THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
366. Mật Giáo
367. Niết Bàn
368. Thiên Đàng Không Phải Là Niết Bàn
369. Phật Niết Bàn
370. Hữu Dư và Vô Dư Niết Bàn
371. Tám Pháp Đưa Đến Sự Đoạn Tận
372. Bốn Tiến Trình Tiến Đến Phật Quả
373. Bát Đại Nhân Giác
374. Phàm Phu Tán Thán Như Lai ở Những Điều Nhỏ
375. Phàm Phu Tán Thán Như Lai về Trung Giới
376. Phàm Phu Tán Thán Như Lai về Đại Giới
377. Sư Tử Thân Trung Trùng
378. An Lạc Hạnh
379. Sự Sự Vô Ngại Pháp Giới
380. Học và Vô Học
366. Esoteric Teachings
Exoteric or public teaching to the visible audience. The exoteric teachings or schools (Vajradhatu and Garbhadhatu of Vairocana belong to esoteric teaching). The Open sects, in contrast with the esoteric. While Esoteric teaching to an audience invisible to the other assembly. Secret The teaching was not revealed to those unworthy or unfit to receive it. The esoteric method. The esoteric Mantra, or Yogacara sect, developed especially in Shingon, with Vairocana as the chief object of worship, and the Mandalas of Garbhadhatu and Vajradhatu. The esoteric teaching or Tantric Buddhism, in contrast with the open schools (Hiển giáo). The Buddhist tantra consists of sutras of a so-called mystical nature which endeavor to teach the inner relationship of the external world and the world of spirit, of the identity of Mind and universe. Among the devices employed in tantric meditational practices are the following: a) A composite picture graphically portraying different classes of demons, deities, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, representing various powers, forces, and activities, within symbolic squaes and circles; b) In the center of which is a figure of the Buddha Vairocana, the Great Illuminator; and a diagrammatic representation wherein certain sacred Sanskrit letters, called “bija” or “seeds” are substituted for figures. In the Secret Teachings, these sacred sounds, such as OM, for example, are transmitted from the master to his disciple at the time of initiation. When the disciple’s mind is properly attuned, the inner vibrations of this word symbol together with its associations in the consciousness of the initiate are said to open his mind to higher dimension. Besides, different types of mudra are used in cultivating. These are physical gestures, especially symbolical hand movements, which are performed to help evoke certain states of mind parallel to those of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Esoteric Teachings is one of the eight types of teaching. Esoteric teaching, only understood by special members of the assembly. Also the esoteric sect, one of the four modes of teachings defined by T’ien-T’ai Sect. The Secret Teaching. In fact, it is a mystical indeterminate doctrine. It is indeterminate and varied because many a listener is concealed from another by the Buddha’s supernatural power and each thinks that the Buddha is teaching him alone. Thus all hear separately and variously. Such indeterminacy exists from the time of the Wreath to the time of Wisdom. The secret method, which was used by the Buddha only when addressing to one person, in which case the Buddha was understood by this only person. Opposite to the Common Doctrine, this Dharma is passed on at a hidden level and has the characteristics of the deepest and most profound meanings of Buddhism. This doctrine teaches cultivators to recite mantras, make Buddha seals with hands, etc. If the three karmas of the cultivators become one with the Buddha, then the cultivators will attain Buddhahood. Meaning if the cultivators’ Mind, Speech and Body is similar to that of the Buddha, then Buddhahood is attained. According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten kinds of esoteric speech of the Buddhas. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can master the unexcelled skillful esoteric speech of the Buddhas. First, the skillful esoteric sayings in all the discourses of Buddhas. Second, skillful esoteric sayings about all places of birth. Third, skillful esoteric sayings about all enlightening beings’ spiritual manifestations and attainment of enlightenment. Fourth, skillful esoteric sayings about the consequences of actions of all sentient beings. Fifth, skillful esoteric sayings about the defilement and purity produced by all sentient beings. Sixth, skillful esoteric sayings about how to be ultimately unobstructed in the midst of all things. Seventh, skillful esoteric sayings about how in every place in space are worlds, some becoming, some decaying, without any gaps in between. Eighth, skillful esoteric sayings about how everywhere in all places in all universes, in all phenomena, even in microscopic points, there are Buddhas manifesting birth, attainment of Buddhahood, and entry into final nirvana, filling the cosmos, each distinctly seen. Ninth, skillful esoteric sayings about seeing all sentient beings as equally nirvanic, being unchanged, yet not giving up great aspirations, causing them to be fulfilled by the vow for omniscience. Tenth, skillful esoteric sayings about not abandoning teachers in spite of knowing that truths are not realized through the agency of another, honoring the enlightened even more, becoming one with spiritual friends in cultivating, dedicating, and living by virtues, with the same actions, the same essence, the same emancipation, the same fulfillment.
Practitioners of secret teachings believe that Yidams is their “Tutelary deities,” or Buddhas who are the focus of tantric visualization practices. They often represent ideal qualities such as compassion or wisdom, but are also considered to be real entities, which exist as “enjoyment bodies” residing in the Buddhist heavens. In deity yoga practice, meditators create a vivid image of a particular “yi-dam” and imagine that it possesses all the ideal qualities of a buddha. This is called the “generation stage”; it is followed by the “completion stage”, in which one imagines that the Buddha merges with oneself and that one becomes indistinguishable from the “yi-dam.” The visualized image is referred to as the “pledge being,” and the actual entity that is being summoned in the visualization practice is called the “wisdom being.” This practice requires that one obtain the requisite initiation from a qualified Guru, and the actual visualization is guided by his or her oral instructions.
Total extinction of desires and sufferings. Nirvana is the supreme goal of Buddhist endeavor. When we speak about Nirvana we encounter some problems of expression, because the exact nature of an experience cannot and never can be communicated merely by words. This experience must be experienced directly by each one of us, without any exception. We have to experience the end of sufferings and afflictions for ourselves, and the only way we can do this is by eliminating the causes of sufferings and afflictions: the attachment, aversion, and ignorance. When we have eliminated such causes of sufferings and afflictions, then we will experience nirvana for ourselves. “Nirvana” is a Sanskrit term for “cessation.” The term is a combination of the Sanskrit prefix “nir” plus the verbal root “va” and literally means “blow out” or “extinguish.” This is a “cessation” of the process of becoming, eternal peace, or extinction or Ultimate reality Absolute Truth, or the state achieved by the conquest of craving, the extinction of birth and death. This is the highest state of bliss, peace and purity. This is the unconditioned reality. This is also the supreme Goal of Buddhist endeavour (the spiritual goal of Buddhism); release from the limitations of existence. A state which is free from rebirth by extinguishing of all desires and the elimination of egoism. According to the Lankavatara Sutra, Nirvana means to see the abode of reality as it is, and after seeing this a Bodhisattva with great compassion forgo his own nirvana in order to lead others to liberation. Nirvana consists of ‘nir’ meaning exit, and ‘vana’ meaning craving. Nirvana means the extinguishing or liberating from existence by ending all suffering. So Nirvana is the total extinction of desires and sufferings, or release (giải thoát). It is the final stage of those who have put an end to suffering by the removal of craving from their mind. In Mahayna Buddhism, Nirvana has the floowing meanings: inaction or without effort (diệt), no rebirth (vô sanh), calm joy (an lạc), and extinction or extinguish or tranquil extinction or transmigration to extinction (tịch diệt). In other word, Nirvana means extinction of ignorance and craving and awakening to inner Peace and Freedom. Nirvana with a small “n” stands against samsara or birth and death. Nirvana also refers to the state of liberation through full enlightenment. Nirvana is also used in the sense of a return to the original purity of the Buddha-nature after the disolution of the physical body, that is to the perfect freedom of the unconditioned state. The supreme goal of Buddhist endeavor. An attainable state in this life by right aspiration, purity of life, and the elimination of egoism. The Buddha speaks of Nirvana as “Unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed,” contrasting with the born, originated, created and formed phenomenal world. The ultimate state is the Nirvana of No Abode (Apratisthita-nirvana), that is to say, the attainment of perfect freedom, not being bound to one place. Nirvana is used in both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhist schools. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha told Mahamati: “Oh Mahamati, Nirvana means seeing into the abode of reality in its true significance. The abode of reality is where a thing stands by itself. To abide in one’s self-station means not to be astir, i.e., to be eternally quiescent. By seeing into the abode of reality as it is means to understand that there is only what is seen of one’s own mind, and no external world as such.” After the Buddha’s departure, most of the metaphysical discussions and speculations centered around the subject of Nirvana. The Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Sanskrit fragments of which were discovered recently, one in Central Asia and another in Koyasan, indicates a vivid discussion on the questions as to what is ‘Buddha-nature,’ ‘Thusness,’ ‘the Realm of Principle,’ ‘Dharma-body’ and the distinction between the Hinayana and Mahayana ideas. All of these topics relate to the problem of Nirvana, and indicate the great amount of speculationundertaken on this most important question.
