it means either the mind of a person in the sense of all his powers of consciousness, mind, heart and spirit, or else absolutely reality, the mind beyond the distinction between mind and matter. It is for the sake of giving practitioners an easier understanding of Mind, Buddhist teachers usually divide the mind into aspects or layers, but to Zen, Mind is one great Whole, without parts or divisions. The manifestating, illuminating, and nonsubstantial characteristics of Mind exist simultaneously and constantly, inseparable and indivisible in their totality.

The special community established by the Buddha was called “The Assembly of the Noble” (Arya-sangha), intended to be the cradle of noble persons. Since the Brahmanical tradition had been firmly established, the race distinction was strictly felt. On that account the Buddha often asserted that in his own community there would be no distinction between Brahmans (priests) and warriors or between masters and slaves. Anyone who joined the Brotherhood would have an equal opportunity for leading and training. The Buddha often argued that the word Arya meant ‘noble’ and we ought not call a race noble or ignoble for there will be some ignoble persons among the so-called Aray and at the same time there will be some noble persons among the so-called Anarya. When we say noble or ignoble we should be speaking of an individual and not of a race as a whole. It is a question of knowledge or wisdom but not of birth or caste. Thus the object of the Buddha was to create a noble personage (arya-pudgala) in the sense of a noble life. The noble community (Arya-sangha) was founded for that very purpose. The noble ideal (Arya-dharma) and the noble discipline (Arya-vinaya) were set forth for the aspiring candidates. The path to be pursued by the noble aspirant is the Noble Eightfold Path (Arya-astangika-marga) and the truth to be believed by the noble is the Noble Fourfold Truth (Catvariarya-satyani). The perfections attained by the noble were the four noble fruitions (Arya-phala) and the wealth to be possessed by the noble was the noble sevenfold wealth (sapta-arya-dhana), all being spiritual qualifications. The careful application of the word Arya to each of the important points of his institution must not be overlooked by a student of Buddhism. The Buddha thus seemed to have endeavored to revive the original meaning of Arya in people’s minds in daily life of his religious community.

Ordinary people with ordinary minds do not see things as they really are because of of their ignorance or failing to understand the truth about life. Ignorance is the opposite of the word ‘to know’. In Budhdism, ignorance means ‘not knowing’, ‘not seeing’, ‘not understanding’, ‘being unclear’, and so forth. Whoever is dominated by ignorance is like a blind person because the eyes are shut, or not seeing the true nature of objects, and not understanding the truths of cause and effect, and so on. Ignorance is the root of all sufferings and afflictions. Due to ignorance, people cannot distinguish between right and wrong. They become blind under the delusion of self, clinging to things which are impermanent, changeable, and perishable. As long as we have not develop our minds to obtain wisdom, we remain ignorant of the tru nature of things. According to Buddhism, ignorance means regarding the self as real. Ignorance is the main cause of our non-enlightenment. Ignorance is only a false mark, so it is subject to production, extinction, increase, decrease, defilement, purity, and so on. Ignorance is the main cause of our birth, old age, worry, grief, misery, and sickness, and death. Due to ignorance, people do not see things as they really are, and cannot distinguish between right and wrong. They become blind under the delusion of self, clinging to things which are impermanent, changeable, and perishable. Once anger arises, one has nothing but “ignorance.” In order to eliminate “ignorance,” you should cultivate in contemplation on causality. All of our psychological problems are rooted in ignorance, in delusion. Ignorance is the crowning corruption. Our greeds, hates, conceits and a host of other defilements go hand in hand with our ignorance. The solutions are to be found in the problems themselves and hence we should not run away from our problems. Analyze and scrutinize the problems, and you will see that they are human problems, so do not attribute them to non-humans. Our real problems can be solved only by giving up illusions and false concepts and bringing our lives into harmony with reality and this can be done only through cultivation.

