Chapter 17. The Truth of the Twelve Conditions of Cause-and-Effect
According to the Buddha, a cause refers to the cause you have planted, from which you reap a corresponding re-sult without any exception. If you plant a good cause, you will get a good result. And if you plant a bad cause, you will obtain a bad result. So if you plant a certain cause with other conditions assemble, a certain retribu-tion or result is brought about without any exception. The Buddha taught: “Because of a concatenation of caus-al chains there is birth, there is disappearance.” Cause and effect in Buddhism are not a matter of belief or dis-belief. Even though you don’t believe in “cause and ef-fect,” they just operate the way they are suppose to op-erate. The cause is the seed, what contributes to its growth is the conditions. Planting a seed in the ground is a cause. Conditions are aiding factors which contribute to the growth such as soil, water, sunlight, fertilizer, and the care of the gardener, etc. According to Buddhism, human beings and all living things are self-created or self-creating. The universe is not homocentric; it is a co-creation of all beings. Buddhism does not believe that all things came from one cause, but holds that everything is inevitably created out of more than two causes. The creations or becomings of the antecedent causes continue in time-series, past, present and future, like a chain. This chain is divided into twelve divisions and is called the Twelve Divisioned Cycle of Causation and Becom-ings. Since these divisions are interdependent, the pro-cess is called Dependent Production or Chain of causa-tion. The formula of this theory is as follows: From the existence of this, that becomes; from the happening of this, that happens. From the non-existence of this, that does not become; from the non-happening of this, that does not happen. Thus, the term “Causation” indicates the following: a thing arises from or is produced through the agency of a condition or a secondary cause. A thing does not take form unless there is an appropriate condi-tion. This truth applies to all existence and all phenome-na in the universe. The Buddha intuitively perceived this so profoundly that even modern science cannot probe further. When we look carefully at things around us, we find that water, stone, and even human beings are pro-duced each according to a certain pattern with its own individual character. Through what power or direction are the conditions generated that produce various things in perfect order from such an amorphous energy as “sunyata?” When we consider this regularity and order, we cannot help admitting that some rule exists. It is the rule that causes all things exist. This indeed is the Law taught by the Buddha.
According to the Majjhima Nikaya Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Depending on the oil and wick does the light of the lamp burn; it is neither in the one, nor in the other, nor anything in itself; phenomena are, likewise, nothing in themselves. So do we, we do not exist accidentally, but exist and live by means of this Law. As soon as we real-ize this fact, we become aware of our firm foundation and set our minds at ease. Far from being capricious, this foundation rests on the Law, with which nothing can compare firmness. This assurance is the source of the great peace of mind that is not agitated by anything. It is the Law that imparts life of all of us. The Law is not something cold but is full of vigor and vivid with life. All things are unreal; they are deceptions; Nirvana is the only truth.” Dependent origination means that all phe-nomena are produced and annihilated by causation. This term indicates the following: a thing arises from or is produced through the agency of a condition or a second-ary cause. A thing does not take form unless there is an appropriate condition. This truth applies to all existence and all phenomena in the universe. The Buddha intui-tively perceived this so profoundly that even modern sci-ence cannot probe further. When we look carefully at things around us, we find that water, stone, and even human beings are produced each according to a certain pattern with its own individual character. Through what power or direction are the conditions generated that produce various things in perfect order from such an amorphous energy as “sunyata?” When we consider this regularity and order, we cannot help admitting that some rule exists. It is the rule that causes all things ex-ist. This indeed is the Law taught by the Buddha. We do not exist accidentally, but exist and live by means of this Law. As soon as we realize this fact, we become aware of our firm foundation and set our minds at ease. Far from being capricious, this foundation rests on the Law, with which nothing can compare firmness. This assurance is the source of the great peace of mind that is not agitated by anything. It is the Law that imparts life of all of us. The Law is not something cold but is full of vigor and vivid with life. All things in the phenomanal world are brought into being by the combination of various causes and conditions (twelve links of Dependent Origination), they are relative and without substantiality or self-entity.
The first link is Ignorance: The Sanskrit term Avidya means ignorance, stupidity, or unenlightenment. Avidya also means misunderstanding, being dull-witted igno-rant, not conforming to the truth, not bright, dubious, blind, dark. Avidya also means being dull-witted igno-rant not knowing the four noble truths, not knowing suf-ferings, the causes of sufferings, the mental state after severing sufferings, and the way to sever sufferings. The second link is Volitional Actions: Through ignorance are conditioned volitional actions. Ignorance which mistakes the illusory phenomena of this world for realities. With ignorance, there is activity, and then there is manifesta-tion. With manifestation, there is consciousness. Acting from ignorance would result in bad or favorable karma which is conducive to reincarnation or liberation. The third link is Consciousness: Through volitional actions is conditioned consciousness. Consciousness refers to dis-crimination. Activity refers to conditioned dharmas. When conditioned dharmas arise, thoughts of discrimi-nation arise. With thoughts of discrimination, lots of troubles also arise. Vijnana means consciousness. If not liberated yet, after death, the body decays, but the sub-ject’s knowledge commonly called soul follows its rein-carnation course in accordance with the three karmas of body, speech and mind. Only when his knowledge gains the status of purification, then he would be liberated from reincarnation. The fourth link is Name and Form: Through consciousness are conditioned name and form. After birth, thanks to his consciousness, the subject rec-ognizes that he now has a name and a form (body). Through name and form are conditioned the six senses-organs. Name and form are the trouble in life. Name brings the trouble of name, and form brings the trouble of form. In this life, name and form are the trouble, and the trouble is name and form. The fifth link is the Six Entrances: The six sense organs (eye with form, ear with sound, nose with scent, tongue with taste, body with tex-ture, mind with mental object). He is now has five senses and mind to get in touch with respective counterparts. Through the six senses-organs