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 Ten: Realization of the Fruits [of Cultivating the Way]

When the practitioner cultivates stopping and contemplation in this manner he may be able to realize that in every case all dharmas arise from the mind and are empty due to the falseness and insubstantiality of causes and conditions. Because he realizes that they are empty he is unable to get at [any reality] in the names and characteristics of any dharma. This constitutes the stopping achieved through the comprehension of truth.

At such a time, one does not perceive any fruit of buddhahood above which may be sought after nor does one perceive any beings below which could be delivered to liberation. This constitutes moving from the conventional into the contemplation of emptiness. It is also the contemplation of the two truths, is also [a function of] the wisdom eye, and is also the wisdom which comprehends everything.

If one abides in this contemplation one falls onto the ground of the Hearers and Pratyekabuddhas. Thus, [The Lotus] Sutra states: "The assembly of Hearers and such sighed to themselves and said, 'If we hear of the purification of buddhalands and of the teaching and transforming of beings, our minds are not pleased. Why is this? All dharmas are empty and still. They are neither produced nor destroyed and are neither great nor small. There are no outflows nor is there anything done. Having deliberated in this fashion we do not generate any joy or happiness [in these dharmas].'"

One should realize that if one perceives "non-doing" and [takes that to be] entry into the correct station [of the Way] such a person will never be able to generate the mind directed toward samyak-sambodhi. This is a case of failure to perceive the buddha nature on account of excessive [emphasis on] the power of meditative absorption.

The bodhisattva perfects all of the buddha dharmas for the sake of all beings. He should not seize upon or become attached to "non-doing" and thus bring himself to quiescent extinction. At such a time one should cultivate going from the empty into the contemplation of the conventional. Then one ought to carefully contemplate [and realize] that although the nature of the mind is empty, when one abides in the dual realm of conditions one is still able to bring forth all dharmas just as if they were illusory transformations. Although they are devoid of any fixed reality, there still do exist different characteristic distinctions in the sphere of seeing, hearing, awareness, knowing, and so forth.

When the practitioner contemplates in this manner, although he realizes that all dharmas are ultimately empty and still, he is nonetheless able to cultivate all kinds of practices in the midst of emptiness. It is just as if he were planting a tree in empty space. One is still able to distinguish the faculties of beings and on account of the incalculable number of [individual] natures and desires, one is then able to proclaim an incalculable number of different dharmas. If one is able to perfect unobstructed eloquence then one will be able to benefit the beings of the six destinies.

This constitutes the stopping associated with skillful means which accord with conditions. This then is a moving from the empty into the contemplation of the conventional. It is also the evenly balanced contemplation, is also the [function of] the dharma eye, and is also the wisdom which comprehends the varieties of the Way (dao-jung jr). If one abides in this contemplation, on account of an excessive [emphasis on the] power of wisdom, although one perceives the buddha nature, still, one does not clearly and completely understand it. Although the bodhisattva may perfect these two kinds of contemplations, this still constitutes a skillful means contemplation entryway. It is not the case that it constitutes correct contemplation.

Hence [The Bodhisattva Necklace] Sutra states: "The previous two categories are paths of skillful means. It is because of the contemplation of these two emptinesses(1) that one succeeds in entering the contemplation of the primary meaning of the Middle Way. One engages in simultaneous illumination of the two truths, [one perceives] every single thought-moment as quiescent extinction, and one naturally flows on into the sea of sarvaj~na.(2) If a bodhisattva wishes to perfect all of the buddha dharmas in a single thought-moment he should cultivate the stopping which distinguishes the two extremes and should carry it out within the correct contemplation of the Middle Way."

How does one cultivate the correct contemplation? If one completely comprehends that the nature of the mind is neither true nor conventionally existent (lit. "false") and if one puts to rest the mind which takes truth and conventional existence as objective conditions, this constitutes correctness. If one truly contemplates the nature of mind as neither empty nor conventionally existent while still not refuting those dharmas which are either empty or conventionally existent, and if one is able to realize this sort of complete illumination, then in the very nature of mind one achieves a penetrating understanding of the Middle Way and achieves perfect illumination of the two truths. If one is able to perceive the Middle Way and the two truths in one's own mind then one perceives the Middle Way and the two truths in all dharmas while still not seizing upon either the Middle Way or the two truths. Because no definite and fixed nature can be found [herein] this constitutes the correct contemplation of the Middle Way.

