THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
31. Pragmatism of Buddhism
32. The Priceless Message from the Buddha
33. Buddhist Concept on Fate
34. Buddhism and Epistemology
35. Buddhism and a So-Called “Creator”
36. Dead Buddhism
37. “Marriage” according to the Buddhist Point of View
38. Noble Silence
39. Sentient Beings
40. Creation of Human Beings
31. Pragmatism of Buddhism
Buddhism addresses only pratical problems, not in academic questions and metaphysical theories. According to the Chulamalunkya Sutra, the Buddha expressed very clearly about the pragmatic approach of Buddhism in everything. The Buddha himself made use of the parable of a wounded man. In the story, a man wounded by an arrow wishes to know who shot the arrow, the direction from which it came, whether the arrowhead is made of bone or steel, and what kind of wood the shaft is made of before he will let the arrow be removed. The Buddha wanted to imply the man’s attitude with the attitude of those who want to know about the origin of the universe, whether it is eternal or not, finite in space or not, and so on, before they will undertake to practice a religion. According to the Buddha, these people are people of idle talks and pleasure discusions. Such people will die uselessly before they ever have the answers to all their irrelevant questions, just as the man in the parable will die before he has all the answers he seeks about the origin and nature of the arrow. Thus the Buddha taught: “Mankind’s most important priority is the reduction and elimination of suffering, and try not to waste the precious time on irrelevant inquiries.
According to Buddhism, a Buddhist cultivator is similar to a man who was trying to escape from a group of bandits came to a vast stretch of water that was in his way. He knew that this side of the shore was dangerous and the other side was safe. However, there was no boat going to the other shore, nor was there any bridge for crossing over. So he quickly gather wood, branches and leaves to make a raft, and with the help of the raft, he crossed over safely to the other shore. The Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha is like the raft. It would take us from the suffering of this shore to the other shore of no suffering. In Mahayana Buddhism, the teaching is likened a raft; when the goal, the other shore, is reached, then the raft is left behind. The form of teaching is not final dogma but an expedient method. According to the Discourse on the Water Snake’s Parable, the Buddha taught: “My teaching is like a raft for crossing over, not for carrying.” Buddha’s teaching is like a raft, a means of crossing the river, the raft being left when the crossing has been made.
In Buddhism, dharma refers to all the methods of cultivation taught by the Buddha which lead to ultimate enlightenment. They are means that lead to an end, not an end themselves. The Buddha’s teaching is likened a raft for going the other shore. All of us depend on the raft of Dharma to cross the river of birth and death. We strive with our hands, feet, and wisdom to reach the other shore. When the goal, the other shore, is reached, then the raft is left behind. The form of teaching is not final dogma but an expedient method. According to the Discourse on the Water Snake’s Parable, the Buddha taught: “My teaching is like a raft for crossing over, not for carrying.” Also according to the Middle Length Saying, the Buddha taught: “The dharma that I teach is like a raft. Even Dharma should be relinquished, how much the more that which is not Dharma? The Raft of Dharma is for crossing over, not for retaining.”
32. The Priceless Message from the Buddha
Priceless Message from the Buddha or the Four Noble Truths is one of the most important parts in the Buddha’s Teachings. The Buddha gave this message to suffering humanity for their guidance, to help them to be rid of the bondage of “Dukkha” and to attain happiness, both relative and absolute (relative happiness or worldly happiness, absolute happiness or Nirvana). These Truths are not the Buddha’s creation. He only re-discovered their existence. The Buddha said: “I am neither a vaguely so-called God nor an incarnation of any vaguely so-called God. I am only a man who re-discovers what had been covered for so long. I am only a man who attains enlightenment by completely comprehending all Noble Truths.” In fact, the Buddha is a man who deserves our respect and reverence not only as a teacher but also as a Saint. He was a man, but an extraordinary man, a unique being in the universe. All his achievements are attributed to his human effort and his human understanding. He achieved the highest mental and intellectual attainments, reached the supreme purity and was perfect in the best qualities of human nature. He was an embodiment of compassion and wisdom, two noble principles in Buddhism. The Buddha never claimed to be a savior who tried to save ‘souls’ by means of a revelation of other religions. The Buddha’s message is simple but priceless to all of us: “Infinite potentialities are latent in man and that it must be man’s effort and endeavor to develop and unfold these possibilities. That is to say, in each man, there exists the Buddha-nature; however, deliverance and enlightenment lie fully within man’s effort and endeavor.”
