Chapter 137. Buddha-Nature and Dharma Nature
The Sanskrit term Buddhata or Buddhitattva means the state of the Buddha’s enlightenment, the Buddha-Nature, the True Nature, or the Wisdom Faculty (the substratum of perfection, of completeness, intrinsic to both sentient and insentient life). The Buddha-nature within (oneself) all beings which is the same as in all Buddhas. Potential bodhi remains in every gati, all have the capacity for enlightenment; however, it requires to be cultivated in order to produce its ripe fruit. The seed of mindfulness and enlightenment in every person, representing our potential to become fully awakened and eventually a Buddha. The substratum of perfection, of completeness, intrinsic to both sentient and insentient life. In Zen, the attainment of enlightenment or becoming a Buddha is the highest aim of all beings. Since all beings possess this Buddha-nature, the question here is not to attain anything, but to be able to see and live with our originally perfect nature in our daily activities means th same thing with becoming a Buddha. Zen Master Huang-Po taught in The Zen Teaching of Huang-Po: “Our original Buddha-Nature is, in highest truth, devoid of any atom of objectivity. It is void, omnipresent, silent, pure; it is glorious and mysterious peaceful joy; and that is all. Enter deeply into it by awaking to it yourself. That which is before you is it, in all its fullness, utterly complete. There is naught beside. Even if you go through all the stages of a Bodhisattva’s progress towards Buddhahood, one by one; when at last, in a single flash, you attain to full realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha-Nature which has been with you all the time; and by all the foregoing stages you will have added to it nothing at all.” According to Hakuin, a famous Japanese Zen master, Buddha-nature is identical with that which is called emptiness. Although the Buddha-nature is beyond all conception and imagination, it is possible for us to awaken to it because we ourselves are intrinsically Buddha-nature. Charlotte Joko Beck wrote an interesting story in Everyday Zen: “There’s a story of three people who are watching a monk standing on top of a hill. After they watch him for a while, one of the three says, ‘He must be a shepherd looking for a sheep he’s lost.’ The second person says, ‘No, he’s not looking around. I think he must be waiting for a friend.’ And the third person says, ‘He’s probably a monk. I’ll bet he’s meditating.’ They begin arguing over what this monk is doing, and eventually, to settle the squabble, they climb up the hill and approach him. ‘Are you looking for a sheep?’ ‘No, I don’t have any sheep to look for.’ ‘Oh, then you must be waiting for a friend.’ ‘No, I’m not waiting for anyone.’ ‘Well, then you must be meditating.’ ‘Well, no. I’m just standing here. I’m not doing anything at all... Seeing Buddha-nature requires that we... completely be each moment, so that whatever activity we are engaged in, whether we’re looking for a lost sheep, or waiting for a friend, or meditating, we are standing right here, right now, doing nothing at all.’”
Buddha-nature, which refers to living beings, and Dharma-nature, which concerns chiefly things in general, are practically one as either the state of enlightenment (as a result) or the potentiality of becoming enlightened (as a cause). The nature of the dharma is the absolute, the true nature of all things which is immutable, immovable and beyond all concepts and distinctions. Dharmata (pháp tánh) or Dharma-nature, or the nature underlying all things has numerous alternative forms. The nature of the dharma is the enlightened world, that is, the totality of infinity of the realm of the Buddha. The Dharma Realm is just the One Mind. The Buddhas certify to this and accomplish their Dharma bodies… “Inexhaustible, level, and equal is the Dharma Realm, in which the bodies of all Thus Come Ones pervade.” The nature of dharma is a particular plane of existence, as in the Ten Dharma Realms. The Dharma Realms pervade empty space to the bounds of the universe, but in general, there are ten: four sagely dharma realms and six ordinary dharma realms. These ten dharma realms do not go beyond the current thought you are thinking. Dharma-nature is called by many different names: inherent dharma or Buddha-nature, abiding dharma-nature, realm of dharma (dharmaksetra), embodiment of dharma (dharmakaya), region of reality, reality, immaterial nature (nature of the void), Buddha-nature, appearance of nothingness (immateriality), bhutatathata, Tathagatagarbha, universal nature, immortal nature, impersonal nature, realm of abstraction, immutable nature, realm beyond thought, and mind of absolute purity, or unsulliedness, and so on. Besides, there are other defintions that are related to Dharma-nature. First, Dharma-nature and bhutatathata (different names but the nature is the same). Second, Dharma-Nature or dharmakaya. Third, Dharma-nature as a mountain, fixed and immovable. Fourth, Dharma-nature in its phenomenal character. The dharma-nature in the sphere of illusion. Bhutatathata in its phenomenal character; the dharma-nature may be static or dynamic; when dynamic it may by environment either become sullied, producing the world of illusion, or remain unsullied, resulting in nirvana. Static, it is like a smooth sea; dynamic, to its waves.
In Minding Mind, Zen master Hongren taught: “According to The Ten Stages Scripture, there is an indestructible Buddha-nature in the bodies of living beings, like the orb of the sun, its body luminous, round and full, vast and boundless; but because it is covered by the dark clouds of the five clusters, it cannot shine, like a lamp inside a pitcher. When there are clouds and frog everywhere, the world is dark, but that does not mean the sun has decomposed. Why is there no light? The light is never destroyed; it is just enshrouded by clouds and fog. The pure mind of all living beings is like this, merely covered up by the dark clouds of obsession with objects, arbitrary thoughts, psychological afflictions, and views and opinions. If you can just keep the mind still so that errant thought does not arise, the reality of nirvana will naturally appear. This is how we know the inherent mind is originally pure.”
Also in Minding Mind, Zen Master Hongren said, “Buddha-nature in all beings is originally pure. Once we know that the Buddha-nature in all beings is as pure as the sun behind the clouds, if we just preserve the basic true mind with perfect clarity, the clouds of errant thoughts will come to an end, and the sun of insight will emerge; what is the need for so much more study of knowledge of the pains of birth and death, of all sorts of doctrines and principles, and of the affairs of past, present, and future? It is like wiping the dust off a mirror; the clarity appears spontaneously when the dust is all gone. Thus whatever is learned in the present unenlightened mind is worthless. If you can maintain accurate awareness clearly, what you learn in the uncontrived mind is true learning. But even though I call it real learning, ultimately there is nothing learned. Why? Because both the self and nirvana are empty; there is no more two, not even one. Thus there is nothing learned; but even though phenomena are essentially empty, it is necessary to preserve the basic true mind with perfect clarity, because then delusive thoughts do not arise, and egoism and possessiveness disappear. The Nirvan Scripture says, ‘Those who know the Buddha does not preach anything are called fully learned.’ This is how we know that preserving the basic true mind is the source of all scriptures.”
Zen Master Philip Kapleau wrote in Awakening to Zen: “Buddha-nature is without gender. From the point of view of Buddha-nature, it doesn’t matter whether one is homosexual or heterosexual, male or female. To the degree that one allows one’s Buddha-nature to express itself, to the degree that one overcomes the duality of self-another, which also means male and female, there can be no improper sexuality, no ‘right’ gender. Improper sexuality must, by definition, spring from egotistical self-seeking, from selfish concern with one’s own desires. To have any relationship at all, one must have a certain concern for the other. But if one is primarily seeking only to satisfyoneself, this is improper sexuality. Whether one is homosexual or heterosexual, one need not feel any shame. If one fails to feel a Oneness, or Unity, and to express it in daily life, this, spiritually speaking, is alone cause for shame... The third precept... means to refrain from adultery. And adultery, too, although it may be defined legally, means that while one is living in a viable relationship with one person, one does not sully that relationship by concomitantly having a relationship with another person.”
When the Six Patriarch Hui Neng arrived at Huang Mei and made obeisance to the Fifth Patriarch, who asked him: “Where are you from and what do you seek?” Hui Neng replied: “Your disciple is a commoner from Hsin Chou, Ling Nan and comes from afar to bow to the Master, seeking only to be a Buddha, and nothing else.” The Fifth Patriarch said: “You are from Ling Nan and are therefore a barbarian, so how can you become a Buddha?” Hui Neng said: “Although there are people from the north and people from the South, there is ultimately no North or South in the Buddha Nature. The body of this barbarian and that of the High Master are not the same, but what distinction is there in the Buddha Nature?” Chapter 138. Ten Stages of Mind-Herding As Compared to Ten Stages of Ox-Herding
Ten stages of mind-herding or Ten ox-herding pictures of cattle-grazing or Ten Oxen Pictures are one of the most widespread sets of images of the Ch’an tradition. There is a tremendous difference between shallow and deep realization, and these different levels are depicted in the Ten Ox-herding Pictures. In fact, we must say that among the various formulations of the levels of realization in Zen, none is more widely known than the Ox-herding Pictures, a sequence of ten illustrations annotated with comments in prose and verse. It is probably because of the sacred nature of the ox in ancient India this animal came to be used to symbolize man’s primal nature of Buddha-mind. People believe that Zen Master Kuo-An Shih Yuan was the author of the original drawings of the “Ox-Herding” and the commentary that accompanied them are both attributed to him. In fact, Zen Master Kuo-An was not the first to illustrate the developing stages of Zen realization through pictures. Before his time, earlier versions of five and eight pictures exist in which the Ox becomes progressively whiter, and the last painting being a circle. This implied that the realization of Oneness, that is, the effacement of every conception of self and other, was the ultimate goal of Zen. But Zen Master Kuo-An Shih Yuan, feeling this to be incomplete, added two more pictures beyond the one with the circle to make it clear that the Zen practitioner of the highest spiritual development lives in the mundane world of form and diversity and mingles with the utmost freedom among ordinary men. Moreover, a Zen practitioner must inspire these ordinary people at any possible time with his compassion and radiance to walk in the Way of the Buddha. It is this version that has gained the widest acceptance in Japan, has proved itself over the years to be a source of instruction and effective inspiration to Zen students. These following Ten Ox-herding Pictures with commentary were base on the Three Pillars of Zen, published by Zen Master Philip Kapleau in 1956. The Chinese verses from Tue Sy’ s extracts from the Ordinary Collection of Writings; and the Vietnamese interpretations from Truc Thien, An Tiem Publisher published in 1972 in Saigon, Vietnam. First, looking (searching) for an Ox (seeking the Ox): As a matter of fact, the Ox has never gone astray, so why search for it? Having turned his back on his True nature, the man cannot see it. Because of his defilements he has lost sight of the Ox. Suddenly he finds himself confronted by a maze of crisscrossing roads. Greed for worldly gain and dread of loss spring up like searing flames, ideas of right and wrong dart out like daggers.
“Desolate through forests and fearful in jungles,
He is seeking an Ox which he does not find.
Up and down dark, nameless, wide-flowing rivers,
In deep mountain thickets he treads many bypaths.
Bone-tired, heart-weary, he carries on his search
For this something which he yet cannot find.
At evening he hears cicadas chirping in the trees.”
Second, seeing its tracks (finding the tracks): Through the sutras and teachings he discerns the tracks of the Ox. He has been informed that just as different-shaped golden vessels are all basically of the same gold, so each and every thing is a manifestation of the Self. But he is unable to distinguish good from evil, truth from falsity. He has not actually entered the gate, but he sees in a tentative way the tracks of the Ox.
“Innumerable footprints has he seen
In the forest and along the water’s edge.
Over yonder does he see the trampled grass?
Even the deepest gorges of the topmost mountains
Can’t hide this Ox’s nose which reaches right to heaven.”
Third, seeing the Ox (first glympse of the Ox): Namely, that of seeing the Ox. If he will but listen intently to everyday sounds, he will come to realization and at that instant see the very Source. In every activity the Source is manifestly present. It is analogous to the salt in water or the binder in paint. When the inner vision is properly focused, one comes to realize that which is seen is identical with the true Source. In other words, Zen practitioners have only caught a glimpse of the realm “beyond the manifestation of form”; however, seeing into own nature is such that Zen practitioners easily lose sight if it is they become lazy and forego further practice. Furthermore, though Zen practitioners have attained enlightenment, they still remain the same old, nothing has been added, and they become no grander.
“A nightingale warbes on a twig,
The sun shines on undulating willows.
There stands the Ox, where could he hide?
That splendid head, those stately horns,
What artist could portray them?”
But if they continue with sitting meditation, they will soon reach the fourth stage of the point of grasping the Ox or catching the Ox: Right now Zen practitioners do not, so to speak, own their realization. Today he encountered the Ox, which had long been cavorting in the wild fields, and actually grasped it. For so long a time has it reveled in these surroundings that breaking it of its old habits is not easy. It continues to yearn for sweet-scented grasses, it is still stubborn and unbridled. If he would tame it completely, the man must use his whip.
“He must tightly grasp the rope and not let it go,
For the Ox still has unhealthy tendencies.
Now he charges up to the highlands,
Now he loiters in a misty ravine.”
The fifth stage, beyond the stage of grasping the Ox is the stage of taming it (feeding the Ox): With the rising of one thought another and another are born. Enlightenment brings the realization that such thoughts are unreal since even they arise from our True-nature. It is only because delusion still remains that they are imagined to be unreal. This state of delusion does not originate in the objective world but in our own minds.
“He must hold the nose-rope tight
And not allow the Ox to roam,
Lest off to muddy haunts it should stray.
Properly tended, it becomes clean and gentle.
Untethered, it willingly follows its master.”
The sixth stage, riding the Ox home: Which is s state of awareness in which enlightenment and ego are seen as one and the same. The struggle is over, “gain” and “loss” no longer affect him. He hums the rustic tune of the woodsman and plays the simple songs of the village children. Astride the Ox’s back, ha gazes serenely at the clouds above. His head does not turn in the direction of temptations. Though one may to upset him, he remains undisturbed.
“Riding free as air he buoyantly comes home
Through evening mists in wide straw-hat and cape.
Wherever he may go he creates a fresh breeze,
While in his heart profound tranquility prevails.
This Ox requires not a blade of grass.”
Seventh, forgetting the Ox, self alone (Ox dies, man lives): In the Dharm there is no two-ness. The Ox is his Primal-nature: this he has now recognized. A trap is no longer needed when a rabbit has been caught, a net becomes useless when a fish has been snared. Like gold which has been separated from dross, like the moon which has broken through the clouds, one ray of luminous Light shines eternally.
“Only on the Ox was he able to come Home,
But lo, the Ox is now vanished,
and alone and serene sits the man.
The red sun rides high in the sky
As he dreams on placidly.
Yonder beneath the thatched roof
His idle whip and idle rope are lying.”
Eighth, forgetting the Ox and self: Both Ox and Man dead. All delusive feelings have perished and ideas of holiness too have vanished. He lingers not in the state of “I am a Buddha”, and he passes quickly on through the stage of “And now I have purged myself of the proud feeling ‘I am not Buddha.’” Even the thousand eyes of five hundred Buddhas and patriarchs can discern in him no specific quality. If hundreds of birds were now to strew flowers about his room, he could not but feel ashamed of himself.
“Whip, rope, Ox, and man alike belong to Emptiness.
So vast and infinite the azure sky
That no concept of any sort can reach it.
Over a blazing fire a snowflake cannot survive.
When this state of mind is realized
Comes at last comprehension
Of the spirit of the ancient patriarchs.”
Ninth, returning to the source: Return whence both came, the grade of grand enlightenment, which penetrates to the very bottom and where one no longer differentiates enlightenment from non-enlightenment. From the very beginning there has not been so much as a speck of dust to mar (spoil) the intrinsic Purity. He observes the waxing and waning of life in this world while abiding unassertively in a state of unshakable serenity. This waxing and waning is no phantom or illusion but a manifestation of the Source. Why then is there need to strive for anything? The waters are blue, the mountains are green. Alone with himself, he observes things endlessly changing.
“He has returned to the Origin,
Come back to the Source,
But his steps have been taken in vain.
It is as though he were now blind and deaf.
Seated in his hut, he hankers not for things outside.
Streams meander on of themselves,
Red flowers naturally bloom red.”
The last, the tenth stage, entering the market place with helping hands (enter the dust): The gate of his cottage is closed and even the wisest cannot find him. His mental panaroma has finally disappeared. He goes his own way, making no attempt to follow the steps of earlier sages. Carrying a gourd, he strolls into the market; leaning on his staff, he returns home. He leads innkeepers and fishmongers in the Way of the Buddha.
he comes into the marketplace.
Muddied and dust-covered,
how broadly he grins!
Without recourse to mystic powers,
Withered trees he swiftly brings to bloom.”
