THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
231. Three Poisons
232. Five Turbidities
233. Five Shackles in the Heart
234. Seven Poisons
235. Ten Poisons
236. Four Poisonous Snakes
238. Force of the Mind
239. The Triple World
240. The Triple Worlds As A Burning House
231. Three Poisons
Poison is also called Defilement or Hindrances. These poisons are sources of all passions and delusions. The fundamental evils inherent in life which give rise to human suffering. The three poisons are regarded as the sources of all illusions and earthly desires. They pollute people’s lives. Men worry about many things. Poisons include harsh or stern words for repressing evil; misleading teaching. Poisons are also the turbidity of desire or the contamination of desire. The poison of desire or love which harms devotion to Buddhist practices. Besides, the poison of delusion, one of the three poisons, and the poison of touch, a term applied to woman. According to the Buddha, there are four poisons in our body, or four poisonous snakes in a basket which imply the four elements in a body (of which a man is formed). The four elements of the body, earth, water, fire and wind which harm a man by their variation, i.e. increase and decrease. Three Poisons or three sources of all passions and delusions. The fundamental evils inherent in life which give rise to human suffering. The three poisons are regarded as the sources of all illusions and earthly desires. They pollute people’s lives. Men worry about many things. Broadly speaking, there are 84,000 worries. But after analysis, we can say there are only 10 serious ones including the three evil roots of greed, hatred, and delusion. Three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance do not only cause our afflictions, but also prevent us from tasting the pure and cool flavor of emancipation (liberation).
The first Poison is Selfish Desire for more than we need or deserve, such as food, house, car, wealth, honors, etc. Eyes are longing for viewing beautiful forms without any satisfaction, ears are longing for melodious sounds, nose is longing for fragrance, tongue is longing for delicate tastes, body is longing for soothing touches, and mind is longing for various emotions of love and hate from self and others. Human beings’ greediness is like a barrel without bottom. It is just as the great ocean obtaining continuously the water from hundreds and thousands of large and small rivers and lakes everyday. In this Dharma Ending Age, sentient beings, especially human beings use every method to manipulate and harm one another. Sentient beings’ lives, especially, those of human beings’ are already filled with pain and sufferings, now there are even more pain and sufferings. Through tricks, expedients, and manipulations we try to reach our goal irrespective of whatever happens to others. Greed is a powerful mental force that drives people to fight, kill, cheat, lie and perform various forms of unwholesome deeds. Greed is the first of the three poisons. Coveting others’ possessions is when we plan how to procure something belonging to another person. While coveting is a mental action no one else can see, it can lead us to flatter, bribe, cheat or steal from others to obtain what we desire. Greed, the first unwholesome root, covers all degrees of selfish desire, longing, attachment, and clinging. Its characteristic is grasping an object. Its function is sticking, as meat sticks to a hot pan. It is manifested as not giving up. Its proximate cause is seeing enjoyment in things that lead to bondage. People usually have greed for wealth, sex, fame, food, sleep or greed for forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and objects of touch, and so on, and so on. According to Most Venerable in The Buddha and His Teachings, there are three conditions that are necessary to complete the evil of covetousness: first, another’s possession; second, adverting to it, thinking “would this be mine”; and third, to actually take another’s possession without permission. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five kinds of begrudging: first, begrudging as to dwelling-place; second, begrudging as to family; third, begrudging as to gains; fourth, begruding as to beauty; and fifth, begrudging as to Dhamma. There are also five kinds of selfishness: first, this abode (house or place) is mine and no one else’s; second, this almsgiving household is mine and no one else’s; third, I am the only one who receive this alms; fourth, I am the only one who deserve this praise; no one else who deserves this; and fifth, I am the only one who has the knowledge of truth, but I don’t want to share with any one else. According to The Path of Purification, there are five kinds of avarice: first, avarice about dwellings; second, avarice about families; third, avarice about gain; fourth, avarice about Dharma; and fifth, avarice about praise.
Craving (greed, affection, desire) means desire for and love of the things of this life. Most people define happiness as the satisfaction of all desires. The desires are boundless, but our ability to realize them is not, and unfulfilled desires always create suffering. When desires are only partially fulfilled, we have a tendency to continue to pursue until a complete fulfillment is achieved. Thus, we create even more suffering for us and for others. We can only realize the true happiness and a peaceful state of mind when our desires are few. This is one of the great steps towards the shore of liberation. The Buddha taught: “Greed and desire are the cause of all unhappiness or suffering. Everything sooner or later must change, so do not become attached to anything. Instead devote yourself to clearing your mind and finding the truth, lasting happiness.” Knowing how to feel satisfied with few possessions help us destroy greed and desire. This means being content with material conditions that allow us to be healthy and strong enough to cultivate. This is an effective way to cut through the net of passions and desires, attain a peaceful state of mind and have more time to help others. The defilements we call lust or greed, anger and delusion, are just outward names and appearances, just as we call a house beautiful, ugly, big, small, etc. These are only appearances of things. If we want a big house, we call this one small. We creates such concepts because of our craving. Craving causes us to discriminate, while the truth is merely what is. Look at it this way. Are you a person? Yes. This is the appearance of things. But you are really only a combination of elements or a group of changing aggregates. If the mind is free it does not discriminate. No big and small, no you and me, nothing. We say ‘anatta’ or ‘not self’, but really, in the end, there is neither ‘atta’ nor ‘anatta’. Greed should be balanced by contemplation of loathsomeness. Attachment to bodily form is one extreme, and one should keep the opposite in mind. Examine the body as a corpse and see the process of decay, or think of the parts of the body, such as lungs, spleen, fat, feces, and so forth. Remembering these and visualizing the loathsome aspects of the body will free us from greed.
The second Poison is Anger or Resentment. This is one of the three fires which burn in the mind until allowed to die for fuelling. Anger is one of the three poisons in Buddhism (greed, anger and ignorance). Anger is an emotional response to something that is inappropriate or unjust. If one does not obtain what one is greedy can lead to anger. Anger is an emotion involved in self-protection. However, according to Buddhist doctrines, anger manifests itself in a very crude manner, destroying the practitioner in a most effective way. The Buddha makes it very clear that with a heart filled with hatred and animosity, a man cannot understand and speak well. A man who nurtures displeasure and animosity cannot appease his hatred. Only with a mind delighted in harmlessness and with loving kindness towards all creatures in him hatred cannot be found. Thus, according to the Buddha’s teachings in the Dharmapada Sutra, to subdue anger and resentment, we must develop a compassionate mind by meditating on loving kindness, pity and compassion. According to Buddhism, the basis of anger is usually fear for when we get angry we feel we are not afraid any more, however, this is only a blind power. The energy of anger, if it’s not so destructive, it may not be of any constructive. In fact, extreme anger could eventually lead us even to taking our own life. Thus the Buddha taught: “When you are angry at someone, let step back and try to think about some of the positive qualities of that person. To be able to do this, your anger would be reduced by its own.” It is a fire that burns in all human beings, causing a feeling of displeasure or hostility toward others. Angry people speak and act coarsely or pitiless, creating all kinds of sufferings. Of the three great poisons of Greed, Hatred and Ignorance, each has its own unique evil characteristic. However, of these poisons, hatred is unimaginably destructive and is the most powerful enemy of one’s cultivated path and wholesome conducts. The reason is that once hatred arises from within the mind, thousands of karmic obstructions will follow to appear immediately, impeding the practitioner from making progress on the cultivated path and learning of the philosophy of Buddhism. Therefore, the ancient virtuous beings taught: “One vindictive thought just barely surfaced, ten thousands doors of obstructions are all open.” Supposing while you were practicing meditation, and your mind suddenly drifted to a person who has often insulted and mistreated you with bitter words. Because of these thoughts, you begin to feel sad, angry, and unable to maintain peace of mind; thus, even though your body is sitting there quietly, your mind is filled with afflictions and hatred. Some may go so far as leaving their seat, stopping meditation, abandoning whatever they are doing, and getting completely caught up in their afflictions. Furthermore, there are those who get so angry and so depressed to the point where they can’t eat and sleep; for their satisfaction, sometimes they wish their wicked friend to die right before their eyes. Through these, we know that hatred is capable of trampling the heart and mind, destroying people’s cultivated path, and preventing everyone from practicing wholesome deeds. Thus the Buddha taught the way to tame hatred in the Lotus Sutra as follows: “Use great compassion as a home, use peace and tolerance as the armor, use all the Dharma of Emptiness as the sitting throne.” We should think that when we have hatred and afflictions, the first thing that we should be aware of is we are bringing miseries on ourselves. The fire of hatred and afflictions internally burns at our soul, and externally influences our bodies, standing and sitting restlessly, crying, moaning, screaming, etc. In this way, not only are we unable to change and tame the enemy, but also unable to gain any peace and happiness for ourselves.
