Archive | February 2012

30 Verses of Vasubandhu

These 30 verses are very exquisite treasures of the View of Buddhism in its essence.  Even if you don’t understand, merely the effort to try to read it and understand it will plant the seeds for future insights and increase your merits.  I have met many people nowadays who seem to evade the essential topics of Dharma such as right view. They give the excuse that it is too profound or beyond their level.  They would prefer to stick only to the methods they are accustomed to practising.  However, i think that there shouldn’t be any hesitation towards trying to understand the ultimate teachings of Buddha. We should treasure our opportunity to do so while we still have it.  Why have fear of not understanding?  It may just be some kind of pride or aversion to having one’s own views challenged.

Many people also practice the Dharma with either a view of eternalism/nihilism, either things ‘exist’ or don’t ‘exist’ and they do not really understand the Dharma  in a deeper way.  Which is a great pity because for most educated people or even semi-educated people nowadays, even to acquire an intellectual understanding of the premises of the essence of dharma is completely possible and will do so much benefit for their practice and future lives.  I am so confident that the core message of the Buddha has immense blessings and future repercussions if only you will make the effort to penetrate it. Even if you do not have realisations, it will still be of far-reaching import.  Please trust in this.  The below two posts are easy to understand, short and clear. If you can try to read and make an effort to understand, you can at least understand some parts.  Then when future conditions ripen, you may understand other parts later.  It is so important to do this.

Happy Belated Losar to all Dharma Friends out there. I hope your practices are progressing well !

Note: In the last part, it is said that ‘everything is consciousness-only’, but according to the view of Buddhism Madhyamika, even the ‘consciousness’ should not be solidified and taken as existing/real/substantial.  Even consciousness itself is empty by nature. You should bear this in mind when you read these 30 stanzas as it is not evident.

1

Everything that is taken as a self;
Everything that is taken as other:
These are simply changing forms of consciousness.

2

Pure consciousness transforms itself
Into three modes: Store consciousness*,
Thought consciousness, and active consciousness.

3

The store consciousness* holds the seeds of all past experience.
Within it are the forms of grasping
And the dwelling places of the unknown.
It always arises with touch, awareness, recognition, concept, and desire.

4

The store consciousness* is clear and undefinable.
Like a great river, it is always changing.
Neither pleasant nor unpleasant, when one becomes fully realized, it ceases to exist.

5

The second transformation of consciousness is called thinking consciousness.
It evolves by taking the store consciousness* as object and support.
Its essential nature is to generate thoughts.

6

The thinking consciousness
Is always obscured by four defilements:
Self-regard, self-delusion, self-pride, and self-love.

7

The thinking consciousness also arises with the mental factors
Of touch, awareness, recognition, concept, and desire.
This consciousness ceases when one becomes realized.
It also falls away when consciousness is impaired,
And when one is fully present.
8

The third transformation of consciousness
Is the active perception of sense objects.
These can be good, bad, or indifferent in character.

9

This active consciousness arises with three kinds of mental functions: Those that are universal, those that are specific, and those that are beneficial.
It is also associated with primary and secondary defilements
And the three kinds of feeling.

10

The universal factors are touch, awareness, recognition, concept, and desire.
The specific factors are intention, resolve, memory, concentration, and knowledge.
The beneficial factors are faith, modesty, respect, distance, courage, composure, equanimity, alertness, and compassion.
11

The primary defilements are:
Passion, aggression, ignorance,
Pride, intolerance, and doubt.

12

The secondary defilements are:
Anger, hatred, jealousy,
Envy, spite, hypocrisy, deceit…

13

Dishonesty, arrogance, harmfulness,
Immodesty, lack of integrity, sluggishness,
Restlessness, lack of faith, laziness, idleness,
Forgetfulness, carelessness, and distraction.

14

Remorse, sleepiness, reasoning, and analysis
Are factors which can be either defiled or undefiled.

15

The five sense consciousnesses arise in the store consciousness*
Together or separately, depending on causes and conditions,
Just like waves arise in water.

16

Thought consciousness manifests at all times,
Except for those born in the realms of beings without thought,
Those in the formless trances, and those who are unconscious.

