The next step is that
you have to practice. We talk about all these teachings, but all seem without
embodiment, just a puff of air: How to really do it? That is why we now come
to the subject of practice. First, one must practice and develop Bodhicitta.
There are five kinds of Bodhicitta, as have already been written about in my
book How to Develop the Bodhicitta. In Tibet, China, and India the Bodhicitta
is usually considered to be of three kinds; the Bodhicitta of Will, the Bodhicitta
of Conduct, and the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance. The other two I myself
have connected with the Tantra: the Bodhicitta of Samadhi and the Bodhicitta
of Kunda--the White Bodhi and Red Bodhi. To really practice the Bodhicitta,
all five of these must be practiced with none left out.
The first one, Bodhicitta of Will has been well discussed in my book mentioned above, but although two editions and over 2,000 copies have been distributed, very few people have actually written down their own Bodhicitta wills. The Bodhicitta of Will means that you actually make a will to try to do this and do that; you must have such a will and make a vow to yourself to keep your purpose. Your wills should include how to save others. There are many, many good wills; many Bodhisattvas have passed and each Bodhisattva had his own vow. In my book I have given many examples. After you write your wills down, you must remember them daily and think: I have developed such a vow, now how can I make sure it is really carried out? You must not set it aside; if you do, then what's the use? You have to remember to act according to your vow.
The second Bodhicitta of Conduct is that you must continually carry out your Bodhicitta wills. If I vow that I will do this and that, but even in little things I do not want to help others, then the vow is of little use. If you have enough money, but you do not want to use it to do good; if you have enough to help others, but do not do so, what is the use that you have made a vow in writing? You have to really do it. If you have no money, you must continually try to help others in every way. This is the second Bodhicitta.
The third, the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance, is practiced through meditation. The significance of the Sunyata you have come to know in its real embodiment. This means that at first you just have a conception, but through meditation more and more the signification of the Sunyata will come to you in your meditation. Samadhi will happen and then the Sunyata is no longer just a concept or an idea but really both a powerful spiritual and a physical thing inside. In this way, through your meditation you can develop many kinds of super-natural powers. This Bodhi can really be accomplished by you.
From this, how can I help others? In the Bodhi of the Sunyata we are all the same entity, the same body. Just as when I take something to help a part of my body, all parts are also helped; so when we recognize that every sentient being is within the same truth and is within the same body of the Dharmakaya, if we pull a single hair out we feel pain and the whole body feels pain. This does not mean that only the hair itself has pain but the pain is felt throughout the whole body. Pain is not only pain in one's heart or pain in one's feet, but if any part of the body is in pain, the whole body will share it. The Dharmakaya includes every sentient being, that is why my good condition can influence you and your good condition can influence me, my pain you may share, your pain I may share. That is why we can help each other.
The Hinayana view is that everyone is separate from one another, each has his own Karma, as is said in Hinayana doctrine, "Your karma you must cure yourself; the Buddha is in Nirvana and cannot do anything for you." This kind of belief is Hinayana because it wants you to help yourself first and to emphasize the self. But actually in the Dharmakaya every sentient being is one body, there are no two Dharmakayas. There is only one Dharmakaya which includes every sentient being. Every sentient being suffers and that is why the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have great compassion because we are all one; while we are suffering they are suffering. That is why they develop so great a compassion. When you suffer they really share it. If you practice the Sunyata and the real embodiment of the Dharmakaya, then you can know the whole body of all sentient beings and can really help them.
The three Bodhicitta of Will, Conduct and Victorious Significance must be practiced first. Then the fourth, the Bodhicitta of Samadhi can be practiced. The Bodhicitta of Samadhi is two-fold. The Bodhicittas of Will, Conduct and Victorious Significance are all connected with mentality, with the mind, and never join with the elements and matter as does the Bodhicitta of Samadhi which connects both mind and matter.
In the Bodhicitta of Samadhi Practice you must visualize one's heart as a lotus and upon this there is a round moon which symbolizes the worldly bodhi. On the moon stands a vajra or dorje which symbolizes extra-mundane bodhi. The dorje has five spokes on top and five spokes on the bottom of its form; the upside five symbolize the five wisdoms, while downside are the five elements. In such a way mentality and materiality are brought together and practiced. Light shines out from this dorje and spreads throughout the whole universe which shares in this light.
Through this light all bad and evil things of sentient beings are transformed into light so that Buddha's light is able to save all sentient beings by these kinds of Bodhis. We emphasize light and emphasize the Samadhi Bodhi which is connected with the elements. The Universe is full of the elements which are also transformed into light. Because this Bodhicitta of Samadhi is connected and joined with all the elements of materiality and is not just in the realm of mentality, this Bodhicitta of Samadhi can very easily be manifested and can easily be used to help sentient beings. It is thus very important.
