Systematic and Practical
WHAT IS THE RELATION OF DIFFERENT BUDDHIST PRINCIPLES AND HOW
DO THEY CENTER UPON MEDITATION?
A Talk by the Buddhist Yogi
C. M. CHEN
Written Down by
REVEREND B. KANTIPALO
First Published in 1967
HOMAGE TO THE
WHAT IS THE
RELATION OF DIFFERENT BUDDHIST PRINCIPLES
AND HOW DO
THEY CENTER UPON MEDITATION
Our usual walk brought
us to our destination. After Mr. Chen's ever-cheerful greeting, we sat down to
a few preliminary discussions. The writer had been kept a little busy by the
length of the last chapter and the number of questions arising from it. On a
visit the previous evening to ask Mr. Chen some questions, the writer had
promised to bring some stamps from
for a young Chinese boy's
collection but had forgotten them. Learning that the young collector was
particularly interested in Japanese stamps, it was noted that many of these are
beautifully designed, some showing the forms of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. (Mr.
Chen had collected from his mail some stamps of this country, so his young
friend would not be disappointed).
Bhante agreed as to
their beauty, but said that among Tibetans, it was thought very improper that
the pictures of such holy beings should be defaced by postmarks. To mutilate a
representation of the Teacher by his disciples is something never done by
Tibetans. Even an image of a Bodhisattva found on a stamp should be treated
reverently according to Buddhist ways of thought. Sometimes stamps show a head
or bust of a Buddhist holy person, but again Tibetan tradition does not approve—the
whole figure must be shown. No painting, Bhante said, or image is ever made in
of only a
part of a sacred form.
Mr. Chen remarked that
if one requested a guru for his photograph, he would always give a complete
picture, not just one showing head and shoulders.
complete, we turned our attention from Bodhisattvas generally, to those two in
particular who guide this chapter.
A. THE HOMAGE
In this talk
we are concerned with how various factors center upon our meditation.
Therefore, we offer our devoted worship to the great Lord Avalokitesvara, who
has been in deep meditation ever since Shakyamuni lived on this earth. It is
he, the Bodhisattva of compassion, who is described in the Heart Sutra as
"moving in the deep course of the wisdom which has gone beyond"
(translated by E. Conze in Buddhist Wisdom Books). It is to this Holy Lord that
we dedicate the central aspect of this chapter. Deeply, devotedly, and
earnestly should we pray to him, to center all our aspirations and thoughts
principles of meditation are good, so it is appropriate to pay our homage also
to the wisdom-being named "All-good," the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra.
He established many Mahayana principles; among them are his Ten Great Vows,
practiced by many who follow the Great and Diamond Vehicles. To these main
Dharma-principles and to his sublime presence, we should pay very deep and
sincere homage, remembering that in each pore of his skin are worlds without
end, innumerable Bodhisattvas, and infinite numbers of Buddhas.
worship these two Bodhisattvas and gain from them inspiration, so that our meditations
obtain grace and we quickly attain Enlightenment.
B. EXPLANATION OF DIAGRAM
In the plan
given here, Arya Avalokitesvara represents the central meditations of the three
yanas, while Bodhisattva Samantabhadra stands for the particulars related to
them around the circumference. According to this plan, our talk will be regular
double circle around the center is meditation itself and contains inside it all
the numerous methods to be found within the Three-yanas-in-one.
ring is Chan, representing the Dharmakaya or Dharmadhatu.
are two circles containing the four classifications of principles on which this
talk will be based: hearing, thinking, and practicing wisdom, and realization.
Inside this are classified some practical and important principles related to
pointing outward indicates the centrifugal relation discussed in the last
chapter, the bearing of meditation itself upon individual principles.
pointing inward stands for the centripetal force dealt with in this chapter,
where different factors are considered first and in relation to the central
meditation, thus emphasizing the importance of the latter.
C. HOW THESE PRINCIPLES CENTER UPON MEDITATION
In the last
chapter we discussed preparation and the centrifugal force of the central
meditations, which affect the particulars necessary to our initial development.