The stage in which Zen practitioners have completely finished their practice. They can move among ordinary people, help them wherever possible; they are free from all attachment to enlightenment. To live in this stage is the aim of life of any Zen practitioner and its accomplishment many cycles of existence. Zen practitioners should try to set foot on the path leading to this goal. In short, these pictures depict the levels of increasing realization of a student of Cha’n. In some depictions, the ox is black at the beginning, becomes gradually whiter, and then becomes pure white. After this the ox disappears. The sequence symbolizes the student’s gradual mastery of meditation practice, in which the mind is progressively brought under control and trained. Eventually the training is left behind, and one is able to function in the world with a changed perspective. Chapter 139. Seven Ancient Buddhas
Seven Ancient Buddhas according to Early Buddhist Tradition: Sakyamuni Buddha is not the only Buddha in the universe, but on of many Buddhas who appeared in this world throughout the aeons. Knowledge of the non-historical Buddhas seems to have grown as time went on. However, according to Buddhist legends, originally, there were seven Buddhas. Three Buddhas in the past glorious kalpa comprise of Vipasyin Buddha (Universally Preaching), Sikhin Buddha (Fire), and Visyabhu Buddha (All Benevolent): First, Vipasyin Buddha: Universally Preaching, the first of the seven Buddhas of antiquity, Sakyamuni being the seventh. According to the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, Chapter 9, in the past, a Buddha named Vipashin appeared in the world. If a man or woman hears this Buddha’s name, that person will eternally avoid falling into the evil paths and will always be born among people or gods, and will experience unsurpassed bliss. Second, Sikhin Buddha (Fire): The 999th Buddha of the last (preceeding) kalpa, whom Sakyamuni is said to have met. The second of the seven Buddhas of antiquity, born in Prabhadvaja as a Ksatriya. Sikhin Buddha was the 999th Buddha of the last (preceeding) kalpa, whom Sakyamuni is said to have met, the second of the Sapta Buddha. Third, Visyabhu Buddha (All Benevolent): According to The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Visvabhu was the last 1,000th Buddha of the preceding kalpa, the third of the Sapta Buddha, who converted on two occasions 130,000 persons. Four Buddhas in the present or Bhadra kalpa comprise of Krakucchanda Buddha (Kakuda-Katyayana), Kanakamuni Buddha, Kasyapa Buddha (Drinking Brightness), and Sakyamuni Buddha (Benevolence and Serenity): Fourth, Krakucchanda Buddha: Present kalpa, Gold Wizard, the first of the Buddhas of the present Bhadrakalpa, the fourth of the seven ancient Buddhas. According to the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, Chapter 9, in the past, a Buddha named Krakucchanda appeared in the world. If a man or woman hears this Buddha’s name and sincerely beholds, worships, or praises him, that person will become the king of the Great Brahma Heaven in the assemblies of the one thousand Buddhas of the Worthy Aeon, and will there receive a superior prediction. According to the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, Chapter 9, in the past, a Buddha named Krakucchanda appeared in the world. If a man or woman hears this Buddha’s name and sincerely beholds, worships, or praises him, that person will become the king of the Greay Brahma Heaven in the assemblies of the one thousand Buddhas of the Worthy Aeon, and will there receive a superior prediction. Fifth, Kanakamuni Buddha: Present kalpa, Golden Wizard, the second Buddha in the five Buddhas of the Bhadrakalpa, and the fifth of the seven ancient Buddha. According to Professor Soothill in The Dictionary of Chinese-English Buddhist Terms, this is possibly a sage who preceded Sakyamuni in India. Sixth, Kasyapa Buddha: Drinking Brightness, the third of the five Buddhas of the psent kalpa, the sixth of the seven ancient Buddhas. Kasyapa means the constellation of “drinking light,” i.e. swallowing sun and moon (but without apparent justification). Seventh, Sakyamuni Buddha: Present kalpa Benevolence and Serenity. Sakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha, who was born into the Sakya clan (the Sage of the Sakyas), historical founder of Buddhism, Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha Sakyamuni, who was born in 581-501 BC as the first son of King Suddhdana, whose small kingdom with the capital city of Kapilavastu was located in what is now Nepal. At the age of twenty nine, he left his father’s palace and his wife and child in search of the meaning of existence and way to liberate. One morning at the age of thirty five, he realized enlightenment while practicing meditation, seated beneath the Bodhi tree. Thereafter, he spent the rest 45 years to move slowly across India until his death at the age of 80, expounding his teachings to help others to realize the same enlightenment that he had. According to Eitel in The Dictionary of Chinese-English Buddhist Terms composed by Professor Soothill, Sakyamuni, the saint of the sakya tribe. Muni is saint, holy man, sage, ascetic, monk; it is interpreted as benevolent, charitable, kind, also as one who dwells in seclusion. After 500 or 550 previous incarnations, Sakyamuni finally attained to the state of Bodhisattva, was born in the Tusita heaven, and descended as a white elephant, through her right side, into the womb of the immaculate Maya, the purest woman on earth; this was on the 8th day of the 4th month; the following year on the 8th day of the 2nd month he was born from her right side painlessly as she stood under a tree in the Lumbini garden. He was born the son of King Suddhodana, of the Ksatriya caste, ruler of Kapilavastu, and Maya his wife; that Maya died seven days later, leaving him to be brought up by her sister Prajapati; that in due course he was married to Yasodhara who bore him a son, Rahula; that in search of truth he left home, became an ascetic, severely disciplined himself, and finally at 35 years of age, under a tree, realized that the way of release from the chain of rebirth and death lay not in asceticism but in moral purity; this he explained first in his four dogmas, and eightfold noble way. He founded his community on the basis of poverty, chastity, and insight or meditation, and it became known as Buddhism, as he became known as Buddha, The Enlightened. His death was probably in or near 487 B.C., a few years before that of Confucius in 479. The sacerdotal name of his family is Gautama, said to be the original name of the whole clan, Sakya being that of his branch; his personal name was Siddhartha, or Sarvarthasiddha. Besides, there are seven Ancient Buddhas according to the Pure Land Tradition: Amitabha Tathagata, Kanlu Wang Tathagata, Kuan Yin Tathagata, Wonderful Body Tathagata, Ratnasambhava Tathagata, Non-Fearfulness Tathagata, and Prabhutaratna Tathagata. Chapter 140. Buddhakaya
A lot of people think of the Buddha’s body as his physical body. Truly, the Buddha’s body means Enlightenment. It is formless and without substance. It always has been and always will be. It is not a physical body that must be nourished by ordinary food. It is an eternal body whose substance is Wisdom. Therefore, Buddha will never disappear as long as Enlightenment exists. Enlightenment appears as the light of Wisdom that awakens people into a newness of life and causes them to be born into the world of Buddhas. According to Mahayana doctrine, Buddhas have three bodies: 1) Dharmakaya, or body of the great order, or true body of the Buddha. This is the true nature of the Buddha, which is identical with transcendental reality, the essence of the universe. The dharmakaya is the unity of the Buddha with every thing existing. It represents the law or dharma, the teaching expounded by the Buddha (Sakyamuni); 2) Sambhogakaya, or body of delight, the body of Buddhas who in a “Buddha-Paradise” enjoy the truth that they embody. This is also the result of previous good actions; and 3) Nirmanakaya, or body of transformation, or emanation body, the earthly body in which Buddhas appear to men in order to fulfill the buddhas’ resolve to guide all beings to advance to Buddhahood (liberation). The nirmanakaya is embodied in the earthly Buddhas and Bodhisattvas projected into the world through the meditation of the sambhogakayaas a result of their compassion. The three bodies are not one and yet not different. It is because the levels of understanding of human beings are different. Some see the dharma body, still others see the reward body, and still others see the response body. For example, some look at a pearl as a substance which is round and perfect, others see the pure light emitting by the pearl, still others see the pearl reflected within itself. Apart from the substance of the pearl and the light, there is no pure light emitting, nor reflection inside the pearl. Thus the three are one. These are Buddha’s three-fold body. A Buddha has three bodies or planes of reality. According to the Yogacara philosophy, the Triple Body is Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya. Dharmakaya or Dharma body (Law body) is likened to the field of a specific career; the Sambhogakaya or bliss-body is a person’s training by which that person acquires the knowledge of that specific career; and the Nirmanakaya or the body of transformation is likened the application of this knowledge in daily life to earn a living.
According to the Lankavatara Sutra, there are four kinds of Buddhakaya: Nirmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Buddha-wisdom or Great wisdom (Tathata-jnanabuddha), and Dharmakaya. According to the sastra on the Consciousness, there are four kinds of Buddhakaya: Nirmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya. According to the T’ien-T’ai Sect, there are four kinds of Buddhakaya: Nirmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya. This sect believes that the reward body, the sambhoga-kaya of a Buddha. The incarnation body of the Buddha, or retribution body in which he enjoys the reward of his labours. Our physical body is called the retribution body because we are on this earth, the Saha World or World of Endurance, as a result of good and evil karma. T’ien-T’ai believes that the transformation body of the Buddha is the manifested body, or any incarnation of Buddha. The transformation body of the Buddha is corresponding to the Buddha-incarnation of the Bhutatathata. Also according to the T’ien-T’ai Sect, there are five kinds of Buddha-kaya: The first Buddha-body is the spiritual body of wisdom. This is the spiritual body of bhutatathata-wisdom (Sambhogakaya). The second Buddha-body is the Sambhogakaya. The spiritual body of all virtuous achievement. The third Buddha-body is the Nirmakaya. The body of incarnation in the world, or the spiritual body of incarnation in the world. The fourth Buddha-body is the Nirmakaya, or the body of unlimited power of transformation. The fifth Buddha-body is the Dharmakaya. The body of unlimited space. According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, there are five kinds of Buddha-kaya: The first Buddha-body is the body or person of Buddha born from the dharma-nature. The second Buddha-body is the dharmakaya evolved by Buddha-virtue, or achievement. The third Buddha-body is the dharmakaya with unlimited powers of transformation. The fourth Buddha-body is the real dharmakaya. The fifth Buddha-body is the universal dharmakaya, the dharmakaya as being like space which enfolds all things, omniscient and pure.
According to The Surangama Sutra, book Six, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva vowed in front of the Buddha about his thirty-two response bodies as follows: “World Honored One, because I served and made offerings to the Thus Come One, Kuan Yin, I received from that Thus Come One a transmission of the vajra samadhi of all being like an illusion as one becomes permeated with hearing and cultivates hearing. Because I gained a power of compassion identical with that of all Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, I became accomplished in thirty-two response-bodies and entered all lands.” The wonderful purity of thirty-two response-bodies, by which one enters into all lands and accomplishes self-mastery by means of samadhi of becoming permeated with hearing and cultivating hearing and by means of the miraculous strength of effortlessness. According to the Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch taught: “Good Knowing Advisor! What is the perfect, full Reward-body of the Buddha? Just as one lamp can disperse the darkness of a thousand years, one thought of wisdom can destroy ten thousand years of delusion. Do not think of the past; it is gone and can never be recovered. Instead think always of the future and in every thought, perfect and clear, see your own original nature. Although good and evil differ, the original nature is non-dual. That non-dual nature is the real nature. Undefiled by either good or evil, it is the perfect, full Reward-body of the Buddha. One evil thought arising from the self-nature destroys ten thousand aeons’ worth of good karma. One good thought arising from the self-nature ends evils as numerous as the sand-grains in the Ganges River. To reach the unsurpassed Bodhi directly, see it for yourself in every thought and do not lose the original thought. That is the Reward-body of the Buddha.”
In Hinayana the Buddha-nature in its absolute side is described as not discussed, being synonymous with the five divisions of the commandments, meditation, wisdom, release, and doctrine. The Madhyamika School of Nagarjuna defines the absolute or ultimate reality as the formless which contains all forms, the essence of being, the noumenon of the other two manifestations of the Triratna. The Dharmalaksana School defines the nature of the dharmakaya as: the nature or essence of the whole Triratna and the particular form of the Dharma in that trinity. The One-Vehicle Schools represented by the Hua-Yen and T’ien-T’ai sects, consider the nature of the dharmakaya to be the Bhutatathata, noumenon and wisdom being one and undivided. The Shingon sect takes the six elements as the nature of dharmakaya. First, takes the sixth elements (earth, water, fire, air, space) as noumenon or fundamental Dharmakaya. Second, takes mind (intelligence or knowledge) as the wisdom dharmakaya. The nature of the Dharmakaya is the absolute, the true nature of all things which is immutable, immovable and beyond all concepts and distinctions. Dharmata (pháp tánh) or Dharma-nature, or the nature underlying all things has numerous alternative forms.
According to the Mahayana traditions, there are seven surpassing qualities of a Buddha: First, the Buddha’s body with thirty-two signs and eighty-four marks. Second, the Buddha’s dharma or universal law, the way of universal mercy. Third, the Buddha’s wisdom. Fourth, the Buddha’s perfection with perfect insight or doctrine. Fifth, the Buddha’s supernatural powers. Sixth, the Buddha’s ability to overcome hindrance and attain Deliverance. Seventh, the Buddha’s abiding place (Nirvana). Besides, there are many other surpassing qualities of a Buddha. According to the doctrine of the Mahasanghika in the Samayabhedoparacanacakra, the Buddha-kaya is inconceivably pure: First, the Tathagata, the Buddha, or the Blessed One transcends all worlds. Second, the Tathagata has no worldly substances. Third, all the words of the Tathagata preach the Dharma. Fourth, the Tathagata explains explicitly all things. Fifth, the Tathagata teaches all things as they are. Sixth, the Tathagata has physical form. Seventh, the Buddha’s authority is unlimited. Eighth, the life of the Buddha-body is limitless. Ninth, the Tathagata is never tired of saving beings. Tenth, the Buddha does not sleep. Eleventh, the Tathagata is above the need to ponder questions. Twelfth, the Tathagata, being always in meditation, utters no word, nevertheless, he preaches the truth for all beings by means of words and explanations. Thirteenth, the Tathagata understands all matters instantaneously. Fourteenth, the Tathagata gains complete understanding with his wisdom equal within a single thought-moment. Fifteenth, the Tathagata, unceasingly produce wisdom regarding destruction of defilements, and wisdom concerning non-origination until reaching Nirvana. Chapter 141. Trikayas
According to Mahayana doctrine, Buddhas have three bodies: The first body of the Buddha is the Dharmakaya: The Prajna-paramita Sutra maintains the conception that the Dharmakaya is produced by Dharmas. Thus, the Dharma body is the principle and nature of fundamental enlightenment. Body of the great order. The true nature of the Buddha, which is identical with transcendental reality, the essence of the universe. The dharmakaya is the unity of the Buddha with every thing existing. It represents the law or dharma, the teaching expounded by the Buddha (Sakyamuni). There is still another another explanation that the dharmakaya is the Dharma body of Vairocana Buddha, which translates as “All Pervasive Light.” The second body of the Buddha is the Sambhogakaya: The reward body is Perfect Wisdom, or initial enlightenment. This is the body of delight, the body of Buddhas who in a “buddha-paradise” enjoy the truth that they embody. This is also the result of previous good actions. The reward body is considered as the body of Nisyanda Buddha, which means “Fulfillment of Purity.” The third body of the Buddha is the Nirmanakaya: The transformation body is a compassionate appearance in response to living beings. Body of transformation, the earthly body in which Buddhas appear to men in order to fulfill the Buddhas’ resolve to guide all beings to advance to Buddhahood (liberation). The nirmanakaya is embodied in the earthly Buddhas and Bodhisattvas projected into the world through the meditation of the sambhogakaya as a result of their compassion. The transformation body is also known as the body of Sakyamuni Buddha, which translates “Still and Silent.”
In Zen the three bodies of Buddhas are three level of reality: Dharmakaya is the cosmic consciousness: The unified existence that lies beyond all concepts. Sambhogakaya is the experience of the ecstasy of enlightenment. Nirmanakaya means Buddha-body is radiant, personified by Sakyamuni Buddha. According to the Vijrayana or the Tantric Buddhism, the samsaric way of handling our world, in terms of the three levels of samsaric perception: body, emotions, and mindlessness. There is a definite tantric levels of perception, which is known as the principle of the three kayas, or the trikaya. Kaya is a Sanskrit word that simply means “body.” There is a correspondence between the three levels. In the language of tantra, the level of body corresponds to the kaya or body of manifestation, the nirmanakaya. The level of emotions corresponds to the body of complete joy, the sambhogakaya, and the level of bewilderment or ignorance corresponds to total space, the dharmakaya.
There is no tension or contradiction between the samsaric and the tantric descriptions. Rather the tantric principle of the three kayas shows how we could relate to the levels of body, emotions, and bewilderment that already exist within our state of being. In studying tantra, we relate with all three kayas simultaneously by relating to the vajra master, who embodies all three. The three kayas are not abstract principles, but we can relate to them experientially, personally, spiritually, and transcendently, all at the same time. As we develop to the level of the teacher’s body, the level of nirmanakaya, then we begin to experience the sambhogakaya. At that level emotions are transmuted and are workable. Beyond that, we also begin to tune in to the dharmakaya, which is open, all pervading space. If we are going to study tantra, it is necessary to understand the trikaya principle of being and manifesting. In tantric practice the first step is to realize the level of body, the nirmanakaya. Then we see that the five Buddha families are related with the sambhogakaya or the level of emotions. Beyond that it is necessary to transcend both the bodily and the emotional level, which is the dharmakaya, high above. It is necessary to understand the importance of relating with the body, or earthly existence, and relating with the vajra master, the great teacher who exists on earth. In some sense such a teacher is a magician, a conjurer: he has achieved total space, conquered the level of emotions, and he actually exists in an earthly body. Dharmakaya stands for the strength of fundamental truth of emptiness, the all-pervading supreme reality, enlightenment itself and embodied as Samantabhadra. Sambhogakaya represents the qualities of the dharmakaya. The nirmanakaya is the intentional embodiment of the dharmakaya in human form. In the Mahayana, Nirmanakaya means the historical Buddha Sakyamuni. In the Vajrayana, nirmanakaya means any person who possesses the spiritual capabilities of a teacher who has previously died.
