Monthly Archives: December 2015

Which Tradition to fellow? 應修何法?

Which Tradition to fellow? 應修何法?

Someone asked; which tradition is the best and quickest way to achieve enlightenment?

There are Theravada, Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Pureland, and Zen and more…. among the modern Buddhist teachings, it is understandable that, many people are unsure of which tradition is best for them.

Think this way, if we are going to New York, some people may go by airplane, some may take train, some may take a bus, and some may want to drive there, it all depends on individuals preferences, but with planning and taking actions, everyone can arrive New York.

The same is true with Buddhism, individuals can take a path best suited them, this often has to do with individual’s Karma connections. There’s only one Truth, and all paths lead to the same Truth, also everyone can and have the capability to achieve enlightenment.

Provided you fellow a pure Dharma teachings, the differences is depend on one’s capacity and diligence.

Reasons for those with little accomplishments; If one has high capacity, but put in little effort in study and practice the Dharma, such person will take many eons to achieve enlightenment.

If one’s capacity is at a low level, low IQ, even though he / she tried very hard, still unable to comprehend the true meaning of Dharma, such person will take many eons to achieve enlightenment.

You can visit different schools of Buddhism, find one that you feel most connected with, do some home work by observing the people around and the teacher first. A large Buddhist center usually have ordained monks or nuns preside as teacher (s), smaller organizations might have a lay-person leading the group, most important is whether they teach pure Dharma.

If you visited a place where teaching are hard for you to understand, don’t be discouraged, always ask for help, there are always people at various level of knowledge who are willing to help.

Don’t become cling to the person who teach you something, because as your understanding of Dharma grows, you will have new teachers appears on your path. Remember! always respect your teachers, and absolutely pay great respect to you Guru /Teacher, and make offerings.

Pure Dharma teachings, can help you with the correct methods to develop your insight and higher wisdom, with wisdom you will be able to solve problems in daily life, Dharma is the key to freedom.

Also, in Buddhist temples or centers, there are no donation baskets passing around, but they all accept Dana (offering), usually a large or small box or a cabinet setting at a corner somewhere, feel free to ask.

Customarily, we make Dana (offering-however small or large amount etc. $1.00 to $1000000…) to the temple and the renounciates (monk and nuns). Because temples need funds to operate and spread Dharma, and monks and nuns devoted their life to study and teaching of Dharma, with lay people’s support, thus Buddha dharma continued for past 2500 years, and down to us.

Emptiness 空性簡說

                                                 Emptiness 空性簡說

Self-cherishing is due to the mind set of “I”, which is an illusionary “I”, the false self is like hallucination, like the reflection of yourself in the mirror, it is not the real self. The Buddha Shakyamuni, His intention was teaching us how to recover our true self, which is non-contaminated , pure-spirit self, which has always been with each of us, not inside, nor outside, it is formless, it is pure and divine, which transcend time and space , and with complete wisdom and compassion. That is why Buddha states that every sentient beings are capable of achieving full Enlightenment.

There for, the illusionary “I” is lack inherent existent.

Emptiness is translated from Sanskrit “Sunyata” , emptiness (Sunyata) is a realized achievement.

Sunyata translated into English as emptiness, voidness, openness, spaciousness, or vacuity, is a Buddhist concept which has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. In the “old-text Buddhism” Theravada Buddhism, “Sunnata” often refers to the not-self nature of the five aggregates of experience and the six sense spheres. Sunnata is also often used to refer to a meditative state or experience.

After the Buddha, emptiness was further developed by Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka school, an early Mahayana school. Emptiness (“positively” interpreted) is also an important element of the Buddha nature literature, which played a formative role in the evolution of subsequent Mahayana doctrine and practice

According to Thanissaro Bhikku:

Emptiness as a quality of dharmas, in the early canons, means simply that one cannot identify them as one’s own self or having anything pertaining to one’s own self…Emptiness as a mental state, in the early canons, means a mode of perception in which one neither adds anything to nor takes anything away from what is present, noting simply, “There is this.” This mode is achieved through a process of intense concentration, coupled with the insight that notes more and more subtle levels of the presence and absence of disturbance.

The four “Arupa-jhana”

While rupajhanas differ considering their characteristics, arupa-jhanas differ as their object is determined by the level of the jhana:

  • fifth jhāna: infinite space 空無邊處
  • sixth jhāna: infinite consciousness 識無邊處
  • seventh jhāna: infinite nothingness 無所有處
  • eighth jhāna: neither perception nor non-perception 非想非非想處

This has to be understood. In the fourth rupajhana, there is already Upekkha, equanimity and Ekkagata, concentration, but the mind is still focused on a “material” object, as any color.

