IN THE SURANGAMA SUTRA
Dr. Bhikkhunī Giới Hương
TWO DIFFICULT PROBLEMS
In this section, Venerable Purnamaitreyaniputra (Purna) began appearing. Venerable Purna, well known as one of the ten excellent disciples of the Buddha, is the most eloquent analyst in the Saṅgha.
At that time, Venerable Purna presented that the WorldHonored One, who was the most virtuous and mighty, expounded the first supreme truth of the Thus-Come One for the sake of living beings. Among Dharma preachers, Venerable Purna was said to be the most eloquent and remarkable in the Saṅgha. However, at the time when Purna heard the wonderful and subtle Dharma of the World-Honored One, he was like a deaf person at a more-than-hundred-pace-distance, who failed to see a mosquito, let alone hear its sound. Although the Buddha guided clearly to help him awaken, Purna still had some doubts about the Dharma.
Venerable Purna presented two difficult questions that he did not understand to beg the Buddha to explain. For the easier understanding of these questions, they are divided into five small sections as 1A, 1B, 1C and 2A, 2B:
“World-Honored One, if all the sense organs, sense objects, skandhas, places, and realms in the world are the forever pure tathãgatagarbha (the source of all phenomena), why do there suddenly arise the conditioned forms of mountains, rivers, mainlands, and so on, continuously changing and transforming to the upside-down cycle?”1
The Buddha answered, “Today the Thus-Come One will explain the profound, marvelous, supreme significance in the supreme meaning, in order that in the assembly, the fixed-nature voice-hearers (śrāvakas) and arhats who have not realized self-śūnyatā (suññatā) and Dharma-śūnyatā, develop the superior Buddhist vehicle (yāna), obtain the proper cultivation place, and enter tranquil states of the supreme vehicle. I will now explain it for you. Please listen carefully.”
PRESENTING THE TRUE ESSENCE TO SHOW THE ILLUSORY SOURCE
“Purna, you asked why, in the forever-pure essence, there suddenly arise mountains, rivers, earth, and so on. Have you not heard the Thus-Come One often teach that awakening is inherent, wonderful, bright, and that the enlightened nature is the illuminating wonder?”
“World-Honored One, yes, I often heard the Buddha mention this matter.”
The Buddha asked, “You say awakening is bright because its nature is inherent illumination, so it is called enlightenment. Or, if it enlightens without brightness, is it a so-called brightening enlightenment?”
Purna replied, “If the unillumination is called the awakening, then what is it unilluminated?”
The Buddha explained, “If the illuminating object is without the illuminating enlightenment subject, it will be neither object nor illuminating subject. If it is not bright, it will not be the illuminating, tranquil enlightenment. Thus, the inherent, awakened nature must be essentially bright. Due to false thought, it illuminates the enlightenment. Enlightenment is not something that is called the illuminating object. Owing to the bright subject, it formed the object. Once an object is falsely established, the wrong subject comes to exist.
“The reality originally is neither the same nor different; now it becomes a variety. This thing differs from that thing, which have the same causes. Once same and different are created, one which causes to form neither is not the same nor different.
“Such chaos continuously causes fatigue. The prolonged fatigue produces worldly objects which affect murkily one another and lead to the worldly defilements (kleśa). Something is emergent or arising, which is the socalled world. Something is concealed in stillness, which is the so-called space. The space is same (as the reality); the world is different (from the reality). Indeed, what is neither the same nor different are the conditioned Dharmas.”2
Now we focus on question 1A: Why do conditioned things suddenly arise in tathãgatagarbha (the source of all phenomena) and living beings not only appear then disappear, but also decay then produce; produce then decay since beginningless time?
This teaching is for high-level persons as Venerable Purna and other arhats, and not so much for living beings like those who are full of greed (abhijjhā, visamalobha), hatred (byāpāda, dosa), and delusion (samohaṃ). In the assembly, they were all saints, so when those in the lower level like us heard the teaching, they were confused. We must pay patient attention, train, and cultivate so that we can understand the true supreme significance in the supreme meaning. It is advised that we be patient with the unborn Dharma (uncreated Dharma patience, anutpattika-dharmakshanti).
Supreme: To receive Dharma to become a Buddha.
The true supreme meaning: To realize the cultivating main cause and the Buddha nature at six sense faculties, six worldly objects, six consciousness, and seven elements.
Thus, there are three meanings: the normal meaning, the supreme meaning, and the true supreme meaning.
In regard to the normal meaning, family, society, or school teach us how to become an ordinary person who fulfills duties to family and society. There is a saying: “To be a normal human (manussa) is difficult and even more so to be a saint.” It means basically that we must have standards as ordinary people. Then we step ahead to move toward sainthood. Conversely, if we break the precepts, such as committing murder, theft, adultery, and so on, then we become prisoners, to be punished by the law.
Supreme meaning is the higher significance. In the first twelve years of the Buddha’s teaching, he taught this supreme meaning to us so we could realize life as it really is. The six sense faculties are deluded, the six sense objects are illusory, and the six consciousnesses are untrue. Understanding this helps us detach from greed (abhijjhā, visamalobha), hatred (byāpāda, dosa), delusion (samohaṃ), false views (micchāditthi), and self-craving (self-ness).
The true supreme meaning is to experience the Buddha nature at the six sense faculties, the six sense objects, and the six consciousnesses. The nature of sound-hearers (śrāvaka), who have awakened to the way possesses the intention to gain something in practice. They recognize the six sense faculties as impure. They see birth and death as enemies and perceive Nirvana (Nibbāna) as the final safe place (the supreme meaning). In regard to the true supreme meaning, the Buddha advised us to turn to the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna), to receive the precious reality at the six sense faculties, that is, to experience the nature without birth, age, sickness, and death. The permanent Buddha nature presents at the six sense faculties and is the delicate seeing of the absolute. It differs from illusory consciousness. This is the true supreme meaning of the supreme meaning.
Buddhism is complex and difficult to understand. It is a hard thing is to reveal the great result or the valuable core of Mahāyāna. For example, if we go shopping with just a few dollars, we can buy a small amount of candy, but with hundreds of thousands of dollars in hand, we can purchase a precious diamond. The cost can be a measure of the quality of a thing, so the amount of difficulty reflects the value. Be patient in order to comprehend and practice.
The awakening is the inherent, wonderful, brightness and the enlightened nature is the illuminating wonder. Our Buddha nature is described by the words “bright or illuminating” while its fundamental reality is described especially by the word “wonderful.” Because it is bright, it discriminates. Where discrimination arises, where we have insight about ourselves and other humans (manussa), there countless, distinct things happen. The fundamental reality is originally wonderful. It brightens everything and its reality is immutable and never disappears. Due to conditions, the brightness changes, but its essence is still wonderfully unchangeable. The nature of our mind is wonderful and its characteristic is bright or luminous.
Due to unawakening, the mind desires to explore too much. It is divided into two parts: brightness and the factors of brightness, that is, the seeing (the spiritual subject) and the object seen (the material object). The ignorant root of the unawakened is the first foolish cause that produces all things. At the moment a thought arises, our mind, which is divided into two, becomes the eighth-consciousness, and is not the true mind anymore. Our reality is originally neither the same nor different, but now it produces a variety of movement.
As a result of movement–clinging and discrimination, there arises the difference. Seeing the distinction means that we ignorantly see the space. By attaching to the darkness, it forms shapes that differ from space. What is different becomes the same, that is, seeing that earth, water, wind, and fire are not the same as the space.
The seeing ability is regarded as ourselves and what is seen is regarded as external aspects. The illusory mind contacts with the external scene to discriminate, explore, and establish the presence of consciousness. The sixth consciousness is selfcraving (ahankāra). It follows worldly objects with a polluted heart. This intense self-craving, which we have from birth, causes clinging to name and shape.
The seventh consciousness (ego-ness, māna) produces mental awareness and performs the functions of thinking and counting.
Since the sixth consciousness of discrimination has existed, it has generated the emotions of lust, greed, hate, and so on. Our false thoughts mix with one another. The more the mind distinguishes, the more cloudy and foolish it becomes. Clinging to this and that, naming and grasping objects cause the arising of greed, hatred, delusion, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and countless defilements that form the rebirth karma. Once the karmic seed is established, it leads to the result of the so-called world, concealed in stillness and socalled space.
