THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
461.Three Kinds of Paramita
462. Thirty Types of Impure Giving
463. Opening-Demonstrating-Awakening-Entering the Enlightened Knowledge and Vision of the Buddha
464. Ten Kinds of Demonic Obstruction of the Formation Skandha
465.Ten Demonic Obstructions of the Consciousness Skandha
466. Five Faculties
467. Real Dana
468. Great Giving
469. Why Should We Practice Giving?
470. Thoughts Arise When There Are People Coming To Ask For Charity
471. The Merits of Alms-Giving
472. Merits and Virtues of Giving in the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra
473. Great Gathering for Almsgiving
474. To Reach Enlightenment And Emancipation
475. The Supreme State Of Enlightenment
476. Four Kinds of Pure Precepts
477. The Four Right Efforts
478. Bodhisattva’s Salvation of Sentient Beings
479. Bodhisattvas Save All Sentient Beings
461. Three Kinds of Paramita
The first paramita is the paramitas of the supreme ones of Bodhisattvas, relating to the future life for all. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha gave three kinds of Paramitas, one of them is the super-worldly paramita for Bodhisattvas. Super-worldly paramita requires a Bodhisattva to cultivate in a long period of time with a supremely pure mind. Besides, Bodhisattvas must try to transcend the virtues or qualities of the Sravakas and the Pratyeka-buddhas to lead to the highest result of benefitting others. The Paramita that are super-worldly in the highest sense are practiced by a Bodhisattva who understands that the world is dualistically conceived, because of the discriminating mind, and who is detached from erroneous imaginations and wrong attachments of all kinds, such as mind, form, characters, etc. He would practice the virtue of charity solely to benefit sentient beings and to lead them a a blissful state of mind. To practice morality without forming any attachment to condition in which he binds himself, this is his sila-paramita. Knowing the distinction between subject and object, and yet quietly to accept it without waking any sense of attachment or detachment, this is the Bodhisattva’s Kshanti-paramita. To exercise himself most intently throughout the day and night, to conform himself to all the requirements of discipline, and not to evoke a discriminating mind, this is his Vyria-paramita. Not to cling to the philosopher’s view of Nirvana and to be free from discrimination, this is his Dhyana-paramita. As to Prajna-paramita, it is not to evoke a discriminating mind within oneself, nor to review the world with any kind of analytical understanding, not to fall into dualism, but to cause a turning at the basis of consciousness. It is not to destroy the working of a past karma, but to exert oneself in the exercise of bringing about a state of self-realization, this is Prajna-paramita. The second paramita is the paramitas for Sravakas and Pratyeka-buddhas relating to the future life for themselves. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha gave three kinds of Paramitas, one of them is the super-worldly paramita for Sravakas and Pratyeka-buddhas. This is the super-worldly kind of paramitas which is practiced by Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas who, clinging to the idea of Nirvana, are determined to attain it at all costs; they are like the worldly people who are attached to the enjoyment of egotism. The third paramita is the Paramitas for people in general relating to this world. The worldly kind of paramitas is practiced by worldly people who cling to the idea of an ego and what belongs to it; they are unable to shake themselves off the fetters of dualism such as being and non-being, and all the virtues they would practice are based on the idea of gaining something material as a reward. They may gain certain psychic powers and after death be born in the heaven of Brahma. However, “Paramitas” are not ideal virtues, nor empty concepts, but they are logically pratical principles determining the worth of cultivators’ actions in daily life.
462. Thirty Types of Impure Giving
According to Venerable Thích Hải Quang in Letters To Buddhist Followers, there are thirty types of giving that are not pure that the givers will neither gain merits, nor will they be called “People who give out of the goodness of their hearts”. The first type is to give while having delusional and chaotic views, similar to giving to “ghosts,” so people will no longer bother them. Otherwise, there is not an ounce of compassion. This also indicates people who give depending on their moods, meaning if they are happy they will give, if they are sad they will not give, or they may ask for it back, or going as far as insulting people while in the process of giving. The second type is to give to return a favor, or to even out a past favor. The third type is to give without having any compassion. The fourth type is to give because of form desire. This is seeing an individual who is beautiful, and so one pretends to give in hope of gaining sexual relations with that person or give in hope of winning that person as a spouse. The fifth type is to give and then make threats. Make bribes to a person or threaten the person with “blackmail,” so the individual will not dare go to the authorities. The sixth type is to use poisonous foods to give to someone with the purpose to murder that person. The seventh type is to use knives, daggers, weapons, guns, tanks, bombs, bullets, etc, i.e., military assistance. The eighth type is to give because of praises. The ninth type is to give because someone has a marvelous voice. The tenth type is to give by basing on someone’s physical characteristics. These are people who have the unique ability to foretell someone’s future based on their physical characteristics. Thus, they may see someone as being poor now but that person’s future is promising, so they give now in order to win that person over, hoping in the future that individual will remember them. The eleventh type is to give give in hope of winning someone’s friendship. The twelfth type is to give in hope to learn the tricks of the trade. These are people who realize a person’s talents despite the fact such a person is of “lower status,” so they pretend to give and befriend such an individual hoping to steal that person’s ideas to benefit themselves. The thirteenth type is to give but doubt whether there will be retributions or not. These are people who give but are still skeptical whether their good deeds will bring them benefits in the future. This is a type of giving in hope of something in return. The fourteenth type is to give but only after insulting someone until gaining contentment. The fifteenth type is to give but thereafter begin having regrets, resentments, and angers. The sixteenth type is to give and then say to the receivers, “in the future you will become servants, slaves, or various animals such as buffaloes and horses to repay the debts you owe me.” The seventeenth type is to give and then say in the future I will reap great meritorious retributions of wealth and luxury. The eighteenth type is to give out of fear of old age, sickness, and death. Meaning when they are young and healthy, the tought of giving never crosses their minds, but when they are old, weak, bedridden, afaid they will be condemned to hell or hungry ghost, only then are they willing to dispense their fortunes to give, hoping to escape their potential fates. The nineteenth type is to give in hope of being known throughout the land as a “Great Benefactor.” The twentieth type is to give because of jealousy or to ridicule others. This is giving based on ulterior motives, such as ‘you only gave one, but I gave tens and thousands more’ in order to ridicule someone. Otherwise, there is not any purity or compassion in this charitable act. This type of giving is to show off how much power and wealth one has over another person. The twenty-first type is to give because of fondness for wealth and notoriety. This refers to people who notice a family is wealthy and influential, so they pretend to give hoping to get to know or marry into the family, such as buying gifts, doing favors, etc. The twenty-second type is to give in hope of marriage. This refers to people who notice another family as having a boy or a girl who is precious, talented, but that family is poor; thus, in wishing to marry the child as a husband or wife, these people pretend to give to the family to win the family over. The twenty-third type is to give in hope of having a son or a daughter. This refers to people who despite having wealth are not charitable people. As they get older but have no children or have all girls, but no boys, or all boys but no girls, only then are they willing to dispense their money to give. However, their giving is not genuine or arising from compassion because their only intention is to pray to have a child. The twenty-fourth type is to give in hope of being wealthy. This refers to people who are already wealthy, so they give more in hope of being even richer. The twenty-fifth type is to give in hope that if I give in this life, in the next life I will be rich. This is giving for self-benefit, calculating the loss and gain of this life, the next life, and so forth. The twenty-sixth type is not to give to the poor, but spend all of one’s focus to give to the rich. This refers to people who show disrespect and have not the slightest compassion for those less fortunate, yet when they see wealthy and influential people, they give readily in hope of befriending these people. The twenty-seventh type is to give out of threats and coercion. This refers to people who are wealthy yet they refuse to give. Only when a more ‘powerful’ person makes threats ‘if you do not give, I will take your life,’ are they willing to give. Or if someone discovers ‘hidden secrets’ and forces them to give, or face the consequence of getting reported to the newspapers, magazines, etc. In fear of being exposed, these people then give as demanded by the opposition. The twenty-eighth type is to give for killing and harming. This refers to people who give to wicked and evil beings to win these people over and then later ask them to kill or harm the enemy. The twenty-ninth type is to give while being under fire. On the outside, they appear to be giving, but in the inside the fire of anger rages on. Thus, this is referring to people who feel obligated or having no other choice but to give; otherwise there is not the slightest bit of compassion. Therefore as they give, they throw the gift in people’s faces, insulting them, etc.. The thirtieth type is to give in water of desire. This is giving in order to win the heart of someone beautiful hoping one day this act will lead to sexual gratification.
463. Opening-Demonstrating-Awakening-Entering the Enlightened Knowledge and Vision of the Buddha
After mighty and terrible struggles with himself, through meditation, the Buddha had conquered in his body all those natural defects and human appetites and desires that prevent our ability of seeing the truth. Also through meditation, He had to overcome all the bad influences of the sinful world around Him. First of all, the Buddha had cultivated the Four stages of memory or four subjects of reflection, for four foundations of mindfulness are related to the five skandhas as well as to our body, feeling, mind, and dharma. Secondly, He had cultivated the four proper lines of exertion, or four perfect efforts. Thirdly, had cultivated the four steps towards supernatural power, or the four bases of miraculous powers. The fourth step, He had cultivated the five spiritual faculties, or five good roots. The fifth step, He had cultivated the power of five faculties, or five strengths. The sixth step, He had cultivated the seven degrees (factors) of enlightenment or intelligence. The seventh step, He had cultivated the eightfold noble path. Like a soldier fighting desperately in battle against many enemies, He struggled like a hero who conquers, he eventually gained his objects. He also discovered supportive conditions leading to bodhi or Buddhahood.
Opening-Demonstrating-Awakening-Entering the Enlightened Knowledge and Vision of the Buddha are the four main reasons for a Buddha’s appearing in the world. The first reason is the “Introduction”. Introduction means to disclose, or to open up treasury of truth, or to introduce and open the Buddhas’ views and knowledge to sentient beings; so they can follow, learn, understand the truths, and clearly distinguish right from wrong. The second reason is the “Guidance”. Guidance means to display or to indicate the meanings of Buddhas’ teachings, or to teach sentient beings to learn and patice the views and knowledge introduced by Buddhas, to help them know clearly the proper path from the inproper path, right from wrong, in order to eliminate the various false views and knowledge.The third reason is the “Awaken”. Awaken means to realize or to cause men to apprehend it, or to be awakened to the Buddha Dharmas, avoid false doctrines in order to escape from sufferings of births and deaths in the three evil paths of hell, hungry ghost, and animal, and be able to be reborn in the more peaceful and happier realms of heaven and human. The fourth reason is the “Penetration”. Penetration means to enter, or to lead them into it, or to penetrate deeply into the enlightenment fruit of the saintly beings, being able to transcend and to find liberation from the cycle of rebirths.
According to the Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra, Chapter Seventh, the Sixth Patriarch said: “If you can live among marks and yet be separate from it, then you will be confused by neither the internal nor the external. If you awaken to this Dharma, in one moment your mind will open to enlightenment. The knowledge and vision of the Buddha is simply that. The Buddha is enlightenment.” There are four divisions: Opening to the enlightened knowledge and vision, Demonstrating the enlightened knowledge and vision, Awakening to the enlightened knowledge and vision, Entering the enlightened knowledge and vision. The Sixth Patriarch further explained about” Opening-Demonstrating-Awakening-Entering” to Fa-Ta: “If you listen to the opening and demonstrating of the Dharma, you can easily awaken and enter. That is the enlightened knowledge and vision, the original true nature becoming manifested. Be careful not to misinterpret the Sutra by thinking that the opening, demonstrating, awakening, and entering of which it speaks is the Buddha’s knowledge and vision and that we have no share in it. To explain it that way would be to slander the Sutra and defame the Buddha. Since he is already a Buddha, perfect in knowledge and vision, what is the use of his opening to it again? You should now believe that the Buddha’s knowledge and vision is simply your own mind, for there is no other Buddha. But, because living beings cover their brilliance with greed, and their love with states of defilement; external conditions and inner disturbance make slaves of them. That troubles the World-Honored One to rise from Samadhi, and with various reproaches and expedients, he exhorts living beings to stop and rest, not to seek outside themselves, and to make themselves the same as he is. That is called ‘Opening the knowledge and vision of the Buddha.’ I, too, am always exhorting all people to open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha within their own minds. The mind of worldly people are deviant. Confused and deluded, they commit offenses. Their speech may be good, but their minds are evil. They are greedy, hateful, envious, given to flattery, deceit and arrogance. They oppress one another and harm living creatures, thus, they open not the knowledge and vision of Buddha but that of living beings. If you can with an upright mind constantly bring forth wisdom, contemplating and illuminating your own mind, and if you can practice the good and refrain from evil, you, yourself will open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha. In every thought you should open up to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha; do not open up to the knowledge and vision of living beings. To be open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha is transcendental; to be open to the knowledge and vision of living beings is mundane. If you exert yourself in recitation, clinging to it as a meritorious exercise, how does that make you different from a yak who loves his own tail?”
