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佛學討論八—The Bodhisattva #菩薩 ideal in #大乘Mahāyāna;The importance of Skill-in-means #善巧

1.Discuss the Bodhisattva ideal in Mahāyāna.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva is the enlightened beings, it aims are Buddhabood and enlightening all sentients beings. To practice Bodhisattva vehicle is walking the Bodhisattva Path.

The practitioners who cultivates bodhicitta, a compssionate wish come from own to attain Buddhabood and serving benefits to all sentient beings, who takes bodhisattva vows to have commitment. Bodhisattva has great compassion to all beings. He develop compassion and perform compassionate acts, which is selfless. His passion is to bring people and all beings out of the imperfect world with hatred, greed and sufferings of samasara. .

From the Prajñapāramitā Sūtras and the Lotus Sutra, Bodisattva will practice six Paramis : generosity, virtue, patience, diligence, meditation and wisdom. Anyone can become bodhisattva as long as vow to practice the six perfections and attain enlightenment for all beings. Once we have the vow , we are all Bodhisattva.

Apart from The four great vows: I vow to deliver all sentient beings; I vow to cut off all vexations; I vow to learn all the Buddha’s teachings; I vow to attain Buddhahood. In ‘Initiating the Bodhisattva Vow Sutra Sastra’ mentioned a person can develop the vow to attain Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi If he possesses the following ten conditions: 1. To be near good friends 2. Make offering to all the Buddhas 3. Accumulate and develop virtuous and meritorious roots 4. Determine to excel 5. Always be soft and gentle 6. Can persevere while facing suffering and difficulty 7. Be compassionate, pure and accommodating 8. Be truly equanimous 9. Believe and delight in the practice of Mahayana 10. Aspire to attain the wisdom of the Buddha

Avalokiteśvara is a perfect example. Mañjuśrī, Samantabhadra, Avalokiteśvara, Mahāsthāmaprāpta, Akasagarbha, Kṣitigarbha, Maitreya and Sarvanivarana-Vishkambhin are the great example of Bodhisattva.

From my point of view, everyone is pure inside our deep beings, with kindness and compassion. Anyone of us must have had the experience to express our kindness and compassion to others naturally. We must have tried to be a bodhisattva at least seconds or minutes. The problem is that the ego makes people not determined enough to have a deep vow to act as Bodhisattva at the continuous present moment. The vows are very powerful to practitioners to have a real commitment to choose a totally new life style, attitude and insight to face all beings in the world. Practitioners should have great courage, determination, compassion and wisdom to become a Bodhisattva. It is also the way to see things as really are to attain self-enlightenment, to realise that all is one, one is all.

2.Discuss the importance of Skill-in-means (upāya).

Skill-in-means is the very important skill for Buddha to teach different kinds of people to lead people easy to understand and accept the teaching. Skill-in-means is the act of real wisdom and performing no-self and compassion, in order to deliver the great teachings to people to save them from suffering in samsara.

On the Great Perfection of Wisdom, there are three ways to attain the great teaching: 1) vow to become Buddhas and have a good foundation; 2) vow to become Pratyke-Buddha’s and have mediocre foundation; 3) vow to become Arahat and have low foundation.

Therefore, Buddhas offer The Four Siddhantas to suit different kinds of people with different karma. There are worldly, individually-adapted, counteractive and supreme meaning siddhanta.

For worldly siddhanta, Buddhas use the dhamma as existence to teach people to recognize the co-dependent arising phenomena.

For individually-adapted siddhanta, depends on individual karma like personality, characteristics, capacity and ability etc, Buddhas use different causal explanations, and parables to teach. Facing different people, Buddhas may have totally contradictory answers but actually it is within the One Buddha-Vehicle. In the Lotus Sutra, Buddha said that I have used countless skillful means to lead living beings, enabling them to give up their attachments to attain full use of skillful means and practice of insight.

For counteractive siddhanta, Buddhas use dharma as medicine to encounter different situation for example to encounter sex, Buddha use impurity meditation to cure.

For supreme-meaning siddhanta, Buddhas teach the people with good foundation and vow to become Buddhas that all dharma and matters are same as emptiness. It is no ‘correct dharma’ and ‘non-dharma’, directly point to the ultimate truth with is nothing and emptiness.