Step by step, we have started engaging deeply in the layers if ignorance. Actually, in the beginning there was only our real mind. As the result of a moment of unawakening, it started to curiously explore, understand, and distinguish. Since then, it has opened to measureless diversity where we are subjected ty karma.
We read and reflect on every word of the Buddha, looking for the reason why we were originally Buddhas and then suddenly we have false views, now that we are human beings. Awakening is our nature, but then wandering thoughts arise to differentiate between objects, which goes on continuously. So, we must meditate to keep our mindfulness. If we do not meditate, the mind opens up to a lot of variety. The dynamic painting of the Cycle of Life3 shows the tail of the impermanent ghost (pittivisaya) endlessly long; the hands have the feet of a devil and they grasp and turn the wheel ceaselessly.
Because we do not concentrate with insight, we want to add the brightness of enlightenment, while its nature has always been wonderful awakening. We want to be bright and distinguish our nature, which is the so-called “sudden unenlightenment.” The Buddha called this the ignorance arising from our birth.
Seeing the inborn ignorance is only the first step. It is called the false mind that arose from inborn ignorance, and produced thousands of thousands of similarities and differences. The illusory thoughts and external objects continually disturb. Once we know one, then we want to know two, three or four. We become weary as a result. Since we have eyes to see, the false thoughts are engaged in duality that becomes wearisome. The seventh consciousness (selfness, māna) is the self-craving source and leads the sixth consciousness to cling and follow worldly objects to satisfy the craving for pleasure. Then it wrongly produces the prejudiceDharma (considering phenomena as real). Honestly, in the first phase, there is only one mind, without self-clinging (ahankāra) or Dharma-clinging, or eight consciousnesses,4 but now we have eight consciousnesses, self-clinging or Dharma-clinging, and countless other defilements.
The Buddha pointed this out step by step for us. Firstly, we must aware that the seeing subject is ego-ness, that is, the seventh consciousness appears. The seventh consciousness foolishly attaches to inward selfness. From this ignorance, it leads and demands the sixth consciousness to accumulate or record the external aspects to create a “self.” So, the self and the illusion of belonging to the self are formed.
The reality is that originally neither were the same nor different—the same with space (because both are shapeless like the true mind), while the world is different with a multitude of forms, such as mountains, rivers, living beings (who are oppressed in the prison of five skandhas), humans living trapped in hell, and so forth. They are full of the subjects and objects of karma. From this, there are the results of karma, causing afflictions and suffering.
The Buddha explained that our fundamental nature is bright. If there is no brightness, why is it called the luminous nature of enlightenment? The fundamental, original nature is bright; its nature is bright, so why do we think of making it even more bright? We are originally bright. The subject, object, differences, similarities, human beings, existent beings, the world, and karmic retribution are continuously present. All these phenomena go on arising and falling continuously. This originally came from our sudden unawakening in the past.
This is what the Buddha taught to arhats, so it is not easy to comprehend. However, if we are patient and pay attention, we can understand and believe it. Let us reflect calmly hourly and daily to realize and experience the hidden marvelous Dharma.
1B. LIVING BEINGS, WORLD, AND KARMA CONSECUTIVELY ARISES
Venerable Mahakaushthila asked whether the consecutive presence of living beings, the world, and karma are related with all Dharmas (phenomena) and hoped from the Buddha’s answer to clear his cloud of doubt.
His cross-question was about the mind of sentient beings having a Buddha nature. Why now, owing to wrong view, are we as human beings in the world with the continual, resultant karmic retribution, from this body to others, this environment to others, since beginningless time?
Did these six realms of sentient beings exist from primordial time without reason or were they due to later habits of falseness that caused them to come into existence? This part is very difficult because it has an abstract philosophical nature.
We must mindfully think and practice anutpattikadharmakshanti (uncreated Dharma patience) because we have not ever heard this teaching before. Let us patiently listen to it many times and reflect on the deep meaning, so we can realize and experience it with our mind and body.
Question 1B concerns the concrete details of question 1A. Venerable Purna asked why conditioned things move continuously. Why does the world, living beings, and karma turn on the consecutive wheel? Question 1B is about the correct explanation of these three problems as shown below.
THE CONSECUTIVE WORLD
Enlightenment is inherently luminous while space is dark. Both are dualistic and constantly changing, so the wind energy appears to maintain the world. Due to space, it produces movement and solidity to become an obstacle. By the illuminating enlightenment, a precious metal forms the hardness, thus the countries are protected by the metal. Attachment to solidity establishes the metals, while knowing the vibration is to be aware of the blowing of the wind. The wind and metal touch each other to create the fire whose nature is movable. The flame glows upward, the shining metal produces wetness. Hence, the water pervades over the realms in ten directions. Fire rises up while water flows down. Both touch each other to set up the hardness. Wherever is wet becomes the ocean. Wherever is dry becomes the continents or mountains. From the great oceans, fire often rises up, while from the continents, rivers flow down. As water energy is weaker than fire, it causes high mountains to form. In these mountains, rocks which are hit create sparks. These cook and melt as liquid.
As the earth level is less than water, that causes grasses and trees to be established. So the forest is burnt and turned to ashes. Illusory thoughts interact to make karmic seeds. These cause-conditions cause the consecutive world.5
This is the world’s origin. Its origins and continuity is in regard to the physical perspective. The Buddha was aware of this with his supreme insight; we are still stuck in the flesh-eye, as if we were wearing black glasses that prevent us from seeing the true essence.
We call the atmosphere space, but in fact, it is the cycle of air which surrounds, covers, and holds our earth as the Śūraṅgama Sūtra confirmed: “Due to the space, it produces movement and solidity to become the obstacle. By the bright enlightenment, gold forms the hardness, thus the metal protects the countries.”
The wind arises to shake. Our mind wants to stand strong; it is the so-called hardness. Due to solidity, it is an obstacle that inspires the effects of the precious gold. This means due to the hardness, our solid substance is formed. The metal line is the golden cycle surrounding the earth.
A long time ago, originally our mind was pure. It has been transformed gradually toward ignorant karma, so our saha world’s mainland is the dark soil. The Amitābha Sūtra taught that the whole blissful land made of gold is due to the pure mind (without lust, vītarāgaṃ), without hate (vītadosaṃ), and without delusion (vītamohaṃ). This is a true story, not a fabricated one.
In the Amitābha Sūtra, Śākyamuni Buddha described the Pure Land vividly: “Furthermore, Śāriputra, in the Pure Land, there are lotus swamps that are made of seven valuable substances, being full of the Eight Merit Water.
The bottoms of swamps are covered by golden sand. Gold, silver, gems, and crystals are mixed to form the stairways at four sides surrounding the swamps. The architecture is adorned with gold, silver, crystals, pearls, sapphires, red rocks, and agates.
“In these swamps, there are lotus flowers the size of wheels. Blue lotus flowers illuminate with their radiant blue light. Yellow lotus flowers illuminate with yellow light. Red lotus flowers illuminate with red light. The white lotus flowers illuminate with white light. All these radiant flowers are sacred, fragrant, and pure.
“Śāriputra, this is how beautiful the Pure Land is adorned by the qualities of full merit.
“Śāriputra, furthermore, in that Pure Land, the heavenly songs are often played; the flat ground is made of gold; the heavenly mandala-flower rain pours down six times every day and night.” 6
By unshakably clinging to unenlightenment, formation of metals was produced, while the vibrations of illusory awareness created the wind. Wind and metal rubbed each other to establish the fire line whose nature is changeable. The shining metal produced moisture. The steam from the fire arose to burn the metal. It formed the liquid that encircles the Dharma worlds. This world has the wind, then the metal turned into earth, after that fire and water. Now it has enough of four compositions (wind, metal, fire, and water turned into earth, water, fire and wind).7 Since then, the landscapes, trees, mountains, rivers, and so on have been continuously appearing. First, the wind circle, metal/earth, fire and water. Our universe seems to be a circle after a circle as the Śūraṅgama Sūtra described. The earth is a round shape surrounded by air. In the earth, there is the water circle inside, so if we dig deep inside the earth, there is the liquid line. In the central core of the earth, there is the place of fire. The fire rises up while the water falls down. Therefore, there is a fire in the ocean. The rock has both water and fire (the fire on the mountain or the mountain releases the fire). Both rocks hit each other to cause the fire. The mound means the place where it has more soil than water. Where it is wet, more soil gathers for trees, flowers, leaves, forests, fields, and so on to be born. From these causes and conditions, phenomena come and pass endlessly.
