THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
441. Three in Kaya-karmas-Four in Vac-karmas-Three in Moras-Karmas
443. Transference of Merit
444. Dedication and Self-Attachment
445. Summer Retreat
446. Ten Bodies of the Buddha
447. Ten Perfect Bodies of the Buddha
449. Dharmas of Sameness
450. Offering of Dharma
451. Dharma Protector
452. Dharma Door
453. I and Mine
455. Afflictions are Bodhi
456. The Doctrine of “Egolessness”
457. Determinism and Selflessness
458. Non-Dual Dharma-Door
459. Ten Kinds of Nonindulgence
460. Transcendental Perfection
441. Three in Kaya-karmas-Four in Vac-karmas-Three in Moras- Karmas
According to Buddhist traditions, there are three commandments dealing with the body. First, not to kill or prohibiting taking of life. We do not free trapped animals; but, in contrast, we continue to kill and murder innocent creatures, such as fishing, hunting, etc. Second, not to steal or prohibiting stealing. We do not give, donate, or make offerings; but, in contrast, we continue to be selfish, stingy, and stealing from others. Third, not to commit adultery or prohibiting commiting adultery. We do not behave properly and honorably; but, in contrast, we continue to commit sexual misconduct or sexual promiscuity.
According to Buddhist traditions, there are four commandments dealing with the mouth. First, not to lie. We do not speak the truth; but, in contrast, we continue to lie and speak falsely. Second, not to exaggerate. We do not speak soothingly and comfortably; but, in contrast, we continue to speak wickedly and use a double-tongue to cause other harm and disadvantages. Third, not to abuse. We do not speak kind and wholesome words; but, in contrast, we continue to speak wicked and unwholesome words, i.e., insulting or cursing others. Fourth, not to have ambiguous talk. We do not speak words that are in accordance with the dharma; but, in contrast, we continue to speak ambiguous talks.
According to Buddhist traditions, there are three commandments dealing with the mind.First, not to be covetous. We do not know how to desire less and when is enough; but we continue to be greedy and covetous. Second, not to be malicious. We do not have peace and tolerance toward others; but, in contrast, we continue to be malicious and to have hatred. Third, not to be unbelief. We do not believe in the Law of Causes and Effetcs, but in contrast we continue to attach to our ignorance, and refuse to be near good knowledgeable advisors in order to learn and cultivate the proper dharma.
Way place is a place, or seat where Buddha attained enlightenment. Way place is also a place of truth where we strive in pursuit of the truth, or a place for religious offerings, or a place for teaching, learning, or practising religion. Bodhimandala or Bodh-Gaya is the spot or place under the Bodhi Tree where Sakyamuni Buddha had His Realization. A place near the bank of Nairanjana River in Central India (Bihar), also called the Citadel of Enlightenment because it was where the Buddha attained enlightenment or supreme wisdom (bodhi). Bodhi-Gaya is located near the town of Gaya. It is said to be diamond-like, the navel or centre of the earth; every bodhisattva sits down on such a seat before becoming Buddha. To the devout Buddhists, there is no place of greater interest or sanctity than the holy spot of the Buddha’s enlightenment: Bodh-Gaya. Sacred shrines and stately monuments were raised all around and the account of the Chinese pilgrim, Hsuan-Tsang, gives us a glimpse of the past splendor of this sanctified place. According to Prof. P.V. Bapat in The Twenty-Five Hundred Years of Buddhism, Hsuan-Tsang ascribes the erection of the original Bodhi shrine to Emperor Asoka. According to one of his rock edits, Asoka visited this place, which is called Sambodhi in the inscription, when he had been consecrated ten years, and it is more than probable that the great emperor constructed a shrine on this holy spot. However, no vestiges os such a shrine can be found at present. This shrine has been restored and renovated many times. From the description of Hsuan-Tsang, it appears that the shrine, essentially in its present shape and appearance, existed already in the seventh century A.D. The Mahabodhi temple in Burma is a prototype of this grand temple. As it now stands, the Mahabodhi shrine at Bodh-Gaya is approximately 160 feet high and consists of a straight pyramidal tower with many storeys. The shrine enshrines a great gilded figure of the Buddha touching the earth which symbolizes the supreme event of enlightenment. Around the shrine lie innumerable remains of which the most important are portions of the stone railing which represent two different periods of construction, the earlier going back to about the second century B.C., and the latter to the early Gupta period. In the immediate vicinity are situated seven sacred sites, which, according to tradition, were identical with those where the Buddha is said to have passed seven tranquil weeks in the enjoyment of his Buddhahood.
According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Buddha asked Glorious Light Bodhisattva to visit Vimalakirti to enquire his health on the Buddha’s behalf. Glorious Light replied: “World Honoured One, I am not qualified to call on him to enquire after his health. The reason is that once while I was leaving Vaisali I met Vimalakirti who was entering it. I saluted and asked him ‘Where does the Venerable Upasaka come form? Vimalakirti replied: “From a bodhimandala (a holy site).” Glorious Light asked him: ‘Where is this bodhimandala?’ Vimalakirti replied: ‘The straightforward mind is the bodhimandala, for it is free from fasehood. The initiated mind is the bodhimandala, for it can keep discipline. The profound mind is the bodhimandala, for it accumulates merits. The enlightened mind is the bodhimandala for it is infallible. Charity (dana) is the bodhimandala, for it does not expect reward. Discipline (sila) is the bodhimandala, for it fulfills all vows. Patience (ksanti) is the bodhimandala for it has access to the minds of all living beings. Zeal (virya) is the bodhimandala, for it is free from remissness. Serenity (dhyana) is the bodhimandala, because of its harmonious mind. Wisdom (prajna) is the bodhimandala, for it discerns all things. Kindness (maitri) is the bodhimandala, for it treats all living beings on an equal footing. Compassion (karuna) is the bodhimandala, because of its great forbearance. Joy (mudita) is the bodhimandala, for it is pleasant. Indifference (upeksa) is the bodhimandala, for it wipes out both love and hate. Transcendental efficiency is the bodhimandala, for it perfects all the six supernatural powers (sadabhijna). Liberation is the bodhimandala, for it turns its back to all phenomenal conditions. Expedient devices (upaya) are the bodhimandala, for they teach and convert living beings. The four winning actions of a Bodhisattva are the bodhimandala, for they benefit all living beings. Wide knowledge through hearing the Dharma is the bodhimandala, for its practice leads to enlightenment. Control of the mind is the Bodhimandala, because of its correct perception of all things. The thirty-seven contributory stages to enlightenment are the bodhimandala, for they keep from all worldly activities. The four noble truths are the bodhimandala, because they do not deceive. The twelve links in the chain of existence are the bodhimandala, because of their underlying nature which is infinite. Troubles (klesa) are the bodhimandala, for their underlying nature is reality. Living beings are the bodhimandala, because they are (basically) egoless. All things are the bodhimandala, for they are empty. The defeat of demons is the bodhimandala, for it is imperturbable. The three realms (of desire, form and beyond form) are the bodhimandala, for fundamentally they lead to no real destination. The lion’s roar is the bodhimandala, because of its fearlessness. The ten powers (dasabla), the four kinds of fearlessness and the eighteen unsurpassed characteristics of the Buddha are the bodhimandala, for they are faultless. The three insights are the bodhimandala, for they are free from all remaining hindrances. The knowledge of all things in the time of a thought is the bodhimandala, for it brings omniscience (sarvajna) to perfection. Thus, son of good family, a Bodhisattva should convert living beings according to the various modes of perfection (paramitas) and all his acts, including the raising or lowering of a foot, should be interpreted as coming from the seat of learning (bodhimandala); he should thus stay within the Buddha Dharma.’ While Vimalakirti was thus expounding the Dharma, five hundred devas developed their minds set on supreme enlightenment.
443. Transference of Merit
The goal or direction of bodhisattva or Buddha which devotes all merits to the salvation of others. This is one of the most outstanding ideas of Mahayana Buddhism. The method of cultivation of transference of merit is a special method of Buddhist methods of cultivation. In fact, transference of merit is one of the most important parts of the Buddha’s Teachings. Sharing of merits is made by the doer of merit (good deeds), resolving that everybody may partake of the merit of his good deeds. However, such sharing becomes really effective when the intended recipient becomes aware of the good deeds and rejoices such transference. Transference of merit is itself a good deed, adds to the merit of other good deeds already done, the result is inconceivable. Transference of merit means to turn (to turn towards) something from one person or thing to another. Therefore, transference of merit, especially of one’s merits to another. According to the Lankavatara Sutra, parinamana means transference, especially of one’s merit to another or towards the realization of supreme wisdom. This is one of the most characteristic ideas of Mahayana Buddhism. Dedication is done with a wish to convert the virtue into a cause for one’s complete enlightenment. It is also to have the wish that your root virtues may not disappear.
What happen if we do not dedicate our virtue? According to Bodhisattva Shatideva: “No matter how many excellent deeds you may have performed for a thousand aeons, such as generosity or making offerings to Tathagatas, they all perish in one fit of anger.” This is what happens if we do not dedicate our virtues. Therefore, we should dedicate our root virtues if we do not want them destroy by anger. When we do dedications, it is like our root virtue is being deposited in a safe place. We mix our root virtues with that of the Victorious Ones and their children. It is like a drop of water, which is our own root virtue, being mixed with the ocean, which is the virtue of the Victorious Ones, so that the drop of water does not disappear until the ocean runs dry. Dedication and prayers are very powerful. Through the power of dedication and prayer, Sariputra became the wisest of the wise. Our virtue is like a horse and our prayer is like the bridle. Another example is gold. It can be fashioned into either a statue or a common container. It all depends on the goldsmith. It is the same case with the results of our virtue. Depending on our dedications and prayers, the result of our virtue will be either high or low.