Even though this kind of Samadhi is joined with all the elements of matter, there is still among matter two important subtle principles, the passive and the active, represented by the red bodhi and the white bodhi. The Bodhicitta of Kunda utilizes this white bodhi and red bodhi which are the essential of the elements in the practice of Vajra Love. Through Vajra Love the red and white bodhi help each other meet and mix the Wisdom of the Dakini with the Buddha's Great Compassion. Great Compassion is from the white bodhi and Deep Wisdom is from the red bodhi; when both are perfectly blended together, the Bodhicitta of Kunda can function perfectly. A sentient being is not only consciousness but also matter; not just common matter but also the essential of the white and red bodhi. In this way the Bodhicitta of Kunda is perfectly practiced. For details you may see my book.
Don't think, "Oh, someday I will study and practice this; I have no need to hurry because I already have the teaching in the book." For every two hundred books given away, perhaps one person actually tries to begin the practice. If you are not forced to spend money, you do not think it is a very valuable book. If you cannot recognize the theory, how can you practice it. To practice means you must recognize it, meditate upon it, and visualize it; this is practice.
Conduct refers to what
you perform in society. One of my booklets entitled Mahayana Silas mentions
the Bodhisattva vows. These concern how a Bodhisattva should practice in society
and in the nation. I have translated forty-nine of them very simply below:
1. One should not teach the profound doctrine of the Mahayana to someone who has not sufficient wisdom to recognize it.
2. One should not discourage others from striving for Mahayana and encourage them to aim at Hinayana.
3. One should not give up the pratimoksha and learn Mahayana only.
4. One should not disparage the Hinayana and over-encourage others to learn Mahayana only.
5. One should not preach Mahayana to one's disciples for the sake of getting many offerings, saying that one's preaching is better than others.
6. One should not preach sutra and Dharani and say that such profound doctrines are gotten from oneself and not from others.
7. One should worship, praise and believe in the Three Jewels more or less daily.
8. One should not allow the mind to follow fame and money.
9. One should show respect for virtuous seniors.
10. One should accept the invitation of a believer.
11. One should accept a lawful precious offering if offered in faith.
12. One should expound the Dharma to someone desirous of hearing it (even if they desire with an evil motive).
13. One should not leave evil-doers or anyone breaking his sila without benefitting them.
14. One should exert oneself to protect others and let them develop faith if they have any.
15. One should not be slack with regard to the welfare of others or to refuse to accept extra monastic requisites from them even when they are happy to give them.
16. One should be prepared to transcend, out of compassion for others, the seven kinds of vinaya rules.
17. One should not gain anything by wrong livelihood or false fatalism (drsti-jivitendriya)
18. One should not be restless (auddhatya).
19. One should not think that one should not like Hinayana Nirvana and dislike Samsara as Hinayanists do, but should actually practice the right Dharma to lead oneself to transcend the Nirvana of Hinayana into that of Mahayana.
20. One should take steps to put an end to slander about oneself either in fact or nonfact.
21. It is a sin not to check evil doers out of fear of incurring their displeasure.
22. One should not return abuse, strike or strife.
23. One should pacify those who doubt one and become angry.
24. One should excuse those who have offended one and asked for forgiveness.
25. One should not continually indulge in angry thoughts about others.
26. One should not with lust have disciples for personal aggrandizement.
27. One should dispel laziness and over-sleeping.
28. One should not waste time in idle talk.
29. One should search after the method or technique of Samadhi.
30. One should destroy the five hindrances at the time of their appearance.
31. One should not become attached to the experience of Samadhi.
Comment: Someone may like only to practice Samadhi so they always keep Samadhi and do not help others. This is not what a Bodhisattva should do. Every day such a one should practice this vinaya to the right degree. If the person is too attached to the experience of Samadhi then he will not do anything to help others and will be lacking in the Great Compassion. This is why this vow forbids such practice.
32. One should not disparage the Hinayana.
Comment: If you learn too much Hinayana this is not so good; if you do not take care to learn some Hinayana, this is also not so good. Both are mentioned.
33. One should not, while capable of practicing the Bodhisattva idea, abandon it to follow the Hinayana.
Comment: There is no contradiction between these last two. You must first practice Hinayana to attain the Mahayana position of Bodhisattva. Once you achieve the Mahayana, you should not give up Hinayana. The Mahayana person must still keep impermanence, still keep renunciation. Even if you keep in touch with many persons to save them, you still must keep renunciation for yourself. This is why if any day is without three times of meditation, the person did not keep the Bodhisattva vow.
34. One should not abandon the study of the Dharma and devote oneself to the study of the works of the Tirthikas (outsiders).
