King of Samadhi Sutra
Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
Oral commentaries given in Rinpoche's monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal
Eric Schmid - Translator
Sutra teachings are not always clear. That is why the studying of the Treaties or Sastras, the commentaries of the words of the Buddha written by the realized past masters, is emphasized. Even more emphasis is placed on the oral instructions of one's guru, as in the dohas of the past realized beings. These are direct explanations on how and what to practice. The sutra is used in support to the oral instructions within the Mahamudra lineage.
This particular sutra, The King of Samadhi, was taught directly by the Buddha, after the great bodhisattva, Youthful Moonlight, requested this teaching. Youthful Moonlight reincarnated as Gampopa, one of the founders of the Kagyu lineage, so the teachings are continuous through to the present lineage. Gampopa gave the oral instructions on mahamudra to his students, they practiced in accordance with these instructions, their experience and their realization became perfected and the lineage continued in this way from teacher to student until today.
Rangjung Dorje, the Third Karmapa, included this sutra as well as other sutras, such as the Prajnaparamita and the Abhidharma and others, in the curriculum of study, within the Kagyu monasteries.
The first chapter is describing the setting in which these teachings were given, and how the bodhisattva promised he will continue to give this teaching to future generations. It starts with a question from the bodhisattva to the buddha. How to cultivate all the enlighten qualities? The Buddha replies, "If a bodhisattva possesses one quality, all the negative emotions will be removed." What is this quality? The King of Samadhi. The style of the teaching is to use extensive but clear words. In the last chapter (number 42 of this sutra) the Buddha answers all the three hundred or more questions.
The second chapter covers the past lives of the Buddha and how he received the vast teachings. We as practitioners within the mahamudra system must place great emphasis on cultivating devotion and strong trust in our personal teacher and all the masters of the lineage as the Buddha describes in this sutra, in order to develop devotion.
The Buddha explains in this chapter how he served his former masters with performing offerings and generosity and how he received the great teaching of samadhi. When we are engaged in the preliminary practices and especially the practice of Guru Yoga, these practices make it possible for the samadhi in our mind stream to be realized and strengthened. Also within the lineage chant, it makes mention that "devotion is the head of meditation, it is taught." Without strong faith and devotion it is not possible to progress in samadhi and mahamudra. In Lord Buddha's past lives he made vast offerings and with his devotion, he was able to open himself to his teachers. He was able to realize the nature of samadhi. Anyone can make these imaginary offerings, and by offering in this way, we are able to gather the same merit as the Lord Buddha did.
The third chapter is the praising of the qualities of the buddha and the practice in the training of samadhi. It is through the practice that we will achieve these same qualities as the buddha. It is important within the Kagyu tradition, in order to eliminate our own obscurations, to have strong faith and devotion with confidence in the teachings and the teachers. From the power and the truth of the teachings this will be experienced through deep trust and confidence. This teaching, the King of Samadhi Sutra, forms the background for the mahamudra practice. The depth of the overall meaning we can apply to our mahamudra practice.
Chapter four begins with the teaching in which the principal state of samadhi is taught. The bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight asked the Buddha, "What is samadhi?" And the Buddha gives a clear definition of what it is. Most teachings of the sutras are given in a way which can be understood through reasoning and deduction. Just like the mahamudra system, what is being taught is to realize the definite state of mind. The primary difference between the sutra approach and the approach of the vajrayana is that in the sutra approach, we take inferential reasoning as our path and in the vajrayana approach, we take direct experience as our path.
When looking inwardly what is this consciousness of the mind? When we do this we are unable to find anything. The mind is nothing other than this emptiness. We're working directly with our own mind, which is obviously, utterly empty, we have no need for any kind of analysis whatsoever because it is very easy to directly experience our own mind's inherent emptiness. In this sutra there are some words to describe this emptiness.
Next the wisdom or the Buddha Nature is taught. The basic nature of our mind is ever present and there are nine different examples use to describe this. One example which is used is the lump of gold located under the dwelling of a poor person. The person doesn't know its there and they continue to suffer until some other person points out to him that the gold is located below the house. What the Lord Buddha is teaching is that all beings have this basic nature and we don't recognize it until someone teaches this nature to us. The Buddha Nature is our basic state, which is covered with the obscurations, such as attachment and desire.
When the mind does possess true existence, the disturbing emotions seem to be non-existing or insubstantial. Look into the desire and it becomes naturally liberated, by doing this, the dullness is also cleared away.
When our state of mind is extroverted we are within one of the three states of ignorance. When within samadhi, the ignorance is cleared and this sutra is describing this. Within the state of samadhi you are not using intellectual mind, you are using the natural state to dispel the confusion. These are some of the qualities that the Buddha is describing when in samadhi.
Then the Buddha gave the advice, "I have now fully explained to you this principal state of excellence, samadhi. You should not just leave it here as heard and understood, this needs to be cultivated.
Rinpoche then talks about what Marpa taught Milarepa, "Buddhahood is in your hands, its up to you whether you practice or not." This concludes the teaching on chapter four.
The next section explains the meaning of samadhi in this sutra to be the same as the samadhi within the mahamudra system. The only difference is in how the instructions are given.
The fifth chapter is a story told by the Buddha, in one of his former lives, when he was a world ruler named Great Strength. He met with the Buddha called Melodious Splendor. He was able to gain a strong amount of faith and devotion for him, by making vast offerings. The Buddha, Melodious Splendor, gave teachings and from those teachings the Buddha understood the state of samadhi.
The main principal of this chapter is to engage in strong motivation, this is achieved in the Kagyu system by the performing the four preliminary practices. By taking refuge, we are assured of taking the proper path. Within this first preliminary is the bodhisattva vow. From our habitual lifetimes we have only been involved with benefit to oneself. We need to change this motivation and direct it to all beings. In order to do this we need to direct our minds to others. We, being students of the Buddhadharma, have received teachings and understand that others do not have a method on how to remove suffering, so we must try through our aspirations to help them.
The sixth chapter is on thoroughly training in samadhi which entails removing the obstacles. This is done by making vast amounts of offerings and then dedicating these offerings to the outcome of the merit to the full enlightenment. This will help to remove all of the obstacles hindering us, which were created in our previous lives. Within the preliminary practices the Vajrasattva (Dorje Sempa, Tib.) practice will enable us to thoroughly train in samadhi.
Chapter seven is on the necessity of patience. The Buddha talks about three types of patience. The first one is the patience of diligence for the results of the dharma practice, training in samadhi and receiving teaching. Extreme diligence is needed to attain greater stability in samadhi. The patience is enduring and undertaking hardships in the practice of samadhi and the other vajrayana practices like deity yoga, the generation and completion stages of practice. The third type of patience is the willingness to share and teach the Dharma with the motivation of helping others. We need to train in being harmed by others to strengthen our compassion toward them and reduce our passions. For this is the nature of samsaric existence. This concludes the seventh chapter.
(The chapter that demonstrates the insubstantiality of phenomena is the eighth chapter).
