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The Abhidharma Store
The Third, The Abhidharma Store. “Abhi-" means “Paired,” and “Dharma,” which is variously translated, is of two types: One, Dharma in the supreme sense, that is, Nirvana, which is both wholesome and permanent, and so is called “Supreme.” Two, Dharma of Dharma Marks, which coincides with the Four Sagely Truths. “Marks” are the nature and its characteristics, the two taken together being called “Marks.”
The Third, The Abhidharma Store, which is the Treasury of Shastras, is also translated as “Paired Dharma.” “Abhi” means “Paired.” The prefix abhidharma- means paired and matched, and “Dharma,” which is variously translated, is as found in the compound word “Buddhadharma.” “Abhidharma,” therefore, means “paired and matched Dharma,” and the is just comparing one dharma with another dharma and arriving at a comparison of dharmas. Dharma is of two types. There are two categories of paired and matched Dharma.
One, the first is Dharma in the supreme sense, supremely superior Dharma, that is, Nirvana, which is both wholesome and permanent. Dharma in the supreme sense just means Nirvana. Nirvana is good, and the Dharma of Nirvana is also permanent – never extinguished or cut off – and so is called “Supreme.” Due to its being good Dharma and permanent Dharma, it is termed “supreme,” Dharma is the supreme sense.
Two, Dharma of Dharma Marks. The second category of Dharma is Dharma which has shape and characteristics, which is also worldly, mundane dharma. Yet even though it is said to be mundane dharma, it nonetheless coincides with the Four Sagely Truths. It reaches through to suffering, accumulation, extinction, and the Way – the Four Sagely (Noble) Truths. What is meant by “marks”? The way to explain marks is that they arethe nature, the marks of the nature, and its characteristics. They are also appearances – likenesses – the two taken together beings called “Marks.” Both the nature and its characteristics are called marks, and pertain to the Dharma of Dharma marks.
Dharma, then, is of two types, and there are also two meanings to “Paired.” One is “paired in tendency,” that is, tending forward to Nirvana. The second is “paired in contemplation,” in that one contemplates the Four Truths before one.
Dharma, then, is of two types. There is Dharma in the supreme sense and Dharma of Dharma marks. And there are also two meanings to “Paired,” the other word mentioned previously. One of those meanings is “Paired in Tendency,” one thing matched and paired with another. That is, this is talking about tending forward to Nirvana which is ahead. It said that Nirvana was wholesome and permanent, which is matched with the unwholesomeness and impermanence – forming a pair. The second is “paired in contemplation,”in that one should perform that kind of matched and paired contemplation – of what? One contemplates the Dharmas of the Four Sagely Truths before one. One contemplates suffering – how many kinds are there? There are three sufferings, eight sufferings, and all the limitless sufferings. Anything you experience is suffering – yet you have no way not to experience it.
The Three Sufferings:
- Suffering of suffering.
- Suffering of decay.
- Suffering of process.
Suffering of suffering:
This means the distress and difficulty of poverty. Poverty itself is suffering, yet there is in addition distress; suffering within suffering, suffering heaped on top of suffering.
Suffering of decay:
This is undergone not by poor people but by people who have blessings and honor. That is, they start out with them, but then their blessings and honor decline, and that turns into the suffering of decay. As long as they haven’t deteriorated, the people feel very happy, but once their blessings and honor decay, it’s suffering. If one is free from the sufferings of the distress and difficulty of poverty as well as the suffering of the decay of blessings and honor, does that mean one has no suffering? No, there is still
Suffering of process:
This means how you grow up from childhood, through middle-age to old age and eventually die. Each year flows forward in a non-stop process, which is characteristic of the third kind of suffering.
The Eight Sufferings:
- The suffering of birth,
- The suffering of old age,
- The suffering of sickness, and
- The suffering of death.
The reason Shakymuni Buddha left home to cultivate the Way was because he saw how birth, old age, sickness and death never stop.
The suffering of being apart from what one loves.Should you have to be separated from what you love, you feel it’s very painful.The suffering of being together with what one hates.
