THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Last summer when I lectured on the Shurangama Sutra, I explained a four-line gatha. Every monk or nun should remember this four-line gatha. When the Buddha was in the world, monastics recited this four-line gatha everyday. They did not forget it at any time. I said this specifically during the summer break. I even think laypeople should memorize it, not to mention how monastics should not forget it. This four-line gatha is:

Guard the mouth and gather in thoughts,
make no bodily transgressions
Never distress a sentient being
Stay far removed from unuseful asceticism
Practitioners like these save the world.

Guard the mouth and gather in thoughts, make no bodily transgressions. Do not speak casually or gossip. Watch over the mouth to prevent it from talking about this being good and that being bad, this being delicious and that being bad tasting. Gather in thoughts means to pull in all those thoughts so they do not run left to right. Make no bodily transgressions means not violating any precepts with the body. Always remind oneself that one is a left-home person. Do not violate the rules.

Never distress a sentient being. Do not bother or disturb any sentient being. Sentient beings include not only humans, even animals. It is wrong to make any of them upset. Monastics should not distress any sentient being.

Stay far removed from unuseful asceticism. Stay farther away from unbeneficial ascetic practices; but do the twelve dhutanga practices. Avoid those unhelpful practices that do not accord with the Buddhadharma. Do not study from heretics who dare say that they will become Buddhas in this lifetime. Cultivate according to the Buddhadharma. Do not observe the precepts of cows and dogs. Why would people do that? Externalists do these bitter practices that are so difficult they open their Heavenly Eye. When they open up their Heavenly Eye, they see a dog dies then enters the heavens; so they imitate dogs by keeping prohibitions that dogs do. Some other externalists see cows do that and imitate cows and keep the prohibitions that cows do. These externalists in India were short on wisdom. Although they cultivated various ascetic practices, none of these practices are helpful. So stay far removed from unuseful asceticism.

Practitioners like these save the world. People who cultivate like this can save the world, teaching and transforming living beings.

There is no such thing as being vigorous about vigor. Vigor is a dharma explained to us ordinary people. In fact, the six paramitas are all vigor and not vigor. Giving, keeping precepts, and being patient require physical vigor. Being in dhyana samadhi and developing prajna require mental vigor. In essence, there is no [separate category] for vigor. Vigor becomes a part of other paramitas, such as prajna etc. Giving more, you are vigorous with giving; keeping to the precepts closely, you are vigorous with the precepts; being patient more, you are vigorous in patience; being ever more vigorous, you are vigorous in vigor; meditating nonstop, you are vigorous in dhyana Samadhi; cultivating prajna, you are vigorous in wisdom; studying the prajna dharmas, you are vigorous in prajna. There is no vigor to vigor, it in and of itself does not do anything. So not being attached to being vigorous is having real vigor. Attached to how you are vigorous in this and that, claiming that your vigor is without bounds, that your vigor applies to all six paramitas, then you are not truly vigorous. Truly understand the Buddhadharma and there is essentially nothing; there is something when you do not understand. Once you understand, there is nothing. You say, “I do not have anything now. I am not diligent either.” Not being diligent is also nothing. This is different from really understanding the Buddhadharma and there is not even real diligence. Why? It is because you are not attached. If you do not understand the Buddhadharma and continue to be attached to your diligence, then that is no diligence. Since you really do not understand the Buddhadharma, you basically do not know what is diligence, not to mention being diligent. This is why you do not understand the Buddhadharma; if you really do understand, you still have to let it go. You still do not understand the Buddhadharma if you do not let it go. This makes people break all attachments to marks, thus becoming attached to nothing. Attached, you do not understand the Buddhadharma. This is vigor.

The sound of dhyana paramita. Dhyana is also Sanskrit, which stands for the cultivation of contemplation or quiet deliberation. Dhyana includes the Four Dhyanas, the Eight Samadhis, and the Nine Sequential Samadhis. There are also secular dhyana, transcendental dhyana, and the most superior form of transcendental dhyana. Secular dhyana are what we ordinary people cultivate. This includes the Four Boundless Qualities of the Mind and the Four Formless Samadhis. We do not need to describe these states in detail, just work hard in your meditation and you will naturally understand this state. What is transcendental dhyana? Transcendental dhyana includes the Four Dhyanas and the Eight Samadhis, the Eight Superior Ways, and the Eight Liberations. You are confused by these terms. This is like reading a menu, something may look good but before you put it in your mouth, you will never know the taste of it. Now you know why there are different dhyanas: secular dhyana, transcendental dhyana, the most superior form of transcendental dhyana, Thus Come One’s dhyana, patriarch’s dhyana and others. As long as you are willing to work on your cultivation, you will get a taste of its flavor in the future.

