THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
381. Skill in Means
382. Preaching the Dharma
383. Profoundly Wonderful Dharma
384. All Things Are Preaching the Dharma
385. Fourteen Inexpressible Things
387. The Identification of All Things
389. Absolute Knowledge
390. The Worldly World
391. Aeon (Kalpa)
392. Testing Conditions Along the Path of Cultivation
393. Miserable Outcast
394. The Falling Man
396. Three Realms Of The Rebirth Cycle
397. Four Ideas Of Looking At The Dharma Realms
398. Ten Reasons that All Things in the Real World Ought To Have Harmony Among Themselves
399. Three-Thousand-Great-Thousand World
400. Ten Ariyan Dispositions
381. Skill in Means
“Skill in means” in Buddhism means expediency, method, contrivance, or method.” Expediency and skill, adaptable, suited to conditions, opportunist, the adaptation of teaching to the capacity of the hearer. Means or methods which Buddhas and Bodhisattvas utilize to expound dharma to make it easy for others to understand and practice to reach enlightenment. A means or expedient is a way which one uses to reach one’s aim. Extraordinary Skilful Means is a good and virtuous practice which Buddhas and Maha-Bodhisattvas use to follow and adapt to the individual capacity, personality, and inclination of sentient beings to aid and transform them from unenlightened to enlightened beings. Practitioners who possess wisdom are no longer attached to forms and appearances; because forms and appearances are only expedients for them to advance in cultivation to obtain the Buddhahood. In short, skill in means is the ability to adapt Buddhist teachings and practices to level of understanding of one’s audience. This is particularly important in Mahayana, where “skill in means” is said to be one of the most important abilities developed by Bodhisattvas. It is the seventh of the ten paramitas.
Skill in means or method. Means or methods which Buddhas and bodhisattvas utilize to expound dharma to make it easy for others to understand and practice to reach enlightenment. A means or expedient is a way which one uses to reach one’s aim. According to Great Master Tarthang Tulku, one of the most famous masters of the Nyingmapa Sect, “We have a responsibility to work, to exercise our talents and abilities, to contribute our energy to life. Our nature is creative, and by expressing it we constantly generate more enthusiasm and creativity, stimulating an on-going process of enjoyment in the world around us. Working willingly, with our full energy and enthusiasm, is our way of contributing to life. Working in this way is working with skillful means.” In Buddhism, skill in means means expediency, method, or contrivance. Skill-in-means or adaptable methods are used for convenience to the place or situation, that are suited to the condition. There are several interpretations. Phương is interpreted as method, mode or plan; and Tiện is interpreted as convenient for use; so Phương Tiện means a convenient or expedient method which is suitable to different sentient beings. Phương means correct, Tiện means strategically; Phương tiện means strategically correct. Skill in means also means partial, temporary, or relative teaching of knowledge of reality, in contrast with prajna, and absolute truth, or reality instead of the seeming.
Skill in means is one of the ten paramitas which the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas use as the method of expedient teaching to save sentient beings. This is the most important of the four supplementary paramitas. The term is a translation of the Sanskrit term “Upaya,” which means a mode of approach, an expedient, stratagem, device. “Upaya” also means to teach according to the capacity of the hearer, by any suitable method. The Buddha used expedient or partial method in his teaching until near the end of his days, when he enlarged it to the revelation of reality. In Saddharma Pundarika Sutra, Chapter II, “Expedient Means,” in which the meaning of “Upaya-kausalya” is elucidated through the doctrine of Three Vehicles (Triyanas) of Sravaka-yana, Pratyeka-buddha-yana, and Bodhisattva-yana in order to respond to different temperaments of listeners. Expedient means is the way in which the Bodhisattvas act for saving the beings effectively. Expedient means is not the crafty method of achieving one’s objective. It is imbued with the morality of compassionate action with the purpose of bringing forth merit.
Extraordinary Skilful Means is a good and virtuous practice which Buddhas and Maha-Bodhisattvas use to follow and adapt to the individual capacity, personality, and inclination of sentient beings to aid and transform them from unenlightened to enlightened beings. Practitioners who possess wisdom are no longer attached to forms and appearances; because forms and appearances are only expedients for them to advance in cultivation to obtain the Buddhahood. Skill in means is a weapon of enlightening beings, manifesting in all places. Great Enlightening Beings unite expedient means with transcendent wisdom. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can annihilate the afflictions, bondage, and compulsion accumulated by all sentient beings in the long night of ignorance. Because of the different situations that arise, one has to use methods suited to the particular time and place. Expedient dharma implies that the methods are not constant and changing, but rather impromptu methods set up for a special purpose. Through those expedient methods or strategies, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas can help rescue and lead other beings to Enlightenment. According to Lama Tarthang Tulku in the “Skillful Means”, skillful means is a three-step process that can be applied to any situations or circumstances in our lives. The first step is to become aware of the reality of our difficulties, not simply by intellectual acknowledgement, but by honest observation of ourselves. Only in this way will we find the motivation to take the next step: making a firm resolve to change. When we have clearly seen the nature of our problems and have begun to change them, we can share what we have learned with others. This sharing can be the most satisfying experience of all, for there is a deep and lasting joy in seeing others find the means to make their lives fulfilling and productive. When we use skillful means to realize and strengthen our positive qualities at work, we tap the precious resources that lie awaiting discovery within us. Each of us has the potential to create peace and beauty in the universe. As we develop our abilities and make an effort to share them with others, we can deeply appreciate their value. This deep appreciation makes life truly worth living, for we bring love and joy into all of our actions and experience. By learning to use skillful means in all that we do, we can transform daily existence into a source of enjoyment and accomplishment that surpasses even our most beautiful dreams.
382. Preaching the Dharma
Teach the Dharma or Teach the Dharma means to preach the truth so that people can realize the mortal danger, or to preach others about Buddha’s teachings with the hope that they will eventually understand and be able to escape the cycle of births and deaths. According to The Agama Sutra, in 45 years of preaching the Dharma, the Buddha must have preached many hundreds of discourses, but He declared explicitely that He did preach only on Suffering and the End of Suffering, and nothing else. He exhorted His disciples to go forth to preach the Dharma and to explain the holy life for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the advantage, for the happiness of the deities and human beings. The Buddha made it very clear that His purpose in preaching the Dharma was not to quarrel with other religious leaders or to compete with antagonistic doctrines. There is no quarrel in His preaching. He just shows the way to enlightenment and liberation from all sufferings and afflictions. The Buddha is always filled with love and compassion for all living beings. Even when He takes a rest, He still wants to spread His love and compassion to other beings. His preaching is only performed out of compassion and love for the world. However, at the end of His life, the Buddah emphasized on “Not a word has been said nor declared”. This statement was said by the Buddha when he emphasized the danger of abusing words. He said: “In forty-five years, I haven’t said a word.” Later, this statement has become popular when Zen Masters using the statement to teach their disciples. Besides, the Buddha also emphasized on the “Unutterable.” Later, in the seventh century, it became the Zen notion that Zen utilize to explain that the experience of awakening cannot be captured in words. This is connected with the general orientation of Zen, which is suspicious of the distorting power of words and concepts.
One day when Maudgalyayana came to Vaisali to expound the Dharma to lay Buddhists in the street there, Vimalakirti came to him and said: “Maudgalyayana! When expounding the Dharma to these upasakas, you should not preach like that for what you teach should agree with the absolute Dharma which is free from the (illusion of) living beings; is free from the self for it is beyond an ego; from life for it is beyond birth and death and from the concept of a man which lacks continuity (thought seemingly continuous, like a torch whirled around); is always still for it is beyond (stirring) phenomena; is above form for it is causeless; is inexpressible for it is beyond word and speech; is inexplainable for it is beyond intellection; is formless like empty space; is beyond sophistry for it is immaterial; is egoless for it is beyond (the duality of) subject and object; is free from discrimination for it is beyond consciousness; is without compare for it is beyond all relativities; is beyond cause for it is causeless; is identical with Dharmata (or Dharma-nature), the underlying nature (of all things); is in line with the absolute for it is independent; dwells in the region of absolute reality, being above and beyond all dualities; is unmovable for it does not rely on the six objects of sense; neither comes nor goes for it does not stay anywhere; is in line with voidness, formlessness and inactivity; is beyond beauty and ugliness; neither increases nor decreases; is beyond creation and destruction; does not return to anywhere; is above the six sense organs of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind; is neither up nor down; is eternal and immutable; and is beyond contemplation and practice. “Maudgalyayana, such being the characteristics of the Dharma, how can it be expounded? For expounding it is beyond speech and indication, and listening to it is above hearing and grasping. This is like a conjurer expounding the Dharma to illusory men, and you should always bear all this in mind when expounding the Dharma. You should be clear about the sharp or dull roots of your audience and have a good knowledge of this to avoid all sorts of hindrance. Before expounding the Dharma you should use your great compassion (for all living beings) to extol Mahayana to them, and think of repaying your own debt of gratitude to the Buddha by striving to preserve the three treasures (of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) for ever.”
Vimalakirti reminded Purna that expounding Dharma should always be in accordance with sentient beings’ faculties: “Purnamaitraynaiputra, you should first enter the state of samadhi to examine the minds of your listeners before expounding the Dharma to them. Do not put rotten food in precious bowls. You should know their minds and do not take their (precious crystal for (ordinary) glass. If you do not know their propensities, do not teach them Hinayana. They have no wounds, so do not hurt them. To those who want to tread the wide path do not show narrow tracks. Do not enclose the great sea in the print of an ox’s foot; do not liken sunlight to the dim glow of a firefly. Purnamaitryaniputra, these bhiksus have long ago developed the Mahayana mind but they now forget all about it; how can you teach them Hinayana? Wisdom as taught by Hinayana is shallow; it is like a blind man who cannot discern the sharp from the dull roots of living beings.”
Vimalakirti reminded Mahakatyayana not to use mortal mind to preach immortal reality as follows: “Mahakatyayana said: “Vimalakirti came and said: ‘Mahakatyayana, do not use your mortal mind to preach immortal reality. Mahakatyayana, all things are fundamentally above creation and destruction; this is what impermanence means. The five aggregates are perceived as void and not arising; this is what suffering means. All things are basically non-existent; this is what voidness means. Ego and its absence are not a duality; this is what egolessness means. All things basically are not what they seem to be, they cannot be subject to extinction now; this is what nirvana means.”
