THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
541. Bodhisattvas’ Ten Appelations
542. The Quest For Truth
543. Behaviors of the Saints
544. The Unwritten Sacred Literature
545. Saint Wisdom Without Words
546. The Statue of the Buddha
547. Four Courses of Attainment of Buddhahood
548. Five Kinds of Anagamins
549. Six Stages of Bodhisattva Developments
550. The Challenges in the Path of Cultivation
551. Eight Things That Lead to The Cutting Off of Affairs
552. Ten Actions Which Produce No Regrets
553. Three Reasons for Demonic Obstructions
554.Three Gradual Stages
556. Formless Realms
557. The Buddha-Lands
558. Three Forms of Knowledge
559. Five-fold Dharma-Body Refuge of the Self-Nature
541. Bodhisattvas’ Ten Appelations
According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, after accomplishing cultivating ten ways of generating the qualities of Buddhahood, Enlightening Beings will attain these ten appellations of greatness (See ten ways of generating the qualities of Buddhahood). First, they are called Beings of Enlightenment because they are born of knowledge of enlightenment. Second, they are called Great Beings because they dwell in the Great Vehicle. Third, they are called Foremost Beings because they realize the foremost truth. Fourth, they are called Superior Beings because they are aware of high laws. Fifth, they are called Supreme Beings because their knowledge is supreme. Sixth, they are called Exalted Beings because they reveal the unexcelled teaching. Seventh, they are called Beings of Power because they have extensive knowledge of the ten powers. Eighth, they are called Incomparable Beings because they have no peer in the world. Ninth, they are called Inconceivable Beings because they become Buddhas in an instant. Tenth, Enlightening beings win these appellations accomplish the Paths of Enlightening Beings.
542. The Quest For Truth
According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten kinds of quest for truth of Great Enlightening Beings. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can attain great knowledge of all elements of Buddhahood without being instructed by another. First, quest for truth with a straightforward mind, being free from dishonesty. Secơnd, diligent quest for truth, being free from laziness. Third, wholly devoted quest for truth, not begrudging their lives. Fourth, quest for truth to destroy all sentient beings’ afflictions, not doing it for fame, profit, or respect. Fifth, quest for truth to benefit self and others, all sentient beings, not just helping themselves. Sixth, quest for truth to enter knowledge of wisdom, not taking pleasure in literature. Seventh, quest for truth to leave birth and death, not craving worldly pleasures. Eighth, quest for truth to liberate sentient beings, engendering the determination for enlightenment. Ninth, quest for truth to resolve the doubts of all sentient beings, to free them from vacillation. Tenth, quest for truth to fulfill Buddhahood, not being inclined to lesser aims.
543. Behaviors of the Saints
The term “noble” or “wise” is equivalent with the Sanskrit term of “Arya”, which means a person who has attained the path of seeing (darsana-marga), the third of the five Buddhist paths. In Mahayana, this means that such a person has had directed experience of emptiness (sunyata). In Buddhism, a “sage” is the one who is wise and good, and is correct in all his characters. According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are the four holy ways. First, being content with wearing rags from dust-heaps. Here a monk is content with any old robe, praises such contentment, and does not try to obtain robes improperly or unsuitably. He does not worry if he does not get a robe, and if he does, he is not full of greedy, blind desire, but makes use of it, aware of such dangers and wisely aware of its true purpose. Nor is he conceited about being thus content with any old robe, and he does not disparage others. And one who is thus skilful, not lax, clearly aware and mindful, is known as a monk who is true to the ancient, original Ariyan lineage. Second, being content with any alms-food he may get (similar as in the firs paragraph). Third, being content with any old lodging-place or sitting under trees (similar as in the firs paragraph). Fourth, entire withdrawal from the world or fond of abandoning (similar as in the firs paragraph). According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are four Ariyan modes of speech: retraining from lying, refraining from slandering, refraining from abusing or using rude words, and refraining from iddle gossip. There are also four more Ariyan modes of speech: stating that one has not seen, known what one has not seen, stating that one has not heard, known what one has not heard, stating that one has not sensed, known what one has not sensed, and stating that one has not known, known what one has not known. There are also four more Ariyan modes of speech: stating that one has seen, known what one has seen, stating that one has heard, known what one has heard, stating that one has sensed, known what one has sensed, and stating that one has known, known what one has known.
544. The Unwritten Sacred Literature
A Sanskrit term for “noble” or “wise.” A person who has attained the path of seeing (darsana-marga), the third of the five Buddhist paths. In Mahayana, this means that such a person has had directed experience of emptiness (sunyata). In Buddhism, a “sage” is the one who is wise and good, and is correct in all his characters. According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in the Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, the whole collection of the sacred literature authorized by the Council was not written on paper or palm leaf during a period of about four hundred years. It is well known that Brahmanism has never written down its Vedic literature even to this day, especially those revealed texts called “Hearing” (Sruti). We may imagine that Buddhism simply followed the example of the older religion, but there were other reasons as well. First, they dare not desecrate the sweet voice and kindly words of the Blessed One by putting them down in the profane letters of a foreign origin. The Buddha had once forbidden the translation of his words into the Vedic sanskrit. How much less would it please him to write his words in the foreign Accadian alphabet, which was used only for commercial and popular purposes? Secondly, the language they adopted in the council was, in all probability, a commingled one, something like the Pali language, that is, the language of Pataliputra. It was not advisable that their sacred language and literature should be open to the public, especially when there were some dissenting elders of a free-thinking tendency. Thirdly, to put the Buddha’s holy words to letters might have seemed to them a sacrilege just as depicting his sacred image in painting or sculpture. At any rate, the whole literature was kept in memory and was not committed to writing until about four centuries later. The Buddhist community, quite different from that of the Brahmans, was an assortment of all four castes coming from all quarters, and was not suitable for a serious recital of the holy words. The result was an imperfect transmission. Fearing the loss and distortion of the original teachings, King Vattagamani of Ceylon gave orders to commit the whole literature to writing in Sinhalese characters, about the year 80 B.C.
545. Saint Wisdom Without Words
Supreme wisdom, or the wisdom of a saint, whereby one is enabled to look into the deepest recesses of consciousness in order to grasp the inmost truth hidden away from the sight of ordinary understanding.The Saint wisdom is the ultimate truth points to the realization of supreme wisdom in the inmost consciousness, and does not belong to the realm of words and discriminative intellect; thus discrimination fails to reveal the ultimate truth. However, the lamp of words is useful to illuminate the passage to final enlightenment. The Saint wisdom is also the wisdom of the Buddha, or the saints or the sages; the wisdom which is above all particularization, i.e. the wisdom of transcendental truth, sage-like or saint-like knowledge.
