The Definitive Instructions on the Deeds of the Enlightened, Part I
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Tenshin Reb Anderson
Samdhinirmonchana Sutra (Part XIII),
Chapter Ten, Morning Dharma Talk
No Abode Saturday October 15, 2010, A.M.
Transcribed by: Karen Mueller
NB - Date on transcript is wrong
I wish to discuss a Mahayana scripture with you today, if possible. But before doing so, some introduction may be appropriate and the introduction may take up all of our time. Someone said to me recently that she wanted to experience “The Truth”. And it occurred to me that in order to experience the truth, and in order to open to the experience of truth I think we need to open to our experience right now. In a sense our current experience is not the truth; it’s just what’s appearing to us. But if we can open to our present experience, it may be possible to open to the truth of our present experience which might be the same truth of all of our past experiences and all of our future experiences. But for now I propose that…, it seems to me, that in order to experience The Truth, that means the truth of something, of something that we are living, the truth of our life, now. This is an introduction or an orientation to what’s happening now with the hope, with the wish, that if we have the proper orientation to what’s happening now, in this temple, we could open to and enter into the truth of what’s happening or what’s going on here in this temple. One could possibly experience the truth of this little introduction if one opened to this little introduction. Another thing that occurs to me often is that in order to open to our present experience we must be still with our present experience. In order to open to the experience of discomfort that may be arising.. be happening right now, we need to be still with the experience of discomfort. We need to do this in order to practice patience and we need to practice patience in order to open to the truth. The truth of, for example, any discomfort that’s happening now. It occurs to me that it’s also good to open to all past pain and all future pain, but let’s start with present pain. Let’s be still with any discomfort that appears to be arising now. And if there’s comfort, let’s be present and still with the comfort, because then, if we’re present with any comfort we feel, any ease we feel, for example with the lovely light coming through the paper-covered windows, that we may open to the truth of this light coming through the windows and the truth of any ease we feel with this lovely light. Expanding on this introduction a little more I would say that in order to experience the truth of our present experience of, for example, sounds, our present hearing of sounds, our present seeing of sights. In order to open to the truth of it, we must fully engage body and mind while hearing and seeing. And again, in order to fully engage this body and mind that’s hearing and seeing, we must be still. Being still is fundamental to fully engaging body and mind in our experiencing. And as an ancestor says, as a matter of fact as the ancestor whose verses we chanted a moment ago, Eihei Koso Dogen Zenji, as he said, when we experience, when hearing sounds and seeing sights, fully engaging body and mind, it’s not like the moon reflected in the water, or the image and it’s reflection in a mirror. When one side is illuminated, the other side is dark. So if we hear sounds while fully engaging body and mind, it isn’t like “us” hearing “the sounds”. It It‘s not like that. It’s not like us reflecting on the sounds. It’s not like the moon reflected in the water. It’s like either the moon or the reflection in the water. So when you fully engage body and mind, hearing sounds there is just sounds and no you, or there’s just you and no sounds. You’re listening to sounds and there’s no sounds, there’s just you. Or there’s just sounds and there’s no you. That’s what it’s like when you’re still and open to your experience and then you’re open to the truth, that when you’re fully engaged with your experience, if one side is in the light the other side is in darkness. Usually we’re not fully engaged with what we’re hearing or seeing and both sides are in the light. The sight is in the light and I’m in the light. The sound is in the light and I’m in the light. There’s “me” and “the sounds”. Or as I said last weekend, (singing) “There’s me and my shadow…” That’s when you’re not fully engaging, there’s you and your shadow, or there’s you and your thoughts. And sadly, there’s “you” and “the truth”. The truth which you’re reflecting on. But when you fully engage the truth, it’s not like the truth, the moon reflected in the water. There’s just the moon or there’s just the reflection. So there’s just the truth and no you. The truth is all there is, with no “you” left-over. Or there’s just you and no truth. Take your pick about which story is sadder. The happy story is me AND the truth. That’s happy. But that’s the happiness of not being fully engaged. That’s the happiness of thinking that when one side is illuminated so is the other one.Everything going ok with the recording department? . What I’ve said so far is not important but what’s coming is really important. This is just a warm-up. So please fully engage body and mind and everything will be fine, even though I’m going to talk about some really difficult things. If you fully engage body and mind, there will just be you and no difficult topics or there will just be difficult topics and no you to worry about them. This is also encouragement for me to talk about something difficult. Something deep. Deep means difficult in dharma practice. So for some years, I’ve been