THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
141. Ordinary People
142. Four Noble Truths
143. The Noble Eightfold Path
144. The Twelve Conditions of Cause-and-Effect
145. The Seven Bodhi Shares
146. Four Right Efforts
147. Four Sufficiences
148. The Five Faculties
149. The Five Powers
150. Four Elements of Popularity
141. Ordinary People
Ordinary people is a term for “the common man,” or a man of lower caste of character or profession. In Buddhism, an ordinary person unenlightened by Buddhism, an unbeliever, sinner; childish, ignorant, foolish; the lower orders. In Mahayana, ordinary people are all of those who have not reached the path of seeing (darsana-marga), and so have not directly perceived emptiness (sunyata). Due to this, they assent (tán thành) to the false appearances of things and do not perceive them in terms of their true nature, i.e., emptiness. In Theravada, this refers to beings who have worldly aspirations (loka-dharma). They are contrasted with noble people, which includes those who have attained one of the supramundane paths, from stream-enterers up to Arhats. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Long is the night to the wakeful; long is the road to him who is tired; long is samsara to the foolish who do not know true Law (Dharmapada 60). If a traveler does not meet a companion who is better or at least equal, let him firmly pursue his solitary career, rather than being in fellowship with the foolish (Dharmapada 61). These are my sons; this is my wealth; with such thought a fool is tormented. Verily, he is not even the owner of himself. Whence sons? Whence wealth? (Dharmapada 62). A foolish man who knows that he is a fool, for that very reason a wise man; the fool who think himself wise, he is indeed a real fool (Dharmapada 63). If a fool associates with a wise man even all his life, he will understand the Dharma as litle as a spoon tastes the flavour of soup (Dharmapada 64). An intelligent person associates with a wise man, even for a moment, he will quickly understand the Dharma, as the tongue tastes the flavour of soup (Dharmapada 65). A fool with little wit, goes through life with the very self as his own greatest enemy. In the same manner, evil doers do evil deeds, the fruit of which is bitter (Dharmapada 66). The deed is not well done of which a man must repent, and the reward of which he receives, weeping, with tearful face; one reaps the fruit thereof (Dharmapada 67). The deed is well done when, after having done it, one repents not, and when, with joy and pleasure, one reaps the fruit thereof (Dharmapada 68). As long as the evil deed done does not bear fruit, the fool thinks it is as sweet as honey; but when it ripens, then he comes to grief (Dharmapada 69). Let a fool, month after month, eats only as much food as can be picked up on the tip of a kusa blade; but he is not worth a sixteenth part of them who have comprehended the truth (Dharmapada 70). An evil deed committed may not immediately bear fruit, just as newl drawn milk does not turn sour at once. In the same manner, smouldering, it follows the fool like fire covered with ashes (Dharmapada 71). The knowledge and fame that the fool gains, so far from benefiting; they destroy his bright lot and cleave his head (Dharmapada 72). The fool always desire for an undue reputation or undeserved honour, precedence among the monks, authority in the monasteries, honour among other families (Dharmapada 73). Let both monks and laymen think, “by myself was this done; in every work, great or small, let them refer to me.” Such is the ambition of the fool; his desires and pride increase (Dharmapada 74). One is the path that leads to worldly gain, and another is the path leads to nirvana. Once understand this, the monks and the lay disciples of the Buddha, should not rejoice in the praise and worldly favours, but cultivate detachment (Dharmapada 75).”
142. Four Noble Truths
A fundamental doctrine of Buddhism which clarifies the cause of suffering and the way to emancipation. Sakyamuni Buddha is said to have expounded the Four Noble Truths in the Deer Park in Sarnath during his first sermon after attaining Buddhahood. The Buddha organized these ideas into the Fourfold Truth as follows: “Life consists entirely of suffering; suffering has causes; the causes of suffering can be extinguished; and there exists a way to extinguish the cause.” Four Noble Truths are four of the most fundamental Buddhist theories. According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” in Buddhism, awakening from ignorance to full knowledge always implies the comprehension of the Four Noble Truths. The Enlightened One is called the Buddha simply because he understood the Truths in their fullness. The whole of his first sermon is devoted to the formulation of these Truths; for they are the essence of the Buddha’s teaching. “As the footprint of every creature that walks the earth can be contained in an elephant ‘s footprint, which is pre-eminent for size, so does the doctrine of the Four Noble Truths embrace all skilful Dhamma, or the entire teaching of the Buddha. In the original Pali texts, specifically in the discourses, these Four Noble Truths are made clear in detail and in diverse ways. Without a clear idea of the Truths, one can not know what the Buddha taught for forty-five years. To the Buddha the entire teaching is just the understanding of Dukkha, the unsatisfactory nature of all phenomenal existence, and the understanding of the way out of this unsatisfactoriness. The entire teaching of the Buddha is nothing other than the application of this one principle. Thus, we clearly see that the Buddha discovered the Four Noble Truths, and the rest are logical developments and more detailed explanations of the Four Noble Truths. This is the typical teaching of the Buddhas of all ages. The supremacy of the Four Noble Truths in the teaching of the Buddha is extremely clear from the message of the Simsapa Grove as from the message of the Deer Park. At the time of the Buddha, He always stressed that failing to comprehend and practice the Four Noble Truths have caused us to run on so long in the cycle of birth and death. Zen practitioners should always remember that the Four Noble Truths are seen at any time when mindfulness and wisdom are present.
There is no equivalent translation in English for the word “Dukkha” in both Pali and Sanskrit. So the word “Dukkha” is often translated as “Suffering”. However, this English word is sometimes misleading because it connotes extreme pain. When the Buddha described our lives as “Dukkha”, he was referring to any and all unsatisfactory conditions. These range from minor disappointments, problems and difficulties to intense pain and misery. Therefore, Dukkha should be used to describe the fact that things are not completely right in our lives and could be better. In one word, all existence entails suffering. All existence is characterized by suffering and does not bring satisfaction.Through meditation, Zen practitioners may see directly that all physical and mental phenomena share the characteristic of suffering. Truth of the causes of suffering. According to Buddhist tenets, craving or desire is the cause of suffering. It creates dissension in the family and society that degenerates into war between races, nations, and groups of nations in the world. The truth of the origin of suffering or causes of suffering, or its location. All sufferings are caused by ignorance, which gives rise to craving and illusions (craving or grasping the wrong things), i.e. craving for life, for pleasure, for power, for wealth; the more he earns, the more he wants. There is an end to suffering, and this state of no suffering is called Nirvana. Through meditation, mindfulness and wisdom are present, Zen practitioners see clearly suffering will be ceased when ignorance and other afflictions fall away and cease. Regarding the practicing of the Eight-fold Noble Truths, the Buddha taught: “Whoever accepts the four dogmas, and practises the Eighfold Noble Path will put an end to births and deaths.
143. The Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth Noble Truth in the Four Noble Truths that can help us prevent problems or deal with any problems we may come across in our daily life. This is the path that leads to the end of sufferings and afflictions. If we follow it, we are on the way to less suffering and more happiness. The eight right (correct) ways. The path leading to release from suffering, the goal of the third in the four noble truths. These are eight in the 37 bodhi ways to enlightenment. Practicing the Noble Eight-fold Path can bring about real advantages such as improvement of personal conditions. It is due to the elimination of all evil thoughts, words, and actions that we may commit in our daily life, and to the continuing practice of charitable work; improvement of living conditions. If everyone practiced this noble path, the world we are living now would be devoid of all miseries and sufferings caused by hatred, struggle, and war between men and men, countries and countries, or peoples and peoples. Peace would reign forever on earth. Besides, to cultivate the Eightfold Noble Path also means to practice meditation to attain of enlightenment or Bodhi Awareness. The Noble Eigh-fold Path is the first basic condition for attaining Bodhi Consciousness that is untarnished while Alaya Consciousness is still defiled.