The most probable expalantion of Nirvana is that it is the highest level of meditation, the ceasing of ideation and feeling. The attainment of Nirvana is also called the cessation of consciousness, since rebirth is effected through the medium of vijnana and the Nirvana is the cessation of rebirth, the reality of no-self. In the stream of consciousness processes, of which vijnana consists, is stopped and emptied, usually by means of the meditational exercises to insight exist. Buddhism had always maintained that the state of Nirvana can not be expressed in words by a lot of negation such as: ‘There is the not-born, the not-become, the not-created, the not-compounded. There is the realm where there is neither earth nor water; neither the boundless realm of space nor boundless consciousness. There is neither coming nor going nor standing, neither origination nor annihilation… This is the end of suffering. So, Nirvana is beyond all suffering and change. It is as unfading, still, undecaying, taintless, as peace and blissful. It is an island, the shelter, the refuge and the goal. In addition, the term Nibbana in the literature of Pali Nikayas clearly refers to a unity eternally existing beyond the three world. It is infinite, inexpressible, unborn, undecaying and empty. It is homogeneous and knows no individuality. In it, all discriminations or dichotomy cease.
The Buddha said that Nirvana is supreme happiness, peace, immortal, uncreated, beyond earth, water, fire, and air, the sun and moon. It is unfathomable and immeasurable. He has described Nirvana in the following terms: infinite (ananta – p), non-conditioned (asamkhata -p), incomparable (anupameya -p), supreme (anuttara -p), highest (para -p), beyond (para -p), highest refuge (parayana -p), safety (tana -p), security (khema -p), happiness (siva -p), unique (kevala -p), abodeless (analaya -p), imperishable (akkhara -p), absolute purity (visuddho -p), supramundane (lokuttara -p), immortality ( amata -p), emancipation (mutti -p), peace (santi -p), etc. Nirvana has the following general characteristics: permanent, tranquil extinguish, no aging, no death, purity, liberated from existence, passiveness (without effort), no rebirth, calm joy, transmigration to extinction, extinction or end of all return to reincarnation (cessation of rebirth), extinction of passion, and extinction of all misery and entry into bliss. You should always remember that when you are still reborn in the Samsara, you still have to prepare for a long journey from here (samsara) to Nirvana. It is important to cultivate on a regular basis so you can obtain wisdom that is necessary for your journey. Do not seek the transcendental events or supernatural powers of just one existence. Look to the end of the journey: Nirvana.
The word “Nirvana” literally means “extinguished” and therefore “tranquil.” A question is raised whether Nirvana is only a transformed state of mind or whether it is another dimension of being. The word has been used both for a transformed psychological state and for a metaphysical status. Buddhist literature is full of statements which go to show that Nirvana is a transformed state of personality and consciousness. The transformation is described in negative terms as a destruction of craving and attachments and in positive terms as the emergence of transcendental wisdom and peace. According to Buddhist philosophy, there are four ways of description of a Nirvana. The first way of description of Nirvana is “Negative”. The negative description is the most common. Nirvana is deathless, unchanging, imperishable, without end, non-production, extinction of birth, unborn, not liable to dissolution, uncreated, free from disease, un-aging, freedom from transmigration, utmost, cessation of pain, and final release. The second way of description of Nirvana is “Positive”. Nirvana is peace, bliss, transcendental wisdom, pure and security. Impermanent, indeed, are all conditioned things. It is their very nature to come into being and then to cease. Having been produced, they are stopped. Their cessation brings peace and ease. Cessation also means extinction of craving and cessation of suffering with a state of calm. In a positive way, Nirvana also means the supreme bliss, transcendental wisdom, illumination, and pure radiant consciousness. The third way of description of Nirvana is “Paradoxical”. This statement is mostly found in Prajnaparamita or Madhyamika literature. Nirvana is abiding in a state of non-abiding. The only way of reaching the goal is to realize that in the ultimate sense there is no goal to be reached. Nirvana is reality which is void (sunya). The fourth way of description of Nirvana is “Symbolical”. Symbolical description differs from the paradoxical in avoiding to speak in abstractions and using concrete images instead. From this standpoint, Nirvana is the cool cave, the island in the flood, the further shore, the holy city, the refuge, the shelter, and the safe asylum.
According to Buddhism, Nirvana has many characteristics. First, nirvana may be enjoyed in the present life as an attainable state. Second, Nirvana has four virtues or transcendental characteristics in Buddhism, or four noble qualities of the Buddha’s life expounded in the Nirvana Sutra: eternity, or permanence (permanence versus impermanence); joy, or happiness (Bliss versus suffering or the paramita of joy); personality or soul or true self (Supreme self versus personal ego); purity (equanimity versus anxiety). Besides, Nirvana also has many other special characteristics. First, an attainable state in this life by right aspiration, purity of life, and the elimination of egoism. The Buddha speaks of Nirvana as “Unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed,” contrasting with the born, originated, created and formed phenomenal world. Second, the fact that Nirvana is realized as one of the mental states. It is not a state of nothingness. Third, nirvana is not a place or a kind of heaven where a self or soul resides. Nirvana is the attainment of a state which is dependent on this body itself and this state can be achieved in this very life. Nirvana is beyond description of words. It is beyond time and space described by ordinary people. Fourth, nirvana is a place where (if we can temporarily say so) craving, hate and delusion are destroyed. Nirvana is the attainment of the cessation of sufferings. However, there are some heretic opinions in Nirvana. Nirvana is permanent and eternal; however, heretics believe that everything including nirvana as impermanent. Nirvana is a real Buddha-nature; however, heretics believe that there is no such Buddha-nature. Nirvana is a permanent place of bliss; however, heretics believe that everywhere including nirvana as no pleasure, but suffering. This is one of the eight upside-down views which belongs to the four upside-down views on impermanence. Buddhism believes that Nirvana is permanent and eternal; however, heretics believe that everything including nirvana as impermanent. Nirvana is pure; however, heretics believe that everything is impure. This is one of the eight upside-down views which belongs to the four upside-down views on impermanence. Buddhism believes that Nirvana is permanent and eternal; however, heretics believe that everything including nirvana as impermanent.
At the time of the Buddha, there existed some problems concerning Nirvana. Some are born in a womb; evil-doers are reborn in hells; the righteous people go to blissful states; the undefiled ones pass away into Nirvana (Dharmapada 126). In the Dharmapada Sutra, whenever the Buddha was asked by a questioner whether he was to live after death or what sort of world he was to enter after Nirvana, he always remained silent. When the When the Buddha remained silent to a question requiring an answer of ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ his silence usually meant assent. Ut his silence on the question concerning Nirvana was due to the fact that his listeners could not understand the profound philosophy involved. The main problem of Buddhism either formalistic or idealistic, was concerning the extinction of human passion, because this distorted state of mind is considered to be the source of all evils of human life. Human passion can be extinguished even during one’s lifetime. Therefore liberation from such disorder of mind is the chief object of Buddhist culture. Nirvana means the extinction of passion, of desire, of sense, of mind, and even of individual consciousness. To Buddhist mind, Nirvana did not contain any idea of deification of the Buddha. It simply meant the eternal continuation of his personality in the highest sense of the word. It meant returning to his original state of Buddha-nature, which is his Dharma-body, but not his scripture-body as misunderstood by people. Dharma means the ‘ideal’ itself which the Buddha conceived in his perfect Enlightenment. Nirvana is this ideal body which is without any restricting conditions. The formalists, on the other hand, hold that the scripture is the perfect representation of the ideal of the Buddha. Hence their opinion that the Buddha lives forever in the scripture-body, Nirvana being his entire annihilation and extinction otherwise. The principle of Nirvana or the state of a fire blown out in the light of space and time. It was an illusion on the part of philosophers, especially some of the Indian philosophers, to believe that space and time were infinite. Buddhism, however, has never treated space and time as infinite, for Buddhism takes them to be physical matters. The theory that space is curved, set forth by modern physicists, has considerably facilitated the elucidation of the doctrine of Nirvana. The universe, or the Realm of Principle (Dharmadhatu) as it is technically called, is the region which is occupied by space and time and in which they control all the waves of existence. So in practice, the space-time world is the ocean of the waves of life and death. It is the sphere of the flowing cycles of life or samsara, the world of creation, of energy, of action, of causation and ideation, of self-creation and of dynamic becoming. It is the sphere of desire, matter (form) and mind. Space is considered one of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space), and it is sometimes represented to be of round shape. Time is treated as real in some schools while in other schools it is treated as unreal. But it is to be particularly noted that time has never been considered to exist separately from space. That is to say, every being or thing has time of its own. Space and time are always correlative. Men have an average lifetime of one hundred years. But a crane is said to live for a thousand years, and a tortoise even ten thousand years. And with the heavenly beings, their one day and night is said to be as long as the whole fifty years of the earthly men. A day-fly, on the other hand, live a short wave-length of only one day.