studying and discussing a scripture and one of the, part of the title of the scripture in Sanskrit is Gambhirartha, the deep meaning, the deep meaning of the Buddha’s intention, releasing the deep meaning of the Buddha’s intention, unraveling, un-knotting the deep intention. Samdhinirmochana. Means “unravellling” and Gambhirartha, unraveling the deep intention. So this scripture that we’ve been studying, the Chinese translation is “understanding” or “elucidating” Or “releasing the deep mystery”. Or I really prefer, “Unraveling the Deep Intimacy of the Buddha’s Teaching”. Some of the discussions were recorded and transcribed and edited and reworked and are starting to come together as a book. And the conclusion of the editing job left two chapters of this scripture undiscussed. We studied these two chapters but there were no recordings of the discussions so this past summer I gave a little bit of a talk on one of the remaining chapters. So there’s ten chapters in the Tibetan translation and so this summer I talked about the ninth chapter and now I’d like to begin to talk about the tenth chapter so that the commentary has something on all the chapters of the scripture. In the Tibetan translation of this scripture, the ninth chapter is called “ The Questions of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva”. However at the end of the ninth chapter, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva asks the Buddha, “By what should this discourse that we’ve just had, be known?. And the Buddha said, this discourse, this part of the discourse should be known as ‘accomplishing the perfections, the six perfections, and the ten stages of the bodhisattva’. So in that chapter there is discussion of the six basic practices of bodhisattvas. So again the Buddha says this chapter should be called ‘Teaching on the Definitive Meaning of the Ten Stages and the Six Practices (Perfections)’. This chapter we’re in now, in the Tibetan translation is called “The Questions of Manjusri Bodhisattva”. But again at the end of this chapter, Manjusri asks the Buddha what should this chapter be called and the Buddha said it should be called, ‘the Teaching on the Definitive Meaning of the Deeds of the Enlightened’, ‘The Deeds of the Completely Enlightened’. That’s what this last chapter is about. (Powers p 309 “definitive instruction regarding the deeds of the Tathagathas”) So it might not be surprising to you to find that if we’re talking about the deeds of the thoroughly enlightened that this is a pretty profound topic. And it seems that way to me that it’s pretty profound. It starts out pretty profound. So profound that one might say, “What’s this got to do with my life?” So I thought you might feel that way if I talked about this, but I still want to talk about it even though you might think “What’s this got to do with my life today”? And the answer to that question will come to you if you listen while fully engaging body and mind. I should say the correct answer will come; the true answer will come. I thought I might just say a little bit about the person who’s asking the questions, Manjusri Bodhisattva. He’s the one who’s having a conversation with the Buddha in this chapter. This great Bodhisattva has a name, Manjusri, which could be etymologized as “Pleasant Splendor” or “Soft Glory” or “Sweetness and Light”. Because his mind realizes the truth of suchness and is permanently peaceful and benefits all enemies and friends and does not harm them, because of that he is called “pleasant” or “soft” or “sweet”. He is sweet to his enemies and to his friends. And his mind realizes true suchness and is peaceful. This is pleasant and glorious. No, just pleasant. Because he is endowed with the true meaning of splendor and glory, or he is endowed with the meaning of splendor because he is revered and worshipped. He is endowed with the meaning of splendor because he is revered and worshipped by people of the world and even those far beyond the world. He is revered and worshipped by everybody. That’s the meaning of splendor. He is endowed with it. So his name is Manjusri. Some people would say that in reality this bodhisattva is actually a Tathagatha, a fully realized Buddha, but in order to teach the Buddha-dharma he appears in the form of a bodhisattva. We call him the Bodhisattva of Perfect Wisdom, and a statue of him is usually enshrined in the meditation halls of Zen temples. Implying I would say, that our meditation, which we practice in our meditation hall, is in union with wisdom. We practice mediation in the mediation hall. That’s rather straightforward. But Manjusri is the honored bodhisattva. Implying, as I said, as I think, that the meditation we’re doing is a meditation which is one with Perfect Wisdom. If we consider Manjusri this way, as one of the embodiments of wisdom (one of them anyway) it makes sense that he is strongly associated with the Perfect Wisdom Scriptures. He is often one of the partners in the dialogues in those scriptures. Manjusri sets a splendid, pleasant and sweet example for our Zen stories. And here is a story about Manjusri talking to the Buddha. In this chapter Manjusri is talking to the Buddha about the Buddhas. May I start? And may all the great bodhisattva mahasattvas make it possible for us to discuss this last chapter of this amazing scripture. “Then the Bodhisattva Manjusri asks the Bhagavan”…Bhagavan is one of the epithets of Buddha…”Bhagavan when you speak of the Dharmakaya of the Tathagathas, Bhagavan, what are the characteristics of the Dharmakaya of the Tathagathas”. (Powers p 275) Dharmakaya, ‘Dharma” means reality or truth or teaching in this case and “kaya” means body. What are the characteristics