First, practitioners of mindfulness should not speak what is untrue. Right speech means not speaking what is untrue, or using slanderous, abusive or harsh language; rather, speaking words which are honest and helpful, creating a vibration of peace and harmony. Right speech implies sincere, sound, impartial, direct, not distorting, cautious, affable, harmless, useful words and discourses. Avoidance of lying, slander and gossip (false and idle talk), or abstaining from lying, tale-bearing, harsh words, and foolish babble. Right speech is one of the methods that can help us to live in harmony with other people and the world. Correct or Right Speech or Perfect Speech is one of the three higher trainings in Ethics (two other trainings are Right Action and Right Livelihood). Speech can influence millions of people. It is said that a harsh word can wound more deeply than a weapon, whereas a gentle word can change the heart and mind of even the most hardened criminal. Therefore, right speech implies respect for truth and respect for the well being of others. Right speech begins with avoiding four destructive actions of speech: lying, divisive words, harsh words and idle talk. Not only that, devout Buddhists should always try to communicate in a way pleasing to others. Rather than venting our anger or frustration onto another, devout Buddhists should think about effective ways to communicate our needs and feelings to them. Besides, Right Speech also means to sincerely make an effort to notice and comment upon others’ good qualities and achievements, or to console people in time of grief, or to teach people Dharma. Speech is a powerful tool to influence others and if we use it wisely, many people will benefit. Speech can influence millions of people. It is said that a harsh word can wound more deeply than a weapon, whereas a gentle word can change the heart and mind of even the most hardened criminal. Therefore, right speech implies respect for truth and respect for the well being of others. It is to say right speech means the avoidance of lying, backbiting or slander, harsh speech and idle talk.
Second, practitioners of mindfulness should choose a right way to do things for ourselves. Right action means to choose a right way to do things for ourselves, not killing, not inflicting pain and afflictions on others, not stealing, not taking what is not ours, not committing sexual misconduct, and not causing suffering to others out of greed or desire for pleasant sensations. Right action involves action beneficial to both others and ourselves. We must always act for the happiness of the community, conforming to our sense of duty, without any ulterior motive for damaging others’ interests, occupations, positions, honors, or lives. We must also keep strict control of our ““action, speech, and mind,” carrying out ten meritorious actions and avoiding ten evil ones. Right action also means to abstain from injuring living beings, from stealing and from unlawful sexual intercourse. No one among us can avoid our past karma; however, we have the right to choose the right way to do things for ourselves. To say this so we can understand that we have to reap what we sowed in the past; however, we have the right to try to cultivate to have a more peaceful life in the present time. Right action is one of the three higher trainings in Ethics (two other trainings are Right Speech and Right Livelihood). Right action implies respect for life, respect for property, and respect for personal relationships. Respect for life means not to kill or tell others to kill living beings, respect for property means not to steal or tell others to steal, respect for personal relationships means to avoid sexual misconduct (avoid adultery). Right action means acting properly. Right action can help us avoid creating the three destructive actions of the body (killing, stealing and unwise sexual behavior). Right action teaches us to be aware of the effects of our actions on others. Once we possess Right Action, instead of doing whatever pleases us at the moment, we’ll be considerate of others, and of course, automatically our relationships will improve and others will be happier in our company. Right Action also includes giving old people a hand in their house work, helping storm and flood victims, and rescuing people from danger, and so on.
Third, practitioners of mindfulness should choose a right career for ourselves. Right livelihood means to choose a right career for ourselves, which is not harmful to others; not having work which involves killing, stealing or dishonesty. Right action involves action beneficial to both others and ourselves. We must always act for the happiness of the community, conforming to our sense of duty, without any ulterior motive for damaging others’ interests, occupations, positions, honors, or lives. We must also keep strict control of our ““action, speech, and mind,” carrying out ten meritorious actions and avoiding ten evil ones. Right action also means to abstain from injuring living beings, from stealing and from unlawful sexual intercourse. Perfect conduct also means avoidance of actions that conflict with moral discipline. Right livelihood means earning a living in a way that does not violate basic moral values. Right livelihood is an extension of the rules of right action to our roles as breadwinners in society. Right Livelihood also means that to earn a living in an appropriate way. Devout Buddhists should not engage in any of the physical or verbal negative actions to earn a living, nor should we cause others to do so. Wisdom and understanding in Buddhism must be integrated into our lives, then Buddhism can be called a living Buddhism. No one among us can avoid our past karma; however, we have the right to choose a right career for ourselves because it is very much within our freedom. To say this so we can understand that we have to reap what we sowed in the past; however, we have the right to try to cultivate to have a more peaceful life in the present time. Right livelihood is one of the three higher trainings in Ethics (two other trainings are Right Speech and Right Action). Right livelihood means to have a right work or a right occupation that can help us avoid creating the three destructive actions of the body (killing, stealing and unwise sexual behavior). Right livelihood teaches us to be aware of the effects of our actions on others. Once we possess Right Action, instead of doing whatever pleases us at the moment, we’ll be considerate of others. The Buddha taught: “There are five kinds of livelihood that are discouraged for Buddhists: trading in animals for food (selling animals for slaughter), slaves (dealing in slaves), arms (selling arms and lethal weapons), poisons, and intoxicants (drugs and alcohol, selling intoxicating and/or poisonous drinks). These five are not recommended because they contribute to the destroy of society and violate the values of respect for life and for the welfare of others.” Right Livelihood is an extension of the rules of right action to our roles as breadwinners in society. In the contrary, Buddhists should live by an honest profession that is free from harm to self and others. According to the Adornment Sutra, right livelihood is a weapon of enlightening beings, leading away from all wrong livelihood. Zen practitioners who abide by these can annihilate the afflictions, bondage, and compulsion accumulated by all sentient beings in the long night of ignorance.