Today, the reverse process is taken up and we will discuss the principles and
how they center upon meditation. This is a good way to see their importance.
factors may be classified under the above four headings, but due to limitations
of space we cannot deal with every one individually. Therefore we should choose
some important topics to begin with.
a. Faults of
If a person
(who is likened here to an instrument for the Dharma) comes to a Rinpoche (in
Sanskrit, ''Maharatna''—great jewel) for spiritual instruction, then he should
guard against the following three faults of a Dharma-instrument!
standing upright. This means a person who is mentally upside-down. Even through
he appears in the Dharma-hall to listen to the preaching, he only sits, hearing
nothing, and at the end is no wiser than when he first sat down. He lacks
concentration and so his hearing wisdom is weak and undeveloped. If one centers
upon meditation, the wisdom of hearing will improve and it will becomes easier
instrument. This occurs when some false views are mingled with faith in the
Buddhas. This means one lacks pure faith. Even while hearing the Buddhadharma,
an instrument of this sort may be thinking of Hinduism or Christianity. One
should take good care of meditation—otherwise, how can the fruit of pure faith
Even if the instrument is standing upright and very pure, still there may be
some leakage. A person like this hears and then forgets, so all his
newly-gained knowledge vanishes. He would not forget if his hearing wisdom were
firmly established through meditation.
hearing-wisdom the Six Conditions of Mindfulness should be well developed:
i. One must
always think of oneself as a sick person who wants to be cured. (The
fundamental diseases are greed, hatred, and delusion.) Such a person will ask a
doctor for medicine. If one has no such thought, then the Dharma will not be
sought to help cure the sickness. How can one think properly like this without
the practice of meditation?
ii. The guru
should be thought of as a doctor who, from his store of wisdom-medicines, will
cure us. If concentration is lacking, then this attitude will not be considered
in the mind.
Dharma is the medicine—but first one must be able to keep this thought in mind.
practice of Dharma is the treatment given by the "doctor," and one
must take this medicine if a cure is desired.
v. The Buddha
is thought of as a very good person who has just given us alms, not material
wealth, but the gift of the Dharma to maintain us.
vi. The last
of the conditions for mindfulness is to think, "May this Right Dharma long
remain in the world!"
All these six
must be maintained with the aid of meditation. Without meditation, these
thoughts will not even arise.
four are related to the practice of the Four Noble Truths. By meditating on the
first truth, that of Duhkha, one knows how people seek the cure for their
illness; this is connected with the first point above. Meditation on the second
Truth, the Arising of Duhkha, shows one why people experience suffering and how
they come to a teacher who can prescribe a course of treatment for that
suffering; the second condition of mindfulness is referred to here. The
Cessation of Duhkha meditation is essential for the third condition, as the
Dharma is the healing medicine.
upon the Path to this Cessation are the practice of Dharma, which is like
taking the medicine as prescribed.
condition of mindfulness requires meditation to strengthen our faith in the Buddha,
while for the sixth the mind should be firmly established in the Dharma-Jewel
by meditating upon the Buddha's teachings as the highest and most secure of
This can only
be developed if one's thinking is trained to be of an even quality, not
breaking from Dharma-objects for sensual distractions. It should be continuous,
without a break, concentrating on problems of Dharma.
of the learned followers of Confucius, one may learn much of what this means.
There was Guan Ning, for instance, who for fifty years sat on a hard wooden
seat in concentration—his continual sitting left a deep imprint.
Chang Zi Shao
studied a teaching of his Master for forty years, kneeling erect on a floor of
tiles in front of a large pillar. After his sitting, two holes in the tiles
were distinctly visible.
Zuo Si had
the idea to write a good composition to describe the capital city and its
beauties. First, before writing and completing his works, he thought upon his
subject for twelve years.
writer, Wang Chong, wanted to compose his The Balance of Ancient Essays.
said Mr. Chen, "criticizes very nicely Confucius and Mencius. Yes, he was
a little wise," he added reflectively. "Everywhere in his rooms were
ready-prepared writing materials: a brush, ink and paper. Whatever he was
doing, he kept his mind only upon his writing, and wherever he went the
materials were at hand.
Mr. Chen got up to
demonstrate this ancient worthy's good concentration: he walked slowly about the
room. An idea seemed to come to him, and seizing an imaginary brush it was
quickly noted down, then slowly and with concentration he turned to do
something else. "In this way The Balance of Ancient Essays was written,"
said Mr. Chen.
Bhante added that the
method reminded one of a writer who had his notes laid out on tile floors of
seven large rooms, with quite a number stacked under paperweights all over the
furniture. No one but himself was allowed to touch these papers, for he said
that only in this way could he find what he wanted!
continued the yogi, "these ancients never let their thoughts wander. In
Chinese there is a phrase describing their thoughts: they are said to be 'so
vigorous they shoot up and tear the moon in pieces.'" Mr. Chen accompanied
his words with very forceful gestures indicating great concentration and vigor.