17

These three transformations of consciousness
Are just the distinction of subject and object, self and other–
They do not really exist.
All things are nothing but forms of consciousness.

18

Since the storehouse consciousness contains all seeds,
These transformations of consciousness arise
And proceed based upon mutual influence.
On account of this, discrimination of self and other arises,

19

All actions leave traces,
And because of grasping at self and other,
Once one seed has been exhausted, another arises.

20

That which is differentiated
In terms of self and other,
Or by whatever sort of discrimination,
That is just mental projection:
It does not exist at all

21

Appearances themselves
Which arise dependently through causes and conditions
Exist, but only in a partial and dependent way.

22

Ultimately, perfect nature, the fully real, arises
When there is an absence of mental projection onto appearances.
For that reason, the fully real is neither the same nor different from appearances.
If the perfected nature is not seen, the dependent nature is not seen either.

23

Corresponding to the threefold nature,
There is a threefold absence of self-nature.
This absence of self-nature of all dharmas
Is the secret essence of the Buddha’s teachings.

24

Projections are without self-nature by definition.
Appearances too are without self-nature because they are not
self-existent.
Perfect nature is without any differentiation whatsoever.

25

The true nature of consciousness only
Is the true nature of all dharmas.
Remaining as it is at all times, it is Suchness.

26

As long as consciousness does not see
That subject-object distinctions are simply forms of consciousness
Attachment to twofold grasping will never cease

27

By merely thinking
The objects one perceives are forms of consciousness
One does not realize consciousness only

28

One realizes consciousness only
When the mind no longer seizes on any object
When there is nothing to be grasped, there is no grasping
Then one knows – everything is consciousness only.

29

That is the supreme, world-transcending knowledge
Where one has no mind that knows
And no object that is known
Abandoning twofold grasping
The storehouse consciousness is emptied

30

That alone is the pure, primordial reality
Beyond thought, auspicious, unchanging
It is the blissful body of liberation
The dharmakaya nature of the enlightened ones

Adapted from English translations of the Sanskrit original.

This entry was posted on 12121212, in Teachings.

The Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra

Composed by

The Lord Protector Rangjung Dorje

The Third Gyalwa Karmapa

Namoguru,

Gurus and yidams, deities of the mandala,

Buddhas of the three times in the ten directions and your sons and daughters,

Please consider us with kindness and understanding, and

Grant your blessing that these aspirations may be accomplished exactly as we ask.

Sprung from the snow mountain of pure intentions and actions

Of myself and all sentient beings without limit,

May the river of accumulated virtue of the threefold purity

Flow into the ocean of the four bodies of the Victorious Ones.

So long as this is not accomplished,

Through all my lifetimes, birth upon birth,

May not even the words “evil deeds” and “suffering” be heard

And may we enjoy the splendour

and goodness of oceans of happiness and virtue.

Having obtained the supreme freedoms

and conjunctions of the precious human existence,

endowed with faith, energy, and intelligence,

Having attended on a worthy spiritual friend

and received the pith of the holy instructions,

May we practice these properly, just as we have received them,

without obstacle or interruption.

In all our lives, may we practice and enjoy the holy dharma.

Hearing and studying the scriptures and

reasonings free us from the obscuration of not knowing,

Contemplating the oral instructions disperses the darkness of doubt.

In the light born of meditation what is shines forth just as it is.

May the brightness of the three prajnas grow in power.

By understanding the meaning of the ground,

which is the two truths free from the extremes of eternalism and nihilism

And by practising the supreme path of the two accumulations,

free from the extremes of exaggeration and denial,

Is attained the fruit of well-being for oneself and others,

free from the extremes of samsara and nirvana.

May all beings meet the dharma which neither errs nor misleads.

The ground of purification is the mind itself,

indivisible cognitive clarity and emptiness.

That which purifies is the great vajra yoga of mahamudra.

What is to be purified are the adventitious,

temporary contaminations of confusion,

May the fruit of purification, the stainless dharmakaya, be manifest.

Resolving doubts about the ground brings conviction in the view.

Then keeping one’s awareness unwavering in accordance with the view,

is the subtle pith of meditation.

