The Shortest Path to Sunyata, Part II
By the Buddhist Yogi C. M. Che
In the first part of this talk we discussed four parables relevant to four methods of obtaining realization of Sunyata. We then described in detail the first method which is found in the Idealist School, also called the Yogacarya, or Vijnaptimatravada, which talks about Form. In this section we talk about the School of Nature, also called the Prajna Paramita School, or the Three Sastras School, or the School of the Middle Way. Among the ten schools in China there is a School called the Three Sastras School. The first of the three Sastras, "The Sastra of the Middle Path" is written by Nagarjuna. The third one is by his disciple and called the "One Hundred Stanzas Sastra." All these three Sastras deal with the Dharma Nature, the Sunyata itself.
For their method, our parable is : "The undertaking of two things simultaneously for a similar purpose." There is a story about this in China about Dr. Chang Tsao. He is a Buddhist and also an artist. When he draws pine trees, he uses two pens. One pen draws a fresh branch and the other pen draws a weathered branch at the same time. The second parable is taken from this story.
I have already talked about this Idealist School of Form and this section talks about the School of Nature. It seems that these schools are opposite to each other but actually the Form School seems to incline to Form, and the School of Nature emphasizes that both Form and Nature should exist at the same time and so it is free from a one-sided view. The Form School emphasizes Form and so always professes only Idealism. So even according to its own name it falls into a one-sided view. The School of Nature while it emphasizes nature and appears just opposite to the Form School, actually it propounds not just a one-sided view of nature but also at the same time it talks of Form. So this school is more perfect and more emphasized by many sages of Buddhist scholars. Because even though it talks about nature it also talks about form. In one's argument it always takes care of two sides and doesn't follow only one side and so it is a very skillful argument.
The Three Sastras School method we say is like two pens drawing one picture at the same time because its argument always takes care of two sides. It never follows only the side of Nature. On the side of Nature there surely is no existence. But on the Dharma of Form there is still existence. So the Three Sastras School talks about all these things and always brings these two things together. That is why it is two pens drawing one picture. This method is more skillful, even though these two schools are occupied almost equally.
The Gelugpa School takes refuge to the Gautama Buddha with a picture which arranges one Bodhisattva of Manjusri to show the School of Nature and one Bodhisattva of Maitreya to show the School of Form. Maitreya will be a Buddha. He is next after Sakyamuni. But Manjusri has already been the teacher of Buddhas before Sakyamuni. It is said that he is the old teacher of the ancient seven generations of the Buddhas. So Manjusri is a Buddha of olden times--not of Sakyamuni's time. Each perfect Buddha is the leader of this Universe before destruction so within the Sakyamuni Buddha's time Maitreya and Manjusri both are Bodhisattvas and not Buddhas. Manjusri was a Buddha and Maitreya will come as a Buddha but now they are Bodhisattvas. When a Gelugpa Lama takes refuge he always sees Sakyamuni in the middle with Manjusri as the Prince of Sakyamuni on the right and Maitreya on the left.
Maitreya talks mostly about the Yogacarya. The Yogacarya is a Sastra of the Idealist School. Their practice does not follow the five steps which I have already described but they just repeat Maitreya's name in order to get their next rebirth with the perfect Buddha of Maitreya and at that time they may get Buddhahood. Hsuan Tsang belongs to the school of the first section. He himself and his disciples did not practice the five steps but they just prayed for Maitreya Buddha and got rebirth there. He is in the heaven. That is why nobody followed the five steps.
Now we talk about the School of Nature and about Manjusri. Tibet emphasizes this school as the right view of Nagarjuna so every student just repeats Manjusri's incantation "OM AH RAH PA TSA NA DHI." Without repeating "OM AH RAH PA TSA NA DHI," you can't start to learn anything.
Of these two schools one talks more of the Dharma Form, the other talks more of the Nature. That is why they have such names which seem against each other. After Buddha died, the Bodhisattva Manjusri also died. It was already foretold by Buddha that there would be a Maha-Bodhisattva who was also an ancient Buddha who would come in place of him to talk about the Mahayana, about the Sunyata. This person was Nagarjuna. But another Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, also a great Bodhisattva, just learned the School of Form and he flew to Maitreya's heaven at night and came down to talk about his Sastra to his disciples in the day time. After Buddha died, two very learned sages came to hold these two schools. We cannot say any one school is good and another is bad--both have just to make a whole system of Buddhism very perfectly.
We have already finished describing the first section and we want to talk about this second section's practice--what its methods are. Its method of the "two pens drawing one picture" is better than that of "breaking the cocoon to take the silk out".
