How to Develop the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance
(Bodhicitta Series Part V)
Under the guidance of the Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen
Written by Yutang Lin
We presume that the reader has already studied Yogi C.M. Chen's "How to Develop the Bodhicitta" and the earlier Chenian booklets in the Bodhicitta Series, namely, "118 Parables of Bodhicitta" (New No. 108); "102 Parables of Bodhicitta" (New No. 109); "How to Develop The Bodhicitta of Will" (New No. 110); and "How to Perform The Bodhicitta of Conduct" (New No. 111).
1.1 The one essential concept underlying Buddha's teachings is that of Sunyata, namely, the idea of Non-self. Buddha's Enlightenment is complete, and thus superior to that of any other religion, in that it transcends any attachment to any kind of a Self, including the Self of a God. Sunyata is not just a superior philosophy, it is the Truth that can be realized through Buddhist practices. The entity of Sunyata is the basic reality and essence of everything; it permeates everywhere at all times, yet it is not a thing, because it too has no self. The Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance is just this entity of Sunyata. Bodhicitta, in the consequence position, should consist of Wisdom and Compassion in balance, while the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance emphasizes more the Wisdom aspect of Bodhicitta.
1.2 The whole system of five kinds of Bodhicitta, as systematized by Yogi C. M. Chen, consists of the Bodhicitta of Will, Conduct, Victorious Significance, Samadhi and Kunda.
The Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance is the pivot point of this whole system of Bodhicittas. Just as in the system of Sila, Samadhi and Wisdom, Samadhi is the pivot point through which the other two are connected. Also in the system of the Four Great Initiations of Anuttarayoga Tantra, the Third Initiation is the pivot point through which the rest are connected.
Without the sublimation through the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance, great vows that are formulated toward Great Enlightenment may fall into strong wills that lead one to Heaven. Dharma activities and good deeds bring merits, and yet attachments to these merits become a source of sweet sorrows, because one then remains in Samsara. Thus real Bodhicitta of Conduct should have been refined by the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance. The Bodhicitta of Samadhi is developed through the harmonization of materiality and mentality. But this harmonization of materiality and mentality may succeed only after the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance has been realized to some extent. The Bodhicitta of Kunda is to be developed through the harmonization of the Five Poisons with the Five Wisdoms. The harmonization of Poisons with Wisdoms also involves the unification of materiality and mentality in physiological as well as in psychological aspects. Thus it is most difficult to achieve and requires very deep realization of the entity of Sunyata to succeed.
1.3 The Sunyata philosophy is victorious over the heavenly teachings of other religions because it frees one from Samsara. The Sunyata practices are victorious over good deeds because they are free from attachments to merits. The samadhi of Sunyata is victorious over heavenly samadhis because it is not tainted by a God-self. The force of Sunyata meditations is victorious over materiality because it unifies materiality and mentality. The achievements of Sunyata practices are victorious over all defilements because they sublimate Five Poisons into Five Wisdoms. Hence, we name the entity of Sunyata: The Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance.
2. The Sunyata Philosophy
In order to develop the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance one would have to, first of all, understand the Philosophy of Sunyata. Thus we discuss it here before we come to the meditations that develop the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance.
Among the various teachings on Sunyata as contained in the Buddhist tradition, Yogi Chen has decided that the most direct and yet easy way to understand and realize Sunyata would be to recognize the Truth of Non-self. It is recommended to the reader to read the following Chenian booklets for detailed and related discussions:
New No. 104 "The Shortest Path to Sunyata, Part I"
New No. 105 "The Shortest Path to Sunyata, Part II"
New No. 102 "The Importance of Sunyata"
2.1 Non-self is identical with Sunyata. From the idea of Non-self one may derive all the basic teachings on the Sunyata philosophy. Consider the Four Negative phrases found in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra:
(1) Not born from a self,
(2) Not born from another,
(3) Not born from both,
(4) Not born without a cause.
From the Non-self one immediately deduces that nothing can be born from a self, another self, or both, because there is no self. But then, how could things come into existence? The answer is, they are the product of causes. They are just the manifestations of conditions met. Both the conditions and their manifestations have no self, hence they are changeable and flexible.