33. Buddhist Concept on Fate
Buddhism has no concern with either determinism or determinateness because it is a religion of self-creation. It holds the theory of free will within the sphere of human beings. Buddhism, therefore, has nothing to do with fatalism, for it does not admit the existence of anything like destiny or the decree of fate. According to Buddhism, all living beings have assumed the present life as the result of self-creation, and are, even at present, in the midst of creating themselves. Birth and death are not the predestined fate of a living being but only a corollary of action or karma. One who acts must sooner or later reap the result of such action. Nobody can determine the fate of anybody else in this universe. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts; it is made up of our thoughts.” Thus, there is no room for the idea of “Creation” in Buddhism.
According to fatalism, each of us has a fate which we cannot change and about which we can do nothing. As they says “Whatever will be will be.” In this philosophy the agent that determine destiny is not, as in the theistic position, a personal God, but rather a mysterious impersonal power called “Fate” which transcends our understanding and hence our ability to persuade or manipulate. In Buddhism, there exists no such “destiny.” In fact, Buddhism consider this as a way or a path of going. Our destiny issues from our character, our character from our habits, our habits from our acts, and our acts from our thoughts. And since thoughts issue from the mind the ultimate determinant of our destiny. In fact, the mind is the only creator Buddhism recognizes, and the power of the mind the only significant power in the world. As Milton, an English poet in the seventeenth century, says: “The mind can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.” If we think good thoughts, our acts cannot be bad. By thinking good thoughts, we will produce better actions, develop better habits, mold better characters and inherit better destiny. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five gati (destinations, destinies).
34. Buddhism and Epistemology
Concerning epistemological questions, Buddhism has much more to say than any other philosophy. As sources of cognition Buddhism recognizes the world of sensation (Pratyaksa-pramana), the world of inference (anumana) and the world of pure intuition (dhyana). Thus sense-data, reason and inner experience resulting from intuition will all provide the content of knowledge. Besides these we can appeal in every case to the Word that has been uttered from the world of perfect enlightenment (Bodhi), i.e., the Buddha (the Enlightened). Even in the epistemological questions, Buddhism always bases on the truth of “Cause and Effect” or the truth of “Karma and Retribution” to solve most the world problems, not to utilize any blind faith in the epistemological questions. According to Buddhist literature, the Buddha ridiculed all deluded rituals of the Brahmans and accused the priests of fabricating them for no better reason than to make money from the wealthy and to manipulate the power. However, this ridicule of Brahman rituals led to challenging the authority of the Vedic literature that the Brahman priests considered sacred. These Brahman priests refused to accept the theory of causation. They continued to follow perverted (wrong) views or opinions, not consistent with the dharma. This view arises from a misconception of the real characteristic of existence. There were at least sixty-two heretical views (views of the externalist or non-Buddhist views) in the Buddha’s time. On the contrary, Buddhism emphasizes on theory of causation. Understanding the theory of causation means to solve most of the question of the causes of sufferings and afflictions. Not understanding or refuse of understanding of the theory of causation means a kind of wrong view in Buddhism. According to the Buddha, sentient beings suffer from sufferings and afflictions because of dersires, aversions, and delusion, and the causes of these harmful actions are not only from ignorance, but also from wrong views. Later Dharmakirti criticized the Brahmanical doctrine of the special authority of the Veda, which the Brahmans supposed had been revealed to human beings by God, which no one can confirm. On the other hand, the Buddha taught nothing but principles that every human being could confirm. However, a full confirmation of the Buddha’s teachings was said to be impossible for a person whose vision was still clouded by delusions. Concerning epistemological questions, Buddhism has much more to say than any other philosophy. As sources of cognition Buddhism recognizes the world of sensation (Pratyaksa-pramana), the world of inference (anumana) and the world of pure intuition (dhyana). Thus sense-data, reason and inner experience resulting from intuition will all provide the content of knowledge. Besides these we can appeal in every case to the Word that has been uttered from the world of perfect enlightenment (Bodhi), i.e., the Buddha (the Enlightened).
35. Buddhism and a So-Called “Creator”
In Buddhism, there is no distinction between a divine or supreme being and common mortals. The highest form of being is the Buddha. All people have the inherent ability and potential to become Buddhas if they follow and cultivate the teachings set forth by Shakyamuni Buddha. By following the Buddha’s teachings and Buddhist practices, anyone can eventually become Buddhas. A Buddha is also a human being, but one who comes to a realization and thoroughly understands the workings and meaning of life and the universe. When one comes to that realization and truly knows and understands oneself and everything, he is called “Buddha” or he is said to have attained enlightenment. He is also called “the Enlightened One.”