368. Heaven Is Not A Nirvana
According to dictionary, “heaven” means the dwelling place of the deity. However, for a Buddhist, both heaven and hell are right here, right in this world. That is to say you can create your own heaven or hell right here in this world. It’s ridiculous to create all kinds of unwholesome deeds, then simply with faith or praying you can create a heaven. Buddhist belief in heaven is simple, if you live and act according to moral principles, you can create your own heaven right here in this world. If not, you can also create the hell on this earth itself. Sincere Buddhists never expect a heaven elsewhere to reward a virtue, or a hell to punish vice, virtue and evil have inevitable consequences in this world itself. These consequences can be considered as heaven or hell at the very moment. Buddhist literature contains too many descriptions of realms in which beings are reborn as a consequence of their past performance. According to Abhidharma-Kosa, there are six heavens in the “Desire Realm,” and seventeen in the “Form Realm.” Sentient beings who are born into these heavens are referred to as “gods.” Celestial beings or gods are one of the three good modes of existence as a reward for their previous good deeds. Devas allotted a very long, happy life in the Deva although they are still subject to the cycle of rebirth. However, this happiness may constitute a substantial hindrance on their path to liberation for they cannot recognize the truth of suffering. So heaven is seen as undesirable in Buddhism, because gods inevitably exhaust their good karma and are reborn in one of the lower realms of existence, where they again become subject to suffering. Thus the final goal of any Buddhists should be a liberation of all kinds of existence in the cycle of rebirth.
369. The Buddha’s Nirvana
At the age of eighty, the Buddha accompanied by a large assembly of monks, made a long journey from the Vulture Peak near Rajagaha to many towns, cities, and villages, where he preached the Dharma, enlightening his disciples with various discourses and emphasizing the fundamental doctrine of the Four Noble Truths. He said: “It is through not comprehending the Four Noble Truths, you and I have had to wander so long in the six miserable paths with rebirth after rebirth.” He also emphasized on the Three-Fold Training of right conduct, concentration and wisdom. When they arrived at Vesali, a prosperious city, they stayed at Ambapali’s mango-grove, where the Buddha gave a lecture to the Licchavis and Ambapali, who later offered the Buddha and his Sangha her mango grove. In his last retreat in Beluva, a village near Vesali. Here he felt sharp pains, but he bore them without any complaint. Soon after his recovery, in his last instruction to the Order, he adressed the Venerable Ananda: “The Tathagata does not think that he should lead the Order, nor does the Order depend on him. Therefore, Ananda, be lamps to yourselves. Take no external refuge. Hold fast to the Dharma as a lamp. Hold fast to the Dharma as a refuge. And how, Ananda, is a Bhiksu to be a lamp to himself, a refuge to himself, taking no external refuge, holding fast to the Dharma as a lamp? Herein, a Bhiksu lives diligent, mindful, and self-possessed, overcoming desire and grief in the world, reflecting on the body, feeling, mind and mental objects.” The Buddha emphasized on the importance of personal striving for purification and freedom from suffering. The Buddha and the Order arrived at Pava and stayed at Cunda’s mango grove, where they were treated by the black smith the Buddha’s last meal. The Buddha reminded the Order that the Buddha’s last and first meals were of greater profit than any others. Eventually, they moved on to the Sala grove of the Mallas in Kusinara, where a wandering ascetic, Subhadda, approached the Buddha and requested him to clear his doubt about other religious teachers at that time. The Buddha spoke: “In whatever doctrine and discipline, Subhadda, the Noble Eightfold Path is not found, neither is there found the first samana, nor the second, nor the third, nor the fourth. Now in this doctrine and discipline, Subhadda, there is the Noble Eightfold Path, and in it too, are found the first, the second, the third, and the fourth Samanas. The other teachers’ schools are empty of Samanas. If, Subhadda, the disciples live rightly, the world would not be void of Arahants: Void of true saints are the systems of other teachers. But in this one, may the Bhiksus live the perfect life, so that the world would not be without saints.” The ascetic Subhadda became the Buddha’s last disciple and soon after his ordination he also became an Arahant. At last the Buddha addressed the Order before his final exhortation: “Behold now, Bhiksus, I exhort you! Subject to change are all component things! Strive on with diligence!” Then the Buddha paased away on the Full Moon of the Vesak month in 543 B.C. His body was cremated with great ceremony and the relics were divided among Brahmins, Kings, and nobles and were then enshrined in the Eight Great Stupas.
570. Incomplete and Complete Nirvanas
The realm of nirvana (the abode of Nirvana), or bliss, where all virtues are stored and whence all good comes, one of the three dharmas of inaction. Mahayana Buddhism also agrees with the Pali literature, Nirvana is that which is neither discarded nor attained; it is neither a thing destroyed nor a thing eternal; it is neither suppressed nor does it arise. It is the state of final release. However, the Mahayanists gave further explanation on Nirvana: “Nirvana is the state of the Bodhisattva who does not want to retire into the final release, even though he is fully entitled to it, and who by his free choice devotes himself to the services of all sebtient beings. In the Madhyamika Sastra Karikavrtti, Candrakirti defined that Nirvana is “What is not abadoned nor acquire; what is not annihilation nor eternality; what is not destroyed nor created.” According to Nagarjuna Bodhisattva in the Madhyamaka Philosophy, the absolute is transcendent to both thought and speech. Neither the concept of ‘bhava’ not ‘abhava’ is applicable to it. Nirvana or the Absolute Reality cannot be a ‘bhava’ or empirical existence, for in that case it would be subject to origination, decay, and death; there is no empirical existence which is free from decay and death. If it cannot be ‘bhava’ or existence, far less can it be ‘abhava’ or non-existence, for non-existence is only the concept of absence of existence (abhava). When ‘bhava’ itself is proved to be inapplicable to Reality, ‘abhava’ cannot stand scrutiny, for abhava is known only as the disappearance of ‘bhava.’ When the concept of ‘bhava’ or empirical existence, and ‘abhava’ or the negation of bhava cannot be applied to the Abslute, the question of applying any other concept to it does not arise, for all other concepts depend upon the above two. In summary, the absolute is transcendent to thought, and because it is transcendent to thought, it is inexpressible. What cannot be an object of thought cannot be an object of speech. According to Keith in The Dictionary of Chinese-English Buddhist Terms, there are two kinds of Nirvana.
The first kind of Nirvana is the “Incomplete Nirvana” (Kilesa-parinibbana -p). The cause of reincarnation is ended. Nirvana reached by those enlightened beings who have not yet completely rid themselves of their samsaric burden of skandhas. The cause has been annihilated, but the remnant of effect still remains. A saint may enter into this nirvana during life, but has continue to live in this mortal realm (has not yet eliminated the five aggregates) till the death of his body. There are two different views on the Incomplete Nirvana. Hinayana holds that the arhat, with the full extinction of afflictions, after his last term of mortal existence enters into nirvana, while alive here he is in the state of limited or modified nirvana (sopadhisesa-nirvan), in contrasted with complete nirvana (nirupadhisesa-nirvana). An Arhat whose taints are destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained Arahatship by stages, destroyed completely the bond of becoming, one who is free through knowing rightly. As his faculties have not been demolished he experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable, he experiences pleasure and pain. The five aggregates remain. It is his extinction of lust, hate and delusion, that is called the Nibbana element with a basis remaining (saupadisesa-nibbanadhatu). The Mahayana holds that when the cause of reincarnation is ended the state is that of incomplete nirvana; when the effect is ended, and the eternal Buddha-body has been obtained, then there is a complete nirvana. The Mahayana says that in the Hinayana “Remainderless Nirvana” for the arhat, there are still remains of illusion, karma, and suffering, and it is therefore only an “Incomplete nirvana” in Mahayana. In Mahayana, complete nirvana, these remains of illusion, karma, etc., are ended. As a technical term the extinction of human passion is called the ‘Nirvana with the condition of being still remaining’ or, ‘the Nirvana with the upadhi remnant,’ upadhi being the material and immaterial condition of being.
