How to Be the Universal in Buddhist Sense


The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

I was very delighted to hear your good ideas about being Universal, this means not sectarian or for any individual purpose but for all sentient beings. So, I would like to talk on this subject--How to be Universal. Under this subject please allow me to talk about the definition of the Universe or Cosmos. Many years back I have written a book called "Discriminations Between Buddhist and Hindu Tantras." In this book there is a chapter dealing with the Universe. We may ask, "What is the Universe?" The problem is--what is the real Universe, how wide is it, and how many worlds does it contain? You know, when one views anything, the main source of his own view is the most important. This subjective view of the Universe varies from scholar to scholar, religion to religion, and person to person. Consider a young baby: before he can talk he just looks all around at his surroundings. A baby lives in his small cradle and thinks that the few feet that surround him is the Universe. The baby grows up and when about 2 or 3 years old, still a small child, he sometimes plays under a table, or as in China, under a bed. His Universe is then not more than a table or a bed. After he grows up and goes to school, he learns that the Universe includes at least all that is under the sky. So his subjective idea, his perception of the Universe grows bigger than when he was a young child at home, or as a baby in his mother's arms. When he studies geography he comes to know of many countries, rivers, and mountains and so his idea of the Universe expands but not more than the geography books that he studies. Gradually he may become a scientist and uses not only his naked eyes but a telescope and he can see many different stars and planets in the sky and so his Universe is further enlarged. As his knowledge of science increases, the Universe expands, just as before Columbus no one in Europe even knew about the existence of America. Science presumes it has a map including everything, but when I was in Tibet I found that there were many places for planting opium which were not on the map. Planting opium is illegal, this means it is a kind of crime, forbidden by the government, so it is planted on spots off the map. People go to those places very often, but scientists have never been there. You think science is reliable, but I found many places which had no name on the map. I have dealt with many aspects of this in my books, so today we will not talk about this.

Let us return to religion on defining the Universe. Every religion claims: "My God is omnipresent." According to the meaning of omnipresent, every and all space is included, this means the real Universe. According to the scriptures, a Christian can imagine the place of heaven as so high, and the Book of Revelations in the Bible spoke of such gems, flowers, such pillars, so wide and so high; from this we can find the Christian heaven, but above and beyond the Christian's knowledge, beyond what he ever dreamed of, is there still some more space, is there still more real Universe? Yes, there is. In other religions we can find information about a higher, wider heaven. People say, "I go to heaven through the help of my God." For Christians, this is through Jesus's help. But what is the heaven's height and breadth and area? Is it higher than the heaven of Brahmins, and is the Hindu heaven higher than the Taoist heaven? Which is higher, which is really the most inclusive Universe, how many miles up is it? You cannot say, but if you just take all the scriptures of every religion and make a comparative study, you will find that the heavens are of three kinds. One kind is the heaven of desires. In this heaven, beings still have desires for food, sex, kisses, and embraces, but there is no fleshly intercourse, no man-woman intercourse in this first kind of heaven. They may embrace and kiss but they never have the same desire as the human body, for man and animals have the reproductive organ which is not found in this heaven. This is never written about in Christian scriptures, for Christians never say, "Our Mary may be in heaven and mated to Joseph." What exactly is a marriage in heaven is not mentioned in Christianity, but in the scriptures of other religions it is said that in heaven there is love because it is a heaven of desires. Being loved just with a kiss and embrace, not with reproductive organs; this every religion agrees about. In this kind of heaven of desire there is God, and male and female angles. Whatever a religious scripture has mentioned, the conception of the scripture is limited by imagination about the heaven. Some religions, like Hinduism and Brahmanism, do not emphasize just "Love thy neighbor," and do not emphasize only prayer and faith, but these religions have something special beyond all the conditions of God, family, and angels, and this is Meditation. They emphasize mediation and not only after death but in this lifetime, in the human body, in the human world on this earth; a person can, through his meditation, find the Universe wider, newer and purer, without sex, without food, without any material things, but by just having some consciousness, some meditative light and meditative joy. Yet, still his body may have a little form and he also can see some form of God, and Angels. He is not disturbed by them, but just keeps his meditation and by this practice he rises a little higher and achieves the heaven of forms. No desire, but Form. Above the heaven of desire is the meditative person who even though renounces desires, still has some form.