Three Kinds of Buddha-body according to the Yogacara philosophy: The Triple Body or planes of reality is Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya. The first body is the Dharmakaya: Dharma here may be understood in either way as “reality,” or as “law giving principle,” or simply as “law.” Kaya means “body” or “system.” The combination, dharmakaya, is then literally a body or person that exists as principle, and it has now come to mean the highest reality from which all things derive their being and lawfulness, but which in itself transcends all limiting conditions. However, Dharmakaya is not a mere philosophical word, as is indicated by the term “kaya,” which suggests the idea of personality, especially as it relates to Buddhahood. It belongs to the Buddha, it is what inwardly and essentially constitutes Buddhahood, for without it a Buddha loses altogether his being. Dharmakay is also known as Svabhavakaya, meaning “self-nature-body”, for it abides in itself, it remains as such retaining its nature. It is this sense the absolute aspect of the Buddha, in whom perfect tranquility prevails. The second body is the Sambhogakaya: The second body is the Sambhogakaya, which is ordinarily translated as Body of Recompense, or Enjoyment. Literally, “enjoyment” is a better word for sambhoga, for it comes originally from the root “bhuj,” which means “to eat” or “to enjoy,” to which the prefix “sam” meaning “together” is added. Thus “sambhogakaya” is often translated into the Chinese as “Kung-Yung-Shên,” or “Shou-Yung-Shen,” or “Chih-Shên.” Since we have the term “sambhogakaya,” recompense or reward body for it. This body of Enjoyment is attained as the result of or as the reward for a series of spiritual discipline carried on through so many kalpas. The body thus realized is the sambhogakaya, body of recompense, which is enjoyed by the well-deserving one, i.e., Bodhisatva-Mahasattva. The Buddha as the Body of Enjoyment is generally represented as a figure enveloped in all the glory of Buddhahood; for in Him incarnated there is everything good and beautiful and holy accruing from the perfection of the spiritual life. The particular features of each such Buddha may vary according to his original vows; for instance, his environment, his name, his form, his country, and his activity may not be the same; Amitabha Buddha has his Pure Land in the West with all the accommodations as he desired in the beginning of his career as Bodhisattva; and so with Akshobhya Buddha as described in the sutra bearing his name. The Body of Recompense is sometimes called “Ying-Shên” or the Responding Body. The third body is the Nirmanakaya: The third Body is Nirmanakaya, usually translated as “Hua-Shên,” which means “Body of Transformation,” or simply “Assumed Body.” The Dharmakaya is too exalted a body for ordinary mortals to come to any conscious contact with. As it transcends all forms of limitation, it cannot become an object of sense or intellect. We ordinary mortals can perceive and have communion with this body only through its transformed forms. And we perceive them only according to our capacities, moral and spiritual. They do not appear to us in the same form. We thus read in the Saddharma-Pundarika Sutra that the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara transforms himself into so many different forms according to the kind of beings whose salvation he has in view at the moment. The Kshitigarbha Sutra also mentions that Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva takes upon himself a variety of forms in order to respond to the requirements of different sentient beings. The conception of the Nirmanakaya is significant, seeing that this world of relativity stands contrasted with the absolute value of Suchness which can be reached only by means of the knowledge of Suchness or Tathatajnana. The essence of Buddhahood is the Dharmakaya, but as long as the Buddha remains such, there is no hope for the salvation of a world of particulars. Thus the Buddha has to abandon his original abode, and must take upon himself such forms as are conceivable and acceptable to the inhabitants of this world.
According to Zen Master D.T. Suzuki in Essays in Zen Buddhism, Book III, in Zen, there are three kinds of Buddha-body: The first body is the Dharmakaya: The Dharmakaya is the essence-being of all the Buddhas and also of all beings. What makes at all possible the existence of anything is the Dharmakaya, without which the world itself is inconceivable. But, especially, the Dharmakaya is the essence-body of all beings which forever is. In this sense it is Dharmata or Buddhata, that is, the Buddha-nature within all beings. The second body is the Sambhogakaya: The Sambhogakaya is the spiritual body of the Bodhisattvas which is enjoyed by them as the fruit of their self-discipline in all the virtues of perfection. This they acquire for themselves according the law of moral causation, and in this they are delivered at last from all the defects and defilements inherent in the realm of the five Skandhas. The third body is the Nirmanakaya: The Nirmanakaya is born of great loving heart (mahakaruna) of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. By reason of this love they have for all beings, they never remain in the self-enjoyment of the fruits of their moral deeds. Their intense desire is to share those fruits with their fellow-beings. If the ignorant could be saved by the Bodhisattva by his vicariously suffering for them, he would do so. If the ignorant could be enlightened by the Bodhisattva by turning his stock of merit over to them, he would do so. This turning over of merit and this vicarious suffering are accomplished by the Bodhisattva by means of his Nirmanakaya, transformation-body. Nirmanakaya is a body assumed by the Buddha in order to establish contact with the world in a human form. In this form, therefore, the Bodhisattva, spatially speaking, divides himself into hundreds of thousands of kotis of bodies. He can then be recognized in the form of a creeping caterpillar, in a sky-scraping mountain, in the saintly figure of Saints, and even in the shape of a world-devouring Evil One (Mara), if he thinks it necessary to take this form in order to save a world that has passed into the hands of ignorance, evil passions, and all kinds of defilements and corruptions.
According to Samparigraha School, there are three kinds of Buddha-body: The first body is the Dharmakaya: Ideal body whose nature is principle and wisdom. The second body is the Sambhogakaya: Enjoyment or Reward-body which appears only for the Bodhisattva. The third body is the Nirmanakaya: Transformation-body which manifests itself for ordinary people for their worship. The transformation body of the Buddha, the body-of-form of all Buddhas which is manifested for the sake of men who cannot yet approach the Dharmakaya (the formless True Body of Buddhahood). According to Dharmalaksana School, there are three kinds of Buddha-body: The physical body of the Buddha, His psychological body with its vast variety, and His real body (Dharmakaya). For Samparigraha School was a forerunner of the Dharmalaksana School, so though these three Buddha-bodies in the Dharmalaksana School have different names, their meanings are similar as those in the Samparigraha School.
According to the T’ien-T’ai, the Threefold Body of the Buddha is mentioned as Buddhahood. Every Buddha of Perfect Enlightenment is supposed to possess three bodies: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya. Dharmakaya or Dharma body (Law body) is likened to the field of a specific career; the Sambhogakaya or bliss-body is a person’s training by which that person acquires the knowledge of that specific career; and the Nirmanakaya or the body of transformation is likened the application of this knowledge in daily life to earn a living. For Nirmana-kaya, the term “body” in the ordinary sense is rather misleading because it conveys the idea of a bodily existence. However, according to the T’ien-T’ai Sect, Nirmanakaya means body of manifestation, or the body of transformation (incarnation). Transformation body or the incarnated body of the Buddha. The body in its various incarnation. In order to benefit certain sentient beings, a Buddha can incarnate himself into an appropriate visual body, such as that of Sakyamuni which is the transformation body of Vairocana Buddha. It is twofold: First, the body exclusively for Bodhisattvas of primary stage, that is, a superior body of Transformation. Second, the body for those who are prior to the primary stage. Sambhogakaya, the potentiality, the reward body of bliss or enjoyment, Celestial body or bliss-body of the Buddha, personification of eternal perfection in its ultimate sense. The experience of the rapture of enlightenment, of the Dharma-mind of the Buddha and the patriarchs, and of the spiritual practices which they have transmitted from generation to generation. Amitabha Buddha in his Western Paradise symbolizes this “bliss-body.” It always resides in the Pure Land and never manifests itself in the mundane world, but only in the celestial spheres, acompanied by Enlightened Bodhisattvas. According to the T’ien-T’ai Sect, the Enjoyment or Reward-body is the person embodied with real insight, i.e., the body attained as the value of a long causal action. There are two kinds of Sambhogakaya: First, Sambhogakaya for the Buddha’s own use, or bliss. Second, Sambhogakaya for the spiritual benefit of others. Dharmakaya, the Essence, the Absolute or Spiritual Body or Law Body. Dharma body of reality which is formless, unchanging, transcendental and inconceivable and synonymous with “Emptiness.” The dharma body includes meditation, wisdom, and nirvana (Thể, trí, dụng). This is the experience of cosmic consciousness, of oneness that is beyond every conception. The unconditioned dharmakaya is the substratum of completeness and perfection out of which arise all animate and inanimate forms and moral order. Vairocana Buddha, the “All-Illuminating One” embodies this aspect of universal consciousness. According to the T’ien-T’ai, Dharmakaya is the idea or Principle or Truth itself without any personal existence. Chapter 142. Living In Mindfulness In Buddhist Point of View
Mindfulness is the first factor of enlightenment. “Smrti”A Sanskrit term for “mindfulness.” Mindfulness means attention or mindfulness of all mental and physical activities, even at breathing, standing, lying or sitting. The purpose of smrti is to control and to purify the mind. This is one of the focal points of meditative practice in Buddhism, which involves cultivating awareness of one’s body, speech, and thoughts in order to become consciously aware of what one does and one’s motivations. It is the seventh part of the eightfold noble path, and it leads to the direct understanding of the real nature of all things. Recollection means memory or mindfulness. “Sati” also has the following meanings: attentiveness, fixing the mind strongly on any subject, mindfulness, remembrance, memory, attention, reflection, recollection, consciousness, and all that arise from our mind. Besides, the nearest equivalent term in Pali for “mindfulness” is “Sati.” Mindfulness has come to be the accepted translation of “sati” into English. However, this word has a kind of passive connotation which can be misleading. “Mindfulness” must be dynamic and confrontative. Mindfulness should leap onto the object, covering it completely, penetrating into it, not missing any part of it. Mindfulness can be well understood by examining its three aspects of characteristics, function and manifestation. Awareness simply means “being conscious of,” or “remembering,” or “becoming acquainted with.” But we must use it in the sense of “being in the process of being conscious of,” or “being in the process of remembering.” We have learned the word “Awareness” in the sense of recognition, or bare attention, but the meaning doesn’t stop there. In awareness, there are also the elements of concentration (Samadhi) and understanding (prajna). Concentration and understanding together are meditate on the absence of identity of all things. “Smrti”A Sanskrit term for “mindfulness.” Mindfulness means attention or mindfulness of all mental and physical activities, even at breathing, standing, lying or sitting. The purpose of smrti is to control and to purify the mind. This is one of the focal points of meditative practice in Buddhism, which involves cultivating awareness of one’s body, speech, and thoughts in order to become consciously aware of what one does and one’s motivations. It is the seventh part of the eightfold noble path, and it leads to the direct understanding of the real nature of all things. In Zen, right mindfulness also means the reflection on the present and future events or situations. We must meditate upon human sufferings that are caused by ignorance and decide to work for alleviating them, irrespective of possible difficulties and boredom. Correct Memory which retains the true and excludes the false, dwell in contemplation of corporeality. Be mindful and putting away worldly greed and grief. Correct mindfulness also means ongoing mindfulness of body, feelings, thinking, and objects of thought. “Correct mindfulness” involves cultivating a state of mental clarity and alertness in which one is aware of one’s mental processes and attitudes and, more importantly, in which one is in control of them. Through continuous self-examination and mental alertness, one can develop the mindfulness that enables one to master one’s emotions, thoughts and feelings and focus them in the direction of awakening (bodhi).
As mentioned above, correct mindfulness also means ongoing mindfulness of body, feelings, thinking, and objects of thought. When we are mindful of our breathing, we are also mindful of our mind. Later, we will see our mind becoming one with our breath. When we are mindful of our bodily movement, we are also mindful of our mind.
Then, a moment later, we will see our mind becoming one with our body. Let’s look at our mind, we see thoughts coming and going, just like waves rising and falling until we see no thoughts occuring , our mind is peaceful just like a still pool. The Sutra of Mindfulness says: “When walking, you must be conscious that you are walking. When standing, you must be conscious that you are standing. When sitting, you must be conscious that you are sitting. When lying down, you must be conscious that you are lying down. No matter what position your body is in and your mind is thinking, you must be conscious of that position or that thought. Practicing thus, you are always mindful of what you are doing and thinking at all times.” Buddhists should always remember that we should be mindful that we are capable of living at the very present time. Whatever we are doing at the present time is the most important thing for our life. When we are talking, talking must be the most important thing in our life. When we are walking, walking must be the most important thing in our life. When we are drinking tea, drinking tea must be the most important thing in our life, and so on. Every activity in our daily life is meditation. Therefore, we are able to be mindful twenty-four hours a day, not just the moment we may allot for sitting meditation. Each act must be carried out in mindfulness.
According to the Satipatthana Sutta, practitioner should “Contemplate the body in the body, contemplate the feelings in the feelings, contemplate the mind in the mind, contemplate the objects of mind in the objects of mind.” This means that practitioner must live in the body in full awareness of it, and not just study like a separate object. Live in awareness with feelings, mind, and objects of mind. Do not just study them. When we meditate on our body, we live with it as truth and give it our most lucid attention; we become one with it. The flower blossoms because sunlight touches and warms its bud, becoming one with it. Meditation reveals not a concept of truth, but a direct view of truth itself. This we call “insight,” the kind of understanding based on attention and concentration.
There are many types of cultivation of mindfulness. First, mindfulness by being aware of all activities: In Buddhism, mindfulness means being aware of all activities, both physical and mental. A meditator who is mindful of his bodily activities becomes aware of his postures: when walking, standing, sitting or lying down. All his bodily activities he does with mindfulness. In walking to and from, in looking ahead and in looking aside, he applies mindfulness; in bending and stretching he applies mindfulness; in wearing clothes, in eating, drinking, chewing, etc. he applies mindfulness; in walking, standing, sitting, lying down, he applies mindfulness; in keeping awake, speaking, and being silent, he applies mindfulness. The characteristic of mindfulness is non-superficiality. This suggests that mindfulness is penetrative and profound. If we throw a cork into a stream, it simply pops up and down on the surface, floating downstream with the current. If we throw a stone instead, it will immediately sink to the very bottom of the stream. So, too, mindfulness ensures that the mind will sink deeply into the object and not slip superficially past it. The function of mindfulness is to keep the object always in view, neither forgetting it nor allowing it to disappear. When mindfulness is present, the occurring object will be noted without forgetfulness. Second, mindfulness by not only an observation in appearance: In order for non-superficiality and non-disappearance, the characteristic and function of mindfulness, to appear clearly in our practice, we must try to understand and practice the third aspect of mindfulness. This is the manifestation aspect, which develops and brings along the other two. The chief manifestation of mindfulness is confrontation: it sets the mind directly face to face with the object just the same as when we are walking along a road and we meet a traveler, face to face, coming from the opposite direction. When we are meditating, the mind should meet the object in just this way. Only through direct confrontation with an object can true mindfulness arise. As a practitioner repeatedly comes face to face with the object, his or her efforts begin to bear fruit. Mindfulness is activated and becomes firmly established on the object of observation. There are no misses. The objects do not fall away from view. They neither slip away nor disappear, nor are they absent-mindedly forgotten. The kilesas cannot infiltrate this strong barrier of mindfulness. If mindfulness can be maintained for a significant period of time, the practitioner can discover a great purity of mind because of the absence of kilesas. Protection from attack by the kilesas is a second aspect of the manifestation. When mindfulness is persistently and repeatedly activated, wisdom arises. There will be insight into the true nature of body and mind. Not only does the practitioner realize the true experiential sensations in his or her own body, but he or she also comprehends the individual characteristics of the various physical and mental phenomena happening inside him or herself. Third, mindfulness by being mindful of one’s body activities: The meditator who is mindful of his body activities becomes aware of his postures: when going, walking, standing, sitting or lying down, he is aware of the postures. All his bodily activities he does with mindfulness. In walking to and from, in looking ahead and in looking aside, he applies clear comprehension; in bending and stretching he applies clear comprehension; in wearing the clothes, in eating, drinking, chewing, savoring, in answering the calls of nature, he applies clear comprehension; walking, standing, sitting, lying down, in keeping awake, speaking, and being silent, he applies clear comprehension. When lying down, a practitioner should lie down with his mind on the subject of meditation, and thus falls asleep undeluded. Meditator should always be mindful and wide awake. Here these words of the Buddha: “Mindfulness, o monks, I declare, is essential in all things everywhere, ‘it is as salt to curry.’ O monks, I know of no other thing that brings such profits as mindfulness; mindfulness, verily, brings great profit.” One has to understand the question of mindfulness and clear comprehension (sati-sampajanna) in a wider sense. Of course, the discussion of the fourfold effort, already mentioned is a good safeguard. Mindfulness has to be spread over all situations at the outset so that its calmness helps one to take stock of a situation wisely. But as an aspect of the Middle Path itself, upon occasion one has to exert the fourfold effort, even the vigorous type when bare awareness is in itself insufficient. Fourth, mindfulness by being aware of daily activities: According to Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in the “Miracle of Mindfulness”. The master recalls a small book titled “The Essential Discipline for Daily Use” written by Buddhist Monk Doc The from Bao Son Pagoda. This is a thin book with about 40 pages, but it contained all the thoughts that monk Doc The used to awaken his mind while doing any task. When he woke up in the morning, his first thought was, “Just awakened, I hope that every person will attain awareness and see in complete clarity.” When he washed his hand, he used this thought to place himself in mindfulness: “Washing my hands, I hope that every person will have pure hands to receive reality.” This book is comprised entirely of such sentences. Their goal was to help the beginning practitioners take hold of their own consciousness. Monk Doc The helped all young novices to practice, in a relatively easy way, those things which are taught in the Sutra of Mindfulness. Each time you put on your robe, washed the dishes, went to the bathroom, folded your mat, carried buckets of water, or brushed your teeth, etc… you could use one of the thoughts from the book in order to take hold of your consciousness. The Sutra of Mindfulness says: “When walking, the practitioner must be conscious that he is walking. When sitting, the practitioner must be conscious that he is sitting. When lying down, the practitioner must be conscious that he is lying… No matter what position one’s body is in, the practitioner must be conscious of that position. Practicing thus, the practitioner lives in direct and constant mindfulness of the body…The mindfulness of the position of one’s body is not enough, however. One must be conscious of each breath, each movement, every thought and feeling, everything which has any relation to the practitioner.” Fifth, mindfulness of the body postures: According to the Kayagatasati-Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, cultivation of mindfulness of the body means when walking, a person understands that he is walking; when standing, he understands that he is standing; when sitting, he understands that he is sitting; when lying, he understands that he is lying. He understands accordingly however his body is disposed. As he abides thus diligent, ardent, and resolute, his memories and intentions based on the household life are abandoned. That is how a person develops mindfulness of the body. Sixth, mindfulness by being aware of the false: Even laypeople, who are still busy with daily activities, should also watch the mind, be mindful of the false thoughts and stop wandering with them. Once the false decreasing, we will have the real opportunity to live with our own mind or true mind. Seventh, mindfulness by being able to listen with a vacant mind: The Buddha taught: “You are what you think; that your mind makes this world.” Try not to think of anything because they all are impermanent. Let’s gently listen, deeply listen. Try not to listen to a specific sound. Just listen with our mind vacant. We will feel that all the sounds come and go just like echoes, just like illusions, and just like a dream. That’s all. Let’s look at a mirror! Images comes and goes, but the reflecting nature is always inaction, unmoved, uncreated, undying. Let’s be mindful to look at our mind. Thoughts come and go, but the nature of seeing of the mind is always inaction, unmoved, uncreated, undying.
