I. Why Hinayana Meditations must be practised first rather than beginning with the Mahayana
If they had attained Arhatship, then the index finger of the right hand turned up and backwards; Anagamin attainment was indicated by the second finger similarly turning and so on for the sakridagamin and srotapanna level of attainment.
Even though they do not go as far as saying that the Hinayana is not the Buddha's teachings, still they over-emphasize the Great Way and blame the followers of the other too much (for 'selfishness', 'ignorance', etc.)
These "Bodhisattvas," because of their wrong emphasis, spend most of their time running around doing good deeds for others, using all of their time to gather merits for their 'perfections' and have little or none left for meditation.
I have done everything to promote its good.
Without this progress, there can be no final realization.
Tantra (and Ch'an) is like the top of a tall building—to attempt to build only the top without even cutting the turf for the foundation would be foolishness indeed. Such are the actions of these "experts" in Ch'an and Tantra.
Each power-group proposes its own cure, whether of the Free Market, the Iron and Bamboo Curtain countries or those in neither camp—all put forward economic policies as cure-alls, all aim at materialism, all work for mammonism.
This is not the way to save people.
After the Second World War finished in 1947, the overall figures for the eight great types of crimes were: 1947?,560,000; 1950?,790,000; 1958?,796,000.
Disturbance among youth is reflected in the low standards of sexual morality and the sharp rises in adolescent crime; in Boston during 1940, 450 cases were recorded but by 1957 this had risen to 1030—more than doubled.
Diseases spread through the widespread looseness of sexual relationships have greatly increased and in 1958 there were 200,000 reported cases. Orphanages and foundling hospitals full of unwanted or illegitimate children are tragic comments on the inability of many human beings to restrain themselves.
The only cure for all this is to reduce the power of desire and an effective way of doing this is through the teachings of the Hinayana. When the house is on fire, it is no use trying to save it with more fire—only water will extinguish it. Similarly, the way out of the tangle of desires is not to make them stronger by repeatedly indulging them but to weaken them through morality and renunciation which are strong Hinayanic instructions.
|MODERN WESTERN LIFE|
|hermit dwelling by himself in a cave, forest, or any solitary place;||with family and friends, in a well-built house of comfortable furniture;
everywhere availing oneself of numerous and comfortable hotels;
The differences between the ancient Buddhist tradition of mild and helpful asceticism adopted voluntarily by some bhikshus, and the man of the present day wallowing in every possible pleasure is surely plain enough.
The former desired by means of these restraints (severe ascetic practises were not permitted by the Buddha) to decrease and help check desires, while the latter do not even know that their sorrows originate in desire, let alone have the thought of checking it.
For Westerners, this is hard to accept.
In reply, my friends complain how difficult this is for them and then point out that I am from the East where they say people possess few things and may easily renounce them due to the existing traditions.
What follows you must write and have printed in BLOCK CAPITALS, said Mr. Chen: WE SHOULD LEAD THE PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT COUNTRIES TO FOLLOW THE DHARMA BUT WE SHOULD NOT CHANGE THE DHARMA TO SUIT THE PEOPLE.
Friends write to me: Oh, you are like a sage of the classical times, you resemble the ancient worthies in your strong will to renounce, but what of us, how can we do all this? Said, Mr. Chen with great emotion:
We should remember the great example of Milarepa; he renounced completely, he lived a life practising the dhutagunas though he was not a Bhikshu, and as a result of his determination and strong effort, he came to the experience of the Great Perfection.
They say that so many millions have been converted to their religion yet not all the pores of the hairs on all of those millions of bodies are worth anything, compared to the greatness of one saint such as St. Francis of Assisi.
II. Why have we talked about these Five Meditations but have omitted the others
Mention has already been made in earlier chapters of the twelve dhyanas described very often in Hinayana texts. Why are these not included here? The first group of these, the four rupadhyanas, were a subject of the last chapter.
(See Booklet No. 63 Samatha)
Before one hears the preaching of the Buddha and comes to know of the Four Noble Truths, one may practise these concentrations though they will have but limited value; after one hears the Hinayana preachings and obtains, as a result, Right View, then there will be no questions in the mind about the whereabouts of consciousness of the infinity of space.
The practice of the Hinayana concentration leads one to go beyond them, for the result of such practice is the ninth stage (Arhatship), not merely the eighth (the realm of neither-perception-nor-nonperception, the highest arupa-dhyana).
The character of these four is very good but we shall have a chance to talk about similar qualities in the Six Paramitas and in the Tantras (though in different context), so we have omitted them here.
III. The Five Meditations themselves and how they help achieve a settled mind
A. Impurity Meditations:
With its aid we may understand the necessary stages of concentration.
Every one of these five meditations may be divided up under eight headings.
- First comes the Samapatti of Samatha, in which one repeatedly gazes at and concentrates upon one point. In this way one gets the mind to the ninth stage of samatha and then begins the samapatti of impurity.