Previously, the Buddha taught substantiality, such as virtue and unvirtuous deeds to people whose minds would cling to things as concrete or permanent substantiality. Where do we find the teaching on the insubstantiality of all things? In the Prajnaparamita Sutra and the sixteen aspects of emptiness is where it was taught. Why did the buddha teach emptiness? He taught this to show that it is possible to abandon the cause of the disturbing emotions and the cause of suffering. It is possible to avoid suffering by realizing the insubstantiality of all phenomena. That is the reason the Buddha taught this subject.
Rinpoche then uses the example of the rope located in the grass in a poorly lit up area. The person gives rise to the rope being a snake. The person will panic and experience fear. If on the other hand we realize the rope is not a snake, the fear will vanish. By recognizing that all things have the nature of emptiness we are able to experience things as they truly are and the disturbing emotions will vanish .If we wish to awake to the unsurpassable state of complete enlightenment what should we do? We should become skilled in the wisdom that sees the insubstantiality of all things.
During that time the Lord Buddha was born as a bodhisattva called Great Compassion and he received the teaching of the insubstantiality of all things from the Buddha of that time named Arisen From The Insubstantiality. Because of the Buddha's great devotion he received the teachings and he attained a high state of realization. By using intelligent reasoning the great masters of the past such as Arya Nagarjuna came to understand the insubstantiality of phenomena, and we can also understand this through reasoning. It is important to use reasoning to become clear on how things are. There are two reasons for this, not to become swayed by others, and to have a clear conviction of it. Not just because the Buddha said this and the sutras mention this.
Rinpoche then talked about the analyzing of all things being dependent arising. He then pointed out two sticks of incense; one the short and the other longer, or the example of near or far. The principal also covers good and bad. These attributes are created in our minds. It's how we label things. When understanding this we realize that there is no point in being attached to them.
"Analyze identity of phenomena" is the next subject of Rinpoche's teaching. His example is the hand. For some reason our minds think that all things are of a single identity. These examples are called "taking deduction as the path, or taking inference as the path." It is possible to establish how things are through analyzing them. This is seen as the long path to arriving at true enlightenment.
When training in samadhi we need to view the mind that perceives that which feels happy or sad, to discover how it is. We can look directly at it. What color or shape does it have? Where is it located, inside our body or outside? If the mind is located inside the body, is it in the head or one of the outer extremities? We will come to discover that the nature of the mind doesn't possess any shape, color or location. This way of looking at the mind is different from the path of deduction. This is called direct perception of the mind. In order to convince our self that all things are empty; we use the path of deduction, analyze and come to the conclusion that all things are empty. But when it comes to personal experience, to understand we use direct perception. Milarepa attained enlightenment through the practice of mahamudra, direct perception or experience of one's mind.
The ninth chapter explains how, due to dependent origination, all manifestations unfold like a dream, even though they are empty of true existence.
The tenth chapter is entitled "Departing for the City." This chapter describes the bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight who makes a request to the Buddha to place the Buddha's hand on Youthful Moonlight's head. As soon as this happens Youthful Moonlight receives the realization of perfect understanding and great awareness. He receives the direct blessing of knowing the state of samadhi.
Through devotion and training, we too, can also receive great blessing from the realized beings and understand or improve our state of samadhi.
After having received these blessings from the Buddha, Youthful Moonlight gives the Buddha and Bodhisattvas an invitation to visit his home. In doing so Youthful Moonlight prepares his surroundings by cleaning and making the way beautiful, with decorations, for the arrival of the Buddha. The chapter also describes how Youthful Moonlight made offerings and showed great devotion in order to receive these teachings.
When we request teachings from a master we should think of our selves as a sick person and view the dharma as medicine for the cure of the illness. The Buddha said "Give rise to the teacher as a skillful person who is learned in the dharma. Keep the notion of the practice as steps to curing a sickness." We should show respect by decorating, cleaning and beautifying the surroundings to purify everything as a preparation for receiving teachings.
After Youthful Moonlight invited the Buddha, he offered verbal and mental praises, and asked, "How is it possible for an aspiring bodhisattva to proceed and develop qualities?" And the Buddha replied by saying, "A bodhisattva who possesses one single quality will quickly awaken to the true enlightenment." "What is this single quality?" asked Youthful Moonlight. "It is to understand the essence of all things," said the Buddha. What does this mean? It is the empty nature of phenomena. That all things are empty of any substantiality and identity, and all things are beyond words. We can not formulate by a name how things are.
This chapter is called Retaining the Sutra. It means to experience the meaning of which these words refer to.
The next chapter, the twelfth, is the chapter on wholly training in samadhi. The Buddha explains that if one engages wholeheartedly in the practice of samadhi one will receive qualities. Not from just talking about it but by actually applying the practice. Lip service to emptiness will not bring any progress, we need to train and apply the practice of samadhi.
The thirteenth chapter describes how samadhi actually is, and the Buddha explains, without conceptualizing and forming, how emptiness is. It is free from all extremes of mentally fabricated modes of existence and cannot be identified as this or that. It is unadulterated by any conceptual thoughts of the dharma, it is unsullied by conceptual worldly thoughts. Naturally abiding in the state as it is. If you maintain your mindfulness, the disturbing emotions will be unable to weaken your samadhi.
Chapter fourteen is titled Showing a Smile. The bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight gave rise to an extraordinary amount of faith and devotion within his mind, and proclaimed to the Buddha that in the future he would accomplish this teaching. And the Buddha showed his agreement with the prediction by showing a smile. A Buddha never smiles without a reason. So the bodhisattva Maitreya, who was in attendance, inquired of the Buddha, "Please explain the reason for your smile." And the Buddha explained that in the future all the bodhisattvas present would be able to accomplish this teaching.
The fifteenth chapter explains stating the reason for the smile.
The Buddha then explained how in past lives the bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight has received these teachings and served and followed other Buddhas. He gained the merit and with extraordinary effort he practice the state of samadhi. The Buddha also stated that within future lifetimes, Youthful Moonlight would become a great holder of pure conduct and at that time he will realize the nature of samadhi. He will spread and propagate these teachings to many followers who will greatly benefit beings. This was affirmed when the bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight reincarnated as Gampopa, the forefather of the Kagyu lineage, to insure the continuation of the direct teaching.
The sixteenth chapter is the chapter on former events, in which the Buddha describes how important it is for Youthful Moonlight to listen, retain, memorize and recite, for others, this sutra. To support this statement the Buddha narrated a story from a former life in which there was a teacher of the dharma called Blessed by Purity. During that period the Buddha was a prince called Lodro, which means extremely intelligent. He felt sick and there was nothing available to cure his illness. He was told to request teachings on The King of Samadhi Sutra, which he did. Upon hearing this sutra being explained to him, he experienced delight and felt great joy. He gained complete comprehension of the meaning explained in the sutra, and put it into practice in which he gradually recovered from his illness. Within the practice of mahamudra teachings we hear the statement to take sickness as the path to cure the illness. The story being explained supports that teaching.