The anger or dosa is the root of suffering and the rebirth in hell. Anger, ire, wrath, resentment, one of the six fundamental klesas. Anger happens when one represses the emotional feelings deep inside. This is one of the three poisons in Buddhism (greed, anger, ignorance). One of the three fires which burn in the mind until allowed to die for fuelling. Anger manifests itself in a very crude manner, destroying the practitioner in a most effective way. To subdue anger and resentment, we must develop a compassionate mind. According to Buddhist psychology, the mental factor of aversion is always linked to the experience of pain. One may be greedy and happy, but never angry and happy at the same time. Anyone who cultures hatred, anger, malice, nurses revenge or keeps alive a grudge is bound to experience much suffering for he has laid hold a very potent source of it. Those who exercise their hatred on others as in killing, torturing or maiming may expect birth in a state, compared in the scriptural simile to a pitfull of glowing situations, where they will experience feelings which are exclusively painful, sharp, severe. Only in such an environment will they be able to experience all the misery which they, by their own cruelty to others, have brought upon themselves. The Buddha taught: “Bandits who steal merits are of no comparison to hatred and anger. Because when hatred and anger arise, inevitable innumerable karma will be created. Immediately thereafter, hundreds and thousands of obstructions will appear, masking the proper teachings of enlightenment, burying and dimming the Buddha Nature. Therefore, A thought of hatred and anger had just barely risen, ten thousands of karmic doors will open immediately. It is to say with just one thought of hatred, one must endure all such obstructions and obstacles.”
According to Most Venerable Narada in The Buddha and His Teaching, there are two conditions that are necessary to complete the evil of ill-will: first, from another person; and second, from the thought of doing harm. Doso, the second unwholesome root, comprises all kinds and degrees of aversion, ill-will, anger, irritation, annoyance, and animosity. Its characteristic is ferosity. Its function is to spread, or burn up its own support, i.e. the mind and body in which it arises. It is manifested as persecuting, and its proximate cause is a ground for annoyance. Anger, Ill-will or hatred is one of the three poisons in Buddhism (greed, anger, ignorance). This is one of the three fires which burn in the mind until allowed to die for fuelling. Anger manifests itself in a very crude manner, destroying the practitioner in a most effective way. To subdue anger and resentment, we must develop a compassionate mind. According to Buddhist psychology, the mental factor of aversion is always linked to the experience of pain. One may be greedy and happy, but never angry and happy at the same time. Anyone who cultures hatred, anger, malice, nurses revenge or keeps alive a grudge is bound to experience much suffering for he has laid hold a very potent source of it. Those who exercise their hatred on others as in killing, torturing or maiming may expect birth in a state, compared in the scriptural simile to a pitfull of glowing situations, where they will experience feelings which are exclusively painful, sharp, severe. Only in such an environment will they be able to experience all the misery which they, by their own cruelty to others, have brought upon themselves. It is a fire that burns in all human beings, causing a feeling of displeasure or hostility toward others. Angry people speak and act coarsely or pitiless, creating all kinds of sufferings. Of the three great poisons of Greed, Hatred and Ignorance, each has its own unique evil characteristic. However, of these poisons, hatred is unimaginably destructive and is the most powerful enemy of one’s cultivated path and wholesome conducts. The reason is that once hatred arises from within the mind, thousands of karmic obstructions will follow to appear immediately, impeding the practitioner from making progress on the cultivated path and learning of the philosophy of Buddhism. Therefore, the ancient virtuous beings taught: “One vindictive thought just barely surfaced, ten thousands doors of obstructions are all open.” Supposing while you were practicing meditation, and your mind suddenly drifted to a person who has often insulted and mistreated you with bitter words. Because of these thoughts, you begin to feel sad, angry, and unable to maintain peace of mind; thus, even though your body is sitting there quietly, your mind is filled with afflictions and hatred. Some may go so far as leaving their seat, stopping meditation, abandoning whatever they are doing, and getting completely caught up in their afflictions. Furthermore, there are those who get so angry and so depressed to the point where they can’t eat and sleep; for their satisfaction, sometimes they wish their wicked friend to die right before their eyes. Through these, we know that hatred is capable of trampling the heart and mind, destroying people’s cultivated path, and preventing everyone from practicing wholesome deeds. Thus the Buddha taught the way to tame hatred in the Lotus Sutra as follows: “Use great compassion as a home, use peace and tolerance as the armor, use all the Dharma of Emptiness as the sitting throne.” We should think that when we have hatred and afflictions, the first thing that we should be aware of is we are bringing miseries on ourselves. The fire of hatred and afflictions internally burns at our soul, and externally influences our bodies, standing and sitting restlessly, crying, moaning, screaming, etc. In this way, not only are we unable to change and tame the enemy, but also unable to gain any peace and happiness for ourselves.
When angry states of mind arise strongly, balance them by developing feelings of loving-kindness. If someone does something bad or gets angry, do not get angry ourselves. If we do, we are being more ignorant than they. Be wise. Keep compassion in mind, for that person is suffering. Fill our mind with loving-kindness as if he was a dear brother. Concentrate on the feeling of loving-kindness as a meditation subject. Spread it to all beings in the world. Only through loving-kindness is hatred overcome. Also according to Most Venerable Narada in The Buddha and His Teachings, these are the inevitable consequences of ill-will: first, ugliness; second, manifold diseases; and third, detestable nature. In order to repent the mind of anger one must first repent the mind-karma. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that the mind consciousness is the reason to give rise to infinite offenses of the other five consciousnesses, from Sight, Hearing, Scent, Taste, and Touch Consciousnesses. The mind consciousness is similar to an order passed down from the King to his magistrates and chancellors. Eyes take great pleasure in looking and observing unwholesome things, ears take great pleasure in listening to melodious sounds, nose takes great pleasure in smelling aromas and fragrance, tongue takes great pleasure in speaking vulgarly and irresponsibly as well as finding joy in tasting the various delicacies, foods, and wines, etc; body takes great pleasure in feeling various sensations of warmth, coolnes, softness, velvet clothing. Karmic offenses arise from these five consciousness come from their master, the Mind; the mind consciousness is solely responsible for all their actions. In the end, this will result in continual drowning in the three evil paths, enduring infinite pains and sufferings in hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. In the Dharmapada, the Buddha taught: “Guard one’s mind much like guarding a castle; protect the mind similar to protecting the eye ball. Mind is an enemy capable of destroying and eliminating all of the virtues and merits one has worked so hard to accumulate during one’s existence, or sometimes many lifetimes. To repent the mind-karma, sincere Buddhists should think that the three karmas of Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance of the mind are the roots and foundations of infinite karmic transgressions. The mind-karma is the web of ignorance which masks our wisdom and is the affliction and worry that cover our true nature. It should be feared and needs be avoided. Sincere Buddhists should use their heart and mind to sincerely confess and repent, be remorseful, and vow never again to commit such offenses.