As a matter of fact, according to Buddhism, there is no difference in Buddha-nature between ordinary people and the saint, the only difference is that minds in ordinary people are constantly occupied with a lot of false thoughts, thoughts of worry, happiness, hatred and anger, friends and enemies, and so on, so we cannot discover the Buddha-nature within. The state of mind of quietude or equanimity gained through cultivation. In Buddhism, practitioners cultivate to calm down and to eliminate attachments, the aversions, anger, jealousy and the ignorance that are in our heart so that we can achieve a transcendental wisdom which leads to enlightenment. Once we achieve a state of quietude through cultivation, we will discover our real nature within; it is nothing new. However, when this happens, then there is no difference between us and the Buddha. In order to achieve the state of quietude through ciltivation, practtioners should cultivate four basic stages in Dhyana. The relinquishing of desires and unwholesome factors achieved by conceptualization and contemplation. In this stage, the mind is full of hoy and peace. In this phase the mind is resting of conceptualization, the attaining of inner calm, and approaching the one-pointedness of mind (concentration on an object of meditation). In this stage, both joy and sorrow disappear and replaced by equanimity; one is alert, aware, and feels well-being. In this stage, only equanimity and wakefulness are present.

The Buddha once taught: “For a long time has man’s ordinary mind been defiled by greed, hatred and delusion. Mental defilements make beings impure; and only mental cleansing can purify them.” Devout Buddhists should always keep in mind that our daily life is an intense process of cleansing our own action, speech and thoughts. And we can only achieve this kind of cleansing through practice, not philosophical speculation or logical abstraction. Remember the Buddha once said: “Though one conquers in battle thousand times thousand men, yet he is the greatest conqueror who conquers himself.” This is nothing other than training of our own ordinary mind, or “self-mastery, or control our own mind. It means mastering our own ordinary mental contents, our emotions, likes and dislikes, and so forth. Thus, “self-mastery” is the greatest empire a man can aspire unto, and to be subject to our own passions is the most grievous slavery.

Chapter 119. Cultivation of Blessedness

In Buddhism, cultivate merits, sundry practices or practices of blessing means cultivate to gather merits includes 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. 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. 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, Zen practitioners should always remember that in Zen, 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. Devout Buddhists should always remember that the law of cause and effect or the relation between cause and effect in the sense of the Buddhist law of “Karma” is inconceivable. The law of causation (reality itself as cause and effect in momentary operation). Every action which is a cause will have a result or an effect. Likewise every resultant action or effect has its cause. The law of cause and effect is a fundamental concept within Buddhism governing all situations. The Moral Causation in Buddhism means that a deed, good or bad, or indifferent, brings its own result on the doer. Good people are happy and bad ones unhappy. But in most cases “happiness” is understood not in its moral or spiritual sense but in the sense of material prosperity, social position, or political influence. For instance, kingship is considered the reward of one’s having faithfully practiced the ten deeds of goodness. If one meets a tragic death, he is thought to have committed something bad in his past lives even when he might have spent a blameless life in the present one.

In Buddhism, the term “field of blessing” is used just as a field where crops 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. 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. Zen 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, Zen 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.

Chapter 120. Cultivations of Wisdom

According to Buddhist legendary, in Buddhist teachings, there are eighty-four thousand dharma-doors. Eighty-four thousand is a symbolic number which represents a countless number of the Buddha Dharma-door. Although talking about numerous dharma doors, all of them concentrate only on two matters. First, cultivation of blessness to accumulate merits; and the second matter is the cultivation of wisdom to accumulate virtues. In the limitation of this chapter, we only discuss about the cultivation of wisdom. The real wisdom is not something we can attain externally, only because most of us have become confused through general misconceptions and therefore, are unable to realize this potential wisdom. If we can eliminate this confusion, we will realize this intrinsic part of our nature. This is the main purpose of cultivation in Buddhism. The ultimate goal in cultivating is the complete enlightenment. Practitioners should always remember that the Buddha’s teachings: “All things arise from the mind.” Therefore, when the mind is pure, verything else is pure. Devout Buddhists should always remember that Buddhist religion is the path of returning to self (looking inward), the goal of its education must be inward and not outward for appearances and matters. As mentioned above, the main causes of sufferings and afflictions are greed, anger, hatred, ignorance, pride, doubt, wrong views, killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and so on... and the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to help sentient beings, especially human beings, to observe and practice discipline, meditation, and wisdom so that we can eliminate these troubles so that if we are not able to become a Buddha, at least we can become a real Buddhist who has a peaceful, mindful and happy life.