In summary, mindfulness can help us overcome angers in many occasions. Mindfulness does not fight anger or despair. Mindfulness is there in order to recognize. To be mindful of something is to recognize that something is the capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment. According to Most Venerable Thích Nhất Hạnh in “Anger,” the best way to to be mindful of anger is “when breathing in I know that anger has manifested in me; breathing out I smile towards my anger.” This is not an act of suppression or of fighting. It is an act of recognizing. Once we recognize our anger, we are able to take good care of it or to embrace it with a lot of awareness, a lot of tenderness. Mindfulness helps us recognize, be aware of the presence of anger. Mindfulness also helps us accept and allow anger to be there. Mindfulness is like a big brother who does not suppress his younger brother’s suffering. He simply says: “Dear brother, I’m here for you.” You take your younger brother in your arms and you comfort him. This is exactly our practice. Our anger is us, and our compassion is also us. To be mindful in meditation does not mean to fight. In Buddhism, the practice of mindfulness should be the practice of embracing and transforming the anger, not of fighting. When anger comes up in us, we should begin to practice mindful breathing right away: “Breathing in, I know that anger is in me. Breathing out, I am taking good care of my anger. If you don’t know how to treat yourself with compassion, how can you treat another person with compassion? When anger arises, continue to practice mindful breathing and mindful walking to generate the energy of mindfulness. Continue to tenderly embrace the energy of anger within you. Anger may continue to be there for some time, but you are safe, because the Buddha is in you, helping you to take good care of your anger. The energy of mindfulness is the energy of the Buddha. When you practice mindful breathing and embracing your anger, you are under the protection of the Buddha. There is no doubt about it: the Buddha is embracing you and your anger with a lot of compassion. Chapter 143. Abhidharma
An Overview and Meanings of Abhidharma: Higher Dharma or the analytic doctrine of Buddhist Canon or Basket of the Supreme Teaching. Abhidharma is the third of the three divisions of the Buddhist Canon. The study and investigation of the Buddha-dharma. Abhidharma was translated into Chinese as Great Dharma, or Incomparable Dharma. However, in many later Mahayana works, the term “Abhidharma” is always referring to Hinayana teachings. As a matter of fact, Abhidharma consists of books of psychological analysis and synthesis. Earliest compilation of Buddhist philosophy and psychology, concerning psychological and spiritual phenomena contained in the discourses of the Buddha and his principal disciples are presented in a systematic order. Abhidharma with the prefix “Abhi” gives the sense of either “further” or “about.” Therefore, Abhidharma would mean “The Higher or Special Dharma” or “The Discourse of Dharma.” While the Dharma is the general teaching of the Buddha, the Abhidharma is a special is a special metaphysical discourse brought forward by certain elders. Abhidharma contains highly abstract, philosophical elucidations of Buddhist doctrine; the sastras which discuss Buddhist philosophy or metaphysics; defined by Buddhaghosa as the law or truth (dharma) which abhi goes beyond the law. This is the third of the three baskets (tripitaka) of the Buddhist canon, which contains scholastic treatises that discuss the central doctrines of Buddhism. It comprises the philosophical works. The first compilation is accredited to Maha-Kasyapa, disciple of Buddha, but the work is of a later period. The primary focus of Abhidharma Pitaka is on philosophy and psychology, usually known or called by the short name Abhidharma. Books of psychological analysis and synthesis. Earliest compilation of Buddhist philosophy and psychology, concerning psychological and spiritual phenomena contained in the discourses of the Buddha and his principal disciples are presented in a systematic order. The Chinese version is in three sections: the Mahayana Philosophy, the Hinayana Philosophy, and the Sung and Yuan Addenda (960-1368 AD). The Abhidharma also reflects the views of Hinayana. The Abhidharma is the third division of the Buddhist Canon of the Theravadan School. Although most of the early Buddhist schools probably developed their own Abhidharmas, only two complete versions are extant today: 1) the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, which exists in Chinese and Tibetan; and 2) the Theravada Abhidharma, which is preserved in Pali.
Abhidharma is a Sanskrit term meaning “high doctrine,” referring to the philosophical and scholastic literature contained in the Abhidharma-Pitakas of Indian Buddhist schools. The earliest Abhidharma material was composed around 300 B.C. According to the Buddhist legends, Abhidharma was first preached by the Buddha to his mother during a visit to her in the “Tusita Heaven” after her death.
According to most Eastern and Western philosophers, This is both a distillation (sự gạn lọc) and elaboration (sự nghiên cứu kỹ lưỡng) on the doctrines presented in the Sutra literature. For the discourses reported in the sutras do not present a consistent philosophical system, and so the main aim of the “Abhidharma” writers was to codify and systematize their doctrines. Abhidharma texts generally rearrange and classify the terms and concepts of the sutras, focusing particularly epistemology (nhận thức luận) and psychology. Other important themes include cosmology and meditation theory. According to Erich Frauwallner, earliest scholars brought together concepts from a wide range of texts, but often without a clear pattern of arrangement. Until several centuries A.D., the fully developed Abhidharma consists of voluminous scholastic texts in which doctrines and methods of practices are codified and systematized with great precision and in elaborate detail. As various scholastic traditions developed in Indian Buddhism at that time, different schools created their own Abhidharmas. Nowadays, the only complete abhidharma that survives in an Indian language is found in the Pali Canon of the Theravada school, but other Indian Abhidharmas exist in Chinese and Tibetan translations, as well as Sanskrit fragments. In addition to the Abhidharmas of the schools of Theravada Buddhism, there were also abhidharma works in Mahayana schools, such as Asanga’s Abhidharma-Samuccaya. Abhidharma means the dharma which is organized logically or a systematic exposition of Buddhist psychology of mind. The Abhidharma was first taught by the Buddha and his immediate disciples; however, later, Abhidharma also includes systematic treatises by enlightened masters. The most well-known of the Hinayana Abhidharma treatises is the Abhidharmakosa by the Venerable Vasubandhu. Among the most popular Mahayana Abhidharma treatises is the Treatise on Consciousness Only by Tripitaka Master Hsuan-Tsang.
The methods by which Wisdom should be developed have been set out in the Abhidharma books. These books are obviously later than the other parts of the Canon. Some schools, like the Sautrantikas, insisted that they were not the authentic Buddha word, and should therefore be rejected. The meaning of the word “Abhidharma” is not quite certain. Abhidharma may mean “Further-Dharma,” or “Supreme-Dharma.” It is difficult to know at what time the Abhidharma books were composed. One does not, perhaps, go far wrong when assigning them to the first two centuries after the death of the Buddha. Two recensions of the Abhidharma books have come down to us: a set of seven in Pali and another set of seven, preserved in Chinese, but originally composed in Sanskrit. The Pali texts represent the tradition of the Theravadins, the Sanskrit texts that of the Sarvastivadins. About seven centuries after the original composition of the Abhidharma books, the teachings of both Abhidharma traditions were finally codified, probably between 400 and 450 A.D. This work was carried out for the Theravadins in Ceylon by Buddhaghosa, and for the Sarvastivadins by Vasubandhu in the North of India. After 450 A.D. there has been little, if any, further development in the Abhidharma doctrines. It must be admitted that the style of the Abhidharma books is extremely dry and unattractive. The treatment of the various topics resembles that which one would expect in a treatise on accountancy, or a manual of engineering, or a handbook of physics. Allurements of style are not altogether absent from Buddhist literature when it was destined for propaganda and attempted to win the consent of the unconverted, or to edify the sentiments of the faithful. The Abhidharma books, however, were meant for the very core of the Buddhist elite, and it was assumed that the Wisdom acquired from their perusal would be a sufficient reward and incentive of study.
Explanations of Abhidharma: First, Surpassing law: Compendium of Philosophy is one of the chief sastras or commentaries of the Abhidharma-kosa School, which is classified into two kinds: conditioned and non-conditioned. These are all created things, 72 in number and with uncreated things, 3 in number, constitute the five categories and the seventy-five dharmas. The created or unconditioned: All phenomena which are influenced by the production or birth, duration or existence, change, and annihilation. Anything which serves to divert beings away from inherent Buddha-nature. Outflows are so called because they are turning of energy and attention outward rather than inward. Functioning dharmas are things that are related to something else. All things of our everyday world are functioning dharmas in two ways: each one is dependent on a multiplicity of other events which surround it, and all of them are linked to suffering and ignorance through the twelve links of the chain of causation. The Buddha concludes with the famous verse in the Vajrachedika-Prajna-Paramita Sutra: “All phenomena are like a dream, an illusion, abubble and a shadow, like dew and lightning. Thus should you meditate upon them.” Asamskrta: Asamskrta is anything that's not subject to cause, condition or dependence. Unconditioned reality, unconditioned or unproduced dharmas mean dharmas which are out of time, eternal, inactive, unchanging, and supra-mundane. Nirvana and space are considered to be unconditioned dharmas. Asamskrta is the state of rest, or the inactive principle pervading all things. Second, Incomparable law: Incomparable truth. Third, Comparing the law: The corresponding law, the philosophy in the Buddha’s teaching, the abhidharma; comparison of cause and effect. Fourth, Directional law, showing the cause and effect.
The Abhidharma Literature: According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in the Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, Abhidharma literature consists of the following works: First, Abhidharma Jnana Prasthana: Abhidharma-jnana-prasthana-sastra, Katyayaniputra’s Source of Knowledge (Jnana-prasthana or Book of the Beginning of knowledge) or Eight Books (Astha-grantha), written by Bhiksu Kattyayaniputra, an Indian monk, in the first century A.D., (other sources said about 300 years after the Buddha passed away) and was translated into Chinese by Hsuan-Tsang around 656 and 659. Second, the Six Legs (wrote about the Jnana-prasthana): Six Legs in the commentary on the Source of Knowledge: i) Prakarana-pada or Category-leg, written by Vasumitra. ii) Vijnana-kaya or Consciousness-body, written by Devasarman. iii) Dharma-skandha or Element-group, written by Sariputra. iv) Prajnapti-pada or World-system, written by Maudgalyayana. v) Dhata-kayapada or Mental-element-body, written by Purna. vi) Sangiti-paryayapada or Rehearsal-reading, written by Mahakausthila. Third, Parsva’s Great Commentary (Mahavibhasa), translated into Chinese with 200 volumes. Fourth, Abridged Commentary (Vibhasa), translated into Chinese with 14 volumes. In Chinese we have thus two transmissions of the Vibhasa, Large (200 parts) and Small (14 parts). Whether one was an abridgement of the other we cannot tell for certain. But from several points of view we can imagine that the larger one belongs to the Kashmir School and the smaller to the Gandhara School. Fifth, Abhidharma-hrdaya, written by Dharmottara, translated into Chinese in 391 A.D. The Heart of the Higher Dharma was written by Dharmamottara, either before or after the Buddhist Council of King Kaniska’s reign, by Dharmamottara, a noted monk, belonged to the Gandhara branch. It was translated into Chinese in 391 A.D. A commentary on it called Samyukta-abhidharma-hrdaya was written by Dharmatrata, a pupil of Dharmamottara. This work became the fundamental text of the Gandhara branch and subsequently of the Chinese Abhidharma School. Sixth, Samyukta-abhidharma-hrdaya, written by Dharmatrata, translated into Chinese in 426 A.D. From this time, the Chinese Abhidharma School called P’i-T’an was founded. Seventh, Vasubandhu’s Abhidharma-kosa: Treasure chamber of of the Abhidharma which reflects the transition from the Hinayana to the Mahayana, composed by Vasubandhu in Kashmir in the fifth century AD. Paramartha’s Chinese Translation (about 563-567 A.D.). From this time, the Chinese Kosa School called Chu-Shê was founded. Hsuan-Tsang’s (Hsuan-Tsang 596-664 A.D.) Chinese Translation (around 651 to 654 A.D.). After this translation the Kosa School was completed as a philosophical system chiefly by K’uei-Chi (632-682 A.D.), a pupil of Hsuan-Tsang.
Other Sastras of Abhidharma: 1) Abhidhamma-dharmasangani or Book of the Elements of existence. 2) Abhidharma Dharma Skandha Pada, composed by Mahamaudgalyayana. 3) Abhidhamma-dhatu-katha or Book of the Origin of things. 4) Abhidhamma-dhatu-kaya-pada-sastra or Book of Elements. 5) Abhidhamma-katha-vatthu or Book of Controversies. 6) Abhidharma-Kosa-samaya-pradipika-sastra. 7) Abhidharma Mahavibhasa-sastra or A-Pi-Ta-Mo-Ta-Pi-Po-Sha-Lun: Parsva’s Great Commentary (Mahavibhasa), translated into Chinese with 200 volumes. An abbreviation of the title of the Abhidharma Mahavibhasa-sastra. A philosophical treatise by Katyayaniputra, translated into Chinese by Sanghabhuti around 383 A.D. According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in the Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, probably in the second century A.D., whether before or after the Buddhist Council of King Kaniska’s reign, we cannot tell, a great and minute commentary named Vibhasa Sastra was compiled on Katyayaniputra’s work. The word “Vibhasa” means an extreme annotation or various opinions, and this title indicates that many opinions of the time were gathered and criticized in detail and that some optional ones were selected and recorded. The main object of the Vibhasa commentary was to transmit the correct exposition of the Abhidharma School which has since then come to be called the Vaibhasika School. 8) Abhidharma-nyanyanusara-sastra. 9) Abhidharma-prajnaptipada-sastra or Book of Descriptions. 10) Abhidharma Prikarana Pada or Book of Literature. 11) Abhidhamma-puggala-pannati or Book of Person. 12) Abhidharma-samgiti-Sastra, composed by Sariputra. 13) Abhidharma-samuccaya: Abhidharma-samuccaya is a Sanskrit term for “Compendium of Higher Doctrine.” This is an important Sanskrit scholastic treatise written by Asanga, which attemps to construct a Mahayana Abhidharma. It focuses particularly on the characteristics of Dharmas, the basic constituents of reality, at the same time also emphasizing their emptiness (sunyata) of inherent existence (svabhava). 14) Abhidhamma-sangaha or Collection of the Significations of Abhidharma. 15) Abhidharma-sangiti-paryaya-pada-sastra or Book of Recitations. 16) Abhidhamma-skandha-pada-sastra or Book of things. 17) Abhidhammattha-sangaha: Composed by Anuruddha, a native of Ceylon, in about 1100 AD, introduced an overview of Abhidhamma. 18) Abhidhamma-vibhanga or Book of Classifications. 19) Abhidharma vibhasa sastra or A-Pi-Ta-Mo-Ta-Pi-Po-Sha-Lun: Explained the Abhidharma Jnana Prasthana of Bhikkhu Katyayanitra (a commentary on the Fa-Chih-Lun) and was translated into Chinese by Hsuan-Tsang between 656 and 659. It is believed that this treatise was probably composed in Kashmir around the first century A.D. It is a philosophical treatise of the Kashmir Sarvastivada School which argues against the theories of various other schools at the time. 20) Abhidharma Vijnana Kayapada-sastra: Book of knowledge, composed by an Indian Bhikkhu named Devasarman, which denied the ego. 21) Abhidhamma-yamaka or Book of Pairs.
Abhidharma-Kosa: Abhidharma-Kosa (Abhidharma Storehouse Treatise) is a Sanskrit term for “Treasury of Higher Doctrine,” one of the most important works of Buddhist scholasticism prior to his conversion to Mahayana. Treasure chamber of the Abhidharma which reflects the transition from the Hinayana to the Mahayana, composed by Vasubandhu in Kashmir in the fifth century A.D. The root text is commonly believed to have been written in accordance with the philosophical system of the Vaibhasika school (based on the philosophical system of the scholastic treatise Mahavibhasa), but his commentary on the text, the Abhidharma-Kosa-Bhasya, critiques some key elements of the root text from the perspective of the rival Sautrantika school. This comprehensive treatise discusses the doctrine of Hinayana. This texts includes detailed analysis of the action of human consciousness in its relationship to the environment as well as transformations that occur in the process of meditation practice. Its doctrines would later contribute to the development of the theories of the Yogacara School. The Treatise of Abhidharmakusa was translated into Chinese between 651 and 654 by Hsuan-Tsang. The Abhidharma-kosa-sastra is a philosophical work by Vasubandhu refuting doctrines of the Vibhasa school, translated into Chinese by Hsuan-Tsang during the T’ang dynasty.