is conditioned contact. The six sense organs come about because we wish to un-derstand things; that is why the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind arise. Why do the six sense organs come into being? Because of the desire to understand. Howev-er, who would have known that the more we try to un-derstand, the more muddled we get. The more muddled we become, the less we understand. The sixth link is Contact: Contact develops after the six senses-organs are made. Through contact is conditioned feeling. Contact refers to touching or encountering. When we do not un-derstand, we go seeking everywhere just like a fly that keeps bumping into the wall. Why do we seek encoun-ters? Because of our desire to understand. The seventh link is Feeling: Contact provokes all kinds of feelings, feelings of joy, sadness, pleasure or pain. Through feeling is conditioned craving. After we touch something, there is feeling. Before we run into difficulties, we feel very comfortable. Once we encounter difficulties, we feel very uncomfortable. When no one criticizes us, we feel very happy. But if anyone says something bad about us, we get upset. That is feeling. The eighth link is Love: From the feeling of joy and pleasure, the subject tends to pro-long it as much as possible. Through craving conditioned clinging. When we have feelings, love and attachment arise. Why do people feel insecure? It is because of love. Once there is love, there is also hatred, or detestation. We like and cling to favorable situations, but detest ad-verse states. Why do we feel happy? And why do we feel unhappy? It is because we have feelings of love and hate. Hate refers to dislike and loathing. Because of these, our troubles increase day after day. The ninth link is Cling-ing: He becomes attached to what he likes or desires. Through clinging is conditioned the process of becoming. When we see something we like, we want to grasp it. What is grasping? It is the action motivated by the wish to obtain something. Because you are fond of something, you wish to obtain it. Once we obtain something, we have satisfied our desire. Why do we want to fulfill our desire? It is because we want to possess things. The tenth link is Possession: With that wish for possession, “becoming” occurs. Driven by his desires, the subject tries to take in possession of what he wants such as money, houses, fame, honor, etc. Through the process of becoming is conditioned birth. Because of becoming, we want to possess things. The eleventh link is Birth: Once we want to possess things, there is birth into the next life. Thus, craving, clinging and becoming make up the present causes which will accompany the subject in his birth. The twelfth link is Old Age and Death: Through birth are conditioned decay, sorrow and death. In his new life, he will become old and die as every being does. Chapter 18. The Truth of Seven Bodhi Shares
In Buddhism, the seven Bodhi Shares are also called the seven limbs of enlightenment. The Buddha always told His disciples: “All of the factors of enlightenement bring extraordinary benefits. Once fully developed, they have the power to bring samsaric suffering to an end.” This means that the perpetual, cyclical birth and death of be-ings who are composed of mental and physical phenome-na can come to a complete stop. Besides, these factors of enlightenment also have the capacity to pulverize mara’s armies, the destructive inner forces which keep us bound on the wheel of suffering and rebirth. The Buddha and enlightened ones develop the factors of enlightenment and are thus able to transcend all three realms of sensu-al pleasures, realm of subtle forms and formless realms. When fully developed, these factors of enlightenment bring practitioners to attain the peace and joy of Nirva-na. In this they are comparable to strong and effective medicine. They confer the strength of mind necessary to withstand the ups and downs of life. Moreover, they of-ten caure physical and mental illnesses. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are seven Limbs (factors) of Enlightenment, or the seven Bodhi shares. Practicing the seven awakening states will result in the following achievements: Elimina-tion of evil; development of virtue; feeling of cheerfulness versus suffering; final enlightenment.
Cultivators can not become enlightened by merely gazing into the sky or just look down on earth. Cultivators can not obtain the way by simply reading books or studying the scriptures, nor by thinking, nor by wishing for be-coming Buddha. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are seven Limbs (factors) of Enlightenment, or the seven Bodhi shares. They are necessary conditions or prerequisites which cause enlightenment to arise. Practicing the seven awak-ening states will result in the following achievements: Elimination of evil; development of virtue; feeling of cheerfulness versus suffering; final enlightenment. The word “Bojjhanga” is a Pali term for “factors of enlight-enment.” It is made up of “Bodhi,” which means enlight-enment or an enlightened person, and “anga,” is a causa-tive factor. Thus a “bojjhanga” is a causative factor of an enlightened being, or a cause for enlightenment. A sec-ond sense of the word “Bojjhanga” is based on alternative meanings of its two Pali roots. Thus the alternative meaning of bodhi is the knowledge that comprehends or sees the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Noble Path. Sometimes, seven factors of enlightenment are known as ‘sambojjhanga’. The prefix ‘sam’ means ‘full’ or ‘complete’; however, the prefix does not change the meaning of the seven factors of enlightenment. All prac-titioners come to understand the Four Noble Truths to some extent, but according to Buddhism, true compre-hension of them requires a particular, transforming mo-ment of consciousness, known as path consciousness. This is one of the culminating insights of meditation practice for it includes the experience of Nirvana. Once a practitioner has experienced this, he or she is deeply knows the Four Noble Truths, and thus is considered to contain the “bojjhangas” inside him or herself. Such a person is called noble. Thus, “Bojjhangas” or enlighten-ment factors also are parts or qualities of a noble person. The seven factors of enlightenment include Selection of the proper dharma, Constant effort, Cheerfulness or high spirits, Peaceful mind, Remembrance of the Dharma, Concentration ability, and Non-attachment ability. Zen practitioners can find each one of the seven factors of en-lightenment in all phases of meditation practices. Zen practitioners should always remember the Buddha’s re-minder: “If the four foundations of mindfulness are prac-ticed persistently and repeatedly, the seven factors of enlightenment will be automatically and fully devel-oped.” Thus, the Buddha Himself emphasized the rela-tionships between Zen and the Seven Factors of Enlight-enment very clearly. However, one does not become en-lightened by merely gazing into the sky or looking around on the earth. One does not enlightened by read-ing or studying the scriptures, nor by thinking, nor by wishing for enlightened state to burst into one’s mind. There are certain necessary conditions or prerequisites which cause enlightenment to arise. How can one devel-op these factors in himself or herself? By means of culti-vation of precepts, meditation, and wisdom.