383. Profoundly Wonderful Dharma
After the Buddha’s enlightenment, he realized: “This dharma is so profound and difficult to comprehend for human beings because it is subtle and beyond any secular logic. It can be understood only by the wise. Besides, beings are always attached to sensual pleasures, and delighted by sensual pleasures. The dependent arising is a subject which is hard to see, so are the calming of all the activities, the renunciation of all attachment, the destruction of craving, dispassion, stopping, and Nirvana, etc. If I were to teach this Dharma, human beings would not understand me. That would be more troublesome for me.” Thus, at first the Buddha did not want to teach His Dharma. However, after the third request of Brahma Sahampati, the Buddha decided to spread his Dharma to save beings. According to the Majjhima Nikaya, volume 26, Brahma Sahampati read the thought of the Buddha in inclining to teach the Dharma, he feared that the world might be destroyed without hearing the Dharma. So he approached the Buddha and requested Him to preach the Dharma: “Oh, Lord, may the Lord teach the Dharma! May the Well-Farer expound the Dharma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes, who, not hearing the Dharma, will fall away. But if they are learners of the Dharma, they will understand the Dharma. In ancient times of Magadha there has appeared an impure Dharma thought out by stained minds. Open this door of deathlessness, let them hear the Dharma awakened to by the Stainless One! Just as a man standing on the peak of a mountain might watch the people around. May the Sorrowless One look down upon the people who are sunken in grief and overcome by birth and age! Rise, O Conqueror in the Battle, Leader of the Caravan. Freed from debt, walk over the world! Let the Exalted One teach the Dharma. There are those who will understand the Dharma.” After the Brahma Sahampati appealed to the Buddha for the third time, the Buddha, out of compassion for beings, surveyed the world with His Buddha-Vision. He saw beings with little dust in their eyes, with much dust in their eyes, with keen intellect and with dull intellect, with good character and with bad character, beings who are easy to teach and hard to teach, and few others, who, with fear, see evil and the world beyond. Thus the Buddha decided to spread His Dharma. The Brahma Sahampati thought that he himself made the opportunity for the Buddha to preach the Dharma, saluted Him and passing around him to the right, then disappeared.
384. All Things Are Preaching the Dharma
Objectively speaking, the Buddha-dharma is so wonderful that so far no philosophers can ever argue or deny. To many people, Buddhism is always the best. However, for non-Buddhists, the so-called wonderful teachings seem nonsensical if they do not have the opportunity to hear them. How sorry! It is certainly that the majority of religions want to transform a bad person into a good one, but there are still a lot of religious cults that rigidly give people with blind faith and make them more and more ignorant. Therefore, we need more Buddhist lecturers to propagate the Wonderful Buddha-dharma.
All things in the world are constantly expounding the Dharma. Some things expound wholesome Dharma, while others expound unwholesome Dharma. Some things speak of the deviant knowledge and views of heretics; others speak of the proper knowledge and views of the Ultimate Meaning of the Middle Way. In other words, those that speak wholesome Dharma teach people to see through things, to let things go and to become free. Those that speak unwholesome Dharma teach people to preserve their illusions and continue to cling tightly to things, and so on, and so on. According to the Avatamsaka Sutra, “The Buddhas manifest hundreds of thousands of millions of sounds to proclaim the Wonderful Dharma for sentient beings. We, ordinary people, should always remember that all the sounds in the world are speaking the Dharma for us. For example, the sounds of the stream and creeks are just like the soft sounds from the golden mouth of the Buddha. The green color of the mountains and forests is the pure color of the Dharma-body delighting those who see it. If everyone of us understands this principle, then absolutely everything in the world is speaking the Dharma for us. Good people speak good Dharma, bad people speak bad Dharma, and animals speak the Dharma of being animals for us. They enable us to understand how they got to be good, bad, animals, and so on. If you observe cats chase mice, lions chase tigers, tigers chase bears, bears chase deers, the strong oppress the weak, and so on. They are all speaking the Dharma for us. Each has its own cause and effect. When we contemplate and understand things this way, we can get rid of all attachments. If not, we will forever be sinking in the sea of life of attachments.
385. Fourteen Inexpressible Things
Devout Buddhists only talk when they need to talk. In fact, Buddha Sakyamuni refrained from giving a definitive answer to many metaphysical questions of his time (questions of self-exists, not self-exists, if the world is eternal, or unending or no, etc). According to the Buddha, a silent person is very often a wise person because he or she avoids wasting energy or negative verbiage. If the person asks because he wants to cause troubles for the Buddha, the Buddha will remain silent. One day a certain man said to the Buddha that he would join the band of his disciples if the Buddha would give clear answer to the questions: “Would the Buddha ever die, and, if so, what would become of him after death? What was the first cause of the universe, and what was the universe going to be like in the future? Why do men live and what becomes of them after death?” If the person asks because he wants to cause troubles for the Buddha, the Buddha will remain silent. If the person asks because he wants to study, the Buddha’s answer was to the following effect: “Suppose you were shot by a poison arrow and a physician came to draw the arrow from your body and to dress the wound, would you first ask him questions as to what the arrow was made of, what the composition of the poison was., and who shot the arrow, and, if the physician did not dress the wound, what was going to happen, and such blissful questions, and refuse the treatment until the physician answered all the questions to your satisfaction? You would be dead before you obtained the answers.” In this parable the Buddha advised the questioner to become his disciple without wasting his time on problems which were too profound to be understood by an ordinary man, probably a long cultivation as a disciple of the Buddha he might come to understand.
According to the Madhyamaka Philosophy, the mysterious silence of the Buddha on most fundamental questions of Metaphysics led him to probe into the reason of that silence. Was the Buddha agnostic as some of the European writers on Buddhism believe him to be? If not, what was the reason of his silence? Through a searching inquiry into this silence was the dialectic born. There are well-known questions which the Buddha declared to be avyakrta or the answers to which were inexpressible, Cadrakirti enumerates them in his commentary on the Madhyamaka Sastra that the Buddha announced fourteen things to be inexpressible as mentioned in the following sentences. Whether the world is eternal, not eternal, both eternal and not eternal, neither eternal nor not eternal, and so on. Whether the world is finite, infinite, both finite and infinite, neither finite nor infinite, and so on. Whether the Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, either exists or does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death. Whether the soul is identical with the body, different with the body, and so on.
According to the Random House Webster College Dictionary the term “Relative” means something is existing or having its specific nature only by relation to something else. “Relative” also means not absolute or independent. The word for “Reciprocal Identification” is more literally “mutual” and “regarding,” that is “mutually viewing from each other’s point,” “mutual identification,” which is as much as to say and “exchange of views.” It is indispensable to bring about a reconciliation of conflicting opinions or effect a syncretism among opposing speculative systems. This trend of thought, in fact, served greatly to restore the original idea of tolerance which was revealed in the Buddha’s teaching but was almost entirely lost in the various Schools of Hinayana which resulted from differences of opinion. According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, Hinayana Buddhism is generally satisfied with analysis and rarely inclined to synthesis. The Mahayana, on the other hand, is generally much inclined to the reciprocal identification of two conflicting ideas. If one party adheres to his own idea while the other party insists on his own, a separation will be the natural result. This is what happens in the Hinayana. The Mahayana teaches that one should put one’s own idea aside for a moment and identify one’s own position with that of the other party, thus mutually synthesizing the opposed positions. The both parties will find themselves perfectly united.
“Reciprocal identification” is more literally “mutual” and “regarding,” that is, “mutually viewing from each other’s point,” “mutual identification,” which is as much as to say an “exchange of views.” It is indispensable to bring about a reconciliation of conflicting opinions or to effect a syncretism among opposing speculative systems. This trend of thought, in fact, served greatly to restore the original idea of tolerance which was revealed in the Buddha’s teaching but was almost entirely lost in the various Schools of Hinayana which resulted from differences of opinion. According to the Madhyamaka philosophy, phenomena have no independent, substantial reality of their own. Relativity or dependence is the main characteristic of phenomena, and that which is relative is not really the highest sense of the word. The Absolute is the reality of the appearances. The Absolute and the world are not two different sets of reality posited against each other. Phenomena viewed as relative, as governed by causes and conditions constitute the world, and viewed as free of all conditions are the Absolute.
According to Buddhism, the relative truth, or the truth of the unreal, which is subject to change, manifests ‘stillness but is always illuminating,’ which means that it is immanent in everything. Pure Land thinkers accepted the legitimacy of conventional truth as an expression of ultimate truth and as a vehicle to reach Ultimate Truth. This method of basing on form helps cultivators reach the Buddhahood, which is formless. According to the Madhyamaka philosophy, phenomena have no independent, substantial reality of their own. Relativity or dependence is the main characteristic of phenomena, and that which is relative is not really the highest sense of the word. The Absolute is the reality of the appearances. The Absolute and the world are not two different sets of reality posited against each other. Phenomena viewed as relative, as governed by causes and conditions constitute the world, and viewed as free of all conditions are the Absolute.
According to relative truth all things exist, but in absolute truth nothing is; in absolute truth one sees that all things are devoid of self-nature; however, in relative truth, a perception where there is no self-nature. The doctrine of mutual dependence or relativity of all things for their existence, i.e., the triangle depends on its three lines, the eye on things having color and form, long or short. A table, for example, if you take the table as the object which you put your hand on but search to discover what is actuallyis among the parts, whether this is it or that is it, then there is not anything that can be found to be it because the table is something that cannot be analytically sought and it cannot be found. If we take the ultimate reality or emptiness of the table as the substratum and search to see if it can be found; then it becomes a conventional truth in terms of itself as the substratum. In relation to the table, its emptiness is an ultimate truth, but in relation to its own reality, i.e., the reality of the reality, it’s a conventional truth.
In our daily life, in almost all circumstances, the “Reciprocal Theory” has been applied. Reciprocal identification by mutual self-negation, when realized, has a great practical value in smoothing out conflicting opinions or in creating sympathy among opposing parties. Through one or more of these methods diversity can be brought to union, and illusory existence is synthesized with the enlightened life. Such ideas as seeing noumenon in phenomenon, regarding motion as calm or calm as motion, identifying action and inaction, purity and impurity, perfection and imperfection, one and many, the particular and the general, permanence and impermanence, are all attainable by this theory. It is one of the most important ideas of Mahayana and is indispensable for a clear understanding of the Buddhist doctrine as taught in the Mahayana. The most important application of this doctrine concerns the identification of life and Nirvana. Life itself is Nirvana, just as water and wave are identical. Life is one thing and Nirvana is another lifeless thing. If one attains Nirvana while yet living, life becomes identified with Nirvana but only in the sense of a state of mind because the body still exists. But perfect or complete Nirvana is attained at death. The extinction of the body is the perfect Nirvana, just as the cessation of the wave results in the perfect quiescence of the water. Time and space are relative. They are relative to a particular consciousness. What for us would be a year, for someone who has manifested a subtler consciousness would be a shorter period of time. Similarly, it is possible for person who has obtained higher meditative stabilization to consider an aeon a moment, or a moment an aeon.