546. The Statue of the Buddha
According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, none of the earlier sculptures of sanchi and Barhut represent the Buddha in huma figure. It is remarkable to us that the principle events of the Buddha’s life have been fully given in sculture without a figure of the hero. How was that possible? The Buddha at birthis represented by a full blooming lotus; the Buddha in Enlightenment by the Bodhi tree with a rail around it; the Buddha in his first preaching by a wheel, above which a tri-ratna mark is sometimes added; the Buddha in his begging round, or mendicancy, by a bowl; and the like. If suggestion be a means of true art, the early Buddhist artists understood it perfectly and utilized the idea skilfully for practical purposes. However, all this does not necessarily mean that the elders did not represent the Buddha at all during his lifetime, for there is a legend which tells of their making an image for the purpose of offering veneration during the Buddha’s absence. They were formalistic and realistic, and so if the Buddha was actually before them, they had a right to depict him in painting or sculture. Now that he had passed into Nirvana, however, it was improper to represent the one who no longer really lived. It was after a considerable development of the Gandhara art that the southern school of Buddhism began to have images of Buddha. This was believed at about the same time when the Buddha’s teachings were committed to writing, i.e., 80 B.C. The elders of idealistic and free-thinking tendencies, whom we might regard as the forerunners of the Mahayana, would not hold any meetings for the rehearsal of the Buddha’s sermons, nor would they enlarge upon their Vinaya rules beyond what was laid down by the Buddha himself. They would commit those sacred words to memory or to writing as they pleased. They did not hesitate in using their talents in painting or sculture to depict the Buddha’s image according to their own ideal of beauty and perfection, as they did in the Gandhara art. The trend of the free-thinking mind can also be seen in the metaphysical treatises of the Optionalists (Vaibhasikas), in which several opinions about dharmas or higher dharmas (abhidharmas) are gathered together and some optional ones have been selected and recommended for study. Though the Vaishasika School belonged to the Hinayana, it already betrayed a tendency toward the free-thinking school. Such free-thinking people would be bold in exegesis, erudition, annotation, or in forming and expressing opinion. This, however, does not mean that they departed from the original teachings of the Buddha.
547. Four Courses of Attainment of Buddhahood
According to the Mahavastu, there are four courses of attainment of Buddhahood. The first stage is the Prakrticarya. In this carya, an individual is expected to be obedient to his parents, to the Sramanas and Brahmins, and to the elders, to perform good deeds, to instruct others to offer gifts, and to worship the Buddhas. While a being is in this carya, he is just a common being and not a Bodhisattva. Sakyamuni Buddha practised this Carya from the time of Aparajitadhvaja Buddha. The second stage is the Pranidhi. This consists in a being’s resolving to attain Bodhi in due course. Sakyamuni took this resolution five times in the course of his many existences as the ancient Sakyamuni Buddha, whose life extended over aeons. The third stage is the Anuloma. It is a continuation of the previous Carya, and consists in acquiring the virtues necessary to become a Buddha. Sakyamuni began this Carya at the time of Samitavi Buddha. During the second and third Caryas, a Bodhisattva acquires the virtues mentioned in the Jatakas and advances from the first to the eight bhumi. Sakyamuni reached the seventh bhumi, when he was born as prince Kusa. The fourth stage is the Avivarta or Anivartana. This is called a non-returning Carya. It commences with the Bodhisattva reaching the eighth Bhumi when retrogression becomes impossible for him. When Sakyamuni was reborn as Meghamanava, he reached this Carya the time of Dipankara Buddha, who confirmed his ultimate success in attaining Bodhi. It was reconfirmed by Sarvabhibhu Budha when Sakyamuni was born as Abhiya or Abhiji Bhikshu. Subsequently, the Bodhisattva was born innumerable times in order to cross the eighth and ninth bhumis. He ultimately reached the tenth bhumi to be born as Jyotipalamanava and given Yauvarajyabhiseka by Kasyapa Buddha, at last becoming the god of gods in the Tusita Heaven. He was to complete the tenth bhumi as Gautama Buddha under the Bodhi tree at Gaya.
548. Five Kinds of Anagamins
According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five kinds of anagamins (Na Hàm) who never return to the desire-real. First, the “less-than-half-timer”. The anagamin who enters on the intermediate stage between the realm of desire and the higher realm of form. Second, the “more-than-half-timer”. The anagamin who is born into the form world and soon overcome the remains of illusions. Third, the “gainer with exertion”. The anagamin who diligently works his way through the final stage. Fourth, the “gainer without exertion”. The anagamin whose final departure is delayed through lack of aid and slackness. Fifth, he who goes upstreamto the highest. The anagamin who proceeds from lower to higher heavens into nirvana.
549. Six Stages of Bodhisattva Developments
The six stages of Bodhisattva developments as defined in the T’ien-T’ai Perfect or Final Teaching, in contrast with the ordinary six developments as found in the Differentiated or Separated School. As for the external or common to all, there are two stages: the theoretical realization and the apprehension of terms. The first stage is the theoretical realization that all beings are of Buddha-nature. The second stage is the apprehension of terms. First step in practical advance that those who only hear and believe are in the Buddha-law and potentially Buddha. As for the internal for all, there are four stages: advance beyond terminology to meditation, semblance stage, real wisdom, and fruition of holiness. The third stage is the advance beyond terminology to meditation, or study and accordant action. The fourth stage is the semblance stage, or approximation of truth and its progressive experiential proof. The fifth stage during which the real wisdom is gradually opened, the screen of ignorance is gradually rolled up, the mind is clearer and clearer to totally clear. The sixth stage is the fruition of holiness, during which all ignorance and delusions will be destroyed to attain Perfect enlightenment.