of the Reality Body of the Buddhas, of the Tathagathas, of the Bhagavans? “And the Bhagavan replied, ‘Manjusri, the characteristics of the Dharmakaya of the Tathagathas are the well-established transformation of the basis.” (Powers p 275) The reality body of the Buddhas, the true body of the Buddhas has the characteristic, the characteristic of this true body, the characteristics of this true body are the well-established transformation of the basis. “through renunciation and complete cultivation of (back to the previous chapter) the ten stages and the six perfections”. (Powers p 275) “Transformation of the basis”, what’s the “basis”? The basis, the basis has.. there’s three different basis here in a way. One of the basis is, yeah, one of the basis is the basis which is the mind, the mind which lives in a body, the mind of an embodied… an embodied mind. Ordinarily the basis there is the basis of the living being being a living being and the basis of a living being being a living being is the basis upon which they are not enlightened. What they are working with is the result of past action and is the basis for their not understanding reality. It’s the basis of their karmic consciousness. By practicing the six perfections, dealt with in the previous chapter (giving, ethical discipline, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom) by practicing these six perfections through ten stages, this basis is transformed. And becomes the thoroughly transformed basis for the true body of the Buddha. Again, this basis is transformed through renunciation and complete cultivation of the ten stages of practicing the six perfections. But I have just emphasized the transformation of the mind. But also there is a thoroughly established transformation of the basis of the Path. So those who are trying to practice also have a basis upon which they are trying to practice and that basis is also thoroughly transformed in the Dharma Body of the Buddhas. And there’s also a basis for the errant tendencies and that basis is also thoroughly transformed. And this complete transformation in these three ways, through renunciation and complete cultivation of the six basic bodhisattva practices through ten stages, that’s the true body of the Buddhas. Then comes the “Moreover know that this true body of the Buddhas’ has an inconceivable characteristic for two reasons. One, because it is free from elaboration and free from manifest activity; and two because sentient beings very strongly adhere to elaborations and mental activity”. (Powers p 275) It’s almost,.. so this dharma body is free of elaborations. And what kind of elaborations are we talking about? We’re talking about elaborations basically in terms of, for example; cessation, permanence and annihilation is an elaboration of what’s going on. That’s an elaboration. Another elaboration is that there are diverse meanings or that there’s a single meaning. The Dharma Body of the Buddha is free. That means it is not of diverse meanings and it means it is also not of single meaning. The Dharma Body of the Buddha is free of coming and going. \We often say in our dedications in the Zen tradition, when we’re celebrating the coming of an ancestor or the going of an ancestor, like when we celebrate the birth of one of our ancient teachers, or even some of our teachers who died not so long ago. When we celebrate their birth we often say “in the Dharma Body, there is no coming” there is no birth. We’re celebrating their birth. But we also mention that in the Dharma Body, there is no birth. And we sometimes celebrate their death. We memorialize their death and we say, in the Dharma Body there’s no going. There’s no death. In the Dharma Body of the Buddha there’s no birth and death, no coming and going. There’s no cessation. There’s no annihilation, there’s no permanence. There’s not diverse meanings or single meanings. This is part of the reason why the Dharma Body of the Buddha has the characteristic of being inconceivable. Think about this. How do we conceive of something that doesn’t come or go? It’s pretty hard. What makes it all the harder is that living beings,.. the second reason why it’s inconceivable is that we living beings strongly adhere to elaborations. So even if you didn’t strongly adhere to them, you wouldn’t be able to get at it through elaboration. But if you’re inclined towards elaboration, which sentient beings are, all the more this Dharma Body, which we’re now talking about, is inconceivable. So that’s where we get to the place of “what’s it got to do with me if it’s inconceivable?” But the chapter is not over. We’re going to talk about something which has the basic characteristics which are the thoroughly established transformation of the basis and the secondary characteristic, or the parallel characteristic, that this transformation of the basis has the mark of inconceivability. Then Manjusri asks the Buddha, “Is the transformation of the basis of the Svrakas (what we call “the listeners) or the Pratyekabuddhas (solitary enlightened beings) is it also (called) suitably referred to as the Dharmakaya (the true body)?” (Powers p 275) So there are spiritual adepts, called listeners, also sometimes called arhats, people who really have great accomplishment of wisdom. And then there’s what we call pratyekabuddhas which are,.. means that they are illuminated, they become enlightened without even hearing the teachings from the Buddhas in this lifetime. Is there, are these beings, they go through transformation too. They transform their basis. Their basis gets transformed through practice. So Manjusri is asking, “Is it suitable to call their transformation the Dharma Body?” And the Buddha says, “Manjusri, they are not spoken of in this way”. (Powers p 275) And then Manjusri says, “Bhagavan, in that case, what should they be called?’ (Powers p 275) And the Bhagavan said, “They are liberation bodies.” (Powers p 275) In terms of liberation bodies, the Tathagathas (the Buddhas) the shravakas (the listeners) and the pratyekabuddha (solitary illuminates) are similar and equal.” (Powers p 275) So the Buddhas have liberation bodies, but we don’t usually mention it because the Dharma Body is so much more important. But they have liberation bodies. They have a body that is liberated from affliction. That comes along with the transformation of the basis. And these other spiritual beings, they also have liberation bodies. And the liberation bodies of these sages and the liberation bodies of the Buddhas are similar and equal. So in terms of liberation bodies, there are beings that have the same liberation body as the Buddha, basically. However “in terms of the Dharmakaya (Dharma Body) the Thathagathas (Buddhas) are superior. Since the Dharmakaya (Dharma Bodies) are superior, the Tathagathas are also superior in terms immeasurable, of immeasurably good qualities.” It is not easy to provide examples of it (of this Dharmakaya). (Powers p 275) Nothing is remotely similar to it. An example would be if you have somebody in chains and you take the chains off, they are released from the bondage and probably feel pretty happy to be free of the afflictions of the bondages, or the bonds, which cause them suffering. So when you release the Buddhas it’s the same. But the difference is that when you release the Buddha, it’s like releasing a great sovereign who then, when released, goes into enacting the liberation with the whole nation. And the great joy of this great function. It’s not just liberation. It’s liberation and then BIG TIME activity for the welfare of the entire nation, the entire world, the entire universe. That’s the Dharma Body, which includes a body of liberation. Then Manjusri asks the Buddha, “Bhagavan how should one know the characteristics of the Tathagathas genesis?” (Powers p 275) How should one know, or understand, the characteristic of the Tatagathas' origination? Well, we just said, the Dharma Body of the Tathagatha has no origination. Well, what,.. does the Tathagatha have origination? Yes. But the Tathagatha that has origination means a different body of the Tathagatha and that body is called the Nirmanakaya, the transformation body. Or you could say magical body. Nirmanam kind of means illusion or magic… the magic transformation, the Buddha’s ability to appear in many forms through many transformations for the welfare, for the liberative needs of living beings. So the Dharma Body has no origination. But the Nirmanakaya does have birth, does have arising. “Manjusri”, the Buddha says, “The characteristics of (the transformation body) the Nirmanakaya are like the arising of worldly realms. You should see these characteristics of the Nirmanakaya as characteristics that are empowered by all the types of adornments displaying the qualities of the Tathagathas which arise.” (Powers p 276) . The Dharmakaya has the characteristic of thorough transformation of the basis through completely practicing the six perfections in ten stages. So by the bodhisattva going through all these practices in all these stages, comes to have a transformation of the basis. That transformation of basis has no origination, no coming or going. You go through coming and going, everybody is going through coming and going, but now you go through coming and going in terms of these practices. And the fruit of this going through this coming and going, through birth and death, through arising and ceasing, by going through this realm one realizes a transformation which itself has the characteristic of not coming and going, not arising and ceasing. But there’s another body which comes along with the realization of this body which doesn’t come or go and that’s the body which does come and go, the Nirmanakaya. So Manjusri says, “Bhagavan, how should one view the skillful method that displays this transformation body?” How should one view the skillful method that displays the (transformation body) Nirmanakaya, the illusion body” (for the welfare of all beings)? (Powers p 276) And the Buddha said, “Manjusri, view the skillful method that displays the Nirmanakaya (transformation body) as everywhere displaying the stages.” (Powers p 276) So you go through the stages doing these practices and you reach something that has no stages, has no origination. Then that place skillfully provides the appearance of stages for other beings to practice and realize the body of reality. “Manjusri view the skillful means that display the transformation body as everywhere displaying the stages, entering the womb (of a householder) a household of one renowned as a sovereign in all the Buddha fields of the trilociliocosm (three thousand fold universe) or of one renowned as worthy of gifts, taking birth growing up, enjoying worldly pleasures, leaving home, fully demonstrating the practice of austerities all at once, renouncing them and displaying the stages of complete perfect enlightenment.” (Powers p 276) That was the story of Shakyamunibuddha. That’s the story of the historical Buddha. That’s an example of how the Buddha skillfully displays something for living beings to see. And what do we see? We saw an entry into a womb in a woman’s body in India, in a household of one renowned as a sovereign. His mother’s husband was a householder who had a sovereign realm. Even in the Buddhafields you could see this sovereign realm where his mother and father lived. The Buddha body was transformed