At that time, the Buddha called Blessed by Purity, said to the prince named Extremely Intelligent. "In the future there will be a time when people are very crude and incorrigible with their behavior, and their attitudes will be filled with disturbing emotions, like strong aggression and strong attachment, when they do not have much diligence in applying the teachings. At that time you should not associate with such people and get carried away by that behavior, and give up their companionship and practice samadhi. If you do, you will attain enlightenment and will achieve it without great hardship."
Chapter seventeen is the chapter called "The Samadhi-Door of Numerous Buddhas." All this while the Buddha has remained in the house of Youthful Moonlight, and at this point the great bodhisattva Maitreya makes a mental request which is understood by the Buddha. Maitreya was wishing that the Buddha would go back to Vulture Peak Mountain, and using his mental power proceeds to decorate the way with flowers and jewels and a lion throne for the Buddha to sit on. He then takes his seat next to the Buddha, and after this the Buddha proceeds to the Vulture Peak Mountain. The entire mental offerings are manifested and after the Buddha takes his seat on the lion throne, the great bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight again presents the Buddha with questions. In the past he has asked how do we awaken to the full state of enlightenment? And the Buddha replied, "We need to cultivate and train in the King of Samadhi that fully reveals the equal nature of all things." But now, the bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight further asked, "If we train in the samadhi which qualities does he or she need to possess?" The Buddha mentions four qualities, and the first being; having a forbearing attitude or patience. To be able to bear difficulties, a bodhisattva must be pleasant to other people, even if other people are unkind to him. The second quality that gives rise to samadhi is discipline. That means to behave in a way that is pure, gentle, and not in disharmony with others, by maintaining a mind that is gentle and pleasant. Not getting into unpleasant states. The third cause that gives rise to samadhi is revulsion, not harboring a mind that is attached to a samsaric state. The fourth cause is the yearning to understand the Dharma, striving to gain comprehension and after having understood the Dharma, having a strong wish to share that with others. When explaining the Dharma, to do so with the pure attitude that is uncorruptible, without the desire of fame or material gain. Teaching the Dharma only out of the pure appreciation through learning and understanding true Dharma, so that other beings can be helped with their present situation.
Because understanding the means of liberation doesn't happen by itself. We do not comprehend the path of enlightenment from our own abilities. We need the knowledge and skill acquired within the Dharma. We should realize these four qualities give rise to samadhi and we should cultivate them. As human beings we are able to practice patience and discipline which are the necessary skills. In addition, among the four preliminary practices, we try to cultivate the idea of impermanence and this will point us toward diligence. In addition, cultivate cause and effect and the four mind changing subjects of the preliminaries.
In this chapter the Buddha describes the great purpose in training in the state of samadhi, which is likened to a great highway toward complete perfect enlightenment. Then he tells about the buddhas of the past who taught about samadhi, one called The Lord Intelligence, another called The Lord of Wisdom, and many others also mentioned.
Chapter eighteen explains when a bodhisattva retains and trains to become proficient and upholds, reads, transmits, and teaches this sutra, in vast ways he will achieve four great qualities. The first quality is called "the Merit Will Remain Unfathomable," and he who trains in this samadhi which is the gathering or accumulation of wisdom, will arrive at the first bumhi. The second quality is to be undaunted and indifferent from attack, not to be afraid of anything whatsoever. When disturbing emotions and conceptual knowledge have been eliminated then there is no doubt or hesitation left. Remain with the knowledge that the state of samadhi is without defect or incomplete, in this way one is utterly fearless. There are two types of fearlessness; the fearlessness in declaring the true path is the awakened bodhisattva. This is understood as the right path. The fearlessness of declaring what is an obstacle or hindering. It is possible that a practitioner might hear the wrong instructions, such as from a demon. So have the fearlessness as to not believe this information. The third quality is achieved by the bodhisattva when training in the state of samadhi. The wisdom will become boundless, increasing in immeasurable ways. When we train in samadhi, this is the wisdom that knows the nature of things as it is. This wisdom knows that within this space all conditioned phenomena take place. The other wisdom perceives that all-existing phenomenon is automatically realized. All the five wisdoms will unfold out of this training. The fourth of these qualities is that one's courage becomes boundless. The courage arises after truly experiencing the true realizing of the special state of samadhi. One is unafraid of taking the wrong path. There is this confidence that one will arrive at the unmistaken qualities to reach enlightenment. There is no longer any fear of going or leading others in the wrong direction.
The nineteenth chapter is titled, "The Inconceivable Qualities of the Buddhas." The Buddha continues in explaining to the bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight, what qualities a bodhisattva must train in to experience the qualities of a buddha. The Buddha then states, "A bodhisattva wishing to train in this samadhi must develop the strong yearning toward achieving these qualities of the awakening state within oneself, and by knowing that these qualities are the right path, in so, become skilled in acquiring how to achieve this enlightenment." In order to accomplish full awakening in supreme enlightenment, we need to fully develop the wish to attain enlightenment and to have faith and devotion in being able to achieve this. Don't harbor the attitude that we cannot or it doesn't matter if I reach enlightenment. That feeling comes from a feeling that buddhahood stems from another far away place. The state of buddhahood doesn't exist in another place, far away from this world. Once we remove the obscurations or negative states and purify and develop the perfect inherited positive qualities buddhahood is attainable. It is important to develop this yearning and devotion to reach the final attainment. After understand the reasons mentioned we should become skilled in understanding the qualities of buddhahood and develop the yearning and sincere interest in achieving it. And finally we should be unafraid and have no fear concerning the qualities of enlightenment.
How is this applied within the practice of Mahamudra? Within the preliminary practice of taking refuge, we take refuge in the result. When we develop these enlightened qualities, we ourselves become the ultimate object of refuge. Until we do so we haven't fully developed this quality. In the Uttara Tantra explanatory text by the bodhisattva Maitreya, only the buddha is the ultimate refuge. In order to achieve the ultimate state of buddhahood, we need to take refuge in the causes of achieving buddhahood, which are the buddha, dharma, and sangha. We should develop the notion that the buddha is the teacher, because only the fully awakened one, the buddha, can show us the path to that state. The Dharma realization of the Buddhas also cannot be transmitted directly to others. What this means is, that whoever has created karmic deeds will experience them in the future, and the Buddha cannot take them or make them go away. It is only through our own practice, that the negative deeds or actions can be removed. It is the same with enlightenment. What is necessary is that beings become liberated through the Buddha teaching the Dharma. We should develop the notion as the sangha, as being companions or friends on the path. Sometimes what happens, within practicing, we meet unfavorable conditions of both the external and internal type, that take the form in the following way. In the past we were more devoted and diligent and this has begun to diminish or become lesser and lesser. What is necessary is to associate with spiritual teachers or spiritual guides, who can help us overcome these obstacles which are inner unfavorable conditions of "weekend devotion." With the help of the spiritual teacher or friend we can overcome the obstacles to the path. In this way the noble sangha can be regarded as companions or helpers on the path. In the vajrayana system the buddha, dharma, and sangha are the objects of refuge.
In our present condition we are unable to meet the Buddha and receive teachings directly from him. We have the fortune to receive teachings from a spiritual guide and practice them. So we can receive these same teachings from our root master, and in this way we go to refuge within the vajrayana system.
