A beautiful red-bronze and gilt silver seated Shakyamuni Buddha constructed in Tibet between the 13th - 14th centuries. 十三至十四世纪 西藏鎏金铜错银及红铜释迦牟尼佛坐像.
The Venerable Mangala Thero had no interest in the Mahayana teachings. I had turned-up in Sri Lanka with my very worn copy of Charles Luk’s English translation of the ‘Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra’ - which deals in-part in the limitation of the Hinayana Path (which I personally do not associate with the Theravada School) as opposed to the broad-minded and more complete Mahayana Path. Vimalakirti – as an enlightened layman – was able to ‘turn the words’ of the more conservative monastic followers of the Buddha and prove through wisdom that their interpretation of the Dharma was incomplete and lacking in attainment and understanding. Knowing this would happen – the Buddha deliberately engineered a number of meetings between his leading disciples and Vimalakirti so that the resulting engagements would ‘push’ their development and understanding into new orbits of transcendence and universal balance! When I showed the Ve. Mangala Thero this Sutra he just appeared to ‘look through it’ as if it was not there – this was lesson number one for me! Instead, Mangala Thero handed me a copy of the Ānāpānasati Sutta and told me to master it ‘beyond the words’ and ‘beyond the limitations of the page’. He also advised that ‘in the West a superficial Buddhism has developed which plays second fiddle to technology – but in here, Sri Lanka – this is not the case!’ I saw that materially ‘poor’ people were spiritually enriched by the Dhamma in ways that most Westerners simply would not understand or recognise. In Sri Lanka, and particularly the remote forests outside of major cities, the Dhamma continued to function very much as it had done for thousands of years – empowering each individual and community through a method of mind and body self-discipline! A practitioner becomes aware of the breath, uses the awareness to ‘penetrate’ the breath, and then penetrates the empty essence from which each aspect of the breath arises, manifests and subsides as a bodily process.
The Huayan (Flower Garland) Sutra (Sanskrit: ‘Avatamsaka’ Sutra) is a very long Mahayana text comprising of thirty-nine in-depth chapters explaining a multidimensional and interlocking system of diverse domains, realms and realities that are all connected by an identical underlying reality (from which) and within which all these diverse modes of existence manifest. The first thirty-eight chapters explain the structure, texture and function of this lucid reality, with this (final) thirty-ninth chapter actually dealing with the explorations of the (pure) young man named ‘Sudhana’. Although the Bodhisattva Manjushri instructs him to travel far and wide and receive instruction from fifty-three enlightened beings (comprised of male and female Buddhist monastics, male and female lay-people, Bodhisattvas including Manjushri himself, non-Buddhists (including Hindus), gods, goddesses and spirits, etc. Eventually, Sudhana realised that although reality is vast and enlightened-beings (representing the fifty-three stages of Bodhisattva development from ignorance to enlightenment) exist throughout the three-time periods of past, present and future – the reality is that with the correct training – this underlying (empty) reality can be ‘pierced’ and ‘realised’ here and now.
As the entirety of this multidimensional reality is interconnected by a structure that resembles ‘Indra’s Net’ - regardless of where (or ‘when’) an individual happens to be, this ‘wall of outer reality’ (reflected inwardly as a continuous stream of deluded thought) can be ‘penetrated’ through the development of meditative insight. Indeed, the final thirty-ninth chapter of the Huayan Chapter is what might be termed the ‘traditional’ Sutra-section of this text – with the other (preceding) thirty-eight chapters being an intricate and sophisticated extrapolation of this vision. Although moving around within time and space can be useful and sometimes even required for individual development – from a Ch’an perspective it is better to sit ‘like an iron mountain’ and cultivate the appropriate insight into the fabric of reality that exists everywhere and at all times. This is why the Huayan Sutra explains that reality Is comprised of four attributes which are a) noumena, b) phenomena, c) integration of noumena and phenomena and c) the unhindered functionality of all phenomena.
The ‘noumena’ is the underlying, empty mind ground, whilst the ‘phenomena’ comprises ALL of material existence. These are not two separate (parallel) states acting in concordance, but are rather two-sides of the same coin of reality. Within the deluded state, individuals cannot see beyond the phenomenal expression of reality. All they see is the (outer) material world of external objects which is reflected (inwardly) as a stream of continuous deluded thought. If a suitable meditational technique is applied to the individual mind – then the mind and body becomes ‘non-attached’ to the world of (external) material objects – a process which removes the impetus that powers the (internal) stream of deluded thoughts. Outer non-attachment is reflected within as the attainment of a ‘still’ and ‘pure’ mind. When the surface of the mind is ‘still’ there is no longer a stream of ‘obscuring’ thought which hinders insight and understanding. Like a crystal-clear lake – the individual can ‘see’ right to the bottom of the watery depths. With further training, the practitioner can fully enter into (and understand) the ‘empty’ world of the ‘noumena’ within which all things arise and pass away.
The Caodong School of Ch’an developed its Five Ranks of Prince and Minister symbology from an integration of Confucian and Daoist roundel technology, together with the use of ‘trigrams’ and ‘hexagrams’ as contained within the ‘Classic of Change’ (易經 - Yi Jing), as well as the conceptual understanding of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ (陰陽). These five-roundel schematic can also be represented by a ‘thunderbolt’ motif (commonly found within the Chinese and Tibetan traditions of ‘Tantra’). The five roundels represent the human mind as its understanding progresses from the state of ‘ignorance’ to that of ‘enlightenment’. This developmental understanding is conveyed through the ‘shading’ and ‘non-shading’ of the roundels (or the ‘lack of light’ and the ‘presence of light’). The Caodong Masters used hexagram 30 - ‘䷝’ (離 - Li) - of the ‘Classic of Change’ to represent the fully enlightened mind (and body). Within ‘Yijing’ symbology this represents ‘double fire’ or ‘yang over yang’ (as two solid yang lines firmly hold the lone and broken central ‘yin’ line in check). As this is ‘fire over fire’ - then enlightenment is shown as being ‘complete’ and expressed as existing in all directions without hindrance or limit! As the enlightened mind exists in the ever present ‘here and now’, the Caodong Masters designed their developmental schematic starting from the ever-present but as of yet unrealised ‘enlightened’ position and working backwards – generating shaded roundels that represent the various levels of deluded obscuration associated with the ‘deluded’ states.
