The "Three-Cs" of Each Yana and Their Interconnections
Within the Whole System of Buddhism: Part II
Yogi C. M. Chen
A. The Cause of the Mahayana
We must know that the Mahayana is also the Buddhas teaching. We should
not believe, as the Ceylonese Hinayanists say, that the Mahayana is not
the Buddhas teaching. Why do we need the Mahayana? Because the Mahayana
Right View is right! How does this Right View, the Cause of Mahayana, differ
from the Right View of Hinayana?
When Buddha first started teaching his whole system he had to make the
believers purify themselves and meditate on the samatha as a foundation
for the Sunyata. First one must know the Sunyata of personality, then he
can come to know the Sunyata of Dharmas. Without success in the former
the latter is very difficult to recognize. That is why the Mahayana developed
a little later.
Mahayana is mostly concerned with saving others. But before a person can
save others he must first succeed in the meditation on the personality
Sunyata. He must know that his own self is Sunyata. Then there is no egoism
and he would no longer love himself. Actually, Sunyata of personality,
seeing that the self is void, is a very good negative foundation for the
development of Bodhicitta to save others. This is the real altruism. If
one cannot lose himself to save others then to say that one is working
to save others is quite a lie. It is just a cheat.
There is a definite fixed sequence in this practice. First you must see
that your self is void; then understand that all Dharmas are also void,
and then use a certain Dharma to cure each poison of the sentient beings.
Then you can save others. To develop a great Bodhicitta, to lose the self,
and to help others, then one might become a Mahayanist. Otherwise Buddhas
Great Compassion cannot develop completely.
The cause of Mahayana, the Right View, includes the philosophy of the
Great Compassion. A Buddha is a person who saves others; he does not save
himself alone. One must save others and develop the Great Mind. Maha means
great. Then one enlarges his Sunyata. By this deep wisdom, the Sunyata
is enlarged. Therefore it is called Maha, meaning great.
The Right View of Mahayana is based on these two points. One is Great
Compassion, the other is the deep Wisdom. Most of the Mahayana Sutras emphasize
these two. The cause of the Mahayana may be developed by reading the Mahayana
Sutras and listening to the Mahayana doctrine.
B. The Course of the Mahayana
The Course of the Mahayana is the practice. It consists of many methods
to enlarge your good mind, to destroy your selfishness and to be altruistic
and help others.
If one asks what is the authority for the Bodhicitta, there are three
kinds of Bodhicitta in the Mahayana. The first is called the Bodhicitta
of Will. In the Sutra called Great Compassion Flower Sutra, Buddha gave
many, many examples of how the Bodhisattvas developed their Bodhicitta
of will. Many examples such as Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, Maitreya and other
Bodhisattvas are mentioned. One gave his head to someone who wanted it,
another gave his eyes. Some even gave their heart and others their body
and life. One can read many such stories with tears. All are good examples
of the Bodhisattva .
On the one hand, in the Mahayana scriptures Buddha always blames the Hinayanists
as selfish-minded people who only strive for their own liberation and dont
care about ethers. On the other hand, he corrects some of the mistakes
of the Hinayana. In Hinayana doctrine when someone has done evil he may
fall into Hell and even Buddha cannot save him. They have such incorrect
ideas. They think that after Buddhas Parinirvana, he became nothing at
all and could not either help you to get rebirth or to atone for your sins.
They always say everything is due to yourself, "By self you ascend, by
self you fall." Nobody can help you. But in Mahayana there are many good
methods of confession. Some taught confession in front of Avalokitesvara,
others in front of thirty-five Buddhas.
The real condition of the Buddhas Nirvana is unknown to the Hinayanists.
They only know the foundation of Nirvana, only part of Nirvana. So they
say such things as "Buddha has died, how can he give inspiration to anybody?"
If this is so, then why do the Hinayanists also take refuge in the Buddha?
Buddha has already died. Do you just take refuge in his coffin? If he cant
do anything, why do you take refuge in him? How can he protect you? Why
do you repeat his Dharmapada? He would not hear you if he was nothing at
all. This makes Buddha seem like just a dead person.
This has come about through too much emphasis on self-practice, too much
emphasis on purity and too much emphasis on self-help. Buddha was too humble!
He said, "I cannot help you. If you do wrong you must be punished. If you
do wrong you must suffer the results." This was only to make people afraid
of doing bad things. Actually, if you become a Buddha you can do everything.
Even a God can help others to repent, so why could Buddha not? Even nowadays
in Ceylon they still keep such unreasonable ideas.
The course of practice of Bodhicitta is very important in addition to
having a good vow. Many Buddhas have good vows. Amitabha has forty-eight.
The Buddha of Healing has twelve. Manjusri has ten. Many Bodhisattvas have
developed their Bodhicitta of Will. Then following their vows, they put
them into practice through their own deeds. This is the second Bodhicitta,
the Bodhicitta of conduct.
But still, all this must be done in the Sunyata. So there is the third,
the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance. That means that even if I have
developed the Bodhicitta, I should not think "I am such a good person,
I have developed the Bodhicitta" as if there were some such thing as Bodhicitta
apart from the Sunyata. But the Bodhicitta is itself Sunyata. Thus, I myself
am Sunyata. I help others who are also Sunyata, and the way to practice
the Bodhicitta is also Sunyata. This is called the Bodhicitta of Victorious
Significance. Such beings prolong their practice for three kalpas. When
this lifetime is finished, in order to help others they come back for another
lifetime. They do many, many good things in many, many lifetimes. Is this
kind of Bodhisattva very bad? Why should the Hinayanists want to reject
In the Buddhas history, when he was a Bodhisattva, he transformed himself
many times into an animal body, or into a fish or bird, in order to save
others. All this history is taught by Buddha himself. Is this a lie? For
those in the position of Hinayana, it is very difficult to accept. But
we can read all the Mahayana biographies in which Buddha talks about how
other Bodhisattvas who later become Buddhas did many, many good things.
