Honeycomb Empty Space

[5: Conclusion and Recapitulation]

Above, in response [6.22] to the questions of those lacking in faith, when explaining the dust contemplation, the emptiness contemplation, and the quiescent-activity contemplation, I briefly raised one [6.23] or two things about which some people have doubts. There may still be others who blather on in various ways, but who has time to converse with them? For them, I can only [6.24] feel compassion and deep pity.

For one who has faith, all the explanations [I have given] are unnecessary. Such a one should just straightaway contemplate [6.25] dust. Having seen all external objects completely become dust, then contemplate the honeycomb-like [6.26] empty space between the particles of dust and the dust itself will suddenly vanish. For some, it may vanish gradually. [In this way] the student, contemplating dust, no longer sees [6.27] dust and thus sees that all material things are empty. If you obtain this vision of emptiness, that is most excellent. There is no further need [6.28] to contemplate dust. Having seen all material forms to be empty, turn your gaze back upon the mind [that contemplates] emptiness [thinking]: “Since the mind [contemplating] emptiness is, in its own essence, [7.1] empty, what need is there to use what is already empty to gaze upon emptiness?” When you analyze things thusly, even without actively gazing upon the mind, [7.2] it will become quiescent of its own accord.

Staying with the Dust Contemplation to its limits one will envision even the empty-spaces between the particles thus disappearing into a sea of infinite emptiness. Then, Mind gazes back upon Itself and witnesses its True Imageless Nature—Unimpeded Luminous Spacelessness. In comparative fashion, in Unborn Light Reiki there is a technique called Mahasunya Ho wherein one stays centered in the spaceless “gap” between one created thought and another; essentially being in the undifferentiated unity of the Unborn Mind, something that is maintained through the radiating power of sambodhi.

When you have attained this quiescence, you will then spontaneously have a vision of buddhas, bodhisattvas, monks and nuns, palaces, [7.3] and marvelous adornments that do not exist within this world. Or else you will see your own body, or you will see many copies of your own body, [7.4] or you will see yourself as without a body, or you will see yourself as a buddha, a bodhisattva, or a monk or nun, and in a single moment of thought you will make offerings [7.5] to all the buddhas and hear these buddhas preach the Dharma, or else these buddhas will ask you questions, or you will ask them questions, or else you will have an extraordinary [7.6] realization. All these things you should contemplate as empty.

A reiteration of a passage from Section 1.

Finally, with respect to all these various things that you might see and hear, do not activate your mind at all. Do not distinguish them as being part of yourself [7.7] or not part of yourself. At all times, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, you roam the Pure Land. [If you can be like this], you do not need to contemplate things as empty. For this reason, a scripture [7.8] says: “The initial production of the aspiration for buddhahood and the ultimate [attainment of buddhahood] are not two different things. Of these two states of mind, the first is harder to achieve.”121 If you can, through meditation, awaken to this [7.9] state of mind, then you have achieved that which is hardest of all. Some practitioners are unable to enter empty quiescence. They should simply constantly turn back [7.10] and gaze upon their own minds. This practice is equivalent to [entering] empty quiescence. Doing things thusly, one will for the first time be a real practitioner.

An authentic practitioner will, upon realizing the Quiescent Mind, never have to turn-back to former stages of their contemplative practice. The turning-back [7.10] here refers to remaining “prior to” engaging the field of perception.  Rather, just remain centered in this Primordial Quiescent-field that is a reflection of perfect Tathata.

Now, when some who contemplate the [7.11] emptiness of dust speak to others of their understanding, these other people do not believe what they say. But to go on vainly arguing with them would truly be [7.12] a waste of words. Even when the Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra, five thousand people did not believe what he said. How much less, then, could you hope to persuade [7.13] these people to believe! When the Nirvana Sutra was preached, countless sentient beings did not believe it. Their very inability to believe it [7.14] shows how profound its teaching is.

Jesus had a saying of encountering such incorrigible folk: “Shake the dust from your feet when leaving their towns.”

Concerning [a bodhisattva’s] “manifestation of ten different bodies” spoken of in the Sutra on the Ten Stages, a few students [7.15] asked: “Manifesting these ten different bodies is an ability only of bodhisattvas of the eighth stage [or above]. Since you say you can do this, mustn’t you [7.16] be an eighth-stage bodhisattva?”

Answer: It is like the case of an ordinary being who gains a vision of one or two of his past lives, [7.17] or one or two of his future lives. [Though he does attain this,] how could it be the same as [7.18] the knowledge of past and future lives that are two of the ten powers possessed only by buddhas?