- Samapatti of Samapatti. The latter is samapatti itself such as thinking upon the truth of impurity. The former is some method used as a cure, such as Right Mindfulness or Right Recognition to correct the true samapatti when it goes astray.
- Samatha of Samapatti. The former is the firm concentration attained during the exercise of the samapatti, the latter is samapatti itself.
If during this meditation, your mind goes elsewhere and does not like to remain concentrated on the subject of impurity, then the medicine for this is Right Recognition so that the samatha may be quickly recovered.
a. Vyadhmatakasamjna (tumefaction) b. Vinilakas (blue color) c. Vipadumakas (decay) d. Vilohitakas (messy of blood) e. Vipuyakas (discharge and rotten flesh) f. Vikhaditakas (devoured by birds and beasts) g. Viksiptakas (demembering) h. Asthis (bones) i. Vidagdhakas (burnt to dust).
By scholars of the Buddhist tradition these nine meditations have been aligned with six renunciations, first increasing the list by adding initially the thought of death, and then by disregarding the seventh as superfluous.
And he imitated this worthy gentleman's quite imperial manner of walking! Laughing about this while at the same time quite serious about the importance of these meditations he continued: Yes, consider a corpse, it has neither a delicate manner nor fine words.
- Meditate with the three kinds of corpses to destroy the desires for a nice face and a shapely figure. For this, meditate with corpses that are swollen (vyadhmatakasamjna), decayed (vipadumaka), and one bitten by animals (vikhaditaka).
- Meditate with a corpse messy with blood (vilohitaka), and with one discharging pus (vipuyaka) to renounce the desires of sensual love and sexual attraction.
- Meditate on bones (asthi) and powdered bones (vidagdhaka) to give up all attachment to smoothness, fineness and subtlety in the human body.
- Total meditation on all nine of them renounces the desire for a human form and the imagination which makes it appear desirable.
One should if possible have a corpse or skeleton for one's practice.
Although this may be difficult now, the best results are to be obtained with actual body remains, but concentration upon a picture will also be fruitful. Mr. Chen showed the writer the photo of a learned and well-practiced Chinese upasaka standing beside a skeleton and other human remains which he used in his practice.
- What is the object or self nature of our meditation upon impurity as a whole? To counteract the poison of greed or lust (lobha, raga).
- The second of the eight headings for our subject is its common nature. We must think of impermanence to which all are subjected, all beings experience death. Even the Buddha and great Arhats could not escape from it, so what of us?
- As to its karmic quality: meditation on Impurity leads to a revulsion from the things desired by the many folk and therefore decreases the unskillful or 'black' karma of desire. Detachment leads to the performance of more and more 'white' actions. Thus one takes the white and leaves the black.
- Time: In the past, the Enlightened Ones and their noble followers have passed away in countless numbers. In the present, neighbors, parents, children, the young as well as the old, all are dying. While in the future the same process will continue. This is our meditation with reference to the three times.
- Reason of Condition or Correspondence: Because we meditate upon impurity, we shall not pursue the six desires of human beings, but if we do not so meditate then we shall be lured by the beauties perceived through the senses.
Thirdly, one will realize the impurity and impermanence doctrines together with that suddenly developed Immediate Insight quality when one sees what this body has become in this and that state through many conditions.
When this is seen, greed is cut off.
- The self-nature of this meditation is to have equal mercy upon the three kinds of beings, those who are one's friends, one's enemies, and those neither friend, nor foe. Here the meditator gives them pleasure, makes them all happy.
- The common nature of this meditation is that all beings have pain, so why should we increase it? Every man and woman, every form of life everywhere may at some time have been our father or mother. Should we not therefore give them something to make them happy? The relative positions of being among the hurt or being one who hurts, change constantly. Realizing this, we are stupid to even think of hurting others, let alone actually doing so.
- Karmic Kind: If we do not hate them, we get no hurt either for them or for ourselves. This is 'white' karma. Hating and harming only produce 'black' results. For such deeds we may fall into the hell states.
- As regards Time: How many beings in the past have already died and yet I have not given them mercy. I must make the best use of the present to do this and make them all joyous. Thus, I must continue right into the future. In this way the meditator should think
- Correspondence: Neither subject nor object nor the happiness given by the practice of this meditation have any self-nature; all are interdependent.
- The reason of the Bhutatathata: When realization is so much advanced, one meditates upon the Dharma's nature of sunyata in which neither friend nor enemy can be distinguished. With such an attainment the Great Mercy is just dependent on Truth.
C. Dependent Origination or Conditioned Co-Production (pratitya-samutpada).
- All the twelve spokes of this wheel, whether those going before or following after, all twelve factors are impermanent. This is their self-nature.
- Common to all of them is the fact that they are fetters, bonds or chains which keep people in subjection. They are opposed to freedom and if a person does not know their void nature but clings to them as though they were real, then he will be very much pained.
- Karma. Without meditation upon Dependent Origination we do not know why we have come into samsara and have then no ability to escape, so we may continue performing 'black' karma. Meditation upon this wheel of twelve factors, we gain knowledge of how to free ourselves from them; this is 'white' karma.