and entered the womb of this woman who lived in a palace, a palace that was revered in Buddha lands throughout the cosmos, above average palace. And then, taking birth and growing up.. growing from a little baby to a little boy to a big boy. And then enjoying worldly pleasures in the palace and then leaving home. And then fully demonstrating the practice of austerities all at once and then renouncing these austerities and then displaying the stages of complete perfect enlightenment. This is an example of a transformation body of the Buddha which we record in history as Shakyamunibuddha’s life story. So that’s the start of Chapter Ten, the last chapter of the great Sutra. I would like to continue but you’ve already been patient with… you look like you’ve been having a really difficult time and I appreciate you trying to fully engage body and mind while I’ve been talking like this because if I didn’t talk like this I don’t think there would be a commentary on Chapter Ten. So it’s not really like I’m giving commentaries, it’s that because of this book, I’m talking to you about this chapter. But I wouldn’t be talking about this chapter if you weren’t here. So thanks for making me into a person who talks about this chapter which I hope will contribute to something wonderful. Any feedback so far? Yes? Karen: I don’t really understand the transformation body and I think I’m confused partly because I’ve heard these three terms of Dharmakaya, Nirmanakaya and Sambhogakaya. Reb: Yes? Karen: And I don’t know the last one. Reb: Sambhogakaya? Sambhoga means either enjoyment or bliss. But it’s also sometimes called the “reward body”. It’s the reward for doing the practice. When you do the practice you come to understand the relationship between, for example, the stories of the Buddha and the Reality Body of the Buddha. And understanding that is the blissful social reality of bodhisattvas. It’s like the bodhisattvas social life that they live together appreciating that all the stories and teachings of the Buddha, all the things that the Buddha gave and everything else in the universe, all things that have birth and death, all those things in the Reality Body of the Buddha have no birth and death. And in particular, the appearance of Buddha in the realm of being born and dying, the appearance of a Buddha coming into a house and sitting down and giving a talk and then leaving the house, the Buddha appearing that way, that kind of Buddha that’s born and dies, that Buddha is the same body as a Buddha that doesn’t come and go. In other words, the Buddha which is defiled by the limitations of birth and death, the Buddha which appears in the defilement of coming and going, is inseparable from the Buddha that is completely free from all elaboration of coming and going. Seeing that intimacy one is liberated from all views of Buddha coming and going. And one understands how the views and appearances of Buddhas coming and going is really just a skillful response of the Buddha that doesn’t come and go. Understanding that is a great bliss. Is an unbounded bliss of the bodhisattva’s practice. It’s a reward for doing the practices taught by the Buddha and applying those practices to everything including the stories of the Buddha. Karen: So liberation body, where is that? Is that part of manifestation body? The liberation body is not one of these three. However the Buddha does have a liberation body but the liberation body is not so important as the Dharmakaya. The Dharmakaya is not just that you’re free. It’s that you’re free to manifest anyway that you wish in order to benefit beings. So again, it’s not just that you’re free from the bondage, it’s that you’re free to go to work in whatever way would help people. The ordinary civilian getting released is happy and free but somebody who has all these skills and endowments to be in the position of a sovereign now is free so they can be all these different transformation bodies. In a sense you could say that when a person attains the liberation body of a hearer, a listener, that tradition, or the liberation body of a solitary illuminated one, when you realize freedom there, you, the way you are is your Nirmanakaya. But it’s not really a transformation. It’s that you, the body you’re in is now a liberated one, so you’re pretty helpful in that form. You know, you’re a sage. But when you attain the Dharma Body you enter into a practice where you can manifest not just one body for a while but all bodies that would help beings. That’s the amazing thing about the Buddhas is that they don’t just appear as a sage. They can also appear as not-a-sage. And appearing as not-a-sage, they can benefit beings. Whereas sages are kind of stuck being sages. They are liberated beings but the way they are is the way they are helping people. The Buddhas can help many people by being many things for many people because they are not stuck in these elaborations and they are completely free of any elaboration. Huoma: Are they conscious of it? Or they are not conscious of the form they appear. Reb: Every way that they’re conscious is a Nirmanankaya, is a transformation body. In the,.. Consciousness that has any fabrication or any elaboration, they are free of that. And because they are free of that, they can take on any consciousness that would benefit beings. But in the Dharmakaya there’s no arising or coming of consciousness or going of consciousness. And because of that freedom from coming and going, because of that freedom from fabrication, they can be whatever fabrication helps people. Huoma: Are they aware of it or ? Reb: Their awareness of it would be a transformation of their Dharma Body. The Dharma Body is not “they are