Confucian, Xu Ling, was out riding one day, all the time concentrating on
composing an essay. His mind was fixed so one-pointedly upon his subject that
he did not even notice that his horse had brought him to someone else's door;
still concentrating and assuming it was his own home, he dismounted.
parables also show us how controlled our thoughts should be. The first compares
it to arrows shot by a skillful archer who makes a continuous stream of them
fly from his bow, so that in mid-air each one splits the one released before it.
also encourages us to concentrate: If you meet seven wild dogs growling, you
must all the time maintain the mind in a state of balanced concentration and
not be upset by the animals' ferocity. This same concentration is necessary
throughout the religious life.
Here Mr. Chen was
evidently reminded of a story from his own life!
Once I saw
His Holiness the Karmapa in a dream and he instructed me to come to him.
Accordingly, I went to where he was, the Palpung Monastery of Derge. Palpung is
in the center of a "lotus," the "petals" of which are
formed by eight surrounding snowy peaks, so it is a very auspicious place.
It is a
traditional Buddhist practice that when a pilgrim newly arrives at a holy place,
he should first pay his respects by circumambulating it clockwise (thus keeping
it on his right side). I was doing this around the temple where the Karmapa was
staying, all the time keeping my mind completely concentrated upon his mantra.
So closely did I attend to this that I did not know some pilgrims had already
arrived to see the Karmapa, and while they were in the temple worshipping him,
they left their dogs outside to roam about. By "dogs" I do not mean
the tame ones in
, but great hulking
mastiffs with bloody mouths like tigers and long sharp teeth. As it was a wild
place with no one around, it did not matter they were free. Then they saw me
coming and went for me, one lunging at my throat. With my mind totally focused
upon the Karmapa, I pointed at the dog with one finger. The dog became quiet,
sat down, and stared at me. I stood still and continually repeated the mantra
with my hand remaining in this pointing gesture. Then many people came running
and shouting. "They will kill you," they said. I just said I was
sorry to trouble their dogs and went on along the path with my practice
There is also
an old Chinese story concerning concentration: a guru once sent a disciple with
a message to another teacher living two days' journey away. The disciple was
very stupid and could never remember anything properly. Before he set off, his
master said, "Look here. I am giving you six things only. See that you do
not forget any of them. The first is a letter, the second is an umbrella, the
third is a purse of pelt, the fourth your package, the fifth two shoes, and the
sixth your own good self." The disciple set out, all the time repeating,
"Here is the letter, here the umbrella, here is the money, here the
package, here are the shoes, and here is myself."
When he got
to the inn at the end of the first day's journey, he thought again, "I had
better make sure that all six things are with me. Counting over the articles,
he could only find five; and so the next morning, he was sure that he had lost
one item. He started back to his master. After he had gone about halfway, he
repeated those six things and then discovered that he had not counted himself
into the list. Stupid people are like this; they can even lose themselves, but
the wise keep the mind concentrated.
Of the many
groups of factors in this category, we can only choose a few of the most
a. Five Kinds
Prajnaparamita Sastra, the venerable Nagarjuna divided Bodhicitta into five
Development of Bodhicitta. It is good to recollect with concentration the vows
of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but it is much better to form and practice one's
own. (See Appendix III, A, 3.) Many people just take on the vows of the great
Bodhisattvas but when one asks them what ideals they follow, they can only
reply that they rely upon the forty-eight vows of Dharmakara (who became
Amitabha Buddha), or upon the ten great vows of Samantabhadra, and so on. They
have no ideals of their own and just take hold of those already made. On the
other hand, it is certain that it is very hard to abide by one's own vows.
Before I came
to Bodhi Gaya, I told many people that I would be going and asked them if they
had any vows which I might declare there in Sakyamuni's sacred place. Some
gurus and meditators gave me their profound aspiration, while others, some of
them servants and poor people, only wished for health and long life for themselves
or for their loved ones. I carried these vows, some
all, and recited them before the Vajrasana at
I have tried
to help others develop up their own vows, particularly those who are my
brothers in the Dharma and have received initiations in the same mandala and
practiced the same meditations. For myself, I have developed ten vows for
preaching the Dharma, thirty for the world in the present age, ten more for the
Final Enlightenment of myself and others, and nine for the attainment of non-death,
in order to perform the endless Bodhi-karmas. Even to keep the ancient vows one
must have concentration. It is better, though, for us to think deeply about the
painful world and so develop our aspiration.