The five roundels of the Caodong School possess the internal logic of the ‘Yijing’ - whilst further representing the methodology of the Huayan Sutra. The ‘noumena’ is identical with ‘yang’ whilst ‘phenomena’ is equated with ‘yin’ - as the two systems interlock perfectly and appear to reinforce the general thinking that underlies the structure of the Huayan Sutra. Furthermore, the ‘noumena’ is also equated with the ‘Host’ (or ‘real’) position of Ch’an – whilst the ‘phenomena’ is identified with the ‘Guest’ (or ‘seeming’ position), etc. The yin-yang concept represents a permanent interaction of ‘shade’ and ‘non-shade’ - just as the Huayan Sutra advocates the permanent interaction of the ‘noumena’ and the ‘phenomena’. There is a perfect ‘integrating’ of the ideology of the ‘Indian’ (Sanskrit) Huayan Sutra – and the Chinese yin-yang system as used by the ‘Chinese’ Ch’an School. I am of the opinion that the Huayan Sutra motivated the Caodong Masters to ‘pull’ together Ch’an methodology with the yin-yang concept and ‘Yijing’ symbology – as well as Confucian and Daoist roundel technology. The five roundels represent the gradual ‘clearing’ of a practitioner’s insight as their Ch’an training progresses clearing the delusion from the mind. Initially, the ‘host’(noumena) is ‘hidden’ within the ‘guest’ (phenomena) and cannot be readily perceived even though there is a ‘sense’ that it is out there somewhere (this is the first position)! As training progresses it is understood that the ‘guest’ is ensconced within the ‘host’ (this is the second position). With further (sustained) training there is the sudden ‘resurgence’ of the ‘host’ or ‘real’ (‘noumena’) position where the mind is permanently ‘stilled’ (represented by the third position). This is often termed the (relative) ‘enlightenment’ of the Hinayana.
With further training, the mind’s perception ‘expands’ so that the ‘noumena’ (void) and ‘phenomena’ (form) stand in a balanced opposition to one another. This demonstrates the subtle delusion of duality which still persists and this is why the Caodong Masters explain this fourth position as ‘not one’. When this last subtle barrier is dissolved – then the fifth position of ‘full enlightenment’ is achieved which the Caodong Masters describe as ‘not two’. Within Huayan Sutra thinking – this represents the perfect integration of the ‘noumena’ and the ‘phenomena’ - whereby all of the material objects in the world exist in their proper place and without hindrance or limitation of expression and functionality. From the Ch’an position, the advice is usually to be ‘neither attached to the void nor hindered by phenomena’. Once the Ch’an practitioner fully understands the ‘noumena’ and the phenomena’ - then all that remains is for the individual concerned to simply ‘adjust himself to circumstance’ whilst acting in the best interests of all living beings. This means that the ‘frequency’ of the phenomenal world one happens to exist within is fully understood and the path of least resistance is taken – unless, of course, injustice is such that a Ch’an Master is called upon to act in the best interests of humanity. Noumena and phenomena represent a totality of reality – an ebb and flow in innate and functional energy within which the mind and body manifests. If we sit and meditate ‘like an iron mountain’ here and now – then human insight will fully perceive this reality and dissolve all the delusional barriers that usually prevent this direct perception. Just as a single hexagram of the ‘yijing’ contains the essence of the other sixty-three hexagrams – one of the five Caodong roundels contains the essence of the other four. This recognition of multidimensional functionality is exactly how the Huayan Sutra has influenced the Chinese Ch’an School.