First, Selection of the Proper Dharma: Discrimination of true or false, or keen investigation of phenomena (dhar-ma). It is the sharp analytical knowledge of understand-ing the true nature of all constituent things, animate or inanimate, human or divine. It is seeing things in their proper perspective. Only through meditation we can see all component things in their fundamental elements, right down to their ultimates. Through keen meditation and investigation, one understands that all compounded things pass through the inconceivably rapid moments of arising, reaching a peak and ceasing, just as a river in flood sweeps to climax and fades away; the whole uni-verse is constantly changing, not remaining the same for two consecutive moments; all things in fact are subject to conditions, causes and effects; what is impermanent and not lasting producing painful or sorrow fruit; there doesn’t exist a so-called permanent and everlasting soul or self; the true nature of the three characteristics, or laws of transiency, sorrow, and non-self.
Second, Constant Effort: Energy, zeal or undeflected progress. It is a mental property and the sixth limb of the Noble Eightfold Path, there called right effort. Effort is the energy expended to direct the mind persistently, continuously in meditation, and toward the object of ob-servation. Zen practitioners should have courageous ef-forts in meditation practices. The Buddha has not pro-claimed himself a saviour willing and able to take upon himself the evil of all sentient beings. He is only a Path-Revealer. Each one of us must put forth the necessary effort and work out his own deliverance with heedful-ness. He cannot walk for anyone on this path. Thus he advised that each Buddhist should be sincerely zealous, strong and firm in the purpose of reaching the final aim. He also advised: “Be islands unto yourselves, be your own refuge.” Thus did the Master exhort his followers to acquire self-reliance. A follower of the Buddha should not under any circumstances relinquish hope and effort; for the Buddha was one who never gave up courage and effort even as a bodhisattva. Zen practitioners should be patient and accept difficulties and challenges during practicing meditation; should leave behind habits and hobbies of ordinary life; and should try their best to practice meditation continually. One of the most difficult things for Zen practitioners is the wandering mind, it never wants to stay on the object you want to observe, but rather wandering around and around all day long. In our body, any time we cross our legs to practice medita-tion, we are likely to experience some level of pain in our body. Sometimes, we decide to try to sit still for an hour with our legs crossed, but only after ten minutes, we feel numb in our feet and stiff in our neck, and so on, and so on. Zen practitioners need courageous effort to face diffi-culties and challenges. Once we develop our courageous effort, the mind gains strength to bear with pain in a pa-tient and courageous way. Effort has the power to fresh-en the mind and keep it strong in any difficult circum-stances. Zen practitioners should always have the effort and energy to cultivate the following four things: effort to initiate virtues not yet arisen; effort to consolidate, in-crease, and not deteriorate virtues already arisen; effort not to initiate sins not yet arisen; effort to eliminate sins already arisen. In The Dhammapada Sutta, sentence 280, the Buddha taught: “The idler who does not strive, who, though, young and strong, is full of sloth, who is weak in resolution and thought, that lazy and idle man will never find the way to wisdom, the way to elighten-ment and deliverance.”
Third, Cheerfulness or High Spirits: Rapture means joy, happiness, or delight; but a special characteristic of Rap-ture is that it can pervade associated mental states, making them delight and happy and bringing a sense of deep satisfaction. “Piti” is a mental property, and is a quality which deeply influences both the body and mind. A man lacking in this quality cannot advance along the path to enlightenment. In him there will always arise sullen indifference to the Dharma, an aversion to the practice of meditation, and morbid manifestations. Zen practitioners should always remember that Rapture only develops when the mind is relatively clean of afflictions. In order for us to be clean of afflictions, we have no other choices but to be mindful from moment to moment so that concentration arises and the afflictions are eliminat-ed. Therefore, we must be developing Rapture through mindfulness continuously, whether when we are walk-ing, standing, lying down, sitting, or doing other tasks. To practice “piti” or joy, Buddhist cultivators should al-ways remember that happiness is a matter of the mind and it should never be sought in external and material things, though they may be instrumental in any way. Only those who possess the quality of contentment can experience real happiness. Buddhist cultivators should always remember that there is a vast difference between pleasure and happiness. Pleasure, or pleasant feeling, is something very momentary and fleeting. Pleasant feeling may be an indicative sign of suffering, for what we hug in great glee this moment, may turn to be a source of suffering the next moment. Seeing a form, hearing a sound, perceiving an odour, tasting a flavour, feeling some tangible thing, cognizing an idea, we are usually moved, and from those sense objects and mental objects, we experience a certain degree of pleasure. However, they are all temporary; they are only a passing show of phenomena. Real happiness or rapture does not come through grasping or clinging to things, animate or inan-imate, but from giving up. The Buddha left behind his glorious palace, beautiful wife, good son, as well as king-dom authority, and became a homeless monk. Eventually he attained enlightenment and deliverance, do we have any other choices if we wish to attain enlightenment and deliverance?