464. Ten Kinds of Demonic Obstruction of the Formation Skandha
According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha remined Ananda about the ten demonic obstructions of Zen practitioners caused by the Formation Skandha. The first demonic obstruction is the two theories on the absence of cause. First, perhaps this person sees no cause for the origin of life. Why? Since he has completely destroyed the mechanism of production, he can, by means of the eight hundred merits of the eye organ, see all beings in the swirling flow of karma during eighty thousand eons, dying in one place and being reborn in another as they undergo transmigration. But he cannot see beyond eighty thousand eons. Therefore, he concluded that for the last eighty thousand eons living beings in the ten directions of this and other worlds have come into being without any cause. Second, perhaps this person sees no cause for the end of life. And why? Since he perceives the origin of life, he believes that people are always born as people and birds are always born as birds; that crows have always been black and swans have always been white; that humans and gods have always stood upright and animals have always walked on four legs; that whiteness does not come from being washed and blackness does not come from being dyed; and that there have never been nor there will be any changes for eighty thousand eons. He says: “As I now examine to the end of this life, I find the same holds true. In fact, I have never seen Bodhi, so how can there be such a thing as the attainment of Bodhi? You should now realize that there is no cause for the existence of any phenomena.” Because of this speculation, he will lose proper and pervasive knowledge, fall into externalism, and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
The second demonic obstruction is the four theories regarding pervasive permanence. According to the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, in the part of the ten states of the formation skandha, the Buddha reminded Ananda as follows: “Ananda, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’’ mind is unmoving, clear, and proper and can no longer be distrubed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on its pervasive constancy, he could fall into error with four theories of pervasive permanence.” Attachment on Permanence on the Mind and its states. First, as this person throroughly investigates the mind and its states, he may conclude that both are causeless. Through his cultivation, he knows that in twenty thousand eons, as beings in the ten directions undergo endless rounds of birth and death, they are never annihilated. Therefore, he speculates that the mind and its states are permanent. Attachment on Permanence on the four elements. Second, as this person thoroughly investigates the source of the four elements, he may conclude that they are permanent in nature. Through his cultivation, he knows that in forty thousand eons, as living beings in the ten directions undergo births and deaths, their substances exist permanently and are never annihilated. Therefore, he speculates that this situation is permanent. Attachment on Permanence on the sense faculty, the manas, and the consciousness. Third, as this person thoroughly investigates the sixth sense faculty, the manas, and the consciousness that grasps and receives, he concludes that the origin of the mind, intelect, and consciousness is permanent. Through his cultivation, he knows that in eighty thousand eons, all living beings in the ten directions revolve in transmigration, this origin is never destroyed and exists permanently. Investigating this undestroyed origin, he speculates that it is permanent. Attachment on Permanence on the thoughts. Fourth, since this person has ended the source of thoughts, there is no more reason for them to arise. In the state of flowing, halting, and turning, the thinking mind, which was the cause of production and destruction, has now ceased forever, and so he naturally thinks that this is a state of nonproduction and nondestruction. As a result of such reasoning, he speculates that this state is permanent. Because of these speculation of permanence, he will lose proper and pervasive knowledge, fall into externalism, and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
The third demonic obstruction is the four upside-down theories. First, as this person contemplates the wonderfully bright mind pervading the ten directions, he concludes that this state of profound stillness is the ultimate spiritual self. Then he speculates , “My spiritual self, which is settled, bright, and unmoving, pervades the ten directions. All living beings are within my mind, and there they are born and die by themselves. Therefore, my mind is permanent, while those who undergo birth and death there are truly impermanent.” Second, instead of contemplating his own mind, this person contemplates in the ten directions worlds as many as the Ganges’ sands. He regards as ultimately impermanent those worlds that are in eons of decay, and as ultimately permanent those that are not in eons of decay. Third, this person closely examines his own mind and finds it to be subtle and mysterious, like fine motes of dust swirling in the ten directions, unchanging in nature. And yet it can cause his body to be born and then to die. He regards that indestructible nature as his permanent intrinsic nature, and that which undergoes birth and death and flows forth from him as impermanent. Fourth, knowing that the skandha of thinking has ended and seeing the flowing of the skandha of formations, this person speculates that the continuous flow of the skandha of formations is permanent, and that the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking which have already ended are impermanent. Because of these speculations of impermanence and permanence, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
The fourth demonic obstruction is the four theories regarding finiteness. First, this person speculates that the origin of life flows and functions ceaselessly. He judges that the past and the future are finite and that the continuity of the mind is infinite. Second, as this person contemplates an interval of eighty thousand eons, he can see living beings; but earlier than eighty thousand eons is a time of stillness in which he cannot hear or see anything. He regards as infinite that time in which nothing is heard or seen, and as finite that interval in which living beings are seen to exist. Third, this person speculates that his own pervasive knowledge is infinite and that all other people appear within his awareness. And yet, since he himself has never perceived the nature of their awareness, he says they have not obtained an infinite mind, but have only a finite one. Fourth, this person thoroughly investigates the formations skandha to the point that it becomes empty. Based on what he sees, in his mind he speculates that each and every living being , in its given body, is half living and half dead. From this he concludes that everything in the world is half finite and half infinite. Because of these speculations about the finite and the infinite, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
The fifth demonic obstruction is the four kinds of sophistry. Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on what he knows and sees, he could fall into error with four distorted, false theories, which are total speculation based on the sophistry of immortality. First, this person contemplates the source of transformations. Seeing the movement and flow, he says there is change. Seeing the continuity, he says there is constancy. Where he can perceive something, he says there is production. Where he cannot perceive anything, he says there is destruction. He says that the unbroken continuity of causes is increasing and that the pause within the continuity are decreasing. He says that the arising of all things is existence and that the perishing of all things is nonexistence. The light of reason shows that his application of mind has led to inconsistent views. If someone comes to seek the Dharma, asking about its meaning, he replies, “I am both alive and dead, both existent and nonexistent, both increasing and decreasing.” He always speaks in a confusing way, causing that person to forget what he was going to say. Second, this person attentively contemplates his mind and finds that everything is nonexistent. He has a realization based on nonexistence. When anyone comes to ask him questions, he replies with only one word. He only says “no,” Aside from saying “non,” he does not speak. Third, this person attentively contemplates his mind and finds that everything is existent. He has a realization based on existence. When anyone comes to ask him questions, he replies with only one word. He only says”yes.” Aside from saying “yes,” he does not speak. Fourth, this person perceives both existence and nonexistenceExperiencing this branching, his mind becomes confused . When anyone comes to ask questions, he tells them, “Existence is also nonexistence. But within nonexistence there is no existence.” It is all sophistry and does not stand up under scrutiny. Because of these speculations, which are empty sophistries, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
The sixth demonic obstruction is the sixteen ways in which forms can exist after death. Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving and proper and can no longer be disturbed be demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate the endless flow, he could fall into error with the confused ideas that forms exist after death. He may strongly identify with his body and say that form is himself; or he may see himself as perfectly encompassing all worlds and say that he contains form; or he may perceive all external conditions as contingent upon himself and say that form belongs to him; or he may decide that he relies on the continuity of the formations skandha and say that he is within form. In all these speculations, he says that forms exist after death. Expanding the idea, he comes up with sixteen cases of the existence of forms.
The seventh demonic obstruction is the eight ideas about nonexistence of forms. Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving and proper, and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of being and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking, which have already ended, he could fall into error with the confused idea that forms do not exist after death. Seeing that his form is gone, his physical shape seems to lack a cause. As he contemplates the absence of thought, there is nothing to which his mind can become attached. Knowing that his feelings are gone, he has no further involvements. Those skandhas have vanished. Although there is still some coming into being, there is no feeling or thought, and he concludes that he is like grass or wood. Since those qualities do not exist at present, how can there be any existence of fors after death? Because of his examinations and comparisons, he decides that after death there is no existence. Expanding the idea, he comes up with eight cases of the nonexistence of forms. From that, he may speculate that Nirvana and cause and effect are all empty, that they are mere names and ultimately do not exist. Because of those speculations that forms do not exist after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
The eighth demonic obstruction is the eight kinds of negation. Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting and constant fluctuation. In this state where the skandha of formation remains, but the skandhas of feeling and thinking are gone, if he begins to speculate that there are both existence and nonexistence, thus contradicting himself, he could fall into error with confused theories that deny both existence and nonexistence after death. Regarding form, feeling and thinking, he sees that existence is not really existence. Within the flow of the formations skandha, he sees that that nonexistence is not really nonexistence. Considering back and forth in this way, he thoroughly investigates the realms of these skandhas and derives an eightfold negation of forms. No matter which skandha is mentioned, he says that after death, it neither exists nor does not exist. Further, because he speculates that all formations are changing in nature, an “insight” flashes through his mind, leading him to deny both existence and nonexistence. He cannot determine what is unreal and what is real. Because of these speculations that deny both existence and nonexistence after death, the future is murky to him and he cannot say anything about it. Therefore, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
The ninth demonic obstruction is the seven theories on the cessation of existence. Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving and proper and can no longer be distrubed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate that there ie no existence after death, he could fall into error with seven theories of the cessation of existence. He may speculate that the body will cease to exist; or that when desire has ended, there is cessation of existence; or that after suffering has ended, there is cessation of existence; or that when bliss reaches an ultimate point, there is cessation of existence; or that when renunciation reaches an ultimate point, there is cessation of existence. Considering back and forth in this way, he exhaustively investigates the limits of the seven states and sees that they have already ceased to be and will not exist again. Because of these speculations that existence ceases after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature.
The tenth demonic obstruction is the five kinds of immediate Nirvana. According to the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, in the section of the ten states of formation skandha, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the five kinds of immediate Nirvana: “Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be distrubed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on existence after death, he could fall into error with five theories of Nirvana. Because of these speculations about five kinds of immediate Nirvana, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. He may consider the Heavens of the Desire Realm a true refuge, because he contemplates their extensive brightness and longs for it. He may take refuge in the First Dhyana, because there his nature is free from worry. He may take refuge in the Second Dhyana, because there his mind is free from suffering. He may take refuge in the Third Dhyana, because he delights in its extreme joy. He may take refuge in the Fourth Dhyana, reasoning that suffering and bliss are both ended there and that he will no longer undergo transmigration. These heavens are subject to outflows, but in his confusion he thinks that they are unconditioned; and he takes these five states of tranquility to be refuge of supreme purity. Considering back and forth in this way, he decides that these five states are ultimate.
465. Ten Demonic Obstructions of the Consciousness Skandha
In the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the ten states of consciousness. The first demonic obstruction is the attachment to causes and what which is caused. Ananda! You should know that the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty, and he must return consciousness to the source. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. He can cause the individual sense faculties of his body to unite and open. He also has a pervasive awareness of all categories of beings in the ten directions. Since his awareness is pervasive, he can enter the perfect source. But is he regards what he is returning to as the cause of truepermanence and interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of holding to that cause. Kapila the Sankhyan, with his theory of returning to the Truth of the Unmanifest, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the first state, in which he concludes that there is a place to which to return, based on the idea that there is something to attain. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of externalism.