2.2 The Three Emancipations are: No form, No will, No birth. From Non-self one concludes that nothing has a definite nature or appearance. One should not hold onto forms; in brief, we simply say: No form. Since there is no self, there is nothing for wills to bind. Wills, having no self, are changeable. Hence we say: No will. Nevertheless, appearances have their transient reality, so we prefer wills that are related to Enlightenment over selfish wills. Also we would try to replace evil wills by good ones. Because there is no self at all, there is neither birth nor death of a self. Birth and death, in the usual sense, are but manifestations of conditions met.
2.3 Non-self is a fact that one can easily recognize. Each ordinary person holds onto the notion of an individual self. They never question if there is in fact a self. Buddha teaches us to discover the Truth of Non-self through looking for a self. Whatever you look at, be it mind or body, internal or external, you will not find even a trace of a self. Because, in fact, there is none. What one may find is, at the most, one's own attachments to one's own welfare. Even then, there is only the holding on, without a holder and without a thing being held.
2.4 Holding onto the notion of a self blinds one and leads one to transmigrate in the Six Realms of Samsara. Yogi Chen has pointed out, on pages 34 and 35 of his book "How to Develop The Bodhicitta," the following:
- Human history is the sad result of each one looking out for himself.
- He who lives for himself is dead to the others.
- No man is more cheated than the selfish man.
- In order that you may please, you ought to be forgetful of self.
Thus, it is clear that a Buddhist should endeavor to get rid of one's attachment to the notion of a self, and not be swayed and influenced by selfish ideas.
2.5 Practice of Non-self may develop one's Wisdom as well as Compassion. Thus it is "killing two birds with one stone" in the sense that one practice leads to two results. The Truth of Sunyata is unknown to people who are blinded by their own selves. The practice of Non-self may gradually free them from Darkness and let them enjoy the sunshine of Truth. Once people recognize the Truth of Non-self, they will no longer remain selfish, and they will begin to devote their lives and energies to the salvation of others who are still living under the shadow of Self, because people who are free from the domination of Self will consider everyone and everything as part of one unity. Hence the sufferings of any sentient being is felt as though they were one's own. Of course it is not easy to realize such a Great Compassion, nevertheless, it is possible and the way to achieve it is reasonable and within our reach. Should we not start to practice Non-self through Buddhist services?
One should have developed Samatha through the Nine-Step Samatha practices prior to the meditations that develop the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance because abstract ideas may lead to concrete realizations only through repetitive applications of the meditative force of samatha.
According to the teachings of Yogi Chen, one would benefit from the following meditations in the development of the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance.
3.1 The Three Emancipations: No Form, No Will, No Birth.
We have discussed this earlier in section 2.2
3.2 No Mind is attainable in the Three Times (i.e. past, present, and future). All mental activities are transient and insubstantial in that there is no self to be found behind them. Thus in the Diamond Sutra it is said: "In the past no mind was attainable; at present no mind is attainable; in the future no mind will be attainable."
3.3 The Four Negative Phrases: Not born from a self; Not born from another; Not born from both; Not born without a cause.
We have discussed this earlier in section 2.1.
3.4 The Four Sunyata:
- The Sunyata of one's self;
- The Sunyata of others' selves;
- The Sunyata of mental things;
- The Sunyata of material things.
It might be difficult to recognize at once that all things are without a self. Thus the purpose of this meditation of Four Sunyata is to investigate the Truth of Non-self step by step, beginning with the search for one's own self. One investigates in the following order: one's body and mind, others' body and mind, every kind of mental things--like abstract ideas, dreams, visions, etc., and all sorts of material things in search of a self. When one realizes that nothing has a self of its own, then one recognizes the Truth of Sunyata. But this is not to say that everything is nothing, nor to deny the existence of anything. Things do have their transient existence, but they do not have a Self that is apart from their qualities. Thus sufferings are real and yet changeable. Full Enlightenment is not apparent and yet attainable. One may conquer the sufferings of the world and attain the freedom of Enlightenment through realizations of Non-self which is the fruit of the Bodhi-citta of Victorious Significance.
3.5 The Eight Negative Phrases which come in four pairs are: Neither born nor perishable; neither permanent nor obliterable; neither identical nor divergent; neither coming nor departing.
Since there is no Self, every dharma is neither born nor perishable. Hence one may be free from attachments to successes or failures. The Truth is that every dharma has no Self, therefore all Dharmas are neither permanent nor obliterable. Thus one may be free from being proud of one's good deeds, because they are not permanent. And yet the merits can be shared by all beings because they are not obliterable.