And the sound of prajna paramita. Prajna is Sanskrit for wisdom. Wisdom is also divided into secular wisdom and transcendental wisdom. Secular wisdom is worldly knowledge and intelligence. What are worldly knowledge and intelligence? For instance, advances in science, advances in philosophy and all types of information are worldly knowledge. A debater who can explain principles where there are no principles has worldly wisdom. Transcendental wisdom is about pursuing the Buddhist path diligently in thought after thought, studying the Buddhadharma continuously. Real cultivation of transcendental wisdom means contemplating the Buddhadharma while sleeping, dreaming, suffering from sickness and pain. So is secular wisdom and transcendental wisdom one thing or two? Originally they are one but it depends on how you use it. Apply it to the secular and that is secular wisdom; apply it to transcendental Buddhadharma and that is transcendental wisdom. Wisdom is not divided into two. Originally you were investigating the world’s problems, and you knew everything in the world is suffering, emptiness, impermanence and no-self.

Now let us use this kind of wisdom to investigate transcendental studies, which is transcendental wisdom. Secular wisdom and transcendental wisdom are not two. Most people enjoy a secular form of wisdom but not transcendental wisdom. Some people enjoy transcendental wisdom but no secular wisdom. How come? Some people are very intelligent but keep doing muddled things, things they should avoid; whereas the important things, the question of birth and death is left untouched and uninvestigated. Some people investigate transcendental questions but do not understand secular dharmas. We must “enter the world yet transcend the world; transcend the world and enter the world.” Travel freely between the secular and the transcendental. If you understand that, entering the world is transcending the world. If you don not understand, transcending the world is entering the world.

The ancients told us something very useful: “Intelligence results from anonymous good deeds; anonymous good deeds lead us onto the path of intelligence; try and play smart without believing in anonymous good deed, the smart ends up being misled by their smarts.” Why are we intelligent as human beings? It is because in lives past we did many virtuous deeds. What are anonymous good deeds? Anonymous good deeds are not broadcasted. For instance, someone died and had no coffin, so I bought one for him and buried him. This was a good deed but I did not tell anyone about it. In general, one will help to do good deeds without letting other people know about it. Those who did a lot of anonymous good deeds are intelligent in this lifetime. Also if in past lives you read Buddhist sutras frequently, such as reading the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra several ten’s of thousands of times, you will be intelligent in this lifetime. Having studied a lot in the past, you will be intelligent in this lifetime too. So intelligence is a result of anonymous good deeds. Intelligence in this lifetime comes from cultivation and virtuous deeds in lives past.

Anonymous good deeds lead us onto the path of intelligence . You are intelligent because of your virtuous conduct. Virtuous conduct led you onto the path of intelligence.

Try and play smart without believing in anonymous good deed, Having forgotten in this lifetime, you do not travel the path of doing good deeds. You do not believe in doing anonymous good deeds or good deeds in general. You keep using your intelligence to commit crime. The smart ends up being misled by their smarts. Their intelligence ends up hurting themselves, why? If you were dumb, you would not do anything bad. Since you are smart, you know what other people do not know. You hurt somebody and the victim does not even realize that you are a bad person. This is called the smart ends up being misled by their wits. For example, Cao Cau was someone most intelligent, more than even ghosts and spirits, but he did inappropriate things, though he did some good things too. He ended up being misled by his own intelligence. Of course he did have his accomplishments. After hearing this verse, people who would like to be intelligent should work hard at doing good deeds, contributing to humanity and avoiding harming others.

Let me add another supplement on the paramita of keeping the precepts. When the Buddha was in the world, two Bhikshus wanted to go and see Shakyamuni Buddha. After traveling a long ways without encountering any water, the two Bhikshus were extremely thirsty, so thirsty they were at the brink of death. One Bhikshu saw a human skull with some water and said, “Since we are so thirsty right now, we can drink the water in this skull.” The other Bhikshu said, “No! There are insects in the water, so we should not drink it.” “But look at how thirsty we are. Drink this water and we will not die of thirst and we will see Shakyamuni Buddha then! If we die of thirst then it would be impossible to see the Buddha.” “I would rather die from keeping the precepts and miss seeing the Buddha. I will follow the Buddha’s teachings even if I have to die for it.” The first Bhikshu drank the water in the ladle-like skull while the other did not drink the water and died of thirst indeed.