The contents of the Abhidharma-kosa, according to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in the Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy: First, according to the published text and the Chinese vesion, the contents of the Abhidharma-kosa are as follows: On Elements, On Organs, On Worlds, On Actions, On Drowsiness or Passion, On the Noble Personality and the Path, On Knowledge, On Meditation. Besides, the Chinese text has a ninth chapter on Refutation of the Idea of the Self. Second, according to sources of Abhidharma: In writing the Abhidharma-kosa, Vasubandhu seems to have followed the work of his predecessor, Dharmatrata, called Samyukta-abhidharma-hrdaya, and this, again, is a commentary on Dharmottara’s Abhidhama-hrdaya. A careful comparison of the three works will indicate that Vasubandhu had before him his predecessor’s works, or else such questions as discussed in these works must have been common topics of the school. The first eight chapters of the work explain special facts or element of matter and mind, while the ninth and last chapter elucidates the general basic principle of selflessness that should be followed by all Buddhist schools. Especially the ninth chapter seems to originate from Vasubandhu’s own idea, for there is no trace of this subject in the other books. Though the Kosa thus resembles the Hrdaya in subject matter, there is no indication that the former is indebted to the latter in forming opinions, for Vasubandhu was very free and thorough in his thinking, and he did not hesitate to take the tenets of any school other than his own when he found excellent reasoning in them.
Translations and Development of the Abhidharma-Kosa in China: When Vasubandhu’s Abhidharma-kosa was made public in Gandhara, it met with rigorous opposition from inside and from outside of his school. Yet the final victory seems to have been on his side, for his work enjoyed popularity in India; it was taught widely and several annotations of it were made in Nalanda, Valabhi and elsewhere. It was translated into Tbetan by Jinamitra and into Chinese first by Paramartha of Valabhi during 563-567 A.D. and later by Hsuan-Tsang who studied at Nalanda University during 561-564 A.D. In China especially serious studies were made, and at least seven elaborate commentaries, each amounting to more than twenty or thirty Chinese volumes, were written on it. Before the translation of the Abhidharma-kosa there was in China a school called P’i-T’an Tsung which is the first one in the list of Chinese sects given above. P’i T’an being the Chinese abbreviation of Abhidharma. This Chinese school represents the Gandhara branch of Sarvastivadins. The principal texts of this school with Vibhasa commentary were translated into Chinese as early as 383-434 A.D. The larger Vibhasa commentary belonging to the Kashmir branch was also translated, but there appeared no Chinese school or sect representing it. When the Kosa text of Vasubandhu was translated by Paramartha during 563-567 A.D. and again by Hsuan-Tsang during 651-654 A.D., the Kosa School, or Chu-Shê Tsung, came into existence, was seriously studied, and was made into an indispensable basis of all Buddhist studies. The P’i T’an School came to be entirely replaced by the new Kosa School. Chapter 144. Happiness in Buddhist Points of View
Modern man seems to seek happiness outside instead of seeking it within. However, happiness does not depend on the external world. Science and technology seem to promise that they can turn this world into a paradise. Therefore, there is ceaseless work going on in all directions to improve the world. Scientists are pursuing their methods and experiments with undiminished vigour and determination. Man’s quest to unravel the hidden secrets of nature continued unbated. Modern discoveries and methods of communication have produced startling results. All these improvements, thought they have their advantages and rewards, are entirely material and external. In spite of all this, man cannot yet control his own mind, he is not better for all his scientific progress. Within this conflux of mind and body of man, however, there are unexplored marvels to keep men of science occupied for many years. What can be borne with ease is happiness. However, happiness resulting from mental stability is the most important for the ultimate goal of human lives is happiness and joyfulness. Ordinary happiness is the gratification of a desire. However, as soon as the thing desired is achived the we desire something else or some other kind of happiness, for our selfish desires are endless. We usually seek pleasant feelings and avoid unpleasant feelings through our sensory experience of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. However, there is another level of experience: mental experience. True happiness should also be pursued on the mental level. Thus, according to Buddhism, genuine happiness cannot be defined by material and sensual satisfactions, but only by means of spiritual development and opening of wisdom so that we always acknowledge others and their needs. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that true happiness is only originated from a virtuous life. 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.
Herein a clansman has wealth acquired by energetic striving, amassed by strength of arm, won by sweat, and lawfully gotten. At this thought, bliss and satisfaction come to him. He or she enjoys his/her wealth and does meritorious deeds. This is call the real bliss. 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.”
Many people believe that they can solve all their problems if they have money, so they’re always busy to exhaust their energy to collect more and more money. The more money they have, the more they want to collect. They don’t realize that 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. If we compare the mental and physical levels of happiness, we’ll find that mental experiences of pain and pleasure are actually more powerful than those of physical experiences. Devout Buddhists should always remember that your property will remain when you die. Your friends and relatives will follow you up to your grave. But only good or bad actions you have done will follow you beyond the grave. Thus, wealth can only be used to decorate your house but not you. Only your own virtue can decorate you. Your dress can decorate your body, but not you; only your good conduct can decorate you. Ordinary happiness is the gratification of a desire. However, as soon as the thing desired is achived the we desire something else or some other kind of happiness, for our selfish desires are endless. We usually seek pleasant feelings and avoid unpleasant feelings through our sensory experience of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. However, there is another level of experience: mental experience. Ture happiness should also be pursued on the mental level. In the Anguttara Nikaya Sutra, the Buddha commented on the four kinds of bliss a layman enjoy as follow: the bliss of ownership, herein a clansman has wealth acquired by energetic striving, amassed by strength of arm, won by sweat, and lawfully gotten. At this thought, bliss and satisfaction come to him; the bliss of wealth, herein a clansman by means of wealth acquired by energetic striving, both enjoys his wealth and does meritorious deeds. At this thought, bliss and satisfaction come to him; the bliss of debtlessness, herein a clansman owes no debt, great or small, to anyone. At the thought, bliss and satisfaction come to him; the bliss of blamelessness, herein the Aryan disciple is blessed with blameless action of body, blameless action of speech, blameless action of mind. At the thought, bliss and satisfaction come to him.
For those who are cultivating mindfulness, the secret of happiness lies in doing what needs be done now and not worrying about the past and the future. We cannot go back to change things in the past nor can we anticipate what will happen in the future. There is but one moment of time over which we have some relatively conscious control and that is the present. According to Buddhist theory, a happy life means always to maintain a peaceful and happy mind. For monks and nuns, they should be always self-content and willing to practice religious disciplines. So long as a person still cherishes resentment, his mental attitude does not embody the ideal way of true believer of the Buddhist teaching; whatever misfortune may befall him, he must maintain a peaceful and calm mind. While peace can exist only in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say, “Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace.” What is “this?” A degree, a job, a house, a car, the payment of a debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another “this” that will follow the present one. According to Buddhism, if you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only “the hope of peace some day.” In order to be able to attain a peaceful and happy life, we must possess a peaceful and concentrated mind. This mind is always good for any cultivator. Devoted Buddhists should always make the mind peaceful, concentrated, and use this concentration to examine the mind and body. When the mind is not peaceful, we should also watch. Then we will know true peace, because we will see impermanence. Even peace must be seen as impermanent. If we are attached to peaceful states of mind, we will suffer when we do not have them. Give up everything, even peace. To do this, we all have a peace and happiness in this very life. In Buddhism, Nirvana is called the Supreme happiness and this happiness is brought about by the complete calming, the utter ceasing of all sensations. Now, this saying, indeed, confuses us completely, we who have experienced so many pleasant feelings with our sense faculties. In the Anguttara Nikaya, the Venerable Udayi, a disciple of the Buddha, was confronted with this very problem. The Venerable Sariputta addressing the monks said: “It is Nibbana, friends, that is happiness; it is Nibbana, friends, that is happiness.” Then the Venerable Udayi asked: “But what, friend Sariputta, is happiness, since herein there is no feeling?” Sariputta responded: “Just this, friend, is happiness, that herein there is no feeling.” This saying of Venerable Sariputta is fully supported by the following one of the Buddha in the Samyutta Nikaya: “Whatever is experienced, sensed, felt, all that is suffering.” Thus, Nibbana or Supreme happiness is a state realizable in this very life. The thinker, the inquiring mind, will not find it difficult to understand this state.
Happiness of practitioners of mindfulness is practicing dharmas or the Joy of the Law, the joy of hearing or tasting dharma. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, Chapter Bodhisattvas, a demon pretended to be Indra, offered twelve thousand goddesses (devakanya) to the Bodhisattva Ruler of the World. The demon said to the Ruler of the World Bodhisattva: “Bodhisattva, please take these twelve thousand goddesses who will serve you.” The Ruler of the World Bodhisattva replied: “Sakra, please do not make to a monk this unclean offering which does not suit me.” “Even before the Ruler of the World Bodhisattva had finished speaking, Vimalakirti came and said: “He is not Sakra; he is a demon who comes to disturb you.” He then said to the demon: ‘You can give me these girls and I will keep them.” The demon was frightened, and being afraid that Vimalakirti might give him trouble, he tried to make himself invisible but failed, and in spite of his use of supernatural powers he could not go away. Suddenly a voice was heard in the air, saying: ‘Demon, give him the girls and then you can go.’ Being scared, he gave the girls.’ At that time, Vimalakirti said to them: “The demon has given you to me. You can now develop a mind set on the quest of supreme enlightenment.” Vimalakirti then expounded the Dharma to them urging them to seek the truth. He declared: “You have now set your minds on the quest for the truth and can experience joy in the Dharma instead of in the five worldly pleasures (arising from the objects of the five senses).” The goddesses asked him: ‘What is this Happiness in the Dharma?” He replied: “Happiness in having faith in the Buddha, happiness in listening to the Dharma, happiness in making offerings to the Sangha, and happiness in forsaking the five worldly pleasures; happiness in finding out that the five aggregates are like deadly enemies, that the four elements (that make the body) are like poisonous snakes, and that the sense organs and their objects are empty like space; happiness in following and upholding the truth; happiness in being beneficial to living beings; happiness in revering and making offerings to your masters; happiness in spreading the practice of charity (dana); happiness in firmly keeping the rules of discipline (sila); happiness in forbearance (ksanti); happiness in unflinching zeal (virya) to sow all excellent roots; happiness in unperturbed serenity (dhyana); happiness in wiping out all defilement that screens clear wisdom (prajna); happiness in expanding the enlightened (bodhi) mind; happiness in overcoming all demons; happiness in eradicating all troubles (klesa); happiness in purifying the Buddha land; happiness in winning merits from excellent physical marks; happiness in embellishing the bodhimandala (the holy site); happiness in fearlessness to hear (and understand) the profound Dharma; happiness in the three perfect doors to nirvana (i.e. voidness, formlessness and inactivity) as contrasted with their incomplete counterparts (which still cling to the notion of objective realization); happiness of being with those studying the same Dharma and happiness in the freedom from hindrance when amongst those who do not study it; happiness to guide and convert evil men and to be with men of good counsel; happiness in the state of purity and cleanness; happiness in the practice of countless conditions contributory to enlightenment. All this is the Bodhisattva happiness in the Dharma.”
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. Thus we must try to recognize and eliminate the powerful emotions we possess such as desire, hatred, anger, ignorance, pride, doubt, wrong views, etc., for they tend not to bring us long happiness. A fulfilled desire may provide us a sense of temporary satisfaction, but it will not last long. For example, we are satisfied with a new car we just bought, but for how long that satisfaction can last? Soon after the car will become old and broken, and that would cause us disatisfactions and sufferings. Thus, 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.” In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Budda taught: “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 hindrances. 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). There is no fire like lust; no evil like hatred. There is no ill like the body; no bliss higher than Nirvana (Dharmapada 202). Hunger is the greatest disease, aggregates are the greatest suffering. Knowing this as it really is, the wise realize Nirvana: supreme happiness (203). Good health is a great benefit, contentment is the richest, trust is the best kinsmen, Nirvana is the highest bliss (204). He who has tasted the flavour of seclusion and tranquility, will prefer to the taste of the joy of the Dharma, and to be free from fear and sin (Dharmapada 205). To meet the sage is good, to live with them is ever happy. If a man has not ever seen the foolish, he may ever be happy (206). He who companies with fools grieves for a long time. To be with the foolish is ever painful as with an enemy. To associate with the wise is ever happy like meeting with kinsfolk (Dharmapada 207). Therefore, one should be with the wise, the learned, the enduring, the dutiful and the noble. To be with a man of such virtue and intellect as the moon follows the starry path (Dharmapada 208). 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).”
According to the Sutta of Blessing, the Buddha taught: “Many deities and men, yearning after good, have pondered on blessings. Pray and tell me the highest blessings. Not to associate with fools, to associate with the wise and to honour those who are worthy of honour, this is the highest blessing. To reside in a suitable locality, to have done meritorious actions in the past and to set oneself in the right course, this is the highest blessing. Vast learning, perfect handicraft, a highly trained discipline and pleasant speech, this the highest blessing. The support of father and mother, the cherishing of a wife and children and peaceful occupations, this is the highest blessing. Liberality (freedom), righteous conduct, the helping of relatives and blameless actions, this is the highest blessing. To cease and abstain from evil, forbearance with respect to intoxicants and steadfastness in virtue, this is the highest blessing. Reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude and opportune hearing of the Dharma, this is the highest blessing. Patience, obedience, sight of Samanas and religious discussions at due season, this is the highest blessing. Self-control, holy life, perception of the Noble truths and the realization of Nivarna, this is the highest blessing. He whose mind does not flutter by contact with worldly contingencies, sorrowless (without sorrow), stainless (without stain), and secure, this is the highest blessing. To them, fulfilling matters such as these, everywhere invincible and in every way moving happily, these are the highest blessings.
According to the Ratana Sutta, the Buddha taught: Whatever beings are assembled, whether terrestrial or celestial, may every being be happy! Moreover, may they be attentively listen to my words! Accordingly, give good heed to all beings; show your love to the humans who day and night bring offerings to you. Wherefore guard them zealously. Whatsoever treasure there be either here or in the world beyond or whatever precious jewel in the heavens yet there is non comparable with the ‘Accomplished One.’ Truly, in the Buddha, is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! The tranquil Sage of the Sakya realized that cessation, passion-free (free of passion), immortality supreme, there is no comparable with that of the Dharma. Truly, in the Dharma, is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! That sanctity praised by the Buddha Supreme, is described as “concentration without interruption.” There is nothing like that concentration. Truly, in the Dharma, is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! Those eight individuals, praised by the virtuous, constitute four pairs. They, worthy of offerings, the disciples of the ‘Welcome One,’ to these gifts given yield abundant fruit. Truly, in the Sangha, is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! With steadfast mind, applying themselves throroughly in the dispensation (delivery) of the Gotama, exempt from passion, they have attained to that which should be attained and plunging into the deathless, they enjoy the peace obtained without price. Truly, in the Sangha is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! Just as a firm post sunk in the earth cannot be shaken by the four winds, so do I declare him to be a righteous person, who thoroughly perceives the Noble Truths. Truly, in the Sangha, is this precious jewel! By this truth may there be happiness! Those who comprehend clearly the Noble Truths, well taught by him of deep wisdom (do not, however, exceeding hedless they may be, undergo an eight birth). Truly, in the Sangha, is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! For him with the development of insight three conditions come to none namely, illusion, doubt, and indulgence in wrong rites and ceremonies, should there be any. From the four states of misery, he is now absolutely freed and is incapable of committing the six heinous crimes. Whatever evil deeds he does (whether by deeds, word or thought), he is incapable of hiding it: for it had been said that such an act is impossible for one who has seen the Path. Like unto the woodland groves with blossomed tree-tops in the first heat of the summer season, had the sublime doctrine that leads to Nirvana been taught for the highest good. Truly, in the Buddha, is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! The Unrivalled (Unparalleled) Excellent One, the Knower, the giver, and bringer of the Excellent has expounded the excellent Doctrine. Truly, in the Buddha, is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! The past is extinct, future has not yet come, their minds are not attached to a future birth, their desires do not grow, those wise ones go out even as this lamp. Truly, in the Sangha, is this precious jewel. By this truth may there be happiness! We, beings here assembled, whether terrestrial or celestial, salute the accomplished Buddha, honoured by gods and humans. May there be happiness! We, beings here assembled whether terrestrial or celestial, salute the accomplished Buddha, honoured by gods and humans. May there be happiness! We, beings here assembled whether terrestrial or celestial, salute the accomplished Buddha, honoured by gods and humans. May there be happiness!