From Non-self it follows that all things are neither identical nor divergent. Since things are not identical, one should carefully distinguish emancipation from transmigration and strive for the best. Since things are not divergent, the sorrows and sufferings of all beings should be brought to an end through our endeavors. Since there is no Self, then nothing is coming or departing. Hence, one may retain the serenity of Samadhi and float on the ups and downs of life.
Thus, in short, the supreme virtue of these Sunyata meditations lies in their resulting freedom from attachments that tie one down to Samsara, and in the possibility of attaining Full Enlightenment.
3.6 The Five Paramitas as guided by the Wisdom Paramita of Sunyata.
(1) Alms Giving of wealth, Dharma teaching or fearlessness: any almsgiving that has not been sublimated by the practice of Non-self is bound to be tied down by the notions of a giver, a recipient and a thing given. Consequently worldly attachments to rewards, fame, pride, etc., would contaminate the almsgiving and degrade it into a source of transmigration. The practice of Non-self in almsgiving would purify the motives, means and results thereof and transform them into a step toward Enlightenment.
(2) Silas Keeping: one who is not free from the false idea of a Self may be proud of being able to keep the Silas, or be spiteful toward others who break the Silas, or find it very difficult to keep up with the Silas. Since the purpose of all Silas is to help one realize Non-self, therefore they are all in accordance with Non-self. Therefore, one who observes the Silas in the light of Non-self would be free from praising oneself or denouncing others, and would be able to keep Silas naturally without much effort. That is to say one would then be free from the defilements of attachments to results. Also one sees here that the key to Silas keeping is to keep the Sila of Non-Self in order to transcend the worldly and attain the peace of Nirvana.
(3) Patience: One who recognizes the Truth of Non-Self would not be flattered by good fortune nor be saddened by distress, for he sees the equality of all dharmas and is free from the sorrows of preferences or dislikes. Most important of all is that one who practices the patience of Non-self would attain the enlightened state of no-birth (and no-death) of all dharmas and thus be free from the birth and death of Samsara.
(4) Diligence: One who is free from preoccupation with one's own interests recognizes at once the sorrows of all beings in Samsara. One who is able to forget the idea of a Self feels at once the sufferings of all beings in transmigration. Thus he diligently practices Buddha Dharma in order to save all beings from the darkness of Self. Milarepa, the Tibetan Guru who lived in caves and ate only nettles, was so diligent that he even gave up begging for food. Milarepa's diligence reflects the depth of his realization of the Truth of Non-self.
(5) Samadhi: The samadhi of other religions may bring one the feeling of light and ease or may result in their having heavenly bodies; but they cannot free one from Samsara, because they don't know the Truth of Non-self and cannot give up the subtle attachment to a God-self. Only the Buddhist samadhi is based upon the Sunyata philosophy, is identical to the realization of Non-self and may lead to the Full Enlightenment of Buddha. Only the Buddhist Samadhi, be that of arhats, pratyeka-buddhas, Bodhisattvas or Buddhas, is beyond Samsara. Thus the Samadhi of Non-self is victorious over all the other heavenly samadhi.
3.7 We have explained the above meditations in terms of the Truth of Non-self because Non-self is the key to all of them. When one recognizes the Truth of Non-self, it does not follow that one then becomes inactive. One may then be free from selfcentered thoughts and deeds, and yet one would become actively involved in helping others. Yogi Chen has pointed out that a good way to practice Non-self is to try to be in others' shoes, i.e., try to see things from others' point of view and then make considerations and act accordingly. In so doing, on the one hand, one naturally learns to be free from one's prejudices and interests, on the other hand, one will be of real help to others. One who practices Non-self will not only live a happy life, but will also be a source of true happiness to many others who come into contact with him.
No matter how much one could help others, there are things that each one of us has to bear by himself. Hence, the most basic help one can give is to help people see the Truth of Non-self because this is the key to true liberation from all sorrows that lead to the sufferings of transmigration. Furthermore, once the Truth of Non-self is recognized, with proper Buddhist practices, one may not only become free from the Samsara but even attain Full Enlightenment, which is the complete and eternal emancipation.
In this booklet we have characterized the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance, explained its role in the whole system of Five Kinds of Bodhicittas, and discussed the fundamental Truth of Non-self and several meditations that may lead to the development of the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance. The reader may want to learn more about meditation on Sunyata from Yogi Chen's "Buddhist Meditation." Based upon the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance one may then go on to the development of the tantric Bodhicitta of Samadhi and that of Kunda. We shall discuss these topics in the remainder of our Bodhicitta Series.
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