THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Volumes: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * previous * next * Exhortation * Contents

Volume 8

J6 The sixteen ways in which form can exist after death.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.

Sutra:

Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on the endless flow, he could fall into error with the confused idea that forms exist after death.

Commentary:


Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. This refers to any good person who cultivates and attains solid samadhi. Because he has firm samadhi and a proper mind, the demon kings cannot have their way with him. Their tricks are all played out. But although the demons' tricks cannot touch him, demons can arise right within his own mind. These demons of the mind are the most difficult to subdue.

He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all twelve categories of beings, that is, the fundamental source of all living beings, and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. He observes the elusive, light, and fleeting original nature of the twelve categories of living beings. This original nature is just the formations skandha, which is characterized by subtle fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on the endless flow, the subtle fluctuation which is like the continual motion of waves on the water, he could fall into error with the confused idea that forms exist after death. Speculating that there is existence after death, his mind becomes confused.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.

Sutra:

He may strongly identify with his body and say that form is himself; or he may see himself as perfectly encompassing all worlds and say that he contains form; or he may perceive all external conditions as contingent upon himself and say that form belongs to him; or he may decide that he relies on the continuity of the formations skandha and say that he is within form.

Commentary:


He may strongly identify with his body and say that form is himself. The person who entertains this kind of wrong attachment may want to make his body tough and durable. He claims that form, which is comprised of the four elements, is simply himself. Or he may see himself as perfectly encompassing all worlds and say that he contains form. He may see that his own nature is perfectly fused and unobstructed, and that all worlds in the ten directions are contained in it. Therefore, he says that he contains form. What kind of form? He says, "I have an immense form." Or he may perceive all external conditions as contingent upon himself and say that form belongs to him. He may say that external conditions follow him everywhere, and that the four elements of form all belong to him. Or he may decide that he relies on the continuity of the formations skandha and say that he is within form.

Sutra:

In all of these speculations, he says that forms exist after death. Expanding the idea, he comes up with sixteen cases of the existence of forms.

Commentary:


In all of these speculations, he says that forms exist after death. In the above discussion about form and external conditions, there were four theories. He said:

1. The four elements of form belong to him;
2. The four elements of form are himself;
3. Form is within himself, so that he is big and form is small; and
4. Apart from him, there is no form.

In general, his talk is nonsense. There is no logic in it In these four theories, he speculates that there is existence after death. Expanding the idea, he comes up with sixteen cases of the existence of forms. He takes the above four theories and applies them to the four skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, and formations, thus obtaining sixteen cases of the existence of forms. Another way to formulate the sixteen cases is to combine the four skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, and formations and the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air. It's useless to ask him how he came up with these views, because there is basically no logic in them. They don't make any sense. I cannot figure them out myself, because they are unclear to begin with.

Sutra:

Then he may speculate that afflictions are always afflictions, and Bodhi is always Bodhi, and the two exist side by side without contradicting each other.

Commentary:

Four times four makes sixteen ways in which forms can exist. He sees that the four theories can be applied to each of the four skandhas of form, feeling, thinking and formations, or to the four elements of earth, water, fire and air. Then he may speculate that afflictions are always afflictions, and Bodhi is always Bodhi. He says that afflictions are afflictions forever, and Bodhi is Bodhi forever, and that the statement, "Afflictions are simply Bodhi" is wrong. And the two exist side by side without contradicting each other. He claims that these two function side by side without disrupting each other, that they are mutually cooperative. But this idea is fundamentally wrong. It's basically impossible. Why does he talk like this then? Because he is confused about Bodhi.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Sutra:

Because of these speculations about what exists after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the sixth external teaching, which postulates confused theories of the existence of forms after death in the realm of the five skandhas.

Commentary:


The four skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, and formations are multiplied by four to generate sixteen cases for the existence of forms. He says that forms exist after death, and so because of these speculations about what exists after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature, his inherent enlightened nature.

