Line Three of the Text

Line three is: "If you desire liberation for the sake of yourself, you haven't the enlightened attitude."

If we truly understand that the world is full of suffering, and believe that we are able to free ourselves by practicing virtuous deeds, we can actually attain self-liberation. However, self-liberation does not fully accomplish one's own purpose, and it cannot help other sentient beings. As a matter of fact, self-liberation is a great obstacle to attaining ultimate enlightenment because it delays the actual ultimate enlightenment. It is very important right from the beginning to set out to achieve the highest aim, which is to attain ultimate enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. This ultimate enlightenment must arise from the right cause and conditions. The main cause is great compassion, the root is Bodhicitta, and the condition is skillful means. Although every sentient being wishes to be free from suffering and wants to have happiness, due to ignorance, they can never have these. In this sense it is wrong to aim to be free from suffering for oneself. We have to think of all other sentient beings. But we are unable to help them at this moment because our defilements and delusions bind us. So, the only thing that can help is to attain ultimate enlightenment - so that we will actually be able to help others. To attain ultimate enlightenment, one has to have the right causes. The first is to meditate on love and compassion. "Love" means that you wish every sentient being to be happy and to have the cause of happiness. This wish must be directed to all sentient beings without any discrimination. Since we cannot produce these thoughts toward all sentient beings at the beginning of our practice, we proceed gradually. We begin by meditating on love and compassion towards whomever is dearest to us, for example, our own mother. One begins by visualizing in front of you, your own mother or anyone who is dear to you. Then, remember all the kindness they have done for you. For example, if it is your own mother, consider that she gave birth to you, brought you up in life with a kind, loving eye, gave you so much love and took care of you. Although now she is aiming for happiness herself, due to ignorance, she cannot have happiness. She is in the midst of suffering and she is even causing more suffering. Therefore, you should wish that she be free and be happy and have the cause of happiness. And so you pray, "May she be happy and have the cause of happiness of the Guru and Triple Gem." Later, you should gradually increase this visualization to include your relatives and so forth. Finally, include more difficult individual, such as people you dislike and your enemies. You visualize your enemy right in front of you and think that, although in this life he appears in the form of the enemy, in actual fact, in many lifetimes he has been my very kind mother and father, as well as relatives and friends. He has given so much love and compassion and so much care has been given to me. But now we have changed our lives and since I did not repay his own kindness to him, today he comes in the form of my enemy to take all the kindness he has given. Today we have changed our lives; we do not recognize each other, so therefore, we must create the thought, "May he be happy and have the cause of happiness." And then gradually you expand this meditation until you can have the same thought towards all sentient beings.

When one is well trained in this meditation of love, one can also use it to increase feelings of compassion. First, whoever is dearest to you, you visualize and think, "Although this person wants happiness, due to ignorance, he is in the midst of suffering. Due to ignorance, he is making more suffering for himself. May he now be free from suffering and may he be free from the cause of suffering." And in the same way, later you should try to extend this meditation to the point that you have the same thought for all beings without discrimination.

When you are well advanced in this meditation, it is important to practice "Tong Len." In this practice we visualize that all the happiness and the causes of happiness (that is, the virtuous deeds one has), are given, without hesitation, to all sentient beings. And the suffering of all sentient beings as well as their cause of sufferings, come to oneself, visualized like a great mass of dirt. This "exchanging meditation" is, of course, of great benefit. When one is well versed in this, then one practices the Six Paramitas and the four collecting things which we have in the main path of a Bodhisattva. With this we have completed the first three lines, which explains the method side of all the different paths.

Line Four of the Text

Line four is: "If you grasp at the view of ultimate reality, you haven't got the right view."

