HOW KARMA WORKS
LEVEL ONE OF HIGHER KNOWLEDGE (ABHIDHARMA)
Subject: Introduction to Abhidharma (Higher Knowledge) and the Detailist School; history and structure of The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha) and its commentaries
Reading: Master Vasubandhu (350 AD), The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), folio 1B
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drup (1391- 1474), Illumination of the Path to Freedom, folios 2B-3A, 6B-10B, 13A- 13B
Master Changkya Rolpay Dorje (1717-1786), The Schools of Philosophy, folios 12B-13A
Subject: The nature of karma, and what it produces; the Detailist concept of “non-communicating form”
Reading: Master Vasubandhu, The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), folios 2A, 10B
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Illumination of the Path to Freedom, folios 17B-18B, 108A-108B
Subject: Types of deeds, and the nature of motivation
Reading: Master Vasubandhu, The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), folios 11A, 13A-B
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Illumination of the Path to Freedom, folios 111A-112B, 127A-127B
Subject: The correlation of deeds and their results
Reading: Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419), The Great Book on the Steps of the Path (Lamrim Chenmo), folios 118B-120A
Master Vasubandhu, The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), folio 12B
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Illumination of the Path to Freedom, folios 122B-125A
Subject: How karma is carried, according to the Mind-Only School
Reading: Je Tsongkapa, Illumination of the True Thought, folios 75B-76A, 125B- 127A, 147B-148B, 174A-174B
Subject: How emptiness allows karma to work, according to the Middle- Way School
Reading: Master Chandrakirti (650 AD), Entering the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara), folio 271B
Kedrup Tenpa Dargye (1493-1568), Overview of the Middle Way, folios 25B, 38A, 125A-130A
Subject: Black and white deeds, the “path of action,” and the root and branch non-virtues
Reading: Master Vasubandhu, The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), folios 13A-13B
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Illumination of the Path to Freedom, folios 126A-127A, 128A-130A
Subject: The concept of most basic virtue, and the distinction between projecting energy and finishing energy
Reading: Master Vasubandhu, The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), folios 14A-14B
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Illumination of the Path to Freedom, folios 130A-130B, 134A-135B
Subject: The five immediate misdeeds, and the concept of a schism
Reading: Master Vasubandhu, The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), folio 14B
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Illumination of the Path to Freedom, folios 136A-139B
Subject: The relative severity of deeds, and what causes it
Reading: Master Vasubandhu, The Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), folio 15A
His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Illumination of the Path to Freedom, folios 142B-145B
Reading One: Introduction to Abhidharma
The first selection is from the Schools of Philosophy, written by Changkya Rolpay Dorje (1717-1786).
Here next are the Buddhist schools. They are the Detailists, the Sutrists, the Mind-Only School, and those of the Middle Way. The number of these schools is exactly four, no more or less, and this is proven by numerous statements from both the secret and the open scriptures. In particular, in proof of this number there is the following quotation from the Commentary by Diamond Heart:
Those of the Buddha are four; the Able One
Had no intention of a fifth.
Master Aryadeva has said as well:
Those who assert that the teachings of the Buddha Consist of four schools have seen the way it is: These, for those who hope to practice, are precisely The paths explained by the Detailists and the rest.
On the question of an evolution of these four schools, some people assert that the Detailist and Sutrist Schools started after the third council for assembling the scriptures. They say that the Middle-Way School began during the days of Master Nagarjuna, and that the Mind-Only started in the time of Arya Asanga. They also believe that, prior to these points in time, there was no concept of the four schools.
This idea is however incorrect, for we do see the concept of the four schools in works such as Ocean of the Angels; the Secret Teaching of Lo Diamond, in Two Parts; the Secret Teaching of the Wheel of Time; the Secret Teaching of Diamond Arali; and others as well.
The verses throughout the commentary below are from the Treasure House of Knowledge, written by the Master Vasubandhu (350 AD). The commentary to this and the verses below is from Illumination of the Path to Freedom, written by Gyalwa Gendun Drup, His Holiness the First Dalai Lama (1391-1474).
Now the Treasure House of Knowledge utilizes eight chapters as a means of expressing its subject matter of five basic types. Our explanation of the work has four divisions: an explanation of its title, the translator’s obeisance, an explanation of the body of the text, and an explanation of the conclusion. In explaining the title we will first translate it, then elucidate its meaning. 2 About the Title
In Sanskrit, the Abhidharmakosha Karika.
In Tibetan, the Chu Ngunpay Dzu Kyi Tsikleur Jepa.
[In English, The Treasure House of Knowledge, set in verse.]
In Sanskrit, the title of this work is the Abhidharmakosha Karika. In Tibetan, this translates as Chu Ngunpay Dzu Kyi Tsikleur Jepa [or, in English, The Treasure House of Knowledge, set in verse.] Abhidharma refers to “knowledge,” kosha to “treasure house,” and karika to “set in verse.”
Now why do we bother mentioning the Sanskrit title of this commentary to the Buddha’s words? We want to indicate that the work is of reputable origin. Buddhas of all three times, whether past or present or future, attain their enlightenment at the Seat of the Diamond, in India. So the Indian name is meant to show an origin in the seat of knowledge, India.
A commentary is worth no more or less than it is, but if people think it comes from India they’ll take the time to study and teach it, just because of the better source. It’s just like the local merchants. If they hear some barley has come from the lowlands, right away they want to trade for it, because the source is a good one.
A commentary may actually be excellent, but if you don’t put some Sanskrit in it nobody wants to work with it. They think it’s just Tibetan. Like local merchants who heard that some barley came from a highlands nook—nobody wants to touch it, whether it’s really good or bad.
Mentioning the title in Sanskrit has the further purpose of starting a mental propensity for this excellent tongue. All Buddhas of the three times teach the Dharma in Sanskrit after their enlightenment. An acquaintance with just this small amount of the language acts as a mental seed, which will ripen into a nearly automatic fluency. Finally, it helps one comprehend the differences in word order between Tibetan and Sanskrit.
Why do we mention the title at the very start? It facilitates locating the proper volume, and understanding its subject at a glance. Why put the Sanskrit and Tibetan side by side? So we may recall the kindness of the master translators, and strive to repay our debt to them. We’ll explain the actual import of the title later on; here first comes the obeisance of the translator.
We now turn to the second part of our detailed treatment of the text’s subject matter: an explication of caused phenomena. In this regard we examine the actual content of the text only after discussing its structure in three divisions: a listing of the eight chapters, a demonstration of their interrelation, and a description of the subject matter presented in each of the eight.
Master Purnavardhana presents the eight chapters of the Treasure House as follows:
Eight chapters were written to elucidate in detail what is indicated only briefly by the opening words of the texts: “All phenomena, stained or without stain.” the first two of the chapters are devoted to a general treatment of stained and unstained phenomena. A detailed presentation of stained phenomena is left to the next three chapters. The third, for example, relates (1) who it is that is so very afflicted, (2) where they live so very afflicted, and (3) how they are so very afflicted. It does so with respective presentations on (1) the five types of beings in the three realms—the world of living beings; (2) the external world—the “vessel” which holds these beings, and (3) the four modes of birth and twelve links of dependent origination. The fourth and fifth chapters describe what it is that makes beings so very afflicted—stained deeds and the mental afflictions.
The final three chapters give a detailed treatment of unstained phenomena. Chapter Six covers who it is, what kind of person, that is purified; where it is, the place, that he is purified; and how it is, by what stages of realization, that he is purified. Chapter Seven concerns what it is that makes the person pure: as sutra says, “Affliction is something wisdom must destroy.” Chapter Eight concerns meditation—that which provides a base for wisdom to rely on—for as sutra states again, “The mind in meditation gleans pure reality.”
Other masters of the past have outlined the eight in the following way:
The work is presented in eight chapters in order to address three points: objects, activity, and result. In general, all objects may be divided into two types: apparent reality and actual reality. The first two chapters are devoted to apparent reality; the third, fourth, and fifth deal with actual reality—the four truths. The sixth chapter explains the different types of realization, whose sphere of activity is actual reality. The result which is attained, wisdom, as well as other personal attributes associated with it are treated in the final two chapters.
As for the interrelation of these chapters, the first presents the general subject matter addressed by the works on knowledge: stained and unstained phenomena. The first chapter makes but a mere mention of the powers and of the way in which caused phenomena arise; thus the following chapter, the second, is devoted to a more detailed treatment of these two points. The subject of the three realms, given only passing mention in these opening chapters, is therefore explored in the third. Some believe that the three realms thus presented are creations of some god, such as the one they call “Powerful”; the following, fourth chapter therefore disproves this idea and shows that the real source is deeds.
The message of the next chapter, the fifth, is that the motivating force behind the deeds outlined in Chapter Four is the widespread mental afflictions. The sixth chapter is devoted to demonstrating a path by which we may eliminate these afflictions, so naturally comes after their presentation. The seventh chapter provides additional detail about the types of knowledge mentioned in the sixth; the eighth, lastly, completes the interrelationship of the chapters by enlarging upon the qualities which the Buddha possesses in common with advanced beings at lower stages—these qualities and those unique to the Buddha having first appeared in Chapter Seven.
The third point we have promised, a description of the subject matter presented in each of the eight chapters, will be understood from the words of the Master’s work itself.
Having thus covered the pledge to compose the work with its preliminary eulogy, we shall present the actual explanation of the work’s title, the first subject treated once the author has inspired himself for the work. The word “knowledge” will be explained first, both by itself and, incidentally, with regard to its accessories. Then we will speak of the expression “treasure house.”
Knowledge and its Real Accessories
Knowledge is unstained wisdom, and its accessories.
Master Vasubandhu has promised “To write this commentary, the Treasure House of Knowledge.” But what does he mean by “knowledge”? There are two types of such knowledge; we may describe the first in the form of a logical statement:
Consider the following three paths without stain: those of seeing, habituation, and no further learning. They are actual knowledge, because They constitute unstained wisdom and its accessories.
Now the second portion of knowledge, its accessories, may further be addressed in two divisions of real accessories to knowledge and merely nominal accessories to knowledge. Real accessories to knowledge may be considered in terms of the level upon which they rely, the meaning of reliance in the present context, and an investigation into how many heaps knowledge has, if you also count all which stand in attendance to it.
On what levels do the three mentioned paths rely? The path of seeing may rely on any of the six levels of concentration. This is because the final stage of the path of preparation, known as “ultimate phenomenon,” may itself rely upon any of these six levels; and the path of seeing always relies upon the same level as the stage of the ultimate phenomenon. As the scripture states, “Same level as ultimate phenomenon.” Scripture also confirms our assertion that the ultimate-phenomenon stage can rely on any of the six levels: Meditative at beyond no leisure, Extraordinary concentration level too.
The ultimate-phenomenon stage of the path of preparation does not, however, rely on preliminary levels other than the one mentioned. The stage beyond no leisure is free of stain, whereas the remaining stages are stained—they are levels wherein one’s state of realization derives only from making distinctions between more or less subtle levels of experience. Nor can the ultimate stage of the path of preparation ever rely on the desire level, for the stage is one of controlled meditation, and the desire level is not.
Neither can the ultimate stage rely upon any one of the first three formless levels, for at these levels one is incapable of focusing upon the desire level—and during the path of seeing one must. Finally, it is impossible for the ultimate stage to rely on the “peak” level—the fourth of the formless levels—for one’s ability to discriminate at this level is too unclear.
The unstained path of habituation, as well as that of no further learning, may both rely on any one of the nine unstained levels.
Now what we mean by “reliance” in the above discussion is not the kind of reliance you might imagine, where the pole of a banner is propped up in one of those chimney-like tubes in the corner of the roof to a Tibetan house. Rather the path, or mental realization, actually consists of the particular level it relies upon.
How many heaps does knowledge have, if you count all of those which are attendant to it? Knowledge can be said to have all five heaps, since unstained wisdom comes along with non-communicating form included within unstained restraint. Feeling is present as pleasure of thought if the wisdom relies on the first two concentration levels. Where it relies on the third, mental pleasure is had. Reliance on other levels, of neutral feeling, means that neutral feeling is present. Discrimination is there as an attendant to consciousness of one’s thoughts, as well as the heap of other factors—be they mental functions or the factors not associated with mind—along with consciousness.
Someone may object that it is improper to speak of consciousness of one’s thoughts as being “attendant” to unstained wisdom, since mind itself must be considered more primary than mental functions. Generally the relationship is so, but in the context of an ultimate analysis of phenomena wisdom must be treated as the more primary. If the context had been the subject of belief, for example, we could even have considered faith more principal.
With regard to the formless realm, no accessory to knowledge possessing form would be present, and thus only four of the heaps had in attendance.
Nominal Accessories to Knowledge
Those used to achieve it, and the commentaries.
There are a number of accessories to knowledge which are merely nominal. Those include first the wisdoms of learning, contemplation, and meditation, which are practiced in order “to achieve it”—actual knowledge. Second there is that amount of wisdom with which one is born. Finally there are the classical commentaries which take these very types of wisdom as their subject matter. These include The Practice of Wisdom and similar works.
Let us use the form of a logical statement: Consider the accessories to knowledge just mentioned. They may be given the name “knowledge,” because They constitute the means or cause of one’s achieving actual knowledge.
What is the actual process of causation here? Untainted wisdom springs from meditative wisdom, which comes from contemplative wisdom, which derives from the wisdom of learning—all dependent upon the wisdom with which one was born.
Calling these accessories “knowledge” serves a specific purpose: the author is trying to tell us that they must be relied upon as methods, or causes, for achieving real knowledge. In actual point of fact they could never be knowledge, since they are stained.
At what level can each of the three accessories mentioned be found? The wisdom with which one is born exists in all three realms.
Wisdom derived from learning is found in the lower two realms but never in the formless, since there is no hearing sound in that realm. Contemplative wisdom exists in the desire but not in the higher two realms, since there the mere act of starting to turn the mind towards an object sets off one-pointed concentration. Meditative wisdom, on the other hand, appears only in these higher realms and never in the desire, since it is not a level where there exists any controlled meditation.
The classical commentaries, if we consider them as the actual sound of speech, exist only in the desire realm and are absent from the higher two: as the Treasure House itself reads, “Communicating at those with examining.” If on the other hand we consider these commentaries as names, words, and letters, they can be said to exist in the lower two realms but not in the formless: again the Treasure House states, “Included in the desire, form; animate.”
Meditative wisdom of the form realm, insofar as it possesses the noncommunicating form of restraint arising from concentration, involves all five heaps.
Where does the word “knowledge” [Sanskrit: abhidharma] come from? A phenomenon [dharma] is that which possesses [dhr¸] a nature. And knowledge brings to [abhi] you, or leads you to [abhi] that highest of all existing phenomena: nirvana.
7 About the Expression “Treasure House”
“Treasure house” of knowledge because they all fit here In its points, or since they are its home. [I.7-8] Master Vasubandhu has stated: “I shall write this commentary, The Treasure House of Knowledge.” Just how is it a treasure house of knowledge? The very most prized points of the Seven Works on Knowledge all fit here in the points, in the subject matter, of the Master’s commentary. The scabbard in which you sheathe a sword, for example, is called the “scabbard of the sword,” and the place where you deposit your riches is termed the “treasure house of riches.”
You could also say that the Seven works on Knowledge are themselves the “treasure house,” and that they are the home, or source, for the present work. The expression “scabbard of the sword,” for example, can just as well indicate the place from where the sword was drawn.
Next comes a demonstration that the teachings on knowledge are the word of the Teacher, preceded by a statement of purpose.
Purpose and a Proof
There’s no way to put the mental afflictions to rest without an
Ultimate analysis of every existing phenomenon, and this
Affliction is what keeps the world adrift here in the ocean of
Life. Thus the Teacher has spoken it, they say.
Giving an explanation of knowledge has the following purpose. Without wisdom which analyzes every phenomenon in an ultimate way, there is no way of putting to rest all that the mental afflictions imply. And this affliction is what keeps those of the world adrift here in the ocean of life. It is therefore necessary to plant, in students’ minds, wisdom which can make this ultimate analysis of phenomena. Thus the explanation.
The Master, moreover, has good reason to honor the exposition of knowledge. He knows that, first, it plants the wisdom of ultimate analysis in the minds of students. Secondly, it has been spoken by the Teacher.
“Why do you say that the exposition of knowledge is spoken by the Teacher?” one may object. “Are you trying to say that the Seven Works on Knowledge were not composed by the enemy destroyers?” In answer, we may say that
they are the speech of the Teacher. Even the great enemy destroyers would have been unable to make the first descriptions of the nature and then divisions of existing phenomena had they not relied upon the Buddha.
The Buddha first delivered various teachings, according to the states of mind or inquiries of his disciples. The scattered records of these teachings were later taken by the Venerable Katyayaniputra and others, and collected into such works as The Practice of Wisdom. The Venerable Dharmatrata, for example, has taken a whole group of scattered sutras, delivered at various places and times, addressing the needs of various students with counsel such as “Alas! All things with causes must change!” He has arranged these various teachings into a group, but they remain the word of the Teacher. So too with the Seven.
The entire point may be summarized in an extended logical statement: The works on knowledge are nothing less than the word of the Teacher, because The enemy destroyers have only made them into collections, Analogous to the sections of sutra and vowed morality found in the canon, for They are only collections made by the Arya Kashyapa. Thus they say.
This expression, “Thus they say,” is meant to indicate that another school of philosophers holds a different view. The so-called “Sutrists” assert the following:
That these explanations constitute the speech of the Teacher is a belief held by the followers of the “Knowledge” group within the Detailist school of philosophy. We however cannot accept this tenet, for many statements appear in these texts which are contrary to logic. One example is the claim that phenomena not produced by causes exist as material entities. Moreover, everybody knows there are lots of other authors who have composed such works on knowledge. They are the works of enemy destroyers, not collections of the Buddha’s speech.
Now Master Jinaputra’s text, in a versed summary, lists the Seven Works on Knowledge as follows: Katyayaniputra did Practice of Wisdom, The Treatise was of Vasumitra.
Collection of Consciousness, Devasharma, And Shariputra the Heap of Phenomena. The Comment on Wisdom’s by Maudgalyayana, Mahakaushtila’s Types of Beings; And Purna, Category Anthology.
Master Purnavardhana attributes the Types of Beings to Shariputra. “Why is the one school,” you may ask, “known as the `Sutrists.’?” This school of philosophers holds that sutra is valid, but denies the validity of classical commentaries such as the Seven Works on Knowledge. The Detailists respond with the following criticism:
Well then, what about the expression “monk who has mastered all three sections of the scriptures,” which occurs in sutra itself? How are you going to come up with three sections of scripture? We don’t see any section on knowledge apart from these very works.
The Sutrists counter:
This is not a problem. Those works within the sutra section devoted to the delineation of what is ultimately real and to the defining characteristics of phenomena constitute in themselves a discrete section on knowledge. So they say.
“Now why is the other school,” one might continue, “known as the `Detailists’?” One may say that they are “Detailists” because they devote their study exclusively to the classical commentary known as Detailed Exposition, or else because they understand the Exposition’s meaning. The school itself may be further divided into a number of groups. Those who reside in Kashmir are known as the “Kashmiris,” while those who live in the western part of the same land are known as the “Westerners.” Detailists in areas other than Kashmir, those in central India and so forth, are referred to collectively as those “Under the Sun.”
Now the lines beginning with “There’s no way to put the mental afflictions to rest…” also indicate that Master Vasubandhu’s commentary possesses the four requisite attributes of a reputable work. Again we may use the form of a logical statement:
Consider the act of making a statement of purpose, and of a relation of the text to that purpose, here at the beginning of the commentary.
It has a purpose of its own, because It conveys to disciples the fact that the commentary possesses the four attributes of a reputable work. Once they realize that these attributes are present, disciples will be inspired to study the text. Here are the four attributes:
1) The subject matter of the text concerns stained and unstained types of phenomena. It is indicated in the verse with the words “every existing phenomenon.”
2) The purpose is to utilize this subject matter to plant, in students’ minds, that wisdom which analyzes phenomena in an ultimate way. It is indicated by the words “ultimate analysis.”
3) The ultimate goal is to have these students achieve nirvana, both with and without anything remaining. It is indicated indirectly by the entire phrase running from “There’s no way…” up to “…without,” and on from “this affliction…” up to the word “Thus.”
4) A relation exists in that the purpose must be achieved through the subject matter of the work, and the ultimate goal through this very purpose.
One may also state the relation as being between the subject matter of the work (that is, all existing phenomena) and the means by which this subject matter is expressed (i.e., the commentary itself).
Demonstrating that the work possesses the four attributes serves its own purpose. Master Dharmottara explains that
It functions to satisfy any doubts that a student might have about whether the commentary has any purpose; if so, whether one could ever achieve that purpose; if so, whether anyone would want to; and, if so, whether there exists any relationship between the text and the realization of its proclaimed purpose.
Master Vinitadeva is in no disagreement:
A statement of just these four attributes serves to allay any suspicions a person might have that the work might lack any subject matter, or be without a purpose, or lead to no desirable ultimate goal, or that these three might bear no relation to each other. The statement thus inspires students to take up the commentary.
Someone may make the following objection:
If the mere claims that the work possesses these attributes is enough to remove any doubts that it does not, then the simple statement “Sound is a changing thing” should be enough to remove any misconception that sound is lasting. If the latter is true, it must be an exercise in futility for the classic proofs to go on and give a reason followed by a supporting example, to prove the point of sound’s impermanence.
And suppose the statement about sound is not enough to stop the misconception by itself. How then can the assertion about the attributes suffice to end a student’s doubts? For the two cases are exactly the same.
Sages reply to such an objection as follows: Telling someone that sound is changing is enough to prevent his believing that sound is something lasting. Giving him then a reason and supporting example serves to plant the opposing, accurate belief in his mind, removing the uncertainty and lack of correct ideas left behind by stopping his wrong belief.
One may ask if any of the four attributes is such that one subsumes another. The purpose, its ultimate purpose, and the relationship of the content to the purpose are, all of them, subsumed by the subject matter—for this subject matter includes every existing phenomenon. Neither of the purpose of its ultimate purpose subsumes the other, since they are cause and effect.
Yet another question may be raised:
You’ve mentioned that the ultimate goal of knowledge is achieving the two types of nirvana. Can you list each one’s basic nature, as well as characteristic features?”
According to the Listener system, nirvana where something still remains is described as having both achieved and actualized a cessation resulting from analysis, an elimination of the true condition of the source of all suffering, which implies deeds and mental afflictions. At the same time, one has achieved but not actualized a cessation where he has eliminated suffering. Something “remains” because one still undergoes some one or more of the three types of suffering.
We can see occurrences in sutra of persons who had attained this nirvana, who were living in desire-realm bodies and still had to go through outright suffering. Arya Gurchung, for example, was forced to consume a soup of water and ashes, which killed him. The Arya Udayin was decapitated in a brothel. We hear of a self-made Buddha who died from a wound inflicted by a poisoned arrow. Even the Buddha himself was pricked by the sandalwood thorn, suffered from backache, and bled where he was hit from the fragments of shells hurled by Devadatta’s catapult.