The second demonic obstruction is the attachment to ability that is not actually ability. Further, Ananda, the god person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. He may regard that to which he is returning as his own body and may see all beings in the twelve categories throughout space as flowing forth from his body. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of maintaining that he has an ability which he does not really have. Maheshvara, will manifests his boundless body, will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the second state, in which he draws conclusions about the workings of an ability based on idea that he has such an ability. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being born in the Heaven of Great Pride where the self is considered all-pervading and perfect.
The third demonic obstruction is the attachment to a wrong idea of permanence. Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. If he regards what he is returning to as a refuge, he will suspect that his body and mind come forth from there, and that all things throughout space in the ten directions arise from there as well. He will explain that from which all things issue forth is the truly permanent body, which is not subject to production and destruction. While still within production and destruction, he prematurely reckons that he abides in permanence. Since he is deluded about nonproduction, he is also confused about production and destruction. He is sunk in confusion. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not permanent to be pemanent. He will speculate that the Sovereign God (Ishvaradeva) is his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the third state, in which he makes a false speculation based on the idea that there is a refuge. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of perfection.
The fourth demonic obstruction is the attachment to an awareness that is not actually awareness. Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. Based on his idea that there is universal awareness, he formulates a theory that al the plants in the ten directions are sentient, not different from human beings. He claims that plants can become people, and that when people die they again become plants in the ten directions. If he considers this idea of unresticted, universal awareness to be supreme, he will fall into the error of maintaining that what is not aware has awareness. Vasishtha and Sainika, who maintained the idea of comprehensive awareness, will become his companions. Confused about theBodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the fourth state, in which he draws an erroneous conclusion based on the idea that there is a universal awareness. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of awareness.
The fifth demonic obstruction is the attachment to birth that is not actually birth. Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. If he has attained versality in the perfect fusion and interchangeable functioning of the sense faculties, he may speculate that all things arise from these perfect transformations. He then seeks the light of fire, delights in the purity of water, loves the wind’s circuitous flow, and contemplates the accomplishments on the earth. He reveres and serves them all. He takes these mundane elements to be a fundamental cause and considers them to be everlasting. He will then fall into the error of taking what is not production to be production. Kashyapa and the Brahmans who seek to transcend birth and dath by diligently serving fire and worshipping water will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the fifth state, in which he confusedly pursues the elements, setting up a false cause that leads to false aspirations baed on speculations about his attachment to worship. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of a distorted view of transformation.
The sixth demonic obstruction is the attachment to a refuge that is not actually a refuge. Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. He may speculate that there is an emptiness within the perfect brightness, and based on that he denies the myriad transformations, taking their eternal cessation as his refuge. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not a refuge to be a refuge. Those abiding in the Shunyata of the Heaven of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the sixth state , in which he realizes a state of voidness based on the idea of emptiness within the perfect brightness. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds of annihilationism.
The seventh demonic obstruction is the attachment to an attainable craving. Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. In the state of what seems to be perfect permanence, he may bolster his body, hoping to live for a long time in that subtle and perfect condition without dying. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of being greedy for something attainable. Asita and those who seek long life will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the seventh state, in which he sets up the false cause of bolstering and aspires to permanent worldly existence, based on his attainment to the life-source. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for false thoughts of lengthening life.
The eighth demonic obstruction is the attachment to truth that is not actually truth. Further , the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. As he contemplates the nterconnection of all lives, he wants to hang on to worldly enjoyments and is afraid they will come to an end. Caught up in this thought, he will, by the power of transformation, seat himself in a lotus flower palace, conjure up an abundance of the seven precious things, increase his retinue of beautiful women, and indulge his mind. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall into the error of taking what is not the truth to be the truth. Vignakara will become his companion. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the eighth state, in which he decides to indulge in worldly enjoyments, based on his wrong thinking. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for becoming a demon of the heavens.
The ninth demonic obstruction is the fixed nature Hearers. Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. In his understanding of life, he distinguishes the subtle and the coarse and determines the true and the false. But he only seeks a response in the mutual repayment of cause and effect, and he turns his back on the Way of Purity. In the practice of seeing suffering, eliminating accumulation, realizing cessation, and cultivating the Way, he dwells in cessation and stops there, making no further progress. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall and become a fixed nature Hearer. Unlearned Sanghans and those of overweening pride will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhis of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the ninth state, in which he aspires toward the fruition of cessation, based on perfecting the mind that seeks responses. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for becoming enmeshed in emptiness.
The tenth demonic obstruction is the fixed nature Pratyekas. Further, the good person has thoroughly seen the formations skandha as empty. He has ended production and destruction, but he has not yet perfected the subtle wonder of ultimate serenity. In that perfectly fused, pure, bright enlightenment, as he investigates the profound wonder, he may take it to be Nirvana and fail to make further progress. If he interprets this as a supreme state, he will fall and become a fixed-nature Pratyeka. Those Enlightened by Conditions and Solitary Enlightened Ones who do not turn their minds to the Great Vehicle will become his companions. Confused about the Bodhi of the Buddhas, he will lose his knowledge and understanding. This is the tenth state, in which he realizes a profound brightns based on fusing the mind with perfect enlightenment. He strays far from perfect penetration and turns his back on the City of Nirvana, thus sowing the seeds for being unable to surpass his attachment to the brightness of perfect enlightenment.
466. Five Faculties
The five sense-organs can be entrances to the hells; at the same time, they can be some of the most important entrances to the great enlightenment; for with them, we create karmas and sins, but also with them, we can practise the right way.The first faculty is the faith or virtue of belief (Sraddhendriya or Saddha p). Sense of belief in the Triple Gem and the Four Noble Truths. The second faculty is the energy (vigor) or virtue of active vigor (Viryendriya ). Sense of endeavor or vigor to cultivate good deeds. The third faculty is the sense of memory means right memory or mindfulness. The mind that always focuses upon the Buddha. Practically speaking, of course, it is impossible for us to completely forget the Buddha for even a moment. When a student devotes himself to his studies or when an adult is entirely absorbed in his work, he must concentrate on one object. Doing so accords with the way to Buddhahood. While devoting ourselves to a particular object, we reflect, “I am caused to live by the Buddha.” When we complete a difficult task we feel relieved, we thank the Buddha, saying, “How lucky I am! I am protected by the Buddha.” When an evil thought flashes across our mind or we suddenly feel angry, we instantly examine ourselves, thinking, “Is this the way to Buddhahood?” The mind that thus keeps the Buddha in mind at all times is “sense of memory.” Mindfulness recognizes, is aware of its presence, accepts and allows it to be there. Mindfulness is like a big brother who does not suppress his younger brother’s suffering. He simply says: “Dear brother, I’m here for you.” You take your younger brother in your arms and you comfort him. This is exactly our practice. Mindfulness does not fight anger or despair. Mindfulness is there in order to recognize. To be mindful of something is to recognize that something is the capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment. According to Most Venerable Thích Nhất Hạnh in “Anger,” the best way to to be mindful of anger is “when breathing in I know that anger has manifested in me; breathing out I smile towards my anger.” This is not an act of suppression or of fighting. It is an act of recognizing. Once we recognize our anger, we are able to take good care of it or to embrace it with a lot of awareness, a lot of tenderness.
The fourth faculty is the visionary meditation. Visionary meditation means samadhi, or virtue of concentration. The sense of meditation implies a determined mind. Once we have faith in a religion, we are never agitated by anything, whatever may happen. We bear patiently all persecution and temptation, and we continue to believe only in one religion. We must constantly maintain such firm determination, never becoming discouraged. We cannot be said to be real people with a religious faith unless we have such a mental attitude.
The fifth faculty is the virtue of wisdom or awareness (Prajnendriya). Sense of wisdom or thinking of the truth. The wisdom that people of religion must maintain. This is not a self-centered wisdom but the true wisdom that we obtain when we perfectly free ourselves from ego and illusion. So long as we have this wisdom, we will not take the wrong way. We can say the same thing of our belief in religion itself, not to mention in our daily lives. If we are attached to a selfish, small desire, we are apt to stray toward a mistaken religion. However, earnestly we may believe in it, endeavoring to practice its teaching, keeping it in mind, and devoting ourselves to it, we cannot be saved because of its basically wrong teaching, and we sink farther and farther into the world of illusion. There are many instances around us of people following such a course. Although “sense of wisdom” is mentioned as the last of the five organs leading man to good conduct, it should be the first in the order in which we enter a religious life.
467. Real Dana
The Buddha always reminded the four assemblies regarding dana with wish be repaid for good deeds, good results in the human and deva worlds, and real dana in Buddhism. First, Buddhists performed charity with generosity and with a pure mind which is freed from greed, hatred, and delusion can produce good results in the human world and the world of celestial beings. A person of generosity can be reborn in the realm of the devas and stay there for so long; however, the benefit of mundane result is still within the cycle of birth and death. Second, usually people wish be repaid when granting or doing someone a favour. However, in Buddhism, when giving charity, one does not cherish the thought that he is the giver, and sentient beings are the receivers, what is given and how much is given, thus, in one’s mind no arrogance and self-conceit would arise. This is an unconditioned alms-giving or compassion on equlity basis. The Buddha taught: “One should not wish to be repaid for good deeds. Doing good deeds with an intention of getting repayment will lead to greed for fame and fortune.” If you do good, then do it for the sake of doing service to some other beings. The happiness which arises in your mind together with the performance of the good deed is itself an extremely big reward.
468. Great Giving
Great Giving is the giving that will bring the benefactors great meritorious retributions in this life and next life. There are thirteen kinds of great giving. First, giving at the right time and moment. This means to give with perfect timing when someone is in desperate need. Second, giving to those who cultivate the proper path. This means to give to those who are on the path of enlightenment in Buddhism, which is to give to ordained Buddhists whose cultivated conducts are true and consistent with the Buddha’s teaching. Third, giving to the ill and the healer. Fourth, giving to those who speak and elucidate the proper dharma of Buddhism, i.e., Dharma Masters who teach the sutras and propagate the Buddha Dharma. Fifth, giving to those who are about to go on a long journey. Sixth, to give to a king who has lost the throne and is searching for safety to evade the enemy. Seventh, to give to those who are helpless against authority. Eighth, to give to those who are handicapped, those enduring pain, suffering, and torture. Ninth, to give to Bhiksus and Bhiksunis who maintain their virtuous precepts, at the right time and moment. Tenth, to give to those who cultivate for wisdom, i.e., those who practice mendicant conducts, having peace and purity in the isolated mountains and forests, praying to attain wisdom of enlightenment. Thus, there are not people who cultivate in luxury and wealth in great cities who enjoy all modern conveniences. Eleventh, to give to various animals, i.e., birds, fish, etc. Twelfth, to encourage others to give or rejoice in seeing others give. This means if one is unable to give because one has no means or ability to give, yet when seeing others give, one is able to rejoice and be happy for the giver by prasing that person. The Buddha called this “Rejoice in others virtues and merits.” This is important because sometimes when people cannot give but seeing others give makes them extremely uneasy. As Buddhists, it is important to avoid this selfish nature. Thirteenth, to sacrifice one’s life to save another person’s life.