The fourth line deals with view. Even if relative Bodhicitta, the relative enlightenment-thought has arisen well within your mind, if one still has clinging to all things as reality, then one will fall into the error of the permanent and the impermanent. Therefore, one will fall into the extremes of existence and non-existence. Due to this, one will not be free from the sufferings of samsara. To really be free, it is very important to keep away from clinging to the belief that this life is real. The antidote for this deluded belief is concentration and insight-wisdom. Concentration is necessary because our minds are focused on distractions and outer objects. It is really important to do concentration meditations, because without proper concentration, one will not be able to attain insight-wisdom. Before one can meditate on insight-wisdom a strong base first must be built. The base for insight wisdom is concentration. Concentration should be done in a secluded place, away from distractions, sitting in full-lotus position, or half-lotus position. First, you do recite the refuge prayer and create the enlightenment thought. Then you should assume the full meditation position, sitting straight. One should concentrate first on any outer object, preferably an image of Buddha. In this way you are remembering the Buddha, which in itself has a tremendous amount of power. You visualize the Buddha's image in front of you on a jewelled throne, golden colored with his right hand in the earth-touching mudra, and his left hand in his lap in the meditation position. He is wearing the full robes and sitting in the full-lotus position. Concentrate on this general image of the Buddha and the specific parts of the body as well. Or, you can meditate on some other Buddha form, like Buddha Amitabha or other deities. Try to concentrate on this. In the beginning, it will seem that you have many thoughts, but in fact this is actually what is happening all the time. Normally, since you follow your thoughts , you don't notice it. In the meantime, when thoughts come, instead of going after the thoughts, you just concentrate. You turn back and concentrate on the image for a long period of time. As you develop, your thoughts will decrease, and you will be able to remain on the same object for a long period of time. Then, after a while, you will be able to concentrate on the image for a very long period of time. When that happens, it is a sign that your concentration is now strong enough to be able to meditate on insight-wisdom. Concentration alone will not do anything, apart from keeping away distractions. It will not take away the deep roots of the defilements.

To take away the deep root of the defilements, insight-wisdom is necessary. In Tibetan, the word for insight-wisdom is "lhag-tong" (lhag mthong). This means that, when you examine the outer and inner dharmas -- the true nature of all things - through wisdom, then, you are able to see something completely different. Lhag means "extra" and tong is "to see." So, it means to see something extraordinary. You see completely beyond existing and non-existing; you have completely gone beyond the two extremes. The concentration was method and the actual thing was insight-wisdom. When you managed to meditate on the insight-wisdom instead of concentrating on an outer object, you concentrate on the actual thing. Before one meditates, of course, it is necessary to explain a lot of things. First of all, all the different visions that we see, in other words, animate and inanimate -- all the things that we see. Ordinary people don't think, "Why do all these things appear?" or, "Why must we have these?" They simply just accept things as they are. A person with greater intelligence will try to concentrate on these ideas. Through their intelligence, they are able to examine the true nature of all things: For example, questions such as "why we are born like this", or "why do we see all these different visions", "why do people have different visions, why do people have different feelings", and so forth.

In the past, when meditators examined these questions and tried to discover the true nature of all things, they all came to different conclusions. For example, that all of existence is created by Brahma or so forth and so on, according to the different schools of Indian philosophy. Briefly speaking, there are four different Buddhist schools: two of the Hinayana and two of the Mahayana. Beginning with the Hinayana schools, the first is the Sarvastivadins or Vaibahashikas. When they examined these questions, they came to the conclusion that everything that we see is not existing as we take it to be, but the atoms of these are existing. For instance, for them, a table is a relative truth. They assert that a table is made of huge numbers of atoms put together in a particular shape and named "table." So the table is relative, because when you examine it, you don't find "table" anywhere -- it is just hundreds of atoms. But, when they examined the atom itself, the tiniest atom they could not divid e anymore, they held it to existin absolutely. Thus, the belief of the Vaibhashika, or lowest Hinayana school, is that the table is relative truth and the atoms of the table are absolute truth.

Higher than this is the view of the Hinayana school called the Sautrantika. They think that all the outer visions are the same as held by the Sarvastivadins. In addition, they hold that the outer object, the organ of the eye, and the consciousness of the eye -- these three things meet together. Then in the second moment, the eye, so to speak, takes a picture of that outer object. Finally, all you can see is the picture which has been taken by your mind. They held that as the truth.

Then, as thinking about these questions developed further in the Mahayana, there emerged two schools, the Vijnanavada and the Madhyamika. In the Vijnanavada, it is held that all this is not true -- that all this is not existing outside, but is all our own projection: It is all projected by our mind. Everything is mind. Nobody has created what we perceive, only our own mind has created these things. For that reason, for sentient beings, a certain place is a very happy place, while for certain people, it is a very miserable place. So, it is all our own projection -- there is nothing of the outer object -- it is all projected (in other words, manifested) from our own mind. All this is the relative truth, but the mind exists absolutely.