Enemy destroyers reside in all three realms; those at the first three levels of concentration have but the last two kinds of suffering left: the first is completely absent there. Those at the fourth concentration level and beyond have only the last suffering, the pervasive kind of mortality itself, remaining still.
Given the above, we can say that one achieves nirvana without anything left over when he actually brings about a cessation in which every one of the stained heaps has been stopped. The Anthology of Advices concurs:
The body dissolves, feeling’s finally cooled,
End of discrimination, demise of the other
Factors—consciousness fades away.
Such one has seen the end of suffering.
It should be noted that the above view is only that of the present school. According to the great vehicle, the freedom achieved by listeners and self-made victors is not a final sort of freedom. Moreover, the prick of His foot by the sandalwood thorn and the other events mentioned above were only a show that the Buddha put on for the sake of His disciples. Actually the Buddha is completely incapable of suffering, for He has liberated himself from every possible problem, ranging from those of a normal suffering life up to those of a lower nirvana. The sutra known as Developing the Three Bodies of a Buddha does though speak of the two form bodies of the Buddha as being nirvana with something remaining, and of the phenomena body as being a nirvana with nothing remaining.
Master Jinaputra summarizes as follows: The whole purpose of explicating knowledge is to make one a master of subjects such as the heaps and so on. Two benefits spring from such mastery. One’s own focus helps him to develop such qualities as mental quietude. And when discoursing with others, he will feel full confidence to expound on any question.
Reading Two: The Nature of Karma, and What it Produces; the Detailist Concept of “Non-Communicating Form”
We turn now to our commentary on the “Presentation of Deeds,” which constitutes the fourth chapter of the Treasure House of Knowledge. First we relate the present chapter to the one just finished, and then continue with the exposition of deeds itself.
What Causes Worlds
Deeds cause the multitude of worlds.
One may begin with the following question: “You have just described a multitude of worlds—both the great vessels of the outer worlds and the living beings they contain. Where do they all come from?” They do not come from no cause at all, and they do not come from causes that are inconsistent with their own nature. This is because they stay for some time, then go away; and as the root text said itself, “Not an almighty one or the like, because of stages and such.”
What then does cause them? It is the past deeds of living beings that cause all the multitude of worlds—both the places and the people.
The exposition that follows now on deeds is divided into two parts: first on the basic nature of deeds, and secondly on listings from sutra on the different types of deeds. The former is itself presented first in a brief introduction and then in a more detailed treatment.
Introduction to Deeds
They’re movement of the mind and what it brings.
Mental movement is a deed of thought;
What it causes, deeds of body and speech.
These are either communicating or not.
“In the line above,” one might continue, “you said that `deeds cause the multitude of worlds.’ Just how many types of deeds are there?” They—deeds—are of two different types: deeds consisting of movement of the mind, and the deeds that it brings—those that the mind motivates.
One may ask about each of their basic natures. Mental movement is a deed of the thought, for it consists of a deed linked with consciousness of the thought. What it causes—that is, deeds motivated by the mind—are of two kinds: these are deeds of the body and deeds of speech. These two themselves can be further divided into two types each: they are either what we call “communicating” or not.
Our more detailed treatment of these points continues in three steps: the definition of a deed, typical features of the three types of deeds in general, and different divisions of non-communicating types of deeds.
In discussing the definition of a deed we will cover first the communicating, and then the non-communicating types. The former will be described first for those of the body, and then for those of speech.
Communicating Deeds of the Body
Body communicating held to be shape.
“You mentioned,” one might start, “a line just now saying `these are either communicating or not.’ Can you describe the types of bodily deeds that are said to be `communicating’?” Communicating deeds of the body are held in the present school to be the shape that the physical body takes under motivation by movements of the mind present for the duration of specific actions such as prostrating oneself before a holy object or taking the life of a sentient being.
Even during distraction, while mind is stopped,
Virtue or not, continuing after,
Taking the great elements as its causes,
This form we say does not communicate.
Someone may begin:
What about the line above that ends with the words “…and non-communicating”? What do you mean by “non-communicating form”?
This form which does not communicate possesses five distinctive features. The first is a feature of period: this type of form is present even during periods when one is distracted, or while one is engaged in a controlled meditation where mind is stopped.
This much is also true of the eye and so on, so that we must mention a feature of essence: this form is either virtuous or not. The description so far could apply to communicating form as well, so a feature of time is included: noncommunicating form continues on after a deed, in a perfect stream. As much could also be said of virtuous and non-virtuous holds, and thus we note that this form takes the great elements as its causes.
The Kashmiri Sanghabhadra [?] attacks this definition with the following verse:
It’s incomplete, contradicts classical
Commentary, one then is not,
One not then is. “Even’s” superfluous,
A feature not mentioned should be.
He explains his criticism as follows:
Let’s consider some non-communicating form at the first instant of its existence. According to you, it could never be non-communicating form, because it is incomplete—it lacks the feature of continuing on in a perfect stream. Consider this form again. According to you, it could also never be a substantial thing, because it’s a stream. And if you go ahead and agree that it is not substantial, you contradict the classical commentaries which explain that it is.
Consider further the non-communicating form that is created by single-pointed concentration. If your definition is correct, then it is not non-communicating form. This is because it does not exist during particular periods when one is distracted, or while mind is stopped; rather, it is present during periods when one is not distracted, and when the mind is functioning.
Take too what is not this kind of form at all: form which does communicate intent. If you are right then it is form which doesn’t communicate intent, because it is present during periods without distraction, and with a functioning mind. Moreover, the word “even” is superfluous: when you state that this type of form is there when the mind is distracted, everyone understands that it is also present at times when the mind is functioning. You have, finally, also made the mistake of not mentioning a feature which should have been: the fact that this type of form is invisible and ineffable.
Sanghabhadra [?] then presents an alternative definition, in the following verse of his own:
Form different from the one
You made: during thought and also
Not, specified, ineffable,
This does “not communicate.”
Both of the above systems, nonetheless, amount to the same inconsistency. If you establish something as non-communicating form because it relates to periods when the mind is not distracted, or functioning, then form which does communicate intent must also not communicate it. And if on the other hand you establish something as non-communicating because it relates to periods where the mind is stopped, then the two restraints which arise from singlepointed concentration could never be non-communicating.
Reading Three: Types of Deeds, and the Nature of Motivation
Abbreviated List of Rights and Wrongs
A very gross abbreviation of them
All was stated as the ten paths of
Action, whether virtuous or not.
A very gross abbreviation of all of them—of all right and wrong activities—was stated as the ten paths of action, whether we are talking about the ten virtuous types or the ten types which are not virtuous.
One may ask just what is not included in such an abbreviation. Certain steps of a particular act, say that of taking life, are not included. These would be the steps known as “undertaking” or “conclusion.” Neither have we included any but the most serious forms of action in speech; mental movement as an element in deeds of the thought has been omitted too.
As for virtues, the above abbreviation again leaves out the “undertaking” and “conclusion” steps for actions of the body. Examples of virtue in one’s speech, such as speaking sweetly, are omitted—as is mental movement in deeds of the thought.
Our more detailed treatment of what we call a “path of action” includes seven different parts:
1) the relative certainty of whether a given action includes types of form that either do or do not communicate one’s intentions;
2) the division of each of the paths of action into three different types;
3) the details of non-virtuous paths of action;
4) the ways in which one loses, and then regains, his most basic virtues;
5) how many paths of action can occur together with movement of the mind;
6) what paths of action are found in which realms, and among what types of beings; and
7) the results of the paths of action.
Virtue and the Other Types
Is the ultimate virtue. The roots as well as
Shame and a conscience are so in themselves.
Those that are linked with them, by a mental link;
Actions and the like, by motivation.
Their opposites, non-virtue. The ultimate
In the ethically neutral, those described.
One may ask whether virtue and the rest are established only on the basis of the motivation involved. They are not; in fact, there are four different divisions, beginning with what we call “ultimate” virtue. How do we describe them?
First consider freedom—nirvana. It is the ultimate virtue, for it is the highest state of happiness, free of every single suffering. It’s like a totally healthy person. Next consider the three roots of virtue, as well as a sense of shame and a conscience. They are virtue by nature, for they are virtue in and of themselves, without relying on anything else. They are like medicinal herbs.
Still further let us take those instances of mind and mental functions that are joined in a mental link with them—with these virtues. They are “mental-link” virtue, for we establish them as virtue by the fact that they share a mental link with virtue. They are, for example, like the liquid in which you mix your medicinal herbs.
Next consider physical and verbal actions and the like—the things that are motivated by the mental elements just described. They are what we call “motivational” virtue, for they are considered virtue by reason of the virtuous motivation involved with them. We can compare them to the milk that a mother produces after she has drunk the liquid mixed with the medicinal herbs described.
The opposites of each of the above are what we call “non-virtue”; the process is as follows. First take the cycle of life. It is the ultimate non-virtue, for it is the highest form of unhappiness—total bondage in suffering. It is like an illness.
Next consider the three root non-virtues, as well as shamelessness and the lack of a conscience. They are non-virtue by nature, for they are non-virtue in and of themselves, without relying on anything else. They are like poisonous herbs.
Then consider instances of mind and mental functions which share a mental link with these non-virtues. They are “mental-link” non-virtue, for we establish them as non-virtue because they share a mental link with non-virtue. These we can compare to a liquid in which the poisonous herbs were mixed.
Let’s next take the deeds of body and speech motivated by the mental elements described. These are “motivational” non-virtue, for we establish them as nonvirtue through the non-virtuous motivation involved. These types resemble the milk that a mother gives after she has drunk the liquid mixed with the poisonous herbs.
The ultimate in the things which are ethically neutral consist of those instances we have described previously: non-analytic cessations and unproduced space. We turn next to a description of motivation.
The Nature of Motivation
Two types of motivation: causal and
The one we give the name of “at the time.”
The first of the two acts to set you off;
The second’s function is to make you continue.
The consciousness eliminated by seeing
Is the one which starts. The thought for both
Eliminated by habituation.
The five function in continuation.
One may begin as follows:
You have stated above that the communicating type of form can never be motivated by something which is eliminated by the path of seeing. Sutra though explains that mistaken views lead to mistaken thoughts, mistaken speech, and mistaken activity. Isn’t there a contradiction here?
There is not. In general, all motivation may be divided into two types: the motivation had during the causal stages of a deed and the one we give the name of “motivation at the time.” The first of the two acts to set you off: this is where you say before any particular action, “I’m going to do this or that.” The second’s function is to make you continue on: this is where you say to yourself after you’ve already started, “Now I’ll do this act.”
Now among these two, the consciousness eliminated by the path of seeing is the first, the one which starts you off on an action. This is the one that the sutra was referring to; when we made our statement, we were talking about how it couldn’t be the motivation during the time of the action.
The thought for both kinds of motivation includes types that are eliminated by the path of habituation, for it involves conceptions and is directed outwards. The five sense consciousnesses function only in continuation of a deed, for they are types of awareness that do not involve conception but which are directed outwards.
We continue now with certain relevant features of motivation.
Certain Features of Motivation
From starting types of virtue and the rest,
Come three types of continuation as well.
For the Able the same, or that one virtue.
Those that come from ripening are neither.
One may ask whether it is assured that starting types of motivation that are virtuous or whatever will lead to continuing types of motivation that are also virtuous or such. From each of the starting types, from those of virtue and the rest, come all three types of continuation as well—whether it be virtue, non-virtue, or the ethically neutral.
For the Able Ones they are the same: starting types of motivation which have a virtuous nature lead to continuing types that are also virtue, and starting motivations of an ethically neutral character lead to continuing motivations that are neutral too. Or their starting motivations that are ethically neutral can lead to continuing motivations that are virtue. With the Able Ones though you can never have a continuing motivation which is ethically neutral coming from a starting motivation of virtue, for these beings’ motivation never digresses.
The Able Ones are never in any state of mind other than that of balanced meditation. They therefore possess no ethically neutral states of mind. For support we have the verse from sutra that says,
Even as he goes, the elephant meditates.
Even as he rises, the elephant meditates.
Even as he sleeps, the elephant meditates.
Even as he stays, the elephant meditates.
In reply to this assertion the Detailists make a claim of their own:
This is no proof that they can never have any state of mind that is not one of balanced meditation. The quotation is only referring to the way the Ones Thus Gone think as they act in any of the four different ways: when they are going somewhere, they conceive of themselves as going somewhere, and so on.
Those things that come about from a ripening of past deeds are neither the starting type of motivation or the continuing type. This is because their appearance does not rely on any particular application of effort—they just come out on their own.
This completes our discussion of the typical features of the three types of deeds in general. We move on now to the different divisions of non-communicating types of deeds, beginning with a brief summary and continuing to a more detailed treatment.
As for the first, non-communicating form can be understood as having three different types. These are vows, anti-vows, and those other than these two.
The Treasure House of Chim [Chim Jampey Yang's commentary to the Abhidharmakosha] states:
Sutra describes three kinds of karma: virtuous karma, non-virtuous karma, and neutral karma. Virtue is that karma which, in the short term, brings you a karmic ripening which is desirable (that is, a feeling of pleasure), and ultimately protects you from suffering (that is, helps you achieve nirvana). Non-virtue is that karma which brings you a karmic ripening which is undesirable (that is, a feeling of pain). A neutral deed, something neither virtuous nor non-virtuous, is that karma which brings you something which is neither desirable nor undesirable.
Reading Four: The Correlation of Deeds and Their Results
The first selection is taken from the Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), written by Master Vasubandhu (350 AD), and from its commentary by His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, Gendun Drup (1391-1474), entitled Illumination of the Path to Freedom.
Definitions of the Basic Types of Deeds
Deeds for the pleasant, unpleasant, and other–
Virtuous, non-virtuous, and other.
“Just how,” one may ask, “do you describe virtuous, non-virtuous, and ethically neutral deeds?” Deeds that lead to a pleasant experience are virtuous deeds. Those that lead to an unpleasant experience, an experience of suffering, are non-virtuous. Deeds that lead to some “other” type of experience—that is, which bring on a neutral experience—are themselves the “other” type of deeds: those which are ethically neutral.
Our second group includes divisions of deeds according to their results; we begin with a brief introduction and continue to a more detailed treatment.
Deeds According to Result
Merit, non-merit, those which are unshifting;
The three including those which lead to pleasure.
Now deeds may be divided into three different types: deeds which represent merit, non-merit, or those which are unshifting. They can also be divided into a different set of three: the three including those which lead to an experience of pleasure and so on.
Our more detailed treatment of these points will proceed in two steps: first a presentation of merit and the rest; secondly, a description of the mentioned pleasure and so on.
Merit, Non-Merit, and Unshifting Deeds
Merit, virtuous deeds of the realm of desire.
The ones that come from the above, unshifting.
They’re unshifting for the reason that
The deeds involved ripen at their levels.
One might start with the following question: “Just how do you describe merit and the other types of deeds you mentioned?” Deeds that we call “merit” are the virtuous deeds of the realm of desire. What we call “unshifting” deeds are the ones that come from those realms above; that is, from the form and formless realms.
“Isn’t it contradictory,” one may object, “for you to describe deeds of the upper realms as unshifting, when those of the third and lower levels of concentration are explained as shifting types?” There is no contradiction. The levels of concentration from the third on down are explained as “shifting” or “affected” only with reference to their being affected by the various problems that prevent one from perfecting single-pointed concentration. The point in calling deeds of the upper realms “unshifting” is in reference, rather, to the fact that they do not shift direction when they ripen.
These deeds are called “unshifting” for the reason that a ripening of deeds which is meant to occur at “their” level—at the levels of the form and formless realms—will never occur at any other level. The point is thus that the ripening is an unshifting one.
Deeds of the desire realm, on the other hand, are shifting—someone meant to be born as a pleasure being can, through the effect of certain factors, take birth as one of the other types of beings. There was for example the case of the Brahmin who because of his generosity was to be born as a pleasure being. But he caught sight of an especially majestic elephant and thought to himself how wonderful it would be if he could obtain one. As a result, he took birth as the elephant known as Son of the Protector.
Next we consider deeds involving a sensation of pleasure and so on. We proceed in three steps concerning (1) definitive examples of each of the deeds leading to specific types of experiences, (2) the various divisions of experience, and (3) the correlation between specific sensations and the deeds they result from. Definitive examples are discussed in terms of both positions accepted by the present school and those accepted by others.
Accepted Views on Deeds
Leading to Specific Experiences
Virtue up to the third concentration, the ones that
Bring a pleasant experience. From here on up,
The ones which bring on neither pain nor pleasure.
Non-virtue here which bring a painful experience.
“In the lines above,” one might begin, “you mentioned `the three including those which lead to pleasure.’ Can you describe these types of deeds?” Virtuous deeds from the desire realm up to the third concentration level are the ones that bring one a pleasant experience in the future. From here—that is, from this third concentration level—on up to the “peak” level, virtuous deeds are the ones which bring on an experience of a neutral nature: neither pain nor pleasure. The deeds which bring on a painful experience are all the non-virtuous deeds here in the desire realm.
Other Views on Deeds that Lead
to Specific Experiences
Some make the claim that the ones below as well
Have the one between, for the reason that
Deeds ripen in the advanced concentration,
Three accepted to ripen without progression.
Now some people make the claim that the ones below the fourth concentration level—that is, the third on down—have as well those deeds that lead to the “one between”: to a neutral experience. They say this is for the reason that these are deeds that ripen in the advanced stages of the concentration levels, and because we must accept it as possible for all three types of results to ripen at the same time, without a temporal progression.
Next we present the various divisions of experience. After discussing a division into five different kinds, we will continue on to a more detailed treatment of the ripening of past deeds into future experience.
Five Types of Experience
Five are the different types of experience:
That by very nature, a mental link,
An object of focus, that by ripening,
That which makes its appearance in a manner direct.
Now there are five different types of experiences that deeds bring about. An example of the first would be feelings, which are an experience or sensation by their very nature. Something like the mental function of contact represents the second type, or experience due to a mental link. And form for example is experienced by acting as the object of one’s focus.
Virtuous and non-virtuous deeds are cases where something is experienced by its ripening. And an example of the final type, of something that one experiences as it makes its appearance in a direct manner, would be feelings.
Our more detailed treatment of experiences that ripen from a past deed will begin with some general notes and continue to the particulars of deeds that definitely lead to a future experience. The general notes themselves touch first on the various divisions of deeds, then on the number of different deeds projected with different realms and types of beings.
Experiences that Ripen from Past Deeds
These are either definite or not;
The definite’s three types because of those
Experienced as something seen and such.
Some claim that the kinds of deeds are five,
Others that the combinations are four.
Three of them act to project a discrete being.
Now there are three types of deeds which lead to a future experience through a process of ripening. These types of deeds themselves are grouped into two: they are either definite, or not. The “definite” group is of three different types, because it includes (1) those deeds with results that are experienced as “something seen”—that is, deeds which ripen into an experience in this very life; (2) deeds with results that are experienced after one’s rebirth—that is, in the very next life; and (3) deeds with results that are experienced in “some other” life—which is to say, in any life after the next.
Some people claim that the kinds of deeds are five: they arrive at this figure by dividing indefinite types of deeds into (1) those which will definitely ripen but at an indefinite time, and (2) those where neither ripening itself nor its timing is definite.
Others—namely, the Exemplist group in the Sutrist school—claim that the possible combinations which hold true in this regard are four. They say there are (1) deeds which are definite to ripen but at no definite time, (2) deeds which should ripen at a definite time but which are not definite to ripen at all, (3) deeds which are definite in both respects, and (4) deeds which are definite in neither respect.
One may ask which of these deeds projects a discrete being in the future. Three of them act to project a discrete being, but deeds with results that you see in this very life do not. This is because they ripen upon the very same stream of heaps which performed the original deed. Next we examine the number of different deeds that can be projected with different realms and types of beings.
Deeds Projected for Different
Realms and Beings
Every one has four projections each;
In the hells, three of virtuous.
A stable child does none to experience born
At that for which he’s overcome desire.
Neither realized, in others even;
Neither the unstable, desire and peak.
One may ask which different deeds can be projected with different realms and beings. Every one of the five different types of beings each has all four kinds of projections produced by deeds. In the hells through there are only three projections of virtuous types of deeds that are possible. Here there can be no projection of a virtuous deed that will bring one a result that he sees in the very same life, because it is impossible for any deed to ripen into a pleasant result in the hells.
Next let’s consider a child [non-Arya] who is stable and has overcome his desire for any one or number of the eight different levels. He does no deeds of the type that will lead to an experience there after being reborn at a level for which he has overcome desire. For the fact is that for his next life he will not take any rebirth at a level for which he’s lost desire.
Next let’s consider a realized being who is stable and has overcome desire for any one or number of the seven levels between. Neither does he perform any deed which will lead to an experience at such a level after being reborn there; what’s more, he does not even perform any deed which will lead to an experience at such a level in any other life beyond the next. This is because he will never again take a birth at a level for which he has overcome desire.
Let’s finally consider a realized being who has overcome his desire for the desire realm and the “peak” level, but who is unstable. Neither does he ever perform any deed which will lead to an experience subsequent to a rebirth, for either his next life or for any life beyond, in the desire realm or “peak” level. A realized being who has degenerated from the state of having overcome desire for the desire realm and “peak” level is someone that we say has “lost his result.” But it is impossible for such a person to die during the period between losing his result and gaining it back again.
Projections with Different Realms and Beings, Continued
Twenty-two different projections had with
Inbetween beings in the realm of desire.
One is the type with results that you see;
It is but a single discrete type.
One may ask whether deeds project their energy with beings of the state between death and rebirth as well. There are twenty-two different projections had with inbetween beings in the realm of desire. These are the inbetween being himself, the five periods in the womb, and the five periods out of the womb: these eleven are then divided into two types each, those which will definitely be experienced and those that will not.
The one group of eleven which are definite is considered to come from the type of deeds that come with results that you see in the same life. This is because “it”—this group—is counted but a single discrete being: the heaps that were present when the energy of the deeds was collected, and the heaps that are present when this energy ripens into an experience, have both been sent forth by the same projecting energy born from deeds of the past. Next we consider the particulars of deeds that definitely lead to a future experience.
Deeds that Definitely Ripen
Those are definite which involve fierce
Mental affliction or faith, an object of special
Qualities, anything done on a
Continual basis, killing father or mother.
Deeds with results which are something seen,
Due to features of the object or thought;
Anything which was something certain to ripen,
Where completely free of the level’s desire.
“Just what,” one may ask, “do you mean when you mention types of deeds that are certain to ripen?” Those deeds are definite (will definitely ripen into a future experience) which involve any of the following:
1) fierce emotions, of either mental affliction or faith;
2) an object of special qualities—that is, deeds performed with respect to the Gems;
3) anything done on a continual basis; and
4) killing one’s father or mother, even when this is done with meritorious intent.