When you are sure to run into whatever situation you don’t want wherever you go, that is called the suffering of being associated with what you dislike.The suffering of not obtaining what one seeks.
If you get what you want, you feel content, but if you don’t get it, you keep feeling that it’s suffering.The suffering of the raging blaze of the five skandhas.
The five skandhas – form, feeling, thinking, activities, and consciousness keep up their roaring blaze, like a fire that water cannot quench.
There are not just those Eight Sufferings, but all the limitless sufferings as well: infinite and boundless, more than one could ever count. One contemplates them.
The second Truth is that of accumulation – the accumulation of afflictions, of ignorance, of greed, hatred, and stupidity. Once you know suffering, you should contemplate accumulation, and then aim at extinction – make Dharma of still extinction your goal. You do that by considering, “Oh, the Dharma of still extinction is fine –there is no suffering and there are no afflictions. It is clear and constantly still. The state of still purity is extremely fine.” That’s how you aim at it. Still extinction is just Nirvana – Dharma in the supreme sense – and once you set your sights on it, you have to cultivate the Way. Four contemplation of the Four Truths is known as “paired contemplation: of the Dharmas of the Four Truths.
That which can pair is all pure, non-outflowing wisdom, as well as those which are interactive, belonging to the mind, and so forth. Because there is pairing with the fruit and pairing with states, there is a division into two names for the pairing. Therefore, wisdom only pairs, and is not Dharma, for it is not what is paired with.
That which can pair is that which can do the matching, and is all pure, non-outflowing wisdom. It is pure, non-outflowing wisdom. Outflows are faults, habits. There is good which has outflows and good which has no outflows. Good with outflows is worldly good, while non-outflowing good is world-transcending good. An example of worldly good is building a hospital to benefit people. Or if you start s school and teach students without requiring money from them, that’s good with outflows. Building a bridge is another example of good with outflows. Building roads is another example.
What is non-outflowing good? An example is printing Buddhist Sutras and circulating them. Of course, if you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t force the issue, but if you do have money you should print more Buddhist Sutras. You could print say 1000 copies of the Flower Adornment Sutra and then circulate them free. Building a temple or a Way-place is another example of non-outflowing good. Making Buddha images to put in the Way-places if another example. Of course if you can make Buddhas, that’s even more world-transcending, non-outflowing good roots. What do I mean by making Buddhas? Can Buddhas be made? Of course they can. If you help people leave home, that is helping to make future Buddhas. If you help people leave home, and keep helping and helping, you yourself will leave home. If you make other Buddhas, you’ll make the Buddha of your own self-nature. That is to create non-outflow merit and virtue.
You may ask, “Well is it enough if I make one Buddha image, or one Buddha, or one Patriarch?” No. You need to make limitless and boundless infinitely unending amounts, and cross all living beings over to be Buddhas. That’s like the vow made by the Venerable Ananda:
As long as a single being hasn’t become a Buddha,
At death I won’t seek the leisure of Nirvana.
He won’t become a Buddha until every single living beings has done so. Making that vow is non-outflowing merit and virtue.
…As well as those which are interactive, belonging to the mind, and so forth. This refers to the 24 non-interactive dharmas, and the 51 dharmas belong to the mind of the Hundred Dharma Shastra, which may be consulted for further details. Because there is pairing with the fruit and pairing with states – matching with both fruit and states – there is a division into two names for the pairing. Those two were examples of either pairing with the fruit or pairing with states. Therefore, although there are two names used, both involving “pairing,” nonetheless, wisdom only pairs, and is not Dharma. This wisdom is the subject and pairs with dharmas. If you yourself have wisdom, you select dharmas, and so it pairs with dharmas. The wisdom you have inside of you matches with the dharmas you select outside. Therefore here wisdom is not dharma, for it is not what is paired with. It’s not a state that is paired with; it’s not an object. It’s your inner mind, the subject, and so it is called “acting in accord.”