The second kind of Nirvana is the Nirvana element without a basis remaining. Where there are no more cause and effect, the connection with the chain of mortal life being ended. A saint enters this perfect nirvana upon the death of his body (the aggregates have been eliminated). This is the Final nirvana without remainder of reincarnation where all the effects (quả) are ended. The nirvana state in which exists no remainder of the karma of suffering, or the full extinction of the groups of existence. Final nirvana without remainder of reincarnation where all the effects (quả) are ended. The nirvana state in which exists no remainder of the karma of suffering, or the full extinction of the groups of existence. The nirvana of arhat extinction of body and mind. An Arhat whose taints are destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained Arahatship by stages, destroyed completely the bond of becoming, one who is free through knowing rightly. All his feelings not being welcome, not being delighted in, will here and now become cool; it is thus, that is called the Nibbana element without a basis remaining. Static nirvana, the nirvana after death, the remainderless extinction of liberated one, in which all relationship to the world is broken off and there is no activity. It opposed to Apratisthita-nirvana, in which the liberated one choose to remain in the world where Bodhisattvas renounce entry into pratisthita-nirvana so that he can, in accordance with his vow, lead beings on the way to liberation. The Nirvana without the upadhi remnant. It is the total extinction of the conditions of being as well as of passion. One may call it the annihilation of being. This is Nirvana of Perfect Freedom, or the passing away of Sakyamuni Buddha.
Besides, according to the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, in the section of the ten states of formation skandha, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the five kinds of immediate Nirvana: “Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be distrubed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on existence after death, he could fall into error with five theories of Nirvana. Because of these speculations about five kinds of immediate Nirvana, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. First, he may consider the Heavens of the Desire Realm a true refuge, because he contemplates their extensive brightness and longs for it. Second, he may take refuge in the First Dhyana, because there his nature is free from worry. Third, he may take refuge in the Second Dhyana, because there his mind is free from suffering. Fourth, he may take refuge in the Third Dhyana, because he delights in its extreme joy. Fifth, he may take refuge in the Fourth Dhyana, reasoning that suffering and bliss are both ended there and that he will no longer undergo transmigration. These heavens are subject to outflows, but in his confusion he thinks that they are unconditioned; and he takes these five states of tranquility to be refuge of supreme purity. Considering back and forth in this way, he decides that these five states are ultimate. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five kinds of anagamins (Na Hàm) who never return to the desire-real. First, the “less-than-half-timer”, where the anagamin who enters on the intermediate stage between the realm of desire and the higher realm of form. Second, the “more-than-half-timer”, where the anagamin who is born into the form world and soon overcome the remains of illusions. Third, the “gainer with exertion”, where the anagamin who diligently works his way through the final stage. Fourth, the “gainer without exertion”, where the anagamin whose final departure is delayed through lack of aid and slackness. Fifth, Nirvana where he who goes upstream to the highest. The anagamin who proceeds from lower to higher heavens into nirvana.
371. Eight Things That Lead to the Cutting off of Affairs
According to the Potaliya Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, there are eight things in the Noble One’s Discipline that lead to the cutting off of affairs. First, with the support of the non-killing of living beings, the killing of living beings is to be abandoned. So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? Here a noble disciple considers thus: ‘I am practicing the way to abandoning and cutting off of those fetters because of which I might kill living beings. If I were to kill living beings, I would blame myself for doing so; the wise, having investigated, would censure me for doing so; and on the dissolution of the body, after death, because of killing living beings an unhappy destination would be expected. But this killing of living beings is itself a fetter and a hindrance. And while taints, vexation, and fever might arise through the killing of living beings, there are no taints, vexation, and fever in one who abstains from killing living beings.’ So it is with reference to this that it was said: “With the support of the non-killing of living beings, the killing of living beings is to be abandoned.”
Second, with the support of taking only what is given, the taking of what is not given is to be abandoned. (the rest remains the same as above). Third, with the support of truthful speech, false speech is to be abandoned. (the rest remains the same as above). Fourth, with the support unmalicious speech, malicious speech is to be abandoned. (the rest remains the same as above). Fifth, with the support of refraining from rapacious greed, rapacious greed is to be abandoned. (the rest remains the same as above). Sixth, with the support of refraining from spiteful scolding, spiteful scolding is to be abandoned. (the rest remains the same as above). Seventh, with the support of refraining from angry despair, angry despair is to be abandoned. (the rest remains the same as above). Eighth, with the support of non-arrogance, arrogance is to be abandoned. (the rest remains the same as above).
372. Four Courses of Attainment of Buddhahood
According to the Mahavastu, there are four courses of attainment of Buddhahood. The first course is the Prakrticarya. In this carya, an individual is expected to be obedient to his parents, to the Sramanas and Brahmins, and to the elders, to perform good deeds, to instruct others to offer gifts, and to worship the Buddhas. While a being is in this carya, he is just a common being and not a Bodhisattva. Sakyamuni Buddha practised this Carya from the time of Aparajitadhvaja Buddha. The second course is the Pranidhi. This consists in a being’s resolving to attain Bodhi in due course. Sakyamuni took this resolution five times in the course of his many existences as the ancient Sakyamuni Buddha, whose life extended over aeons. The third course is the Anuloma. It is a continuation of the previous Carya, and consists in acquiring the virtues necessary to become a Buddha. Sakyamuni began this Carya at the time of Samitavi Buddha. During the second and third Caryas, a Bodhisattva acquires the virtues mentioned in the Jatakas and advances from the first to the eight bhumi. Sakyamuni reached the seventh bhumi, when he was born as prince Kusa. The fourth course is the Avivarta or Anivartana. This is called a non-returning Carya. It commences with the Bodhisattva reaching the eighth Bhumi when retrogression becomes impossible for him. When Sakyamuni was reborn as Meghamanava, he reached this Carya the time of Dipankara Buddha, who confirmed his ultimate success in attaining Bodhi. It was reconfirmed by Sarvabhibhu Buddha when Sakyamuni was born as Abhiya or Abhiji Bhikshu. Subsequently, the Bodhisattva was born innumerable times in order to cross the eighth and ninth bhumis. He ultimately reached the tenth bhumi to be born as Jyotipalamanava and given Yauvarajyabhiseka by Kasyapa Buddha, at last becoming the god of gods in the Tusita Heaven. He was to complete the tenth bhumi as Gautama Buddha under the Bodhi tree at Gaya.
373. Eight Awakenings of Great People
The form of the sutra is very simple. The text form is ancient, just like the Forty-Two Chapters and the Sutra on the Six Paramitas. However, its content is extremely profound and marvelous. Shramana An Shi Kao, a Partian monk, translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in about 150 A.D. (during the Later Han Dynasty). Most Venerable Thích Thanh Từ translated from Chinese into Vietnamese in the 1970s. The original text of this sutra in Sanskrit is still extant to this day. This sutra is entirely in accord with both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions. In fact, each of the eight items in this sutra can be considered as a subject of meditation which Buddhist disciples should at all times, by day and by night, with a sincere attitude, recite and keep in mind eight truths that all great people awaken to. These are eight Truths that all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and great people awaken to. After awakening, they then energetically cultivate the Way. By steeping themselves in kindness and compassion, they grow wisdom. They sail the Dharma-body ship all the way across to Nirvana’s other shore, only to re-enter the sea of death and rebirth to rescue all living beings. They use these Eight Truths to point out the right road to all beings and in this way, help them to recognize the anguish of death and rebirth. They inspire all to cast off and forsake the Five Desires, and instead to cultivate their minds in the way of all Sages. If Buddhist disciples recite this Sutra on the Eight Awakenings, and constantly ponder its meaning, they will certainly eradicate boundless offenses, advance toward Bodhi, quickly realize Proper Enlightenment, forever be free of death and rebirth, and eternally abide in joy. Everyone of us knows what we deeply aspire to gain is happiness and what we try to avoid is sufferings and afflictions; however, our actions and behaviors in daily life do not bring us any joy and happiness; on the contrary, they only lead us to more sufferings and afflictions. Why? Buddhism believes that we cause our own sufferings and afflictions because we are not awakening of the truth. Buddhism claims that experiences which are apparently pleasurable in this world are ultimately states of suffering. Devout Buddhists should see clearly the point is that we perceive them as states of pleasure only because, in comparison to states of sufferings and afflictions, they appear as a form of relief. A disciple of the Buddha, day and night, should wholeheartedly recite and meditate on the eight awakenings discovered by the great beings.