We may say that the banana tree is only one--just like a cocoon. The leaves embrace each other all the way through. Suppose we want to cut the banana tree with one knife--it can be cut down. But there are two ways to go. Some say "the knife may slip away and cannot cut it down" because the tree is smooth and if you cut, the knife force slips away. This is very dangerous. So it is better to carefully take one leaf off at a time, one by one, and take another one off, and another, till all are taken off--this method is very reliable and very safe. If you want to cut the tree with one knife it may just slip away because the tree is so smooth.
For the next method of this section, you must be a very good artist, then you can do it. Otherwise it is still better to do it the other way of one by one--removing the leaves from the banana tree one by one till you cut it. So for the School of Form there is such a good method to proceed very carefully and very reliably and though slowly, very safely. For this you want two sides, first one side, then another side--actually it is not simultaneously. But we must first introduce what way to take.
Nagarjuna did not just set up the method. Buddha himself said many of these things. In the Diamond Sutra we find many such sentences with the same formula: "If I say I am Buddha, then I am not Buddha but my name is Buddha." One is negative, one is positive, and one is harmonized. Actually Buddha himself has made this method itself and that is why according to the Diamond Sutra you find many of this kind of formula--if you say Arhat then you are not Arhat, but your name is Arhat--all this formula you can say. That means one negative and one positive and again concord with the harmonization.
When I was young I read the Diamond Sutra. I was maybe 12 or 13 years old. I had already learned some Geometry where they talk about circles and locus. When they talked about circles, they said that the perimeter was made up of many locus points, and to make the circle you would have to just connect the points--and if one were to connect each point, from one side to the other, intersecting the center point, the straight lines would all be the same length. When I read the Diamond Sutra I just said, "This is just like Geometry--one point says "I am Buddha", the other says "I am not Buddha"--one is the east of the circle, one is the west of the circle, but when you draw the line between any of the points intersecting the center, the lines are the same length. That means that any opposite points can be harmonized by intersection with the center point. The circle itself means a harmonization and the points themselves are opposite to each other and the circle is the harmonization. That is why every distance is the same. So at that time, I was just comprehending about this, "Oh, everything in the phenomena--there are many, many things opposite to each other but if you can draw a straight line between two points of opposite you can harmonize them." About this we can also use the simile of a crystal ball: round, spherical--from this point to that point, all is transparent. You can see through to the other side. Altogether it is a harmonization. There is no difference, so if you only hold this part and speak of the opposite point and from that point speak of the opposite points, you soon find it is the same thing.
By this way, you will know all the opposite points in the whole universe. They can be harmonized through this circle, through this ball .... if you have the comprehension of the ball. Whenever something is sad, something is glad--sad or glad, each stands on one side and is opposite to each other. It is all the same thing. It is still one ball, if you do not hold only one point but just hold the whole of the ball.
Know the philosophy of the truth of the ball--and then you can harmonize it. You will never find something opposite. I had already comprehended about this but at that time I was just in college to learn some science and knowledge and I was more diligently interested in that than in Buddhism because at that time my teachers and father said I must get good grades and so forth--so I left this and did not continue to direct my interests and I did not have a Buddhist guru. I just read about it through books. This method of the two sides, the first side negative, the second side positive and again to make the two harmonize as the method of the circle--it impressed itself in my brain so deeply.
That is why in the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra they also say there is no being and no non-being, no purity and no impurity, no increasing, no reducing. Even before Nagarjuna, Buddha always talked about this. And I have already given an example from the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra.
Now we talk about the real ways of practice. In Nagarjuna's Sastra there is a very learned profound method called Four Sentences which are:
1) All Dharma is not born by itself
Nagarjuna said: If you want to know Sunyata, you practice Sunyata and you have to know how to think of it, to meditate on it.
1) All Dharma is not born by itself: For example, let's speak of a machine. That is not born by itself. Why? Because before it was made up like it is, it had no mother and if it had no mother, it was born by itself; but it is not born by itself. You cannot see where, at what point, it gets out. If it were born like Buddha, born from its mother, Maha-Maya would be its mother--but this has no mother. So, it was not born by itself.
2) Also it is not born from others: Nor was it born from others whether or not there is some cause to make it born. We got this from some shop. We just bought it and the shop person did not produce it from his body or with his semen or his wife's, nor is it born by itself or by the master of the factory or from any thing else.
3) It is neither born: If it cannot (not; added by Y. Lin) produce itself by itself and if the factory man cannot (not; added by Y. Lin) make it be born, then the self cannot and others cannot make it (make it; added by Y. Lin) be born. If this is so, both cannot make it (make it; added by Y. Lin) be born because it has no seed and the others also have no seed. Both have no seeds, so how can they make it (make it; added by Y. Lin) be born. It's just like mathematics: you add zero to zero, you only get zero. Nothing can be born from zero.