aware”. That’s a fabrication. They are free of such fabrication as “I am aware” or “I am not aware”. They are free of such fabrications or elaborations like that. But because of the freedom from that they can,.. Excuse me. I forgot to read the whole thing. Sorry. When I was talking about the inconceivable, “the Dharmakaya is inconceivable because it abides in suchness and is changeless. It lacks manifest activity and actions”. (Note: This sounds like a quote from the text but I can’t find it.?) So it has no manifest activity and therefore it can manifest in any way. In any activity that would benefit beings. Any other feedback? Elena: I notice that everything that comes up, the mind, my mind, makes something out of it. So.. Reb: Excuse me, can I just add. you said that whenever anything comes up in your mind? Whenever anything comes up, that is already making something. The “coming up” is being made up. So we who are constantly making things up, one of the things we make up is the coming of things. Then when they come, we make something of the coming. So we make something come up, we make something come up, we make something out of making something. Our mind is constantly making things and also un-making things. Our mind is constantly producing the illusion of birth and death and then we make up things in relationship to birth and death. To notice that is good. You’re noticing the illusion process of the mind. Elena: Then in occurred to me that maybe this transformation maybe is possible through just observing that process that everything is in a sense, unreal. It’s a figment of the imagination. Everything that my mind comes up with. Reb: So what you said, I agree with, however the practice is not so much to say that about the things as it is to practice these six perfections with all these things which you said…did you say they were unreal? Imaginary. So all these imaginary things we should be gracious with. We shouldn’t say, “oh, yucky, low imagined thing” You can say scary, too. But again when you say scary, that’s another thing to practice these perfections with. So we practice perfections with all phenomenon. Whatever the phenomenon are we practice these perfections as bodhisattvas in training. Elena: Well the time comes when you see it so clearly. You see that nothing is real. Reb: Again when you see that nothing is real, then you practice the perfections with that view “nothing is real” with that vision of nothing real. You also practice with that. You don’t then hold onto that view that nothing’s real. Elena: Right. Reb: Good. Yeah. Right. You make that a gift. Elena: So eventually one could come to not coming and going. Reb: Eventually one comes to not coming and going. In other words, eventually one becomes Buddha and realizes the Reality Body of the Buddha which is not coming and going. So when you realize the Reality Body of Buddha, there’s also realization of liberation. However, it’s not just realization of the liberation body. It’s realization of the Buddha Body which has all these other good qualities besides liberation. Liberation is just one really wonderful quality of the Dharma Body. But there’s infinite inconceivable good qualities of this body which doesn’t come or go. And by taking care of and practicing the six perfections through ten stages with the coming and going body and mind, we eventually come to the not-coming and going body of the Buddha. Huoma: Is that when we’re fulfilled with joy. Because to me all this comings and goings… Reb: No, that’s not being fulfilled with joy, because being fulfilled with joy is also not a characteristic of the Dharma Body. However when you understand the relationship between the Dharma Body, which is not filled with joy and it’s also not empty of joy… It’s beyond all fabrications, like “filled with joy”. When you realize that being beyond all fabrication like “being filled with joy” or being half-filled with joy, or being a third filled with joy or being empty of joy… When you realize the body which is free of all that fabrication and you see that that’s same body as the transformation body, or they are intimate, then you realize “being filled with joy” which is the Sambhoghakaya, the Bliss Body. So you’re going to get your bliss. Don’t worry. Yes? Ambo: I was remembering some years ago, which means perhaps faultily and this may be a loose wire crossing connection, that we used, I thought I remember using the term or the idea of transformation of the basis as a description of the realization of mere concept. And.. Reb: Did you say it’s a description of the realization of mere concept? Ambo: Or a function of the realization of mere concept in which the seed consciousness is transformed into the Great Mirror Awareness. Reb: That’s right. So the suchness that Manjusri is talking about, that the Buddha lives in (and by the way, Manjusri lives there too), the suchness is expressed by the teaching Mind-Only. When you meditate on this teaching of Mind-Only in a steady way, you’re actually meditating on suchness and meditation on suchness transforms the basis. But the first moment you meditate on suchness, or the first sixteen and a half moments you meditate on suchness, does not mean that there’s a complete transformation of the basis,.. that the transformation of the basis is well-established. Because you have not yet completed the practices of the six perfections wherein you’re practicing meditation on Mind-Only. But eventually you come to the place where there’s a complete transformation of the basis and there’s no coming or going. And that’s the fruit of long meditation on suchness, long meditation on Mind-Only. Speaker A: I think when you talked about the title you