387. The Identification of All Things
Almost all things have the interrelationship of identification. First, the identity in form as two different elements combining to form unity. Identity is assumed because two distinct factors are united into one as copper and zinc are mixed together from one alloy, bronze. This identity in form is the explanation common to all Buddhist schools. Second, the identity in substance although there may be opposing angles. Identity is assumed because one’s front and one’s back may appear differently but in reality they are one. There are opposing views as are the front and back of the same house. In the same way, if life is looked at from an illusioned view, it is life, but, if it is looked at from an enlightened view, it is nirvana.The two views are simply refer to one thing. Some Mahayana schools hold this explanation of identity in substance. Third, the identity in form and substance as water and wave or phenomenology. Identity is assumed because the whole entity is entirely one, as water and wave, the whole of water being manifested as wave.
According to Buddhism, “Absolute” means “Beyond Comparison”. The Absolute is the Reality of the appearances. The Absolute is always of uniform nature. Nirvana or the Absolute Reality is not something produced or achieved. According to the Madhyamaka philosophy, Candrakirti, to the saints, the Absolute is just silence, for it is inexpressible by speech. The absolute knowledge is the highest truth or tathata, the absolute. The illusory knowledge and empirical knowledge correspond to relative truth (samvrti-satya), and the absolute knowledge to the highest truth (paramartha-satya) of the Madhyamika system. In Buddhism, “Absolute” is a synonym for “Suchness”. It is unalterable, without modification, unaffected by anything, and a mark common to all dharmas. It also means “Emptiness” for it is the absence of all imagination. Some people define it as “Reality-limit” for it is that which reaches up to the summit of truth, to the utmost limit of what can be cognized, and is quite free from error or perversion. Some other people define it as “Signless” for it is the absence of all marks. The Absolute is further “Ultimate true”, or the “Supreme object” because reached by the supreme cognition of the saints. Furthermore, it also means non-duality, the realm of non-discrimination, non-production, the true nature of dharma, the inexpressible, the unconditioned, the unimpeded (nishprapanca), the actual fact (tattva), that which really is (yathabhuta), the truth (satya), the true reality (bhutata), nirvana, cessation, Buddhahood, wisdom, enlightenment, the cognition which one must realize within oneself, the Dharma-body (dharmakaya), the Buddha, and so on, and so on. According to Buddhism, “Absolute” has many other meanings as follows: suchness (tathata), emptiness (void, sunyata), nirvana (nibbana), non-dual, unproduced, the realm of non-discrimination, the true nature of dharma or the essence of being (dharmadhatu or dhamrata), the inexpressible, thatness (tattva), free of verbalization and plurality, that which really is, the true reality, truth, the womb of Tathagatas (Tathagata-garbha), reality which one must realize within oneself, and so on. According to the Yogacarins, the absolute idealism is the most characteristic doctrine and is their so-called ‘idealism’, which is ‘subjective’ with regard to the empirical and ‘absolute’ with regard to the transcendental subject. As to the first, it denies the independent reality of an external object, and merely continues the traditional ideas about the primacy of ‘thought’ over all objects, though it may perhaps give them a somewhat sharper edge and a more pronounced epistemological content than they may have had before. In every mental act thought and its concomitants are of decisive importance, and the ‘object’ is a shadowy appearance largely shaped and to some extent conjured up by thought.
389. Absolute Knowledge
The purpose of Buddhist cultivators is to attain the absolute knowledge so that they can eliminate all sufferings and afflictions and attain the final goal, which is the “Nirvana”. The first absolute knowledge is the “Pravicayabuddhi”. This is one of the two kinds of knowledge mentioned in the Lankavatara Sutra. Absolute knowledge corresponds to the Parinishpanna. Pravicaya means “to search through,” “to examine thoroughly,” and the Buddhi so qualified penetrates into the fundamental nature of all things, which is above logical analysis and cannot be described with any of the four propositions. The second absolute knowledge is the absolute nature or the fundamental principle or character. This is one of the three forms of “Svabhavalakshana-sunyata” or knowledge is the Parinishpanna, perfected knowledge, and corresponds to the Right Knowledge (Samyagjnana) and Suchness (Tathata) of the five Dharmas. It is the knowledge that is available when we reach the state of self-realization by going beyond Names and Appearances and all forms of Discrimination or judgment. It is the highest truth the Yogacara School’s epistemological ultimate, because it is the way things really are as understood by the unenlightened mind. It is the truth that ultimately all things are completely lacking in duality, even though they appear to the unenlightened mind under the guise of dualism. It is suchness itself, it is the Tathagata-garbha-hridaya, it is something indestructible. The rope is now perceived in its true perspective. It is not an object constructed out of causes and conditions and now lying before us as something external. From the absolutist’s point of view which is assumed by the Lankavatara, the rope is a reflection of our own mind, it has no objectivity apart from the latter, it is in this respect non-existent. But the mind out of which the whole world evolves is the object of the Parinishpanna, perfectly-attained knowledge.
390. The Worldly World
The worldly world is also called the Jambudvipa. It is so named either from the Jambu trees abounding in it, or from an enormous Jambud tree on Mount Meru visible like a standard to the whole continent. Saha means sufferings and afflictions; it also means worries, binding, unable to be free and liberated. The worldly world is full of storm, conflict, hatred and violence. ambudvipa is a small part of Saha World, the continent south of Mount Sumeru on which, according to ancient Indian cosmology, human beings live. In Buddhism, it is the realm of Sakyamuni Buddha. The world in which we live is an impure field, and Sakyamuni is the Buddha who has initiated its purification. People in this world endure many sufferings stemming from three poisons of greed, anger and delusion as well as earthly desires. The Saha World is filled with dirt, rocks, thorns, holes, canyons, hills, cliffs. There are various sufferings regarding thirst, famine, hot, and cold. The people in the Saha World like wicked doctrines and false dharma; and do not have faith in the proper dharma. Their lives are short and many are fraudulent. Kings and mandarins, although already have had lands to govern and rule, are not satisfied; as they become greedy, they bring forces to conquer other countries causing innocent people to die in vain. In addition, there are other infinite calamities such as droughts, floods, loss of harvest, thirst, famine, epidemics, etc. As for this Saha World, the favorable circumstances to cultivate in peace and contenment are few, but the unfavorable conditions of afflictions destroying path that are rather losing Bodhi Mind they developed in the beginning. Moreover, it is very difficult to encounter a highly virtuous and knowledgeable advisor. According to the Buddha, the planet in which we are currently living is called Virtuous Southern Continent. It is situated to the south of Mount Sumeru and is just a tiniest part of the Great World System of the Saha World in which Sakyamuni Buddha is the ruler.
Saha means sufferings and afflictions; it also means worries, binding, unable to be free and liberated. The worldly world is full of storm, conflict, hatred and violence. The world in which we live is an impure field, and Sakyamuni is the Buddha who has initiated its purification. People in this world endure many sufferings stemming from three poisons of greed, anger and delusion as well as earthly desires. The Saha World is filled with dirt, rocks, thorns, holes, canyons, hills, cliffs. There are various sufferings regarding thirst, famine, hot, and cold. The people in the Saha World like wicked doctrines and false dharma; and do not have faith in the proper dharma. Their lives are short and many are fraudulent. Kings and mandarins, although already have had lands to govern and rule, are not satisfied; as they become greedy, they bring forces to conquer other countries causing innocent people to die in vain. In addition, there are other infinite calamities such as droughts, floods, loss of harvest, thirst, famine, epidemics, etc. As for this Saha World, the favorable circumstances to cultivate in peace and contenment are few, but the unfavorable conditions of afflictions destroying path that are rather losing Bodhi Mind they developed in the beginning. Moreover, it is very difficult to encounter a highly virtuous and knowledgeable advisor. According to the Buddha, the planet in which we are currently living is called Virtuous Southern Continent. It is situated to the south of Mount Sumeru and is just a tiniest part of the Great World System of the Saha World in which Sakyamuni Buddha is the ruler. Thus, “Saha” also called the place that which bears, the earth, interpreted as bearing, enduring; the place of good and evil; a universe, or great chiliocosm, where all are subject to transmigration and which a Buddha transforms; it is divided into three regions and Mahabrahma Sahampati is its lord. World of endurance refers to our world which is filled with sufferings and affections, yet gladly enjoyed and endured by its inhabitants. According to Buddhism, Jambudvipa is the human world, the world in which we are living. Jambudvipa is a small part of Saha World, the realm of Sakyamuni Buddha. The southernmost of the four great land masses (catur-dvipa) of traditional Buddhist cosmology. It is said to be named after the Jambu tree that grows there. It measures 2,000 yojanas on three sides, and its fourth side is only three-and-a-half yojanas long. The Southern Continent, one of the four continents, that situated south of Mount Meru, comprising the world known to the early Indian. According to Eitel in The Dictionary of Chinese-English Buddhist Terms, Jambudvipa includes the following countries around the Anavatapta lake and the Himalayas. The North region includes Huns-Mongolians-Turks; the East region inlcudes China-Korea-Japan; the South region includes Northern India (twenty-seven kingdoms), Eastern India (ten kingdoms), Southern India (fifteen kingdoms), Central India (thirty kingdoms, and Western Indian (thirty-four kingdoms).