So the sight of the phenomena continues to appear. Clinging to ignorance, the space arises forever. Attaching to craving, anger, and dullness caused the establishment of the earth, water, wind, and fire without ceasing. Whenever we have an appetite, saliva forms in our mouth. Once the body is dead, water flows out of the eyes. When we encounter gold or win the lottery, then sweat is produced. As long as there is desire for sexual activity it is easy to lose mindfulness.
Currently we see the greed (abhijjhā, visamalobha) that causes the liquid to arise. Every moment of anger (sadosaṃ) causes the inward fire to arise. Combining the foolish formed worldly shapes, solidity, and rocks. Because these false thoughts are the seeds that connect each another, the soil, water, wind, and fire continuously arise and fall without ceasing. Thus the earth, water, wind, and fire are the foundation for the world’s structure. From our karma, these things appear step by step, but originally all are unreal; they have not ever existed.
In our minds, water is the symbol of desire. Sexual intercourse makes the liquid come out. Crying for the selfcraving, the tears drop. Water flows down, never up. Whenever feelings of anger, hate, and resentment (upanāha, viddesanā) arise, fire breaks out. We have both the hot fire and the desire water flowing. By being movable, wind is produced. The earth is formed with solid characteristics without translucence due to the consistent ignorance. All of these things came from all minds, not anywhere else. They form the causes for the body to be formed. If there is a body, there will be karma. This is why the world has continued, that is, soil, water, wind, fire continually arise and fall.
The Buddha compassionately repeated these teachings. Due to our karma, things appear temporarily but, honestly, they are unreal.
THE CONSECUTIVE CREATURES
Moreover, Purna, the false illumination is nothing but the mistake of putting more light in the awakening. After the falseness of a bright object is produced, the scope of the bright subject cannot transcend it. Due to this dependentorigination (pratītyasamutpāda, paṭiccasamuppāda), hearing cannot go beyond the sound, and seeing cannot go beyond the form. Because six illusory organs, namely, sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and so on are established, the reality is divided into six functions of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and knowing.
The community karma binds together to form separation, formation, and transformation. Once seeing is created, sight is generated. Recognizing clearly the sight, thinking comes into being. Differing ideas generate dislike. Similar ideas produce lust. Spreading the craving is a seed, collecting the thoughts is the womb. The mutual intercourse developed to be attractive to the community karma. Since then these causes-conditions (pāda, paṭiccasamuppāda) create the kalala, the arbuda, and so forth.
The womb-birth, egg-birth, humid-birth, and transforming-birth are presented according to their own response. For example, the egg-birth is produced due to thought; the womb-birth is formed due to affection; the humid-birth arises from a combination of one another; and the transforming-birth occurs through separation.
When the emotion, when the thought, when the union, and when the separation have exchanged with one another, all the karma species are affected either going up or going down. These cause-conditions caused the consecutive creature beings.8
The origination and continuity of the world is in regard to the physical field. The consecutive creature beings relate to two parts of the physical and psychological perspectives. In Buddhist terminology, a living being is the karmic person subject and the world is the karmic environment object.
The foundational ignorance led to the karmic person subject and the karmic environment object, which involved each other as follows: Honestly, we currently cannot see beyond the bright-dark, hear beyond the motion-stillness, smell beyond the smooth-obstruction, taste beyond the tasting/bland, sense beyond the touch-nontouch, and know beyond the arising-falling (these are very excellent contemplative themes). Six sense faculties face the six sense objects in order to distinguish love and hate, sorrow, sadness, grief, and lamentation which became the diseases or characteristics of living beings. Then the different views produce hatred; the similar views create love. If the loving does not leave or the illusory craving mixes into disorderly forms, this causes pregnancy and seduces the community karma.
If people who have the same karma and are fond of craving stay together and become parents, their sexual intercourse causes a main seed to rebirth. If a dog’s karma, its spiritual consciousness is ready, it will copulate. When it has intercourse, it causes a seed to birth as a dog. The water stream of craving forms the rebirth seed. This seed seduces the community karma to work with embryos. The embryos develop in a womb and form six sense faculties (as six doors of a house) to contact with the external feelings or attachment. Attachment totally causes the seed of existence. Once the seed of existence appears, there is the seed of birth and death. The seed is formed, and is subjected according to the law of formation, existence, transformation, and decay, or the consecutive cycle of birth, ageing, sickness, and death. The womb-birth, egg-birth, humid-birth, transforming-birth, and so forth depend on what kind of seed accords with what species.
1. Egg-birth: The thoughts cause the egg to arise which becomes a species. There are various species, such as the flying birds in the sky, the swimming fish under water, the walking human beings, ducks, hens, cats, and dogs that live on earth, and so forth. If a person likes to eat chicken, he prepares to eat chicken soup. However, if his nose has not smelled the chicken flavor, the impermanent death ghost (pittivisaya) comes to catch him. His consciousness clings to a hen’s fragrance so that it forces him to enter the hen womb, to be reborn as a hen life. This is an example of the thought causing rebirth in animal form.
2. Womb-birth: Due to emotion, there are species that grow in a womb without an egg. Human or dog, cat, and so on are the womb-birth style. At the moment of death, the karma consciousness leads. When the eye sees sexual intercourse between two different/same genders, in the mind arises sensual enjoyment. It’s as fast as electricity. The mind of craving enters the embryo quickly. It seems two (the mind and the sexual enjoyment), but in fact it is only one (only mind). Our mind feels (only one), so we do not need to say that the feeling arises from craving (two: the feeling and craving), because in fact, as soon as the eye can see, the consciousness tie is already in the womb. The feeling (vedanā) and the craving are associated with each other very quickly because it is only one. The reason it is so quick is because we have accumulated this bad habit since beginningless time. That is the reason to transform the habit accumulation. We must return to the Buddha nature, dwell on the awakening essence, and not let it drag us away.
3. Humid-birth: This arises from union of moisture or wetness. The insect combines with the humidity, and is born in damp places, such as mosquitoes laying eggs in the water, insects, worms and beetles in moist soil, fields or swamps, and so forth.
4. Transform-birth: This appears from separation. The butterfly species is apart from the caterpillar. People who have performed evil acts—when they die and leave their body, they feel themselves turning out in hell (niraya), a realm of painful execution.
If people have a strong practice of virtue in this life, when the human life karma is ended, they will be transformed in the heaven realm where they will have lasting bliss, the blessedness of heaven, but it is not in retribution of egg, womb, or humid. It is called the transform-birth.
We live now with six objects, hungry for the sight. So this body grows up, gets old and dies, and then we wish to have another body. We have to create body after body, must let the six senses run out without realizing that they go in the way of delusion. So as this body dies, the spiritual consciousness of the body transfers to another body at once. If the spiritual consciousness is delightful, at the parental intercourse, this consciousness will turn into the fetus. After seven days, the fetus forms into bubbly foam. After twenty-one days, it becomes soft meat. On the twenty-eighth, it turns to hard flesh and on the thirty-fifth day it seems to have the human form. Then after nine months and ten days, it will be born as a human being.
The same karma colleagues are tied together to co-rebirth in saṃsāra under various form of births, either combination or separation; either emotion or thought. The combination-birth creates the feelings of like or dislike, which are the causeconditions to fall together into the low realms.
The transform-birth leaves the old body to turn out in another body either in heaven or hell where it does not have the birth in human form.
When it has a mark for birth in the heavens, suddenly there is a baby boy or girl sitting on a heavenly deva’s knees. There is the relationship of father and son or mother and daughter which is not the same as being born a human. In the hell realms, it happens the same way. This birth form is called the separation. Rebirth due to dissociation means to leave the old scene to take a new scene in hell. This is the transformbirth.