According to the Mahayana traditions, merit is a quality in us that ensures future benefits to us, either material or spiritual. It is not difficult to perceive that to desire merit, to hoard, accumulate, and store merit imply a considerable degree of self-seeking, however meritorious it may be. It has always been the tactics of the Buddhists to weaken the possesive instincts of the spiritually less-endowed members of the community by withdrawing them from such objects as wealth and family, and directing them instead towards one aim and object, i.e. the acquisition of merit. But that, of course, is good enough only on a fairly low spiritual level. At higher stages one will have to turn also against this form of possessiveness, one will have to be willing ot give up one’s store of merit for the sake of the happiness of others. The Mahayana drew this conclusion and expected its followers to endow other beings with their own merit, or, as the Scriptures put it: “To turn over, or dedicate, their merit to the enlightenment of all beings. Through the merit derived from all my good deeds, I wish to appease the suffering of all creatures, to be the medicine, the physician, and the nurse of the sick as long as there is sickness. Through rains of food and drink I wish to extinguish the fire of hunger and thirst. I wish to be inexhautible treasure to the poor, a servant who furnishes them with all they lack. My life and all my re-births, all my possessions, all the merit that I have acquired or will acquired, all that I abandon without hope of any gain for self in order that the salvation of all beings might be promoted.
According to the Tibetan traditions, what is to be dedicated? One’s root virtues. Why dedicate them? So that they will not be lost. To what end do you dedicate them? To your supreme enlightenment. For whose sake do you dedicate your root virtues? For the sake of all sentient beings. How do you dedicate them? Through method and right perception. This means that we should dedicate our root virtues by means of the union of method and wisdom. We must develop right perception of the three components of the act of dedication. In other words, you should negate the assertion or belief that the thing being dedicated, the end to which it is dedicated and the sentient beings for whose sake this is being done do not lack inherent existence. To think of these three components of dedication as lacking inherent existence prevents you from clinging to the thing being dedicated as if it was established as true. The purposes of Dedications in Vajrayana is to create good causes for other people to advance their Mahayana Path. Devout Buddhists always vow: “I dedicate whatever white virtues thus create as causes to uphold the holy Dharma of scripture and insight and to fulfil without exception the prayers and deeds of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the three times. By the force of this merit, may I never be parted in all my lives from Mahayana’s four spheres, and reach the end of my journey along the path of renunciation, bodhicitta, pure view and the two stages.” Dedication of merit (Tibetan tradition)-Final Lam Rim Dedication Prayer: “From my two collections, vast as space, that I have amassed from working with effort at this practice for a great length of time. May I become the chief leading Buddha for all those whose mind’s wisdom eye is blinded by ignorance. Even if I do not reach this state, may I be held in your loving compassion for all my lives, Manjusri. May I find the best of complete graded paths of the teachings. May I please all Buddhas by practicing using skillful means drawn by the strong force of compassion. May I clear the darkness from the minds of all beings with the points of the paths as I have discerned them. May I uphold Buddha’s teachings for a very long time with my heart going out with great compassion in whatever direction the most precious teachings have not yet stread, or once spread have declined. May I expose this treasure of happiness and aid. May the minds of those who wish for liberation be granted bounteous peace, and the Buddhas’ deeds be nourished for a long time by even this Graded Course to Enlightenment completed due to the wondrous virtuous conduct of the Buddhas and their Sons. May all human and non-human beings who eliminate adversity and make things conducive for practicing the excellent paths never parted in any of their lives from the purest path praised by the Buddhas. Whenever someone makes effort to act in accordance with the ten-fold Mahayana virtuous practices, may he always be assisted by the mighty ones. And may oceans of Dharma prosper and spread everywhere.”
444. Dedication and Self-Attachment
Maybe before we know how to cultivate we only limit the welfare to ourselves, i.e. “I want this, I don’t want that,” etc. This narrow attitude for our own happiness causes us to pay no attention to the welfare of anyone else. This extremely restricted view inevitably causes our heart to close. Then, even if we do not say it out, it is as if we feel “I am the most important person in the universe. The problems that others have are nothing related to me at all. It is only my own happiness that counts.” As long as we remain focused only on our own happiness, whether munadane or supermundane, we will never experience the vastness of a truly open heart. The only way to achieve the total vision of complete enlightenment is to free ourselves from the restrictions of this narrow, self-cherishing attitude. Sincere Buddhists should always try to overcome this self-cherishing and dedicate ourselves as fully possible to the welfare of others, the more the better, for this is the only way to achieve a completely opened heart, the only way to experience lasting happiness. How can we achieve a completely opened heart and to experience lasting happiness? We should always practice “Dedication” Demitting means transferring the good we have done to all others, or to turn something from us to another or dedicating, or transfering of merit. The goal or direction of Bodhisattva or Buddha which devotes all merits to the salvation of others. This is one of the most outstanding ideas of Mahayana Buddhism. Furthermore, dedication also means that, having created a certain atmosphere of positive energy within ourselves, we determine to share this happiness with others as much as possible. Only “dedication” can help us eliminate our “self-cherishing” which is the main cause of all our confusion, frustration, sufferings, and afflictions. Let take a look at what Sakyamuni Buddha did with his life. He gave up all his self-attachment, dedicated himself completely to the welfare of others, and as a result He attained the unsurpassed bliss of complete enlightenment. Then look at us, we are obsessed with the “I” and “I” and “I” and what we have gotten is unending misery and disappoinment. Thus, sincere Buddhists should try to cultivate on “Dedication” to eliminate “Self-attachment” and to attain lasting happiness for not only us, but also others.
445. Summer Retreat
“Vassa” is a Sanskrit term for the retreat or rest during the summer rains (based on the instruction of the Buddha). Peaceful residing during the summer retreat. The three months of summer retreat every year (from 15th of the Lunar fourth month to 15th of the Lunar seventh month)—Monsoon-season (Rain) Retreat—The period of three months in the monsoon season (Indian rainy season). During the rains it was difficult to move about without injuring the insect life, so monks and nuns are expected to reside in one place and devote themselves to their practice. The end of the Rain Retreat coincides with theUllambana Festival. It is an auspicious day for monks and nuns, as on that day those who attended the Rain Retreat become one year older in the Order. The end of the monk’s year after the summer retreat. The number of summer retreat or discipline years indicating the years since a monk’s ordination (number of years a monk or nun has been ordained). The age of a monk as monk, the years of his ordination, or the years a person has been a monk are counted by the number of summer retreats passed. To receive one’s monastic age. To add to one’s monastic age on the conclusion of the summer retreat. The precedence of monks and nuns in the Order is determined by the number of summer retreats they have attended.
446. Ten Bodies of the Buddha
According to The Flower Ornament Scripture, Chapter 37, Manifestation of Buddha, Enlightening Beings see ten characteristics of the body of Buddha in infinite places. The first characteristic of the body of Buddha. Great enlightening beings should see the body of Buddha in infinite places. They should not see Buddha in just one thing, one phenomenon, one body, one land, one being; they should see Buddha everywhere. Just as space is omnipresent, in all places, material or immaterial, yet without either arriving or not arriving there, because space is incorporeal. In the same manner, Buddha is omnipresent, in all places, in all beings, in all things, in all lands, yet neither arriving nor not arriving there, because Buddha’s body is incorporeal, manifesting a body for the sake of sentient beings. The second characteristic of the body of Buddha. Just as space is wide open, is not a form yet can reveal all forms, yet space is without discrimination or false description, so also is the body of Buddha like this, causing all beings’ mundane and transmundane good works to be accomplished by illuminating all with the light of knowledge, yet without discrimination or false descriptions, having originally terminated all attachments and false descriptions.The third characteristic of the body of Buddha. When the sun comes out, infinite living beings all receive its benefits; it disperses the darkness and gives light, dries up moisture, causes plants and trees to grow, matures crops, permeates the sky, causes lotuses to bloom, allows travellers to see the road, allows people to do their work, because the orb of the sun radiates infinite beams of light everywhere. The sun of knowledge of Buddha is also like this, benefitting sentient beings everywhere by infinite works, destroying evil and producing good, breaking down ignorance and creating knowledge, benevolently saving, compassionately liberating, causing growth of faculties, powers, and elements of enlightenment, causing beings to develop profound faith, enabling them to see inevitable cause and effect, fostering in them the celestial eye to see where beings die and are born, causing their minds to be unimpeded and not destroy roots of goodness, causing them to cultivate illumination by knowledge and open the flower of awakening, causing them to determine to fulfill their fundamental task. Why? Because Buddhas’ immense sun-body of knowledge and wisdom radiates infinite light, illuminating everywhere. The fourth characteristic of the body of Buddha. When the sun rises, first it lights up the highest mountains such as the Sumeru, then the lower mountains, then the high plateaus, and finally the whole land; but the sun does not think, “First I will illuminate here, afterward I will illuminate there.” It is just because of difference in height of the mountains and land that there is a succession in illumination. The Buddha, similarly, having developed the boundless orb of knowledge of the realm of reality, always radiating the light of unimpeded knowledge, first of all illumines the high mountains, which are the Great Enlightening Beings, then illumines those who are awakened by understanding of conditioning, then illumines those who listen to the message, then illumines sentient beings whose foundation of goodness are sure and stable, revealing vast knowledge according to beings’ mental capacities, finally illumining all sentient beings, even reaching those who are fixated on error, to be a beneficial cause for the future, that they may develop to maturity. But the light of the sun of great knowledge of Buddha does not think, “I will first illumine the great deeds of Enlightening Beings and at the very last shine on sentient beings who are fixated on error.” It just radiates the light, shining equally on all, without obstruction or impediment, without discrimination. Just as the sun moon appear in their time and impersonally shine on the mountains and valleys, so also does the knowledge of Buddha shine on all without discrimination, while the light of knowledge has various differences according to the differences in faculties and inclinations of sentient