This blog is about spiritual awakening, maps and stages, the blinding effects of our strong momentum/conditioning (karmic propensities), view, realization, experience, etc. If you're new here, I recommend going through the 'Must Reads' articles (see sidebar). For discussions you are welcome to join the Awakening to Reality Facebook group
The Noble Eightfold Path: Direct Path for Departing from Illusory Entanglements (2012-03-30 13:14:57)
Question: The Taoists seems to emphasize on sitting meditation in order to cultivate the energy channels, forming the elixir, and in this way one progresses to higher levels. ** Guru also emphasizes very much that one must have enough energy before one could let the mind consciousness come out, and this is only the first step of cultivation. However the school of Zen emphasizes on directly pointing out Mind and becoming Buddha, does this leap over the process of energy channels, energy, forming the elixir? Or does this process naturally exists?
1. The sentient beings of Jambudvipa (the southern continent in Indian cosmology – where we’re at) have varying root faculties. Although we may practice a single dharma door in name, what one cultivates are different. Why is this so? This is because what we understand with regards to a single concept are different. For example, mind-consciousness – some people are cultivating mind-consciousness, then, what is mind-consciousness? How do we cultivate it? Is mind-consciousness an independent thing, or is it without any real substance and purely an illusory appearance out of the coming together of various conditions? Can mind-consciousness go out and come in, can it come and go? Before cultivating anything with relation to the mind-consciousness, if we do not understand these issues, our cultivation will sink into incorrect action.
The spirit-consciousness spoken plainly is the mind-consciousness – no matter whether it is the sixth consciousness, or seventh consciousness or the eighth consciousness, or the first, second, third, fourth and fifth consciousness. Because our mind-consciousness can transform and manifest, its spiritual abilities are unparalleled, therefore it is called “spirit/god/divine”, therefore it is known as “spirit/god/divine consciousness”. Therefore, if this spirit-consciousness is mind-consciousness, is the mind-consciousness something that is the result of cultivation? Very evidently, regardless of whether you are cultivating or not cultivating, it is there. All ten thousand dharmas, without contrived practices, are at that place, the dharmas abide in their dharma position. Whenever you cultivate anything, that thing becomes your master, and you become its slave; no matter what dharma you cultivate, that dharma becomes your master, and you become its family bondservant.
Therefore, understanding the truth/reality of all things, is the true/correct practice. Anything else other than this is to walk into the deep reaches of the brain (i.e. entering into discursive thoughts) and not coming out of it; thereupon, you will again be drawn into the brain’s newly created stories.
Mind-consciousness is just like a mirror, how can the reflection and the mirror be able to leave or enter? When the mirror has reflections, it is not that the reflection “flew into” the mirror; when the mirror does not have reflection, it is not the case that the reflection “flew out” from the mirror. As for the mirror itself, there is also no coming nor going. Therefore, our spirit/mind-consciousness does not have a coming or going. If you seriously contemplate, you will realize that spirit/mind-consciousness does not have any independent self-substance, there is spirit/mind-consciousness only when there is the coming together of conditions. Because there is originally no existence of an independent spirit/mind-consciousness, therefore discussing the coming and going, arising and cessation of spirit/mind-consciousness is simply mental proliferation.
When I “practice” spirit/mind-consciousness, firstly it is to recognise that spirit/mind-consciousness is dependently arisen and empty in nature, secondly it is to distinguish pure consciousness from defiled consciousness, and rest in the ever undefiled pure consciousness, upon rising up in the early morning from our sleep, during walking, standing, sitting and sleeping, within that non-defilement one merges with the brilliance and becomes one with the dust. This has nothing to do with body, energy, or dantien. At the place of the body, there is no body, in the midst of energy there is no energy, only true mind is the true dantien, I have deep affinity in this.
Let’s talk about the body. When I, with the wisdom that correctly understands the essence of the universe, contemplate/observe the body and the ten thousand things in the world, I do not conceive of a body or various ten thousand things, I only see micro-dust; upon further contemplation/observing, I also stop conceiving of the appearance of micro-dust. Our body when viewed with the eye of the Bodhisattva, is the result of countless and limitless dependent arising and formed in the aggregation of dependent origination through countless and limitless micro-dusts. The view of the Bodhisattva of the sixth bhumi and above, sees only micro-dusts but does not conceive of a body; and with further deep contemplation, there is not even the micro-dusts appearance, there is only empty-appearance, appearing due to consciousness only.