469. Why Should We Practice Giving?
According to Venerable Thích Hải Quang in Letters to Buddhist Followers, there are fourteen reasons for us to practice Giving. The first reason, giving possessions are truly what is ours, but remaining possessions inside our homes, really not belong to us. This is true because the wholesome retributions of giving will be with us forever from life to life; therefore, they are ours. In contrast, the possessions inside our homes are not really ours, but they belong to the following five masters: floodwater will rise to take away everything, raging fire will burn down everything, family and relatives waste and destroy, corrupted officials, bandits and thieves will take away everything, and spending for medications for sicknesses. The second reason, given possessions are secured, but remaining possessions are not secured. For possessions that have been given will have their own appropriate retributions holding them for us for many lives to come without being lost. No matter where we are born in whatever life, they will always follow us, as stated in the Law of Karma, whatever you do, it will find its way back to you. Whereas, possessions that have not been given, may be taken by the above mentiond five masters in (1). The third reason, given possessions do not need to be safeguarded, but remaining possessions must be safeguarded. For possessions that are given will now belong to others and it is up to them to safeguard their possessions, we do not have to worry about safeguarding those possessions any longer. Whereas, remaining possessions in our homes must be carefully watched because if we don’t, we fear they will be taken away from us. The fourth reason, given possessions are the happines of the future, but remaining possessions are only the happines of the present. This means if we give in this lie, then in the next life or many future lives after, the meritorious retributions from giving will follow us and we will always have wealth and luxury. Whereas the remaining possessions, things that we have not given or we are not willing to give, will bring us wealth, luxury, and hapiness in the present life. The fifth reason, given possessions will no longer be bound by greedy desires; whereas remaining possessions will increase greed. This means if we are able to give, then we will be able to eliminate our greedy desires toward money and possessions. However, the remaining possessions will increase our greed and attachment to them. The sixth reason, given possessions are no longer worrisome, but remaining possessions are worrisome. If possessions that are given away, it is no longer necessary for us to worry or think about them, but if they remain, here will be constant worrying that someday they will be taken way from us. The seventh reason, given possessions are no longer feared, but remaining posessions must be feared. If possessions are given, then there is no fear that the “five masters” will steal from us, but if they remain, they will make us fearful and anxious that the “five masters” can come and steal them away at any moment. The eighth reason, given possessions are the pillars of the Proper Path, but remaining posessions are the pillars of the devil. If we give, then one day we will attain the Giving Paramita and become a Maha-Bodhisattva; while remaining possessions due to stinginess and frugality wull result in being a hungry ghost in the next life. The ninth reason, given possessions are boundless, but remaining possessions are limited. This means possessions that are given will be the meritorious retributions for many reincarnations to come, but remaining possessions are limited and will only be available in this life, but will not be there in the next. The tenth reason, given possessions will bring hapines, but remaining possessions will cause suferings because they must be safeguarded. The eleventh reason, given possessions will lead to greater freedom, but remaining possessions will lead to greater imprisonment. If we are able to give, then, though we are still bound, we have freedom to some degree, but remaining possessions will entrap us even more, so no matter where we go, we are always worrying about them. The twelfth reason, given possessions are meritorious, but remaining possessions are not meritorious because someday we will spend them all. The thirteenth reason, given possessions are the practices of a great gentleman, but remaining possessions are not the practices of a great gentleman. Only a person who is truly a great gentleman will know to give. While a pretender will never know to give, but will maintain and hold on to everything he or she owns. The fourteenth reason, given possessions are praised by the Buddha, but remaining possessions are praised by ordinary people. This means those who give accord with the minds of the Buddhas of infinite compassion, so these people are praised by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Those who are selfish and stingy accord with the minds of ordinary people and will be praised by ordinary people. They wil not be praised the Budhas and Bodhisattvas.
470. Thoughts Arise When There Are People Coming To Ask For Charity
According to Venerable Thích Hải Quang in the Letters to Buddhists Followers, the Buddha taught that lay Buddhists Bodhisattvas should practice the “Conduct of Giving.” When someone comes to ask for assistance, it is important to give rise to the following thoughts in order to avoid having regrets, sadness, anger, or giving rise to various thoughts of greed, hatred, and ignorance toward the receiver of charity, only to decrease or lose the virtues and merits they would have obtained from the acts of practicing charity. First, following the teachings of the Buddha. When someone needs assistance, we should use the sincere mind to think that all the Buddhas in the ten directions across the three time-spans of past, present, and future are able to attain the Ultimate Enlightenment because of their ability to fully realize the “Giving Paramita.” Now that we are Buddha’s children, if we wish to attain enlightenment or to become Buddha, it is absolutely essential for us to follow the Buddha’s teachings. We should practice His Teachings. We must diligently cultivate the conduct of giving in order to eliminate various mind states of greed, selfishness, and stinginess. In this way, our practice of giving of today demonstrate we are following the teachings of the Buddhas.
Second, giving rise to the thought that asking person is a good knowledgeable advisorWhen someone comes and asks for assistance, we should think. From many lives in the past until now, we have been unbelievably greedy and stingy; thus, gathering and accumulating as much as possible are the only things we have known, while we refuse to give and let go of anything. Or even when we did give, we still feel regrets and sadness later, or we may have given but our minds were not peaceful and joyous while giving. Therefore, we continue to remain as unenlightened mortals drifting and drowning in the six realms of the cycle of rebirths. If we are like this in this life, who knows what we will be like in the nex life! Where are all of our possessions from the former lives? It will be the same way with the possessions of this life because once we die, we must leave behind everything, as we will not be able to bring anything along with us. Fortunately, in this life, we are knowledgeable of Buddhism, we know clearly the Buddha’s teachings with regard to the conducts of giving. So why should we not courageously practice what we know in order to eliminate our old selfish greedy habits? Now immediately after we have just developed our minds to carry out the conduct of giving, someone comes to ask for assistance. It is truly a good opportunity. Because owing to this person we are able to abandon the greed and selfishness that have followed us from the infinite past to the present; we are able to accomplish the mind of “Letting Go” and the giving conduct of a saintly being; we will be able to accomplish the various fruits of enlightenment and liberation in the future; the person who has asked us is truly our good knowledgeable advisor, our benefactor, as well as our cause for enlightenment; if one is able to give rise to and hold on to these thoughts, that good charitable person will feel happy and honored from giving without having the slightest worries and regrets.
Third, giving rise to the thought of wealth and luxury in another life or attaining the meritorious retributions in the Desire World. When seeing the needy person approaching us, we should hold the following thought: just as the Buddha taught, all conducts of giving will result in wholesome retributions. This means one will be a wealthy person reaping merits in the human realm or will be born in Heaven to be a Heavenly Being with complete supreme blessings of the Heaven. Talking about the merits and virtues of the conduct of giving, if we practice conduct of giving, even if our minds do not give rise to the wish of being rich and wealthy in the future in Heaven or Human realms, those meritorious retributions from giving will come to us naturally. In the present life, we are wealthy, having extra money to spend on nice cars, homes, etc. because in the former life, we practiced giving. Thus, in this life we are able to reap the wholesome karmic retribution in this way. If we just look to the outside world and our surrounding, it will be obvious how many people live in poverty, not having enough of anything, but must struggle to make it from day to day. It is because in their former lives, these people were consumed with greed, stinginess, and never opened their hearts to give to anyone. Consequently, in this life, they must suffer and struggle in povery as their karmic retributions. We are fortunate to be able to rely on the wholesome karma of the past enabling us to live luxurious lives; therefore, we should give more so that the wholesome merits of the present will increase with each passing day. An in the future lives, we will avoid the karmic consequences of not having enough. If one is able to hold these thoughts that are true to the Proper Dharma, the good person will feel happy and honored to give without having sadness, regrets, and resentments.
Fourth, when someone asks us for assistance, we should think that practicing the conduct of giving will help us eliminate the two evil characteristics of greed and stinginess. Fifth, look upon those who ask for charity as family and friends. When someone asks for assistance, we should think that from infinite past till now, in the six realms in the cycle of rebirths, sentient beings continue to follow their karmic actions to go up and down constantly, changing their appearances; sometimes they are relatives and friends, but once they pass on to another life, covered by ignorance, they are no longer able to recognize one another. Today we develop the mind to give because those asking for assistance can very well be our family and friends of the past or, who knows, it is possible, in the future lives they will become a part of our immediate or extended family. Having these thoughts we should be happy to give without the slightest regrets or feel we have given in vain.
Sixth, in the process of endless births gives rise to the thought of liberation. When someone asks us for assistance, we should think that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as well as other greatly enlightened sages were able to attain the Bodhi Mind and are liberated from the cycle of rebirths because they were able to attain the conduct of Giving Paramita. Owing to the fact that they have achieved the Giving Paramita, these greatly enlightened beings are able to eliminate the cycle of reincarnations. As for us, sentient beings, in the near future we will abandon this body and then we will be born with another body in another life and will continue to go up and down in the six realms of the cycle of rebirths. In this way, from infinite and endless aeons ago to the present, we have lived and died, died and lived, and yet we are still unable to free ouselves from this vicious cycle of birth and death. Therefore, in this life, we must be determined to develop the vow to practice the conduct of giving without regression. All sentient beings who come to us for assistance are our benefactors and are great opportunities for us to attain the Giving Paramita in the future. Only practicing this we will be able to attain enlightenment and find liberation from infinite and endless lives of births and deaths in the future.
Seventh, using the conduct of giving as a means of assistance to all sentient beings. Eighth, giving rise to the thought of attaining the path of enlightenment. When we see a needy person approaching us, we want to hold the following thoughts: among the Six Paramita Practices attained by Maha-Bodhisattvas and the Buddhas, the giving paramitas is first. These Virtuous Beings are able to attain the Giving Paramita because they have often carried out the conducts of giving with a non-retrogression mind in infinite and innumerable kalpas in the past, but are never tired, bored, nor will they rest and stop such practices. Therefore, they are to accumulate infinite, endless, and unimaginably supreme meritorious retributions. If those who meritorious retributions were used to give to all the sentient beings in the ten directions of infinite universes for infinite and innumerable kalpas they would still have some left the meritorious blessing of the Maha-Bodhisattvas are inherently limitless; furthermore, at the present time, they have attained the various enlighten stages of Maha-Bodisattvahood, and are on their way to the realization of the Ultimate Enlightenment. As lay Buddhists, cultivating for Bodhisattvahood, we should also follow these enlightened beings’ virtuous paths. This means we should work within our means and limitations to practice the conduct of giving. If our conducts of giving result in any wholesome virtuous or meritorious consequences, then we should not vow or pray to be reborn in the Heaven or Human realms in order to reap those meritorious retributions. This is because no matter how much pleasure we may enjoy from those wholesome meritorious retributions in the heaven and human realms, in the end, we will be able to escape and free ourselves from the cycle of birth death. In contrast, we should be determined to dedicate all those merits and virtues to adorn our future state of Ultimate Enlightenment. We continue to give without resting.
471. The Merits of Alms-Giving
The Buddha always reminded lay-people about the merits of alms-giving to the poor and the needy, or offer gifts to a Bhikhu or community of Bhikhus. Offer gifts to Bhikhu or community of Bhikhus. Offerings to the monks and the nuns necessary things for a monastic living from lay Buddhists (clothes, food, medicine, blankets, etc). Monks and nuns should always remember their debts to the giveers are so heavy that even a grain of rice weighs the weight of a Sumeru Mountain. Once Monks and Nuns renounced their worldly life, they totally depend on the people who make charitable donations such as clothes, food, medicine and blankets. These givers work hard to make their living, to take care of themselves and to support the Order. Sometimes, no matter how hard they work, yet they don’t’have enough to live on. Lay Buddhists are sometimes homeless, yet they still save money to support the Sangha. For those reasons, if the Sangha misuse the money or whatever offered, then every seed of rice, every milimeter of fabric shall have their debts. If the Monks and the Nuns don’t do their best to cultivate themselves and help liberate others, whatever they receive in this life must be repaid in the next reincarnation to the fullest by becoming slaves, or being dogs, pigs, cows, water buffalos, etc.