The dharma teachings encompass 84,000 different teachings to suit the various needs of different people in order to help beings to effect a change which is required, to purify negative states of mind, and to overcome the unfavorable circumstances. This chapter continues in how we should develop the strong interest in the inconceivable qualities, and how it is necessary to persist in the attainment of these great inconceivable qualities. After the Buddha taught this, then the gods from the realm of desire appeared with a retinue of celestial musicians and offered music to the Buddha.
The next chapter, the twentieth, is titled, "The King Mighty Topper Victory Banner." In it, compassion is shown to be an indispensable quality for a bodhisattva and also how compassion is naturally present when remaining in the supreme samadhi state that is described in this sutra. And that compassion is a natural quality of the state of samadhi. When the great non-conceptual state of compassion arises within our stream of being, does that compassion somehow obscure that state of samadhi? It does not. The third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje stated, "In the moment of love, the empty essence dawns nakedly." When great compassion arises in the moment of non-conceptual wakefulness and we see how all sentient beings suffer, the very essence of this love and compassion we feel is emptiness. In this way, true samadhi is the nature in which emptiness and compassion are an indivisible unity. This concludes the chapter taught by the future Buddha, Mighty Topper Victory Banner.
It is important to pursue the practice of the dharma and more importantly while practicing samadhi to refrain from wrong behavior.
The Buddha begins to recount a story of a former life in which two bodhisattvas that keep pure conduct and, while residing in the forest, applied themselves in samadhi. One day while they were practicing in the jungle, in seclusion, the king from that region, who was hunting within the same forest, came upon the two bodhisattvas. The king gave rise to strong faith and devotion toward them and seeing this the bodhisattvas gave advice to the king by telling him that the time of this life gives out quickly and there is no time to waste oneself on evil deeds. Always be mindful and careful and give up evil deeds such as harming others. At first the king had great faith in the bodhisattvas and then he began to think, "Not one of the dharma practitioners or teachers within the city keep such pure behavior as the bodhisattvas in the forest." He then began to shown little or no respect toward the practitioners of the city by no longer honoring them or presenting them with gifts. As a result, the practitioners and teachers got jealous and they started to spread slander about the bodhisattvas, saying they were really not buddhists and that they were only pretending to be practicing, and they should be executed. The king, being fickle minded, had them executed. So, from this story, we should learn that one should not be deceptive with ones behavior and always act one hundred percent in accordance with the dharma.
The next chapter, the twenty-second chapter, defines the ordinary body. The Buddha says, "Do not be attached or too overly fond of this human body." Even though we have this human body, and although it is extraordinary like a precious jewel, by the means of this precious body we can make use of the body as a support to further the teaching of the dharma. In other words, employ it in order to be helpful toward others. There are stories of the Buddha when, in past lives, he was a prince and in which he sacrificed his body by offering it to a sick tiger, and in another life the Buddha gave away his head. Shantideva said, we should not sacrifice our life without having complete compassion and this is only achieved when, as aspiring bodhisattvas, we reach the eighth bhumi. So to sacrifice ones body without compassion being utterly pure doesn't hold any great merit, which can be achieved in another way.
One should apply oneself to the practice of the profound dharma and the extraordinary great state of samadhi. By proceeding in this way we can accomplish the perfect welfare of oneself and, based on that, in the future we will be able to help other beings. So it is better to use our body to help others rather than to sacrifice it, unless we have first attained the higher states. To be generous with ones body is to have embraced the dharma fully.
The next chapter, the twenty third, is entitled, "Defining the Body of the Tathagata." The Buddha explains that in order to give rise to samadhi, it is important to develop faith and devotion in the buddha, and when we think of the buddha, in the physical form of Sakyamuni Buddha, that is the most eminent support for giving rise to faith and devotion. Do not regard the Buddha as a form body, but regard him as the qualities of the Dharmakaya (truth body). Think of him as the body of the enlightened qualities of the Dharmakaya. The enlightened speech and body will bring about faith. By these qualities, rest upon the wisdom qualities the Dharmakaya. Do not regard the Tathagata as a form body.
The twenty-fourth chapter is entitled, "The Inconceivable Qualities of the Tathagata." As mentioned in the previous chapter, the qualities of the Buddha is the Dharmakaya, this means that we should not think of the Buddha as being composed of physical characteristics, but should consider him as the embodiment of Dharmakaya. These qualities are in the causing of realization and accomplishing the wisdom qualities of all the Buddhas; the Dharmakaya, the body of enlightened qualities. So now the Buddha begins to declare these four qualities, and how a bodhisattva who wishes to realize the Dharmakaya should apply oneself toward these four qualities, which are described as the four correct discriminations. The correct discrimination of dharmas, of meaning, of definitive words, and the right discrimination of courageous eloquence.
The first of these four is the correct discriminations of dharmas. The meaning of dharmas, in this context, is referring to all phenomena as noble entities that can be taken as an object of understanding. Here they are divided into among the five aggregates. The aggregate of form and to truly perceive and correctly cognise the true nature of the form.
Form is defined as any thing in our experience of this world that can be categorized as physical. Among the mental events, the primary one is sensations or feelings. After the mental event of correctly discerning or defining all the different attributes, is called perception or conception of one of the five skandhas. Truly or correctly understanding the nature of conception or perception is the third one of the correct discriminations of the aggregate of formation. Since the primary state of the mind is the act of cognizing, of the "consciousness," all the different types of cognition are together called the aggregate of consciousness. Correctly perceiving the true nature of cognition is called the "correct discrimination of consciousness." So in this way," the correct discrimination of dharmas" is to truly and correctly perceive the true nature of the five aggregates.
In this chapter the Buddha describes this principal under four aspects as the four ways of the bodhisattva. All the experiences in this world come about through the formation of objects perceived, and the mind that apprehends or perceives these objects and this forming is called "formation among the aggregates," and all these ways, beyond the grasp of understanding, are inconceivable. The first of the four principles, is the inconceivability of the number of different states of formations. From the second principle it is important to understand the formations of states of experience. It is necessary for the teachings to be expounded; therefore the second principle is the inconceivable ways of expounding the states of form. Unless we understand the nature of experience we cannot eliminate the causes and effects of samsaric existence, which are disturbing emotions and karmic deeds. If we truly know how to eliminate these causes, we can achieve the state of complete enlightenment, buddhahood. Which here is called Total Perfection. The explanation of formation is called "forming the expounding". Totality of affliction and total perfection all follow these principles. The second of the four correct discriminations is called the correct discrimination of meaning, and that means embracing both the condition as well as the unconditioned or dharmas and dharmata. The conditions of the relative truth and the correct discrimination of the conditioned or relative truth is to perceive truly the nature of all conditioned states of experience; but also perceiving the unconditioned state of dharmata which is ultimately true and to correctly perceive the nature of relative and the ultimate is what is called the correct discrimination of meaning. In order to fully comprehend dharmas (phenomena) and the meaning and to be able to explain that to others, we need to use words and names to be connected to the meaning to which they are meant to refer. This is called the correct discrimination of the definitive words. The fourth of the correct discriminations is the correct discrimination of courageous eloquence. This is referring to the mental states that lack error in which one can comprehend clearly and understand the unhidden meaning and have that courage when describing this to others.