The First Awakening is the awareness that the world is impermanent. All regimes are subject to fall; all things composed of the four elements that are empty and contain the seeds of suffering. Human beings are composed of five aggregates, and are without a separate self. They are always in the process of change, constantly being born and constantly dying. They are empty of self, without sovereignty. The mind is the source of all unwholesome deeds and confusion, and the body is the forest of all impure actions. If we meditate on these facts, we can gradually be released from the cycle of birth and death. The world is impermanent, countries are perilous and fragile; the body’s four elements are a source of pain; ultimately, they are empty; the Five Aggregates (Skandhas) are not me; death and rebirth are simply a series of transformations; misleading, unreal, and uncontrollable; the mind is the wellspring of evil; the body is the breeding ground of offenses; whoever can investigate and contemplate these truths, will gradually break free of death and rebirth. The Second Awakening is the awareness that more desire brings more suffering. The awareness that more desire brings more suffering. All hardships in daily life arise from greed and desire. Those with little desire and ambition are able to relax, their bodies and minds are free from entanglement. Too much desire brings pain. Death and rebirth are tiresome ordeals which stem from our thoughts of greed and desire. By reducing desires, we can realize absolute truth and enjoy independence and well-being in both body and mind. The Third Awakening is the awareness that the human mind is always searching for possessions and never feels fulfilled. This causes impure actions to ever increase. In our daily life we always want to have good food, nice clothes, attractive jewllery, but we only feel satisfied with them for a short time, after that, the very same object that once gave us pleasure might cause us frustration now. The same can also be applied to fame. At the beginning we might think ourselves that we are so happy when we are famous, but after some time, it could be that all we feel is frustration and dissatisfaction. Bodhisattvas, however, always remember the principle of having few desires. They live a simple life in peace in order to practice the Way, and consider the realization of perfect undestanding as their only career. Our minds are never satisfied or content with just enough. The more we obtain, the more we want; thus we create offenses and do evil deeds; Bodhisattvas do not make mistakes, instead, they are always content, nurture the way by living a quiet life in humble surroundings. Their sole occupation is cultivating wisdom. The Fourth Awakening is the awareness of the extent to which laziness is an obstacle to practice. For this reason, we must practice diligently to destroy the unwholesome mental factors which bind us , and to conquer the four kinds of Mara, in order to free ourselves from the prison of the five aggregates and the three worlds. Idleness and self-indulgence will be our downfall. With unflagging vigor, Great people break through their afflictions and baseness. They vanquish and humble the Four Kinds of Demons, and they escape from the prison of the Five Skandhas. The Fifth Awakening is the awareness that ignorance is the cause of the endless cycle of birth and death. Therefore, Bodhisattvas always listen and learn in order to develop their understanding and eloquence. This enables them to educate living beings and bring them to the realm of great joy. Stupidity and ignorance are the cause of death and rebirth, Bodhisattvas are always attentive to and appreciative of extensive study and erudition. They strive to expand their wisdom and refine their eloquence. Teaching and transfoming living beings, nothing brings them greater joy than this. The Sixth Awakening is the awareness that poverty creates hatred and anger, which creates a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and activity. When practicing generosity, Bodhiattvas consider everyone, friends and enemies alike, as equal. They do not condemn anyone’s past wrongdoings, nor do they hate those who are presently causing harm. The suffering of poverty breeds deep resentment; wealth unfairly distributed creates ill-will and conflict among people. So, Bodhisattvas practice giving and treat friend and foe alike. They neither harbor grudges nor despite evil-natured poeple. The Seventh Awakening is the awareness that the five categories of desire lead to difficulties. Although we are in the world, we should try not to be caught up in worldly matters. A monk, for example, has in his possession only three robes and one bowl. He lives simply in order to pratice the Way. His precepts keep him free of attachment to worldly things, and he treats everyone equally and with compassion. Great people, even as laity, are not blightly by worldly pleasures; instead, they constantly aspire to take up the three precepts-robes and blessing-bowl of the monastic life. Their ideal and ambition is to leave the household and family life to cultivate the way in immaculate purity. Their virtuous qualities are lofty and sublime; their attitudes toward all creatures are kind and compassionate. The Eighth Awakening is the awareness that the fire of birth and death is raging, causing endless suffering everywhere. Bodhisattvas should take the Great Vow to help everyone, to suffer with everyone, and to guide all beings to the realm of great joy. Rebirth and death are beset with measureless suffering and afflictions, like a blazing fire. Thus, great people make the resolve to cultivate the Great Vehicle to rescue all beings. They endure endless hardship while standing in for others. They lead everyone to ultimate happiness.
374. Ordinary People Praise Tathagata for Elementary Matters
According to the Brahmajala Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, ordinary people would praise the Tathagata for elementary, inferior matters of moral practice. First, abandoning the taking of life, the ascetic Gotama dwells refraining from taking life. Second, without stick or sword, scrupulous, compassionate, trembling for the welfare of all living beings. Third, abandoning from taking what is not given, the ascetic Gotama dwells refraining from taking what is not given, living purely, accepting what is given, awaiting what is given, without stealing. Fourth, abandoning unchasity, the ascetic Gotama lives far from it, aloof from the village-practice of sex. Fifth, abandoning false speech, the ascetic Gotama dwells refraining from false speech, a truth-speaker, one to be relied on, trustworthy, dependable, not a deceiver of the world. Sixth, abandoning malicious speech, he does not repeat there what he has heard here to the detriment of these, or repeat what he as heard there to the detriment of those. Thus he is a reconciler of those at variance and an encourager of those at one, rejoicing in peace, loving it, delighting in it, one who speaks up for peace. Seventh, abandoning harsh speech, he refrains from it. He speaks whatever is blameless, pleasing to the ear, agreeable, reaching the heart, urbane, pleasing and attractive to the multitude. Eighth, abandoning idle chatter, he speaks at the right time, what is correct and to the point, of Dhamma and discipline. He is a speaker whose words are to be treasured, seasonable, reasoned, well-defined and connected with the goal. Ninth, the ascetic Gotama is a refrainer from damaging seeds and crops. He eats once a day and not at night, refraining from eating at improper times. Tenth, the ascetic Gotama avoids watching dancing, singing, music and shows. Eleventh, the ascetic Gotama abstains from using garlands, perfumes, cosmetics, ornaments and adornments. Twelfth, the ascetic Gotama avoids using high or wide beds. Thirteenth, the ascetic Gotama avoids accepting gold and silver. Fourteenth, the ascetic Gotama avoids accepting raw grain. Fifteenth, the ascetic Gotama avoids accepting raw flesh. Sixteenth, the ascetic Gotama does not accept women and young girls. Seventeenth, the ascetic Gotama does not accept male or female slaves. Eighteenth, the ascetic Gotama does not accept sheep and goats, coks and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses and mares. Nineteenth, the ascetic Gotama does not accept fields and plots. Twentieth, the ascetic Gotama refrains from running errands. Twenty-first, the ascetic Gotama refrains from buying and selling. Twenty-second, the ascetic Gotama refrains from cheating with false weights and measures. Twenty-third, the ascetic Gotama refrains from bribery and corruption, deception and insincerity. Twenty-fourth, the ascetic Gotama refrains from wounding, killing, imprisoning, highway robbery, and taking food by force.