472. Merits and Virtues of Giving in the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra
According to the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, Chapter 10, the Buddha taught on conditions comparative Merits and Virtues of Giving. The Buddha taught: “In Jambudvipa, the kings of countries, noble men, great minister, great elder, great Kshatriyas, great Brahmans and others may encounter the most inferior and poor people, or those with various handicaps such as being hunchbacked, crippled, dumb, mute, deaf, retarded or eyeless (blind). When those kings and other king and other wish to give, they may be able to replete with great compassion, a humble heart and a smile. They may everywhere give personally with their own hands or arrange for other to do so, using gentle words and sympathetic speech. Such kings and others will obtain blessings and benefits comparable to the meritorious virtue of giving to as many Budhas as there are grains of sand in one hundred Ganges Rivers. Why is this? Because of having shown a great compassionate heart toward the most impoverished, inferior and handicapped individuals, the kings and others will receive such a reward. For one hundred thousand lives, they will always have an abundance of the seven gems, not to mention clothing, food, and the necessities of life. If in the future, the kings, Brahmans and the others encounter Buddha stupas, monasteries, or images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Sravakas, or Pratyeka-Buddhas and personally make offerings or give gifts, the kings and other will obtain three aeons as Lord Sharka and will enjoy supremely wonderful bliss. If they are able to transfer the blessing and benefits of that giving and dedicate it to the Dharma Realm, those great kings and others will be great Brahma Heaven Kings for ten aeons. In the future, the kings, Brahmans, and others may encounter ruined, decayed, broken and tumbledown, stupas, temples, or images of previous Buddhas, and be capable of resolving to restore them. They may then do so themselves or encourage others, as many as a hundred thousand people, to make offerings and thereby establish affinities. Those kings and the others will become Wheel-Turning Kings throughout a hundred thousand continuous lives and those others who make offerings with them, will be kings od small countries for a gundred thousand continuous lives. If, before the stupa or monastery, they are in addition, able to resolve to transfer and dedicate the merit, such kings and the other people will without exception, accomplish the Buddha Path, and their reward for this will be limitless and unbounded. In the future the kings, Bahmans and others are filled with great compassion for the direction of a single thought upon seeing the old, the sick, or women in childbirth and provided them with medicinal herbs, food, drink and bedding so as to make them peaceful and comfortable, the blessings and benefits of such activities are quite inconceivable. For one thousand aeons they will constantly be lords of the Pure Dwelling Heaven; for two hundred aeons, they will be lords in the Desire Heaven, and they wil ultimately attain Buddhahood. They wil never fall into the evil paths and for one hundred thousand lives, they will hear no sounds of suffering. If in the future, the kings, Brahmans, and others can give in this way, they will receive limitless blesings. If they are in addition, able to dedicate that merit, be it great or small, they will ultimately attain Buddhahood. How much more easily will they be able to attain the rewards of becoming Sakra, Brahma, or Wheel-Turning King, Therefore, Earth Store, you should urge living beings everywhere to learn to perform such actions. In the future if there are good men or good women who plant within the Buddhadharma, a few good roots, equivalent to no more than a hair or a grain of sand, a mote of dust, the blessings and benefits they will receive will be beyond compare. Good men and women in the future may encounter the image of a Buddha, Bodhisattva, Pratyeka-buddha, or Wheel-Turning King, and may give gifts or make offerings, will always be born among humans or gods and enjoy supremely wonderful bliss. If they can dedicate that merit to the Dharma Realm, their blessings and benefits will be beyond compare. Good men or women in the future encounter a great Vehicle Sutra, and on hearing a single gatha or sentence of it, with dynamic and respectful resolve, praise, venerate and make offerings, those people will attain great, limitless and unbounded rewards. If they can dedicate that merit to the Dharma Realm, their blessings will be beyond compare. If in the future good men or good women encounter new Buddha-stupas, temples, or sutras of the Great Vehicle, and make offerings to them, gaze at them in worship, and respectfully make praises with joined palms; or if they encounter old temples, stupas, or those that have been destroyed or damaged, and either repair or rebuild them, such people will be kings of small countries throughout thirty continuous lives. The Danapatti will always be Wheel-Turning Kings, who moreover, will use the good Dharma to teach and transform those minor kings of small countries. In the future, good men or good women may plant good roots in the Buddhadharma by making offerings, reparing stupas or monasteries, rebinding sutras, or they may plant good roots only as small as one strand of hair, one mote of dust, a grain of sand, or a drop of water. Merely by transfering the merit from such deeds to the Dharma Realm, those people’s meritorious virtues will be such that they will enjoy superior and wonderful bliss for one hundred thousand lives. If they dedicate the merit only to their own family or relatives, or to their own personal benefit, as a result, they will enjoy the bliss for three lives. By giving up one, a ten thousandfold reward is obtained. Therefore, Earth Store, such are the situations pertaining to the causes and conditions of giving.”
473. Great Gathering for Almsgiving
Even though the Buddha always teaches that a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who does not focus on the cultivation, but only focuses on charitable works, forcing the Sangha to work so hard that they neglect their cultivation, commits an Expression of Regret Offence. However, according to the Vimalakirti Sutra, He still speaks about the Great Gathering for Almsgiving. Great gathering for almsgiving for all, rich and poor, nominal quinquenial. Once Upasaka Vimalakirti was sick, the Buddha then said to a son a an elder called Excellent Virute: “You call on Vimalakirti to enquire his health on my behalf.” Excellent Virtue said: “World Honoured One, I am not qualified to call on him to enquire after his health. The reason is that once I held a ceremonial meeting at my father’s house to make offerings to the gods and also to monks, brahmins, poor people, outcastes and beggars. When the meeting ended seven days later, Vimalakirti came and said to me: ‘O son of the elder, an offering meeting should not be held in the way you did; it should bestow the Dharma upon others, for what is the use of giving alms away?’ I asked: ‘Venerable Upasaka, what do you mean by bestowal of Dhama?’ He replied: ‘The bestowal of Dharma is (beyond the element of time, having) neither start nor finish, and each offering should benefit all living beings at the same time. This a bestowal of Dharma.’ I asked: ‘What does this mean?’ He replied: ‘This means that bodhi springs from kindness (maitri) toward living beings; the salvation of living beings springs from compassion (karuna); the upholding of right Dharma from joy (mudita); wisdom from indifference (upeksa); the overcoming of greed from charity–perfection (dana-parmita); ceasing to break the precepts from discipline-perfection (sila-paramita); egolessness from patience-perfection (ksanti-paramita); relinquishment of body and mind from zeal-perfection (virya-paramita); realization of enlightenment from serenity-perfection (dhyana-paramita); realization of all-knowledge (sarvajna) from wisdom–perfection (prajna-paramita); the teaching and converting of living beings spring from the void; non-rejection of worldly activities springs from formlessness; appearance in the world springs from inactivity; sustaining the right Dharma from the power of expedient devices (upaya); the liberation of living beings from the four winning virtues; respect for and service to others from the determination to wipe out arrogance; the relinquishment of body, life and wealth from the three indestructibles; the six thoughts to dwell upon from concentration on the Dharma; the six points of reverent harmony in a monastery form the straightforward mind; right deeds from pure livelihood; joy in the pure mind from nearness to saints and sages; non-rising of hate for bad people from the effective control of mind; retiring from the world from the profound mind; practice in accordance with the preaching from the wide knowledge gained from hearing (about the Dharma); absence of disputation from a leisurely life; the quest of Buddha wisdom from meditation; the freeing of living beings from bondage from actual practice; the earning of all excellent physical marks to embellish Buddha lands from the karma of mortal excellence; the knowledge of the minds of all living beings and the relevant expounding of Dharma to them, from the karma of good knowledge; the understanding of all things commensurate with neither acceptance nor rejection of them to realize their oneness, from the karma of wisdom; the eradication of all troubles (klesa), hindrances and evils from all excellent karmas; the realization of all wisdom and good virtue from the contributory conditions leading to enlightenment. All this, son of good family, pertains to the bestowal of Dharma. A Bodhisattva holding this meeting that bestows the Dharma, is a great almsgiver (danapati); he is also a field of blessedness for all worlds.’ World Honoured One, as Vimalakirti was expounding the Dharma, two hundred Brahmins who listened to it, set their minds on the quest of supreme enlightenment. I myself realized purity and cleanness of mind which I had never experienced before. I then bowed my head at his feet and took out my priceless necklace of precious stones which I offered to him but he refused it. I then said: ‘Venerable Upasaka, please accept my present and do what you like with it.’ He took my necklace and divided it in two, offering half to the poorest beggar in the assembly and the other half to the ‘Invincible Tathagata’ whose radiant land was then visible to all those present, who saw the half-necklace transformed into a precious tower in all its majesty on four pillars which did not shield one another. After this supernatural transformation, Vimalakirti said: ‘He who gives alms to the poorest beggar with an impartial mind performs an act which does not differ from the field of blessedness of the Tathagata, for it derives from great compassion with no expectation of reward. This is called the complete bestowal of Dharma.’ After witnessing Vimalakirti’s supernatural power, the poorest beggar who had also listened to his expounding of the Dharma developed a mind set on supreme enlightenment. Hence I am not qualified to call on Vimalakirti to enquire after his health.” Thus each of the Bodhisattvas present related his encounter with Vimalakirti and declined to call on him to enquire after his health.
474. To Reach Enlightenment and Emancipation
It is very important for any Zen practitioners to fix our mind. The more we want enlightenment, the further away it will be. If we want to find a good place to practice Zen, no place we find will be good enough. But if in anywhere we can cut off all thinking and return to beginner’s mind, that itself will be a wonderful enlightenment for a Zen practitioner. If we can keep true empty mind, then any place we are is Niravana. So true Buddhist practitioners must strongly keep a closed mouth; and we must only learn from the blue sky, the white clouds, the deep quiet mountains, and the noisy cities. They are just like this. That is our true great teacher. Devout Buddhists should first kill our strong self and find clear mind all the time, then talk about helping all people from sufferings and afflictions. Zen practitioners should always remember that we should not desire to achieve anything, even the attainment of enlightenment or emancipation. The very desire to be free or to be enlightened will be the desire that prevents our freedom. We can try as hard as we wish, practice ardently night and day, but if we still have a desire to achieve something, we will never find peace. Why? Because real wisdom never arises from desires. So, all Zen practitioners need to do is to simply let go everything. Simply watch the body and the mind mindfully, and do not try to achieve anything, even the enlightenment or the emancipation. Never stop paying attention to what is happening in our body and mind; and do not concern about our progress. Let’s pay close attention to what is happening in our body and mind, then we will naturally see. Remember, the more we pay attention, the more we will see. And remember, the truth cannot be unfolded when there are still clusters of cloud, even a small cluster of emancipation cloud. Furthermore, the immediate, un-reflected grasp of reality, without affective contamination and intellectualization, the realization of the relation of oneself to the Universe. This new experience is a repetition of the pre-intellectual, immediate grasp of the child, but on a new level, that the full development of man’s reason, objectively, individuality. While the child’s experience, that of immediacy and oneness, lies before the experience of alienation and the subject-object split, the enlightenment experience lies after it. Zen practitioners should always remember that the core of Buddhism is a doctrine of salvation. The need for it arises from the hopelessly unsatisfactory character of the world in which we find ourselves. Buddhists always take an extremely gloomy view of the conditions in which we have the misfortune to live. It is particularly the impermanence of everything in and around us that suggests the worthlessness of our worldly aspirations which in the nature of things can never lead to any lasting achievement or abiding satisfaction. In the end death takes away everything we managed to pile up and parts us from everything we cherished. In order to reach enlightenment and emancipation, first of all, Zen practitioners should cultivate or practice mental training which is carried out for three distinct, but interconnected, purposes. Zen aims at a withdrawal of attention from its normal preoccupation with constantly changing sensory stimuli and ideas centred on oneself. It aims at effecting a shift of attention from the sensory world to another, subtler realm, thereby calming the turmoils of the mind. Sense-based knowledge is as inherently unsatisfactory as a sense-based life. Sensory and historical facts as such are uncertain, unfruitful, trivial, and largely a matter of indifference. Only that is worth knowing which is discovered in meditation, when the doors of senses are closed. The truth of this holy religion must elude the average worldling with his sense-based knowledge, and his sense-bounded horizon. It aims at penetrating into the suprasensory reality itself, at roaming about among the transcendental facts, and this quest leads it to Emptiness, the ultimate reality.