Fourth, Peaceful Mind: Peaceful mind means ease, tran-quility, riddance of all grossness or weight of body or mind so that they may be light, free and at ease. Many people’s minds are always in a state of agitation all the time. Their minds wandering here and there non-stop. When the mind is scattered, it is difficult for us to con-trol our actions. On the contrary, we begin to act accord-ing to whims and fancies without considering properly whether an action is wholesome or not. There are two kinds of tranquility: the calm of the body means the calm of all mental properties rather than the only physical body. In other words, calm of the aggregates of form, feeling, perception, and the volitional activities or con-formations; the calm of the mind, or the calm of the ag-gregate of consciousness. A man who cultivates calm of the mind does not get upset, confused or excited when confronted with the eight vicissitudes (8 winds or influ-ences) of the world. He is able to understand the rise and fall (come into being and pass away), as well as the mo-mentary fragility of all things. It is hard to tranquilize the mind. It trembles and it is unsteady, difficult to guard and hold back. In the Dhammapada, from sentece 33 to 36, the Buddha taught: “The mind quivers like a fish just taken from its watery home and thrown on the dry ground. It wanders at will.” Calmness is not weak-ness. Only a person of culture is able to present the calm attitude at all times. It is not so difficult to be calm un-der favourable circumstances, but it is indeed difficult for a Buddhist to remain calm in the midst of unfavoura-ble circumstances. Only the calm mind can help the as-pirant to achieve enlightenment and deliverance.
Fifth, Remembrance of the Dharma: Mindfulness, relin-quishment, or power of remembering the various states passed through in contemplation. It is the instrument most efficacious in self-mastery. Besides, ‘Sati’ also means the power of observation, and the function of mindfulness is to keep the object always in view, neither forgetting it nor allowing it to disappear out of our con-templation. Remembrance of the Dharma includes medi-tation and full realization on the impurity of the body, when mindfulness is present, the object of observation will be noted without forgetfulness; contemplation of feeling or understanding that feeling is suffering; con-templation of mind, and Contemplation of thought; and contemplation of the no-self of mental objects. A person cannot be heedful unless he is fully controlling all his ac-tions, whether they are mental, verbal or physical at every moment of his walking life. In other words, he must zealously observe all commandments required of him. In the Digha Nikaya Sutra, the Buddha’s final ad-monition to his disciples before entering the Nirvana: “Transient are all component things. Work out your de-liverance with mindfulness.” Venerable Saripura also advised everybody with his last words: “Strive on with mindfulness to obtain your deliverance.” In the Angut-tara Nikaya Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Monks, I know not of any other single thing of such power to cause the arising of good thoughts if not yet arisen, or to cause the waning of evil thoughts if already arisen, as heedfulness. In him who is heedful, good thoughts not yet arisen, do arise, and evil thoughts, if arisen, do wane.”
Sixth, Concentration Ability: Concentration has the abil-ity to keep the mind in Stability, concentration; or power to keep the mind in a given realm undiverted. Concen-tration is a mental factor which lands on the object of ob-servation. Concentration also pricks into, penetrates in-to, and stays in the object of observation. The nature of concentration is nondispersal, nondissipation, and nonscatteredness. A mind of concentration is a mind that sticks with the object of observation, sinks into it, and remains still and calm in it. During practicing of medita-tion, Zen practitioners should stick their mind to the ob-ject of observation or contemplate directly mental or physical phenomena without resorting to the thinking process at all. Although the moment of samadhi is mo-mentary, such samadhi can arise from moment to mo-ment without breaks in between if we try to practice continuously. Besides, concentration also has the ability to collect the mind together. It can keep all other mental factors in a group so that they do not scatter or disperse. Thus, the mind remains firmly embedded in the object. It is only the tranquilized mind that can easily concen-trate on a subject of meditation. Once the mind is quiet and still, wisdom will arise and we can see things as they really are. Therefore, concentration is the most proxi-mate cause for the unfolding of wisdom. The unified mind brings the five hindrances under subjugation (sen-sual desire, anger, stiffness and torpor, agitation and worry, and doubt hindrances), for step by step, wisdom will penetrate into more and more profound levels of truth. At that time, Zen practitioners will see clearly the natures of impermanence, suffering, and absence of self of all things, and therefore, no hindrance can dominate us anymore. Many are the impediments that confront a meditator, an aspirant for enlightenment, especially the five hindrances that hinder concentrative thoughts, and obstruct the way to deliverance. Concentration is the in-tensified steadiness of the mind comparable to an un-flickering flame of a lamp in a windless place. Concen-tration has the ability to maintain the mind and the mental properties in a state of balance. It is concentra-tion that fixes the mind aright and causes it to be un-moved; dispels passions and not only helps the mind un-disturbed, but also helps bring purity and placidity of mind. One who is intent to practice “concentration” should always zealously observe Buddhist command-ments, for it is virtue that nourishes mental life, and make it coherent and calm.
Seventh, Non-attachment Ability: Equanimity means complete abandonment, detachment, or indifferent to all disturbances of the sub-conscious or ecstatic mind. The Sanskrit word ‘Upeksa’ means equanimity, calmness, unbias, unprejudice, and so on. In Zen, a mind of com-plete abandonment is a mind that remains unbiased and calm when confronting difficulties and challenges. A mind of equanimity is a state of balancing of energy, and it can be achieved in daily cultivation. According to The Abhidharma, “equanimity” means neutrality. It is mental equipoise and not hedonic indifference. Equanimity is the result of a calm concentrative mind. According to the Buddha, the best way to bring about equanimity is wise attention and continuous mindfulness. Once a mind of equanimity is developed, one moment of equnimity caus-es a succeeding moment of equanimity to arise, and so on. In our nowadays violent society, amidst the welter of experience, gain and loss, good repute and ill-repute, praise and blame, happiness and suffering, a man with the mind of equanimity will never waver. Zen practition-ers have the mind of equanimity which understands that there is no one to own anything. In Dharmapada, sen-tence 83, the Buddha taught: “Truly the good give up longing for everything. The good sages not with thoughts of craving. Touched by happiness or by pain, the wise show neither elation nor depression.” A man who has reached perfect neutrality through the cultivation of equanimity, always avoids the following four wrong paths: the path of greed, hate, cowardice, and delusion. A man who has reached perfect neutrality through culti-vation of equanimity, always has his serene neutrality which enables him to see all beings impartially. Chapter 19. Buddhism: The Truth of Four Boundless Minds
The immeasurable mind is is the mind which is incon-ceivably immeasurable. In fact, there are a lot of small virtues that Buddhist practitioners need to prepare be-fore and during practicing. Buddhist practitioners should cultivate to a point that they would be happy with oth-er’s success and sympathy with other’s miseries. They would keep themselves modest when achieving success. However, the Buddha pointed out four immeasurable minds. These four immeasurable minds are not only ben-efit immeasurable living beings, bringing immeasurable blessings to them, and producing immeasurable highly spiritual attainments in a world, in one life, but also spreads all over immeasurable worlds, in immeasurable future lives, shaping up immeasurable Buddha. The four immeasurables or infinite Buddha-states of mind (four immeasurable minds or the four virtues of infinite great-ness). The four kinds of boundless mind, or four divine abodes. These states are called illimitables because they are to be radiated towards all living beings without limit or obstruction. They are also called brahmaviharas or di-vine abodes, or sublime states, because they are the mental dwellings of the brahma divinities in the Brah-ma-world.