We also know that of the Six Paramitas, the first three are for others.
To give alms to others, to keep the Vinaya for others and not to harm them,
to keep patience with others; all are to help others. Even the second three
are for others. Diligence is for others, to practice meditation is for
others, and to open the mind of Wisdom is also done for others. So the
Six Paramitas have been emphasized and taught to all the Bodhisattvas who
do many, many wonderful things for our present time. More and more such
Bodhisattvas appear in the world to save us, to settle the world in peace.
If there is no Mahayana, why should we believe in Buddha, why should we
practice Buddhism? We must know that the Mahayana is very important to
We must learn to understand this very thoroughly. We have said that the
Cause is the philosophy, that the Right View is the general Cause. But
it seems that the Hinayana Right View is not really right. It is also a
mistake to think like this. The Hinayana is not wrong, it is just hina!
Suppose there is a big table that can hold many books, and a small table
that can only hold one or two books. It does not mean that the small table
is wrong and that the big table is right. It only means that the small
table can only hold a few books, but the big one can hold more. Or suppose
there were two knives, a big one and a small one. With the small one you
can only cut paper, but with the big one you can kill a bull. it does not
mean that the small knife is wrong and the big one is right. Only the size
is different. If a seed is given water and other good conditions it may
become a big plant. When we talk about Hinayana and Mahayana, it means
that the first seed must be Hinayana which can eventually grow and become
Mahayana. We cannot say that the son who is a small baby is wrong and the
father who is a big gentleman is right. Gradually the son will become a
big man. The Cause of the Hinayana is the Hinayana Right View. But from
the Right View one must again develop the Mahayana Right View. Small becomes
big. Both are right.
Actually if we examine history we find that when Hinayana was taught by
Buddha most of his disciples became pure and many succeeded in becoming
Arhats. Then when the Mahayana came along, there were many Bodhisattvas,
but some of them were false! They just took the good name of Mahayana but
actually were not even equal to the Hinayana. It was only those who based
their practice on Hinayana renunciation and impermanence and then added
the Right View of Mahayana, Bodhicitta, Paramitas and many good methods
of practice, that attained the real Mahayana.
To get the Right View of Hinayana there are the Four Agamas. For the Right
View of Mahayana there are the Prajna Paramita Sutras, the Avatamsaka (Hwa
Yen) Sutra, and the Tathagata Sutra. From these we learn that each person
has the Buddha-nature, every person has the potentiality of Buddhahood.
One can develop this potentiality and discover his own Buddhahood. All
these great Sutras should be read and kept in mind as Right View.
The practices of Mahayana are according to the teachings of the Six Paramitas,
three kinds of Bodhicitta and the two kinds of Great Compassion. These
two are the Great Compassion of Non-Condition and the Great Compassion
of the Same Entity.
When we say, "This person has mercy" or "This person has compassion,"
we usually refer to certain conditions. He is my friend, therefore he has
compassion for me. He has some relationship to me that causes him to
feel compassion. This is not the real Great Compassion. Great Compassion
has no conditions. Under any circumstances it is always equal towards
everybody. Even to the enemy one must have Great Compassion. This is
the first kind; the Great Compassion of Non-Condition.
There is also the Great Compassion of the Same Entity. One must know that
the Dharmakaya is everywhere, it is within everybody. We are together with
our parents, with our girl friend or boy friend, and our foes; all are
within the Dharmakaya Entity. The Great Compassion of the Same Entity means
that without others our Dharmakaya is not complete. So we must be with
everybody, with every animal, with every plant, with everything within
the whole of space. There is no place however small that is not within
our Dharmakaya. If somebody catches a hair on our head our whole body feels
pain. In the same way, if any being is suffering, we must feel the same
symptom too. We must share even their small sufferings. Even to our enemy
we must have Great Compassion. These two, Great Compassion of Non-Condition
and Great Compassion of the Same Entity, are always practiced by the Mahayana
There are many biographies of the Bodhattvas that one should read to make
his Right View of the Mahayana stronger. But also you must personally practice
it in your daily life. You must examine yourself and try, instead of loving
yourself, to love others. This is a very important practice. The whole
Entity of the Dharmakaya is ones self of Non-Egoism. It is the self with
all others. This is our goal. If any part, at any time, on any occasion,
is lacking Great Compassion or lacking the Right View of Sunyata, you cannot
succeed in your Great Event of becoming Buddha. Please listen attentively
and carefully. Here we use the word "self" but actually there is no self;
it is only for convenience of speaking that we say "self."
When Buddha reached Full Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree he saw that
the whole Dharmadhatu and all sentient beings had already become Buddha.
At least in his conception, in his mind, from his viewpoint, it is like
this. Whether the objective individual persons have themselves attained
it or not is another question.
To be a Buddha means to realize and obtain the whole Dharmakaya. This
is the Consequence of the Mahayana. The whole Dharmakaya is your body;
naturally, whether you have completely realized it or not depends upon
your practice. All practice is only to complete your Dharma-body. When
the Dharmakaya has completely appeared to you, at that time you are really
a Buddha. No exception can oust you from your Great Compassion, or from
the Entity of Sunyata.
The Bodhisattva of the Mahayana practices all kinds of actions through
many lifetimes to help others. Positively he increases his good merits
(Wisdom and Great Compassion), negatively, he reduces his selfishness (egoism
and ignorance). These two are the basis for the Ten Stages of the Bodhisattva.