Externalists believe that there exists a so-call “Creator” or “Almighty God” who makes (creates) and transforms all being at his will. The Buddha taught that there is no so-called “Creator God.” Human beings were not created by a creator god, nor are they the result of a long process of evolution, as suggested by Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. According to the Digha Nikaya sutra, both physical world and beings are not the products of any creator, but merely the products of an evolutionary process. In other words, everything in this world whether good or bad, lucky or unlucky, happy or sad, all come from the power of a supreme Creator, the only Ruler to have the power of reward and punishment. Buddhism, in the contrary, is not a system of blind faith and worship. In Buddhism, there is no such thing as belief in a body of dogmas which have to be taken on faith, or such belief in a Supreme Being. As a matter of fact, Buddhism does not believe that there exists a so-called Absolute God that is essentially transcendent to human beings. So the Buddha teaches “Dependent Co-origination” or “Conditional Co-production” as the dharma or the truth. This teaching emphasizes that everything is temporally and ontologically interdependent, co-arising and co-ceasing with everything else. Nothing exists independently, or can be said to be self-existing. Buddhism does not believe the notion of ‘one enduring reality underlying the universe’; nor does Buddhism accept the monotheistic notion of One Absolute God as the ultimate reality. According to the Buddha’s teaching, there have always been people, though not necessarily on our planet. The appearance of physical human bodies in anywhere begins with the mental generation of human karma. Mind, not physical body, is the primary factor in this process. Human beings are not a special product of a so-called God and are not independent of the other forms of sentient life in the universe and can be reborn in others of the six paths of rebirth. Likewise, other sentient beings can be reborn as human beings.
Other religions believe that God gives his doctrine in the form of a message to one man who then spread it to others, so they must believe what the man has said even though the so-called “Creator” he has claimed is always invisible to them. The Buddha on the other hand, whenever the Buddha spoke anything, it was because he had personally experimented the validity of the saying for himself as an ordinary human being. He claimed no divinity. He never claimed anything like receiving knowledge from outside sources. Throughout His ministry He always asserted that His listeners were free to question Him and challenge His Teachings so that they could personally realize the truth. Therefore He said: “Come and see, not come and believe.” Sincere Buddhists should ask ourselves which is more to reliable, the testimony of one who speaks from personal experience, or that of one who claims to have heard it from someone else who is always invisible.
36. Dead Buddhism
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. Furthermore, there exists a dead Buddhism when the Buddhadharma is only in talking, not in practice. It’s not enough to say that we believe in the Buddha; it’s better not to know the Buddhadharma than knowing it only for talking. Time flies really fast like a flying arrow, and days and months fly by like a shuttlecock. The water waves follow one after another. Life is passing quickly in the same manner. Impermanence avoids nobody, youth is followed by old age moment after moment, and we gradually return to the decay and extinction of old age and death, leaving no trace or shadow. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that if we merely believe in Buddhism without practicing, it’s no better than believing in a dead Buddhism. It’s like going into a restaurant and reading the menu to enjoy ourselves without ordering any food for eating. It does not benefit us in the least. Thus, we should always bear in mind that if the Way is not put in practice, it’s a dead or dead-end Way; if the virtue is not achieved by cultivating, it’s not a real virtue.
37. “Marriage” according to the Buddhist Point of View
According to the dictionary, marriage means a mutual relationship of a man and a woman. They are joined in a special kind of social legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family. In a true marriage, husband and wife think more of the partnership or of their family than they do of themselves. They sacrifice for the sake of their family more than for themselves. In Buddhism, if you don’t have the great opportunity to renounce the world, there is nothing wrong with getting marriage; however, marriage should be considered as a process of life and should be treated as a good opportunity for a lay Buddhists to put his or her cultivation into practice. Many people turn their marriage life a miserable one due to lack of understanding, tolerance and patience. Poverty is not really the main cause of an unhappy life, for thousands of years ago people still had a happy married life without that much materials of nowadays society. Husband and wife need to respect each other at all times; they also need to learn to share the pleasure and pain of everything in their daily life. Mutual respect and understanding are extremely important for a happy family life.