375. Ordinary People Often Praise the Tathagata for These Average Matters
According to the Brahmajala Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, ordinary people often praise the Tathagata for these average matters. Whereas, some ascetics and Brahmins, feeding on the food of the faithful, are addicted to the destruction of such seeds as are propagated from roots, from stems, from joints, from cuttings, from seeds, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such destruction. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins, feeding on the food of the faithful, remain addicted to the enjoyment of stored-up goods such as food, drink, clothing, carriage, beds, pefumes, meat, the acetic Gotama refrains from such enjoyment. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain addicted to attending such shows as dancing, singing, music, displays, recitations, hand-music, cymbals and drums, fairy shows, acrobatic and conjuring tricks, combats of elephants, buffaloes, bulls, goats, rams, cocks and quail, fighting with staves, boxing, wrestling, sham-fights, parades, manoeuvers and military reviews, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such displays. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain addicted to such games and idle pursuits as eight-or ten-row chess, chess in the air, hopscotch, spillikins, dicing, hitting sticks, hand-pictures, ball-games, blowing through toy pipes, playing with toy ploughs, turning someersaults, playing with toy windmills, measures, carriages and bows, guessing letters, guessing thoughts, mimicking deformities, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such idle pursuit. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain addicted to high and wide beds and long chairs, couches adorned with animal figures, fleecy or variegated coverlets, coverlets with hair on both sides or one side, silk coverlets, embroidered with gems or without, elephant-rugs, horse-rugs, or chariot-rugs, choice spreads of antelope-hide, couches with awnings, or with red cushions at both ends, the ascetics Gotama refrains from such high and wide beds. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain adicted to such forms of self-adornment and embellishment as rubbing the body with perfumes, massaging, bathing in scented water, shampooing, using mirrors, ointments, garlands, scents, unguents, cosmetics, bracelets, headbands, fancy sticks, bottles, swords, sunshades, decorated sandals, turbans, gems, yak-tail fans, long-fringed white robes, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such self-adornment. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain addicted to such unedifying conversation as about kings, robbers, ministers, armies, dangers, wars, food, drink, clothes, beds, garlands, perfumes, relatives, carriages, villages, towns, and cities, countries, women, heroes, street gossip and well gossip, talk of the departed, desultory chat, speculations about land and sea, talk about being and non-being, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such conversation. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain addicted to disputation such as: ‘You don’t understand this doctrine and discipline—I do!’ ‘How could you understand this doctrine and discipline?’ ‘Your way is all wrong—Mine is right!’ ‘I am consistent– you aren’t!’ ‘You said last what you have said first, and you said first what you should have said last!’ ‘What you took so long to think up has been refuted!’ ‘Your argument has been overthrown, you’re defeated!’ ‘Go on, save your doctrine – get out of that if you can!’ The ascetic Gotama refrains from such disputation. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain addicted to such things as running errands and messages, such as for kings, ministers, nobles, Brahmins, householders and young men who say: “Go here – go there! Take this there–bring that from there!’ The acetic Gotama refrains from such errand-running. Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain addicted to deception, patter, hinting, belittling, and are always on the make for further gains, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such deception.
376. Ordinary People Would Praise the Tathagata for
His Superiority of Morality
According to the Brahmajala Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, ordinary people would praise the Tathagata for his superiority of morality. First, whereas some asectics and Brahmins, feeding on the food of the faithful, make their living by such base arts, such wrong means of livelihood as palmistry, divining signs, portents, dreams, body-marks, mouse-gnawings, fire-oblations, oblations from a ladle, of husks, rice-powder, rice-grains, ghee or oil, from the mouth or of blood, reading the finger-tips, house-lore and garden-lore, skill in charm, ghost-lore, earth-house lore, snake-lore, poison-lore, rat-lore, bird-lore, crow-lore, foretelling a person’s life-span, charms against arrows, knowledge of animals’ cries, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such base arts and wrong means of livelihood. Second, whereas some ascetics and Brahmins make their living by such base arts as judging the marks of gems, sticks, clothes, swords, spears, arrows, weapons, women, men, boys, girls, male and female slaves, elephants, horses, buffaloes, bulls, cows, goats, rams, cocks, quail, iguanas, bamboo-rats, tortoises, deer, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such base arts. Third, whereas some ascetics and Brhamins make their living by such base arts as predicting: ‘the chiefs will march out. The chiefs will march back,’ Our chiefs will advance and other chiefs will retreat,’ ‘Our chiefs will win and the other chiefs will lose,’ ‘The other chiefs will win and ours will lose,’ ‘Thus there will be victory for one side and defeat for the other,’ the ascetci Gotama refrains from such base arts. Fourth, whereas some ascetics and Brahmins make their living by such base arts as predicting an eclipse of the moon, the sun, a star; that the sun and moon will go on their proper course – will go astray; that a star will go on its proper course – will go astray; that there will be a shower of meteors, a blaze in the sky, an earthquake, thunder; a rising, setting, darkening, brightening of the moon, the sun, the stars; and ‘such will be the outcome of these things,’ the ascetic Gotama refrains from such base arts and wrong means of livelihood. Fifth, whereas some ascetics and Brahmins make their living by such base arts as predicting good or bad rainfall; a good or bad harvest; security, danger, disease, health; or accounting, computing, calculating, poetic composition, philosophising, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such base arts and wrong means of livelihood. Sixth, whereas some ascetics and Brahmins make their living by such base arts as arranging the giving and taking in marriage, engagements and divorces; declaring the time for saving and spending, bringing good or bad luck, procuring abortions, using spells to bind the tongue, binding the jaw, making the hands jerk, causing deafness, getting answers with a mirror, a girl-medium, a deva; worshipping the sun or Great Brahma, breathing fire, invoking the goddess of luck, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such base arts and wrong means of livelihood. Seventh, whereas some ascetics and Brahmins, feeding on the food of the faithful, make their living by such base arts, such wrong means of livelihood as appeasing the devas and redeeming vows to them, making earth-house spells, causing virility or impotence, preparing and consecrating building-sites, giving ritual rinsing and bathings, making sacrifices, giving emetics, purges, expectorants and phlegmagogues, giving ear-medicine, eye-medicine, and nose-medicine, ointments and counter-ointments, eye-surgery, surgery, pediatry, using balms to counter the side-effects of previous remedies, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such base arts and wrong means of livelihood.
377. A Dead Lion is Destroyed by Worms Produced Within Itself
According to the Buddha’s prediction, the fate of Buddhism is just the same as worms inside a dead lion. No animal eats a dead lion, but it is destroyed by worms produced within itself, so no outside force can destroy Buddhism, only evil monks within it can destroy it. Buddhism so far persisted for almost 26 centuries and during that period it has undergone so many ups and downs with profound and radical changes. The innovations of each new phase were backed up by the production of a fresh canonical literature which, although clearly composed many centuries after the Buddha’s Nirvana, claims to be the word of the Buddha Himself. In fact, Buddhist theories are connected by many transitions, which lead from one to the other and which only close study can detect. In Buddhism, there is really no innovation, what seems so is in fact a subtle adaptation of pre-existing ideas.
The first period is that of the old or original Buddhism. During the first 500 years of Buddhism it remained almost purely Indian. The first period focused on psychological issues, which concerned with individuals gaining control over their own minds, and psychological analysis is the method by which self-control is sought. The ideal of practitioners in this period is an Arhat, or a person who has non-attachment, in whom all craving is extinct and who will no more be reborn in the Samsara. The Early Sangha soon established a regular Uposatha meetings, which helped unify and regulate the life of the community of monks. During the first five hundred years of its life, several large meetings or Buddhist Councils, in which matters of greater importance were discussed and clarified. The second period is the period of the development of Mahayana Buddhism. Around 700 years after the Buddha’s Nirvana, Buddhism began to develop in Eastern Asian countries. The second period focused on ontological issues. During this period people discussed about the nature of true reality and the realization in oneself of that true nature of things is held to be decisive for emancipation. The goal of practitioners in the second period is the Bodhisattva, a person who wishes to save all sentient beings and who hopes ultimately to become a Buddha. That is to say they want to transform all beings by developing their Buddha-nature and causing them to obtain enlightenment. The third period is the period of the Tantra and Zen. Around 11 or 12 centuries after the Buddha’s Nirvana, many centers of Buddhist thought were established outside India, especially in China. The third period focused on cosmic issues. In this period people see adjustment and harmony with the cosmos as the clue to enlightenment and they use age-old magical and occult methods to achieve it. Practitioners in this period want to be so much in harmony with the cosmos that they are under no constraint whatsoever and as free as agent who is able to manipulate the cosmic forces both inside and outside himself. The fourth period is considered the period of the recent one thousand years, Buddhism started to develop, slowly but very surely, to European countries. This is the period of a complete Buddhism, and there is no need to add up any new thought or doctrine. However, this is the marking period of degeneration of Buddhism from all over the world. Buddhist theories have been degenerated with time. After each period spiritual practices will be diminished. During the period of the most recent one thousand years, spiritual practices will be near extinction.
