29 Jun Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 8
[Series of Master Shen-Long expounding on Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra]
(Last week we ended with, “One who initiates thoughts of either good or no-good, discrimination, attachments, will stay in the “Human world”. These are the six states of existence –the six realms of reincarnation.”)
Beyond these six realms of reincarnation, there are the Three Worlds (Triloka – The universe is divided into three worlds of karmic rebirth such as desire, form and formless): The World of “Desire” (Kamadhatu), the World of “Form” (Rupadhatu), and the World of “Formless” (Arupyadhatu).
“World of Desire”: People still have the enjoyment of the five desires (wealth, lust, fame, food, and sleep) and the six defiled states (materialistic phenomena, sound, smell, flavor, touch, and thought).
“World of Form”: The desires do not exist anymore. Similar to the Mahabrahma Heaven indicated in Islam, there are no desires. Regarding the appearance of male or female, only male exists.
“World of Formless”: Even the phenomenon of the subtle body does not exist.
Shakyamuni Buddha lived in this world over 3,000 years ago. In India, there were groups of Trithikas.
What are Trithikas? They are non-Buddhist teachings and adherents of non-Buddhist philosophies and religions, like abandoning their own pure mind in search of the truth.
How many are there? There are 96 kinds. During that time, India’s civilization was remarkable, just like ancient China during the Hundred Schools of Thought period which started within the Spring and Autumn Warring States Period; their doctrines were all clearly stated but short-lived. The culture in India was the same of that period.
In those days, there was one who practiced meditative concentration and had attained the highest level – the state of “Neither Perception nor Non-perception Heaven (Naivasamjnanasamjnayatana, the highest heaven of the Formless Realm)”. His composed state of mind could last the existence of 80,000 world-periods.
The existence of one world-period is 1,344,000,000 earth years, so multiply it by 80,000; however, according to universe time it is only a split second. After he lost his power of mind control ability to overcome all disturbing thoughts, he became puzzled and questioned the Buddha’s teaching. Does not the Buddha state, “Samadhi attainment is eternal. How could I lose my ability?”
As soon as he doubted the Buddha’s teaching, he slandered the Buddha and ended in the Hell realm.
What does it mean to end in the Hell realm? It is being tormented by trying to figure out why.
A person who truly becomes enlightened and is free from worry from oneself can transcend the Three Worlds (Triloka) and the six realms of reincarnations, this is the first step. Precisely, it is the attainment of graduating from elementary school.
The levels of cultivation practice must be understood clearly, otherwise how you can cultivate it correctly. If you only rely on reading books without practicing it daily, then you will never truly learn it.
What level has the Sixth Patriarch surpassed? He has surpassed elementary school, junior high, high school, university, advanced research study, doctoral and post-doctoral fellowship study.
The highest-level of attainment of the elementary school is equivalent to an Arhat. There are four stages of Arhat-ship: 1st fruit (Srotapanna), 2nd fruit (Sakadagami), 3rd fruit (Anagami), and 4th fruit (Arhat)—those who have abandoned the afflictions of illusions and temptations arisen from things seen and thought. This is terminology, but since we are focusing mainly on the conditions of Prajna (wisdom), we will not go into too much detail about this.
Does an Arhat have wisdom? Yes, he does, but it is not true wisdom; they only have the wisdom to exit and detach the Three Worlds (Triloka) and the six realms of reincarnation.
This kind of wisdom is stated in the Diamond Sutra (full title: The Diamond Cutter Perfection of Wisdom Sutra), that is:
- There is an ego
- Man is different from other organisms
- All living beings are produced by the five compositional elements of our existence as “all materialistic phenomena, feeling, perception, impulse and consciousness”
- Life is limited to time and space
After abandoning those erroneous ideas of the “four ego ideas states of all phenomena” above, then he can advance to the 9th meditative concentration level – the “Samadhi” attainment. As just formerly mentioned, after one attains the 8th meditative concentration level it is the highest sphere of “Neither Perception nor Non-Perception meditative concentration” and one must still go through the reincarnation cycle.
An Arhat is reincarnated no more; no need to re-enter the human world for non-controllable transmigrations.
Why? He can control his fate of life and death, he has this ability.
To what extent? Let me give an example, it is like the lotus flower. The lotus flower is not a water lily, our Chinese have problems with this. Regarding the name Amitabha:
The first syllable of A, what does it represent? It is the source of all things. The sound of “A is pronounced (a¯)” and this seed word represents the source of all things. In the future when we talk about Esoteric Buddhism, I will give more details about that. Now to explain more simply using the lotus flower as representation:
The lotus that grows in the water is the Three Worlds (Triloka- the universe is divided into worlds of karmic rebirth as desire, form and formless) and six realms of reincarnation.
The mud fish that lives in the mud daily represents the “Three Lower Realms (animal, hungry ghost, hells)”.
The lotus bud that grows out of the mud but remains in the water represents “the Three Upper Realms (heavens, asuras, and humans)”.
The lotus that flowers out of the water, has removed or detached the Three Worlds (Triloka) entirely.
An Arhat, with his head above water taking his first breath; has no intention to go back to the human world again.
Why? He recalled his past lives went downhill to the Three Wretched Realms; reincarnated in the Three worlds (Triloka) and six realms, and he is afraid.
The description from the discourse of the Sutra asks, “afraid to what extent?” His body was a mix of sweat with blood because he knows the suffering of hell was unbearable, a horrible place of spiritual torture.
這智慧就是《金剛經》上面講的「四相」- 「我相、人相、眾生相、壽者相」；把這四相拿掉，進入第九次第定 。剛剛講八定是「非想非非想處」，八定還要輪迴。