C. The Consequence of the Mahayana
(or the Ten Stages of the Bodhisattva, Ten Bhumis)
The motive which inspired me to talk about this subject of the three
"Cs" of each yana was questions recently asked me about these ten stages. The
Bodhisattva discards his selfishness and works to help others; he gradually develops
his wisdom and traverses through Ten Stages. There are many ways to classify
these stages. Some follow the Hinayana, some the Mahayana. They all are different.
Here we will follow the Mahayana.
The first Boddhisattva Stage (Bhumi) is called "Joyful" (Pramudita). When
he attains this stage the Bodhisattva has overcome his former difficulties
and now begins to enter the path of Buddhahood. He now begins to see that
to help others is the real cause of happiness, while to selfishly look
out for oneself is really to make pains and difficulty for oneself. Real
happiness is to help others, real difficulty is to be selfish. So the first
stage is called the stage of Joy at having overcome the former difficulty
caused by selfishness. To enter the path of Buddhahood is to know that
helping others is the real happiness.
The second Stage is called "Vimala" (Purity). In this second stage the
Bodhisattva realizes that selfishness is a defilement and that to help
others is the way to purify the dirt of selfishness and egoism. These Bodhisattvas
surpass those of the first stage.
The third Stage is called "Prabhakari." At this stage the Bodhisattvas
positive work for others is like a great torch lighting the way for beings.
Therefore this stage is called the stage of "Developing Light."
The fourth Stage is called "Arcismati." The light of the preceding third
stage is now becoming more bright. The wisdom is "Glowing," which is the
meaning of Arcismati.
The fifth Stage is "Surdurjaya" or "Mastery over Final Difficulties."
It is very difficult to be victorious. The superficial selfishness may
be conquered easily, but the final subtle selfishness is very difficult
Now the Bodhisattva can lift his light for others and show them the brightness,
purity and joy. So the sixth Stage is called "Abhimukhi" (Appearing for
Others). At this point comes the appearance of the Wisdom above the duality
of pure and impure. It is more transcendent than the fifth Stage.
The seventh Stage is "Duramgama," the stage of "Going Far." The Bodhisattva
goes far above the ideas of self in order to save others. He has advanced
far beyond his selfishness. People dont expect him to act selfishly.
The eighth Stage is called "Acala," the attainment of "Calm Imperturbableness."
No difficulty can possibly disturb him. The Bodhisattva just abides in
his deep samadhi of Non-Self.
The ninth Stage is called "Sadhumati," the stage of "Good Discrimination."
The Bodhisattva develops discriminatory wisdom to know where and how to
save others. Now he also possesses the Ten Powers of Buddhahood.
The more you help others, the deeper your Wisdom becomes. Eventually one
reaches the confirmation stage of Bodhisttvahood. This is very close to
the Buddha. It is called the stage of the fertilizing power of the "Law
Cloud" (Dharma-megha). Just like a cloud in the sky, the Bodhisattva can
shower Dharma-rain to help the sentient beings discover their Buddha-nature.
I was asked by Great Upasika Helen Palubinskas, "A certain lama claims
that the ten stages of Bodhisattva correspond to the ten ox-herding pictures.
Is this so?" Actually, the ten ox-herding pictures were invented by a Chinese
Chan Buddhist monk as a sort of parable to teach the disciples to train
their own minds on Chan. They do not correspond to the Ten Stages of Bodhisattva.
This is quite a mistake.
Buddha himself also sometimes made a parable to teach the Bhiksus. It
contained eleven "actions" of an ox, but this was only a temporary example,
not the real realization. It was not a practical explanation of the Bodhisattva
For the Mahayana the first "C", the Cause, is to know the causation of
Tathagata or the Buddha-nature or the potential of Buddhahood. The second
"C", the Course, is to actually carry out all the good Bodhisattva conducts,
to practice the Six Paramitas in ones everyday life, to meditate on the two-fold
Sunyata of personality and of Dharmas, and to always try to help others, even
to the extent of sacrificing ones own life many times. Then one may increase
his Great Compassion and decrease his egoism and gradually traverse the Ten Stages.
Finally, after passing the Tenth Stage one may become Buddha. This is the third "C",
the Consequence of the Mahayana.
The Hinayana Right View is Impermanence, Renunciation and the Non-Egoism
of Personality. The Right View of Mahayana is the Bodhicitta, the Great
Compassion and the truth of two-fold Non-Egoism. When these are practiced
it is the Course. When one attains all the stages, it is the Consequence.
A. The Cause of the Vajrayana
The Cause of the Vajrayana is to read the Tantric Books. For the lower
three Tantras, there is the Vairocana Tantra. Vairocana is called the Great
Sun Tathagata. He is the central Buddha of the Five Buddhas. Each of the
Herukas have their own Tantra, for example, the Tantra of Hevajra (Jepa
Dorge in Tibetan). Most of the Tantras include both the Evolutional Yoga
(Jaying) and the Perfect Yoga (Tzo-ing).
But before reading these books, the cause of Anuttara Tantra should be
the Four Initiations. The usual method is to get the Initiations from a
Guru. This is a very important Cause. Then after getting the Initiations
one can read the Tantras. From the Tantras one can get the philosophy of
The philosophy of Tantra differs from Mahayana and Hinayana, just as they
differ from one another. Hinayana and Mahayana are both exoteric doctrines.
The Vajrayana is esoteric. The former is just the plain truth, the latter
is very secret.