The Bhikshu who drank the water went on ahead to see the Buddha. When he got there, he asked the Buddha, “There were two of us who were extremely thirsty about halfway along the journey. We saw a human skull with water and I drank the water so that I did not have to die, so that I may come to visit the Buddha. My fellow cultivator was willing to die of thirst than drink that water because of the insects in the water. He would violate the precepts if he drank it. I drank the water and did not die; he did not drink the water and died of thirst. I get to see the Buddha.” Shakyamuni Buddha said, “You thought he died of thirst? Since that Bhikshu kept the precepts, I made it so that he got to see me first. He is already here listening to my Dharma talks. Although keeping the precepts is extremely difficult, I understand his sincerity. Although you get to see me, you did not uphold the precepts, so you are not so sincere. He has already become enlightened and certified to the fruition, but you still have to cultivate over time.”

This tells us how we must be sincere in doing the six paramitas of precepts, patience, giving, vigor, dhyana Samadhi and wisdom, as well as the myriad conducts. Insincere, we are casual and will not accord with the Buddhadharma. We must do what is true. So,

Guard the mouth and gather in thoughts,
make no bodily transgressions
Never distress a sentient being
Stay far removed from unuseful asceticism
Practitioners like these save the world.

This four-line gatha is something that monks and nuns should always remember. Act according to this gatha. It is extremely important to keep the precepts; do not be casual about it. Be a little bit casual and you miss the target, so cultivation requires sincerity and down to earth steps. Do not float along; do it honestly.

There was the sound of compassion. Kindness can bestow joy while compassion can uproot suffering. All beings hear this voice of Shakyamuni Buddha and leave suffering and attain bliss, liberated from birth and death.

The sound of joyous giving. Joyously give. Kindness and compassion, joy and giving are the four boundless qualities of the mind. We must be delighted when we give. Do not regret it after we give, for that would not be delight. Shakyamuni Buddhas uttered this sound of joyous giving so that all beings heard it and wished to give happily.

The sound of liberation. Liberation is a type of true freedom, unrestrained and unbounded. From what are we liberated? We are liberated from the suffering and afflictions of birth and death in the six paths of transmigration. Once upon a time a monk requested a prominent Sangha member to speak the Dharma. He asked, “Senior monk, how can we become liberated?” This prominent monk said, “Who tied you up?” The listening monk became enlightened instantaneously, “No one tied me up. I tied myself up.” We are naturally liberated if we do not tie ourselves up. What does it mean by tying ourselves up? Here is where we should think things over. We are not at ease because there are things we do not see through and cannot let go. Ill at ease, we are liberated. If we can see through everything and let them go, then we are truly free, that is being unrestrained and unbounded, unhindered and unimpeded liberation that leave mixed up dream thinking far behind. Really let go and attain liberation; refuse to let go and there will be no liberation.

Shakyamuni Buddha spoke with this sound of liberation, so we should liberate ourselves too. Do not tie ourselves up and lock ourselves in jail forever. How come we bind ourselves and lock ourselves up? If you were not in jail, you would be liberated; since you are not liberated, it is as if you are in jail: you are not free to go east when you want to; you are not free to go west when you want to; you are not free to go south when you want to; you are not free to go north when you want to.

Freedom does not come from this stinking skin bag but this inherent nature. An inherent nature that enjoys freedom may live if one wants, die if one wants to at any time. One may die disease-free; one simply sits there and dies. This is true freedom. At that point birth and death is not up to fate but up to me. I may become born if I want to; I may die if I want to. I may live until I am 100, 1000, 10,000. I may not want to become born then I can always stay at our original home. When I want to live in this “house”, I live in this house. When I do not want to live in this house, I can move any time. There are two explanations as to why you might want to live in this house:

The sound of no outflows. What are no outflows? It is no ignorance. Without ignorance, there is no outflow. With even just a bit of ignorance, you cannot be free of outflow. Ignorance is the root of afflictions. Ignorance leads to numerous afflictions; the absence of ignorance spells zero afflictions. How come you are greedy? It is because of your ignorance. How come you are hateful? It is because of your ignorance. How come you are deluded? It is because of your ignorance. Ignorance is the root of afflictions. How come you have desire? Lust? It is also because of your ignorance. Since you are unclear at the start, you create all kinds of karma. Were you to have the sound of no outflows, you would be free from ignorance. Therefore Shakyamuni Buddha emitted all kinds of sounds to make all beings become enlightened through sound.

