THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
307. Bodhisattvayana and the Two Vehicles
308. Characteristics of Bodhisattvas
309. Cultivation of Mindfulness of the Body
310. Three Worlds
311. The Body-Mouth-Mind Must Be Controlled
312. Ten Methods of Cultivation
313. Dwelling Places of Buddhists
314. Cultivation Means Changing the Karma
315. Ten Paramitas
316. The Stages on the Path of Cultivation
317. Diligent Cultivation
318. Purification of Negative Karmas
319. Rejection of Means of Life or Rejection of Pleasures?
320. Beginninglessness-Endlessness According to the Buddhist Point of View
Bodhi-Mandala is a place, or seat where Buddha attained enlightenment; a place of truth where we strive in pursuit of the truth; a place for religious offerings; a place for teaching, learning, or practising religion. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Buddha asked Glorious Light Bodhisattva to visit Vimalakirti to enquire his health on the Buddha’s behalf. Glorious Light replied: “World Honoured One, I am not qualified to call on him to enquire after his health. The reason is that once while I was leaving Vaisali I met Vimalakirti who was entering it. I saluted and asked him ‘Where does the Venerable Upasaka come form? Vimalakirti replied: “From a bodhimandala (a holy site).” Glorious Light asked him: ‘Where is this bodhimandala?’ Vimalakirti replied: ‘The straightforward mind is the bodhimandala, for it is free from fasehood. The initiated mind is the bodhimandala, for it can keep discipline. The profound mind is the bodhimandala, for it accumulates merits. The enlightened mind is the bodhimandala for it is infallible. Charity (dana) is the bodhimandala, for it does not expect reward. Discipline (sila) is the bodhimandala, for it fulfills all vows. Patience (ksanti) is the bodhimandala for it has access to the minds of all living beings. Zeal (virya) is the bodhimandala, for it is free from remissness. Serenity (dhyana) is the bodhimandala, because of its harmonious mind. Wisdom (prajna) is the bodhimandala, for it discerns all things. Kindness (maitri) is the bodhimandala, for it treats all living beings on an equal footing. Compassion (karuna) is the bodhimandala, because of its great forbearance. Joy (mudita) is the bodhimandala, for it is pleasant. Indifference (upeksa) is the bodhimandala, for it wipes out both love and hate. Transcendental efficiency is the bodhimandala, for it perfects all the six supernatural powers (sadabhijna). Liberation is the bodhimandala, for it turns its back to all phenomenal conditions. Expedient devices (upaya) are the bodhimandala, for they teach and convert living beings. The four winning actions of a Bodhisattva are the bodhimandala, for they benefit all living beings. Wide knowledge through hearing the Dharma is the bodhimandala, for its practice leads to enlightenment. Control of the mind is the Bodhimandala, because of its correct perception of all things. The thirty-seven contributory stages to enlightenment are the bodhimandala, for they keep from all worldly activities. The four noble truths are the bodhimandala, because they do not deceive. The twelve links in the chain of existence are the bodhimandala, because of their underlying nature which is infinite. Troubles (klesa) are the bodhimandala, for their underlying nature is reality. Living beings are the bodhimandala, because they are (basically) egoless. All things are the bodhimandala, for they are empty. The defeat of demons is the bodhimandala, for it is imperturbable. The three realms (of desire, form and beyond form) are the bodhimandala, for fundamentally they lead to no real destination. The lion’s roar is the bodhimandala, because of its fearlessness. The ten powers (dasabla), the four kinds of fearlessness and the eighteen unsurpassed characteristics of the Buddha are the bodhimandala, for they are faultless. The three insights are the bodhimandala, for they are free from all remaining hindrances. The knowledge of all things in the time of a thought is the bodhimandala, for it brings omniscience (sarvajna) to perfection. Thus, son of good family, a Bodhisattva should convert living beings according to the various modes of perfection (paramitas) and all his acts, including the raising or lowering of a foot, should be interpreted as coming from the seat of learning (bodhimandala); he should thus stay within the Buddha Dharma.’ While Vimalakirti was thus expounding the Dharma, five hundred devas developed their minds set on supreme enlightenment.
307. Bodhisattvayana and the Two Vehicles
Bodhisattva way (Bodhisattvayana) is one of the five vehicles which teaches the observance of the six paramitas the perfecting of the self and the benefits of others. The objective is the salvation of all beings and attaining of Buddhahood. The aim of Bodhisattvayana is the attainment of Supreme Buddhahood. Therefore, it is also called the Buddhayana or Tathagatayana. Everyone knows that the Three Realms are like a burning house; there is no peace within them. Yet we linger in the burning house, not at all scare, and not wishing to leave it, even though we know that it contains nothing but sufferings. Out of compassionate for sentient beings, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas explain the Dharma in an effort to teach us, but, unfortunately, we do not understand their intentions. We hear without listening, we look without seeing; their instructions go in one ear and out the other. We prefer to go on living in a stupor and dreaming our lives away, just like walking corpses or a speakable skin bag. Though we may say we are cultivating with our mouth, but our body and mind are still wandering around to create karmas, and we are not seeking the path of true enlightenment. Therefore, the Buddha established various methods of salvation for the sake of his ignorant and confused fellow-beings. In fact, Buddhism has only one Vehicle: Buddhayana. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha reminded Mahamati: “Oh Mahamati, the distinction between the Bodhisattva and the Two Vehicles is emphasized, as the latter are unable to go up further than the sixth stage where they enter into Nirvana. At the seventh stage, the Bodhisattva goes through an altogether new spiritual experience known as anabhogacarya, which may be rendered “a purposeless life.” But , supported by the majestic power of the Buddhas, which enters into the great vows first made by the Bodhisattva as he started in his career, the latter now devises various methods of salvation for the sake of his ignorant and confused fellow-beings. But from the absolute point of view of the ultimate truth in the Lankavatara Sutra, attained by the Bodhisattva, there is no such graded course of spirituality in his life; for here is really no gradation (krama), no continuous ascension (kramanusandhi), but the truth (dharma) alone which is imageless (nirabhasa), and detached altogether from discrimination.
According to The Essays in Zen Buddhism, book III, there are twenty differences between Sravakas and Bodhisattvas. First, because the stock of merit is not the same. Second, because the Sravakas have not seen, and disciplined themselves in the virtues of the Buddha. Third, because Sravakas have not approved the notion that the universe is filled with Buddha-lands in all the ten directions where there is a fine aray of all Buddhas. Fourth, because Sravakas have not given praise to the various wonderful manifestattions put forward by the Buddhas. Fifth, because Sravakas have not awakened the desire after Supreme Enlightenment attainable in the midst of transmigration. Sixth, because Sravakas have not induced others to cherish the desire after Supreme Enlightenement. Seventh, because Sravakas have not been able to continue the Tathagata-family. Eighth, because Sravakas have not taken all beings under their protection. Ninth, because Sravakas have not advised others to practice the Paramitas of the Bodhisattva. Tenth, because while yet in the transmigration of birth and death, Sravakas have not pesuaded others to seek for the most exalted wisdom-eye. Eleventh, because Sravakas have not disciplined themselves in all the stock of merit from which issues all-knowledge. Twelfth, because Sravakas have not perfected all the stock of merit which makes the appearance of the Buddha possible. Thirteenth, because Sravakas have not added the enhencement of the Buddha-land by seeking for the knowledge of transformation. Fourteenth, because Sravakas have not entered into the realm which is surveyed by the Bodhisattva-eye. Fifteenth, because Sravakas have not sought the stock of merit which produces an incomparable insight going beyond this world. Sixteenth, because Sravakashave not made any of the vows constituting Bodhisattvahood.Seventennth, because Sravakas have not conformed themselves to all that is the product of the Tathagata’s sustaining power. Eighteenth, because Sravakas have not realized that all things are like Maya and the Bodhisattvas are like a dream. Nineteenth, beause Sravakas have not attained the most exhilarating excitements (prativega-vivardhana) of the Bodhisattva. Twentieth, because Sravakas have not realized all these spiritual states belonging to the wisdom-eye of Samantabhadra to which Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas are strangers.
Accoridng to Buddhism, the realization of sainthood is only the realization of different levels of consciousness. The distinction between the enlightened and the unenlightened is made on the basis of the respective levels of consciousness. A person whose mind is undisciplined and untamed is the state of suffering; on the contrary, a person whose mind is disciplined and tamed is in the state of ultimate peace in Nirvana. Moreover, according to the Mahayana Buddhism, anyone who gained direct intuitive realization of emptiness, or the ultimate nature of reality, is said to be a saint; and anyone who has not gained that realization is called an ordinary person. Life of an ordinary person is very much within the context of desire and attachment. Even people who have transcended desire and attachment to objects and immediate perception and to physical sensations, but are still attached to the inner states of joy or bliss, or states of equanimity are still considered ordinary people. In short, Buddhism believes that when we are still attached to anything, even though this is the subtlest attachment towards equanimity that leads to the formless realms, we are still considered ordinary people.