“In the lines above,” one may continue, “you mentioned that `one is the type with results that you see.’ Can you describe this further?” Deeds with results which are something seen in the same life are this way due to special features of the object or thought involved.
A case of a deed which, because of the special features of the object involved, turned into the type that gives a result in the very same life would be as follows. In one of his former lives, our Teacher was once a certain monk who had mastered all three sections of the canon. There had been a steady increase in quarreling among the community of monks. One monk—who had himself committed the sections of the canon to memory—managed to bring the different sides to an agreement. This angered the other monk (the one who was a master of the canon), who made the sarcastic statement that “A woman has settled a women’s quarrel.” Because of this deed the monk turned into a woman in that very life, and took five hundred births thereafter as a woman as well.
An instance of a deed which, because of special features of the thought involved, turns into the type that gives a result that you see in this very life would be as follows. King Kanaka had a certain eunuch by the name of “Longwa.” He met someone driving a herd of five hundred cattle and asked the man what he planned to do. “We’re going to castrate them,” was the reply. Overcome with compassion, Longwa managed to save all the cattle from their fate: as a result, his own organ was restored in the very same life.
Aside from the above, anything which was something certain to ripen at any particular level can also constitute a deed which gives a result that you see in the very same life, in cases where the person has become completely free of any desire for this level.
Objects with Very Special Features
Help or harm to any of the following
Leads to quick experience of a result:
Anyone coming out of cessation or love,
No affliction, seeing, result of destroying.
One may ask about the features that make an object special. Help or harm which you perform towards anyone who has just come out of cessation leads to a quick experience of a result, for it is almost as if such a person has just come back from nirvana. Help and harm too towards anyone who has just come out of a meditation on immeasurable love or a state of one-pointed concentration where he has no affliction at all also leads to the speedy experience of a result. This is because such persons are helping every living being; they are involved with a willingness to accept the ultimate personal responsibility, free of any affliction; and they are totally imbued with an immeasurable kind of merit, very sharp and clear.
Help or harm done towards a person who has just come out of the path of seeing is another example of a deed that leads to a quick result. This is true because this person has just attained, for the first time, an unstained state where he has gotten rid of every undesirable object eliminated by the path of seeing.
Finally, beneficial or harmful acts towards a person who has just come out of the state where he achieved the result of destroying the enemy also lead to the quick experience of a result. The reason here is that the person has just achieved, for the first time, the unstained state where he has gotten rid of every undesirable object eliminated by the path of habituation.
Help or harm performed towards those who have just come out of a state where they have achieved one of the two results—where they need either return or not return to the realm of desire—does not though lead to a speedy result. First of all, their “new” condition of having reached an unstained state free of the objects eliminated by the path of seeing has by this time become somewhat old. Secondly, they have yet to reach the unstained state where they have just managed, for the first time, to rid themselves of the objects stopped by the path of habituation.
We turn now to the third and final step in our discussion of deeds involving a sensation of pleasure and so on. This is a presentation of the correlation between specific sensations and the deeds from which they result. Following the actual presentation we will go into some detail on the subject of mental illness.
The following selection is from the Great Book on the Steps of the Path, composed by Lord Tsongkapa (1357-1419):
Here is the third section, a presentation on the consequences of the various kinds of bad deeds. We proceed in three parts, beginning with what are called the “ripened” consequences.
Now each one of the ten paths of karma can itself be divided into three kinds—lesser, medium, and greater—depending on the intensity of the three poisons. The Main Stage of Levels states that, from the ten greater instances of killing and the rest, one is born into the hells. It says that from medium instances of each of the ten you take birth as an insatiable spirit; and from the ten lesser instances, you are born as an animal.
The Sutra on the Ten Levels however states the consequences of two of the kinds of instances, the lesser and the medium, in reverse of this.
The “consistent” consequences are as follows. Even if you do manage to escape the realms of misery and take birth as a human, the following respective results occur to you:
1) Your life is short.
2) You don’t have enough to live on.
3) You have problems keeping your partner from others.
4) People don’t believe what you say, even when you’re telling the truth.
5) You lose friends easily.
6) You hear things as bad sounds.
7) No one listens to you.
8) Your personality is dominated by desire.
9) Your personality is dominated by anger.
10) Your personality is dominated by stupidity.
The Chapter on the True and the Sutra on the Ten Levels state that there are two such consequences for each of the ones given here; even if you do manage to take birth as a human,
1) Your life is short, and you get sick easily.
2) You don’t have enough to live on, and what you do have is all just common property with others.
3) The people who work around you are “inconsistent,” which here means unreliable, and you find yourself having a lot of competition for your partner.
4) No one believes what you say, even when you are speaking the truth, and others are always deceiving you.
5) The people around you are always fighting against one another, and have an undesirable character.
6) You hear many unpleasant things, and when others talk to you it always seems to you as if they want to start a fight.
7) No one respects what you say—no one thinks that what you say has any particular value, and you are afflicted with a lack of confidence.
8) Your personality is dominated by desire, and you are never satisfied with what you have.
9) You are always finding yourself without help, or never find the help you need; and you are always hurting others, or always being hurt by others.
10) You become a person who keeps harmful views, or a deceitful person.
Great lamas of the past have expressed the position that it is a consequence of consistent action where as a karmic result of killing you become someone who takes pleasure in killing and the rest. It is a consequence of consistent experience then when you have to undergo the results just listed.
Next is what we call the “environmental” or “dominant” consequence. Here for example the consequence of killing expresses itself in the outer world around you. Food, drink, medicine, the crops in the fields, and other such things have very little power; they are always inferior; they have little nutrition or potency; they are hard to digest, and they cause disease in you. Because of this the majority of the living beings around you die before reaching the end of a full life.
Because you have stolen, then the crops are few and far between; the crops have no power to remove hunger; they spoil; they never come up; dry spells stay on too long; it rains too much; the crops dry up, or die off.
Because you have done wrong sex, you live in a place where there is piss and shit all around, and mud and dirt and filth, and everything stinks, and everywhere seems unpleasant and distasteful.
Because you have lied, you live in a world where, when you undertake farming or some work in cooperation with other people, in the end the work fails to prosper, and the people can’t work well together, and for the most part everyone is cheating one another, and is afraid, and where there are many things to be afraid of.
Because you have split people up with your talk, the very ground in the place you live is all uneven, covered with crags and gullies, full of highs and lows, so that you can travel only with difficulty, and where you are always afraid, and there are many things to be afraid of.
Because you have spoken harsh words, the ground where you live is covered with obstacles like the trunks of fallen trees, and thorns, and stones, and clods of dirt, and lots of sharp broken pieces of glass; it’s rough, and dreary; no streams, or lakes, or springs of water; the whole earth is parched, poisoned with salt and borax, burning hot, useless, threatening; a place where there are many things to fear.
Because you have talked meaninglessly, fruits refuse to grow on the trees, or they start to grow at the wrong times, never at the right times, and seem ripe when they’re still not ripe, or their roots are frail, or they can’t stay long; there are no places to take your leisure, no parks, no glades, no pools of cool water, and many things around to make you afraid.
Because you have coveted what others have, then each and every good thing you ever manage to find starts to get worse, and less and less, never more, each one of them, with the passing of each of the four seasons, and in every month, and even day by day.
Because you have wished bad things on others, you live in a world of chaos, where diseases spread, and evil is everywhere, and plague, and conflict, and fear from the armies of other nations; where there are many lions or leopards or other dangerous animals; where there are everywhere venomous snakes or scorpions or poison biting worms; you live surrounded by harmful spirits, and thieves or muggers, and the like.
Because you have held wrong views, then you live in a world where the single highest source of happiness is steadily disappearing from the earth; a world where people think that things that are unclean and things that are suffering are actually nice, and happiness; a world where there is no place to go, no one to help, nothing to protect you.
Reading Five: How Karma is Carried, According to the Mind- Only School
Selection One: The Mind-Only School on how mental seeds cause our perceptions
The selections are all taken from Illumination of the True Thought, written by Lord Tsongkapa:
. . .The second part has two sections of its own: stating the position of the other school, and then denying this position. Here is the first.
This is how the presentation was made. Then those of the Mind-Only School come back, considering and then presenting a position which by itself reflects the primary belief of their entire system.
They speak first of the mental seed, the energy, from which the “mind of the eye” (which refers to the consciousness of the eye) comes forth. Another case of consciousness, as it is in the process of stopping, in the next moment plants this mental seed in the foundation consciousness. When this seed ripens later, it produces that consciousness of the eye, one which takes after the earlier one.
Consider now this energy as it exists immediately before producing the consciousness of the eye related to it; consider the energy which acts as the immediate basis for this eye consciousness. Normal people, out of ignorance, conceive of this as the physical faculty of the eye. In truth though a power of the eye which is something separate from consciousness is something that doesn’t even exist. This same explanation applies to all the remaining physical faculties.
Here the cause behind the consciousness of the eye, the mental seed, is the primary factor behind it. The faculty of the eye is the component of the body that provides a contributing circumstance.
Here when the physical faculty of the eye is presented as the direct cause of the consciousness of the eye, the real intent is to refer to the situation where the mental seed which produces the eye consciousness is ripening. They are not talking here of what we normally think of as the physical faculty of the eye.
Regarding this the text called Middle and Extremes states,
The combination of the objects and the person,
The base consciousness, is a consciousness that appears;
In reality this is not the being.
Here the word “objects” refers to form and the rest, and “the person” refers to the five faculties; the lines are describing a consciousness that arises and which appears to be them, but which is actually foundation consciousness. Master Stiramati also explains the physical faculties as the object of foundation consciousness. The point then is that those of the Mind-Only School who accept the idea of a foundation consciousness believe that the physical faculties of the eye and so on are actually the condition of the foundation consciousness appearing as the physical faculties.
Once they have demonstrated that there is no such thing as physical faculties of the eye and so on that could ever be anything separate from consciousness itself, then they must show how form as well is nothing other than consciousness. To do this they give the following description. Consider now the five types of consciousness that, according to general belief, arise from the five physical faculties. It is not that there are any outside physical objects such as the color blue and so on which the consciousness has to grasp to. Rather, blue and the rest are only an appearance which occurs through the ripening of the very mental seed which was planted in the foundation consciousness and from which consciousness itself has arisen. Not realizing this fact, people look at the mind appearing as blue or whatever and accept or interpret these appearances as being outer objects.
Selection Two: How the Middle-Way School says the mental seeds of karma work
Here is the second part [of a different] discussion [about where the Madhyamika school believes the mental seeds from karma are planted, since they do not accept the concept of foundation consciousness]. One may begin with the following question:
Suppose you deny then the existence of a foundation consciousness. Nonetheless you must accept that mental seeds from virtue or non-virtue do get planted, and that consequences do arise from the ripening of these mental seeds. After all, the autocommentary to Entering the Middle Way does state that “For time without beginning, in the suffering cycle of life, the mental seeds for things have been planted, and have then ripened, and have then been interpreted by people as the things themselves.” There are as well many other quotations which mention the same thing. And it would be incorrect to say that there existed no basis or place where these mental seeds were planted. What then, according to your view, provides this place for the seeds to be planted?
According to those who accept the idea of a foundation consciousness, the thing called “afflicted mind” focuses on foundation consciousness and holds it to be “me”; they say that this foundation consciousness then is the place where the mental seeds stay. In our [Madhyamika] school too we have a similar concept; we say that the base which is stained with the mental seed is exactly that thing that you focus on with your simple, natural awareness of yourself and call “me.”
One may ask the following:
The autocommentary to Entering the Middle Way states that the stream of the mind is the basis where the mental seeds are planted. How does this fit into what you have just said?
The very thing we call the simple “me” is something which results from a label being applied to the mind, or consciousness. It also goes on in a stream. From this point of view then we can also refer to it as the “stream of the mind.” And even if what you mean by a “stream” is the continuation of later, similar instances of mind itself, you can say that it too is the basis which is stained by mental seeds of particular occasions.
Here is how the mental seed for ignorance works. The autocommentary to Entering the Middle Way says,
That thing which tends to stop, and yet still stain, and then continue on in the flow of the mind is what we refer to as a ‘mental seed.’ The expressions ‘continuity’ and ‘habit’ and ‘root’ and ‘mental seed’ for the state of mental affliction all refer to the same thing. This is something that Listeners and Self-Made “Buddhas” are unable to eliminate even though they may already have eliminated the state of mental affliction itself through using the unstained path. It’s similar to what happens with sesame butter or flowers; you may already remove these things from the scene, but the vase in which the flowers were, or the piece of cloth that the butter stained, still retain some subtle trace of them due to the previous contact.
How then could there be any sense to saying that there is another basis, a second one, on top of the one mentioned here, where other types of mental seeds, like those of virtuous deeds and non-virtuous deeds and the rest, are planted?
One might wonder about something else:
Let’s talk about the period while you are in the “uninterrupted” stage of the path of seeing [the actual direct perception of emptiness]. I can accept that at this point the negative thoughts eliminated by this path are no longer present, but we would have to say that the negative things eliminated by the path of habituation are still there, in a dormant way. At this particular point in time, the consciousness of the mind is unstained, unaffected by the mental seed which causes the mistaken state of mind where the appearance and actuality of things are different from one another. As such none of these things could lie dormant here, due to its very quality at the time. There is no consciousness of the senses that could act as the basis for those mental seeds, and it would be improper to say that physical form could ever provide such a basis either. According to you, moreover, there’s no foundation consciousness. I would have to think then that there is no basis at all where these dormant things could stay.
And yet there is no such problem, for at this point in time it is the simple “me” which is providing the basis for the dormant things eliminated by the path of habituation to stay. You can apply this reasoning as well to all the other cases involving things to be eliminated, and the antidotes which eliminate them.
Selection Three: The Middle-Way School on the question of where the seeds of karma stay until they give their result
Here is the second point [of still another discussion]. One may ask the following:
Those who believe that entities have no natural existence [meaning the Madhyamika Prasangika (or Consequence) School] do not accept the concepts of a foundation consciousness and the like; how then is it that they can still assert that all the workings of karma and its consequences are totally right and proper?
All the Buddhist schools, whether higher schools or lower schools, accept the principle that the consequences of pleasure and pain and so on arise from virtuous and non-virtuous karma or actions, even though the original karma and its eventual consequences may be separated by a very long period of time. The problem though is that, if the karma stays around during the entire period up to the point at which it gives its consequence, it would have to be unchanging. An unchanging thing though is incapable of affecting anything, and so you could never have a relationship where karma gave rise to any consequence.
From the moment after you complete a karma or deed, that deed is finished and gone. During the entire period from that point up to the point at which the consequence actually occurs, the deed no longer exists. A deed which is already gone is no longer a thing that can have any affect on anything. How then does a deed or karma ever produce any kind of consequence? Here is how we explain this problem:
Let’s consider the deed or karma as it exists up to the point right after the moment in which the deed is completed; that is, let’s consider the deed as it approaches its end. The energy of the deed has to be stored somewhere, and so some thinkers have invented the idea of some kind of foundation consciousness for it to stay. Others have said that there is something which is changing but neither mental nor physical, something they call “the fact of not just going away”; they say it is something that exists separately from the two types of deeds [virtue and non-virtue], and that it resembles the document written up for a loan that has to be repaid. Still others have invented the idea that there is another changing thing which is neither mental nor physical, again different from the two kinds of deeds themselves, something they call a “hold.” Others finally have invented the idea of a stream of consciousness which is stained with the mental seed of the deed. This then is why, they say, that it is no contradiction for the deed to produce its consequence later, even after a very long time. The deed or karma plants a mental seed in the foundation consciousness, and so the mental seed is the result of the deed. This mental seed continues on in a stream of similar forms until eventually it produces the consequence. Thus, they say, the consequence of the original karma is something that is produced indirectly, via a medium. This same type of idea applies to the other three positions expressed.
The first of these positions belongs to a certain group within the Mind-Only School. The second position is explained by Master Avalokitavrata to be that of the Detailist School—of a certain section other than the Kashmiri Detailists. The third position also belongs to a specific group within the Detailist School. It is not completely clear where the fourth position belongs, but since it is consistent with the ninth chapter of the autocommentary to the Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), it would appear to be an alternate belief of the Sutrists and the Kashmiri Detailists.
Although the Kashmiris do accept the idea of a “hold,” they do not assert that a hold could be produced by the two types of karma as something retained by the hold. The position here though belongs to someone who does assert this, and this is the point of the phrase “according to someone.”
According to someone now of the Madhyamika Consequence school, the deed or karma is not something which arises in and of itself, and so, for this very reason, neither is it something which finishes through any nature of its own. Nonetheless it is no contradiction to say that something which never finishes through any nature of its own can still produce a consequence. As such a consequence can come from a deed even if we never accept the idea of a foundation consciousness or the like.
You must understand then that this is why the two kinds of karma can already have finished in the mental continuum of any given sentient being, and yet still after a long time—even after the passing of many millions of years—these deeds can nonetheless produce their consequences “perfectly,” which is to say, without any confusion. [That is, good deeds lead to pleasure, and bad deeds lead to pain, and there is never any case where this law somehow goes wrong, and good deeds lead to pain, or bad deeds to pleasure.]
Given all this, the connection between deeds and their consequences is, in this school, purely and totally correct.
The point of all this is that all four of the positions above, as they attempt to answer the problem raised, do so from a viewpoint of accepting that a deed has a beginning that exists by definition and an ending too that exists by definition. They are agreeing as well that the later condition of the deed’s having ended is something that exists by definition. The Master [Chandrakirti] is stating that it is improper to answer the problem raised above by saying that, “Even though the ending of the deed is that way, it’s no problem, because we believe in foundation consciousness.” He is denying all these positions, for the reason that there simply doesn’t even exist any beginning or ending of a deed that could occur through any nature of its own.
The Master, to demonstrate how this way of answering reflects exactly the position of the Arya [Nagarjuna], quotes the following statement from the Root Text on Wisdom:
Because the karma never begins,
Because it has no nature of its own,
And since it has never even begun,
Neither then can it simply go away.
The lines are saying that, because there is no such thing as a karma that exists through its own nature, no such karma could ever have a beginning that came in and of itself. Because of this, it is completely impossible for a karma ever to end by any nature of its own. It is illogical to think of the subsequent condition of the deed’s having ended and invent some idea of something that can never just go away.
Selection Four: What the Middle-Way School means when it says things are just the results of conceptualization
This section [still another one] has two parts to it. First we will show how it is that objects are established through the process of conceptualization, and then describe what it is to grasp to true existence, wherein one holds things as existing in the opposite way. Here is the first.
The Sutra Requested by Upali includes the following lines:
A splash of pleasing flowers open their petals,
Golden palaces blaze in breathtaking beauty;
Look for their maker, but you’ll never find him,
For all of these are built of conceptions—
The world is an invention of conceptions.
The verse is describing how objects are established through the process of conceptualization, and there are as well many other statements of the Buddha that describe how every single object in the universe is nothing more than a creation of conceptions.
The Sixty Verses on Reasoning say as well,
The world is something that ignorance causes;
Why? For the Buddhas say it is so.
And why then would it be wrong to say
That this world is only conceptions.
The meaning of this verse, according to the commentary, is that none of the many worlds that exist does so through some essence of its own: none of them are anything more than products of our conception.
The 400 Verses says as well:
Without conceptions, desire and such
Are nothing that can even exist;
Why then would anyone with a brain
Believe in reality and conception?
The commentary to the work states that—
Things that can’t even exist in the absence of conceptions are, beyond any manner of doubt, absolutely things that cannot exist through any essence of their own: they are like a coil of rope you label with “snake.”
The expression “reality” here refers to something that could exist through its own essence. “Conception” is the fact that things occur through the process of conceptualization.
When this commentary states that “desire and such” are like a piece of rope labelled “snake,” it is only giving a single example; what it means to say is that each and every other existing object is as well like a rope called a snake: they are all established through the process of conceptualization.
Here the colored pattern of the rope and the way it’s coiled make it resemble a snake; and if you’re in a place where you can’t see it very clearly, then you start to think to yourself, “It’s a snake!” The fact though is that there is nothing about the rope as a whole, nor anything about its various parts, that you could ever establish as being one kind of a snake; the snake of the rope, then, is nothing but a creation of conceptions.
The same thing happens when you get the idea of “me” about the heaps, the various components to yourself. There is nothing about these components as a whole, when you consider them as a continuum in time, nor as a whole considered in a single moment in time, nor as the various parts to a whole, that you could ever establish as being any kind of “me.” We’ll go into this in more detail further on.
Because of this fact, and since moreover there is not the slightest thing outside of the parts or whole of the components to yourself that you could ever consider any kind of “me,” this “me” is nothing more than a creation of conception, based on the components. There is no “me” which exists through any essence of its own.
Selection Five: What the Buddha really meant when He said that things were “mind only”
Now the Sixty Verses on Reasoning says,
The world is something that ignorance causes;
Why? For the Buddhas say it is so.
And why then would it be wrong to say
That this world is only conceptions.
If one were to end his ignorance,
Then how is it that the thing that’s ended,
Despite our misunderstanding, could never
Disappear, even in conceptions?
The meaning of the lines is as follows. If things existed in their very essence, then they would exist as some independent reality. If this were so, then when you finally stopped your mistaken states of mind, they would never disappear, although they should have.
The mind is the main thing; and to show this, the following explanation appears in the scripture:
The world, in the form of those who live in it, finds its very being through the power of the karma they have collected with their minds, and through the bad thoughts in their minds. All the vast multitude of worlds too, in the form of the places where these beings live, have been put there, have been produced, by the collective karma of these same beings, and no one else—by the karma within their own minds. This refers to everything up to the farthest reaches of the world, from the great disc of wind that underpins our planet up to the highest temporary heaven, the one named “Below No Other.”
On this subject, the intricate patterns on a peacock and other such objects are produced by each one’s personal karma. The intricacies of the petals and colors of a lotus flower and other such things are produced by the collective karma of living beings. You can apply these principles to all other cases as well.
As the verse goes,
It’s through the karma of living beings
That the great dark mountains arise in their time.
It’s like the hells, and the heavens above,
And swords, and jewels, and trees in the world.
The great books of the Mind-Only School also discuss whether the two worlds [of beings and the place they live] are produced by karma that is collective or not, and so it’s not as though the system of the Mind Only denies the existence of the world where beings live.
And so it is spoken, that all the living beings of the universe are produced by karma. And if somehow you could stop all minds, then karma itself would cease to be, for it is only through mind and what comes along with it that karma can be collected. Therefore karma itself depends on the mind. So the statement from the Sutra of the Ten Levels, where it says that there is no great master of all things, and no great maker of all things, conveys one meaning of the word “only” in the expression “mind-only”; the point is that there is no other creator of things than the mind itself.
It is stated in scripture as well that each and every one of the twelve links in the chain of interdependence depends on a single thing: the mind. These references convey yet another meaning of the word “only” in the expression “mind-only.” Here the point is that mind is the main thing. The former scriptural references are putting their point in a negative way, and the latter references are putting their point in a positive way.