It was the spirit of love and compassion taught by the Buddha that touched the heart of King Asoka, the great Buddhist Emperor of India in the third century B.C. Be-fore he became a Buddhist he was a warlike monarch like his father, King Bimbisara, and his grandfather, King Candragupta. Wishing to extend his territories he invaded and conquered Kalinga. In this war thousands were slain, while many more were wounded and taken captive. Later, however, when he followed the Buddha’s creed of compassion he realized the folly of killing. He felt very sad when he thought of the great slaughter, and gave up warfare. He is the only military monarch on rec-ord who after victory gave up conquest by war and inau-gurated conquest by righteousness. As his Rock Edict XIII says, ‘he sheathed the sword never to unsheath it, and wish no harm to living beings.’ The spread of the Buddha’s creed of compassion throughout the Eastern world was largely due to the enterprise and tireless ef-forts of Asoka the Great. The Buddha-law made Asia mild and non-aggressive. However, modern civilization is pressing hard on Asian lands. It is known that with the rise and development of the so-called civilization, man’s culture deteriorates and he changes for the worse. With the match of modern science very many changes have taken place, and all these changes and improve-ments, being material and external, tend to make mod-ern man more and more worldly minded and sensuous with the result that he neglects the qualities of the mind, and becomes self-interested and heartless. The waves of materialism seem to influence mankind and affect their way of thinking and living. People are so bound by their senses, they live so exclusively in the material world that they fail to contact the good within. Only the love and compassion taught by the Buddha can establish complete mental harmony and well-being.
Buddhist practitioners should always observe these four immeasurable minds, for they are four excellent virtues conducive to noble living. They banish selfishness and disharmony and promote altruism with other beings, unity in the family, and good brotherhood in communi-ties. In meditation practice, they are four minds of deliv-erance, for through them we can recognize the good of others. Therefore, the four immeasurable minds can also be considered as excellent subjects of meditation, through them practitioners can develop more sublime states. By cultivating these noble virtues, practitioners can maintain a calm and pure mind. The Buddhist method of self-analysis, self-reflection, and self-discovery should never be taken to imply that we are to shut ourselves off from communion with our fellow men. To follow the way of cultivation in Buddhism is not to be-come isolated in a cage or cell, but to become free and open in our relations with our fellow beings. The search for self-realization always has its counterpart the devel-opment of a new way of relating to others, a way imbued with compassion, love and sympathy with all that live.
Mind of Immeasurable Loving Kindness: Kindness, be-nevolence, one of the principal Buddhist virtues. Maitri is a benevolence toward all beings that is free from at-tachment. Maitri can be devloped gradually through meditation, first toward persons who are close to us, then to others, and at last to those who are indifferent and ill-disposed to us, for the mind of loving-kindness is the wish for the welfare and happiness of all beings. In the Dhammapada Sutta, the Buddha taught: “Hatred does not cease by hatred, hatred ceases only by love.” In fact, compassion and loving-kindness are the utmost im-portance for human beings, for despite our strivings to-wards self-sufficiency, it remains a fact that people need one another. No man is an island at all. An island can exist alone in the sea, but a man cannot live alone. We need each other, and we must come to regard one anoth-er as friends and helpers whom we can look toward for mutual support. All men, as the doctrine of rebirth im-plies, are really brothers to each other, literally members of the big family, for in the repeated round of rebirth there is not one man or woman who has not at some time in the past been our father or mother, our sister or brother. Therefore we must learn to love each other, to respect each other, to protect each other, and to give to the other what we would have for ourselves. To practice in Buddhism is to train ourself to eliminate hatred, an-ger, and selfishness and to develop loving-kindness to-ward all. We have our physical bodies and our own lives, but still we can live in harmony with each other and help each other to the best of our ability. In Buddhism, loving kindness is the greatest love toward all sentient beings. Immeasurable loving kindness is the greatest love dedi-cated to all sentient beings, together with the desire to bring them joy and happiness. Buddhist practitioners should be on permanent guard against the so-called ‘car-nal love disguised as loving-kindness’, it is only one of the human joys. Human joy is totally impermanent; it is governed by misery, that is, when our passions such as greed, anger, and ignorance are satisfied, we feel pleased; but when they are not satisfied, we feel sad. To have a permanent joy, we must first sever all sufferings. Loving kindness generally goes together with pity whose role is to help the subjects sever his sufferings, while the role of loving kindness is to save sentient beings from sufferings and to bring them joy. However, loving-kindness is not an inborn characterictic. If we really want to develop our loving-kindness, we have to devote more time to practice. Sitting in meditation alone cannot bring us the so-called “loving-kindness.” In order to achieve the loving-kindness, we must put loving-kindness in actions in our daily life. In our daily activi-ties, we must develop empathy and closeness to others by reflecting on their sufferings. For example, when we know someone suffering, we should