According to The Lotus Sutra, there are four means of attaining to a happy contentment. In that sutra, the Buddha teaches us how to behave, to to speak, what kind of mental attitude to maintain, and how to endeavor to realize our ideal. Pleasant practice of the body, or to attain a happy contentment by proper direction of the deeds of the body. The Buddha taught the pleasant practice of the body by dividing it into two parts, a Bodhisattva’s spheres of action and of intimacy. A Bodhisattva’s sphere of action means his fundamental attitude as the basis of his personal behavior. A Bodhisattva is patient, gentle, and agreeable, and is neither hasty nor overbearing, his mind is always unperturbed. Unlike ordinary people, he is not conceited or boastful about his own good works. He must see all things in their reality. He never take a partial view of things. He acts toward all people with the same compassion and never making show of it. A Bodhisattva’s sphere of intimacy. The Buddha teaches a Bodhisattva’s sphere of intimacy by dividing it into ten areas: a Bodhisattva is not intimate with men of high position and influence in order to gain some benefit, nor does he compromise his preaching of the Law to them through excessive familiarity with them; a Bodhisattva is not intimate with heretics, composers of worldly literature or poetry, nor with those who chase for worldly life, nor with those who don’t care about life. Thus, a Bodhisattva must always be on the “Middle Way,” not adversely affected by the impurity of the above mentioned people; a Bodhisattva does not resort to brutal sports, such as boxing and wrestling, nor the various juggling performances of dancers and others; a Bodhisattva does not consort personally with those who kill creatures to make a living, such as butchers, fishermen, and hunters, and does not develop a callous attitude toward engaging in cruel conduct; a Bodhisattva does not consort with monks and nuns who seek peace and happiness for themselves and don’t care about other people, and who satisfy with their own personal isolation from earthly existence. Moreover, he does not become infected by their selfish ideas, nor develop a tendency to compromise with them in listening to the laws preached by them. If they come to him to hear the Law, he takes the opportunity to preach it, expect nothing in return; when he preaches the Law to women, he does not display an appearance capable of arousing passionate thoughts, and he maintains a correct mental attitude with great strictness; he does not become friendly with any hermaphrodite. This means that he needs to take a very prudent attitude when he teaches such a deformed person; he does not enter the homes of others alone. If for some reason he must do so, then he thinks single-mindedly of the Buddha. This is the Buddha’s admonition to the Bodhisattva to go everywhere together with the Buddha; if he preaches teh Law to lay women, he does not display his teeth in smile nor let his breast be seen; he takes no pleasure in keeping young pupils and children by his side. On the contrary, the Buddha admonishes the Bodhisattva ever to prefer meditation and seclusion and also to cultivate and control his mind. Pleasant practice of the mouth, or to attain a happy contentment by the words of the mouth: a Bodhisattva takes no pleasure in telling of the errors of other people or of the sutras; a Bodhisattva does not despise other preachers; he does not speak of the good and evil, the merits and demerits of other people, nor does he single out Sravakas by name and broadcast their errors and sins; he does not praise virtues and does not beget a jealous mind; he always maintains a cheerful and open mind. If someone asks difficult questions, he does not answer if he does not know the answer. Pleasant practice of the mind, or to attain a happy contentment by the thoughts of the mind: he does not harbor an envious or deceitful mind; he does not slight or abuse other learners of the Buddha’s teachings, even if they are beginners, nor does he seek out their excesses and shortcomings; if there are people who seek the Bodhisattva-way, he does not distress them, causing them to feel doubt and regret, nor does he say discouraging things to them; he should not indulge in discussions about the laws or engage in dispute but should devote himself to discussion of the practice to save all living beings; he should think of saving all living beings from their sufferings through his great compassion; he should think of the Buddhas as benevolent fathers; he should think of the Bodhisattvas as his great teachers; he should preach the Law equally to all living beings. Pleasant practice of the vow, or to attain a happy contentment by the will to preach all sutras. In the Dharma ending age, Bodhisattvas should beget a spirit of great charity toward both laypeople and monks who are not yet Bodhisattvas with a spirit of great compassion. Chapter 145. Content With Few Desires and Satisfy With What We Have At This Very Moment
Content with few desires. “Thiểu Dục” means having few desires; “tri túc” means being content. Knowing how to feel satisfied with few possessions means being content with material conditions that allow us to be healthy and strong enough to practice the Way. “Knowing how to feel satisfied and being content with material conditions” is an effective way to cut through the net of passions and desires, attain a peaceful state of body and mind and accomplish our supreme goal of cultivation. Being content with few desires means having few desires. Here “desires” include not only the desire for money and material things but also the wish for status and fame. It also indicates seeking the love and service of others. In Buddhism, a person who has attained the mental stage of deep faith has very few desires and is indifferent to them. We must note carefully that though such a person is indifferent to worldly desires, he is very eager for the truth, that is, he has a great desire for the truth. To be indifferent to the truth is to be slothful in life. To be content with few desires also means to be satisfied with little material gain, that is, not to feel discontented with one’s lot and to be free from worldly cares. Nevertheless, this does not mean to be unconcerned with self-improvement but to do one’s best in one’s work without discontent. Such a person will never be ignored by those around him. But even if people around him ignored him, he would feel quite happy because he lives like a king from a spiritual point of view. We must have few desires in two areas: the desires for food and sex. Food and sex support ignorance in perpetrating all sort of evil. Thus, Confucius taught: “Food and sex are part of human nature.” That is to say we are born with the craving for foos and sex. Why is that we have not been able to demolish our ignorance, eliminate our afflictions, and reveal our wisdom? Because we always crave for food and sex. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that food gives rise to sexual desire, and sexual desire gives rise to ignorance. Once the desire for food arises, the desire for sex arises as well. Men are attracted to beautiful women, and women are charmed by handsome men. People become infatuated and obsessed and cannot see through their desires. The nourishment from the food we eat is transformed into reporductive essence; and once that essence is full, sexual desire arises. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that the less tasty the food is, the better. Food should not be regarded as too important. Sincere Buddhists should practice moderation and eat only enough to sustain ourselves. We should neither eat very rich food, nor eat spoilt food, for either one could ruin our health. To be satisfied with what we have at this very moment means satisfaction or contentment is a characteristic of the really happy individual. The ordinary people seem to think that it is difficult to cultivate and develop contentment. However, with courage and determination to control one’s evil inclination, as well as to understand the consequences of these evil thoughts, one can keep the mind from being soiled and experience happiness through contentment. For those who have wisdom, know how to apply themselves and are able to endure life, and are able to think cleverly, will find peace in his fate under whatever circumstances. With the conditions of wealth, one satisfies and is at peace with being wealthy; with the conditions of poverty, one satisfies and is at peace with being impoverished. In fact, in our lifetime, we engage in all kinds of activities, think and calculate every imaginable method without abandoning any plot, so long as it is beneficial, but whether or not our actions affect others we never care. We have been doing all these for what? For a better life, clothes, house, and for storing more money. If we think carefully, we will see that the sun rises, reaches its stand still, and then it will set and disappears in the evening; a full moon will soon become half, quarter, then lose its brightness; mountains become deep canyons; oceans become hills of berries, etc. The way of life has always been rise and fall, success and failure, victory and defeat, lost and found, together and apart, life and death, etc., goes on constantly and there is absolutely nothing that remain unchanged and eternal. People with wisdom should always satisfy with their current circumstances. The Buddha extols simple living as being more conducive to the development of one’s mind. Thus, the Buddha always preaches the self-contentment for the benefit of the Bhikkhus as follow: The robes or clothes they receive, whether coarse or fine; alms or food they receive, whether unpalatable or delicious; the abodes or houses they receive, whether simple or luxurious. Those who satisfy with these three conditions can reduce the desires, and at the same time develop the habits and values of simple living.
Devout Buddhists should always remember that to Buddhism, sensual pleasure are something fleeting, something that comes and goes. Can something be really called “Happiness” when it is here one moment and gone the next? Is it really so enjoyable to go around hunting for something so ephemeral, which is changing all the time? Look at the amount of trouble we have to go through to get all those sensual pleasures which we think will bring us happiness. Some people have such strong desire for pleasure that they will break the law, commit brutal crimes and cause others to suffer just so they can experience these pleasures. They may not understand how much suffering they themselves will have to endure in the future as a consequence of the unwholesome acts they have committed. Even ordinary people may become aware that a disproportionate amount of suffering is necessary to bring together a few moments of happiness, so much that it really is not worth it. Devout Buddhists should always remember that suffering will always follow craving. All the problems in this world are rooted in the desire for pleasure. It is on account of the need for pleasure that quarrels occur within the family, that neighbors do not get along well, that states have conflict and nations go to war. It is also on account of sense-based pleasures that sufferings, afflictions, and all kinds of problems plague our world, that people have gone beyond their humanness into great cruelty and inhumanity. Chapter 146. Assemblies
Four Assemblies: In Buddhism, when we speak about “Assemblies” we should use the term “Sangha”. This is a sanskrit term for “community.” The community of Buddhists. In a narrow sense, the term can be used just to refer to monks (Bhiksu) and nuns (Bhiksuni); however, in a wider sense, Sangha means four classes of disciples (monks, nuns, upasaka and upasika). Lay men (Upasaka) and lay women (Upasika) who have taken the five vows of the Panca-sila (fivefold ethics). All four groups are required formally to adopt a set of rules and regulations. Monastics are bound to two hundred-fifty and three hundred forty-eight vows, however, the actual number varies between different Vinaya traditions. An important prerequisite for entry into any of the four catergories is an initial commitment to practice of the Dharma, which is generally expressed by “taking refuge” in the “three jewels”: Buddha, Dharma, Samgha. The fourfold Assembly in the order includes Monks, Nuns, laymen or male devotees (upasaka), lay women or female devotees (upasika). According to the T’ien-T’ai sect, the fourfold assembly include the assembly which, Sariputra stirred the Buddha to begin his Lotus Sutra sermons. The pivotal assembly, those who were responsive to him. Those hearers of the Lotus who were adaptable to its teaching, and received it. The reflection assembly, those like Manjusri, who reflected on or drew out the Buddha’s teaching. Those who only profited in having seen and heard a Buddha, and therefore whose enlightenment is delayed to a future life. While the fourfold assembly of a monastery includes Monks, Nuns, novie monks and novice nuns. “Tỳ” (Bhi) means destroy and “Kheo” (ksu) means passions and delusions. Bhiksu means one who destroys the passions and delusions. A religious mendicant who has left home and renounced, a Bhikkhu who left home and renounced all possessions in order to follow the way of Buddha and who has become a fully ordained monk. A male member of the Buddhist Sangha who has entered homeless and received full ordination. A Bhiksu’s life is governed by 250 precepts under the most monastic code. All Bhiksus must depend on alms for living and cultivation, without any exception. All Bhiksus are Sakya-seeds, offspring of Buddha. Bhiksu still has three meanings: mendicants, frightener of mara and destroyer of evil. First, beggar for food or mendicant, someone who has just a single bowl to his name, accumulates nothing (no worldly money and properties), and relies exclusively on asking for alms to supply the necessities of life. There are two kinds of mendicant: internal and external mendicants. Internal mendicants are those who are able to self-control his or her internal mental or spiritual methods. external mendicants are those who are able to self-control his or her externals such as strict diet. Second, frightener of mara (delusion), someone who has accepted the full set of 250 disciplinary precepts. His karma has reached the level of development that he immediately fears delusion. Third, destroyer of evil, someone who has broken through evil, someone who observes everything with correct wisdom, someone who has smashed the evil of sensory afflictions, and does not fall into perceptions molded by desires. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The worst taint is ignorance, the greatest taint. Oh! Bhikshu! Cast aside this taint and become taintless (Dharmapada 243). He who strictly adorned, lived in peace, subdued all passions, controlled all senses, ceased to injure other beings, is indeed a holy Brahmin, an ascetic, a bhikshu (Dharmapada 142). A man who only asks others for alms is not a mendicant! Not even if he has professed the whole Law (Dharmapada 266). A man who has transcended both good and evil; who follows the whole code of morality; who lives with understanding in this world, is indeed called a bhikshu (Dharmapada 267).” Bhiksuni is a nun, a female observer of all the commandments, or a female mendicant who has entered into the order of the Buddha and observes the 348 or 364 precepts for nuns. In addition, a bhiksuni must always observe the eight commanding respect for the monks (Bát Kính Giáo). In order to establish the first Order of Nuns, Ananda insisted the Buddha to accept his mother, Mahaprajapati, she was also the Buddha’s aunt and step-mother, to be the first nun to be ordained. In the fourteenth years after his enlightenment, the Buddha yielded to persuation and admitted his aunt and women to his order of religious mendicants, but said that the admission of women would shorten the period of Buddhism by 500 years. Besides, there are Siksamanas A female novice, observer of the six commandments. One of the five classess of ascetics, a female neophyte who is from 18 to 20 years of age, studying six rules (aldutery, stealing, killing, lying, alcoholic liquor, eating at unregulated hours) to prepare to receive a full ordaination.
There are also Two Classes of Laypeople: Those who still remain at home: upasak and upasika. Upasaka is a Buddhist male worshipper (lay person), a lay disciple, in both forms of Buddhism, Theravada and Mahayana, is a person who vows to join the religion by striving to take refuge in the Triratna and to keep the five Precepts at all times, and the Eight Precepts on Uposatha days, and who tries to follow the Eightfold Path whilst living in the world. They are Buddhist supporters by offering material supplies, food, clothes, and so on. Countries with Buddhist tradition, Formal ordination of lay followers is extremely important for this is the central ceremony of faith for them to lead a virtuous life. Upasika is a female devotee.
According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are eight assemblies: First, the assembly of Khattiyas: This is one of the four Indian castes. In India, it is the second or warrior and ruling caste in India during Sakyamuni’s time. Chinese render it as landowners and royal caste, the caste from which the Buddha came forth. Second, the assembly of Brahmains: This is an age-old religion in India, dated 4,000 years ago, and founded by Krishna. According to the Vedas, Brahma has the power to create all sentient beings and things. There are four castes in Hindu society system. In Brahmanist concept, the present life is temporary while death is the return to Brahma to live an eternal happy life if one obeys Brahma’s tenets. Brahmins belong to the highest class in Indian society during the time of the Buddha. The third kind of assembly is the assembly of Householders. The fourth kind of assembly is the assembly of ascetics. The fifth kind of assembly is the assembly of devas of the Realm of the Four Great Kings. The sixth kind of assembly is the assembly of the Thirty-Three Gods. The seventh kind of assembly is the assembly of maras (celestial demons or demons in heavens). This is one of the four maras who dwells in the sixth heaven (Paranirmita-vasavartin), at the top of the Kamadhatu, with his innumerable host, whence he constantly obstructs the Buddha-truth and followers. This symbolizes idealistic people who disturb Buddhism. There are three different kinds of celestial maras: The first one is the slayer, who does things to hurt oneself. The second one is the mara who is sinful of love or desire, as he sends his daughters to seduce the saints. The third one is the Papiyan, a kind of evil who is the special Mara of the Sakyamuni period. The eighth assembly is the assembly of Brahmas: A Brahma is a chief of Hindu gods often described as the creator of world system. Brahma is also the Lord of the heavens of form. The father of all living beings; the first person of the Brahmanical Trimurti, Brahma, Visnu, and Siva, recognized by Buddhism as devas but as inferior to a Buddha, or enlightened man. Devas in the realm of form. There are three kinds: the assembly of brahmadevas, i.e. Brahmakayika, Brahmapurohitas, or retinue of Brahma, and Mahabrahman, or Brahman himself.
There are also many different kinds of assembly: First, great sea congregation or the assembly of the saints. The great congregation, as all waters flowing into the sea become salty, as all ranks flowing into the sangha become of one flavour and lose old differentiations. The assembly of the saints, who have great virtues. Second, forming-connection assembly or the multitude of Buddhists. Those who only profited in having seen and heard a Buddha, and therefore whose enlightenment is delayed to a future life. The company of those who now become Budhists in the hope of improved karma in the future, one of the four groups of disciples. Third, assembly of spirits. The assembly for offerings of the spirits below and above, pretas, etc. Fourth, constant companions of the Buddha. The twelve hundred and fifty Arhats who constantly accompanied the Buddha after He turned the Wheel of Dharma. They were Bodhisattvas belonging to the Dharmakaya, who just manifested themsleves as monastic disciples of the Buddha to help the Buddha to spread His Teachings.
Holy Assemblies: In Buddhism, the holy multitude means the assembly of all the saints, or the sacred. The Bodhisattva saints who have overcome illusion, from the first stage upwards. To all the saints, or the wise, what is to be ordinarily regarded as an error, that is, this world of particulars, appears neither perverted nor unperverted. 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 personality and the daily life of his religious community. The holy monk who has achieved higher merit, in contrasted with the ordinary monk (phàm tăng). In Mahayana Buddhism, Manjusri is considered as a holy monk, his image is placed in the center of the monks’ assembly room. In Hinayana Budhism, Kasyapa and Subhuti are considered holy monks, their images are usually placed in he centre of the monks’ assembly room. There are four sagely Dharma Realms (four kinds of holy men): First, Hearers or Sound Hearers, a direct disciple of the Buddha. Second, Pratyeka buddhas, individual illuminates, or independently awakened, those enlightened to conditions; a Buddha for himself, not teaching others. Third, Bodhisattvas, enlightened Beings. A person who has the state of bodhi, or a would-be-Buddha. Fourth, Buddha, one who has attained the supreme right and balanced state of bodhi. One who turns the wonderful Dharma-wheel. A Buddha is not inside the circle of ten realms, but as he advents among men to preach his doctrine he is now partially included in the “Four Saints.” Chapter 147. The Inconceivables In Buddhist Teachings
The Inconceivables: In Buddhism, beyond thought is equivalent to inconceivable. The inconceivables (acintya) are things that go beyond thought, description, or discussion, or beyond the power of mentation. There are many different categories of the “Inconceivables”. The first kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable anointment. According to the Flower Sutra, Chapter 27, there are ten kinds of inconceivable anointment which Enlightening Beings received from the Enlightened. Once Enlightening Beings enter the concentration called the pure treasury of the past, they receive ten kinds of inconceivable anointment from the Enlightened; they also attain, purify, consummate, enter, realize, fulfil and hold them, comprehend them equally, the three spheres pure. These ten kinds of inconceivable anointment include explanation without violating meaning, inexhaustibility of teaching, impeccable expression, endless eloquence, freedom from hesitation, truthfulness of speech, the trust of the community, liberating those in the triple world, supreme excellence of roots of goodness, and command of the Wondrous Teaching. Second, inconceivable, beneficial functions and uses from the pure wisdom. Third, inconceivable Buddha-lands. The size of the Buddha-lands or the bound of the Buddha realm is beyond human conception. The fourth kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable Dharmakaya. According to Zen Master D.T. Suzuki in the “Studies In The Lankavatara Sutra,” the idea of Dharmakaya is not wanting in the Lankavatara Sutra, and that it is used not in the same of the Dharmakaya of the Triple Body dogma. The Lankavatara Sutra speaks of the Tathagata’s Dharmakaya of the Inconceivable Dharmakaya, and of Dharmakaya as will-body. Fifth, inconceivable nagas. Dragons or Nagas are beyond human conception. The sixth kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable permeation. The permeation of the pure self-essence of the mind of true thusness by ignorance or wisdom which then appears in the manifest world. According to the Awakening of Faith, the indescribable vasana or the influence of primal ignorance on the bhutatathata, producing all illusions. The seventh kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable sentient beings. The Buddha’s teaching about living beings’ circumstances is beyond human conception. The eighth kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable transformation life and the inconceivable transformation of the death. Ineffable changes and transmigrations to the higher stages of mortality above the traidhatuka or trailokya. The inconceivable transformation life in the Pure Land, the transformation of the arhats and other saints. The death of mysterious transformation or inconceivable transformation-death. This has nothing to do with corporeal existence. It happens only to such spiritual beings as Bodhisattvas. A mysterious transformation that takes place within the mind, making it comprehend an external world of particular objects. The ninth kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable wisdom (acintya-jnana). The indescribable Buddha’s wisdom, or intuitive knowledge. The tenth kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable world. The Buddha’s world is beyond human conception.