550. The Challenges in the Path of Cultivation
In the path of cultivation, we will surely encounter a lot of challenges. Devout Buddhists should always try to overcome these challenges so that we can have peace in our body and mind. First of all, there are ten disturbers of the religious life. They are domineering spirit, heretical ways, dangerous amusements, a butcher’s or other low occupations, asceticism or selfish Hinayana salvation, the condition of an eunuch, thoughts of lust, endangering the character by improper intimacy, contempt, and breeding animals for slaughter. Next, we must talk about the challenges of pride and envy. Devout Buddhists should always remember that envy is generated by one’s feeling of inferiority, while pride, haughtiness, and arrogance are born from a false sense of superiority. These kinds of pride and arrogance are caused by looking at things from a distorted, self-centered point of view. Those who have truly understood the Buddha’s teachings and been able to obtain a right view of things will never succumb to such warped thinking. Jealousy means to be jealous of another person thinking he or she has more talent than we do (to become envious of the who surpass us in one way or other). Jealousy can be a consuming fire in our mind, a state of suffering. In meditation, if we want to eliminate jealousy, we should see and feel it without judgment or condemnation for judgment and condemnation only nourish jealousy in our mind. The next challenges are the challenges of “doubt”. Doubt signifies spiritual doubt, from a Buddhist perspective the inability to place confidence in the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, and the training. Doubt, as wavering uncertainty, a hindrance and fetter to be removed. One of the mula-klesa, or root causes of suffering. Skepticism, one of the five hindrances one must eliminate on entering the stream of saints. Vichikiccha is a Pali term, a combination of “vi”, means without; and “cikiccha” means medicine. One who suffers from perplexity is really suffering from a dire disease, and unless he sheds his doubts, he will continue to worry over and suffer from this illness. As long as man is subject to this mental itch, this sitting on the fence, he will continue to take a skeptical view of things which is most detrimental to mental ability to decide anything definitely; it also includes doubt with regard to the possibility of attaining the jhanas. “Doubt”has many categories: doubt of self, doubt of teacher, and doubt of dharma. According to Venerable Thích Hải Quang in the Letters to Buddhist Followers, there are four types of doubts. First, doubts of the body, doubting that whether in the past one had a body or not? Doubting that whether at the present this body really exists or not? Doubting that whether in the future one will have another body or not (one will be reincarnated or not)? Doubting that in the past and in the future, whether one will have a male’s or female’s body? Second, doubts of Life, doubting that whether there is life and body or there is body but no life? Doubting that life and body are permanent or impermanent? Doubting about who created this life and body? Doubt that the body was created by Isvaradeva (God of Free-Will), was created through time or evolution, was naturally created, was created by the nature of life, and so on. Doubt that this body was created from the soil. Doubting that if the body was not formed from the soil, then how come once it deteriorates it returns to the soil? Doubting that the body was created by dharma or not dharma. Doubting that this body was created by karma or not karma. Doubting that this body was created by afflictions. Doubting that whether this body was created by parents or not. The third doubt is the doubts of Self. Doubting where does the Self come from and where will it go? Doubting if there is a Self, then does that Self have form or doesn’t have form? Doubting if there is Self, then does that Self have characteristics or doesn’t it have characteristics? Doubting whether the Self exists within the body or outside the body? Doubting whether the Self exists within the mind or within the eyes? Doubting about what type of the Self in the past (was it an animal, a human, and how did it behave, etc)? Doubting about what will be the type of the Self in the future? The fourth doubt is the doubts about Transgressions. Doubting if killing living things (animals) is considered transgressions or not? Doubting if drinking alcohol or other substances is considered a transgression or not? Doubting one’s transgressions are created by the individual or created by someone else? Doubting if transgressions are created will one reap the retribution or will the Self reap those retributions? Besides, there are also five kinds of Doubt. These are five doubts that lurk in the shadows of the human mind and tend to discourage faith. First, doubt in the Buddha’s wisdom. Second, doubt in the Buddha’s Teachings. Third, doubt in the person who explains the Buddha’s teachings. Fourth, doubt as to whether the ways and methods suggested for following the Noble Path are reliable. Fifth, doubt in the sincerity of others who understand and follow the Buddha’s teachings. In addition, there are five more kinds of doubt. These doubts that cause the practitioner to be filled with anger and resistance, but also cause his or her mind become deluded. There are five kinds of doubt that lead to a deluded mind. The first doubt is regarding the Buddha, the great master who showed the path to enlightenment. The second doubt is regarding the Dharma, the path that leads to liberation. The third doubt is regarding the Sangha, the noble ones who have uprooted some or all of the afflictions. The fourth is the doubt of oneself, of one’s own morality and method of practice. The last is the doubt of other people, including one’s master and other fellow practitioners. Doubting is natural. Everyone starts with doubts. We can learn a great deal from them. What is important is that we do not identify with our doubts. That is, do not get caught up in them, letting our mind spin in endless circles. Instead, watch the whole process of doubting, of wondering. See who it is that doubts. See how doubts come and go. Then we will no longer be victimized by our doubts. We will step outside of them, and our mind will be quiet. We can see how all things come and go. Let go of our doubts and simply watch. This is how to end doubting. The next challenge is stealing. “Stealing” means taking possession of anything that has not been given by its owner or stealing, is also wrong, even legally speaking. Stealing, one of the four grave prohibitions or sins in Buddhism. Stealing is taking what isn’t given to us. It includes not paying taxes or fees that are due, borrowing things and not returning them, and taking things from our workplace for our own personal use. A Bhiksu or Bhiksuni who steals or violates the property of another, whether the property is privately or publicly owned, breaks the second of the Four Degradation Offences. He or she is no longer worthy to remain a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni and cannot participate in the activities of the Order of Bhiksus or Order of Bhiksunis. Devout Buddhists should not steal for any reasons. Not to steal means one should not steal anything from others; not to steal also means that one should not rob other’s rights. Not to take anything which does not belong to you or what is not given to you. Refraining from taking what is not given. Adattadana-viratih means not directly or indirectly taking other’s belongings. On the contrary, one should give things, not only to human beings, but also to animals. The Buddha always taught in his sutras “desire brings great misfortune; giving brings great fortune.”
551. Eight Things That Lead to the Cutting Off of Affairs
According to the Potaliya Sutta in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, there are eight things in the Noble One’s Discipline that lead to the cutting off of affairs. First, “with the support of the non-killing of living beings, the killing of living beings is to be abandoned.” So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? Here a noble disciple considers thus: ‘I am practicing the way to abandoning and cutting off of those fetters because of which I might kill living beings. If I were to kill living beings, I would blame myself for doing so; the wise, having investigated, would censure me for doing so; and on the dissolution of the body, after death, because of killing living beings an unhappy destination would be expected. But this killing of living beings is itself a fetter and a hindrance. And while taints, vexation, and fever might arise through the killing of living beings, there are no taints, vexation, and fever in one who abstains from killing living beings.’ So it is with reference to this that it was said: “With the support of the non-killing of living beings, the killing of living beings is to be abandoned.” Second, “with the support of taking only what is given, the taking of what is not given is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as in 1). Third, “with the support of truthful speech, false speech is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as in 1). Fourth, “with the support unmalicious speech, malicious speech is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as in 1). Fifth, “with the support of refraining from rapacious greed, rapacious greed is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as in 1). Sixth, “with the support of refraining from spiteful scolding, spiteful scolding is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as in 1). Seventh, “with the support of refraining from angry despair, angry despair is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as in 1). Eighth, “with the support of non-arrogance, arrogance is to be abandoned.” (the rest remains the same as in 1).