While Bodhisattvas have “ten stages” of the development into a Buddha, Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas also have ten stages of the development into a Buddha. Bodhisattva’s ten stages include the Dry or unfertilized stage of wisdom (Unfertilized by Buddha-truth, or Worldly wisdom), the embryo-stage of the nature of Buddha-truth, the stage of patient endurances, the stage of freedom from wrong views, the stage of freedom from the first six of nine delusions in practice, the stage of freedom from the remaining worldly desires, the stage of an arhat (the stage of complete discrimination in regard to wrong views and thoughts), Pratyekabuddhahood, Bodhisattvahood, and Buddhahood. The ten stages for a hearer include the stage of initiation as a disciple by taking (receiving) the three refuges in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and observing the basic five commandments; the stage of belief or faith-root; the stage of belief in the four noble truths; the stage of an ordinary disciple who observe the five basic contemplations; the stage of those who pursue the three studies (Listening, Reflecting, Cultivating); the stage of seeing the true way; the stage of a definite stream-winner and assure Nirvana; the stage of only one more rebirth; the stage of no-return (no rebirth); and the stage of an arhat. Besides, there are also the ten stages of the pratyekabuddha: the stage of perfect asceticism, the stage of mastery of the twelve links of causation, the stage of the four noble truths, the stage of deeper knowledge, the stage of the eightfold noble path, the stage of the three realms, the stage of the nirvana, the stage of the six supernatural powers, the stage of arrival at the intuitive state, and the stage of mastery of the remaining influences of former habits.
308. Characteristics of Bodhisattvas
Bodhisattvas always have three main characteristics. First, Bodhisattvas who hope to be reborn to help sentient beings must retain the seed of existence. According to the Vijnaptimatratasiddhi Sastra, a Bodhisttva retains the obstacle of defilement to sustain his vow to be reborn into the samsara world. However, he is reborn, fully mindful and conscious of whatever place where he chooses to be reborn. In fact, he is not contaminated by the defilements owing to the fact that he has stayed with the view of pratityasanutpada for a long time, there is the “guarding of defilements”. Second, a Bodhisattva always has the “Four Immeasurable Minds” known as maitri, karuna, mudita and upeksa, which are not to be viewed in discreteness or in isolation. Maitri is the center of the others, and the remaining three are its corelation. Maitri is the basis of Karuna. It stands for love, respect and care for all lives. It is concreteness of loving kindness based on the feeling that just as our life is precious to us, so also is the life of others. Mudita is altrustic sympathetic joy. It is happiness in the happiness of all. It is a consequence of Karuna. Upeksa is the prerequisite of Karuna. It stands for compassion to all beings. It also means equanimity of mind apart from partiality. Third, on the Bodhisattva’s Path, with the development of Bodhicitta, Bodhisattvas always practice the paramitas. In other words, the Path from sentient beings to Bodhisattvas and the realization of complete fulfillment of Enlightenment, Bodhisattvas must always try to practice all the paramitas.
Besides, Bodhisattvas have ten other basic characteristics. First, a Bodhisattva does not detest anything in whatever world he may enter, for he knows (praijna) that all things are like reflected images. Second, a Bodhisattva are not defiled in whatever path he may walk, for he knows that all is a transformation. Third, he feels no fatigue whatever in his endeavor to mature all beings, for he knows that there is nothing to be designated as an ego-soul. Fourth, he is never tired of receiving all beings, for he is essentially love and compassion. Fifth, he has not fear in going through all kalpas, for he understands (adhimukta) that birth-and-death and all the skandhas are like a vision. Sixth, he does not destroy any path of existence, for he knows that all the Dhatus and Ayatanas are the Dharmadhatu. Seventh, he has no perverted view of the paths, for he knows that all thoughts are like a mirage. Eighth, he is not defiled even when he is in the realm of evil beings, for he knows that all bodies are mere appearances. Ninth, he is never enticed by any of the evil passions, for he has become a perfect master over things revealed. Tenth, he goes anywhere with perfect freedom, for he had full control over all appearances.
Finally, Bodhisattvas still have other characteristics. First, Bodhisattvas’ keeping the seed of existence as a course for Bodhisattva’s future compassionate activities. They must retain the seed of existence all hope to be reborn in the samsara to help people in this world. According to the Vijnaptimatrasiddhi-sastra, Nagarjuna emphasized: “A Bodhisattva retains the obstacle of defilement to sustain his vow to be reborn into Samsara.” Therefore, a Bodhisattva is reborn, fully mindful and conscious of whatever place where he chooses to be reborn. Because he is not contaminated by the defilements owing to the fact that he has stayed with the view of causation (Pratityasamutpada) for a long time, there is a ‘guarding of defilement.’ Second, Bodhisattvas always cultivate the “Four Immeasurables.” These four characteristics cannot be viewed in discreteness or in isolation. Among them, “Compassionate” is the most essential, for “Karuna” or “Compassionate” is the basis of “Maitri” or “Loving-kindness” which stands for “love, respect and care for all living beings.” Third, Bodhisattvas have irreversible qualities. A Bodhisattva seeks after the Enlightenment in Mahayana way and no other. For with the Great Vehicle, practitioners need a heart full of faith because the Buddha-dharma is as vast as the sea and can be entered only by means of faith. Faith is the mother of all merit and virtue of a Bodhisattva’s cultivation. Therefore, belief in the Great Dharma is one of the characteristics of Mahasattvas. Great Bodhisattvas believe in all the great dharma. Fourth, Bodhisattvas have irreversibility of thought. Bodhisattvas are ever mindful in their practice of the Bodhisattva way, in the practice of the six perfections and thousands of conducts. Fifth, Bodhisattvas always have irreversibility of Practice. Bodhisattvas only go forward, they do not retreat. They also should be known by the attributes, tokens and signs of a Bodhisattva who is irreversible from Full Enlightenment. Sixth, Bodhisattvas always have irreversibility of Dharma Wheel. Bodhisattvas turn the wheel of dharma to teach and convert living beings. Therefore, once there exist Bodhisattvas, the Dharma Wheel forever turns in the Samsara. Seventh, Bodhisattvas always nurture deep and great roots of goodness. For many lives and throughout many kalpas, they have set down and nurtured roots of goodness which are extremely deep. Good roots are called “roots of virtue” and they are the basis of the way of virtue. They have sent down the roots of the virtuous nature. The roots which are limitless and boundless. Eighth, Bodhisattvas always possess great wisdom. The wisdom came as a result of having brought forth the great bodhi-heart. Bringing forth the great bodhi-heart, the resolve to take across all living beings and they are not attached to the mark of having made them crossed over. Ninth, Bodhisattvas always understand the great principle of Buddha-nature in all living beings. All living beings basically have Buddha-nature and can become Buddha. This is the great principle of the identity of all beings in principle with the Buddha. In principle, every one of us is a Buddha. The conducts of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging is one typical example. His particular merit is that he respects every one. He spends his life wandering round the earth, approaching all kinds of people, whether he knew them or not to bow to them, he always says: “I would never dare disparage you, because you are all certain to attain Buddhahood.” He never feels bad when people abuse or insult him because of his statement. But he continues unperturbed because he considers that all these people observe the course of duty of Bodhisattvas and are to become Buddhas. Tenth, Bodhisattvas always cultivate great conducts. Besides practicing the six or ten paramitas, Bodhisattvas also cultivate the four all- embracing virtues of Bodhisattvas.