475. The Supreme State of Enlightenment
In Buddhism, the supreme state of enlightenment is called “Bodhi”. Bodhi is the highest state of Samadhi in which the mind is awakened and illuminated. The term “Bodhi” is derived from the Sanskrit root “Budh,” meaning “knowledge,” “Understanding,” or “Perfect wisdom.” A term that is often translated as “enlightenment” by Western translators, but which literally means “Awakening.” Like the term BUDDHA, it is derived from the Sanskrit root buddh, “to wake up,” and in Buddhism it indicates that a person has “awakened” from the sleep of ignorance in which most beings spend their lives. According to Buddhist legend, the Buddha attained bodhi in the town of BODHGAYA while sitting in meditation under the Bodhi Tree or Bodhi-Vrksa. Bodhi means “Marga” or the way (according to old translation). However, according to new translation, “Bodhi” means to be aware, or to perceive (Sambodhi-skt). “Bodhi” also means “Perfect wisdom”, or “the state of bodhi, illuminated or enlightened mind.” According to the Avatamsaka Sutra, Bodhi (enlightenment) belongs to living beings. Without living beings, no Bodhisattva could achieve Supreme, Perfect Enlightenment. “Bodhi” also means Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, or the supreme enlightenment, or the full form of enlightenment of a Buddha. The supreme enlightenment realized by the Buddha, or the perfect universal enlightenment. The word ‘Bodhi’ also means ‘Perfect Wisdom’ or ‘Transcendental Wisdom,’ or ‘Supreme Enlightenment.’ Bodhi is the state of truth or the spiritual condition of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The cause of Bodhi is Prajna (wisdom) and Karuna (compassion). According to the Hinayana, bodhi is equated with the perfection of insight into and realization of the four noble truths, which means the cessation of suffering. According to the Mahayana, bodhi is mainly understood as enlightened wisdom. “Bojjhanga” is a Pali term for “factors of enlightenment. There are three kinds of bodhi: the enlightenment of sravakas, the enlightenment of Pratyeka-buddhas, and the enlightenment of Buddhas. There are also three other kinds of bodhi: bodhi-mind to act out one’s vows to save all living beings, bodhi-mind which is beyond description, and which surpasses mere earthly ideas, and samadhi-bodhi mind. There are five bodhi or stages of enlightenment. First, resolve on supreme bodhi. Second, mind control (the passions and observance of the paramitas). Third, mental enlightenment, study and increase in knowledge and in the prajnaparamitas. Fourth, mental expansion, freedom from the limitations of reincarnation and attainment of Complete knowledge. Fifth, attainment of a passionless condition and of supreme perfect enlightenment.
476. Four Kinds of Pure Precepts
In the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha gave four clear instructions on Purity as follows: “Any Buddhist practitioner must put an end to one’s lust, killing, stealing and lying.” In fact, these four four of the five basic precepts for lay Buddhists, but any Buddhists who can keep these four precepts can be called “Sincere Buddhists”. However, the offences may be considered serious for monks and nuns. The worst offences grouped under the heading “Parajika,” which entailed the expulsion of the guilty from the community of monks and nuns. The word Parajika is derived from the Sanskrit root Para and Jika which means that makes DEFEAT. Four parajikas mean four causes of falling from grace and final excommunication or expulsion of a monk or nun. According to the monastic point of view, these offences are regarded as very serious in nature. Any monks, regardless of their ranks and years in the Order, violate any one of these offences, are subject to expulsion from the Order. Once they are expelled, they are never allowed to join the Order again. They are defeated forever. Therefore, the Buddha cautioned all monks and nuns not to indulge in any one of them. These four precepts are closely related. If you break the precept against the lust, it is easy to break the precept against killing, stealing and lying as well. In the same manner, if you break the precept against stealing, it is easy to break the precept against lying, etc. Therefore, the Buddha reminded Buddhists to cut off these four “Killing-Stealing-Lust-Lying”. First, Cutting off Killing: If living beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of killing, they would not have to follow a continual succession of births and deaths. According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about “cutting off killing”, one of the four important precepts for monks and nuns in Buddhism: “Ananda! If living beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of killing, they would not have to follow a continual succession of births and deaths. Ananda! Your basic purpose in cultivating samadhi is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you do not remove your thoughts of killing, you will not be able to get out of the dust. Ananda! Even though one may have some wisdom and the manifestation of Zen Samadhi, one is certain to enter the path of spirits if one does not cease killing. At best, a person will become a mighty ghost; on the average, one will become a flying yaksha, a ghost leader, or the like; at the lowest level, one will become an earth-bound rakshasa. These ghosts and spirits have their groups of disciples. Each says of himself that he has accomplished the unsurpassed way. After my extinction, in the Dharma-Ending Age, these hordes of ghosts and spirits will aboud, spreading like wildfire as they argue that eating meat will bring one to the Bodhi Way. Ananda! I permit the Bhikshus to eat five kinds of pure meat. This meat is actually a transformation brought into being by my spiritual powers. It basically has no life-force. You Brahmans live in a climate so hot and humid, and on such sandy and rocky land, that vegetables will not grow. Therefore, I have had to assist you with spiritual powers and compassion. Because of the magnitude of this kindness and compassion, what you eat that tastes like meat is merely said to be meat; in fact, however, it is not. After my extinction, how can those who eat the flesh of living beings be called the disciples of Sakya? You should know that these people who eat meat may gain some awareness and may seem to be in samadhi, but they are all great rakshasas. When their retribution ends, they are bound to sink into the biter sea of birth and death. They are not disciples of the Buddha. Such people as they kill and eat one another in a never-ending cycle. How can such people transcend the triple realm? Ananda! When you teach people in the world to cultivate samadhi, they must also cut off killing. This is the second clear and unalterable instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones and the Buddhas of the past, World Honored Ones. Therefore, Ananda, if cultivators of Zen Samadhi do not cut off killing, they are like one who stops up his ears and calls out in a loud voice, expecting no one to hear him. It is to wish to hide what is completely evident. Bhikshus and Bodhisattvas who practice purity will not even step on grass in the pathway; even less will they pull it up with their hand. How can one with great compassion pick up the flesh and blood of living beings and proceed to eat his fill? Bhikshus who do not wear silk, leather boots, furs, or down from this country or consume milk, cream, or butter can truly transcend this world. When they have paid back their past debts, they will not have to re-enter the triple realm. Why? It is because when one wears something taken from a living creature, one creates conditions with it, just as when people eat the hundred grains, their feet cannot leave the earth. Both physically and mentally one must avoid the bodies and the by-products of living beings, by neither wearing them nor eating them. I say that such people have true liberation. What I have said here is the Buddha’s teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan. Second, Cutting off Stealing: According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about “cutting off stealing”, one of the four important precepts for monks and nuns in Buddhism: “Ananda! If living beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of stealing, they would not have to follow a continuous succession of births and deaths. Ananda! Your basic purpose in cultivating samadhi is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you do not renounce your thoughts of stealing, you will not be able to get out of the dust. Ananda! Even though one may have some wisdom and the manifestation of Zen Samadhi, one is certain to enter a devious path if one does not cease stealing. At best, one will be an apparition; on the average, one will become a phantom; at the lowes level, one will be a devious person who is possessed by a Mei-Ghost. These devious hordes have their groups of disciples. Each says of himself that he has accomplished the unsurpassed way. After my extinction, in the Dharma-Ending Age, these phantoms and apparitions will abound, spreading like wildfire as they surreptitiously cheat others. Calling themselves good knowing advisors, they will each say that they have attained the superhuman dharmas. Enticing and deceiving the ignorant, or frightening them out of their wits, they disrupt and lay watse to households wherever they go. I teach the Bhikshus to beg for their food in an assigned place, in order to help them renounce greed and accomplish the Bodhi Way. The Bhikshus do not prepare their own food, so that, at the end of this life of transitory existence in the triple realm, they can show themselves to be once-returners who go and do not come back. How can thieves who put on my robes and sell the Thus Come One’s dharmas, saying that all manner of karma one creates is just the Buddhadharma? They slander those who have left the home-life and regard Bhikshus who have taken complete precepts as belonging to the path of the small vehicle. Because of such doubts and misjudgments, limitless living beings fall into the Unintermittent Hell. I say that Bhikshus who after my extinction have decisive resolve to cultivate samadhi, and who before the images of Thus Come Ones can burn a candle on their bodies, or burn off a finger, or burn even one incense stick on their bodies, will in that moment, repay their debts from beginningless time past. They can depart from the world and forever be free of outflows. Though they may not have instantly understood the unsurpassed enlightenment, they will already have firmly set their mind on it. If one does not practice any of these token renunciations of the body on the causal level, then even if one realizes the unconditioned, one will still have to come back as a person to repay one’s past debts exactly as I had to undergo the retribution of having to eat the grain meant for horses. Ananda! When you teach people in the world to cultivate samadhi, they must also cease stealing. This is the third clear and unalterable instruction on purity given by the Thus Come One and the Buddhas of the past, World Honored Ones. Therefore, Ananda, if cultivators of Zen Samadhi do not cease stealing, they are like someone who pours water into a leaking cup and hopes to fill it. He may continue for as many eons as there are fine motes of dust, but it still will not be full in the end. If Bhikshus do not store away anything but their robes and bowls; if they give what is left over from their food-offerings to hungry living beings; if they put their palms together and make obeisance to the entire great assembly; if when people scold them they can treat it as praise: if they can sacrifice their very bodies and minds, giving their flesh, bones, and blood to living creatures. If they do not repeat the non-ultimate teachings of the Thus Come One as though they were their own explanations, misrepresenting them to those who have just begun to study, then the Buddha gives them his seal as having attained true samadhi. What I have said here is the Buddha’s teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan. Third, Cutting off Lust: If living beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of lust, they would not have to follow a continual succession of births and deaths. According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about “cutting off lust”, one of the four important precepts for monks and nuns in Buddhism: “Ananda! Your basic purpose in cultivating is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you don’t renounce your lustful thoughts, you will not be able to get out of the dust. Even though one may have some wisdom and the manifestation of Zen Samadhi, one is certain to enter demonic paths if one does not cut off lust. At best, one will be a demon king; on the average, one will be in the retinue of demons; at the lowest level, one will be a female demon. These demons have their groups of disciples. Each says of himself he has accomplished the unsurpassed way. After my extinction, in the Dharma-Ending Age, these hordes of demons will abound, spreading like wildfire as they openly practice greed and lust. Calming to be good knowing advisors, they will cause living beings to fall into the pit of love and views and lose the way to Bodhi. Ananda! When you teach people in the world to cultivate samadhi, they must first of all sever the mind of lust. This is the first clear and unalterable instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones and the Buddhas of the past, World Honored Ones. Therefore, Ananda, if cultivators of Zen Samadhi do not cut off lust, they will be like someone who cooks sand in the hope of getting rice, after hundreds of thousands of eons, it will still be just hot sand. Why? It wasn’t rice to begin with; it was only sand. Ananda! If you seek the Buddha’s wonderful fruition and still have physical lust, then even if you attain a wonderful awakening, it will be based in lust. With lust at the source, you will revolve in the three paths and not be able to get out. Which road will you take to cultivate and be certified to the Thus Come One’s Nirvana? You must cut off the lust which is intrinsic in both body and mind. Then get rid of even the aspect of cutting it off. At that point you have some hope of attaining the Buddha’s Bodhi. What I have said here is the Buddha’s teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan. Fourth, Cutting off False Speech: According to the Surangama Sutra, the Buddha reminded Ananda about “cutting off false speech”, one of the four important precepts for monks and nuns in Buddhism: “Ananda! Though living beings in the six paths of any mundane world may not kill, steal, or lust either physically or mentally, these three aspects of their conducts thus being perfect, yet if they tell lies, the samadhi they attain will not be pure. They will become demons of love and views and will lose the seed of the Thus Come One. They say that they have attained what they have not attained, and what they have been certified when they have not been certified, perhaps they seek to be foremost in the world, the most vererated and superior person. To their audiences they say that they have attained the fruition of a Shrotaapanna, the fruition of a Sakridagamin, the fruition of an Anagamin, the fruition of an Arhat, the Pratyeka Buddha vehicle, or the various levels of Bodhisattvahood up to and including the ten grounds, in order to be revered by others and because they are greedy for offerings. These Icchantikas destroy the seeds of Buddhahood just as surely as a Tala tree is destroyed. The Buddha predicts that such people sever (cut off) their good roots forever and lose their knowledge and vision. Immersed in the sea of the three sufferings, they cannot attain samadhi. I command the Bodhisattvas and Arhats to appear after my extinction in response-bodies in the Dharma-Ending Age, and to take various forms in order to rescue those in the cycle of rebirth. They should either become Shramanas, elite-robed lay people, kings, ministers or officials, virgin youths or maidens, and so forth, even prostitutes, widows, profligates, thieves, butchers, or dealers in contraband, doing the same things as these kinds of people while they praise the Buddha Vehicle and cause them to enter samadhi in body and mind. But they should never say of themselves, ‘I am truly a Bodhisattva;’ or ‘I am truly an Arhat,’ or let the Buddha’s secret cause leak out by speaking casually to those who have not yet studied. How can people who make such claims, other than at the end of their lives and then only to those who inherit the Teaching, be doing anything but deluding and confusing living beings and indulging in a gross false claims? Ananda! When you teach people in the world to cultivate samadhi, they must also cease all lying. This is the fourth clear and unalterable instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones and the Buddhas of the past, World Honored Ones. Therefore, Ananda, one who does not cut off lying is like a person who carves a piece of human excrement to look like Chandana, hoping to make it fragrant. He is attempting the impossible. I teach the Bhikshus that the straight mind is the Bodhimanda and that they should practice the four awesome deportments in all their activities. Since they should be devoid of all falseness, how can they claim to have themselves attained the dharmas of a superior person? That would be like a poor person falsely calling himself an emperor; for that, he would be taken and executed. Much less should one attempt to upsurp the title of dharma king. When the cause-ground is not true, the effects will be distorted. One who seeks the Buddha’s Bodhi in this way is like a person who tries to bite his own navel. Who could possibly succeed? If Bhikshus’ minds are as straight as lute strings, true and real in everything they do, then they can enter samadhi and never be involved in the deeds of demons. I certify that such people will accomplish the Bodhisattvas’ unsurpassed knowledge and enlightenment. What I have said here is the Buddha’s teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan.”