There are no canonical Buddhist marriage ceremonies, and Buddhist monks have traditionally avoided participation in the process of marriage, which is not surprising for the Buddha’s emphasis was on a monastic community whose members should dissociate themselves from worldly life and its concerns. Marriage is generally seen in Buddhism as part of a process that leads to birth, aging, and death, and the household life is commonly characterized in Buddhist texts as involving people in a web of entanglements that inevitably lead to sufferings and afflictions. Moreover, the Pratimoksa contains a passage stating: “If some of this Samgha acts as an intermediary, bringing a man and a woman together, whether for the purpose of marriage or for a single act of intercourse, there is an offence of wrong-doing and that monk person should repent before the assembly of monks.” Despite this, it is common for monks to be invited to wedding ceremonies. If they choose to attend any wedding ceremonies, they should selected Buddhist texts that pray for peace and happiness in that new family. They do not however, play any role in the ritual joining of the bride and groom in marriage. Monks and nuns should always remember that wedding ceremonies as secular affairs of lay community and should be performed by lay people. Nowadays a number of Buddhist orders prepare wedding rituals in order to meet the needs and belief of their laypeople and when monks are invited to attend such wedding ceremonies, they usually provide blessing prayers and give lectures to help the new couple. Despite these recent innovations, however, most Buddhist monks and nuns tend to see participation in weddings as inappropriate for monks and as a violation of the rules of the Vinaya.
In Buddhism, there is no encouragement in worldly marriage, but the Buddha praised for happy couples. The Buddha also gave instructions as to how lay disciples could live happily in marriage. The discourses of fundamentals of Buddhist social ethic in the Sigalovada Sutra generally lays down the basic pattern of relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, and emphasizing the most essential aspects of their common life. According to the Buddha, cultural compatibility between husband and wife was considered as one of the factors of a successful married life. Marriage is not simply lust and romance. Many of marriage problems arise from the inability to sacrifice from both the husband and wife. Thus, Buddhist teachings also promote enjoyment in life, moralization of biological needs, psychological satisfaction and material well being of both husband and wife.
At the time of the Buddha, He didn’t speak specifically about premaritial sex, and there is no rule to prohibit premaritial sex for lay people. We can infer that both parties are consenting adults, then they’re completely responsible for their own actions, so long as what they do doesn’t harm others. However, if one of the people involved is under the age (still under the control of his or her parents), and if having sexual intercourse with that person would upset the parents and the family, then it’s prohibited. The Buddha taught: “Conjugal love between husband and wife is, of course, an important factor in forming the individual home and society. However, people have a tendency to become attached too much to such love and become selfish in their affections. They are apt to ignore the much larger love they should have for all human beings.” Even though according to the Buddhist laws, monks or nuns must live a celibate life. They may be at one time married before they renounce their worldly life, but after they become monks or nuns, they must renounce the worldly life.
In Japan, during the Meiji Restoration in the mid nineteenth century, the government wanted the ordained ones to marry. Thus in Japan, there are now both married and unmarried lineages of both sexes, and the precepts they keep are enumerated differently from those of other Buddhist traditions. In Japan, the monks’ and nuns’ precepts were altered during Meiji Restoration in the mid-19th century, because the government wanted the ordained ones to marry. Thus in Japan, there are now both married and unmarried temple monks and nuns, and the precepts they keep enumerated differently from those of other Buddhist traditions. Except for the eight precepts that are taken for one day, all other precepts are taken for the duration of the life. It may happen that due to unforeseen circumstances, a monk or a nun may not be able to keep the ordination any longer or may not wish to have it. In that case, he or she can go before a spiritual master, or even tell another person who can hear and understand, and return the precepts.
38. Noble Silence
Buddha Sakyamuni refrained from giving a definitive answer to many metaphysical questions of his time. This is often referred to as the silence of the Buddha. He always remained silent when the students asked him if the self exists or not, if an enlightened one continues to exist after his death, if the world is eternal and unending or not. The Buddha explained that he was silent on these questions because answers to them would in no way further progress on the path; these answers would not contribute to overcoming of the passions nor to the attainment of wisdom. Thus the Buddha speaks only when necessary: Buddha Sakyamuni refrained from giving a definitive answer to many metaphysical questions of his time (questions of self-exists, not self-exists, if the world is eternal, or unending or no, etc). According to the Buddha, a silent person is very often a wise person because he or she avoids wasting energy or negative verbiage.