Bodhisattvas are said to have issued from the life and vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, and have ten outstanding qualifications. First, they are unattached in their conduct because they are able to expand themselves in all the Buddha-lands. Second, they manifest innumerable bodies because they can go over wherever there are Buddhas. Third, they are in possession of an unimpeded and unspoiled eyesight because they can perceive the miraculous transformations of all the Buddhas. Fourth, they are able to visit anywhere without being bound to any one locality because they never neglect appearing in all places where the Buddhas attain to their enlightenment. Fifth, they are in possession of a limitless light because they can illumine the ocean of all the Buddha-truths with the light of their knowledge. Sixth, they have an inexhaustible power of eloquence through eternity because their speech has no taint. Seventh, they abide in the highest wisdom which knows no limits like space because their conduct is pure and free from taints. Eighth, they have no fixed abode because they reveal themselves personally in accordance with the thoughts and desires of all beings. Ninth, they are free from obscurities because they know that there are rally no beings, no soul-substances in the world of being. Tenth, they are in possession of transcendental knowledge which is as vast as space because they illumine all the Dharmadhatus with their nets of light. Besides, these Bodhisattvas also have twenty six characteristics. First, they know that all dharmas are like Maya. Second, they know that all Buddhas are like shadows. Third, they know that all existence with its rise and fall is like a dream. Fourth, they know that all forms of karma are like images in a mirror. Fifth, they know that the rising of all things is like fata-morgana. Sixth, they know that the worlds are mere transformations. Seventh, they are all endowed with the ten powers. Eighth, they are all endowed with knowledge. Ninth, they are all endowed with dignity. Tenth, they are all endowed with faith of the Tathagata, which enable them to roar like lions. Eleventh, they have deeply delved into the ocean of inexhaustible eloquence. Twelfth, they all have acquired the knowledge of how to explain the truths for all beings. Thirteenth, they are complete masters of their conduct so that they move about in the world as freely as in space. Fourteenth, they are in possession of all the miraculous powers belonging to a Bodhisattva. Fifteenth, their strength and energy will crush the army of Mara. Sixteenth, their knowledge power penetrates into the past, present, and future. Seventeenth, they know that all things are like space, they practice non-resistance, and are not attached to them. Eighteenth, though they work indefatigably for others, thay know that when things are observed from the point of view of all-knowledge, nobody knows whence they come. Nineteenth, though they recognize an objective world, they know that its existence is something unobtainable. Twentieth, they enter into all the worlds by means of incorruptible knowledge. Twenty-first, they are born in all the worlds, take all forms. Twenty-second, in all the worlds they reveal themselves with the utmost freedom. Twenty-third, they transform a small area into an extended tract of land, and the latter again into a small area. Twenty-fourth, all the Buddhas are revealed in one single moment of their thought. Twenty-fifth, the powers of all the Buddhas are added on to them. Twenty-sixth, they survey the entire universe in one glance and are not all confused; and they are able to visit all the worlds in one moment.
309. Cultivation of Mindfulness of the Body
According to the Kayagatasati-Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, cultivation of mindfulness of the body means when walking, a person understands that he is walking; when standing, he understands that he is standing; when sitting, he understands that he is sitting; when lying, he understands that he is lying. He understands accordingly however his body is disposed. As he abides thus diligent, ardent, and resolute, his memories and intentions based on the household life are abandoned. That is how a person develops mindfulness of the body. There are ten merits of the cultivation of the mindfulness of the body. First, one becomes a conqueror of discontent and delight, and discontent does not conquer oneself; one abides overcoming discontent whenever it arises. Second, one becomes a conqueror of fear and dread, and fear and dread do not conquer oneself; one abides overcoming fear and dread whenever they arise. Third, one bears cold and heat, hunger and thirst, and contact with gadflies, mosquitoes, wind, the sun, and creeping things; one endures ill-spoken, unwelcome words and arisen bodily feelings that are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, distressing, and menacing to life. Fourth, one obtains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhanas that constitute the higher mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now. Fifth, one wields the various kinds of supernormal power: having been one, he becomes many; having been many, he becomes one; he appears and vanishes; he goes unhindered through a wall, through an enclosure, through a mountain as though through space; he dives in and out of the earth as though it were water; he walks on water without sinking as though it were earth; seated cross-legged, he travels in space like a bird; with his hand he touches and strokes the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; he wields bodily mastery even as far as the Brahma-world. Sixth, one understands the minds of other beings, of other persons, having encompassed them with one’s own mind. He understands the mind of other beings, of other persons, having encompassed them with his own mind. He understands a mind affected by lust as affected by lust and a mind unaffected by lust; he understands a mind affected by hate as affected by hate and a mind unaffected by hate as unaffected by hate; he understands a mind affected by delusion as affected by delusion and a mind unaffected by delusion as unaffected by delusion; he understands a contracted mind as contracted and a distracted mind as distracted mind; he understands an exalted mind as exalted and an unexalted mind as unexalted; he understands a surpased mind as surpassed and an unsurpassed as unsurpassed; he understands a concentrated mind as concentrated and an unconcentrated mind as unconcentrated; he understands a liberated mind as liberated and an unliberated mind as unliberated. Seventh, one recollects one’s manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births…, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion: “There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reapppeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared here. Thus with their aspects and particulars one recollects one’s manifold past lives. Eighth, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human. Ninth, one sees beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and one understands how beings pass on according to their actions. Tenth, by realizing for oneself with direct knowledge, one here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints.
310. Three Worlds
According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, there are three worlds in this Saha World. The first world is the world of proper enlightenment in which the Buddha is the Dharma King, who is the ruler. This also includes the realms of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and worthy sages (who have already awakened to the ultimate truth). The second world is the world of utensils which is the world of things, of utensils, such as mountains, rivers, houses, etc. The gods and dragons of the eightfold division are the rulers of this world. The world of countries on which people depend for existence. The third world is the world of living beings coincides with the world of proper retribution, that is, our body.
311. The Body-Mouth-Mind Must Be Controlled
With the body, there are three things that need be brought into submission or three commandments dealing with the body. First, not to kill or prohibiting taking of life. We do not free trapped animals; but, in contrast, we continue to kill and murder innocent creatures, such as fishing, hunting, etc. Second, not to steal or prohibiting stealing. We do not give, donate, or make offerings; but, in contrast, we continue to be selfish, stingy, and stealing from others. Third, not to commit adultery or prohibiting commiting adultery. We do not behave properly and honorably; but, in contrast, we continue to commit sexual misconduct or sexual promiscuity.
With the mouth, there are four things that need be brought into submission or four commandments dealing with the mouth. First, not to lie. We do not speak the truth; but, in contrast, we continue to lie and speak falsely. Second, not to exaggerate. We do not speak soothingly and comfortably; but, in contrast, we continue to speak wickedly and use a double-tongue to cause other harm and disadvantages. Third, not to abuse. We do not speak kind and wholesome words; but, in contrast, we continue to speak wicked and unwholesome words, i.e., insulting or cursing others. Fourth, not to have ambiguous talk. We do not speak words that are in accordance with the dharma; but, in contrast, we continue to speak ambiguous talks.
With the mind, there are three things that need be brought into submission or three commandments dealing with the mind. Not to be covetous. We do not know how to desire less and when is enough; but we continue to be greedy and covetous. Second, not to be malicious. We do not have peace and tolerance toward others; but, in contrast, we continue to be malicious and to have hatred. Third, not to be unbelief. We do not believe in the Law of Causes and Effetcs, but in contrast we continue to attach to our ignorance, and refuse to be near good knowledgeable advisors in order to learn and cultivate the proper dharma.
However, discipline the Mind in Buddhism is extremely important. Usually the word “mind” is understood for both heart and brain. However, in Buddhism, mind does not mean just the brain or the intellect; mind also means consciousness or the knowing faculty, that which knows an object, along with all of the mental and emotional feeling states associated with that knowing. Thus, cultivating the mind means practicing the “four great efforts” in the Buddha’s teachings: We try to diminish the unwholesome mental states that have already arisen and to prevent those that have not yet arisen from arising. At the same time, we make effort to strengthen those wholesome mental states that are already developed, and to cultivate and develop the wholesome states that have not yet arisen. Control of the self or of one’s own mind is the key to happiness. It is the force behind all true achievement. The movement of a man void of control are purposeless. It is owing to lack of control that conflicts of diverse kinds arise in man’s mind. And if conflicts are to be controlled, if not eliminated, man must give less rein to his longings and inclinations and endeavor to live a life self-governed and pure. Everyone is aware of the benefits of physical training. However, we should always remember that we are not merely bodies, we also possess a mind which needs training. Mind training or meditation is the key to self-mastery and to that contentment which finally brings happiness. 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.” In other words, it means mastering our own mental contents, our emotions, likes and dislikes, and so forth. Thus, “self-mastery” is the greatest kingdom a man can aspire unto, and to be subject to oue own passions is the most grievous slavery.
According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” control of the mind is the key to happiness. It is the king of virtues and the force behind all true achievement. It is owing to lack of control that various conflicts arise in man’s mind. If we want to control them we must learn to give free to our longings and inclinations and should try to live self-governed, pure and calm. It is only when the mind is controlled that it becomes useful for its pocessor and for others. All the havoc happened in the world is caused by men who have not learned the way of mind control.