552. Ten Actions Which Produce No Regrets
First, not killing. Second, not stealing. Third, not committing sexual misconduct. Fourth, not lying. Fifth, not telling a fellow-Buddhist’s sins. Sixth, not drinking wine. Seventh, not praising oneself and discrediting others. Eighth, not being mean to other beings. Ninth, not being angry. Tenth, not defaming the Triratna.
553. Three Reasons for Demonic Obstructions
According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Thirteen Patriarchs of Pureland Buddhism, practicing Buddha Recitation also has the element of demonic obstructions, for the three reasons. First, not having a firm foundation and understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. Second, not encountering a good knowledgeable advisor or having virtuous friends. Third, not knowing how to practice mental reflection of one’s self, or lacking self-awareness. This is the most crucial point among the three.
554. Three Gradual Stages
According to the Surangama Sutra, book Eight, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the three gradual stages as follows: “Ananda! As you cultivate towards certification to the samadhi of the Buddha, you will go through three gradual stages in order to get rid of the basic cause of these random thoughts. They work in just the way that poisonous honey is removed from a pure vessel that is washed with hot water mixed with the ashes of incense. Afterwards it can be used to store sweet dew. What are the three gradual stages? The first is to correct one’s habits by getting rid of the aiding causes; the second is to truly cultivate to cut out the very essence of karmic offenses; the third is to increase one’s vigor to prevent the manifestation of karma. First, what are aiding causes? Ananda! The twelve categories of livign beings in this world are not complete in themselves, but depend on four kinds of eating ; that is, eating by portions, eating by contact, eating by thought, and eating by consciousness. Therefore, the Buddha said that all living beings must eat to live. Ananda! All living beings can live if they eat what is sweet, and they will die if they take poison. Beings who seek samadhi should refrain from eating five pungent plants of this world. The Buddha explained in depth the ill-effects of eating pungent plants. If these five are eaten cooked, they increase one’s sexual desire; if they are eaten raw, they increase one’s anger. Therefore, even if people in this world who eat pungent plants can expound the twelve divisions of the sutra canon, the gods and immortals of the ten directions will stay far away from them because they smell so bad. However, after they eat these things, the hungry ghosts will hover around and kiss their lips. Being always in the presence of ghosts, their blessings and virtue dissolve as the day go by, and they experience no lasting benefit. People who eat pungent plants and also cultivate samadhi will not be protected by the Bodhisattvas, gods, immortals, or good spirits of the ten directions; therefore, the tremendously powerful demon kings, able to do as they please, will appear in the body of a Buddha and speak Dharma for them, denouncing the prohibitive precepts and praising lust, rage, and delusion. When their lives end, these people will join the retinue of demon kings. When they use up their blessings as demons, they will fall into the Unintermittent Hell. Ananda! Those who cultivate for Bodhi should never eat the five pungent plants. This is the first of the gradual stages of cultivation. The second gradual stage is the proper nature. What is proper nature? Ananda! Beings who want to enter samadhi must first firmly uphold the pure precepts. They must sever thoughts of lust, not partake of wine or meat, and eat cooked rather than raw foods. Ananda! If cultivators do not sever lust and killing, it will be impossible for them to transcend the triple realm. Ananda! You should look upon lustful desire as upon a poisonous snake or a resentful bandit. First hold to the sound-hearer’s four or eight parajikas in order to control your physical activity; then cultivate the Bodhisattva’s pure regulations in order to control your mental activity. When the prohibitive precepts are successfully upheld, one will not create karma that leads to trading places in rebirth and to killing one another in this world. If one does not steal, one will not be indebted, and one will not have to pay back past debts in this world. If people who are pure in this way cultivate samadhi, they will naturally be able to contemplate the extent of the worlds of the ten directions with the physical body given them by their parents; without need of the heavenly eye, they will see the Buddhas speaking Dharma and receive in person the sagely instruction. Obtaining spiritual penetrations, they will roam through the ten directions, gain clarity regarding past lives, and will not encounter difficulties and dangers. This is the second of the gradual stages of cultivation. Third, the countering of the manifestations of their karma. What is the manifestation of karma? They should counter the manifestations of their karma. Ananda! Such people as these , who are pure and who uphold the prohibitive precepts, do not have thoughts of greed and lust, and so they do not become dissipated in the pursuit of the six external defiling sense-objects. Because they do not pursuit them, they turn around to their own source. Without the conditions of the defiling objects, there is nothing for the sense-organs to match themselves with, and so they reverse their flow, become one unit, and no longer function in six ways. All the lands of the ten directions are as brilliantly clear and pure as moonlight reflected in crystal. Their bodies and minds are blissful as they experience the equality of wonderful perfection, and they attain great peace. The secret perfection and pure wonder of all the Thus Come Ones appear before them. These people then obtain patience with the non-production of dharmas. They thereupon gradually cultivate according to their practices, until they reside securely in the sagely positions. This is the third of the gradual stages of cultivation.
A country, native land or abode of a race, or races. According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, one of the three worlds, the world of countries on which people depend on for existence. The land of reward or the Pure Land, inhabited by the highest Bodhisattvas. The land in which a Buddha himself dwells. The Pure Land. Also called the Pure Land of all Buddhas in their Sambhogakaya. There are two kinds. First, the reward land of a Buddha in which all beings are able to seek salvation on their own, the third of the four Buddha-ksetra or Buddha-domains, that in which there is complete response to his teaching and powers. Second, reward land of a Buddha, in which all beings receive and obey his truth. According to the Great Vairocana Sutra, the Buddha as Buddhaksetra, or abode of the living; the world as the body of Vairocana. Land of transformation is the land where Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dwell, whether the Pure Land or any impure world where they live for its enlightenment. Medicine Buddha’s Land is the world of the Medicine Buddha. According to the Medicine Buddha Sutra, the Buddhaland has always been completely pure; there are no women, no evil destinies, and no sounds of suffering. The ground is made of vaidurya, with golden cords lining the roads. The city walls, towers, palace pavilions, studios, windows, and latticework are all made of the seven treasures. The merit, virtue, and adornments of this land are identical to those of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. In this world, there are two Bodhisattvas named Universally Radiant Sunlight and Universally Radiant Moonlight. Fragrance Land or Hsiang-Chi, the Buddha of Fragrance Land, described in the Vimalakirti Sutra. The inhabitants live on the odour of incense, which surpasses that of all other lands.
