The Dharma Essentials for Cultivating Stopping and Contemplation

By the Swei Dynasty Shramana Chih-i of T'ien-t'ai Mountain's Dhyana Cultivation Monastery

Translated into English by Dharmamitra

(Taisho Tripitaka 1915)

Chapter Five: Practicing in accord with Skillful Means

Now, as for cultivating stopping and contemplation, it is necessary to employ accesses to Dharma characterized by skillful means. [In this connection] there are five dharmas.

The first is zeal. One possesses the zeal to separate from all of the world's erroneous thinking and inverted views because one nurtures the zeal to achieve success in all of the Dharma accesses associated with dhyana and wisdom. This may also be referred to by [such terms as] "being determined to," "aspiring to," "having a fondness for," and "taking pleasure in." This is because this person is determined towards, aspires to, is fond of, and takes pleasure in all of the profound accesses to Dharma. Hence this is known as "zeal." This is as stated by the Buddha when he said, "Zeal constitutes the origin of all good dharmas."

The second is vigor. In solidly upholding the precepts and getting rid of the five coverings one is focused, intensely energetic, and unremitting in both the early and later watches of the night. This is analogous to when one employs a drill to make fire but it has not yet gotten hot. Even to the very end one does not rest. This refers to being vigorous in the good dharmas of the Way.

The third is mindfulness. One remains mindful that the world is deceptive and may be deemed base whereas dhyana absorption is honorable and may be deemed noble. If one achieves dhyana absorption, one is immediately able to perfectly generate non-outflow wisdom and the power of the Way which comes with all of the superknowledges. One realizes the equal and right enlightenment and extensively engages in delivering beings to liberation. This may be deemed noble. Hence we refer here to mindfulness.

The fourth is discerning wisdom. One takes the measure of worldly bliss as opposed to the bliss associated with dhyana absorption and wisdom, judging the successes versus the failures and the valueless versus the valuable. Why? As for the bliss of the world, the bliss is but little whereas the suffering is much. It is false, deceptive and unreal. This amounts to a failure and is valueless. As for the bliss which accompanies dhyana absorption and wisdom, it is devoid of outflows, unconditioned, characterized by stillness, leisure and liberation. One leaves birth and death behind forever and is always separate from suffering. This constitutes a success and is a thing which is valuable. Because one engages in such an analysis we speak here of discerning wisdom.

The fifth is single-mindedness in making clear distinctions. One sees clearly that the world may be deemed disastrous and horrible. One recognizes well that the meritorious qualities of meditative absorption and wisdom may be deemed honorable and noble. At such a time one should make a single-minded decision to cultivate stopping and contemplation, making one's mind like vajra so that the heavenly demons and the non-buddhists will be unable to impose obstruction or destruction. [One's determination should be such that] even if one's efforts came up empty and nothing whatsoever was gained one will still perservere to the end and not turn back or change [one's resolve]. This is what is meant by single-mindedness.

This is analogous to a person's travels. It is first necessary to know the signs of the open or obstructed road. Afterwards one decides to proceed single-mindedly along the road and then advances accordingly. Hence we speak here of discerning wisdom and single-mindedness. One of the Sutras states, "Were it not for wisdom, one would not develop dhyana absorption. Were it not for dhyana absorption, one would not develop wisdom." The principle abides right here.

[End of Chapter Five]

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