Buddhist Meditation
Systematic and Practical

CW35
Chapter V
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 MAHABODHISATTVAS

 

AVALOKITESVARA AND SAMANTABHADRA

 

Chapter V

 

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 Thailand 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 Tibet 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.

 

Our preparations 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 upon meditation.

 

All the 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.

 

Today we 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 and systematic.

 

The small 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.

 

The outermost ring is Chan, representing the Dharmakaya or Dharmadhatu.

 

Within this 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 meditation.

 

The arrow pointing outward indicates the centrifugal relation discussed in the last chapter, the bearing of meditation itself upon individual principles.

 

The arrow 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.

 

All these 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.

 

1. Hearing-wisdom

 

a. Faults of a Dharma-instrument

 

If a person (who is likened here to an instrument for the Dharma) comes to a Rin-po-che (in Sanskrit, ''Maharatna''—great jewel) for spiritual instruction, then he should guard against the following three faults of a Dharma-instrument!

 

i. Not 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 to learn.

 

ii. Unclear 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 be obtained?

 

iii. Leakage. 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.

 

b. Mindfulness

 

For good 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.

 

iii. The Dharma is the medicine—but first one must be able to keep this thought in mind.

 

iv. The 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.

 

The first 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.

 

Meditations upon the Path to this Cessation are the practice of Dharma, which is like taking the medicine as prescribed.

 

The fifth 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 refuges.

 

2. Thinking-wisdom

 

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.

 

From stories 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.

 

Another writer, Wang Chong, wanted to compose his The Balance of Ancient Essays.

 

"This work," 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!

 

"Yes," 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.

 

Another 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.

 

Two Tibetan 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.

 

The second 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 Europe , 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 unbroken.

 

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.

 

3. Practicing-wisdom

 

Of the many groups of factors in this category, we can only choose a few of the most important:

 

a. Five Kinds of Bodhicitta

 

In his Prajnaparamita Sastra, the venerable Nagarjuna divided Bodhicitta into five stages:

 

i. 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 200 in all, and recited them before the Vajrasana at Bodhi Gaya.

 

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.

 

ii. 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.

 

iii. 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.

 

iv. Reaching 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.

 

v. Unexcelled 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.)

 

b. Morality

 

On our 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.

 

Three aspects 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:

 

"Thou 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)

 

Jesus also said:

 

"But I 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)

 

Furthermore, 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.

 

All four gospels teach the same precepts, that they might be remembered and kept. Still one should concentrate, as in the poem written by Thomas Ady:

 

"Matthew, Mark, Luke & John;

The bed be blessed that I lie on.

Four angels to my bed,

Four angels around my head,

One to watch, one to pray,

And two to bear my soul away."

 

ii. Doing good. We may now consider briefly the second aspect of Vinaya.

 

In the 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 that hill."

 

We may now consider briefly the second aspect of Vinaya.

 

The Buddha himself clearly warned us in the Dharmapada:

"It is 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 Ch. X).

 

Second, the 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 beneficial.

 

Although it 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.

 

"A worse 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:

 

"Though 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)

 

iii. Benefiting 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 the paramitas.

 

All these teachings may be briefly summed up by saying: If you want to get rid of evil, cultivate good, and benefit others: develop meditation.

 

c. Repetition 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.

 

In doing 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 forms?

 

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 world.

 

All 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 accomplished.

 

Offerings may 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 scattered mind.

 

With samadhi, 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.

 

Four meditation stages are to be distinguished among the factors occurring in the different groups of the Thirty-seven:

 

i. Those among the Five Roots: these principles are used for the levels of hearing and thinking wisdom.

 

ii. The same factors in the Five Powers correspond to their development in samatha.

 

iii. Among the Noble Eightfold Path, these common factors are raised to the level of samapatti.

 

iv. In the Seven Branches are factors for the attainment of samapana.

 

Although the 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.

 

Similarity of 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 this book.

 

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 complicated.

 

4. Realization

 

This is 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.

 

b. Heavenly yana

 

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).

 

c. Sravakayana

 

This is the way to attain the Arhat level, which can only be realized by the meditation on the Four Noble Truths.

 

d. Pratyekabuddhayana

 

To become a Solitary Buddha, it is necessary to penetrate with insight the meaning of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination.

 

e. Bodhisattvayana

 

The aspirant to full Buddhahood must practice the paramitayana and the meditations described for their fulfillment.

 

All these five yanas center upon meditative practice.

 

f. The Four Yogas

 

These have 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.

 

5. Meditation about Great Compassion

 

a. Buddhas 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." (See Ch. X, Part Two, 5).

 

b. Without Condition

 

Everybody may 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.

 

6. Nirvana

 

a. According to the Idealist School , there are four kinds:

 

i. Natural. 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).

 

ii. With 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.

 

iii. Without 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.

 

iv. 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 subdue sorrow.

 

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 meditation.

 

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.

 

v. Not 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.

 

vii. No 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 sorrows.

 

ii. It may mean "no weaving," as in the first definition in the list from the Great Nirvana Sutra.

 

iii. Another derivation gives "no rebirth" as opposed to continuing in the cycle of births through the six worlds.

 

iv. Nirvana as "no bondage": the world of birth-and-death is bound by ignorance, and so Nirvana may signify renunciation of bondage.

 

v. "Going across the river of birth-and-death" is the last meaning given.

 

However, as 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;

3. the absence of sorrow (duhkha) and of delusions (moha);

4. controlled senses which do not stray from one object to another;

5. contentment even when without food (From meditation one obtains inner delight and so becomes a "feeder upon joy." (Dhammapada));

6. renunciation of all desires and attachments;

7. a continual spiritual result from practice (one's time is never wasted, for not even one minute of it fails to produce some good result);

8. the destruction of the net of demons in which most people are struggling, and from which they cannot escape;

9. always abiding in Buddhahood, and with one's surroundings those of a Buddha; and

10. ripeness for liberation.

 

Tsong Khapa also gives a list of advantages in his great Stages of the Bodhi Path. There he lists seven:

 

1. the joy of present dharmas—everything experienced becomes joyful;

2. one experiences pleasurable feelings in the body and becomes joyful in mind;

3. the ability to do any good deeds one desires to do;

4. the destruction of all evil;

5. the ability to develop supernormal powers;

6. the ability to develop the wisdom of the Buddhas; and

7. the destruction of the foundations of birth-and-death.

 

Very earnestly, Mr. Chen said:

 

Meditation is 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.

 

The 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 Middle Way , 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 not included.

 


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