Buddhas skilfully uses skillful means in order to teach us the unspeakable truth because the dharma cannot be well understood through calculation or analysis. Buddha’s Dharma is so profound, fine and wonderful and so difficult to comprehend.

Since the ultimate truth is out of concept, language and logics. It is non-duality. In order to deliver the dharma effectively to different stages of beings, Buddhas use many different kind of skilful means with causal explanations, parables and other kinds of expression to elaborate and explain. On that day, time and situation, Buddhas offer specific answers to specific people to make people become easier to understand and enlighten their enlightenment inside their heart. By the power of skillful means, the three ways and four siddhanta are actually within the One Buddha-Vehicle.

Reference Books:

  1. Dale S.Wright : The Six Perfections Buddhism And The Cultivation Of Character, New York, 2009.
  2. Edward Conze: Buddhist Wisdom The Diamond Sutra and The Heart Sutra, New York, 1958.
  3. David J. Kalupahana: A History of Buddhist: Philosophy Continuity and Discontinuity, Hawaii, 1992.
  4. Paul Williams :Mahayana Buddhism:The Doctrinal Foundations( 2nd edition), New York, 2009.
  5. Thich Nhat Hahn: The Miracle of Mindfulness, London, 2008.
  6. Bhikkhu Bodhi: The Noble Eightfold Path The Way to End of Suffering, 1998.
  7. Dr Peter Della Santana: The tree of enlightenment,Chino DharmaStudy Foundation, 1997.
  8. Piyadassi Thera :The Buddhas Ancient Path, Malaysia, 1979.
  9. Rupert Gethin: The Foundations of Buddhism, New York, 1998.
  10. Walpoda Rahula : What The Buddha Taught , New York, 1959.
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佛學討論七—The wisdom of emptiness #空性in the Heart Sūtra#心經 ;“Three Natures” #三種實相

  1. The wisdom of emptiness (śūnyatā) in the Heart Sūtra (Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya Sūtra).
文章作者:竹林字

The wisdom of emptiness in the Heart Sutra is the transcendental perfect wisdom. It is the absolute reality with full enlightenment.

In the ultimate truth, all dhammas are empty, no self can be found, nothing that owns, nothing that belongs. Each one depends on others. Nothing is independent. Everything is just impermanent. Dharma is the Void and it is emptiness.

Not only the illusion like greed, aggressiveness, delusion and Self are purified, but also one realises matters and dhammas are the same, having perfect equanimity and emptiness.

No matter what forms : The five skandhas, the twelve bases and the eighteen fields are ultimately empty. From outside there appears to be a lot, but there is really nothing behind.

Emptiness is inside the followings:

The five skandhas: matters, sensation, cognition, volition, consciousness ;

The twelve bases :six internal objects( eyes, ears, nose, tougne, body, mind;) and the six external bases( sight, sound, scent, taste, tangibles and dharma)

The eighteen fields: the six internal bases and the six external objects and six consciousness.

The twelve links of dependent origination ( ignorance, volition, consciousness, body/mind, six senses , contact, sensation, desire, attachment, existence, birth , ageing and death)

The four noble truths: suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, the way to attain cessation of suffering: eightfold paths.

To conclude, all these dhammas are same, equally marked with emptiness. ‘Emptiness’ is a state of real renunciation of all things, realising ‘all things are one’ with perfect equanimity, wisdom and compassion, totally eliminating dualism. All dhammas are not-self, impermanent and co-arising.

The infinite truth is here and now and not here and now. Nirvana is the same as the world umtimatly. It is ‘in’ and ‘with’ us, but we are nothing and it is nothing. With emptiness, we have free run with the flow of life in nature itself, without any fights and acts. Nothing can support our life but dwell, remain and settle in the emptiness.

The wisdom of emptiness in the heart sutra is the beyond, the unconditioned, the absolute, immaculate, complete and stopping, which is the finial destination – Nirvana.

2.Discuss the “Three Natures” (trisvabhāva) in the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra.

In the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, there are three self-natures and three kinds of no-self-natures.

For three natures, the first nature is the notion of clinging to what is entirely imagined and fully conceptualized. It is the imagination and constructed with concepts, images, forms, words or values. It is a wrong recognition. For example, the concept of money makes people rich.