Even if one tries to read the Tantra, without the Impartation and Explanation
of the Guru one will not understand. The Tantras themselves have been purposely
confused and mis-arranged by the ancient sages in order to keep it a secret.
After you have found a Tantric Guru and have gotten his permission and
first Initiation, then you can read the main Tantra and recognize the philosophy.
The difference between the Tantric philosophy and that of the Mahayana
is this: Mahayana philosophy says that all Dharmas are empty. This includes
the Dharmas of mentality and also those of materiality. But even though
the Mahayana has such a theory they never take the material reality into
their practice. But Vajrayana emphasizes that both materiality and mentality
should be harmonized and identified. Eventually one lays most stress on
the materiality, on Fire, Water, Earth and Air. All of these must be taken
into ones practice.
Mahayana says that every Dharma is Sunyata through a process of mentalization.
But in Tantra the philosophy emphasizes the identification of materiality
and mentality. Their practice also follows their philosophy. The Mahayana
also meditates on the Sunyata of both mentality and materiality but it
is only a meditation. They dont take the material things into their practice
as the Vajrayana eventually does. The body, the Five Elements, the Deep
Breathing, the Tumo, the Kunda Bodhicitta, the Red Bodhi and the White
Bodhi and the Vajra love are never integrated by the Mahayana practitioners.
One must very clearly recognize the identity of Materiality and Mentality.
This is the Cause of the Vajrayana. The Mahayana Idealism must not be held
One should read the Tantras concerning the practice of each Yidam and
recognize it very clearly. One must also get the Four Initiations. The
experienced Guru is in the Position of Consequence. The Tantric method
of initiation uses this result in the position of Consequence as the position
of Cause. This is the special point of the Tantra.
B. The Course of the Vajrayana
Each yana has its own Silas. In Vajrayana one must recognize the doctrine
of Silas very clearly and keep them in ones practice. This is very important.
To learn the Vajrayana Silas is the Cause. To practice them in ones deeds
is the Course. One by one they must be constantly remembered and actually
practiced in ones deeds.
Hinayana Silas pertain mostly to the body and speech. Mahayana keeps the
Hinayana Silas and also adds the Bodhisattva Silas which pertain mostly
to the mind. The Bodhisattva Silas concern mostly mental states that can
be observed by oneself but that cannot be easily observed by others. This
is one reason why the Mahayana Silas are more difficult to keep than the
There are also many Silas of Tantra. There are fourteen Main Silas and
Eight Great Silas of Three Samaya, e.g., Vajra Samaya, Bell Samaya and
Mudra (Embrace) Samaya. There are many explanations of them. But I am sorry
to say even in Tibet there are very few who teach the Tantric Silas to
their disciples. Most of the Tantric Silas concern Vajra Love. Therefore
most of the Gurus keep the Tantra secret and dont impart these Tantric
Silas. Many lamas dont know their real meaning. Try to ask those Lamas
if they can repeat these fourteen? But I repeat them. Every night I examine
myself to see if I have committed any deviation from them or not. I repeat
them every night, in Chinese. If something is not right, I have to repeat
the one hundred words of the Dorje Sempa incantation. Very few lamas, even
those specialized scholars, can repeat these. Even the scholars that may
know the words of Silas cant explain the real meaning. Their Gurus have
not taught these Silas.
When giving an Initiation the Guru should ask the disciples, "Did you
observe this Sila and that Sila?" But even though I have received many
initiations, never has a Guru asked me about these Tantric Silas. I was
fortunate enough to learn about them from my first Gelugpa Guru who even
himself never explained about them but he did impart them to me. Even this
Gelugpa Guru, I am sorry to say, did not himself understand them but just
gave us the good idea to repeat them.
I am going to write a book called "The Subtle Discriminations between
all the Teachings of Karma-Mudra" in Chinese. (This
Chinese work has since been written and published in Hong Kong and reprinted
in Taiwan.) This is very important for both scholars and practitioners.
When most Gurus give Initiations they usually ask, "Have you received
the Five Precepts? Have you received the Ten Goodnesses?" At the most they
may ask, "Have you received the forty-two Bodhisattva Silas?" They never
say, "You must learn the Silas of Tantra before I initiate you and see
if you can keep them."
One of the Silas says that the Tee Lee (Kunda Bodhicitta) must not be
discharged. But nowadays even the very learned Gurus discharge. For example,
see the great famous Guru who has three wives and many children. He discharges
a lot and so gets disease. He uses his strength for too much sexual intercourse,
I am sorry to say. He himself can not keep the semen. So how could he teach
those who are his students to practice well?
The proper Course of practice for the Tantra is first to practice the
Higher Tantra. The Anuttara Yoga involves two parts.
First the Evolutional Yoga of how to make the human body become a Buddha
Body and then the Perfect Yoga which is very important. An available book
on this subject is Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. This refers to the
Perfect Yoga, the Course.
I learned the Six Doctrines from many sources; The Naropa Six Doctrines,
his sister Nukumas Six Doctrines, and other Six Doctrines. I also learned
the perfect Yoga of other Herukas. These are not all divided into Six Doctrines.
The Great Power Vajra (Tib: Jig Je) has four yogas. The first is called
Mantra Yoga, the second Samaya Yoga, the third is Form Yoga and the fourth
is called Wisdom Yoga. There is another Heruka called Jepa Dorje (Hevajra)
whose Perfect Yoga is divided into four initiations. There is another Vajra
Heruka called Secret Cathering Vajra (Guhya Samaya) and another called
Mahamaya Vajra. All the Perfect Yogas have different sections and different
names, but most are similar to one another. I will write an essay in Chinese
dealing with the similarities and differences between all these Perfect
Yogas of all Herukas and how to practice all the essentials. This will
be one of my important works.