As a person in the heaven of forms meditates and his meditation becomes more profound, more subtle, and more refined, he becomes just light, no form. This is called the heaven of no-form. And so the area of the Universe becomes enlarged again from form to no-form and becomes much wider and more encompassing. So, through all this, from a baby till the God of the heaven of desires, onto the God of Hinduism, and then to the highest God of Samadhi. The last heaven indicates that the teaching included meditation, the self also meditated, and has deserved the highest universe, which is that of no-form. So from babyhood to Godhood your conception of the Universe continually alters; no matter what the objective is, everything must be conceived of, must first come into your consciousness, then you can imagine it, and that determines your idea of the Universe. As this idea changes, so does the sphere of the universe; as the scope of one's conception becomes more profound so does the objective Universe become more enlarged. All that I have said is that you are never rid of your own ideas. This is because you have your own idea and think of that as the objective Universe, so that the Universe's real state, real area, real face, you can never comprehend. This is true even of a God, because a God has a God's idea. In Buddhism, Buddha achieved this High-Self of Godhood and this high-self was just light in Samadhi, and this light was even wider than the sky but Buddha himself was not satisfied. Why? Because Buddha reflected: "Oh, I still have a high-self, I conceive the Universe with my idea. It may be mixed with subjective ideas, so I may never get the real objective view of the Universe." He just wanted to release all of his ideas, release what was blocking him from the Truth. He found that this high-self is the final obstacle to approaching the real Universe. He still had a subjective view: to make the Universe appear by itself, without any subjective idea. He knew that to find the real Truth he would have to lose his subjective perception of his idea of the Universe. Finally, he reached Full Enlightenment and full recognition and fully lost himself in the non-self; from that moment the objective and subjective harmonized in oneness. There was no longer a Buddha to recognize the Universe itself. When the Buddha lost himself, then the Universe appeared beside him, that means he himself is the Universe, and the Universe is himself and this is non-self. For in non-self the Universe occupies the whole thing. Because the Universe occupies the whole thing, your non-self also occupies it; so there is no objective, no subjective. This is really the Truth. So after Buddha really saw the Universe, he taught what was never taught before either by Brahma or Jehovah. All this talk is contained within his Tripitaka Scriptures: all about the Universe, how the whole universe appeared, the size of the entire Universe, the ten dharmadhatus of the universe. Buddha knows everything, the principal and the small things, for he really touched and harmonized with the omnipresent.

To be omnipresent you must have lost yourself completely, then the omnipresent itself appears. Wherever a little self, a little seed exists, the real Universe will not appear. So Buddha found that as one loses the Universe and regains the self from high-self again, all the desires increase and become low-self. We are not just talking about why or how to find it in theory, for Buddha has talked about his experience and how to achieve it. The final part of our talk will be on how to realize the Universe yourself. Everybody occupies the omnipresent, everyone is within it and is omnipresent, but how to realize it and obtain it? There are some good methods to get it which are not mentioned in other religious scriptures. I want to talk a little more about this problem because I appreciate your ideas and hope you yourself can really touch the Universe and really do something for and attain the Universe. So most important is how, there is no need to talk about what it is.

First of all, we know that the main obstacle to the Universe is the self, either low or high-self. Buddha achieved enlightenment and it can be stated from the negative side that he found the four faults of the Universe, that means the four kinds of selfishness. He always said we cannot obtain the Universe because we have the self. Because we have self we have selfishness; because we have selfishness we increase our desires; because we pursue the objects of our desires we gain more and more desires. As we have more and more desires, we become agitated and violent and then we fall into the lower states of animal, ghost, and hell. Better reduce violence and get a peaceful mind and then we can get the Asura state and reach heaven. But still we have self so we are always apart from the Universe. Man first holds as himself his personality of the self, his egoism. I love myself and pursue the desire to possess objects and then have self pride, and so the four kinds of selfishness are mentioned as: selfish worries, selfish love, selfish pursuit, and selfish pride. Positively Buddha attained Full Enlightenment and obtained the Universe. The Universe is Full Enlightenment. The Universe is occupied by every sentient being. Buddha found that Hell is the Universe, ghosts are the Universe, God is the Universe. He found that the six realms of the self all have Full Enlightenment and have experienced the Universe as well as he has. When he attained the Universe he knew quite well that the Universe occupies all six realms, everywhere, every sentient being. On the positive side, he found that Buddha nature is in every sentient being. On the negative side, he found that a person who does not know his own Universe harms himself because he has his self as an obstacle to it. So Buddha was silent for seven days. He thought, "Why need I teach, they have the same enlightenment as I have; it is all the same." But the four heavenly kings begged and implored him three times, "They don't know themselves, please get up from your Samadhi and help them. Gradually help them reduce their selves till they can obtain the whole entity of non-self. So please, please get up and turn your Dharma wheel." So, that is why after seven days Buddha got up and turned the Dharma wheel from Hinayana to Mahayana, and then to Vajrayana. There are many, many ways, 48,000 methods, to get Full Enlightenment, but in one word, it is to destroy your self and become one with the Universe. There is no other purpose or aim, no other Full Enlightenment.