  • In the fifth jhana, the meditator discovers that there is no object, but only an infinite space, which is empty. This perception motivates the interest of claiming arupajhanas.
  • In the sixth jhana, it becomes obvious that space has no existence. There is only infinite consciousness.
  • In the seventh jhana appears the feeling that there is no consciousness, but nothingness.
  • The eighth jhana consists in the most discrete possible state of mind, which justifies the using of “neither perception nor non-perception”.

These “explanations” do not refer to any intellectual, philosophical comprehension, which disappear since the second jhana. They attempt to figure mental process. The Arupa-jhana are part of the kammatthanas, and are referred to as the four “formless states”(of the mind )

Note: Meditation in jhana state of mind, is a practice to realize that the body or self is lack inherent existence, all phenomena appears to be real is subject to change of time and space, ultimately return to nothingness, thus, life is here-and-now, not yesterday, not tomorrow, not present either, because present is also become past moment-by-moment. And everything we have.. love, wealth, name and fame etc. will cease to be when we leave this world, we can take nothing at all. Therefore, meditation is training of the mind, lead to true understanding of reality, thus enable us to truly enjoy life.

This doesn’t mean we should give up love, wealth, working, or any enjoyment. It just meant we should not be too attached to anything. If we imagine riding the in train, looking out the window as the train moving, we see all the sceneries past by; cities, country sights, rivers, mountains, houses, animals etc. we do not cling to what we saw in the moving train. Our life is like in the moving train, it is continual moment-to-moment experiences, grip and enjoy each precious of moments we have, and make the best of it, and be detached.

The Three Kayas 佛的三身

                                                The Three Kayas 佛的三身

The doctrine says that a Buddha has three kāyas or bodies:

  1. The Dharmakāya or Truth body which embodies the very principle of enlightenment and knows no limits or boundaries;
  2. The Sambhogakāya or body of mutual enjoyment which is a body of bliss or clear light manifestation;
  3. The Nirmāṇakāya or created body which manifests in time and space.

The Three Bodies of the Buddha from Mahayana and Pure Land Buddhist thought can be broken down like so:

The Dharmakāya is the embodiment of the truth itself, and it is commonly seen as transcending the forms of physical and spiritual bodies. Dharmakaya is the unmanifested, “inconceivable”, absence is the aspect of a

” Dhammakaya” meditations involve the realization, when the mind reaches its purest state, of an unconditioned “Dhamma Body” (dhammakaya) in the form of a luminous, radiant and clear Buddha figure free of all defilements and situated within the body of the meditator. Nirvana is the true Self, and this is also the Dharmakaya. Buddha. Vairocana Buddha is often depicted as the Dharmakaya 法身

The Sambhogakaya is the reward/enjoyment body, whereby a bodhisattva completes his vows and becomes a Buddha. Amitabha, Vajrasattva , Avalokitesvara, and Manjushri are examples of Buddhas with the Sambhogakaya body. The Sambhogakaya is a “subtle body of limitless form. A Buddha can appear in an “enjoyment-body” to teach bodhisattvas through visionary experiences.

A seed not planted in the soil, without proper conditions of water, air, and sunlight, it will never grow and produce fruit, therefore, without origination is without cessation, this aspect of unceasingness is the Sambhogakaya.報身

The Nirmaṇakāya is a physical/manifest body of a Buddha. An example would be Gautama Buddha‘s body.

All things by nature are lack inherent existence, empty in nature. Yet, we do experience happiness, suffering , all kind of emotional disturbances. All kinds of feelings and perceptions are like reflections in a mirror, lack inherent existence. This reflection-like appearance of phenomena is the Nirmanakaya.應身

As with earlier Buddhist thought, all three forms of the Buddha teach the same Dharma, but take on different forms to expound the truth.

The Buddha taught Dharma for forty nine years, it is no other than to help recover our true self, enlightenment is not Discover something thing new, it is Recover of our own true self. The reason we are so mistaking our image, our body, our names as ourselves, is because we are deluded with our negative karma through countless past lives.

Purification of our body, speech and mind training is the path, is the formula to recover our true self. We live our daily life in a state of semi awake (semi dream state), enlightenment is awakening of our true self.

Awakened mind is Bodhichitta mind, Bodhichitta mind sees reality in two ways, Relative Reality and absolute Reality.

Relative Reality is, for example; when someone hit you with a stick, you feel pain, when you go long time without food, you feel hungry, when you get sick, you see a doctor, you are aware that with a human body, you take care of this body the way human do. If someone talk badly about, wrongfully accused you for something , you are able to incorporate all negativities onto the Buddhist path, transcend those events as opportunity for practice. These takes time and understanding of Dharma, and lots practice. Therefore, we should be thankful for these opportunities.

