The Bodhisattva's Three-fold Ethics and Three-fold Samadhi 

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Someone said to me, I'm glad you'll be talking about concentration. There was a suggestion that that might be discussed later in the day, and here we are later in the day, so maybe there's enough time to begin discussing this. In the Samya-Nirmochana Sutra, which I've been talking about for a decade or so, it teaches that there's a basic Bodhisattva training program, which has six precepts, or six basic


training methods, and I've talked to you about them, giving ethical discipline, patience, and so on, up to the perfection of wisdom. These are the basic methods by which one becomes Buddha. Buddha is the full maturity of these training methods. Buddha is a thoroughly trained living being who does the training in order to benefit all beings. And in the Sutra, it mentions that there's three subdivisions of each of these six. In particular, I've talked a lot about the three-fold ethics of Bodhisattvas. In our Bodhisattva precept ceremony, we give


three pure precepts. So these three pure precepts are the three-fold Bodhisattva ethics. These are taught in Indian great vehicle teachings, that the Bodhisattva's ethics is three-fold, that the Buddha gives Bodhisattvas three-fold ethics. One ethics is called ethics of restraint, it's the first one, and based on the first one, we practice the ethics of developing all wholesome qualities, which means again to do these six basic training methods. And the third aspect of ethics is to develop, to benefit and mature all living beings. So first is ethics of restraint, next ethics of all good qualities, next ethics of benefiting beings, those three.


And then I was looking at the same scripture, he was talking about that the practice of samadhi, the practice of concentration, is also three-fold. And I saw that the practice of samadhi, the three-folds of samadhi, seem to be related to the three-folds of ethics. So the three aspects of samadhi that are first mentioned are samadhi, which is a state of bliss, a state without discriminating thought, silent and still, extremely tranquil and impeccable, curing the pains of affliction. That's the first aspect of samadhi. So being calm and peaceful


and still and blissful, that might be a familiar description of the state of concentration. But it says a little bit more, it says that the concentration is, in this case, without discrimination or you could say non-conceptual. And it doesn't say therefore, but I would say because it's without discrimination, because it's non-conceptual, it is impeccable. Again relating to what I mentioned this morning, when we arrive at sitting in this immeasurable, inconceivable, imperceptible world, when we are sitting there, that state is impeccable,


there are no mistakes. And this goes with the first pure precept, which is the precept of restraint of mistakes. And this precept of restraint of error, the precept of being impeccable about all actions and restraining the impeccable, that precept gives peace of mind. When we are able to do that first pure precept, that first ethical precept, it brings peace of mind. And the first aspect of samadhi is a peace of mind without discrimination. So it's not just that you don't make mistakes in the gross sense, you don't make mistakes in the subtle sense of discrimination. You perform actions without discrimination in


this concentration. For example, without the discrimination between actor and action, or self and other, there's not that discrimination. And in the samadhi this discrimination is dropped for the time being. Mind and object are one-pointed. There's no discrimination within one point. Self and other are one-pointed. There's no discrimination between self and other. The concept of self and other has been collapsed into concentration. So that concentration goes, I feel, with the first ethical point in Bodhisattva practice. The next kind of concentration is a concentration which manifestly achieves good qualities,


which brings forth these good qualities. It's a concentration on these practices which we just talked about, generosity, ethics and so on, but it's practicing them in this context of restraint of discrimination. You practice giving... Yes? Can I ask a question about the first level? Do you understand it to mean that there's no discursive thought in that absorption? Or is it that as discursive thought arises, there's no discrimination between that and other things? I would say that by attending to giving up discursive thought, one arrives at mental one-pointedness. And if discursive thought arose after giving it up for a long time,


if it continued to arise, that discursive thought would arise in mental one-pointedness. So the discursive thought would be understood as not other than that which is aware of it. That the discursive thought, you would understand, is none other than consciousness itself. So there would be no discrimination between the awareness and the discourse. To get to that level of non-conceptuality, one would have to practice letting go of the discrimination and treating all the different discursive thoughts in the same way, in order to be able to practice non-discrimination towards... eventually to practice non-discrimination towards the thought, towards the discourse, and non-discrimination between the discourse, the discourser, the courser, the discussant, and the consciousness. But they would all be one point. Therefore the mind is tranquil, very tranquil, very still, and blissful, and


