Ultimate reality is not bounded by any manifestation, yet actual practice embraces all of them.
– Zen Master
action without awareness is child, action with awareness is adult
stillness with awareness is deep sleep/meditation, stillness without awareness is samadhi
Where is Dao? …shh……
Broad minds see goodness, narrow minds see badness.
If don’t acknowledge goodness, one would not feel gratitude, if frequently remember badness, one would not feel serenity.
– 南懷瑾老師 (1918-2012)
Buddhist heart, Taoist bones, Confucius persona, compassionately perceive the world;
Skills on hands, abilities in body, thinking via the brain, serenely live life.
– Master Nan-Huai-Chin (1918-2012)
The way to longevity is to cultivate the spirit; the key in cultivating the spirit is to cultivate virtue. If virtue is absence, longevity cannot be achieved no matter what medicine you take. – Tang Dynasty Medical master Sun Si Miao.
養生之道, 重在養神; 養神之要, 重在養德.
德行不全, 縱服玉液金丹, 未能廷壽. – 唐代名醫孫思邈
After 26 months of discussion and exploration, we have finally completed our online discussion on the core teachings of the three great classics in Chinese Civilization.
With the focus on personal and spiritual cultivation, we first learnt about the transcendental reality and the way towards it from Laozi’s Daodejing. After understanding our self, and going beyond it, we then learnt the importance of fulfilling our personal, family and social responsibility in the world through practical advises from Confucius’s Analects. Finally, after mastering the world and the reality beyond it, we learnt from the Buddhist Diamond Sutra that all teachings and phenomena, no matter how extraordinary and spectacular, are temporary like dreams and bubble and therefore are not to be attached.
If we can gain a throughout understanding of these three classics, and integrate them into our daily life, then a solid foundation is laid on the roadway of personal and spiritual cultivation. Hopefully these discussions could serve as an opening door and overall guidance for further studies and practice.
This concludes this series of our online classes. As Laozi said, “excessive speeches exhaust our reason, it’s better to stay centered.” The foundation understanding of cultivation has been laid and it is time for practice and integration into our life. If you have further question on the topics mentioned, you may contact me for advice or further discussion. Thank you for your interest and support all along.
Best wishes to you in your life, studies, and practices.
When the Buddha about to conclude this sutra, he tested his student Subuti and asked: “when someone talk of the notions of self, others, living beings, and immortality, does s/he understand what i teach?” Subhuti answered: “no, because these notions too, are merely names and mental conceptualization, are not to be attached, and not to be understood as the ultimate truth from the Buddha.” The Buddha compassionately furthered: “Whoever made the intention of supreme enlightenment, should perceive as such, see as such, understand as such, and do not let teachings develop into fixed notions. And same applies to this conclusion as well.
Once we embark on the journey to truth and spiritual enlightenment, teachers teachings knowledge method pathway technique experience will come. They are all to be treasured, but not to be attached. If we perceive them, see them, believe them, and understand them as this Sutra suggests, we will be walking on solid path.
* * *
“Subhuti, what do you think? If someone says: ‘The Buddha speaks of the view of an ego, a personality, a being and a life,
“Subhuti, does that person understand what I mean?”
“No, World Honoured one, that person does not understand. Why?”
“Because (when) the Tathagata speaks of the view of an ego, a Personality, a being and a life, it is not really, (but) is (expediently) called the view of an ego, a personality a being and a life.”
“Subhuti, he who develops the Supreme Enlightenment Mind, should thus know, see, believe and comprehend (all things); he should not set up the perception of things (dharma-laksana) in his mind.”
“Subhuti, the so-called form of things (dharma-laksana), the Tathagata says is not, but is, (expediently) called the form of things.”
In advanced meditative state, one sees the limitless universe. Is this real? Is it the end? Some arrives there and claim it is so. The Buddha says in this chapter: despite of its magnificence and splendor, it is not the ultimate, as when we attach ourselves with it, we becomes and limits to it. Therefore the Buddha merely describes the state, and discern it as a temporary phenomenon just like names.
Having said so, encountering such phenomenon already indicates some achievement in internal work. We need to remain aware, and keep going in our inner and outer work.
* * *
“Subhuti. what do you think? If a virtuous man or woman reduced to dust all the worlds in the Universe, would those particles of dust many?”
Subhuti replied: “Many, World Honored One. Why?
Because if they really existed, the Buddha would not say they were particles of dust. And why?
Because when the Buddha speaks of particles of dust, they are not, but are (expediently) called, particles of dust.
World Honoured One, when the Tathagata speaks of worlds, they are not,，but are (expediently) called, worlds. Why?
“Because if they really exist, they are just agglomerations.
“The Tathagata speaks of agglomerations which are not, but are (expediently) called, agglomerations.”
“Subhuti, that which is called an agglomeration cannot be spoken of, but the vulgar man has longing for and attachment to this thing.
After expounding that real Buddha is beyond image and sound, the all compassionate Buddha reminds us that real Buddha does not mean no image and no sound either, and that we should not satisfy with just the proper understanding of truth and should diligently practice it in our life.
Why did the Buddha say so? Because our mind likes to attach itself to dualistic opposites: when someone say of something, we immediately follows the “something”; when someone say of nothing, we immediately follows the “nothing”. In reality, we are neither “something” or “nothing”, neither the content or context, neither the teaching or non-teaching, this is the essence of Zen (Chan).
Secondly, after getting the above proper understanding, it is tempting for our mind to declare victory and say that, ok, we have got it now, we have arrive the final destination, and that there is no more work need to be done, nor anyone there to do anything anymore. Is it really so? Only your honest self could tell. What we usually find in the history and even nowadays, is that many students and teachers had fallen into this side track understanding, became an “enlightened” person in understanding, but lack honesty, virtue and diligent to make further progress (if not recline). This is why the Buddha said while perfect appearance doesn’t necessary implies Buddhahood, to claim the lack of it (appearance an virtue) is Buddhahood is wrong either.
In actual practice, there are standard stages of transformation one would go through, which are reported by advanced masters across different traditions and geographical regions. In the Buddhist tradition, a detailed report of truth and roadmap towards it is provided in the Shurangama Sutra (see suggested Buddhist readings).
Therefore, the Shurangama Sutra saids, “理即顿悟, 乘悟并消；事非顿除, 因次第尽” (understanding can be sudden, which sweeps away all mental blockages, practice is not sudden, which get perfected in stages).
* * *
“Subhuti, if you have ( in your mind) this thought: ‘The Tathagata does not rely on His possession of characteristics to obtain supreme Enlightenment,’
“Subhuti, banish that thought.
“Subhuti, if you think it while developing the Perfect Enlightenment Mind, you will advocate the annihilation of all Dharmas.
“Do not have such a thought. Why?
“Because one who develops the Supreme Enlightenment Mind, does not advocate the annihilation (of things).
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