The Buddha always remains silent toward irrelevant questions. One day a certain man said to the Buddha that he would join the band of his disciples if the Buddha would give clear answer to the questions: Would the Buddha ever die, and, if so, what would become of him after death? What was the first cause of the universe, and what was the universe going to be like in the future? Why do men live and what becomes of them after death? If the person asks because he wants to cause troubles for the Buddha, the Buddha will remain silent. If the person asks because he wants to study, the Buddha’s answer was to the following effect: “Suppose you were shot by a poison arrow and a physician came to draw the arrow from your body and to dress the wound, would you first ask him questions as to what the arrow was made of, what the composition of the poison was, and who shot the arrow, and, if the physician did not dress the wound, what was going to happen, and such blissful questions, and refuse the treatment until the physician answered all the questions to your satisfaction? You would be dead before you obtained the answers.” In this parable the Buddha advised the questioner to become his disciple without wasting his time on problems which were too profound to be understood by an ordinary man, probably a long cultivation as a disciple of the Buddha he might come to understand.
According to the Madhyamaka Philosophy, the mysterious silence of the Buddha on most fundamental questions of Metaphysics led him to probe into the reason of that silence. Was the Buddha agnostic as some of the European writers on Buddhism believe him to be? If not, what was the reason of his silence? Through a searching inquiry into this silence was the dialectic born. There are well-known questions which the Buddha declared to be avyakrta or the answers to which were inexpressible, Cadrakirti enumerates them in his commentary on the Madhyamaka Sastra that the Buddha announced fourteen things to be inexpressible: Whether the world is…eternal, not eternal, both eternal and not eternal, neither eternal nor not eternal. Whether the world is…finite, infinite, both finite and infinite, neither finite nor infinite. Whether the Tathagata…exists after death, does not exist after death, either exists or does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death. Whether the soul is…identical with the body, or different with the body.
According to Majjhima Nikaya II, Cula Malunkyaputta Sutta, the Buddha reminded Malunkyaputta: “Malunkyaputta, there are problems unexplained, put aside and ignored by the Tathagata; namely: ‘The world is eternal, or it’s not eternal. The universe is finite, or it is infinite. Life is the same as body, or life is one thing and body another. The Tathagata exists after death, or the Tathagata does not exist after death. The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death. The Tathagata neither exists nor not exists after death.’ To explain these thing is a waste of time.”
39. Sentient Beings
Sentient beings include the living beings and things. The living beings or the sentient are those with emotions and wisdom; while things, or insentient things are those without emotions nor wisdom. Therefore, sentient beings or those with emtions (the living) or those who possess consciousness; while insentient things or those without emotions. Insentient things survive through the means of their own beings, from sunlight, earth and air. Plants are not considered sentient beings because they do not possess consciousness. Conscious beings or sentient beings which possess magical and spiritual powers. All the living, which includes the vegetable kingdom; however, the term “sattva” limits the meaning to those endowed with reason, consciousness, and feeling; or those who are sentient, sensible, animate, and rational. According to Buddhism, any living being who has a consciousness, including those of the six realms (heaven, human, asura, animal, hungry ghost, and hell). All sentient beings can be said to have inherent enlightenment or Buddha-nature. The term “Living beings” refer to all creatures that possess life-force. Each individual living being comes into being as the result of a variety of different causes and conditions. The smallest living beings as ants, mosquitoes, or even the most tiniest parasites are living beings. However, the majority of conscious beings are ordinary people who always examine themselves and realize they are just unenlightened mortal filled with greed, hatred and ignorance, as well as an accumulation of infinite other transgressions in the past, present and future. From realizing this, they develop a sense of shame and then vow to change their way, be remorseful, repent, and give their best to cultivate with vigor such as chanting sutra, reciting the Buddha’s name, or sitting meditation, seeking to quickly end karmic obstructions and to attain enlightenment in a very near future.