beings. The fifth characteristic of the body of Buddha. When the sun comes out, those born blind cannot see it, because they have no faculty of vision; yet even though they do not see it, they are benefitted by the light of the sun. Why? By this is possible to know the times of day and night, and to have access to food and clothing to comfort the body and free from distress. The sun of knowledge of Buddha is also like this; the blind without faith or understanding, immoral and heedles, sustaining themselves by wrong means of livelihood, do not see the orb of the sun of knowledge of the Buddha because they have no eye of faith, but even though they do not see it, they are still benefitted by the sun of knowledge. Why? Because by the power of Buddha it makes the causes of future suffering of those beings, physical pains and psychological afflictions, all vanish. The Buddha has various kinds of light to use as skillful means to save sentient beings. There is a light called accumulating all virtues; a light called total universal illumination; a light called pure, free illumination; a light called producing great, wondrous sound; a light called understanding all languages and gladdening others; a light called the realm of freedom showing the eternal cancellation of all doubts; a light called independent universal illumination of nondwelling knowledge; a light called free knowledge forever terminating all false descriptions; a light called marvelous sayings according to need; and a light called producing free utterances adorning lands and maturing sentient beings. Each pore of the Buddha emits a thousand kinds of light like these five hundred lights beam downward, five hundred lights beam upward, illuminating the congregations of Enlightening Beings at the various places of the Buddhas in the various lands. When the Enlightening Beings see these lights, all at once they realize the realm of Buddhahood, with ten heads, ten eyes, ten ears, ten noses, ten tongues, ten bodies, ten hands, ten feet, ten stages, and ten knowledges, all thoroughly pure. The states and stages previously accomplished by those Enlightening Beings become more pure upon seeing these lights; their roots of goodness mature, and they proceed toward omniscience. Those in the two lesser vehicles have all their defilements removed. Some other beings, who are blind, their bodies blissful, also become purified in mind, gentle and docile, able to cultivate mindfulness and knowledge. The sentient beings in the realms of hells, hungry ghosts and animals all become blissful and are freed from pains, and when their lives end are reborn in heaven or the human world. Those sentient beings are not aware , do not know by what cause, by what spiritual power, they came to be born there. Those blind ones think, “We are Brahma gods, we are emanations of Brahma.” Then Buddha in the concentration of universal freedom, says to them, “You are not Brahma gods, not emanations of Brahma, nor were you created by the king-god Indra or the world-guardian gods: all this is spiritual power of Buddha.” Having heard this, those sentient beings, by the spiritual power of Buddha, all know their past life and become very happy. Because their hearts are joyful, they naturally produce clouds of udumbara flowers, clouds of fragrances, music, cloth, parasols, banners, pennants, aromatic powders, jewels, towers adorned with lion banners and crescents, clouds of song of praise, clouds of all kinds of adornments, and respectfully offer them to the Buddha. Why? Because these sentient beings have gained clear eyes, and therefore the Buddha gives them the prophecy of unexcelled, complete perfect enlightenment. In this way the Buddha’s sun knowledge benefits sentient beings born blind, fostering the full development of basic goodness. The sixth characteristic of the body of Buddha. It is like the moon, with four special extraordinary qualities, the characteristics of the body of Buddha similarly has four special extraordinary qualities. The moon outshines all the stars, the body of Buddha similarly outshines all hearers and Individual Illuminates, whether they are in the stage of learning or beyond learning. As time passes, the moon shows waning or waxing, but its original nature has no waning nor waxing. The body of the Buddha manifests different life spans according to the needs of the situation, yet the Buddha-body is neither increasing nor decreasing. The moon reflection appears in all clear waters. In the same manner, the reflection of the Buddha-body appears in all vessels of enlightenment, sentient beings with pure minds, in all worlds. All who see the moon see it right before them, yet the moon has no discrimination and no arbitrary conception. In the same manner, all sentient beings who behold the Buddha-body think the Buddha is in their presence alone. According to their inclinations, Buddha teaches them, liberating them according to their states, causing them to perceive the Buddha-body according to their needs and potentials for edification, yet the Buddha-body has no discrimination, no arbitrary conceptions; all benefits it renders reach the ultimate end.The seventh characteristic of the body of Buddha. Just as the supreme Brahma god of a billion-world universe simply manifests its body in the billion worlds, and all beings see Brahma before them, yet Brahma does not divide its body and does not have multiple bodies. In the same way the Buddhas have no discrimination, no flase representations, and do not divide their bodies or have multiple bodies, yet they manifest their bodies in accord with the inclinations of all sentient beings, without thinking that they manifest so many bodies. The eighth charateristic of the body of Buddha. A master physician is well versed in all medications and the science of hypnosis, fully uses all the medicines in the land, and, also because of the power of the physician’s past roots of goodness, and because of using hypnotic spells as an expedient, all those who see the physician recover from illness. That master physician, sensing impending death, thinks, “After I die, sentient beings will have no one to rely on; I should manifest an expedient for them.” Then the master physician compounds drugs, which he smears on his body, and support his body by spell power, so that it will not decay or shrivel after death, so its bearing, seeing, and hearing will be no different from before, and all cures will be effected. The Buddha, the Truly Enlightened One, the unexcelled master physician, is also like this, having developed and perfected the medicines of the Teaching over countless eons, having cultivated and learned all skills in application of means and fully consummated the power of illuminating spells, is able to quell all sentient beings’ afflictions. Buddha’s life spans measureless eons, the body pure, without any cognition, without activity, never ceasing the works of Buddhas; the afflictions of all sentient beings who see Buddha dissolve away. The Ninth characteristic of the body of Buddha. In the ocean there is a great jewel called radiant repository, in which are assembled all lights: if any sentient beings touch its light, they become assimilated to its color; if any see it, their eyes are purified; whenever the light shines it rains jewels called felicity that soothe and comfort beings. The body of Buddha is also like this, being a treasury of knowledge in which are collected all virtues: if any sentient beings come in contact with the light of precious knowledge of the body of Buddha, they become the same as Buddha in appearance; if any see it their eye of reality is purified; wherever that light shines, it frees sentient beings from the miseries of poverty and ultimately imbues them with the bliss of enlightenment, but can perform great Buddha-works for all sentient beings. The tenth characteristic of the body of Buddha. In the ocean is a great wish-fulfilling jewel called treasury of adornments of all worlds, fully endowed with a million qualities, eliminating calamities and fulfilling wishes of beings wnerever it is. However, this jewel cannot be seen by beings of little merit. The supreme wish-fulfilling jewel of the body of Buddha is also like this; called able to gladden all beings, if any sentient beings see the body of Buddha, hear the name, and praise the virtues, they will all be enabled to escape forever the pains and ills of birth and death. Even if all beings in all worlds focus their minds all at once on the desire to see Buddha, they will all be enabled to see and their wish will be fulfilled. The Buddha-body cannot be seen by sentient beings of little merit unless they can be tamed by the spiritual power of Buddha; if sentient beings, because of seeing the body of Buddha, plant roots of goodness and develop them, they are enabled to see the body of Buddha for their development. Great enlightening beings should see it thus, because their minds are measureless, pervading the ten directions, because their actions are as unhindered as space, because they penetrate everywhere in the realm of reality, because they abide in the absolute truth, because they have no birth or death, because they remain equal throughout past, present, and future, because they are forever rid of all false discriminations, because they continue their eternal vows, because they purify all worlds, because they adorn each Buddha-body.
447. Ten Perfect Bodies of the Buddha
According to Buddhist traditions, the Buddha has ten perfect bodies. The first perfect body of the Buddha is the Bodhi-body which is in possession of complete enlightenment. The second perfect body of the Buddha is the Vow-body, i.e. the vow to be born in and from the Tusita heaven. The third perfect body of the Buddha is the Nirmanakaya. Buddha incarnate as a man in the royal palace. Fourth, the Buddha who still occupies his relics or what he has left behind on earth and thus upholds the dharmas. The fifth perfect body of the Buddha is the Sambhogakaya. Endowed with an idealized body with all Buddha marks and merits. Sixth, Power-body, embracing all with his heart of mercy. Seventh, At-will-body, appearing according to wish and need. Eighth, Samadhi body, or body of blessed virtue. Ninth, Wisdom-body, whose nature embraces all wisdom. The tenth perfect body of the Buddha is the Dharmakaya. The absolute Buddha or essence of all life.
Generally speaking, dharma means things, events, phenomena. Dharma also means duty, law or doctrine. The cosmic law which is underlying our world, but according to Buddhism, this is the law of karmically determined rebirth. The Dharma that is the law of beginningless and endless becoming, to which all phenomena are subject according to causes and conditions. When dharma means phenomenon, it indicates all phenomena, things and manifestation of reality. All phenomena are subject to the law of causation, and this fundamental truth comprises the core of the Buddha’s teaching. Dharma is a very troublesome word to handle properly and yet at the same time it is one of the most important and essential technical terms in Buddhism. Dharma has many meanings. A term derived from the Sanskrit root “dhr,” which” means “to hold,” or “to bear”; there seems always to be something of the idea of enduring also going along with it. Originally, it means the cosmic law which underlying our world; above all, the law of karmically determined rebirth. The teaching of the Buddha, who recognized and regulated this law. In fact, dharma (universal truth) existed before the birth of the historical Buddha, who is no more than a manifestation of it. Today, “dharma” is most commonly used to refer to Buddhist doctrine and practice. Dharma is also one of the three jewels on which Buddhists rely for the attainment of liberation, the other jewels are the Buddha and the Samgha. Etymologically, it comes from the Sanskrit root “Dhri” means to hold, to bear, or to exist; there seems always to be something of the idea of enduring also going along with it. The most common and most important meaning of “Dharma” in Buddhism is “truth,” “law,” or “religion.” Secondly, it is used in the sense of “existence,” “being,” “object,” or “thing.” Thirdly, it is synonymous with “virtue,” “righteousness,” or “norm,” not only in the ethical sense, but in the intellectual one also. Fourthly, it is occasionally used in a most comprehensive way, including all the senses mentioned above. In this case, we’d better leave the original untranslated rather than to seek for an equivalent in a foreign language.