In Tantra there are many secrets, unlike the Mahayana that just talks
about the Sunyata. There are many conditional secrets. One must distinguish
between Dharma conditional secrets and that of Dharma-nature. In Tantra,
for example in Mahamudra and the Great Perfection, the secrecy stems from
the very nature of the Truth. But Tantra also has many secrets involving
the conditional secrets of materiality. There are very many scientific
methods involving Breathing, the Inner Nerves, the Elements and the Vajra
Love. There are many, many scientific and reasonable methods of practice,
but they cannot be discussed with a person who has only a little theoretical
knowledge of Sunyata. These scientific, reasonable and fruitful methods
are written about in the Jaying and Tsoying in the Anuttara Yoga of all
kinds of Herukas.
Most English translations follow the Six Yogas of Naropa. It is simplified,
others are very elaborate. But the very important books on the Perfect
Yoga of other Tantras have not been translated into English.
Most Tantric practice is not so simple as the Mahayana. In the Mahayana
the main point is to help many sentient beings and to keep the meditation
of the two-fold voidness, of persons and of Dharmas. This is enough.
But Tantra, the Perfection Yoga, is very, very difficult and even a whole
lifetime might not be enough to practice and realize. One must spend many
years in a hermitage to transform the human body into a Buddha body. After
you get the sign of a Buddha body, you can practice the second initiation
of nerves, chakras, and the red and white Bodhi. This also takes many years;
eventually you will even be able to control the semen from discharging.
But this is still not enough.
The real discharge is of the mind. If the mind produces love, or lust,
or even for one moment lacks the Sunyata meditation, it is also a leak.
There are four leaks. First is the physical discharge of the White Bodhi
(semen). But this is only the grossest kind. The second is the emotion
of passion or lust and it is also a leak. So is the mental condition of
ignorance (the third leak). If the wisdom of Non-Egoism is lacking for
even one minute, this is also a leak. And even a moment without Right View
is a leak, which is the fourth kind. So there are four leaks: the physical
discharge, the emotion of lust, the mental condition of ignorance, and
lack of Right View. It is very difficult to avoid these subtle leaks. Some
material leaks are more than the obvious one of semen. If you talk too
much it is a material leak too. Or if the perspiration increases it is
also a material leak or there may be a leak of the semen with the urine.
Even if it does not leak into the Dakinis lotus, still after Vajra is taken
out, it may still leak out when urinating. It can also leak out with the
stool or with the spittle. All these are real leaks. To completely remain
without a leak is very difficult.
The practitioner of Vajrayana must not rest even for a moment. When he
sleeps he should practice the Sleep Yoga. When he dreams he should practice
the Dream Yoga. When the time of death comes, he must use the chance to
get the Dharmakaya. When the Bardo comes he must practice the Bardo Yoga
to get the good Sambhogakaya. After the Bardo passes he must practice the
proper method to get the Nirmanakaya and good rebirth. There are many,
many methods but you must practice them before death and prepare yourself.
So while you are still alive, when you walk, every step must be with the
Sunyata; when you talk every word must be with the Sunyata. Every action
must be connected with the Sunyata, with the Yidam, with the incantation
and with the visualization. Not even one minute can be wasted! This is
why the Vajrayana allows a person to reach full achievement in this lifetime.
He must practice without being quenched until Full Enlightenment is achieved
and then he must still keep his body here in order to do good and ultimately
to help others. This is the real goal of Tantra. You must practice very
carefully and diligently, and then you can get the Consequence of Vajrayana.
C. The Consequence of the Vajrayana
It is said that above the Ten Bhumis there is an eleventh, a twelfth,
thirteenth and fourteenth stage. The number differs in the various traditions.
In any case, these high Consequences of Vajrayana cannot be explained except
by those who have already experienced them. And those who have realized
them did not show us very much in detail.
We do know that in the Buddhist tradition, when a Hinayana monk dies in
order to see if he has gotten the four degrees of Consequence or not the
following signs are looked for: If he has gotten the first, the forefinger
can bend backward after death; if he gets the second, two fingers can be
bent back; if he gets the third, three fingers; and if the fourth, all
The Mahayana attainment of the Ten Bhumis can be witnessed by the Guru
or by the practitioners own supernatural power.
In the Vajrayana, I myself have seen that when my Guru died his six-foot
body contracted to a small mass of only one foot in diameter.
Some practitioners have completely become light at their death and shone
away, as Marpa did. Many have predicted the day of their own death. For
some, there have been six kinds of earthquakes. And some have died very
peacefully with light, earthquake and foreknowledge of the day of death.
For some, there have appeared rainbows and their relics have given off
five kinds of color. For some, five colors of light appeared, different
from the five colors that appeared for some Mahayana monks. Some Vajrayana
practitioners have left only hair and nails, and some became completely
transformed into light. Some have Parinirvana along with their wives. Marpa
had nine wives. His first wife died and became light and passed into the
body of the second wife who also became light and passed into the succeeding
wives in order until the ninth wife who entered Marpas body which then
became light. This is not just talk, or a myth or a fiction. These things
have been repeatedly proved in India, Tibet and China.
How does the Vajrayana compare with the Mahayana Ten Bhumis? When Biwapa
got the First Initiation from Damama he immediately attained the Sixth
Bhumi. When one reaches the first Bhumi one can see one hundred Buddhas?
Worlds, fly to one hundred Pure Lands. With each stage, the number increases
until Buddhahood is reached, then one can see every world.