Fourth, practitioners of mindfulness should try to understand the natural laws which govern our everyday life. Right understanding or right view is viewing things objectively; seeing them and reporting them exactly as they are without being influenced by prejudice or emotion. Right view helps differentiate the true from the false, and determines the true religious path for attaining liberation. Right understanding means to understand the natural laws which govern our everyday life. One of the most important of these is the law of karma, the law of cause and effect, every action brings a certain result, without any exception. There is no such ‘no wholesome nor unwholesome’ in Buddhism. Zen practitioners should always remember that whenever we act with greed, hatred, or delusion, pain and suffering come back to us. On the contrary, when our actions are motivated by generosity, love or wisdom, the results are happiness and peace. Devout Buddhists should always have a mindful mind to skilfully integrate the understanding of the law of karma into our lives. Right understanding also means profoundly and subtly understand our true nature. In Buddhism, right understanding means the understanding of suffering or the unsatisfactory nature of all phenomenal existence, its arising, its cessation and the path leading to its cessation. Right Understanding or Right View is one of the two trainings in Wisdom (the other training is Right Thought). Right understanding can be said to mean seeing things as they really are, or understanding the real truth about things, rather than simply seeing them as they appear to be. According to Buddhist point of view, it means insight, penetrative understanding, or seeing beneath the surface of things, etc., under the lens of the Four Noble Truths, Interdependent origination, impermanence, impersonality, and so forth. Right understanding can be acquired by ourselves or by acquiring the truths that are shown by others. The process of acquiring right understanding must follow the following order: first we must observe objectively the facts which we are presented, then consider their significance. It is to say first to study and then to consider and examine them, and finally attaining right understanding through contemplation. At this point, the two types of understanding, either by ourselves or through others, become indistinguishable. To summarize, the process of acquiring right understanding are as follows: to observe and to study, to examine intellectually what we have observed and studied, to contemplate what we have examined. In short, Right Understanding means the understanding of the four noble truths: the truths of suffering and its causes perpetuate cyclic existence, the truths of cessation and the path are the way to liberation. Through Right understanding and right thought we eliminate greed, anger and ignorance: Qua chánh kiến và chánh tư duy chúng ta đoạn trừ tham, sân, si. The mind supported by wisdom will bring forth the Right Understanding which help us wholly and entirely free from the intoxication of sense desire (kama), from becoming (bhava), wrong views (ditthi) and ignorance (avijja). Buddhist practitioners should develop right understanding by seeing impermanence, suffering, and not-self in everything, which leads to detachment and loss infatuation. Detachment is not aversion. An aversion to something we once liked is temporary, and the craving for it will return. Practitioners do not seek for a life of pleasure, but to find peace. Peace is within oneself, to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Practitioners meditate to investigate suffering, see its causes, and put an end to them right at the very moment, rather dealing with their effects later on. Right Understanding, in the ultimate sense, is to understand life as it really is. For this, one needs a clear comprehension of the Four Noble Truths, namely: the Truth of Suffering or Unsatisfactoriness, the Arising of Suffering, the Cessation of Suffering, and the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering. Right understanding means to understand things as they really are and not as they appear to be. It is important to realize that right understanding in Buddhism has a special meaning which differs from that popularly attributed to it. In Buddhism, right understanding is the application of insight to the five aggregates of clinging, and understanding their true nature, that is understanding oneself. It is self-examination and self-observation. Right understanding is the understanding of suffering or the unsatisfactory nature of all phenomenal existence, its arising, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation. Right understanding is of the highest important in the Eightfold Noble Path, for the remaining seven factors of the path are guided by it. It ensures that right thoughts are held and it co-operates ideas; when as a result thoughts and ideas become clear and wholesome, man’s speech and action are also brought into proper relation. Moreover, it is through right understanding that one gives up harmful or profitless effort and cultivates right effort which aids the development of right mindfulness. Right effort and right mindfulness guided by right understanding bring about right concentration. Thus, right understanding, which is the main spring in Buddhism, causes the other limbs of the co-ordinate system to move in proper relation. There are two conditions that are conducive to right understanding: Hearing from others, that is hearing the Correct Law (Saddhamma), from others (Paratoghosa), and systematic attention or wise attention (Yoniso-manasikara). The first condition is external, that is, what we get from outside, while the second is internal, what we cultivate (manasikara literally means doing-in-the-mind). What we hear gives us food for thought and guides us in forming our own views. It is, therefore, necessary to listen, but only to that which is conducive to right understanding and to avoid all the harmful and unwholesome utterances of others which prevent straight thinking. The second condition, systematic attention, is more difficult to cultivate, because it entails constant awareness of the things that one meets with in everyday life. The word ‘Yoniso-manasikara’ which is often used in the discourses is most important, for it enables one to see things deeply. ‘Yoniso’ literally means by-way-of-womb instead of only on the surface. Metaphorically, therefore, it is ‘radical’ or ‘reasoned attention’. These two conditions, learning and systematic attention, together help to develop right understanding. One who seeks truth is not satisfied with surface knowledge, with the mere external appearance of things, but wants to dig deep and see what is beyond the reach of naked eye. That is the sort of search encouraged in Buddhism, for it leads to right understanding. The man of analysis states a thing after resolving it into its various qualities, which he puts in proper order, making everything plain. He does not state things unitarily, looking at them as a whole, but divides them up according to their outstanding features so that the conventional and the highest truth can be understood unmixed. The Buddha was discriminative and analytical to the highest degree. As a scientist resolves a limb into tissues and the tissues into cells, the Buddha analyzed all component and conditioned things into their fundamental elements, right down to their ultimates, and condemned shallow thinking, unsystematic attention, which tends to make man muddle-headed and hinders the investigation of the true nature of things. It is through right understanding that one sees cause and effect, the arising and ceasing of all conditioned things. The truth of the Dhamma can be only grasped in that way, and not through blind belief, wrong view, speculation or even by abstract philosophy. According to the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha says: “This Dhamma is for the wise and not for the unwise.” The Nikaya also explains the ways and means of attaining wisdom by stages and avoiding false views. Right understanding permeates the entire teaching, pervades every part and aspect of the Dhamma and functions as the key-note of Buddhism. Due to lack of right understanding, the ordinary man is blind to the true nature of life and fails to see the universal fact of life, suffering or unsatisfactoriness. He does not even try to grasp these facts, but hastily considers the doctrine as pessimism. It is natural perhaps, for beings engrossed in mundane pleasures, beings who crave more and more for gratification of the senses and hate pain, to resent the very idea of suffering and turn their back on it. They do not, however, realize that even as they condemn the idea of suffering and adhere to their own convenient and optimistic view of things, they are still being oppressed by the ever recurring unsatisfactory nature of life.
Fifth, Zen practitioners should be free from sensual desire, ill-will, and cruelty. Right thought means thoughts that are free from sensual desire, ill-will, and cruelty. Thoughts free from ill-will means thoughts that are free from anger, for when anger is burning in the mind, both us and people around us will suffer. Right thoughts includes thoughts of renunciation, good will, and of compassion, or non-harm. These thoughts are to be cultivated and extended towards all living beings regardless of race, caste, clan, or creed. As they embrace all that breathes there are no compromising limitations. Right thought means that our reflection must be consistent with common sense, useful both to others and ourselves. We must strive to correct our faults, or change our wicked opinions. While meditating on the noble formula of “Precept, Concentration, and Wisdom,” we must realize that ‘ignorance’ is the main cause of suffering, the root of all wicked acts; therefore, we must look for a way to get rid of suffering for us and for others. A mind free from sensual lust, ill-will and cruelty. Right thought means resolve in favour of renunciation, goodwill and nonharming of sentient beings. Through meditation, we can recognize anger and let it go. At that time, the mind becomes light and easy, expressing its natural loving-kindness. Also through meditation, we can recognize cruelty and let it go. At that time, we will have the mind of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to alleviate it. Right Thought is one of the two trainings in Wisdom (the other training is Right View or Right Understanding). Right thought or right thinking means avoiding attachment and aversion. According to Buddhism, the causes of suffering and afflictions are said to be ignorance, attachment, and aversion. When right understanding removes ignorance, right thought removes attachment and aversion; therefore, right understanding and right thought remove the causes of suffering. To remove attachment and greed we must cultivate renunciation, while to remove aversion and anger we must cultivate love and compassion. Renunciation is developed by contemplating the unsatisfactory nature of existence, especially the unsatisfactory nature of pleasures of the senses, for pleasures of the sens are likened to salt water, the more we drink, the more we feel thirsty. Through understanding the unsatisfactory nature of existence and recognizing the undesirable consequences of pleasures of the senses, we can easily cultivate renunciation and detachment. To develop love and compassion through recognizing the essential equality of all living beings. Like human beings, all other beings fear death and tremble at the idea of punishment. Understanding this, we should not kill other beings or cause them to be killed. Like human beings, all other beings desire life and happiness. Understanding this, we should not place ourselves above others or regard ourselves any differently from the way we regard others. Right thought means the thoughts of non-attachment, benevolence and non-harmfulness. On a deeper level, Right Thought refers to the mind that subtly analyzes Emptiness, thus leading us to perceive it directly.