According to Buddhism, dharma means Buddhist doctrine or teachings. The teaching of the Buddhas which carry or hold the truth. The way of understanding and love taught by the Buddha doctrine. The Buddha taught the Dharma to help us escape the sufferings and afflictions caused by daily life and to prevent us from degrading human dignity, and descending into evil paths such as hells, hungry ghosts, and animals, etc. The Dharma is like a raft that gives us something to hang onto as we eliminate our attachments, which cause us to suffer and be stuck on this shore of birth and death. The Buddha’s dharma refers to the methods of inward illumination; it takes us across the sea of our afflictions to the other shore, nirvana. Once we get there, even the Buddha’s dharma should be relinquished. The Dharma is not an extraordinary law created by or given by anyone. According to the Buddha, our body itself is Dharma; our mind itself is Dharma; the whole universe is Dharma. By understanding the nature of our physical body, the nature of our mind, and worldly conditions, we realize the Dharma. The Dharma that is the law of beginningless and endless becoming, to which all phenomena are subject according to causes and conditions. The Dharma, which comprises the spoken words and sermons of Sakyamuni Buddha wherein he elucidated the significance of the Unified Three Treasures and the way to its realization. The Dharma, the teaching imparted by the Buddha. All written sermons and discourses of Buddhas (that is, fully enlightened beings) as found in the sutras and other Buddhist texts still extant.
To Buddhist theories, nothing is real and permanent, the five aggregates make up beings, pillars and rafters make a house, etc. All is temporal and merely phenomenal, fallacious, and unreal. Names are only provisionary symbol or sign. All dharmas are empirical combinations without permanent reality. All things are false and fictitious and unreal names, i.e. nothing has a name of itself, for all names are mere human appellations. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha reminded Mahamati: “Mahamati! As they are attached to names, images, and signs, the ignorant allow their minds to wander away.” Things which exist only in name, i.e. all things are combinations of other things and are empirically named. All things or phenomena are combinations of elements without permanent reality, phenomena, empirical combinations without permanent reality. The phenomenal which no more exists than turtle’s hair or rabbit’s horns.
According to the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra, the basic characteristic of all dharmas is not arising, not ceasing, not defiled, not immaculate, not increasing, not decreasing. The Buddha says: “He who sees the Dharma sees me.” Dharma means the teaching of the Buddha. Dharma also means the doctrine of understanding and loving. Dharma means the doctrines of Buddhism, norms of behavior and ethical rules including pitaka, vinaya and sila. Dharma also means reflection of a thing in the human mind, mental content, object of thought or idea. Dharma means factors of existence which the Hinayana considers as bases of the empirical personality. According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, the word “Dharma” has five meanings. First, dharma would mean ‘that which is held to,’ or ‘the ideal’ if we limit its meaning to mental affairs only. This ideal will be different in scope as conceived by different individuals. In the case of the Buddha it will be Perfect Enlightenment or Perfect Wisdom (Bodhi). Secondly, the ideal as expressed in words will be his Sermon, Dialogue, Teaching, Doctrine. Thirdly, the ideal as set forth for his pupils is the Rule, Discipline, Precept, Morality. Fourthly, the ideal to be realized will be the Principle, Theory, Truth, Reason, Nature, Law, Condition. Fifthly, the ideal as realized in a general sense will be Reality, Fact, Thing, Element (created and not created), Mind-and-Matter, Idea-and-Phenomenon, reflection of a thing in the human mind, mental content, object of thought or idea, and factors of existence which the Hinayana considers as bases of the empirical personality. According to the Madhyamakas, Dharma is a protean word in Buddhism. In the broadest sense it means an impersonal spiritual energy behind and in everything. There are four important senses in which this word has been used in Buddhist philosophy and religion. First, dharma in the sense of one ultimate Reality. It is both transcendent and immanent to the world, and also the governing law within it. Second, dharma in the sense of scripture, doctrine, religion, as the Buddhist Dharma. Third, dharma in the sense of righteousness, virtue, and piety. Fourth, dharma in the sense of ‘elements of existence.’ In this sense, it is generally used in plural.
449. Dharmas of Sameness
According to The Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha taught: “We talk of this in the assembly because of the secret teaching of fourfold sameness, that I was in ancient days the Buddha Krakucchanda, Kanakamuni, or Kasyapa.” Four sorts of sameness for those who disicpline themselves in religious life. First, by “sameness in letters” is meant that the title Buddha is equally given to all Tathagatas, no distinction being made among them as far as these letter BUDDHA go. Second, by “sameness in words” is meant that all the Tathagatas speak in sixty-four different notes or sounds with the language of Brahma is pronounced, and that their language sounding like the notes of Kalavinka bird is common to all the Tathagatas. Third, by “sameness in body” is meant that all the Tathagatas show no distinction as far as their Dharmakaya, their corporal features (rupalakshana) and their secondary marks of excellence are concerned. They differ, however, when they are seen by a variety of beings whom they have the special design to control and discipline. Fourth, by “sameness in the truth” is meant that all Tathagatas attain to the same realization by means of the thirty-seven divisions of enlightenment.
According to The Vimalakirti Sutra, Chapter Three, the Disciples, when the Buddha asked Subhuti to go to visit Vimalakirti on his behalf, Subhuti said to the Buddha as follows: “World Honoured One, I am not qualified to call on him and enquire after his health. The reason is that once when I went to his house begging for food, he took my bowl and filled it with rice, saying: ‘Subhuti, if your mind set on eating is in the same state as when confronting all (other) things, and if this uniformity as regards all things equally applies to (the act of) eating, you can then beg for food and eat it. Subhuti, if without cutting off carnality, anger and stupidity you can keep from these (three) evils: if you do not wait for the death of your body to achieve the oneness of all things; if you do not wipe out stupidity and love in your quest of enlightenment and liberation; if you can look into (the underlying nature of) the five deadly sins to win liberation, with at the same time no idea of either bondage or freedom; if you give rise to neither the four noble truths nor their opposites; if you do not hold both the concept of winning and not winning the holy fruit; if you do not regard yourself as a worldly or unworldly man, as a saint or not as a saint; if you perfect all Dharmas while keeping away from the concept of Dharmas, then can you receive and eat the food. Subhuti, if you neither see the Buddha nor hear the Dharma; if the six heterodox teachers, Purana-kasyapa, Maskari-gosaliputra, Yanjaya-vairatiputra, Ajita-kesakambala, Kakuda-katyayana and Nirgrantha-jnatiputra are regarded impartially as your own teachers and if, when they induce leavers of home into heterodoxy, you also fall with the latter; then you can take away the food and eat it. If you are (unprejudiced about) falling into heresy and regard yourself as not reaching the other shore (of enlightenment); if you (are unprejudiced about) the eight sad conditions and regard yourself as not free from them; if you (are unprejudiced about) defilements and relinquish the concept of pure living; if when you realize samadhi in which there is absence of debate or disputation, all living beings also achieve it; if your donors of food are not regarded (with partiality) as (cultivating) the field of blessedness; if those making offerings to you (are partially looked on as also) falling into the three evil realms of existence; if you (impartially regard demons as your companions without differentiating between them as well as between other forms of defilement; if you are discontented with all living beings, defame the Buddha, break the law (Dharma), do not attain the holy rank, and fail to win liberation; then you can take away the food and eat it. World Honoured One, I was dumbfounded when I heard his words which were beyond my reach and to which I found no answer. Then I left the bowl of rice and intended to leave his house, but Vimalakirti said: “Hey, Subhuti, take the bowl of rice without fear. Are you frightened when the Tathagata makes an illusory man ask you questions? I replied: ‘No.’ He then continued: ‘All things are illusory and you should not fear anything. Why? Because words and speech are illusory. So all wise men do not cling to words and speech, and this is why they fear nothing. Why? Because words and speech have no independent nature of their own, and when they are no more, you are liberated. This liberation will free you from all bondage.”