try our best to con-sole them by kind words or to help them with our world-ly possessions if needed. To respond to immeasurable human sufferings, we should have immeasurable loving kindness. To accomplish the heart of immeasurable lov-ing kindness, Buddhist practitioners have developed their immeasurable loving kindness by using all means to save mankind. They act so according to two factors, specific case and specific time. Specific case, like the physician who gives a prescription according to the spe-cific disease, the Bodhisattva shows us how to put an end to our sufferings. Specific time means the teachings must always be relevant to the era, period and situation of the sufferers and their needs. The Contemplation of the Mind Sutra teaches that we must avoid four opportune cases: What we say is not at the right place, what we say is not in the right time, what we say is not relevant to the spiritual level of the subject, and what we say is not the right Buddhist Dharma. Meditation on the “Loving-kindness” is cultivating to attain a mind that bestows joy or happiness. Immeasurable Love, a mind of great kind-ness, or infinite loving-kindness. Boundless kindness (tenderness), or bestowing of joy or happiness. Here, a Buddhist practitioner, with a heart filled with loving-kindness. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of lov-ing-kindness above, below, and across, everywhere, al-ways with a heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, magnified, unbounded, without hatred or ill-will. The loving-kindness is also the wish for the welfare and hap-piness of all living beings. It helps to eliminate ill-will. The powers of Loving-kindness is the Temporal Happi-ness and the Energy for Meditation Practices. Love has the power of bestowing temporal happiness upon us in this lifetime. Without love, people in this world will en-counter a lot of problems (anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, arrogance, etc). A Buddhist should develop love for all sentient beings and to cherish others more than oneself. Love should be given equally to everyone including rela-tives or strangers, friends or foes, given without any conditions, without self-interests or attachment.
Mind of Immeasurable Compassion: Immeasurable Com-passion means sympathy, or pity (compassion) for anoth-er in distress and desire to help him or to deliver others from suffering out of pity. The compassion is selfless, non-egoistic and based on the principle of universal equality. ‘Karuna’ means pity or compassion. In Pali and Sanskrit, ‘Karuna’ is defined as ‘the quality which makes the heart of the good man tremble and quiver at the dis-tress of others.’ The quality that rouses tender feelings in the good man at the sight of others’ suffering. Cruelty, violence is the direct enemy of ‘karuna’. Though the lat-ter may appear in the guise of a friend, it is not true ‘karuna’, but falsely sympathy; such sympathy is deceit-ful and one must try to distinguish true from false com-passion. The compassionate man who refrains from harming and oppressing others and endeavors to relieve them of their distress, gives the gift of security to one and all, making no distinction whatsoever. To be kind does not mean to be passive.
“Karuna” in Buddhism means compassionate, and com-passionate does not mean to allow others to walk all over you, to allow yourself to be destroyed. We must be kind to everybody, but we have to protect ourselves and pro-tect others. If we need to lock someone up because he is dangerous, then we have to do that. But we have to do it with compassion. Our motivation is to prevent that per-son from continuing his course of destruction and from feeding his anger. For Buddhist practitioners, Compas-sion can help refraining from pride and selfishness. Im-measurable Compassion, a mind of great pity, or infinite compassion. Boundless pity, to save from suffering. Here a Buddhist practitioner, with a heart filled with compas-sion. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of compas-sion, above, below, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with compassion, abundant, magnified, un-bounded, without hatred or ill-will. Compassion also makes the heart quiver when other are subject to suffer-ing. It is the wish to remove the suffering of others, and it is opposed to cruelty. Once we have fully developed compassion, our mind will be full with altruistic thoughts, and we automatically pledge to devote our-selves to freeing others from the the suffering. In addi-tion, compassion also enables us to refrain from pride and selfishness. Compassion means wishing others be freed from problems and pain that they have undergone or are undergoing. Compassion is different from pity and other conscending attitudes. Compassion recognizes our-selves and others as equal in terms of wanting happiness and wanting to be free from misery, and enables us to help them with as much ease as we now help ourselves. “Active Compassion,” one of the most important and the outstanding quality of all buddhas and bodhisattvas; it is also the motivation behind their pursuit of awakening. Compassion extends itself without distinction to all sen-tient beings. “Karuna” refers to an attitude of active con-cern for the sufferings of other sentient bengs. Practi-tioners must cultivate or increase compassion via wisdom (prajna). In Theravada, it is one of the four “immeasura-bles.” It involves developing a feeling of sympathy for countless sentient beings. According to the Mahayana Buddhism, compassion itself is insuffient, and it is said to be inferior to the “great compassion” of Bodhisattvas, which extends to all sentient beings, and this must be accompanied by wisdom to approach enlightenment. Thus, practitioners must train both “karuna” and “prajna,” with each balancing and enhancing the other. Karuna or compassion is one of the most important en-trances to the great enlightenment; for with it, we do not kill or harm living beings.