Thus we can see that it’s the mind which is the one single principal cause that sets all life into motion. The principal cause is not something other than the mind. Therefore when the sutras speak of “mind only,” they are making the point that mind is the main thing, and not matter. Although we do of course admit that physical matter exists, this matter is not the one prime creator of sentient beings in the way that mind is.
Therefore all these scriptural references are denying that the opposite of the mind, something other than the mind, could be the creator. They are not though saying that there are no outside physical objects at all.
Reading Six: How Emptiness Allows Karma to Work, According to the Middle-Way School
The following selections are from the Overview of the Middle Way, composed by Master Kedrup Tenpa Dargye (1493-1568).
Let us first consider enemy destroyers of the Listener or Self-Made Buddha type. Aren’t you saying then that, like the non-Buddhists, they fail to eliminate all the widespread mental afflictions that operate in all three realms? Because isn’t it true that they have failed to achieve the path which is directly incompatible, in the way it holds its object, with the root of all these afflictions; that is, the tendency to conceive of things as existing through some nature of their own? And this is true, for they lack that comprehensive knowledge where they realize that things have no nature of their own.
Consider these same enemy destroyers. It is true that they have not yet realized, entirely, the fact that the person has no self nature. This is because they have yet to perceive directly the fact that the person has no nature. This in itself is true as well, for they are still chained by total misperceptions, in such a way that they will never be able to root out the object that they think they see when they hold the parts to the person, the thing which gets the label of “me,” as existing from its own side. And this too is true, for they lack that comprehensive knowledge where they realize that the parts to the person have no nature of their own.
The first of our logical statements above is always true. For suppose that a person is still unable to root out the object that he thinks he sees when he holds the parts to the person, the thing which gets the label of “me,” as existing through some nature of its own. As long as he goes on this way, then he will continue to find himself unable to root out the object that he thinks he sees when he holds the thing which gets the label, the “me,” as existing from its own side. And as long as he continues with this, then by the power of this misperception he will continue to collect karma. And as long as he collects karma, then he will continue to spin around in this wheel of suffering life.
This then is the ultimate idea within the root text and the commentary of the Higher Line, [written by Maitreya and Asanga]:
Due to the mental seeds for the two kinds of tendencies to grasp to some selfnature, these two tendencies themselves spring up.
Due to the fact that they have sprung up, an impression with a wrong way of looking at things springs up, and some things seem as though they are pleasant from their own side, and other things seem as though they are unpleasant from their own side.
Due to the fact that this impression has sprung up, the emotion of liking springs up, where you focus on a pleasant object and don’t want to lose it. And the emotion of disliking springs up, where you focus on an unpleasant object and want to avoid it.
This then forces you to collect karma.
And karma forces you to spin around in the wheel of suffering life. And this is why the Buddhas have said that this suffering life is something forced on us because we have not been able to see, directly, the essence of the Ones Gone Thus [that is, emptiness].
Here we will analyze the statement [from Entering the Middle Way, by Master Chandrakirti (650 AD)] where it says, “…The mind of a craving spirit as well, which sees a stream of water as pus.” One may begin with the following question:
Let’s consider the objects of the following states of mind: the visual consciousness of a craving spirit where a river of water looks like pus and blood; the visual consciousness of a person with a kind of cataract where a clean white porcelain basin looks like a hair has fallen into it; and that kind of meditation where you visualize skeletons—where you imagine that the entire surface of the earth is covered with the bones of corpses. Are all these objects completely equivalent, as far as being something that exists or doesn’t exist?
In reply we will first set forth a relevant passage, and then we will explicate the passage. Here is the first. The text called The Abbreviation of the Greater Way says,
Insofar as craving spirits, animals,
Humans, and pleasure beings, each according
To their class, have differing perceptions
Of a single thing, we say it has no reality.
Asvabhava, the venered layman with lifetime vows, has explained the passage. His words include the following:
When they look at a single thing, a stream of water, each one sees what the ripening of his particular karma forces him to see. A craving spirit sees the river full of pus and blood and the like. An animal or such, on the other hand, thinks of this same water as a place to stay, and makes his home there.
Humans look at the same thing and perceive it as water—sweet, clear, and cool. They drink of it, they wash themselves with it, and they swim in it.
Those pleasure beings who are wrapped in deep meditation at the level we call the “realm of limitless space” see the water as empty space, for their ability to conceptualize physical matter has dissolved altogether.
Here secondly we will explain the meaning of the text we quoted first. We proceed in three steps: disproving the position of others, establishing our own position, and then refuting their rebuttal. Here is the first.
Someone may make the following claim: Given the statements that have come above, the fact is that we should never again consider anything as being one way or the other.
Well then, you must be suggesting that the system of the Buddha is all the same as the system of every non-Buddhist belief, that there is no difference in their correctness at all. And you must be saying too that we could never state that our Teacher was the highest teacher, and that the teachers of the non- Buddhists are lesser.
And you must be suggesting all this, for you have claimed that we should never again consider anything as being one way or the other.
Now if you should agree that none of the differences mentioned above exist, we must reply that they do, for as the verse says:
All other teachers now I’ve given up,
And go for refuge now to only You;
Why? Because it’s You alone who has
No fault, and perfected every good.
Someone else might make the following claim: Suppose a pleasure being, a human, and a craving spirit sit down together and look at a glass filled with water: the thing that we define as “wet and flowing.” Since to the perceptions of each different type of being it is real, the glass full of wet and flowing water is in reality pus and blood to the eyes of the craving spirit, and in reality water to the eyes of the human, and in reality ambrosia to the eyes of the pleasure being.
We ask you then a question: in the situation you’ve just described, is it that the visual consciousness of all three beings are a valid perception, or is it that only one or two of them are a valid perception? Suppose you say all three are valid. Well then, the glass of wet and flowing water must be full of something that is all three different things: pus and blood, and each of the others. And then too it must be possible for there to be multiple and yet still valid perceptions which see one thing in two completely incompatible ways. And finally there must be such a thing as a valid perception which correctly perceives that the glass is filled with something which is simultaneously water and yet not water. Why so? Because, according to your view, the three differing cases of visual consciousness possessed by the three different beings would all have to be valid perception.
And if you try to agree to these absurdities, you are wrong, for the quality of being pus and blood is incompatible with the quality of being either one of the other two substances mentioned. Moreover, the quality of being water and the quality of not being water are directly incompatible in such a way that, if something exists and lacks one of these qualities, it must then possess the other.
Someone may answer with the following claim: In the case mentioned, the visual consciousness of the human is a valid perception, but the visual consciousnesses of the other two types of beings are not valid perception. These latter two see something like the pus and blood, and the ambrosia, only because their karma (which is good in one case, and bad in the other) forces them to.
Well then, according to you, the visual consciousness of the human wouldn’t be valid perception either. Because isn’t it true that the human sees the water only because his karma (which in this case is halfway between the good and the bad just mentioned) forces him to? Moreover, aren’t you implying then that there is no such thing as a valid tactile consciousness, or a valid auditory consciousness, in the mental stream of any being who is not a human? Because aren’t you saying that there’s no such thing as a valid visual consciousness in the mental stream of any such being? Certainly you are, for you believe your original position to be correct. And suppose now that you do agree that such beings can have no such valid consciousnesses.
Aren’t you then implying that these beings never have any case where they are able to reach a definite conclusion about something, or to analyze an object? And if so, aren’t you implying that there could never be a case where one of these beings could recognize another? Of course you are, given your position. Here secondly is the section where we establish our own position. Now suppose three different types of beings—a pleasure being, a human, and a craving spirit, each with their own karma—sit down together and look upon a glass filled with water, the thing we define as “wet and flowing.” The glass of water is not at this point one thing which is simultaneously three different objects. Neither is it necessary in this situation for there to be three identical valid perceptions. And when the glass full of wet and flowing water occurs, it occurs with three different, distinct parts to it.
It is not though the case that, from the time it first started, the glass of water came with the three different parts, or that they stay with the glass of water until it eventually ends. What happens is that one of the parts of the glass filled with wet and flowing water provides a material cause, and the karma of the craving spirit provides a contributing factor; and then based on both of these the later continuation of one part of the glass of water starts being blood and pus.
Another part of the glass of water again provides a material cause, and the karma of the human provides a contributing factor; and then based on both of these the later continuation of one part of the glass of water starts being water. Yet another part of the glass of water provides a material cause, and the karma of the pleasure being provides a contributing factor; and then based on both of these the later continuation of one part of the glass of water starts being ambrosia, and so on.
At this point, the glass full of wet and flowing water is something with three different parts. Nonetheless, it is not the case that all three different beings see all three parts. The craving spirit is forced by the bad karma he has collected to see the glass of water as pus and blood; and he doesn’t see the other two things. One should understand that a similar case holds with the latter two types of beings.
What we just described as happening is only with reference to where a glass of something wet and flowing is an object shared by the three different beings, as they look at it together. When the craving spirit himself though picks up the glass in his hand and begins to partake of its contents, the glass of liquid is no longer something that exists with three different parts. Since at this point it is something that the craving spirit is experiencing exclusively, its continuation starts being pus and blood.
How the glass of liquid exists originally all depends on the particular outer world from where it has been taken, for each of the three different beings has a different outer world, depending on the specific karma he himself has collected. If the glass of liquid were sweet, cool water taken from the world of humans—a world created by the specific karma of the human in the group—then that would be its original condition, and so on.
When we say that a craving spirit looks at a stream of water and sees pus and blood, by the way, we are only talking about some kinds of craving spirits, and not all of them. This is because there are many kinds of craving spirits: some with obstacles in the world around them that prevent them from relieving their craving; some with obstacles that are parts of their bodies; and some with obstacles that relate to the food or drink itself.
There is, moreover, an example we can use for how, when the three different types of beings with their three karmas look all together at a glass full of something wet and flowing, there start to be three different objects, each confirmed by a valid perception. Suppose there is a ball of red-hot steel; one piece of this ball provides the material cause, and the “mantra of steel” provides a contributing factor. Due to these two, a person who has used the mantra of steel on his hand can touch the ball, but he doesn’t undergo any sensation of heat; instead, he feels some other sensation. A person who has not used the mantra on his hand touches the ball and does feel a sensation of heat, and no other kind of sensation.
Another example would be the moon in springtime; one part of the feel of its rays on the body provides the material cause, and then the karma of a craving spirit provides a contributing factor. Based on these two, the spirit gets a sensation of heat, which is experienced by the consciousness of the body. So too with the wintertime sun; one part of the feel of its rays on the body provides the material cause, and then the karma of the craving spirit provides a contributing factor. Based on these two, the spirit gets a sensation of cold, which is experienced by the consciousness of the body.
It is a fact that they get this kind of sensation, for [Arya Nagarjuna's] Letter to a Friend states:
For craving spirits, even the light of the moon
In the spring is hot, and even the winter sun cold.
All of this is caused by the extraordinary circumstances of the particular time and place, for generally speaking it never happens this way: there is nothing at all about the sun that can feel cold, and nothing about the moon that can feel hot. This too is a fact, for there does not exist on the sun any case of that substance we call “covered space.”
Here is the third part of our presentation, where we refute the rebuttal of representatives of other views. You will recall that our own position is describing a situation where beings of three different types, each with their own karma, are sitting together and looking at a glass filled with something that is wet and flowing. The glass filled with something wet and flowing exists, at this point, as something with three distinct parts. Nonetheless, no one of the beings is able to see all three things there, for they are each at the mercy of the particular karma that they themselves have collected. Representatives of other viewpoints now come to attack this position.
One comes and makes the following claim:
Your position, as just explained, is mistaken, for it goes against a statement of the glorious Dharmakirti. This is quite surely the case, for in his major work [entitled The Commentary on Valid Perception] he says, Suppose you say that they don’t see it, And circumstances cause another form.
What he’s talking about here is a belief of the [non- Buddhist] Numerist School. They give the case of a single person whose physical form is looked upon at the same time by his enemy, and also by his friend. In reality, the person’s physical form is both attractive and ugly at the same time. Something happens where yet another physical form, one from karma, grows up between the person’s true physical form and the enemy and friend looking at it. Because of this neither the enemy nor the friend sees both the attractiveness and the ugliness together.
Master Dharmakirti uses logic to refute this concept, and this same logic can be used against the position you have taken, to prove that you are wrong.
Your reasoning here is though incorrect, for the belief you have expressed shows that you have failed to understand both the meaning of Master Dharmakirti’s statement, and the whole position expressed above.
This is a fact, for the actual meaning of Master Dharmakirti’s statement is as follows. The Numerist School is describing a situation where you are looking at a physical form either from far away, or from up close. They say that, depending on the distance between you and the object, another physical form which is the result of karma, and which stands between your visual consciousness and the original form, is either clear or not. This then determines whether the original form appears to you distinctly or not. It is not the case though, they say, that what determines whether the original form appears clearly or not is whether or not you have a clear impression of this form.
In reply then Master Dharmakirti is asking the Numerists:
Let’s consider these two cases of some intermediate physical form that comes from karma. Do they, or do they not, function to obscure the two original forms, the one at a distance, and the other close by? If they were to obscure them, then your visual consciousness could never see the two original forms, since they would have been obscured by the others.
And suppose you say that they do not obscure them. Wouldn’t your visual consciousness then see both the two intermediate forms created by karma, and the two original forms, the near one and the far one, all at the same time? They would have to because, according to you, the intermediate forms do not obscure the original ones.
This is the real point of the Master’s statement, wherein he refutes that belief of the Numerists.
Our second point [that you have failed to comprehend the position we expressed above] is also quite true. Our original position was describing a situation where three different kinds of beings were sitting together and looking at a glass full of something wet and flowing. It is not our position that the glass full of something wet and flowing is one thing that is three different things. And it is not our position that there is such a thing as the physical appearance of a person which is at once both attractive and ugly.
It is furthermore not our position that the blood and pus represent some kind of physical form which results from karma and grows up between the visual consciousness of the craving spirit and the stream of water. And it is not our position that the craving spirit’s eyes see both this blood and pus as some kind of physical form resulting from karma, and the river of water at the same time. It is our position that, by force of his karma, the craving spirit is not able to see the stream of water.
And anyway, maybe it’s you who have contradicted a statement of the glorious Dharmakirti. You have taken the position that the five sicknesses, and the five elements, and the five demons are all the direct result of the five poisons—the five bad thoughts. But when the non-Buddhists take the position that phlegm and desire have a cause-and-effect relationship, and that bile and anger have the same kind of relationship, and so on, then Master Dharmakirti refutes them by showing that desire doesn’t always come and go according to the phlegm, and anger doesn’t always come and go according to the bile. To do so he makes the statement that says, “It’s not a fact that wind and the rest are such, for the relationship doesn’t always hold.” We could twist around this statement too and say that it disproved your position; and add as well how wrong it is to assert that uncreated space could ever be the direct result of jealousy.
[The point seems to be that, although your position about the bad thoughts, and our original position on the nature of the three beings' perceptions, are both correct, you could always twist around some quotation by a master, take it out of context or misinterpret it, and try to show they were wrong.]
Someone else might come and make yet another claim: Let’s talk about that quotation above, where it said:
Insofar as [these different beings] have differing perceptions
Of a single thing, we say it has no reality.
The idea being expressed here is that a single object can be appearing in three different ways. This is incorrect because, according to you, what’s happening is that three different objects are appearing in three different ways. And this certainly is your position; remember, you were describing a situation where three different kinds of beings sit down together and look at a glass full of something that’s wet and flowing. You said that there were three different objects, each confirmed by a valid perception, and that they were appearing in three different ways.
Well now, suppose a person is using all four of his limbs, and his head, to perform five different actions. According to you, it wouldn’t be one person performing five different actions, because five different protuberances of his body are performing five different actions.
In response to this line of reasoning, someone responds:
No, there’s no such problem here. The five protuberances are all parts of the one person, so we have to say that, when the five are performing some actions, the person is performing some actions.
Well the case above is exactly the same! The three things mentioned, the blood and pus and the other two, are all parts of the glass full of something wet and flowing. When the three appear then we can say that the glass full of a thing which is wet and flowing is acting as a basis, and that three different ways of appearing are being displayed upon it.
Someone else may come now and make yet another argument:
Let’s talk about these three things: the pus and blood, and the other two. Are you implying then that these are not types of objects which would block each other from entering the space that each one occupies? After all, you were talking about a situation where those three types of beings, each with their own karma, sit down together and look at a glass full of water. And you said that your position was that it was possible for there to be three different objects there, each one confirmed by a valid perception.
This kind of reasoning, where you attempt to show that we are implying that the three objects are not the kinds that block each other from entering the space that each one occupies, cannot disprove our position. It is not our belief that in this situation the glass full of something which is wet and flowing is one thing which is three different things. Neither did we ever say that there definitely had to be identical valid perceptions here.
Someone might make the following claim:
In his Commentary to the Twenty Verses, Master Vinitadeva makes this statement—
If there was not a single drop of pus there, then how could there ever be a whole river of pus? They are forced to see it, through the ripening of their karma.
According to you, this statement would have to be mistaken, because when the three different kinds of beings sit down together and look at the glass full of something wet and flowing, the visual consciousness of the craving spirit is a valid perception, and the pus is real pus.
And yet there is no such problem. No matter how many arguments of this kind you want to present, they are all made from the point of view of denying the existence of external objects. The way these arguments go is as follows. If the color blue were to exist as an external object, then the following would occur when this color appeared directly to a sense perception grasping blue; that is, with such a perception found in the mental stream of one of those who “only sees this side” [which is another name for those who have not yet perceived emptiness directly].
When an earlier instance of the perception of blue ends, what actually happens is that it plants a mental seed which eventually grows into a later instance of the same perception of blue, when the seed ripens. Suppose the blue were not just this kind of appearance, but rather an appearance where blue as an outer object were transmitting a likeness of itself and thereby appearing to one’s perceptions. Something else then would be happening when the three different beings sit down together and look at the glass full of something wet and flowing. The three different objects would be appearing to them because each of the objects was transmitting a likeness of itself to their perception. All of this would be happening independent of any process where each being’s karma planted a mental seed, which later ripened and produced the appearance of the object.
If this were how the three objects were appearing, then they would not be appearing through a process where the specific and different karma that each of the three beings had collected had planted a seed in their mind which later ripened. As such each of the beings involved would have to be perceiving all three of the objects, whereas the fact is that they do not. All this is an argument attempting to refute those who refuse to accept the denial of outer objects.
The real meaning of the quotation by Master Vinitadeva is therefore the following:
Suppose there didn’t exist a single drop of pus that existed as it appeared to exist to the craving spirit; that is, which existed as an outer object. How then could there exist a whole river full of pus which existed as an outer object? These beings do though see the pus and so on, for they are forced to do so by their karma.
And this is certainly the case, for later on in the text someone argues that, if the pus and blood did not exist as outer objects, and if they were only a part of the mind itself, then they could never provide the function of being something to eat or drink. And in response, Master Vinitadeva says “Actions and their objects are like an injury in a dream.” He is saying that, even though the pus and blood do not exist as outer objects, nonetheless they can perform the function of being something to eat or drink. He proves his point by using a great many examples, such as a dream.
If this were not the case, then one would have to say that form and other such doorways through which perceptions grow do not even exist at all. Why? Because you would be saying that all the sutras which state that they exist are sutras which do not mean what they say; sutras which you have to interpret to understand their true meaning. And this too is certainly the case, for the autocommentary to the Twenty Verses states that:
In the same way, statements by the victorious Buddha where He says that form and other such doors of perception do exist would be examples of His word that must be interpreted to establish their real meaning; statements that are only spoken figuratively, for the benefit of disciples who might require such explanations.
In response to this someone might claim:
There’s no problem; the point of this statement is to say that sutras which explain form and similar doors of perception as actually existing as outer objects are only spoken figuratively, and must be interpreted to establish their true meaning.
Well then, the meaning of the original statement then is just the same: it is saying that “there does not exist even a drop of pus and blood which exists as an outer object.”
Yet again, another argument might be made:
Let’s take the case of one of those craving spirits that looks at a river of water, and sees it as a dry riverbed, genuinely so. Or consider one that looks at a tree loaded with fruit, but sees it as nothing but bare limbs, genuinely so. The visual consciousness of both of these beings then must be a valid perception. Why? Remember the case of the three different beings looking at a glass full of something wet and flowing; according to you, the pus and blood was actual pus and blood, and the perception of them by the craving spirit was genuine: his visual consciousness was a valid perception.
Just because we said that about the other case doesn’t mean that it’s true in every case. If the craving spirit hadn’t seen any water in that area in the first place, it wouldn’t have made any sense for him to go over in that direction to try to enjoy some of the water. Therefore what happened was that, at first, he saw some water. Later on, he was forced by his karma to stop seeing water and saw only bare, parched earth. Then he had an impression where he thought the water had dried up.
The case with the fruit tree is the same. Although at first the craving spirit sees a tree loaded with fruit, later on his karma forces him to stop seeing fruit, and all he sees is bare branches. Then he has an impression where he thinks that the tree has no fruit any more.
When all this is happening, the obstacle in the visual consciousness of the craving spirit prevents him from seeing the river of water, and so he sees a dry, parched riverbed. The same is true for the visual consciousness of a human: if the obstacle were there, it would prevent him from seeing the river of water, and then he would have to see a dry, parched riverbed.
From one point of view, the river of water hasn’t dried up when the craving spirit looks at it; but there is a river which has dried up, if you’re talking about a river of water that the spirit can see, or a river of water that the spirit can drink from. This follows because when the three different types of beings sit down together and look at a glass full of something wet and flowing, it is true that, due to the force of karma, three different kinds of objects exist there at the same time: the pus and blood, and the other two.
Given all this, consider craving spirits that have obstacles that relate to their food and drink itself. The food and drink there really is food and drink, until such time as the spirit starts trying to eat or drink it. When he does try to do so, then the continuum of the food into the next moment starts becoming pus and blood. It is not though that it is the simple appearance of something as pus and blood that could ever function as something to eat or drink. If this were the case, then the rules of karma and its consequences would have to be less that what they really are. And this is true, for if a craving spirit like this ever existed it would represent a failure of the laws of karma and its consequences.
Suppose moreover that there were no pus and blood out there to appear as the pus and blood, and suppose that the mere appearance of something looking like pus and blood could ever function as something to eat or drink. Well then, you would also have to be able to use a comb on the hair that appears on a porcelain sink to a person with cataracts. And a horsefly that appeared to the same person would have to be able to give him a bite. And the water of a mirage would have to provide all the normal functions of water, and so on. Why so? Well because, according to you, there is no pus and blood out there to appear as pus and blood; according to you, the mere appearance of something looking like pus and blood can provide all the functions of things that you eat and drink.