Four Saha Continents or four great continents of a world. According to ancient Buddhist cosmology, there are four inhabited continens of every universe. They are land areas and situated in the four directions around Mount Sumeru. First, the Northern Continent (Uttarakuru). The northern of the four continents around Meru, square in shape, inhabited by square-faced people. Northern continent where life is always pleasant. One of the nine divisions of the world in traditional Indian cosmology. This is the country of the northern continent, situated in the north of India (Jambudvipa), and described as the country of eternal beautitude. It is said to be square, measuring 20,000 yojanas per side. Beings there are described as follows: Superior to or higher than other continents and Superior. Also called superior life because human life there was supposed to last a thousand years and food was produced without human effort. This is the dwelling of gods and saints in Brahmanic cosmology. Second, the Southern Continent (Jambudvipa). This is the human world, the world in which we are living. Jambudvipa is a small part of Saha World, the realm of Sakyamuni Buddha. The southernmost of the four great land masses (catur-dvipa) of traditional Buddhist cosmology. It is said to be named after the Jambu tree that grows there. It measures 2,000 yojanas on three sides, and its fourth side is only three-and-a-half yojanas long. The Southern Continent, one of the four continents, that situated south of Mount Meru, comprising the world known to the early Indian. According to Eitel in The Dictionary of Chinese-English Buddhist Terms, Jambudvipa includes the following countries around the Anavatapta lake and the Himalayas. Third, the Western Continent (Godana, Aparagodana, or Avaragodanuyah). West Continent, where oxen are used as money; the western of the four continents of every world, circular in shape and with circular-faced people. The Eastern Continent (Purva-Videha). The eastern of the four great continents of a world, east of Mount Meru, semicircular in shape. The continent conquering spirits, semi-lunar in shape; its people having faces of similar shape.
According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, there are three worlds. First, the world of proper enlightenment in which the Buddha is the Dharma King, who is the ruler. This also includes the realms of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and worthy sages (who have already awakened to the ultimate truth). Second, the world of utensils which is the world of things, of utensils, such as mountains, rivers, houses, etc. The gods and dragons of the eightfold division are the rulers of this world. The world of countries on which people depend for existence. Third, the world of living beings coincides with the world of proper retribution, that is, our body. According to the Pure Land Sect, there are four Buddha-ksetra, or realms. First, where common beings and saints dwell together, which includes Impure land (Saha world), where all beings are subject to transmigration; and the Pure Land. Second, the sphere where beings are still subject to higher forms of transmigration. According to the T’ien-T’ai Sect, this is the realm which is temporary, where beings still subject to higher forms of transmigration, the abode of Srotapanna (Tu đà hườn), Sakrdagamin (Tư đà hàm), Anagamin (A na hàm), and Arhat (A la hán). Third, the bodhisattva realm, the final unlimited reward. Fourth, Buddha-parinirvana, where permanent tranquility and enlightenment reign. According to the T’ien-T’ai Sect, there are four Buddha-ksetra, or realms. First, the land of common residence of beings and saints. The realms where all classes dwell (men, devas, Buddhas, disciples, non-disciples, to ordinary beings of the six lower worlds, hells, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras, men dwell together). Lands where saints (Buddhas and Bodhisattvas) and ordinary people (six lower and six upper worlds) dwell together. The land of common residence of beings and saints include the Common Residence Impure Land and the Common Residence Pure Land. Second, the Land of Expediency or temporary realms, where the occupants have got rid of the evils of unenlightened views and thoughts, but still have to be reborn. This is the Land of Expedient Liberation, inhabited by Arhats and lesser Bodhisattvas. Third, realms of permanent reward and freedom, for those who have attained bodhisattva rank. This is the Land of Real Reward, inhabited by the highest Bodhisattvas. Fourth, the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light, in which Buddhas dwell. Realm of eternal rest and light (wisdom) and of eternal spirit (dharmakaya), the abode of Buddhas; but in reality all the others are included in this, and are only separated for convenience’ sake. Besides, there are five Buddha-ksetra. The five dependencies, the realms or conditions of a Buddha. First, the Buddha’s dharmakaya-ksetra, or realm of his spiritual nature, depend on and yet identical with Bhutatathata. Second, the Buddha’s sambhogakaya realm with its five immortal skandhas, i.e. his glorified body for his own enjoyment. Third, the land or condition of his self-expression as wisdom. Fourth, the Buddha’s sambhogakaya realm for the joy of others. Fifth, the realm on which the Buddha’s nirmanakaya depends, which results in his relation to every kind of condition.
556. Formless Realms
The formless realm or the realm beyond form. This is the realm of the higher deities. The formless or immaterial realm of pure spirit. There are no bodies, palaces, things. Where the mind dwells in mystic contemplation. Its extent is indefinable in the four “empty” regions of spaces (Tứ không xứ). One of the “three worlds” (triloka) of traditional Buddhist cosmology. Beings are born into this realm as a result of successful cultivation of meditative states called the “four formless absorptions” (arupya-samapatti), each of which corresponds to a heaven realm within the Formless Realm. The formless realm of pure spirit, where there are no bodies, places, things. Its extent is undefinable in the four empty regions (Tứ không xứ). In the Formless Realm there is no physicality, and the beings who reside there have lives free from pain, anxiety, or afflictions, but this is seen as unsatisfactory from a Buddhist standpoint, because when their lives in the Formless Realm end they are again reborn in the lower levels of cyclic existence. The heavens without form, immaterial, consisting only of mind in contemplation. According to Buddhism, formless-realm-meditations have the formless heaven as their objective. It is a well-known fact that in the Buddha’s career he practiced the formless dhyana with Arada Kalama, and ascetic who attained the mental state of boundless consciousness, and Udraka Ramaputra, another ascetic who reached the highest stage of being neither conscious nor unconscious. Finally, the would-be Buddha surpassed his teachers and, having found no more to learn from them, went his own way in spite of their eager requests to stay and train their respective pupils.