312. Ten Methods of Cultivation
According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, there are ten kinds of cultivation of Great Enlightening Beings. Enlightening beings who abide by these can achieve the supreme cultivation and practice all truths. These ten methods of cultivation include cultivation of the ways of transcendence, learning, wisdom, purpose, righteousness, emancipation, manifestation, diligence, accomplishment of true awakening, and operation of right teaching. Besides, according to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 21, there are ten kinds of practices, which are expounded by the Buddhas of past, present and future. They are the practice of giving joy, beneficial practice, practice of nonopposition, practice of indomitability, practice of nonconfusion, practice of good manifestation, practice of nonattachment, practice of that which is difficult to attain, practice of good teachings, and practice of truth. According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten ways of getting rid of demons’ actions of Great Enlightening Beings. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can escape all demonic ways. First, associating with the wise and honoring and serving them. Second, not elevating themselves or praising themselves. Third, believing in the profound teaching of Buddha without repudiating it. Fourth, never ever forgetting the determination for omniscience. Fifth, diligently cultivating refined practices, never being lax. Sixth, always seeking all the teachings for enlightening beings. Seventh, always expounding the truth tirelessly. The eighth way of getting rid of demons’ actions includes taking refuge with all the Buddhas in the ten directions and thinking of them as saviors and protectors. Ninth, faithfully accepting and remembering the support of the spiritual power of the Buddhas. Tenth, equally planting the same roots of goodness with all enlightening beings.
Furthermore, according to the Buddha in The Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, Great Enlightening Beings have ten kinds of practice which help them attain the practice of the unexcelled knowledge and wisdom of Buddhas. First, the practice dealing with all sentient beings, to develop them all to maturity. Second, the practice seeking all truths, to learn them all. Third, the practice of all roots of goodness, to cause them all to grow. Fourth, the practice of all concentration, to be single-minded, without distraction. Fifth, the practice of all knowledge, to know everything. Sixth, the practice of all cultivations, to be able to cultivate them all. Seventh, the practice dealing with all Buddha-lands, to adorn them all. Eighth, the practice dealing with all good companions, respecting and supporting them. Ninth, the practice dealing with all Buddhas, honoring and serving them. Tenth, the practice all supernatural powers, to be able to transform anywhere, anytime to help sentient beings.
Also according to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten kinds of rules of behavior of great enlightening beings. Enlightening beings who abide by these can attain the supreme discipline of great knowledge. First, Bodhisattvas should not slander any enlightening teachings. Second, Bodhisattvas’ faith in the Buddhas should be indestructible. Third, Bodhisattvas should honor and respect all enlightening beings. Fourth, Bodhisattvas should never give up their friendship with wise people. Fifth, Bodhisattvas should not think of those who seek individual salvation. Sixth, Bodhisattvas should avoid all regression on the path of enlightening beings. Seventh, Bodhisattvas should not give rise to any malice toward sentient beings. Eighth, Bodhisattvas should cultivate all roots of goodness to perfection. Ninth, Bodhisattvas should be able to conquer all demons. Tenth, Bodhisattvas should fulfill all the ways of transcendence. Also according to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten norms of practice of Great Enlightening Beings. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can attain the Buddhas’ supreme method of practice. First, honoring the wise. Second, always being alerted by the celestial spirits. Third, always having shame and conscience before the Buddhas. The fourth norm of practice includes having pity for sentient beings and not abandoning birth and death. Fifth, carrying tasks through consummation without change of mind. The sixth norm of practice includes single-mindedly following the enlightening beings, aspiring to universal enlightenment, and diligently learning. The seventh norm of practice includes getting rid of wrong views and earnestly seeking the right Path. Eighth, destroying demons and the actions of afflictions. The ninth norm of practice includes knowing the different faculties and temperaments of sentient beings and teaching them and enable them to live in the state of Buddhahood. The tenth norm of practice includes abiding in the infinitely vast cosmos of reality and removing the afflictions and purifying the body.
313. Dwelling Places of Buddhists
According to the Buddhism, abiding means abiding in the Truth, i.e. the acquirement by faith of a self believing in the dharma and producing its fruits. This is the abiding place, one of the ten stages, resting and developing places or abodes of the Bodhisattva, which is entered after the stage of belief has been passed. Abiding place also means abiding in the fruit, i.e. sravakas and pratyeka-buddhas who rest satisfied in their attainments and do not strive for Buddhahood. Sravakas who rest satisfied in their attainments and do not strive for Buddhahood. Pratyeka-buddhas who rest satisfied in their attainments and do not strive for Buddhahood. Arahants who rest satisfied in their arahanthood and do not strive for Buddhahood. There are only two migrations for rebirth, the upper and the lower realms. Truly speaking, sometimes we wonder ourselves that it is difficult for us to imagine that we might be going to the lower realms, or we are currently staying in the lower realms. We probably think that we more or less keep our precepts, perform most of our daily recitations, and have not committed any serious wrong doings, such as killing or stealing. However, sometimes we are motivated by strong hostility and, as for the deed, we use the harshest words that will really hurt people, so we already created karmas for a lower realm. According to Buddhism, rebirth or not rebirth in lower realms is determined by karma powers, and not by the yellow robe one is wearing or the temple one is residing. Devout Buddhists should always remember that from unwholesome deeds arise all kinds of sufferings in lower realms; and from virtues arise all kinds of happiness in higher rebirths. We cannot be certain of where we will go in our future rebirths. But we can be certain of one thing that we would not want to continue to create any more karmas for rebirths in lower realms. As a matter of fact, even rebirths in the human realm or the realm of gods are not excluded form sufferings. The human rebirth has the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death; it has the suffering of being separated from the things one holds dear, meeting with unpleasantness, and not finding the things one wants. The demi-gods also have sufferings, for they do not have any opportunity to encounter and to cultivate the Buddha-dharma. In the end they will fall, so they have not transcended suffering. In short, as long as we are not free from samsara for good, we have not transcended the nature of suffering. Devout Buddhists do not want to say that we want to cultivate this life to set aside the merits for the next life, but if we do not want to fall into the lower realms, we have cultivate right now in this very life. We have gained the optimum human rebirth, and this is the most advatangeous physical form to have for the practice of Dharma. We have met with the right conditions, we have met the Buddha’s teachings, and so on, but if we do not take this opportunity to cultivate to liberate ourselves now, when shall we ever achieve it?
According to Buddhist traditions, ordianry beings’ dwelling places include the four abidings found in the three realms of mortality: the delusions arising from seeing things as they seem, not as they are, the desires in the desire realm, the desires in the form-realm, and the desires in the formless realm. Besides, there are five fundamental conditions of the passions and delusions. These are the five states or conditions found in mortality; wherein are the delusions of misleading views and desires. These five states condition all error, and are the ground in which spring the roots of the countless passions and delusions of all mortal beings. First, delusions arising from seeing things as they seem, not as they really are. These are wrong views which are common to the trailokya. Second, the desires in the desire realm. These are clingings or attachments in the desire-realm. Third, the desires in the form realm. These are clingings or attachments in the form-realm. Fourth, the desires (clinging or attachment) in the formless realm which is still mortal. Fifth, the state of ignorance. This is the state of unenlightenment or ignorance in the trailokya which is the root-cause of all distressful delusion. The ground in which spring the roots of the countless passions and delusions of all mortal beings. According to the Sangiti Sutta, there are nine abodes of beings. First, beings different in body and different in perception such as human beings, some devas and hells. Second, beings different in body and alike in perception such as new-rebirth Brahma. Third, beings are alike in body and different in perception such as Light-sound heavens (Abhasvara). Fourth, beings alike in body and alike in perception such as Heavens of pure dwelling. Fifth, the realm of unconscious beings such as heavens of no-thought. Sixth, beings who have attained the Sphere of Infinite Space. Seventh, beings who have attained to the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness. Eighth, beings who have attained to the Sphere of No-Thingness. Ninth, beings who have attained to the Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-Non-Perception.
According to the Bodhisattvabhumi Sutra, there are six Bodhisattva-stages: the attainment of the Buddha-seed, the attainment of discernments and practices in the ten necessary activities of a bodhisattva, the attainment of purity by attaining reality, the attainment of progress in riddance of incorrect thinking from the second to the seventh stages of Bodhisattva, attainment of powers of correct decision and judgment in the eight and nine stages of Bodhisattva, and attainment of the perfect bodhisattva-stage in the ten stages of bodhisattva, but not including the Buddha-stage. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are six stable states. First, here a monk , on seeing an object with the eye, is neither pleased (sumano) nor displeased (dummano), but remains equable (upekhako), mindful and clearly aware. Second, here a monk, on hearing a sound with the ear, is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. Third, here a monk, on smelling a smell with the nose, is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. Fourth, here a monk, on tasting a flavour with the tongue, is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. Fifth, here a monk, on touching a tangible object with the body, is neither pleased not displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. Sixth, here a monk, on cognising a mental object with the mind, is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. A Bodhisattva firmly fixed, or abiding in certainty. After a Bodhisattva has completed three great asamkhyeya kalpas he has still one hundred great kalpas to complete. This period is called abiding in fixity or firmness, divided into sixth kinds. First, certainty of being born in a good gati such as in the deva realms or in the realms of human beings. Second, certainty of being born in a noble family. Third, certainty of being born with a good body. Fourth, certainty of being born as a man. Fifth, certainty of being born knowing the abiding places of his transmigrations. Sixth, certainty of being born knowing the abiding character of his good work.