Sixth, practitioners of mindfulness should be always hard-working, helpful to others and ourselves. Right effort means we must be always hard-working, helpful to others and ourselves. Do not kill, cheat, or lead a wanton, gamble life. On the contrary, always try to perform good deeds for having good karma. Correct (Right or Perfect) Zeal or Effort or Energy also means to try to avoid the arising of evil, demeritorious things have not yet arisen. Try to overcome the evil, demeritorious things that have already arisen. At the same time, try to produce meritorious things that have not yet arisen and try to maintain the meritorious things that have already arisen and not let them disappear, but to bring them to growth, to maturity and to the full perfection of development. Right effort also means cultivation of what is karmically wholesome and avoidance of what is karmically unwholesome. When developing right effort we must be sincere about our thoughts. If we analyze them we will find that our thoughts are not always good and wholesome. At times they are unwholesome and foolish, though we may not always express them in words and actions or both. Now if we allow such thoughts to rise repeatedly, it is a bad sign, for when an unhealthy thought is allowed to recur again and again, it tends to become a habit. It is, therefore, essential to make a real effort to keep unwholesome thoughts away from us. Until we succeed in stopping them to rise in our mind, unhealthy thoughts will always be taking possession of our mind. It is not only during the time of meditation that we need to cultivate our right effort. Right effort should be cultivated always whenever possible. In all our speech, actions and behavior, in our daily life, we need right effort to perform our duties wholeheartedly and successfully. If we lack right effort and give in to sloth and indolence, we can not proceed with our cultivation. Right effort is one of the three trainings in meditation (two other trainings are Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration). Right effort means cultivating a confident attitude toward our undertakings, taking up and pursuing our task with energy and a will to carry them through to the end. In Buddhism, right effort means cultivating a confident attitude of mind, being attentive and aware. To progress on the path, we need to put our energy into Dharma practice. With enthusiastic effort, we can purify negative actions already done to prevent doing new ones in the future. In addition, effort also is necessary to maintain the virtuous states we’ve already generated, as well as to induce new ones in the future.
Seventh, practitioners of mindfulness have correct memory which retains the true and excludes the false. Right remembrance, the seventh of the eightfold noble path, means remembering correctly and thinking correctly. The looking or contemplating on the body and the spirit in such a way as to remain ardent, self-possessed and mindful. Right remembrance means looking on the body and spirit in such a way as to remain ardent, self-possessed and mindful, having overcome both hankering and dejection. Right mindfulness means to give heed to good deed for our own benefit and that of others. According to the eightfold noble path, right mindfulness means the one-pointedness of the mind, and Zen will help practitioner to have Right Remmbrance. Through Zen we always have Right mindfulness. In fact, in our daily life activities, we should always be aware and attentive. We should always be aware of what we think, say and do. We must concentrate on everything we do before we can do it well. For instance, if we concentrate in class, we would not miss anything the teacher says. Right mindfulness also means remembrance including old mistakes to repent of and deep gratitude towards parents, country, humankind, and Buddhist Triple Gems. Right mindfulness also means the reflection on the present and future events or situations. We must meditate upon human sufferings that are caused by ignorance and decide to work for alleviating them, irrespective of possible difficulties and boredom. Correct Memory which retains the true and excludes the false. Dwell in contemplation of corporeality. Be mindful and putting away worldly greed and grief. Correct mindfulness also means ongoing mindfulness of body, feelings, thinking, and objects of thought. Mindfulness means being aware of what is happening in the present moment. It means noticing the flow of things, when walking, to be aware of the movement of the body; in observing the breath, to be aware of the sensations of the in-out or raising-falling; to notice thoughts or feelings as they arise or as they disappear. Mindfulness brings the quality of poise, equilibrium and balance to the mind. Mindfulness also keeps the mind sharply focused, with the atttitude of sitting back and watching the passing show of our surroundings. The function of the right effort is to be vigilant and check all unhealthy thoughts, and to cultivate, promote and maintain wholesome and pure thoughts arising in a man’s mind. Right Mindfulness is one of the three trainings in meditation (two others are Right Effort and Right Concentration). Mindfulness is awareness or attention, and as such it means avoiding a distracted or cloudly state of mind. In the practice of the Dharma, right mindfulness plays as a kind of rein upon our minds for our minds are never concentrated or still. The Buddha taught: “The practice of mindfulness means mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of feelings, mindfulness of consciousness, and mindfulness of objects of the mind.” In short, right mindfulness means to watch our body and mind and to know what we are doing at all times. Right Mindfulness is an important mental factor that enables us to remember and keep our attention on what is beneficial. Right Mindfulness plays an important role in meditation, i.e., Right mindfulness can help us clear the flurry of thoughts from our minds, and eventually, we’ll be able to concentrate single-pointedly on our breath. Right mindfulness is the application or arousing of attention: be attentive to the activities of the body with the practice of concentration on breathing; be aware of all forms of feelings and sensations, pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral, by contemplating their appearance and disappearance within oneself; be aware whether one’s mind is lustful, hatred, deluded, distracted or concentrated; contemplate the impermanence of all things from arise, stay, change and decay to eliminate attachment.
Eighth, Right Concentration. Right Concentration or Correct Concentration. Detached from sensual objects, detached from unwholesome things, and enters into the first, second, third and fourth absorption. Right concentration means a strong concentration of our thoughts on a certain subject in order to set it clearly, consistent with Buddhist doctrine and for the benefit of others and ourselves. Right meditation means to keep the mind steady and calm in order to see clearly the true nature of things. This type of mental practice can make us become more understanding and a happier person. “Correct concentration” requires the previous steps. Unless one has a concentrated mind that can fix itself calmly and one-pointedly on a single object without being distracted by laxity or excitement, one cannot properly enter into meditation, which requires intense concentration. Cultivating concentration in meditation means to learn to concentrate. In our meditation, we think that noises, cars, voices, sights, and so forth, are distractions that come and bother us when we want to be quiet. But who is bothering whom? Actually, we are the ones who go and bother them. The car, the sound, the noise, the sight, and so forth, are just following their own nature. We bother things through some false idea that they are outside of us and cling to the ideal of remaining quiet, undisturbed. We should learn to see that it is not things that bother us, that we go out to bother them. We should see the world as a mirror. It is all a reflection of mind. When we know this, we can grow in every moment, and every experience reveals truth and brings understanding. Normally, the untrained mind is full of worries and anxieties, so when a bit of tranquility arises from practicing meditation, we easily become attached to it, mistaking states of tranquility for the end of meditation. Sometimes we may even think we have put an end to lust or greed or hatred, only to be overwhelmed by them later on. Actually, it is worse to be caught in calmness than to be stuck in agitation, because at least we will want to escape from agitation, whereas we are content to remain in calmness and not go any further. Thus, when extraordinarily blissful, clear states arise from insight meditation practice, do not cling to them. Although this tranquility has a sweet taste, it too, must be seen as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and empty. Practicing meditation without thought of attaining absorption or any special state. Just know whether the mind is calm or not and, if so, whether a little or a lot. In this way it will develop on its own. Concentration must be firmly established for wisdom to arise. To concentrate the mind is like turning on the switch, there is no light, but we should not waste our time playing with the switch. Likewise, concentration is the empty bowl and wisdom is the food that fills it and makes the meal. Do not be attached to the object of meditation such as a mantra. Know its purpose. If we succeed in concentrating our mind using the Buddha Recitation, let the Buddha recitation go, but it is a mistake to think that Buddha recitation is the end of our cultivation. Right concentration is the intensified steadiness of the mind comparable to the unflickering flame of a lamp in a windless place. It is concentration that fixes the mind right and causes it to be unmoved and undisturbed. The correct practice of “samadhi” maintains the mind and the mental properties in a state of balance. Many are the mental impedments that confront a practitioner, a meditator, but with support of Right Effort and Right Mindfulness the fully concentrated mind is capable of dispelling the impediments, the passions that disturb man. The perfect concentrated mind is not distracted by sense objects, for it sees things as they are, in their proper perspective. Right Concentration is one of the three trainings in Samadhi (two other trainings are Right Effort and Right Mindfulness). Right concentration means to concentrate the mind single-pointedly on an object. Our concentration or single-pointedness slowly improves through effort and mindfulness, until we attain calm abiding. Right Concentration may also help us progress to deeper states of concentration, the actual meditative stabilizations (form and formless realms).