But in Tantra, one hundred thousand worlds, one hundred thousand Buddhas
and one hundred thousand Dakinis come at once. An example is His Holiness
the Karmapa Dushomchampa whose crown is made of the hairs of one hundred
thousand Dakinis. At the very moment he attained Full Enlightenment, one
hundred thousand Dakinis and Buddhas were all around him and each Dakini
gave one hair. This is a method in the position of Consequence. However,
the Ten Bhumis of Mahayana are not as clearly apparent in Vajrayana. For
example, suppose someone started from my home in Hunan and passed through
Eastern China, then across the China Sea, then across Japan and finally
reached the Pacific. If we ask the traveler, "You passed such and such
a stream in Hunan, what did the trees look like? What did the house look
like?" Maybe the small details are not so clear to him and he wont be able
to answer you. But he has already passed through that place. And after
he arrives at his destination he knows everything. He can contact local
people and by his Samadhi and Wisdom he can know everything as well as
a Mahayana Bodhisattva. But when he was still on the course the details
seemed to be not as clear as the Mahayana Ten Bhumis.
We have talked three times about the three "Cs" of Hinayana, Mahayana,
and Vajrayana. Now we will go on to discuss their interconnection within
the whole system.
II The Three-Cs in the Whole System of Buddhism
The development of Buddhism was not smooth. When Buddha first came into
this world to teach he was alone. He had his own supernatural remembrance
of his past lives in past worlds. But there were no established scriptures
of tradition here to help him. Although Buddha himself had conceived the
whole system, his disciples were not prepared to receive it all. So he
had to work gradually over a long period of time.
He had two problems. First, to establish a simplified system, and secondly
to enlarge that system as the disciples progressed. Even considering the
Yanas two at a time, there is always something to practice and something
to advance to. We can see how Buddhism progressed by studying the history
of the sages.
But who can see this? It must be someone who can accept all the doctrines
of Buddha and his successors. He must also understand the historical conditions
and level of wisdom of the people. He must know that Buddha has at least
three Yanas taught by his three Kayas. The Nirmanakaya is Buddha Gautama
Buddha had the very difficult task to open a new road for us and prepare
the way for the development of Buddhism in the future. Buddha foretold
the future and prepared his representatives to continue his work. We must
know that when a Buddha dies he does not merely become nothing. He can
transmit his light into some person. When Padmasambhava was born in the
lotus, his Buddha body was formed from the light of Buddha Gautama. Buddha
was not here for just one lifetime.
One must also recognize the Dharmakaya teaching. Anything in the entire
Universe, anything, any voice, any color, can be used as a point of inspiration
between the Dharmakaya and the disciple. Many teachings of Tantra and Chan
have been taught in such a form. Some Chan monk who only saw a blossomed
flower immediately comprehended. Another monk was passing by some prostitutes
and heard "I have no mind. You also have no mind." and immediately comprehended.
The meaning is that the prostitute has no mind to love her friend, and
her friend has no mind to love the prostitute. Actually this is evil talk
and if a common person had passed by he would have taken no notice of it.
But this monk had kept the Hua Tou "Where is my mind?" as his objective
every moment. He passed through the streets but his mind never forgot his
Hua Tou, being neither distracted by children nor women on the streets.
But this evil talk he overheard was accidentally concerned with his Hua
Tou and when he met it he immediately comprehended. Even worldly knowledge
teaches that the cosmos is a great classroom. Everything is a kind of teaching.
It is up to you to prepare yourself and accept it and utilize it. This
refers to the Dharmakaya teaching.
Therefore it is not enough to just accept the personal Nirmanakaya teaching
of Buddha Gautama, the Hinayana. One must also understand the teaching
of his representatives, the Bodhisattvas, who continued his teaching after
his parinirvana, and one must also recognize the teaching of the Dharmakaya.
Then he can recognize all the teachings of the whole system and itemize
and arrange them so that his wisdom becomes very clear. But those whose
wisdom is superficial, whose faith is limited and whose knowledge is narrow,
those whose minds have not opened widely to accept all the Buddhas teachings,
think that only what they themselves believe is the teaching of the Buddha.
They think that the teaching of others is false. That is why the Southern
tradition always says that the Northern tradition is not the Buddhas teaching,
and the Japanese accept the Tung Tantra from China but reject the Anuttara
Tantra of Tibet.
In an ancient China, Hinayana and Mahayana were practiced simultaneously
by the same individuals. Before Tung, before Sung, from Han till Tung,
and even till Sung, many Chan masters lived on mountains without coming
down for thirty or even forty years. Because of this Hinayana practice,
many got the Offspring Chan and became fully realized. But after Sung,
the Chan teachings were talked about commonly everywhere in China, even
by cake-vendors and boys.
The monk we spoke of above had tried through all kinds of meditations
and exertions to find out the truth of the real mind. Then he only needed
those two sentences, "I have no mind, You also have no mind," and he immediately
comprehended that there is no Mind at all. Finally he understood what was
his real mind. This kind of teaching is not acceptable to the Hinayana.
They think that Buddha has died and that nothing can help us. You have
to understand by yourself. It would seem that when this monk finally comprehended,
it was by himself, but actually there is a great inspiration between the
Dharmakaya teaching and the disciple.
There is another story. A butcher had slaughtered some pigs and was selling
the pork in the street. Surely he is a sinner and should fall into bad
realms. But still since the Dharmakaya pervades everything, everything
can be utilized as a teacher, just like the spider who taught patience.
A monk who was meditating on his Hou Tou trying to find the real truth,
passed that house where the butcher was selling pork. One customer asked
for the lean pork without fat. After the butcher sold it to him, another
customer asked for the lean pork, and then another and another. Losing
his temper, the butcher threw away his knife and yelled, "Everywhere lean!