Talking about the attittude of acceptance or not acceptance of angry and displease, according to the Middle Length Discrouses, the Buddha taught: “Angry and displeased, brahmana Akkosaka-bharadvaja went to the Enlightened One, and there abused and reviled the Enlightened One in harsh and rude words. Being thus spoken the Enlightened One said to the brahmana: “What do you think Brahmana? Do your friends and acquaintances, do your blood relatives and guests pay a visit to you?” Akkosaka replied: “Yes, sometimes, friends and acquaintances, blood relatives and guests pay me a visit.” The Buddha said: “What do you think, o brahmana? Do you offer them food to chew, to eat and to taste?” Akkosaka replied: “Sometimes, I offer them food to chew, to eat and to taste.” The Buddha continued to ask: “O brahmana, if they do not accept them, to whom these foods come back? Brahmana replied: “If they do not accept them, these foods come back to us.” The Buddha continued to say: “In the same way, o brahmana! You have abused us who do not abuse. You have reviled us who do not revile. You have scolded us who do not scold. We do not accept them from you, so they are all for you. O brahmana, they are all for you. O brahmana, he who abuses back when abused at, who reviles back when reviled, who scolds back when scolded, o brahmana, this is called eating them together and sharing them together. We do not eat them with you. We do not share them with you. So they are all for you, o brahmana! They are all for you, o brahmana! Thus the Buddha always reminded his disciples: “Hatreds do not cease hatred; by love alone do they cease.” The Buddha continued to remind: “The more evil that comes to me, the more good will radiate from me, for I always return good for evil.” Some people believe that it’s not practical to return good for evil and they believe that “return swords for swords.” Yes, it’s easy to think and to do about “return sword for sword,” but in doing that we might get caught in the quagmire of troubles. It’s extremely difficult by returning good for evil. It’s extremely difficult to smile with the person who just raised his hand to beat us, but we are the Buddha’s disciples, we must listen to his teaching, we must return good for evil at all times, in all places and circumstances. The Buddha taught: “Bandits who steal merits are of no comparison to hatred and anger. Because when hatred and anger arise, inevitable innumerable karma will be created. Immediately thereafter, hundreds and thousands of obstructions will appear, masking the proper teachings of enlightenment, burying and dimming the Buddha Nature. Therefore, A thought of hatred and anger had just barely risen, ten thousands of karmic doors will open immediately. It is to say with just one thought of hatred, one must endure all such obstructions and obstacles.” In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me.” Hatred will never leave those who dwell on such thoughts (3). “He abused me, he hit me, he defeated me, he robbed me.” Hatred will leave those who do not harbor such thoughts (4). In this world, hatred never destroys (eliminates) hatred, only love does. This is an eternal law (5). One should give up anger; one should abandon pride. One should overcome all fetters. No suffering befall him who calls nothing his own (Dharmapada 221). He who controls his anger which arises as a rolling chariot. He is a true charioteer. Other people are only holding the rein (Dharmapada 222). Conquer anger by love; conquer evil by good; conquer stingy by giving; conquer the liar by truth (Dharmapada 223). One should speak the truth. One should not be angry. One should give when asked to. These are three good deeds that help carry men the realm of heaven (224). One should guard against the bodily anger, or physical action, and should control the body. One should give up evil conduct of the body. One should be of good bodily conduct (Dharmapada 231). One should guard against the anger of the tongue; one should control the tongue. One should give up evil conduct in speech. One should be of good conduct in speech (Dharmapada 232). One should guard against the anger of the mind; one should control the mind. One should give up evil conduct of the mind. One should practice virtue with the mind (Dharmapada 233).
The third Poison is “Ignorance”. In Buddhism, Avidya is noncognizance of the four noble truths, the three precious ones (triratna), and the law of karma, etc. Avidya is the first link of conditionality (pratityasampada), which leads to entanglement of the world of samsara and the root of all unwholesome in the world. This is the primary factor that enmeshes (làm vướng víu) beings in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. In a Buddhist sense, it refers to lack of understanding of the four noble truths (Arya-satya), the effects of actions (karma), dependent arising (pratitya-samutpada), and other key Buddhist doctrines. In Madhyamaka, “Avidya” refers to the determination of the mind through ideas and concepts that permit beings to construct an ideal world that confers upon the everyday world its forms and manifold quality, and that thus block vision of reality. “Avidya” is thus the nonrecognition of the true nature of the world, which is empty (shunyata), and the mistaken understanding of the nature of phenomena. Thus “avidya” has a double function: ignorance veils the true nature and also constructs the illusory appearance. “Avidya” characterizes the conventional reality. For the Sautrantikas and Vaibhashikas, “Avidya” means seeing the world as unitary and enduring, whereas in reality it is manifold and impermanent. “Avidya” confers substantiality on the world and its appearances. In the Yogachara’s view, “avidya” means seeing the object as a unit independent of consciousness, when in reality it is identical with it. Ignorance means Unenlightened, the first or last of the twelve nidanas. Ignorance is Illusion or darkness without illumination, the ignorance which mistakes seeming for being, or illusory phenomena for realities. Ignorance of the way of escape from sufferings, one of the three affluences that feed the stream of mortality or transmigration. Sometimes ignorance means “Maya” or “Illusion.” It means complete darkness without illumination. The ignorance which mistakes seeming for being, or illusory phenomena for realities. Ignorance is the main cause of our non-enlightenment. Ignorance os only a false mark, so it is subject to production, extinction, increase, decrease, defilement, purity, and so on. Ignorance is the main cause of our birth, old age, worry, grief, misery, and sickness, and death. Ignorance is one of the three fires which must be allowed to die out before Nirvana is attained. The erroneous state of mind which arises from belief in self. It is due to ignorance, people do not see things as they really are, and cannot distinguish between right and wrong. They become blind under the delusion of self, clinging to things which are impermanent, changeable, and perishable.
To refrain from greed, anger, jealousy, and other evil thoughts to which people are subject, we need strength of mind, strenuous effort and vigilance. When we are free from the city life, from nagging preoccupation with daily life, we are not tempted to lose control; but when we enter in the real society, it becomes an effort to check these troubles. Meditation will contribute an immense help to enable us to face all this with calm. The karma of greed, anger and delusion manifest themselves in many forms, which are impossible to describe fully. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and Practice, there are four basic ways to subdue them. Depending on the circumstances, the practitioner can use either one of these four methods to counteract the karma of greed, anger and delusion. There are only two points of divergence between the deluded and the enlightened, i.e., Buddhas and Bodhisattvas: purity is Buddhahood, defilement is the state of sentient beings. Because the Buddhas are in accord with the Pure Mind, they are enlightened, fully endowed with spiritual powers and wisdom. Because sentient beings are attached to worldly Dusts, they are deluded and revolve in the cycle of Birth and Death. To practice Pure Land is to go deep into the Buddha Recitation Samadhi, awakening to the Original Mind and attaining Buddhahood. Therefore, if any deluded, agitated thought develops during Buddha Recitation, it should be severed immediately, allowing us to return to the state of the Pure Mind. This is the method of counteracting afflictions with the mind. When deluded thoughts arise which cannot be suppressed with the mind, we should move to the second stage and “visualize principles.” For example, whenever the affliction of greed develops, we should visualize the principles of impurity, suffering, impermanence, and no-self. Whenever the affliction of anger arises, we should visualize the principles of compassion, forgiveness and emptiness of all dharmas. People with heavy karma who cannot suppress their afflictions by visualizing principles alone, we should use “phenomena,” that is external forms. For example, individuals who are prone to anger and delusion and are aware of their shortcomings, should, when they are on the verge of bursting into a quarrel, immediately leave the scene and slowly sip a glass of cold water. Those heavily afflicted with the karma of lust-attachment who cannot suppress their afflictions through “visualization of principle,” should arrange to be near virtuous Elders and concentrate on Buddhist activities or distant travel, to overcome lust and memories gradually as mentioned in the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” This is because sentient beings’ minds closely parallel their surroundings and environment. If the surroundings disappear, the mind loses its anchor, and gradually, all memories fade away. In addition to the above three methods, which range from the subtle to the gross, there is also a fourth: repentance and the recitation of sutras, mantras and the Buddha’s name. If performed regularly, repentance and recitation eradicate bad karma and generate merit and wisdom. For this reason, many cultivators in times past, before receiving the precepts or embarking upon some great Dharma work such as building a temple or translating a sutra, would vow to recite the Great Compassion Mantra tens of thousands of times, or to recite the entire Larger Prajna Paramita Sutra, the longest sutra in the Buddha canon. In the past, during lay retreats, if a practitioner had heavy karmic obstructions and could not recite the Buddha’s name with a pure mind or clearly visualize Amitabha Buddha, the presiding Dharma Master would usually advise him to follow the practice of “bowing repentance with incense.” This method consists of lighting a long incense stick and respectfully bowing in repentance while uttering the Buddha’s name, until the stick is burnt out. There are cases of individuals with heavy karma who would spend the entire seven or twenty-one days retreat doing nothing but “bowing with incense.
