Secrets of the Lotus: Studies in Buddhist Meditation
This ray of light, as mentioned before, enters the elephant's trunk; the ray emanates from the elephant's trunk and enters its eyes; the ray then emanates from the elephant's eyes and again enters its ears; it then emanates from the elephant's ears and reaches its head. Gradually rising to the elephant's back, the ray is transformed into a golden saddle which is adorned with the precious seven.
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On the four sides of the saddle are pillars of the precious seven, which are decorated with precious things, forming a jewel pedestal. On this pedestal there is a lotus-flower stamen bearing the precious seven, and that stamen is also composed of a hundred jewels. The cup of that lotus flower is made of a great jewel. His body, pure as a white jewel, radiates fifty rays of fifty different colors, forming a brightness around his head.
From the pores of his body he emits rays of light, and innumerable transformed buddhas are at the ends of the rays, accompanied by the transformed bodhisattvas as their retinue. Here, in cadenced sentences, are listed the virtues and the powers possessed by the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. Brief explanations of important words and expressions follow.
The expression "The Bodhisattva Universal Virtue is boundless in the size of his body, boundless in the sound of his voice, and boundless in the form of his image" indicates the unfathomed store of virtues and powers possessed by the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. If this bodhisattva looked completely different from the people of this saha world when he appeared to instruct them, they would feel ill at ease with him and would feel unable to follow him. Therefore he appears in human form and as such should be regarded as the personification of the "principle of half a step.
The "three hindrances" refer to the three evils of arrogance, envy, and covetousness. Because people in the saha world are burdened with these three heavy hindrances, they should be guided through practices that relate to their own environment. This is the work of the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. For this reason he rides a white elephant, which is symbolic of Buddhist practice and represents purity.
The six tusks of the elephant suggest the purity of the six sense organs: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The elephant's seven legs suggest the absence of the seven evils of killing, stealing, committing adultery, lying, ill speaking, improper language, and a double tongue. Next, the body of the elephant and its beauty are described in various ways. This symbolizes how beautiful and valuable it is to practice the Buddha's teachings. Then is mentioned a precious daughter appearing on each of the lotus flowers that grow from the bathing pools at the end of the elephant's tusks, along with many musical instruments and colorful birds.
This means that if anyone practices the Buddha's teachings, those around him will be naturally purified. Another description reads: "On the trunk of the elephant there is a flower, and its stalk is the color of a red pearl. However, if one is aware of this state, further repents his sins, and pursues wholeheartedly the bodhisattva practice, he will be able to see the flower of faith instantly blossom and shine with a golden color. A transformed buddha is seen sitting on the petals of this lotus flower.
From the eyebrows of the transformed buddha a ray of light beams forth and enters the elephant's eyes; the ray emanates from its eyes and enters its ears; the ray then emanates from the elephant's ears and illuminates its head. This indicates the idea that the Buddha's mind dwells in each action of whoever practices his teachings. The following expression then occurs: "On the head of the elephant there are three transformed men: one holds a golden wheel, another a jewel, and yet another a diamond pounder.
Anyone who practices the Buddha's teachings gradually comes to be endowed with such powers. The Buddha continued: "The elephant walks quietly and slowly, and goes before the follower of the Great Vehicle, raining large jeweled lotus flowers. When this elephant opens its mouth, the precious daughters, dwelling in the bathing pools on the elephant's tusks, play music whose sound is mystic and extols the way of one reality in the Great Vehicle. Then the follower makes this vow: 'Had I received some blessings through my former destinies, I could surely see Universal Virtue.
Be pleased, honored Universal Fortune, to show me your form and body! The efforts one should make in order to realize his vow are indicated in the following words: "Having thus made his vow, the follower must salute the buddhas in all directions six times day and night, and must practice the law of repentance; he must read the Great Vehicle sutras and recite them, think of the meaning of the Great Vehicle and reflect on its practice, revere and serve those who keep it, see all people as if he were thinking of the Buddha, and treat living beings as if he were thinking of his father and mother.
When this ray is displayed, the body of the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue will be dignified as a mountain of deep gold, so well ordered and refined that it possesses all the thirty-two signs. From the pores of his body he will emit great rays of light which will illuminate the great elephant and turn it to the color of gold. All the transformed elephants will also be colored gold and all transformed bodhisattvas will be colored gold.
When these rays of light shine on the innumerable worlds in the eastern quarter, they will turn them all to the color of gold. So, too, will be it in the southern, western, and northern quarters, in the four intermediate directions, in the zenith and the nadir. Like this, by his transcendent powers, the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue will enable all the keepers of the Great Vehicle sutras to see transformed elephants filling the infinite and boundless worlds in all directions. This passage indicates that one good deed a transformed elephant produces more good deeds more transformed elephants.
Good deeds increase by geometrical progression, until finally the worlds in all directions are filled with good deeds. This idea teaches us that the believers in this sutra can gain the deep conviction of the realization of an ideal society in this saha world. Out of compassion for me, be pleased to explain the Law to me!