In the womb, a shape is formed. Like in the egg of a hen, the fetus forms similar to the chicken shape. While in the transform-birth, a butterfly transforms from a pupa or worm to grow into a butterfly. Twelve species9 in the world follow their karma to bond to one another. The seeing itself invents the rupa (shape) to see which are as a pair of eyes and objects. Whenever there is a sound, there is an ear. Whenever there is fragrance, there is a smell. Once the smell organs appear, the fragrant and foul smells present. Sour or sweet goes with the tasting. Contact with the skin and touching go together. There is the Dharma object in the brain and the sense consciousness arises. Six sense organs and six sense objects arise and fall at the same time. There is the false mind because there is the illusory landscape. The false mind faces the illusory landscape to create the deluding thought. For example, the eyes see a guava, the thought starts to like it. So all the images, all the world scenes—the Buddha called these wrong view (false vision, micchā-ditthi). We record and collect the shadows outside. The Buddha called this wrong thought.
The wrong view and wrong thought (samohaṃ) are the root of saṃsāra. Now the wrong view and wrong thought are established and if we disagree with it, then hate (sadosaṃ) or anger (kodha) is produced; if we agree with it, love (trishna) is produced and we bond with each other. Craving is the bond; hate also is the bond. The hate or love mixed with false thought causes a seed of transmigration (saṃsāra). The sexual craving between men and women is the source of life in order to form the sea of birth and death. This is the main karma for serial reproduction. We often say there is a strong magnetic field between two opposite genders. With sex, there is a craving seed. If a seed does not meet the conditions, it becomes dry and dies. For example, if a jackfruit seed is stored, it is forever the dried jackfruit. But if it drops on the earth with many good conditions of sunlight, water, and fertilizer, it surely becomes a jackfruit tree. Therefore, to avoid the craving seed, we should live in a temple with good cause-conditions (paṭiccasamuppāda) to practice the awakened seeds.
The mind generates sexual desire (trishna) to acquire the idea of pregnancy. The woman thinks that she collects the seed or spermatozoon of the man, because both man and woman have the craving thoughts (sarāgaṃ), which cause their sexual organs to generate liquid. The male provides the sperm and the woman receives the intersecting sperm into her blood. The mantra book mentions that the sperm and pus of the father combined with the red blood of mother causes the fetus. The father is as a guava seed, while the blood mother is as soil and sunlight. Guava seeds dropped to the ground and watered will gradually develop into a guava fruit. Likewise, a woman collects the sperm seed, warms the sperm up to be the granules in her blood, which is gradually shaped into the fetus and human body.
Due to sexual intercourse arising to stimulate the same karmic colleagues, the child consciousness, who has the sexual desire, pleasures at seeing the insertion of his father’s penis into his mother’s vagina, typically culminating in orgasm and the ejaculation of semen. The child consciousness clings to the father’s sperm and mother’s blood and pus, then later it becomes the bubbles and fetus.
The egg-birth, womb-birth, moisture-birth, and transform-birth are arisen according to their proper karma. If a person has the sexual pleasure karma, he will birth as a fetus in the womb. The egg-birth is born by the false thought. The spiritual consciousness of the same karmic persons touches the egg to be the egg-birth. For example, people who likes the smell of chicken and often kills chickens to eat, always thinks of the chicken scent. Because the karma likes to eat the chicken, when dying, they have an image of or smell the chicken scent, and at once their spiritual consciousness is trapped in a certain hen egg. Therefore, with just one exhalation without inhalation, they are in the egg of the hen.
For someone who was previously a vertical human, it only takes a moment to remember the chicken smell and this results in being rebirthed in the hen egg. Then to pay the karmic retribution, it is born as a hen to people who cut the neck for flesh, because in the last kalpa, that person was inclined to eating chicken and ordered others to cook chicken for him. The distance or gap from this life to next life is just one moment and in a flash, it can turn into another species.
The Buddha taught to beware of five skandhas: forms, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness. We feel and receive objects all day long, so our Buddhist practice is to be awakened. We, who must keep mindfulness, return to reciting the Buddha’s name and we do not detach from the outside worldly scenes. When fragrance flys pass the nose, we should experience immediately that it is illusory. Our daily duty must be practicing detachment. For example, a meditator meditates at the lake, there is flower fragrance being sensed through the nose, he enjoys this so much that he keeps sitting to entertain it, until a Dharma Guard Protector complains about his infected virtue (avimuttaṃ, amahaggataṃ), and he realizes and makes a confession about it.
So, we have to be careful at our six organs, such as if we are fond of listening to music or birds singing. We must be careful to be mindful at every posture and with every thought. We must practice continually and confidently at every hour.
This is the detach-feeling. Detaching the false feeling is to be a saint. Our six sense faculties have attached to six worldly objects since the beginningless time in order that we who become human beings, are full of cravings and feelings, and will fall to the low realms quickly at the blink of an eye when we die.
Why does the Buddha say, “When the emotion, when the thought, when the union, and when separation have exchanged one another, so that all the karmic species are affected, either going up or going down”? Because love is the main seed to cause the womb-birth to arise; because thought is the main seed to cause the egg-birth to arise. When a combination appears this is called the moisture-birth while the separation to produce is called the transform-birth. These species have exchanged in four forms of birth (fetal, egg, humidity, and transforming). We are turning all day in the rotation in order that at the time of death, we will be born either as worm, or egg, or moisture, or transform, and so on. Our mind follows the karmic cycle of craving, thinking, to rebirth in up and down realms. There are different levels, such as up to human, heaven, down to hell, down and up, up and down, good and evil, evil and good, etc. So the reincarnation is continuous.
Due to dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda, paṭiccasamuppāda) creature beings have continued birth and death, death and birth (saṃsāra), forever without end.
From the bright enlightened origination, by sudden unawakening, it distinguished to illuminate the enlightenment to create thousands of thousands of varieties of phenomena, the body and the world, six distinctive organs and six objects. Since then it has received the feelings of love or hate, and greed arises, or anger. The like and dislike are the false thoughts that produce negative karmas of killing, theft, sexual misconduct, and telling lies. Once there is a cause, there is a result. We have to pay the price. Due to these cause-conditions, the consecutive creature beings have not stopped.
THE CONSECUTIVE KARMAS
Purna, thought and craving have ties to connection so that people who fall in love with each other cannot bear to separate. As a consequence, in the world, parents, children, and offspring who are produced continuously without end, have taken strong sexual desire (sarāgaṃ) as the root.
Lust and love (trishna) connect with each other to develop. Lust is consumed with an insatiable appetite, consequently in the world all the creature beings who are born in various forms of eggs, wombs, humidity, and transformation and who have competed and harmed one another have taken the killing desire as the root.
If a human (manussa) being eats a sheep and after death, the sheep becomes a person, after the human being dies he will be reborn as a sheep. Likewise, up to ten species are alternated in the cause-effect cycle (pratītyasamutpāda, paṭiccasamuppāda) to death-birth and eat one another’s bodies. Their evil karmas have developed up to the future.
They have taken the stealing desire as the root.
This person owes a life to that person. One person has to repay the old debt to another person. Due to these causeconditions, we have passed hundreds thousands of kalpas (lives) in the cycle of transmigration (saṃsāra).
This person loves that person’s mind. That person likes this person’s figure. Due to these cause-conditions, we have passed by hundreds thousands of kalpas in the cycle of the mutual entanglement. Killing, stealing, and lust are the basic roots for the cause-conditions for consecutive karmas.10
The world is the karmic object while living beings are the karmic subject. Why do karma and the world exist continuously? The Buddha pointed out three main reasons:
1. The loving attachment (trishna) is without separation, so the children are born nonstop. The consciousness does not detach from the beloved ones, so they always rebirth together in the same karmic species. For example, 500 lives have passed, and the dove still are the dove; seven generations of Buddhas have passed and the black ants still are born as black ants. People are heavy with sexual lust (the Buddha taught to reflect on the impurity for a cure). Sexual lust (sarāgaṃ) is one of the three main causes that forces living beings to bear the consecutive karma.
2. The fetus, egg, humidity, and transform births in the world, and human beings in the womb create species that have competed with and harmed one another. The weak being is oppressed by the stronger being. For example, people (having good karma) use their smart mind to kill animals (tiracchānayoni, less good karma) and live on meat eating. Humans use sharp knives to tear the animal body, use means such as electricity to kill animals, and enjoy the evil hobbies of hunting, fishing, catching crabs, and other creatures. These are the seeds and appearances of people who are heavy with the killing karma. The killing is the cause that forces living beings to bear the consecutive karma.