391. Aeon (Kalpa)
Kalpa (aeon) has many meanings, but in Buddhism, it means an infinitely long time. Kalpa also means the length of a day and night of Brahma (4.320.000.000 years). A period of time between the creation and recreation of a world or universe. To pass a heaven cloth over a solid rock 40 li in size once in a hundred years, when finally the rock has been thus worn away a kalpa will not yet have passed. Some say that one kalpa is equivalent to 139.600 years. Kalpa is divided into three categories. The first kind of kalpa is the “Small Kalpa”. The length of a Day and Night of Brahma which is equivalent to 1,000 kalpas. A period of time between the creation and recreation of a world or universe or a period of growth and decay of the universe. According to the Kosa Sastra, the period in which human life increases by one year a century until it reaches 84,000; then it is reduced at the same rate till the life-period reaches ten years of age. These two are each a small kalpa. According to the Sastra on the Prajna-Paramita Sutra, the two above mentioned cycles together as one small kalpa. The second kind of kalpa is the “Middle-size kalpa”. The length of a middle-size kalpa is equivalent to that of 20 small kalpas. Middling kalpa (intermediate aeon), is a period of 336.000.000 years (four middling kalpas make on great kalpa—Thành+Trụ+Hoại+Không=A great kalpa). According to the Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, middling kalpa is explained like this: “If you dig down a thousand yards into the earth and then dig around one thousand square yards and then fill this empty hollow with hairs a half inch long each; then if you take away one hair every hundred years; the length of time of a middling kalpa is the length of time you take out all hairs in that hollow. The third kind of kalpa is the “Great kalpa”. The length of a great kalpa is equivalent to that of 4 middle-size kalpas. According to the Kosa Sastra, there are four kalpas or epochs, or periods of time, each consisting of twenty small kalpas, during which worlds go through formation, existing, destruction, and annihilation. According to the Mahayana Buddhism, a mahakalpa is represented as 1,334,000,000 years, a middling kalpa is 336,000,000 years, and a small kalpa is 16,800,000 years. However, according to the Abhidharma-Kosha, one great aeon is composed of eighty intermediate aeons in four groups of twenty. The first twenty are aeons oc vacuity. The vacuity is the absence of the last world system. They are followed by twenty aeons of formation of new world system; then twenty aeons of abiding; then twenty aeons of destruction of that system. Right now, we are in the aeons of abiding. Within these twenty intermediate aeons of abiding, we are in the first long period of decline. So, as this one is coming down, there are eighteen ups and downs afterwards. Then the twentieth goes on up.
According to the Kosa Sastra, there are four kalpas or epochs, or periods of time, each consisting of twenty small kalpas, during which worlds go through formation, existing, destruction, and annihilation. Formation or completion which consists of twenty small kalpas during which worlds and the beings on them are formed. Kalpa of existing or abiding or existence, sun and moon rise, sexes are differentiated, heroes arise, four castes are formed, social life evolves. Kalpa of destruction or decay which consists of sixty-four small kalpas when fire, water and wind destroy everything except the Fourth Dhyana. Kalpa of annihilation or the succeeding void, during which nothing exists, or the final annihilation. The great kalpa, from a beginning of a universe till it is destroyed and another begins in its place. It has four kalpas or periods (the complete period of kalpas of formation, existence, destruction, and non-existence). Each great kalpa is subdivided into four assankhyeya-kalpas, each assankhyeya-kalpa is divided into twenty antara-kalpas or small kalpas, so that a mahakalpa consists of eighty small kalpas. Each small kalpa is divided into a period of “increase” and “decrease.” The increase period is ruled over by the four cakravartis in succession, i.e. the four ages of iron, copper, silver, gold, during which the length of human life increases by one year every century to 84,000 years, and the length of the human body to 84,000 feet. Then comes the kalpa of “decrease” divided into periods of the three woes, pestilence, war, and famine, during which the length of human life is gradually decreased (reduced) to ten years and the human body to one foot in heigth. The increasing kalpas, or the kalpa of increment during which human life increases by one year every century from an initial life of ten years, till it reaches 84,000 years, and the body from one foot to 8,400 feet in heigth. The decreasing kalpas in which the period of life is gradually reduced, in contrast with the increasing kalpas (tăng kiếp). Together they form twenty kalpas, ten decreasing and ten increasing.
According to the Buddhist tradition, there are 47 number “zero” after number “1” to make one asankhya. Thus, three asankhya aeons must be considered as innumerable and countless aeons. In order to become the Buddha, a Bodhisattva must traverse three asankhya aeons. It depends on the time of Bodhisattva practices six paramitas and other virtues so that he proceeds step by step to each of the stages of spiritual realizations. Therefore, there have been different kinds of Bodhisattvas. However, generally speaking, Mahayana sutras declare that Bodhisattvas spent a very very long time which was very difficult to count and we cannot imagine out with the words “immeasurable”, “boundless”, “inconceivable number of kalpas”. According to the Lotus Sutra, “The great multitude of Bodhisattvas have already for immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas applied themselves diligently and earnestly for the sake of the Buddhahood.”
392. Testing Conditions Along the Path of Cultivation
Testing conditions are the fluctuating effects of good and bad karma, which have the power to influence the practitioner and retard his cultivation. When first taking up cultivation, every practitioner has a seed of good intentions. However, as they encounter karmic conditions, one after another, both internal and external, ninety-nine cultivators out of a hundred will fail. The ancients had a saying: “In the first year of cultivation, Amitabha Buddha is right before eyes; the second year, He has already returned to the West; by the time the third year rolls around, if someone inquires about Him or requests recitation, payment is required before a few words are spoken or a few versess recited.” Main types of testing Conditions include internal testing conditions, external testing conditions, Testing conditions caused by a favorable circumstances, testing conditions caused by an adverse circumstances, testing conditions of a clear nature, and hidden testing conditions.
The first testing condition is the “Internal Testing Conditions”. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and Practice, this is one of the six types of testing conditions. During cultivation, some people suddenly develop thoughts of greed, anger, lust, jealousy, scorn or doubt. They may also suffer delusion, leading to drowsiness and sleep. These thoughts sometimes arise with great intensity, making the practitioner feel annoyed and upset over, at times, trivial matters. Sometimes auspicious and evil events alternate in his dreams. The specific details of these events are too numerous to be described. Faced with these occurences, the practitioner should realize that these karmic marks have appeared as a consequence of his cultivation. He should immediately understand that all karmic occurences and marks are illusory and dream-like; he should foster right thought and they will disappear one after another. Otherwise, he will certainly be swayed, lose his concentration and retrogress. The ancients used to say in this respect: “Do not fear an early manifestation of evil karma, fear only a late Awakening.” Sometimes the practitioner, in the midst of intense cultvation, suddently becomes confused and weary, which is a state difficult to fight off. At that very moment, he should arise and bow to the Buddhas or circumambulate the altar. Or else, he may take a temporary break, read a few pages of a book or rearrange some flowers, waiting for his mind to calm down before returning to the altar to resume recitation. Otherwise, the more he tries to focus his mind, the more scattered it becomes. This is a case of flexibility in cultivation. It is similar to the situation of a commander-in-chief facing an invading army as powerful as a river overflowing its banks. In such a situation, the general should stay on the defensive, consolidating his position, rather than charging into battle. Some practitioners suddenly feel solitary and isolated when reciting the Buddha’s name like a single-note musical piece, and grow melancholy and bored. In such cases, they should not hesitate to add mantra or sutra recitation or visualization to their practice.
The second testing condition is the “External Testing Conditions”. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and Practice, this is one of the six types of testing conditions. These are external obstacles creating difficult conditions which can make the practitioner retrogress. These obstacles include heat, noise, dirt and pollution, freezing weather, or an outbreak of mosquitoes and other insects. When faced with these conditions, the cultivator should be flexible and not become attached to forms and appearances. He should just seek tranquility and peace of mind. For instance, in sweltering heat, he should not mind donning a light robe to bow to the Buddhas, and then retiring to a shady spot outdoors to recite the Buddha’s name. At the end of the session, he can return to the altar to make his vows and transfer the merit. If the practitioner happens to be living in a mosquito-infested area, he can sit inside a net while reciting the Buddha’s name. As in northern China where the weather can be freezing, monks and nuns must dress carefully in socks, shoes and hats when going to the Buddha hall to recite sutras. As another example, some destitude laymen, living from hand to mouth, going to work early and coming home late, pursued by creditors, tattered, hungry and cold, with sickly wives and malnourished children, can hardly afford a decent place to practice. In such situations, cultivation is truly difficult. In order to succeed, the practitioner should redouble his efforts and have more patience and endurance. Other people, with heavy karmic obstructions, do not experience outward occurences as long as they do not cultivate, but as soon as they are ready to bow before the altar, they develop headaches, grow dizzy, and are afflicted with all kinds of ailments. Or else, they may receive sudden visitors or encounter unusual events. Faced with these occurences, the practitioner should redouble his efforts and find ways to cultivate flexibly. These ways depend on circumstances; they cannot all be described. One point, however, should always be kept in mind: when faced with difficult circumstances, pay attention to the mind, and do not cling to appearances and forms. The evil, turbid Saha World has always been full of suffering and tears. Without perseverance and forbearance, it is very difficult to succeed in cultivation.
The third testing condition is the “Testing conditions caused by a favorable circumstances”. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and Practice, this is one of the six types of testing conditions. Some practitioner do not encounter adverse circumstances, but on the contrary, meet with favorable circumstances, such as having their wishes and prayers fulfilled. However, such successes belong to the category of ‘binding’ conditions, rather than conditions conducive to liberation. Thus, just as some practitioners set their minds to peaceful cultivation, they suddenly encounter opportunities leading to fame and fortune, ‘beautiful forms and enchanting sounds.’ Or else, family members, relatives and supporters seek to follow and serve them on their retreats. For example, a monk who has made up his mind to cultivate in earnest may suddenly be requested to become the abbot of a large temple complex. Or else, a layman may unexpectedly receive a letter inviting him to become a minister heading such and such a government department, or offering him a chance to participate in a business venture which promises a quick profit. These instances, all of which are advantageous under mundane circumstances, are seductive to the cultivator, and may gradually lead to other complications. Ultimately, he may forget his high aspirations and retrogress. As the saying goes, more lives are lost in a flood than in a fire. Thus, on the path of cultivation, favorable circumstances should be feared more than unfavorable ones. Unfavorable events sometimes awaken the practitioner, making it easier for him to escape thoughts of attachment and redouble his efforts in cultivation. Favorable events, on the other hand, may make him quietly retrogress, without being aware of it. When he suddenly awakens, he may discover that he has slipped far down the slope. The ancients have said: “Even two or three favorable circumstances may cause one to be deluded until old age.” This saying is trully a ringing bell to wake cultivators up. Therefore, challenge of favorable events is very subtle, practitioners need to pay close attention to them.