This is as set forth in a verse from The Treatise on the Middle:

All dharmas produced of causes and conditions,
I declare them to be empty.
They are also [simply] conventional designations,
And also [embody] the meaning of the Middle Way.
In deliberating deeply on the intent of this verse [one finds that] it not only completely delineates the characteristics of the contemplation of the middle but also simultaneously clarifies the import of the previous two provisional contemplation gateways. One should realize that the correct contemplation of the Middle Way constitutes the buddha eye's wisdom of all modes (i-chye jung jr). If one abides in this contemplation, then the powers of meditative absorption and wisdom are equal, one completely and utterly perceives the buddha nature and one becomes peacefully established in the great vehicle. "His steps are even and correct and his speed is as fleet as the wind."(3) One then naturally flows on into the sea of sarvaj~na.

"One practices the practice of the Thus Come One. One enters the room of the Thus Come One. One dons the robe of the Thus come One. One sits in the seat of the Thus Come One."(4) In this case one then takes the adornment of the Thus Come one as one's own adornment and succeeds in realizing purification of the six faculties.(5) One enters into the state [of realization] of a buddha. One has no defiling attachment to any dharma. All of the buddha's dharmas entirely manifest before one and one perfects the mindfulness-of-the-buddha samadhi.

One becomes peacefully established in the foremost Suura'ngama meditative absorption. This is the samadhi wherein one realizes the universal manifestation of the form body. One universally enters all of the buddhalands of the ten directions, teaches and transforms beings, adorns and purifies all of the buddha k.setras, makes offerings to the buddhas of the ten directions, receives and maintains the Dharma treasury of all buddhas, perfects the paaramitaas of all practices, awakens to and enters into the station of the great bodhisattvas, and in doing so becomes an equal companion of [the bodhisattvas] Samantabhadra and Ma~njushrii.

Having come to eternally abide in the Dharma nature body one is then praised by the buddhas and given a prediction [of buddhahood]. One then adorns the Tu.sita Heaven, manifests descent into the womb of one's spiritual mother, leaves behind the homelife, goes to the Way place, conquers the demon adversaries, realizes the right enlightenment, turns the wheel of Dharma, and then enters nirvana. Throughout the ten directions one brings to perfect completion all of the buddha's endeavors and becomes complete in the two bodies, the true [body] and the response [body]. This then is the [realization] of the bodhisattva who has initially brought forth the resolve.

In the Floral Adornment Sutra [it states]: "When one first brings forth the resolve [to attain bodhi] one then realizes the right enlightenment and gains a completely penetrating understanding of the true nature of dharmas. All of the wisdoms and bodies are not awakened to in reliance on others." It also states: The bodhisattva who has first brought forth the resolve gains the Thus Come One's single body and creates an incalculable number of [other] bodies." It also states: "The bodhisattva who has first brought forth the resolve becomes identical to a buddha." The Nirvana Sutra states: "The bringing forth of the resolve and the ultimate [realization] are indistinguishable. These two minds are difficult for the beginner's mind [to fathom]."

The Mahaa-praj~naa-paaramitaa Sutra states: "Subhuti, there are bodhisattvas, mahaasattvas who, from the [very time of ] first bringing forth the resolve, have immediately proceeded to sit in the Way place where they have been turning the right Dharma wheel. One should realize that this is a bodhisattva who in his actions is like the Buddha."

In The Lotus Sutra, [the speed of the presentation of] the jewel offered up by Dragon Daughter serves as a corroborating case. Sutras such as these all clarify that in the initial setting of resolve one perfects the enactment of all buddha dharmas. Whether it be The Mahaa-praj~naa-paaramitaa Sutra's access [to Dharma] through the use of the syllable "a", whether it be The Lotus Sutra's [being proclaimed] for the sake of causing beings to open up the knowledge and vision of the buddhas, or whether it be the Nirvana Sutra's [concept of] dwelling in the great nirvana on account of seeing the buddha nature, in each case they have already briefly described the signs of the realization of the fruits [of cultivation] which, for the bodhisattva who has initially brought forth the resolve, occur because of having cultivated stopping and contemplation.