4) Nor without condition: This means that conditions must be met to produce the machine. First we must have plastic, many workers, plans of how to put it together, it all takes a long time. With all these conditions gathered, it is made. Neither the plastic itself has the seeds nor can the scientist who made the plan and design make it be born alone. All the workers together cannot produce it by themselves alone, but after all the conditions are met, it is produced. So, among all these conditions themselves, no condition can be a self. That is why they have no self or seeds but still have a useful purpose.
The first three are negative and the last one is positive to bring them all together. Either it is full of something or full of nothing. That is why it takes the middle way out. Actually, these four sentences are from the first two. One pair of born and not born, destruction and non-destruction make the first pair. From the first part comes the four sentences. That is the only method where we can find out that one is negative, one is positive. We must bring the negative and positive together and harmonize them.
Suppose we say "No," and then say another "No." In English, two "No's" mean Yes! An odd number of "No's" is negative and an even number of "No's" is positive. After these four come the eight negatives. So I feel all the scholars of this school, being not all so skilled in argument as Nagarjuna, just call it negative. Actually it is not only negative. The foundation has two sides. One negative and one positive. After bringing them together, they harmonize. Just as when a man's penis enters into the woman's vagina, they are harmonized. It must stand up. It must be received inside. Then they are harmonized.
That is why Love has such a philosophy. In a conversation, one must talk while the other listens. Also with electricity, with only one negative there is no light--the positive and negative must be put together and then you have light. Likewise there are many things like this. The sun gives light but the moon does not--it just reflects the sun and appears to shine light. If the sun and moon both had light, there would be no day and night. So everything has bad or good, dark or light, or some opposite sides to bring together and just harmonize each other. They are not against each other, they harmonize with one another.
Taking good and bad--we must be good, we must not be bad. These seem the opposite. But if you are good, you hold good and also hold bad, you cannot get the Sunyata. Because in the Sunyata good is Sunyata, also bad is Sunyata. Good and bad harmonize and that is why bad things can be made up. For example, gold dust is considered good, dirt may be considered bad--but if you put either kind of dust in your eye, you will have the same trouble. So if you want real Sunyata, you do not hold good and bad. You know from good you have bad, from bad you also have good. Take love for example: with Vajra Love you can become Buddha--with worldly love you can go to hell.
Earthly pride can make you too heavy, but Buddha pride can make you a Buddha. There are two yogas: "Grow-up Yoga" and "Perfect Yoga." The "Grow-up Yoga" is practiced by a man who becomes Buddha and he must have Buddha's pride. That means he knows he is a Buddha and he knows he must help all beings. This kind of pride is good but for man's pride to think that he is rich or worthy of esteem, this creates rebirth only in the heaven. Even if he does something good, he can get no higher than the heaven realm. He cannot be a Buddha. So in the bad, there is a way to be good; in the good, there is a way to be bad. Many Buddhists actually just sell the Dharma. They just do something evil. Many evil persons still do something to help others. There is no certainty. Good can be bad, bad can be good. You must find the bad in the good then you can do something good. You must find the good in the bad, then you can do the bad. That is why the five poisons can be the five practices of Tantra. There is no certainty.
Also in the School of Nature are four sentences not just for personal practice but also to debate with outsiders. Some outsiders hold things as permanent. If you have the first sentence you can make it full into logic--that means it can just repute outsiders who hold the view of permanence. If there is no self, how can you be permanent? That is the first sentence. In the second sentence some fall into mentioning impermanence. Everything is void as nothing so they have another sentence stating "not born from others." Outsiders sometimes hold views of hedonism--sometimes just reality, they say, exists. So this school has the third sentence which states "unborn from both." Others say things sometimes exist, sometimes do not exist. Both are right, but it seems both have no certain course, but still they have a certain course, so the fourth sentence is "not born without condition." If conditions are met, certain things will happen. By this way, all the outsiders with false views cannot win. That is why Nagarjuna was the only victor--because no self of myself, no self of others, no self of both, but still something has happened by conditions coming together. So Nagarjuna would win every side, he would never fall, so his debate was always successful.
To subdue outsiders the School of Nature has such four sentences. If a person meditates on these four sentences and everything you touch and think about relates to this, you will get the Sunyata. But most of this school's scholars are just like those of the School of Form. They just want to debate and do not want to practice to get it. That is why even in this school there are just a few persons whose wisdom is good and who can use this method to realize the Sunyata. So outwardly not only do these four become eight but actually these eight also come from the four. The eight sentences are:
This can be likened to the artist with two pens who draws one picture. Here we have eight pens. From these eight there are actually four pairs of negative and positive. They are not only negative. So many scholars say this school is negative, but actually it is not. But there is use of "no" and since they do that, it appears that all are negative. Actually, the first pair have a positive. You say "no creation, no destruction"-- actually no destruction means creation and no creation means destruction so it is the same. Thus they are harmonized.
