02 Sep Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 47
(Last week we ended with: “Watch attentively when you start to eat, you must keep an eye on your thoughts; you must engage in this kind of kung-fu. If your kung-fu is skillful, you not have distraction, and no obstacle at all. That is, there is a phenomenon, and you have unimpeded accessibility to all phenomena and all teaching of this world.”)
To tell you one thing, during Shakyamuni Buddha’s era a Buddhist did not follow the matter of begging for alms. Begging for alms was started later by people. Monks or nuns who live and ask for money from others are called “begging for alms”. It is wrong. In the “moral precepts” it states that this is not allowed but it is formed as a common custom. In those days during Shakyamuni Buddha time, he took his bowl and went to the great city of Sravasti to seek alms for food. Finishing, he returned home, washed his feet, arranged his seat, and sat down. It was that simple. Subhuti (one of the ten chief disciples) in full comprehension of this ordinary action, praised Buddha:
How rare is the World-honored one!
Why is he called rare? He revels in his Vajra Prajna (Perfection of wisdom) in simple everyday life.
Before Shakyamuni Buddha was born, there were 96 kinds of outside doctrine teachings in India – to abandon the pure mind to seek the Buddha truth. That kind of civilization was incredible; the power of mind-control was attained to the 8th meditative concentration level (the highest level of Formless Heaven within the Threefold World (the Triloka universe is divided into three worlds of karmic rebirth – desire, form and formless), but one still could not pull out of the Threefold World so, Buddha was born.
The Buddha was born in the King’s house and he could have been an emperor or other royalty, but he did not want this. He let it go and took his bowl begging for alms door to door. This showed that he was selfless. Humble and respectful, he ate what people gave. He did not say that he must be vegetarian. Has he ever said that he did not want this meat; that he only ate vegetables? No, of course not. Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty started the custom of vegetarianism; it was made from his discrimination and attachments.
The Buddha has lived a life that is approachable, simple, and ordinary. Later, we saw the Buddha’s statue pasted in gold, this is the idea of humans. The Buddha also has a golden body; the diamond indestructible (body), and not only the golden body but he also has other kinds of bodies. The golden color is his manifestation of incorruptible unwavering body. He assumed this appearance in human form to our world, his Transformation Body has already displayed the essence, phenomenal characteristics and function of Prajna.
The essence of Prajna is without attachment and omniscient. Therefore, he took the bowl door to door without hindrance in mind. This kind of thinking does not exist: I should go to that house; the food of that house is better; or I should go to another house, etc. At that time, there were no houses, one had to meditate under a tree and sleep one night. After one night, you cannot meditate under the same tree. If you go to this tree, and this tree is nice and leafy so that you would not get wet while meditating if it rains; it shows the attachment.
Three thousand years ago, life was the same as our current life. We now have a house to shelter the wind and rain, there is a car to travel, three meals are very simple, is this not the same as the Buddha during his time. Only there is no need to take the bowl door to door, now the customs are different, is this not the same with cultivation practice.
Why did Subhuti make such a praising statement at Buddha in this entire process? Subhuti was among the disciples of Buddha who was the best at explaining the “illusory nature of all existence”. The nature of Prajna is the “condition of nirvana – a condition beyond disturbance”. The illusory nature of all existence is the mode of “existence”, so the state of “non-existent” and the mode of “existence” are one Buddha-nature, real and unreal co-exist simultaneously. The school of Buddhism talks about the “illusory nature of all existence” which precisely talks about “the mode of existence”, when one is without attachment to all modes of “existence”, it is called “illusory nature of all existence”.
In fact, these modes of existences are what entirely? All are manifested phenomena activity from our mentality and spirituality.
Truly speaking, it is the “illusory nature of all existence”, but it can also transform to many modes of “existence”; like Buddha assumes in human form or any shape of appearances, therefore, it is simultaneous. Remember, there is no order in the teachings of the Buddha, it is “simultaneous”. Therefore, the Lotus Sutra states:
Becoming Buddha is one Buddha vehicle.
Since this is the case, Shakyamuni Buddha is in this process of no thought arising in his mind, which is what is basically shown to us.
How is the level divided? The level is easy, by following the two guiding principles of the Diamond Sutra: the “four kinds of misconception” and the “four attached perspectives to four kinds of misconception”.
The first is not to cling to phenomenal characteristics or I, right or wrong, good or evil; all without attachment so, there is no arbitrary notion of I, humans different from other individuals, different from other living groups. Since there is no time and space there is no arbitrary notion of the limitation on continuing existence. These are the preliminary “four kinds of misconception”.
The attainment of Hinayana —Srotapanna (the first stage of Arhatship) has already broken from these “four kinds of misconception”, let alone the Bodhisattva of the Mahayana Vehicle.
Do not look down at the Arhat of Hinayana; who you cannot berate, only the Buddha can. We see that the Arhat is a saint, who is already capable of exiting the Threefold Worlds and the six realms; this is exceedingly wonderful. In our world, if there is an Arhat, good heavens our world would not have any disasters. I am saying that this Arhat has experiential entry into the cognitive sphere of Arhatship currently. Presently, there are no common persons who have ceased the affliction of illusions and arising temptation from things seen and thought; there are none in this world. There are many Transformation Bodies of Buddha Bodhisattva who come here but it does not count, because he has already attained Buddha enlightenment. I am referring to a common person through regular cultivation practice to attain Arhatship; there is none. Not to mention the World-honored One—Shakyamuni Buddha—who appeared in our Saha Land, he demonstrated becoming a Buddha in perfection. It is us, all living beings who move Buddha and Bodhisattva to come to the world.
佛沒有出生以前，在印度九十六種外道 – 就是心外求法叫外道。它那個文明不得了，定力到「八定」，就是出不了三界，所以佛降生。
佛降生在王家，可以做皇帝、做國王。不要，放下去沿門托缽，顯示他沒有「我」 – 謙卑恭敬，人家給什麼吃什麼。也沒有說一定要吃素。有沒有說到一家，這個肉，我不要，我要吃素，沒有。吃素是梁武帝搞出來的，是分別、執著搞出來的。
層次怎麼來分？層次很簡單，《金剛經》兩個綱領 – 就是四相、四見。
第一「不著相」，人、我、是非、善惡，都不著相；沒有「人相」，沒有「我相」，「眾生相」，沒有時間、空間的相 , 沒有「壽者相」； 這是「四相」，初步四相。
不要瞧不起小乘阿羅漢，阿羅漢不是你可以喝斥他的，是佛喝斥他。我們見到阿羅漢，他是聖人，出了三界、六道，那還得了。我們世間要有一個阿羅漢，不得了，我們世間沒災難了。 我講這阿羅漢是現證。現在凡夫修行 – 斷「見思煩惱」，沒有了，這世界沒有了。來的有佛菩薩化身，那是「化身」不能算，他已經成就。我講是凡夫這麼修成阿羅漢，沒有。更何況世尊釋迦牟尼佛當年到我們娑婆世界來示現，他示現圓滿成佛，是我們眾生感得佛菩薩到世間來。