impeccable. Which brings that impeccable together with the ethical training to be impeccable. So the ethical training to be impeccable helps you be impeccable about your concentration practice too. However, until you're one-pointed, it's probably not possible to be impeccable. Once you're concentrated in this way, you can be impeccable. And the second one, the second aspect of the concentration, is concentration which is bringing forth the good qualities. That's exactly the same as the second aspect of ethics, which is to gather together, actually to gather, to concentrate all the good qualities, all the training methods, they're all gathered together and developed. That's the same as


the second kind of samadhi. And in both cases, you can develop these, if these gathering of the wholesome qualities in ethical practice is based on the pure practice, where you're working to do various forms in such a way that you don't try to gain anything from them, for example, that you notice your resistance to them, both in terms of holding back and overdoing it. By noticing these ways of falling down with the forms, with the regulations of the practice, with the ceremonies involved, one realizes an impeccability there which is as far as you can go before you are mentally one-pointed about that. And that makes it


possible to do the next practice, both coming from samadhi and ethics practice, to do the next practice really well. And then the third aspect of samadhi is a samadhi which manifestly achieves the welfare of all beings, which sounds just like the third aspect of bodhisattva ethics. So what's the difference? Well, the difference would only be that in the case of the samadhi, you would be one-pointed about it, you would be tranquil and at peace, and you'd be impeccable. So in order to go from attempting to do the threefold bodhisattva ethics, the way we try now, to the way they are doing it where it's impeccable, we need to practice them and then practice patience, enthusiasm and concentration. So we need concentration


for them actually to become impeccable. And in concentration, as is presented, it starts with the first one, which is to be in a state of concentration where we realize we are in an irreproachable, impeccable state. And I also mentioned that when doing these bodhisattva ethical trainings, that the essence of training with these three, restraining distraction, distraction from doing the practice, practicing all good and benefiting beings, that in trying to practice these precepts, first of all we receive them. We receive these precepts from another who has received them from another and so on, back to beginningless time. Then


we aspire to them. So the essence of this ethical discipline has four parts. First is receive the precepts correctly from another. Second is to aspire to practice the precept. Third is to be peccable, is to fall down, is to fail at doing what you aspire to do. That's a normal part of moving towards being impeccable, is to be peccable. And by doing that over and over, one evolves towards being successful, towards being impeccable in regard to practicing. But to be successful all the time means we need to be concentrated in this way. So as we are doing these practices we move towards concentration until the concentration


is so one-pointed and in that one-pointedness there is no more failure. We are impeccable. So that's the three aspects of concentration in relationship to the three aspects of ethical training. I feel that they dovetail each other. One anticipates the second, the second shows the perfection of the first. This is from the sutra and then one of the great devotees of the sutra, Asanga, wrote a text called the Summary of the Great Vehicle and in there he also treats the concentration


as three aspects and he says it slightly differently. He's inspired by the sutra but when he talks about the three aspects he talks about it slightly differently. He says the first aspect of concentration is that which establishes pleasant abodes. The second aspect is that which engenders supernatural powers. The third aspect is that which benefits beings. Pleasant abodes are established by doing things with no resistance. By thinking with no resistance. Which means thinking without any discourse. To be totally one-pointed with things is to have no resistance. And we don't usually


think of all these good qualities as supernumeral powers, but anyway, that's what it says. So I'm just letting you know that you might accidentally engender some supernatural powers if you do these practices in a concentrated way. And the third one is exactly the same, that which benefits living beings. Now, it turns out that each one of these three aspects of concentration is then analyzed into three further steps. But I would be willing to wait until another time to tell you about them, unless you want to hear about them now. But it may or may not be the right time to tell you that these three aspects of concentration also have three aspects. So this presentation, the six basic Bodhisattva practices each have three aspects,


which is 18 aspects of one practice of enlightenment. And each of them have three aspects, which is 54, I believe, aspects, 54 facets of the process of making a Buddha. But maybe I should wait to tell you about them and see if you have any questions in our last few minutes together. Any feedback from anybody about anything? Any feedback, Ted Brown? I asked you that before, remember? Any feedback, Ted Brown and


Ted Moore? Any feedback, Ted Moore? Any feedback, Jeff? Any feedback, Tyler? Any feedback, Athena? What? Thank you. Any feedback, Alenia, up in the high A? You're welcome. Would you tell me your name, sir? Eric. Any feedback, Eric? You were sitting and you were noticing inconsistency and it was hard to accept the inconsistency?