3. Human beings robbed animal flesh to eat without permission. A gecko eats insects or gnats; an eagle bites a snake while the hunters shoot the eagles; big fish swallows the small fish. These are all the kinds of stealing (we lean on our strength or intelligence to trap small victims). These people are heavy with the stealing karma. It is this robbery that causes people to repay their debts continuously, made by the evil karma retribution up to the future life.
“This person owes a life to that person. One person has to repay the old debt to another person. Due to these causes-conditions, we have passed hundreds of thousands of kalpas (lives) in the cycle of transmigration (saṃsāra).” The Buddha taught this doctrine very well and deeply. Our life now is to pay off or to receive the retribution. Due to the fair law of cause-effect (pratītyasamutpāda, paṭiccasamuppāda), we cannot control. Knowing the cause and effect, we will live peacefully and purely more than when we are lost,
misunderstood, maltreated, unlucky, destroyed, and so on. We do not make the cause to live in the path of birth-death, of paying debts, and receiving revenge again.
“This person loves that person’s mind. That person likes this person’s figure. Due to these cause-conditions, we have passed hundreds of thousands of kalpas in the cycle of the mutual entanglement (saṃsāra).” The cause for reincarnation of humans is craving. She loves his dignified manner. He admires her attractive body. It is this craving thought that has ensnared us for countless lives. We meet one another in various forms, either spouses or friends, or parents, or relatives, in many lives.
One day, the Buddha went begging where a merchant family holding a party. The owner was a clumsy person, but the Buddha knew he had merit; it was time to convert the owner, so the Buddha came to alms. The host scolded the Buddha for begging shamelessly while everyone was enjoying the party. The Buddha responded with the verse as follows:
Eating father’s flesh and killed mother
Embracing the care of the enemy
Mother chews deliciously on her child’s bone
Who is to know the shameless?
He was eating the lamb that had been his father, who was reborn as a lamb. Eating the lamb was to eat his father’s meat.
Behind the house, the servants were continuing to slaughter pigs as treats for the guests. A pig was his mother reborn. The hostess was hugging a child who was an enemy in the past, and who was reborn in the house to destroy the owner’s estate to clear a debt. The chicken she chewed on was her biological child who had just died and was reborn in a hen body. Relatives in the same real blood family were eating one another, which was evil, and they were not ashamed.
After listening to the Buddha’s explanation, the host and relatives were awakened and felt very shameful. They admired the Buddha’s wisdom and sought refuge in the Buddha to become a purely Buddhist family for supporting the Three Jewels.
Therefore, the Buddha taught to turn these love affections, these bonds of cravings (sarāgaṃ) into the great pure love, into the good Dharma friends, into the bodhisattvas. This good-hearted love without selfish craving is praised in Buddhism.
There are only three root causes (lusting, killing, and stealing) on which the causality of karma is continuous: the world, sentient beings, and karmic results came from these three root causes.
Purna, the three kinds of upside down continually come from the inherent luminous brightness which is added to enlightenment. With this false enlightening of the knowing-nature, subjective awareness gives rise to objective appearances. Both are born of false views (micchā-ditthi), and from this falseness, the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned appearances unfold themselves in a succession that recurs in endless cycles.11
Killing, stealing, and lust are the basic roots for the cause-conditions for consecutive karma. Living beings and karma are developing continuously. This came from the main roots of killing, stealing, and lust. It means the main roots of killing, stealing, and lust caused the world, living beings, and karma to exist and develop endlessly.
Purna, three things (the world, living beings, and karma) have continued to go up-side down, because the luminosity of the enlightenment is bright and clear. Following the false thought, the wrong view (micchā-ditthi) appears to have all phenomena of mountains, rivers, mainlands that changed, rotated back and forth without stopping.12
Why do these three things (the world, living beings, and karma) come from the enlightened luminosity? It must have a cause which leads to the disturbing result. What does it mean that the world, living beings, and karma have continued to go up-side down due to killing, stealing, and lust and the enlightened luminosity?
The Buddha explained that because of wanting the curious exploration to be brighter or more distinct, the false curious thought became solid to create the killing, stealing, lust and then all phenomena followed that pattern.
The Buddha’s explanation is simple and clear. Do we still have that inclination to explore the enlightenment? When six base organs face six objects, we remember to keep mindfulness, recite the Amitābha Buddha’s names, and do not run away from the outside scenes. Detaching the receiving or feeling means to avoid receiving or feeling, because once there is the receiving, then there is the discrimination. Due to distinguishing, there is a shape. Because the eyes see the form, the ears hear the sound, the nose smells the scent, the body contacts the touching thing, the brain knows the images are generated and receives the form (rūpā). Then the false thoughts (samohaṃ) appear to discriminate among worldly objects. It means the series of twelve chains of dependent-origination are produced.
As long as the receiving appears, the like (vītamohaṃ), and dislike will be born. There is the like-dislike, there is the wrong view (samohaṃ). Then the series of craving, the craving-views, a stronger degree of desire (upadana), and the process of becoming or existence (bjava) are also presented in order. Hereafter, the killing, stealing, and lusting appear. As a result, all phenomena of mainlands, human beings, grasses, leaves, ropes, knots continue to be born. Thus, the illusory things of our lives go on and on without stopping.
Method of practice: Owing to distinguishing, the figure appears. We meet six objects, the discrimination starts. Now we are just awakened that all is illusory. The scene is delusion. This body is impure so that we must erase the self-craving or self-view. Be mindful at the breath to calm the mind, without disturbance. Let go naturally to detach from the outside scene without receiving. Once the self-craving presents, we still receive or feel the objects. If we are awakened and let go of this body, we will gain detachment from receiving or feeling.
The Buddha explained this so clearly in order that we understand and experience delusion and awareness. We recognize that delusion is ignorance while enlightenment is the awareness. Therefore, we are not afraid, we do not worry that it is hard to become a Buddha because this ignorance is delusion, while the Buddha is true. Delusion must disappear soon. This understanding is called the pure knowledge.
What is the pure knowledge? It means to see the truth. We know that ignorance does not have the root, the origin of delusion is empty while the Buddha is true. The Buddha nature is the obvious truth. Do not embrace the body, mind, and scene, do not consider it as real, do not live with it anymore. This is called the pure knowledge.
The purity is to know the truth as it is. We know the truth, live with the Buddha nature, while the three sets of body, mind and scene is detached from.
A day of no lust (vītarāgaṃ), no anger (vītadosaṃ), no delusion (vijjā) is a day of the Buddha characteristics. If there is still lust (sarāgaṃ), anger (byāpāda, dosa), ignorance (avijjā) on other days, we are not ready to be awakened. Then we need to clean five layers of impurity (amahaggataṃ), that is, the five skandhas, and we return to the Buddha. The origination is neither the same nor different, but now we make it to be the same or different. This is the origin of the phenomena, so it began to have three consecutive forms in the world, living beings, and karma. It continues to develop indefinitely.
1C. POINTING OUT THE ENLIGHTENMENT CANNOT PRODUCE IGNORANCE
Purna presented, “The nature of wonderful enlightenment is the inherent, miraculous brightness which is the same as the Tathāgata’s mind, neither greater nor less. It suddenly arises to have all the conditioned phenomena of mountains, rivers, mainlands, and so forth. The Thus-Come One has attained the wonderful luminous enlightenment, without discrimination, and when will the mountains, rivers, mainlands and all conditioned habitual inflows (sravas) appear again.”
The Buddha replied to Purna, “For example, if a person in a village is confused and has a misconception of south being north, does this confusion arise out of confusion or awakeness?” Purna said, “The person has neither confusion nor awakeness. Why? Confusion is fundamentally without root, how can it arise from confusion? Awakeness does not produce the confusion, how can it generate from the awakeness?”
The Buddha taught, “A confused person is on a confused course and suddenly he meets an awakened person who points out the correct direction, and makes him aware of the way. Purna, how do you think, once the person expels the confusion, can he lose his way again?”
“No, World-Honored One.”
“Purna, the Thus-Come Ones of ten directions are the same thing. The confusion is without root and ultimately is void. It looks as if there was confusion and enlightenment. Once we are awakened to the confusion, then the confusion is paused. Hence, enlightenment cannot produce the confusion.
“For example, a person with sore eyes sees the skyflowers in space. If he cures his sore eyes, the flowers in space will disappear. If there is a stupid person looking up to the sky where the flowers disappeared, waiting for the flowers to reappear, do you think that person is foolish or intelligent?”