Even higher than this view is the Madhyamika, which was founded by the great Guru, Nagarjuna. The Lord Buddha himself prophesied that after his passing away, there would be a bhikshu named Naga, and only he would be able to find the hidden meaning of all the Prajnaparamita Sutras. As Buddha prophesied, Nagarjuna came, and when he examined things, he could not find anything, because to hold that the mind itself is existing is not right: The mind is subject and things are object. Subject and object are depending on each other. If there is no object, there cannot be a subject. So the mind, also, is not existing. But, he accepts everything relatively -- without examining things -- the way ordinary people take them to be, as in the form of illusions. But in reality, the Madhyamikas' view is that you cannot find any conclusion such as "Mind is existing." He could not say anything. The true nature of everything is completely removed from the dual vision. For example, it is just like a dream. In th e dream, we see many happy things or we see many sufferings, but when you awake from your dream, you don't find them anymore. All the things you saw in your dream are gone, and you don't know where it came from and where it has gone or where it is staying. In the same way, the present vision is like a very long dream. Only this dream has very firm propensities, so therefore, we think of it in terms of being very real. In reality, all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas see that this is just like a dream. When you attain enlightenment, it is just like awakening from your dream. Therefore, all the visions that you see are just like reflections in a mirror. Until you have a real firm understanding, you should try to think that all things are not real. This is what we call the vision and the void seen non-dually. Relatively, with all the things that you see, the vision doesn't cease -- you can see all the time. When you try to examine with the sharp reasoning of absolute truth, then you cannot find anyth ing which is independently existing. You should try to meditate until you attain a definite understanding of this. Finally, you mix together concentration and insight-wisdom, and try to think that all the things that were explained are realized as shunyata. In reality, there is no object "shunyata" and no subject "mind" which realized shunyata. The true nature of all things is completely merged, just as water is merged with water and completely becomes one. By doing meditation in this way, your mind will completely turn away from the clinging to the present vision as real and realize that this is all illusion. All these illusions will gradually turn away. And then, as you go on, you will be able to realize the real ultimate truth. By realizing the ultimate truth, then, of course, you depart from all the defilements and are awakened from all illusions.

At the off-time of meditation, due to your understanding of shunyata, you understand that sentient beings who do not realize this shunyata have to suffer a great deal. With that in mind, you are able to generate great compassion. Through the practice of great compassion and the understanding of shunyata, -- "just as the bird in the sky needs two wings" --, with the method, compassion, and the wisdom (shunyata), one will be able to cross the suffering of samsara. One will be able to attain ultimate enlightenment. In the ultimate enlightenment, through wisdom you attain the dharmakaya, which accomplishes your tasks, and through the practice of compassion you will be able to liberate others. In that way , you attain the Rupakaya and benefit countless sentient beings forever. So with this, we have completed the whole four lines of the Zhenpa Zhidel.

The following Questions and Answers are related to this topic.

Q: How does a being become a deva? What is it in this lifetime that we do that brings about deva rebirth?

Sakya Trizin: The virtuous deeds like generosity and moral conduct, etc. The result of those is either to be born in a human life or the demi-gods' or god's realm. Especially, with a lot of concentration but without insight-wisdom, just the outer concentration in which your mind is very stable, one will be able to be born in the gods' realm. Virtuous acts accompanied by wisdom and with the intention of bodhicitta will become the cause of enlightenment rather than the worldly path of the devas.

Q: Please explain the concept of karma and its relationship to cause and effect and merit.

Sakya Trizin: Actually the word karma means action or activities - the work that we undertake. The life we go through now, and all of its experiences, is the product of our own actions that we have taken in the past. Nobody can make us suffer. Nobody can make us happy. Only through the main cause that comes from our own actions will we be happy or suffer. The main cause is our own action. The actions that we've taken create the effect and the result.

Q: Are there factors that determine at what time during this or future lifetimes that the fruit of a person's virtuous actions will manifest? What are the factors?

Sakya Trizin: It depends on the action itself. There are certain actions that will ripen in this life. When the object is strong, the action is strong, and the intention is strong, then the result ripens in this very lifetime. There are certain actions that ripen in this life after this lifetime, or even in several lifetimes later. The law of cause and effect is such a subtle thing that no ordinary person can fully explain it.

Q: Yesterday, you talked about suffering. In your life you endured much suffering. Your parents passed away when you were young, you were forced to flee from Tibet. Could you share with us how you used such events in your practice and what you've learned?

Sakya Trizin: To experience suffering is a great lesson. The teaching tells you about impermanence and suffering, but knowing it intellectually and experiencing it in real life is different. Books can tell you many things but experiencing what it is in real life helps you realize the practice. Makes the practice more meaningful, more profound, and more effective.

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