The fourth testing condition is the “Testing conditions caused by adverse circumstances”. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and Practice, this is one of the six types of testing conditions. Practitioners on the path of cultivation are at times impeded by adverse circumstances. Some are prevented from cultivating or frustrated in their practice by parents, brothers and sisters, wives, husbands or children. Others suddenly develop a chronic disease, from which they never completely recover. Still others are continually pursued by oponents and enemies looking for ways to harm them. Others are slandered or meet misfortunes which land them in prison, subject to torture, or they are sent into exile. Others, again, victims of jealous competition or calumny, lose all peace of mind. This last occurrence is the most frequent. Such cases occur because of the power of evil karma. The ancients had a saying: “There are instances of sudden praise and unexpected honors which are underserved, and other instances, not deserving of blame, which create major opportunities for censure and contempt.”
The fifth testing condition is the “Testing conditions of a clear nature”. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and Practice, this is one of the six types of testing conditions. These are clear ‘testing conditions’ which occur right before the practitioner’s eyes, without his realizing their implications. For instance, a monk of relatively mediocre talents and virtues becomes the object of adulation, praised for great merit, virtue and talent. He then develops a big ego and looks down on everyone; giving rise to thoughtless action resulting in his downfall. Or else we have the case of a layman with the potential to progress far along the Way. However, he is blocked and opposed by others, who advise him, for example, that vegetarianism will make him sick, or that overly diligent mantra and Buddha Recitation will ‘unleash his evil karma,’ causing him to encounter many untoward events. He then develops a cautious, anxious attitude, retrogressing in his determination to achieve the Way. There are also circumstances in which the practitioner realizes that to advance further is to invite failure and defeat, yet, out of ambition or pride, he continues all the same. Or else, even though the cultivator knows that external circumstances are illusory and dream-like, he cannot let go of them, and thus brings great suffering upon himself. The easy-going and credulous are often duped. When they have not eliminated greed, it is easy for others to deceive them with money, sex and fame. It also applies to those who have a temper and too much pride. Easily aroused, they bring a great deal of trouble and anguish upon themselves. These are trappings and the pitfalls of the outside world, which are also encounterd within the Order. I bring them up here as a warning to fellow cultivators. If they are not careful, they will become entangled in the cycle of obstructing karma. The practitioner should develop a clear understanding of these adverse condition and resolve to progress along a path consonant with the Way. Only then will he be able to overcome these obstacles.
The sixth testing condition is the “Silent, Hidden Testing Conditions”. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and Practice, this is one of the six types of testing conditions. This refers to silent challenges, inconspicuous in nature. If the practitioner is not skillful in taking notice, they are very difficult to recognize and defeat. Some people, who may have recited the Buddha’s name diligently in the beginning, grow worried and discouraged by deteriorating family finances or repeated failures in whatever they undertake, and abandon cultivation. Others see their affairs quietly progressing in a favorable way; they then become attached to profit and gain, forgetting all about the way. Others diligently engage in Budha and Sutra Recitation at the beginning, but because they fail to examine themselves, the afflictions within their minds increase with each passing day. They then grow lethargic and lazy, to the point where they do not recite a single time for months, or even years. Still others, although their lives are progressing normally, see their living conditions continuously fluctuating with changing external circumstances. With their minds always in confusion and directed toward the outside, they unwittingly neglect recitation or abandon it together.
Besides, there are also other testing conditions in cultivation such as sleppiness, sloth, heedlessness, and restlessness. Sleepiness means yielding to sleep, sleepiness, drowsiness, comatose, one of the klesa, or temptations. Sleepiness is used by the Sarvastivadins as an equivalent for klesa, the passions and delusions. While the school of consciousness used sleepiness as the seed of klesa (greed, hatred, ignorance, pride, doubt, wrong views). Torpor means idleness (dullness or sunk in stupor or to lose consciousness). Sloth is sluggishness or dullness of mind. Its characteristic is lack of driving power. Its function is to dispel energy. It is manifested as the sinking of the mind. Its proximate cause is unwise attention to boredom, drowsiness, etc. Sloth is identified as sickness of consciousness or cittagelanna. According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” thina or Middha is sloth or morbid state of the mind and mental properties. It is not, as some are inclined to think, sluggishness of the body; for even the Arahats, the Perfect Ones, who are free from this ill also experience bodily fatigue. This sloth and torpor, like butter too stiff to spread, make the mind rigid and inert and thus lessen the practitioner’s enthusiasm and earnestness from meditation so that he becomes mentally sick and lazy. Laxity leads to greater slackness until finally there arises a state of callous indifference. Restlessness means inability to settle down. It has the characteristic of disquietude, like water whipped up by the wind. Its function is to make the mind unsteady, as wind makes the banner ripple. It is manifested as turmoil. Its proximate cause is unwise attention to mental disquiet. Restlessness or torpor is one of the biggest problems for Zen practitioners is sleeping during meditation. Most meditators have two problems: restlessness and torpor. That is, if they are not indulging in idle thinking, they will be dozing off. Those who know how to work hard, however, will be concentrating their energy on their inquiry; they will absolutely not be sleeping.
Heedlessness means sloth. The Buddha knows very well the mind of human beings. He knows that the foolish indulge in heedlessness, while the wise protect heedfulness. So he advises the wise with right effort, heedfulness and discipline to build up an island which no flood can overflow. Who is heedless before but afterwards heedless no more, will outshine this world, like a moon free from clouds. To the Buddhas, a person who has conquered thousands of thousands of people in the battlefield cannot be compared with a person who is victorious over himself because he is truly a supreme winner. A person who controls himself will always behave in a self-tamed way. And a self well-tamed and restrained becomes a worthy and reliable refuge, very difficult to obtain. A person who knows how to sit alone, to sleep alone, to walk alone, to subdue oneself alone will take delight in living in deep forests. Such a person is a trustworthy teacher because being well tamed himself, he then instructs others accordingly. So the Buddha advises the well-tamed people to control themselves. Only the well tamed people, the heedful people, know the way to stop contentions, quarrels and disputes and how to live in harmony, in friendliness and in peace. In the Dhammapada Sutta, the Buddha taught: “Heedfulness (Watchfulness) is the path of immortality. Heedlessness is the path of death. Those who are heedful do not die; those who are heedless are as if already dead (Dahrampada 21). Those who have distinctly understood this, advance and rejoice on heedfulness, delight in the Nirvana (Dahrampada 22). Owing to perseverance and constant meditation, the wise men always realize the bond-free and strong powers to attain the highest happiness, the supreme Nirvana (Dahrampada 23). If a man is earnest, energetic, mindful; his deeds are pure; his acts are considerate and restraint; lives according to the Law, then his glory will increase (Dahrampada 24). By sustained effort, earnestness, temperance and self-control, the wise man may make for himself an island which no flood can overwhelm (Dahrampada 25). The ignorant and foolish fall into sloth. The wise man guards earnestness as his greatest treasure (Dahrampada 26). Do not indulge in heedlessness, nor sink into the enjoyment of love and lust. He who is earnest and meditative obtains great joy (Dahrampada 27). When the learned man drives away heedlessness by heedfulness, he is as the wise who, climbing the terraced heights of wisdom, looks down upon the fools, free from sorrow he looks upon sorrowing crowd, as a wise on a mountain peak surveys the ignorant far down on the ground (Dahrampada 28). Heedful among the heedless, awake among the sleepers, the wise man advances as does a swift racehorse outrun a weak jade (Dahrampada 29). It was through earnestness that Maghavan rised to the lordship of the gods. Earnestness is ever praised; negligence is always despised (blamed) (Dahrampada 30). A mendicant who delights in earnestness, who looks with fear on thoughtlessness, cannot fall away, advances like a fire, burning all his fetters both great and small (Dahrampada 31). A mendicant who delights in earnestness, who looks with fear on thoughtlessness, cannot fall away, he is in the presence of Nirvana (Dahrampada 32).”
In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “One who conquers himself is greater than one who is able to conquer a thousand men in the battlefield. Self-conquest is, indeed, better than the conquest of all other people. To conquer onself, one must be always self-controlled and disciplined one’s action. Oneself is indeed one’s own saviour, who else could be the saviour? With self-control and cultivation, one can obtain a wonderful saviour. Whoever was formerly heedless and afterwards overcomes his sloth; such a person illuminates this world just like the moon when freed from clouds. Before teaching others, one should act himself as what he teaches. It is easy to subdue others, but to subdue oneself seems very difficult. He who sits alone, sleeps alone, walks and stands alone, unwearied; he controls himself, will find joy in the forest. You are your own protector. You are your own refuge. Try to control yourself as a merchant controls a noble steed.”
In the Forty-Two Sections Sutra, the Buddha taught: “People always encounter twenty difficulties. It is difficult to give when one is poor. It is difficult to study the way when one has power and wealth. It is difficult to abandon life and face the certainty of death. It is difficult to encounter the Buddhist Sutras. It is difficult to be born at the time of the Buddha. It is diffucult to forbear lust and desire. It is difficult to see good things and not seek them. It is difficult to be insulted and not become angry. It is difficult to have power and not abuse it. It is difficult to come in contact with things and have no thought of them. It is difficult to be greatly learned and widely informed. It is difficult to get rid of self-pride or self-satisfaction. It is difficult not to slight those who have not yet studied. It is difficult to practice equanimity of mind. It is difficult not to gossip. It is difficult to find (meet) a good knowing advisor. It is difficult to see one’s own nature and study the Way. It is difficult to transform oneself in ways that are appropriate taking living beings across to enlightenment. It is difficult to see a state an not be moved by it. It is difficult to have a good understanding of skill-in-means.” ( Chapter 12). It is difficult for one to leave the evil paths and become a human being. It is difficult to become a male human being. It is difficult to have the six organs complete and perfect. It is difficult for one to be born in the central country. It is difficult to be born at the time of a Buddha. It is still difficult to encounter the Way. It is difficult to bring forth faith. It is difficult to resolve one’s mind on Bodhi. It is difficult to be without cultivation and without attainment.”