144. The Twelve Conditions of Cause-and-Effect
All things in the phenomanal world are brought into being by the combination of various causes and conditions (twelve links of Dependent Origination), they are relative and without substantiality or self-entity. According to the Majjhima Nikaya Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Depending on the oil and wick does the light of the lamp burn; it is neither in the one, nor in the other, nor anything in itself; phenomena are, likewise, nothing in themselves. All things are unreal; they are deceptions; Nirvana is the only truth.” Dependent origination means that all phenomena are produced and annihilated by causation. This term indicates the following: a thing arises from or is produced through the agency of a condition or a secondary cause. A thing does not take form unless there is an appropriate condition. This truth applies to all existence and all phenomena in the universe. The Buddha intuitively perceived this so profoundly that even modern science cannot probe further. When we look carefully at things around us, we find that water, stone, and even human beings are produced each according to a certain pattern with its own individual character. Through what power or direction are the conditions generated that produce various things in perfect order from such an amorphous energy as “sunyata?” When we consider this regularity and order, we cannot help admitting that some rule exists. It is the rule that causes all things exist. This indeed is the Law taught by the Buddha. We do not exist accidentally, but exist and live by means of this Law. As soon as we realize this fact, we become aware of our firm foundation and set our minds at ease. Far from being capricious, this foundation rests on the Law, with which nothing can compare firmness. This assurance is the source of the great peace of mind that is not agitated by anything. It is the Law that imparts life of all of us. The Law is not something cold but is full of vigor and vivid with life.
Avidya means ignorance, stupidity, or unenlightenment. Avidya also means misunderstanding, being dull-witted ignorant, not conforming to the truth, not bright, dubious, blind, dark. Avidya also means being dull-witted ignorant not knowing the four noble truths, not knowing sufferings, the causes of sufferings, the mental state after severing sufferings, and the way to sever sufferings. Through ignorance are conditioned volitional actions. Ignorance which mistakes the illusory phenomena of this world for realities. With ignorance, there is activity, and then there is manifestation. With manifestation, there is consciousness. Acting from ignorance would result in bad or favorable karma which is conducive to reincarnation or liberation. Through volitional actions is conditioned consciousness. Consciousness refers to discrimination. Activity refers to conditioned dharmas. When conditioned dharmas arise, thoughts of discrimination arise. With thoughts of discrimination, lots of troubles also arise. Vijnana means consciousness. If not liberated yet, after death, the body decays, but the subject’s knowledge commonly called soul follows its reincarnation course in accordance with the three karmas of body, speech and mind. Only when his knowledge gains the status of purification, then he would be liberated from reincarnation. Through consciousness are conditioned name and form. After birth, thanks to his consciousness, the subject recognizes that he now has a name and a form (body). Through name and form are conditioned the six senses-organs. Name and form are the trouble in life. Name brings the trouble of name, and form brings the trouble of form. In this life, name and form are the trouble, and the trouble is name and form. The six sense organs (eye—form, ear—sound, nose—scent, tongue—taste, body—Texture, mind—mental object)—He is now has five senses and mind to get in touch with respective counterparts. Through the six senses-organs is conditioned contact. The six sense organs come about because we wish to understand things; that is why the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind arise. Why do the six sense organs come into being? Because of the desire to understand. However, who would have known that the more we try to understand, the more muddled we get. The more muddled we become, the less we understand. Contact develops after the six senses-organs are made. Through contact is conditioned feeling. Contact refers to touching or encountering. When we do not understand, we go seeking everywhere just like a fly that keeps bumping into the wall. Why do we seek encounters? Because of our desire to understand. Contact provokes all kinds of feelings, feelings of joy, sadness, pleasure or pain. Through feeling is conditioned craving. After we touch something, there is feeling. Before we run into difficulties, we feel very comfortable. Once we encounter difficulties, we feel very uncomfortable. When no one criticizes us, we feel very happy. But if anyone says something bad about us, we get upset. That is feeling. From the feeling of joy and pleasure, the subject tends to prolong it as much as possible. Through craving conditioned clinging. When we have feelings, love and attachment arise. Why do people feel insecure? It is because of love. Once there is love, there is also hatred, or detestation. We like and cling to favorable situations, but detest adverse states. Why do we feel happy? And why do we feel unhappy? It is because we have feelings of love and hate. hate refers to dislike and loathing. Because of these, our troubles increase day after day. He becomes attached to what he likes or desires. Through clinging is conditioned the process of becoming. When we see something we like, we want to grasp it. What is grasping? It is the action motivated by the wish to obtain something. Because you are fond of something, you wish to obtain it. Once we obtain something, we have satisfied our desire. Why do we want to fulfill our desire? It is because we want to possess things. With that wish for possession, “becoming” occurs. Driven by his desires, the subject tries to take in possession of what he wants such as money, houses, fame, honor, etc. Through the process of becoming is conditioned birth. Because of becoming, we want to possess things. Once we want to possess things, there is birth into the next life. Thus, craving, clinging and becoming make up the present causes which will accompany the subject in his birth. Through birth are conditioned decay, sorrow and death. In his new life, he will become old and die as every being does.
145. The Seven Bodhi Shares
The Buddha always told His disciples: “All of the factors of enlightenement bring extraordinary benefits. Once fully developed, they have the power to bring samsaric suffering to an end.” This means that the perpetual, cyclical birth and death of beings who are composed of mental and physical phenomena can come to a complete stop. Besides, these factors of enlightenment also have the capacity to pulverize mara’s armies, the destructive inner forces which keep us bound on the wheel of suffering and rebirth. The Buddha and enlightened ones develop the factors of enlightenment and are thus able to transcend all three realms of sensual pleasures, realm of subtle forms and formless realms. When fully developed, these factors of enlightenment bring practitioners to attain the peace and joy of Nirvana. In this they are comparable to strong and effective medicine. They confer the strength of mind necessary to withstand the ups and downs of life. Moreover, they often caure physical and mental illnesses. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are seven Limbs (factors) of Enlightenment, or the seven Bodhi shares. Practicing the seven awakening states will result in the following achievements: Elimination of evil; development of virtue; feeling of cheerfulness versus suffering; final enlightenment.
Cultivators can not become enlightened by merely gazing into the sky or just look down on earth. Cultivators can not obtain the way by simply reading books or studying the scriptures, nor by thinking, nor by wishing for becoming Buddha. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are seven Limbs (factors) of Enlightenment, or the seven Bodhi shares. They are necessary conditions or prerequisites which cause enlightenment to arise. Practicing the seven awakening states will result in the following achievements: Elimination of evil; development of virtue; feeling of cheerfulness versus suffering; final enlightenment. The word “Bojjhanga” is a Pali term for “factors of enlightenment.” It is made up of “Bodhi,” which means enlightenment or an enlightened person, and “anga,” is a causative factor. Thus a “bojjhanga” is a causative factor of an enlightened being, or a cause for enlightenment. A second sense of the word “Bojjhanga” is based on alternative meanings of its two Pali roots. Thus the alternative meaning of bodhi is the knowledge that comprehends or sees the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Noble Path. Sometimes, seven factors of enlightenment are known as ‘sambojjhanga’. The prefix ‘sam’ means ‘full’ or ‘complete’; however, the prefix does not change the meaning of the seven factors of enlightenment. All practitioners come to understand the Four Noble Truths to some extent, but according to Buddhism, true comprehension of them requires a particular, transforming moment of consciousness, known as path consciousness. This is one of the culminating insights of meditation practice for it includes the experience of Nirvana. Once a practitioner has experienced this, he or she is deeply knows the Four Noble Truths, and thus is considered to contain the “bojjhangas” inside him or herself. Such a person is called noble. Thus, “Bojjhangas” or enlightenment factors also are parts or qualities of a noble person. The seven factors of enlightenment include Selection of the proper dharma, Constant effort, Cheerfulness or high spirits, Peaceful mind, Remembrance of the Dharma, Concentration ability, and Non-attachment ability. Zen practitioners can find each one of the seven factors of enlightenment in all phases of meditation practices. Zen practitioners should always remember the Buddha’s reminder: “If the four foundations of mindfulness are practiced persistently and repeatedly, the seven factors of enlightenment will be automatically and fully developed.” Thus, the Buddha Himself emphasized the relationships between Zen and the Seven Factors of Enlightenment very clearly. However, one does not become enlightened by merely gazing into the sky or looking around on the earth. One does not enlightened by reading or studying the scriptures, nor by thinking, nor by wishing for enlightened state to burst into one’s mind. There are certain necessary conditions or prerequisites which cause enlightenment to arise. How can one develop these factors in himself or herself? By means of cultivation of precepts, meditation, and wisdom.