In Buddhist philosophy, a sentient being is one who has a mind, that is, something that is aware of its surroundings and is capable of volitional activity. In Buddhist psychological literature, the minimum necessary requirements for something to be a sentient being are the five “omni-present mental factors” (sarvatraga): 1) feeling (vedana); 2) discrimination (samjna); 3) intention (cetana); 4) mental activity (manasikara); 5) contact (sparsa). Beings are different in various ways, including the good and bad seeds they possess. Each being creates karma and undergoes its individual retribution. This process evolves from distinctions that occur in the five skandhas. Every being is a combination of five elements: rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, and vinnana. Hence, one being is not essentially different from another, an ordinary man is not different from a perfect saint. But is the nature and proportion of each of the five constituents existing in an individual be taken into account, then one being is different from another, an ordinary man is different from a perfect saint. The combination of elements is the outcome of Karma and is happening every moment, implying that the disintegration of elements always precedes it. The elements in a combined state pass as an individual, and from time immemorial he works under misconception of a self and of things relating to a self. His vision being distorted or obscured by ignorance of the truth he can not perceive the momentary combination and disintegration of elements. On the other hand, he is subject to an inclination for them. A perfect man with his vision cleared by the Buddhist practices and culture realizes the real state of empirical things that an individual consists of the five elements and does not possess a permanent and unchanging entity called soul.
According to Buddhism, physically speaking, there are four kinds of beings, including living and non-living beings: flying, swimming, walking, and plants. Those with blood and breath are called animals, and plants refer to all kinds of grasses, trees, and flower-plants. Where do all those four kinds of beings come from? What is their origin? According to Buddhism, their origin is the Buddha-nature. If there was no Buddha-nature, everything would be annihilated. The Buddha-nature is the only thing that passes through ten thousand generations and all time without being destroyed. From the Buddha-nature come Bodhisattvas, Hearers (Enlightened to Conditions), gods, asuras, people, animals, ghosts, and hell-beings. Those are beings of the ten dharma realms, and the ten dharma realms are not apart from a single thought of the mind. This single thought of the mind is just the seed of the Buddha-nature. One true-thought is just another name for the Buddha-nature. Those living beings include beings which are born through the womb; those born through eggs; those born through moisture; and those born through transformation or metamorphoses such as a worm transforming to become a butterfly.
According to The Lankavatara Sutra, from the religious point of view, there are five orders of beings. First of all, those who belong to the Sravaka order are delighted at listening to such doctrines as concern the Skandhas, Dhatus, or Ayatanas, but take no special interest in the theory of causation, who have cut themselves loose from the bondage of evil passions but have not yet destroyed their habit-energy. They have attained the realization of Nirvana, abiding in which state they would declare that they have put an end to existence, their life of morality is now attained, all that is to be done is done, they would not be reborn. These have gained an insight into the non-existence of an ego-substance in a person but not yet into that in objects. These philosophical leaders who believe in a creator or in the ego-soul may also be classified under this order. Second, the Pratyekabuddha order comprises those who are intensely interested in anything that leads them to the realization of Pratyekabuddhahood. They would retire into solitude and have no attachment to worldly things. When they hear that the Buddha manifests himself in a variety of forms, sometimes in group, sometimes singly, exhibiting miraculous powers, they think these are meant for their own order, and immensely delighted in them they would follow and accept them. Third, those of the Tathagata order, or those who may listen to discourse on such subjects as manifestations of mind, or transcendental realm of the Alaya, from which starts this world of particulars, and yet they may not at all feel astonished or frightened. The Tathagata order may be again divided into three: those who gain an insight into the truth that there is no individual reality behind one perceives; those who know that there is an immediate perception of the truth in one’s inmost consciousness; those who perceive that besides this world there are a great number of Buddha-lands wide and far-extending. Fourth, those who belong to no definite order, or those who are of the indeterminate nature. For those who belong to it may take to either one of the above three orders according to their opportunities. Fifth, those who are altogether outside these orders. There is still another class of beings which cannot be comprised under any of the four already mentiond; for they have no desire whatever for emancipation, and without this desire no religious teaching can enter into any heart. They belong to the Icchantika order. Icchantika is a Sanskrit word which means “incomplete faith” and “lacking good roots.” A class of beings who have cut off all their virtuous roots (kusala mula) and so have no hope of attaining buddhahood. The status of icchantikas was once an important topic of debate in East Asian Buddhism, with some groups claiming that