Compassion means wishing others be freed from prob-lems and pain that they have undergone or are undergo-ing. Compassion is different from pity and other conscending attitudes. Compassion recognizes ourselves and others as equal in terms of wanting happiness and wanting to be free from misery, and enables us to help them with as much ease as we now help ourselves. Im-measurable Compassion, a mind of great pity, or infinite compassion. Here a monk, with a heart filled with com-passion. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of com-passion, above, below, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with compassion, abundant, magnified, un-bounded, without hatred or ill-will. Compassion also makes the heart quiver when other are subject to suffer-ing. It is the wish to remove the suffering of others, and it is opposed to cruelty. Bodhisattvas’ compassion is in-conceivable. Bodhisattvas are enlightenment-beings, Buddhas-to-be, however, they vow to continue stay in this world for a long period of time. Why? For the good of others, because they want to become capable of pulling others out of this great flood of sufferings and afflictions. But what personal benefit do they find in the benefit of others? To Bodhisattvas, the benefit of others is their own benefit, because they desire it that way. However, in saying so, who could believe that? It is true that some people devoid of pity and think only of themselves, find it hard to believe in the altruism of the Bodhisattvas. But compassionate people do so easily. Do we not see that certain people, confirmed in the absence of pity, find pleasure in the suffering of others, even when it is not useful to them? And we must admit that the Bodhisatt-vas, confirmed in pity, find pleasure in doing good to others without any egoistic preoccupation. Do we not see that certain, ignorant of the true nature of the condi-tioned Dharmas which constitute their so-called “Self”, attach themselves to these dharmas, as a result, they suffer pains and afflictions because of this attachment. While we must admit that the Bodhisattvas, detach themselves from the conditioned Dharmas, no longer consider these Dharmas as “I” or “Mine”, growing in pitying solicitude for others, and are ready to suffer pains for this solitude? Compassion is surely not a flabby state of mind. It is a strong enduring thing. When a per-son is in distress, it is truly compassionate man’s heart that trembles. This, however, is not sadness; it is this quacking of the heart that spurs him to action and in-cites him to rescue the distressed. And this needs strength of mind, much tolerance and equanimity. So, it is totally wrong to come to a hurry conclusion that com-passion to be an expression of feebleness, because it has the quality of tenderness. The Buddhist conception of “Karuna” has no compromising limitations. All beings in-clude even the tiniest creature that crawls at our feet. The Buddhist view of life is such that no living being is considered as outside the circle of “Metta and Karuna” which make no distinction between man, animal and in-sect, or between man and man, as, high and low, rich and poor, strong and weak, wise and unwise, dark and fair, Brahmin and Candala, and so forth; for “Metta and Karuna” are boundless and no sooner do we try to keep men apart on the false basis mentioned above, than the feeling of separateness creeps in and these boundless qualities become limited which is contrary to the teach-ing of the Buddha. We must be careful not to confuse compassion with morbid manifestations of sadness, with feelings of mental pain and with sentimentality. At the loss of a dear one, man weeps, but that is not compas-sion. If we analyze such feelings carefully we will con-clude that they are outward manifestations of our inner thoughts of self affection. Why do we feel sad? Because our loved one has passed away. He who was our kin is now no more. We feel that we have lost the happiness and all else that we derived from him and so we are sad. Do we not see that all these feelings revolve round the ‘I’ and ‘Mine’? Whether we like it or not, self interest was responsible for it all. Can we call this ‘karuna’, pity or compassion? Why do we not feel equally sad when others who are not our kin pass away before our eyes? Because we were not familiar with them, they were not ours, we have not lost anything and are not denied the pleasures and comforts we already enjoy.
According to Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh in “An-ger,” understanding and compassion are very powerful sources of energy. They are the opposite of stupidity and passivity. If you think that compassion is passive, weak, or cowardly, then you don’t know what real understand-ing or compassion is. If you think that compassionate people do not resist and challenge injustice, you are wrong. They are warriors, heroes, and heroines who have gained many victories. When you act with compassion, with non-violence, when you act on the basis of non-duality, you have to be very strong. You no longer act out of anger, you do not punish or blame. Compassion grows constantly inside of you, and you can succeed in your fight against injustice. Being compassion doesn’t mean suffering unnecessarily or losing your common sense. Suppose you are leading a group of people doing walking meditation, moving slowly and beautifully. The walking meditation generates a lot of energy; it embraces every-one with calm, solidity, and peace. But suddenly it be-gins to rain. Would you continue to walk slowly, letting yourself and everyone else get soaked? That’s not intelli-gent. If you are a good leader of the walking meditation, you will break into a jogging meditation. You still main-tain the joy of the walking meditation. You can laugh and smile, and thus you prove that the practice is not stupid. You can also be mindful while running and avoid getting soaked. We have to practice in an intelligent way. Meditation is not a stupid act. Meditation is not just blindly following whatever the person next to you does. To meditate you have to be skillful and make good use of your intelligence. Zen practitioners should always remember that human beings are not our enemy. Our enemy is not the other person. Our enemy is the vio-lence, ignorance, and injustice in us and in the other per-son. When we are armed with compassion and under-standing, we fight not against other people, but against the tendency to invade, to dominate, and to exploit. We don’t want to kill others, but we will not let them domi-nate and exploit us or other people. We have to protect ourselves. We are not stupid. We are very intelligent, and we have insight. Being compassionate does not mean allowing other people to do violence to themselves or to us. Being compassionate means being intelligent. Non-violent action that springs from love can only be intelli-gent action. When we talk about compassion, altruism and about others’ well-being, we should not misunder-stand that this means totally rejecting our own self-interest. Compassion and altruism is a result of a very strong state of mind, so strong that that person is capa-ble of challenging the self-cherishing that loves only the self generation after generation. Compassion and altru-ism or working for the sake of others is one of the most important entrances to the great enlightenment; for with it, we do not blame others.