557. The Buddha-Lands
The land or realm of a Buddha is the land of the Buddha’s birth. The Buddha’s land is also called the Buddhakstra or Buddha country. The term is absent from Hinayana. In Mahayana it is spiritual realm acquired by one who reaches perfect enlightenment, where he instructs all beings born there, preparing them for enlightenment. There are many different Buddha lands in this Three-thousand-great-thousand world (Three thousand great chiliocosmos). First, the Western Pure Land (Sukhavati), name of the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha in the west, the Land of Highest Joy. Pure Land is a paradise without any defilements. For the sake of saving sentients beings, through innumerable asankhya, all Buddhas cultivated immeasurable good deeds, and established a Pure Land to welcome all beings. Beings in this paradise strive to cultivate to attain Buddhahood. According to the Amitabha Sutra, the Buddha told Sariputra, “Why this Land is called Ultimate Bliss? It is called Ultimate Bliss because all beings in this land endure non of the sufferings but enjoy every bliss. Furthermore, this land is called ‘Ultimate Bliss’ because it is surrounded by seven tiers of railings, seven layers of netting, and seven rows of trees, all made of the four precious jewels. Moreover, the Land of Ultimate Bliss has pools of seven jewels, filled with waters of eight meritorious virtues. The bottom of each of the pools is pure golden sand. On the four sides are stairs made of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and crystal. Above the pools there are towers which are adorned with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of-pearl, red pearls, and carnelian. In the pools there are lotus flowers as big as cartwheels, blue ones shining with blue light, yellow ones shining with yellow light, red ones shining with red light, and white ones shining with white light, each emitting a subtle, wonderful, and pure fragrance. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is complete with all these adornments and virtues. In that Buddhaland there is always celestial music and the ground is made of pure gold. Heavenly flowers rain in the six periods of the day and night. In the morning the sentient beings of this land fill their robes with multitudes of wondrous flowers and make offerings to hundreds of billions of Buddhas in other worlds. At meal time, they return to their own land, to eat and circumambulate the teaching assembly. Second, the Pure Land of all Buddhas in their Sambhogakaya. According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, the lotus store, or the lotus world, the Pure Land of Vairocana, also the Pure Land of all Buddhas in their sambogakaya (enjoyment bodies). Above the wind or air circle is a sea of fragrant water, in which is the thousand-petal lotus with its infinite variety of worlds, hence the meaning is the Lotus which contains a store of myriads of worlds. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Buddha said: “Ratna-rasi, all species of living beings are the Buddha land sought by all Bodhisattvas. Why is it so? Because a Bodhisattva wins the Buddha land according to the living beings converted by him (to the Dharma); according to the living beings tamed by him; according to the country (where they will be reborn to) realize the Buddha-wisdom and in which they will grow the Bodhisattva root. Why is it so? Because a Bodhisattva wins the pure land solely for the benefit of all living beings. For instance, a man can build palaces and houses on vacant ground without difficulty, but he will fail if he attempts to build them in (empty) space. So, a Bodhisattva, in order to bring living beings to perfection, seeks the Buddha land which cannot be sought in (empty) space.
558. Three Forms of Knowledge
According to The Lankavatara Sutra, there are three forms of knowledge known as Svanhavalakshana-traya. The first of the three Svabhavas is known as the Parikalpita or wrong discrimination of judgment, and proceeds from rightly comprehending the nature of objects, internal as well as external, and also relationship existing between objects as independent individuals or as belonging to a genus. The second is the Paratantra, literally, “depending on another,” is a knowledge based on some fact, which is not, however, in correspondence with the real nature of existence. The characteristic feature of this knowledge is that it is not altogether a subjective creation produced out of pure nothingness, but it is a construction of some objective reality on which it depends for material. Therefore, its definition is “that which arises depending upon a support or basis.” And it is due to this knowledge that all kinds of objects, external and internal, are recognized, and in these individuality and generality are distinguished. The Paratantra is thus equivalent to what we nowadays call relative knowledge or relativity; while the Parikalpita is the fabrication of one’s own imagination or mind. In the dark a man steps on something, and imagining it to be a snake is frightened. This is Parikalpita, a wrong judgment or an imaginative construction, attended an unwarranted excitement. He now bends down and examines it closely and finds it to be a piece of rope. This is Paratantra, relative knowledge. He does not know what the rope really is and thinks it to be a reality, individual or ultimate. While it may be difficult to distinguish sharply between the Parikalpita and the Paratantra from these brief statements or definitions, the latter seems to have at least a certain degree of truth as regards objects themselves, but the former implies not only an intellectual mistake but some affective functions set in motion along with the wrong judgment. When an object is perceived as an object existing externally or internally and determinable under the categories of particularity and generality, the Paratantra form of cognition takes place. Accepting this as real, the mind elaborates on it further both intellectually and affectively, and this is the Parikalpita form of knowledge. It may be after all more confusing to apply our modern ways of thinking to the older ones especially when these were actuated purely by religious requirements and not at all by any disinterested philosophical ones. The third form of knowledge is the Parinishpanna, perfected knowledge, and corresponds to the Right Knowledge (Samyagjnana) and Suchness (Tathata) of the five Dharmas. It is the knowledge that is available when we reach the state of self-realization by going beyond Names and Appearances and all forms of Discrimination or judgment. It is suchness itself, it is the Tathagata-garbha-hridaya, it is something indestructible. The rope is now perceived in its true perspective. It is not an object constructed out of causes and conditions and now lying before us as something external. From the absolutist’s point of view which is assumed by the Lankavatara, the rope is a reflection of our own mind, it has no objectivity apart from the latter, it is in this respect non-existent. But the mind out of which the whole world evolves is the object of the Parinishpanna, perfectly-attained knowledge.
559. Five-fold Dharma-Body Refuge of the Self-Nature
According to The Jewel Platform Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch taught about the five-fold Dharma-body refuge of the self-nature. The first is the morality-refuge, which is simply your own mind when free from error, evil, jealousy, greed, hatred and hostility. The second is the concentration-refuge, which is just your own mind which does not become confused when seeing the marks of all good and evil conditions. The third is the wisdom-refuge, which is simply your own mind when it is unobstructed and when it constantly uses wisdom to contemplate and illuminate the self-nature, when it does no evil, does good without becoming attached, and is respectful of superior, considerate of inferiors, and sympathetic towards orphans and widows. The fourth is the liberation-refuge, which is simply your own mind independent of conditions, not thinking of good or evil, and free and unobstructed. The fifth is the refuge of knowledge and views, which is simply your own mind when it is independent of good and evil conditions and when it does not dwell in emptiness or cling to stillness. You should then study this in detail, listen a great deal, recognize your original mind, and penetrate the true principle of all the Buddhas. You should welcome and be in harmony with living creatures; the unchanging true nature. Good Knowing Advisors, the incense of these refuges perfumes each of you within. Do not seek outside.