First, Selection of the Proper Dharma. Discrimination of true or false, or keen investigation of phenomena (dharma). It is the sharp analytical knowledge of understanding the true nature of all constituent things, animate or inanimate, human or divine. It is seeing things in their proper perspective. Only through meditation we can see all component things in their fundamental elements, right down to their ultimates. Through keen meditation and investigation, one understands that all compounded things pass through the inconceivably rapid moments of arising, reaching a peak and ceasing, just as a river in flood sweeps to climax and fades away; the whole universe is constantly changing, not remaining the same for two consecutive moments; all things in fact are subject to conditions, causes and effects; what is impermanent and not lasting producing painful or sorrow fruit; there doesn’t exist a so-called permanent and everlasting soul or self; the true nature of the three characteristics, or laws of transiency, sorrow, and non-self.
Second, Constant effort. Energy, zeal or undeflected progress. It is a mental property and the sixth limb of the Noble Eightfold Path, there called right effort. Effort is the energy expended to direct the mind persistently, continuously in meditation, and toward the object of observation. Zen practitioners should have courageous efforts in meditation practices. The Buddha has not proclaimed himself a saviour willing and able to take upon himself the evil of all sentient beings. He is only a Path-Revealer. Each one of us must put forth the necessary effort and work out his own deliverance with heedfulness. He cannot walk for anyone on this path. Thus he advised that each Buddhist should be sincerely zealous, strong and firm in the purpose of reaching the final aim. He also advised: “Be islands unto yourselves, be your own refuge.” Thus did the Master exhort his followers to acquire self-reliance. A follower of the Buddha should not under any circumstances relinquish hope and effort; for the Buddha was one who never gave up courage and effort even as a bodhisattva. Zen practitioners should be patient and accept difficulties and challenges during practicing meditation; should leave behind habits and hobbies of ordinary life; and should try their best to practice meditation continually. One of the most difficult things for Zen practitioners is the wandering mind, it never wants to stay on the object you want to observe, but rather wandering around and around all day long. In our body, any time we cross our legs to practice meditation, we are likely to experience some level of pain in our body. Sometimes, we decide to try to sit still for an hour with our legs crossed, but only after ten minutes, we feel numb in our feet and stiff in our neck, and so on, and so on. Zen practitioners need courageous effort to face difficulties and challenges. Once we develop our courageous effort, the mind gains strength to bear with pain in a patient and courageous way. Effort has the power to freshen the mind and keep it strong in any difficult circumstances. Zen practitioners should always have the effort and energy to cultivate the following four things: effort to initiate virtues not yet arisen; effort to consolidate, increase, and not deteriorate virtues already arisen; effort not to initiate sins not yet arisen; effort to eliminate sins already arisen. In The Dhammapada Sutta, sentence 280, the Buddha taught: “The idler who does not strive, who, though, young and strong, is full of sloth, who is weak in resolution and thought, that lazy and idle man will never find the way to wisdom, the way to elightenment and deliverance.”
Third, Cheerfulness or high spirits. Rapture means joy, happiness, or delight; but a special characteristic of Rapture is that it can pervade associated mental states, making them delight and happy and bringing a sense of deep satisfaction. “Piti” is a mental property, and is a quality which deeply influences both the body and mind. A man lacking in this quality cannot advance along the path to enlightenment. In him there will always arise sullen indifference to the Dharma, an aversion to the practice of meditation, and morbid manifestations. Zen practitioners should always remember that Rapture only develops when the mind is relatively clean of afflictions. In order for us to be clean of afflictions, we have no other choices but to be mindful from moment to moment so that concentration arises and the afflictions are eliminated. Therefore, we must be developing Rapture through mindfulness continuously, whether when we are walking, standing, lying down, sitting, or doing other tasks. To practice “piti” or joy, Buddhist cultivators should always remember that happiness is a matter of the mind and it should never be sought in external and material things, though they may be instrumental in any way. Only those who possess the quality of contentment can experience real happiness. Buddhist cultivators should always remember that there is a vast difference between pleasure and happiness. Pleasure, or pleasant feeling, is something very momentary and fleeting. Pleasant feeling may be an indicative sign of suffering, for what we hug in great glee this moment, may turn to be a source of suffering the next moment. Seeing a form, hearing a sound, perceiving an odour, tasting a flavour, feeling some tangible thing, cognizing an idea, we are usually moved, and from those sense objects and mental objects, we experience a certain degree of pleasure. However, they are all temporary; they are only a passing show of phenomena. Real happiness or rapture does not come through grasping or clinging to things, animate or inanimate, but from giving up. The Buddha left behind his glorious palace, beautiful wife, good son, as well as kingdom authority, and became a homeless monk. Eventually he attained enlightenment and deliverance, do we have any other choices if we wish to attain enlightenment and deliverance?
Fourth, Peaceful mind. Peaceful mind means ease, tranquility, riddance of all grossness or weight of body or mind so that they may be light, free and at ease. Many people’s minds are always in a state of agitation all the time. Their minds wandering here and there non-stop. When the mind is scattered, it is difficult for us to control our actions. On the contrary, we begin to act according to whims and fancies without considering properly whether an action is wholesome or not. There are two kinds of tranquility: the calm of the body means the calm of all mental properties rather than the only physical body. In other words, calm of the aggregates of form, feeling, perception, and the volitional activities or conformations; the calm of the mind, or the calm of the aggregate of consciousness. A man who cultivates calm of the mind does not get upset, confused or excited when confronted with the eight vicissitudes (8 winds or influences) of the world. He is able to understand the rise and fall (come into being and pass away), as well as the momentary fragility of all things. It is hard to tranquilize the mind. It trembles and it is unsteady, difficult to guard and hold back. In the Dhammapada, from sentece 33 to 36, the Buddha taught: “The mind quivers like a fish just taken from its watery home and thrown on the dry ground. It wanders at will.” Calmness is not weakness. Only a person of culture is able to present the calm attitude at all times. It is not so difficult to be calm under favourable circumstances, but it is indeed difficult for a Buddhist to remain calm in the midst of unfavourable circumstances. Only the calm mind can help the aspirant to achieve enlightenment and deliverance.
Fifth, Remembrance of the Dharma. Mindfulness, relinquishment, or power of remembering the various states passed through in contemplation. It is the instrument most efficacious in self-mastery. Besides, ‘Sati’ also means the power of observation, and the function of mindfulness is to keep the object always in view, neither forgetting it nor allowing it to disappear out of our contemplation. Remembrance of the Dharma includes meditation and full realization on the impurity of the body, when mindfulness is present, the object of observation will be noted without forgetfulness; contemplation of feeling or understanding that feeling is suffering; contemplation of mind, and Contemplation of thought; and contemplation of the no-self of mental objects. A person cannot be heedful unless he is fully controlling all his actions, whether they are mental, verbal or physical at every moment of his walking life. In other words, he must zealously observe all commandments required of him. In the Digha Nikaya Sutra, the Buddha’s final admonition to his disciples before entering the Nirvana: “Transient are all component things. Work out your deliverance with mindfulness.” Venerable Saripura also advised everybody with his last words: “Strive on with mindfulness to obtain your deliverance.” In the Anguttara Nikaya Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Monks, I know not of any other single thing of such power to cause the arising of good thoughts if not yet arisen, or to cause the waning of evil thoughts if already arisen, as heedfulness. In him who is heedful, good thoughts not yet arisen, do arise, and evil thoughts, if arisen, do wane.”