This is the sixth external teaching, which postulates confused theories of the existence of forms after death in the realm of the five skandhas. "The five skandhas" here actually refers only to the four skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, and formations, and not to consciousness. He says that after people die, they continue to have form and appearance. In his disoriented state of mind, he invents this kind of theory.

J7 Eight ideas about the non-existence of form.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.


Sutra:

Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper, and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking, which have already ended, he could fall into error with the confused idea that forms do not exist after death.

Commentary:


Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper. This refers to any person who cultivates samadhi power. He has solid samadhi and wisdom, and can no longer be disturbed by demons. Although his wisdom is not ultimate and true wisdom, the demon kings cannot do anything to him. However, he is not yet able to subdue the demons of his own mind. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all twelve categories of living beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. He looks into the fundamental nature of all living beings, which is elusive, light and ephemeral and characterized by subtle movements.

But if he begins to speculate on the three skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking, which have already ended, he could fall into error with the confused idea that forms do not exist after death. He says that there is no existence after death. That's the kind of upside-down theory that he comes up with.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.

Sutra:

Seeing that his form is gone, his physical shape seems to lack a cause. As he contemplates the absence of thought, there is nothing to which his mind can become attached. Knowing that his feelings are gone, he has no further involvements. Those skandhas have vanished. Although there is still some coming into being, there is no feeling or thought, and he concludes that he is like grass or wood.

Commentary:


Seeing that his form skandha is gone, his physical shape seems to lack a cause. His body has no support. It's been given away. As he contemplates the absence of thought, there is nothing to which his mind can become attached. He has broken through the thinking skandha, and it is gone. There is no place left for his mind to get hung up. He has no more false thinking. Knowing that his feelings are gone, that his feeling skandha is gone, he has no further involvements with external conditions. Those three skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking have vanished. Although there is still some very small trace of coming into being, that is, although the formations skandha still exists, there is no feeling or thought, and he concludes that he is like grass or wood. Since he's devoid of feeling and thinking, he considers himself to be the same as grass and wood.

Sutra:

Since those qualities do not exist at present how can there be any existence of forms after death? Because of his examinations and comparisons, he decides that after death there is no existence. Expanding the idea, he comes up with eight cases of the nonexistence of forms.

Commentary:


Since those qualities do not exist at present. "Qualities" refers not only to form, but to mind as well. He says that the material aspects of form and mind are gone now. This is referring to the four skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, and formations. Remember that he says his body is like grass or wood. That means he doesn't have any awareness. Although he is alive, there's nothing at all. How can there be any existence of forms after death? if he cannot find any sign of existence, anything with actual form and appearance, right now in his living state, how could there be anything with form after he dies?

Because of his examinations and comparisons, he decides that after death, there is no existence. He mulls over the idea, looking at it from all angles. "If there are no forms in life, how can there be any after death? There are no forms after death either." If there is no evidence of the skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, and formations while he is alive, then there shouldn't be any evidence of them after death either. Expanding the idea, he comes up with eight cases of the nonexistence of form. There are four cases of the nonexistence of the skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, and formations during life, and four cases of their nonexistence after death. They are all gone.

Sutra:

From that, he may speculate that nirvana and cause and effect are all empty, that they are mere names and ultimately do not exist.

Commentary:


From that, because he reasons that the four skandhas do not exist, based on the eight cases of nonexistence he may speculate that nirvana and cause and effect are all empty. He says that there is no nirvana, and he denies cause and effect. If it were really that way, there would be no reason for people to cultivate or become Buddhas. Why? According to his theories, there isn't anything at all. He thinks that they are mere names and ultimately do not exist. They are nothing but names; they do not really exist. That's what he says.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Sutra:

Because of those speculations that forms do not exist after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the seventh external teaching, which postulates confused theories of the nonexistence of forms after death in the realm of the five skandhas.