Emptiness or void, central notion of Buddhism recognized that all composite things are empty (samskrita), impermanent (anitya) and void of an essence (anatamn). That is to say all phenomena lack an essence or self, are dependent upon causes and conditions, and so, lack inherent existence. Thus, a person is said to be empty of being a “self” because he is composed of parts that are constantly changing and entirely dependent upon causes and conditions. However, the concept of emptiness is viewed by Buddhists as a positive perspective on reality, because it implies that everything is constantly changing, and is thus open toward the future. If things possessed an unchanging essence, all beings would be stuck in their present situations, and real change would be impossible. Devout Buddhists should try to attain the realization of emptiness in order to develop the ability to detach on everything, and utilize all the available time to practice the Buddha-teachings. The more we practice the Buddha’s teachings, the more we approach the attainment of wisdom, that is to say the more we are able to reach the “direct realization of emptiness,” and we realize the “emptiness of all things,” the more we can reach the “perfection of wisdom.”
The term “Sunyata” terminologically compounded of “Sunya” meaning empty, void, or hollow, and an abstract suffix “ta” meaning “ness”. The term was extremely difficult to be translated into Chinese; however, we can translate into English as “Emptiness,” “Voidness,” or “Vacuity.” The concept of this term was essentially both logical and dialectical. The difficulty in understanding this concept is due to its transcendental meaning in relation to the logico-linguistic meaning, especially because the etymological tracing of its meaning (sunyata meaning vacuous or hollow within a shape of thing) provides no theoretical or practical addition to one’s understanding of the concept. According to Dr. Harsh Narayan, Sunyavada is complete and pure Nihilism. Sunyata is a negativism which radically empties existence up to the last consequences of Negation. The thinkers of Yogacara school describe “Sunyata” as total Nihilism. Dr. Radhakrishnan says that absolute seems to be immobile in its absoluteness. Dr. Murti views Prajna-paramita as absolute itself and said: “The absolute is very often termed sunya, as it is devoid of all predicates.” According to Chinese-English Buddhist Dictionary, “the nature void, i.e., the immaterialityof the nature of all things” is the basic meaning of “Sunyata”.
According to other Mahayana sutras, “Sunyata” means the true nature of emperical Reality. It is considered as beyond the Negation or Indescribable. The Buddha used a number of similes in the Nikayas to point out the unreality of dharmas of every kind and it is these similes that have been later used with great effectiveness in Mahayana philosophical schools, especially of Chinese Buddhist thinkers. Emptiness implies non-obstruction… like space or the Void, it exists within many things but never hinders or obstructs anything. Emptiness implies omnipresence… like the Void, it is ubiquitous; it embraces everything everywhere. Emptiness implies equality… like the Void, it is equal to all; it makes no discrimination anywhere. Emptiness implies vastness… like the Void, it is vast, broad and infinite. Emptiness implies formlessness or shapelessness… like the Void, it is without form or mark. Emptiness implies purity… like the Void, it is always pure without defilement. Emptiness implies motionlessness… like the Void, it is always at rest, rising above the processes of construction and destruction. Emptiness impliesthe positive negation… it negates all that which has limits or ends. Emptiness implies the negation of negation… it negates all Selfhood and destroys the clinging of Emptiness. Emptiness implies unobtainability or ungraspability… space or the Void, it is not obtainable or graspable.
At the beginning of Madhyamika Sastra, Nagarjuna gives the fundamentals of his philosophy by means of eight negations. There is neither origination, nor cessation, neither permanence nor impermanence, neither unity nor diversity, neither coming-in nor going-out, in the law of Pratityasamutpada (Dependent Origination). Essentially, there is only non-origination which is equated with Sunyata. Elsewhere he also states that Pratityasamutpada is called Sunyata. Here Sunyata referring as it does to non-origination, is in reality the Middle path which avoids the two basic views of existence and non-existence. Sunyata is the relative existence of things, or a kind of relativity. So, according to the Madhyamika, sunyata does not means absolute non-being, but relative being. Emptiness implies the true nature of empirical Reality or what is the same, the form of true nature of all phenomena. This subject matter of sunyata will cover all the questions concerning the Buddhist outlooks on life and world. Nagarjuna claimed Sunyata as the true nature of empirical Reality: “With sunyata, all is possible; without it, all is impossible”. In the Prajna-Paramita Sutra, Sunyata refers to the world of enlightenment, but it also stated that this world of enlightenment is not separate from the world of delusion: “The world of illusion is identical with the world of enlightenment (form is identical with void), and the world of enlightenment is identical with the world of illusion (void is identical with form).”
The purpose of Sunyata refers to the objective of extinguishing linguistic proliferation and the efforts leading towards this objective: “Sunyata corresponds to ultimate truth, namely, the state in which linguistic proliferation has been extinguished; and the meaning of Sunyata signifies all existent relating to our everyday life in which Sunyata is an actual established fact.” The term ‘Emptiness’ or ‘Sunyata’ is mainly used as a means to achieve Nirvana or Salvation. Psychologically, ‘Sunyata’ is detachment. The teaching of Sunyata is to empty the mind of cravings. Morally, this negation has a positive effect, namely, preventing one from doing evils and making one love oneself and others. It is to foster the virtue of compassion. Epistemologically, Sunyata is an unattached insight that truth is not absolutely true. It teaches that discursive knowledge does not provide true wisdom and that enlightenment is the abandonment of conceptual thinking. Metaphysically, Sunyata means that all things are devoid of definite nature, characteristic and function, and that metaphysical views are unintelligible and should be discarded. Spiritually, Sunyata is freedom, Nirvana or liberation from suffering of the world. Emptiness is not a theory, but a ladder that reaches out into the infinite. A ladder is not there to be discussed, but to be climbed. If one does not even take the first steps on it, it is no use to have the ladder. Thus, Emptiness is a practical concept for cultivation, not a view for discussion. The only use of the Emptiness is to help us get rid of this world and of the ignorance which binds us to it. It has only one meaning which is to help us transcend the world through wisdom.