More Inconceivables in Buddhism: According to Buddhist traditions, there are four things of a Buddha which are beyond human conception. In the Ekottaragama, there are four indescribables: The four things of a Buddha which are beyond human conception. The first kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable world. In fact, the Buddha’s world is beyond human conception. The second kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable living beings. In fact, the Buddha’s teaching about living beings’ circumstances is beyond human conception. The third kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable dragons or nagas. The Buddha’s teachings of nagas are beyond human conception. The fourth kind of inconceivables is the inconceivable size of the Buddha-lands. The Buddha’s teaching on the Buddha realms is beyond human conception.
In the Surangama Sutra, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva reported to the Buddha about the four inconceivables: “World Honored One! Because I obtained perfect penetration and cultivated to certification of the unsurpassed path, I also became endowed with four inconceivable and and effortless wonderful virtues.” First, as soon as I obtained the miraculous wonder of hearing the mind, the mind became essential and the hearing was forgotten; therefore, there was no distinction between seeing, hearing, sensation, and knowing. I achieved a single, perfect fusion, pure precious enlightenment. For this reason, I am able to manifest many wonderful appearances and can proclaim boundless secret spiritual mantras. For example, I may take appear one head, three heads, five heads, seven heads, nine heads, eleven heads, and so forth, until there may be a hundred and eight heads, a thousand heads, ten thousand heads, or eighty-four thousand vajra heads; two arms, four arms, six arms, eight arms, ten arms, twelve arms, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen arms, or twenty arms, twenty-four arms, and so forth until there may be a hundred and eight arms, a thousand arms, ten thousand arms, or eighty-four thousand mudra arms; two eyes, three eyes, four eyes, nine eyes, and so forth until there may be a hundred and eight eyes, a thousand eyes, ten thousand eyes, or eighty-four thousand pure and precious eyes, sometimes compassionate, sometimes awesome, sometimes in samadhi, sometimes displaying wisdom to rescue and protect living beings so that they may attain great self-mastery. Second, because of hearing and consideration, I escape the six defiling objects, just as a sound leaps over a wall without hindrance. And so I have the wonderful ability to manifest shape after shape and to recite mantra upon mantra. These shapes and these mantras dispel the fears of living beings. Therefore, throughout the ten directions, in as many lands as there are fine motes of dust, I am known as one who bestows fearlessness. Third, because I cultivated fundamental, wonderful, perfect penetration and purified the sense-organ, everywhere I go in any world I can make it so that living beings renounce their physical and material valuables and seek my sympathy. Fourth, I obtained the Buddhas’ mind and was certified as having attained the ultimate end, and so I can make offerings of rare treasures to the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions and to living beings in the six paths throughout the dharma realm. If they seek a spouse, they obtain a spouse. If they seek children, they can have children. Seeking samadhi, they obtain samadhi; seeking long life, they obtain long life, and so forth to the extent that if they seek the great Nirvana, they obtain great Nirvana. According to the Sastra on the Prajna-Paramita Sutra, there are five inconceivable or thought-surpassing or beyond mentation things: First, the number of living beings. Innumerable number of sentient beings is inconceivable. Second, all the consequences of karma are inconceivable. Third, the powers of a state of dhyana, or the concentration power of a zen practitioner is inconceivable. Fourth, the powers of nagas or dragons is inconceivable. Fifth, the powers of the Buddhas, or the Buddha Law is inconceivable. Chapter 148. The Difficulties According to Buddhist Teachings
Of all precious jewels, life is the greatest; if there is life, it is the priceless jewel. Thus, if you are able to maintain your livelihood, someday you will be able to rebuild your life. However, everything in life, if it has form characteristics, then, inevitably, one day it will be destroyed. A human life is the same way, if there is life, there must be death. Even though we say a hundred years, it passes by in a flash, like lightening streaking across the sky, like a flower’s blossom, like the image of the moon at the bottom of a lake, like a short breath, what is really eternal? Sincere Buddhists should always remember when a person is born, not a single dime is brought along; therefore, when death arrives, not a word will be taken either. A lifetime of work, putting the body through pain and torture in order to accumulate wealth and possessions, in the end everything is worthless and futile in the midst of birth, old age, sickness, and death. After death, all possessions are given to others in a most senseless and pitiful manner. At such time, there are not even a few good merits for the soul to rely and lean on for the next life. Therefore, such an individual will be condemned into the three evil paths immediately. Ancient sages taught: “A steel tree of a thousand years once again blossom, such a thing is still not bewildering; but once a human body has been lost, ten thousand reincarnations may not return.” Sincere Buddhists should always remember what the Buddha taught: “It is difficult to be reborn as a human being, it is difficult to encounter (meet or learn) the Buddha-dharma; now we have been reborn as a human being and encountered the Buddha-dharma, if we let the time passes by in vain we waste our scarce lifespan.”
According to the Buddha, there are six difficult things: First, to be born in human form is difficult. Second, to be born in the Buddha-age is difficult. Third, to hear the true Buddha-law is difficult. Fourth, to beget a good heart is difficult. Fifth, to be born in the central kingdom is difficult. Sixth, to be perfect is difficult. There are also six other difficulties: First, to be born in the Buddha-age is difficult. Second, to hear the true Buddha-law is difficult. Third, to beget a good heart is difficult. Fourth, to be born in the central kingdom is difficult. Fifth, to be in human form is difficult. Sixth, to be perfect is difficult.
There are eight conditions or circumstances in which it is difficult to see a Buddha or hear his dharma: Eight special types of adversities that prevent the practice of the Dharma. First, rebirth in hells where beings undergo sufferings at all times. Second, rebirth as a hungry ghost, or the ghost-world, where beings never feel comfortable with non-stop greed. Third, rebirth in an animal realm where beings has no ability and knowledge to practice dharma. Fourth, rebirth in Uttarakuru (Northern continent) where life is always pleasant and desires that beings have no motivation to practice the dharma. Fifth, rebirth in any long-life gods or heavens where life is long and easy so that beings have no motivation to seek the Buddha dharma. Sixth, rebirth as worldly philosophers (intelligent and well educated in mundane sense) who think that they know everything and don’t want to study or practise anymore, especially practicing dharmas. Seventh, rebirth with impaired, or deficient faculties such as the blind, the deaf, the dumb and the cripple. Eighth, life in a realm wherein there is no Tathagata, or in the intermediate period between a Buddha and his successor. During this period of time, people spent all the time to gossip or to argue for or their own views on what they heard about Buddha dharma, but not practicing.
According to the Sutra in Forty-Two Sections, chapter 36, there are nine difficulties: First, it is difficult for one to leave the evil paths and become a human being. Second, it is still difficult to become a male human being (a man rather than a woman). Third, once one becomes a man, it is difficult to have the six organs complete and perfect. Fourth, once the six organs are complete and perfect, it is still difficult for one to be born in the central county. Fifth, if one is born in the central country, it is still difficult to be born at the time of a Buddha. Sixth, if one is born at the time of a Buddha, it is still difficult for one to encounter the Way. Seventh, if one does encounter the Way, it is still difficult for one to bring forth faith. Eighth, if one does have sufficient faith, it is still difficult for one to resolve one’s mind on Bodhi. Ninth, if one does resolve one’s mind on Bodhi, it is still difficult to be without cultivation and without attainment.
In the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections, there are twenty difficulties people always encounter: The Buddha taught: “First, it is difficult to give when one is poor (it is hard for a poor man to be generous). It is difficult to practice charity when we are poor and destitute because under such conditions, even if we have the will, we lack the means. To force ourselves to practice charity must entail sacrifices. Second, it is difficult to study the Way when one has power and wealth (it is hard for a rich and powerful man to learn the way). It is difficult to study the Dharma when we are wealthy and eminent, because under such favorable circumstances, we may have the means, but we are pulled away by opportunities for enjoyment and self-gratification. Third, it is difficult to abandon life and face the certainty of death (it is hard to seek Enlightenment at the cost of self-sacrifice). Fourth, it is difficult to encounter the Buddha sutras (it is hard to hear the teaching of Buddha). Fifth, it is difficult to be born at the time of a Buddha (while the Buddha is in the world). The difficulty of being born during the lifetime of a Buddha is mentioned in the Perfection of Wisdom Treatise as follows: “In the town of Sravasti, north of India, out of a total population of nine hundred thousand, only one-third had actually seen and met Sakyamuni Buddha, another one-third had heard His Name and believed in Him but had not actually seen or met Him, while the remaining one-third had not seen, heard or even learned of His existence. Sakyamuni Buddha taught in Sravasti for some twenty-five years, yet a full one-third of the town’s population were completely unaware of His existence. Is it any wonder, then, that those who were born during Sakyamuni Buddha’s time but did not reside in Sravasti, or those who happened to be born before or after His time, would find it difficult to learn of Him or hear the Dharma. However, even though we may not be able to meet Sakyamuni Buddha, cultivating according to the Dharma is tantamount to meeting Him. On the other hand, if we do not follow His teaching, even while near Him, we are still far away. Thus, Devadatta, Sakyamuni Buddha’s very own cousin, as well as Bhikshu Sunaksatra who attended the Buddha personally for twenty years, both descended into the hells because they strayed from the Path. There is also the case of an old woman in the eastern quarter of Sravasti who was born at exactly the same moment as Sakyamuni Buddha, yet, because she lacked causes and conditions, wished neither to see nor to meet Him. Thus, not everyone can see the Buddhas and listen to the Dharma. Extensive good roots, merits, virtues and favorable conditions are required. Sixth, it is difficult to resist lust and desire. Seventh, it is difficult to see good things and not seek them. Eighth, it is difficult to be insulted and not become angry (It is hard not to get angry when one is insulte). Ninth, it is difficult to have power and not abuse it. Tenth, it is difficult to come in contact with things and have no attachment to them or no thoughts of them (It is hard not to be disturbed by external conditions and circumstances). Eleventh, it is difficult to be greatly learned in the Dharma (It is hard to apply onself to study widely and thoroughly). Twelfth, it is difficult to get rid of self-satisfaction and pride (It is hard to keep onself humble). Thirteenth, it is difficult not to slight those who have not yet studied the Dharma. Fourteenth, it is difficult to practice equanimity of mind (It is hard to keep the mind pure against instincts of the body). Fifteenth, it is difficult not to gossip. Sixteenth, it is difficult to meet good knowing advisor (It is hard to find good friends). Although Sakyamuni Buddha has now entered Nirvana, good spiritual advisors are taking turns preaching the Way in His stead. If we draw near to them and practice according to their teachings, we can still achieve liberation. Nevertheless, those who possess only scant and shallow roots must find it difficult to meet good spiritual advisors. Even when they do so and hear the Dharma, if they do not understand its meaning, or merely grasp at appearances and forms, refusing to follow it, no benefit can possibly result. According to the Brahma Net and Avatamsaka Sutras, we should ignore appearances and external forms when seeking a good spiritual advisors. For example, we should disregard such traits as youth, poverty, low status or lack of education, unattractive appearance or incomplete features, but should simply seek someone conversant with the Dharma, who can be of benefit to us. Nor should we find fault with good spiritual advisors for acting in certain ways, as it may be due to a number of reasons, such as pursuing a secret cultivation practice or following an expedient teaching. Or else, they may act the way they do because while their achievements may be high, their residual bad habits have not been extinguished. If we grasp at forms and look for faults, we will forfeit benefits on the path of cultivation. Seventeenth, it is difficult to see one’s own Nature and study the Way. Eighteenth, it is difficult to save sentient beings with means appropriate to their situations. Nineteenth, it is difficult to see a state and not be moved by it (It is hard not to argue about right and wrong). Twentieth, it is difficult to have a good understanding of skill-in-means and apply to it well (It is hard to find and learn a good method).”
Besides these difficulties, according to Buddhist traditions, there are four unattainables: perpetual youth, no sickness, perennial life, and no death. According to the Agama Sutra, there are four things that may not be treated lightly: First, a prince though young now, but he may become a king in the future, so not to treat him lightly. Second, a snake though small, but its venom can kill people, so not to treat it lightly. Third, a fire though tiny, but it may be able to destroy a big forest or meadow, so not to treat it lightly. Fourth, a novice though a beginner, but he may become an arhat, so not to treat him lightly. There are four to whom one does not entrust valuables: the old, death is near, the distant, lest one has immediate need of them, and the evil, or the strong; lest the temptation be too strong for the last two. There are also four invisibles: First, water to fish. Second, air or wind to man. Third, the nature of things to the deluded. Fourth, the void to the enlightened, because he is in his own element, and the void is beyond conception. There are also four “not-born”: First, a thing is not born or not produced of itself. Second, a thing is not produced of another or of a cause without itself. Third, a thing is not “not self-born” when it is time to produce the fruit of karma (of both 1 & 2). Fourth, a thing is not “not born” when it is time to produce the fruit of karma (of no cause). Five things which no one is able to accomplish in this world: First, to cease growing old when he is growing old. Second, to cease being sick, but he still gets sick. Third, to cease dying, but he is still dying at every moment he lives. Fourth, to deny extinction when there is extinction. Fifth, to deny exhaustion. There are seven Unavoidable: First, rebirth is unavoidable. Second, old age is unavoidable. Third, sickness is unavoidable. Fourth, death is unavoidable. Fifth, punishment for sins is unavoidable. Sixth, happiness for goodness is unavoidable. Seventh, Consequences or Cause and effect are unavoidable. Chapter 149. Actualization of the Buddha’s Path
“Marga” means the way; however, according to Buddhism, “Marga” means the doctrine of the path that leads to the extinction of passion (the way that procures cessation of passion). In Buddhism, once talking about “Marga”, people usually think about the “Noble Truths” and the “Noble Path”. The “Noble Truths” is the fourth of the four dogmas. The Noble Path is the eight holy or correct ways, or gates out of suffering into nirvana. In Buddhism, “Marga” is described as the cause of liberation, and bodhi as its result. “Marga” is a Sanskrit term for “path” in Buddhist practice that leads to liberation from cyclic existence. According to the Sutra In Forty-Two Sections, Chapter 2, the Buddha said: “The Path of Sramanas who have left the home-life renounce love, cut (uproot) desire and recognize the source of their minds. They penetrate the Buddha’s Wonderful Dharmas and awaken to unconditioned dharmas. They do not seek to obtain anything internal; nor do they seek anything external. Their minds are not bound by the Way nor are they tied up in Karma. They are without thoughts and without actions; they neither cultivate nor achieve (certify); they do not need to pass through the various stages and yet are respected and revered. This is what is meant by the Way.” Cultivators who decide to follow the Buddha’s foot-step always think about the paths that lead to liberation. The first path is the “Path of accumulation” (Sambhara-marga skt): This is the first of the five paths delineated in Buddhist meditation theory, during which one amasses (tích trữ) two “collections”: 1) the ‘collection of merit’ (punya-sambhara), involves cultivating virtuous deeds and attitudes, which produce corresponding positive karmic results; and 2) the ‘collection of wisdom’ (jnana-sambhara), involves cultivating meditation in order to obtain wisdom for the benefit of other sentient beings. In Mahayana meditation theory, it is said that one enters on the path with the generation of the “mind of awakening” (Bodhicitta). The training of this path leads to the next level, the “path of preparation” (prayoga-marga). The second path is the “Path of truth”: According to the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Treasure, the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-Neng, taught: “Good Knowing Advisors, the Way must penetrate and flow. How can it be impeded? If the mind does not dwell in dharmas, the way will penetrate and flow. The mind that dwells in dharmas is in self-bondage. To say that sitting unmoving is correct is to be like Sariputra who sat quietly in the forest but was scolded by Vimalakirti. Good Knowing Advisors, there are those who teach people to sit looking at the mind and contemplating stillness, without moving or arising. They claimed that it has merit. Confused men, not understanding, easily become attached and go insane. There are many such people. Therefore, you should know that teaching of this kind is a greater error.” The third path is the path leading to the end (extinction) of suffering: This is the fourth of the four axioms, i.e. the eightfold noble path. The Eightfold Path to the Cessation of Duhkha and afflictions, enumerated in the fourth Noble Truth, is the Buddha’s prescription for the suffering experienced by all beings. It is commonly broken down into three components: morality, concentration and wisdom. Another approach identifies a path beginning with charity, the virtue of giving. Charity or generosity underlines morality or precept, which in turn enables a person to venture into higher aspirations. Morality, concentration and wisdom are the core of Buddhist spiritual training and are inseparably linked. They are not merely appendages to each other like petals of a flower, but are intertwined like “salt in great ocean,” to invoke a famous Buddhist simile. If Buddhism does not have the ability to help its followers to cultivate the path of liberation, Buddhism is more or less a kind of dead religion. Dead Buddhism is a kind of Buddhism with its superfluous organizations, classical rituals, multi-level offerings, dangling and incomprehensible sutras written in strange languages which puzzle the young people. In their view the Buddhist pagoda is a nursing home, a place especially reserved for the elderly, those who lack self-confidence or who are superstituous.