“The substance of true teachings here comes from purification through hearing sound.” The fundamental substance of Buddhism in the Saha World is in sound. We do the Buddha’s work with sounds, hence there are all kinds of sounds on proclaiming, praising and explaining.

Sutra:

. . . the sound of wisdom, the sound of great wisdom, the sound of the Lion’s roar, the sound of the Great Lion’s roar, the sound of thunderclouds, and the sound of great thunderclouds.

After he had uttered indescribably many sounds. . .

Commentary:

. . . the sound of wisdom . What is wisdom? Wisdom changes delusion; there is no delusion with the presence of wisdom; there is no wisdom with the presence of delusion. These two do not exist simultaneously. Let me tell you something else that is easier to understand. Wisdom is delusion; delusion is wisdom. Some say, I must be wise because I am deluded now. Let me use this delusion to be as deluded as I possibly can. If you can be as deluded as possible, you have real wisdom. Some say, “Dharma Master! I do not believe this idea of yours: wisdom is delusion; delusion is wisdom. What I see is that deluded individuals always do muddled things, while wise people do things with a clear understanding.” Not bad, what you say is very much correct and what I say is very much incorrect. How? It is because delusion can turn into wisdom so I say delusion is wisdom. Since wisdom can also turn into delusion, I say wisdom is also delusion. A few days ago when I talked about “Intelligence results from anonymous good deeds” I made this principle very clear already. But I am bringing it out again. How come you would not be deluded if you were wise? It is because wise people have real freedom and have reached real liberation.

How is that? Wise individuals do not do muddled things. If you are deluded, you always do muddled things and avoid intelligent things. Deluded individuals are not free and are passive. Wise individuals are not passive, they have real will and wisdom. Regardless of what comes, they recognize the situation and proceed if it is a good thing to do and do not proceed if it is not a good thing to do. They have true judgment and true ability to select the right dharmas. Deluded individuals do not; they will do them even though they know something is clearly wrong. For instance, we know that gambling is something bad but they think that they may have a chance in a million at winning and getting rich. This one thought of ignorance and greed led them to wish for riches; they end up losing all their assets. They still do not wake up after they lose all that. They think, I am just one step away from winning and getting rich. For example, a dollar something buys you eight numbers on a lotto ticket. If you select the matching set, you will win millions. But you lost by one number, so you buy again, thinking you will win for sure. Is that delusion? If gamblers can all win, then casinos will not make any profit.

Some people smoke opium. People say opium is a drug that is harmful but deluded individuals will try it. They try it once and they do not feel that they got anything out of it, so they try it once more, twice more, three times, four times, again and again. Once they experiment with it, they become addicts. They cannot do without it by then. Is that delusion? Someone perfectly sound is dictated by opium to drip snot and tears. One is comfortable all over so one has to get more money to buy this stuff to support oneself. Delusion made you not free. How come you are not free? Opium smokers believe smoking opium is a form of freedom and enjoy it, but is it freedom when you are not smoking it and crave it? Everything else is the same. Doing something that you should not do, is delusion and not wisdom. You will not be mixed up if you are wise; you would not do what you should not do.

The sound of great wisdom. Extremely wise individuals see straight to the bottom of things and do not discover problems only when things go wrong. They can forecast whether they can do something or not, perhaps the result will be unfavorable if they act. With great knowledge and great wisdom, they avoid doing muddled things. What is great knowledge and great wisdom? Investigating the Buddhadharma is great knowledge and great wisdom. Only people who investigate the Buddhadharma can be truly free, which is great wisdom.

The sound of the Lion’s roar. Lions are the king of the jungle. His roar frightens all the animals so that they cannot stand straight and are not prepared to run. Even ferocious wild beasts such as tigers and wolves are at a loss due to fear. All the bests hear his roars and their heads split open; they are frightened dumb.

The sound of the Great Lion’s roar. An average lion’s roar is severe enough, now imagine how the sound of a great lion’s roar may be heard far and wide.

The sound of thunderclouds. Sounds like thunderbolts in the clouds.