But our ego has been formed through many kalpas, through many periods, and many habits are gathered together in the so-called consciousness or "alaya." This alaya (the eighth consciousness, the mind) was first admired by man, and man loved this alaya of himself, then he delighted in the alaya of himself, and at last enjoyed the alaya of himself. In this way he tangled himself in transmigrations.

There are methods in Hinayana to reduce your desires, all desires, even sleep is a kind of desire; you must reduce sleep, reduce food, reduce all these lovely things, then gradually you think of the body's impermanence. Don't hold the self as living in the body so that your body is loved too much. But emphasize impermanence of the body and of life. Actually, to lose the desires is just like uncovering a gold mine underneath the earth. First remove the mud and then again remove the second layer of mud and then the third and fourth.

One has three very important things to follow. First is the vinaya or commandments. He must establish which are the five commandments which follow God. Second, there is Meditation and third, Wisdom. These are called the three knowledge: Knowledge of Vinaya, Knowledge of Dhyana, and Knowledge of Prajna. That means commandments, meditation, and wisdom. All these are just aimed at destroying the self and reaching the Universe. There is a proverb which says, when you can destroy one inch of the self, then you can attain one inch of the creative Universe. This means, there is nothing to separate you and the Universe; but something is covering your eyes. You must first remove all this selfish view, this view of self. When one inch of light comes, then you can see one inch of the Universe. When all selfish views are removed, then the Universe will appear everywhere. It will not come newly to you, it is just with you, but you just covered yourself with your self.

The first of many kinds of Vinaya in Hinayana Buddhism follows God's do's and don'ts. Of the Ten Commandments, the first five concern God himself and the next five are found in every religion: don't kill, don't commit adultery, etc. These five precepts are the same in every school and are called the fundamental commandments. The Buddhists have settled upon additional rules: the Bhikkhu has 250 and the Bhikkhuni has more than 250. This is in Hinayana Buddhism. Nevertheless, these only forbid you to do bad but do not encourage you to do good. So we come to Mahayana which has 48 commandments to guide you to do good for others. In Mahayana the Bodhisattvas have for a long time, for many, many kalpas given of themselves; whatever you want, he will give you. You want his eye, he will give his eye; you want his head, he will cut off his head to give it to you, for he knows he can get another birth. He does such great things. In the biographies of the great Bodhisattvas we read with tears of such things. Why does he want to lose himself, give up himself, destroy himself?--to be closer to the Universe. He does this not by talking or shouting very loudly and beautifully, but by cutting out wrong action, doing everything to help others, to destroy his self and his selfish habits. He does everything to help others. He feels that until the six realms and every sentient being is saved, he cannot remain harmonized with the Universe.

Every Buddha always said, we must save every sentient being, and then we can attain Full Enlightenment. Otherwise you might think, you yourself did not ascend so why has that one ascended before me? The Bodhisattva does something to help others but actually the person himself has his own karma, so he must do something to help himself. The Bodhisattva can save whomever has some karmic connection with him. Not every sentient being can have connection with a certain Buddha. Each Buddha has some special sentient beings connected with him whom he saves; hence, many Buddhas have saved many persons but not everyone, completely. Why? How can that Buddha get attainment when every Buddha has said that he must save every sentient being before he will get full attainment, but so many beings remain unsaved? It is because the sentient beings who have connection with a Buddha are really saved; while persons who have no connections with a Buddha are left in the area of transmigration. When the Buddha himself attained the Universe he saw that really the Universe is also unsaved persons', with that mind, with that Buddha nature. In this way we say Buddha had Full Enlightenment. He saw that all the Buddhas, all the sentient beings have already been saved, but he saw this while in his Samadhi when he saw your Buddha nature, and this Buddha nature is one with the Universe. After he got up from his Samadhi, he saw that you have your condition, he has his condition, so the conditional state is the Truth, hence someone is still left unsaved until and unless that person himself follows this doctrine and practices it and gets the same attainment. It is not contradictory--this theory and practice.