Bodhicitta of No Passions. With no concentration force, how can we subdue the
passions? It is always difficult to do so, but impossible to perfect this stage
of Bodhicitta without the necessary developed and concentrated attention.
Recognition of Bodhicitta. This is also not easy, whether at super-mundane or
even mundane levels. To accomplish it on the heights of the former, we must
know the Dharmakaya Truth. Even at the mundane level we must first practice the
path of the Six Paramitas. Well-developed concentration and meditation bring
sufficient wisdom to recognize the Wisdom heart.
out Bodhicitta. It is not enough to be able to find and maintain Bodhicitta in
inward concentration. At this fourth stage one compassionately extends it
outwards to other beings, reaching out to bless and convert them. To reach this
stage, one must bring one's meditation to a very fine excellence. The
attainment of the first five super-normal knowledges is also necessary.
Bodhicitta (Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi). Here we have passed beyond the realms of
the ordinary meditations. This stage of Wisdom-heart is only known by the
attainment of samadhi, and so belongs to the Buddhas' realm. (For another
classification of Bodhicitta, see Ch. XIII, Part. 1, D, 1. c.)
diagram, this heading includes the three steps of the Noble Eightfold Path
concerned with morality: Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood. The
importance of these is amply stressed elsewhere, so we do not need to say much
about them here.
of the practice of morality may be seen, these are: abandoning evil, doing
good, and benefiting others.
i. Avoiding evil.
We soon see
how difficult this is without practice of meditation. According to Biblical
accounts of early Christianity, there was little or nothing corresponding to
Buddhist practices of concentration. However, Christians have an ethical code,
the Ten Commandments, some of which are the same as the Five Precepts of lay
Buddhists (though the Commandments are not deeply and thoroughly explained as
in Buddhism). In addition, Jesus said:
shalt not murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou
shalt not bear false witness. Honor thy father and mother; and thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself." (Matt. 19:18-19)
say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them
that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute
you." (Matt. 5:44)
in the Old Testament are wise sayings on moral conduct, such as: "Be not
hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools (Eccl.
7:9)"; and: "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding; but
he that is hasty of spirit exalteth great folly." (Prov. 14:29)
In spite of
the Commandments, the good words of Jesus, and wise sayings, these are
unsupported by meditations and cannot be thoroughly maintained. Even Peter, the
first Pope, on two occasions broke them. Once he drew his sword and smote off
the ear of a man arresting Jesus (Matt. 26:51), and three times he lied that he
knew not his master (Matt. 26:69-74).
As Peter was
a simple fisherman who understood nothing of meditation to strengthen the moral
precepts, it is not surprising how quickly he broke these precepts. It is the
same with everyone who has no meditational power; their precepts are always in danger
of being suddenly broken.
gospels teach the same precepts, that they might be remembered and kept. Still
one should concentrate, as in the poem written by Thomas Ady:
Mark, Luke & John;
bed be blessed that I lie on.
angels to my bed,
angels around my head,
to watch, one to pray,
two to bear my soul away."
good. We may now consider briefly the second aspect of Vinaya.
teaching of Confucius, the relation between ethics and spiritual progress or
regress is clearly pointed out. He said, "To follow what is right is like
ascending a hill, but to follow what is wrong is like being in the landslide of
We may now
consider briefly the second aspect of Vinaya.
himself clearly warned us in the Dharmapada:
easy to do things that are bad and not beneficial to oneself, but very, very
difficult indeed to do is that which is beneficial and good." (163).