And the sound of great thunderclouds. This sound of thunder is even greater than the average sound, meaning that the Buddhadharma is like a great cloud in the sky that universally shines upon the great earth, providing shade everywhere. When thunder bolts, it is heard everywhere around the world, symbolizing how the Buddhadharma reaches all beings pervasively. Rain will pour with clouds and thunder. Rain symbolizes the Buddhadharma universally nourishing all beings’ faculties so that everyone is nurtured by the rain of Dharma. The Dharma rain falls and bigger trees will receive more Dharma rain while smaller trees will receive less Dharma rain. Flowers and grass will also receive the amount of rain they need. The Buddhadharma is the same way. Living beings receive according to their needs. Every kind of Buddhadharma makes every type of being nourished so that they extend their wisdom life in the Dharma body and uncover great wisdom. After he, Shakyamuni Buddha, had uttered indescribably many, a number so large that cannot be said, sounds such as those described above.

Sutra:

Countless millions of gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits from the Saha world and other worlds also gathered in the palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven.

They came from the Heaven of the Four Kings, the Trayastrimsha Heaven, the Suyama Heaven, the Tushita Heaven, the Blissful Transformations Heaven, and the Heaven of Comfort Gained Through Others’ Transformations.

They came from the Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma, the Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma, the Heaven of the Great Brahma Lord, the Heaven of Lesser Light, the Heaven of Limitless Light, the Heaven of Light Sound, the Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, and the Heaven of Universal Purity.

Commentary:

Earlier the Buddha emitted limitless clouds of great light and proclaimed various kinds of Dharma sound so that living beings will turn away from confusion and return to enlightenment, forsake deviance and return to the proper. Now there is this Saha world. Saha is a Sanskrit word for bearing patience or extreme suffering, which is in contrast to the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. The world in the West is extremely blissful while this Saha world of ours is extremely painful. This is also called “bearing patience” because living beings can bear to be patient with this kind of pain. Countless millions of gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits from the Saha world and lands in other worlds, as opposed to the Saha world, also gathered in the palace of the Trayastrimsha Heaven, the palace of the Heaven of Thirty-Three.

They came from the Heaven of the Four Kings. . . the Four Kings are also called the Four Kings Who Protect the World. The Heaven of the Four Kings is situated in the center of Mt. Sumeru. The Trayastrimsha Heaven is at the top of Mt. Sumeru. Each of the four directions of this Heaven has a heavenly king. The heavenly king in the east is the Heavenly King Who Upholds Nations, the heavenly king in the south is the Heavenly King of Growth, the heavenly king in the west is Heavenly King Huge Eyes, while the heavenly king in the north is the Heavenly King of Erudition. Beings in the heavens where the four great heavenly kings reside enjoy a 500 year life, of which one day and one night is equivalent to 50 years on earth. The Heaven of the Four Kings is closest to us; they watch over to see who are doing good or evil in the human realm. This is the Heaven of the Four Kings.

The Trayastrimsha Heaven . We have already explained earlier that the Sanskrit word “Trayastrimsha” means the Heaven of the Thirty-Three. The lord of the Heaven of the Thirty-Three is also called Capable of Being God.

The Suyama Heaven is a place where neither sunlight nor moonlight reaches. So is it a dark place? No, all the beings in the Suyama Heaven radiate a light from their bodies so they do not need sunlight or moonlight. How come this heaven is called the Suyama Heaven? Suyama is again a Sanskrit word that means “fine divisions of time” because this heaven is so high that neither sunlight nor moonlight can reach it. So they tell time by the blooming and closing of lotuses. It is day when the lotuses bloom and night when the lotuses shut. The length of life in the Tushita Heavenis 1,000 years, of which one day and night is equivalent to 100 years on earth. The length of life in the Suyama Heaven is 1,500 years and the heights of beings there is one and a half miles. Heavenly beings in the Tryastrimsha Heaven are one mile in height and beings in the Heaven of the Four Kings are half a mile in height. The length of life increases by 500 years and the height of beings increases by half a mile for every layer of heaven. The higher the heaven, the longer the life of beings is there.

The Tushita Heaven. This is also Sanskrit and means “contentment”. This is the Heaven of Contentment. There are inner and outer courts in the Tushita Heaven. The inner court is where Maitreya Bodhisattva now lives, the outer court is where most heavenly beings dwell. The three forms of disasters cannot reach the inner court of the Tushita Heaven but the outer court of the Tushita Heaven will be destroyed by the three forms of disasters.