Prior to the 1950s, the world Buddhist community more or less agreed with the traditional Chinese dating of the Buddha. This dating is still used in ‘New’ China and stems from Indian Buddhist monks arriving in China and transmitting the Dharma. The best text explaining this in my opinion, is that included in the Chinese-language biography of Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) edited my Cen Xue Lu (between 1952-1961 in various editions) - but which is omitted from the English-language translation rendered by Charles Luk (copyrighted to ‘1960’ as ‘extracts’ of Xu Yun’s Dharma Words appearing in Ch’an and Zen Teachings First Series – but not published until 1974 as a separate book under the guidance of Roshi Philip Kapleau). I tracked-down the Chinese-language original of this text and translated it a few years ago. This can be found in the relevant section of the original Chinese language chapter of Xu Yun’s autobiography (虛雲和尚年譜), covering the year ‘1953/54’, which is entitled ‘末法僧徒之衰相’ – this translates as ‘Degeneration of the Sangha in the Dharma-ending Age’. Within this text, Master Xu Yun explains the following:
‘Two years ago, I attended the inaugural meeting of the Chinese Buddhist Association, where everyone present discussed the Dharma. The main issues concerned included the corrupt Dharma practices of certain Buddhists that were destroying the Buddha’s teachings from within, and the attitude of the government towards Buddhism in the light of this distorted practice – this is why the government sent representatives to attend. At this conference many devout followers of the Buddha attended and were encouraged to give their views and opinions. It was suggested that the Bodhisattva Precepts as taught in the Brahmajala Sutra (梵網經– Fan Wang Jing), the Vows contained in the Vinaya Discipline in Four Parts (四分律 – Si Fen Lu), the Pure Regulations of Ch’an Master Baizhang (百丈清規 – Bai Zhang Qing Gui) and all such established Buddhist laws should be abolished, because they cause harm to young people, and are detrimental to the wellbeing of men and women. Furthermore, it was also suggested that the ordained Sangha should be reformed and no longer wear the traditional robes associated with monks and nuns. The justification for these suggestions was premised upon the belief that traditional Buddhist practice was merely a form of backward feudalistic conservativism, and that the issue was actually about religious freedom. It was proposed that monks and nuns should be allowed to get married, drink alcohol and eat meat, and be free of any disciplinary requirements. As soon as I heard these words, I instantly had a strong reaction against them, and thoroughly disagreed with their content. I treated these suggestions with contempt. The idea of abandoning the celebration of the Buddha’s birthday stemmed from the observation that different Buddhist traditions celebrate this event at different times. As far as I am concerned, this tradition is a legitimate Dharma-practice in China that is based upon the teachings of Indian Dharma-teacher Kasyapa-Matanga (摩騰法師 – Mo Teng Fa Shi) who travelled to China during the 1st century CE, met with, and instructed Emperor Ming (明帝 – Ming Di) of the Latter Han (r. 58-75 CE). Matanga taught that the Buddha was born during the 51st year (of the 60-year cyclical sequence found within the traditional Chinese lunar calendar) in the year of tiger, which is represented by the Chinese astrological symbols of the heavenly stem ‘Jin’ (甲) and the earthly branch ‘Yin’ (寅). Matanga further stated that the Buddha’s birth correlates to the 8th day of the 4th lunar month.
(Translator’s Note: In the Western year 2015 CE – the traditional Chinese Buddhist Calendar stood at 3042/43 years since the birth of the Buddha – this means that according to Chinese Buddhist tradition, the Buddha was born around the year 1029/28 BCE. If it is agreed that he lived around 80 years – then the Buddha entered nirvana in the year 949/48 BCE.)
The exact date of the Buddha’s birth occurred in the 24th year of the rule of the Zhou Dynasty monarch – King Zhao (昭王) – who reigned 1052-1002 BCE. Therefore the Buddha’s birth occurred in the year 1028/29 BCE according to Matanga. The shramana (沙門 – Sha Men) – or Buddhist monk known as Tan Mo Zui (曇謨最) – is recorded in the Wei Dynasty (386-557 CE) Book of History (魏書 – Wei Shu) as stating that the Buddha was born on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month, which was during the 24th year of the reign of the Zhou Dynasty monarch – King Zhao. The Buddha entered nirvana on the 15th day of the 2nd lunar month, which occurred in the 52nd year of the rule of the Zhou Dynasty monarch – Mu Wang (穆王) – who reigned 1001-947 BCE). This means that the Buddha died around 949/48 BCE. Throughout all of the subsequent Chinese dynasties, this tradition has been preserved and upheld. From the time of the Zhou Dynasty’s King Wang until now (1952/53) – it is agreed that 2981/82 years have passed since the time of the Buddha’s birth.’
The modern dating suggesting the Buddha lived roughly around 563-483 BCE (or even later) stems from the first reliable dating of an event in India – which is taken (by Western scholars) as the 327 BCE invasion of India by Alexander the Great. When this is used as a chronological anchor it can be cross-referenced with the stone stele associated with Emperor Ashoka (r. 268-232 BCE) - which record sections of the Buddha’s teachings together with dynastic dating – Western scholars proposed what seemed to be a logical assessment of the available data. This led to the Theravada schools adopting tis new Western dating in the 1950s and removing 500 years of off the previously held dating about the Buddha. This is to say that prior to 4th World Buddhist Conference of 1956 (held in Nepal) - most of the Buddhist world held an opinion that mirrored the dating held in China. Even today, modern Chinese scholarship still upholds the original dating of the Buddha as correct and the Western dating as flawed (that is an opinion that appears logical but which ignores certain facts whilst lacking concrete knowledge about other facts). Interestingly, a number of modern Indian academics also reject the ‘new’ Western dating and state that the old Chinese dating is correct.
The Chinese scholar-sage – known as ‘Confucius’ in the West – lived between 551-479 BCE and with these dates would have been a contemporary of the Buddha (according to Western reconning). Whereas Confucius and his disciples were highly literate (as representatives of the Chinese nobility) - the Buddha, although very well educated as a high-caste Hindu, nevertheless was illiterate and could not read and write! Although educated in armed and unarmed martial arts, yoga, State-craft, love-making and scripture recollection, etc, the Buddha did not have to learn how to read and write. Furthermore, none of the Buddha’s disciples (regardless of caste) could read or write. The onus was to use the facility of ‘memory’ to store, recall and pass-on the long and complex spiritual and secular texts that defined ancient Indian culture. Education within Indian society was aural and practical. Reading and writing was known – but was only reserved for use in the royal court. Here, a specially trained Minister of State would ‘write down’ all the decisions taken by the ruler and all the laws passed so that a permanent record of the law of the State could be made. When required, this Minister would access the record and remind the ruler (who could not read) what the establish law was.
I am of the opinion that the epoch of the Buddha and the epoch of Confucius are two different historical periods. This can be discerned by the attitude toward the art of reading and writing and upon how the two different societies related to the concept of literacy. It is important to remember that at this time Chinese rulers and scholars maintained a high level of respect for Indian culture and were quite happy to import it for their own enrichment. Given this is the case, I doubt that India would have been essentially ‘illiterate’ whilst China was ‘literate’. How can this disparity be explained? I suspect the Buddhist context in India dates to around 1000 BCE – with a similar situation existing within Zhou dynasty China (with both cultures first developing literacy amongst the ruling elites via superstition, mythology and divine oracles, etc. I suspect that by around 500 BCE, both cultures had developed, solidified and expanded literacy amongst a much larger social elite, with the written word now being associated with the recording and expressing of the highest and most sublime spiritual and secular philosophies! If the Buddha had really lived around 500 BCE (like Confucius) it is likely that reading and writing would have been far-spread and routinely used by all spiritual teachers and their students!