The doing of
good necessarily involves the performance of the first two paramitas. First,
with the perfection of giving we should consider deeply that the giver, the
gift, and the act of giving are all void. If concentration on sunyata
accompanies the giving and receiving, then a great result is achieved, whereas
ordinary giving reaps only small fruit. (See
perfection of morality must also go along with wisdom gained through
meditation, if it is to be fruitful. There is not a great result from merely
observing strict rules, but discipline guided by meditative wisdom can be very
is difficult, if we would truly do good in our lives, then meditation is
indispensable. Without meditation the mind, and so all our actions, are tainted
by the basic error: ignorance.
taint than these is ignorance, the greatest taint. Abandoning this taint, be
taintless, O bhikkhus!" (Dhp. 243). This can only be achieved through
meditation. The Buddha has said exactly what is necessary for progress:
"Indeed from meditation wisdom arises; without meditation wisdom
wanes." (Dhp. 372) Finally, Lord Buddha has said:
he should live a hundred years, immoral and uncontrolled, yet better, indeed,
is a single day's life of one who is moral and meditative." (Dhp. 110)
others. This resembles "doing good," but its range is wider. In this
aspect one extends beneficent activities from oneself out to other beings, a
natural part of morality when this is considered in relation to the doctrine of
teachings may be briefly summed up by saying: If you want to get rid of evil,
cultivate good, and benefit others: develop meditation.
and other good deeds
There are different
practices using repetition, but all require concentration—without it only
confusion will result.
When we are
praising the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in our puja, concentration is very
necessary, otherwise verses will be out of place and lines forgotten. The same
applies to the repetition of a mantra: unless the mind is fully attentive and
counting carefully, then we easily become muddled (two beads of the rosary may
be counted as one, or vice versa). If one lacks mindfulness, some part of a
long mantra is easily omitted. Such are the dangers of reciting mantra.
prostrations, concentration is needed not only for counting, but also to make
the action more spiritually profitable. This happens when prostrations become a
meditation to be performed slowly and mindfully, in which we think
one-pointedly of the object of worship. For example, we may visualize on the
right hand our father, and on the left, our mother; in front are our enemies
with their families; and behind are the beings of the six realms, who have all
at some time been our parents. Thus, together with all beings we worship the
Teacher (see Appendix I, II, and App. III, A, 5).
There is a
chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra where the vows of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra
are written. In the stanzas of this chapter, detailed visualizations are given
regarding the vows of this wisdom-being. By Samantabhadra's meditative powers,
countless Buddhas appear; then, one of them becomes a group of Buddhas as small
and numerous as dust. One should visualize oneself in as many forms as there
are Buddhas, all worshipping at their feet. Each one of these Buddhas is
surrounded by hosts of Bodhisattvas—altogether, there are as many Buddhas as
there are grains of dust in the universe. If one does not have good powers of
concentration, how will it be possible even to start visualizing all these
In the Sutra
of Amitabha Buddha, it is said that to praise one Buddha with this physical
body is not enough. One should create as many mind-bodies as there are Buddhas
who sit preaching in their Pure Lands. One should praise these Lords and
Conquerors in many bodies, in many voices, and in all the languages of the
Buddhas of the six directions praised Sakyamuni and his preaching, by extending
their tongues, each of which can cover the entire sky. Even in the resultant
position of Buddhahood, he still does effortless good deeds in his samadhi.
Without his attainment of this wonderful samadhi, none of these deeds can be
be gross outward objects or they may be subtle mental ones; even for material
offerings to have much result, one must offer them with concentration, whereas
subtle ones cannot be offered at all unless the mind is concentrated. Making
offerings in this way, one gift may become many, in geometric progression (see,
for instance, App. II, C, 3). One may truly say that a little practice with a
fully concentrated mind far exceeds in result a great deal of effort with a
much more becomes possible. Before the Buddha preached he sent away those who
could not receive his message so that they might not have the chance to abuse
it and thereby accumulate evil karma. From his samadhi attainments, he was able
to subdue the evil forces of demons and to convert those holding the mistaken
notions of Brahmanism. All such deeds are only possible with the practice of
meditation; therefore, is it not important?
d. The Reason
for Recurring Factors in the Lists
Why are there
so many complex principles (some of these concerning meditation and some
wisdom) in the Thirty-seven Wings and in the Six Perfections? Factors are often
repeated in different classifications. Why has the Buddha taught so many? The
answer to this question is to be found through meditation.
meditation stages are to be distinguished among the factors occurring in the
different groups of the Thirty-seven:
among the Five Roots: these principles are used for the levels of hearing and
ii. The same
factors in the Five Powers correspond to their development in samatha.
the Noble Eightfold Path, these common factors are raised to the level of
iv. In the
Seven Branches are factors for the attainment of samapana.
last group is usually given before the Noble Eightfold Path, in practice the
Bodhyanga factors, all of which are concerned with mental training, are a stage
more developed than those of the Path, which are fixed, some referring to sila,
etc. However, with profound explanations accompanying these eight factors, they
may be arranged as the last group of the Thirty-seven.