The Blissful Transformations Heaven enjoys a happiness that comes forth transformationally.

And the Heaven of Comfort Gained Through Others’ Transformations. Joy in this heaven comes forth transformationally from other heavenly beings. They can transfer the joys of other heavens to this heaven with their spiritual powers. Heavenly demons, not real spirits or gods, live in the Heaven of Comfort Gained Through Others’ Transformations.

The above are the Six Desire Heavens: The Heaven of the Four Kings, the Tryastrimsha Heaven, the Suyama Heaven, the Tushita Heaven, the Blissful Transformations Heaven, the Heaven of Comfort Gained Through Others’ Transformations. Why are these heavens the six heavens of desire? Heavenly beings still have lust and impure thoughts. When I was lecturing on the Shurangama Sutra during the summer, I talked about these Six Desire Heavens already. I believe none of you enjoyed it so you returned it to me. So I am giving it to you again now.

The beings of the Six Desire Heavens have lust. Beings in the Heaven of Four Kings and Tryastrimsha Heaven engage in lust, similar to human beings. How come? They all have physical form. The beings in the Heaven of Four Kings and the Tryastrimsha Heaven also marry. There are couples and father and son relationships. What size is a newborn in the Heaven of Four Kings? The same size as a five-year-old in the human realm. And in the Tryastrimsha Heaven? The same size as a seven-year-old in the human realm. A newborn in the Suyama Heaven is the same size as a ten-year-old in the human realm. Newborns this size come out and sit on the knees of heavenly beings. Once they are born, they wait to eat a kind of natural, celestial dew that form spontaneously. After they are done, they become the size of heavenly beings, which is half a mile in height and 500 years in the length of life. This is the Heaven of Four Kings.

As it is said, “The Heaven of Four Kings and the Tryastrimsha Heaven engage in desire through embrace.” Sexual activity in the Heaven of the Four Kings and the Tryastrimsha Heaven is the same as the human realm. “Suyama through hand-holding and Tushita through smiling.” Sexual activity between men and women in the Suyama Heaven occurs simply by holding hands. The same way Westerners greet each other by shaking hands, for example. This gesture is enough to count as sexual activity between couples in the heavens. This is the Suyama Heaven. And the Tushita Heaven? Men and women engage in sexual activity just by smiling at each other. Heavenly beings of that place do not smile usually. Why? Their emotional desire is very light, nearly none. In the Six Desire Heavens, the higher the heaven, the lighter the desire.

How come we people have to eliminate desire and cut off love as we cultivate? Why do we want to be free of thoughts of desire? It is because the more thoughts of desire we have, the more delusions we have; the fewer thoughts of desire, the more wisdom we develop. Thoughts of desire belong to the Evil World of Five Turbidities. What are turbidities? Thoughts of desire are most turbid and unclean. Desire in the Heaven of the Four Kings is the same as emotions and desires in the human realm. Compare the Tryastrimsha Heaven to the Heaven of the Four Kings, it is still lighter, hence lust only requires shaking hands.

“Suyama through hand-holding and Tushita through smiling.” I have already talked about this during the summer. Let me explain it again, if I do not, you all forget. “The Heaven of Four Kings and the Tryastrimsha Heaven engage in desire through embrace. Suyama through hand-holding and Tushita through smiling. Bliss from Transformations through long stares and Bliss from Others through glances. These are the joys of desire in the six heavens.” They just smile at each other in the Tushita Heaven. We people think smiling is a good thing; smiling is not good. There is desire in smiles. When you get to the Heaven of Suyama, people wish to cultivate and work hard, very few people shake hands. Shaking hands is equivalent to sexual activity between couples. In the Tushita Heaven, this consists of smiling at each other. In the Heaven of Bliss from Transformations, this consists of long stares between men and women. “Long” may be one minute or five minutes. They just look at each other for as long as one or two minutes. In the Bliss of Others’ Transformations, a quick glance will do it. No need to look long. This is the way sexual behavior between men and women work in the Six Desire Heavens. The higher the heaven, the lighter the desire is. If your desires were heavy, you would not become born in the heavens either. When you are in those heavens, you do not have much desire. This is the joy from desire in the Six Desire Heavens.