And consider again this case where a pleasure being and a human and a craving spirit and an animal or the like all sit down together and look at a glass full of something wet and flowing. According to you, it would have to be genuine when something that just looked like ambrosia appeared to the pleasure being, and it would have to be genuine when something that just looked like pus and blood appeared to the craving spirit, but there couldn’t be any pus and blood out there to appear as pus and blood. And if this were the case, then consider the visual consciousness of a being in the hells. It would then have to be a valid perception towards something appearing to it that just looked like the burning steel of the hells, and towards something that just looked like the forest of swords, and towards something that just looked like a mass of fire, and so on. Finally, this person would not have any valid perceptions at all towards any of these things as actual objects. Why would this all have to be so? If your idea were correct, it would have to be, for the logic here is identical to your own.
And suppose you agree that this hell being could have no valid perceptions of the type we mentioned. Well then, the burning steel and other objects could never perform any real actions: they could never burn the bodies of the people born there, they could never chop them up, and so on. Why? Well because of what you just agreed to. And suppose you agree to this; that they could never perform any real actions. Well then, the torment of the hells itself then must not even exist, by your own admission. And remember too that case where the beings all sit down and look at the same thing. You must be saying then that the actual water, the thing towards which the visual consciousness of the human is a valid perception, doesn’t exist at all. Why? Well because, according to you, no actual pus and blood exists either in the same situation. Someone might now make the following claim:
In this situation, there does exist some real water there. This is because the human can confirm the water with his own experience, as it performs all the functions of water—as he uses it to wash himself, or as he uses it to cook something.
Well then, in the same situation there must exist some real pus and blood there as well, because in this same situation the craving spirit can confirm the pus and blood with his own experience as they perform their functions—as he drinks them, and then as the sizzle in his throat and stomach, and so on. Someone may respond to this argument with the following claim: The two cases are not the same. When all this happens to the craving spirit, it’s nothing more than his own imagination.
Well then, what happens to the human can’t be happening to him either, because it’s nothing more than his imagination.
Someone may respond to this with another claim: When the human washes himself with the water and so on, it must not be something real, because it’s nothing more than his own imagination.
Are you saying then that when the pus and blood sizzle in the stomach of the craving spirit, and so on, it can’t be something real? For that too is nothing more than his own imagination. You agree? Well then, the suffering of craving spirits must not exist at all.
Someone might make the following claim:
Isn’t it true that when all those beings sit down together and look at something, there isn’t any actual pus and blood at all? Because isn’t it true first of all that, when a person with cataracts looks into a porcelain basin, there is no strand of hair in the basin at all? And, secondly, doesn’t [Master Dharmakirti's] text itself say,
Identical to the case of someone where his sense power has a cataract,
Is the mind of a craving spirit as well, which sees a stream of water as pus.
And yet there is no such problem, for this quotation appears in the section where we are examining the question of whether, in the schools of the Middle Way and the Mind-Only, an object and the perception of it must be equivalent in either both existing or both not existing. Moreover, there is another fact about this situation, where the stream of water appears as pus and blood to the visual consciousness of the craving spirit. It is no inconsistency to say that the visual consciousness that sees things this way is not a valid perception, and to say at the same time that—when the craving spirit looks at the stream of water—there does exist there actual pus and blood.
Someone again may come and claim the following:
Let’s consider once more this situation where three different types of beings sit down together and look at a glass full of something wet and flowing. Isn’t it true that there is no actual pus and blood there? Because isn’t it true that the burning steel and so on in the hells is only something that appears to a person who is born there, but that there is nothing there which actually is these objects? Because isn’t it true that there is no one at all who went and made all these kinds of things? And isn’t this a fact, because doesn’t the text of The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life say:
Who made the burning steel that acts
As the floor of the world of hell?
Where did all the mass of flames
You find there all come from?
The Able Ones have spoken that
Everything there like this
Is nothing at all other than
The mind of what’s non-virtue.
Yet there is no such problem. The point of this quotation is to say that the burning steel and so on are not something that was created by some unchanging creator being or something like that; by someone who thought it over first and then created them. The lines are meant to show us that what really made all these things is the non-virtuous states of mind had by the beings who have to take birth there.
If this were not the case, then consider those holy people who lead their lives following the ten virtues, and who are then born into the higher realms, and then experience the pleasures of these realms. And consider too those miserable people who lead their lives following the ten non-virtues, and who are then born into the lower realms, and then experience the sufferings of these realms. Is the difference between them just that they are having some better or worse kind of misperception, and not whether they are experiencing pleasure or pain? This would have to be the case, if your reasoning were correct.
Suppose you agree that it is only a matter of better or worse misperceptions. Are you saying then that the pleasures of the higher realms don’t even exist, and that the pains of the lower realms don’t even exist? You must be, if you agree this way.
In conclusion now, let us consider again these three kinds of beings, each with their different karma, as they sit down together and look at a glass full of something wet and flowing. It’s not necessarily true that they must all have valid perceptions which are identical. If they did, then the three beings looking at the glass of water would have to think of the water as a place to live, in the way that a creature living in water would. The three beings as well would have to see the water in the same way that microscopic organisms living in the water, little beings imperceptible to normal visual consciousness, see it with their own visual consciousness. Then too the visual consciousness of microscopic organisms living in the depths of the ocean would have to be a valid perception towards the entire extent of the sea. And certain kinds of near-gods too would have to see weapons as glasses of water, and on and on; the problems raised would be many.
Again consider this same situation. Even though it is not necessarily true that the valid perceptions are identical, it is possible for there to be three valid perceptions here which happen to be identical. This is because, as we have already established logically, there can be a case where by the force of karma three different objects, each one confirmed by a valid perception, start to exist. And since this is possible, then it is equally possible that, by the force of karma, three equivalent valid perceptions of a vessel could start to exist as well.
Generally speaking, each of the three objects mentioned—the pus and the other two—are things of the type that block other objects from entering into the space which they themselves occupy. It is no contradiction though to say that, in this situation where the beings are looking this way, they are not objects such that they block other things from entering into the space they occupy. This is true for the following reason.
A central mountain of the world which is square in shape, and a central mountain of the world which is round in shape, and the like, are objects such that they block other things from entering the space they occupy. Nevertheless, it is possible for both these things to occupy the space taken up by a single central mountain of the world. A red-hot ball of steel is something that’s hot, but consider what happens when a person touches it after he has used the mantra of steel on his hand. The sensation that he feels is not a sensation of heat; on the contrary, it is a sensation of something not heat. [This concludes the section of the text entitled "The Stream."]
Reading Seven: Black and White Deeds, the “Path of Action,” and the Root and Branch Non-Virtues
The following selections are taken from Illumination of the Path to Freedom, a commentary to the Abhidharmakosha by Gyalwa Gendun Drup, His Holiness the First Dalai Lama.
Black, White, and Other Deeds Defined
Non-virtue as well as virtue itself taken
In by the form and desire represent
Respectively deeds which are black, white, and both.
The unstained is what brings it to an end.
Just how do we describe these four types of deeds? Non-virtue represents a type of deed which is black and ripens into something black. It is black in that its very nature consists of something afflicted. It also ripens into something black, for it ripens forth into an undesirable result.
Virtue taken in by the realm of form represents a type of deed which is white and also ripens into something white. This is first of all because of its basic nature: it is unmixed with afflicted types of things, within the mental stream in question. And it ripens forth into a desirable result; with the one mental stream, it is not mixed together with any suffering.
Virtue taken in by the realm of desire represents a type of deed which is both white and black, and which also ripens into something both white and black. Since its basic nature is free of affliction it is white but—since within a single mental stream it is also mixed with afflicted things—it is black as well. It ripens into something white because it gives forth a pleasant result but—since within the particular mental stream this is also mixed with suffering—we can also say it ripens into something black.
Deeds which are unstained never ripen into anything either white or black. Their nature is to be what brings “it”—that is, the black kind of deed—to an end.
Bringing Black and White Deeds to an End
Twelve types of mental movement had with
Phenomena, mastery, and eight of the
Uninterrupted path free of desire
Are deeds that act to bring the black to an end.
That which is the mental movement in the
Ninth acts to end the white and black.
White by the final uninterrupted arising,
Free of desire for the concentration.
Here is how these deeds are brought to an end. First let’s take the twelve types of mental movement had with the four instants known as “the mastery of phenomena,” as well as eight instants of the uninterrupted path [part of the path of seeing, the direct perception of selflessness] which is free of desire. These are the deeds that act to bring black deeds to an end, for they function to eliminate all the mental afflictions that relate to the desire realm.
Next let’s take that type which is the mental movement in the ninth instant of the uninterrupted path. This is a deed which acts to end the white and black, first of all because it eliminates desire-realm virtue by means of eliminating the aspiration, or the desire, for it. Secondly, it eliminates all the mental afflictions of the desire realm—the process here being that one stops the hold which retains them.
Finally, let’s consider the final instant in the arising of the uninterrupted path which is free of desire for the fourth level of concentration. It is by this that white deeds are brought to an end, for here one eliminates aspiration, that is desire, for virtue of the formless realm.
Other Views on the Black and White
According to others, understood as those
For a hell experience, the two for other desire.
Others, what seeing eliminates is black;
White and black, others that come from desire.
According to the claim of certain other groups, deeds which bring one an experience in the hells are to be understood as the “black” ones. And those that bring one an experience in some other birth in the desire realm are to be understood as the two: as deeds that are both white and black. Still other groups assert that those kinds of deeds which the path of seeing eliminates are the black ones, while the other deeds that come from the desire are both white and black. We turn next to our fifth group of deeds, which includes those divided on the basis of the person who possesses them.
Three Types of Each Path of Action
The undertakings come from the root three.
Because they occur just subsequent to them,
Coveting and the rest come from these three.
The virtues, with undertaking and conclusion,
From no desire, dislike, ignorance.
Now sutra states that there are three types of killing: that which comes from desiring something, that which comes from disliking something, and that which comes from being ignorant of things. One may ask then whether the various paths of action are each brought to completion by these three roots of all non-virtue.
The answer is that they are not. The statement from sutra was made only with reference to the fact that the “undertaking” stages of deeds such as killing come from the root three.
One may next ask for a description of the process by which the “undertaking” stages of the ten non-virtues come from the three roots of non-virtue. Let’s start with the act of killing. The “undertaking” stage of this type of act comes from desire in a case where, for example, you take the life of another being in order to get its flesh to eat. An instance where this stage comes from dislike would be where you kill your enemy. And a case where the undertaking stage comes from being ignorant of things would be where you kill someone like your father or mother out of some meritorious intent.
Next let’s consider the act of stealing. An example of the “undertaking” stage for this act coming from desire would be where you steal something of value out of a longing for it. A case where this stage comes from dislike would be, for example, where you steal something of value from your enemy. An example of the “undertaking” stage for stealing coming from ignorance is exemplified by the description that “It’s religion when a Brahmin steals.”
Sexual misconduct that comes from desire would be a case where, for example, one engages in some wrong kind of sexual activity because of lustful feelings. Sexual misconduct born from dislike would be represented by engaging in sexual intercourse in order to harm someone else’s reputation. Sexual misconduct that you do from ignorance is typified in the statement that “Sex should be enjoyed by everyone together, like the flowers and the fruits of the earth, like a banquet ready for the feast, like a pool in the river, like a public road.”
Coveting and the rest of the three misdeeds of thought come from these three roots of non-virtue because they occur just subsequent to them—to these three roots. The ten virtues, and here we consider them with all their various stages (undertaking and conclusion, as well as actual commission), come from the states of possessing no desire for something, no dislike for a thing, and no ignorance of things. This brings us to our third point, a detailed discussion of non-virtuous paths of action. We present first the way these paths are committed, the their individual definitions, and finally the literal meaning of the expression “a path of action.”
How Non-Virtues are Completed
Taking life, malice, and harsh speech are
Brought to their completion by dislike.
Sexual misconduct, coveting, and
Stealing are brought to completion by desire.
Mistaken views by ignorance of things;
The rest accepted as completed by three.
One may ask just what it is that brings each of the different non-virtues to completion. Three of them—taking life, malice, and harsh speech—are brought to their completion by the emotion of dislike.
Another three—the non-virtues of sexual misconduct, coveting, and stealing—are brought to completion by desire. Mistaken views are brought to completion by an ignorance of things, for mistaken views spring from a deep-seated lack of understanding.
The “rest”—which refers to the three of lying, divisive speech, and meaningless talk—are accepted as being completed by all three poisons of the mind. Such actions motivated by desire, for one example, would be brought to their completion by desire.
The Objects of Non-Virtue
The objects consist of living beings, enjoyments.
Names and forms, and then of names as well.
One might ask what things serve as the objects for each of the four divisions of non-virtues just mentioned. The object of the non-virtues of the first division consists of living beings: killing is to take the life of a living being; malice is to feel hatred for a living being; and—as the root text itself says—”harsh speech is that which is unpleasant.”
The non-virtues of the second division have enjoyments as their object: they occur through enjoyment in the form of physical sensations within a living being, or by force of one’s taking possession of certain enjoyments.
The objects of the third division are names and forms, for the non-virtue in this case arises from a view about the virtues and non-virtues that are all part of names and forms in general. The objects of the last division are names, for lying and so forth all occur—ultimately—based on the names of things.
Some Ethical Questions
There is no actual stage for those who die
Before or together, for another body’s been born.
Because their goal’s the same in a war or whatever,
All possess it as much as the one who commits it.
“Suppose,” one may begin, “that a person takes a weapon and delivers a blow to someone else which is sure to kill him, but then this murderer himself happens to die, either before his victim or together with him—at the same time. Can we say then that the actual “commission” stage of a full path of action has occurred for such a murderer, or not?”
The answer is that there is no occurrence of this stage for such a person. In the first place, the stage cannot occur before the victim dies; in the second place, where the murderer dies at the same time as his victim, another body of the killer has been born. There is no actual commission because the body never went through the stage of undertaking this act towards the victim in question.
One may raise another question: “Suppose a group of people are engaged in a war or similar activity, and one of these people kills someone from the other side. Does a path of action occur only for the one person who actually did the killing?” It does not. Because they are engaged in the war (or whatever activity it may be) for the same common goal, all the people involved come to possess a full path of action, just as much as the one who commits it.
Next we present the definition of each individual non-virtue. We start with the “root” non-virtues, continue to the “four expressions,” and end with the six “branch” non-virtues.
Definitions of the Four
Taking life is killing another being
Purposely, and without a mistake.
Stealing is to take possession of
Another’s wealth by means of force or stealth.
Sexual misconduct, of four types,
Engaging in improper kinds of sex.
Lying’s when the meanings of one’s words
Are understood, a wrong impression given.
“What,” one may ask, “is the basic nature of each of the ten non-virtues?” The taking of life is defined as killing another being purposely, and without a mistake. The word “purposely” is meant to indicate that there is no problem like where the being in question has died but there was no intent.
The words “without a mistake” are meant to indicate that no “actualcommission” stage of an act occurs in a case of mistaken identity; for example, in a case where you undertake to kill John but instead kill Joe because you have mistaken him for John. The word “another,” finally, is meant to indicate that no “actual-commission” stage occurs either in an instance where one takes his own life.
Stealing is to take possession of another’s wealth, purposely and without a mistake, whether it be by means of superior force or by stealth—undetected. Sexual misconduct is engaging in kinds of sex which are improper to perform, purposely and with no mistaken identity.
This sexual misconduct is of four different types, as the number of the following list each constitutes one of its forms:
1) sex with someone else’s wife or with a woman who, although she is not another person’s wife, is too closely related to oneself—his mother, or sister, or any female related to one up to seven generations past;
2) sex with a woman, even if she is one’s wife, using an improper part of her body—her mouth or anus;
3) sex in an improper place—out in the open or in the environs of a shrine or temple; and
4) sex at an improper time—while a baby is still nursing from the woman, or when she is pregnant, or during the period that she is observing the one-day layman’s vow.
Lying is when the meanings of one’s spoken words are understood by the other person involved, and a wrong impression has been given him—purposely, and without any mistaken identity. Next we describe the “four expressions.”
The Four Expressions
That experienced by consciousness
Of eye, of ear, the thought, and by the three
Represents respectively what’s seen,
What’s heard, what’s known, and also what is sensed.
Now sutra makes mention of the “eight expressions of a child” [one who has yet to see selflessness directly], which consist of:
1) four types where you say “I didn’t see it” and so on about four different kinds of things—things that you really did see, hear, know, or sense; and
2) four types where you say “I did see it” and so on about another four kinds of things—things that you really didn’t see, hear, know, or sense.
Sutra also mentions the “eight expressions of a realized person”—four where you say “I did see it” about things you really did see and so on; four where you say “I didn’t see it” about things you really didn’t see and such.
Regarding these two sets of eight, one may ask for a more detailed description of the basic four: what it is to be “something seen,” “something heard,” and so on. That which is experienced by consciousness of the eye, consciousness of the ear, consciousness of the thought, and by the other three kinds of consciousness (those of nose, tongue, and body) represents respectively what is seen, what is heard, what is known, and also what is sensed.
We turn next to a description of the six “branch” non-virtues.
Six “Branch” Non-Virtues
Divisive speech, the words of a mentally
Afflicted state meant to split up others.
Harsh speech is that which is unpleasant;
Meaningless, really every afflicted.
Others, every other afflicted type like
Flattery for gain, a song, a show.
Like too wrong commentaries. Coveting
Wrong desire for another’s wealth.
Harmful intent, hating a living being;
Mistaken view, the idea that neither virtue
Nor non-virtue even exists.
Divisive speech consists of words which are spoken purposely, without any mistake, and in a mentally afflicted state; they are meant to split up others who are friends, and their meaning should be understood by the other person. Harsh speech consists of unpleasant words which are spoken purposely, and without any mistake; their meaning too should be understood by the other person.
“Meaningless speech” really refers to every case of words spoken in an afflicted state of mind. Other groups say that what “meaningless speech” actually refers to is every afflicted type of the spoken word other than those three already mentioned. They say cases would be like a monk’s engaging in the improper livelihood of flattering someone for the purpose of some gain, or else singing a song out of desire.
Still other cases would be where the monk told stories to entertain others at a show put on by some performer, or too where he began reciting some wrong commentary written by a non-Buddhist.
Coveting consists of a wrong (that is, an improper) desire for another’s wealth, which leads to a wish that one make it his own. Harmful intent is the desire to hurt another living being, a desire which comes from the attitude of hating him. And mistaken view is the idea that neither virtue nor non-virtue even exists.
Next we discuss the literal meaning of the expression “a path of action.”
Explanation of the Expression
“Path of Action”
Three are paths, seven deeds as well.
One may ask why the expression “path of action” is used in reference to “them”—to the group of ten just listed. The name derives first of all from the fact that the three involved with thought are paths by which the “action” or deed of mental movement is expressed. Moreover, the seven involved with body and speech are action or deeds themselves, as well as paths through which mental movement is expressed. Thus they are all “paths of action.”
The fourth major part in our presentation of the “paths of action” concerns the ways in which one loses, and then regains, his most basic virtue.
The following selections are from the Great Book on the Steps of the Path, composed by Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419).
Here is the first. One may ask, “How do you define the act of killing?” The Abbreviation says that five parts are involved: the object, the conception, the thinking, the bad thought, and the conclusion. These five can be shortened into four: the middle three can be included into the thinking, and we can add the stage of undertaking; this makes the presentation easier, and in no way violates the intention of the original text.
Now the object for killing is a sentient being: anything with life. The Levels of Practitioners does state “another living being,” but is only referring to the fact that, when the murderer is murdering himself, there is a wrong deed of undertaking, but not one of completion.
The part of the thinking has three components of its own. Conception can be of four different types: to conceive of the object, say a living being, as being a living being; to conceive of a living being as something other than a living being; to conceive of something other than a living being as being other than a living being, and to conceive of this same thing as a living being. The first and third types of conception here are unmistaken; the second and fourth are mistaken.
This is a particular feature of the motivation. Suppose, for example, that you think to yourself, “I only want to kill John,” and undertake the deed. Then you mistake Joe for John, and kill Joe. In this sort of case, there is no “actualcommission” stage; so we can see that, for this stage, the conception you have must be unmistaken. If on the other hand you undertake the deed with some general kind of motivation, if you think to yourself, “I’ll kill anyone I happen to meet,” then this detail of the conception having to be unmistaken need not be complete. You should understand that this point applies to the other nine as well.
The second component of the thinking is the bad thought involved. In this case, it can be any of the three poisons.
A third component is the motivation; here, it is the wish to kill. Here are the different aspects of the undertaking. As far as the one who undertakes the deed, it doesn’t matter whether you perform it yourself, or get someone else to do it for you, it’s all the same. The essence of the undertaking is when the deed is initiated, either with some kind of weapon, or poison, or spell, or whatever the case may be.
The conclusion occurs when, due to this undertaking of the deed, the other person dies, either at the time of the undertaking, or later on. As the Treasure House of Knowledge says,
There is no actual stage for those who die
Before or together, for another body’s been born.
Three of the ten—killing, harsh words, and harmful intent—can be initiated by any of the three poisons, and are brought to a conclusion by disliking.
Three of them—stealing, sexual misconduct, and coveting—can be initiated by any of the three poisons, but are brought to a conclusion only by desire.
Three more—lying, divisive speech, and meaningless speech—can be initiated and brought to a conclusion by all three.
One of the ten—wrong views—can be initiated by any of the three poisons, but is brought to a conclusion only by dark ignorance.
The movements of the mind are an action (karma) but not a path of action. The seven of body and speech are both an action and—because they are the basis in which the movement of the mind engages—are also a path of action. The three of coveting and so on are a path of action but not themselves action (karma).
Reading Eight: Most Basic Virtue, and the Projecting and Finishing Energy of Deeds
The following selections are from the First Dalai Lama’s commentary to the Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), entitled Illumination of the Path to Freedom. They include the root text of Master Vasubandhu.
How Most Basic Virtue is Lost
Most basic lost by the view they don’t exist;
Taken in the desire, had from birth.
Through the one denying cause and effect,
And through all. In stages, among humans,
Lost by those who are male or female, by the
Intellectual. This is not to have it.
One may ask just what kind of non-virtue can make one lose his most basic virtue. The most basic virtue that a person possesses is lost by the view that certain important objects don’t even exist.
One may next ask how the process occurs. Most basic virtue which is taken in by the realm of desire can be lost, but not that which is taken in by the form or formless realms. This is because the types of views required can never appear in the mental streams of the beings of these realms.
Even among the most basic virtues included in the realm of desire, only those which one had from birth can be lost—never those which have been acquired by applying some efforts in practice. This is because these latter types of virtue are gone by the time the mistaken views involved have even reached a minor stage of minor intensity. They have been lost because the hold retaining them was lost.
As for the type of mistaken view involved, a person loses his most basic virtue through the one denying the principles of cause and effect. It is not however the view that realized beings do not exist which causes one to lose his most basic virtues.
Now some make the claim that views involving unstained phenomena or levels which are not comparable cannot cause a person to lose his most basic virtues. The fact though is that this virtue can be lost through all the forms of this view: through those that focus on levels that are comparable or those which are not; through those that focus on unstained phenomena or on those with stain. How exactly does the loss occur? Some claim that a person loses his most basic virtue all at once, the same way he loses all the undesirable objects that the path of seeing eliminates, once he gains this path. What actually happens though is that the virtue is lost in stages, the same way one loses the undesirable objects eliminated by the path of habituation.