Of the Six
Paramitas, three (sila, samadhi, and prajna) may seem the same as factors among
the Thirty-seven, but the philosophy underlying the two groups is different
(being respectively Madhyamika and Hinayana). Thus the samapatti also quite
naturally differs; the samapatti differs also, so it is not surprising that the
samadhis resulting are also not the same.
names must not confuse us in these various factors, but rather should lead us
to search out the subtle teachings. Elsewhere, this point has not been taught
clearly enough, but it is nevertheless very important and so is stressed in
If these four
degrees of meditation are well known and the individual factors among the
Thirty-seven Wings are seen to fall easily into this classification, then no
one can say they are confused by the terms or that the various groups are
dependent on the meditation in the Five Yanas:
a. Human yana
One does not
meditate but practices some good during life (such as the Five Precepts of
Buddhist lay people) and as a result receives human rebirth.
This is of
two kinds: first, with the practice of many good deeds and a little meditation
(such as practicing the Eight Special Laypeople's Precepts) one attains after
death to the heavenly pleasure realm (kamavacara), a state only somewhat
superior to man; second, by practice of the dhyanas, one reaches at death to
the corresponding spontaneous rebirth among the devas of form and formlessness
(rupavacara and arupavacara).
This is the
way to attain the Arhat level, which can only be realized by the meditation on
the Four Noble Truths.
To become a
Solitary Buddha, it is necessary to penetrate with insight the meaning of the
Twelve Links of Dependent Origination.
to full Buddhahood must practice the paramitayana and the meditations described
for their fulfillment.
five yanas center upon meditative practice.
f. The Four
already been mentioned in the last chapter and here it is sufficient to repeat
that the proportions with which they are concerned with meditation are: in the
first, no meditation; in the second, one-third; in the third, a half; and in
the fourth, one is totally taken up with meditation of the highest Samadhi,
which is Enlightenment in this life.
about Great Compassion
and Sentient Beings Regarded as One
This is when
our compassion is developed through meditating upon all the sentient beings as
our own body. It is linked to our meditations on the Dharmakaya which is the
essence both of all beings and of the Buddhas. At this stage compassion is
always connected with the idea of "beings" or "persons."
X, Part Two, 5).
have compassion for parents, children, friends, etc., in meditations concerning
people. It is only a Buddha who experiences the Samadhi of Full Enlightenment,
wherein subject and object are completely identified: only for a Buddha is
compassion unconditioned and without reference to beings. A Buddha's Great
Compassion is perfectly accompanied by Great Wisdom, and always all five
degrees of Bodhicitta are present.
, there are four kinds:
Every being has this but has not realized his possession. If one wants to do so,
it is essential to practice the meditations on the twofold egolessness of
pudgala (persons) and dharmas (events).
Remainder (upadhisesa). The hindrance or veil of defilement (klesavarana) is
destroyed, but the second veil of knowledge (jneyavarana) remains. This is the
Hinayana's attainment of Nirvana, after which a physical body remains in this
life along with a subtle spiritual entity. One remains in continued existence
either as a deva or a human until the eventual attainment of Buddhahood.
Continued life is the direct result of the unbroken veil of knowledge not
destroyed by the force of samatha.
Remainder (anupadhisesa) The two kinds of veil are both destroyed by samadhi,
but one abides in Nirvana. This is not so good. One should abide nowhere.
Nonabiding in Nirvana. By the power of the Great Wisdom, nothing is held to.
That is, the samadhi being purified, one therefore abides nowhere and endlessly
performs all deeds of Salvation.
b. In the
Great Nirvana Sutra are listed seven different meanings of the word, thus:
i. Nir = not;
vana = weaving. We should not weave with threads of sorrow and so make the
cloth of birth-and-death. Well-developed concentration force is needed to
ii. Nir =
not; vana = hiding. This refers to the unhidden nature of the Dharmakaya. We
have to discover this by the wisdom-teaching taught perfectly by the Buddha:
that is, the wisdom of non-ego (anatman). This can only be realized by
iii. Nir =
not; vana = to and fro. This means not running up and down on this shore of
samsara; not wandering through the six worlds of transmigration. How can we
avoid this? By meditation.
iv. Nir =
not; vana = grasping. We should not grasp at rebirth. We should abide in the
Truth by the power of concentration.