Sixth, Concentration ability. Concentration has the ability to keep the mind in Stability, concentration; or power to keep the mind in a given realm undiverted. Concentration is a mental factor which lands on the object of observation. Concentration also pricks into, penetrates into, and stays in the object of observation. The nature of concentration is nondispersal, nondissipation, and nonscatteredness. A mind of concentration is a mind that sticks with the object of observation, sinks into it, and remains still and calm in it. During practicing of meditation, Zen practitioners should stick their mind to the object of observation or contemplate directly mental or physical phenomena without resorting to the thinking process at all. Although the moment of samadhi is momentary, such samadhi can arise from moment to moment without breaks in between if we try to practice continuously. Besides, concentration also has the ability to collect the mind together. It can keep all other mental factors in a group so that they do not scatter or disperse. Thus, the mind remains firmly embedded in the object. It is only the tranquilized mind that can easily concentrate on a subject of meditation. Once the mind is quiet and still, wisdom will arise and we can see things as they really are. Therefore, concentration is the most proximate cause for the unfolding of wisdom. The unified mind brings the five hindrances under subjugation (sensual desire, anger, stiffness and torpor, agitation and worry, and doubt hindrances), for step by step, wisdom will penetrate into more and more profound levels of truth. At that time, Zen practitioners will see clearly the natures of impermanence, suffering, and absence of self of all things, and therefore, no hindrance can dominate us anymore. Many are the impediments that confront a meditator, an aspirant for enlightenment, especially the five hindrances that hinder concentrative thoughts, and obstruct the way to deliverance. Concentration is the intensified steadiness of the mind comparable to an unflickering flame of a lamp in a windless place. Concentration has the ability to maintain the mind and the mental properties in a state of balance. It is concentration that fixes the mind aright and causes it to be unmoved; dispels passions and not only helps the mind undisturbed, but also helps bring purity and placidity of mind. One who is intent to practice “concentration” should always zealously observe Buddhist commandments, for it is virtue that nourishes mental life, and make it coherent and calm.
Seventh, Non-attachment ability. Equanimity means complete abandonment, detachment, or indifferent to all disturbances of the sub-conscious or ecstatic mind. The Sanskrit word ‘Upeksa’ means equanimity, calmness, unbias, unprejudice, and so on. In Zen, a mind of complete abandonment is a mind that remains unbiased and calm when confronting difficulties and challenges. A mind of equanimity is a state of balancing of energy, and it can be achieved in daily cultivation. According to The Abhidharma, “equanimity” means neutrality. It is mental equipoise and not hedonic indifference. Equanimity is the result of a calm concentrative mind. According to the Buddha, the best way to bring about equanimity is wise attention and continuous mindfulness. Once a mind of equanimity is developed, one moment of equnimity causes a succeeding moment of equanimity to arise, and so on. In our nowadays violent society, amidst the welter of experience, gain and loss, good repute and ill-repute, praise and blame, happiness and suffering, a man with the mind of equanimity will never waver. Zen practitioners have the mind of equanimity which understands that there is no one to own anything. In Dharmapada, sentence 83, the Buddha taught: “Truly the good give up longing for everything. The good sages not with thoughts of craving. Touched by happiness or by pain, the wise show neither elation nor depression.” A man who has reached perfect neutrality through the cultivation of equanimity, always avoids the following four wrong paths: the path of greed, hate, cowardice, and delusion. A man who has reached perfect neutrality through cultivation of equanimity, always has his serene neutrality which enables him to see all beings impartially.
146. Four Right Efforts
Four right (great) efforts are right exertions of four kinds of restrain, or four essentials to be practiced vigilantly. First, endeavor to start performing good deedsEffort to initiate virtues not yet arisen, or bringing forth goodness not yet brought forth, or bringing good into existence, or to produce merit, ro to induce the doing of good deeds). Here a monk rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to produce unarisen wholesome mental states. Second, endeavor to perform more good deeds, or effort to consolidate, increase, and not deteriorate virtues already arisen (developing goodness that has already arisen (develop existing good, or to increase merit when it was already produced, or to encourage the growth and continuance of good deeds that have already started). Here a monk rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to maintain wholesome mental states that have arisen, not to let them fade away, to bring them to greater growth, to the full perfection of development. Third, endeavor to prevent evil from forming, or effort not to initiate sins not yet arisen, or preventing evil that hasn’t arisen from arising (to prevent any evil from starting or arising, or to prevent demerit from arising). Here a monk rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to prevent the arising of unarisen evil unwholesome mental states. Fourth, endeavor to eliminate already-formed evil, or effort to eliminate sins already arisen (putting an end to existing evil, or to abandon demerit when it arises, ro to remove any evil as soon as it starts). Here a monk rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to overcome evil unwholesome mental states that have arisen.
147. Four Sufficiences
The Four Sufficiences or Roads to Fulfillment that the Buddha taught His disciples to equip them with the necessaries for them to be successful in their cultivation. The Buddha called them ‘Four Sufficiences’ for they are different roads that lead us onward. They are four different qualities of character, each reflecting a different strength of our personality. Zen practitioners should recognize which of them is our own particular strength, then we can develop what need be cultivated. One of the greatest challenges of Zen practitioners is achieving the aim of emancipation, and bringing the liberating qualities of the mind to dissolve in each moment of our life in the present. The path of our mindfulness must be continuing from moment to moment and must be right here in this very life.
First, Sufficience of Desire. Desire to develop magic, strong aspiration or will (intensive longing). We nourish a strong desire to practice meditation in our daily life. When we possess this quality, we will sense that nothing can finally impede us in our cultivation. Furthermore, when we possess this quality, we feel that we will not be satisfied until we have realized our goal. This is a desire to cultivate, a powerful aspiration that leads us to success. Here a monk develops CONCENTRATION OF INTENTION accompanied by effort of the will power.
Second, Sufficience of concentration. Endeavor to remember to practice correct dharmas (intense concentration or thoughts, intense concentration). Memory or intense holding on to the position reached, or the love for the truth that keeps our mind continually absorbed in the practice. Endeavor to remember to practice correct dharmas has great purity of consciousness and is extremely ardent. Endeavor to remember to practice correct dharmas becomes a path to understanding when it fills our minds. Here a monk develops concentration of consciousness accompanied by effort of the thought power. Once we possess ‘Endeavor to remember to practice correct dharmas’, we continually reflect on Dharma and practice it; nothing else seems equally important.
Third, Sufficience of energy. Intensified effort, or effort to realize magic, vigor or exertion. This is the quality of energy. Zen practitioners who possess this quality do not only remain undaunted by the effort required, but also find inspiration in the challenge. Here a monk develops concentration of energy accompanied by strenuous efforts. In fact, the Buddha was a typical example for this quality. Viriya is the energy expended to direct the mind persistenly, continuously toward cultivation. Even ordinary people who are hardworking and industrious have the capacity to be heroic in whatever they do. Zen practitioners who are endowed with courageous effort will be bold in going forward, unafraid of the difficulties we may encounter in the path of cultivation. The special characteristics of “Viriya” is an enduring patience in the face of suffering or difficulty. Viriya is the ability to see to the end no matter what, even if one has to grit one’s teeth. Zen practitioners need courageous effort, with its characteristic of forbearance in the face of difficulty. If we raise our energy level, the mind will gain enough strength to bear with challenges. Besides, viriya has the power to freshen the mind and keep it robust, even in difficult circumstances. There are two ways that help increase our energy level: To increase viriya by ourselves, and to seek out the inspiration from spiritual friends. Before His awakening, when He was still seeking the truth, He made this determination: “If the end is attainable by human effort, I will not rest or relax until it is attained. Let only my skin and sinews and bones remain. let my flesh and blood dry up. I will not stop the course of my effort until I win that which may be won by human ability, human effort, and human exertion.”