At no time do the Chinese records talk of Indian culture as being less advanced or backward when compared to Chinese culture. On the contrary, the Chinese attitude is always one of respect and in many respects ‘awe’! It is doubtful that such an attitude would have existed if Indian culture was found to be ‘illiterate’ whilst China’s cultural elite were by comparison – highly literate. Such an idea is counter-intuitive. This being the case, why does the Western dating suggesting the Buddha lived at the same time as Confucius but was illiterate? The Sui Dynasty Records (581-618 CE) state that a number of Brahmanical texts (now lost) had been earlier transmitted to China (date unknown). In the early days the flow of progressive culture was definitely from India to China and I find it odd that a culture with no developed literacy tradition would be instructing a society with a fully developed and sophisticated literacy tradition! It is far more likely that the historical Buddha lived around 1000 BCE and at that time India and China were at a similar state of cultural development regarding the use of literacy. India’s genius lay in its developed use of the human-mind which it was willing to share with the world! By 500 BCE, again India and China were at similar stages of cultural development and literacy usage – and yet China still acknowledged India as the bedrock of progressive and advanced thinking and culture!
Whilst Easterners are too busy modernising too be that bothered with Ch’an lineage transmissions – many Westerners, by way of contrast, attempt to ‘collect’ transmissions as if they are badges denoting rank or promotions signifying success! This is a complete cultural misreading and is usually accomplished by a huge psychological and physical barrier of ‘dishonesty’ which they feel cannot be seen. On the contrary, those trained in authentic Ch’an Buddhism are able to immediately ‘see through’ this disguise the moment it is made apparent. Many such people who have approached me cannot get pass, over or around me – as I sit like a heavy boulder in their path. I am not going anywhere and have no interest in banal conversation – show me your insight or go away. I do not care what you think (or do not think) as it is all a creation in your own head dependent upon your own conditioning in life – come to me when you have cleared it up and attained ‘stillness’ of mind, expansion of mind or integration of ‘form’ and ‘void’.
Other than that, we have nothing to talk about unless I deem it worthwhile and to the benefit of your own development. All this hold doubly-true for those who still decide to follow fake spiritual teachers in the West and support fraudulent lineages after I have explained the genuine Ch’an Dharma to them. This is why it makes no difference if we maintain an ‘open’ transmission as an act of ‘compassion’ on the ICBI site – as it is each individual’s behaviour that either validates or invalidates such an initiative – and the ICBI can withdraw such a fluid transmission if an individual concerned acts in a disrespectful, dishonourable, dishonest or disruptive manner.
Such individuals cannot uphold the ICBI lineage and claim to still support fake teachers and false transmissions! Furthermore, it is not the place of the ICBI to confirm or deny to individuals which lineages are ‘fake’ or ‘fraudulent’ as this is your own responsibility. The ICBI is a spiritual platform with its historical roots in China and it is Chinese culture which defines its everyday functioning. The ICBI colleagues in Beijing chose the UK as its first non-China base as a springboard into the West. As there are no plans for any further expansion – the UK is considered the cradle of genuine Ch’an outside of China. I will guard this gate for my Chinese colleagues for as long as my life will last and I will assist all and sundry to realise the empty mind ground – but for your own sakes – I certainly will not indulge anyone’s ego!
ACW – SDD (13.8.2021)
The Buddhist sacred texts state that meditation – that is a deliberate and willed ‘control’ and ‘development’ of the mind – can (and should) occur whilst standing, sitting, lying-down and walking. This practice of turning the attention back to the empty mind ground ‘protects’ each individual from the power of greed, hatred and delusion, and also protects society from behaviours premised upon greed, hatred and delusion. This is the most obvious ‘defence’ that conscious living grants a Ch’an Buddhist practitioner. This is ‘Dharma’ self-cultivation in action and there is no other practice as powerful or effective. The Dharma is the central core of the Budda’s teaching – with the Vinaya (monastic discipline) and Abhidhamma (monastic commentary) being very important but supplementary texts (like the three-legs of a stool). Regardless of the circumstances an individual has to live or exist within, the act of ‘seated meditation’ allows the essence of that circumstance to be actively ‘transformed’ from the inside out, or from the atomic or molecule structure! Although the construction of our surroundings may not be to our liking, we can still operate the principle of ‘non-attachment’ and cognitively and physically ‘distance’ ourselves from the painful sensations that are experienced. With a practice that is long enough and deep enough, bad experiences will eventually give-way to good or neutral conditions. If we can become truly ‘detached’, however, we can remain entirely indifferent to whatever circumstances pass across the senses of the body and traverse the surface of the mind. All of this practice serves to realise the empty mind ground and permanently rectify the ‘inverted’ mind-set that the Buddha pin-pointed as the essence of all human suffering. This is the uprooting of greed, anger and delusion. The conditions surrounding ‘seated meditation’, however, are also sound instructions for avoiding unnecessary social contact and the spreading of diseases throughout society. The Buddha recommends that an individual withdraws into a quiet area that is not too dark, or too light, that is airy but no too windy, that is isolated but not too far away from populations. This withdrawal from direct contact and habitual interaction has the by-product of a) not exposing a practitioner to disease, and b) not exposing other members in society to the spread of disease. This is exactly what is need in this troublesome time!