232. Five Turbidities
Five Turbidities, or defilements, or depravities, are five stages of a world existence. In the Surangama Sutra, book Four, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the five turbidities as follows: “Ananda! While you are in your body, what is solid is of earth, what is moist is of water, what is warm is of fire, and what moves is of wind. Because of these four bonds, your tranquil and perfect, wonderfully enlightened bright mind divides into seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition. From beginning to end there are the five layers of turbidity. What is meant by ‘turbidity?’ Ananda! Pure water, for instance, is fundamentally clear and clean, whereas dust, dirt, ashes, silt, and the like, are basically solid substances. Such are the properties of the two; their natures are not compatible. Suppose, then, that an ordinary person takes some dirt and tosses it into the pure water. The dirt loses its solid quality and the water is deprived of its transparency. The cloudiness which results is called ‘turbidity.’ Your five layers of turbidity are similar to it.”
The first Turbidity is the Kalpa turbidity, or the turbidity of the kalpa. The defilement of the life-span, when the human life-span as a whole decreases. Life is turbid or this Saha world is filled with impurity. In the Surangama Sutra, book Four, the Buddha explained to Ananda about the kalpa turbidity as follows: “Ananda! You see that emptiness pervades the ten directions. There is no division between emptiness and seeing. However, although emptiness has no substance and your seeing has no awareness, the two become entangled in a falseness. This is the first layer, called the turbidity of time. Also in the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, the Buddha taught Ananda about how to transcend the kalpa turbidity as follows: “Ananda! You should know that as a cultivator sits in the Bodhimanda, he is doing away with all thoughts. When his thoughts come to an end, there will be nothing in his mind. This state of pure clarity will stay the same whether in movement or stillness, in remembrance or forgetfulness. When he dwells in this place and enters samadhi, he is like a person with clear vision who finds himself in total darkness. Although his nature is wonderfully pure, his mind is not yet illuminated . This is the region of the form skandha. If his eyes become clear, he will then experience the ten directions as an open expanse, and the darkness will be gone. This is the end of the form skandha. He will then be able to transcend the turbidity of kalpas. Contemplating the cause of the form skandha, one sees that false thoughts of solidity are its source.
The second Turbidity is the view turbidity or the turbidity of view. Turbidity of view means all different views, perceptions, and knowledge of sentient beings that are based on false conceptions. They are gossip, competition, fame, self, egotism, right, wrong, etc. The corruption of views also means that misguided, perverse views, bad views, the advocacy of total annihilation. The view that our bodies are entities we possess, the view that we are annihilated after death or else live on forever, the view that we cling to with our arbitrary opinions is best, and the view that we will find salvation by our own subjectively chosen methods. Because we are deluded by such views and utterly submerged in them, this is called the corruption of views. Corruptive views or wrong views which cause corruption of doctrinal views. View turbid (false and evil views) is also the defilement of views, or perverse thoughts. In the Surangama Sutra, book Four, the Buddha explained to Ananda about the turbidity of views as follows: “Ananda! Your body appears in full, with the four elements composing its substance, and from this, seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition become firmly defined. Water, fire, wind, and earth fluctuate between sensation and cognition and become entangled in a falseness. This is the second layer, called the turbidity of views. Also in the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, the Buddha taught Ananda about the transcendency of the affliction turbidity as follows: “Ananda! When the good person who is cultivating samadhi and samatha has put an end to the form skandha, he can see the mind of all Buddhas as if seeing an image reflected in a clear mirror. He seems to have obtained something, but he cannot use it. In this he resembles a paralyzed person. His hands and feet are intact, his seeing and hearing are not distorted, and yet his mind has come under a deviant influence, so that he is unable to move. This is the region of the feeling skandha. Once the problem of paralysis subsides, his mind can then leave his body and look back upon his face. It can go or stay as it pleases without further hindrance. This is the end of the feeling skandha. This person can then transcend the turbidity of views. Contemplating the cause of the feeling skandha, one sees that false thoughts of illusory clarity are its source.
The third Turbidity is the affliction turbidity or the turbidity of affliction. Turbidity of affliction means sentient beings are constantly plagued with afflictions, worries, anger, vengeance, false views, etc. All such impure thoughts consume their minds and bodies, but kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are very rare. Thus, they cause one another innumerable afflictions. The Affliction Turbidity or affliction turbid (constantly in turmoil) also means the defilement of passions, when all kinds of transgressions are exalted. In the Surangama Sutra, book Four, the Buddha explained to Ananda about the the affliction turbidity as follows: “Ananda! Further, the functions of memory, discrimination, and verbal comprehension in your mind bring into being knowledge and views. From out of them appear the six defiling objects. Apart from the defiling objects there are no appearances. Apart from cognition they have no nature. But they become entangled in a falseness. This is the third layer, called the turbidity of afflictions” Also in the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, the Buddha taught Ananda about the transcendency of the affliction turbidity as follows: “Ananda! When the good person who is cultivating samadhi has put an end to the feeling skandha, although he has not achieved freedom from outflows, his mind can leave his body the way a bird escapes from a cage. From within his ordinary, he already has the potential for ascending through the Bodhisattvas’ sixty levels of sagehood. He attains the ‘body produced by intent’ and can roam freely without obstruction. This is like someone talking in his sleep. Although he does not know he is doing it, his words are clear, and his voice and inflection are all in order, so those who are awake can understand what he is saying. This is the region of the thinking skandha. If he puts an end to his stirring thoughts and rids himself of superfluous thinking, it is as if he has purged defilement from the enlightened, understanding mind. Then he is perfectly clear about the births and deaths of all categories of beings from beginning to end. This is the end of the thinking skandha. He can then transcend the turbidity of afflictions. Contemplating the cause of the thinking skandha, one sees that interconnected false thoughts are its source
The fourth Turbidity is the living beings turbidity, or turbidity of sentient beings. The Living Beings Turbidity or sentient beings turbid; everyone is filled with greed, hatred, ignorance, egoism, skepticism, etc. The defilement of human condition, people are always dissatisfied and unhappy. The period where all creatures are stupid and unclean. In the Surangama Sutra, book Four, the Buddha explained to Ananda about the turbidity of living beings as follows: “Ananda! And then day and night there is endless production and extinction as your knowledge and views continually wish to remain in the world, while your karmic patterns constantly move you to various places. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fourth layer, called the turbidity of living beings.” Also in the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, the Buddha taught Ananda about the transcendcy of the turbidity of living beings as follows: “Ananda! When the good person who is cultivating samadhi has put an end to the thinking skandha, he is ordinarily free of dreaming and idle thinking, so he stays the same whether in wakefulness or in sleep. His mind is aware, clear, empty, and still, like a cloudless sky, devoid of any coarse sense-impressions. he Contemplates everything in the world, the mountains, the rivers, and the earth, as reflections in a mirror, appearing without attachment and vanishing without any trace; they are simply received and reflected. He does away with all his old habits, and only the essential truth remains. From this point on, as the origin of production and destruction is exposed, he will completely see all the twelve categories of living beings in the ten directions. Although he has not fathomed the source of their individual lives, he will see that they share a common basis of life, which appears as a mirage, shimmering and fluctuating, and is the ultimate, pivotal point of the illusory sense faculties and sense objects. This is the region of the formations skandha. Once the basic nature of this shimmering fluctuation returns to its original clarity, his habits will cease, like waves subsiding to become clear, calm water. This is the end of the formations skandha. This person will then be able to transcend the turbidity of living beings. Contemplating the cause of the formations skandha, one sees that subtle and hidden false thoughts are its source.
The fifth Turbidity is the life turbidity, or turbidity of this life (physical body). In the Surangama Sutra, book Four, the Buddha explained to Ananda about the life turbidity as follows: “Ananda! Originally, your seeing and hearing were not different natures, but a multitude of defiling objects has divided them until suddenly they became different. Their natures have a mutual awareness, but their functions are in opposition. Sameness and difference arise and they lose their identity. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fifth layer, called the turbidity of a lifespan.” The Life Turbidity, or body turbid (body of impurity). The defilement of the world-age, when war and natural disasters are rife. Human lifetime gradually diminishes to ten years. Furthermore, the body is the accumulation of the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air, wrapped around a thin layer of skin masking the internal wreaking odors of the flesh, blood, bone, phlegm and other bodily secretions, and upon death, becomes rotten and eaten by worms. In fact, it becomes so disgusting that no one dare to go near. Also in the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, the Buddha taught Ananda about the transcendency of the turbidity of life span as follows: “Ananda! When that good person, in cultivating samadhi, has put an end to the formations skandha, the subtle, fleeting fluctuations, the deep, imperceptible , pivotal source and the common foundation from which all life in the world springs, are suddenly obliterated. In the submerged network of the retributive karma of the pudgala, the karmic resonances are interrupted. There is about to be a great illumination in the sky of Nirvana. It is like gazing east at the cock’s final crow to see the light of dawn. The six sense faculties are empty and still; there is no further racing about. Inside and outside there is a profound brightness. He enters without entering. Fathoming the source of life of the twelve categories of beings throughout the ten directions, he can contemplate that source without being drawn into any of the categories. He has become identical with with the realms of the ten directions. The light does not fade, and what was hidden before is now revealed. This is the region of the consciousness skandha. If he has become identical with the beckoning masses, he may obliterate the individuality of the six gates and succeed in uniting and opening them. Seeing and hearing become linked so that they function interchangeably and purely. The worlds of the ten directions and his own body and mind are as bright and transparent as vaidurya. This is the end of the consciousness skamdha. This person can then transcend the turbidity of life span. Contemplating the cause of the consciousness skandha, one sees that the negation of existence and the negation of non-existence are both unreal, and that upside-down false thoughts are its source.