There are two stages. In the first stage the Buddha gets Full Enlightenment in the samadhi. At this stage, the Buddha really sees every sentient being is saved, that every sentient being is the same in the universal vessel, every sentient being is in Full Enlightenment. This is called the Fundamental Samadhi. There is a later Samadhi, which means when Buddha gets up from the Samadhi seat and sees everything's condition, not in the Samadhi of Nature but in the Samadhi of Condition. This is the second state. Each person has his own idea, his own Karma, therefore some are saved and some are not saved. Buddha teaches his doctrine to let every sentient being know how to get the Universe. If you follow this path to Samadhi, you can get it. Some people with good conditions are connected with the Buddha himself, because of their past life, so the karmic connection is close and they are saved. Some are very remote, very far and apart from this condition.

We always talk of the Truth--the Truth of Nature and the Truth of Condition. The Truth of Nature is found in the Samadhi and the Truth of Condition is that each has his own condition. When we say condition this means that we are out of the samadhi of Full Enlightenment, out of the non-form. Condition is in the world of Form, and each has his own condition. For example, you sleep, you sleep quietly. This is the nature of sleeping. But you get some dream; this is the nature of the dream condition.

A Bodhisattva is taught many doctrines of the Vinaya, how to lose himself and save others. So the Vinaya of Mahayana is also very important to learn. There are many things in it about how to do good. The Vinaya of Hinayana emphasizes how to get rid of wrong doings, but the Mahayana practices positively how to do good. In Hinayana you must reduce desires, then you will not be selfish. If you have desires, then you have selfishness; and there is much talk on this fundamental question. In religions other than Buddhism there is an idea similar to that of Hinayana. Jesus never asked people to increase their desires, or to make themselves comfortable at home. I think if Jesus knew of the YMCA he would drive them away. There is a story in the Bible: when Jesus came to Jerusalem he saw all the businesses selling beautiful things in the temple and he drove them away. Personally Jesus gave us his good example. Did he not reduce his desires and say that even daily bread does not come without prayer? He said, I have no place to lie my body. He did all these things, like Hinayana and his particular teaching is renunciation. St Francis also spoke of renunciation and reducing one's desires, not increasing them. Vajrayana is based upon the Hinayana which is based upon reduction of desire. In this way, you can get the real good desire, the desire of Vajra love, and many other lovely things can be done but not in the usual way, not in the common way.

In Mahayana, you must love all sentient beings and sacrifice your own desires; once you are rid of your desires, then you will be a Buddhist. That is why when Buddha came to a girl, the girl said, "Please, I like you. If you will have sexual intercourse with me, I will take refuge from you." At first Buddha refused and then later he said, "First I must make her believe in me and then I will go back and sleep with that girl and make the intercourse painful." He transformed his penis into a sword and it cut her vagina. She said, stop, stop, I have had enough, I will take refuge in you. Such endurance is the Bodhisattva habit. All Bodhisattvas have this. He may say, if you believe me, I will give you money. In China there is a monk called Pu Kuan Fashey who always kept money to give to children. He went to a village and said, say Amitabha and I will give you a penny. Everyday he did this. Once he brought some sugar water in a big jar and put it on the mountain, he asked the ants to take the water and repeat Amitabha as he really heard that ants can repeat Amitabha.

The Bodhisattva has many ways to satisfy the desires of others and reduce his own desires. Buddha did not altogether say you must not desire, for if you say like this you will be apart from Buddhism. He just said that a Buddhist must give up his desires as a Bodhisattva just gives up his money, his land and everything to accent his faith, to accent his acception of Buddhism.

In Mahayana there is also another Vinaya or commandment. You may have sexual intercourse, a wife, and money to do something for the Dharma; you may have everything but you should follow a certain technique or method.

According to the Vinaya of Vajrayana you must take good care of your body, not like in Mahayana where one sometimes victimizes one's body and may even kill it. There is in Vajrayana another method to kill the body called "Chod." In "Tibetan chanting" you visualize the body as if it has been killed and give the flesh, the heart, and everything to the ghosts. This is a different method to kill the self, kill the body, but still have the physical body to practice the Vajrayana method and to achieve something in this lifetime.