The second nature is the notion of other-dependency. With dharma of co-arising and co-dependent nature, we can see things as in other dependent nature more objectively.We can clearly see things depend on the other things, so that things come together. For example, money comes with ink, paper, conceptual value etc, then money arise. Or the cause and effect phenomena which is wrongly mixed with conceptualized nature.

The third nature is the notion of full perfection or fully accomplished. With meditation unaffected by concepts and words, one realises the emptiness, the dependent-arising nature and suchness or thatness. One realises the true nature of things. All things have no-essence, no arising, and no passing away, are originally quiescent and are essentially cessation. There is no superior, no room for improvement. It is the prefect wisdom. For example, (watching money) it is.

Reference:

  1. Edward Conze: Buddhist Wisdom The Diamond Sutra and The Heart Sutra, New York, 1958.
  2. David J. Kalupahana: A History of Buddhist: Philosophy Continuity and Discontinuity, Hawaii, 1992.
  3. Paul Williams :Mahayana Buddhism:The Doctrinal Foundations( 2nd edition), New York, 2009.
  4. Thich Nhat Hahn: The Miracle of Mindfulness, London, 2008.
  5. Bhikkhu Bodhi: The Noble Eightfold Path The Way to End of Suffering, 1998.
  6. Dr Peter Della Santana: The tree of enlightenment,Chino DharmaStudy Foundation, 1997.
  7. Piyadassi Thera :The Buddhas Ancient Path, Malaysia, 1979.
  8. Rupert Gethin: The Foundations of Buddhism, New York, 1998.
  9. Walpoda Rahula : What The Buddha Taught , New York, 1959.
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發表於 生活態度 Life Attitude原創 Original心靈 Mental人生 Life佛學靈修Buddhist Study

佛學討論六—Discuss the teaching of “exercising a non-abiding mind” (#應無所住而生其心) in the Diamond Sūtra #金剛經(Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra).

The doctrine of the Diamond Sutra is the Perfection of Wisdom. It teaches us to give up all naming, labeling and concepts, but directly to see things as they are, which is invaluable and with uncountable ‘benefits’ for all beings. The teaching of ‘exercising non-abiding mind’ (應無所住而生其心) appears in Chapter 10 of Diamond Sutra. In the translation of Edward Conze, it is translated as ‘ should produce an unsupported thought’. Both translations point out we should practice the non-attachment mindset with no judgment (right or wrong; like or dislike; pleasant or unpleasant) and align life with the flow of nature’s movement.

Firstly, ‘exercising non-abiding mind’ means non-attachment to five-holding aggregates: matter, feeling, perception, determinations and consciousness. As Edward Conze analysis ‘the thought which the Bodhisattva should produce, or raise, is completely free thought, which depends on no object or motive’; ‘in the practice of virtue, ignores all ‘things’ and ‘signs’, can be described as completely disinterested. The Bodhisattva is here hidden to forget all about himself.’

To exercise non-abiding mind, we have to practice no-self nor a being, or a living should or of a person, but should produce a thought of real enlightenment. There is no ‘personal existence’, because the body and five holding-aggregates are not-self. The ultimate truth of the world are dependent co-arising and impermanent. Also ‘not existence’ is also not true, because it is only a concept but not seeing things as it is in our experience and realization.

In Chapter 6 of Diamond Sutra, it is said that’ In these Bodhisattvas, no perception of a self takes place, no perception of a being, no perception of a soul, no perception of a person. Nor do these Bodhisattvas have a perception of a dharma, or a perception of a non-dharma. No perception or non-perception takes place in them.’ We can see that ‘exercising non-abiding mind’, the Bodhisattvas have no belief in the existence of an ego, no belief in a continuous separate individual identical with himself and no belief in the existence of the force within an individual organism, and no belief in the existence of the permanent entity. Also, the Bodhisattvas know that dhammas do not exist. The reality is emptiness, between ‘is’ and ‘is not.

Secondly, ‘exercising non-abiding mind’ means we should focus on here and now. In charter 10 of Diamond Sutra:’ The Bodhisattva, the great being, should produce an unsupported thought, i.e., a thought which is nowhere supported, a thought unsupported by sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touchable, or mind-objects.’ It is mindfulness training for us to see things as they are here and now. In Mahasatipatthana Sutta, Sati means ‘calling to mind’ , to concentrate here and now with body, feeling, mind and dhammas. Mindfulness is general recollected-ness at the present moment with pure observation and no judgment with reality. Finally, we can achieve not non-body, non-feeling, non-mind, non-dhammas, giving up all concepts but seeing things as they are.