Since what is known as “Paired Dharma” is the pairing of Dharmas, therefore the Paired Dharma Store has the special name “Wisdom Shastra.” The old translation was “Incomparable Dharma.” That is because it portrays wisdom as supreme.
Since what is known as “Paired Dharma” is the Pairing of Dharma, therefore the Paired Dharma Store has the special name “Wisdom Shastra.” What ultimately does “paired dharma” mean anyway? “Paired dharma” means dharmas matched with each other. The Treasury of the Pairing of Dharmas is also called the Shastra Store. The reason it is called the “Wisdom Shastra Store” is that wisdom is what dharmas rely on. The old translation was “Incomparable Dharma.” In the past the translators didn’t translate it as “paired dharma,” but as “incomparable dharma,” that which is without compare. So there are a lot of ways to translate it: “Incomparable Dharma,” Paired Dharma,” and “Wisdom Shastra.” That is because it portrays wisdom as supreme. It reveals the supremacy of wisdom. All three names have the same meaning: to demonstrate how wisdom is especially supreme.
In the past, there were very few Buddhist Sutras translated into English, and so very few people in the West understood the Buddhadharma. Because the Japanese occasionally translated Buddhist Sutras into English, some people mistakenly considered Buddhism to be in Japan. Ultimately, where is the Buddhadharma?
Buddhism isn’t in China, and it isn’t in Japan – it’s not in America either. Where is it then? It’s in each person’s mind. If you have Buddhadharma in your mind, then the Buddhadharma exists. If in your mind there is no Buddhadharma, then the Buddhadharma is extinguished, and it’s the Dharma Ending Age. So the Proper Dharma Age, the Dharma Semblance Age, and the Dharma Ending Age are all functions of the minds of living beings. Although it’s said to be within the mind, it has to be represented in language. Without language there is no way to reveal the Dharma. It’s like having a precious pearl within your clothes that no one has told you about, so you don’t know you have a precious pearl in there.
If someone tells you, “In your clothing there is a precious gem that’s worth as much as a capitol city,” you take it out and it turns out to be that way. If someone points out the precious pearl of the Dharma within the minds of living beings, then you can understand, and when you understand, that is the Proper Dharma Age. When you don’t understand, it’s the Dharma Ending Age. I explain the Proper Dharma Age, the Dharma Semblance Age, and the Dharma Ending Age differently from other Dharma Masters – it’s always that way.
Now we are translating the Dharma into English, and using language to represent it, announcing that everyone has the priceless precious pearl within their mind. If no one had the Dharma, the Buddha wouldn’t have needed to speak the Dharma. But because everyone does have the Dharma, the Buddha told all of us about the precious pearl. Right now the precious pearl in the West should emit great light. But when it does, people with eyes will see the light, yet those who lack sight won’t be able to. People without eyes need to have people with eyes tell them, so they can have that experience of light. Right now the work of translating Sutras is very important. We are protecting and maintaining the Proper Dharma, so we should work even harder at translating Sutras.
Heavenly Relative’s Samparigraha Shastra says, “Abhidharma has four meanings. They are: Since “Paired,” Since “Enumerated,” Since “Subduing,” Since “Penetrating.” The meaning “Paired” is the same as before. “Enumerated” means that each and every Dharma is repeatedly proclaimed in explanation in words of the limitless differences of particular and general characteristics, and so forth. “Subduing” means that because of these complete Shastras’ locations and so forth, there can be victorious subduing of other Shastras. “Penetrating” means that this can penetrate and explain the meanings in the Sutras.
In Heavenly Relative’sSamparigraha Shastra, the Mahayana-samparigraha-shastra written by Vasubandhu – “Heavenly Relative – Bodhisattva, there is also an explanation of “Abhidharma.” It says, “Abhidharma,” that is “Paired Dharma,” has four meanings. They are:
- Since “Paired.” As in the “Paired Dharma” before.
- Sine “Enumerated.” They are said many times using clever and expedient language to speak them over and over again.
- Since “Subduing,” that is they tame and subdue.
- Since “Penetrating,” that is they can explain.
