Passing Through Five Barriers and Enlightening Six Generals to Gain Bodhi【serial 2】
Master Yin Guang
Whether There's Afterlife?
The First Barrier: The False Compound of Four Great Elements
The Second Barrier: Neither Identical nor Different
The Third Barrier: Quantity and Quality in accord with
the Mind's Capacity
The Forth Barrier: Manifestation of the Mind,
Transformation of the Consciousness
The Fifth Barrier: Three Treasuries of One Mind
The Sixth Barrier: The Non Sentient Being Is the
The Essence of the Perfect Teaching
Sudden Enlightenment of Bodhi
The following is substantive discussion. The most sensitive questions for dharma practitioners are "What is Buddha"? "Can we become a Buddha”? “How to become a Buddha"? In order to enlighten us on these questions, Buddha taught countless classics as skillful means to guide us. Which, we need to know, are nothing but the Buddha's expedients. He would have otherwise been considered as a liar and psycho if he had told the truth from the very beginning—saying things like "This teacup is Shakyamuni, the stone Avalokitesvara, the devil Amitabha, and the teacup is a piece of stone, also a devil or Buddhas, and no one is not the other." Nobody would believe it, but that is the Proper Dharma! The truth!
No matter who he is, this is hard to accept emotionally in the first place. Secondly, it is also unacceptable in the worldly sense. Even a practitioner who is attached to good and evil doesn't understand the true mind. Hence Buddha had to teach, in a skillful way, the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Agama Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, the Ksitigarbha Sutra and the Infinite Life Sutra, etc.—to get together all practitioners by guiding and coaxing. Then he shut the door, banged the table and said: "I'm about to Nirvana, now let me tell you the truth." That is the Lotus Sutra taught by Buddha in the last eight years of his life.
The Lotus Sutra says: The World Honored One has been imparting dharmas for such a long time, it's time to tell the truth. That is to say: I've been teaching you for 41 years and my Nirvana is approaching, now I must tell you the truth. And here are more statements: "In the ten directions of Universe, only One Vehicle is the ultimate truth. There is no second vehicle, let alone a third." Again: "Only One Vehicle is the ultimate truth, if there's the second one, it is not true."—not only in Saha Land, but throughout the worlds, only this sutra is complete and supreme which tells the ultimate truth. If there were a second sutra, that would be the expedient teaching of Buddha rather than his original intention.
If Buddha hadn't given so many expedient teachings, to be honest, there would have been none left till the very end to listen to the Lotus Sutra. The problem is that some people will become attached to these expedient means they learned and will not accept the ultimate truth when you try to tell them. They would argue: "The sutra I read was told by Buddha, everything from him won't be wrong." That would be a problem. When Buddha taught the Lotus Sutra, he belittled his former classics by labeling them as "the dung of frivolous discussions of dharma,"(quoted from the Lotus Sutra Chapter 4: Belief and Understanding) which are embraced by numerous practitioners today as gold and silver. If these kinds of practices could be achieved, the Lotus Sutra would be a lie. But Buddha is a truth teller, fact teller and all-knower!
Back to the beginning, it is not right to blame entirely the general public who disrespect Buddhists. For thousands of years "The truth seekers are as many asthe hairs on an ox while the enlightened one is as rare as the hair of a phoenix and the horns of a kylin." The reason lies the fact that the practitioners were attached to the Buddha's expedients without truly understanding the truth, this of course will result in the public's misreading of dharma.
Just a glance at the Lotus Sutra, you are bound to be refreshingly new. Because the Lotus Sutra keeps saying over and over that after hearing Buddha's teaching of the Lotus Sutra for several hours, minutes, even a few words, the listeners immediately "gained Buddha's prophecy of Buddhahood attainment"! In other words, they are enlightened and free from the bitter sea of the cycle of birth and death in the moment. It is incredible, which can be speculated or measured by neither ordinary people nor practitioners. Since it is the best ever teaching, it must be the most difficult to encounter, the hardest to believe but the simplest to learn and the fastest to achieve. Consequently, facing such a wonderful Buddhadharma, not even a slight of impetuosity, disrespect or negligence can be tolerated.