Purna replied, “The sky fundamentally does not have any flowers. Due to sickness in the eyes, there are the arising and falling. Seeing the falling of the sky-flowers in space is already an upside-down view. Waiting for them to reappear is madness. Why bother to determine further if such a mad person is foolish or intelligent?”
The Buddha taught, “Since your understanding and explanation are as such, why do you ask if the wonderful luminous enlightenment without discrimination of Tathāgatas can once again provide the arising of the mountains, rivers, and mainlands?”
“For example, a piece of ore retains the gold substance. Once the pure gold is extracted, it cannot become an ore again. Likewise, if a piece of wood is burned to ash, it cannot become wood anymore. The bodhi Nirvana of all Buddhas and the Thus-Come Ones are the same.”13
Actually, Purna knew the problem of the enlightenment and unenlightenment, but he loved future beings and for the sake of many, he asked that the Buddha clarify the matter. Purna questioned if the Buddha declared the enlightenment but did not produce the impurity (amahaggataṃ). Purna’s mind is the same as the Buddha’s mind—it neither increases nor decreases. We are living with the same mind of the Buddha. If we saw the mountains, rivers, and mainlands, and were disturbed by defilements (kleśa), so likewise, in the future, the Buddha will return to living beings like us, will become unenlightened, ignorant, and defiled like us (Purna) here. This Buddha did not answer straightaway, but instead he provided four examples and raised four questions to Purna:
–A person who lost the way was guided to the correct direction by a person or a navigator. Did he confuse the path again?
–A sore-eyed person spotted the sky-flowers. When his eyes were cured, did he see the sky-flowers again?
Has the filtered gold returned to the ore again? A tree is burned to ash. Can it become a tree again? These questions and examples are clear. The Buddha left for Purna to answer the questions by himself and then he realized the deep meaning through his reflection and answer. Ignorance is neither the root, nor form, so it cannot be taken out. The ignorance is clearly without its substance. If it has roots, then it cannot be the falseness. It is only because of ignorance, we accept bodies as us. Because of ignorance, we who eat rice, drink water to form the body, enter the mother’s womb, take the soil, water, wind, fire to be the body, but the impurity body or ignorance does not have a root. For example, a chrysanthemum is due to the chrysanthemum seed in order to be a flower. Spinach is presented due to the seeds of spinach. What is the seed of the human being? It is the ignorance. The practice is to wake up, to see the real mind, to let go of the delusion and the ignorance. If there is someone to point out the ignorance, then we will be enlightened, no longer bound by the impurity anymore. For example, the confused person is pointed in the correct direction; a sore-eyed person is cured, the sky is clear; gold is no longer sand anymore; if a plant is burned, it cannot become a tree. Due to ignorance, wrong view, killing, stealing, and lusting, and so on have arisen. Just be awakened, it will disappear as in the above examples.
The question about when the Buddha returns to living beings is the same question as when right view becomes wrong view or when enlightenment returns to ignorance. Because the mind is awakened, suddenly ignorance is called the wrong view. The Buddha descended in this world to have only one purpose: he showed the way to enter, experience, and realize the Buddha’s wisdom for the sake of many. The bodies of creature beings and the Buddha are still the same. Seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and knowing are the Buddha nature. Awakening is called the right view and unawakening is called the wrong view (micchā-ditthi). However, unawakening does not have substance. We are foolish to see these bodies as ours, but when we are mindful we realize the ignorance is nowhere. Zen Master Huyền Giác confirmed that “The true nature of ignorance is the Buddha nature.” Once we are awakened, we become Buddhas, so at that time it is called the ultimate absolute without ignorance. The impurity does not have the foundation; our reality is the Buddha nature; the four immeasurables (appamañña, apramāṇa): love (mettā, maitrī), compassion (karuṇā), joy (muditā), and equanimity (upekkhā, upekṣā) are developed. However, because we collect false habits, it becomes the illusion (samohaṃ). For example, we are peacefully happy and then suddenly someone tells us that a friend has said unkind things about us. After hearing the voice of that person, we become so angry, as if a fire burns in our heart. Actually, there is no anger (upanāha, viddesanā). Before that we were peaceful. If we are mindful and do not engage in retaliation which causes resentment (upanāha, viddesanā), and instead reflect on the four immeasurable virtues (appamañña, apramāṇa): love (mettā, maitrī), compassion (karuṇā), joy (muditā), and equanimity (upekkhā, upekṣā), the greed (abhijjhā, visamalobha) and anger will disappear. Therefore, the ignorance does not have a root. If self-craving, is arising, it looks like there are lust, hate, and so on, but if we are mindful to contemplate the sound which is a false dream and is the vibrating game, we will wake up. At that time the anger is gone, it does not exist there. We wake up, it dissolves. Our fool is too much a falseness to be our boss. We are awakened, it melts, so we have to be embarrassed because it is nothing, and we have allowed it to dominate and master us.
We have five impure (amahaggataṃ) layers,14 that is, the five illusions (samohaṃ). That we are awakened at one layer is better than nothing. Step by step we will open these five knots. Right view does not return to wrong view (micchā-ditthi) anymore. The seeing essence has not been wrong or ignorant for a long time. It depends on karma to appear to the unawakening and awakening. However, our reality is still unchangeable and wonderful.
As awakening presents, the delusion (samohaṃ) is paused. The truth is obvious. Enlightenment or ignorance comes from using our wrong or right functions. Due to delusion, we forget our real nature. Once we are mindful we can experience that both are as one. The Buddha called using the wrong function ignorance (avijjā). The Buddha taught that its nature is to clarify the mind, so if we begin distinguishing now, there is hope for the scene. The countless creature beings are as the sands in the Ganges River. They are on the ignorant path where ignorance is the illusion We fail to grasp this because it is illusory, without reality. Our mind became the delusion. We are ignorant by ourselves and we awaken by ourselves.
Ignorance is the delusion. Ignorance itself has no root and enlightenment and does not produce delusion. This part is rather difficult to understand. It is difficult to comprehend the answer of the Buddha because we are clearly ignorant; we are on the foolish path. We feel it is hard to understand. Do we believe ignorance is originally without a foundation? Yes, it is. The ignorance is without a true base because once we are awakened, the ignorance disappears. We remember the painting of the life cycle15 with the hen, snake and pig in the background. Blue is the color of the falsehood (chādeti). Greed (abhijjhā, visamalobha), anger (sadosaṃ), and delusion (samohaṃ) are the centers that control us in the up and down realms of seven paths.16
However, they are ignorant as clouds. Once we cultivate awakening to transform greed, hatred, and ignorance, this means to be clear without cloudiness. Our mind can be pure without lust, hatred, and ignorance.
2A. ALL ELEMENTS ARE PENETRATING ONE ANOTHER
“Purna, you also mentioned the substances of soil, water, fire, and wind penetrate one another over the Dharma world. Your questions are why the water and fire do not destroy each other and why the space and soil can combine each other in the Dharma realm.
“Purna, for example, the substance of the space is not the forms and does not prevent all figures from developing within it. Why? Purna, the sky is luminous as it is sunny, is dark as it is cloudy, sways as the wind blows, is transparent as it clears, hazy as it is smoky, is obscure as a dust storm arises, and reflects sparkling light when the water is still.
“What do you think? Are these different conditioned forms created from these conditions themselves or the space? Purna, if they originate from those conditions, on a sunny day, the sun is luminous, all the worlds in ten directions should become the shape of the sun. Then how on that day, can we still see the round sun in the sky? If the space is bright, the space must itself shine. Why on a cloudy night, is there is no brightness? The brightness is from neither the sun nor the space, and is not other than the space and the sun.
“Contemplating the appearances is falseness, hard to point out their significance. They are just like sky-flowers that produce the sky-fruit. How can you still ask the meaning of these elements?
“Reflect on the original nature, which is the truth, the wonderful enlightenment, and is neither water nor fire. How can you still ask the meaning of these elements and how they combine with each other?
“The true wonderful enlightenment is nature. You create the space that makes the space appear. The earth, water, fire, and wind are created and appear one by one. If they are invented at the same time, they will present together.”