Translator’s note: This refutes all of the objections voiced above. The ten bodies are: (1) the body of an [ordinary] sentient being, [7.19] (2) the body of the earth of the land [in which the bodhisattva dwells], (3) the body that is the variegated fruits of karma, (4) the body of a sravaka, [7.20] (5) the body of a pratyekabuddha, (6) the body of a bodhisattva, (7) the body of a tathagata, [7.21] (8) the body of wisdom, (9) the Dharma body, and (10) the body of empty space. The first three are defiled; the middle six are pure; the last one is unclassified.

[7.22] Question: Nowadays, when an ordinary person sees the emptiness of dust and while seated in meditation sees a buddha or [7.23] innumerable buddhas before each of whom he makes offerings and performs reverence, people who hear about this [7.24] say “these are Mara’s doings.” So too, any of the countless similar [meditative experiences such as] smelling fragrances, [magically] obtaining fine food, or entering trance for several days [7.25] are all Mara’s doings, [they say].

Answer: Let us discuss this for a moment. If what you say were correct, then all those monks and nuns who, [7.26] for their entire lives, have been worshiping the Buddha morning and night have also been worshiping Mara! This would be a quite foolish understanding.

[7.27] And, according to your view, [it would be Mara’s doing] when men and women twenty or more years of age who wish to receive the precepts enter the Fangdeng [ritual space], [7.28] have a vision of the buddhas or bodhisattvas confirming the elimination of their sins, and are then judged fit to receive the precepts. But how could it be that one obtains the precepts [8.1] after having a vision of Mara [rather than the Buddha]? And even if, as you would have it, it is Mara [not the Buddha] that one sees when obtaining the precepts, though it may be Mara transformed into the guise [8.2] of the Buddha, when you worship this Mara while imagining him to be the Buddha, he will no longer be Mara. The story of Upagupta [8.3] confirms this principle.

Upagupta: Upagupta (c. 3rd Century BC) was a Buddhist monk. According to some stories in the Sanskrit text Ashokavadana, he was the spiritual teacher of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka.[1]:16 In the Sarvāstivādin tradition he is the fifth patriarch after Mahākaśyapa, Ānanda, Madhyāntika, and Śāṇakavāsin, and in the Ch’an tradition he is regarded as the fourth. Upagupta’s teacher was Śāṇavāsa, who was a disciple of Ānanda, the Buddha’s attendant. Due to the absence of his name in Theravada literature it is assumed that Upagupta was a Sarvāstivādin monk. In South East Asian countries and Bangladesh Upagupta is a great cult figure. In Myanmar he is known as Shin Upagutta. In the Lokapannatti Upagupta is sent by Ashoka to tame Mara during an enshrinement ceremony festival, afterwards he asks her to take the physical form (rupakaya) of Buddha so that everyone at the festival can see what Buddha looked like. (wiki)

Moreover, over the course of your life, by the three actions of body, speech, and mind, you have worshiped the Buddha, speaking the words “all the buddhas,” and also [8.4] saying, “I now, before you all, reveal all my sins.” The seeds created through the karmic impressions of each of these moments of thought [8.5] are the direct cause for seeing the Buddha. From previous lives you have also [accumulated seeds that] similarly serve as the direct causes [for seeing the Buddha], And furthermore, your buddha-nature [8.6] is a direct cause. And there are even the undefiled seeds [of the storehouse consciousness] that serve as a cause. When you now, in the present, contemplate dust and contemplate [8.7] emptiness, quelling desire for the five sense objects and quelling the five hindrances [of craving, aversion, dullness, remorse, and doubt] so they do not overcome your mind, this then serves as a strong conditioning factor. When the [direct] causes [of seeds from the past] and the conditioning factors [of your present meditation practice] come together, within [8.8] trance you will see one or more buddhas and be able to make offerings to them.

Translator’s note: Quelling the five sense desires and the five hindrances are the usual preconditions for entering the first dhyana.

Further, the “Practice of Ease and Bliss” chapter of the Lotus Sutra [8.9] states that by chanting that sutra one will in a dream see oneself having become a buddha. How much more so, then, can one expect such a vision when one’s mind [8.10] is in trance! The tenth fascicle of the Sutra on the Emission of Light expresses these same ideas, so you should consider this too.[8.11] And, finally, within the sacred teachings it is said that someone who upon hearing [the Dharma] immediately has faith in, accepts, and then practices it has a long accumulation of [8.12] good roots [from past lifetimes, which can serve as the cause for seeing the Buddha now].

Translator’s note: Here the Dust Contemplation invokes the ubiquitous claim within Mahayana sutras that believing in, or even merely hearing the teachings of, the sutra is a sign that one has already, in a previous life, begun the bodhisattva path.

[8.13] The Method for Contemplating Dust as Empty

End of Translation.

It was customary to end such a work by reiterating its title.

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