We must know that "no" and "no-no" are opposite to each other and when they are put together, they are harmonized. When you say this, then you can get the real truth. The Sunyata is not on this side or on that side, but you should bring the two opposites together and harmonize them. There is no need to say, "This is my palm and this is the back," instead, we just say, "This is my hand." We should not view the two sides, but harmonize them as the one thing.
Usually when explaining the eight negatives, this school says the first negative is like the mirror and the shadow. The reflection comes to the mirror, when the reflection leaves you can't see anything in the mirror but the same mirror is still there. The light is there. You cannot say there is a reflection and there is a mirror. You cannot say there is a mirror and then a reflection. You just say that when the reflection comes into the mirror, it is quite a reflection. When it leaves the mirror, no reflection. But the mirror is always there. The light is always there. The mirror is like creation, the reflection is like destruction. When they appear, there is such a shadow. When they don't appear, there is no such shadow. Actually, the mirror is always the same. Either with a reflection or not, it is still the same mirror. When the reflection comes to the mirror, the mirror does not increase in any way. When the reflection leaves the mirror, the mirror does not decrease in any way. The mirror is still there. So, we must understand this-- everything is without volition.
Buddha said "No annihilationism, no permanence." This is like the river. It just flows and flows. When you put something in to wash, the river still flows. When you do not wash, it still flows. So when you wash, it seems cut up like annihilationism. When you leave, it still flows and this seems permanent. But actually the river is the same. If you know this method and think of this, then when you have things to wash, then you have washed, and when you don't, it can still flow so there is no trouble between the river and yourself. Don't hold one side. For example, don't think that "When I wash, the river might stop or the river might become dirty." Actually the dirt goes away. No unity, no diversity. Just like taking many photographs of me. They may be taken from many different angles. Some may look good, some may look not so good. Yet it is still the same: no coming, no going.
This is like the theater or drama. One person can appear as a king at one moment and a beggar at the next. Neither has the king gone nor has the beggar come. All are the same person. Sometimes I appear as a rich person, sometimes a beggar, sometimes a powerful, feeble, or mean person. These are all just like the Drama. So there is no certainty. There is a story about two boys who were joking with one another. One said he had been to see the Drama. He remarked that he had seen a man with a red beard, then he later saw another man without a beard. He was not sure whom he had seen. The other only laughed and said, "They are both the same man--that is your father!"
Everything appears just like in the Drama. You can be one thing and then another. It's all just like Drama. So by this way if you think of this you will not hold either one side or the other. All kinds of volition will be liberated. You will feel that everything is the same. When I visited Canada, many persons asked me, "Do you like Canada?" I said, "I like everywhere!" Canada is the same as other places... I can find no difference. People in Canada have one nose, just like in California; and they have two eyes, not three; one mouth, and so on. So I am not impressed by the place. I feel happy anyplace. I treat it as the same. And the Sunyata is also the same, no self. If you always practice and have the right view, it can make you happy and relaxed, no tension or attachment.
We talked about the negatives and I explained that the eight negatives are not really negative. Four are positive and that is why we harmonize them and then can become very happy. In the Diamond Sutra, they do not use the negative they use the "likeness." For example, the Sunyata is "like a dream" because in a dream it seems that something is happening, but when we awaken, there is nothing at all. This also implies two principles. In the dream it is positive, out of the dream it is negative. So dreams have two sides and this harmonizes it. A second simile in the Diamond Sutra says Sunyata is like "performing magic." It is just like a magician who can pull an apple out from behind someone's ear. When these things happen, it is positive. When we find it is nothing, it is negative.
Even when the meditation subject is changed it still relates to the same principle. The third comparison is that the body is "like a bubble." When there is happiness it rides in the bubble. When the bubble breaks, there is nothing. So when it is round like a ball, it is positive. When it is broken, it is negative. There is nothing. In Tantra, we visualize our Buddha body as a bubble. Don't hold it. If I hold it, it is too much flesh. If I don't hold it, it is just like a bubble. No need to take care of flesh, blood, and bone when it is just a bubble. If you think this way, it will make your body very light, not heavy, no tension, just quiet, very light.
The Tantra takes the Sastras' essential philosophy and makes the Sunyata personified. For example, the bubble is a very good visualization. The fourth example is that Sunyata is "like a shadow." For the shadow has no volition. When I was practicing dream yoga, I always felt my body was a shadow. When I came to a street, I saw a mannequin of a lady in a store window. I felt like saying "Hello, how are you?" because I felt just like I was a mannequin or a shadow too--very light and hollow--no flesh, no bone, just a shadow. It makes the meditation very good.
