Enlightening Beings in Darkness

Yutang Lin

This morning in a dream I saw a rather long stone bridge, not thick but solid, about six-persons side-by-side wide, no railings on either sides, and it stretched straight and even from this shore to the other shore. I walked on it toward the other shore. Near the other shore a small section of the surface of the bridge was covered with dust. I mopped it clean with a piece of cloth. In order to clear a passage for the two shores sooner, I first cleaned on the left most side a passage wide enough for one person to go through. Then I mopped sidewise to clean all the rest of the dusts. While mopping I continued to repeat in my mind a Chinese statement that says, "Sentient beings in darkness (ghosts or hell beings), all are blessed with enlightening guidance." (I remember that it was a statement in one of the twelve vows of Medicine Guru Buddha.) The first ever fire puja to Bodhisattva Earth Treasure will soon be held; this dream should have been an auspicious omen born of inspiration.

Then I said in simple language an exposition on Blank Essence:
Blank Essence is not empty of things, but something that has no particular characteristics.
Compared with the usual explanations in terms of "emptiness and phenomena," and then adding "indeed empty but wondrous appearance," the above seems easier to comprehend.

All our experiences is a totality, but its contents are illusive (could not be grasped) and incessantly evolving. Usually people grasped to all sorts of distinctions, and consequently sustained in their minds an illusion as if the totality of our experiences could be divided into pieces, and even became deluded by grasping to superficial distinctions to the extent that they had forgotten the totality as a whole. The notion of Blank Essence reminds us not to become deluded by varieties of characteristics, and thus return us to the reality of the totality of all our experiences.

After we had resumed our awareness of the totality, then we may freely make use of all sorts of distinctions to help all sentient beings to resume their awareness of the totality of all their experiences.

With the above comprehension one may also say, "Blank Essence is the original essence of the totality of all our experiences; therefore, it indeed exists (can be experienced), but it has no particular characteristics."

Written in Chinese and translated on November 8, 2008
El Cerrito, California

Below is disciple Stanley's response to my work Enlightening Beings in Darkness; see attached files.

The interpretation he offered below is wonderful and significant.

This email is Bcc to all on my list.

Detong, add this to the end of E0139, and post it on-line.

May all beings attain Enlightenment soon!


-----Original Message-----
From: info@yogichenorg
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:21 AM
To: 'Yutang Lin'
Subject: RE: New Work

Dr. Lin,

Thank you for the great teaching.

After roughly finishing the second of the five treatises (辨中边after辨法法性), I digress to the other "school's" main work 中论 for a seriouos re-reading (I first read it about 17 or 18 years ago). While reading the first two chapters' rather complicated languages and arguments, I can't help not having the feeling of a bit overkill. (but of course it's highly understandable in its historical context). I was pondering the arguments and seem to come to the understanding that they are all about the lack of 自性 as fooled by construction in our experiences, which is the self-ness, as distinctive to 他性 (other-ness) because everything is a big Oneness, but repeated use of words “无” feels somewhat overdone unless gotten used to substituting the word with lack of "self-ness" instead of its own meaning.

Now your new work seems to me like a rephrase of it in even more elegant way with amazing completeness because that puts the second and third turning of Buddha's Dharma together into context. It's hard to imagine how to put it in simpler words. So wonderful!

You didn't explain symbolisms in the dream, but my guesses are:

Bridge of 6 person's width to the other shore is 6 paramita to enlightenment.

The path is straight and direct but not many have gotten through the most advanced / deepest meanings, hence covered with dust near the other end.

There's no railing hence the danger of falling to either extremes.
You mopped clean the dust means to clarify the path so as to make it easy to get through the other end (enlightenment).
You start from one-sixth from the left side means the clarify first about wisdom paramita (starting from right side, then left side is the sixth).

Sentient beings in darkness are not just those in the underworld, but all unenlightened sentient beings because they are in the darkness of ignorance.

Thanks and regards,

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