1. Pointing out conflict with enlightenment and combining with the worldly form:
“Purna, you take the form and space to destroy one another in tathãgatagarbha (the source of all phenomena), so tathãgatagarbha depends on you to create the form and the space over the Dharma realm. Since then, within it, the blowing wind is movable, the space is stillness, the sun is bright, and the cloud is dark. Living beings, who were deluded, combine with the worldly form. Thus, the defilements (kleśa) and the mundane world come into existence.”
2. The wonderful illumination unites with tathãgatagarbha (the source of all phenomena):
The inherent wonderful illumination is neither ending nor arising, united with tathãgatagarbha. Hence, tathãgatagarbha is the marvelous enlightenment and shines all over the Dharma realm.
Therefore within it, the one is measureless; the measureless is one. The small produces the big; the big produces the small. The unshaken bodhimanda pervades all over the worlds in ten directions; the body contains the space in ten directions. On the top of a single hair appears the Jeweled King Country. Sitting in a molecule of dust, I turn the great Dharma wheel. By transforming the defilements (kleśa) and combining with enlightenment, the wonderful sacred enlightened nature is created.”17
The Buddha taught that the four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind penetrated all Dharma worlds. In reality, we see the four great elements to have opposite, distinct characteristics. Water and fire pervade throughout the world, while water extinguishes a fire, land is added to mounds, tidal waves increase to wipe out the mound, land, and houses. So why does the Tathāgata say that seven elements of the earth, water, wind, fire, space, perception, consciousness stay together all over the world. Why do not they overlap one another?
The Buddha answered that earth, water, wind, fire, space, perception, and consciousness pervade all over the world, but the nature of the space is not lost nor decreased. In Four Departments and Seven Elements,18 the Tathāgata confirmed that the form nature is the absolute śūnyatā (suññatā, void nature); śūnyatā is the absolute form. This is pure and pervades over the Dharma world. According to creature beings’ karma, in response to their capacities, worldly bodies, and the bodies of twelve kinds of living beings or four departments and seven elements come into being.
The fire is full in space but without burning the world. Therefore, the Buddha said that the fire essence is the absolute śūnyatā. The space does not have the fire but when the need requires it, the fire appears. One person ignites the light, one person has fire. People in ten directions ignite the fire, ten directions have the fire. The fire stays everywhere in the world without any separate certain place, so the Buddha states that the fire nature is the absolute śūnyatā (void nature); the śūnyatā is the absolute fire. This is pure and pervades over the Dharma world. According to creature beings’ karma, in response to their capacities, the fire comes into being.
Water is all over the world, but it neither extinguishes the fire nor engulfs the entire world into a terrible storm, so the Tathāgata confirmed that the water nature is the absolute śūnyatā. The Dharma realm of the space is not the water element, but the space is full of water, so digging a well, there is water. Therefore, the Buddha said that śūnyatā is the absolute water. This is pure and pervades over the Dharma world. According to creature beings’ karma, in response to their capacities, the water comes into being.
The natures of the other elements of earth, wind, space, perception, and consciousness do not dominate, control or become obstacles to each other. Understanding the subtle nature of seven elements, we will experience the meaning of the Prajñā Scripture or the Heart Sūtra that we daily chant:
“Form does not differ from śūnyatā (suññatā). Śūnyatā does not differ from form. Form is śūnyatā. Śūnyatā is form.”
The Buddha wanted to express that the shapes of seven elements, namely, earth, water, wind, fire, space, perception, and consciousness are illusory sky-flowers, and emptiness whose nature is delusion. How can they conflict with each other? With regard to the reality, they are the tathãgatagarbha (the source of all phenomena) or absolute śūnyatā; therefore, they can penetrate each other. We are confused because we see flowers, glasses, bells, microphones, and so forth as flowers, glasses, bells, microphones. With regard to the shapes, they are all false. The real essence for all of them is the tathãgatagarbha or absolute śūnyatā. We know seven elements are illusory on the surface of theory; thus, flowers are still flowers; glasses are still glass, so two concrete things cannot enter through each other.
The Buddha replied to assist Purna in understanding “the insight vision of Buddha” which the Buddha realized from his enlightenment experience. The truth is that all forms of the world are delusional and unreal, but their reality is the tathãgatagarbha, the absolute śūnyatā, the marvelous enlightenment. Following the karma of each species, it will see its realm which is not the truth. Once we called following the karma unreal. Becoming the Buddha, we can see as real the insight vision of the Buddha. This is the great function of the Buddha, which the Flower Adornment Scripture (Avataṃsaka Sūtra) called without obstacle between works.
The reality of seven elements is the absolute śūnyatā (void nature). This is pure and pervades over the Dharma world. According to creature beings’ karma, in response to their capacities, seven elements come into being. Because of karma, it ties in twelve chains of dependent originations
(pratītyasamutpāda, paṭiccasamuppāda), so it seems to have conflict among seven elements. The karma or the dependent origination is as a person wearing black glasses—his vision will not be clear to see the truth. All elements are changeable, independent of their own authenticity (for example, earth, water, wind, fire in the human body are not fixed in a human body forever; they assume various shapes according to different karmas). Just as boxes have various shapes—square, round, and rectangle—all elements depend on conditions to appear as illusion.
From the deep consciousness store, the Buddha experienced forms as emptiness, the causal conditions of karma (while we realize things only on the surface of mental consciousness). The Buddha had the insight that all phenomena is his tathãgatagarbha (the source of all phenomena), therefore he could go through the wall, enter the fire, go into the water without being blocked, burned or sunk so Buddhas and bodhisattvas could save all suffering people. As mundane people, we understand that land, water, wind, and fire are illusory. We still see the wall to be the wall. Hence, if we want to go out, we must get through the door. Going directly to the wall, our head will hit. From our deep consciousness, we have not yet awakened to the general illusory things and the ultimate absolute, so that we still see the phenomena as obstructed, overlapping one another.
We have the misconception to see scenes of the four faculties and seven elements as real.19All phenomena, perception, space, and consciousness elements are wrongly seen as true. Each species as a result of its own karma envisions the world according to its karma. The Buddhas recognized that the earth, water, wind, fire are not real. We only understand generally in theory land, water, wind, fire; therefore we still see the earth, water, wind, fire. So, we cannot get through the wall, because in our consciousness, we still obstinately believe that the wall is solid material so it is a barrier.
The Buddhas know with insight that the earth is not real.
Due to ignorance (avijjā), the soil is formed. Because of anger, fire is established. Because of craving (trishna), water is set up.
The Buddhas were free of greed (abhijjhā, visamalobha), anger
(kodha), delusion (samohaṃ), and arrogance (atimāna). The earth, water, wind, and fire are created from the mind. Ever since then, they can go through walls, walk on water, enter flames without burning to save people. This is the meaning of the thirty-two applicant embodies of Guan Yin
“If someone chants the name Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, even in a big fire, the fire will not burn, thanks to the great power of the Bodhisattva.
If someone is swept away by water, if he recites the name of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva he will find dry land. .
If a person is going to be harmed, if he sincerely reads the title of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, the knife of his attacker will be broken in pieces, and immediately he will escape.”20
2B. DOUBT THAT THE UNAWAKENED CAN BECOME ENLIGHTENED
Purna presented that “The Tathāgatas and my wonderful enlightened mind are perfect without duality. Since beginningless time, I have been subjected to false thoughts and stayed a long time in saṃsāra. Now I receive the holy teaching from the Buddhas, and have not yet realized the ultimate. Tathāgata, please explain the reason why all sentient beings who are unawakened, hear the teachings and are still submerged in saṃsāra? The unawakening originally has no root.”
The Buddha said to Purna that “Although you eliminated your suspicion, the subtle doubts are not cleared. Now I bring a question about current world affairs. Did you hear in Flowering Virtue City, when Yajiadatta looks in the mirror in the morning, he is angry because his head cannot see the face while eyes can see it. He thought that he, who has no head, is like a monster and suddenly feels scared and runs away. What do you think, for what reason did the man madly run away?”
Purna answers: “His mind is crazy, there is no other reason.”