When non-Buddhist outsiders meditate, a very important attainment is lightness--a feeling of weightlessness, as if you took an x-ray and nothing showed up on the film. Actually everything is just like a shadow. Nothing really has any true embodiment. If you give reality to things, you will be very tight, and have much tension. But if you feel you are just a shadow, you will feel very light, you have nothing but sweetness on your mind. Then outside things will become light, quiet, and calm.
The fifth example is "like dew." Dew is just like a bubble. If you know a bubble, you will know dew. When dew dries it is gone, no longer there. So, this is like dew.
The sixth can be said to be "like lightning." It is so fast coming and going that is like it was never there. This sixth example also concerns time. Time can be shortened by your mind. I lived in Kalimpong 25 years. I feel like it was only one week. It doesn't seem long. If you are happy just a little time can seem like many days. But to a sad person, just a little time seems like forever.
All six of these examples have these two principles of positive and negative and they just need to be harmonized.
We will begin here with the third parable of "Going straight to hit the point without beating around the bush." This parable belongs to the Ch'an School. Ch'an has different sects. Some are called Tathagata Ch'an. Tathagata Ch'an has many doctrines but they are not necessarily straight to the point. They have the Tripitaka which is collected from all the doctrines of the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. But the sect of Patriarch Ch'an just hits straight to the point. It just points out the mind. The measurement of the mind is what stands out.
Measurement means the very thing but not the false, as through delusion or gossip. It means something tangible. The three measurements are:
These three measurements are very important--especially the third one, Realization. Even if you lived in a hermitage for 1,000 years, it would do you no good if you don't get realization. If you repeat an incantation many thousands of times it is of no use if you cannot get some function from the incantation.
Usually when practices are talked or written about, they discuss time and numbers, but there's no mentioning of realization. Here we talk about realization measurement so this is very important. With regard to this measurement, there are three ways to measure the quality of realization.
An example of measurement is when our eye consciousness sees a cup. This eye and the cup--this kind is called a measurement of revelation. By this there is no discrimination of the mind. This is Intuitive. It is very important. That means you get some measurement, get some realization, not just by thinking of it, but you must really have a revelation without the sixth consciousness to "think of" it. The eighth consciousness and the five consciousnesses (sense organs) are without thinking. They are intuitive, that is, of the intuitive measurement. Also, the eighth consciousness is what intuitively propels us to the union of father and mother at the time of conception for our rebirth.
With the Comparative measurement, we may observe smoke, and then we deduce there must be fire. This is secondary. It is not as good as intuitive measurement.
The False or Negative measurement is really no measurement at all. But it may appear to be a measurement. This is derived from the seventh consciousness. This seventh consciousness holds the eighth as "I" which is false. So if you want to get the measurement of Sunyata, it should not be the false measurement. It should be the intuitive measurement. The comparative measurement is not good enough and may be a mistake. All our consciousnesses have first the five senses (sight, hearing, smelling, touch, taste)--all these five intuitively work without the mind and this is good. The eighth is intuitive and this is good. But the sixth consciousness is sometimes intuitive, sometimes comparative, sometimes false. So the sixth is a mixture. Still, sometimes when you meditate it can be intuitive, if you do not "think of" anything and the sixth consciousness is very clear. When it is very clear and doesn't have any discrimination, it is good and intuitive. But if you start to "think of" then it becomes comparative or becomes false.
So according to the three measurements we just want to be rid of the seventh consciousness. Of all the consciousnesses, only the seventh is very bad. It is never good. If we get rid of the seventh consciousness, then we can get the Sunyata.
However, the Ch'an is of three kinds. First, Tathagata Ch'an where they talk about essential doctrines. But the next one is more profound. They don't speak of doctrine but they say their doctrine is out of doctrine and goes beyond words. Still, the sixth Patriarch has a book called the Altar Sutra as he talked at his altar while his disciple wrote everything down. He himself never learned to read or write. But he still attained Enlightenment and spoke in a very straight forward way and spoke more essentially than even Buddha and hit straight to the point.
From within Patriarch Ch'an I select the most profound which I call as Offspring Ch'an which means its from the student who himself excelled the Patriarch. They never use Sutras or write Sastras although there is no doubt that they have read them, but instead they use their realizations to open the disciples realization without words. They achieve this by doing some certain act at a certain time that just at that ripe moment sparks the student to Realization. The act itself could be anything. While such an act may encompass any range of happenings, it is precisely particular to that Guru and that student at that moment. This accomplishes a direct measurement of realization itself without mind, to hit the point without beating around the bush. Like the egg that hatches only at that precise moment when its mother pecks outside the shell and the chick spits inside, both at exactly the same time.
This Offspring Ch'an measurement of Realization is intuitive and much higher and doesn't require thinking, whereas Patriarch Ch'an still uses the mind for measurement. Unfortunately, these Gurus and students have always been very rare--even in ancient times.