There are three heavens in the First Dhyana, three heavens in the Second Dhyana, and three heavens in the Third Dhyana. The three heavens of the First Dhyana are the Heaven of the Brahma Multitudes, the Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma and the Great Brahman Heaven.

They came from the Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma . What is Brahma? Brahma means purity. Thoughts of desire in the First Dhyana Heaven are even lighter, so it is said to be Brahma. The Brahma Multitudes Heaven refers to how all the heavenly beings living there are all pure. These are the heavenly citizens of the Brahma Heaven.

The Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma. These are ministers in the heavens who came to their positions because of purity. They assist the Great Brahma Lord.

The Heaven of the Great Brahma Lord is where the Great Brahma Lord lives. He is someone who works very hard at his cultivation but he only knows to cultivate heavenly blessings and has not become enlightened or certified to the fruition. After cultivating to a point, he became born in the heavens and became a Great Brahma Lord. The Great Brahma Lord has the multitudes of Brahmans and Brahma Ministers supporting him. These are the three heavens of the First Dhyana.

The three heavens of the First Dhyana are called the Ground of the Bliss from Leaving Production. Leaving the cycle of birth and death behind, it is quite a delightful place. When we work enough to reach the state of the First Dhyana, we can see the Great Brahma Lord, the ministers and people of the Great Brahman Heaven. When you reach the First Dhyana heavens, your pulse stops as you meditate. For most of us, we are dead if our pulse quits. You are in this state where your pulse and blood flow stop because your inherent nature has reached the First Dhyana heavens. This is not because you are dead but because you entered the First Dhyana Samadhi. This may occur for an hour, two hours, three hours, five hours or a day, two days, three days, five days, ten days, twenty days. Although your pulse does not move, the body does not deteriorate. For most of us average people after death, our corpse begin to stink after seven days. If you can work hard so that you reach this state, then your body will not deteriorate no matter how long you are in Samadhi. This is about the three heavens of the First Dhyana.

The three heavens of the Second Dhyana are: the Heaven of Lesser Light, the Heaven of Limitless Light, the Heaven of Light Sound. How can we become reborn in the heavens? Eliminate desire and end love so there is no lust. With lust, we cannot become reborn in the heavens. Each heaven is one level higher than the one below. One heaven is higher than another is because it has less desire.

The heavens of the Second Dhyana include the Heaven of Lesser Light. Heavenly beings here have auras that are brighter than the lights in the Suyama Heaven. At the same time, among the three heavens of the Second Dhyana, the light of the Heaven of Lesser Light is comparatively weaker than the other two heavens. How come there is a light? It is because they kept the precepts purely or focused on keeping the precepts in particular when they were people. Those in the Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma and Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma also observe the precepts but not so well. They are pure but they do not emit light. Those in the Heaven of Lesser Light not only keep the precepts well but emit a light. This is why they became born in this kind of heaven.

The Heaven of Limitless Light. The one earlier was lesser light, this light is limitless and boundless.

Above the Heaven of Limitless Light is the Heaven of Light Sounds. How do heavenly beings in the Heaven of Light Sounds speak? They speak with light. This is the science of optics that is found even in televisions, in that lights communicate. Heavenly beings in the Heaven of Light Sound do not speak. It is not that they do not communicate, but they do so with words. Some Dharma Masters criticize that the heavenly beings in the Heaven of Light Sound do not speak because they have no language or words, that is why they use light to represent language and words. No, if they do not know how to speak, would they not be mutes? How is that better than those who speak? Since those in the Heaven of Light Sound speak using light, it is not useful to be mutes there. I say they have language, but they do not need language with words. They use light the way we use optics to write, something along the lines of optics. It must be that. It is not that they just speak with light and there is no language. No. To explain the Buddhadharama, compare the Buddhadharma with secular dharma so that it is clear. Some other Dharma Masters say that there is no language or words in that heaven; calling heavenly beings in the Heaven of Light Sound mutes really shows how these Dharma Masters do not understand. This is the Second Dhyana Heavens. People who meditate and reach the Samadhi of the Second Dhyana Heaven, the Ground of Joy from Samadhi, experience a state. What is that? Their breaths stop. This is the state of the Second Dhyana Heaven.