One may next ask what kind of being can lose his basic virtue. Such a loss can occur among humans of the three continents, but not among other types of beings. The afflicted mental capacity of hell beings lacks the necessary stability, and the same lack of stability characterizes the non-virtuous thoughts of humans on the continent of Terrible Sound. Pleasure beings in the realms of desire and form are beings who see the three conditions directly; the principles of cause and effect are evident to them therefore, just after their birth.
Even among humans, basic virtue is lost by those who are male or female—not by those who have lost their sexual organ, or who never had one. This is because non-virtuous thoughts in the minds of such beings are never very stable.
Humans in general can be divided into two types: the more intellectual, and the more sensual. It is the former of the two that can lose this virtue, for they are capable of sustained intellectual activity marred by mental afflictions. The basic nature of this loss or what we call “cut-off” of a person’s most basic virtue is simply not to have it.
How Most Basic Virtue is Regained
Regained by suspecting, view there are;
Not in this, when immediate’s done.
“What,” one may ask, “can help a person regain his most basic virtue after he has lost it?” This virtue can first be regained simply by suspecting that the principles regarding deeds and their results may actually exist. It can also be regained by gaining the correct view, whereby one actually perceives that there really are such principles.
One may ask whether it is always certain that a person will be able to regain his most basic virtue in the same life that he lost it. The answer is that he does not regain the virtue in this same life when he has done any of the “immediate” type of wrong deeds.
“When then,” one may ask, “does such a person regain his basic virtue?” If he originally lost this virtue because of some main cause, then the person regains it once he dies and migrates out of his hell birth. If on the other hand it was only some secondary factor that made him lose the virtue, then he regains it when he takes his hell birth.
The Projecting Energy of Deeds
A single one projects a single birth.
Does a single deed project but a single birth, or many different births? And do a number of deeds project a number of births, or just a single birth? The answer is that a single deed projects a single birth; it cannot project a number of births. And since they would function to project a whole group of similar births, a number of deeds on the other hand is never something that projects but a single birth. This by the way is all the Detailist system.
Now someone may object that this description contradicts the following quotation from the Sutra of Sovereignty—
The elder, Aniruddha, spoke to the monks as follows:
“Venerable monks, I once took a birth in Varanasi, as a poor man whose job it was to collect straw for use as fuel. The poor man made the traditional offerings of food to a Self- Made Buddha by the name of Tengnesam [?], who was also known as `the one with the top center part of his head protruding like a takar flower.’
“My one act of giving away these offerings ripened into a birth as a pleasure being in the Land of the Thirty-Three. I was born there a total of seven times, and then took another seven births as a Wheel Emperor. And still it continues now, with my present birth into the wealthier class of the Shakyas.”
Yet there is no contradiction: the process was as follows. His offerings brought the poor man the good fortunes of a happier birth; later, he recalled what had brought him this state. These recollections themselves brought him still further merit. Thus although we can say that the one act of merit brought him such and such different births, what we really mean is that he achieved these births through a process that began with the one act. It’s like saying “I got rich on a single dong-tse [an amount of money]” when what you really did was start with a single dong-tse and turn it over in a great many business deals until eventually you became wealthy.
You could also say that the poor man started with the one instance of offering food and that it caused numerous instances of gladness and rejoicing over the act; these are themselves deeds consisting of a movement of the mind, and the many births can be said to have resulted from them.
The Finishing Energy of Deeds
Those that act to finish them off are many.
It is but a single energy of deeds that projects a birth having a nature consistent with the deed; those deeds though that act to finish off the finer details of this future life are many. A master painter for example can sketch out the canvas with a single piece of chalk, and then a number of other people can come and fill it in with various different colors.
Any given group of people is similar in being human, but some of them who’ve had the details of their lives finished by virtuous deeds will have more attractive bodies, all their senses complete, greater material wealth, freedom from illness, positions of greater authority, and so on. Others in the same group who’ve had the details of their lives finished by non-virtuous deeds will have bodies with a repulsive appearance and so on.
Thus we can say that all four combinations between the two are possible: projection of a life by virtue but finishing by non-virtue, the reverse, a case where both are virtue, and a case where both are non-virtue. An example of the first would be persons born as pleasure beings or humans but who possessed certain sufferings.
An illustration of the second would be either the “Lord of All Things”—the Lord of Death—or the kings of the serpent-like nagas, those like the “Prince of Opulence.” An example of the third combination would be “Hundred Offerings”—lord of the great pleasure beings. And a case of the final combination would be the beings in the lowest hell, known as “No Respite.” The Sutrists and others assert though that there are many explanations, in a number of different sutras, that a single deed can project multiple rebirths. Therefore, they say, a single deed can project many births and a number of deeds can as well project a single birth.
Deeds that do not Project a Life
The balanced meditations that stop the mind
Never act to project; neither do holds.
One may ask whether every different kind of deed can function to project a new life. The answer is that the two balanced meditations that stop the mind never act to project a life, even though they do come with the “ripened” sorts of results. This is because the lives in question have already been projected, by the fourth concentration level and the “peak” level. Moreover, beings in these states have no mind—and deeds that do not occur together with a movement of the mind are of very little force.
Thus we can say the expression that “the two balanced meditations ripen into the long life of a pleasure being, or into a life at the peak level” refers only to their function in finishing the final details of such rebirths. The projecting force though is something supplied by the fourth level of concentration and the “peak” level of existence.
Neither do holds, whether they be virtuous or non-virtuous, act to project a life—even when they occur together with a particular deed. First of all, the deed and the hold have different results. Secondly, the hold is only an incidental occurrence, for it does not involve a movement of the mind. It is therefore of very little force. Finally, the hold is to the deed as the bark is to the tree—something distinctly separate.
Holds however which constitute either virtue with stain or non-virtue do function to finish off the details of a given life. Just so examples of stained deeds that are present in the mental stream of a realized being, as well as the four stages of the peak of preparation (which we also call the “path that leads to certain separation”) function only as “finishing” types of energy.
Reading Nine: The Five Immediate Misdeeds, and the Concept of a Schism
The following selections are from the First Dalai Lama’s commentary to the Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), entitled Illumination of the Path to Freedom. They include the root text of Master Vasubandhu.
Introduction to the Five
Split community, a thing without a
Link, its nature to be unreconciled.
Not afflicted, neither specified,
Something the community possesses.
The disapproved that leads to it’s a lie;
This the one who made the schism has.
The first three of the five “immediate” misdeeds mentioned above are different types of killing, and the fifth is a preliminary to killing. These are, therefore, deeds of the body. The fourth of the immediate misdeeds is a kind of lie, and therefore a deed of speech.
Now a split in the community of monks, at least according to the Detailist system, is said to “exist as a distinct entity—it is a thing (one of the factors) without involvement in a mental link; its basic nature is for the two factions of the community of monks to be still unreconciled.
Such a split can also belong to both those who have eliminated their mental afflictions and those who have lost even their most basic virtue; the nature of the split is thus such that it is not afflicted, but neither was it specified as being virtue. We can therefore say that it is ethically neutral, without acting as an obstacle.
The kind of schism described here is something the community of monks on both the opposing sides possesses. It is not though the “immediate” misdeed itself. The disapproved deed that leads to the community’s division—its cause—is a lie that functions to split the community up.
It is the lie which constitutes the immediate misdeed, and this the one who made the schism in the community has—whether it be Devadatta or someone else.
Consequences of Immediate Misdeeds
It ripens to that Without Respite for an eon;
Extra torment comes from extra ones.
“Into what kind of consequence,” one may ask, “does the immediate misdeed of dividing the community ripen?” It ripens into suffering, for the person who committed it, within the hell known as “Without Respite.” He must endure this suffering for the length of an intermediate eon.
“And what happens,” one might continue, “when a person commits any of the remaining immediate misdeeds?” Committing any of these other immediate misdeeds is certain to lead one to a birth in the hells, but in a more specific sense it is not a definite thing that they will always bring a birth in the hell Without Respite.
One might next pose the following question:
Suppose a person commits two, or even more, of the “immediate” misdeeds. If he takes only one birth in the hells, then you would have to say that committing several of these deeds is no more serious than committing only one. If one the other hand he takes two or however many births in the hells, you can no longer say that these deeds give “immediate” results, and that their results are invariably experienced in the very next life.
The Detailists respond with the following claim:
A person takes no more than a single birth in the hells as a result of committing “extra ones”—that is two, three, or even more immediate misdeeds. His body there in the hell of “Without Respite” though is twice the normal size (or more, according to the number of such deeds committed), and much more sensitive. He therefore feels an extra amount of pain: his torment increases in multiples the same way as his size. This frees us of both the problems you raised; incidentally, the earlier of the deeds is the one that projects the birth and the later one (or ones) finishes the details. The Sutrists and others though explain the point as follows: If a person commits a number of immediate misdeeds, he is born into the hell of torment Without Respite again and again. There is though no other type of birth taken between the body in which the deed was done and the body of the hellbeing, so the result is still “immediate.” The idea that the result must be experienced in the very next life cannot be substantiated.
Details of a Schism
The schism’s made by an intellectual,
Full monk with his morals, elsewhere, children.
What kind of person causes the split? The schism is made by someone who is a full monk and an intellectual type with all his morals. The person in question cannot be a layman, or the type more inclined to sensual pleasures, or someone who has lost his morals. This is because, first of all, he is vying with the Buddha. Secondly, he must have a very sharp mind. Finally, the community of monks would lend no credence to such types.
Where does the split occur? It must take place “elsewhere”—that is, in some location other than where the Buddha himself is residing. It could never occur in the direct presence of the Buddha, since his overwhelming glory would never permit it. And who is it that gets split off? It is only “children”—that is to say, common beings [which refers to those who have yet to see selflessness directly]—among the community of monks who are estranged. Realized beings cannot be led into a schism, for they possess a faith in the Buddha born from knowledge: they have perceived Reality directly.
Some people have claimed that it is also impossible to split up persons who have achieved the “mastery” stage of the path of preparation.
Details of a Schism, Continued
Split at the acceptance of another
Teacher, path. It does not remain.
Accepted as a breaking of the wheel.
One may ask at what point a schism is considered to have occurred. The community of monks is considered split at that point when, first of all, there is an acceptance of some Teacher (namely, Devadatta) other than the Buddha himself. Secondly, this is the point where there is an acceptance and attempt to practice some path other than that enunciated by the Buddha. This opposing path consists of the “Five Rules” set forth by Devadatta for attaining freedom from the world:
1) giving up the use of curds;
2) giving up meat;
3) giving up salt;
4) giving up the traditional patchwork robes; and
5) staying in temples inside of towns.
And how long does the schism last? This split in the community has its own peculiar nature: it does not remain for more than one 24-hour period.
A division of the community of monks is accepted as a breaking of the wheel of the teachings, for no new paths start up in the minds of anyone at all until the estranged monks are reconciled. What we’ve described here is the immediate misdeed of a schism in the community; other types of divisions are possible, but do not constitute the “immediate” type of deed.
Further Details of a Schism
On the Dzambu Continent, nine or such.
Split activities, on three continents;
This one with involvement of eight or more.
The break in the wheel described above occurs on Dzambu Continent (as this is where the Buddha resides), but not on the others. As for the individuals involved, the deed can only be accomplished with nine “or such” (meaning “or more”) full monks. This is because it takes at least four monks to make what we call a “community” of monks; there have to be two such groups created, along with one person who incites the schism—and he too must definitely be a full monk. This of course represents the bare minimum—there is no certainty that a great many more individuals might not be involved in such a schism.
Now what we call a “split in the activities” of the community can occur on three different continents—that is, on any one where the teachings exist, which would eliminate only the northern continent of Terrible Sound. This type of schism occurs only within the confines of a single physical monastic institution, and where the required rites of the monastic confession and so on have been performed with unity up to that point.
How many individuals are required for this type of schism? A split in the activities of the community requires no separate person to incite the division, so the deed can be accomplished with the involvement of eight or more full monks.
Details of a Schism, Concluded
A breaking of the wheel never occurs
At the beginning, the end, before the faults
Or one of The Pair, after The Able passes,
Until the residences set apart.
Now a breaking of the wheel of the teachings as described above never occurs at “the beginning”—that is, during the period just after the Buddha has first set this wheel in motion. This is because at this point everyone shares a peculiar sense of unity, a perfect harmony born of communal joy.
Neither does the break ever occur at the end of the Buddha’s precious life—when he passes into his final nirvana. This is because his followers at this point share exactly the same thoughts: a special awareness of how rare the Buddha is, and strong feelings of resignation with life once its impermanence has been drawn to their attention then.
Verses on Vowed Morality contains the following lines:
Instructions of the Teacher remain pure,
Free of any breach for twelve years’ time,
Free from taint, like waters of the autumn,
Working to remove the mental afflictions.
This means that a schism in the community will furthermore never happen before certain faults occur—faults in the way that followers view the teachings and maintain their morality. For until such time, the teachings themselves remain without defect.
Furthermore, no division can occur before the appearance of one or another of The Great Pair. This is because the division is of very brief duration and could not otherwise be brought to an end, since the reconciliation is always performed by one of these two.
No schism can occur after The Able One himself passes on (that is, subsequent to his final nirvana), since there is then no Buddha present for the leader of the schism to compete with.
Finally, no division of the community can occur until such time as different monastic residences, both large and small, are set apart from each other. This is because divisions between the community of monks that occur within a single monastic institution do not qualify as a breaking of the wheel, although they are a type of schism. In summary then we can say that there are six periods during which it is impossible for a break in the wheel of the teachings to occur.
Now this schism is something that depends upon the past deeds of the disciples involved, so does not occur with every single Buddha. The explanation goes that, in a former birth as a bodhisattva, our own Teacher (the Leader of the Shakyas) created a schism among the followers of a certain great adept who possessed the five types of supernormal powers: the present schism is just the eventual ripening of this misdeed. According to the teachings for those of higher capacity though this description is not to be taken literally.
What Makes Deeds Immediate
As objects of assistance, qualities,
Since you reject and also eliminate them.
One may ask the following: “Why is it considered an `immediate’ misdeed only when a person performs one of the actions such as killing his father or mother? Why isn’t it the same kind of deed when a person commits an act, such as the killing, towards someone else?” The answer is that killing one’s father or mother is an “immediate” misdeed as they are very special objects, due to the great assistance they have rendered one: they have given you a body, a body with which you can attain freedom. And by thinking to kill them you reject them; by actually undertaking the deed, you also eliminate them.
The case with enemy destroyers, the community of monks, and Buddhas is similar. They are objects possessed of exceptional qualities; by thinking to do the particular deed towards them you reject them, and by actually undertaking the various deeds involved you create conditions which are not at all conducive to their continued life.
Here we should mention that, although it is impossible for anyone to actually kill a Buddha, the thought to do so is a rejection of the Buddha. Kinds of actions other than those described above are in no way as serious, so are not counted among the “immediate” misdeeds.
Clarification of Certain
It is, even should the organ switch.
Mother, the one whose menses he came from.
One might ask the following question: “Suppose a person kills a father or mother whose sexual organ has changed. Is it still an `immediate’ misdeed?” Even should the sexual organ of one’s father or mother switch (and they thus become a female or a male, respectively), it is still the “immediate” deed of patricide or matricide if he kills them. This is because one has still killed the person who performed the function of a father or mother: the one who endowed him with his very special body.
One may then pose another question: “Suppose the embryo in one woman’s body is removed and placed in the womb of another, and the child takes birth from this woman’s womb. Killing which of these two women would constitute the `immediate’ misdeed?” The mother of the person in question is the former of the two women: the one whose menses he came from. Therefore killing this first woman would be the immediate misdeed; she played the principal role in providing the person a body fit for gaining freedom. We could not consider the second woman, the woman who kept the child in her womb, the child’s mother—this act alone would not make hers the principal role.
Now it is not an “immediate” misdeed if a person undertakes to kill his father or mother and ends up killing someone else; nor is it if one undertakes to kill someone else and ends up killing one of his parents. This is because, with an “immediate” misdeed, the actual commission of the act must be concluded with the same person towards whom the act was undertaken. And this is true of neither of the cases mentioned. Similar examples would be where the person killed his mother by accident as she hid under his bed, or where the son of the washerman threw a rock to kill a fly and smashed his father’s skull instead. Suppose that a person, in the single blow of some weapon, kills his mother and some other living being. The non-communicating form here consists of both deeds: the “immediate” misdeed and a simple act of killing. The communicating form though is subsumed only by the immediate deed, since an immediate deed possesses such tremendous force.
Next let’s take a case where a person kills his father, a father who happens to be an enemy destroyer as well. Or suppose he kills a person who is both his mother and an enemy destroyer too. Here he commits a single “immediate” misdeed, that of killing an enemy destroyer—for only the single physical base of a person was involved.
One may ask how then we reconcile this position with the following message, quoted in Divisions of the Word:
In days gone by there was a king of Rauruka City by the name of Udrayana. He was murdered by his son Shikhandi, who thus killed a person who was both his father and an enemy destroyer. The King’s last words to the assassins sent by his son were “Return and tell Shikhandi for me, `You have now committed two immediate misdeeds—that of killing your father, and that of killing an enemy destroyer.’”
The point of the king’s words was to tell his son that he had on two accounts committed an immediate misdeed, or that he had committed the deed in two different ways. There was though no more than one immediate misdeed done.
Misdeeds and the Holy
Not with a mind to strike the Buddha, not with
An enemy destroyer after attack.
Freed from desire, results, impossible
For one who’s undertaken immediate.
Let’s next consider the immediate misdeed of striking and drawing blood, with evil intent, from the One Thus Gone. It’s considered the immediate misdeed when a person uses his weapon with the intent to kill the Buddha, but it is not considered this type of misdeed when a person uses his weapon simply with a mind to strike the Buddha. This is because such a person lacks the “intent” stage for an act of taking life.
Suppose for a similar example that someone uses a weapon against a person who has yet to reach the stage of “enemy destroyer,” and then at some point after the attack the victim does attain this level. Suppose further that our new enemy destroyer then dies as a result of wounds incurred in the original attack. It is not considered the immediate misdeed with such a person, for his attacker did not undertake the action against someone who was an enemy destroyer.
One may pose the following question: “Suppose a person undertakes to commit an immediate misdeed. Is it possible for such a person—without abandoning this course of action—to achieve the state where he is free of desire, or to gain one of the results?” The answer is that it is impossible for one who has undertaken an immediate misdeed to gain either the level where he is freed from desire or one of the results. The two states of mind are completely contradictory.
Severity of Immediate Misdeeds
Lying to divide the community
Accepted as most heinous of misdeeds.
One may ask, “Which of all these immediate misdeeds is the most serious?” Lying in order to divide the community of monks into two parts is accepted as the most heinous of misdeeds among all the immediate. This is because a person has thereby struck a blow to what is known as the “reality body” of the One Thus Gone. And as long as the community remains unreconciled, there is a general stop in the world to certain great virtuous deeds: no one finds the true certainty, no one achieves the results, no one gains freedom from desire, and no one brings an end to all stains.
Moreover, such a division prevents persons from engaging in meditative concentration, and from reading scripture—from daily recitations and from contemplations. This then interrupts progress in gaining both higher births and the states of nirvana and Buddhahood. All the inhabitants of the world, on up to the great pleasure beings, are thrown into turmoil—they lose their happiness, they lose their freedom, they lose their ability to think. And the perpetrator must take his birth in the lowest hell, Without Respite, for an eon. These are what make this deed the worst.
The next most grave of the immediate misdeeds is the fifth; then come the third, the first, and second—in that order. Thus the murder of one’s father is explained as the least serious of the five.
One may object that this description contradicts the statement in sutra that, of all the three types of wrong, the three deeds of thought are most serious and that—within these three—holding mistaken views is most grave. There is though no inconsistency here. The misdeed we’ve described leads one to the hell “Without Respite” for a full intermediate eon; from the viewpoint of the magnitude of the result that ripens from the deed, we can say that dividing the community is the most serious of all the immediate misdeeds.
One the other hand there is the case where the raw emotion of fury in the mind of the great adept brought death to the many individuals of Dantaka Monastery and other places; we can say then that, with respect to the general result of death among the populace, actions of the thought are the most powerful among three groups of deeds that relate to the three passageways. And with respect to the “creative” result of losing one’s most basic virtue, mistaken views would be the most serious of the deeds of the thought, for the others in this group lack the power to make one lose this virtue. To express it in a different way, we can say that each was stated to be the most serious: dividing the community, deeds of the thought, and holding mistaken views—but only with the respective assumptions that one is limiting himself to the five immediate deeds, deeds of the three passageways, or the five views.
Reading Ten: The Relative Severity of Deeds and What Causes It
The following selections are from the First Dalai Lama’s commentary to the Treasure House of Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha), entitled Illumination of the Path to Freedom. They include the root text of Master Vasubandhu.
The Meritorious Act of Giving
Giving is when anyone acts to give,
Out of a wish to honor or to aid.
Deeds of body and speech with motive, linked;
Its result, possession of great wealth.
Now among these three, giving is described as follows. It is when any person, with thoughts of virtue, acts to give any thing he owns to someone else. As we read in A Sutra Taught at the Request of Vyasa, a Great Adept: “Oh great adept, all acts of giving even the smallest thing from faith are Giving.” As for the motivation involved, it is only the meritorious act of giving when one gives away the thing either out of a wish to honor (some very high object) or out of a wish to aid (some very miserable object). It is not real giving when one does so only out of fear, or out of hopes of getting something in return, and so on.
Giving moreover consists of deeds of body and speech along with their motivation and what is linked with it mentally. The result of the giving is the possession of great wealth, at least for the time being.
Giving that Benefits the Other,
and the Rest
Giving is that which benefits oneself,
The other, both, and neither one of them.
As for the different divisions of giving, the first is that giving which benefits oneself. This would be for a person who had not yet freed himself from desire for desire-realm objects, or for a common person who had done so but through the “path of the world,” to make offerings to a shrine.
Giving that benefits the other would be any act of giving performed by a realized person free of desire towards another living being not so freed. This assumes by the way that we do not consider any results that the former individual will experience in this same life.
Giving that benefits both would be for a realized being who was not yet free of desire, or for a common being who was not thus free, to present something to another living being who was not yet free from desire either.
Giving that benefits neither would be for a realized being who was free of desire for the desire realm to make offerings to a shrine. This is because the only point of the offering is for this being to express his deep respect and gratitude. Here again incidentally we are not counting any results of the offering that he will achieve in the same life.
Exceptional Types of Givers
Exceptional types of it from exceptional
Givers, given thing, whom given; of these the
Giver’s exceptional through faith and the rest,
Performs his giving with respect and the like.
As a result one gains the honor, a wealthy,
The timely and a freedom from hindrances.