they are unable to attain liberation, while others asserted that all beings, including icchantikas, have the buddha-nature, and so the virtuous roots may be re-established. Bhiksus who refuse to enter upon their Buddhahood in order to save all beings. Icchantika is one who cuts off his roots of goodness. The Atyantika are people who are extremely evil and wicked, having lost all senses of goodness. It is impossible to change, transform, or influence them to take a cultivated path. However, this also applied to a Bodhisattva who has made his vow not to become a Buddha until all beings are saved. In the Lankavatara Sutra, he Buddha reminded Mahamati: “Oh Mahamati, the Bodhisattva-icchantika knowing that all things are in Nirvana from the beginning refrains forever from entering into Nirvana. Two sub-classes, however, may be distinguished here. Those who have forsaken all roots of merit, or those who vilify the doctrines meant for the Bodhisattvas, saying that they are not in accordance with the sacred texts, rules of morality, and the doctrine of emancipation. Because of this vilification they forsake all the roots of merit and do not enter into Nirvana. Those who have vowed at the beginning to save all beings. They are Bodhisattvas who wish to lead all beings to Nirvana. Deny themselves of this bliss. They vowed in the beginning of their religious career that until everyone of their fellow-beings is led to enjoy the eternal happiness of Nirvana, they themselves would not leave this world of pain and suffering, but must strenuously and with every possible means work toward the completion of their mission. But as there will be no termination of life as long as the universe continues to exist, Bodhisattvas may have no chance for ever to rest themselves quietly with their work finished in the serenity of Nirvana. The time will come even to those who speak evil of the Bodhisattvayana when through the power of the Buddhas they finally embrace the Mahayana and by amassing stock of merit enter into Nirvana, for the Buddhas are always working for the benefit of all beings no matter what they are. But as for Bodhisattvas they never enter into Nirvana as they have a deep insight into the nature of things which are already in Nirvana even as they are. Thus, we know where Bodhisattvas stand in their never-ending task of leading all beings into the final abode of rest.
According to the Mahanidana sutta and the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are seven stations of consciousness: there are beings different in body and different in perception, such as human beings, some evas and some states of woe; there are beings different in body and alike in perception, such as the devas of Brhama’s retinue, born there (on account of having attained) the first jhana; there are beings alike in body and different in perception, such as the Abhassara Devas; there are beings alike in body and alike in perception, such as the Subhakinna devas; there are beings who have completely transcended all perception of matter, by the vanishing of the perception of sense-reactions and by non-attention to the perception of variety; thinking: “Space is infinite,” they have attained to the Sphere of Infinite Space; there are beings who, by transcending the Sphere of Infinite Space, thinking: “Consciousness is infinite,” have attained to the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness; and there are beings who, having transcended the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness, thinking: “There is nothing,” have attained to the Sphere of No-Thingness. There are seven stages of existence in a human world or in any desire world. They are being in the hells, animals, the hungry ghosts, the devas, the human beings, beings of karma, and beings in the intermediate stage. Besides, there are still seven other kinds of sentient beings: hells, hungry ghosts, animals, demons of higher order, humans, non-humans, and gods (a genius or higher spiritual being). According to the Lotus Sutra, there are still eight other beings: deva, naga, yaksa, asura, gadura, kinnara, gandharva, and mahogara.
According to Buddhist tradition, there are nine kinds of beings. First, sense-desire becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of sense-desires; second, fine-material becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of fine material; third, immaterial becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of immaterial; fourth, percipient becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of perception; fifth, non-percipient becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of non-perception; sixth, neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of neither perception nor non-perception; seventh, one-constituent becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of one constituent; eighth, four-constituent becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of four constituents; ninth, five-constituent becoming, the kind of becoming possessed of five constituents. According to the Sangiti Sutta, there are nine more kinds of sentient beings: beings different in body and different in perception such as human beings, some devas and hells; beings different in body and alike in perception such as new-rebirth Brahma; beings are alike in body and different in perception such as Light-sound heavens (Abhasvara); beings alike in body and alike in perception such as Heavens of pure dwelling; the realm of unconscious beings such as heavens of no-thought; beings who have attained the Sphere of Infinite Space; beings who have attained to the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness; beings who have attained to the Sphere of No-Thingness; and beings who have attained to the Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception.