- Time. In the scheme of the twelve, three times are distinguished together with their effects: of the past upon the present, and of that in turn upon the future. Not knowing how this conditioning (but not predestination) works, ignorant people are trapped within the continuous flow of these times and actions.
- Interdependence. Cause, effect, action, feeling—all of these conditions are inter-related and produce between them: Duhkha.
- The function here is to get rid of ignorance, achieved by the practice of these meditations.
- Practical Realizations:
- Making a study of the twelve conditions and the way they interact, the gathering of evil and the collecting of merit; this means the comparative quality.
- The insight of the direct quality of realization: if this is accomplished then one gains the stage of Pratyekabuddha but if this is united to Mahasunyata, then one attains to the first level of the Bodhisattva path.
- The Bhutatathata reason: because all beings are dependently originated and possessed of no abiding self, therefore, the Bhutatathata will be attained since it too is no-self.
D. Discrimination of the Elements
- It's self-nature is according to the individual natures of the elements: thus earth elements possess the nature of solidity, water of cohesion, fire of heat, air of motion, space of nothingness and consciousness of knowing.
- All our body is made of these elements and everything else in the universe is gathered from them. They are common to all phenomena in none of which is a self to be found.
- Karma. If one resolves the body into these elements one finds only qualities, wherefore self, where pride? No pride results in 'white' karma, for one has thereby become both simple and humble. Without this meditation one is subject to thoughts like "I am very high, learned, clever"—all this is pride, 'black' Karma.
- Time. In the past only six elements came into the mother's womb. In the present these six elements continue while the body after death will still have six elements.
- Just as wood, plaster and glass by their correct arrangement make up a house, so the combination of the six interdependent elements results in a 'person'.
- If in this meditation one can get attainment, then self-pride will be destroyed—this is the function.
- Practical Realization:
- For the Bhutatathata reason: everything is gathered from conditions devoid of self. In the Dharma nature there is no self, so the Bhutatathata will appear.
E. Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapranasmriti)
- Inhalation and exhalation must be known properly as they truly are, whether long or short, gross or subtle. This is the meditation's self-nature.
- Whether long or short, it is all impermanent for if one breath goes out and another comes not in, then death takes place. It is common for all life to depend on breath.
- Karma. If one does not concentrate upon Anaprana then there are no reins to the mind. The distracted mind develops some doubts, these result in actions of an evil nature, or 'black' karma. With attention given to the breath, it becomes regular and subtle and the mind likewise is calmed. Distractions, doubts and unskillful actions are banished and so only 'white' karma is committed.
Meanwhile he instructed the inn-keeper to give him a continuous supply of drinks.
The king of those parts was naturally most surprised and took counsel on what he should do. He was advised to see whether there was any especially saintly man staying in the locality.
Search was made and Biwapa found still drinking.
The king paid the bill for him and after that the sun was at last able to set. Mr. Chen briefly explained that if the breath (of which the sun is a symbol) is kept pressed down then the suspended state produced in the yogi's body is reflected in the corresponding event in the exterior world. Hence the sun being unable to set.
- Function. If we meditate and count the number of the inhalations, then this prolongs life and we shall know that life depends on the breath, recognize the impermanence doctrine, and thus cut off doubts and distractions.
- No person breathes—it just comes in and goes out without any real self; it is dependent on life conditions.
- Practical Realizations:
- Bhutatathata. Inhaling and exhaling, abiding and stopping, all are of sunyata. In is Bhutatathata, out is Bhutatathata, starting and stopping, all are in Tathata, all are Dharma nature. If we follow this practice, then we too realize this nature.
IV. Should all the Five Meditations be practised or may they be individually chosen according to one's own preferences or predominant sorrow?
Among the Five Sorrows, some persons are especially strong in one, either this or that, because everyone is not the same.
A. Early Morning Session:
Why practice this in the morning? It is then when our energies are strong and these make for a distracted mind.
Its nature is such that it is easily related to both of the important aspects of meditation development: both to mystic haveness (the accumulation of merits, punya-sambhava) and to voidness (jnana-sambhava).
B. Before Noon:
Between the hours of one and three, the lustful mind is strong as the energy currents in the body are flowing downwards. The neophyte should attend carefully to this practice during these hours in order that no downward flow of semen results.
This is belonging to conditional haveness.
I have tried to find these in myself but without conclusive success.
Much easier to distinguish, it seems to me, is a scheme of four character types:
- Quick-tempered (Anaprana is very beneficial).
V. What is the exact Realization of each of these Meditations?
- If one is only able to reduce anger somewhat, this is the lowest.
- Resolution of Elements
- Dependent Origination
- Neither stopped, but counting their number slowly, regularly, and without mistake: lowest.
It should by now not be necessary to say that all the various realizations given here come about only through personal practice. All these degrees are arranged according to my experience and by my reason and are not cited from any sutra or shastra.