233. Five Shackles in the Heart
In the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, the Wilderness in the Heart Sutra, the Buddha confirmed: “There are five shackles (mental bondages) in the heart.” The first shackle in the heart that he has not severed. Here a bhikkhu is not free from lust, desire, affection, thirst, fever, and craving for sensual pleasures, and thus his mind does not incline to ardour, devotion, perseverance, and striving. As his mind does not incline to ardour, devotion, perserverance, and striving. The second shackle in the heart that he has not severed. A bhikkhu is not free from lust, desire, affection, thirst, fever, and craving for the body (the rest remains the same as in the last part of 1). The third shackle in the heart that he has not severed. A bhikkhu is not free from lust, desire, affection, thirst, fever, and craving for form (the rest remains the same as the last part of 1). The fourth shackle in the heart that that he has not severed. A bhikkhu eats as much as he likes until his belly is full and indulges in the pleasures of sleeping, lolling, and drowsing… As his mind does not inclined to ardour, devotion, perserverance, and striving. The fifth shackle in the heart that that he has not severed. A bhikkhu lives a holy life aspiring to some order of gods thus: “By this virtue or observance or asceticism or holy life, I shall become a great god or some lesser god,” and thus his mind does not inclined to ardour, devotion, perserverance, and striving.
234. Seven Poisons
According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are seven latent proclivities or underlying tendencies, or inherent tendencies. For it is owing to their inveteracy that they are called inherent tendencis (anusaya) since they inhere (anusenti) as cause for the arising of greed for sense desire, etc., again and again. The first poison is the underlying tendency to sensual lust. The inherent tendency to greed for sense desire. Ordinary human love springing from desire, in contrast with religious love. The second poison is the underlying tendency to aversion, or the inherent tendency to resentment. The third poison is the underlying tendency to views, or the inherent tendency to false view. The fourth poison is the underlying (inherent) tendency to doubt (uncertainty). The fifth poison is the underlying (inherent) tendency to conceit (pride). The sixth poison is the underlying tendency to lust for existence (or lust for becoming). The seventh poison is the underlying tendency to ignorance. Besides, according to the Digha Nikaya Sutra and Angutara Nikaya Sutra, there are seven defilements that lie dormant in the recesses of man’s mind. They are desire, evil thoughts, wrong views, doubt, pride, attachment, and ignorance.
235. Ten Poisons
Poison is also called Defilement or Hindrances. These poisons are sources of all passions and delusions. The fundamental evils inherent in life which give rise to human suffering. The three poisons are regarded as the sources of all illusions and earthly desires. They pollute people’s lives. Men worry about many things. Poisons include harsh or stern words for repressing evil; misleading teaching. Poisons are also the turbidity of desire or the contamination of desire. The poison of desire or love which harms devotion to Buddhist practices. Besides, the poison of delusion, one of the three poisons, and the poison of touch, a term applied to woman. According to the Buddha, there are four poisons in our body, or four poisonous snakes in a basket which imply the four elements in a body (of which a man is formed). The four elements of the body, earth, water, fire and wind which harm a man by their variation, i.e. increase and decrease. Three Poisons or three sources of all passions and delusions. The fundamental evils inherent in life which give rise to human suffering. The three poisons are regarded as the sources of all illusions and earthly desires. They pollute people’s lives. Men worry about many things. Broadly speaking, there are 84,000 worries. But after analysis, we can say there are only 10 serious ones which are ten disturbers of the religious life. Ten poisons do not only cause our afflictions, but also prevent us from tasting the pure and cool flavor of emancipation (liberation).
The first poison is “Lust”. Lust is the string of craving and attachment confines us to samsara’s prison. In other words, craving and attachment are not only roots that prevent us from being sufficiently moved to renounce samsara, but they are also two of the main things that bind us to samsara. In order to overcome craving and attachment, we should contemplate on the impurity of the body. When we are attached to someone, for example, consider how that person is just a sack full of six kinds of filthy substances. Then our attachment and craving will diminish. The second poison is “Anger”. Anger is the highly disturbed aspect of the mind that arises when we see something unpleasant. The objects of anger could be sentient beings or inanimate objects; when we involve ourselves with them they completely disturb and torment our mind and we wish to harm them. Anger does great damage, for it can destroy our root merits as if they had been burnt in a fire. Anger is responsible for people taking lives, beating or stabbing others. The third poison is “Ignorance”. Ignorance is the opposite of the word ‘to know’. In Budhdism, ignorance means ‘not knowing’, ‘not seeing’, ‘not understanding’, ‘being unclear’, and so forth. Whoever is dominated by ignorance is like a blind person because the eyes are shut, or not seeing the true nature of objects, and not understanding the truths of cause and effect, and so on. Ignorance is the root of all sufferings and afflictions. The fourth poison is “Pride”. Pride is the inflated opinion of ourselves and can manifest in relation to some good or bad object. When we look down from a high mountain, everyone below seems to have shrunken in size. When we hold ourselves to be superior to others, and have an inflated opinion of ourselves, we take on a superior aspect. It is extremely difficult to develop any good qualities at all when one has pride, for no matter how much the teacher may teach that person, it will do no good. Haughtiness means false arrogance, thinking oneself correct in spite of one’s wrong conduct, thinking oneself is good in spite of one’s very bad in reality. Haughtiness also means arrogance and conceit due to one’s illusion of having completely understood what one has hardly comprehended at all. Haughtiness is one of the main hindrances in our cultivation. In cultivating the Way, we must have genuine wisdom. Those who have genuine wisdom never praise themselves and disparage others. These people never consider themselves the purest and loftiest, and other people common and lowly. In Buddhism, those who praise themselve have no future in their cultivation of the Way. Even though they are still alive, they can be considered as dead, for they have gone against their own conscience and integrity. The fifth poison is “Doubt”. Doubt signifies spiritual doubt, from a Buddhist perspective the inability to place confidence in the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, and the training. Doubt, as wavering uncertainty, a hindrance and fetter to be removed. One of the mula-klesa, or root causes of suffering. Skepticism, one of the five hindrances one must eliminate on entering the stream of saints. Vichikiccha is a Pali term, a combination of “vi”, means without; and “cikiccha” means medicine. One who suffers from perplexity is really suffering from a dire disease, and unless he sheds his doubts, he will continue to worry over and suffer from this illness. As long as man is subject to this mental itch, this sitting on the fence, he will continue to take a skeptical view of things which is most detrimental to mental ability to decide anything definitely; it also includes doubt with regard to the possibility of attaining the jhanas. Doubting is natural. Everyone starts with doubts. We can learn a great deal from them. What is important is that we do not identify with our doubts. That is, do not get caught up in them, letting our mind spin in endless circles. Instead, watch the whole process of doubting, of wondering. See who it is that doubts. See how doubts come and go. Then we will no longer be victimized by our doubts. We will step outside of them, and our mind will be quiet. We can see how all things come and go. Let go of our doubts and simply watch. This is how to end doubting. The sixth poison is “Wrong Views”. According to Buddhism, perverted (wrong) views are views that do not accept the law of cause and effect, not consistent with the dharma, one of the five heterodox opinions and ten evils. This view arises from a misconception of the real characteristic of existence. There were at least sixty-two heretical views (views of the externalist or non-Buddhist views) in the Buddha’s time. Buddhism emphasizes on theory of causation. Understanding the theory of causation means to solve most of the question of the causes of sufferings and afflictions. Not understanding or refuse of understanding of the theory of causation means a kind of wrong view in Buddhism. According to the Buddha, sentient beings suffer from sufferings and afflictions because of dersires, aversions, and delusion, and the causes of these harmful actions are not only from ignorance, but also from wrong views. Wrong views also means holding to the view of total annihilation, or the view that death ends life, or world-extinction and the end of causation, in contrast with the view that body and soul are eternal, both views being heterodox. The philosophic doctrine that denies a substantial reality to the phenomenal universe. The seventh poison is “Killing”. This is one of the ten kinds of evil karma, to kill living beings, to take life, kill the living, or any conscious being. According to The Buddha and His Teaching, written by Most Venerable Narada, killing means the intentional destruction of any living being. The Pali term pana strictly means the psycho-physical life pertaining to one’s particular existence. The wanton destruction of this life-force, without allowing it to run its due course, is panatipata. Pana also means that which breathes. Hence all animate beings, including animals, are regarded as pana. Plants are not considered as “living beings” as they possess no mind. Monks and nuns, however, are forbidden to destroy even plant life. This rule, it may be mentioned, does not apply to lay-followers. According to the Buddhist laws, the taking of human life offends against the major commands, of animal life against the less stringent commands. Suicide also leads to severe penalties in the next lives. The eighth poison is “Stealing”. Stealing means taking possession of anything that has not been given by its owner or stealing, is also wrong, even legally speaking. Stealing, one of the four grave prohibitions or sins in Buddhism. Stealing is taking what isn’t given to us. It includes not paying taxes or fees that are due, borrowing things and not returning them, and taking things from our workplace for our own personal use. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who steals or violates the property of another, whether the property is privately or publicly owned, breaks the second of the Four Degradation Offences. He or she is no longer worthy to remain a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni and cannot participate in the activities of the Order of Bhiksus or Order of Bhiksunis. The ninth poison is “Sexual Intercourse”. This is the third commandment of the five basic commandments for lay people, and the third precept of the ten major precepts for monks and nuns in the Brahma Net Sutra. Monks or nuns who commit this offence will be expelled from the Order forever. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who has sexual intercourse with another person, whether a female or male, and whether that person has given consent or not, breaks the first of the Four Degradation Offences. He or she is no longer worthy to remain a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni and cannot participate in the activities of the Bhiksu or Bhiksuni Sangha. A Bhiksu who, when motivated by sexual desire, tells a woman or a man that it would be a good thing for her or him to have sexual relations with him, commits a Sangha Restoration Offence. A Bhiksuni who is intent upon having sexual relations with someone, whether male or female, breaks one of the eight Degradation Offences. She is no longer worthy to remain a Bhiksuni and cannot participate in the actiivities of the Order of Bhiksunis. Through word or gesture arouses sexual desire in that person, breaks the seventh of the Eight Degradation Offences. Says to that person that she is willing to offer him or her sexual relations, breaks the Degradation Offences. The tenth poison is “Lying”. Lying means verbally saying or indicating through a nod or a shrug somethng we know isn’t true. However, telling the truth should be tempered and compassion. For instance, it isn’t wise to tel the truth to a murderer about a potential victim’s whereabouts, if this would cause the latter’s death. According to the Dharmapada Sutra, verse 306, the Buddha taught: “The speaker of untruth goes down; also he who denies what he has done, both sinned against truth. After death they go together to hells.”
236. Four Poisonous Snakes
The four elements are compared as the four snakes. The parable of a man who fled from the two bewildering forms of life and death, and climbed down a rope (of life), into the well of impermanence, where two mice, night and day, gnawed the rattan rope, on the four sides of four snakes sought to poison him. The four elements of his physical body were the three dragons breathing fire and trying to seize him. On looking up he saw that two elephants (darkness and light) had come to the mouth of the well; he was in despair, when a bee flew by and dropped some honey (the five desires) into his mouth, which he ate and entirely forgot his peril.
In Buddhism, power or ability is always used as the sense organs to discern the truth. There are many different kinds of powers, such as power of diligence, power of the mind, power of karma, power of mindfulness, power of contemplation, power of familiarization, power of listening, and so on. According to Lama Khenchen Thrangu in “The Practice of Tranquility and Insight”, the power of diligence creates mental stability, which is complete pacification. With very strong obstacles such as unhappiness, regret, or aggression, just thinking of good qualities of meditation will not eliminate them right away. Instead, one needs the power of diligence so that one can eliminate all strong obstacles such as attachment, aggression, and ignorance and creates the state of complete pacification. While power of diligence depends on the Buddha, who confers his strength on all who seek it and upholds them; it implies prayer, because of obtaining the Buddha’s power and transferring it to others. In general it means to aid or to support. The spiritual power of the Buddha which is added to a Bodhisattva and sustains him through his course of discipline. This is one of the conceptions peculiar to Mahayana Buddhism. The power of wisdom (prajna), the ability to maintain clear wisdom or the force of wisdom which rests on insight into the four noble truths and leads to the knowledge that liberates. The power which help destroying all illusion and delusion, one of the five powers. This is also one of the ten great powers obtainable by a Bodhisattva. Though karma was simply defined as deeds, in reality karma implies the accumulation of all our experiences and deeds since the birth of mankind, and since even before that time. This is called “karma of previous existence.” The action of this karma is called the “power of karma.” This power can be correctly explained by understanding the working of the subconscious mind. Even things that the human race experienced hundreds of thousands of years ago remain in the depth of our minds, as do the much stronger influences of the deeds and mental attitudes of our ancestors. The karma of previous existence that Buddhism teaches is still more profound, as it includes the karma that our own life has produced through the repetition of birth and death from the infinite past to the present. The power of karma is the strength of karma which produces good or evil fruit. Karmic power is the strength of karma. It is similar to a debt collector. There are many different strong and weak debt collectors. When we die, our consciousness will be taken by the strongest and greatest debt collector. Faculty of alertness or force of mindfulness, which destroys falsity. The faculty of alertness, mindfulness or force of mindfulness which is achieved through meditation, one of the five powers or bala, or one of the seven bodhyanga. According to Lama Khenchen Thrangu in “The Practice of Tranquility and Insight”, the power of mindfulness helps develop mental stability called the re-established settlement. This means that when one is meditating, thoughts will arise and one becomes aware that one has become distracted by them. One returns to the state of meditation. When there is a distraction that takes one away from resting in meditation, one is able to return to one’s state of meditation repeatedly. This power of mindfulness also develops the stage of mental stability, called intensified settlement, in which the mind that has been broadly focused is now focused very narrowly. The mind, for instance, is narrowly focused on an object. The purpose of this kind of meditation is to focus the mind on something very subtle. Power of contemplation is the ability to contemplate. According to Lama Khenchen Thrangu in “The Practice of Tranquility and Insight”, the power of contemplating or reflection, which means that one goes through reason and the logic of the teachings to complete the continuity of teachings. With this power one develops the stage of mental stability, which is called continued settlement. In this stage one can do it longer, say for ten minutes. These first two stages of listening to the teachings and continually contemplating them are the first two powers and accomplish the first mental engagement, which is called disciplined or controlled engagement. Power of familiarization is the ability of habits. According to Lama Khenchen Thrangu in “The Practice of Tranquility and Insight”, the power of familiarization helps the mind naturally settle without the need for effort or discipline. Power of listening is the ability of listening. According to Lama Khenchen Thrangu in “The Practice of Tranquility and Insight”, the power of listening, or hearing, or receiving the teaching. This develops mental stability or samatha, which is called the settling or resting of the mind. Normally one’s mind is distracted by thoughts, so one has to settle the mind a little in order not to be too distracted by external things. This is done through the power of listening. One hears the teachings of the Buddha, the teachings in the commentaries, and explanations given by the scholars and siddhas (Tibetan masters). Through these one understands what meditation is like. Hearing these, one is able to understand settling the mind and learns how to meditate. Marpa said that hearing and contemplating the teachings is like a torch that illuminates the darkness because if one has this source of light, one can see where one is going, what is there, and what might be dangerous and harmful. In Tibet, there is also saying, “If one does not have a lamp and walks in the dark, then one’s head might connect with a pilar.” In the same way hearing and contemplating the teachings is like a lamp, it dipels the darkness and one sees what it is one must do and how one has to do it. Ordinary people are entirely enmeshed in heavy evil karma and are full of all kinds of afflictions. Even though they may have some virtues as a result of cultivation, they find it difficult to sever even a fraction of their defilements and hindrances. The Land of Ultimate Bliss, on the other hand, is extremely purely adorned, transcending the Triple Realm. How can such depraved common mortals hope to be reborn there? According to Masters Chih-I and T’ien-Ju in the Pure Land Buddhism, there are two kinds of power: self-power and other-power. Besides, there are three other kinds of powers: personal power; Tathagata power; and power of Buddha-nature within.