The Ch'an school is very close to Sunyata. It is the doctrine of No Self. Buddha taught very much about the Sunyata doctrines. He said you should renounce and get impermanence and keep commandments and meditate--these are true, but among them the closest to Sunyata is No Self. The No Self has been in many Mahayana Sutras and I will explain more about this.
There are three qualities of measurement which we have discussed. One is Intuitive. Suppose I see something such as a piece of paper. I don't have to use the sixth consciousness "to think of" something but I just know it is a piece of paper. This is very good. But if I see the paper and think of it as dirty or white, I will then be mixing some of the sixth consciousness with it. If I just see a piece of paper, I am the subject and the paper is the object without using the sixth consciousness. This is very good and is called Intuitive Measurement. This is very scientific because it is without the sensation of the sixth consciousness.
Another measurement is Comparative Measurement. We achieve this by comparing one thing with another. Due to the comparison between two things, a conclusion is formed. This is the middle one.
The third is a Negative Measurement. This is accomplished by thinking of something that does not exist. This is exemplified by the seventh consciousness thinking that the eighth is taken as "self" by the seventh. That is why it is false. By this way there is no measurement at all. This is total nonsense.
The eighth consciousness may be intuitive. The five senses (eye, ear, nose, taste, touch) are intuitive if without the sixth to interfere with it. The interpretation of the sixth consciousness may be good or bad. For example, if we follow the Dharma, it will be good. If not, if we follow worldly things it will be bad. But the seventh consciousness is completely false. It is called No Measurement at All.
Now we will talk about the Non-ego, but the seventh consciousness always takes the eighth consciousness as its "self" and this is completely false, for there is no ego at all. You can't find any ego in the eighth consciousness. So I have already said that No Ego is the shortest way to get the Sunyata Realization. This way we can find another measurement called Buddha's Teaching Measurement. That means Buddha after attaining Full Enlightenment said which was the correct Dharma and which was not. So the Buddha's personal doctrine is also a right measurement.
Now I will just talk about why I choose the Non-ego as the shortest way to get the realization of the Sunyata. Because most of the whole Buddha's teachings are all centralized on the Non-ego. So today I want to speak of what Buddha communicates about No Ego in his teachings.
We have already talked about the second method of holding two pens with one hand to draw the fresh pine branch and at the same time with the other pen to draw a weathered branch. This parable is to show the way of the School of the Middle Way or School of Nature. They always say "no creation-no destruction," "no coming-no going." So they always speak of two sides, first the positive, then the negative. Still the second negative makes it positive because an even number of negatives denotes positive and an odd number of negatives indicates negative. So eight negatives are two pairs of four negatives and positives.
For example, we have talked about the four pairs: no creation-no destruction; no purity-no impurity; no permanence- no impermanence; no coming-no going. They are also called as the eight negatives. These four pairs all seem reasonable but no matter how much these thoughts are pondered, one will only be dwelling on one side or the other and cannot gather the Sunyata Realization. One seems to be a Sophist who talks very sweet and sugary and reasonably but gets nothing. This is the School of the Middle Way or School of Nature.
But here is a direct way to hit the point without beating around the bush, and it is No Ego. And who taught this? The Buddha Himself. We can use this also with the School of the Middle Way. Firstly, I mentioned the School of Form or Idealist School. Then I talked about the School of Nature or Middle Way which was taught by Nagarjuna. So now we say that the shortest way is No Ego. I can use this shortest method to include the Middle Way. The Middle Way emphasizes four sentences, which we have mentioned before:
1) Not born by myself
Actually the first three are negative and the last is positive and they are also a pair of negatives and positives. But if you know the No Ego, this is no problem. Because with No Ego, how can anything be born? So you must include this. If there is myself, then there has to be another but if there is no "myself," where is another, for the other "himself" is also a self. As for the third sentence, if I have no ego and he has no ego, then both are not born. How to get the positive? But because there is no ego, it allows the Middle Way to exist.
Take for example a cup. If there is nothing inside the cup there is no ego. Because there is no ego, you can put water, wine, milk, or anything into the cup. Then it becomes a cup of water, wine, or milk. So this is the positive aspect. This covers the first method of the four sentences.
In our Diamond Sutra, there are four negatives also. They are:
1) No form of myself
So this non-form is included in the No Self, because with No Self, there is no form of myself. With No Self there is no form of others, because no self of both means no self of sentient beings. No Form of longevity means no form of past, present, or future time. These three are also non-existent. All are based on the No Self and because all sentient beings have no self, there is no self of longevity. So the four forms in the Diamond Sutra can include No Ego and if you can include the four sentences, then you can also include the eight negatives.