The Buddha taught his disciples numerous methods to practice to help the mind remain calm and unaffected in all situations, not giving rise to any wandering and discriminating thoughts or attachments so practitioners can recover their own original nature. Cultivation of wisdom means nothing profound but correcting our previous erroneous thoughts, speech, and acts. In cultivating to attain wisdom, observing precepts and practicing meditation play an extremely important role because observing precepts will help practitioners not to commit wrong-doings, while practicing meditation will help practitioners attain a pure mind. Fundamental wisdom which is inherent in every man and which can manifest itself only after the veil of ignorance, which screens it, has been transformed by means of self-cultivation as taught by the Buddha. According to the Buddha, wisdom is extremely important for it can be commensurate with enlightenment itself. It is wisdom that finally opens the door to freedom, and wisdom that removes ignorance, the fundamental cause of suffering. It is said that while one may sever the branches of a tree and even cut down its trunk, but if the root is not removed, the tree will grow again. Similarily, although one may remove attachment by means of renunciation, and aversion by means of love and compassion, as long as ignorance is not removed by means of wisdom, attachment and aversion will sooner or later arise again. As for the Buddha, immediately after witnessing the unhappy incident involving the worm and the bird at the plowing ceremony, the prince sat under a nearby rose-apple tree and began to contemplate. This is a very early experience of meditation of the Buddha. Later, when he renounced the world and went forth to seek the ultimate truth, one of the first disciplines he developed was that of meditation. Thus, the Buddha himself always stressed that meditation is the only way to help us to achieve wisdom.

In Buddhism, wisdom is of the highest importance; for purification comes through wisdom, through understanding. But the Buddha never praised mere intellect. According to him, knowledge should go hand in hand with purity of heart, with moral excellence (vijja-caranasampanna-p). Wisdom gained by understanding and development of the qualities of mind and heart is wisdom par excellence (bhavanamaya panna-p). It is saving knowledge, and not mere speculation, logic or specious reasoning. Thus, it is clear that Buddhism is neither mere love of, nor inducing the search after wisdom, nor devotion, though they have their significance and bearing on mankind, but an encouragement of a practical application of the teaching that leads the follower to dispassion, enlightenment and final deliverance.

For Buddhist practitioners, to begine to cultivate wisdom means to start our own inner struggle. Zen Master Philip Kapleau wrote in The Three Pillars of Zen: “Zazen that leads to Self-realization is neither idle reverie nor vacant inaction but an intense inner struggle to gain control over the mind and then to use it, like a silent missile, to penetrate the barrier of the five senses and the discursive intellect (that is, the sixth sense). It demands energy, determination and courage. Yasutani-roshi (Zen master Hakuun Yasutani 1885-1973) calls it ‘a battle between the opposing forces of delusion and bodhi.’ This state of mind has been vividly described in these words, said to have been uttered by the Buddha as he sat beneath the Bo tree making his supreme effort, and often quoted in the zendo during sesshin: ‘Though only my skin, sinews, and bones remain and my blood and flesh dry up and wither away, yet never from this seat will I stir until I have attained full enlightenment.’ The drive toward enlightenment is powered on the one hand by a painful felt inner bondage, a frustration with life, a fear of death, or both; and on the other by the conviction that through awakening one can gain liberation. But it is in zazen that the body-mind’s force and vigor are enlarged and mobilized for the breakthrough into this new world of freedom.”

The Buddha often taught his disciples that all sentient beings possess a Buddha’s wisdom or original nature which has abilities to know the past, present and future. These are our original abilities. Unfortunately, they are covered and hidden by our delusion. Delusion occurs when the mind is not still, while an enlightened one remains uneffected. It should be noted that when our six senses encounter the environment, our mind moves, giving rise to wandering thoughts. The resulting wisdom, or training in wisdom. Even though wisdom involves cause and effect. Those who cultivated and planted good roots in their past lives would have a better wisdom. However, in this very life, 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. Wisdom is one of the three studies in Buddhism. The other two are precepts and meditation. According to Bhikkhu Piyadassi Mahathera in The Spectrum of Buddhism, high concentration is the means to the acquisition of wisdom or insight.


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