477. The Four Right Efforts
According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are eight occasions for making an effort. Here a monk who has a job to do. He thinks: “I’ve got this job to do, but in doing it I won’t find easy to pay attention to the teaching of the Buddhas. I’ll have to stir up my energy.” And he stirs up sufficient energy to complete the uncompleted, to accomplish the unaccomplished, to realise the unrealised. Here a monk who has done some work, and thinks: “Well, I did the job, but because of it I wasn’t able to pay sufficient attention to the teaching of the Buddhas. So I will stir up sufficient energy.” And he stirs up sufficient energy to complete the uncompleted, to accomplish the unaccomplished, to realise the unrealised. Here a monk who has to go on a journey, and thinks: “I have to go on this journey, but in doing it I won’t find easy to pay attention to the teaching of the Buddhas. I’ll have to stir up energy.” And he stirs up sufficient energy to complete the uncompleted, to accomplish the unaccomplished, to realise the unrealised. Here a monk who has been on a journey, and he thinks: “I have been on a journey, but because of it I wasn’t able to pay sufficient attention to the teaching of the Buddhas. I’ll have to stir up energy.” And he stirs up energy to complete the uncompleted, to accomplish the unaccomplished, to realise the unrealised. Here a monk who goes for alms-round in a village or town and does not get his fill of food, whether coarse or fine, and he thinks: “I’ve gone for alms-round without getting my fill of food. So my body is light and fit. I’ll stir up energy.” And he stirs up energy to complete the uncompleted, to accomplish the unaccomplished, to realise the unrealised. Here a monk who goes for alms-round in a village or town and gets his fill of food, whether coarse or fine, and he thinks: “I’e gone for alms-round and get my fill of food. So my body is strong anf fit. I’ll stir up energy.” And he stirs up energy to complete the uncompleted, to accomplish the unaccomplished, to realise the unrealised. Here a monk who has some slight indisposition, and he thinks: “I get some slight indisposition, and this indisposition might get worse, so I’ll stir up energy.” And he stirs up energy to complete the uncompleted, to accomplish the unaccomplished, to realise the unrealised. Here a monk who is recuperating from an illness, and he thinks: “I am just recuperating from an illness. It might be that the illness will recur. So I’ll stir up energy.” And he stirs up energy to complete the uncompleted, to accomplish the unaccomplished, to realise the unrealised. However, in the “Thirty-Seven Limbs of Enlightenment,” the Buddha taught about the four kinds of Right effort or restrain, or four essentials to be practiced vigilantly. A Sanskrit term for “Effort.” Right Effort of four kinds of restraint, or four essentials to be practiced vigilantly, or four factors that are developed through meditation and moral training. First, endeavor to start performing good deeds (effort to initiate virtues not yet arisen). Bringing forth goodness not yet brought forth (bring good into existence). To induce the doing of good deeds. Here a practitioner rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to produce unarisen wholesome mental states. Second, endeavor to perform more good deeds (effort to consolidate, increase, and not deteriorate virtues already arisen). Developing goodness that has already arisen (develop existing good). To increase merit when it was already produced. To encourage the growth and continuance of good deeds that have already started. Here a practitioner rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to maintain wholesome mental states that have arisen, not to let them fade away, to bring them to greater growth, to the full perfection of development. Third, endeavor to prevent evil from forming (effort not to initiate sins not yet arisen or preventing evil that hasn’t arisen from arising, or to prevent any evil from starting or arising). To prevent demerit from arising. Here a practitioner rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to prevent the arising of unarisen evil unwholesome mental states. Fourth, endeavor to eliminate already-formed evil (effort to eliminate sins already arisen. Putting an end to existing evil or to abandon demerit when it arises or to remove any evil as soon as it starts). Here a practitioner rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts his mind and strives to overcome evil unwholesome mental states that have arisen.
478. Bodhisattva’s Salvation of Sentient Beings
According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, when Manjusri Bodhisattva called to enquire after Vimalakirti’s health, Vimalakirti told Manjusri about “saving sentient beings”. Manjusri asked: “What should a Bodhisattva wipe out in order to liberate living beings?” Vimalakirti replied: “When liberating living beings, a Bodhisattva should first wipe out their klesa (troubles and causes of troubles)?” Manjusri asked: “What should he do to wipe out klesa?” Vimalakirti replied: “He should uphold right mindfulness.” Manjusri asked: “What should he do to uphold right mindfulness?” Vimalakirti replied: “He should advocate the unborn and the undying.” “Manjusri asked: “What is the unborn and what is the undying?” Vimalakirti replied: “The unborn is evil that does not arise and the undying is good that does not end.” Manjusri asked: “What is the root of good and evil?” Vimalakirti replied: “The body is the root of good and evil.” Manjusri asked: “What is the root of the body?” Vimalakirti replied: “Craving is the root of the body.” Manjusri asked: “What is the root of craving?” Vimalakirti replied: “Baseless discrimination is the root of craving.” Manjusri asked: “What is the root of baseless discrimination?” Vimalakirti replied: “Inverted thinking is the root of discrimination.” Manjusri asked: “What is the root of inverted thinking?” Vimalakirti replied: “Non-abiding is the root of inverted thinking.” Manjusri asked: “What is the root of non-abiding?” Vimalakirti replied: “Non-abiding is rootless. Manjusri, from this non-abiding root all things arise.”
479. Bodhisattvas Save All Sentient Beings
According to the Buddha in The Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 25 (Ten Dedications), Enlightening Beings save other sentient beings without any mental image of sentient beings, Enlightening Beings think that first, they may use these roots of goodness universally to benefit all sentient beings, causing them to be purified, to reach the ultimate shore, and to forever leave the innumerable pains and afflictions of the realms of hells, hungry ghosts, animals and asuras (titans). When the great Enlightening Beings plant these roots of goodness, they dedicate their won roots of goodness thus. I should be a hostel for all sentient beings, to let them escape from all painful things. I should be a protector for all sentient beings, to let them all be liberated from all afflictions. I should be a refuge for all sentient beings, to free them from all fears. I should be a goal for all sentient beings, to cause them to reach universal knowledge. I should make a resting place for all sentient beings, to enable them to find a place of peace and security. I should be a light for all sentient beings, to enable them to attain the light of knowledge to annihilate the darkness of ignorance. I should be a torch for all sentient beings, to destroy all darkness of nescience. I should be a lamp for all sentient beings, to cause them to abide in the realm of ultimate purity. I should be a guide for all sentient beings, to lead them into the truth. I should be a great leader for all sentient beings, to give them great knowledge. Great Enlightening Beings dedicate all foundations of goodness in this way, to equally benefit all sentient beings and ultimately cause them all to attain universal knowledge. Enlightening Beings’ protection of and dedication to those who are not their relatives or friends are equal to those for their relatives and friends. Enlightening Beings enter the equal nature of all things, they do not conceive a single thought of not being relatives or friends. Even if there be sentient beings, who have malicious or hostile intentions toward the Enlightening Beings, still the Enlightening Beings also regard them with the eye of compassion and are never angered. Fourth, Enlightened Beings are good friends to all sentient beings. They always explain the right teaching for sentient beings, so that they may learn and practice it. Fifth, Enlightening beings dedicate because they are just as the ocean which cannot be changed or destroyed by all poisons. The various oppressive afflictions of all the ignorant, the unwise, the ungrateful, the wrathful, those poisoned by covetousness, the arrogant and conceited, the mentally blind and deaf, those who do not know what is good, and other such evil sentient beings, cannot disturb the Enlightening Beings; they are just as the sun, appearing in the world not concealed because those who are born blind do not see it, not hidden by the obstruction of such things as mirages, eclipses, trees, high mountains, deep ravines, dust, mist, smoke, or clouds, not concealed by the change of seasons. Enlightening Beings dedicate with great virtues, with deep and broad minds. They dedicate because they want ultimate virtue and knowledge, their minds aspire to the supreme truth; the light of truth illumines everywhere and they perceive the meanings of everything. Their knowledge freely commands all avenues of teaching, and in order to benefit all sentient beings they always practice virtuous ways, never mistakenly conceiving the idea of abandoning sentient beings. Sixth, Enlightening Beings do not reject sentient beings and fail to cultivate dedication because of the meanness of character of sentient beings, or because their eroneous will, ill-will and confusion are hard to quell. Seventh, Enlightening Beings just array themselves with the armor of great vows of Enlightening Beings, saving sentient beings without ever retreating. Eighth, Enlightening Beings do not withdraw from enlightening activity and abandon the path of enlightenment just because sentient beings are ungrateful. Ninth, Enlightening Beings do not get sick of sentient beings just because ignoramuses altogether give up all the foundations of goodness which accord with reality. Tenth, Enlightening Beings do not retreat because sentient beings repeatedly commit excesses and evils which are hard to bear. Eleventh, Great Enlightening Beings do not cultivate roots of goodness and dedicate them to complete perfect enlightenment just for the sake of one sentient being; it is in order to save and safeguard all sentient beings everywhere that they cultivate roots of goodness and dedicate them to unexcelled complete perfect enlightenment. Twelfth, it is not purify just one Buddha-land, not because of belief in just one Buddha, not just to see one Buddha, not just to comprehend one doctrine that they initiate the determination for great knowledge and dedicate it to unexcelled complete perfect enlightenment. It is to purify all Buddha-lands, out of faith in all Buddhas, to serve all Buddhas, to understand all Buddha-teachings, that they initiate great vows, cultivate the foundations of goodness, and dedicate them to unexcelled complete perfect enlightenment. Thirteenth, Enlightening Beings vow that: “By my roots of goodness, may all creatures, all sentient beings, be purified, may they be filled with virtues which cannot be ruined and are inexhaustible. May they always gain respect. May they have right mindfulness and unfailing recollection. May they attain sure discernment. May they be replete with immeasurable knowledge. May all virtues of physical, verbal and mental action fully adorn them.” Fourteenth, Bodhisattvas use these roots of goodness to cause all sentient beings to serve all Buddhas, to their unfailing benefit, to cause all sentient beings’ pure faith to be indestructible, to cause all sentient beings to hear the true teaching, cut off all doubt and confusion, remember the teaching without forgetting it, to cause all sentient beings to cultivate in accord with the teaching, to cause sentient beings to develop respect for the enlightened, to cause sentient beings to act with purity, to rest securely on innumerable great foundations of goodness, to cause all sentient beings to be forever free from poverty, to cause all sentient beings to be fully equipped with the seven kinds of wealth (faith, vigor, shame, learning, generosity, concentration and wisdom), to cause all sentient beings to always learn from the Buddha, to perfect innumerable roots of goodness, to cause sentient beings to attain impartial understanding, to abide in omniscience, to look upon all sentient beings equally with unobstructed eyes, to adorn their bodies with all marks of greatness, without any flaws, beautiful voices, replete with all fine qualities, to have control over their senses, to accomplish the ten powers, to be filled with good will, to dwell or depend on nothing, to cause all sentient beings to attain the enjoyments of Buddhahood and abide in the abode of Buddhas. Fifteenth, seeing sentient beings doing all sorts of bad things and suffering all sorts of misery and pain, and being hindered by this from seeing the