Bala-paramitas is the most significant paramita of the last four paramitas of the ten paramitas, because it is their focus on their commitment to action. 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).
In “In This Very Life,” Zen master Sayadaw U Pandita confirmed that there are four powers which motivate successful practice: The first power is willingness. In practice as much as in worldly endeavors, willingness serves as a locomotive to pull the whole train. The second power is “Energy”. Energy serves as fuel to operate the locomotive. The third power is the strength of the mind. Willingness and energy will provide the mind with necessary strength to travel on the path toward purification. The fourth power is “Wisdom”. A vigorous and strong-minded person is quite sure of accomplishing whatever he or she desires. Willingness, energy, and strength of the mind motivate successful practice and bloom flower of wisdom. And wisdom in turn unfolds the way to purification and Nirvana. According to the Mahayana Buddhism, there are five powers or faculties for any cultivator. The powers of five spiritual facultties which are developed through strengthening the five roots. These powers are power of faith, power of zeal, power of memory, power of meditation, and power of wisdom. Power of Faith or force of belief which precludes all false belief. The Power of Zeal is the will to make the endeavor or force of active vigor which leads to overcoming all obstacles. Power of Memory is the faculty of alertness, or mindfulness, or force of mindfulness which is achieved through meditation. Power of Meditation (Dhyana) is the ability to concentrate one’s mind or force of concentration which leads to eliminate all passions and desires. Power of Wisdom (awareness) is the ability to maintain clear wisdom or force of wisdom which rests on insight into the four noble truths and leads to the knowledge that liberates. Besides, there are five other powers, such as the power of meditation, the resulting supernatural powers, the adaptability or power of borrowing or revolving any required organ of sense or knowledge, by being above the second dhyana, the power of accomplishing a vow by a Buddha or bodhisattva, and the august power of Dharma. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are seven powers that help cultivators who wish to reach emancipation. They are power of faith, power of energy, power of moral shame, power of moral dread, power of mindfulness, power of concentration, and power of wisdom. Besides, there are eight ksanti or powers of patient endurance, in the desire realm and the two realms above it. The eight powers of endurance are used to cease false or perplexed views in trailokya and acquire eight kinds of prajna or wisdom. These eight powers include four axioms or truth in the sense of desire and another four axioms in the realm of form and formless. The four axioms or truth in the sense of desire include: power of endurance of suffering; power of endurance of the cause of suffering, power of endurance of the elimination of suffering, and power of endurance of cultivation of the Path of elimination of suffering. The four axioms or truth in the sense of the form and formless are the same as in the sense of desire. However, in the realm of form and formless, the above four axioms are called Four Kinds of Powers of Endurance. According to Bhikkhu Bodhi in Abhidhamma, there are nine powers which include wholesome powers, unwholesome powers, either wholesome or unwhoelsome or indeterminate powers. Powers which are either wholesome or indeterminate include the power of faith, the power of mindfulness, the power of wisdom, the power of shame, and the power of fear of wrongdoing. Unwholesome Powers include the power of shamelessness and the power of fearlessness of wrongdoing. Either wholesome or unwholesome or indeterminate include the power of energy and the power of concentration.
There are ten kinds of powers, according to the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 38. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can acquire the supreme power of Buddhas. These ten powers include the power to comprehend the inherent essence of all things, the power to comprehend that all things are like phantoms, the power to comprehend that all things are like illusions, the power to comprehend that all things are Buddha’s teachings, the power to have no attachments to anything at all, the power to clearly understand all things, the power of the respectful mind never abandoning spiritual teachers, the power to cause all roots of goodness to reach supreme knowledge, the power of deep faith in all Buddhas’ teachings without rejection, and the power of skill in preventing the will for omniscience from backsliding. Enlightening beings who abide by these can attain the Buddhas’ ten powers of omniscience. First, power of the profound mind, not getting mixed up in worldly feelings; second, power of overmastering profound mind, not giving up the ways of enlightenment; third, power of means, consummating whatever they do; fourth, power of knowledge, comprehending the activities of all minds; fifth, power of vows, fulfilling all aspirations; sixth, power of practice, continuing forever; seventh, power of vehicle of liberation, able to produce all vehicles of liberation without abandoning the great universal vehicle; eighth, power of miraculous transformations, showing all pure worlds and all Buddhas appearing in the worlds in each pore; ninth, power of enlightenment, inspiring all sentient beings to seek enlightenment and become Buddhas, without end; and tenth, power of turning the wheel of the teaching, explaining one expression of truth in accord with the faculties, temperaments, and inclinations of all sentient beings. Also according to the Flower Adornemtn Sutra, Chapter 27, there are ten other powers of Great Enlightening Beings. The first power is the power of courageous strength, because they tame worldlings; second, the power of energy because they never backslide; third, the power of nonattachment, because they get rid of defiling obsessions; fourth, the power of silent calm, because they have no disputes about anything; fifth, the power to oppose or conform, because they are free in the midst of all things; sixth, the power of the nature of things, because they attain mastery of all truths; seventh, the power of nonobstruction, because their knowledge and wisdom is immensely vast; eighth, the power of fearlessness, because they can explain all truths; ninth, the power of intellect, because they can hold all truths; and tenth, the power of revelation, because their knowledge and wisdom is boundless.
According to Buddhist tradition, there are ten great powers of a Buddha. First, complete knowledge of what is right or wrong in every condition, or the power of knowing from awakening to what is and what is not the case (knowing right and wrong or the power to distinguish right from wrong); second, complete knowledge of what is the karma of every being past, present and future (the power of knowing karmic retributions throughout the three periods of time or knowing what karmic effects follow from which causes); third, complete knowledge of all stages of dhyana liberation and samadhi (the power of knowing all dhyanas, liberations and samadhis or knowing the various balanced states (four dhyanas, eight states of liberation, three samadhi, etc); fourth, complete knowledge of the powers and faculties of all beings (the power of knowing all faculties whether superior or inferior or knowing the superior or inferior makings og others); fifth, complete knowledge of the desires or moral direction of every being (the power of knowing the various realms or knowing the desires of others); sixth, complete knowledge of actual condition of every individual (the power of knowing the various understanding or knowing the states of others); seventh, complete knowledge of the direction and consequence of all laws (the power of knowing where all paths lead or knowing the destinations of others, either nirvana or hell); eighth, complete knowledge of all causes of mortality and of good and evil in their reality (the power of knowing through the heavenly eye without obstruction or knowing the past); ninth, complete knowledge of remote lives of all beings, the end of all beings and nirvana (the power of knowing previous lives without outflows or Buddha-power to know life and death, or all previous transmigrations); and tenth, complete knowledge of the destruction of all illusion of every kind (the power of knowing from having cut off all habits forever or knowing how to end excesses). According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 33, there are ten kinds of might with enormous power of all Buddhas. They are supreme power, measureless power, grandiose power, awesome power, power difficult to acquire, undiminishing power, stable power, indestructible power, power inconceivable to any worldlings, and power that all living beings cannot shake. According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 38, there are ten kinds of unimpeded function relating to power. First, unimpeded function of power relating to sentient beings, teaching and taming them without abandoning them; second, power relating to lands, manifesting untold adornment and arraying them; third, power relating to phenomena, causing all bodies to enter the bodiless; fourth, power relating to aeons, cultivating practices unceasingly; fifth, power of enlightenment, awakening those who are asleep; sixth, power of action including all practices of enlightening beings; seventh, power of Buddhas, liberating all sentient beings; eighth, teacherless power, spontaneously awakening to all truth; ninth, power of omniscience, attaining true enlightenment by omniscience; and tenth, power of great compassion, not abandoning sentient beings. Besides, there are also thirteen powers of Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land school: power of the causes, power of dependent conditions, power of the mind, power of the will (for good for onself and others), power of expedient means, power of the Impermanence, power of joy, power of meditation, power of the mind of wisdom or perfect understanding, power of broad study or hearing, power of observing commandments, endurance, effort and meditation, power of right mindfulness and right contemplation, and the power of the True Law which can guide and save all sentient beings. Bodhisattvas also have sixteen other great powers: will; mind, action, shame when doing evil, energy, firmness, wisdom, virtue, reasoning, personal appearance, physical powers, wealth, spirotual powers, magic, power of spreading the Truth, and power of subduing demons.