We also talked about the six similes or "likenesses" of the Diamond Sutra, about all phenomena being like a dream, like performing magic or maya, like a bubble, like a shadow, like dew, and like lightning. Because of No Ego, in the dream when I appear there is No Ego, so where is the Ego? We can't find it in the dream. Even though things appear vividly yet after awakening I still cannot find the ego. So when you are in a dream, actually your consciousness just appears but there really is no ego. Thus if you hold the No Ego idea you can practice this and you can know if "this is a dream" when you are in a dream. And so you can recognize those other five similes or "likenesses."
Take for example a bubble. Why a bubble? Because the bubble inside has no ego--outside, no ego--our bodies are just like the bubble. So if you recognize one of the six likenesses, you will recognize all of them.
In the Hinayana, the Buddha teaches about the three Dharma Mudras:
1) Everything is impermanent
These also use the Non-Ego. It can be recognized. About the first one, if Dharma is impermanent, it is because there is nothing to hold it and support it. If it were permanent, there might be something to support it. But since there is no ego, so there is nothing permanent.
Every Dharma has no self. It is just our shortest path. All of Nirvana is happy and silent: Why so happy? Because there is no self. People mainly pursue worldly things for temporary happiness but end with pain. If you know there is no self, happiness is much bigger and much wider as the ego just makes you narrow and mean.
Our pain, sorrow, and distress--from where do they come? Just from the self. If we have no self, we have no pain. If I want something and I feel there is nothing, I will be sad. If I find myself as nothing, then I need nothing. So I do not pursue anything and then I will never be disappointed. I will never have sorrow. No sorrow is just the great pleasure! I find that my "self" is just an enemy to myself because if I cannot get everything I want, I become sad. So if you can just recognize the No Ego, you can get everything--you will get every happiness and comfort without limitation.
The person who really will get the Great Pleasure is the person who practices No Self. So when selfish ideas come, just say, "From where does this come? I should not be so foolish as to be affected by this thought--I will only cheat myself!" So regarding 3) above about Nirvana's happiness, it is also based upon the No Self idea.
These three Dharma Mudras mean that if you seal them then you will get the power. Just like when the Emperor issues an order--if it has his seal on it, then everyone in the empire must obey it. No Ego is just like this. Whenever this final seal comes, you can attain it. The Hinayana doctrine of Buddha is full of examples of No Self.
In the Mahayana the Buddha taught the Dragon King Sutra when he came to the Dragon King's Palace and taught many things. We have already published the Buddha stanzas only. Among the stanzas there are two very important sentences. They are:
If you meditate on the no ego, you will find out that your body is empty. Each Dharma is empty.
This is written in the Sutra, the Buddha's personal teaching.
This is also stated in the Prajna Paramita Sutra which has already been translated into English and is widely read. In the Heart Sutra it is said that when the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara meditated on the five kinds of Aggregates (Form, Feeling, Thinking, Action, and Consciousness), they were found to be empty. If you want just two words to describe all this, the words you need are No Ego. With no ego, there is no form, no feeling, no thinking, no action, and no consciousness. There is an old saying that says, "If you want to kill the family, kill its master--If the master is dead then the family is finished." So, in this case, the master is Ego. If we kill this master, then the five aggregates will not be present.
Regarding the five aggregates, the first one is feeling, as "I feel this or that...." But, if there is no ego, or no "I", who is feeling anything? If there is no "I" then I would not think about how to protect the ego, how to make the ego happy or rid it of its sorrow. If there is ego, there is action. If there is action, there is habit. Where there is habit, there is transmigration. Without action, there is no transmigration. So, if you hold the No Ego, all these five are finished. That is why it is so essential.
We call every Mahayanaist who has developed the Bodhicitta a Bodhisattva. Who is that "sattva?" Sattva means sensitive or with sensation and Bodhisattva means they have the sensation of Bodhi. If there is a sensation of a sentient being, then we follow the sensation of a sentient being and get more and more tangled in Samsara. If you find out there is no self, then you find the real Bodhisattva.
The Bodhisattva and the sentient being both are sensitive, but the Bodhisattva is sensitive to save other beings, without regard to himself. Since he has found the No Self, why should he care about himself? To care for oneself is nonsense. When one does not care for himself, then he can just work for all others. That is why without No Self, you cannot become a Bodhisattva. You'll just be a sentient being. Sentient beings are always concerned with how to make the self higher--this is pride; or how to make the self happier--this is lust; or how to make the self more powerful--this is anger; or how to protect the self--then you have some doubt. All the five poisons are based on selfishness and selfishness is based on the presence of ego. If you can find this state of no ego, then there is no need for these five poisons. The five poisons cannot touch you. Then you can be a Bodhisattva and can help others.