According to the Culla Sunnata Sutta, the Buddha affirmed Ananda: “Ananda, through abiding in the ‘emptiness’, I am now abiding in the complete abode or the fullness of transcendence.” So, what is the emptiness from that the Buddha abides in the fullness of transcendence? It is nothing else but “Nirvana”. It is empty of cankers of sense-pleasure, becoming and ignorance. Therefore, in meditation, practitioners try to reduce or eliminate the amount of conscious contents until the mind is completely motionless and empty. The highest level of meditation, the ceasing of ideation and feeling, is often used as a stepping stone to realization of Nirvana. The Buddha told Sariputra about Emptiness as follows: “In Emptiness there are no form, no feelings, no perceptions, no actions, no consciousnesses; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, and no mind; no form, sound, odour, taste, touch or mind object; no eye-elements until we come to no elements of consciousnesses; no ignorance and no extinction of ignorance; no old age and death, and no extinction of old age and death; no truth of sufferings, no truth of cause of sufferings, of the cessation of sufferings or of the path. There is no knowledge and no attainment whatsoever. By reason of non-attachment, the Bodhisattva dwelling in Prajnaparamita has no obstacles in his mind. Because there is no obstacle in his mind, he has no fear, and going far beyond all perverted view, all confusions and imaginations… This is a real Nirvana!”
From the standpoint of the Absolute, Sunyata means “Devoid of, or completely free of thought construct, devoid of plurality.” In other words, sunyata as applied to tattva signifies that: it is inexpressible in human language; that ‘is’, ‘not is’, ‘both is’, and ‘not is’, ‘neither is’ nor ‘not is’, no thought, category or predicative can be applied to it. It is transcendental to thought; it is free of plurality, that it is a Whole which can not be sundered into parts. The most striking feature of Madhyamaka philosophy is its ever, recurring use of “sunya” and “sunyata.” So central is this idea to the system that it is generally known as “Sunyavada,” i.e., the philosophy that asserts “Sunya” as the characterization of Reality. Sunya is a most perplexing word in Buddhist philosophy. Non-Buddhists have interpreted it only as nihilism. But that is not what it means. Etymonogically it is derived from the root “svi” which means “to swell” or “to expand.” Curiously enough, the word Brahman is derived from the root “brh” or “brhm” which also means “to swell” or “to expand.” According to the Buddha’s teaching on Sunya tattva and the ‘sunya principle’, the word sunya seems to have been used in an ontological sense in most of Buddhist contexts. The implication of the etymological signification of the word does not seem to have been fully worked out. According to some scholars the word “sunya” has no ontological signification. It has only a soteriological suggestion. But the word “sunya” has obviously been used also in an ontological sense with an axiological overtone and soteriological background. In the ontological sense, “sunya” is the void which is also fullness. Because it is nothing in particular, it has the possibility of everything. It has been identified with Nirvana, with the Absolute, with Supreme Reality or Paramartha, with Reality or Tattva.
Sunyata is an abstract noun derived from “sunya.” It means deprivation and suggests fulfillment. The word “sunya” and “sunyata” will best be understood in connexion with “svabhava.” Svabhava literally means ‘own being.’ Candrakirti says that this word has been used in Buddhist philosophy in two ways: the essence or special property of a thing, e.g., ‘heat is the svabhava or special property of fire.’ In this world an attribute which always accompanies an object, never parts from it, that, not being indissolubly connected with any thing else, is known as the svabhava, i.e., special property of that object; svabhava (own-being) as the contrary of parabhava (other-being). Candrakirti says, “Svabhava is the own being, the very nature of a thing.” While Nagarjuna says: “That is really svabhava which is not brought about by anything else, unproduced (akrtrimah), that which is not dependent on, not relative to anything other than itself, non-contingent, unconditioned.” The word “sunya” has to be understood from two points of view. First, from the point of view of phenomena or empirical reality, it means “svabhava-sunya,” i.e. devoid of svabhava or independent, substantial reality of its own. Second, from the point of view of the Absolute, it means “prapanca-sunya,” i.e. devoid of prapanca or verbalization , thought construct and plurality. According to Buddhism, there is not a thing in the world which is unconditionally, absolutely real. Everything is related to, contingent upon, conditioned by something else.
In reference to “vyavahara” or empirical reality, sunyata means devoidness of self-being, of unconditioned nature (naihsvabhava). In other words, it connotes conditioned co-production or thorough going relativity (pratiyasamutpada). This idea is conveyed in another way by the term, “derived name” (upadayaprajnapti) which means that the presence of a name does not mean the reality of the named. Candrakirti says “A chariot is so named by taking into account its parts like wheel, etc; it does not mean that the chariot is something different in its own right apart from its constituent parts.” This is another instant of relativity. As relativity, sunyata also connotes the relative, non-absolute nature of specific views. Sunyata exposes the folly of accepting any absolute beginning or total cessation and thus connotes taking things as they are and avoiding the extremes ‘is’ and ‘is not’ (madhyamapratipat). Over and above these views, there are other senses in which the word sunyata has been used in Madhyamaka philosophy. In reference to “ultimate reality” (paramartha), sunyata connotes the non-conceptual nature of the absolute. In reference to the practitioner, sunyata implies his attitude of skillfulness of non-clinging to the relative as the absolute or to the absolute as something specific (aunpalambha). The Mahaprajna-paramita Sastra brings out another implication of the sunyata principle, the irrepressible longing for the Real, beyond the passing show of mundane life.
Sunyata is not merely a word of ontological signification. It has also an axiological implication. Since all empirical things are devoid of substantial reality, therefore they are ‘worthless’. It is because of our ignorance that we attach so much value to worldly things. Once sunyata is properly understood, the inordinate craving for such things will automatically disappear. Sunyata is not merely an intellectual concept. Its realization is a means in salvation. When rightly grasped, it leads to the negation of the multiplicity of the dharmas and of detachment from the ‘passing show’ of the tempting things of life. Meditation on sunyata leads to transcendental wisdom (prajna) which brings about the emancipation of the practitioner from spiritual darkness. Nagarjuna puts the quintessence of his teachings about sunyata in the following verse: “Emancipation is obtained by the dissolution of selfish deeds and passions. All selfish deeds and passions are by imaginative constructs which value worthless things as full of worth. The imaginative constructs (vikalpas) are born of activity of the mind ceases when Sunyata, emptiness or hollowness of things is realized.” Sunyata is used in Madhayamka philosophy as a symbol of the inexpressible. In calling Reality sunya, the Madhyamika only means to say that it is inexpressible (avacya, anabhilapya). In the very first verse of Madhyamaka Karida, Nagarjuna makes the standpoint of Sunyavada luminously Prominent. The standpoint consists of the eight notions: Beyond destruction, beyond production, beyond dissolution, beyond eternity, beyond oneness, beyond plurality, beyond ingress, beyond egress.