said it could be translated as the “Mystery of” and you said or “Intimacy” and I’m curious about how those two terms interchange. Reb: The character, there’s a Chinese character, which means “mystery” means “dense weave”, “dense texture” “dense cloth”. It also means “secret” and it means intimate. A: All at the same time? Reb: Yeah many Chinese characters have many meanings. A: You use one or the other or you combine them all into one thing? Reb: For me, intimacy is actually often a very dense weave. The way we’re intimate is a dense weaving, a dense fabric. It’s hard to move one thread of our relationship without affecting the whole fabric. That’s intimacy. It’s also a mystery how that works, how that’s so. It’s kind of a secret how that’s so. It’s kind of private. That character also means “private.” It’s kind of private how we’re intimately interwoven. It’s kind of private. People from outside can’t see it. If they want to talk about their intimacy with us, then that’s their privacy. Then they are included in the secret or the secret, mystery, private, dense fabric. Which is part of the fun of translating this Sutra. The character that I mentioned means “understand” also means “untie” or “unravel”. So it means unravel or untie, elucidate, understand. So you’re actually un-tieing the threads of the fabric when you understand the threads of the fabric. You’re unpacking or untying the intimacy when you understand the intimacy. Speaker B: I perceived when you were describing the six great perfections as kind of a result of meditating on suchness. Reb: The six perfections as a result? B: Understanding the six perfections as an enactment or ... Reb: Well you can practice them even before.. The six perfections can be practiced at the level prior to their full realization. But when you really attain the Perfection of Wisdom, then all the six perfections are completed. But we also call the practice of the six perfections the way we’re practicing before they are fully realized. That’s why bodhisattvas go through stages. They get better and better at them. Or more and more skillful at them. B: I was just going to ask if it is possible or if we should attempt to practice them before realization. Reb: Yeah. Not should but your are invited to practice giving even though you may not be too good at it. You’re invited to practice giving even if you’re pretty good at giving but still not able to give with an understanding that you are not just the giver when you’re giving. You are also a gift. And you’re not just a giver and a gift, you’re also a receiver when you’re giving. And that those who… the thing you’re giving is not just a gift, it’s also a giver and a receiver. And the person who receives is not just a receiver. They are also a giver and a gift. In other words, you can practice giving before you understand that there’s no actual way to find the gift, giver and receiver in the process. But by practicing this process of giving you come to a place where you understand that there’s no separate gift, giver or receiver. Then you realize the wisdom. So you approach wisdom understanding by practicing giving and in the end of practicing giving you realize, we say “the three wheels”. There’s three wheels of giving, giver receiver and gift, you can’t find one of them separate from the others. You can’t grasp anything in the process. But we can try to practice giving even before we have this Perfect Wisdom. And the giving practice is working its way to Perfect Wisdom. And Perfect Wisdom is beckoning the giving practice to become perfectly wise. Yes? Linda: I’m hearing about the stages and that kind of catches my attention, the ten stages. Is that something to pay attention to? I remember once you talked about them or read about them and it seemed very complicated. But is that the idea that there’s an actual progression in time through stages? Reb: There’s not actually a progression through time. In reality there’s no progression. In reality there’s no progression. In the Reality Body of the Buddha there’s no progression. There’s no increase. There’s no decrease. Ok? However, if you happen to live in a neighborhood where there is progression. If you live in such a place,.. like is Berkeley a place like that? Yeah. Most people live in a neighborhood where there’s increase and decrease. This is called “the world”. If you live in a place where there’s increase and decrease, you practice with that appearance of increase and decrease by practicing these perfections. And when you first start practicing these perfections, you’re basically on the first stage of practicing. Or you haven’t even gotten to the first stage. But let’s just say you’re on the first stage. And on the first stage, there’s two kinds of ignorance which you have to deal with which are quite familiar to you. They have to do with self-clinging and so on . And so the way this Sutra teaches, it teaches that there are all these different kinds of ignorance and when you’re practicing the six perfections, you deal with these types of ignorance and you deal with the grossest ones first. And once you overcome the gross ones, you move on to a more subtle one and then you’re at a new stage and you deal with other kinds of ignorance and then you deal with those, practice the six perfections with those ignorances and then you cure those ignorances. And then you move to a third stage where you have even more subtle ignorances and you practice the six perfections with those ignorances. In this way you deal with more and more subtle varieties of ignorance and more and more subtle varieties of anxieties. And the first two ignorances is what most people… pretty much all of the work of Buddhism is on