393. Miserable Outcast
On one occasion the ‘Thus Come One’ was staying at the monastery of Anathapindika, in Jeta Grove, near Savatthi. One morning the ‘Thus Come One’ took his bowl and robe and was about to enter Savatthi for alms. At that time, in the house of the Brahmin Aggika Bharadvaja, a fire was burning and an offering was prepared. Then, the ‘Thus Come One’, going for alms from house to house in Savatthi, approached the house of the Brahmin Aggika Bharadvaja. Upon seeing the Thus Come One coming at a distance, the Brahmin said: “Stay there, O shaveling! Stay there, O wretched monk! Stay there, O miserable outcast!” Upon hearing this, the ‘Thus Come One’ addressed the Brahmin as follows: “Do you know, O Brahmin, who an outcast is or the things that make an outcast?” No, indeed, O Venerable Gotama. I do not know who an outcast is or the things that make an outcast. Would you explain the doctrine to me so that I may know who an outcast is and what things make an outcast!” Hear then, O brahmin! Bear it well in mind; I shall speak. The Brahmin replied: “Very good, Venerable One.”
The ‘Thus Come One’ spoke about a Miserable Outcast as follows: “The man who is irritable, rancorous, vicious, detractive, perverted in views and deceitful, he is an outcast. Whoever in this world harms living beings (once-born or twice-born), in whom there is no compassion for living beings, he is an outcast. Whoever destroys and besieges villages and hamlets and is known as an oppressor, he is an outcast. Whether he is in the village or in the forest, whoever steals or appropriates (gains) by theft what belongs to others or what is not given, he is an outcast. Whoever, having really taken a debt, flees when pressed saying: “There is no debt to you,” he is an outcast. Whoever, desiring (wishing) some trifle, kills a man going along on the road, and pillages others, he is an outcast. Who, for his own sake or for the sake of others, or for the sake of wealth, utters lies when asked as a witness, he is an outcast. Whoever by force or with consent is seen transgressing with the wives of relatives or friends, he is an outcast. Whoever being rich but does not support his aged parents who have passed their youth, he is an outcast. Whoever strikes or by speech annoys parents, brothers, sisters or parents-in-law, he is an outcast. Whoever, when questioned about what is good, counsels people what is wrong (advise others wrongly) and teaches in concealing way, he is an outcast. Whoever, having done an evil deed, wishes that it may not be known to others and conceals it with his actions, he is an outcast. Whoever, having gone to another’s house and partaken of choice food, does him in return when he comes, he is an outcast. Whoever deceives by falsehood a Brahmana or ascetic or any other mendicant, he is an outcast. Whoever by speech annoys a Brahmana or ascetic, when meal time has come and does not give alms, he is an outcast. Whoever in this world, shrouded in ignorance, predicts what is not expected, he is an outcast. Whoever exalts himself and despises others and is debased by his pride, he is an outcast. Whoever is annoying, avaricious, of base desires, selfish, deceitful, shameless and fearless in evil actions, he is an outcast. Whoever reviles the Buddha or one of his disciple, recluse or householder, he is an outcast. Whoever, without being an Arahant claims to be an Arahant, is a thief in the whole universe, he is the lowest outcast. Not by birth is one an outcast, not by birth is one a Brahmana but by deeds one becomes an outcast, by deeds one becomes a Brahmana. Know it as such by this illustration: there was the son of an outcast, known as Matanga, a dog-cooker. This Matanga achieved the highest glory, which is difficult to obtain. Many wariors and Brahmins came to minister unto him. Mounting the celestial vehicle along the passionless highway, he soared the Brahma realm, having discarded sense-desires. Though birth did not prevent him from being reborn in the Brahma realm. There are Brahmins born in the family of preceptors, kinsmen of Veda hymns. They too are frequently addicted to evil deeds. In this life, they are despised; in next life, they get a woeful state. Birth does not preclude them from a woeful state or from condemnation. By birth, one is not an outcast, by birth one is not a Brahmana. But by deeds one is an outcast, by deeds one is a Brahmana.
After listening to the preaching of the Buddha, Brahmin Vaggika Bharadvaja took Refuge in the Buddha. When this was spoken, the Brahmin Vaggika Bharadvaja addressed the ‘Thus Come One’ as follows: “Excellent, O Venerable Gotama. Excellent! It is as if, O Venerable Gotama, a man were to set upright that which was overturned or were to reveal that which was hidden or were to point out the way to one who has gone astray or were to hold a lamp amidst the darkness, so that whoever has eyes may see, even so has the doctrine been expounded in various ways by the Venerable Gotama. And I seek refuge in the Venerable Gotama, the Doctrine, and the Order of Disciples. May the Venerable Gotama receive me as a follower who has taken refuge from this very day to life’s end.”
394. The Falling Man
According to the Parabhava Sutta, on one occasion the ‘Exalted One’ was dwelling at the monastery of Anathapindika, in Jeta Gorve, near Savatthi. Now when the night was far spent a certain deity, whose surpassing splendour illuminated the whole Jeta Grove, came to the presence of the ‘Exalted One’ and, drawing near, respectfully saluted him and stood at one side. Standing, he addressed the ‘Exalted One’ in verse. Having come to interrogate the ‘Exalted One,’ we ask Your Honor about the falling man. Pray and tell us the cause of one’s downfall.
The ‘Thus Come One’ spoke about the Falling Man as follows: “Easily known is the progressive one, easily known is the declining one. A lover of the Dharma is the progressive one. A hater of the Dharma is the declining one. The vicious are dear to him though in the virtuous, he finds nothing pleasing and favours the creeds of the vicious: this is the cause of one’s downfall. The man who is drowsy, fond of society, not industrious, indolent, and who expresses anger: this is the cause of one’s downfall. Whoever, though being rich, does not support his aged parents who have passed their youth: this is the cause of one’s downfall. He who, by falsehood, deceives a Brahmana or an ascetic or any other mendicant: this is the cause of one’s downfall. The man who owns much property, who has gold and food but enjoys alone his delicacies: this is the cause of one’s downfall. The man who prides in birth or wealth or clan and despises his own kinsmen: this is the cause of one’s downfall. The man who is a debauchee, a drunkard, a gambler and who squanders whatever he possesses: this is the cause of one’s downfall. Not contented with one’s own wives, if one is seen amongst courtesans and the wives of others: this is the cause of one’s downfall. The man who, past his youth, brings a very young wife and sleeps not for jealousy of her: this is the cause of one’s downfall. He who places in authority an intemperate spend-thrift woman, or a man of similar nature: this is the cause of one’s downfall. He, who of slender means but vast ambition or of warrior birth, aspires to sovereignty: this is the cause of one’s downfall. Sincere Buddhists should Know well these causes of downfall in the world and should be able to follow good example of the Noble Sage to endowed with insight and to shares a happy realm.”
“Inversion” means upside down, perversion, inverted; contrary to reality; to believe things as they seem to be, e.g. the impermanent to be permanent; the apparent ego to be real. The noun “Viparyasa” is used of the of the ‘overthrowing’ of a wagon. The translation by ‘perverted views’, ‘wrong notion’, ‘error’, ‘what can upset’, or ‘upside-down views’. In any case, the noun “Viparyasa” means mistakes, reversals of the truth, and, in consequence, overthrowers of inward calm. The scriptures identify the noun “Viparyasa” with ‘unwise attention’, the root of all unwholesome dharmas, and with ignorance, delusion, and false appearance. According to Buddhism, as long as our thoughts are perverted by perverted views, we will never transcend this world of birth and death. On the contrary, understanding of the real wisdom is unperverted, for real wisdom has for its object the ‘unperverted own-being of dharma’. Devout Buddhists must try to cultivate to attain an ‘unperverted understanding’ for the ‘unperverted understanding’ also means ‘right understanding’ of the Truth.
Inversions have many different kinds. The first type is “Upside down or inverted views”. Seeing things as they seem not as they are, e.g. the impermanent as permanent, misery as joy, non-ego as ego, and impurity as purity. The second type is “Heretics believe in pleasure”.This is one of the eight upside-down views which belongs to the four upside-down views for ordinary people. The third type is “Heretics believe in personality”.This is one of the eight upside-down views which belongs to the four upside-down views for ordinary people. The fourth type is “Heretics believe in permanence”.Upside down, perversion, inverted”; contrary to reality; to believe things as they seem to be, e.g. the impermanent to be permanent; the apparent ego to be real. This is one of the eight upside-down views which belongs to the four upside-down views for ordinary people. The fifth type is “Mistaking the impermanent for the permanent” (Buddhist doctrine emphasizes that all is impermanent). This is one of the four ways of upside-down thinking that cause one to resolve in the birth and death. The sixth type is “Permanent Self.” Regarding the state of profound stillness is the ultimate spiritual self. Contemplates the wonderfully bright mind pervading the ten directions, he concludes that this state of profound stillness is the ultimate spiritual self. Then the practitioner speculates, “My spiritual self, which is settled, bright, and unmoving, pervades the ten directions. All living beings are within my mind, and there they are born and die by themselves. Therefore, my mind is permanent, while those who undergo birth and death there are truly impermanent.” Regarding that indestructible nature as his permanent intrinsic nature. This person closely examines his own mind and finds it to be subtle and mysterious, like fine motes of dust swirling in the ten directions, unchanging in nature. And yet it can cause his body to be born and then to die. He regards that indestructible nature as his permanent intrinsic nature, and that which undergoes birth and death and flows forth from him as impermanent. The seventh type is “Heretics believe in purity. This is one of the eight upside-down views which belongs to the four upside-down views for ordinary people. The eight type is “Upside-down thinking. Four ways of upside-down thinking (four viparvaya, or four inverted, upside-down, or false beliefs) that cause one to resolve in the birth and death. The ninth type is “Inverted and delusive ideas”. Upside down and delusive ideas, one of the four inverted or upside-down ideas, the illusion that the ego is real. The illusion that the ego has real existence. The tenth type is “Heretics believe that Nirvana is not a place of blissNirvana is a permanent place of bliss; however, heretics believe that everywhere including nirvana as no pleasure, but suffering. The eleventh type is “Heretics believe that Nirvana is not a real Buddha-nature. Nirvana is a real Buddha-nature; however, heretics believe that there is no such Buddha-nature. The twelfth type is “Heretics believe that Nirvana is impermanence. Nirvana is permanent and eternal; however, heretics believe that everything including nirvana as impermanent. The thirteenth type is “Heretics believe that Nirvana is not pure. Nirvana is pure; however, heretics believe that everything is impure. There are also seven inversions: wrong views on permanence, wrong views on worldly happiness and unhappiness, wrong views on ego, wrong views on purity and impurity, wrong views on impermanence, wrong views on non-egoism, wrong views on emptiness. According to the Yogacara Sastra, there are seven inversions: evil thoughts or wrong views on (upside down) perception, false views or wrong views or illusory or misleading views. To see things upside down, deluded or upside down mind, or mind following the external environments, wrong views on permanence and impermanence, wrong views on worldly happiness and unhappiness, wrong views on ego and non-ego, wrong views on purity and impurity.