According to The Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 33, there are ten kinds of abode of all Buddhas. First, all Buddhas abide in awareness of all realms of reality. Second, all Buddhas abide in compassion speech. Third, all Buddhas abide in the fundamental great vow. Fourth, all Buddhas abide in persistence in civilizing sentient beings. Fifth, all Buddhas abide in the principle of absence of selfhood. Sixth, all Buddhas abide in impartial salvation. Seventh, all Buddhas abide in recollection of truth. Eighth, all Buddhas abide in the unobstructed minds. Ninth, all Buddhas abide in the constantly rightly concentrated minds. Tenth, all Buddhas abide in equal comprehension of all things without violating the character of ultimate reality. In the Surangama Sutra, book Eight, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the Ten Grounds or the ten stages (periods) in Bodhisattva-wisdom. First, the purposive stage. The mind set upon Buddhahood or the mind that dwells of bringing forth the resolve. Ananda, these good people use honest expedients to bring forth those ten minds of faith. When the essence of these minds becomes dazzling, and the ten functions interconnect, then a single mind is perfectly accomplished. This is called the dwelling of bringing forth the resolve. Second, clear understanding and mental control or the dwelling of the ground of regulation. From within this mind light comes forth like pure crystal, which reveals pure gold inside. Treading upon the previous wonderful mind as a ground is called the dwelling of the ground of regulation. Third, unhampered liberty in every direction or dwelling of cultivation. When the mind-ground connects with wisdom, both become bright and comprehensive. Traversing the ten directions then without obstruction. This is called the dwelling of cultivation. Fourth, acquiring the Tathagata nature or seed or dwelling of noble birth. When their conduct is the same as the Buddhas’ and they take on the demeanor of a Buddha, then, like the intermediate skandha body searching for a father and mother, they penetrate the darkness with a hidden trust and enter the lineage of the Thus Come One. This is called the dwelling of noble birth. Fifth, perfect adaptability and resemblance in self-development and development of others or dwelling with endowment with skill-in-means. Since they ride in the womb of the way and will themselves become enlightened heirs, their human features are in no way deficient. This is called the dwelling of endownment with skill-in-means. Sixth, the whole mind becoming Buddha-like or dwelling of the rectification of the mind. With a physical appearance like that of a Buddha and a mind that is the same as well, they are said to be dwelling in the rectification of the mind. Seventh, non-retrogression, or the perfect unity and constant progress or dwelling of irreversibility. United in body and mind, they easily grow and mature day by day. In this stage, Bodhisattvas realize serenity of mind and also achieve unimpeded liberation. This is called the dwelling of irreversibility. Eighth, as a Buddha-son now, or the stage of youth in Buddhahood or dwelling of pure youth. With the efficacious appearance of ten bodies, which are simultaneously perfected, they are said to be at the dwelling of a pure youth. Ninth, as prince of the law or dwelling of a Dharma Prince. Completely developed, they leave the womb and become sons of the Buddha. This is called the dwelling of a Dharma Prince. Tenth, baptism as the summit of attainment of the conception of Buddhahood or dwelling anointing the crown of the head. Reaching the fullness of adulthood, they are like the chosen prince to whom the great king of a country turns over the affairs of state. When this Kshatriya King’s eldest is ceremoniously anointed on the crown of the head, he has reached what is called the dwelling of anointing the crown of the head. Besides, according to The Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten kinds of abiding of Great Enlightening Beings. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can reach the Buddhas’ supreme abiding in omniscience. First, abiding in the will for enlightenment, never forgetting it. Second, abiding in the transcendent ways, not tiring for fostering enlightenment. Third, abiding in the teaching of truth, increasing wisdom. Fourth, abiding in dispassion, realizing great meditational concentration. Fifth, abiding in conformity to: universal knowledge, austerity, contentment, moderation in food, clothing, and dwelling, getting rid of evil, and few desires mean few concerns. Sixth, abiding in deep faith, bearing the true Teaching. Seventh, abiding in the company of the enlightened, to learn the conduct of Buddhas. Eighth, abiding in generation of spiritual powers, to fulfill great knowledge. Ninth, abiding in attainment of acceptance, fulfilling the forcast of enlightenment. Tenth, abiding in the site of enlightenment, fulfilling powers, fearlessness, and all aspects of Buddhahood.
314. Cultivation Means Changing the Karma
Although the supreme goal of Buddhism is the supreme Enlightenment and liberation, the Buddha also taught that Buddhist practice is the source of happiness. It can lead to the end of human suffering and miseries. The Buddha was also a man like all other men, but why could he become a Great Enlightened One? The Buddha never declared that He was a Deity. He only said that all living beings have a Buddha-Nature that is the seed of Enlightenment. He attained it by renouncing his princely position, wealth, prestige and power for the search of Truth that no one had found before. As Buddhist followers, we practice Buddhist tenets, not for entreating favors but for for following the Buddha’s example by changing bad karmas to good ones or no karma at all. Since people are different from one another, some are rich and intelligent, some are poor and stupid. It can be said that this is due to their individual karma, each person has his own circumstances. Buddhists believe that we reap what we have sown. This is called the law of causality or karma, which is a process, action, energy or force. Karmas of deeds, words and thoughts all produce an effect, either happiness or miseries, wealth or poverty. Karma does not mean “determinism,” because if everything is predetermined, then there would be no free will and no moral or spiritual advancement. Karma is not fixed, but can be changed. It cannot shut us in its surroundings indefinitely. On the contrary, we all have the ability and energy to change it. Our fate depends entirely on our deeds; in other words, we are the architects of our karma. Cultivating in accordance with the Buddha’s Teachings means we change the karma of ourselves; changing our karmas by not only giving up our bad actions or misdeeds, but also forgiving offences directed against us by others. We cannot blame anyone else for our miseries and misfortunes. We have to face life as it is and not run away from it, because there is no place on earth to hide from karma. Performing good deeds is indispensable for our own happiness; there is no need of imploring favors from deities or simply showing repentance. Changing karma also means remembrance of karma and using wisdom to distinguish virtue from evil and freedom from constraint so that we are able to avoid evil deeds, to do meritorious deeds, or not to create any deeds at all. Changing karma also means to purify our minds rather than praying, performing rites, or torturing our bodies. Changing karma also means to change your narrow-minded heart into a heart full of love and compassion and accomplish the four boundless hearts, especially the hearts of loving-kindness and compassion. True Buddhists should always remember that sooner or later everyone has to die once. After death, what can we bring with us? We cannot bring with us any worldly possessions; only our bad or good karma will follow us like a shadow of our own.
