The Final Goal, Buddhist and Hindu

(Chapter 19 of "Discriminations Between Buddhist and Hindu Tantras")

Yogi C. M. Chen

Most Western scholars say the same thing, that by different ways one may attain the same goal. To be specific, this means that different religions all lead to the same goal. This idea may be appropriate in regard to other religions, but the goal of Buddhism is quite different from all other belief systems. Even among the non-Buddhist religions, goals differ as there are many different kinds of heavens.

A. All heavens can be classified into three types. The lower ones are heavens called Kamadhatu, which means Heaven of Desire. Included in it are Bhauma Antarikso, Caturmaharajakayika, Trayastrimsa, Yama, Tusita Mrmanarati, and Paranirmitavasavartin. Confucianism has a doctrine of ethics and good manners but none pertaining to heaven or nirvana. However, a good Confucianist who has never done anything against the gods, will go to this kind of heaven after death, even though he has not prayed to the gods.

B. The next type of heaven is called Rupadhatu, which means the Heaven of Form. It contains Brahmakayika, Brahmaparisadya, Brahmapurohita, and Mahabrahma. These four heavens belong to the first dhyana. The religions containing the doctrines of dhyana leading to these heavens are Christianity, Judaism, Shinto, Zoroastrianism. These religions teach us how to be good and go to heaven. Some who practice a higher renunciation and deeper meditation can go to the Rupadhatu (Heaven of Form) while those whose renunciation is not so complete and whose meditation is not so deep go to the Kamadhatu (Heaven of desire) only.

Parittabha, Apramanabha and Abhasvara are the three heavens belonging to the second dhyana. Persons in the above six religions who have attained the second dhyana in their practice may come to these heavens. Parittasubha, Apramanasubha and Subhakrtsna are heavens of the third dhyana; and those who have attained to the third dhyana may go to these heavens. Anabhraka, Punyaprasava and Brhaiphala are the heavens belonging to the fourth dhyana. He who has attained the fourth dhyana can go to all the heavens of that dhyana. Similarly, those having attained the second and third dhyana can go to all the heavens under them but not to those above them.

There are still the seven heavens belonging to the Rupadhatu called the Brahmaloka. They are Avrha, Atapa, Sudrsa, Sudarsana, Akanishta, Aghanistha and Mahamahesvara.

The heavens of the four dhyanas have no power to overcome calamities. All the heavens under the second dhyana may be destroyed by fire, those under the third by water and those under the fourth by wind. Most of the tantric Hindus who practice the four dhyanas may go to those heavens, but there are only a few who can unite with Brahma (the Universal Soul) and go to the Heaven of Non-Form (Arupadhatu).

C. Arupadhatu contains the following heavens: Akasanantyayatana, Vijnananantyayatana, Akincanyayatana and Naivasamjnanasanjna-yatana. It is also called Caturupabrahmaloka. They are the highest heavens. The Hindus and Jains who have many doctrines of concentration and absorption, believing only in the absolute soul or consciousness (everything else being impermanent) go to the Heavens of Non-Form if their meditation is sufficient to do so.

Universal consciousness is a Hindu term that is very appealing to Western scholars. It is also in accord with Buddhism in that the Heaven of Non-Form does not have the three great calamities and universal consciousness is a dhyana of vijnananantyayatana, which means a dhyana of consciousness without boundary. However, consciousness itself contains the seeds of sorrow. Whenever dhyana is disturbed, the seeds of sorrow reproduce and transmigration is effective again. In Buddhism the doctrine of absolute soul or consciousness is not permitted. The Sangiti Sutra states, "Six ideas conductive to Nirvana are the idea of impermanence, of ill in impermanence, of soullessness in ill, of elimination, of passionlessness, of cessation."

There are many scriptures from which one may quote to prove that the final goal of Hinduism is heaven:

1. Maitre Upanishad: "Verily, the source of the delusion is the fact of association of one who is worthy of heaven with those who are not worthy of heaven".

2. Kaushitaki Upanishad: "He, having entered into the wind, having the nature of space, goes to heaven."

3. Mundaka Upanishad: "The mystic syllable "Om" is the bow, the arrow is the soul, Brahma is said to be the mark."

As I have indicated before,the Brahmaloka belongs to the heaven of form, therefore "the marks" here can be said to be heaven too as Brahma is called a heavenly person in another part of the same Upanishad. "So the knower being liberated from name and form goes unto the heavenly person, higher than the high, and this Brahma heaven cannot be transcended by anyone."

4. The Katha Upanishad states, "Its roots above, its branches below, this eternal fig tree, that indeed is the pure, that is Brahma. That indeed is called the immortal. On it all the worlds do rest, and no one ever goes beyond it." It proves that no Hindu can go beyond the heaven of form. Because of their ignorance, the heavens of non-form and many pure lands of enlightenment are closed to them.