There are also false views based on living beings’ individual karma (False views associated with the individual karma of beings). False views associated with the individual karma of beings means individual karma refers to one’s own karma, which differs from the karma of others. This is also called “individually held false views.” One’s own karma is special and different from that of everyone else. In the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about two kinds of upside-down discriminating false views. The first one is False view based on living beings’ individual karma and the other one is false view based on living beings’ collective karma. What is meant by false views based on individual karma? Ananda! It is like a man in the world who has red cataracts on his eyes so that at night he alone sees around the lamp a circular reflection composed of layers of five colors. What do you think? Is the circle of light that appears around the lamp at night the lamp’s color, or is it the seeing’s colors? Ananda! If it is the lamp’s colors, why is it that someone without the disease does not see the same thing, and only the one who is diseased sees the circular reflection? If it is the seeing’s colors, then the seeing has already become colored; what, then, is the circular reflection the diseased man sees to be called? Moreover, Ananda, if the circular reflection is in itself a thing apart from the lamp, then it would be seen around the folding screen, the curtain, the table, and the mats. If it has nothing to do with the seeing, it should not be seen by the eyes. Why is it that the man with cataracts sees the circular reflections with his eyes? Therefore, you should know that: “In fact the colors come from the lamp, and the diseased seeing bring about the reflection. Both the circular reflection and the faulty seeing are the result of the cataract. But that which sees the diseased film is not sick. Thus you should not say that it is the lamp or the seeing or that it is neither the lamp nor the seeing. It is like a second moon often seen when one presses on one’s eye while looking up into the sky. It is neither substantial nor a reflection because it is an illusory vision caused by the pressure exerted on one’s eye. Hence, a wise person should not say that the second moon is a form or not a form. Nor is it correct to say that the illusory second moon is apart from the seeing or not apart from the seeing. It is the same with the illusion created by the diseased eyes. You cannot say it is from the lamp or from the seeing: even less can it be said not to be from the lamp or the seeing”
There are false Views of the collecting share (Commonly held false views of beings). Commonly held false views of beings means that it is shared by most other people. it is also called “Collective Karma.” An example is natural disasters and man-made calamities, in which hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people die together. That is collective karma arising from commonly held false views; it is shared karma resulting from those kinds of false thoughts. In the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about two kinds of upside-down discriminating false views. The first one is False view based on living beings’ individual karma and the other one is false view based on living beings’ collective karma. What is meant by the false view of the collective share? Ananda! In Jambudvipa, besides the waters of the great seas, there is level land that forms some three thousand continents. East and West, throughout the entire expanse of the great continent. There are twenty-three hundred large countries. In other, small or perhaps one or two, or perhaps thirty, forty, or fifty. Ananda! Suppose that among them there is one small continent where there are only two countries. The people of just one of the countries together experience evil conditions. On that small continent, all the people of that country see all kinds of inauspicious things: perhaps they see two suns, perhaps they see two moons with circles, or a dark haze, or girdle-ornaments around them; or comets, shooting stars, ‘ears’ on the sun or moon, eainbows, secondary rainbows, and various other evil signs. Only the people in that country see them. The living beings in the other country from the first do not see or hear anything unusual. Ananda! In the case of the living being’s false view of individual karma by which he sees the appearance of a circular reflection around the lamp, the appearance seems to be a state, but in the end, what is seen comes into being because of the cataracts on the eyes. The cataracts are the results of the weariness of the seeing rather than the products of form. However, the essence of seeing which perceives the cataracts is free from all diseases and defects. Ananda! I will now go back and forth comparing these two matters for you, to make both of them clear: “For example, you now use your eyes to look at the mountains, the rivers, the countries, and all the living beings: and they are all brought about by the disease of your seeing contracted since time without beginning. Seeing and the conditions of seeing seem to manifest what is before you. Originally my enlightenment is bright. The seeing and conditions arise from the cataracts. Realize that the seeing arise from the cataracts: the enlightened condition of the basically enlightened bright mind has no cataracts. That which is aware of the faulty awareness is not diseased. It is the true perception of seeing. How can you continue to speak of feeling, hearing, knowing, and seeing? Therefore, you now see me and yourself and the world and all the ten kinds of living beings because of a disease in the seeing. What is aware of the disease is not diseased. The true essential seeing by nature has no disease. Therefore, it is not called seeing. Ananda! Let us compare the false views of those living beings’ collective share with the false views of the indicidual karma of one person. The individual man with the diseased eyes is the same as the people of that country. He sees circular reflections erroneously brought about by a disease of the seeing. The beings with a collective share see inauspicious things. In the midst of their karma of identical views arise pestilence and evils. Both are produced from a beginningless falsity in the seeing. It is the same in the three thousand continents of Jambudvipa, throughout the four great seas and in the Saha World and throughout the ten directions. All countries that have outflows and all living beings are the enlightened bright wonderful mind without outflows. Because of the false, diseased conditions that are seen, heard, felt, and known, they mix and unite in false birth, mix and unite in false death. If you cane leave far behind all conditions which mix and unite and those which do not mix and unite, then you can also extinguish and cast out the causes of birth and death, and obtain perfect Bodhi, the nature which is neither produced nor extinguished. It is the pure clear basic mind, the everlasting fundamental enlightenment.”
According to the Surangama Sutra, book Seven, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the two conditions for being upside down as follows: “Ananda! You now wish to cultivate true samadhi and arrive directly at the Thus Come One’ Parinirvana, first, you should recognize the two upside-down causes of living beings and the world. If this upside-down state is not produced, then there is the Thus Come One’s true samadhi.” What is meant by the upside-down state of living beings? The Buddha reminded: “Ananda! The reason that the nature of the mind is bright is that the nature itself is the perfection of brightness. By adding brightness, another nature arises, and rom that false nature, views are produced, so that from absolute nothingness comes ultimate existence. All that exists comes from this; every cause in fact has no cause. Subjective reliance on objective appearances is basically groundless. Thus, upon what is fundamentally unreliable, one set up the world and living beings. Confusion about one’s basic, perfect understanding results in the arising of falseness. The nature of falseness is devoid of substance; it is not something which can be relied upon. One may wish to return to the truth, but that wish for truth is already a falseness. The real nature of true suchness is not a truth that one can seek to return to. By doing so one misses the mark. What basically is not produced, what basically does not dwell, what basically is not the mind, and what basically are not dharmas arise through interaction. As they arise more and more strongly, they form the propensity to create karma. Similar karma sets up a mutual stimulus. Because of the karma thus generated, there is mutual production and mutual extinction. That is the reason for the upside-down state of living beings. Ananda! What is meant by the upside-down state of the world? All that exists comes from this; the world is set up because of the false arising of sections and shares. Every cause in fact has no cause; everything that is dependent has nothing on which it is dependent, and so it shifts and slides and is unreliable. Because of this, the world of the three periods of time and four directions comes into being. Their union and interaction bring about changes which result in the twelve categories of living beings. That is why, in this world, movement brings about sounds, sounds bring about forms, forms bring about smells, smells bring about contact, contact brings about tastes, and tastes bring about awareness of dharmas. The random false thinking resulting from these six creates karma, and this continuous revolving becomes the cause of twelve different categories. And so, in the world, sounds, smells, tastes, contact, and the like, are each transformed throughout the twelve categories to make one complete cycle. The appearance of being upside down is based on this continuous process. Therefore, in the world, there are those born from eggs, those born from womb, those born from moisture, , those born by transformation, those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not totally endowed with form, those not totally lacking form, those not totally endowed with thought, and those not totally lacking thought. Ananda! Each of these categories of beings is replete with all twelve kinds of upside-down states, just as pressing on one’s eye produces a variety of flower-like images. With the inversion of wonderful perfection, the truly pure, bright mind becomes glutted with false and random thoughts.
There are also three subversions or subverters which make beings to apprehend objects that are impermanent, painful, not self, and foul, as permanent, pleasant, self, and beautiful: evil thoughts, false views, and a deluded mind. Besides, there are four upside-down views for ordinary people. First, considering what is really impermanent to be permanent. Second, considering what is really suffering to be joy. Third, considering what is not a self to be a self. Fourth, considering what is impure to be pure. In the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, in the part of the ten states of the formation skandha, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the four upside-down theories as follows: “Ananda! Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed 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 about self and others, he could fall into error with theories of partial impermanence and partial permanence based on four distorted views.” First, as this person contemplates the wonderfully bright mind pervading the ten directions, he concludes that this state of profound stillness is the ultimate spiritual self. Then he speculates , “My spiritual self, which is settled, bright, and unmoving, pervades the ten directions. All living beings are within my mind, and there they are born and die by themselves. Therefore, my mind is permanent, while those who undergo birth and death there are truly impermanent.” Second, instead of contemplating his own mind, this person contemplates in the ten directions worlds as many as the Ganges’ sands. He regards as ultimately impermanent those worlds that are in eons of decay, and as ultimately permanent those that are not in eons of decay. Third, this person closely examines his own mind and finds it to be subtle and mysterious, like fine motes of dust swirling in the ten directions, unchanging in nature. And yet it can cause his body to be born and then to die. He regards that indestructible nature as his permanent intrinsic nature, and that which undergoes birth and death and flows forth from him as impermanent. Fourth, knowing that the skandha of thinking has ended and seeing the flowing of the skandha of formations, this person speculates that the continuous flow of the skandha of formations is permanent, and that the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking which have already ended are impermanent. Because of these speculations of impermanence and permanence, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
Furthermore, there are four inversions (the four viparvaya or four inverted, upside-down, or false beliefs). Four ways of upside-down thinking that cause one to resolve in the birth and death. First, mistaking the impermanent for the permanent (Buddhist doctrine emphasizes that all is impermanent. Only Nirvana is permanent). We are deceived by the momentary exterior appearance of things. They do not appear to be changing; they appear to our delusion-dulled sense as static. We do not perceive processes in dynamic change but only as we think, entities which go on existing. Similarity, due to a line of change in a given direction, is often mistaken for sameness. If this misapprehension is firmly rooted in our mind, all sorts of attachments and cravings for things and people, including attachment to oneself will be formed and these bring them much sorrow, for to regard things and people in this way is to regard them as through a distorting glass. It is not seeing them correctly, it is seeing them invertedly as though permanent. Second, mistaking what is not bliss for bliss (Buddhist doctrine emphasizes that all is suffering. Only Nirvana is joy). The unsatisfactory invertedly appears to be pleasant. Thus people fritter away much of their precious lives on this or that ‘pleasure’ and as they never actually get the satisfaction they crave for, so they are driven on from one thing to another. ‘Pleasures’ may produce temporary feelings of ease, of worldly happiness, but they are always linked to succeeding disappointment, regret, longing for some other emotion indicating an absence of real satisfaction. Those who actually rejoice in Greed, Aversion or Delusion are of course, invertedly trying to enjoy what is not enjoyable. Dukkha is linked to any mental state into which the above Three roots enter. Nothing really satisfactory can be expected where they operate as they certainly do in turning round what is by nature unsatisfactory and making it appear the opposite. Third, mistaking what is not self for self (Buddhist doctrine emphasizes that all is non-self or without a soul). Sentient beings including human beings come into being under the law of conditioning, by the union of five aggregates or skandhas (material form, feeling, perception, mental formation or dispositions, and consciousness). When these aggregates are combined together, they sustain life; if they disintegrate, the body will die. This the Buddha called “Impersonal.” Fourth, mistaking what is impure for pure ((all is impure. Only Nirvana is pure all is impure. Only Nirvana is pure). The sinful body, that of ordinary people, caused by lust, hatred, and ignorance. The chaotic, evil, calculating, vicious mind of sentient beings.