In the Surangama Sutra, book Seven, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the twelve categories of living beings: 1) Egg-born beings or beings born through egg. Through a continuous process of falseness, the upside-down state of movement occurs in this world. It unites with energy to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that either fly or sink. From this there come into being the egg kalalas which multiply throughout the lands in the form of fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, so that their kinds abound. 2) Womb-born beings or beings born through womb. Through a continuous process of defilement, the upside-down state of desire occurs in this world. It unites with stimulation to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are either upright or perverse. From this there come into being the womb arbudas, which multiply throughout the world in the form of humans, animals, dragons, and immortals until their kinds abound. 3) Moisture-born beings or beings born through moisture. Through a continuous process of attachment, the upside-down state of inclination occurs in this world. It unites with warmth to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are vacillating and inverted. From this there come into being through moisture the appearance of peshis, which multiply throughout the lands in the form of insects and crawling invertebrates, until their kinds abound. 4) Transformation-born beings or beings born through transformation. Through a continuous process of change, the upside-down state of borrowing occurs in this world. It unites with contact to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of new and old. From this there come into being through transformation the appearance of ghanas, which multiply throughout the lands in the form of metamorphic flying and crawling creatures, until their kinds abound. 5) Form-born beings or beings born through form. Through a continuous process of restraint, the upside-down state of obstruction occurs in this world. It unites with attachment to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of refinement and brilliance. From this there come into being the ghanas of appearance that possess form, which multiply throughout the lands in the form of auspicious and inauspicious essences, until their kinds abound. 6) Formless-born beings or beings born through formlessness. Through a continuous process of annihilation and dispersion, the upside-down state of delusion occurs in this world. It unites with darkness to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of obscurity and hiding. From this there come into being the ghanas of formless beings, which multiply throughout the lands as those that are empty, dispersed, annihilated, and submerged until their kinds abound. 7) With thought-born beings or beings born with thoughts. Through a continuous process of illusory imaginings, the upside-down state of shadows occurs in this world. It unites with memory to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are hidden and bound up. From this there come into being the ghanas of those with thought, which multiply throughout the lands in the form of spirits, ghosts, and weird essences, until their kinds abound. 8) Without thought-born beings or beings born without thought. Through a continuous process of dullness and slowness, the upside-down state of stupidity occurs in this world. It unites with obstinancy to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts that are dry and attenuated. From this there come into being the ghanas of those without thought, which multiply throughout the lands as their essence and spirit change into earth, wood, metal, or stone, until their kinds abound. 9) Not endowed with form-born beings or beings born not endowed with form. Through a continuous process of parasitic interaction, the upside-down state of simulation occurs in this world. It unites with defilement to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of according and relying. From this there come into being those not totally endowed with form, who become ghanas of form which multiply throughout the lands until their kinds abound, in such ways as jellyfish that use shrimp for eyes. 10) Not lacking form-born beings or beings born not toally lacking form. Through a continuous process of mutual enticement, an upside-down state of the nature occurs in this world. It unites with mantras to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of beckoning and summoning. From this there come into being those not totally lacking form, who take ghanas which are formless and multiply throughout the lands, until their kinds abound, as the hiden beings of mantras and incantations. 11) Not totally endowed with thought-born beings or beings born not totally endowed with thought. Through a continuous process of false unity, the upside-down state transgression occurs in this world. It unites with unlike formations to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of reciprocal interchange. From this come into being those not totally endowed with thought, which become ghanas possessing thought and which multiply throughout the lands until their kinds abound in such forms as the varata, which turns a different creature into its own species. 12) Not totally lacking thought-born beings or beings born through not totally lacking thought. Through a continuous proces of empty and harm, the upside-down state of killing occurs in this world. It unites with monstrosities to become eighty-four thousand kinds of random thoughts of devouring one’s father and mother. From this there come into being those not totally lacking thought, who take ghanas with no thought and multiply throughout the lands, until their kinds abound in such forms as the dirt owl, which hatches its young from clods and dirt, and which incubates a poisonous fruit to create its young. In each case, the young thereupon eat the parents.
40. Creation of Human Beings
According to the Buddha, human beings have not created by a creator god, nor have they been the result of a long process of evolution, as suggested by Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. According to the Buddha’s teachings, , there have always been people, though not necessarily on this planet. The appearance of physical human bodies in any particular location begins with the mental generation of “human karma.” Mind, not physical body, is primary in that process. Human beings are not independent of the other forms of sentient life in the universe and can be reborn in others of the Six Paths of Rebirth. Likewise, other sentient beings can be reborn as human beings. What is ultimately real about all living beings is their Buddha-Nature and that cannot be created or destroyed. At the very beginning, before heaven and earth came into being, there were not any people. There was no earth, no living beings, nor anything called a world. Basically, none of those things existed at all. And then, at the outset of the kalpa, when things were coming into being, people gradually came to exist. Ultimately, where do they come from? Some say that people evolved from monkeys. But what do the monkeys evolve from? If people evolved from monkeys, then why are there no people evolving from monkeys right now? This is really strange. People who propagate this kind of theory basically do not have any understanding. They are just trying to set up some special theory. Why could it not be the case that people evolved from other living beings?