315. Ten Paramitas
The canonical Pali texts mention the number of paramitas in the Apadana, the Jataka, the Buddhavamsa and the Cariyapitaka. The first paramita is paramita-charitable giving (dana-paramita). In Theravada Buddhism, Dana-paramita is the most important among the ten paramitas. According to the Visuddhimagga, Bodhisattvas are concerned about the welfare of sentient beings, not tolerating the sufferings of beings, wishing long duration to the higher states of happiness of beings and being impartial and just to all beings by fulfilling the first paramita they fulfill all the paramitas. The second paramita is sila-paramita. Bodhisattvas observe morality to prevent evil karma. Precepts mean vows of moral conduct taken by lay and ordained Buddhists. There are five vows for lay people, 250 for fully ordained monks, 348 for fully ordained nuns, 58 for Bodhisattvas (48 minor and 10 major). The Buddha emphasized the importance of morals as a means to achieve the end of real freedom for observing moral precepts develops concentration. Concentration leads to understanding. Continuous understanding means wisdom that enables us to eliminate greed, anger, and ignorance and to advance and obtain liberation, peace and joy. The third paramita is ksanti-paramita. Patience means patiently endure the things that do not turn out the way you wish them to. Ksanti is generally understood to mean “patience,” but it really means patiently, or rather with equanimity, to go through deeds of humiliation. Or as Confucius says, “The superior man would cherish no ill-feeling even when his work or merit is not recognized by others.” No Buddhist devotees would feel humiliated when they were not fully appreciated, no, even when they were unjustly ignored. They would also go on patiently under all unfavorable conditions. This is a test. If you pass, then you have jumped over the hurdle. If you fail, then you have not made it over the hurdle. Although we all know that patience can take us to the other shore, when we meet a difficult situation, we cannot be patient. Then the fire of ignorance blazes up and burns away all the merit and virtue we accumulated over the years. Fourth, virya-paramita (devotion). Virya paramita is a gate of Dharma-illumination; for with it, we completely attain all good dharmas, and we teach and guide lazy living beings. This is the fourth of the six paramitas. Virya is resolution in pursuing the goal of cultivation. Virya is the source of energy to begin any Buddhist’s cultivation career and to see it through full awakening. Energy and stamina serve as armor in encounters with difficulties and provide the encouragement necessary to avoid depression. Energy also produces enthusiasm and good spirits. Energy also helps us to accomplish the welfare of all living beings. According to the Lotus Sutra, a Bodhisattva should strive with heroic vigor for purification. The Lotua Sutra also depicts in detail the way Bodhisattvas practice Virya-paramita by going without eating and sleeping to study the Buddha-dharma. They do not deliberately refrain from food in order to cultivate Buddhahood. In fact, they just forget the idea of food and sleep. They think only of cultivating and studying the Buddha-dharma for getting Supreme Enlightenment. Fifth, nekkhamma-paramita . In order to bring morality to perfection, Bodhisattvas train themselves in renunciation. Nekkhamma implies both renunciation of worldly pleasures by adopting the ascetic life and the temporary inhibition of Hindrances by Jhanas. A Bodhisattva is neither selfish nor self-possessive but is selfless in his activities. He is ever ready to sacrifice his happiness for the sake of others. Though he may sit in the lap of luxury, immersed in worldly pleasures, he may comprehend their transitoriness and the value of renunciation. Realizing thus the vanity of fleeting material pleasures, he voluntarily leaves his earthly possessions, and wearing the simple ascetic garb, tries to lead the Holy Life in all its purity. Here he practices the higher morality to such an extent that becomes practically selfless in all his actions. No inducement whether fame, wealth, honor, or worldly gain could induce him to do anything contrary to his principles. Sixth, panna-paramita. In order to understand clearly what is beneficial and what is injurious to beings, Bodhisattvas purify their wisdom. The prajna-paramita is a gate of Dharma-illumination; for with it, we eradicate the darkness of ignorance. Among the basic desires and passions, ignorance has the deepest roots. When these roots are loosened, all other desires and passions, greed, anger, attachment, arrogance, doubt, and wrong views are also uprooted. The prajna wisdom which enables one to reach the other shore, i.e. wisdom for salvation; the highest of the six paramitas, the virtue of wisdom as the principal means of attaining nirvana. It connotes a knowledge of the illusory character of everything earthly, and destroys error, ignorance, prejudice, and heresy. In order to obtain wisdom-paramita, practitioner must make a great effort to meditate on the truths of impermanence, no-self, and the dependent origination of all things. Once the roots of ignorance are severed, we can not only liberate ourselves, but also teach and guide fooloish beings to break through the imprisonment of birth and death. Seventh, sacca-paramita. Once Bodhisattvas have promised to give or do something they do not break their promise. So, “Sacca” is here meant the fulfillment of one’s promise. This is one of the salient characterisitcs of a Bodhisattva, for he is not breaker of his word. He acts as he speaks, he speaks as he acts. He makes truth his guide and holds it his duty to keep his word. He ponders well before he makes his promise. In the Hiri Jataka and the Mahasutasoma Jataka, Bodhisattva is trustworthy, sincere and honest. What he thinks, he speaks. There is perfect harmony in his thoughts, words and deeds. He does not use flattery to win the hearts of others, does not exhort himself to win their admiration, does not hide his defects or vainly exhibits his virtues. The praise-worthy he praises without malice. The blameworthy he blames judiciously, not with contempt but out of compassion. He honors the word of others as he honors his own. Eighth, aditthana-paramita. The term “Aditthana” is translated as resolute determination. Without this firm determination, the other perfections cannot be fulfilled and they work for the wealth and welfare of beings. It is compared to the foundation of a building. This will-power forces all obstructions out of Bodhisattva path and no matter what may come to him, sickness, grief, or disaster, he never turns his eyes away from his goal. For instance, the Bodhisattva Siddhartha made a firm determination to renounce his royal pleasure and gain enlightenment. Six long years, it was a superhuman struggle. He had to endure manifold hardships and face innumerable difficulties. At a crucial moment, when he most needed their help, his five favorite disciples deserted him. Yet he did give up his effort. The Bodhisattva is a man of iron determination, whose high principles cannot be shaken to do good. None could tempt him to do anything contrary to those principles. As occasion demands, he is as soft as a flower and as firm as a rock. Ninth, metta-paramita. With unshakable kindness, Bodhisattvas are helpful to all. “Ketta” is loving-kindness. In Sanskrit it is Maitri. It is benevolent, goodwill or friendliness, wish for the happiness of all beings without exception. It is “Metta” that prompts a Bodhisattva to renounce personal deliverance for the sake of others. He is permeated with boundless goodwill towards all beings, irrespective of caste, creed, color or sex. Since he is the embodiment of universal love, he fears none, nor is he feared by any. He ever cherishes in his heart boundless goodwill towards all that live. The tenth paramita is equanimity (upekkha-paramita). By reason of their equanimity, Bodhisattvas do not expect anything in return. The Pali term “Upekkha” is composed of “Upa”, which means justly, impartially or rightly and “ikkha” means to see, discern or view. The etymological meaning of the term is discerning rightly, viewing justly or looking impartially, that is, without attachment or aversion, without favor or disfavor. Here the term is not used in the sense of indifference or neutral feeling. The most difficult and most essential of all perfections is this equanimity, especially for a layman who has to live in an ill-balanced world with fluctuating fortunes. Slights and insults are the common lot of humanity. So are praise and blame, loss and gain, pain and pleasure. Amidst all such vicissitudes of life a Bodhisattva tries to stand unmoved like a firm rock, exercising perfect equanimity.
316. The Stages on the Path of Cultivation
According to the Tibetan tradition (composed by the Tibetan First Panchen Lama), Buddhists should always Review the stages on the Path. First, through the power of having made offerings and respectful requests to you holy venerable Gurus, supreme field of merit, Protectors and root of well-being and bliss, please bless me to come under your joyful care. Second, please bless me to realize how this body of liberties and endowments is found but once, is difficult to obtain, and is easily lost; and partake of its essence, make it worthwhile, undistracted by the meaningless affairs of this life. Third, please bless me to fear the searing blaze of suffering in the lower realms. Take heartfelt refuge in the Three Precious Gems, and enthusiastically practice avoiding negative actions and accumulating virtue. Fourth, please bless me to develop an intense longing for freedom from this great ocean of boundless, vicious existence, violence tossed by waves of affliction and karma, infested by sea monsters of the three sufferings. Fifth, please bless me to overcome the view which sees this unbearable prison of samsara as a pleasant garden and thereby grasp the banner of liberation, upholding it with the three trainings and the treasure of Arya jewels. Sixth, please bless me to develop unaffected compassion like a loving mother’s for her precious child, by considering how all tormented beings are my mothers, who have raised me with kindness again and again. Seventh, please bless me to enhance the bliss and joy of others, realizing that there is no diference between us. None of us desires the slightest suffering, or is ever content with the happiness we have. Eighth, please bless me to perceive that this chronic disease of cherishing myself is the cause giving rise to my unsought suffering by blaming and begrudging it. May I destroy the great demon of self-grasping. Ninth, please bless me to see that cherishing all mothers, wishing to place them in bliss, is the gateway to infinite virtues. May I cherish these beings dearer than my life even should they rise up as my enemies. Tenth, infantile beings work only for their own ends while Buddhas work solely for the welfare of others. Please bless me to understand the faults of one and the advantages of the other, enabling me to equalize and exchange myself for others. Eleventh, please bless me to make my core practice the Yoga of exchange of self for others. Since cherishing myself is the doorway to all torment while cherishing my mothers the foundation for all that is good. Twelfth, please bless me venerable, compassionate Gurus so that all karmic debts, obstacles and sufferings of mother