In Ch'an we study the biography of the sixth Patriarch. He was just a hunter. But he passed by a monastery and heard the words from the Diamond Sutra repeated by someone: "You should not abide any place, but still have your natural mind." If you intuitively just touch the Truth, the mind does not think of self. This is called the True Reality. So at that time he comprehended upon hearing only those words. He found the real Truth of the mind. By this example we see that the non-ego is the shortest way.
In another very important Sutra, called the Sutra of Ten Bhumis, the Buddha said, "There are two important wisdom: No Self of Personality and No Self of Dharma." If you have no self of both, you are neither bothered by your inner self nor bothered by the Dharma self. All through this Sutra, the Buddha explains these two wisdom and if you want to fulfill the stages of the Ten Bhumi, you have to hold these two wisdom. This also shows that no ego is very important.
There is another Sutra called The Mahayana Essential Meaning. This Sutra says that because of the Dharma of no self, there is no true reality because reality just holds the Dharma of the self. No Dharma self means no reality. If there is no self of the Dharma, then there is no self of the personality. So whenever you want to achieve the Sunyata, you have to practice No Self. This has already been made very clear.
I have talked about No Ego in various of Buddha's doctrines. Now the last one is also the same. It is the Sutra of the Arhat or Akarma Sutra. The Akarma Sutra also says that it is because there is no self view, so there is no self. It is because nothing can be held as permanent or constant so there is no self. It is just the body you have found but there's no self. The body is just like a house without a master. Actually, there is no self within our body to hold our body as a self. But the common persons hold this body as self. So they do many things to protect the body and make it happy. Actually, he just uses the self to harm himself!
No Ego is the thing that bridges Deep Wisdom and Great Compassion. The way to attain this is to not do anything for the ego. However, we must do something to destroy the ego first. When we do this, then we will get Deep Wisdom and Great Compassion. Why do you have no Great Compassion? Because there is a self to make the Great Compassion limited. Whenever you think of "self" you will not freely do good deeds for others because with a self, you always have to consider about your "self." If there is a self, you will only think of yourself and just want to protect yourself. This is all very foolish. Among all foolish persons, the most foolish one is the self. The self is just the root of every foolishness and selfishness. When you hold the "self" you cannot really get happiness from anything. But if you practice "no self," by and by you will become wise and happy.
When you practice Deep Wisdom you practice the same side. You do something for others and for no self. You can perfectly do something really for others. Thus both things can be attained with only no self. No Self can accomplish the Deep Wisdom and on the other side can accomplish the Great Compassion. This is very important. To practice the No Self just think that most of those things concerned with the self are stupid--the self of self-confidence, or self-pride, or self-importance. Selfishness is actually harmful. You have to renounce the self and just help others. By this way one can get the Great Compassion. If you really practice "no self," you will not have the selfishness to protect yourself. You will not have any sorrow. You will not have obstacles. You will be always happy. And you will become wise. So by this way, you attain Deep Wisdom.
Sometimes we talk about how dry wisdom is not so good. You must also know that the opposite extreme, the wet compassion is not so good either.
Dry Wisdom has been mentioned by the ancients but Wet Compassion is something I coined myself. The two extremes are not good. With wet compassion there is too much attachment. Dry wisdom and wet compassion are not good because they incline to one side. If one practices No Self they will not incline to one side. When I was 30, I emphasized the Sunyata as very important so I meditated this way. I saw others as ignorant and unable to be helped until, of their own volition, they decided to do something to find the Sunyata themselves. At that time it seemed that any help given by me could not ultimately help them at all. This is too dry. It is without compassion. I found my fault of too much wisdom and not enough compassion. So I corrected this by practicing the Great Compassion. I recited Tara's Mantra to help the ghosts and those in the hells and I would think about them and then I was always crying!
No Self neither inclines to the Dry Wisdom nor inclines to the Wet Compassion. Dry Wisdom over-emphasizes meditation and Sunyata. It does nothing for good deeds to others. It separates one from others by a feeling that one cannot do anything to help another unless they are determined to do it themselves. Wet Compassion almost drowns one in tears and always does things for others, such that they forget the Sunyata and fall into a demon-form of compassion, as the Surangama Sutra said. When you practice non-egoism, you get both Deep Wisdom without dryness and Great Compassion without wetness. It is just like the fourth parable--Killing two birds with one arrow.
To conclude, I would like to tell you about a toy belonging to a small child. It is four toys in one. It is a type of doll with clothes and body such that when you turn it four different ways, it appears to be four different dolls, yet it is still the same toy.
Of the four parables, this last method of killing two birds with one arrow just uses one knife to directly hit the point. But for this way, we must use two things: the Great Compassion and the Deep Wisdom. It is like one hand holding two pens to draw a single picture and this must be practiced and by and by the progress will be like removing threads from a cocoon, one by one.
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