HE OVERCAME ALL ILLS AND SUFFERING"
that all five skandhas are void, thereby transcending all suffering.
Of suffering there are two kinds: 1. The suffering of birth and
death of allotment, 2. The suffering of birth and death of mortal
changes. All ills and defilements mean suffering. According to the
interpretation of the teachings, when it is fully understood that
all five skandhas are empty five fundamental conditions of passions
and delusion are severed and two kinds of birth and death are over.
What are the five fundamental conditions of passions and delusions?
They are: 1) wrong view, very common in the Triloka (three realms);
2) clinging, or attachment in the realm of desire; 3) clinging or
attachment in the realm of form; 4) clinging or attachment in the
formless realm (mundane); 5) the state of un-enlightenment or ignorance
in the Triloka, held to be the source of all the distress -generating
delusions. The five fundamental conditions of passions and delusions
depend on the five skandhas for their existence and when the skandhas
are found to be empty the five fundamental conditions of passions
and delusion vanish. Everyone is equipped with five skandhas, and
those uninstructed in BuddhaDharma cannot eradicate the five fundamental
conditions of passions and delusions because they are unaware that
these are originated by, and dwell in the mind. Such being the case,
sentient beings have no other choice but to endure suffering in
the present and turn in the cyclic pattern of existence until they
recognize the cause of their suffering and enter the path to enlightenment.
What are the
wrong views common in the Triloka? To see the object; to be confused
by the object and to give rise to greed as the result of that confusion
is the root of defilement. Let us suppose that someone who meets
some wealthy, influential, high--ranking official and from that
is given to envy, greed and jealousy. It is of no use, he/she cannot
obtain what he/she wants. Greed becomes entrenched in the mind and
as such is very difficult to extirpate. Defilements of this kind
are most common. Those unexpectedly promoted and prosperous, those
in humble circumstances or those destitute, those who enjoy long
life and those who die young, even the smart and the dull ones,
all are in that situation because of cause and effect. Good causes
in previous life will produce good effects in the present. Good
causes in the present will produce favorable effects in the future.
The law of cause and effect is all-pervasive, excluding nothing
and no one. The practice of this Dharma and the understanding of
obstinate void sever eighty-eight wrong views in the three realms
and lead to the attainment of the first fruit of the path, i.e.,
What is meant
by attachment in the realm of desire? To recognize greed as objectionable
and to relinquish it is expedient and noble: Not to see the object,
not to give rise to clinging and not to be moved by outside things
leads to great liberation. Poverty, wealth, success and failure
can all be endured. The next rebirth will be in the heavenly realm
of desire and when his/her blessings run out in that realm, he/she
will be reborn a human. That cycle will be repeated four times and
then the second fruit and the path will be attained, that of Once
Returner. One more rebirth is required to attain the third fruit
(Non Returner), which means the end of all delusion in the realm
of desire. With the cessation of all desires at all levels in all
three realms, the fourth path and fruit is attained, i.e. that of
the Arhat, or saint. In the realm of desire, six layers are generated
by the worldlings' giving in to the attractions of the senses.
the realm of form: Those who freed themselves from wrong views and
clinging, but still hold on to the analysis of the theory of voidness
will be reborn in the realm of form (rupa loka), which includes
eighteen layers of heaven. These are divided into four dhyanas according
to the depth of absorption: Each dhyana dissolves nine kinds of
illusory thought, which means that thirty-six illusory thoughts
are brought to a halt by the four dhyanas. If the one reborn in
the realm of form still has a form-body, it would not be that of
a woman: Those reborn in that realm have the form-body of a man.
It is also called the Brahma sphere because the beings there have
renounced sense desires and delight in meditation and dhyanic bliss.
For that reason we speak of attachment in the realm of form. The
beings in that realm have all necessities of existence attended
to without any effort. The realm of form is beyond the reach of
ordinary people with mundane concerns.
in these realms is of four kinds: Solid nourishment, especially
of the palatable variety; fragrant nourishment; the nourishment
of delight in dhyana; the nourishment of delight in Dharma. The
first kind, or the solid nourishment, is the same as what people
eat every day: It is the manner of humans in the six realms of desires.