being. Ripen upon me now, without exception. And that I can give my happiness and virtue to other. And thereby invest all beings into the samsara. And Thereby invest all beings in bliss. Thirteenth, please let me to tak miserable conditions as a path by seeing them as causes to exhaust my negative karma. Since the world and its being are full of the fruits of our evil: And unwished for suffering. Fourteenth, please bless me to transform whatever appearances may arise, good or bad into a path ever-enhancing the two bodhicittas. Through the practice of the five forces, quintessence of the entire Dharma and attune myself solely to bliss the mind. Fifteenth, please bless me to adapt whatever befalls me to meditation by skilful means of the four applications; and render this perfect rebirth infinitely meaningful by putting into practice the advice and commitments of mind training. Sixteenth, please bless me to master bodhicitta through the superior intention to rescue all beings from the vast oceans of existence, based on love and compassion that comes from the visual technique of mounting, giving and taking on the breath. Seventeenth, please bless me to eagerly endeavor to put into practice the Three Mahayana moral codes and restrain my mindstream with pure Bodhisattva vows, the single path journeyed by all Conquerors of the three times. Eighteenth, please bless me to complete the perfection of generosity through the guideline teaching for enhancing the mind that gives without attachment: Transforming my body, wealth and collection of virtue of the three times into objects desired by each sentient being. Nineteenth, please bless me to complete the perfection of moral discipline, by working for the sake of sentient beings, enacting virtuous deeds and not transgressing. The bounds of the pratimoksha, bodhicitta and tantric vows, even at the cost of my life. Twentieth, please bless me to complete the perfection of patience by not getting upset whenever any being of the three realms becomes angry at me, abuses, criticizes, threatens or even kills me. Instead may I help them in response to their harm. Twenty-first, please bless me to complete the perfection of perseverence by striving with compassion for supreme enlightenment, not getting discouraged even if I must remain for an ocean of eons in the fiery hels of Avici for every sentient being. Twenty-second, please bless me to complete the perfection of concentration, abandoning the faults of dullness, agitation and distraction through single-pointed concentration on the nature of phenomena, which is their emptiness of true existence. Twenty-third, please bless me to complete the perfection of wisdom through the space-like yoga absorbed on ultimate truth, joined with suppleness and great bliss induced by the discriminating wisdom and analyzing suchness. Twenty-fourth, please bless me to perfect samadhi on illusion by realizing how all inner and outer phenomena lack true existence, yet still appear like a mirage, a dream or the moon’s image on a still lake. Twenty-fifth, samsara and nirvana lack even an atom of true existence while cause and effect and dependent arising are unfailing. Twenty-sixth, please bless me to realize the import of Nagarjuna’s thought that these two are complementary and not contradictory. Twenty-seventh, then please bless me to cross the deep ocean of Tantra, through your kindness my navigator, Vajradhara, and hold dearer than life my vows and words of honor, which are the roots of powerful attainments. Please bless me to cleanses all stain of grasping at ordinary appearance. Through the first stage yoga of tranforming birth, death, and between. Twenty-eighth, please bless me to cleanse all stains of grassing through the first stage yoga transforming birth, death and between, into the three kayas of a Buddha seeing whatever arises as the form of my yidam. Twenty-ninth, please bless me to realize in this life the path uniting the clear light and illusory body, arising from placing your feet, my protector. In central channel at the very centre of my eight-patelled heart. Thirtieth, please bless me to reach a pure land, should the points of the Path not be completed by either the forceful means of enlightenment, the Guru’s mind transference, or by the advice on applying the five forces. Thirty-first, from birth unremittently throughout my lives until I become your chief disciple, holding every secret of your body, speech and mind. My protector, please grant that all be auspicious. To be among your first circle disciples whenever you manifest Buddhahood. So many temporal and ultimate wishes, without exception, become effortless and spontaneously fulfilled. Thirty-second, having thus entreated, supreme Guru, pray grant this request: happily alight on the crown of my head so hat you might bless me, and once again set your radiant feet firmly at the corolla of my lotus heart.
317. Diligent Cultivation
In Buddhism, cultivation does not barely mean to shave one’s head or to wear the yellow robe; nor does it mean outer practices of the body. Diligent cultivation does not only include meditation, correct sitting and controlling the breath; or that we must not be lazy, letting days and months slip by neglectfully, we should also know how to feel satisfied with few possessions and eventually cease loking for joy in desires and passions completely. Diligent cultivation also means that we must use our time to meditate on the four truths of permanence, suffering, selflessness, and impurity. We must also penetrate deeply into the profound meaning of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness to see that all things as well as our bodies are constantly changing from becoming, to maturing, transformation, and destruction. Diligent cultivation also means to obtain correct understanding and concentration so that we can destroy narrow-mindedness. Among the basic desires and passions, narrow-mindedness has the deepest roots. Thus, when these roots are loosened, all other desires, passions, greed, anger, ignorance, and doubt are also uprooted. According to the Sutra In Forty-Two Sections, Chapter 40, the Buddha said: “A Sramana who practices the Way should not be like an ox turning a millstone because an ox is like one who practices the way with his body but his mind is not on the Way. If the mind is concentrated on the Way, one does not need the outer practices of the body.” Sincere Buddhists should select a single Dharma Door and then practice according to the teachings of that Dharma Door for the remainder of the cultivator’s life without changing and mixing in other practices. For example, once a person chooses to practice Pureland Buddhism, then for the entire life, he should always and often focus his energy into reciting the Buddha’s virtuous name and pray to gain rebirth. If he or she chooses to practice meditation, he or she should always focus on meditation and contemplation. Thus, the wrong thing to do is to practice one Dharma Door one day and switch to another the next.
No matter how busy you are, if you believe that you need be mindful in every activity, Buddhist practitioners should perform your daily activities in a slow, calm, and relaxing manner. The ancient said: “Don’t worry, everything will pass.” Look at monks and Nuns, no matter what task or motion they undertake, i.e., walking, standing, sitting or lying, they do it slowly and evenly, without reluctance. When they need to speak, they speak; when they don’t need to speak, they don’t. The most important thing is the sincere observation of Buddhist rules. Sincere Buddhists should not follow a kind of exaggerated, frivolous attitude towards the training and discipline of Zen. It comes about, for example, when someone, based on the mere thought that he is already Buddha, comes to the conclusion that he need not concern himself with practice, a disciplined life, or enlightenment. This is an attitude can lead to a misunderstanding to the method of cultivation, particularly of the teaching of the Tao-Tung School of Zen. According to the Sutra In Forty-Two Sections, Chapter 34, one evening a Sramana was reciting the Sutra of Bequeating the Teaching by Kasyapa Buddha. His mind was mournful as he reflected repentantly on his desie to retreat. The Buddha asked him: “When you were a householder in the past, what did you do?” He replied: “I was fond of playing the lute.” The Buddha said: “What happened when the strings were slack?” He replied: “They did not sound good.” The Buddha then asked: “What happened when the strings were taut?” He replied: “The sounds were brief.” The Buddha then asked again: “What happened when they were tuned between slack and taut?” He replied: “The sounds carried.” The Buddha said: “It is the same with a Sramana who studies the Way. If his mind is harmonious, he can obtain (achieve) the Way. If he is impetuous about the Way, this impetuousness will tire out his body, and if his body is tired, his mind will give rise to afflictions. If his mind produces afflictions, then he will retreat from his practice. If he retreats from his practice, it will certainly increase his offenses. You need only be pure, peaceful, and happy and you will not lose the Way.” Remember our mind is easy to set great effort but is also easily prone to retrogression; once hearing the dharma and advice, we bravely advance with our great efforts, but when we encounter obstacles, we not only grow lax and lazy retrogression, but also change our direction and sometimes fall into heterodox ways. Sincere Buddhists should always have Diligent Cultivation and aty away from this thinking “In the first year of cultivation, the Buddha stands right before our eyes; the second year he has already returned to the West; third year if someone inquires about the Buddha or request recitations, payment is required before a few words are spoken or a few verses recited”.
People who cultivate should not be rush, thinking that we can cultivate today and become enlightened tomorrow. It is not tha easy. We must train and cultivate everyday. As long as we do not retreat, do not worry too much about progress we are making. If each day we have less and less random thoughts, less and less lust, anger and ignorance, then we are making progress. We cultivate to eliminate our bad habits and faults, cast out our defiled thoughts, and reveal our wisdom. The wisdom that each one of us once possessed, but it has been covered up by ignorance. Cultivation is not a one-day affair. We should cultivate in thought after thought, from morning to night, month after month, and year after year with unchanging perseverance. And above all, we should cultivate sincerely every day. As we practice, we should remain calm whether we encounter demonic obstacles, adverse situations, or even favorable situations. We should maintain our vigor in both adversity and favorable situations, and we should think that all things seem to be proclaiming the wonderful dharma to us. Sincere cultivators should always remember that we are trying to reach the transcendental dharma within worldly affairs. Thus, nothing will confuse us. No situations will obstruct us. The reasons why we have been backsliding instead of advancing: when we encounter good conditions, we hesitate and feel unsure ourselves; when meeting evil conditions, we follow right along. Thus, we continue to linger on birth and death, and rebirth. We are born muddled, died confused, and do not know what we are doing, cannot figure out what life is all about.