238. Force of the Mind
The “Force of the Mind” is also called the “power of the mind.” In Buddhist point of view, man’s mind influences his body profoundly. If allowed to function viciously and indulge in unwholesome thoughts, mind can cause disaster, can even cause one’s death. But on the other hand, a mind imbued with wholesome thoughts can cure a sick body. When the mind is concentrated on right thoughts with right effort and right understanding, the effects it can produce are immense. Thus a mind with pure and wholesome thoughts leads to a healthy and relaxed life. Mind is such a subtle and intricate phenomenon that it is impossible to fine two men of the same mind. Man’s thoughts are translated into speech and action. Repetition of such speech and action gives rise to habits and finally habits form character. Character is the result of man’s mind-directed activities and so the characters of human beings vary. Thus to understand the real nature of life, one has to explore the innermost recesses of one’s mind which can only be accomplished by deep self-introspection based on purity of conduct and meditation. The Buddhist point of view is that the mind or consciousness is the core of our existence. Of all forces the force of mind is the most potent. It is the power by itself. All our psychological experiences, such as pain and pleasure, sorrow and happiness, good and evil, life and death, are not attributed to any external agency. They are the result of our own thoughts and their resultant actions. To train our “force of mind” means to try to guide our minds to follow the wholesome path and to stay away from the unwholesome path. According to Buddhism teachings, training the mind doesn’t mean to gain union with any supreme beings, nor to bring about any mystical experiences, nor is it for any self-hypnosis. It is for gaining tranquility of mind and insight for the sole purpose of attaining unshakable deliverance of the mind. For a long long period of time, we all talk about air, land and environment pollution, what about our mind pollution? Should we do something to prevent our minds from wandering far deep into the polluted courses? Yes, we should. We should equally protect and cleanse our mind. The Buddha once taught: “For a long time has man’s mind been defiled by greed, hatred and delusion. Mental defilements make beings impure; and only mental cleansing can purify them.” Devout Buddhists should always keep in mind that our daily life is an intense process of cleansing our own action, speech and thoughts. And we can only achieve this kind of cleansing through practice, not philosophical speculation or logical abstraction. Remember the Buddha once said: “Though one conquers in battle thousand times thousand men, yet he is the greatest conqueror who conquers himself.” This is nothing other than “training of your own monkey mind,” or “self-mastery,” or “control your own mind.” It means mastering our own mental contents, our emotions, likes and dislikes, and so forth. Thus, “self-mastery” is the greatest empire a man can aspire unto, and to be subject to our own passions is the most grievous slavery.
239. The Triple World
According to The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Sangiti Sutra, the realms of births and deaths divided into three realms of existence. They are the realm of desire, the realm of form, and the formless realm. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The Bodhisattva-mahasattvas sees that the triple world is no more than the creation of the citta, manas, and mano-vijnana, that it is brought forth by falsely discriminating one’s own mind, that there are no signs of an external world where the principle of multiplicity rules, and finally that the triple world is just one’s own mind. The realm of (sensuous) desire of sex and food. The realm of desire, of sensuous gratification; this world and the six devalokas (includes the six heavens, the human world, and then hells); any world in which the elements of desire have not ben suppressed. The world of desire. The region of the wishes. This is the lowest of the three realms of existence, the other two being rupa-dhatu and arupa-dhatu. It is also the realm in which human live, and it receives its name because desire is the dominant motivation for its inhabitants. All beings in this realm possess five aggregates or panca-skandha. Realm of desire or sensual realm (human world, desire world, or passion world), one of the three realms. Realm of desire is a realm where there exists all kinds of desires. This is the realm of (sensuous) desire of sex and food. Form is used more in the sense of “substance,” or “something occupying space which will resist replacement by another form.” So it has extension, it is limited and conditioned. It comes into existence when conditions are matured, as Buddhists would say, and staying as long as they continue, pass away. Form is impermanent, dependent, illusory, relative, antithetical, and distinctive. The realm of form or matter or material world. It is above the lust world. It is represented in the Brahamlokas (tứ thiền thiên). Form is used more in the sense of “substance,” or “something occupying space which will resist replacement by another form.” So it has extension, it is limited and conditioned. It comes into existence when conditions are matured, as Buddhists would say, and staying as long as they continue, pass away. Form is impermanent, dependent, illusory, relative, antithetical, and distinctive. The realm of form. Being in the world of form have material form, but it is above the lust world (free from desires). It is represented in the fourth Heavens or Brahmalokas (tứ thiền thiên). This realm is considered to be higher that the one in which human beings live, i.e., the desire realm or kama-dhatu. According to Buddhism, the four form-realm-meditations have the form-heaven as their objective. The realm of no Beauty (non-form). The formless or immaterial realm of pure spirit. There are no bodies, palaces, things. Where the mind dwells in mystic contemplation. Its extent is indefinable in the four “empty” regions of spaces (Tứ không xứ). This is the realm of the higher deities. This is one of the three worlds (triloka) of traditional Buddhist cosmology. This is one of the “three worlds” (triloka) of traditional Buddhist cosmology. Beings are born into this realm as a result of successful cultivation of meditative states called the “four formless absorptions” (arupya-samapatti), each of which corresponds to a heaven realm within the Formless Realm. The formless realm of pure spirit, where there are no bodies, places, things. Its extent is undefinable in the four empty regions (Tứ không xứ). In the Formless Realm there is no physicality, and the beings who reside there have lives free from pain, anxiety, or afflictions, but this is seen as unsatisfactory from a Buddhist standpoint, because when their lives in the Formless Realm end they are again reborn in the lower levels of cyclic existence. The heavens without form, immaterial, consisting only of mind in contemplation. According to Buddhism, formless-realm-meditations have the formless heaven as their objective. It is a well-known fact that in the Buddha’s career he practiced the formless dhyana with Arada Kalama, and ascetic who attained the mental state of boundless consciousness, and Udraka Ramaputra, another ascetic who reached the highest stage of being neither conscious nor unconscious. Finally, the would-be Buddha surpassed his teachers and, having found no more to learn from them, went his own way in spite of their eager requests to stay and train their respective pupils.
240. The Triple Worlds As A Burning House
The three realms of Desire, Form and Formless realms scorching sentient beings, such sufferings are limitless. The triple worlds as a burning house. In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The three worlds are unsafe, much like a house on fire. Suffering is all pervasive, truly deserving to be terrified and frightened.” Sentient beings in the three worlds, especially those in the Saha World, are hampered constantly by afflictions and sufferings. Living crowded in the suffering conditions of this Saha World is similar to living in a house on fire, full of dangers, life can end at any moment. Even so, everyone is completely oblivious and unaware, but continues to live leisurely, chasing after the five desires, as if nothing was happening. Sincere Buddhists should always remember this and should always diligently cultivate to seek liberation. The burning house, one of the seven parables in the Wonder Lotus sutra, from which the owner tempts his heedless children by the device of the three kinds of carts (goat, deer and bullock), especially the white bullock cart. The three realms of Desire, Form and Formless realms scorching sentient beings, such sufferings are limitless. The triple worlds as a burning house. In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha taught: “The three worlds are unsafe, much like a house on fire. Suffering is all pervasive, truly deserving to be terrified and frightened.” Sentient beings in the three worlds, especially those in the Saha World, are hampered constantly by afflictions and sufferings. Living crowded in the suffering conditions of this Saha World is similar to living in a house on fire, full of dangers, life can end at any moment. Even so, everyone is completely oblivious and unaware, but continues to live leisurely, chasing after the five desires, as if nothing was happening. Sincere Buddhists should always remember this and should always diligently cultivate to seek liberation. Societies are filled with robberies, murders, rapes, frauds, deceptions, etc. All these continue without any foreseeable end. To speak of our individual mind, everyone is burdened with worries, sadness, depression, and anxieties, etc. In the Dharmapada Sutra, verse 146, the Buddha taught: “How can there be laughter, how can there be joy, when the whole world is burnt by the flames of passions and ignorance? When you are living in darkness, why wouldn’t you seek the light?”