The meaning “Paired” is the same as before. They meaning of “Paired Dharma” was previously discussed. “Enumerated” means that each and every Dharma is repeatedly proclaimed. Each Dharma door is spoken over and over again, without fear of repetition. Each is proclaimed and discussed in minute detail, in explanation in words. There is instruction in various types of language describing what each dharma is like, giving an explanation of the limitless differences of particular and general characteristics, and so forth.
For example, among the five skandhas, the form skandha sometimes changes, and there is a mark of that change. Feeling has, as its particular characteristics, reception, while form has the particular characteristic of shape and obstructiveness, impenetrability. Those are their particular marks of characteristic, and each of the five skandhas has its own. Characteristics general to them all are suffering, emptiness, and impermanence, which are called their general characteristics. There are limitless and boundlessly many differences, for there is discussion of how many kinds of form there are, how many kinds of feeling. All are characterized by suffering, emptiness, non-self, impermanence, and all are discriminated very clearly, so there are a great many differentiations.
“Subduing” means that because of these complete Shastras’ locations and so forth… “Subduing” means taming and controlling. In the meaning “subduing” Shastra, or theory, this refers to the Seven Usages of Shastras:
The Shastra’s substance,
The Shastra’s locations,
The Shastra’s proofs,
The Shastra’s adorments,
The Shastra’s victories and defeats,
The Shastra’s departures, and
The Shastra’s many working dharmas.
For victory, one must first establish a winning doctrine – any theory must rest upon a doctrine. An example is when Shariputra’s uncle went to debate with Shakyamuni Buddha, and first adopted a creed: his doctrine was that he didn’t accept any doctrines. Shakyamuni Buddha then asked him, “Do you accept that view of non-acceptance or not?” and there was nothing he could say. He was defeated – he lost. His doctrine wasn’t “subduing.” But if it is victorious, it brings the other party to the point where they can’t say anything, and prostrate themselves with their five limbs on the ground, admitting, “Ah! Your doctrine is correct.” That’s being supreme and subduing.
The being supreme part means establishing a doctrine, and subduing means being able to break the theories and doctrines of the people one is matched against. It’s referring to that when it talks about how because of these complete Shastras’ theories, locations and so forth there can be victorious subduing of other Shastras. This means demolishing the theories set up by other people – knocking them down is the meaning of “subduing.”
“Penetrating” means understanding. To penetrate through without obstruction is to thoroughly understand. It means that this can penetrate and explain the meanings in the Sutras. One uses the Abhidharma, the principles of “Paired Dharma,” to understand the principles and meanings in the Sutras.
It is also called “Upadesha,” which means “Discourse.” It is also called “Matrika” which means “Basic Mother,” that is because it acts as the basis and the mother for the teachings and the meanings. It also means that by relying on this Store one gives rise to understanding, and so this Store is the mother of understanding, “Basic just meaning “Mother.” When another transliteration of “Matrika” is used, it means “Mother of Practice,” for by relying on this Store, practice is accomplished, and so it is the mother of practice.
Abhidharma, “Paired Dharma,” also has another name. It is also called “Upadesha,” “Upadesha” is a Sanskrit word which means “Discourse.” It is also called “Matrika” another Sanskrit word, which when translated means “Basic Mother,” the fundamental mother. Why is it called that? That is because it acts as the basis and the mother for the teachings and the meanings. It acts as the foundation and mother – the basis – for the teachings as well as for the meanings. It also means that by relying on this Store one gives rise to understanding.
Another meaning is that by relying upon the Shastra Store – the Abhidharma Store – one can come to penetrate and understand, and so this Store is the mother of understanding. “Store” means “Storing and Containing,” and this particular Store is the mother of comprehension, “Basic” just meaning “Mother.”When another transliteration of “Matrika” is used, it means “Mother of Practice,” for by relying on this Store, practice is accomplished. It is because one bases oneself upon the Shastra Store to cultivate doors of practice, and so it is the mother of the practice. Because one relies upon this Store to cultivate doors of practice, therefore this Store is, as it were, the mother of the doors of conduct.