Putting all aspects of meditation into practice is the supreme action.

The view, the meditation, the action–may there be confidence in these.

All phenomena are illusory displays of mind.

Mind is no mind–the mind’s nature is empty of any entity that is mind

Being empty, it is unceasing and unimpeded,

manifesting as everything whatsoever.

Examining well, may all doubts about the ground be discerned and cut.

Naturally manifesting appearances, that never truly exist, are confused into objects. Spontaneous intelligence, under the power of ignorance, is confused into a self.

By the power of this dualistic fixation, beings wander in the realms of samsaric existence.

May ignorance, the root of confusion, he discovered and cut.

It is not existent–even the Victorious Ones do not see it.

It is not nonexistent–it is the basis of all samsara and nirvana.

This is not a contradiction, but the middle path of unity.

May the ultimate nature of phenomena, limitless mind beyond extremes, he realised.

If one says, “This is it,” there is nothing to show.

If one says, “This is not it,” there is nothing to deny.

The true nature of phenomena,

which transcends conceptual understanding, is unconditioned.

May conviction he gained in the ultimate, perfect truth.

Not realising it, one circles in the ocean of samsara.

If it is realised, buddha is not anything other.

It is completely devoid of any “This is it,” or “This is not it.”

May this simple secret, this ultimate essence of phenomena,

which is the basis of everything, be realised.

Appearance is mind and emptiness is mind.

Realisation is mind and confusion is mind.

Arising is mind and cessation is mind.

May all doubts about mind be resolved.

Not adulterating meditation with conceptual striving or mentally created meditation,

Unmoved by the winds of everyday busyness,

Knowing how to rest in the uncontrived, natural spontaneous flow,

May the practice of resting in mind’s true nature be skilfully sustained.

The waves of subtle and coarse thoughts calm down by themselves in their own place,

And the unmoving waters of mind rest naturally.

Free from dullness, torpor, and, murkiness,

May the ocean of shamatha be unmoving and stable.

Looking again and again at the mind which cannot be looked at,

The meaning which cannot be seen is vividly seen, just as it is.

Thus cutting doubts about how it is or is not,

May the unconfused genuine self-nature he known by self-nature itself.

Looking at objects, the mind devoid of objects is seen;

Looking at mind, its empty nature devoid of mind is seen;

Looking at both of these, dualistic clinging is self-liberated.

May the nature of mind, the clear light nature of what is, be realised.

Free from mental fabrication, it is the great seal, mahamudra.

Free from extremes, it is the great middle way, madhyamika.

The consummation of everything, it is also called the great perfection, dzogchen.

May there be confidence that by understanding one,

the essential meaning of all is realised.

Great bliss free from attachment is unceasing.

Luminosity free from fixation on characteristics is unobscured.

Nonthought transcending conceptual mind is spontaneous presence.

May the effortless enjoyment of these experiences be continuous.

Longing for good and clinging to experiences are self-liberated.

Negative thoughts and confusion purify naturally in ultimate space.

In ordinary mind there is no rejecting and accepting, loss and gain.

May simplicity, the truth of the ultimate essence of everything, be realised.

The true nature of beings is always buddha.

Not realising that, they wander in endless samsara.

For the boundless suffering of sentient beings

May unbearable compassion be conceived in our being.

When the energy of unbearable compassion is unceasing,

In expressions of loving kindness,

the truth of its essential emptiness is nakedly clear.

This unity is the supreme unerring path.

Inseparable from it, may we meditate day and night.

By the power of meditation arise the eyes and supernormal perceptions,

Sentient beings are ripened and buddha fields are perfectly purified,

The aspirations that accomplish the qualities of a buddha are fulfilled.

By bringing these three to utmost fruition-fulfilling,

ripening and purifying-may utmost buddhahood be manifest.

By the power of the compassion of the Victorious Ones of the ten directions

and their sons and daughters,

And by the power of all the pure virtue that exists,

May the pure aspirations of myself and all sentient beings

Be accomplished exactly as we wish.

This entry was posted on 12121212, in monlam.