Next, the clarification of the signs of the realization of the fruits associated with minds at a later stage [of cultivation]. The states of realization which develop for those with minds at a later stage [of cultivation] are unknowable [to us]. If we now extrapolate from what the teaching elucidates one finds that they are not separate from the two dharmas of stopping and contemplation. How is this the case? In instances such as that in The Lotus Sutra where it states, "He assiduously praised the wisdom of the buddhas," this corresponds to the meaning [inherent in] contemplation. This is a case of employing a correlation to contemplation as a means of elucidating the fruits [of cultivation].

As for The Nirvana Sutra's expansive description employing a hundred statements on the topic of liberation as a means of explaining the great nirvana, nirvana corresponds to the meaning [inherent in] stopping. This is a case of employing a correlation with stopping as a means of elucidating the fruits [of cultivation].

Therefore it states that the great is an eternal quiescent meditative absorption. As for "meditative absorption," it corresponds to the meaning [inherent in] stopping. Although in Lotus Sutra, the correlation to contemplation is employed as a means of elucidating the fruits [of cultivation], it is nonetheless also inclusive of stopping. Hence it states, ". . . and even the ultimate nirvana's characteristic of eternal quiescent extinction is finally returnable to emptiness."

Although in The Nirvana [Sutra] the correlation to stopping is employed to elucidate the fruits [of cultivation], it is nonetheless also inclusive of contemplation. Hence it takes the three qualities(6) as constituting the great nirvana. Although there are differences in the texts of these two great sutras as regards the explicit and the esoteric, it is never the case that they depart from correspondences to the two entryways of stopping and contemplation in the articulation of their ultimate [concepts]. They both rely upon the two dharmas of meditative absorption and wisdom in order to elucidate the ultimate fruits [of cultivation].

The practitioner should realize that the initial, middle and later fruits [of cultivation] are all inconceivable and ineffable. Hence the new translation of The Golden Light Sutra states, "The Thus Come Ones at the beginning are inconceivable and ineffable. The Thus Come Ones during the intermediate phase possess all sorts of adornments. The Thus Come Ones at the final phase are eternally indestructible." In every case the correlation to the cultivation of the two minds of stopping and contemplation is employed to articulate their fruits [of cultivation]. Hence a verse from The Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra states:

It is by means of the mind that all buddhas gain liberation.
As for the mind, it is pure and known as undefiled.
In the five destinies it is fresh and immaculate and takes on no form.
Where there is one who studies this, he perfects the great Way.

I declare as a matter of solemn oath that as for that which is practiced, it is essential to get rid of the three obstacles and the five coverings. In the event that they are not gotten rid of, even though one might be diligent in applying one's efforts, one will ultimately gain no benefit from it.

[End of Section Ten]

[End of The Dharma Essentials for Cultivating Stopping and Contemplation and Sitting in Dhyana]

1. Master Bao-jing states that the two types of emptiness refer here to the emptiness of persons and the emptiness of dharmas.

2. Sarvaj~na is the omniscience or all-knowledge of a buddha.

3. This is a quote from "The Analogies Chapter" of The Lotus Sutra where the great white ox which represents the one buddha vehicle is being described. Master Bao Jing notes that "Even and correct" refers to the equality of meditative absorption and wisdom characteristic of a buddha's perfect contemplation whereas "speed as fleet as the wind" refers to that perfect contemplation's acuity in reflecting the nature and entering the way of effortlessness. He notes that the latter phrase also refers to the practice within the eight-fold path moving speedily into the sea of sarvaj~na.

4. Master Bao Jing notes that in this additional quote from the Lotus Sutra, the "practice" refers to the practice of a buddha wherein a single practice embodies all practices, the "robe" refers to patience, the "room" refers to the great loving-kindness and compassion, and the "seat" refers to the emptiness of dharmas.

5. Master Bao Jing also notes that "adornment" here refers to the merit and wisdom of a buddha.

6. The three qualities alluded to are: praj~naa, liberation, and the Dharma body.

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