5. He who desires to get to the Brahma heaven must be chosen by Him first. "He is to be obtained only by one whom He chooses", Katha Upanishad.

6. In "Kundalini Yoga" by Sivananda it states, "The sahasrara chakra is the abode of Lord Shiva. This corresponds to the Bria mandal physical plane (region of the earth). Bhuva Siva or Swarga Mahajana lokas and satya lokas are above these chakras." All those lokas are heavens. There is nothing beyond heaven. Please review Chapter 1 of "Discriminations Between Buddhist and Hindu Tantras", "The Body and the Microcosm."

There is a difference between the Brahmaloka and the heaven of desire as explained in the Brahma Sutra, "From Brahma-Loka one does not return to this mortal world. Whereas from the heavens one returns." Though the Brahmaloka being a heaven of form is greater than the heavens of desire, it is held by the four dhyanas which are not of the unquenching samadhi Buddhahood. When the four dhyanas are moved or disturbed by their sorrows, they will return to states of transmigration in accordance with their karma. In the Hindu tantra "Shatchakra Virupana," verse 38, it states, "The excellent yogi at the time of death joyfully places his vital breath here and enters that supreme, eternal, birthless, primeval deva, the purusha who was before the three worlds and who is known by the Vedanta." Below is the commentary:

1. He pierces the brahmarandhra, leaves the body and becomes merged in Brahma.
2. Deva means "He whose play is creation, existence, and destruction."

Though the Shatchakra Virupana gives the most important principles of Tantric Hinduism, it never goes beyond Brahma. We know this because the soul of a Hindu passes away from Brahmarandhra (at the gate of the fontenelle). The Brahmarandhra is different from the Buddhist aperture in that it leads to heaven only. I have discussed this fully in Chapter 18 of "Discriminations between Buddhist and Hindu Tantras."

As for Nirvana, it is quite different from any kind of heaven. The Lankavatara Sutra states:

"The Tathagata's Nirvana is where it is recognized that there is nothing but what is seen of the mind itself; is where recognizing the nature of the self-mind, one no longer cherishes the dualism of discrimination; is where there is no more thirst nor grasping; it is where the thinking mind with all its discrimination, attachment, aversions, and "egoism" is forever put away; is where logical measures as they are seen to be inert are no longer seized upon; is where even the notion of truth is treated with difference because of its causing bewilderment; is where getting rid of the four propositions, there is insight into the abode of reality. Nirvana is where twofold passions have subsided and the twofold hindrances are cleared away and the "twofold egolessness" is patiently accepted; where by the attainment of the turning about the self-realization of noble wisdom is fully entered into--that is the Nirvana of the Tathagata."

"Nirvana is where the Bodhisattva stages are passed one after another; is where the sustaining power of the Buddhas upholds the Bodhisattva in the bliss of the Samadhis; is where the Tathagata compassion for others transcends all thoughts of "self"; is where the Tathagata state is finally realized."

The ideas which reject the self are mentioned three times in the above quotations, such as: "The egoism is forever put away", "Twofold egolessness is patiently accepted", and "Compassion for others transcends all thoughts of self."

Furthermore, Nirvana is described with a wealth of epithets containing the same idea which strictly rejects the self of Tantric Hinduism and lays great stress on the philosophy of voidness. I would like to give some explanation to each name of Nirvana:

1. The Harbor of Refuge--The protection which keeps the twofold enemies, the ego of being and that of phenomena, away.
2. The Cool Cave--Where there is no warmth of passion for self.
3. The Island Amidst the Flood--Where there is only one place which cannot be immersed by the floods of selfishness.
4. The Place of Bliss--Where there is no sorrow of self but only bliss.
5. Emancipate--To renounce the fetters of selfishness.
6. Liberation--Free from the bondage of egoism.
7. Safety--No danger from the twofold egoism again.
8. The Supreme--There is no higher state than non-egoism.
9. The Transcendental--The highest state, higher than the three types of heavens and that of the sravaka and pratyeka Buddha.
10. The Uncreated--The supreme state beyond the creators of any other religion.
11. The Tranquil--Where there is no longer the excitement of selfish passions.
12. The Home of Ease--There is no more work left for self improvement.
13. The Calm--Where there are no waves coming from the ignorant and the ocean of the inner foe.
14. The End of Suffering--The root of ego has already been dug out.
15. The Medicine for All Evils--The Samadhi of voidness which has healed all the diseases of selfishness.
16. The Unshaken--The mountain of Samadhi of voidness.
17. The Ambrosia--The sweet food of non-egoism.
18. The Immaterial--The non-ego of phenomena.
19. The Imperishable--There is nothing of self to perish.
20. The Abiding--The voidness.
21. The Further Shore--The shore for others but not the thither shore for self.
22. The Unending--The great mercy for others which is endless.
23. The Bliss of Effort--All the good karmas for others are gathered within.
24. The Supreme Joy--The countless converters gathered thereby with great joy.
25. The Detachment--Detachment from all the sorrows of selfishness.
26. The Ineffable--The great karmas for others have been gathered thereby in ineffable quantity.
27. The Holy City--The city that keeps away all the defilements of egoism.