More open to seeing the inconsistency? Yeah. How about more open? Did you feel more open to being inconsistent. So that shows that to me, I hear you saying, at the beginning, when I was aware of inconsistency in the concentration, I was having trouble being generous towards it. But at the end, I was more generous and welcoming of it. And then if you can be more accepting, open, and welcoming to the inconsistencies in the concentration, you're already more concentrated. I don't know if you notice that, but I feel that when I see somebody who's distracted and they push the distraction away, that they get more distracted. But when they welcome the distraction and they say thank you to


the distraction, and thank you that they notice the distraction, they're already more concentrated at that moment. That's what I observe. Then we have to be careful of the distraction, right? Practice ethics with the distraction. I don't know if you moved on to that, but anyway, I think what happened, my story of him, is that he was sitting, he noticed distraction, inconsistencies in the concentration, and he went back to the beginning practice of generosity, which is the foundation of concentration. We can't be concentrated in a focused, calm, relaxed, buoyant way if we're not generous with what comes up. And if we are generous with what comes up, we can be concentrated. And then we can be patient also with the amount of effort that we have to give to go from


inconsistency to consistency. But we're not going to get to consistency unless every step of the way we're generous to the inconsistency. But that doesn't mean as soon as you're generous to inconsistency, the inconsistency drops away. No. So it needs patience. We need to be generous, careful, and patient. And then, when we got that all together, now I can say, I actually would really like to be consistent. I'm ready, and I really would like to. And then, there it is. And then it goes away, and you start over. Any other feedback? Yes. Would you say there's a difference between awareness practice and concentration? A difference between awareness practice and concentration? Well, the word concentration is sometimes translated as awareness. However, some awareness is not concentrated, or some


awareness does not fully realize tranquility, bliss, flexibility, focus. So some states of awareness are not concentrated, and some are. But concentration is one of the forms of awareness, and it's a type of awareness that's necessary in order for there to be another kind of awareness. You can call wisdom also a kind of awareness. You can call Buddha's wisdom a type of awareness. But it's an awareness where there's fully developed concentration, which again, doesn't just mean focused, it also means flexible, body and mind are flexible, relaxed, open, but undistracted, and joyful, and bright. That's an awareness. States that don't have that quality are not usually called concentration. The concentration is always


available. We're living in concentration, actually. That's where we live. But because of the limited world we imagine, that sometimes quite successfully distracts us from the state of concentration in which we're actually living. Is your name Shoshana? Do you have any feedback? No, I'm just taking it in. Romy, did you have some feedback? No? Brent? Ben? Kai? No? John? I don't think I have any verbal feedback except for this, but I feel like I'm offering feedback. Okay, thank you for the non-verbal feedback. Simon?


Can you describe Vrindavan Shana's discursive thought? Describe it? It's going to be practicing these six perfections with it. Again, if discursive thought arises, for example, certain kinds of discursive thought are really very attractive, either for self-abuse or self-aggrandizement. So, if I want to relinquish or let go of discursive thought, I have to, first of all, practice generosity towards it. And then I have to be careful of it, because it can be a pitfall. But careful of it does not mean closing my eyes to it. It does not mean running after it. It does not mean holding on to it. It does not mean speak badly of it. It also doesn't mean to praise it for more than it is. And


so on. I practice the Bodhisattva ethics of restraint with discursive thought. The state of concentration is like the state of the first four precepts, but the development of concentration, you have to use the six perfections to get to concentration. We're not going to really even fully renounce discursive thought until we have wisdom. So, by doing these first four practices, we're ready to basically relinquish discursive thought. And relinquish means we don't push it away, because that would be too much, that would be some discrimination, and we don't hold on to it. We really totally let it be, so that now we can look at it and apply the teachings about the nature of phenomena to discursive thought and all other phenomena. Was that helpful?


Well, I would like to ask each of you for your feedback, so maybe you could all give it at once. Thank you very much. And so I wish you well in the month of July. I will be in Europe the whole month, but I hope to practice with you again someday. Thank you, thank you. Beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them.


Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable. I vow to become it.