If we can understand all these, we shall know what exactly are those energy channels, energy, dantien etc. Speaking from truth’s perspective, the body is ungraspable/not-obtainable, let alone the other things that arise dependent on the body? If you think the body is really existent, and therefore practice based on that body (not that you aren’t taking care of it), then after a thousand births and ten thousand lifetimes, your ordinary mind will only be mutually entwined, unable to depart from birth and death.
As for liberation and practice, the body cannot be grasped, mind-consciousness cannot be grasped. Why is this? 1) From the perspective of the dharma of truth, they are all impermanent, they are all empty of self. Attaching to phenomena that are impermanent and eventually coming into decline, and desiring this and that over it, is surely a waste of time and energy; just like carving dragons and horses on sandcastles and wanting them to abide permanently. Attaching to what is without substance of self as really existing, and discussing this and that, is just like playing a joke; it is just like saying the son of a barren (stone) woman is tall or short, fat or thin, big or small. 2) If you attach to those events and phenomena, you will surely not be able to be completely liberated.
If you want to practice in that way, practising body, practising spirit, cultivating mind and cultivating consciousness, that would be like the precious pearl being at the south, yet walking towards the north, in the end there will be no result. Therefore, go and realize the truth of all dharmas, that is the key point about practice.
Among all the practices and liberation, the teaching method of the Zen school is the quickest and cleanest, it is liked by many people with superior wisdom and sharp faculties. For liberating from birth and death, it is indeed a direct/straight path. The Zen school’s teaching method is often described as: “Directly pointing to Mind, realizing one’s nature and attaining Buddhahood.”
In that case, what is the “Mind” that the virtuous people of Zen are talking about? What is the “nature” that they have realized? Based on what I know now, the Mind that great virtuous men were pointing to is “unmoving mind”. Unmoving mind, is also called “True Mind”, “Straight/Direct Mind”, “The Mind of No-Mind”, “Awareness Mind”, “Bodhi Mind”, “Pure Consciousness”, “Pure Land”, “The Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom” etc. Why should we recognise it? Recognizing it is enough to depart from the billions of kalpas of arising and ceasing suffering. If a practitioner is able to recognise it, this is already not easy; if one is further able to constantly abide in it, one will obtain enormous benefits. However even this mind should not be attached to, if we are attached to it, we will still be unable to thoroughly leave behind birth and death. One still needs to go a further step and realize one’s nature, what nature is to be realized?
Realize that all dharmas are without self-nature. If our Minds are being seen as objects similar to tables, stools, teacups etc, then it is a bodiless, gleaming and shining divine lamp. Even though recognising this divine lamp will result in enormous benefits, still it should not be attached to. This is because: 1) It is not the ultimate truth of all things, its appearance does not represent the truth of all phenomena, or in other words it is not the truth of all phenomena itself; 2) Attaching to it as having self-nature would certainly beckon upon the judge of birth and death – the void of annihilation. Therefore, this mind cannot be attached to, if there are attachments there will be suffering. When all minds are not attached to, only then can one come out of birth and death.
When a practitioner recognises this gleaming and shining true mind, it is still actually not even attaining to the fourth bhumi of the Bodhisattva (stage). It is only at the third bhumi/ground – the ground of illuminating light. (translator’s note: this is just one of the many subjective interpretations of the bodhisattva bhumis, in general the first bhumi is already said to have realized twofold emptiness, and this author also posted a different and contradictory scheme elsewhere in which the first bhumi realizes firstfold emptiness and the sixth bhumi realizes secondfold emptiness) This is because you have not touched the no-self of person/subjective self. When one reaches the fourth bhumi/ground, when one then truly realizes the no-self of person/subject, only then will one be able to let go of this true-mind. If we use a four storey building as an analogy to the Buddhist system: if you recognise that all person/subject is empty of self, you have reached the first level of the Buddha-building, if you realize that all dharmas are empty of self, you have reached the second level of the Buddha-building; if you further realize that, although all dharmas are empty they are not nothing/void, although appearing they are without any reality (nature/substance) – you are not attached to presence and absence, being in accord with conditions without obstructions, living out that understanding, then you have arrived at the third level; when you pass through these three stages, then in the next stage, you can enter the hall of the patriarchs, enter into the room of the abbot, sit on the seat of the Tathagata (Buddha), and become the great abbot of the triple worlds, men and gods.