Very exceptional types of “it”—of this giving, come from exceptional kinds of givers, exceptional kinds of things which are given, and exceptional kinds of objects to whom the things are given. Of these, the giver is made exceptional through a motivation of faith and “the rest”—which refers first of all to the rest of the “seven riches of realized beings”: morality, generosity, learning, a sense of shame, a conscience, and wisdom. The phrase also refers to having little desire for things.
As for how he undertakes the act, the exceptional giver performs his giving (1) with an attitude of respect and “the like.” These last words refer to handing the object to the other person with one’s own hands; (2) giving something when it is really needed; and (3) performing the actual deed in a way that does no harm to anyone else. Examples would be where one had stolen the object from someone else in the first place, or where one presented a sheep to a butcher. Included here too are cases where the object given hurt the recipient—examples would be giving someone poison or unhealthy food. Concerning the consequences of such giving, the person has performed his charity with an attitude of respect and so on, as listed above. As a result he gains the following (and here the list follows the three numbers above). In his future life he wins (1) the honor and respect of those who follow him, as well as a wealth of material things (which because of his former faith he enjoys at his total discretion). In this next life he also gains (2) the timely fulfillment of his own needs, as well as (3) complete freedom from any hindrances to his wealth: enemies, loss of his things in a fire, and so on.
Exceptional Things to Give
Things given, excellent color and such.
From it an excellent form and reputation,
Happiness and a very youthful complexion,
A body which in each time’s pleasant to touch.
An excellent color “and such”—which refers to an excellent smell, or taste, or feel—are what make things that are given exceptional.
From “it” (that is, from giving things with an excellent color), one gains an excellent bodily form—at least for the time being. Temporarily too he gains other results (following the order of the qualities just listed): a good and widespread reputation; great happiness; and a body with a very youthful complexion. The body that one possesses is moreover like that which belongs to the “jewel of the queen”: it is pleasant to touch in each of the times—whether the temperature is just normal, or whether it is cold (when the queen’s body gives you warmth), or hot (at which time the queen feels to you cool).
Exceptional Objects to Give a Gift
Exceptional—those you give to—by the being,
Suffering, aid, and by good qualities.
The highest someone freed by someone freed,
By a bodhisattva, or the eighth.
Gifts made to a father or a mother,
To the sick, a spiritual teacher, or
A bodhisattva in his final life
Cannot be measured, even not realized.
Those to whom you give a gift can be exceptional by virtue of four different reasons, first by the type of being involved. As Gautami’s Sutra states,
Ananda, you can look forward to a hundredfold result ripening back to you, if you give something to an individual who has reached the animal’s state of birth. But you can look forward to a thousandfold result if you give something even to a human who’s immoral.
The object towards whom you perform your giving may also be distinguished by his suffering. Suppose for example that you take all the things that a person can give in one of those types of acts where the merit derives from a substantial thing. It is stated that if you give these things to a sick person, or to someone nursing a sick person, or to someone when it’s cold outside or whatever, the merit is immeasurable.
The recipient may furthermore be distinguished by the aid he has given one in the past. Here we include one’s father and mother, or anyone else who has been of special help to one. Examples may be found among stories of the Buddha’s former lives, such as the one about the bear and the ru-ru deer. The person to whom one gives his gift may, lastly, be exceptional by virtue of his good qualities. Gautami’s Sutra provides some examples:
If you give to someone who has kept his morality, you can expect it to ripen into a result a hundred thousand times as great. If you give to someone who has entered that stage known as the “result of entering the stream,” it ripens into something which is immeasurable. And if you give even more to someone who has entered the stream, the result is even more immeasurable.
Now the highest kind of giving is for someone who has freed himself of the three realms to give something to someone else who has freed himself as well. This is because both are the highest kind of individual. Again we see, in Gautami’s Sutra,
The highest form of giving a physical thing
Is by one free to another free of desire:
But one with his body and speech restrained,
Reaching out his hand to offer food.
We can also though take a giver who is a bodhisattva and who gives any object at all, for the sake of helping every being alive. Although this is an act of giving by a person who is not yet freed and is directed to another person not yet freed, it is still the highest kind of giving. This is because the act has been performed for the sake of total enlightenment and every living being.
And this is because one has given something in order to become the savior of every single being.
Now a certain sutra gives the following list of eight types of giving:
1) Giving to close ones;
2) Giving out of fear;
3) Giving because they gave to you;
4) Giving because they will give to you;
5) Giving because one’s parents and ancestors used to give;
6) Giving with the hope of attaining one of the higher births;
7) Giving to gain fame;
8) Giving to gain the jewel of the mind, to gain the riches of the mind, to win what great practitioners collect together, to achieve the ultimate goal.
We can alternately describe the highest type of giving as the eighth in this list: giving to gain the jewel of the mind and so on.
As for the meaning of the expression “giving to close ones,” certain masters of the past have claimed that it refers to giving to someone when they are standing close by, or to someone when they approach close by. “Giving out of fear” means that a person decides he will give the best he has, but only because he perceives some great imminent danger to himself. And “giving because they gave to you” refers to giving something to a person with the thought that “I’m doing this because he gave me something before.”
The remaining members of the list are easily understood. “Jewel of the mind” refers to the ability to perform miracles, while “riches of the mind” refers to the eight parts of the path of realized beings. “What great practitioners collect together” refers to perfectly tranquil concentration and special realization. The “ultimate goal” can be described as achieving the state of an enemy destroyer, or the state of nirvana. This is how the Master Jinaputra explains the various types of giving.
Master Purna explains them as follows:
Giving to gain the “jewel of the mind” and the rest of the four refers respectively to (1) that which brings one the riches of faith and the rest; (2) that which is totally inconsistent with the stink of stinginess; (3) that which makes the happiness of balanced meditation grow; and (4) that which brings on the state of nirvana.
These four have also been accepted as relating respectively to the four “results of the way of virtue,” or to (1) the paths of collection and preparation, (2) the path of seeing, (3) the path of habituation, and (4) nirvana. An alternate way is to correlate them with (1) the paths of collection and preparation, (2) the seven impure levels, (3) the three pure levels, and (4) the level of a Buddha. Beyond the above, we can say that there are other acts of giving where, even though the recipient is not a realized being, the resulting merit still cannot be measured in units such as a “hundred thousand times greater” or such. These would involve gifts made to one’s father or mother (recipients who had given one great aid), to the sick (recipients who are in a state of suffering), to a spiritual teacher, or to a bodhisattva in his final life.
Support for this description can be found in the Sutra on Causes and Effect of Right and Wrong, which equates the merit of giving to these objects with the amount of merit you collect from giving something to the Buddha himself:
Moreover, the act of giving performed towards any one of the three different kinds of individuals ripens into a result which never reaches an end at all. These objects are the One Thus Gone, a person’s parents, and the sick.
Severity of Deeds according to Six Factors
Conclusion, one who’s acted toward, commission;
Undertaking, thinking, and intention:
The power of the deed itself’s exactly
As little or great as these happen to be.
Here we might touch by the way on what determines how serious a given deed will be. The first factor that can make a deed serious is what we call “performance in conclusion,” which means to continue a particular act well after the original course of action.
The one who’s acted toward in any particular deed—someone who may have lent one great aid in the past—is also a factor in making the deed a serious one. Deeds which are more serious because of the basic type involved in the actual commission of the act would include cases like killing (among the different deeds of the body), lying (among the deeds of speech), and mistaken views (among the deeds of thought). Even among the different types of killing there are those which are more serious—killing an enemy destroyer, for example—because as Close Recollection states,
…it leads one to the lowest hell, “Without Respite.” A less serious type of killing would be to take the life of a person who had reached any of the paths. And the least serious type would be to kill an animal, or a very immoral person.
Deeds made serious by the stage of their preliminary undertaking would be those which involved actually applying oneself physically or verbally. Deeds made serious by the thinking involved would be those where one’s thoughts in carrying out the act were particularly strong. And deeds which turn more serious because of the intention involved would be those where one undertakes an act with particularly strong thoughts of motivation.
We can summarize by saying that the power of the deed itself is exactly as little or great as these six factors of conclusion and the rest happen to be in their own force. One should understand that deeds where all six factors are present in force are extremely serious.
Whether Deeds are Collected or Not
A deed is called “collected” from its being
Done intentionally, to its completion,
Without regret, without a counteraction,
With attendants, ripening as well.
Now sutra also mentions a number of concepts including “deeds which are done and also collected” as well as “deeds which are done but which are not collected.” One may ask just what these are.
A deed is called “done and also collected” from its being done with six different conditions, described as follows:
1) The deed must be done intentionally; that is, it cannot have been performed without premeditation, or simply on the spur of the moment.
2) I t must have been done “to its completion”—meaning with all the various elements of a complete deed present.
3) The person who committed the deed must feel no regret later on.
4) There must be no counteraction to work against the force of the deed.
5) The deed must come along with the necessary attendants.
6) The deed must as well be one of those where one is certain to experience the ripening of a result in the future.
Deeds other than the type described are what we call “done but not collected.” From this one can understand what kinds of deeds are meant by the expressions “collected but not done” and “neither done nor collected.” As for the phrase “to its completion,” in some cases a single act of right or wrong leads one to a birth in the states of misery or to a birth in the happier states. In other cases, all ten deeds of all three doors lead a person to the appropriate one of these two births. In either case the deeds have been done to their completion.
The phrase “without a counteraction” refers to deeds done (1) with mistaken ideas, misgivings, or the like; (2) without confession, future restraint, or such. A deed “along with its necessary attendants” means a deed of virtue or nonvirtue along with attendants of further virtue or non-virtue. Admittedly, the Commentary does explains these as “Any deed which you rejoice about having done.” Nonetheless the attendants here are the preliminary undertaking and final conclusion stages of the deed.
Class One: Abhidharma Overview
Abhidharma was one of the first forms of Buddhism to come to India. It is considered to be part of Hinayana, mainly of the Vaibhashika (Detailist) school. The main book for study of Abhidharma is Abhidharmakosha (Tib.: Chu Ngunpa Dzu) by Master Vasubandhu (Tib.: Loppon Yiknyen).
Sanskrit: Abhi Dharma Kosha
Tibetan: NGUNPA CHU DZU
English: up to /approaching existing thing* treasury
*The highest existing thing in the Hinayana system is nirvana, so this refers to
Abhidharma means “up to nirvana.” It refers to what takes you up to nirvana, i.e. wisdom or understanding emptiness. So Abhidharma means wisdom/emptiness.
There were seven original great books of Abhidharma composed by the original followers of Buddha. Master Vasubandhu took all of those seven treasures and compiled them into the Abhidharmakosha.
The commentary we are using is TARLAM SELJE, Illumination of the Path to Freedom, by the first Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drup (1391-1474).
Why study emptiness? By being in deep meditation, you can’t do any non-virtue of speech or body (and perhaps mind, depending on how deep your meditation is). You can trick yourself into doing good deeds, but the only thing that will really cause you to only do good deeds is seeing emptiness (says Shantideva).
In this school, you are not in Abhidharma until you see emptiness directly. The accessories are your body, heaps (skandas), etc. and concentration, which allow you to experience emptiness.
Two types of Abhidharma – unstained knowledge:
higher knowledge (synonym for wisdom)
Main Abhidharma - consists of the three unstained or higher paths (of the five paths): seeing, habituation, and no-more-learning.
things following behind; “hanging”
Accessories to knowledge - wisdom from life, learning, contemplation, meditation, books.
a.) Nominal accessories: wisdom you were born with, books, hearing, contemplation, meditation.
b.) Real accessories: concentration and the heaps using during concentration.
Eight chapters in the Abhidharmakosha (root text):
1.) Categories of Existence - General concept and overview: The basic categories are stained or unstained. Stained means having to do with your bad thoughts, produced by them, producing them, or the bad deeds themselves. All existing things are either stained or unstained. Most of what we experience is stained.
2.) The powers - The faculties of perception (the senses); how do all things occur, how are they caused. Mental functions. This chapter is an elaboration of chapter one, where the powers are mentioned.
3.) The Suffering World - Description of all the realms: who is suffering and where they are suffering. Describes beings, time, space, planet formations, etc. This chapter elaborates on the suffering world mentioned in the first two chapters.
4.) Karma - This describes where the suffering world comes from and proves that the world is from karma and not from a creator God.
5.) Mental Afflictions (bad thoughts) – Describes how bad thoughts motivate karma.
6.) Person and Path - Person refers to advanced practitioners and path refers to wisdom.
How to escape suffering.
7.) Wisdom - More detail of wisdom mentioned in chapter six. Describes many kinds and details of wisdom.
8.) Balanced Meditation - Description of a Buddha’s knowledge, balanced between agitated and dull mind; a bright, attentive mind.
Four Requirements of a Buddhist Book:
1.) JUJA - Subject matter is meaningful (The subject matter of the Abhidharma is the wisdom that understands stained and unstained objects).
2.) GUPA - Purpose (The purpose of the Abhidharma is to plant the seeds of wisdom.)
3.) NYI-GU - Ultimate goal (The ultimate goal of Abhidharma is nirvana)
4.) DRELWA - Relationship between the prior three (To attain nirvana requires wisdom, which is developed by studying that book).
If it doesn’t have these four, it isn’t a Buddhist book.
Class Two: Basic Kinds of Karma
Opening line of the fourth chapter of the Abhidharmakosha:
LE – LE JIKTEN NA-TSOK KYE
karmic deeds from basis to be destroyed various they come (i.e., the world)
Karmic deeds cause the multitude of worlds. All the planets and beings come from karma.
The following three categories are what people believe cause the world:
1.) GYU TAKPA Original cause, unchanging cause; like matter forming cause unchanging from the big bang.
main, primal energy The force, the primal energy which made things.
3.) WANGCHUK A creator being.
Indra or Ishvara
main, principle, primal energy
In the opening of the fourth chapter of Abhidharmakosha, Vasubandhu asserts that the above three aren’t the source of existance using the reasonings taught in our last (logic) class. He goes on to explain what is the source of existance:
DE – NI SEM – PA DANG DE – JE SEMPA YIKYI LE YIN-NO
movement of the mind and what it does/motivates karma of the mind is
Karma is the movement of the mind (mental karma) and what follows (includes
speech and deeds.)
The most basic division of karma is into two: motivating karma and motivated karma.
Motivating karma is the thoughts you have. Motivated karma is what you speak or do
after thinking about it.
The three kinds of karma: of body, speech, and mind (emotions are of mind and mental
Two kinds of verbal and physical karma: (This idea is from the Detailist school only.)
Communicating the intention through the color, shape,
NAMPAR RIKJE form of the person. Ex. seeing someone with hands communicating clasped and understanding they are praying. Shape (color or form) which allows you to impute meaning.
NAMPAR RIKJE MAYINPA Non-communicating karma: when you do some very communicating it isn’t good or bad deed, you gain an invisible light-type aura which is from outside of you and permeating you.
Five qualities of non-communicating karma:
1.) Even when you aren’t thinking about it, it’s still there.
2.) Even when the mind is almost shut down (in very deep meditation) it’s still there.
3.) It has an ethical component – it’s either virtuous or non-virtuous.
4.) It continues on in a stream; it follows you through time and place.
5.) It is composed of subtle physical matter, having all types of elements (air, water,
fire, and earth) as its cause.
Your suffering is your world and you.
Each planet has its own hell realms, higher realms, etc. You must have a genuine, strong understanding of where the world came from. As long as even a small part of your mind believes the world came from a creator God, you won’t act based upon knowledge of karma, and can’t escape sufferings.
Class Three: Three Kinds of Karma, Four Kinds of Good Karma
Three kinds of karma:
DU RESHI LA NAMMIN YIDU ONGWA DEWA NGONGWA DANG
In the short term karmic result desirable, attractive happiness to experience and ripening
TENDU DUKNGYEL LE KYOPPA NYANGDE TOPJE GEWA
ultimately suffering from to protect nirvana it brings you good deed, virtue
A good deed (or virtue) is something which in the short term brings you a pleasurable experience, and which ultimately protects you from suffering by bringing you to nirvana.
NAMMIN YIDU MI-ONGWA MIDEWA NYONGWA NI MI-GEWA
karmic result undesirable unhappiness experience that bad deed
A bad deed (or non-virtue) is that which brings you a karmic result which is an undesirable, unpleasant experience.
YIDU ENG MI-ENG KYEPA DINYI LE SHENPAY LE LUNG MA TEN
desirable result undesirable result gives you these two other types karma neutral karma
Karma which is other than those two which give you desirable or undesirable results is neutral karma.
Four kinds of good karmic deeds:
1.) DUNDAM GEWA Nirvana: Only nominally karma – it’s not an ultimate good deed action.
2.) NGOWO NYIKYI GEWA Good deed by its very nature (there are five nature very by good deed of them):
Five deeds good by their very nature:
The three roots of virtue (the three kinds of mental functions):
1.) Non-desire - understanding the selflessness of things and so not desiring.
2.) Non-hatred - understanding selflessness and so not hating.
3.) Non-ignorance - wisdom.
Two thoughts of virtue always present when doing virtue:
4.) Avoid bad deeds for reasons relating to yourself (i.e. shame: ngo-tsa).
5.) Avoid bad deeds because someone else may find out (i.e. consideration: trel-yu).
3.) TSUNG-DEN When you have a virtuous thought, all of the linked association mental functions are virtuous by association. Those mental functions which are nominally neutral are colored by that thought.
4.) KUN-LONG Verbal and physical actions, stemming from motivation.
A metaphor for these four good deeds is that a healthy body is like nirvana.
The nature of spiritual education is to see the empty nature of things and then to have
the back and forth perceptions of things being empty vs. self-existant. Over time, we
see things’ self-existent nature less and less.
The ten non-virtues: (the most common of the 84,000 bad deeds)
3.) Sexual misconduct
4.) Lying (giving the wrong impression)
5.) Divisive speech (alienating others from each other)
6.) Harsh words
7.) Meaningless talk
10.) Wrong views (This is the worst of all. If we believed in karma, we wouldn’t do
the other nine.)
Class Four: Divisions of Karma and Karmic Results
There are many ways to divide karma and explain or classify it. A few are listed here:
Karmic consequences (by when you experience the result):
1.) TONG – GYUR GYI LE
which you are going to see which will karma
Karma whose results you will see in this life. This is the basis of how tantra works.
2.) KYENE NYONG-GYUR GYI LE
after born experienced which will karma
Karma you experience in the very next life after this one (not counting the bardo, which is a birth as well).
3.) LEN-DRANG SHEN-LA NYONG – GYUR GYI LE
times other in experienced will be which will karma
Karma which you experience in any life after your next one.
Four kinds of karma which must ripen (the seeds will definitely ripen rather than remaining latent):
1.) SHUK DRAKPO Deed committed with strong emotion (Or even charged force fierce thought: -”I know I’m right” and acting on it is strong ignorance – a mental function, like emotion.)
2.) YONTEN GYI SHI Deed committed toward a very holy object (such as the good personal basis three jewels). Because the object has so much potential quality to help others, the impact of actions toward it affects many others, too.
3.) GYUN – CHAKSU Deed committed over and over again will produce a over and over again result. It becomes stronger and stronger.
4.) PA MA SUPA Killing your father or mother. Even if done with father mother killing motivation to benefit them, it will produce negative karma. This is among the worst things you can do.
Two things that will make karma ripen in this life:
1.) SHING GI KYEPAR Doing a deed toward a “distinctive” (powerful) object.
object distinctive A powerful object is one that can benefit many beings, or beings who have just come out of various high states.
2.) SAMPAY KYEPAR Deed done with an extraordinary motivation or thought.
thought distinctive The object or thought must be powerful enough to cause the karma to ripen in this life. Tantra is based upon this.
Three karmic results (from Je Tsongkapa’s Lam Rim Chenmo):
1.) NAM-MIN Ripening depends upon how strong your emotions (desire, ripening anger, etc.) are when you do the deed, what’s the motivation, and how bad was the deed. A big bad deed such as killing results in hells; medium killing results in craving spirits rebirth, lesser killing results in an animal rebirth. Lesser means by accident; greater means with premeditated hate.
2.) GYU – TUN With corresponding results, there is a similarity between what corresponding you did and what you get back. There are two kinds:
a.) NYONG-WA, or similar experience. Here the resulting experience is similar to the experience that caused it. For
example if you stole, you will never have enough. If you killed, you will have a short or sickly life.
b.) JE-PA, or similar habit. You will have a predisposition to do that thing again in a future life.
3.) DAK -DRE There is an environmental correspondence. For example, if you killed, you will live in a dangerous place with wars, muggers, etc. From sexual misconduct, you live in a place of stink, feces, filth, etc.
Examples of powerful objects which will cause karmic results to ripen in this life:
1.) Someone who has just come out of cessation meditation for the first time. Anything you do toward them at that moment becomes very powerful.
2.) Someone who just came out of immeasurable love or no-mind meditation for the first
time. They are very close to liberation.
3.) Someone who has just come out of seeing emptiness for the first time.
4.) Someone who just became an Arhant.
Class Five: How Karma is Carried
(This lecture is based on the Madhyamika Prasangika (Implication) school, from the text:
U – MA GONG – PA RAB – SEL
middle way real intent total clarification
The Total Illumination of the Real Intent of the Middle Way, by Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419),
which explains the SEM TSAMPA, or mind only presentation of how karma works, which is basically accepted by the Prasangika, and all other schools.
According to the Mind-Only school, this is how karma works:
You see an angry person yelling at you.
Eye consciousness (mikki namshe) allows you to see a person yelling at you. The eye faculty (mikki wangpo), the physical entity consisting of rods, cones, lens, etc., takes in the image and transmits it to the eye consciousness in your brain. You look at the person yelling, the eye faculty senses colors and shapes. Based upon that, a consciousness grows – you apprehend that the person is there with those colors, shapes, etc.
All your karmic seeds (bakchaks) are stored in your foundation or storehouse consciousness (kunshi). Then the seeds start to grow and create their result. It creates an eye consciousness (mikki namshe) - awareness of the yelling face. In fact, it’s looking at itself. Mind-only school has the idea of kunshi to explain where karmic seeds are stored.
Mind-only school says that the bakchak produces a mental event (eye-consciousness) that looks like your eye faculty. You interpret it to be your eye. It’s an emanation of kunshi, producing an image which you think is your eye faculty. The karmic seed causes an instance of kunshi which looks to you as an eye faculty, but is just a part of
consciousness, looking at itself.
The kunshi is the place where the bakchaks stay, and it’s what starts to look to you like your eye. It’s all consciousness. There are no outer forms at all. Any time you see anything outside, it’s just you seeing your own mind looking like that. The eye is a display of the mind’s (kunshi’s) bakchaks, and there isn’t any eye at all. Consciousness is seeing consciousness; it’s you seeing your mind. There is only mind – no outer forms.
(This example applies to eye consciousness and eye faculty. It also applies to all of the other senses in the same way – ear, taste, smell, touch.)