Mind of Immeasurable Joy: Extreme joy in meditation. Joy is one of the most important entrances to the great enlightenment; for with it, we renounce all unpleasant things and sorrows in our daily life, and for with it, we attain many kinds of balanced state. This is the third bodhyanga, the stage of joy on attaining the truth. Joy-ous mind is also a heart of joy in progress toward salva-tion of others. Joy for others’ success or welfare and hap-piness. Sympathetic Joy, joy in the happiness of other beings. The practice of Mudita helps overcome taking pleasure in others’ misfortunes and to eliminate the sense of separating between self and other. Immeasura-ble Joy, a mind of great joy, or infinite joy. Boundless joy (gladness), on seeing others rescued from suffering. Here a cultivator, with a heart filled with sympathetic joy. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of sympathetic joy above, below, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with sympathetic joy, abundant, magnified, un-bounded, without hatred or ill-will. Appreciative joy is the quality of rejoicing at the success and prosperity of others. It is the congratulatory attitude, and helps to eliminate envy and discontent over the succes of others. Immeasurable inner joy also means to rejoyce in all good, to rejoice in the welfare of others, or to do that which one enjoys, or to follow one’s inclination. This is the fifth of the ten conducts and vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisatt-va. Rejoice at others’ merits and virtues means from the time of our initial resolve for all wisdom, we should dili-gently cultivate accumulation of blessings without regard for their bodies and lives, cultivate all the difficult ascet-ic practices and perfect the gates of various paramitas, enter bodhisattva grounds of wisdom and accomplish the unsurpassed Bodhi of all Buddhas. We should completely follow along with and rejoice in all of their good roots (big as well as small merits). Through meditation and study of the vicissitudes of life, practitioners can culti-vate this sublime virtue of appreciating others’ happi-ness, welfare and progress. As a matter of fact, when we can rejoice with the joy of others, our minds get purified, serene and noble.
Mind of Immeasurable Equanimity: One of the chief Buddhist virtues, that of renunciation, leading to a state of indifference without pleasure or pain, or independence of both. It is defined as the mind in equilibrium, i.e. above the distinction of things or persons, of self or oth-ers; indifferent, having abandoned the world and all things, and having no affections or desirs. Upeksa is one of the seven Bodhyangas. The Buddha taught: “If one wishes to penetrate into the profound realm of liberation of the Maha-Bodhisattvas, Buddhists must first be able to let go of all of the five desires of ordinary people.” Ac-cording to the Vimalakirti Sutra, when Manjusri Bodhi-sattva called on to enquire after Upasaka Vimalakirti’s health, Manjusri asked Vimalakirti about “Upeksa”. Manjusri asked Vimalakirit: “What should be relinquish (upeksa) of a Bodhisattva?” Vimalakirti replied: “In his work of salvation, a Bodhisattva should expect nothing (i.e. no gratitude or reward) in return.” Detachment is the attitude of those who give up, forget, do not attach any importance for what they have done for the benefit of others. In general, we feel proud, self-aggrandized when we do something to help other people. Quarrels, conflicts, or clashes between men or groups of men are due to passions such as greed or anger whose source can be appraised as self-attachment or dharma-attachment. The Buddha taught that if there is someone who mis-judges us, we must feel pity for him; we must forgive him in order to have peace in our mind. The Bodhisatt-vas have totally liberated themselves from both self-attachment and dharma-attachment. When people enjoy material or spiritual pleasures, the Bodhisattvas also re-joice, from their sense of compassion, pity, and inner joy. They always consider human beings as their benefactors who have created the opportunities for them to practice the Four Immeasurable Minds on their way to Enlight-enment. In terms of the Immeasurable Detachment, the Bodhisattvas consider all men equal, the clever as the stupid, themselves as others, they do everything as they have done nothing, say everything as they have said nothing, attain all spiritual levels as they have attained nothing. Immeasurable Equanimity, a mind of great de-tachment, or infinite equanimity. Limitless indifference, such as rising above all emotions, or giving up all things. Here a practitioner, with a heart filled with equanimity. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of equanimity above, below, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with equanimity, abundant, magnified, unbounded, without hatred or ill-will. Equanimity is also considered as a divine abode. It is the state of mind that regards others with impartiality, free from attachment and aver-sion. An impartial attitude is its chief characteristic, and it is opposed to favouritism and resentment. Mind of Equanimity helps Zen practitioners to put aside two ex-tremes of attachment and resentment. Through the mind of equnimity, Zen practitioners always follow the Middole Path, neither attached to the pleasant nor re-pelled by hte unpleasant. Also through the mind of equanimity, Zen practitioners’ mind can remain balanced without any temper, depression or anxiety. Equanimity plays a tremendous role for both in practice and in eve-ryday life. Generally we get either swept away by pleas-ant and enticing objects, or worked up into a great state of agitation when confronted by unpleasant, undesirable objects. These hindrances are common among ordinary people. When we lack the ability to stay balanced and unfaltering, we are easily swept into extremes of craving or aversion. According to Zen Master U. Pandita in “In This Very Life”, there are five ways to develop Equanim-ity: Balanced emotion toward all living beings. The first and foremost is to have an equanimity attitude toward all living beings. These are your loved ones, including an-imals. We can have a lot of attachment and desire asso-ciated with people we love, and also with our pets. To prepare the ground for equnimity to arise, we should try to cultivate an attitude of nonattachment and equnimity toward the people and animals we love. As worldly peo-ple, it may be necessary to have a certain amount of at-tachment in relationships, but excessive attachments is destructive to us as well as to loved ones. Balanced emo-tion toward inanimate things. To prepare the ground for equnimity to arise, we should also try to adopt an atti-tude of balance toward inanimate things, such as proper-ty, clothing. All of them will decay and perish because everything in this world must be subject to the law of impermanence. Avoiding people who are so attached to people and things. These people have a deep possessive-ness, clinging to what they think belongs to them, both people and things. Some people find it is difficult to see another person enjoying or using their property. Choos-ing friends who do not have many attachments or pos-sessions. Inclining the mind toward the state of equnimi-ty. When the mind is focusing in the development of equnimity, it will not have time to wander off to thoughts of worldly business any more.