450. Offering of Dharma
Serving the dharma by believing it, explaining it, obeying it, keeping it, protecting it, cultivating the spiritual nature and assisting the Buddhism. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, chapter thirteen, the Offering of Dharma, under the influence of the Buddha’s transcendental power a deva in the sky said to the Bodhisattvas: “Virtuous man, the offering of Dharma surpasses all other forms of offering.” Lunar Canopy asked: ‘What is this offering of Dharma?’ The deva replied: ‘Go to the Tathagata Bhaisajya who will explain it fully.’ Thereupon, Lunar Canopy came to the Tathagata Bhaisajya, bowed his head at his feet and stood at his side, asking: ‘World Honoured One, (I have heard that) the offering of Dharma surpasses all other forms of offering; what is the offering of Dharma?’ “The Tathagata replied: ‘Virtuous one, the offering of Dharma is preached by all Buddhas in profound sutras but it is hard for worldly men to believe and accept it as its meaning is subtle and not easily detected, for it is spotless in its purity and cleanness. It is beyond the reach of thinking and discriminating; it contains the treasury of the Bodhi-sattva’s Dharma store and is sealed by the Dharani-symbol; it never backslides for it achieves the six perfections (paramitas), discerns the difference between various meanings, is in line with the bodhi Dharma, is at the top of all sutras, helps people to enter upon great kindness and great compassion, to keep from demons and perverse views, and to conform with the law of causality and the teaching on the unreality of an ego, a man, a living being and life and on voidness, formlessness, non-creating and non-uprising. It enables living beings to sit in a bodhimandala to turn the wheel of the law. It is praised and honoured by heavenly dragons, gandharvas, etc. It can help living beings to reach the Buddha’s Dharma store and gather all knowledge (sarvajna realized by) saints and sages, preach the path followed by all Bodhisattvas, rely on the reality underlying all things, proclaim the (doctrine of) impermanence, suffering, voidness and absence of ego and nirvana. It can save all living beings who have broken the precepts and keep in awe all demons, heretics and greedy people. It is praised by the Buddhas, saints and sages for it wipes out suffering from birth and death, proclaims the joy in nirvana as preached by past, future and present Buddhas in the ten directions. “If a listener after hearing about this sutra, believes, understands, receives, upholds, reads and recites it and uses appropriate methods (upaya) to preach it clearly to others, this upholding of the Dharma is called the offering of Dharma.
“Further, the practice of all Dharmas as preached, to keep in line with the doctrine of the twelve links in the chain of existence, to wipe out all heterodox views, to achieve the patient endurance of the uncreate (anutpatti-dharma-ksanti) (as beyond creation), to settle once for all the unreality of the ego and the non-existence of living beings, and to forsake all dualities of ego and its objects without deviation from and contradiction to the law of causality and retribution for good and evil; by trusting to the meaning rather than the letter, to wisdom rather than consciousness, to sutras revealing the whole truth rather than those of partial revelation; and to the Dharma instead of the man (i.e. the preacher); to conform with the twelve links in the chain of existence (nidanas) that have neither whence to come nor wither to go, beginning from ignorance (avidya) which is fundamentally non-existent, and conception (samskara) which is also basically unreal, down to birth (jati) which is fundamentally non-existent and old age and death (jaramarana) which are equally unreal. Thus contemplated, the twelve links in the chain of existence are inexhaustible, thereby putting an end to the (wrong) view of annihilation. This is the unsurpassed offering of Dharma.”
451. Dharma Protector
According to Buddhism, dharma protector is one who protects and maintains the Buddha-truth and safeguards Buddhist temples. In temples, there are four Dharma protectors guarding the entrance doors to the Buddha Hall, two scholars and two warriors. The scholar Dharma protector with the scroll of paper in his hands, represents the attainment of wisdom through the contemplation of the mind, the warrior Dharma protector, carrying the sword to show that he is ready to protect the temple, and to cut off ignorance in order to attain wisdom. The term “Dharma-protector” has two meanings. First, gods, spirits, and ghosts who protect the Dharma and those who cultivate it. Secondly, human lay supporters of the Buddhist monastic establishment.
452. Dharma Door
The doctrine or wisdom of Buddha regarded as the door (method) to enlightenment. The teaching of the Buddha. The meaning is that the dharma is something like a gate, because through it sentient beings attain the enlightenment. As the living have 84,000 delusions, so the Buddha provides 84,000 methods of dealing with them. Knowing that the spiritual level of sentient beings is totally different from one another, the Buddha had allowed his disciples to choose any suitable Dharma they like to practice. A person can practice one or many dharmas, depending on his physical conditions, his free time, since all the dharmas are closely related. Practicing Buddhist Dharma requires continuity, regularity, faith, purpose and determination. Laziness and hurriedness are signs of failure. There is only one path leading to Enlightenment, but, since people differ greatly in terms of health, material conditions, intelligence, character and faith, the Buddha taught more than one path leading to different stages of attainment such as stage of Hearers, that of Pratyeka-buddhas, that of Bodhisattvas, that of laymen, and that of monks and nuns. All of these ways are ways to the Buddhahood. Nobody can reach final attainment without following a path, and no enlightenment can be reached without studying, understanding and practicing.
According to the Lotus Sutra, the law of origin is the teaching expressing the relationship between the Buddha and man, that is, the salvation of man through the Original Buddha. This salvation depends on the benevolence of the Buddha, and the benevolence is the essence of the Law of Origin. The Law of Origin declares that Sakyamuni Buddha has continually taught people throughout the universe since the infinite past. In other words, the Buddha is the truth of the universe, that is, the fundamental principle or the fundamental power causing all phenomena of the universe, including the sun, other stars, human beings, animals, plants, and so on, to live and move. Therefore, according to the Law of Origin, the Buddha has existed everywhere in the universe since its beginning. Methods of saving sentient beings or instruction in the Buddhist principlesAccording to the T’ien Tai Sect, the Buddha utilized four methods to save sentient beings. Fisrt, preaching in accordance with the Tripitaka Basket. Second, interrelated preaching. Third, differentiated preaching. Fourth, a complete, all-embracing preaching. The Dharma Door of Existence is one of the two doors for Pure Land practitioners. This is a Dharma Door that still relies on “Form Characteristics” to practice, because we sentient beings are still trapped in existence as well as in the six faculties of Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue, Body, and Mind; and the six elements of Form, Sound, Fragrance, Flavor, Touch and Dharma. Thus at every moment of our existence, our faculties are interacting with the various elements, so it is impossible for us to have “Emptiness” while facing the stimuli in our surroundings. The Pure Land method belongs to the Dharma Door of Existence; when Pure Land practitioners first develop the Bodhi Mind, they enter the Way through forms and marks and seek to view the celestial scenes of the Western Pure Land. There is also “The Dharma Door of Emptiness”, one of the two doors for Pure Land practitioners. This Dharma Door abandon the attchments to Form in order to cultivate. It is the ability to tame and master over the six faculties of Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue, Body, and Mind and is no longer enslaved and ordered around by the six elements of Form, Sound, Fragrance, Flavor, Touch and Dharma. Only Arhats and Bodhisattvas who have attained the state of “No Learning.” In the Zen School, the practitioner enters the Way throught the Dharma Door of Emptiness. Right from the beginning of his cultivation he wipes out all makrs, even the marks of the Buddhas or the Dharma are destroyed. There is also the Dharma Door of Buddha Recitation. Although Buddha recitation is simple, it is very deep and encompassing. However, it is most important to be utterly sincere and earnest, for only then will your thoughts merge with those of Amitabha Buddha’s and can you reap true benefits in this very life. If you are lazy and careless or lack of zealous energy, you may still sow the seeds of future liberation, but evil karma as a result of disrespect the Buddha teachings is inconceivable. However, thanks to the residual merits of reciting the name of Amitabha, you escape the three evil paths and are reborn in the human or celestial realms, but you will find it is very difficult to join the Ocean-Wide Lotus Assembly. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism, the Dharma methods are not, in themselves, high or low. It is only because the different natures and capacities of individuals that they have been categorized as such. Sentient beings are at different levels of spiritual development, and therefore, various methods are required. There are numerous methods; however, we can summarize in the three basic ones.
Tibetan traditions also have the Door of Rismed. “Rismed” is a Tibetan term for “Non-Sectarian.” This is an important nineteenth-century religious movement in Tibetan Buddhism initiated by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892) and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye (1811-1899). It arose as a reaction to the stultifying (làm giảm hiệu lực) sectarianism of Tibetan Buddhism, which had led to Buddhist paralysis in practices and dogmatic (thuộc về giáo lý) adherence to tradition, as well as violence. Adherents of the movement attempted to find common ground between the various traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and rejected the prevalent (thịnh hành) tendency to focus on memorization and repetition of scholastic treatises and textbooks that extrapolated (ngoại suy) from Indian sources. Rismed teachers, by contrast, required their students to study the original Indian sources of Tibetan Buddhism. The movement also had an important popular component, as Rismed teachers often adopted the themes and images of popular literature like the Gesar epic (hùng ca). In addition, many Rismed teachers developed popular religious rituals, such as conferring (ban cho) “transference of consciousness” initiations on groups of laypeople. Rismed has played a pivotally important role in the modern development of the Sakyapa, bKa-Brgyudpa, and rNyingmapa order.
According to the Lotus Sutra, there are two doors of Original and Previous Teachings. The first fourteen chapters which related to the Buddha’s early life and previous teaching. The following fourteen chapters which related to the final revelation of the Buddha as eternal and Bodhisattva doctrines. There is also the Law of appearance. The law of appearance means the teaching of the Buddha appearing in history. The law of apearance includes the teachings of the organization of the universe, human life, and human relationships on the basis of the experience and enlightenment of Sakyamuni Buddha, who attained the ideal state of a human being. Sakyamuni Buddha also teaches us that wisdom is the most important attribute for maintaining correct human relationships. The essence of the law of appearance is the wisdom of the Buddha. Two doors of compassion and wisdom. First, Buddha-pity, or Bodhisattva-pity, the way of pity directed to others. Second, wisdom gate or Buddha-wisdom, or the way of enlightenment.
453. I and Mine
The self and its possession. The main goal of Buddhism is the extinction of separate individuality, which is brought about when we cease to identify anything with ourselves. From long habit it has become quite natural to us to think of our own experience in the term of “I” and “Mine.” Even when we are convinced that strictly speaking such words are too nebulous to be tenable and that their unthinking use leads to unhappiness in our daily lives, even then do we go on using them. The reasons for this are manifold. One of them is that we see no alternative way of explaining our experiences to ourselves except by way of statements which include such words as “I” and “Mine.” In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “These are my sons; this is my wealth; with such thought a fool is tormented. Verily, he is not even the owner of himself. Whence sons? Whence wealth? (Dharmapada 62). He who has no thought of “I” and “mine,” for whatever towards his mind and body he does not grieve for that which he has not. He is indeed called a Bhikhshu (Dharmapada 367).”