Seeing that all dharmas are without self-nature is to realize the nature (of all things). One who is able to realize the nature, is to see the Buddha. If we can act out (actualize/live out that understanding?) of the no self-nature of all dharmas (not empty, not not-empty), that is to become a Buddha. Pointing directly to Mind, the great virtuous people are talking about presence; realizing the nature and becoming Buddha, the patriarchs are showing emptiness. Displaying emptiness and displaying presence, not skewing and not leaning, is the complete/perfect teaching of Buddha, the truth/reality is just so.
If all practitioners can correctly practice throughout the way – right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration, etc, entering directly into the room of the Tathagata (Buddha), there will surely be no doubts that one will become Buddha and attain liberation. Otherwise, if we do not (practice) “right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration” etc, one will be placed at (cling to?) the body, mind consciousness, or even energy channels, energy, dantien etc – various illusory tree branches and leaves. Then, when will there come a time for the liberation from birth and death?
持佛正见教导，依佛八正道而行，修行解脱是条直路。若不如此，必将曲谄缠绕，欲出葛藤窝，非是易事。一切真想解脱者，听佛说教，用正知正见熏无明心，照佛说行，出离生死苦海，超诸三界六道，有期可望，路尽处必是天堂，悟真时即是解脱。 If we practice the Buddha’s right view and teachings, rely on the Buddha’s noble eightfold path and act accordingly, practicing and liberation is a straight and direct path. If we do not do so, one will surely twine around (go around in bends, like a vine entwining a tree), and if one desires to leave the entanglements, vines and cages, it is not an easy thing. All those who truly wishes to be liberated, should listen to the teachings of the Buddha, make use of right view to smoke out the mind of ignorance, act according to what the Buddha said, depart from birth and death and the sea of suffering, transcending the triple worlds and six realms. That achievement can be seen/longed for, and at the end of the road is heaven, when realizing reality it is liberation.
Having been entwined for ten thousand years, liberation is in an instant, this is the true “dying while sitting or standing”. Those who can truly drop while sitting and standing, from then on there is no birth nor cessation, the lifespan is equal to the infinite-life Buddha (Amitabha), this is true without falsity. The practitioner goes to the no-self of all dharmas, quiescent Nirvana. Ceasing worldly views, all Buddhas together appear in front. (Namo Amitabha Buddha!)
I particularly liked part 3. Told Thusness about it two weeks ago. Thusness has often mentioned ever since 2004/2005 when I first knew him that, "realizing mind is not the same as seeing nature".
There was once I wrote about this before, any idea where was it?
(12:31 AM) Thusness: U must also remember that 见证真心，不明空性，只是明心，并未见性 (Realizing true mind, and not understanding its empty nature, this is only realizing mind, but not seeing nature) (12:38 AM) Thusness: 明蕴即心，即是明心 (Understanding that the aggregates are Mind, that is to understand Mind) (12:39 AM) Thusness: 蕴随缘现，即是见性 (The aggregates manifest according to conditions, this is to see its nature)
Thusness Should be 见蘊明心 (Seeing aggregates and realizing Mind)
Geoff (Dharmawheel's Jnana) said: "Mind (sems) can be known. It's a mere clarity and awareness (gsal rig). And it can be known through direct perception as already mentioned here, and by 5heaps here.
The nature of the mind (sems nyid) can also be known. It is recognized as the inseparability of this cognitive clarity and emptiness."
One Thought Traveller also said,
"True Mind is not apart from conditions, departing from conditions no mind manifests. It is not created by causes and conditions, it is not alternate with conditions."
"The Awareness-form that we are able to experience - the luminosity of mind, isn't separate from the activity of mind-consciousness. If there is no awake mental-consciousness, there will not be such mind or such brilliance. Such luminosity of mind and awareness-form is a form of pure consciousness, there are good spiritual advisors that treat it as True Mind and treat it as True Self, making it into an ultimate refuge. We should not be mistaken about this matter. This appearance of luminous mind is the Sambhogakaya Buddha, it is not the Dharmakaya Buddha. The Bodhisattva class abide in such ground, those who wish to become Buddhas and patriarches should not abide in such a place. All dharmas arise being supported by conditions, whether there is appearance or no appearance there is no self-nature. Our fundamental nature is empty of self, do not establish a view of self. With such a view, one will be able to attain ultimate Nirvana. Were it not so, one will remain stagnant in the ground of unreal illusions."