Many people view matter as a solid wall of obscuration that the bodily organs can ‘sense’ but do little else with. Matter can be measured and it can be manipulated, but Buddhist meditation offers another way of ‘seeing’ matter. Quantum Physics explains that matter as a solid wall is an illusion regardless of how powerful this image might at first seem. Matter, we are told, is a non-permanent assemblage of sub-atomic particles. In other words, regardless of how it seems to be, it is not ‘solid’ by any means. The Buddha, for instance, taught that material reality is comprised of atoms which flash in and out of existence at a tremendous speed! To the perceiving mind at its normal rate of frequency, this ‘flashing’ cannot be seen and so reality seems solid and unchanging. Modern science has also proven that human consciousness also flashes on and off tremendously fast – creating the false impression of perceptual permanency. When a practitioner meditates for long periods of time, the operating frequency of the mind is slowly altered and changed so that the perception of reality changes to accommodate a more scientifically correct understanding of reality. This is why the Buddha explains reality as comprising of a simultaneous perception of ‘form’ and ‘void’ - with no contradiction whatsoever! Once the base frequency of the ‘everyday’ mind is dislodged from its dominant position – the perceptual foundation sees reality from a new depth of perception. As the default position that everyone is born with is set to perceive ‘matter’ only – it is the ‘empty’ essence of material reality that needs to be penetrated, understood and normalise. This is not a matter of leaving one state of mind for another, but rather the act of ‘expanding’ the mind so that it can perceive more data per second or mili-second, etc. Matter is just as solid as before - but now its ‘empty’ nature is fully understood. Emptiness is just as pervasive as before – but now its material aspect is better understood. The Buddha never denies the existence of the physical universe – but he does advocate that humanity must develop the mind to realise a different way of ‘perceiving’ reality as it actually is.
An Earnest Dhamma Appeal🙏
Dear Dharma Friend, As requested by a forest monk name as Venerable Suman Jyoti Thero, I am reaching out to you with lot's of Metta for a generous appeal for DONATION for construction of Aryagiri Vipassana Meditation Center. Bhante is not active on social media and he only rarely used it.
It is said that through wisdom can the mind be freed from defilements, but Dana is also a prerequisite for meditation, and Samadhi leads to wisely reflection, and wisely reflection leads (together with the power of Samadhi) to wisdom, and wisdom leads to detachment, and detachment leads to awakening.
The subject of this letter presents just such an opportunity and it is for the most worthy of causes-to support a place of worship and cultivation of mind, at Aryagiri Hill situated near Indo-Bangladesh Border in southern Mizoram, India.
In so doing through your generous support make manifest the words of the most basic Buddhist prayer, to support the teachings of the Vipassana Meditation, the remembrance of the Buddha, and the followers of the Buddha.
Establishment and construction of a Vipassana Meditation Center at this remote areas will serve the diverse spiritual needs of all Micro minority chakma Buddhists and non-Buddhists with warmth and spiritual openness. It will also serve as a center to teach and practice the techniques of meditation for the purpose of spiritual development.
The first phase for construction of Buddha shrine hall and two rooms for the monks have been completed with the generous donations made by various donor's from different countries.
The second phase will have to be built for the meditation hall and it's the second floor of the vihara.
So, Please help Bhante to raise funds to build a Vipassana Meditation Center at Aryagiri Hill. I am really compelled to reaching out to you on behalf of Ven. Suman Jyoti Thera in this meritorious deed, to raise funds required to contribution the main building for the Vipassana center.
Bhante live alone in the hill surrounded by deep jungle in search of the ultimate truth.
The contribution will help and in its entirety go towards a new Vipassana Retreat Meditation Center.
By making a donation to your ability, you are indeed lending a hand to continue this precious effort to spread the lucid word of the Lord Gauthama Buddha.
So please help Venerable Sumanjyoti Bhante with your donations to build the Vipassana Meditation Center at Aryagiri Hill.
Let us share the wonderful and rare gift of Dhamma, learn it, understand it, and live
The plan estimate for construction of second floor of the Ariyagiri Vipassana Meditation Center can be sent if required.
Any amount of donation either big or small is heartily accepted.
All the pious Dharma friends are requested to ask for the bank details to send your donation towards building the Vipassana Retreat Center of Bhante Suman Jyoti of Ariyagiri Hill near Bangladesh Border.
May you all have the blessing by the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
Your's in the Dhamma,
Fundraiser of The Ultimate Truth Preaching Mission (A registered Buddhist Organization based in Mizoram, India)
Volunteer of Aryagiri Vipassana Foundation.
Lunglei District, Mizoram, India.
Donation can be sent to the following methods:-
Our PayPal Email-- Sudip.email@example.com
Our Bank Transfer method-
Account Name: Sudip Chakma
A/c No: 1463104000036962
Bank Name: IDBI BANK, LUNGLEI BRANCH.
SWIFT CODE: IBKLINBB136
Sabbe Satta Bhavantu Sukhitatta - May all beings be well, may all beings be happy, may all beings be free from suffering _/\_
When the muscles of the arm contract so that a heavy weight held in the hand can be ‘lifted’ - nothing in this process grants any knowledge as to how muscles work, or how movements are controlled by the spine or brain, etc. Similarly, when a gland secretes hormones – none of this process (in and of itself) grants any ‘special’ knowledge into the nature of glands or hormones – and yet, when the brain ‘secretes’ thought – it is assumed that this process of secreting ‘thought’ possesses the ability to ‘see into’ the inherent biological nature of a) the brain, and b) the mind, but is this a reasonable assumption? If the functions of other biological processes give no ‘special’ knowledge about the inner workings of a bodily organ – why should the secretion of ‘thought’ from the brain produce any substantially ‘different’ mode of knowledge?