According to the Pudgala-vada Sect, “Pudgala” is a Sanskrit term for “personalist.” A term applied to several early Indian Buddhist schools, which shared a common belief that there is a self (pudgala) which is the basis for karma and transmigration, or the substance that is the bearer of the cycle of rebirth and that this self is neither the same, nor different from the five aggregates. However, Buddhism denies the existence of such an eternal person or soul. Buddhism sees the person only a conventional name or a combination of physical and psychological factors that change from moment to moment. The pudgala doctrine was eventually declared heretical in Buddhism, though at one time Pudgalavadins appear to have been quite numerous. If we carefully look into the Buddha’s teachings, we will see that the Buddha always denies such a permanent and partless self. The teaching of “pudgala” caused such a violent reaction on the part of its opponents was that while the “anatman” doctrine of the Buddha was entirely true in a conventional sense, there was still a “pudgala,” or person. This person is an ultimately real thing, the substratum which allows for continuity between rebirths, for memory, and for the furture ripening of intentional actions or “karman” which are performed in the present or the past. If there was no person at all, as its opponents claimed, then Buddhism would be open to the charge of “Nihilism” and immortality, for there would be nobody who could undertake moral actions. It insisted that the “pudgala” was indeterminate in relation to the skandhas, neither outside them nor within them; neither identical with them, nor different from them. In fact, this pudgala was only perceptible to the Buddhas. In support of its position it frequently quoted sayings of the Buddha such as “Monks, there is a single person born into the world for the welfare of many people, for the happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and men. One might see this kind of position reflected in the Tathagatagarbha doctrines of the Mahayana, the Ch’an and T’ien-T’ai schools in China. Thus, it is believed that this school was formed on the basis of a doctrinal division within the Sthaviravadin School in the third century B.C., and survived until the ninth or tenth centuries A.D. It originally called Vatsiputriya, after its teacher, Vatsiputra, it was later named the Sammitiya, and give rise to several sub-sects of its own.
When Sakyamuni Buddha put forth the notion of “no-self,” he upsets many concepts about life in the universe. He blasted our most firm and widespread conviction, that of a permanent self. Those who understand “not self” know that its function is to overthrow “self,” not to replace it with a new concept of reality. The notion of “not self” is a method, not a goal. If it becomes a concept, it must be destroyed along with all other concepts. The doctrine of no-self has two main characteristics: selflessness of things (dharma-nairatmya) and selflessness of person (pudgalanairatmya). Sometimes, the teaching of “not-self” causes confusion and misunderstanding. Any time we speak, we do say “I am speaking” or “I am talking”, etc. How can we deny the reality of that “I”? Sincere Buddhists should always remember that the Buddha never asked us to reject the use of the name or term “I”. The Buddha himself still use a word “Tatathata” to refer to himself, no matter what is the meaning of the word, it is still a word or a name. When the Buddha taught about “not-self”, he stressed on the rejection of the idea that this name or term “I” stands for a substantial, permanent and changeless reality. The Buddha said that the five aggregates (form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness) were not the self and that the self was not to be found in them. The Buddha’s rejection of the self is a rejection of the belief in a real, independent, permanent entity that is represented by the name or term “I”, for such a permanent entity would have to be independent, permanent, immutable and impervious to change, but such a permanent entity and/or such a self is nowhere to be found.
A Sanskrit term for “No-self.” One of the “three characteristics” (tri-laksana) that the Buddha said apply to all conditioned (samskrita) phenomena, the others being impermanence and unsatisfactoriness or suffering. The doctrine holds that, contrary to the assertions of the brahmanical orthodoxy of the Buddha’s time, there is no permanent, partless, substantial “self” or soul. The brahmanical tradition taught that the essence of every individual is an eternal, unchanging essence (called the atman). The Buddha declared that such a essence is merely a conceptual construct and that every individual is in fact composed of a constantly changing collection of “aggregates” (skandha). No-self also means non-existence of a permanent self. The body consists of the five elements and there is no self. Elements exist only by means of union of conditions. There is no eternal and unchangeable substance in them.
455. Afflictions are Bodhi
According to the Mahayana teaching, especially the T’ien-T’ai sect, afflictions are inseparable from Buddhahood. Affliction and Buddhahood are considered to be two sides of the same coin. When we realize that afflictions in themselves can have no real and independent existence, therefore, we don’t want to cling to anything, at that very moment, afflictions are bodhi without any difference. Once we thoroughly understand the real meaning of “Afflictions are bodhi”, we’ve already subdued our own afflictions. The Buddha witnessed that all sentient beings undergo great sufferings, so He resolved to leave the home-life, to cultivate and find the way to help sentient beings escape these sufferings. Afflictions manifest themselves through our ignorance. Sometimes they show in our appearance; sometimes they are hidden in our minds, etc. In our daily life, we cannot do without sufferings and afflictions. However, if we know how to cultivate, we always consider “afflictions is Bodhi”. If we know how to use it, affliction is Bodhi; on the contrary, if we do not know how to use it, then Bodhi becomes affliction. According to Late Most Venerable Hsuan-Hua in Talks on Dharma, volume 7, Bodhi is analogous to water, and affliction to ice. Ice and water are of the same substance; there is no difference. In freezing weather, water will freeze into ice, and in hot weather, ice will melt into water. When there are afflictions, water freezes into ice; and when the afflictions are gone, ice melts into water. It is to say, having afflictions is having the affliction-ice of ignorance; having no afflictions is having the Bodhi-water of wisdom.
456. The Doctrine of “Egolessness”
The doctrine of “Egolessness” is one of the central teachings of Buddhism; it says that no self exists in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral and independent substance within an individual existent. The anatta or anatma doctrine taught by the Buddha, to which most Buddhists, including Zen practitioners, subscirbe, is briefly the “not self” idea of man’s true nature. This is not to be confused with the “not self” expression used in Hindu philosophies. It means that the true nature of man is not conceivable by the human mind. How can one speak of “Anatta” if there is no “Atta”? We must understand what the Buddha meant by “Anatta”. He never meant anything in contra-distinction to “Atta”. He did not place two terms in juxtaposition and say: “This is my ‘Anatta’ in opposition to ‘Atta’.” The term “Anatta”, since the prefix “an” indicates non-existence, and not opposition. So “Anatta” literally means no atta, that is the mere denial of an “atta”, the non-existence of “atta”. The believers in an “atta” tried to keep their “atta”. The Buddha simply denied it, by adding the prefix “an”. As this concept of an Atta, Self, or Soul, was deep rooted in many whom the Buddha met, He had to discourse at length on this pivotal question of Self to learned men, dialecticians and hair-splitting disputants.
The doctrine of no-self has two main characteristics: selflessness of things (dharma-nairatmya) and selflessness of person (pudgalanairatmya). First, selflessness of person (Pudgalanairatmya). Man as without ego or permanent soul, or no permanent human ego or soul. Second, selflessness of things (Dharmanairatmya). This means no permanent individuality in or independence of things. Things are without independent individuality, i.e. the tenet that things have no independent reality, no reality in themselves. The idea that there is no self-substance or “Atman” constituting the individuality of each object is insisted on by the followers of Mahayana Buddhism to be their exclusive property, not shared by the Hinayana. This idea is naturally true as the idea of “no self-substance” or Dharmanairatmya is closely connected with that of “Sunyata” and the latter is one of the most distinguishing marks of the Mahayana., it was natural for its scholars to give the former a prominent position in their philosophy. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha taught: “When a Bodhisattva-mahasattva recognizes that all dharmas are free from Citta, Manas, Manovijnana, the Five Dharmas, and the Threefold Svabhava, he is said to understand well the real significance of Dharmanairatmya.”
457. Determinism and Selflessness
Determinism means the theory of being determined by fate, nature, or god. Buddhism believes in the absence of a permanent, unchaging self or soul, or non-existence of a permanent self. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, the body consists of the five elements or skandhas, which together represent body and mind, and there is no such so-called “self.” Elements exist only by means of union of conditions. There is no eternal and unchangeable substance in them. When these come apart, so-called “body” immediately disappears. Since the form which is created by the four elements is empty and without self, then the human body, created by the unification of the five skandhas, must also be empty and without self. Human body is in a transforming process from second to second. In Theravada, no-self is only applied to the person; in the Mahayana, all things are regarded as without essence.