Then how to certify our enlightenment? We will go further to the next six questions and will reveal "What is Buddha? Who am I and what is the original face of the universe and life"? One lamp can dispel a thousand years of darkness, and one thought of wisdom can end ten thousand years of ignorance. This will be a fundamental change. Let's pass through the barriers one by one, after breaking through the last barrier, you will be out of the endless night of ignorance and faced with dawn! You will be enlightened, you will enter the flow and become a sage since then.
·The First Barrier: The False compound of Four Great Elements
"The False Compound of Four Great Elements" is a basic course to learn about everything. In Buddhadharma, all things are pided into the "entity" and the "false name". For example, "I am a human being," "a human being" is a "false name". Can we call a human "a ghost", "a pig", or "a cow"? Any name will do, this is the "false name", then what about the "entity"? What on earth is the body of a human being? Namely, so-called "five aggregates" mentioned in the Heart Sutra, including form, perception, cognition, mental formations and consciousness. "Form" is the Four Great Elements; perception, cognition, mental formations and consciousness are about "mental process", we'll discuss it later.
So-called "the Great Earth” is our skins, flesh, tendons, bones and other solid substances; "the Great Water" is liquid such as sweats, bloods, saliva, urine, etc.; "the Great Fire" is body temperature and body heat, etc.; "the Great Wind" is breath and movement. According to the Shurangama Sutra: In your body, what is solid is of earth, what is moist is of water, what is warm is of fire, and what moves is of wind. So is there anybody who could exist without these four elements? Since a human body is the false compound of four elements (the False compound: All things manifest when the causes and conditions are ready. It is a temporary get-together and will fade away eventually). Do birds, beasts, like cattle, horses, pigs and sheep have any exceptions? No, they don't.
Okay, all human beings, animals, including ghosts and celestial beings mentioned just now, are called "sentient beings" in Buddhadharma. They are creatures who have lives, souls and consciousnesses—they are all the false compound of the Four Great Elements. Then let's see whether flowers and trees, mud and tiles, bananas and watermelons... are the false compound of the Four Great Elements or not.
Let's look at this teacup cover, isn't this iron "the Great Earth"? "The Great Earth" is the manifestation of solidity. Does it have temperature? It certainly does, even -10℃is a temperature, this is "the Great Fire". Is there any water in it? Without water it cannot be shaped, without temperature it cannot be solid. Hence it has "earth", "water" and "fire". The last one is "the Great Wind", our eyes cannot observe its breathing or moving, right? But think it carefully, is it possible for this cover to remain solid forever, say in 10 or 100 years? Impossible. It'll definitely be weathering to a pile of iron powder at last. It starts from now and keeps changing every year, every month, every day, every minute, every second, every thought, doesn't it? Yes. Since it is changing, isn't it a movement? Does wind appear when there is a movement? Therefore, this teacup cover is also the false compound of the Four Great Elements of earth, water, fire, wind in the moment. In conclusion, everything that we can hear by ears, see by eyes, experience by senses is nothing but manifestations when the Four Great Elements gather and they will vanish when the Four Great Elements separate. This is the most basic barrier to break through.
·The Second Barrier: Neither Identical nor Different
Since earth, water, fire and wind are the roots of all existing matter, then why are there Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, celestial beings, humans, ghosts, animals, tiles and mud, trees and flowers, wind and rain, winter and summer? Let's follow the trail step by step to study the truth of universe and life. The second barrier is called "Neither Identical nor Different".
For example, there are men and women, rich and poor, healthy people and sick people among human beings. Moreover, there are also yellow race, black race; overweight and thin people, etc. Not to mention mud and tiles, tables and chairs... aren't they in different forms and shapes? Why does this phenomenon happen?
Let's say we use eight ingredients which are flour, milk, bananas, apples, cooking oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar to cook food. If the mixture ratios of these ingredients for each type of food is different—for example, type one is made up of 50g flour, 100g sugar, 150g salt, 250g banana, 300g apple and the other is of 400g flour, 50g sugar, 25g salt, 150g banana, 200g apple...do these two types of food taste the same? No, they don't.