The twenty-fifth chapter is the chapter on engaging in the correct discriminations. The first correct discrimination of dharmas is phenomena. Here the Buddha declares, "Do not seek enlightenment as something separate or apart from physical form. Do not pursue an alternate state of enlightenment apart from or separate from physical form. Do not regard the awakened state of enlightenment as being something other or apart from physical form."
This is what the Buddha taught in the Heart Sutra, called the Four-Fold Emptiness. "Form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form, the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness."
While being in the innate nature of emptiness there is still appearance, which is called form. Do not seek the awaking state without form is what the buddha is saying. This sutra is used as a background or a support for the practice of Mahamudra.
All of the previous chapters covered the teaching of samadhi and now the next three chapters the 26th, 27th, and 28th are more oriented to the conduct or behavior of a bodhisattva.
The Buddha says to Youthful Moonlight, "If you wish to train in a state of samadhi, you should regard all sentient beings as your own relatives, and consider the roots of virtue which are the causes of something to rejoice in."
The chief disturbing emotion of jealousy belongs under the state of attachment and arises with ones fondness or selfish desires for pleasure and happiness, and when it appears that other people are enjoying experiencing or getting abundance of happiness pleasure then one dislikes that. One thinks that what's most important is, I myself should be happy, not someone else. Also, when considering virtuous actions of thought, words or deeds created by other beings which will result in pleasure and happiness, when thinking of these, one will also feel like resentment. This jealousy needs to be given up and abandoned by a bodhisattva, practitioner, and a great master of the sons of the Victorious Ones. Shantideva said, "We should rejoice even in the virtuous actions of an ordinary being, someone who has not entered the path of a bodhisattva, but due to virtuous deeds done in past lives, experiences abiding happiness in the present, that is something to rejoice in." People who strive for happy states in this life and future lives are called people of inferior or lesser capacity. Higher than that are those who strive towards the elimination of the causes of further samsara and to achieve the state of liberation from all of samsaric existence. They do not possess the supreme attitude which embraces all sentient beings, which is aimed at liberating all sentient beings as well as oneself. Still such a person will lead toward a state of Ahat. This is also something to rejoice in as well. Higher than that is the path of the bodhisattva, the practitioner of the greater vehicle, the Mahayana. A bodhisattva has this attitude and does not believe in personal achievement of happiness, but has great motivation to rescue and protect all sentient beings from painful samsaric states. He has the attitude to establish them in liberation in complete enlightenment. Not only having the wish to do so, but in actuality to exert oneself in the great deeds of a bodhisattva and in practicing the six paramitas; and so forth, and in directly benefiting other beings, in protecting them from suffering. By doing so they journey along the path of a bodhisattva. The temporary states of achievement, from the first bhumi up to the joyousness of the tenth bhumi, of The Cloud of Dharma and the ultimate achievement of enlightenment, this is also something to rejoice in.
In all situations and at all times, we should train ourselves in rejoicing in the virtue of others; no matter on what level it is created. This helps us to progress in the state of samadhi, and help those who have yet to experience it, experience it. That is why the Buddha taught in the twenty-sixth chapter the importance of rejoicing. After rejoicing in the virtue of others we ourselves should apply ourselves to the practice of a bodhisattva and in the twenty-seventh chapter the Buddha teaches the benefits of training in the six paramitas. First, is stated the benefits of generosity, of which there are ten, and the Buddha begins to mention them. By trying to become generous, we can overcome the emotion of stinginess or miserliness, which are narrow states of mind, which need to be abandoned or left behind, by being generous we can cut through stinginess. Secondly, by training over and over again we will become accustomed to the generous frame of mind, we will be able to promote the attitude of giving in the future. Thirdly, the wealth shared by many people can be put to use in various ways. In our everyday lives we can see that the high level of progress can be used to harm others or it can be used in a positive way. So, with the motive of being generous, the bodhisattva can help in using the general shared wealth of human beings to put whatever prosperity to a good use.
The next quality, is the ripening of karmic effects. In the future the one who has grown familiar with the attitude of generosity and forms the habitual tendencies for that, will be born in a place where there is poverty, but that rebirth will be within a family who possess great wealth, and as soon as taking birth they will again accumulate the generous frame of mind. The next quality is, whoever moves among them, will always be highly appreciated and well liked by everyone. The next quality is wherever one moves or goes along, one will have no fear or intimation. Another quality is one will always be praised and hear words of respect and not criticize and ones feet and hands will be smooth as well as soft and level. The result of soft and level comes from the quality of a gentle state of mind of generosity, and also having steps that are very steady, firm on the ground. The last quality is that one will never be in want of meeting a qualified spiritual guide.
The next chapter, among the chapters on benefits, is the twenty-eighth. It is the chapter on discipline. It is primarily on the mental level, being mindful, conscientious and careful, and continuing in this training. Being able to progress in samadhi. Our physical actions of body and speech also need to be disciplined in order to help and support the mental process in samadhi. The Buddha here mentions the ten benefits of fully training in the Prajnaparamita of discipline. The first of these is that we will always be accompanied by wisdom, meaning the mental state of wakefulness will appear in our experience again and again, when we keep gentle and disciplined. Where, if we are headless, the state of wakefulness is forgotten and slips away. The second quality from discipline is; we will follow in the footsteps of all the buddhas, for the past buddhas practiced the six perfections before achieving buddhahood. The third quality is; we will not be disposed or criticized by masters and learned people, and they will feel what we do is of benefit. The next quality is, we will not sway from the pledge that we have taken. We will stick to what we have committed to by means of discipline. The next is, we will remain persevering. Next, that we will be untainted from samsaric states and achieve the qualities of nirvana. Next is that our state of mind will be free from hostility and we will achieve the state of samadhi. Fully and finally we will not be poor in qualities and in goodness. These are the ten qualities to train in thorough discipline.
Generally speaking the Buddha taught about discipline on the level that was best suited to the student so that the disciple was able to understand, knowing the different capabilities of beings. The Buddha taught the precepts for monastic as well as lay people. When taking precepts for lay practitioners there are five actions one must abstain from; sexual misconduct, killing, lying, stealing and from taking alcohol. This is referred to as a lay person observing all the five precepts. Taking the vow will result in great benefit. Rinpoche then tells a story about the benefit of a vow.
One of the buddha's disciples called Katyayana went to a village and was expounding the dharma, and there was a person in the village whose livelihood was slaughtering others, and Katyayana told him that he must take one of the precepts, and he replied, "How can I do that? I would like to but there is no way for me to be able to do it. I have to kill, it's my livelihood and without that I have no job." Katyayana responded, "Yes that is true, but there is still a way, you can kill sentient beings in the daytime, but do you also have to kill at night?" And the slaughter said,"No." So Katyayana said, "Take the vow, and form the resolve, that at nightfall you will not kill any beings." So the story goes that from just taking that vow the village slaughterer gained great benefit. In this way, being a lay follower of the Buddha, it is of great benefit to keep as much of the discipline as we are able to. In the training of samadhi meditation the results will be that much more with regard to stability within the practice. There is a great benefit in the precepts and observing them. There is extensive benefit from forming the resolve to refrain from killing others.