According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, the Buddha regarded this world as a world of hardship, and taught the ways to cope with it. Then what are the reasons which make it a world of hardship? The first reason, as given by the Buddha is that all things are selfless or egoless, which means that no things, men, animals and inanimate objects , both living and not living, have what we may call their original self or real being. Let us consider man. A man does not have a core or a soul which he can consider to be his true self. A man exists, but he cannot grasp his real being, he cannot discover his own core, because the existence of a man is nothing but an “existence depending on a series of causations.” Everything that exists is there because of causations; it will disappear when the effects of the causation cease. The waves on the water’s surface certainly exist, but can it be said that a wave has its own self? Waves exist only while there is wind or current. Each wave has its own characteristics according to the combination of causations, the intensity of the winds and currents and their directions, etc. But when the effects of the causations cease, the waves are no more. Similarly, there cannot be a self which stands independent of causations. As long as a man is an existent depending on a series of causations, it is unreasonable for him to try to hold on to himself and to regard all things around him from the self-centered point of view. All men ought to deny their own selves and endeavor to help each other and to look for co-existence, because no man can ever be truly independent. If all things owe their existence to a series of causations, their existence is a conditional one; there is no one thing in the universe that is permanent or independent. Therefore, the Buddha’s theory that selflessness is the nature of all things inevitably leads to the next theory that all things are impermanent (anitya). Men in general seem to be giving all of their energy to preserving their own existence and their possessions. But in truth it is impossible to discover the core of their own existence, nor is it possible to preserve it forever. Even for one moment nothing can stay unchanged. Not only is it insecure in relation to space but it is also insecure in relation to time. If it were possible to discover a world which is spaceless and timeless, that would be a world of true freedom, i.e., Nirvana. Men in general seem to be giving all of their energy to preserving their own existence and their possessions. But in truth it is impossible to discover the core of their own existence, nor is it possible to preserve it forever. Even for one moment nothing can stay unchanged. Not only is it insecure in relation to space but it is also insecure in relation to time. If it were possible to discover a world which is spaceless and timeless, that would be a world of true freedom, i.e., Nirvana. If, as the modern physicists assert, space is curved and time is relative, this world of space and time is our enclosed abode from which there is no escape; we are tied down in the cycles of cause and effectIf, as the modern physicists assert, space is curved and time is relative, this world of space and time is our enclosed abode from which there is no escape; we are tied down in the cycles of cause and effect. As long as men cannot discover a world which is not limited by time and space, men must be creatures of suffering. To assert that such a state, unlimited in time and space, is attainable by man is the message of BuddhismAs long as men cannot discover a world which is not limited by time and space, men must be creatures of suffering. To assert that such a state, unlimited in time and space, is attainable by man is the message of Buddhism. Of course, there is no such thing as a limitless time. Even modern physical science does not recognize infinity in time and space. However, the Buddha brought forward his ideal, Nirvana (extinction), following his theories of selflessness and impermanence. Nirvana means extinction of life and death, extinction of worldly desire, and extinction of space and time conditions. This, in the last analysis, means unfolding a world of perfect freedom. Selflessness (no substance) and impermanence (no duration) are the real state of our existence; Nirvana (negatively extinction; positively perfection) is our ideal, that is, perfect freedom, quiescence.
458. Non-Dual Dharma-Door
Most of us are still attached to duality and have not reconciled essence and marks, existence and non-existence, noumenon and phenomena. We embrace essence and reject marks, we embrace non-existence (emptiness) and reject existence and so on. This kind of wrong view creates a lot of disputes, doubts and perplexity. In fact, there is mutual identity between noumenon and phenomena, phenomena are noumenon, noumenon is phenomena. Buddhist cultivators should reconcile all things and eliminate this unnecessary attachment. Sincere cultivators should try to reconcile essence and marks, existence and non-existence, noumenon and phenomena. We embrace essence and reject marks, we embrace non-existence (emptiness) and reject existence and so on. This kind of wrong view creates a lot of disputes, doubts and perplexity. In fact, there is mutual identity between noumenon and phenomena, phenomena are noumenon, noumenon is phenomena. Buddhist cultivators should reconcile all things and eliminate this attachment. The nonduality is the central Mahayana doctrine. The nonduality or non-differentiation of samsara and nirvana. According to the Heart Sutra, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva says that form is not different from emptiness and emptiness is not different from form. The other aggregates, too, are not different from emptiness, and emptiness is not different from the aggregates. Thus samsara and nirvana, the aggregates and emptiness, phenomena and conditioned, the conditioned and the transcendental are all alternatives that are relative to each other. They have no independent existence. Indeed, because they are relative to each other, they are, each of them, ultimately unreal and empty. Hence the duality of samsara and nirvana is dissolved in the vision of emptiness. Emptiness is the way out of all extremes, even the extremes of samsara and nirvana.
According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, chapter nine, Initiation into the Non-Dual Dharma, Upasaka Vimalakirti discussed with other Bodhisattvas about the Non-Dual Dharma. At that time, Vimalakirti said to the Bodhisattvas present: “Virtuous Ones, each of you please say something about the non-dual Dharma as you understand it.” In the meeting a Bodhisattva called “Comfort in the Dharma” said: “Virtuous Ones, birth and death are a duality but nothing is created and nothing is destroyed. Realization of this patient endurance leading to the uncreate is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva called “Guardian of the Three Virtues” said: “Subject and object are a duality for where there is ego there is also (its) object, but since fundamentally there is no ego, its object does not arise; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Never Winking” said: “Responsiveness (vedana, the second aggregate) and unresponsiveness are a duality. If there is no response to phenomena, the latter cannot be found anywhere; hence there is neither accepting nor rejecting (of anything), and neither karmic activity nor discrimination; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Highest virtue” said: “Impurity and purity are a duality. When the underlying nature of impurity is clearly perceived, even purity ceases to arise. Hence this cessation (of the idea of purity) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Winner of Samadhi by Looking at the Star” said: “(External) disturbance and (inner) thinking are a duality; when disturbance subsides, thinking comes to an end and the absence of thought leads to non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Skilful Eye” said: “Monistic form and formlessness are a duality. If monistic form is realized as (fundamentally) formless, with relinquishment of formlessness in order to achieve impartiality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Wonderful Arm” said: “The Bodhisattva mind and the Sravaka mind are a duality. If the mind is looked into as void and illusory, there is neither Bodhisattva mind nor Sravaka mind; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Pusya said: “Good and evil are a duality; if neither good nor evil arises so that formlessness is realized to attain Reality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Simha (Lion) said: “Weal and woe are a duality; if the underlying nature of woe is understood, woe does not differ from weal. If the diamond (indestructible) wisdom is used to look into this with neither bondage nor liberation (coming into play), this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Lion’s Fearlessness” said: “The mundane and supra-mundane are a duality. If all things are looked into impartially, neither the mundane nor the supra-mundane will arise, with no differentiation between form and formlessness, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Pure Interpretation” said: “Activity (ju wei) and non-activity (wu wei) are a duality, but if the mind is kept from all mental conditions it will be (void) like space and pure and clean wisdom will be free from all obstructions. This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Narayana said: “The mundane and the supra-mundane are a duality but the underlying nature of the mundane is void (or immaterial) and is but the supra-mundane which can be neither entered nor left and neither overflows (like the stream of transmigration) nor scatters (like smoke). This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Skillful Mind” said: “Samsara and nirvana are a duality. If the underlying nature of samsara is perceived there exists neither birth nor death, neither bondage nor liberation, and neither rise nor fall. Such an understanding is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Direct Insight” said: “The exhaustible and the inexhaustible are a duality. If all things are looked into exhaustively, both the exhaustible and the inexhaustible cannot be exhausted; and the inexhaustible is identical with the void which is beyond both the exhaustible and the inexhaustible. Such an interpretation is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Upholder of Universality” said: “The ego and non-ego are a duality. Since the ego cannot be found, where can the non-ego be found? He who perceives the real nature of the ego will not give rise to dualities; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Lightning Perception” said: “Enlightenment and unenlightenment are a duality, but the underlying nature of unenlightenment is enlightenment which should also be cast away; if all relativities are discarded and replaced by non-dual impartiality, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Priyadarsana said: “Form (rupa) and voidness are a duality, (but) form is identical with voidness, which does not mean that form wipes out voidness, for the underlying nature of form is void of itself. So are (the other four aggregates) reception (vedana), conception (sanjna), discrimination (samskara) and consciousness (vijnana- in relation to voidness). “Consciousness and voidness are a duality (yet) consciousness is identical with voidness, which does not mean that consciousness wipes out voidness for the underlying nature of voidness is void of itself. A thorough understanding of this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Understanding the Four Elements” said: “The four elements (earth, water, fire and air) and their voidness are a duality (but) the underlying nature of the four elements is identical with that of voidness. Like the past (before the four elements came into being) and the future (when they scatter away) which are both void, the present (when they appear) is also void. Identical understanding of the underlying nature of all four elements is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Deep Thought” said: “Eyes and form are a duality (but) if the underlying nature of the eye is known with neither desire nor anger nor stupidity in relation to things seen, this is nirvana. “Likewise, the ear and sound, the nose and smell, the tongue and taste, the body and touch, and the mind and ideation are dualities (but) if the underlying nature of the mind is known with neither desire, anger and stupidity in relation to things (heard, smelt, tasted, touched and thought), this is nirvana. Resting in this state (of nirvana) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Inexhaustible Mind” said: “Charity-perfection (dana-paramita) and the dedication (parinamana) of its merits towards realizing the all-knowledge (sarvajna) are a duality, (but) the underlying nature of charity is dedication towards the All-knowledge. “Likewise, discipline perfection (sila-paramita), patience-perfection, (ksanti-paramita), zeal-perfection (virya-paramita), meditation-perfection (dhyana-paramita) and wisdom-perfection (prajna-paramita), with dedication to the All-knowledge, are (five) dualities, but their underlying natures are but dedication to the All-knowledge, while realization of their oneness is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Profound Wisdom” said: “Voidness, formlessness and non-activity are (three different gates to liberation, and when each is compared to the other two there are) three dualities, (but) voidness is formless and formlessness is non-active. For when voidness, formlessness and non-activity obtain, there is neither mind, nor intellect nor consciousness, and liberation through either one of these three gates is identical with liberation through all the three. This is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Unstirred Sense Organs” said: “Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are three different treasures and when each is compared to the other two there are three dualities (but) Buddha is identical with Dharma, and Dharma is identical with Sangha. For the three treasures are non-active (wu wei) and are equal to space, with the same equality for all things. The realization of this (equality) is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Unimpeded Mind” said: “Body and its eradication (in nirvana) are a duality but body is identical with nirvana. Why? Because if the underlying nature of body is perceived, no conception of (existing) body and its nirvanic condition will arise, for both are fundamentally non-dual, not being two different things. The absence of alarm and dread when confronting this ultimate state is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Superior Virtue” said: “The three karmas (produced by) body, mouth and mind (are different when each is compared to the other two and make three) dualities (but) their underlying nature is non-active; so non-active body is identical with non-active mouth, which is identical with non-active mind. These three karmas being non-active, all things are also non-active. Likewise, if wisdom (prajna) is also non-active, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Field of Blessedness” said: “Good conduct, evil conduct and motionlessness are (different and when each is compared to the other two make three) dualities (but) the underlying nature of all three is voidness which is free from good, evil and motionlessness. The non-rising of these three is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Majestic Blossom” said: “The ego and its objective are a duality, (but) if the underlying nature of the ego is looked into, this duality vanishes. If duality is cast away there will be no consciousness, and freedom from consciousness is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Treasure of Threefold Potency” said: “Realization implies subject and object which are a duality, but if nothing is regarded as realization, there will be neither grasping nor rejecting, and freedom from grasping and rejecting is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Moon in Midheaven” said: “Darkness and light are a duality. Where there is neither darkness nor light, this duality is no more. Why? Because in the state of samadhi resulting from the complete extinction of sensation and thought there is neither darkness nor light, while all things disappear. A disinterested entry into this state is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva Ratna Mudra( (Precious Symbol) said: Joy in nirvana and sadness in samsara are a duality which vanishes when there is no longer joy and sadness. Why? Because where there is bondage, there is also (desire for) liberation, but if fundamentally there is no bondage nor liberation, there will be neither joy nor sadness; this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Gem on the Head” said: “Orthodoxy and heterodoxy are a duality, (but) he who dwells in (i.e. realizes) orthodoxy does not discriminate between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. Keeping from these two extremes is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” The Bodhisattva “Joy in Reality” said: “Reality and unreality are a duality, (but) he who realizes reality does not even perceive it, still less unreality. Why? Because reality is invisible to the ordinary eyes and appears only to the eye of wisdom. Thus (realization of) the eye of wisdom, which is neither observant nor unobservant, is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” After the Bodhisattva had spoken, they asked Manjusri for his opinion on the non-dual Dharma. Manjusri said: “In my opinion, when all things are no longer within the province of either word or speech, and of either indication or knowledge, and are beyond questions and answers, this is initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” At that time, Manjusri asked Vimalakirti: “All of us have spoken; please tell us what is the Bodhisattva’s initiation into the non-dual Dharma.” Vimalakirti kept silent without saying a word. At that, Manjusri exclaimed: “Excellent, excellent; can there be true initiation into the non-dual Dharma until words and speech are no longer written or spoken? After this initiation into the non-dual Dharma had been expounded, fie thousand Bodhisattvas at the meeting were initiated into it thereby realizing the patient endurance of the uncreate.