Absolute Reality is; for example; when we are hit by a stick, we feel pain, if we analyze, what the pain look like? who’s pain is it? it is the body, the illusory body, which we call ours, which is composed of five aggregates, which belong to emptiness. therefore, the pain is of emptiness. This absence is the unborn Dharmakaya.法身

Those Buddhas and Bodhisattvas manifest themselves in their specific pure lands. These worlds are created for the benefits of others. In those lands it is easy to hear and practice the Dharma. (Note: Pure Land is no other than here and now, it’s in a multi dimension sphere which we are unable to see with our ordinary eyes)

There are numerous Sambhogakaya realms almost as numerous as deities in Tibetan Buddhism. These Sambhogakaya-realms are known as Buddha-fields or Pure Lands. A person can be reborn in such a pure land by ” devout prayer , diligent recitation of “Namo Amitabha Buddha”, achieving huge stock of ‘merit’ of a Land’s presiding Buddha. (This practice is a way to complete purification of the mind, without any trace of contamination or attachment)

One manifestation of the Sambhogakaya in Tibetan Buddhism is the rainbow body. This is where an advanced practitioner is walled up in a cave or sewn inside a small yurt-like tent shortly before death. For a period of a week or so after death, the practitioners’ body transforms into a Sambhogakaya light body, leaving behind only hair and nails.

If we look at a radio, listen to the music, we say the radio plays music, but, if we take the radio apart, we fund there is the casing, some wires, some parts and a speaker, we cannot say that the casing is the radio, nor the wires or parts is the radio, nor the speaker is the radio, they are parts, pieces of metal or plastic. The music is not inside or outside the radio, nothing to be found. Our mind is like that, not inside or outside of our body, it cannot be found anywhere, the mind is by nature empty, nevertheless, all phenomena appeared from the mind’s projection, everything appeared to be real, it is beyond origination and cessation, this inseparable union of the three kayas is called the Svabhavikakaya. 化身

Understanding the four Kayas is exmily important, this helps us to see that all thing with illusion are originally pure. Like the sky filled with clouds, we cannot see the sun, we cannot say there is no sun, when the clouds are moved, we can see the blue sky and the sun.

Enlightenment is recovery of our true self. when we remove our delusions, we see our true nature,

Two truths 性相不二

                                         Two  truths   性相不二

                                 ( Non-duality of form and emptiness 空色一如 )                                      

The Buddha’s teaching of the Dharma is based on two truths: a truth of worldly convention and ultimate truth.

Those who do not understand the distinction drawn between these two truths do not understand the Buddha’s profound truth. Without a foundation in the conventional truth the significance of the ultimate cannot be taught. Without understanding the significance of the ultimate, liberation is not achieved.

The Prajnaparamita Sutras and Madhyamaka emphasized the non-duality of form and emptiness: ” form is emptiness, emptiness is form …” as the Heart Sutra 心經 says. The idea that the ultimate reality is present in the daily world of relative reality.

How the absolute is present in the relative world?

Insight into the empty nature or not-“thing”-ness of everything; the recognition of the Absolute within “the midst of the variety of different situations in action; you see everything before your eyes as your own original true clean face, just as if you were looking at your face in the mirror”. That is, unlike the insight of the first rank, which can be easily disturbed, the second rank has greater constancy in the face of distractions. However, seeing the absolute within the relative does not extend to one’s behavior towards others.

Without explanation and clear-mind listening, it is very hard for one to comprehend these sayings;

All things exist: affirmation of being, negation of nonbeing

All things do not exist: affirmation of nonbeing, negation of being

All things both exist and do not exist: both affirmation and negation

All things neither exist nor do not exist: neither affirmation nor negation

In the “Hear Sutra……emptiness is form, form is emptiness , none time nor timelessness….

All are pointed directly to the pure Buddha nature, which means our true Buddha nature is pure, uncontaminated, and beyond time and space.

For example; If someone asked you to point yourself, you would most likely point to your chest or your head as your “self”, but if you think about it, your chest is not you, and your head is not you, not any part of your body is you, they are “things” or “Parts” belong to you, you are the owner of such and such……Nothing “Yours” is real you.

If you say “I love “, Love is a real feeling, but you are not able to put it in your palm and show it, this is like the Buddha nature, it’s there, but you can’t see it physically. Think about when you were 10 years old, 20 years old, or 30 years old and so on…..your body change with time, but your thoughts, your mind, your feelings etc ….all are not associate with age/time and space. Your true self has never apart from your body; that is the Buddha nature and your form (body) are one, true self is no other than the (from) self. The emptiness of Buddha-nature manifest the form via Karma and Conditions, and the form projects your Buddha-nature combined with previous karma.

*** Hope this is helpful for you to understand the Two Truth.