In the mind-only school, emptiness means that the same karmic seed ripening in your foundation consciousness creates or causes all these things: the mind that sees the angry person, the eye that senses the angry person, and the angry person himself. There is no separate seed or substance for the perceiver and the object perceived.
Collective karma means that everyone who gets together and does a deed (such as having classes) will all enjoy some event in the future together. Everyone in New York has the same karma to enjoy the same results. Someone who died or moved lost the karma to enjoy that result in New York.
The seer and what he sees is created by a karmic seed. The seer is your awareness/ consciousness. What he sees is the eye (foundation), and by extension, the yelling man. You are seeing your mind yelling at you. Your experience of the whole universe is you experiencing your mind.
That’s how you get enlightened. You plant all the right bakchaks in the kunshi and then you see yourself as an immortal deity in a paradise as a result. You must put the correct bakchaks in the kunshi to become enlightened. Just imagining yourself as a deity won’t work to reprogram your consciousness because your actions aren’t creating the right
bakchaks in the kunshi. All bakchaks must be the kind to yield yourself as a deity; not just your thoughts, but speech and deeds as well. This is why morality is the basis of enlightenment.
Once the existing bakchaks ripen, it’s too late to imagine things are pleasurable. Getting yelled at is no fun no matter how much you imagine it is pleasant. You can have a good attitude about an unpleasant object, which will plant the pleasurable future seed. It’s too late to change the seed that’s ripening.
How a karmic seed is planted
You yell at someone. As that deed comes to its conclusion, in the next instant, the remaining energy of the deed is transferred to the kunshi in the form of a bakchak. A bakchak is not mental and not physical. It’s a kind of energy, or energetic potential, that stays in your mind. How does it stay around and remain preserved over time? It is a changing thing, each instant changing and continuing. The thing that affects the nature of how it changes and fluctuates as it streams on is your motivation, the object, confession, etc. as we listed earlier. If you yell at someone, it produces the result of you being yelled at later. Is it a person yelling at you later?
No, how could mind create a person? Mind creates mind. The awareness of yourself yelling creates an awareness of yourself being yelled at. Nasty content going in results in nasty content coming out. In Madhyamika Prasangika you perceive yourself doing a deed – say a virtue – and that perception plants a bakchak. That bakchak flowers into a result. That’s why your motivation is the most important component of a karma (after a powerful object). Your perception of what you did (helped, hurt, etc.) mostly forms the bakchak, although there is another contributor to the bakchak’s formation – the deed itself.
Madhyamika prasangika view:
The bakchaks reside in your stream of mind/being – in the unexamined “me” – what I call myself, the simple me, as I normally conceive of myself.
When the Buddha spoke of the world being “mind-only, created by your own mind”, he meant (1) the worlds are created by karma and not a creator God. And (2) he wanted you to know that your mind is the main thing; the world is mainly coming from your own mind’s ignorance.
TOK – PE TAK – TSAM The world is just what you label it.
by your own conceptions just labelled
They say that there are parts out there that appear to you in a certain way. You perceive them and label them in a certain way as angry, happy, etc. When you look for the parts out there, you find parts of parts, ad infinitum, without end. That’s a meditation on emptiness. If you continue to look for the most basic parts that you label “parts that are really there that I’m not labelling”, you’ll never find them. That’s it’s emptiness.
Class Six: Karma and Emptiness
How karma is caused through lack of understanding of emptiness:
Source: GYU LAMA (Sanskrit: Uttaratantra), which was dictated to Asanga by JAMPA
(a.k.a. Maitreya).This book describes six causal steps to creating karma:
1.) It starts with a bakchak from a previous life, where through ignorance, you saw a thing that appeared to be self-existent.
2.) Two kinds of ignorance spring up in your mind as a result:
a.) Tendency to grasp to a person’s self-existent nature (me, in general).
b.) Tendency to grasp to a self-nature of dharmas, or things (i.e. my bodily parts: my nose, my ears, my foot, etc.)
These are the two kinds of ignorance that exist in the world and cause all
3.) You look at pleasant and unpleasant objects and perceive them in a totally
incorrect way (as self-existent). You think they’re just happening on their own, but it’s your own projections on a blank screen.
4.) Based upon the above misunderstanding of the inherent pleasure or pain of the object, we have attachment or aversion for the object.
5.) You collect karma based upon thinking of the object with attachment or aversion, or acting out of attachment or aversion.
6.) You circle around in the cycle of suffering life. It perpetuates itself.
Water Analysis: (CHU – BAB)
Take a glass of water. A Buddha, a human, and a craving spirit see it as nectar, water, and pus respectively. Are each of them having a valid perception (pramana)? Yes, but you can’t have contradictory pramanas, so what’s going on? It’s empty, so each being’s perception is a valid pramana.
There is a material cause present, the stuff which turned into water (in this case water is the original stuff). There are contributing factors present, in this case each being’s karma, which leads them to see it as they do. There are three parts to the liquid (pus, water, and nectar) when the three beings are there looking at it. If only one being is there looking at
the water, the material cause and contributing factors make it only one thing. It must be this way since one object (the liquid) can’t be three different things at the same time (pus, nectar, and water). The three beings are each seeing a different part of the liquid simultaneously.
So however many types of beings are looking at the water, their contributing factors (karma) make the water have that many parts. If only a human is present, there will only be water in the cup. If a human and a Buddha are present, then there will be part nectar and part water in the cup, because two different karmas impact the cup of liquid.
Bakjaks increase and expand because we fertilize and nourish them with supporting thoughts and actions. When we stop fertilizing them, they won’t ripen.
Self-existence means that things exist independent of my conceiving them that way.
Class Seven: Karmic Path, Black and White Karma
The Desire Realm consists of hells, ghosts (aka craving spirits) animals, humans, demigods, and pleasure beings. Pleasure beings exist in form and formless realms, also.
Beings of the two higher realms (form and formless) don’t and can’t commit bad deeds, mainly because they are in deep meditation. They don’t perform new good deeds at this level, and they have bad deeds from before, so when the good karma from their previous good deeds is used up, they take rebirth in the lower realms.
Black and white karma:
NAKPOY LE Called black karma because its essence is black and its result is black. black karma Essence means it has to do with mental afflictions – it’s causing suffering or it is suffering. The result is black because the result is suffering. Black karma is collected in the desire realm, and is nonvirtuous.
KARPOY LE White karma refers to virtuous karma of the form realm – not desire white karma realm. The result is white – pleasure. The essence is white because the person doing the karma isn’t suffering outright (no suffering body, but must still age and die.)
KAR NAK DREPA Refers to virtue in the desire realm. The result is white-pleasure.
white black mixed The essence is black – mind and body are suffering as we do the karma. We can only do mixed black and white karma (or black only) in the desire realm.
Black and white karma refer to both the result of the deed and the nature of the being doing the deed. It doesn’t refer to good and bad deeds.
SAK-ME KYI LE Karma which doesn’t have a white or black result, but which unstained karma functions to remove the black karma. Ex. direct perception of selflessness: a pure virtue without a karmic ripening.
Two ways to remove desire for this life:
1.) JIKTEN PAY LAM
world path The worldly path
In the worldly path, you get into deep states of meditation and move up from the desire realm through each level of the form realm and formless realm. Your mind moves through the four levels of each realm. Your mind and meditation become progressively more subtle. Based upon whatever realm you meditate on the most, you will take rebirth there. (Meditation becomes the causal form realm and rebirth is the resultant form realm.)
When your mind reaches the first level of the form realm, you have no desire for sense objects because all senses are withdrawn in this realm. If you get used to pleasure of the first level of the form realm, all earthly pleasures pale. While on the first level of the form realm, you get a taste of the pleasures on the second level, and move up to that higher pleasure, so the first is no longer appealing. You keep doing that – pursuing higher pleasures and giving up lower pleasures. This isn’t a permanent giving up of desires. When you stop meditating, the mind comes back down to where you started.
The pleasure doesn’t stay, and it doesn’t lead to liberation.
It’s easy to mistake the higher pleasures for liberation, but they’re not. Only one state of mind can remove your bad thoughts and lead to liberation – understanding your selflessness.
2.) JIKTEN LE DEPAY LAM
world beyond path The path which is beyond the world.
This path transcends the world. You don’t give up the desire realm or the form realm because you’re moving up into higher levels of meditation; you give it up because you understand its selflessness – its emptiness. You remove your desire for an object because you understand its emptiness. When you reach the first level of the form realm in meditation, then you can see emptiness directly.
If you don’t focus your attention on emptiness while there, then you will keep doing more pleasurable meditation on higher realms. Once you have sufficient concentrative ability, you must shift your focus to emptiness, alternating your meditation between analytical and single-pointed concentration. Only seeing emptiness can remove your desire for higher pleasure realms as a motivation to meditate and practice.
Prayer works because the virtue of asking for something beneficial creates the cause to receive it.
Karmic Path: LE LAM
There are four parts to a path of action, or karmic path (ex. killing):
basis The object involved (ex. the person you killed)
2.) SAMPA The thinking involved, your intention or motivation (did you kill with premeditated anger or accidentally while trying to help someone).
Kinds of sampa:
a.) DU-SHE - correct identification. Is the person you kill the one intended?
b.) NYON-MONG - bad thoughts. Were you under the control of attraction, dislike, or ignorance when you committed the deed?
c.) KUN-LONG - motivation or intention. Did you want to kill or was it an accident?
3.) JORWA - undertaking the deed. Taking the weapon and going after the person.
4.) TARTUK – completing the deed. You collect the karma when the person actually dies.
LE LE KYI LAM
karma karma of path
A path of karma (or action) motivates the mind to shift to its object. For example, illwill, craving, and wrong view are a path of karma. They motivate the mind to move, which is karma. The seven non-virtues of speech and body are karmas.
Karma is a movement of the mind. The mental functions which follow the mind, such as anger, love, etc., are not karma. (There is a big debate about this.)
Class Eight: Cutting Roots of Virtue; Projecting Karma
Cutting your root of virtue:
GE – TSA CHU-PA Destroying your root of virtue (collection of merit).
virtue root cutting
SUNAM GYI TSOK Collection of merit includes the first four perfections: giving, merit of collection not getting angry, morality, and effort. It consists of all the good deeds you have done.
YESHE GYI TSOK Collection of wisdom includes the fifth and sixth perfections wisdom of collection (wisdom and the concentration to be able to see emptiness).
You keep piling up good deeds (merit) and knowledge (wisdom). Your collection of merit causes a Form body (rupakaya), and your collection of wisdom causes a wisdom body (dharmakaya) of a Buddha. The wisdom body has two parts: the mind (or knowledge) and the emptiness of a Buddha. When you destroy your root of virtue, you wipe out and obliterate your collection of merit.
Two things that can cut your root of virtue:
LOK – TA Thinking the complete opposite of how something
diametric opposite view really exists. Looking at something that exists and thinking it doesn’t exist. For example thinking that karma doesn’t exist. It must be a total rejection of the idea to cut the root of virtue. Skepticism and doubt aren’t enough to be lok-ta.
KONG-TRO Anger directed at a bodhisattva. Each instant directed at anger him results in a kalpa in hell. The object is so powerful that identification, motivation, etc. are not important.
When you cut your root of virtue, Abhidharma says the virtues are wiped out and gone. Madhyamika says that it damages those good seeds so severely that they are inhibited from ever ripening and bringing a result. That’s how purification works – it damages negative seeds so severely that they won’t ripen.
Profile of who can collect a wrong view:
To have a wrong view, you must be able to hold a clear thought, or you can’t think about it to reject it clearly. You must evaluate it thoroughly enough to be able to hold a sustain thought in a firm way. Only humans can do this. Of humans, only those who are intellectual are capable of thorough evaluation and holding a firm, sustained rejection in mind.
Ways to repair a wrong view: (implies that you can restore previously damaged virtuous seeds to full potential)
1.) TE-TSM Having doubt that your previous wrong view is correct; doubting doubt your wrong view. You think, for example, maybe karma is correct.
2.) NGE-PA Having certainty that your wrong view is wrong and the to positively identify, correct view is correct. (Having a correct perception about it.) with certainty
Divisions of karma:
PENJE KYI LE Projecting karma. It throws you to your next rebirth. The projecting to do karma most powerful, strong karma throughout your life is the one likely to come up and project you to your next rebirth. It projects you to the bardo, and determines your bardo body and next rebirth. Because it’s the most powerful karma in your life, it projects your next rebirth.
DZOK JE KYI LE Completing or finishing karma. It decides the details of complete to do karma the next life. Projecting karma determines the overall type of life, and finishing karma determines all the many details of the life- rich, poor, accidents, etc.
Four permutations of projecting and finishing karma:
1.) Good projecting/bad finishing: Human rebirth/always sick
2.) Bad projecting/ good finishing: Hell rebirth/Lord of Hell
3.) Good projecting/good finishing: Human rebirth/become enlightened
4.) Bad projecting/bad finishing: Hell rebirth/endless torment
It’s very unlikely to be able to realize emptiness at the moment of death – almost
impossible. It’s the most painful moment of this life. Much better to do it in this life. Once you realize a certain level of the second path (preparation) in which you think about emptiness and have a strong intellectual understanding, it’s no longer possible to cut your root of virtue. You can’t doubt karma, emptiness, etc. If you’re engaged in activity with a group of people for the same common goal (war, for example) and someone else other than you – the soldier at the front line – kills, all the people involved possess a full karmic path of action just as much as the one who killed, even if you’re just working in the office behind the lines of fighting. The same line of reasoning applies to virtue.
Class Nine: Five Heinous Deeds
TSAM ME NGA Five heinous bad deeds: (These cause you to go to hell in the interim none five next life – no other choice)
1.) MA SUPA Killing your mother
2.) PA SUPA Killing your father
3.) DRACHOMPA SUPA Killing an arhant
enemy destroyer (arhant) kill
4.) GENDUN GYI YEN JEPA Creating a schism; diving the sangha. If you do this one, sangha divide to do you must go to the lowest hell. (Sangha here means those in robes following Shakyamuni Buddha; you can’t commit this one now.)
5.) DESHEK LA NGEN SEM GYI TRAK JINPA To try to kill a Buddha with
Buddha from evil intention with blood to draw evil intention.
Two things that make these five actions so bad:
1.) PENPAY SHI Mother and father have helped you significantly by giving you a help basis life as a human capable of enlightenment. That’s why it’s so bad to kill them. It’s like you (1) reject your own Buddhahood (you are seeing your karma projected onto blank parents and want to kill it), and (2) want to eliminate it. Their raising you isn’t mentioned in sutras as significant; their giving you a body is what is important.
2.) YUNTEN GYI SHI The Buddha, Sangha, and Arhants are extraordinary extraordinary of object objects. You also reject them (the concept of a unified qualities Sangha, or the Arhant or Buddha) and want to eliminate them. The mental rejection of what these things stand for is what gives the deed its power in these cases. The unity of the sangha is the Dharmakaya, or an expression of the Dharmakaya.
Order of severity (starting with the worst) of these five deeds:
1.) Causing a schism – attacking the Dharma body. Results in one eon in the lowest hell.
2.) Trying to kill a Buddha – attacking the Form body.
3.) Killing an Arhant.
4.) Killing your mother.
5.) Killing your father.
Profile of one who can create a schism: Must be a fully-ordained monk, charismatic, with good morality, very intelligent. The monk lies intentionally to the sangha, teaching five inaccurate rules to get to nirvana twelve years after the Buddha begins teaching, and not at Buddha’s death. The two main disciples must be present, and one repairs the schism within 24 hours.
Mental bad deeds are worse than verbal or physical bad deeds.
Par-kalpa: The first people on the planet live 80,000 years. They have wonderful lives, similar to the garden of Eden. They start to do non-virtue, and life spans decrease, eventually reaching only ten year life spans. The end result of this non-virtue is near destruction of the planet. Then they meet and decide to live virtuous lives, and the life span increases back up to 80,000 years. That’s one par-kalpa. There are sixty of those cycles in a great eon. A great eon contains the formation of the world, which takes a kalpa. A kalpa takes trillions of years. (Kalpa and great eon are the same thing?) Great eon contains the destruction of the world. Par-kalpas follow the same pattern in all worlds.
Class Ten: How to Make Karma More Powerful
JINPA Four kinds of giving:
1.) DAK KI DUN CHIR Giving for your own benefit. Giving to inanimate objects, me of for benefit temple, etc. No recipient benefits. It is of benefit only to get results in the desire realm (samsara). Two types of people do this: those who aren’t free from desire for the desire realm or those in deep meditation free of the desire realm.
2.) SHEN DUN CHIR Giving for the benefit of others. No benefit to the giver; other for benefit doing it only to help others and not themselves. Aryas do this, when those who have seen selflessness give to ordinary people. Don’t wish for a result in the desire realm.
3.) NYI KAY DUN CHIR Benefit both self and other by giving. Giver wants result of both for benefit desire realm and recipient receives desire realm giving.
4.) NYIKAY MIN CHIR Neither benefit by giving. A Buddha giving to another both no benefit Buddha to honor them.
How to understand the most powerful giving; giving to bring the best karmic results:
Seven qualities of the giver that make the karmic result more powerful:
PAKPAY NOR DUN Seven riches of the Aryas. The best way to be when Arya (who has riches seven giving, to increase the power of the deed. Having these seen emptiness) qualities when giving vastly increases the karmic power.
1.) DEPA Concentrate on good qualities and want to become like that yourself.
Understanding the good qualities of holy beings, or goodness in general, and understanding those good qualities, admiring them, feeling joy and happiness about them being there, and wishing to be like them.
2.) TSUL-TRIM Avoiding the ten bad deeds. If you have morality when giving, the morality karma of giving is more powerful.
3.) TONG WA Don’t be stingy – be generous. Don’t give from the leftovers, give from giving the main pool of resources.
4.) TU-PA Classroom hours of learning, so that you know and understand what learning you are doing. If you give without awareness of what you’re doing, it has little benefit. You must understand the mechanics of what’s going on with the giving – the selflessness of the giver, the giving, and the gift, as well as how karma works, etc.
5.) NGOTSA SHEPA Don’t do bad deeds for reasons relating to yourself. No one be embarrassed to know would know if you did a bad deed, but you don’t do it for lose face your own conscience’s sake. If you have this quality in your personality when giving, it makes the karma more powerful.
6.) TREL YUP Don’t do bad deeds for reasons relating to what others will think
7,) SHERAB Understanding selflessness.
Qualities of the giving that make the deed most powerful karmically: The act of giving – the way in which you give – can increase the karmic power of giving. Three factors:
1.) Do it out of respect and have an attitude of respect in body language, presentation, manner, etc.
2.) Give what is really needed at the time it’s needed most.
3.) What you give can’t cause harm or be used for harm to the recipient.
The object of giving, to have the most powerful karmic result:
1.) DROWA Humans are better to give to than animals. It’s better to give to the type of being worst human, the worst criminal, than the best animal, because humans have the potential to reach nirvana in this life and animals don’t.
2.) DUK NGEL Giving to someone who is suffering is much more powerful than suffering giving to someone who is not in great need.
3.) PENPA Giving to a special object, such as someone like your parents who assistance have helped you. This is because they have given you a human body which can reach enlightenment.
4.) YONTEN Giving to those of high spiritual qualities, such as those coming out good qualities of high meditation for the first time. This is giving to honor the person. What is given is of no value to the person, but honors them. Holy
beings don’t need the flowers, money, food, etc.
JE LA SAKPO Karma is committed and collected. It can also be committed and collected committed and not collected, according to Abhidharma.
Six things that cause karma to be committed and collected: (Collected means that a bakchak is planted in your mental stream.)
1.) Intentional - You mean to do it.
2.) Complete path of karma - All four parts are present: object, intention, undertaken, and completed.
3.) No regrets - You are glad you did it.
3.) No antidote - You didn’t do anything to make up for it. The most powerful antidote is to think of karma and the emptiness of the deed.
5.) Glad you did it.
6.) Definite karmic result - the result of the previous five. A karmic seed is definitely planted.
You can’t do everything – you have limited time and resources, so you want to make the most of what you do, to get the biggest result for your effort. The qualities of the giver (doer), the giving (deed), and the recipient makes the action most powerful. You can manipulate your karmic outcome by doing the deeds to bring the best karmic result. (The example here is for giving, but it also applies to the other perfections.) By having these qualities when you do a deed, the karma is massively more powerful.
Class Eleven: Course Review: Karmic Purification
TOP SHI – The four forces, used for karmic purification: (If all four parts are not complete, the purification does not work.)
1.) TEN GYI TOP Foundation force. The foundation is the one you offended – foundation force living beings or Buddhas. The deepest meaning is taking refuge – the mental state of refuge – ultimately understanding karma and emptiness. When you fall down, you stand up by reasserting your refuge. Your refuge is in your knowledge of karma and emptiness, not some blind belief. It’s understanding what’s happening.
2.) NAMPA R Destruction force. To rip out the roots of something (with SUNJINPAY TOP power). This is regret, not guilt. It is an intelligent, educated destruction force understanding that you just screwed up, based upon knowledge
of karma and emptiness and how bakchaks work and are reaped. You know that you will suffer from what you did and
why, karmically. You know you just caused yourself future suffering and regret it. You feel ill/bad.
3. NYE PA LE Restraint force. You don’t do it again. Since we can’t just stop LARNDOKPAY TOP cold for the rest of our lives, we need a plan. So we set a time restraint force limit to stop for awhile – not to do the deed for an hour, a day, a week, etc. and build up the time length to get used to the new habit of not doing the deed. For chronic habits, set a short time limit, say five minutes, and concentrate hard on not doing it. The mind can’t concentrate tightly for longer periods to avoid the habit. If you break a vow of restraint, you are lying, and collect more bad karma, so keep the time realistic.
4.) NYENPO KUNTU Antidote. You do something to make up for it. There are six
CHUPAY TOP possibilities:
1.) Recite holy names (like thirty-five Buddhas)
2.) Recite holy mantras (must be from a holy source and recited with good morality.)
3.) Study or read scriptures.
4.) Meditate on emptiness - most powerful because it conditions you to change for the next time. It’s the only thing that will lead to permanent change.
5.) Make offerings to holy objects. The highest offering is to succeed in your practice – to do what your lama taught.
6.) Use holy images.
Vajrasattva meditation is most powerful, because it incorporates this.
Karmic seeds expand, grow, and continue because we fertilize and nourish them with similar thoughts and deeds. If we stop fertilizing them this way, then they won’t ripen.
The karmic seeds you have are in a queue to ripen. The most powerful ones go to the front of the queue and are experienced first. They delay the other seeds from ripening until the powerful ones are done.
For every day you delay becoming a good person, you are affecting, influencing, and impacting others badly. Your problems are hurting other people and messing them up.
The longer you delay becoming enlightened, the more you hurt others.
The result of purification is that the intention part of the karmic path is ripped out and dramatically lessens the ripening impact. Karma ripens into a lesser result.
It’s very important after purification to believe that you’re clean – you’re pure. (That’s why last rites are important.)