Modern chemistry expresses the basic composition of every substance by the form of molecular formula. For example, the molecular formula of water is H2O, which means water consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Likewise, every substance has its fixed molecular formula. When they are the same in elements but different in atom quantity, the combined substances and their quality will be different. Suppose it's not H2O but H4O3, which shows one molecular of the substance consists of four hydrogen atoms and three oxygen atoms, then it might not be water but vinegar or something like grape wine (This is only an analogy).
Consequently, the Buddha presents it as "Neither Identical nor Different" in the Shurangama Sutra. If you say all things are different, they are all the temporary compound of earth, water, fire, wind. But if you say they are all the same, they have different looks and are constantly changing. So you cannot regard it as "identical" or "different", you can only call it "Neither identical nor Different".
Using the theory of food processing and the conception of water molecular formula, let's combine two things, for example: 1 earth 2 water 3 fire 4 wind combine to form a human, 2 earth 4 water 2 fire 5 wind combine to form an ox, so on and so forth, all things and the myriad appearances are nothing more than the different proportions of these four elements.
·The Third Barrier:Quantity and Quality in accord with the Mind's Capacity
What caused the different proportions of the Four Great Elements? And where on earth do we come from? Here comes the third barrier, with the name of "Quantity and Quality in accord with the Mind's Capacity". Since the previous two barriers discuss only about "form”, “mental process" is to be dealt with from the third barrier. The Shurangama Sutra says: "It accords with living beings' mind, in respond to their capacity to know." Namely, "quantity and quality in accord with the mind's capacity." The karma we have for many lives, whether we go to heaven or hell, be Buddha or Bodhisattva, be human beings, ghosts or animals, be poor or rich, be mud and tiles or even be trees and flowers, is all decided by our own minds and grasped in our hands. This is called "We decide our own destiny", and that's the reason why we need to cultivate. This capacity is nothing but two questions: One is quality, the other is quantity. This is the question of the law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa in Dialectics of Marxism and Leninism.
The so-called "quality" depends on what is in our minds, is it all about how to serve the people or seek personal gain? Do you do good or evil all day long? To attain Buddhahood or to get promotion and become rich? Do we talk about truth or falseness? As for "quantity", it is the accumulation of our everyday thoughts, words and behaviors. For example, when you do something, are you 100% sincere, or just 7 out of 10 sincere and 3 out of 10 for acting? Even do the same evil, are you lawless or forced? Thus all beings get different consequences by the quality and quantity of the mind they put into it. "In accord with the mind" is about the cause while "Quantity and Quality" are about the effect, this is karma. All your thoughts and behaviors will bring retribution. And all beings are in this karmic cycle. If you are true and kind in present life, you will be truly and kindly rewarded in your next life; if you are hypocritical and cruel, you will experience the effects of bad karma hereafter. Different thoughts lead to different behaviors, all of which is guided by personal worldview. This is what we call: Words are the voice of the heart; behaviors the messenger of the heart; body the servant of the heart.
Why do we need to believe in Proper Dharma and pursue the truth? If you can learn and understand the Lotus Sutra and the Shurangama Sutra in this life you'll get huge merit and liberation now and forever, and free from the suffering of the cycle of birth and death. However, if you only chant the name of the Buddha, bow to the Buddha and do good deeds, you'll get huge blessings in your present and next life, but it is hard to say what will happen in your third life— maybe you will be too greatly blessed to remember the Buddhist cultivation for a lack of respect for the ThreeJewels and regarding Buddhism as superstition. You may even indulge in the pleasures and produce negative karma instead of cultivating merit and virtue, in this way you will definitely degenerate in the third life. Accumulating blessings is called "a three lives' trick"!
If you learn above three topics earnestly, you can overstep the six realms samsara and gain the fruition of the Arhat, or the Pratyekabuddha, but it's so difficult to achieve for the probability of success is merely one in ten thousand. This is called "causes and conditions" in the view of Hinayana Buddhism. (By: Master Yin Guang)