Of course, the brain is not a ‘normal’ bodily organ despite the fact that it does regulate (together with the spine) virtually all other organs (and biological processes) in the body. The brain does this whilst generating the appearance of the ‘mind’ - from which ‘thoughts’ are believed to emerge. This ‘thought’ capacity has evolved to allow the brain to see its own processes (to a certain extent), whilst also being able to perceive processes in the external environment. With regards the perception of ‘inner’ processes, the capacity of the brain is severely limited, with no amount of contemplative thinking producing the exact size and shape of the brain doing the ‘thinking’. To acquire this knowledge, the physical organ of the brain (usually ‘dead’) would have to examined ‘outside’ of its usual skull-casing by another (living) human-being. In other words, a living brain examines the dead brain of a now ‘non-living’ human-being. A living human-being can observe their own arm lifting a weight in a manner which does not apply to the functioning of their own brain – and herein lies the fundamental difference.
The historical Buddha (in ancient India), for example, described the functioning of the ‘mind’ but never envisioned all this as an operation of the brain. I mention this as monastics within Early Buddhism often sat and meditated in graveyards and burning-ghats – and often contemplated the decaying of bodies left to ‘rot’ in the open by families too poor to afford a proper burning and disposal ceremony. Although the skull is often intact for those who have experienced natural deaths, there was probably cases of severely injured individuals where it was possible for the Buddhist monastics to ‘observe’ the brain. This could not have been very common, and certainly the Buddha does not speak of a ‘brain’ as such, despite linking the ‘sensation’ of the environment to specific sense-organs located within the body. This may be because the Buddha defined the ‘mind’ as a sensory organ which ‘senses’ thought – hence the ‘six senses’ found within Buddhist philosophy. Indian philosophy tends to view human consciousness as being various ‘frequencies’ of ethereal energy (perhaps ‘light’ energy). This gives the impression that the external world is constructed of light-energy that also ‘exists’ inside the body. This leads to the interplay of ‘void’ (consciousness empty of greed, hatred and delusion), and ‘form’, or all material stuff. As the Buddha advocated the psychological and physical ‘exiting’ of the world of sorrow – he had no need to develop a sophisticated anatomy and physiology – although he came very close to doing this by default of his ‘logical’ assessment of perception.
Unless we are exposed to the insides of the human-body in a scientific setting – no amount of inner gazing will produce an accurate picture of the ‘actual’ structures of the inner-body – or ‘how’ these structures fit-together and function in a healthy individual. All of this knowledge would slowly emerge in the various medical systems of the world – and very slowly at that. It is only in the last two-hundred years or so, that a reasonably accurate view of the human-body has been developed and utilised in the healing of humanity. Perhaps the Buddha got as far as any reasonably enlightened human-being could get, and in so doing did develop a ‘science’ of perception that was unusually perceptive for the time. Of course, our education systems allow us to ‘see’ much more in a short space of time, but no amount of this kind of study offers a short-cut to realising the ‘enlightenment’ advocated by the Buddha. Even though general education has moved-on, the Buddha’s enlightenment is still very difficult to realise. A well-balanced path would seem to involve a sound academic education coupled with a regular meditative practice. My view is that modern education is very important, but it doesn’t invalidate the path of the Buddha. If anything, I would suggest that modern education actually serves to ‘alienate’ humanity ever more from a perception of its pure spiritual essence. The Buddha’s enlightenment of compassion, loving kindness and wisdom – coupled with the accomplishments of modern science will produce an all-round human-being and effective Bodhisattva!
Original Chinese Language Text: ‘Human Existence Book of Origin’ (人生书本 - Ren Sheng Shu Ben)
Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD
Translator’s Note: The (Mainland) Chinese Language internet is a treasure-trove teeming with these kinds of texts just waiting to be discovered, translated and shared. As I follow Master Xu Yun’s instruction to ‘never charge money for Dharma instruction’, I am able to translate as I encounter rather than waiting to traverse the petty-politics that dominate the bourgeois publishing industry in the West. This text is a Dharma-Talk given by an unnamed Buddhist Master who has inherited both the Chinese Ch’an Dharma and the Chinese Tantrayana tradition. As you can see, despite the outer differences of different Buddhist schools and techniques, all share a common spiritual essence. These types of texts test my translation and inter-cultural skills as simply reading Chinese characters is not enough when confronted with wisdom of this type. I have had to spend a number of days on this project – leaving off when things became too opaque - and disappearing into my own mind for a few hours to search out and extract the implicit meaning. ACW (31.1.2021)
Although the Naga creature is a snake in India, within the Ch’an tradition it is often referred to as a ‘dragon’. If a person’s consciousness is not yet expanded and all-embracing, the ‘qi’ (气) flow will be erratic and move independently up and down the body without control. This is where a distinction should be made between ‘气’ (Qi) which is energy acquired from food, drink and exercise – and ‘炁’ (Qi) which represents congenital q-energy bequeathed by both parents at conception. Whereas ‘炁’ is pre-natal - ‘先天 ‘ [Xian Tian] - (that is, active in the body prior to birth), ‘气’ (Qi) only becomes active ‘post-birth’ (后天 - Hou Tian) and replaces fully the earlier (and far ‘purer’) bodily energy flow. As for terminology, ‘先天’ (Xian Tian] literally translates as ‘Earlier Divine Sky’ (which symbolises ‘life’ in the process of becoming), whilst (后天 - Hou Tian) means ‘Latter Divine Sky’ - the state of life already born and functioning in the world. Enriched qi (炁) is related to the ‘Earlier Divine Sky’ because it is unsullied and thoroughly pure – whilst mundane qi ‘气’ represents the ‘Latter Divine Sky’ stage which sees life involved in a constant battle for survival and prevention of instability!