Having reached the state of the Second Dhyana Heaven does not mean your skills are most terrific. People who work hard ask yourselves now: have you reached this level? Did your pulse stop? Did your breathing quit during meditation? No. If not, then work hard. If you do not, then you cannot become liberated from birth and death. There is no more birth and death at the First Dhyana Heaven or the Second Dhyana Heaven. Hard work does not mean experiencing some minor states such as a vision of Dharma protecting Bodhisattvas or some others. Even if we see light during meditation, the state is still insignificant; do not be attached. Perhaps during meditation, you begin to swing back and forth without wishing to. You do not want to move, but you do. When you do move, you cannot make it stop even if you want to. These are the six forms of earthquake at work, signs of the six senses. This is not real skill, so keep moving ahead and strive hard. Until you reach the states of the First Dhyana and the Second Dhyana, you cannot be lazy. Lazy and you cannot end birth and death, which makes your future quite dangerous. It is not easy to become a monk. Lazy for one day, you dig into the hells. If you do not want to go to the hells, then work a bit harder. You say, “I feel uncomfortable as soon as I start to apply myself. It is really uncomfortable. The hells are even more uncomfortable. If you want comfort now, you will be uncomfortable in the future. If you do some hard work now, you will be comfortable in the future. Count this up and who knows how long you will be in the hells. There is no leaving the Unintermittent Hells where you suffer there all day. Why does someone end up suffering there? It is because one was very lazy as a novice. One did not work hard and did not study the Buddhadharma, so he suffers. One can hardly be at ease in the hells.

The Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, and the Heaven of Universal Purity. These are the heavens of the Third Dhyana. The First Dhyana is called the Ground of Bliss from Leaving Production, the Second Dhyana is called the Ground of Bliss from Samadhi and the Third Dhyana is called the Ground of Wonderful Bliss from Leaving Joy. In the First Dhyana, the pulse stops, in the Second Dhyana, the breath stops and in the Third Dhyana, thoughts stop. Although the Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma, the Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma and the Great Brahma Heaven of the First Dhyana Heavens are already pure but there is no light yet. Not only no light, but the lights are very dim. At the Second Dhyana Heavens, there is light that is more pure than pure.

There is another crude analogy that compares this to the floor. The Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma, the Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma and the Great Brahma Heaven are like the floor that has been swept once, but not yet waxed. Without wax, there is no shine. We are talking in worldly terms, about how there is no wax or sheen. When you wax the floor then it will shine, this is the Heaven of Lesser Light, the Heaven of Limitless Light and the Heaven of Light Sound. These are the Second Dhyana Heavens. The Third Dhyana Heavens’ Heaven of Lesser Light is like waxed floor, but it needs to be wiped to really shine. There may be some dirt or broom hair that has not been cleaned up and picked up, so there is light, but it is not clean yet. The Third Dhyana Heavens are clean, they are the Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, and the Heaven of Universal Purity. The floor is waxed and wiped until it shines with a bright sheen and there is no dust at all. If you do not understand the states in the heavens, then you will if you think about this metaphor of a floor. Pulse moves blood, when our pulse stops, that is purity. If breath stops, then there is light.

At the Third Dhyana Heavens, thoughts stop completely. Although the pulse stops at the First Dhyana Heavens, but there is still this thought. At the Second Dhyana Heavens, this thought did not end either. At the Third Dhyana Heavens, this thought stopped. He will not let one thought occur and another thought develop, that thought occurs and this thought develops. There are 90 births and deaths in one kashana for one individual; in each birth and death there are 900 thoughts. We have so many thoughts in such a short time. At the Third Dhyana, thoughts stop. There is no first thought or a later thought. Here thoughts stop; this is a Third Dhyana state. Not only does pulse stop, breath stop, even thoughts stop. Sit for a month and you do not know whether it has been a month; sit for a year and you do not know that is has been a year. There is no sense of time or space. Sit and enter Samadhi here does not mean death. You can come back if you want to. Your thought stops, but (as you start thinking), “How come I am here meditating?” This thought is born, so you come back. The state of the Third Dhyana has no thought at all, which is purity.

Thoughts are like dust, leaving you impure. While you are still breathing, there is no light to speak of. Breathe stops and your light manifests. You will feel pure and there is light, when your pulse stops. There is real purity to speak of when thoughts stop. These are the Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, and the Heaven of Universal Purity. These are the Third Dhyana Heavens. The Third Dhyana is called the Ground of Wonderful Bless from Leaving Joy. Leave joy behind. We think it is good to be joyous; but these should be left behind so that we are not even attached to joy. This is the wonderful function from the Ground of Wonderful Bliss from Leaving Joy.

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