Take the example of a cat. If the cat takes a holiday and is sleeping, it is refraining from killing an animal. Does it gain any merit from that? No, it doesn't. It only gains by not accumulating more negative karma as the result of killing. Because as soon as it wakes up it is ready to kill again. Where as if one has taken the vow, the precept of not to kill, the imprint of that precept will remain in one's mind, and when the chance or opportunity comes up, one will not become involved in the negative action, therefore there is a vast difference.
The next chapter, the twenty-ninth, called "The Ten Benefits" defines the paramita of patience, diligence, concentration and meditation. When we train in being patient, we will not give rise to anger and the doors to the lower realms will be closed. We will have no enmity and can remain at peace, without fear of being harmed. These are the benefits of a bodhisattva who trains in patience.
There are ten benefits accompanying the paramita of diligence. We will not digress from the Dharma teaching of which we have heard. We will retain what we have learned and, with exertion, we will achieve the different concentrated states of samadhi. Following this, the Buddha explains the benefits of discriminating knowledge from learning and studying and that it is important to learn the words of the Buddha and to receive the oral or pith instructions from a qualified master. We can gain great benefits from detailed studying and here the Buddha mentions the ten benefits from detailed study. The first is there will be no faults with afflictive states of mind, or disturbing emotions. By understanding the teachings, we will be less agitated, we will not involve ourselves in feeling hostile toward others. By learning the details of the buddhadharma we will be able to clarify doubts and uncertainty and will be able to refrain from an unclear state of mind. Therefore we will not remain doubtful. Learning and studying will insure that our view, meaning, and orientation becomes straight forward, direct and we will avoid taking a wrong path. We will follow the excellent path toward enlightenment. Having listened to dharma teachings and understanding them to a certain degree, one should not just leave it at that. It is very important to share what one knows with others. A bodhisattva should aspire to teach others and, in knowing a little or a lot, one should be willing to teach other beings the dharma. There is great benefit from that both for oneself and for others. Here the Buddha primarily mentions the ten benefits for oneself, when the bodhisattva engages in expounding the dharma for other people. One will fully abandon unvirtuous activities. If we have studied to some extent and we are repeating what is right to others then automatically from the habit of that we will understand what is right and what is wrong and therefor avoid negative activities. Secondly, we will engage in activities that are virtuous. We will abide by the principals of sublime beings, which is only possible if we have studied and understood the dharma to some extent. By expounding the teachings to others, will help with the strength to be able to abide by the principals of noble beings, and we will be planting the seeds, purifying ourselves toward enlightenment. Teaching others will help us in achieving the supreme essence of enlightenment. Also to be able to be generous with material things, to cut through disturbing emotions, the kleshas, to be generous, to give to other sentient beings, giving them their share of the fortune of the dharma teachings. Train ourselves in the attitude of loving kindness and finally, being able to achieve a state of ease and well being within this life time. Those are the qualities that a bodhisattva achieves from being generous and from giving dharma teachings to others.
Following that, The Buddha describes the ten qualities resulting from practicing meditation. The first quality is establishing the view of emptiness, then training in the state of samadhi meditation. Since the entire sutra on The King of Samadhi is simply about this, then the qualities have already been explained and covered. After that the Buddha explains the ten benefits from remaining in seclusion. We will be able to remain with less negative activities, we will be less involved, we will involve ourselves in dharma activities. We will be free from adverse circumstances which could prevent us from practicing the dharma. We will be far from diversion, worldly bustle. We will remain free from strife because within seclusion, or a dharma community, there is no cause for being involved in division. We will be able to act in a way which is utterly peaceful and serene, and remain in maintaining the precepts and continuously cultivating a state which is conducive to liberation. These are the benefits from remaining in seclusion. This concludes the twenty-ninth chapter.
In the thirtieth chapter, called King Mound of Majestic Splendor, the Buddha relates a story of a past lifetime when he was a universal monarch. The story illustrates the necessity of abandoning an entire kingdom with all its riches and splendor and to pursue with the utmost diligence, as if ones hair was on fire, in the training of samadhi. And the reason is that a world ruler is merely a temporary condition of happiness. While the state of samadhi, is a direct cause for achieving permanent happiness. Practicing the Dharma, and especially training in samadhi, is more important than anything else. We can see by the example of Milarepa, how he trained with tremendous diligence. He undertook enormous hardship. Milarepa felt that Dharma practice was more important than food or clothing and did not want to waste his time and focused on practice with great diligence. We should understand these same principals, that no amount of luxuries or wealth, or the state of a world ruler, can compare with the importance of practicing the Dharma, especially the training in samadhi.
We must cultivate a deep-felt motivation, and understand the importance and preciousness of Dharma practice and in the training of samadhi. Sometimes we are unable to sustain our motivation and occasionally our resolve will weaken and our exertion dwindles. This is called a temporary lack of motivation. In this situation, we should reinstate our resolve, thinking. "Until the special state of samadhi has fully dawned within my stream of being, I will not let my diligence slacken."
In the thirty-first and thirty-second chapters called, " The Benefits" and "Defining the Nature of all Things," one focuses on the temporary benefits and on the ultimate benefits. These two subjects are similar to subjects covered in previous chapters, and so there is no need to go over them again. There is also a description of the defects from not training in samadhi.
The thirty-third chapter is called "The Benefits of Retaining the Sutra." The fully Awakened One, the Buddha, described clearly in the sutras how to support and bolster our faith and how to proceed in developing our understanding of the state of samadhi. More over the commentaries by accomplished masters elucidate the intent of the Buddha's words. All these teachings are extremely precious. In this context the Buddha explains that it is very important to listen to teachings on the Sutra system, to memorize their significance, to contemplate and retain their meaning, and try to fully understand them. Once we have completely comprehended their intent, we should thoroughly expound their content to others. This will bring great benefit in our own progress in samadhi, and benefits to others in their practice as well.
Once we acquire a complete and unmistaken comprehension of a particular teaching, the Buddha says that we should polish it further. This means we should penetrate to its essential meaning. Within this same chapter it describes the five undefiled or unconditioned aggregates.
The first of the five is the unconditioned aggregate of discipline, meaning the pure conduct of carrying pure deeds of body, speech, and mind, free from the defilements. This is the ground or basis upon which the other four unconditioned aggregates rest. The second unconditioned aggregate is samadhi. Unconditioned samadhi refers to a pure meditation state, and carried out in a totally pure way. Having abandoned all desire, anger, dullness, envy, and pride, we abide without all painful states. When possessing the aggregate of unconditioned concentration called samadhi, it is accompanied by the unconditioned aggregate of discriminating knowledge. "Pure discrimination," seeing the unconditioned state, the true nature of all things. This is called the wisdom that perceives the nature as it is. When the direct seeing of the nature of things as it is occurs, the knowledge that perceives the relative conditioned phenomena, whatever exists automatically takes place. These are the two types of wisdom within the unconditioned aggregate of discriminating knowledge that sees the actual condition of both the conditioned relative state and the unconditioned ultimate state exactly as they are.