Thirdly, ‘exercising non-abiding mind’ means finally there are no dhammas and non-dhammas.
As Micheal Pye mentioned in ‘Skillful Means’, in The Diamond Sutra with a special twist as follows: ‘That is why one should not seize on dharmas and one should not seize on non-dharmas.

In chapter 5 of Diamond Sutra:’ Hence the Tathagata is to be seen from no-marks as marks.’ So, there is no possession of marks and no achievement.’ This dharma, the ultimate reality, in both its objective and subjective form, cannot be grasped. It cannot be talked about. We can see that what Wisdom encourages is the attitude of non-attachment and real renunciation.

Fourthly, ‘exercising non-abiding mind’ means void and emptiness. The ultimate reality is unspeakable, which is non-duel, but not ‘One’ can describe. It is not something and non-something but between without words, only appears in experience and realization. Through elimination and renunciation, we let go of the world, it helps to purify ourselves and going back to our original ‘place’.

Fifthly, ‘exercising non-abiding mind’ which ‘exercising’ means action through inaction. The Diamond Sutra like Heart Sutra are telling us the truth of reality: emptiness and void. For action, it is a must for us to practice Six Perfections: Generosity, Morality, Tolerance, Energy, Meditation, and Wisdom. With the deep perfection of wisdom, as the Bodhisattvas, we should bear it in mind, recite and study it, demonstrate, explain, expound, repeat and copy it, and that they progressively train in Thusness. For inaction, we do nothing and let it be, yet everything is accomplished. Like Bhagavad Gita mentioned:’ One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position.’ As Chapter 2 of Diamond Sutra:’ I will teach you how those who have set out in Bodhisattva-vehicle should stand, how to progress, how to control their thoughts.’

Finally, the outcome of ‘exercising non-abiding mind’ is immeasurable. In Chapter 4 of Diamond Sutra:’ Bodhi-being who unsupported gives a gift is not easy to measure. Should give gifts without being supported by the notion of a sigh.’ ‘Unsupported’ means it comes with no reason and non-attachment to any fruits or outcome, just come by nature and by emptiness. The real practice leads to numerous benefits, the benefits are immeasurable and incalculable like the sand of the Ganges rivers, either in this life or the next life, but we cannot assume to have any benefits because to aim at merit is to diminish it. We should aim at nothing, emptiness and as it is, the reward becomes infinite, just like space and sky, which is vast and unlimited, aligning with the nature and universe. So that the Diamond Sutra is the Perfection of Wisdom, leading us to the Nirvana and Pure Land.

To conclude, this essay is so-called to ‘discuss’ actually it is not to ‘discuss’. ‘Exercising non-abiding mind’ means we really realize the truth of nature by emptiness, no-self, impermanent, dependent co-arising. The reality is unspeakable. It is not a contradiction, it is also not non-duel and ‘Unity’ can describe. The Diamond Sutra break down all names, label, forms, matters, etc. Though we let go of what is not, we can observe and experience what is without words. It is the highest, sublime wisdom, leads us to freedom and reality ,and to Nirvana. Thank you.

Reference:

  1. Edward Conze: Buddhist Wisdom The Diamond Sutra and The Heart Sutra, New York, 1958.
  2. David J. Kalupahana: A History of Buddhist: Philosophy Continuity and Discontinuity, Hawaii, 1992.
  3. Paul Williams :Mahayana Buddhism:The Doctrinal Foundations( 2nd edition), New York, 2009.
  4. Thich Nhat Hahn: The Miracle of Mindfulness, London, 2008.
  5. Bhikkhu Bodhi: The Noble Eightfold Path The Way to End of Suffering, 1998.
  6. Dr Peter Della Santana: The tree of enlightenment,Chino DharmaStudy Foundation, 1997.
  7. Piyadassi Thera :The Buddhas Ancient Path, Malaysia, 1979.
  8. Rupert Gethin: The Foundations of Buddhism, New York, 1998.
  9. Walpoda Rahula : What The Buddha Taught , New York, 1959.

25.5.2021

作者:黃小娟Sophie Wong Mrskukuku(自然筆名:竹林)
香港大學佛學輔導碩士(研究生獎學金)

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