As human-being expend qi ‘气’ energy during the day – at night the body attempts to replenish its supply through the generation of ‘night qi’ (夜气 - Ye Qi). This type of qi-expression only manifests at night if individuals sleep properly. Poor sleep leads to poor ‘night qi’ being generated and in extreme cases, it has been shown that those who do not sleep for days or weeks on end can sometimes die from this lack of proper routine! To younger generations, it is often taught that the human body – like a mobile telephone battery – needs to be recharged regularly to work properly! The ‘Central Channel’ (中脉 - Zhong Mai) is also called the ‘Spirit Channel’ (灵脉 - Ling Mai). There is no such energy-channel found within Traditional Chinese Medicine. It ascends up - through the centre of the torso - from the Sea-Bed Chakra (perineum) to the Crown Chakra (fontanelle) travelling as a straight channel. This is a unique two-way channel which facilitates the flow of essential and vital energy both ways (that is ‘simultaneously’) along the same single meridian. This is different from conventional meridians with TCM (and Daoist thinking). Conventional meridians are divided into yin and yang, with the yang meridian flowing up the head, and the yin meridian flowing out in the direction of the hands and feet. Each energy channel is dedicated to directing qi-flow in one direction only.
The main Central Channel is the route through which the ‘Spirit of the Snake’ (灵蛇 - Ling She) will ‘raise’. When the human consciousness is as yet undeveloped, it is what is termed ‘constricted’ or ‘compressed’. This means it is as yet undeveloped, ascended, expanded and all-embracing. This journey of conscious development begins with the ‘snake’ of consciousness beginning its journey of awakening by gently emerging from the ‘Sea-Bed' (海底 - Hai Di) Chakra (轮 - Lun) and ascending to the Crown (顶 - Ding) Chakra (轮 - Lun). This supplies an enriched nutrient comprised of qi (炁 ) - vital force - and jing (精) - ‘essential nature’ - which assists the ‘stilling’, ‘cleansing’ and ‘expanding’ of ‘conscious awareness’ (神 - Shen). This feeds into the Governing Channel (任脉 - Ren Mai) - running up the backbone - and the Conception Vessel (督脉 - Du Mai) - running down the front of the torso, etc. This flow is also reversed – whereby this energy circulation (as distinct from blood flow) ‘returns’ to the Sea-Bed Chakra for spiritual and physical renewal. This cyclic developmental process rejuvenates the entire (mind) and body!
Naga Samadhi self-cultivation, however, does not ‘focus’ upon qi rejuvenation. Although this will happen quite naturally, this is not the primary purpose. Buddhist self-cultivation is designed to uproot every trace of greed, hatred and delusion from the psychic fabric of the mind and the behavioural patterns of the body. This process ‘stills’ the mind for the penetration and realisation of the empty mind ground – so that the conscious awareness ‘expands’ and becomes ‘all-embracing’. Material reality is understood to arise and pass away (moment after moment) within a great and all-embracing void! Any genuine Ch’an practitioner, however, who realises enlightenment will also gain an intricate experiential awareness of the energy channels of the body, and will directly understand the importance of the Central Channel and its processes. Indeed, within Chinese Ch’an Buddhism it is impossible to realise a genuine enlightenment without first experiencing the reality of ‘qi-flow’ and mind and body rejuvenation. The Buddha’s method is superior and so includes all known possible methods of self-development.
When a baby is born, if the child is healthy and free of injury, etc, then he or she already exists in a natural state of ‘Naga Samadhi’ due to their continuous and ‘inherent’ purity of being. However, as the child grows, unless they live in very unusual circumstances, they are transformed by the ‘desires’ they experience in relation to external objects. This generates a suppression of conscious awareness that is inhibited by its tendency toward viewing reality in a self-limiting ‘subject-object’ dichotomy. As deluded and dualistic thinking becomes ‘normalised’ - ‘desire’ pushes the ‘Naga Samadhi’ back into the ‘Sea-Bed’’ Chakra. Consciousness is ‘suppressed’ by this path of worldly development. Duality generates the conditions for greed, hatred and desire to permeate and pollute the mind. The ‘Naga Samadhi’ is pushed back into its essential base whilst the ‘empty mind ground’ is obscured. The mind and body become thoroughly polluted and loses any sense of identity with the highest spiritual realities.
As the ‘Divine Sky’ is permanently divorced from the ‘Broad Earth’, the spiritual practitioner is given the task of applying the appropriate methods of meditation. Buddhist meditation is a method that ‘reverses’ this explained polluting process. Greed, hatred and delusion are permanently ‘uprooted’ so that the empty mind ground will be perfectly perceived. This is how the pristine nature of the mind (心性 - Xin Xing) is both perfected and fully realised. This is often described as the practice and realisation of the ‘Tathagata Ch’an’ (如来禅 - Ru Lai Ch’an) - which relies upon the practice of the ‘Four Jhana’ (四禅 - Si Ch’an) and the ‘Eight Concentrations’ (八定 - Ba Ding). This sets thr groundwork for the rising of the ‘Naga Samadhi’ - which does yet re-appear. The next stage is the cultivation of the ‘Patriarch’s Ch’an’ (祖师禅 - Zu Shi Ch’an). The realisation of the ‘Patriarch’s Ch’an’ coincides with the rising of the ‘Naga Samadhi’ - as the two events are synonymous.