When these two, the unconditioned aggregate of concentration and the unconditioned aggregate of discriminating knowledge, are present, there is total liberation. The disturbing emotions within our stream of mind are purified. The fifth of the five unconditioned aggregates is called the unconditioned aggregate of perceiving the totally liberated state of wisdom. This aggregate is not the result of training. It is spontaneously, originally present as the true, ultimate nature of things. By removing the obscurations and veils through concentration and discriminating knowledge, this original nature is revealed.
The King of Samadhi Sutra explains things from their ultimate standpoint. Discipline is seen as devoid of any concrete entity, originally pure and empty. Since it is empty of concrete existence, we should not hold it to be paramount. If we consider ourselves superior to others and hold the idea that we are pure and disciplined, this becomes a severe fault. In addition we should posses the unconditioned aggregate of concentration, or samadhi. We should do so without being pretentious, without thinking we possess qualities superior to others. Thirdly, we should possess the unconditioned aggregate of discriminating knowledge, without the notion that this knowledge in itself possesses a nature that is concrete or independent. The fourth is the aggregate of total liberation. While we should achieve this, do not think that this achievement has created something that was not already present. Understand that this freedom is not new, but has the nature of original freedom. The fifth unconditioned aggregate is seeing the originally liberated state directly and exactly as it is. Realizing the ultimate, true nature of things as it is. Seeing that this is naturally so, is itself the state of Mahamudra.
These five unconditioned aggregates are attained through fully retaining this sutra. We turn away from the five defiled aggregates of samsaric existence and realize the five unconditioned aggregates. This concludes the thirty-third chapter on the benefits of retaining the sutras.
The thirty-fourth chapter is called, "Blessed with Well-Being." The main point in this chapter is the value and necessity of making offerings. This story is about one of the Buddha's past lives, in which a buddha named " Blessed with Melodiousness," and shortly after the Buddha passed away, a king called " Melodious Splendor," built stupas and made immense offerings to his remains. At that time a young bodhisattva named " Blessed with Well-being" formed the resolve to attain supreme enlightenment. He offered one of his own hands as a lamp to the stupa. Now, we should not think that we literally have to sacrifice parts of our body in order to make offerings. What we should understand from this example is the value of making offerings. Such actions promote faith and devotion and based on this it is possible to realize and progress in the state of samadhi. There are immeasurable benefits from erecting, making offerings to and circumambulating stupas and images of the buddha. For other people, when they see people walking around the sacred object, the next generation somehow perpetuates this pattern; this will promote the Dharma to remain as a benefit for others. When we show respect and remember the virtue of enlightenment devotion arises, allowing for the authentic state of samadhi to take birth in us.
The thirty-fifth chapter, is entitled, "Endowed with Wisdom," and it emphasizes the act of dedication. The previous chapter explained the great value of making offerings and circumambulating in order to accumulated vast merit. This chapter describes the tremendous value of dedication. Four types of dedication are explained. The first type is to share our wealth and enjoyment by being generous, and to dedicate these acts of generosity towards the benefit of others. The second type of dedication is to dedicate the roots of virtue towards the benefit of others, before engaging in any form of virtuous activity. The next type is to dedicate the results of any future virtue we create to result in greater merit to be shared with all beings. The fourth way is the ultimate dedication, "Whatever root virtue I create I dedicate to the attainment of the state of complete enlightenment for the welfare of all beings." There is a strong need for and a great purpose in dedicating merit. The reason is that whenever we carry out a deed, we usually hold strong attachment to the fruit of our own labor, thinking that the result somehow belongs to us for our own enjoyment. In order to relinquish that selfishness and to abandon the rigid attachment to the notion of self and others, it is important to train ourselves in sharing and dedicating the positive outcome of whatever we do with all sentient beings, rather than just continuing on with our selfish attitude. By doing this we will greatly reduce the attachment and fixations we have on things as being solid and real, and this will diminish our selfishness and ego-clinging. Through this we will make much swifter progress on the path, realizing samadhi and increasing its stability. By dedicating the merit we train in being more altruistic and are focusing away from our own selfishness. By training like this we will at some point have the capacity to benefit other beings. Since all the virtuous roots are dedicated towards the complete and perfect state of enlightenment, the activity stemming from this will be for the welfare of others. Even while we are still on the path developing enlightened qualities, we are able to teach, to guide, promote and uphold the Dharma teachings, and thus help others. In this way, dedicating the merit of our deeds, the roots of virtue, will truly help others. Whatever form of practice we practice, it is essential to embrace our practice with the "Three Excellences." (1) The "Excellent Preparation of Bodhichitta," taking refuge and forming the resolve to attain enlightenment for the welfare of all beings. (2) The "Excellent Main Part Beyond Concepts." Whatever practice we engage in should be carried out while embracing it with the view of emptiness, without any attachment to the practice as being solid or real. And finally, by dedicating the roots of virtue, sharing the merit with all beings and making pure aspirations. (3) This is called the "Excellent Conclusion of Dedication."
The thirty-sixth chapter is called "Lovely Moonflower." This is the name of one of the past incarnations of the bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight. Lovely Moonflower engaged in the vast, immense actions of a bodhisattva. In the sutra, the Buddha makes a prediction how this same bodhisattva in a future life would be born under the name Dawo Shonnu, Youthful Moonlight, and would spread the flawless teachings on samadhi, and in doing so benefit innumerable beings. Youthful Moonlight was also one of Gampopa's names, and in his teachings on Mahamudra, Gampopa himself discloses that in a former life he was the one who requested the King of Samadhi Sutra from Buddha Shakymuni. This is the chapter that narrates how Gampopa formed the bodhisattva resolve for the first time. The chapter starts when Ananda, one of the Buddha's close disciples asks, "Why does a bodhisattva undergo great hardship in order to carry out the vast actions of a bodhisattva? How is he able to not stray away from his vow of Bodhichitta nor weaken his resolve to attain complete enlightenment?" The Buddha replied, "You already know the answer very well. You also know how in my past lives I underwent numerous trials and hardships and never damaged or degenerated the vow of a bodhisattva." The Buddha then gave an example, saying, "If someone's body has caught fire and he undergoes severe pain, how will he react to being told he should enjoy the five sense pleasures, such as beautiful forms, sweet sounding music, and lovely fragrances?
"Such a person will not be able to enjoy these sense pleasures in any way whatsoever. In the same way,
although a bodhisattva undertaking the vast conduct of the path to enlightenment encounters various
difficulties, such as obstacles, pain and all kinds of suffering, he or she perceives how all other sentient
beings suffer from being miserable in the six realms. He or she will not dwell on his or her pain and suffering.
In this way, the bodhisattva vow and the bodhisattva precepts are not damaged or degenerated."