Moreover, the kingdom of Buddha is not a place belonging to the ignorance system of this world or this universe but the system of enlightenment which is without any calamities. A Hindu may unite at most with Brahma but he cannot establish his own kingdom outside of Brahma. When a Buddhist is enlightened he may freely establish his own kingdom separately from all the other Buddha worlds. In Buddhism there is no such saying that a Buddhist should unite with Gautama after enlightenment. That is why there are many, many Buddha-worlds as I have mentioned about in the previous chapter "The Universe."

Here I would like to quote the sentence from the very well-known Tibetan work by the great guru Gampopa: "Even having obtained the desireless bliss of Brahmahood, he has to again suffer unending pain of having become fuel of the Avici-hell." (From "The Jewel Ornament of Liberation", pg. 58).

Appendix: Brahmarandhra and Buddharandhra

The distance between the Buddha-aperture and the Brahma-aperture is only four fingers in length, but those two places are the gateways to two different goals, and therefore we should understand this and choose the gate according to our goal.

The smouldering fire can burn a great building or a great forest. The error of one moment becomes the sorrow of a whole lifetime, and one finger in front of the eyes hides a high mountain in the distance. These adages are mentioned only to emphasize my main point here. The following stories may also serve the same purpose:

Once an evil neophyte asked his guru, "What is the best place to make a hole in a wall in order to steal?" His guru replied in a scholarly fashion, "Everyplace is good, for every hole is good for stealing." The neophyte, following this good information, dug a hole through the wall of a rich man's building next to where the servants were sleeping. He was of course caught by the servants. Likewise, he who is unable to discriminate the aperature of Buddha will surely be caught by the ruler of Hades.

Once a fool named "Almost" went to the railway station but reached there just minutes after the train had started. He rebuked the train saying, "Why do you not wait a little while as I am just a few minutes late." Again during the first night of his wedding, Almost went to his wife and touched her anus. His wife said that he should put it a little higher. Then he touched her urethra and said that he could not get it in. She told him to put it just a little lower. Finally he got it in with great pleasure. In the midst of this pleasure he suddenly stopped and began to ponder over the openings. When he could not figure it out, he asked his wife why there was so much pleasure in that hole and not in the others when they are only a little distance from one another. His wife begged him not to be silly.

The Buddhist opening was given the same name as that of Brahma, but I mention them with different names because they are different, originally and traditionally. This term "Brahma" in Hinduism is like "Tao" in Taoism. It has its special and common meaning. "Tao" may also be found in Confucianism because it means "path" in Chinese. Many Western scholars have made errors in translation by mistaking the two meanings of this one word. Thus in "A Buddhist Bible" edited by Dwight Goddard, we find the principle sutra of Taoism "The Tao-Teh-Ching." It is quite a joke! With this in mind, I have taken liberty to use the word, or I should say create the word, Buddharandhra to mean the aperture of Buddha, for the sake of clarity.

It has been said that the gate through which the soul rises to heaven is the fontanelle, but the gate through which the soul rises to Buddha's Pure Land is not the fontanelle but is located four fingers behind it. The fontanelle is situated on the skull four fingers distance back from the edge of the hairline on the forehead. This is the Brahmarandhra. The Buddharandhra is at the center of the skull, the mouth of the median nerve. It is eight fingers distance from the edge of the hairline of the forehead, and the same distance from there to the cerebellum.

The soul rises up through the Brahmarandhra to the heavens of desire or of form. Both will be destroyed by fire, water and wind.

On page 143-144 of "The Serpent Power" by John Woodroffe, "Below visarga which is the upper part of Brahmadhara, is the situation of the fontanelle . . . is liberated through living and attains bodiless liberation on the dissolution of his physical body." Hindu doctrine also says, "The creator of the human beings body puts his glory light into it through this hole at the beginning. They who die should also go back to Brahma's heaven through this hole." On this point, Buddhism does not disagree with Hinduism, and the Buddhist who does not practice the voidness meditation of that of non-ego but has done many good deeds can go to the Brahma heaven, even if he does not believe in Him, through this hole.

The soul which rises up to the Pure Land of Buddha through the Buddharandhra will never fall into transmigration since the Pure Land is established on the wisdom of voidness or non-ego which is without creation and destruction. The Pure Land is not beset with the three great calamities and he who goes there has no selfishness, no ego, no ignorance, ever again. It is the place of real everlasting life.

This distance of only four fingers means the difference between transmigration and freedom from it. What a dangerous thing it is to make a mistake here. Let us give thanks to Buddha Gautama who through his own precious experience or enlightenment showed us the priceless, precious gate.

[Home][Back to main list][Back to Chenian][Go to Dr. Lin's works]