In The Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The best of paths is the Eightfold Path. The best of truths are the Four Noble Truths. Non-attachment is the best of states. The best of men is he who has eyes to see (Dharmapada 273). This is the only way. There is no other way that leads to the purity of vision. You follow this way, Mara is helpless before it (Dharmapada 274). Entering upon that path, you will end your suffering. The way was taught by me when I understood the removal of thorns (arrows of grief) (Dharmapada 275). You should make an effort by yourself! The Tathagatas are only teachers. The Tathagatas cannot set free anyone. The meditative ones, who enter the way, are delivered from the bonds of Mara (Dharmapada 276). All conditioned, or created things are transient. One who perceives this with wisdom, ceases grief and achieves liberation. This is the path to purity (Dharmapada 277). All conditioned things are suffering. One who perceives this with wisdom, ceases grief and achieves liberation. This is the path of purity (Dharmapada 278). All conditioned things are without a real self. One who perceives this with wisdom, ceases grief and achieves liberation. This is the path of purity (Dharmapada 279). One who does not strive when it is time to strive, who though young and strong but slothful with thoughts depressed; such a person never realizes the path (Dharmapada 280). Be watchful of speech, control the mind, don’t let the body do any evil. Let purify these three ways of action and achieve the path realized by the sages (Dharmapada 281). Cut down the love, as though you plucked an autumn lily with the fingers. Cultivate the path of peace. That is the Nirvana which expounded by the Auspicious One (Dharmapada 285). In the Forty-Two Sections Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The Buddha said: “People who cherish love and desire do not see the Way. It is just as when you stir clear water with your hand; those who stand beside it cannot see their reflections. People who are immersed in love and desire have turbidity in their minds and because of it, they cannot see the Way. You Sramanas should cast aside love and desire. When the filth of love and desire disappears, the Way can be seen. Those who seek the Way are like someone holding a torch when entering a dark room, dispelling the darkness, so that only brightness remains. When you study the Way and see the Truth, ignorance is dispelled and brightness is always present.”
According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhism lays stress on the Threefold Learning (siksa) of Higher Morality, Higher Thought, and Higher Insight. That is to say, without higher morals one cannot get higher thought and without higher thought one cannot attain higher insight. Higher thought here comprises the results of both analytical investigation and meditative intuition. Buddhism further instructs the aspirants, when they are qualified, in the Threefold Way (marga) of Life-View, Life-Culture and Realization of Life-Ideal or No-More Learning. These are three stages to be passed through in the study of the Fourfold Truth by the application of the Eightfold Noble Path; in the second stage it is investigated more fully and actualized by the practice of the Seven Branches of Enlightenment, life-culture here again means the results of right meditation; and in the last stage the Truth is fully realized in the Path of No-More-Learning. In other words, without a right view of life there will be no culture, and without proper culture there will be no realization of life. The first path is the “Path of Life-View”: The way or stage of beholding the truth of no reincarnation, i.e. that of the Sravakas and the first stage of the Bodhisattvas. In the Fourfold Noble Truth, the Path to Enlightenment with the Eightfold Noble Path which the Buddha taught to be pursued by the Ariya (right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right mindfulness, right endeavor, right livelihood, right concentration). The second path is the “Path of Life-Culture”: The path of cultivating the truth. This is the stage of the path of practice and is described as the Seven Branches of Enlightenment (thorough investigation of the Principle, brave effort, joyous thought, peaceful thought, mindfulness, concentration, and equanimity). According to Tibetan Buddhism, “Lam bras” means the “Path and result” of cultivation. This is a meditative system that forms the basis of the training of the Sakyapa order of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a comprehensive vision of Buddhist practice, based on the Hevajra-Tantra. In this system, path and result are viewed as being inseparably linked: the result subsumes (gộp vào) the path, since the latter leads to the former, and the path subsumes the result, since it is the means by which it is attained. The method of this kind of practice is traced back to the Indian Mahasiddha Viruoa, whose vijra Verses (Vajra-gatha-skt) is considered one of its seminal texts. The main outlines of the system were developed by Sachen Gunga Nyingpo (1092-1158). “Lam-rim” is a Tibetan term for “Stages of the path,” found in all orders of Tibetan Buddhism, the oldest example of which is Gampopa (1079-1153) “Jewel Ornament of Liberation.” Lam rim is also central to the meditative system of the Gelukpa order. The lam rim tradition conceives of the path to Buddhahood in hierarchically ordered stages, and trainees are expected to master each stage before moving on. The meditative training involves progressively eliminating negative mental states and tendencies while simultaneously engaging in virtuous actions and training in accordant attitudes. Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), the founder of the Gelukpa, wrote several works of this type, the most comprehensive being his “Great Exposition of the Stage of the Path” (Lam rim chen mo). The third path is the “Path of No-More-Learning”: That is to say that the cultivators completely comprehend 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 character, 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.
According to the Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng, the attainment of the Tao does not involve a continuous movement from error to truth, or from ignorance to enlightenment. Nowadays, all Zen masters agree with the patriarch and proclaim that there is no enlightenment whatever which you can claim to have attained. If you say you have attained something, this is the surest proof that you have gone astray. Therefore, not to have is to have; silence is thunder; ignorance is enlightenment; the holy disciples of the purity-path go to hell while the precept-violating Bhikshus attain Nirvana; the wiping-off means dirt-accumulating; all these paradoxical sayings, and Zen literature is filled with them, are no more than so many negations of the continuous movement from discrimination to non-discrimination, from affectability to non-affectability, and so on, and so on... The idea of continuous movement fails to account for the facts, first, that the moving process stops at the originally bright mirror, and makes no further attempt to go on indefinitely, and secondly, that the pure nature of the mirror suffers itself to be defiled, i.e. that from one object comes another object absolutely contradicting it. To put this another way: absolute negation is needed, but can it be possible when the process is continuous? Here is the reason why Hui-Neng persistently opposes the view cherished by his opponents. He does not espouse the doctrine of continuity which is the Gradual School of Shen-Hsiu. All those who hold the view of a continuous movement belong to the latter. Hui-Neng, on the other hand, is the champion of the Abrupt School. According to this school the movement from ignorance to enlightenment is abrupt and not gradual, discrete and not continuous. That the process of enlightenment is abrupt means that there is a leap, logical and psychological, in the Buddhist experience. The logical leap is that the ordinary process of reasoning stops short, and what has been considered irrational is perceived to be perfectly natural, while the psychological leap is that the borders of consciousness are overstepped and one is plunged into the Unconscious which is not, after all, unconscious. This process is discrete, abrupt, and altogether beyond calculation; this is “Seeing into one’s Self-nature.”
If one’s self-nature is understood, one ‘satori’ is enough to make one attain the Way and rise to a state of Buddhahood. In the Platform Sutra, Hui Neng said: “Oh friends, while under Hung-Jen Master I had a satori by just once listening to his words, and abruptly saw into the original nature of Suchness. This is the reason why I wish to see this teaching propagated, so that seekers of the truth may also be abruptly have an insight into Bodhi, see each by himself what his mind is, what original nature is… All the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, and all the Sutras belonging to the twelve divisions are in the self-nature of each individual, where they were from the first… There is within oneself that which knows, and thereby one has “satori.” If there rises an erroneous thought, falsehood and perversions obtain; and no outsiders, however wise, are able to instruct such people, who are, indeed, beyond help. But if there takes place an illumination by means of genuine Prajna, all falsehood vanish in an instant. If one’s self-nature is understood, one ‘satori’ is enough to make one rise to a state of Buddhahood. Oh friends, when there is a Prajna illumination, the inside as well as the outside becomes thoroughly translucent, and a man knows by himself what his original mind is, which is no more than emancipation. When emancipation is obtained, it is the Prajna-samadhi, and when this Prajna-samadhi is understood, there is realized a state of “thoughtlessness.”
Devout Buddhists always believe in the “Actualization of the Supreme Way” in Daily Life and in this very life. Actualization of the Supreme Way is one of the three aims of meditation. At this point we do not distinguish the end from the means. The highest type of Zen corresponds to this stage. When you sit earnestly and egolessly in accordance with the instructions of a competent teacher, with your mind fully conscious yet as free of thought as a pure white sheet of paper is unmarred by a blemish, there is an unfoldment of your intrinsically pure Buddha-nature whether you have had awakening or not. But what must be emphasized here is that only with true awakening do you directly apprehend the truth of your Buddha-nature and perceive that awakening, the purest type of Zen, is no different from that practiced by all Buddhas. According to the Vimalalkirti Sutra, chapter eighth, the Buddha Path, Upasaka Vimalakirti explained to Manjusri Boshisattva about “Entering the Buddha Path”. Manjusri asked Vimalakirti: “How does a Bodhisattva enter the Buddha path?” Vimalakirti replied: “If a Bodhisattva treads the wrong ways (without discrimination) he enters the Buddha path.” Manjusri asked: “What do you mean by a Bodhisattva treading the wrong ways?” Vimalakirti replied: “(In his work of salvation) if a Bodhisattva is free from irritation and anger while appearing in the fivefold uninterrupted hell; is free from the stain of sins while appearing in (other) hells; is free from ignorance, arrogance and pride while appearing in the world of animals; is adorned with full merits while appearing in the world of hungry ghosts; does not show his superiority while appearing in the (heavenly) worlds of form and beyond form; is immune from defilements while appearing in the world of desire; is free from anger while appearing as if he were resentful; uses wisdom to control his mind while appearing to be stupid; appears as if he were greedy but gives away all his outer (i.e. money and worldly) and inner (i.e. bodily) possessions without the least regret for his own life; appears as if he broke the prohibitions while delighting in pure living and being apprehensive of committing even a minor fault; appears as if he were filled with hatred while always abiding in compassionate patience; appears as if he were remiss while diligently practicing all meritorious virtues; appears as if he were disturbed while always remaining in the state of serenity; appears as if he were ignorant while possessing both mundane and supramundane wisdoms; appears as if he delighted in flattering and falsehood while he excels in expedient methods in conformity with straightforwardness as taught in the sutras; shows arrogance and pride while he is as humble as a bridge; appears as if he were tormented by troubles while his mind remains pure and clean; appears in the realm of demons while defeating heterodox doctrines to conform with the Buddha wisdom; appears in the realm of sravakas where he expounds the unheard of supreme Dharma; appears in the realm of pratyeka-buddhas where he converts living beings in fulfillment of great compassion; appears amongst the poor but extends to them his precious hand whose merits are inexhaustible; appears amongst the crippled and disabled with his own body adorned with the excellent physical marks (of the Buddha); appears amongst the lower classes but grows the seed of the Buddha nature with all relevant merits; appears amongst the emaciated and ugly showing his strong body to the admiration of them all; appears as an old and ill man but is actually free from all ailments with no fear of death; appears as having all the necessities of life but always sees into impermanence and is free from greed; appears to have wives, concubines and maids but always keeps away from the morass of the five desires; appears amongst the dull-witted and stammerers to help them win the power of speech derived from the perfect control of mind; appears amongst heretics to teach orthodoxy and deliver all living beings; enters all worlds of existence to help them uproot the causes leading thereto; and appears as if entering nirvana but without cutting off birth and death; Manjusri, this Bodhisattva can tread heterodox ways because he has access to the Buddha path.” Chapter 150. Buddhist Festivals
Records of the ealry Buddhist monastic order indicate that festivals were discouraged, although there were numerous regularly held ceremonies, such as the fortnight recitaion of the Vinaya rules in the Posadha ceremony. As it became a religion with significant numbers of lay followers, however, regular festivals were developed. In contemporary Buddhism, there are numerous yearly and seasonal festivals, which serve a variety of functions, such as marking important occurences like the new year or the harvest. Others provide opportunities for merit-making, such as the robe-receivign ceremony (kathina), held annually in both Theravada and Mahayana traditions, or the Tibetan Monlam Chenmo festival. Buddhist festivals also serve the important function of promoting Buddhism to non-Buddhists, and they punctuate the year with religiously significant events. The most widely celebrated festival is the date commemorating the birth, awakening, and parinirvana of the Buddha. In Theravada countries, this is celebrated on the full-moon day in May. It is called Vesak in Sri Lanka, and Visakha Puja in Thailand. Other important Sri Lankan festivals include Poson, which commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to the island, and Esala Parahera, in which the Buddha’s tooth relic is paraded through the streets of Kandy. In Mahayana traditions, such as in China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet and Vietnam, the Buddha’s Birth Day Festival is usually celebrated on April 8 or April 15, The Buddha’s Awakening Festival is celebrated on December 8, and the Buddha’s Nirvana Festival is celebrated on February 15. Another important Japanese festival is Setsubon (early February), which centers on driving away evil spirits. Other important festivals in Mahayana Buddhism include and annual “hungry ghost” (Preta) festival, in which offerings are given to placate these unhappy spirits. Some Important Buddhist Festivals such as the Birthday of Buddha Sakyamuni on the 15th of the Fourth month of Lunar calendar, the Festival of Hungry Ghosts or the Ullambana on the 15th of seventh month of Lunar calelndar, and the Festival of the Buddha’s Enlightenment Date on the 15th of the twelfth month of lunar calendar.
Celebration Days of some important Buddhas and Bodhisattvas: Festivals on the first month of lunar calendar include the Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Birthday (the first day of the first month Lunar calendar), and the Samadhi Light Buddha’s Birthday (the 6th of the first month Lunar calendar). Festivals on the second month of lunar calendar include the Sixth Patriarch’s Birthday (the 8th day of the second month Lunar calendar), the Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s Birthday (the 19th of the second month Lunar calendar), and the Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s Birthday (the 21st day of the second month Lunar calendar). There is no festival on the third month of lunar calendar. Festival on the fourth month of lunar calendar include the Manjushri Bodhisattva’s Birthday (the 4th day of the 4th month Lunar calendar), the Birthday of Buddha Sakyamuni (the 15th of the Fourth month of Lunar calendar), and the Medicine King Bodhisattva’s Birthday (the 28th of the 4th month Lunar calendar). There is no festival on the fifth month of lunar calendar. There is one festival on the sixth month of lunar calendar, the celebration of Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s Enlightenment (the 13th of the 6th month and the 19th of the 6th month Lunar calendar). Festivals on the seventh month of lunar calendar include the Rain Retreat, which begins around the 15th of the fourth month and ends around the 15th of the seventh month of lunar calendar, the festival of hungry ghosts or the Ullambana on the 15th of seventh month of Lunar calelndar, Nagarjuna (Dragon Tree) Bodhisatva’s Birthday (the 24th day of the 7th month Lunar calendar), Earth Store Bodhisattva’s Birthday (the 30th day of the 7th month Lunar calendar), and Great Strength Bodhisattva’s Birthday (the 13th day of the 7th month of Lunar calendar). Festivals on the eighth month of lunar calendar include the Sixth Patriarch’s Entering Nirvana Day (the 3rd day of the 8th month Lunar Calendar), and (Dipankara Buddha) Burning Lamp Buddha of Antiquity’s Birthday (the 22nd of the 8th month Lunar calendar). Festivals on the ninth month of lunar calendar include Festival of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara on the 19th of the ninth month of Lunar calendar, and Medicine Master Buddha’s Birthday (the 30th day of the 9th month Lunar calendar). Festivals on the tenth month of lunar calendar, the celebration of Venerable First Patriarch Bodhidharma’s Birthday (the 5th day of the 10th month Lunar calendar). There is one festival on the eleventh month of lunar calendar, the celebration of Amitabha Buddha’s Birthday (Festival of Amitabha Buddha on 17th of the 11th month Lunar calendar). Festivals on the twelfth month of lunar calendar include Festival of the Buddha’s Enlightenment Date on 15th of the twelfth month of luna calendar, and Avatamsaka Bodhisattva’s Birthday (29th day of the twelfth month Lunar calendar).
Besides, there are Ten fast days: The ten “fast” days of a month based on Lunar calendar are 1, 8, 14, 15, 18, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30. Eating flesh, hunting, fishing, execution, etc. are forbidden in those days. These are also ten Buddhas or Bodhisattvas connected with the ten “fast” days. First, the day of Samadhi Buddha, which is on the 1st day. Second, the day of Medicine Master Buddha, which is on the 8th day. Third, the day of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, which is on the 14th day. Fourth, the day of Amitabha Buddha, which is on the 15th day. Fifth, the day of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, which is on the 18th day. Sixth, the day of Mahasthama-prapta Bodhisattva, which is on the 23rd day. Seventh, the day of Ksitigarbha (Earth-Store) Bodhisattva, which is on the 24th day. Eighth, the day of Vairocana Buddha, which is on the 28th day. Ninth, the day of Medicine King (Bhaisajya) Buddha, which is on the 29th day. Tenth, the day of Sakyamuni Buddha, which is on the 30th day.