uncertain. This has double meaning: there is no definite "thing"
called "Nirvana" but still Truth itself appears as a certainty.
vi. Not new,
not old. Nirvana is already here and is neither made a new by something nor
created in the past.
obstacle. Nirvana may also have this meaning, for one who attains it has no
obstacle to liberation.
c. There are
five definitions according to the Abhidharma Vibhasa Sastra:
i. It is said
there that "Nir" means "go out," and "vana'' means
"forest." Its attainment is thus to go out from the forest of
ii. It may
mean "no weaving," as in the first definition in the list from the
Great Nirvana Sutra.
derivation gives "no rebirth" as opposed to continuing in the cycle
of births through the six worlds.
as "no bondage": the world of birth-and-death is bound by ignorance,
and so Nirvana may signify renunciation of bondage.
"Going across the river of birth-and-death" is the last meaning given.
we interpret Nirvana, our attainment of it always depends on our power of
meditation. This power we must have if we are to realize our goal.
After he completed these
lists, Mr. Chen remarked: "There are only two hours to talk this evening
and our book is restricted to two hundred pages. (sic. This merely shows how
books grow.) Therefore, it is not possible to talk on any more of the factors
centering upon meditation. Perhaps the words of Confucius are appropriate here:
'I present any person
one corner of a subject. If he cannot learn from it the other three, then I do
not repeat my lesson.'
"I do believe
readers may have enough wisdom to understand the other principles."
At this, the writer
protested that he certainly did not possess that much wisdom and though there
may be a few very wise ones who will understand, he feared that many would be
in the same position as himself. "Many of the remaining principles,"
explained Mr. Chen, "will be taken up in further chapters dealing with the
subject of meditation."
D. Conclusion—Advantages of Meditation
So that we
may be inspired to make every effort and centralize these principles in our
practice, let us conclude this chapter with an account of the Ten Advantages of
Meditation as given in the Candrapradipa Sutra. This forms part of the sutra
known as the Samadhiraja. The Buddha teaches there that from meditation one gains:
1. a good
bearing and a pleasing appearance;
2. a mind
very meek, humble, and full of kindness;
absence of sorrow (duhkha) and of delusions (moha);
senses which do not stray from one object to another;
contentment even when without food (From meditation one obtains inner delight
and so becomes a "feeder upon joy." (Dhammapada));
renunciation of all desires and attachments;
continual spiritual result from practice (one's time is never wasted, for not
even one minute of it fails to produce some good result);
destruction of the net of demons in which most people are struggling, and from
which they cannot escape;
abiding in Buddhahood, and with one's surroundings those of a Buddha; and
also gives a list of advantages in his great Stages of the Bodhi Path. There he
1. the joy of
present dharmas—everything experienced becomes joyful;
experiences pleasurable feelings in the body and becomes joyful in mind;
ability to do any good deeds one desires to do;
destruction of all evil;
ability to develop supernormal powers;
ability to develop the wisdom of the Buddhas; and
destruction of the foundations of birth-and-death.
Very earnestly, Mr. Chen
so important that we should lead other people to think thus. We should endeavor
through our own practice to lead all people to be meditators.
Dharmakaya is the Universal Truth and the nature of all dharmas is that of
no-self; although we may talk about centers and outsides, and draw diagrams
showing this, it is not really like this at all. Everywhere is the center, with
no circumference to be found. Any subject may be the center. If you ask me to
talk upon renunciation, then this subject would be centered upon by the various
points I would use to explain it. By "center" here is not meant the
middle of two extremes. The center is harmonization, or that which harmonizes
these two extremes.
Mr. Chen got up from his
stool and began to play hopscotch around the room, hopping with great agility
and balancing a tin on his outstretched hand. He said, "what is it that
boys cry out when they play this Chinese game? 'Harmonized, harmonized.' In
every square, they must land upon its center without looking at the ground or
touching the chalk lines—all the time they must be centered; also, they may not
lose their balance and let the tin fall into the extremes without harmonizing
them. There is the
this is the center, this is the playing samadhi of the Buddha, this is Chan."
Chan, or the
Dharmakaya, is unbounded in any circle, though for convenience of explanation
one has been shown in our diagrams. There is really no circle there at all;
there is no circumference, no centrifugal nor centripetal tendency. Yet within
this circle of no circle, our lines merely indicate myriads of factors for the
convenience of talking about meditations other than Chan. Chan, therefore, is
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