Fourth, Suffience of contemplation. Meditation on one subject means an intense contemplation (meditation on one subject, intense contemplation or meditation, investigation, or the state of dhyana). Some people have a strong interest in understanding the deepest and most profound aspects of the dharmas. The are not satisfied to know just the surface of things. Here a monk develops concentration of investigation accompanied by effort of deep thinking, for this kind of mind contemplates the immensity of samsara, the circle of birth and death, the immensity of planes of existence, and the implications in our lives in this world. Practitioners cultivate the reflective knowledge into the rapid arsing and passing away of phenomena, then we will have an intuitive insight of impermanence, suffering and no-self.
148. The Five Faculties
According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five roots or faculties (indriyani). These are the five roots that give rise to other wholesome dharmas. The five sense-organs can be entrances to the hells; at the same time, they can be some of the most important entrances to the great enlightenment; for with them, we create karmas and sins, but also with them, we can practise the right way.
First, Virtue of Belief (Sraddhendriya—skt) (Saddha—p). Faith or Sense of belief in the Triple Gem and the Four Noble Truths. Sraddhendriya also means the mind of faith. Faith in a religion, unlike intellectual learning, does not enable a believer to have the power to save others as well as himself if he understands it only in theory. When he believe from the depths of his heart, his belief produces power. His faith cannot be said to be true until he attains such a mental state.
Second, Virtue of Active Vigor (Viryendriya—skt). Energy (vigor) or Sense of endeavor or vigor to cultivate good deeds. The spirit endeavoring purely and incessantly. Faith alone is not enough. Our religious lives cannot be true unless we maintain our faith purely and constantly endeavor so that our religious spirit does not weaken or lose its power.
Third, Virtue of Midfulness (Smrtindriya—skt). Memory or Mindfulness or Sense of memory or right memory. The mind that always focuses upon the Buddha. Practically speaking, of course, it is impossible for us to completely forget the Buddha for even a moment. When a student devotes himself to his studies or when an adult is entirely absorbed in his work, he must concentrate on one object. Doing so accords with the way to Buddhahood. While devoting ourselves to a particular object, we reflect, “I am caused to live by the Buddha.” When we complete a difficult task we feel relieved, we thank the Buddha, saying, “How lucky I am! I am protected by the Buddha.” When an evil thought flashes across our mind or we suddenly feel angry, we instantly examine ourselves, thinking, “Is this the way to Buddhahood?” The mind that thus keeps the Buddha in mind at all times is “sense of memory.”
Fourth, Concentration (Samadhindriya—skt). Sense of meditation or Visionary meditation, samadhi, or virtue of concentration. The sense of meditation implies a determined mind. Once we have faith in a religion, we are never agitated by anything, whatever may happen. We bear patiently all persecution and temptation, and we continue to believe only in one religion. We must constantly maintain such firm determination, never becoming discouraged. We cannot be said to be real people with a religious faith unless we have such a mental attitude.
Fifth, Virtue of wisdom vor awareness (Prajnendriya—skt). Sense of wisdom or thinking of the truth. The wisdom that people of religion must maintain. This is not a self-centered wisdom but the true wisdom that we obtain when we perfectly free ourselves from ego and illusion. So long as we have this wisdom, we will not take the wrong way. We can say the same thing of our belief in religion itself, not to mention in our daily lives. If we are attached to a selfish, small desire, we are apt to stray toward a mistaken religion. However, earnestly we may believe in it, endeavoring to practice its teaching, keeping it in mind, and devoting ourselves to it, we cannot be saved because of its basically wrong teaching, and we sink farther and farther into the world of illusion. There are many instances around us of people following such a course. Although “sense of wisdom” is mentioned as the last of the five organs leading man to good conduct, it should be the first in the order in which we enter a religious life.
149. The Five Powers
The five powers or faculties for any cultivator or the powers of five spiritual facultties which are developed through strengthening the five roots. Thus in Buddhism, power or ability is always used as the sense organs to discern the truth. In Mahayana Buddhism, it is the eighth “perfection” (paramita) of the tenfold list of perfections that a Bodhisattva cultivates on the path to Buddhahood. It is developed on the eighth bodhisattva level (bhumi). Besides, there is also a tenfold list of qualities that in both Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana are said to be unique to fully awakened Buddhas (Samyak-Sambuddha): 1) power of knowledge of what is possible and what is impossible or the power to distinguish right from wrong (sthanasthana-jnana-bala); power of knowledge of retributions of actions or the power of knowing karmic retributions throughout the three periods of time (karma-vipaka-jnana-bala); 3) power of knowledge of the concentrations, eight stages of liberations, meditative absorptions, and attainments (dhyana-vimoksa-samadhi-samapatti-jnana-bala); 4) power of knowledge of the relative qualities of beings or the power of complete knowledge of the powers and faculties of all beings (indrya-parapara-jnana-bala); 5) power of knowledge of the various intentions of beings or the power of complete knowledge of the desires or moral direction of every being (nanadhimukti-jnana-bala); 6) power of knowledge of the various states of beings or the power of knowing the states of others (nanadhatu-jnana-bala); 7) power of knowledge of the ways in which beings go everywhere within cyclic existence and nirvana (sarvatragamini-pratipajjnana-bala); 8) power of knowledge of former abodes (purva-nivasa-jnana-bala); 9) power of knowledge of death and rebirth (cyutyu-papada-jnana-bala); 10) power of knowledge that the defilements have been extinguished (asrava-jnana-bala). The five powers include the power of Faith or force of belief which precludes all false belief; power of Zeal or force of active vigor which leads to overcoming all obstacles; power of Memory, or mindfulness, or force of mindfulness which is achieved through meditation; power of Meditation (Dhyana) or force of concentration which leads to eliminate all passions and desires; and power of Wisdom (awareness) or force of wisdom which rests on insight into the four noble truths and leads to the knowledge that liberates.
150. Four Elements of Popularity
Four elements of popularity in Buddhism is a philosophy of living in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings can be described as good guidance taught by the Buddha that help sentient beings cultivate their bodies and minds to reach the final goal of complete peace and joy. In the process of cultivation, vitues such as giving, kind talk, Beneficial action, and Sharing a common aim (or four elements of popularity) are very important for any Buddhists. Four ways of leading human beings to emancipation. Also called four means of integration, four integrative methods, four means of integration, four attractions, four Dharmas of attraction, or four all-embracing virtues. The four elements of sociability is a gate of Dharma illumination; for with them we accept all living beings and after we have attained the truth of bodhi, we bestow upon all living beings the Dharma. Four elements of popularity in Buddhism include: 1) Giving, charity, or generosity. Giving unsparingly what others need in order to lead them to love and receive the truth. 2) Kind speech, or pleasant words, or kindly talk, or affectionate speech, which help beings love and receive the truth. Sincere Buddhists should always speak with kind, true, and gentle speech; and always speak at the right time and connected with good purposes. According to the Kakacupama Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, the Buddha taught: “Bhikkhus! There are five courses of speech that others may use when they address you.” The standards of kind communication: their speech may be timely or untimely, true or untrue, gentle or harsh, connected with good or with harm, spoken with a mind of loving-kindness or with inner hate. Beneficial action, or conduct profitable to others, ro useful deeds, which helps others love and receive the truth. In addition to the useful conduct which we use to help others love and receive the truth, tolerance, patience, and understanding are also considered as other conducts that are related to beneficial action. These are great qualities for us to practice during times when we encounter people who act out of ignorance. Besides, these qualities can also help us overcome sufferings and afflictions as well as difficulties of life. Sharing a common aim, or engaging in the same work, or cooperation, or comaradeship and accommodation, or cooperation with and adaptation of oneself to others, to lead them into the truth.