Commentary:


He says that after death, there isn't anything at all. Everything is empty. Because of those speculations that forms do not exist after death, he will fall into a kind of externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the seventh external teaching, which postulates confused theories of the nonexistence of forms after death inthe realm of the five skandhas. He says that there is no existence after death within the five skandhas. That's the sort of distorted theory that his mind comes up with.

J8 Eight kinds of negation.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.


Sutra:

Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. In this state where the skandha of formations remains, but the skandhas of feeling and thinking are gone, if he begins to speculate that there is both existence and nonexistence, thus contradicting himself, he could fall into error with confused theories that deny both existence and nonexistence after death.

Commentary:


Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. Again, this refers to any good person who cultivates his samadhi power, making it strong and solid. Although external demons cannot get at him, the demons of his own mind are difficult to subdue. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all twelve categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. He observes the mind which is elusive and fleeting. At this point there are still subtle movements in the formations skandha.

In this state where the skandha of formations remains, but the skandhas of feeling and thinking are gone, if he begins' to speculate that there is both existence and nonexistence, if he says that things both exist and do not exist, thus contradicting himself. His own "self" is obliterated. It no longer exists. If you were to say that things exist then he would also exist. If you say things don't exist, then he doesn't exist either. When he contradicts himself, he is also destroying himself. He denies his own theories. He could fall into error with confused theories that deny both existence and nonexistence after death. He says that after he dies, there is neither existence nor nonexistence. Then what is there? Is "neither existence nor nonexistence" the Middle Way? No. He has no regard for the Middle Way, nor has he attained the Middle Way. This is where he has gone wrong and become confused.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.

Sutra:

Regarding form, feeling, and thinking, he sees that existence is not really existence. Within the flow of the formations skandha, he sees that nonexistence is not really nonexistence.

Commentary:


Regarding form, feeling, and thinking, the three skandhas that he has already broken through, he sees that existence is not really existence. He perceives a state of existence, and yet it is not really existence. Within the flow of the formations skandha, he sees that nonexistence is not really nonexistence. Within the subtle fluctuation of the skandha of formations, he sees that what does not exist also seems to exist. Therefore, there is neither existence nor nonexistence. He formulates this kind of theory.

Sutra:

Considering back and forth in this way, he thoroughly investigates the realms of these skandhas and derives an eightfold negation of forms. No matter which skandha is mentioned, he says that after death, it neither exists nor does not exist.

Commentary:


Earlier he saw a situation in which the previously existing form, feeling, and thinking became nonexistent, and the flowing of the formations skandha, which could later cease to exist, was still existing then. Considering back and forth in this way, he investigates this way and that trying to discover the underlying principle. He thoroughly investigates the realms of these four skandhas of form, feeling, thinking and formations, viewing them from all angles, and derives an eightfold negation of forms. There are eight cases, all of which deny the existence of forms. No matter which skandha is mentioned, he only has one answer, he says that after death, it neither exists nor does not exist. He says that after death, the skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, and formations are neither existing nor nonexistent.

Sutra:

Further, because he speculates that all formations are changing in nature, an 'insight' flashes through his mind, leading him to deny both existence and nonexistence. He cannot determine what is unreal and what is real.

Commentary:


Further, because he speculates that all formations are changing in nature. He further investigates the nature of the formations skandha. Because the formations skandha has subtle movements, it is ever flowing and changing. Then an "insight" flashes through his mind, leading him to deny both existence and nonexistence. A mistaken insight occurs to him, and he decides that existence and nonexistence are both invalid. Is this the Middle Way? No, he doesn't understand the ultimate meaning of the Middle Way. That's why he has no regard for the Middle Way. He only considers existence and nonexistence. So he cannot determine what is unreal and what is real. Things are neither unreal nor real. You say something is real, but he denies it. You say it's unreal, but he denies that too. Since he maintains that it's neither real nor unreal, he is at a loss.

previous * next * contents

return to top