The theory of the ‘Naga Samadhi’ is very simple. Its ‘Great Path’ (大道 - Da Dao) should not be complicated through over-thinking. Give-up deluded living and pointless desire. Do not pursue worldly fame or public recognition. Withdraw from society and sit quietly to ‘look within’ with strength and clarity. This is how ‘virtue’ (德 - De) is generated. It is a matter of ‘giving-up’ modes of thought and behaviour that are of no use to cultivating the mind (and body). Do not pursue fame and fortune. Do not become caught-up in superficial spiritual practices that seek only to cultivate limited selfish motives. The first priority to establish a ‘still’ and ‘peaceful’ mind (平稳的心 - Ping Wen De Xin). When the ‘mind’ does not ‘move’ (不动 - Bu Dong) and is all-expansive – it is naturally in the state of ‘Naga Samadhi’. It is very simple to explain but very difficult to achieve! Living within the five evil worlds means that everyone has their own particular problems to ‘uproot’ and ‘transcend’ as the sorrows of existence know no bounds. The Ch’an method ‘returns’ all thought to its ‘empty’ origins to penetrate and realise the empty mind ground. If the mind is not ‘stilled’ and ‘expanded’ - the individual will continue to experience endless suffering through repeated experiences of birth and death! For the Ch’an practitioner – the way out of this predicament is simple – as ‘It is like chopping wood and carrying water’ - this is how the Naga Samadhi is clearly perceived through a purified mind engaged in the midst of ordinary events! Do not fear life and do not fear death – the Naga Samadhi can traverse the three realms without difficulty or hindrance!
The human mind is like the sea. Even if the sea is calm, the waves below surface may be rough. Many people suffer from insomnia because their minds cannot settle down. Ask what trouble them? He can't tell. And yet there is always upset and delusion. This is because most people can only observe their own surface consciousness. They lack the insight to observe the consciousness that lies beneath the surface and which is suffering terrible turmoil! This is exactly where beginners have to start. They must build the strength of their concentration so that they can penetrate the depth of their own mind and perceives its inner workings. Realising ‘stillness’ is the first significant attainment but it is not the ultimate realisation of ‘emptiness’. As important as this is – this is only ‘emptiness’ only within the head – also known as ‘sat on the hundred-foot pole’. A further stage of successful training has to be accomplished. A genuine practitioner must ‘let go’ of this stage of ‘attachment’ to relative ‘emptiness’ so that the conscious awareness ‘expands’ to ‘embrace’ all of existence! This achieved by not falling into the habits of everyday life (such as writing posts, reading books or thinking about unnecessary things). Those who achieve the ‘Four Jhana’ and ‘Eight Concentrations’ will have no trouble realising the Naga Samadhi as the empty mind ground underlies all these authentic states of attainment. The Naga Samadhi does not have to ‘retract’ as the mind is cleared of all ‘klesa’ or habitual defilements. This allows the Naga Samadhi to shine forth in a permanent manner for all to see! This is how the Naga Samadhi benefits the world with its wisdom, loving kindness and compassion!
As you ‘still’ the mind you are gathering and focusing the qi and jing which builds to such a powerful extent that a wave of internal energy will eventually pulsates through the mind and body! This is the rising of the Naga Samadhi united in essence with all genuine Buddhist states of attainment! When the inner potential reaches a certain frequency of intensity - ‘emptiness’ limited to the head dissolves into an ‘all-embracing’ emptiness that expands beyond the limits of the physical body and permeates out into the physical universe! This is how the Naga Samadhi becomes a permanent expression of enlightenment in the world! Eventually, as the experience ‘matures’ and settles down, all energy flow becomes peaceful and less obviously dramatic as the enlightened state ‘normalises’ and becomes ‘nothing special’.
Chinese Language Source:
Adrian Chan-Wyles (釋大道 - Shi Da Dao) is permitted to retain his Buddhist Monastic Dharma-Name within Lay-society by decree of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese Buddhist Association (1992). A Buddhist monastic (and devout lay-practitioner) upholds the highest levels of Vinaya Discipline and Bodhisattva Vows. A Genuine Buddhist ‘Venerates’ the ‘Dao’ (道) as he or she penetrates the ‘Empty Mind-Ground' through meditative insight. A genuine Buddhist is humble, wise and peace-loving – and he or she selflessly serves all in existence in the past, present and the future, and residing within the Ten Directions – whilst retaining a vegetarian- vegan diet. Please be kind to animals!
- ICBI Blog: Mind-Ground (心地)
- ICBI China Office (Beijing)
- Master Xu Yun
- Degeneration of the Sangha in the Dharma-ending Age By Ch’an Master Xu Yun
- Ch’an Master Jing Hui - History of Master Xu Yun’s Complete Biographical Text
- Xu Yun’s Humanistic Spirit Transmitted into the Modern Era
- Master Xu Yun & Modern Chinese Politics
- On Why Ch’an Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) Rejected Japanese Zen
- Master Xu Yun Memorial Photographic Library
- Dharma Master Ji Qun (济群) Explains Profound (Dharmic) Happiness
- Chinese Buddhism & Vegetarianism
- Qianfeng Daoism (UK)
Ch'an Guild of Hui Neng (慧能禅宗协会)
- CGHN Membership Certificate
- Master Ti Guang – Karma
- Master Ti Guang – Mind That Does Not Deviate
- Meditation Instrument - Fragrant Board
- Ch’an Daily Work
- Horse Hair Dust-Whisk in Chinese Ch’an Buddhism
- New Shaolin Temple in China
- Master Yuan Chun: Universal Dharma
- Modern Chinese Art and Ch’an Buddhism
- The Huatou and Pain Management
- Martial Virtue (武德–Wu De)
- Seated Transformation (坐化 – Zuo Hua)
- Guiding Principles
- ICBI Projects
- Direction of the ICBI
- Journal of the ICBI
- Contact Us
©opyright: Site design, layout & content International Ch'an Buddhism Institute (ICBI). No part of this site (or information contained herein) unless otherwise stated, may be copied, reproduced, duplicated, or otherwise distributed without prior written permission from firstname.lastname@example.org
Proudly powered by Weebly