1991 佛七講話-1 Day 5
Ven. Zhiyu’s Dharma Talks for Buddha Recitation Seven-Day Retreat, First Term, 1991
In Buddha-Meditation Samādhi One Transcends the Triple World
By reciting Amitābha the Buddha’s name we cultivate the mind to attain Buddha-meditation samādhi; Buddha-meditation samādhi is no other than Buddha-meditation concentration.
Buddha-meditation concentration has its characteristics: Though in concentration, one is able to accomplish all merits; though engaged in accomplishing all merits, one remains in concentration. It is different from ordinary meditative concentration, for in ordinary concentration one sits like a piece of wood doing no merits.
Be honest when you recite the Buddha’s name. Your mind should be honest; otherwise, you are “having food mixed with poison.” How to make you mind honest? Let your cognizing mind have not a place for thought to arise
How to understand this? Consciousness performs the function of cognition, so the cognizing mind discerns all phenomena. Having not a place for thought to arise means not to cause your mind to give rise to thought. When your mind starts to think, you tend to discriminate whatever you perceive. To let your mind have not a place for thought to arise means to discern all phenomena but not discriminate them. Buddha-meditation concentration can achieve this. If your cognizing mind dese not give rise to a thought, you are “reciting the Buddha honestly”; if you discriminate, you are dishonest.
Observe the activities of your mind and you will find three kinds of afflictions involved, namely greed, hatred and delusion. Reciting the Buddha’s name with the mind free of greed, hatred and delusion is called recollecting the Buddha honestly. Non-arising of thought in the cognizing mind is called concentration. Buddha-meditation concentration is exactly the accomplishment of this practice.
No matter walking, standing, sitting or lying down, when you do not depart from recitation of Buddha’s name, free of greed, hatred and delusion, you are called in Buddha-meditation concentration, and although in concentration, you are not hindered from walking, standing, sitting or lying down. During office time, you can recite the Buddha’s name, free of greed, hatred and delusion, not to be hindered by your work, because you are in Buddha-meditation concentration. Although in concentration, you can proceed with your work all the same. During business time too, you can recite the Buddha’s name with no greed, hatred and delusion, not to be obstructed from practicing Buddha-meditation concentration, and although in concentration, you can do your business all the same. Once greed, hatred, and delusion aroused in your mind, you will discriminate everything, and your recitation of the Buddha’s name will win you no merits.
As I have told you, to cause your mind to give rise to thought will bind you up in the cycle of birth and death. To practice with diligence, this is the way.
Bodhisattvas and Buddhas are in higher stages than we are. Although they go save living beings everywhere in every direction, their dharmakāya the body of truth remains unmoved, and with their dharmakāya unmoved, they can go save living beings in every direction freely. Their meditative concentration is compared to the moon in the sky that is the only one; there are as many reflections of the moon, which are compared to the merits they do, as there are the rivers. We are far from that stage, but we can set about from simple ways.
In your daily life, if you recite the Buddha’s name, free of greed, hatred and delusion, without being hampered by your routine tasks, you are in Buddha-meditation concentration. Although in Buddha-meditation concentration, you can eat, sleep and work as usual. When afflictions come, remember to recite the Buddha’s name and do not give rise to greed, hatred, and delusion; thus, in concentration of Buddha-recitation, you are not to be bothered by afflictions. For it is not that Buddha-recitation meditators have no afflictions, but that they are not tainted by afflictions. When in illness, it is no hampering for you to recite the Buddha’s name, free of greed, hatred, and delusion. At the end of your life, it is no hampering for you to recite the Buddha’s name, free of greed, hatred, and delusion, and you certainly will gain rebirth in the Western Pure Land.
This method is exactly the teaching of prajñā (wisdom). Being in concentration means one keeps his mind unchanged; not to be hampered from doing merits means one goes along with situations. Going along with situations yet keeping the mind unchanged, one can therefore do merits while remaining in meditative concentration; keeping the mind unchanged to go along with situations, one remains in meditative concentration yet accumulates merits all the same.
How to explain this prajñā teaching? It is the pair of prajñā and upāya (expediency). Prajñā stands for emptiness, and upāya, existence; existence is exactly emptiness, and emptiness is exactly existence. Therefore, in the Heart Sutra it says, “form is exactly emptiness, and emptiness is exactly form.”
Once there were bodhisattvas who asked the Buddha: “World Honored One, because of what do you resolve to expound prajñā-pāramitā (the perfection of wisdom)?” The Buddha said: “In order for bodhisattvas to attain samādhi (deep concentration) through meditation on Buddha, I expound prajñā-pāramitā.” Buddha-meditation samādhi is an achievement of very high stage, from which, according to the sutras, develop five kinds of samādhis, and is therefore called ‘the king of samādhis’. What are the five kinds of samādhis? The first is the heroic march samādhi (śūrāmgama-samādhi in Sanskrit), the second, the diamond-like samādhi (Skt. vajra-samādhi), the third, the lion’s roar samādhi (siṃha-vijṛmbhīta-samādhi), the fourth, the Buddha-nature, and the fifth, the perfection of wisdom (prajñā-pāramitā).
Every one of you should practice Buddha-meditation along this way. It is sometimes hard to avoid adversities in life, of which you should not complain, but you should always remain in meditative concentration. To remain in meditative concentration is to enter the Wisdom Gate; to do merits is to approach the Merit Gate. This is how bodhisattvas remain unchanged while going along with situations, and go along with situations while remaining unchanged.
This attainment is the same with that aimed for by practitioners of Patriarchal Chan Buddhism; as for meditation carried out by ordinary people, it cannot lead to this stage. There are many people who, being deceived in regard to Buddhism, would practice ordinary meditation rather than Buddha-meditation. They consider ordinary meditation is of superior stage, not knowing it is Buddha-meditation samādhi that is truly superior.
What is ordinary meditation? I believe all of you have tried it more or less. Ordinary meditation aims for four-dhyānas-and-eight-concentrations, which I am sure you have all tried to attain. Cutting off in-and-out breath is the workout of ordinary meditation. In-and-out breath getting subtle denotes entering the first dhyāna (the first stage of concentration); getting subtler indicates the second dhyāna; getting extremely subtle, the third dhyāna; completely cutting off the in-and-out breath is the sign of the fourth dhyāna.
Where will you go next life with the attainments of four dhyānas and four concentrations of emptiness? You will go to the heavens of the Form Realm and Formless Realm, which are still confined in the Triple World. Born to the Western Pure Land through Buddha-meditation concentration is a shortcut to transcend the Triple World. You should think about it seriously. Unable to escape from the Triple World, you will remain in transmigration through the six destinies of rebirth; born to the Western Pure Land, you will no longer be bound up in transmigration. Even the least of the least grade of attainment is equal to the first-fruit stage in the practice of Hinayana Buddhism. According to the Venerable Master Shandau’s opinion, the highest level of rebirth there is equal to the attainment of the eighth-ground bodhisattvas.
I hope all of you will cherish and follow this teaching. Though in Buddha-recitation concentration, you are not inhibited from doing anything; in the course of doing anything, you are not inhibited from practicing Buddha-recitation concentration. What a supreme method!
Today we have an extra recitation section, and therefore I shall not take up too much of your time.
Now, let’s start the recitation of the Buddha Amitābha.