According to Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh in the explanation of the sutra on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings, diligence-paramita is one of the most important subjects of meditation in Buddhism. Diligent practice destroys laziness. After we cease looking for joy in desires and passions and know how to feel satisfied with few possessions, we must not be lazy, letting days and months slip by neglectfully. Great patience and diligence are needed continually to develop our concentration and understanding in the endeavor of self-realization. We must whatever time we have to meditate on the four truths of impermanence, suffering, selflessness, and impurity. We must penetrate deeply into the profound meaning of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, practicing, studying, and meditating on the postures and cycles of becoming, maturing, transformation, and destruction of our bodies, as well as our feelings, sensations, mental formations, and consciousness. We should read sutras and other writings which explain cultivation and meditation, correct sitting and controlling the breath, such as The Satipatthana Sutta and The Maha Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra. We have to follow the teachings of these sutras and practice them in an intelligent way, choosing the methods which best apply to our own situation. As necessary, we can modify the methods suggested in order to accommodate our own needs. Our energy must also be regulated until all the basic desires and passions, greed, anger, narrow-mindedness, arrogance, doubt, and preconceived ideas, are uprooted. At this time we will know that our bodies and minds are liberated from the imprisonment of birth and death, the five skandhas, and the three worlds.
According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten kinds of diligent practices of Great Enlightening Beings. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can attain the supreme practice of great knowledge and wisdom of Buddhas. First, diligent practice of giving, relinquishing all without seeking reward. Second, diligent practice of self-control, practicing austerities, having few desires, and being content. Third, diligent practice of forbearance, detaching from notions of self and other, tolerating all evils without anger or malice. Fourth, diligent practice of vigor, their thoughts, words and deeds never confused, not regressing in what they do, reaching the ultimate end. Fifth, diligent practice of meditation, liberations, and concentrations, discovering spiritual powers, leaving behind all desires, afflictions, and contention. Sixth, diligent practice of wisdom, tirelessly cultivating and accumulating virtues. Seventh, diligent practice of great benevolence, knowing that all sentient beings have no nature of their own. Eighth, diligent practice of great compassion, knowing that all things are empty, accepting suffering in place of all sentient beings without wearying. Ninth, diligent practice to awaken the ten powers of enlightenment, realizing them without obstruction, manifesting them for sentient beings. Tenth, diligent practice of the non receding wheel of teaching, proceeding to reach all sentient beings. In summary, a straight mirror image requires a straight object. If you want to reap the “Buddhahood,” you must sow the Buddha-seed. A mirror reflects beauty and ugliness as they are, the Buddha’s Teachings prevail forever, knowing that requital spans three generations, obviously good deeds cause good results, evil deeds causes evil results. The wise know that it is the object before the mirror that should be changed, while the dull and ignorant waste time and effort hating and resenting the image in the mirror. Encountering good or adverse circumstances, devoted Buddhists should always be peaceful, not resent the heaven nor hate the earth. In the contrary, sincere Buddhists should strive their best to cultivate until they attain the Buddhahood.
318. Purification of Negative Karmas
According to the Tantric traditions, there are four ways to purify negative karma. First, regret our destructive actions. With wisdom, we recognize and admit our errors. Regret is different from guilt, for the latter immobilizes us emotionally and is based on misconception. Regret, on the other hand, comes from an honest assessment of our actions and enables us to learn from our mistakes. Second, take refuge and generate the altruistic intention. When we have acted destructively in relation to either holy beings or ordinary beings, by taking refuge in the Three Jewels we restore our relationship with the holy beings; and by generating love, compassion and altruism, we restore our relationship with ordinary beings. Third, determine not to do those negative actions in the future. The stronger our determination, the easier it will be to avoid habitually acting destructively. Fourth, engage in a remedial practice. In general, this could be any virtuous action, i.e. helping those in need, offering service to our Sangha community, listening or reflecting or meditating on dharma, bowing or making offerings to the Three Jewels, printing dharma books, etc.
319. Rejection of Means of Life or Rejection of Pleasures?
Most of us want to do good deeds; however, we are always contraditory ourselves between pleasure and cultivation. A lot of people misunderstand that religion means a denial or rejection of happiness in worldly life. In saying so, instead of being a method for transcending our limitations, religion itself is viewed as one of the heaviest forms of suppression. It’s just another form of superstition to be rid of if we really want to be free. The worst thing is that nowadays, many societies have been using religion as a means of political oppression and control. They believe that the happiness we have here, in this world, is only a temporary, so they try to aim at a so-called “Almighty Creator” to provide them with a so-called eternal happiness. They deny themselves the everyday pleasures of life. They cannot enjoy a meal with all kinds of food, even with vegetarian food. Instead of accepting and enjoying such an experience for what it is, they tie themselves up in a knot of guilt “while so many people in the world are starving and miserable, how dare I indulge myself in this way of life!” This kind of attitude is just mistaken as the attitude of those who try to cling to worldly pleasures. In fact, this just another form of grasping. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that we deny to indulge in worldly pleasures so that we can eliminate “clinging” to make it easy for our cultivation. We will never reject means of life so we can continue to live to cultivate. A Buddhist still eat everyday, but never eats lives. A Buddhist still sleeps but is not eager to sleep round the clock as a pig. A Buddhist still converse in daily life, but not talk in one way and act in another way. In short, sincere Buddhists never reject any means of life, but refuse to indulge in or to cling to the worldly pleasures because they are only causes of sufferings and afflictions.
According to the Buddhist Point of View
Some people wonder, “How dis this process start? Was there a beginning to our universe and the beings in it?” To watch the rise and fall of objects, we must first decide from which angle to view them. Only then can we make sure when an ‘event’ actually started, for how long it abides, and when it terminates. A ‘being’, for example, taken as a ‘being’ began when it was born, stops when it dies, and abides in between. However, no one among us has that kind of good luck to observe our universe from the time when it was born, when it destroys, and the period of time of its life. So, from a Buddhist point of view, it’s senseless to search for the beginning of our existence and the start of our disturbing attitudes. The Buddha was extremely practical, stressing that we deal with the present situation and try to remedy it. Getting lost in useless speculation prevents us from focusing on the present and improving it. For example, a person wounded by a bullet, but before he would accept medical attention, he insists on knowing who shot the bullet, who manufactured it, and when it was made, etc. He would die before he is able to obtain the information he is asking. We would say such a person is foolish. Knowing the origin of the bullet doesn’t change his wound, nor does it save his life. He would have been wiser to deal with his present situation, get medical attention and recover. Similarly, it’s better to examine our present difficulties and their causes and disturbing attitudes, and remedy them, rather than to get lost in speculation about a non-existent beginning. The Buddha didn’t discuss the origin of the universe, because knowing that doesn’t help us solve our problems or improve the quality of our lives. Instead, he explained how our minds cause our experience through motivating us to act or to create karma. Understanding this enables us to gain control over and purify this process.
The physical evolution of our universe is a matter for scientific research. Science examines the continuity of physical material in our universe, how cause and effect operate physically to produce the various things in our universe. Matter in our universe has a cause: a previous moment of matter or energy. It would be difficult to prove there was a time when neither matter nor energy existed. If there once was nothing, then out of what did matter arise? How could things be produced without causes? Our present universe is a transformation of the physical energy that existed previously. Our mind isn’t made of physical material and therefore its causes aren’t material. Our mind arises from the previous moment of mind in its continuity. We can trace our consciousness back moment by moment to childhood. Our mind has changed since then, but our present mind is related and caused by our mind when we were younger. In this way, the existence of our mindstream can be traced back to the time of conception. The consciousness that entered the fertilized egg in our mother’s womb must also have had a cause. From a Buddhist perspective, this is a previous moment of mind, i.e. our consciousness of a previous life. This continuity of mind goes back indefinitely. There was no beginning. Just as the mathematical numberline has no beginning, one more can always be added, neither has the continuity or our consciousness. Our disturbing attitudes, which include ignorance, also arise from causes: the previous moments of disturbing attitudes. Their continuity goes back infinitely. If there were a first moment of disturbing attitudes, then we should be able to point ot what caused it. If it were initially pure and later became ignorant, where did ignorance come from? It’s impossible for pure beings who perceive reality to later become ignorant. If someone becomes ignorant, he or she wasn’t completely pure before. In addition, no other being can make us ignorant. No one can put ignorance into our mindstreams the way water is poured into a cup.
The temporal or functional teaching applied the term to noumenal or absolute, being considered as infinite; while The real or reliable teaching applied the term to the phenomenal, being considerd as infinite. We, Buddhists, believe in the theories of “Cause and Effect,” and “Rebirth”, so when say that there must be a previous life, then, there had been another previous life, another previous life, and another previous life, and so on. In other words, “Rebirth” is beginningless. Similarly, when say that there must be a future life, then, there will be another future life, another future life, and another future life, and so on. That is to say “Rebirth” is endless. If we believe that our present mental experiences come in a continuum or succession of mental states and includes memories of our past experiences in this life, and persuading ourselves that it is inconceivable it could ever have been otherwise because what is non-mind cannot be made a so-called ‘mind’ in a certain being. That means the so-called ‘mind’ in a certain being had flown, flew, is flowing, and will flow forever without beginning or ending.