Even though Hinduism lost its influence when Buddhism gained its popularity since the sixth century B.C. Hinduism always tried to intermingle theories of Hinduism and Buddhism, which is extremely difficult for an ordinary person to distinguish the differences. For instance, according to Hindu teachings and its castes, every person has a specific place in life and specific responsibilities. However, it intermingles with the theory of “Karma” in Buddhism by saying this: “Each person is born where he is, and with particular abilities that he has, because of past actions and attitudes.” Hindus also believe in the law of karma. Complete faith and fidelity to the theory of karma and reincarnation, with rebirth in heaven seen as the final goal of earthly life. There is a universla law, which operates throughout all life. Whatever is sown must be reaped sometime and somewhere. This is the law: every action, every intention to act, every attitude bears its own fruit. A man becomes good by good deeds and bad by bad deeds. It is to say each person is fully responsible for his own condition, and cannot put the blame on anyone else. You are what you are because of what you have done in the past. To a Hindu the past, of course, would include all previous lives or existences. They tried not to emphasize on the caste system because it totally contradicts with what they want to show Buddhist followers: Hindu theories and Buddhist theories are almost the same. Therefore, even the Palas, who regarded themselves as Buddhists, also prided themselves on their full observance of caste dharma, the Hindu relations governing all aspects of social interaction. The development of the Trantric Buddhism, which gave rise to a host of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, must have made Buddhism seem little difference to the outsider or non-specialist from orthodox Hinduism, with its multiplicity of deities. Before the invasion of Muslim military in the eleventh century, there was even some degree an absorption of Buddhism by Hinduism, i.e. considering the Buddha as a Visnu.
From the very beginning, Buddhism seemed to be a religion of royal familes. Besides, the profundity of Buddhist teachings separated itself with the public and caused it to become a religion for intellectual people only. Under the sponsorship of the Gupta and Pala patron kings, Nalanda was supported to build by one hundred villages, and offered free training to more than ten thousand students, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. In fact, the support of royalty was itself ambiguous in its benefits. Nalanda, so heavily sponsored by Harsa, was later neglected by the Pala dynasty, who instead favored the monastic universities that they themselves had founded, Vikramasila and Odantapura. According to Andrew Skilton in “A Concise History of Buddhism”, while Buddhism had become increasingly associated with centralized, monastic learning, Hinduism remained based in the village, the brahmin priest ministering to the religious needs of his fellow householders. The Buddhists by contrast, were free from any immediate economic dependence on the communities around them through the cumulative effect of generous endowments from past lay followers and royal patrons. Perhaps they lost touch to some degree with popular culture, ceasing to proselytize, and turning inward towards subtle philosophical debate and Tantric ritual. Even the Hindu ascetics were mere wanderers, as had been the first Buddhists, and thus were free from this independence upon monastic organization and the necessary royal patronage which had become the lot of the Buddhists.
However, the problems of “Using Religion as only a Stepping Stone for one’s own business” of a few of monks and nuns is one of the main causes of the degeneration of Buddhism in India. First, the misusing of the donation of a few of Monks and Nuns. Quite a few evil monks and nuns, instead of devoting their time to cultivate and to help other Buddhists to cultivate, they utlize their time to plan on how to squeeze money out of sincere donators so that they can build big temples and big Buddha statues. They even spend the donating money to care for their families and relatives. Their evil acts without any conscience cause sincere Buddhists to lose their good faith in Buddhism. Second, the Misunderstanding of the Buddha-dharma and Real Cultivation of a few of Monks and Nuns. According to the Buddha, the Buddha-dharma is simply worldly dharma in which we turn ourselves around. It is the dharma that most ordinary people are unwilling to use. Worldly people are sinking and floating in the worldly dharma; they are always busy running here and there, constantly hurried and agitated. The source of all these activities is invarably selfishness, motivated by a concern to protect their own lives and properties. Buddha-dharma, on the other hand, is unselfish and public-spirited, and springs from a wish to benefit others. Sincere cultivators always think of others’ welfare. Sincere cultivators always forget their own “Ego”. They always give up their own interests in service to others, and never bring uncomfortable circumstances and afflictions to others. However, most people fail to clearly understand the basic ideas that the Buddha once preached. As a result as we can see now, within Buddhist circles we find struggle and contention, troubles and hassles, quarrels and strife. These problems seem to be no different from that of ordinary people, if we do not want to say worst than what we can find in worldly life. Such people cultivate Buddhism on the one hand and create offenses on the other hand. They do some good deeds, and immediately destroy the merit and virtue they have just earned. Instead of advancing the good cause of Buddhism, such people actually harm it. The Buddha referred such people as “Parasites in the lion, feeding off the lion’s flesh.” The Buddha predicted all these problems, thus He concluded that it would be pointless to try to teach others about his enlightenment, but the great god Brahma Sahampati intervened and implored the Buddha to share his discoveries with humankind.
Besides, Hinduism underwent a resurgence before the Muslim invasion also played a big role in the degeneration of Buddhism in India.. Before the Muslim invasion, it seems that Hinduism underwent a resurgence, and they spreaded of Vaisnavism in the South, Saivism in Kasmir, and philosophers hostile to Buddhism, such as Sankara and Kuarila, teaching across the country and gathering a considerable number of followers. Around the eighth century, Muslim military started to invade India. They destroyed the town and the Buddhist university at Valabhi. However, Muslim military was stopped by local Indian rulers. Four centuries later (the twelfth century), the Turkish military made a gradual advance into the mainland, and successive kingdoms fell to their troops. The Muslims extended their destruction presence across the whole of the north of the subcontinent. In 1197, Nalanda was sacked. Vikramasila followed suit in 1203. Muslim historians record that the universities, standing out upon the northern Indian plains, were initially mistaken for fortresses, and were cruelly ravaged, the library burnt, and the occupants murdered before they could even explain who and what they were. Soon after that the Ganges basin, the traditional heartland of Buddhism, was under the control of Muslim rulers. However, a majority of Buddhist institutions and Buddhist communities in southern India survived for several more centuries, until slow succumbing to resurgent Saivism from the eighth or ninth centuries onwards. There is evidence to show that Theravada Buddhism survived in Kamataka until at least the sixteenth century and Tamil Nadu until as late as the seventeenth century.