Everywhere pork! Where is there no lean pork?" The monk heard just part
of this and comprehended. Everywhere is the truth. There is no need to
search for it. Everywhere is the lean (pork). Everywhere is the lean (Truth).
So he comprehended. There are many such stories in Chan books.
Maybe other religions and philosophers notice similar things. But if they
are ambitious political persons they just take the teachings for use as
a great gun. Robert Bruce took the advice of a spider. The spider had tried
to build a web six times and had fallen down each time. Bruce himself had
also tried and failed six times. But both gained at the seventh attempt.
Very few Chan talkers have recognized the truth. It is called Mouth Chan.
It is also called Sand-like Chan for like sand by the river, it is very
abundant everywhere, but there is very little gold.
Now in China many Chan monks do without the Hinayana. Without practicing
meditation, they stay in bars and teashops and claim to have a mad-like
realization. Actually they dont respect their Hinayana foundation on one
hand, and on the other hand, they dont know that they themselves are followers
of the Tantra. They dont search out the history of Bodhidharma. They dont
know that Bodhiarma himself was a Tantric sage of India and Tibet and taught
the Tantra again after he returned there from China. They brand the Tantra
as a doctrine of outsiders. They say that the great Guru Padmasambhava
was a Brahmanist. Even at present when Tantra is flourishing in the West,
they reject Chinese Tantra. Even many Chan monks reject the Chinese Tantra.
They dont acknowledge any Tantric masters. This is due to their lack of
In this way the whole system of Buddhism has been broken into small fragments.
This makes me very sad. So in my booklets and books I always emphasize
the whole system of Buddhism and ask all Buddhists to take good care to
practice all of it.
If someone reads my book Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical,
they might be afraid that there is not enough time in one lifetime to practice
it all. Therefore, it may seem that this talk of mine is foolish. But this
is not true. I never ask everyone to practice everything of all the Yanas,
but rather to recognize and practice the essential points of each. So now
I must point out the essential points.
Even though the entire Pali Tripitaka is available in English, I dont
recommend that people read it all. But one must learn the doctrines of
Impermanence and Renunciation very well. Mahayana students sometimes neglect
these, but they are the real Cause of the Mahayana and Vajrayana also.
All Yanas depend on them. A person who actually goes to a cave or hermitage
and meditates and keeps the idea of the Impermanence has understood the
whole point of the Hinayana very well.
Impermanence will also lead one to the Sunyata of Personality and by having
renounced, one will get the Sunyata of Dharmas in the Mahayana more easily.
One must also understand Karmic Causation, the law of Cause and Effect.
Even science recognizes cause and effect; plant these seeds, get this flower.
But our Cause and Effect is more general and involves past and future lives.
This is very difficult to receive, but a real Buddhist must accept it.
If you understand Cause and Effect, then the seed of the Hinayana is in
your hand. There is no need to go to Ceylon and become a Bhikshu. To practice
just one yana the Bhikshu has an advantage. It is not so convenient for
the layman to keep all the two hundred and fifty Silas. But still, if the
Karmic Causation (Cause and Effect), Non-Ego of Personality, Renunciation,
and Impermanence are well understood, this is a good foundation for Mahayana
and Vajrayana. There is no need to read a lot of Hinayana books. This is
enough for a foundation. Then one can live in a cave or hermitage.
We dont emphasize the result of the Hinayana, but only the Cause of Karmic
Causation Philosophy and the course of Renunciation. These are very important,
but one should not worry about the fruit of Hinayana. Rather one should
practice the renunciation in a cave or hermitage and not pursue Arhatship.
Just leave it. It is like a person going from Berkeley to New York on business.
He cannot stay in Berkeley for he has a more important goal. So one should
take the Cause and Course of Hinayana only, but not the Consequence.
But one must not just talk about Renunciation. One must actually do it.
You may talk about Renunciation "Renounce! Renounce!" but at the same time
today you want to do some job, tomorrow some kind of business. It is not
enough to have such desire, you must actually put it into practice. You
must renounce again and again even if tomorrow you go without food. This
is real Hinayana.
But the Hinayana Non-Ego Personality is not enough. When one practices
he will meet many persons and circumstances and many things and conditions.
All persons and things, either good or evil, are Sunyata. So the Causation
of Alaya, or storehouse, must be learned. In the Eighth Consciousness are
stored many seeds of Karma, not only of evil human Karma but also the seeds
of Buddhahood. All are in the Eighth Consciousness.
Another Mahayana principle is the Tathagata Causation of the potentiality
of Buddhahood. One need not follow his old Karma, but can positively create
a new life. The Hinayana cannot understand this because their wisdom is
not deep enough. But how can they criticize those whose knowledge is deeper
than theirs? By the Tathagata Causation, the Bodhisattva can progress in
the whole system of Buddhism, discover his own Buddha-nature and create
Bodhisattva merit through the Six Paramitas. This is the motive to help
others. He does not want to improve his human nature but to uncover his
Buddhahood. So he increases his Bodhicitta. In order to practice the course
of Bodhisattva Action he follows the examples of the great Bodhisattvas
and is reborn again and again to contact many beings and get the Non-Ego
of Dharma Wisdom. He can even give his own life. He can even do something
evil. For example, to kill a robber in order to save five hundred merchants,
to have sexual intercourse with a woman in order to convert her as a disciple.
The Cause of the Mahayana includes the philosophy of Tathagata Causation
and the two-fold Non-Egoism. In the Course there are the Six Paramitas
which are important as well as the Ten Goodnesses and the Forty-two Bodhisattva
Silas as well as the fifty-one positions of practice in Hwa-yan School.