The Buddha then begins to tell a story from a past aeon in which a buddha named Utterly Pure Precious Lotus Moon appeared in the world to turn the wheel of the sacred Dharma. After doing so he passed away. After a long time, the Buddhadharma was on the verge of vanishing completely because very few truly engaged in keeping the monastic vows, expounding the Dharma, and training in samadhi meditation. Yet there was one teacher named Lovely Moonlight, who propagated and proclaimed the pure state of samadhi. He had a few followers who practiced the teaching correctly in keeping the monastic discipline and training in samadhi meditation. The bodhisattva Lovely Moonlight remained with his disciples, practicing and teaching meditation in an utterly secluded forest. The forest was extremely beautiful, very peaceful and quiet, with lovely scenery. One day, the bodhisattva thought to himself, "We have very nice conditions for ourselves, but these precious teachings should bring great benefits to other beings, not just to us few in this place. We should go to the city and villages and even to the king's palace, and propagate the Dharma so it can benefit others as well." His retinue tried to dissuade him saying, "That's not a good idea. It will only invite obstacles and difficulties." The bodhisattva replied, "We should not merely keep in mind the goal of our own personal comfort, but instead, regardless of difficulties and obstacles, be willing to undertake such problems in order to bring benefit and welfare to other beings." Having made this resolve, the bodhisattva Lovely Moonlight set out for the villages, the city, and the king's palace, to teach the conduct of a bodhisattva. For six consecutive days he proclaimed the sacred Dharma and brought benefit to innumerable beings. In particular, he taught them the state of samadhi and how to train in meditation. On the seventh day, the bodhisattva gave teachings in the palace garden. The king named Blessed with Bravery was being carried around on a tour of the garden. He noticed that his queens, his sons, his ministers, and his officers, were all paying homage to someone who was teaching there. They were bowing down and making offerings. He became very jealous; thinking this person wants to usurp my throne. My queens and princes are bowing to him and are listening to what he is saying. He called the princes over and said, "Kill that man!" His sons refused this order. Now the king was overwhelmed with fear, thinking, "My own sons are no longer listening to me. I have no power anymore." The king finally found a fierce executioner who loved to kill. The king ordered the executioner to kill the Dharma teacher. The executioner was happy to carry out this command. He then proceeded in chopping off the arms, legs, and head of Lovely Moonlight, killing him. Seven days after that the king instead of being happy became very depressed. He took a walk in the garden and came upon the chopped-up corpse of the bodhisattva and surprisingly, the remains had not decomposed. The remains were fresh and radiant and possessed great beauty. The king felt a very strong guilt and experienced great remorse. He arranged for a proper cremation on a pyre of sandalwood. He erected a beautiful stupa for the remains. Because of this, the king, his queens, sons, ministers and countless subjects in that country developed total renunciation for mundane existence and great faith and devotion towards practicing samadhi and gaining liberation. This story illustrates how a bodhisattva does not consider his own safety. Seeing that there will be great benefit for others, he will even sacrifice his or her own life.
Chapter thirty-seven is entitled "Defining the Aggregate of Discipline," and covers the benefits of maintaining discipline and proper behavior. This topic was previously covered when explaining the benefits of the six paramitas of generosity, patience, discipline and so on.
The thirty-eight chapter is entitled, "Pleasant Light," describes the motivation with which we need to understand and practice the teachings and also in expounding the Buddhadharma to others. Our own motivation is important and we need to exert ourselves diligently. The bodhisattva who practices or teaches the Dharma should have a pure motivation that primarily aims at fully and utterly eradicating whatever prevents progress and realization within his own stream of being. We should motivate ourselves to remove and purify the disturbing emotions in our own stream of being. The second motivation is to wish to become a pure field of merit, aiming at finally and perfectly arriving at complete enlightenment. We should become a conduit, by which other beings can develop great merit and progress in their own practice. This can come about by progressing, in our own way, that we become an object of faith and devotion for others, a person from whom they can request pure teaching and guidance. The third motivation should be the yearning toward the wisdom of the Awakened Ones, the wisdom of seeing the nature of things as it is. And having achieved this wisdom, we use it to declare the unmistaken and complete path of enlightenment to other beings.
The thirty-ninth and final chapter describes the precepts of body, speech and mind. The commentary on this sutra treats these three aspects in three individual chapters becoming the thirty-ninth, fortieth, and forty-first chapters.
The first, the precept of body, refers to the vow of physical conduct. Here the Buddha teaches that by observing the precepts of body, the results will be the achievement of the perfect form of a buddha, adorned with the marks of excellence. Among all the details of body precepts, the principal ones are to abandon the three negative actions, killing, taking what is not given, and engaging in sexual misconduct. However, the question arises," Should any action that appears to be negative be avoided in all cases?" The answer is no. There are some circumstances in which a negative action of body, when carried out intelligently, for the sake of others and without any selfishness whatsoever directly benefits other beings.
A story from a past life of the Buddha illustrates this. It is the story about a shipload of five hundred merchants on a ship traveling from India to the islands off the coast laden with riches. Among the travelers was a murderer named "Spear-wielding Criminal" who intended to kill everyone aboard the ship to keep the riches. The bodhisattva "Prince Fortitude," who was the ship captain, knew about this intention and thought, "If I kill him first, I can save him from the negative karma, from killing five hundred people." So the bodhisattva killed the criminal. Instead of creating negative karma from this act, he accumulated a vast amount of merit. So this story illustrates that, by using discriminating knowledge and pure motivation, a negative action can become virtuous. If our motivation is utterly free from disturbing emotions, the action can be carried out if it relieves the suffering of others or benefits a vast number of beings. Having described the precepts of body, speech and mind, the Buddha then gives three hundred listed topics of instructions. According to some of the pith instructions, we should regard the aggregates as being like a mirage, the sense-base as being like magical illusions.
When the Transcendent Perfect Conqueror expounded these Dharma teachings defining samadhi that fully reveals the equal nature of all things, a countless number of sentient beings formed the resolve to attain unexcelled true and complete enlightenment, and countless numbers attained non-regression from the state of true and complete enlightenment. The Buddha said: "The sentient beings who will hear these Dharma teachings on entering great compassion will achieve excellence. After hearing this samadhi that fully reveals the equal nature of all things, whoever writes it down, memorizes, retains, and reads it, comprehends, and practices it through non-emotional training, does so repeatedly, and as well, teaches it widely to others, will become the object of giving of all sentient beings."
When the Transcendent Perfect Conqueror finished speaking, all in attendance, as well as the gods from this world and from the pure realms, rejoiced and praised the words.
This completes the teaching on the King of Samadhi Sutra, The Samadhi that Fully Reveals the Equal Nature of All Things, and Entering the Great Compassion. Let us conclude with dedicating the merit of my teaching the King of Samadhi Sutra, as well as your listening, studying, and practicing, toward the happiness and well being of all sentient beings.
Our heartfelt thanks to Anthony Modica for his well-intentioned efforts to
transcribe these teachings from audio tape for the benefit of fellow students.
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