378. Pleasant Practices
According to the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha gave instructions to all Bodhisattvas on Pleasant practices as follows. First, Pleasant practice of the body: To attain a happy contentment by proper direction of the deeds of the body. The Buddha taught the pleasant practice of the body by dividing it into two parts, a Bodhisattva’s spheres of action and of intimacy. A Bodhisattva’s sphere of action means his fundamental attitude as the basis of his personal behavior. A Bodhisattva is patient, gentle, and agreeable, and is neither hasty nor overbearing, his mind is always unperturbed. Unlike ordinary people, he is not conceited or boastful about his own good works. He must see all things in their reality. He never take a partial view of things. He acts toward all people with the same compassion and never making show of it. The Buddha teaches a Bodhisattva’s sphere of intimacy by dividing it into ten areas: 1) A Bodhisattva is not intimate with men of high position and influence in order to gain some benefit, nor does he compromise his preaching of the Law to them through excessive familiarity with them. 2) A Bodhisattva is not intimate with heretics, composers of worldly literature or poetry, nor with those who chase for worldly life, nor with those who don’t care about life. Thus, a Bodhisattva must always be on the “Middle Way,” not adversely affected by the impurity of the above mentioned people. 3) A Bodhisattva does not resort to brutal sports, such as boxing and wrestling, nor the various juggling performances of dancers and others. 4) A Bodhisattva does not consort personally with those who kill creatures to make a living, such as butchers, fishermen, and hunters, and does not develop a callous attitude toward engaging in cruel conduct. 5) A Bodhisattva does not consort with monks and nuns who seek peace and happiness for themselves and don’t care about other people, and who satisfy with their own personal isolation from earthly existence. 6) Moreover, he does not become infected by their selfish ideas, nor develop a tendency to compromise with them in listening to the laws preached by them. If they come to him to hear the Law, he takes the opportunity to preach it, expect nothing in return. 7) When he preaches the Law to women, he does not display an appearance capable of arousing passionate thoughts, and he maintains a correct mental attitude with great strictness. 8) He does not become friendly with any hermaphrodite. This means that he needs to take a very prudent attitude when he teaches such a deformed person. 9) He does not enter the homes of others alone. If for some reason he must do so, then he thinks single-mindedly of the Buddha. This is the Buddha’s admonition to the Bodhisattva to go everywhere together with the Buddha. 10) If he preaches the Law to lay women, he does not display his teeth in smile nor let his breast be seen. He takes no pleasure in keeping young pupils and children by his side. On the contrary, the Buddha admonishes the Bodhisattva ever to prefer meditation and seclusion and also to cultivate and control his mind. Second, Pleasant practice of the mouth of a Bodhisattva: According to the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha gave instructions to all Bodhisattvas on Pleasant practice of the mouth as follows: “First, a Bodhisattva takes no pleasure in telling of the errors of other people or of the sutras; second, he does not despite other preachers; third, he does not speak of the good and evil, the merits and demerits of other people, nor does he single out any Sravakas or Pratyeka-buddhas by name, nor does he broadcast their errors and sins; fourth, in the same way, he do not praise their virtues, nor does he beget a jealous mind. If he maintains a cheerful and open mind in this way, those who hear the teaching will offer him no opposition. To those who ask difficult questions, he does not answer with the law of the small vehicle but only with the Great vehicle, and he explains the Law to them so that they may obtain perfect knowledge.” Third, Pleasant practice of the mind of a Bodhisattva: According to the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha gave eight advices to all Bodhisattvas as follows: “First, a Bodhisattva does not harbor an envious or deceitful mind. Second, he does not slight or abuse other learners of the Buddha-way even if they are beginners, nor does he seek out their excesses and shortcomings. Third, if there are people who seek the Bodhisattva-way, he does not distress them, causing them to feel doubt and regret, nor does he say discouraging things to them. Fourth, he should not indulge in discussions about the laws or engage in dispute but should devote himself to cultivation of the practice to save all living beings. Fifth, he should think of saving all living beings from the sufferings through his great compassion. Sixth, he should think of the Buddhas as benevolent fathers. Seventh, he should always think of the Bodhisattvas as his great teachers. Eighth, he should preach the Law equally to all living beings.” Fourth, Pleasant practice of the vow of a Bodhisattva: The Buddha gave instructions to all Bodhisattvas on Pleasant practice of the vow as follows: “The pleasant practice of the vow means to have a spirit of great compassion. A Bodhisattva should beget a spirit of great charity toward both laymen and monks, and should have a spirit of great compassion for those who are not yet Bodhisattvas but are satisfied with their selfish idea of saving only themselves. He also should decide that, though those people have not inquired for, nor believed in, nor understood the Buddha’s teaching in this sutra, when he has attained Perfect Enlightenment through his transcendental powers and powers of wisdom he will lead them to abide in this Law.”
379. Perfectly Unimpeded Interpenetration
According to the Avatamsaka terminology, which is a Sanskrit term “Vatsu” meaning “matter,” or “event,” or “happening,” or “ an individual thing or substance.” However, its general idea is “an event.” We, Buddhists, do not believe in the reality of an individual existence, for there is nothing in our world of experience that keeps its identity even for a moment; it is subject to constant change. The changes are, however, imperceptively gradual as far as our human senses are concerned , and are not noticed until they pass through certain stages of modification. Human sensibility is bound up with the notion of time-divisions; it translates time into space; a succession of events is converted into a spatial system of individual realities. The idea of “pefectly unimpeded interpenetration Dharmadhatu” is attained only when our consciousness is thoroughly pervaded with a feeling for a never-ending process of occurrences mentioned above. he world in which actuality attains harmony in itself. In the actual world individualism is apt to predominate, and competition, conflict, dispute and struggle too often will disturb the harmony. To regard conflict as natural is the way of usual philosophies. Buddhism sets up a world in which actual life attains an ideal harmony.
380. Study and Beyond Study
In Buddhism, “studies” means one who is still learning. One who is still studying religion in order to get rid of illusion. Learning refers to the stage in which one must still undergo religious exercises to reach the level of Arhat. In Hinayana those in the first three stages of training as stream-entry (srota-apanna), once-return (sakradagamin), and non-return (anagamin); while Arhats is the fourth and last stage being those beyond the need of further teaching or study. However, the term “Learning” in Buddhism does not indicate any worldly learning. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who spends all her time studying worldly subjects and neglects to cultivate his or her spiritual teachings and practices, commits an Expression of Regret Offense. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni can study a worldly subject to upgrade his or her worldly knowledge so he or she can enrich his or her knowledge for preaching in Buddhism. However, he or she cannot invite female or male teacher to come to his or her place to receive private tutoring. If he or she does that, he or she commits an Expression of Regret Offense. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who reads worldly books and magazines, including videos, video discs, television and internet programs, as well as conversations on telephone and other images or sounds that have toxic effect, watering the seeds of sexual desire, fear, violence, sentimental weakness, and depression, commits an Expression of Regret Offence. However, in addition to reading books on Buddhism, he or she can read books on the history of civilizations of the world, general history and teachings of other religious faiths, applied psychology, and most recent scientific discoveries because these areas of knowledge can help him or her to understand and share the teachings to people in a way that is appropriate to their situation. In Buddhism, there are two kinds of study or learning: reading and reciting sutras, and meditation and thought. The first important thing is that we must see the benefits of studying the Dharma, only then will we develop the strong desire to study it, for owing to our study, we understand Dharma; owing to our study, we stop committing wrong doings; owing to our study, we abandon the meaningless behaviors; owing to our study, we eventually achieve nirvana. In other words, by virtue of our study, we will know all the key points for modifying our behavior. Owing to study, we will understand the meaning of the Vinaya Basket and, as a result, will stop committing sins by following the high training of ethics. Owing to study, we will understand the meaning of the Sutra Basket, and as a result, we will be able to abandon such meaningless things as distractions, by following the high training in single-pointed concentration. Also owing to study, we understand the meaning of the Abhidharma Basket, and so come to abandon delusions by means of the high training in wisdom. Study is the lamp to dispel the darkness of ignorance. It is the best of possession that thieves cannot rob us of it. Study is a weapon to defeat our enemies of blindness to all things. It is our best friend who instructs us on the means. Study is a relative who will not desert us when we are poor. It is a medicine against sorrow that does us no harm. It is the best force that dispatches against our misdeeds. Devout Buddhists should always remember that when we know one more letter, we get rid of ourselves a bit of ignorance around that letter. So, when we know the other letters, we have dispelled our ignorance about them too, and added even more to our wisdom. The more we study the more light of wisdom we gain that helps us decrease ignorance. Besides, a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni should not study teaching without applying the basic and essential practices of Buddhism in order to transform his or her afflictions and habit energies. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who is studying teachings of a profound, metaphysical, and mystical nature, should always ask himself or herself how he or she may apply these teachings in his or her daily life to transform his or her suffering and realize emancipation.
In Buddhism, the term “Asaiksa” or beyond learning stage refers to the stage of Arhatship in which no more learning or striving for religious achievement is needed (when one reaches this stage) because he has cut off all illusions and has attained enlightenment. The state of arhatship, the fourth of the sravaka stages; the preceding three stages requiring study; there are nine grades of arhats who have completed their course of learning. “Asaiksa” is one who is no longer studying because he has cut off all illusions—One who has attained enlightenment. Arhat (Worthy of Offerings) is the Asaiksa or No-birth in the Hinayana, while the Mahayana consider the Buddha, the Asaiksa. In Buddhism, “Asaiksa-marga” is the fifth and last of the Buddhist paths. Following the fourth, the “path of meditation” (bhavana marga), the meditator overcome the subtlest traces of afflictions and of the conception of a truly existing self (atman), together with their seeds. In this period, all defilements and perverse views about the knowable, such as belief in an inherent, permanent self or atman, are overcome. It is at this point one becomes enlightened as either an Arhat or a Buddha. A Theravada Buddhist who completes this path is then referred to as an Arhat. A Mahayanist who completes this path becomes a Buddha, and according to Sarvastivada at the end of this path one becomes either a sravaka buddha, pratyeka-buddha, or Samyak-sambuddha. According to Buddhist traditions, there are nine grades of arhats who are no longer learning, having atained their goal. These nine paths include the stage beyond study, where intuition rules, ungrasping mark, immortal mark, undwelling mark, mark of advancement. indestructible mark, unpleasurable mark, mark of wisdom of liberation, and mark of complete release.