396. Three Realms Of The Rebirth Cycle
According to The Long Discourses of the Buddha, Sangiti Sutra, the realms of births and deaths divided into three realms of existence. The first realm is the realm of passions (Kamadhatu). This is the realm of (sensuous) desire of sex and food. It includes the six heavens, the human world, and then hells. All beings in this realm possess five aggregates or panca-skandha. The second realm is the realm of Beauty (Rupadhatu), or the realm of form or matter. It is above the lust world. It is represented in the Brahamlokas (tứ thiền thiên). The realm of the lesser deities. The third realm is the realm of no Beauty or non-form (Arupadhatu). The formless or immaterial realm of pure spirit. There are no bodies, palaces, things. Where the mind dwells in mystic contemplation. Its extent is indefinable in the four “empty” regions of spaces (Tứ không xứ). This is the realm of the higher deities.
397. Four Ideas Of Looking At The Dharma Realms
According to the Hua-Yen school, there are four ideas of looking at the Dharma Realms. The first dharma realm is the realm of phenomena. This is the idea of looking at the Dharmadhatu as a world of individual objects, in which case the term “dhatu” means “something separated.” This is the world of reality, the factual, practical world, or the phenomenal realm, phenomenal world. The Dharma Realm of Phenomena, or the realm of events (specifics). It represents the Realistic Doctrine of Hinayana. The second dharma realm is the realm of noumena. This is the idea of looking at the Dharmadhatu as a manifestation of one spirit (ekacitta) or one elementary substance (ekadhatu). This is the noumenal realm, or noumenal world. The Dharma Realm of Noumena, or the realm of principles. This is the world of principle or theorical world. It is represented by the Sam-Lun and Dharmalaksana Schools which teach that principle is separate from facts. The third dharma realm is the realm of non-obstructions of noumena and phenomena. This is the idea of looking at the Dharmadhatu as a world where all its particular existences (vastu) are identifiable with one underlying spirit. This Dharmadhatu is the interdependence of phenomenal and noumenal realm. The world in which phenomena are identical with noumena. The Dharma Realm of non-obstructions of noumena and phenomena (principles and specifics). The realm of principles against events perfectly fused in unimpeded freedom. The Awakening of Faith and the T’ien-T’ai School believe the identity of fact and principle. That means the world of principle and reality united, or the ideal world realized. The fourth dharma realm is the realm of non-obstruction of phenomena and phenomena. This is the idea of looking at the Dharmadhatu as a world where each one of its particular objects is identifiable with every other particular object, with whatever lines of separation there may be between them all removed. This is the world of all realities or practical facts interwoven or identified in perfect harmony. It is to say phenomena are also interdependent. The world in which phenomena interpenetrate one another without hindrances. The Dharma Realm of non-obstruction of phenomena and phenomena. The realm of events against events (specifics and specifics) perfectly fused in unimpeded freedom. It represents by the Hua-Yen School which teaches that all distinct facts or realities will, and ought to, form a harmonious whole by mutual penetration and mutual identification so as to realize the ideal world of “One-True.” According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, it should not be difficult to make practice adapted to theory, but such being the evil of men, some make too much of theory while others make too much of practice. So a rational solution becomes necessary. Moreover, in the world of realities (fact), practice often goes against practice, fact against fact, business, agains business, individual against individual, class against class, nation against nation. Such is the feature of the world of individualism and thus the whole world goes to pieces. Mere collectivism or solidarity will not prevent the evil of life. To harmonize such a state of being and to make all things go smoothly, the world of mutual reliance or interdependence ought to be created. Such an ideal world is called “the fact and fact world perfectly harmonized.”
398. Ten Reasons that All Things in the Real World
Ought To Have Harmony Among Themselves
According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, there are ten reasons that all things in the real world ought to have harmony among themselves. First, because of the simultaneous rise of all things. Second, because of the mutual permeation of the influence of all things. Third, because of the necessity of reciprocal identification between all beings (mutual self-negation to agree with each other) for the realization of harmony. Fourth, because of the necessity of unity, or harmony, between the leaders and the followers for the attainment of a purpose. Fifth, because all things have their origin in ideation, therefore a similar ideal ought to be expected of all. Sixth, because all things are the result of causation and therefore are mutually dependent. Seventh, because all things are indeterminate or indefinite in character but mutually complementary, therefore they are free to exist in harmony with all things. Eighth, because of the fact that all beings have the nature of Buddha dormant in them. Ninth, because of the fact that all beings, from the highest to the lowest, are parts of one and the same Mandala (circle). Tenth, because of mutual reflection of all activities, as in a room surrounded by mirrors, the movement of one image causes the movement of the thousand reflections.
399. Three-Thousand-Great-Thousand World
Over twenty-five centuries ago, the Buddha talked about the immensity and endlessness of the cosmos. The earth on which we are living is not unique. There are a great number of others, which are as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. Three thousand great chiliocosmos (Universe of the three kinds of thousands of worlds, the three-fold great thousand world system, or the Buddha world). Each big celestial world comprises one thousand million small worlds, each one has the same size as that of our earth. Furthermore, there are an infinite number of big celestial worlds in the cosmos. The Buddhist concept of time reveals that each world has four middle kalpas or cosmic periods, each middle kalpa has twenty small kalpas; each small kalpa has 16 million years. Therefore, the average life of a world is equal to 1,280,000,000 years. The ancient Indian belief “the universe comprises of many groups of thousands of worlds.” Also called A small Chiliocosm.
The T’ien-T’ai School sets forth a world system of ten realms. That is to say, the world of living beings is divided into ten realms, of which the higher four are saintly and the lower six are ordinary. Here the T’ien-T’ai School at once comes back to the ideation theory but expresses it somewhat differently. It is set forth that a conscious-instant or a moment of thought has 3,000 worlds immanent in it. This is a theory special to this school and is called “Three Thousand Originally Immanent,” or “Three Thousand Immanent in Principle,” or “Three Thousand Immanent in Nature” or sometimes “Three Thousand Perfectly Immanent.” The immanency, either original, theoretical, natural or perfect, conveys one and the same idea; namely, that the one moment of thought is itself 3,000 worlds. Some consider this to be the nearest approach to the idea of the Absolute, but if you consider the Absolute to be the source of all creation it is not exactly the Absolute. Or, it may be considered to be a form of ideation theory, but if one thinks that ideation manifests the outer world by the process of dichotomy it is quite different, for it does not mean that one instant of thought produces the 3,000 worlds, because a production is the beginning of a lengthwise motion, i.e., timely production. Nor does it mean that the 3,000 worlds are included in one instant of thought because an inclusion is a crosswise existence, i.e., existence in space. Although here the 3,000-world doctrine is expounded on the basis of ideation, it is not mere ideation, for all the dharmas of the universe are immanent in one thought-instant but are not reduce to thought or ideation.
400. Ten Ariyan Dispositions
According to the Sangiti Sutta (Sutra) in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are ten Ariyan dispositions. The first Ariyan disposition is where a monk who has got rid of five factors, which includes getting rid of sensuality, ill-will, sloth and torpor, worry and flurry, and doubt. The second Ariyan disposition is where a monk who possesses six factors. A monk, on seeing object with the eye, he is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. A monk, on hearing a sound with the ear, he is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. A monk, on smelling a smell with the nose, he is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. A monk, on tasting a flavour with the tongue, he is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. A monk, on touching a tangible object, he is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. A monk, on cognizing a mental object with the mind, he is neither pleased nor displeased, but remains equable, mindful and clearly aware. The third Ariyan disposition is where a monk who has established the guard by guarding his mind with mindfulness. The fourth Ariyan disposition is where a monk who practices the Four Supports. He judges that one thing is to be pursued. He judges that one thing is to be endured. A monk judges that one thing is to be suppressed. A monk judges that one thing is to be avoided. The fifth Ariyan disposition is where a monk who has got rid of individual beliefs. Whatever individual beliefs are held by the majority of ascetics and Brahmins, a monk has dismissed, abandoned, rejected, let go. The sixth Ariyan disposition is where a monk who has quite abandoned quests, which inlcude the quests for sense-desires, the quests for rebirth, and even the quests for the holy life. The seventh Ariyan disposition is where a monk who is pure of motive. A monk who has abandoned thoughts of desire, thoughts of sensuality, thoughts of ill-will, and thoughts of cruelty. The eighth Ariyan disposition is where a monk who has tranquillized his emotions once he has given up pleasure and pain with the disappearance of former gladness and sadness, he enters into a state beyond pleasure and pain which is purified by equanimity, and this is the fourth jhana. The ninth Ariyan disposition is where a monk who is well emancipated in heart. He is liberated from the thought of greed, hatred and delusion. The tenth Ariyan disposition is where a monk who is well liberated by wisdom. He understands that for him greed, hatred and delusion are abandoned, cut off at the root, like a sala-tree stump, destroyed and incapable of growing again.