459. Ten Kinds of Nonindulgence
According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 18, there are ten kinds of nonindulgence. When Enlightening Beings persist in nonindulgence, they attain ten kinds of purity. First, to keep the behavioral precepts. Second, to abandon folly and purify the will for enlightenment. Third, straightforwardness and reject flattery and deception. Fourth, to earnestly cultivate virtues without regressing. Fifth, to continually reflect on one’s aspiration. Sixth, not to enjoy association with ordinary people, whether they be householders or monks. Seventh, to do good deeds without hoping for worldly rewards. Eighth, to forever leave lesser vehicles and practice the Path of Enlightening Beings. Ninth, to gladly practice what is good, not letting goodness be cut off. Tenth, to always examine one’s own perseverance.
460. Transcendental Perfection
After the Buddha’s Great Enlightenment, He discovered that all life is linked together by causes and conditions, and He also saw all the sufferings and afflictions of the world. He saw every sentient beings, from the smallest insect to the greatest king, ran after pleasure, only to end up with sufferings and afflictions. Out of great compassion for all sentient beings, the Buddha renounced the world to become a monk to cultivate to find ways to save beings. After six years of ascetic practices, He finally discovered the Way to cross over from this shore, which is also called “Paramita”. According to Buddhism, “Paramita” means to cross over from this shore of births and deaths to the other shore, or nirvana. If we try to cultivate and can see the truth clearly as the Buddha Himself had seen, eventually, we would be able to end all sufferings and afflictions. According to most Mahayana Sutras, the six things that ferry one beyond the sea of birth and death. In addition, the Six Paramitas are also the doctrine of saving all living beings. The six paramitas are also sometimes called the cardinal virtues of a Bodhisattva. Besides, Bodhisattvas use the Six Paramitas as their method of cultivation. Giving that takes stinginess across; moral precepts that takes across transgressions; patience that takes across anger and hatred; vigor that takes across laxness and laziness; meditation that takes across scatterness; and wisdom that takes across stupidity. When these six paramitas have been cultivated to perfection, one can become enlightened.
Paramita means perfection, or crossed over, or gone to the opposite shore (reaching the other shore). The term “Paramita” has been interpreted differently. T. Rhys Davids and William Stede give the meanings: completeness, perfection, highest state. H.C. Warren translates it as perfection. And some other Buddhist scholars translate “Paramita” as transcendental virtue or perfect virtue. The Sanskrit term “Paramita” is transliterated into Chinese as “Po-luo-mi.” “Po-luo” is Chinese for “pineapple”, and “mi” means “honey.” In Buddhism, “Paramita” means to arrive at the other shore, to ferry across, or save, without limit. Paramita also means perfection, or crossed over, or gone to the opposite shore (reaching the other shore). Crossing from Samsara to Nirvana or crossing over from this shore of births and deaths to the other shore. Practice which leads to Nirvana. Paramita also means to achieve, finish, or accomplish completely whatever we do. For instance, if we decide to cultivate to become a Buddha, then the realization of Buddhahood is “Paramita.” The (six) practices of the Bodhisattva who has attained the enlightened mind. The term “Paramita” is popular for both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. According to the Sanskrit language, Paramita means crossing-over. There are six Paramitas or six things that ferry one beyond the sea of mortality to nirvana. Six stages of spiritual perfection followed by the Bodhisattva in his progress to Buddhahood. The six virtues of perfection are not only characteristic of Mahayana Buddhism in many ways, they also contain virtues commonly held up as cardinal by all religious systems. They consist of the practice and highest possible development. Thus, practicing the six paramitas will lead the practitioner to cross over from the shore of the unenlightened to the dock of enlightenment.
In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha gave three kinds of Paramitas. First, super-worldly paramita in the highest sense for Bodhisattvas. Paramitas of the supreme ones of Bodhisattvas, relating to the future life for all). Second, super-worldly paramita for Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas. Paramitas for Sravakas and Pratyeka-buddhas relating to the future life for themselves). Third, worldly paramita, or paramitas for people in general relating to this world. There are also four kinds of paramitas (Eternity, Bliss, True self, Purity). First, Eternity-Paramita. Second, Bliss-Paramita. Nirvana is the highest bliss. Third, Ego-Paramita. The erroneous ideas of a permanent self continued in reincarnation is the sources of all illusion. But the Nirvana sutra definitely asserts a permanent ego in the transcendental world, above the range of reincarnation; and the trend of Mahayana supports such permanence. Ego composed of the five skandhas and hence not a permanent entity. It is used for Atman, the self, personality. Buddhism take as a fundamental dogma, i.e. impermanence, no permanent ego, only a temporal or functional ego. The erroneous idea of a permanent self continued in reincarnation is the souce of all illusion. Fourth, Purity-Paramita. There are also six and ten paramitas. According to the Sutta Nipata Commentary, those who practice “Paramitas” will escape from being born in the following inauspicious states. First, they are never born blind. Second, they are never born deaf. Third, they never become insane. Fourth, they are never slobbery or rippled. Fifth, they are never born among savages. Sixth, they are never born from the womb of a slave. Seventh, they are never born in a heretic family. Eighth, they never change their sex no matter how many births and deaths they have been through. Ninth, they are never guilty of any of the five grave sins (anantarika-kammas). Tenth, they never become a leper. Eleventh, they are never born as an animal. Twelfth, they are never born as a hungry ghost. Thirteenth, they are never born among different classes of asuras. Fourteenth, they are never born in the Avici. Fifteenth, they are never born in the side hells (Lokantarika-Nirayas). Sixteenth, they are never born as a mara. Seventeenth, they are never born in the world where there is no perception. Eighteenth, they are never born in a heatless heaven (Anavatapta). Nineteenth, they are never born in the rupa world. Twentieth, they are never born in a small world.
There are six things which enable a Bodhisattva to keep perfectly the six paramitas. First, worshipful offerings. Second, study and practice the moral duties. The third thing which enable a Bodhisattva to keep perfectly the six paramitas is “Pity”. Fourth, zeal in goodness. The fifth thing which enable a Bodhisattva to keep perfectly the six paramitas is “Isolation”. Sixth, delight in the law. According to the Heart Sutra, when the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was cultivating the profound Prajnaparamita, he illuminated the Five Agrregates and saw that they were all empty, and crossed beyond all sufferings and afflictions. Therefore, we, devout Buddhists, who resolve to practice the profound Prajnaparamita, can also see that they are all empty. And we too, can cross beyond all sufferings and afflictions. But devout Buddhists should always remember the requirements for cultivating profound Prajna paramita are to avoid arrogance, for being arrogance is stupid; to avoid complacency, for being complacent is stupid; to always feel shame and remorse, for not feeling shame and remorse is stupid; to avoid exploiting situations, for exploiting situations is stupid; to avoid feelings of anger and hatred, for feelings of anger and hatred are stupid. Devout Buddhists should try their best to cultivate profound Prajna-paramita to be able to illimnate and shine through the fifty states of the skandha-demons in the Five Aggregates. Ten demonic states appear in each of the Aggregates of Form, Feelings, Thoughts, Activities, and Consciousness.