Comment: This means that you should not only devote yourself to the study of the Dharma but should also learn a little worldly knowledge. Because a Bodhisattva has to teach others, he has to know also about worldly knowledge. Two thirds of your daily study should be on the Dharma, and one third on worldly knowledge.
35. One should not take delight in studying the works of the Tirthikas (outsiders), if not for the purpose of debate.
36. One must have faith in the profound truth and the supernatural power of the Mahayana.
37. One should urge oneself to believe in the secret and profound Dharma which is difficult to believe in.
38. One should not abuse and disparage a preacher of the Dharma and pay attention only to the letter and not to the spirit of what he says.
39. One should help those in need of money or of any kind of help.
40. One should not neglect the sick.
41. One should exhort evil-doers, warning them that in both this and the next life they will have to experience the results of their actions.
42. One should return a good deed to the benefactors.
43. One should remove suffering and console those who are unhappy.
44. One should give to those who are desirous of livelihood.
45. One should work for one's circle of disciples.
46. One should adjust oneself to others in doing religious work, taking their feelings into consideration.
47. One should praise the good qualities of others.
48. One should take suitable action against those inimical to the Dharma.
49. One should terrify the enemies of the Dharma by means of supernatural powers.
These vows are not so difficult to practice but must be always continued and held even after death. There are many kinds of vinaya such as the five precepts, namely, no killing, no lying, no adultery, no stealing, no taking in of intoxicants, and also the 250 silas of the Bhikshu and those of Bhiksuhni all of which can be stopped at death; when one dies there is no duty to continue them. But the Bodhisattva vows must be continued even after you die because they are mostly vows of the mind. There is no physical body after death so the vows connected with the physical body can be stopped, but the vows connected with the mind must be continued. If you have a Bodhisattva mind, even after death when you come to the ghost or Bardo state, you must still keep your vows. That is why the Bodhisattva vows seem very easy to practice but they must continually be kept.
You must read one by one the vows that you have accepted every week or every month and reflect upon whether you have kept it or have broken it.
Another part of Conduct is to practice the Six Paramitas which many books have mentioned: give alms, keep vinaya, have patience, diligence, keep samatha, and keep the wisdom. These all are conducts also connected with all sentient beings.
We have talked about the two categories of practice and conduct. Practice means to practice alone, in your Samadhi, with your vows, but Conduct is the performance of conduct which is connected with others. This is not practice alone but practice connected with others, whether you work in a hospital or in an office, or you do something for the nation. All your actions you must examine to see whether you have acted according to your vow or not.
IV. The Result
The next topic is the
Result or Consequence of becoming a Bodhisattva and refers to the Buddha. The
Buddha as we have already said has another name of "Two Noble Feet";
one is the Great Compassion and one is Deep Wisdom. If through your meditation
you can perfectly attain these two branches, then this is the Buddha, this is
Nirvana. The Hinayana says that when Buddha is in Nirvana he can do nothing
for us, but we should know the Buddha is not like this. Actually the Buddha's
Nirvana is called "No-Abiding Nirvana." He does not abide in the Nirvana
as the Nirvana is naturally there; there is no door to keep it or
You must always do everything aimed at this final result. This means today I give incense, offer food to the image and just pray, "Please help me and all sentient beings get very close to the full enlightenment, and help me attain all the degrees of the Bodhisattva, all the degrees of the Ten Bhumis very easily, aiming at the Buddhahood." If you do every good merit, as sending fish free or precious vases to the Dragon King not for worldly purposes only but for the attainment of full enlightenment, for the Buddhahood, and have as your aim how to get it, gathering more and more merit, then Nirvana will be closer and closer to you.
Nirvana does not mean that you have supernatural powers, that you can fly to the sky or can call something out from the heavens, this is not really the Nirvana. The Nirvana has four conditions: One is Permanence. We always talk about impermanence but Nirvana is permanent because it is connected with the Truth. The Truth has no ending, no beginning; the truth is, was, and will be, it has no end; that is why we have the Tantra of No-Death. So Nirvana is permanent. The second condition is Happiness. This is a happiness without pain. Much worldly happiness is connected with pain, but the Nirvanic happiness is without pain. This happiness is not so rough but very sweet, very tranquil. The third condition is the Personality of the Holy Dharmakaya. The Holy Dharmakaya is Buddha's personality. Don't think Buddha is empty, for Buddha has his holy personality, without ego. The fourth condition is Purity; Nirvana is very pure, very naturally pure without worldly things. These are the four conditions of the Nirvana of Buddhahood.
To reach this result, I repeat that what is very important is to have the good motive not for sex, not for wine, not for worldliness or money or reputation, not for fame, but just for oneself to be awake and to have the ability to help others to be awakened. This is most important. Always examine oneself.