Buddha, hearing the teaching and recognizing the community, the enlightening beings vow to enter those states of woe, take on the various miseries in place of the sentient beings, to cause them to be free. Sixteenth, Enlightening Beings suffer pain in this way, but they are not discouraged. In the contrary, they vigorously cultivate without ceasing because they are determined to carry all sentient beings to liberation. They are determined to save all sentient beings and to enable them to attain emancipation, so that they can be free from the realm of pain and troubles of birth, old age, sickness, and death. They are determined to save all sentient beings from revolving in erroneous views, bereft of qualities of goodness. They are determined to save all sentient beings who are wrapped up in the web of attachments, covered by the shroud of ignorance, clinging to all existents, pursuing them unceasingly, entering the cage of suffering, acting like maniacs, totally void of virtue or knowledge, always doubtful and confused, do not perceive the place of peace, do not know the path of emancipation, revolve in birth and death without rest, and always submerged in the mire of suffering. Seventeenth, Enlightening Beings are not seeking liberation for themselves, but they want to use what they practice to cause all sentient beings become supreme sovereign of knowledge, attain the omnicient mind, cross over the flow of birth and death, and be free from all suffering. Eighteenth, Enlightening Beings vow to accept all sufferings for the sake of all sentient beings, and enable them to escape from the abyss of immeasurable woes of birth and death. Nineteenth, Enlightening Beings always vow to accept all sufferings for the sake of all sentient beings in all worlds, in all states of misery forever, but still always cultivate foundations of goodness for the sake of all beings. Twentieth, Enlightening Beings vow that they would rather take all this sufferings on themselves than allow sentient beings to fall into hell, animal, hungry ghost, and asura realms. Twenty-first, Enlightening Beings vow to protect all sentient beings and never abandon them. This is a sincere vow because they set their mind on enlightenment in order to liberate all sentient beings, not seeking the unexcelled way for their own sake. Twenty-second, Enlightening Beings do not cultivate enlightening practice in search of pleasure or enjoyment. Why? Because mundane pleasures are all sufferings and mundane pleasures are the realms of maniacs. Only craved by ignorant people, but scorned by Buddhas because all misery arises from them. The anger, fighting, mutual defamation and such evils of the realms of hells, ghosts, animals and asuras are all caused by greedy attachment to objects of desire. By addiction to desires, one become estranged from the Buddhas and hindered from birth in heaven, to say nothing of unexcelled complete perfect enlightenment. Twenty-third, Enlightening Beings vow to dedicate roots of goodness to enable all sentient beings to attain ultimate bliss, beneficial bliss, the bliss of nonreception, the bliss of dispassionate tranquility, the bliss of imperturbability, immeasurable bliss, the bliss of not rejecting birth and death yet not regressing from nirvana, undying bliss, and the bliss of universal knowledge. Twenty-fourth, for all sentient beings, Enlightening Beings vow to be a charioteer, to be a leader, to be holding the torch of great knowledge and showing the way to safety and peace, freeing them from danger, to use appropriate means to inform sentient beings of the truth. In the ocean of birth and death, they are skillful captains of the ship, who know how to deliver sentient beings to the other shore. Twenty-fifth, Enlightening Beings dedicate all their roots of goodness and save sentient beings by employing means appropriate to the situation to cause them to emerge from birth and death, to serve and provide for all the Buddhas, to attain unhindered, omnicient knowledge, to abandon all maniacs and bad associates, to approach all Enlightening Beings and good associates, to annihilate all error and wrongdoing, to perfect pure behavior, and to fulfill the great practical vows and innumerable virtues of Enlightening Beings. Twenty-sixth, sentient beings cannot save themselves, how can they save others? Only Enlightening Beings have this unique determination of cultivating amass roots of goodness and dedicate them in this way to liberate all sentient beings, to illumine all sentient beings, to guide all sentient beings, to enlighten all sentient beings, to watch over and attend to all sentient beings, to take care of all sentient beings, to perfect all sentient beings, to gladden all sentient beings, to bring happiness to all sentient beings, and to cause all sentient beings to become freed from doubt. Twenty-seventh, Enlightening Beings’ dedications should be like the sun shining universally on all without seeking thanks or reward; not abandoning all sentient beings because one sentient being is evil, just diligently practicing the dedications of roots of goodness to cause all sentient beings to attain peace and ease. Enlightening Beings are able to take care of all sentient beings even if they are bad, never giving up their vows on this account. Even if their roots of goodness be few, but because they want to embrace all sentient beings, so they always make a great dedication with a joyful heart. If one has roots of goodness but does not desire to benefit all sentient beings, that is not called dedication. When every single root of goodness is directed toward all sentient beings, that is called dedication. Twenty-eighth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication to place sentient beings in the true nature of things where there is no attachment. Twenty-ninth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication to see that the intrinsic nature of sentient beings doesn’’ move or change. Thirtieth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without depending on or grasping dedication. Thirty-first, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without attachment to the appearances of roots of goodness. Thirty-second, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without false ideas about essential nature of consequences of actions. Thirty-third, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without attachment to the characteristics of the five clusters of material and mental existence. Thirty-fourth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without destroying the charateristics of the five clusters. Thirty-fifth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without grasping action. Thirty-sixth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without seeking reward. Thirty-seventh, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without attachment to causality. Thirty-eighth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without imagining what is producing by causality. Thirty-ninth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without attachment to reputation. Fortieth, Enlightening beings cultivate dedication without attachment to location. Forty-first, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without attachment to unreal things. Forty-second, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without attachment to images of sentient beings, the world, or mind. Forty-third, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without creating delusions of mind, delusions of concepts, or delusions of views. Forty-fourth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication without attachment to verbal expression. Forty-fifth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication observing the true nature of all things. Forty-sixth, Enlightening beings cultivate dedication observing the aspects in which all sentient beings are equal. Forty-seventh, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication stamping all roots of goodness with the seal of the realm of truth. Forty-eighth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication observing all things dispassionately; they understand that all things have no propagation and that roots of goodness are also thus. Forty-ninth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication observing that things are nondual, unborn, and unperishing. Fiftieth, Enlightening Beings use such roots of goodness to cultivate and practice pure methods of curing spiritual ills. Fifty-first, all of their roots of goodness are in accord with transcendental principles, but they do not conceive of them dualistically. Fifty-second, it is not in their deeds that they cultivate omniscience. Fifty-third, Enlightening Beings cultivate omniscience, but it is not apart from deeds that they cultivate omniscience. Omniscience is not identical to action, but omniscience is not attained apart from action either. Because their action is pure as light, the consequences are also pure as light; because the consequences are pure as light, omniscience is also pure as light. They detach from all confusions and thoughts of self and possession, Enlightening Beings skillfully cultivate dedication of all roots of goodness. Fifty-fourth, Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication in this way to liberate sentient beings ceaselessly; they do not dwell on appearances. Though they know that in all things there is no action and no consequences, yet they can skillfully produce all deeds and consequences without opposition or contention. Enlightening Beings cultivate dedication, free from all faults and are praised by all Buddhas.
Salvation may be understood as the deliverance of someone from destruction, sufferings, afflictions, and so on, and to bring that person to the state of being safe from destructive forces, natural or supernatural. To other religions, salvation means deliverance from sin and death, and admission to a so-called “Eternal Paradise”. These are religions of deliverance because they give promise of some form of deliverance. They believe that a person’s will is important, but grace is more necessary and important to salvation. Those who wish to be saved must believe that they see a supernatural salvation of an almighty creator in their lives. In Buddhism, the concept of salvation is strange to all sincere Buddhists. One time, the Buddha told His disciples: “The only reason I have come into the world is to teach others. However, one very important thing is that you should never accept what I say as true simply because I have said it. Rather, you should test the teachings yourselves to see if they are true or not. If you find that they are true and helpful, then practice them. But do not do so merely our of respect for me. You are your own savior and no one else can do that for you.” One other time, the Buddha gently patted the crazy elephant and turned to tell Ananda: “The only way to destroy hatred is with love. Hatred cannot be defeated with more hatred. This is a very important lesson to learn.” Before Nirvana, the Buddha himself advised his disciples: “When I am gone, let my teachings be your guide. If you have understood them in your heart, you have no more need of me. Remember what I have taught you. Craving and desire are the cause of all sufferings and afflictions. Everything sooner or later must change, so do not become attached to anything. Instead devote yourselves to clearing your minds and finding true and lasting happiness.” These are the Buddha’s golden speeches on some of the concepts of salvation.
In salvation, Mahayana Buddhism has temporary manifestation for saving, coverting and transporting beings. It is difficult for ordinary people like us to understand the teaching with infinite compassion of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Sometimes, they uses their speech to preach the dharma, but a lot of times they use their way of life such as retreating in peace, strictly following the precepts to show and inspire others to cultivate the way. “Temporary manifestation for saving beings” means temporarily appear to save sentient beings. The power of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to transform themselves into any kind of temporal body in order to aid beings. Salvation includes converting and Transporting (to teach and save, to rescue and teach). To transform other beings. The region, condition, or environment of Buddha instruction or conversion. Salvation also means any land which a Buddha is converting, or one in which the transformed body of a Buddha. These lands are of two kinds: pure like Tusita heaven and vile or unclean like this world. T’ien-T’ai defines the transformation realm of Amitabha as the Pure Land of the West. Other schools speak of the transformation realm as the realm on which depends the nirmanakaya. According to Tao-Ch’o (562-645), one of the foremost devotees of the Pure Land school, in his Book of Peace and Happiness, one of the principal sources of the Pure Land doctrine. All the Buddhas save sentient beings in four ways. First, by oral teachings such recorded in the twelve divisions of Buddhist literature. Second, by their physical features of supernatural beauty. Third, by their wonderful powers and virtues and transformations. Fourth, by recitating of their names, which when uttered by beings, will remove obstacles and result their rebirth in the presence of the Buddha.