The Buddha taught: “The perfect enlightenment is luminous everywhere. If it is called falseness, then how can it have a cause? If there is a cause, then how can it be called falseness? The false thoughts turn to out to be the connecting causes for each other. You have experienced it through countless kalpas as molecules of dust. The cause of such unawakening suddenly appears and realizing there is no unawakening, then the falseness has no place to take refuge. There is neither arising nor ending. The Bodhisattva, who realized the bodhi way, is like the one waking up in the dream to narrate the dream. His mind remembers everything in the dream, but it is impossible to obtain the things in dreams. For example, in the Flowering
Virtue City, Yajiadatta has no cause, but suddenly he becomes crazy with fear and runs away. When he is not crazy, his head is neither lost, nor brought back from the outside. Purna, if the nature of falseness is as such, how can it have a cause? Due to pausing the conditions, the madness is ended.
“You just do not follow the three continuing things, namely, the world, karma, and sentient beings. When the three conditions pause, then three causes are not born again. The madness of Yajiadatta is in his mind and will end. Ending means the pure bodhi mind is luminous across the world, is not brought back by someone, and does not need to practice hard to become enlightened. For example, a person has a hidden precious gem in his garment, but he has no knowledge of it, and must beg for food. Although he is poor, the gem is not lost. Suddenly, there is a wise man, pointing out the gem in the garment. After that, whatever he wants to be, he can become. He becomes a rich man, realizes that the precious gem is inside him, and that it does not come from outside.”21
The wonderful enlightened minds of the Buddha and Purna have a pure and perfect nature without duality. But since beginningless time, we have been subjected by false thoughts, staying a long time in saṃsāra. Why do we make this mistake?
The Buddha replies to the questions of Purna through the sentences above: 1A, 1B, 1C, and 2A. Although the suspicion is ended, Purna still has some subtle doubts. So now in sentence 2B, the Buddha adds one more example of Yajiadatta which shows the delusion is not rooted.
In 1C, the Buddha gave many examples: a person knows the road after guidance, a sore-eyed person sees the skyflowers, filtered gold cannot turn out to be ore, a burning plant cannot be planted, enlightenment cannot produce unawakening, and Buddhas cannot turn out to be sentient beings.
The Buddha replied it is the ignorance that is unreal. If it is real, then there is no illusion. If it really has roots then it is real. And now it is the ignorance, the emptiness, the false, so it has no root. The ignorance (avijjā) itself has no root and the enlightenment does not generate the ignorance.
The answer of the Buddha is difficult to understand, because we are clearly in the ignorant way. We now have the path of unawakening, but the Buddha says that it is unreal. We find it hard to understand because the unreal now is dominant in our consciousness. The Buddha said the unawakening does not have its own substance, just wake it up, and it is completely done. If it has a root, then we must borrow a shovel to dig while it is nothing, just ignorance.
The Buddha gave the example of Yajiadatta looking at his face in the mirror to admire his smooth hair, delicate eyes, attractive eyebrows, and gentle nose. Suddenly, he does not see where his head is and he becomes mad because he thinks he has lost his head.
He puts down the mirror to run around his village, crying loudly that he lost his head. Everyone laughs that he is crazy because his head on his neck, but he cannot see and wrongly declares that he lost his head.
Do we have the same behavior as Yajiadatta? Mr. A. died on the date . . . My mother is ill and just died . . . Someday we will also die and should say goodbye to this world . . .
We all have concepts about losing the body, that is, losing the head. Our heads are still here. Now we ask, from where does the craziness originate? Does it come from the mirror? When we look at the mirror, why do we do not see strangely as Yajiadatta does. Is he crazy? Where is that madness? It does not have a root.
So, the Buddha declared that the ignorance does not have a root like Yajiadatta looking at the mirror. The Buddha told us that we behave as Yajiadatta. The Buddha’s statement does not have a root like the mirror. The Buddha told us to be like the multihit.
Our essence is originally Buddha nature in the here and now, but we forgot that and we run outside to find it or we practice to be the Buddha. Our behavior is the same as Yajiadatta trying to find his head (trying to find the Buddha but the Buddha is available inside us).
Ignorance is not real. Once we are awakened, it is ended. If the unawakening is the truth, the basic, the root, just wake it up and ignorance will be completely ended.
Our mind is foundationally permanent, happy, true self and pure; therefore it does not need to beg or look for anything outside. Stay calmly in our reality. However, to remain mindful in our samādhi, we must let go of or detach from the illusory worldly objects. This is the temporal teaching of the first twelve years of the Buddha for the Āgama Sutta (Five Nikāya Canons). Detach the greed (abhijjhā, visamalobha), hatred (byāpāda, dosa), delusion (samohaṃ), and attachment (māna) in order to be calm with insight (vijjā).
Ignorance (avijjā) becomes wrong view (micchā-ditthi), if killing, stealing, sexual conduct, are dominant. However, the ignorance has no root; if we just return back and reflect with insight it will be exhausted. The worlds, mountains, mainlands, six realms of reincarnation and so forth, arise and develop from the prospect of the individual and community wrong views.
What is the meaning of looking at our head in the mirror?
1. Looking at us and our lives through the sense nerves of our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.
2. Looking at us and our lives through the shadows of the working nerves (not dead).
3. Looking at us and our lives through human being’s karma. According to creature beings’ karma, in response to their capacities, our worldly bodies, and the bodies of twelve kinds of living beings are seen.
We always have the Buddha seed
We are dwelling in the Dharma body all the time.
We have the Buddha’s seed all the time. We always stay with the Dharma body (kaya). However, we forgot to shout that we have no nature (losing the head). Then we assume that we have mundane defilements (kleśa), so we need to find the way to become a Buddha. We always have the Buddha’s seed in us but we have forgotten.
Thần Tán Zen Master expressed these ideas:
The miracle moon illuminates organs and objects
Showing organs and objects without seeking for words
The pure mind is ever to be fulfilled
Leaving the false thoughts, we immediately become Buddhas.
It means once we are awakened, the illusory thoughts (samohaṃ) disappear and we return to our Buddha essence. We do not waste time using language to explain anything, we just return to the inner reality. There we will experience it.
Patriarch Đơn Hà explained that for these deep meanings, we, ordinary people, do not understand, but the enlightened ones will recognize and experience it immediately.
And how did the Buddha answer these questions? It is simple. Unawakening is not original, so we do not need to lecture, just giving an example of Yajiadatta is enough.
Once upon a time, Venerable Sāriputta went to the cave of Venerable Maha Kāśyapa to present that there was a group of heretics asking Venerable Sāriputta: “After entering Nirvana, is the Tathāgata subjected by birth and death? After entering Nirvana, is the Tathāgata not subjected to birth and death? After entering Nirvana, is the Tathāgata either subjected to or not subjected to birth and death? After entering Nirvana, is the Tathāgata neither subjected to or not subjected to birth and death?”
Venerable Sāriputta could not answer, because he had not heard this complex thing from the Tathāgata. Now he expected Venerable Maha Kāśyapa to explain it. Venerable Maha
Kāśyapa replied that the Tathāgata has cleaned up all cravings. His mind is no longer afflicted, is permanently freed from bonds. His enlightenment is too vast to imagine. We could not use mundane thoughts to ask. He could not use language to answer. Because this complex question should not be asked, the Blessed One often does not explain.22
Thus we see there are some problems which the Buddha did not waste time with lengthy explanations. Here too, the delusion is not real, so it does not need an explanation. Just an example of Yajiadatta is enough.
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER V
Chapter V discusses Venerable Purna begging the Buddha to explain two difficult problems: Firstly, why do in the pure awakened nature there suddenly arise the conditioned forms of mountains, rivers, mainlands and so on that continuously change and transform to the upside-down cycle. The Buddha replies that the enlightenment is the inherent illumination, but due to false thoughts the subject, object, animate, and inanimate worlds are established.
Secondly, owing to sudden unenlightening, three general results of the world, sentient beings, and karmic effect consecutively appear and develop. The Buddha also pointed out that ignorance has the same root as Yajiadatta, who looks in the mirror and suddenly cries out because he thinks he has no head. The Buddha also presents seven great elements (earth, water, wind, fire, perception, space, and consciousness) penetrate one another in perfect tathãgatagarbha (the source of all phenomena).
Please summarize two difficult problems discussed in Chapter V.
1. Please explain: “The awakening is the inherent wonderful brightness and the enlightened nature is to illuminate the wonder.”
2. Why are the sense organs, objects, skandhas, places, and realms the pure awakened nature and why do they suddenly produce the conditioned and unconditioned forms?
3. Why do the worlds, beings, and karmas continually develop?