Emptiness / Dependent origination

A clear explanation of Emptiness / Dependent origination by Dalai Lama

As I mentioned earlier, many texts on emptiness state that the understanding of dependent origination is the most powerful means of arriving at the knowledge of emptiness. When, as a result of engaging in deep meditation on emptiness, we fail to find the intrinsic reality of the object of our focus, we do not conclude from this that the object in question does not exist at all. Instead, we deduce that since our critical analysis has failed to find the true, independent existence of the object, its existence or reality must be understood only as dependent origination. Therefore, a genuine understanding of emptiness must really take place. The moment we reflect upon our understanding of the emptiness of inherent existence, that very understanding will indicate that things exist. it is almost as if when we hear the word ’emptiness’ we should instantly recognise its implication, which is that of existing by means of dependent origination. A genuine understanding of emptiness, therefore, is said to be that in which one understands emptiness in terms of dependent origination.

A similar point is raised by Nagarjuna in his Precious Garland, where he explains the emptiness or selflessness of ‘person’ by a process of reductive analysis. This involves exploring how the person is neither the earth element nor the water element, fire element and so on. When this reductive process fails to find something called ‘person’ that is independent of these various elements, and also fails to identify the person with any of these elements, Nagarjuna raises the question: where, then, is the person? He does not immediately conclude by saying, ‘Therefore “person” does not exist.’ Rather, he refers to the idea of dependent origination, stating that: ‘The person is therefore dependent upon the aggregation of the six elements.’ Thus he is not negating the fact that the ‘person’ does exist and is real and undergoes experiences of pain and pleasure.

From my own experience I know that I exist; I know that I have non-deluded experiences of pain and pleasure. Yet when I search for the entity called ‘self’ or ‘I’ among the various elements that together constitute my existence, I cannot find anything that appears to possess intrinsic, independent reality. This is why Nagarjuna concludes that we can understand a person’s existence only in terms of the principle of dependent origination.

At this point some people may raise the following objection: isn’t saying that all phenomena are devoid of inherent existence tantamount to saying that nothing exists? Nagarjuna’s response is to state that by ’emptiness’ we do not mean a mere nothingness; rather, by ’emptiness’ we mean dependent origination. In this way Nagarjuna’s teaching on emptiness transcends the extremes of absolutism and nihilism. By rejecting intrinsic, independent existence his view transcends absolutism; and by stating that things and events do exist, albeit as dependent originations, he transcends the extreme of nihilism. This transcendence of the two extremes of absolutism and nihilism represents the true Middle Way.

At this point it may be helpful to reflect a little on the different levels of meaning of the principle of dependent origination. On one level dependent origination refers to the nature of things and events as understood in terms of their dependence upon causes and conditions. On another level this dependence can be understood more in terms of mutual dependence. For example, there is a mutuality of concepts between, say, long and short, in which something is posited as ‘long’ in relation to something else that is ‘short’. Similarly, things and events have both parts and a whole; the whole is constituted of the parts, and the parts are posited in relation to the whole.

On another level still, the principle of dependent origination relates to the subject, which is the conceptual mind that creates designation, appellations, labels and so on. As we have briefly discussed before, when we give something a label or a name we generally tend to assume that the labelled object has some kind of true, independent existence. Yet when we search for the true existence or essence of the thing in question, we always fail to find it. Our conclusion, therefore, is that while things do exist on the conventional level, they do not possess ultimate, objective reality. Rather, their existence can only be posited as a mere appellation, designation or label. According to Nagarjuna, these three levels of meaning in the principle of dependent origination pervade our entire spectrum of reality.

This entry was posted on 12121212, in Teachings.

Appreciating everything we already have

There was a master staying in a hermitage who was robbed one night by a thief. In his compassion, the master gave the thief everything he had. Later, after the thief had left, the master was gazing at the perfect moon in the sky and said to himself, ‘Poor guy, I wish I could also give you the moon.”

What we already have, like the ability to see, to breathe, to feel, to walk, to hear, to taste are already the most incredible, amazing and beautiful miracles on earth. They are simple and already freely available. Do you know that? Appreciate your life, be thankful for everything you have because nothing lasts forever.