The second kind, the fragrant nourishment, sustains devas (heaven-dwellers)
and ghosts. The nourishment of delight in dhyana and Dharma is for
those in formless realm.
the formless realm: When wrong view with its concomitant grasping
no longer contaminates the realm of desire and the realm of form,
rebirth in the formless realm follows. That sphere is free from
form (body); there is only the knowing consciousness and, therefore,
we speak of clinging to the formless realm. Denizens of that realm
are no longer preoccupied with matter or material. The Dhyanas and
the Dharma are their repast and their bliss.
realm is divided into attainment in meditation on the void; attainment
in meditation on consciousness; attainment in meditation on nothingness;
and attainment leading to a state of neither perception nor non-perception.
Consider for a moment the difference between Dharma talk offered
by an Arhat, as compared with that given by someone of lower attainment.
The attachment to formless realm still manifests.
are noticeable when the two traditions, namely the Theravada and
the Mahayana, are viewed in juxtaposition. Why? Because meditation
according to the Theravada does not single out wisdom, yet the five
fundamental conditions of passions and delusions require the practice
of both activity and principle and equate meditation with wisdom;
it is not comparable to the realm of form and the formless realm.
Even the third stage of liberation according to Theravada, i.e.
the Non Returner, does not imply liberation from the three realms.
The state of
ignorance in the Triloka: Ignorance and delusory views still predominate,
as countless as the atoms in the universe, although beings in that
realm have relinquished some part of both. Their understanding as
to action and principle is far from clear and therefore they cannot
stop the conversion of their thoughts into the cycle of birth and
death, although they were released from the four states or conditions
found in mortality. The Arahat who completed the fourth and the
highest stage, attaining the fruit and the path is, likewise, liberated
from these four. Worldlings cannot escape the two kinds of birth
and death no matter how long their earthly existence might last.
Reborn in the formless realm, they still have birth and death, even
after eighty-four thousand kalpas. That is a very long time.
sutra teaches that a very, very long time ago, people lived eighty-four
thousand years, but the life span gradually decreased, shortened
by greed, hatred and delusion, and the process continues at a steadily
accelerated pace. Thoughts of the past or future tend to make people
uneasy or jittery. According to the T'ien T'ai method of counting
kalpas, the life span of eighty-four thousand years is taken as
the basis; it is reduced by one year a century till the life span
has reached ten years, at which point the counting is reversed and
years are added, one at a time, up to eighty-four thousand. Such
full cycle is called small kalpa. Twenty of those produce one middle
kalpa and four middle kalpas are called the great kalpa. Several
different systems of calculating the kalpa exist, depending on the
cosmology used as the point of departure. The heavenly existence
in the realm of form is eighty-four thousand great kalpas long,
yet these beings must die in the end if they do not understand the
Buddha's teaching and do not practice accordingly. They may be reborn
in any circumstances and may suffer a great deal, depending on whether
their causes were good or evil; it is quite reliable.
explanation dealt with the five fundamental conditions of passions
and delusions. We understand presently that neither the heaven-dwellers,
nor the worldlings can escape the suffering in the wheel of birth
and death unless they terminate the five fundamental conditions
of passions and delusions. There is, however, more happiness in
heaven than in the world. To end the two kinds of birth and death
and the five fundamental conditions of passions and delusions one
must make the great vow to attain enlightenment; to be able to do
that one must study and practice Buddhadharma. The passage we just
concluded was related to the two kinds of birth and death and the
five fundamental conditions of passions and illusions as dependent
on the five skandhas, namely form, feelings, perceptions, volitions
and consciousness. At the time of his attainment of the radiant
wisdom, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara conquered all ills and suffering
by means of apprehending beyond any doubt that all five skandhas
are devoid of independent existence.