the first two stages because they have the two gross and famous types of ignorance. And what do we do with ignorance? We practice these six perfections. And when we practice them we overcome some ignorance and then bodhisattvas are happy about that and then they notice “oh there’s two more” or maybe ten more. But with the aid of a Sutra and the aid of a teacher you say “yes there are ten more”. Actually there’s twenty more but let’s just do these two for now because those two, or those ten, are too advanced for you right now. Just work with these two. And so you practice a little while with the next two. Again, practicing the Precepts, practicing giving, practicing the Precepts, practicing giving, practicing patience, practicing enthusiasm, practicing concentration, and practicing wisdom, as best as you can on the second stage. And then when you overcome those kinds of ignorance you might think there was some increase or some progression. Well, that’s allowed. That’s an ignorance down the road. That’s one kind of ignorance. The ignorance of thinking that there’s progress really. That’s an ignorance. It’s really not true that there’s progress and it’s also not true that there’s no progress. To think that there’s no progress is a fabrication. We’re heading towards the Buddha Body in which there’s no increase or decrease. There’s no arising or ceasing. There’s no fabrication at all. And therefore there’s unhindered beneficial action. Now there seems to be some hindrance. Which one shall we work on now. How about the first two? And how do you work on them? Six perfections. Linda: It sounds as you’re talking.., it feels like the ones that come to us are the ones that we’re .. the one we receive, the obstruction. Not sort of systematically, that’s .. too or is it? Reb: Whatever comes to you I would say basically, yes you should welcome and work with it. Ok? However even so, even though you have just welcomed it, you might realize that there are some other ones which you haven’t noticed which are more appropriate to deal with. So you do notice this one so you should welcome it. And then someone might point out to you “yes, that is a problem which we should deal with. Definitely. I’m glad you noticed it and I’m glad you acknowledged it and I’m glad you welcome it”. However if you want to work with that one any more in a fruitful way, there’s something else that maybe you haven’t noticed yet that you probably should take care of” And you might say, “What’s that?” and you say “Your shoes are untied”. “Oh! Thank you”. In other words, there’s a mountain and you’re climbing it and you’re right to notice that you’re on a mountain and you’re starting to climb it. So you say “well then should I deal with climbing the mountain?” “Well before you do that would you just look around to see if you over-looked anything?””Ah yes, I have no shoes on”. So I think it would be good to put some shoes on. So let’s practice the six perfections with shoe-shopping and sock-selection. Let’s get those on first or let’s take those off first. But the problem you dealt with, namely this mountain is one of the problems here, I do acknowledge it but you’re not ready for it any more than just noticing it because you’ve over-looked something else that’s actually here that you’re ignoring. So now do you see it? Yes. So take care of that first and when you’ve taken care of that, let’s talk about this thing the other thing you noticed which I agree is definitely part of the course. You’re right. I acknowledge that, but you’re not ready to deal with it and what you do need to deal with is available. So that’s part of what this Sutra is here for is if you notice that you’re working with something and you notice it’s dealt with on the seventh stage, you say “hmm, I didn’t notice the previous six problems, twelve types of problems and maybe talk to your teacher and teacher says… “I notice this one which is on the seventh stage and I didn’t notice any of the previous ones” and the teacher says, “Oh really, what about that?” “Oh, yeah. I have that”. That’s on the third stage. “What about this?” That’s on the second stage. “What about this?” That’s on the first stage. So self-clinging is on the first stage. But there’s more subtle things to deal with than basic self-clinging. And someone might.. you might notice those. And if you tell your teacher, your teacher might say, “Yeah, that’s good. Have you taken care of the self-clinging part?” “Oh gee that’s kind of a big thing. Actually I haven’t taken care of that yet”. Well let’s work on that for a while, shall we? And then when we’ve taken care of that, we can do this other one which I’m glad you noticed it. It is part of the course. But you’ll be better able to deal with it after you take care of some other stuff. So we do deal with what’s coming up. Yes. And we notice that and then we check out maybe with our friends and teachers whether that’s the thing we should focus on and sometimes they say no you shouldn’t focus on that. You should acknowledge it. But you have some other things which you have not been focusing on and I really wish you would. Like for example, you’re standing on my foot. Or you just insulted your husband. Or whatever. You know you should take care of that first and then he’ll let you do more subtle work. Well it’s quarter of one so maybe we should have lunch meditation. Meditate on eating food and while we eat our food may we practice generosity and may we practice ethical discipline and may we be careful of how we eat and may we be patient with our digestive process and may we be enthusiastic about these practices and may we be calm with the eating meditation and may we be wise with eating meditation.