Observing the Vinaya is one method and another method of achieving the Universe is the development of the Bodhicitta. Instead of love for oneself, you must have love for others. Because you love others you just indirectly love the Universe. Because the Universe includes everything, it includes yourself. So if one person is left without your love, this means that one part of the universe is not with you. The Universe includes every sentient being and you must develop Bodhicitta to do something to help all sentient being and this means to help every part of the Universe. So, if one being is not within your Bodhicitta, that means you will not get one part of the Universe. Actually the Universe is there and is in everybody so you have to have Bodhicitta and love everybody, if one person you harm, that means one part of the Universe you lack.

There are methods to develop the Bodhicitta as is mentioned in my book, "How to Develop the Bodhicitta." You must first have the Bodhicitta of Will, the Bodhicitta of Conduct, then have the Bodhicitta of Verification of the Truth. The Universe then has the Bodhicitta of Same Entity, has the Bodhicitta of Kunda. This is the second method.

The third method is by Meditation. Through meditation you will find out in what ways you yourself harm the Universe, how you make yourself apart from the Universe. There are the first through the nine steps of concentration to control your mind. The words "Mind" and "Universe" are used as different labels, but actually the nature of mind permeates everywhere, just like the Universe. Whatever area the Universe occupies, your mind can pervade there. So first through concentration, control your mind and then use your mind to think of the Universe. Whenever you care for your own selfish desires, you lose the Universe.

There are many kinds of meditations as the Mahamudra, the so-called Brightness Entity, with four yogas in practice. All just ask you to lose all the conceptions connect with your selfishness and to let your mind completely empty itself of selfish ideas; then the Universe itself will appear in your meditation. So the highest meditation of the Mahamudra and the Great Perfection just wants you to abide in the Universe. Nowadays, there is much talk about meditation, but this seems to mean just sitting quietly. There is no emphasis on quality of meditation, but just the duration of sitting. It is false talk which speaks of reflection on your meditation whether it is really on the Universe. You should be able to meditate through many kinds of worldly activity, without personality, so that the whole world, the Universe and all sentient beings appear through your Samadhi of meditation. Think of the sentient beings and have Bodhicitta on sentient beings and widely open your mind, expand your non-ego until you have meditation with the whole universe of sentient beings; then the Universe will appear before you; appear by itself. This is meditation. This is very scientific, not only psychological or physical. Through meditation you purify your desire and enlarge your mind and train your brightness and develop the great compassion until every sentient being is connected so that Full Enlightenment will be there. This is meditation.

There are other methods also. The fourth method is through Wisdom, the method of Vajrayana. Vajrayana is a method based on both the wisdom of materiality and the wisdom of mentality which become identified in the oneness of non-dualism. In the Vajrayana method you must first of all purify your idea of the human body. Buddha said, you yourself have a Buddha body, so if your body is a Buddha, then your surrounding is the Universe. Just like a rich person rents a rich house, and a poor person rents a poor house, a very wise person occupies the Universe. Because his body is the Buddha body, sublimated from the human body, his surroundings are the Universe, sublimated from the earth. This is the first initiation of the Buddha body. Don't think of your human body, don't think of yourself as a man or woman. Think of a holy being with a Buddha body, a complete body. Then, as you have the Bodhicitta you always want to save all sentient beings, the Buddha is able to do it and you can sent your light to all sentient beings.

There are many rituals to train you in how to save sentient beings. It is not only by talk or by developing welfare but by every day thinking of these sentient beings with tears and trying to save them and really do something for them, like Buddha. Whenever the great compassion connects with every sentient being, the mind and state connects with the whole Universe. If you only love your wife or husband or child, you cannot love the Universe. You have to follow the ritual and establish Great Compassion through the visualization of the ritual. Think of every sentient being you have saved, and by this way the Universe will appear to you. Your mind, your actions, and your breathing are connected. When you practice deep breathing, the second initiation, think of this breathing as from the Universe of the Buddha and send all this Universal wisdom breathing to the sentient beings in transmigration, so that the whole ten Dharmadhatus of the Universe are connected. So why can you not attain it?

There are many wisdom methods, as Vajra love. The third initiation connects not only half the Universe of one sex, but both sexes are connected and are harmonized; this is the true value of the Vajra love practice. Buddha has taught about his attainments in the Sunyata, the final wisdom, through the Mahamudra, the Great Perfection and the Ch'an. If you practice all these tantra you might get the attainment of the Universal. Thank you.

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