But again, as in the case of the Hinayana, we dont pay too much attention
to the exoteric Mahayana Consequence.
To return to the example of the businessman whose final goal is New York;
he may go first to Los Angeles to get a little more business, but he cannot
linger there. He cant stay in Berkeley or Los Angeles but must look forward
to his highest reward in New York. So the Bodhisattva must go on and practice
the Vajrayana. The Ten Bhumis emphasized by the Mahayana are a long journey
of ten stages through three great kalpas. At each stage he learns how to
get more deep meditation, more deep Wisdom, more Great Compassion and to
increase his realization. In this progressive course each stage is deeper
than the last one. When he has completed all ten stages, then he has a
hope to be a Buddha. These Ten Stages take three full kalpas.
But the Mahayana seems so slow. So many sentient beings are suffering!
It is very painful for them! Who could be so cruel to let them suffer so
For shortening the journey, or reducing the time it takes to reach Full
Enlightenment, the Bodhisattva should advance to the Vajrayana. Usually
the Bodhisattva of the eighth bhumi (stage) may be advised by the Buddha
himself during a period when there are no Tantras being taught. The Tantric
teaching is very difficult to meet; out of one thousand Buddhas, only two
teach the Tantra. In this age there is Shakyamuni and in the future it
is not the next Buddha, but the one after Maitreya, the Lion-Roar Buddha,
who will incarnate from Karmapa Rimpoche and will teach Tantra.
In our talk of the entire system of Buddhism, the Vajrayana is included,
but the system that will be taught by Maitreya Buddha will not go beyond
the Mahayana. The Mahayana has the Great Compassion of the mind but has
no techniques to control the 5 material elements directly. The 6 Paramitas
do not deal with the energy (five elements) nor does the Idealist school
which always says that everything is only ideas. Only the Vajrayana, whose
philosophic principle is called the Seven Elements of Causation, is complete.
What are the Seven Elements of Causation? The first element is called
the Right View. The second element is the 9th consciousness. These first
two belong to the category of mentality. The next five are the five elements
of materiality. The Tantric Dharma maintains that the truth is not purely
spiritualism, but also includes materialism. It is not only psychic but
also physical. Tantra emphasizes the non-dualism or identification of mentality
and materiality; neither is to be regarded as more important than the other.
This is the first "C" of the Vajrayana. Unless one thoroughly comprehends
the non-dualism of mind and matter, there can be no hope of success in
the practice of Tantra. The next two "Cs"
reveal this principle much more deeply.
The second "C" of Course integrates the 5 material elements through the
practice of deep-breathing. Tantric breathing does not merely include the
element of air or wind, but also contains the earth element, the water
element, the fire element, and the space element. It is the technique of
the deep breathing practice to divide the nasal openings into five parts,
like a Chinese coin. The middle is the space element, the top is the wind
element, because wind is very light and usually rises to the top. The lower
portion is the earth element because earth is very heavy and settles to
the bottom. Fire occupies the outer edge, while the water element occupies
the inner portion of the nasal. Therefore, all five material elements can
be controlled by proper practice of the deep breathing. This is why the
Tantric practitioner can do many things which the Bodhisattva cannot. He
is able to penetrate and transcend the five poisons, saving the sentient
beings who have fallen under their way. This is similar to what the Mahayanist
tries to do, except that the Bodhisattva does not have the power to fully
penetrate and sublimate the five poisons. But the Vajrayanist does and
therefore attains enlightenment much more quickly.
When talking about the Course position of Vajrayana, it is necessary to
introduce those methods which are not available in the Mahayana. These
are the initiation of the Tantra which can bring the Buddhahood into the
practitioner so that he becomes the Yidam. The Yidam can acquire more merit
in one day than the Bodhisattva can learn in several kalpas. This is because
the methods of practice are quite different, and the Guru of Vajrayana
is accomplished in the Full-Enlightenment. He is able to introduce all
the real Buddhas to come into your mind. Your mind is always identified
with Buddha. Therefore, whatever you think, talk, or act is not different
from the Buddha, and all good merit is very easy to accumulate.
It takes three kalpas for a Bodhisattva to get Full-Enlightenment. It
takes one kalpa for him to just get the merit. It is also called the 5
paths. The first path of spiritual food and the second path of preparatory
practice takes one kalpa. The third path of the Right View of Sunyata together
with the fourth path of practice takes another kalpa and the fifth path
of non-practice takes the last kalpa. But in Vajrayana Mahamudra, its first
stage is equal to the merits of the first kalpa, the second stage till
the third are equal to that of the second kalpa, the fourth stage is equal
to that of the third kalpa. That is why the time it takes to achieve Full
Enlightenment in Vajrayana is shortened.
The goal of the Consequence position of the Vajrayana not only includes
the four degrees of Arhat, but also includes the Ten Bhumis of the Bodhisattva.
The details of these two methods may not be clear to the Vajrayanist exactly,
for he dwells more on the principles involved. For example, if you walk
from Berkeley to Los Angeles you may know how all the mountains, rivers
and factories appear and can describe them quite clearly to the minutest
detail. But if you fly from Berkeley to Los Angeles, your traveling time
is greatly reduced but you cannot describe the stations as well. However,
this does not mean that you have not made the journey, and in this case
one should be more concerned about reaching his destination rather than
exploring terrain. So the five Buddha kayas are once and for all accomplished
by the Vajrayanists. When accomplished, you can see everything in Los Angeles
For the consequence of the whole system, we dont take the Hinayana or
Mahayana goal, but only the Full-Enlightenment of the Vajrayana. Thus the
time is shortened and it is not impossible to attain.
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