This is called the first stage of mind, in which the follower first meditates on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. The Buddha continued: "Thereupon, when the follower, having beheld this matter, keeps the Great Vehicle in mind without forsaking it day and night, even while sleeping, he will be able to see Universal Virtue preach the Law to him in a dream.
Buddhist Meditation Traditions in Tibet: The Union of Three Vehicles
Exactly as if the follower were awake, the Bodhisattva will console and pacify the follower's mind, speaking thus: 'In the sutras you have recited and kept, you have forgotten this word or have lost this verse. First, it means that though when one is awake he can try consciously to keep the Great Vehicle in mind, when asleep he cannot control his mind the subconscious mind. Even if he wants to have a certain dream or determines not to talk in his sleep, it is impossible for him to control his mind and actions while asleep.
However, if a person truly deepens his faith, he can see the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue preach the Law to him even in his dreams. This bodhisattva will appear before him in a dream and will encourage him, saying, "You will be able to attain the mental stage of a bodhisattva," and will give him careful advice, saying, "You have forgotten this word or have misunderstood this verse.
Secondly, "to see Universal Virtue in a dream" suggests the following meaning: a person who has truly deepened his faith can frequently realize the truth of the teaching by intuition. This phrase indicates the mental state of having obtained a revelation from the Buddha or of having attained enlightenment by oneself. However, the revelation that a person obtains from the Buddha by intuition is just like a dream; it is not materialized. When he examines his revelation thoroughly and is confident that it is certainly the truth when judged from every angle, it will be beneficial to him and will be a teaching worthy of transmitting to others.
The Buddha continued: "As the follower does like this day by day, his mind will gradually acquire spiritual profit. The Bodhisattva Universal Virtue will cause the follower to remember the buddhas in all directions. According to the teaching of Universal Virtue, the follower will rightly think and remember everything, and with his spiritual eyes he will gradually see the eastward buddhas, whose bodies are gold colored and very wonderful in their majesty.
Having seen one buddha, he will again see another buddha. In this manner, he will gradually see all the buddhas everywhere in the eastern quarter, and because of his profitable reflection, he will universally see all the buddhas in all directions. The words "east" and "eastward" have often appeared in preceding chapters of this book. East is the direction in which the sun rises, thus it implies the beginning of everything.
On the other hand, west is the direction in which the sun sets, and so implies the end of everything. The latter idea is associated with the belief within Buddhism that anyone who invokes the name of Amitabha Buddha with a sincere heart can achieve rebirth in the Pure Land in the west. In this chapter, the phrase "see the eastward buddhas" suggests the time when a person has just begun to practice a true faith. The expression, "Having seen one buddha, he will again see another buddha," means that though the truth is one, the believer will be able to see many manifestations of the truth in succession if he realizes one truth.
If a person can see all the buddhas everywhere in the eastern quarter, he will become able to reflect on himself much more profitably and will thus become able to see all the buddhas in all directions. Attaining this state of mind, his spiritual joy will deepen. The Buddha teaches us in the next sentence, however, that even though the believer can reach such a mental stage, he should not be satisfied with it but should further repent his sins. Through this we understand that the practice of true repentance must not be limited only to the confession of our sins.
Repentance is not limited to washing our buddha-nature but includes polishing it. Specifically, how should we practice repentance? The Buddha teaches us to have the following mental attitude even if we attain the higher state of mind mentioned above: "Having seen the buddhas, he [the follower] conceives joy in his heart and utters these words: 'By means of the Great Vehicle, I have been able to see the great leaders. By means of their powers, I have also been able to see the buddhas. Though I have seen these buddhas, I have yet failed to make them plain. Closing my eyes I see the buddhas, but when I open my eyes, I lose sight of them.
Having made obeisance to them, he should kneel with his palms joining together and should speak thus: 'The buddhas, the world-honored ones, possess the ten powers, the fearlessnesses, the eighteen unique characteristics, the great mercy, the great compassion, and three kinds of stability in contemplation. These buddhas, forever remaining in this world, have the finest appearance of all forms. By what sin do I fail to see these buddhas? The words "closing my eyes I see the buddhas, but when I open my eyes I lose sight of them" describe an experience that every Buddhist will recognize.
The ten powers mean perfect comprehension in the ten fields of knowledge that belong only to the Buddha. A brief explanation of these powers will be given here because it is very important for believers in the Lotus Sutra to understand them. The ten powers attributed to the Buddha are: 1 the power to know right and wrong states, 2 the power to know the consequences of karma, 3 the power to know all meditations and contemplations, 4 the power to know the various higher and lower capabilities of living beings, 5 the power to know what living beings understand, 6 the power to know the basic nature and actions of living beings, 7 the power to know the causes and effects of living beings in all worlds, 8 the power to know the results of karmas in former lives, 9 the power to know by supernatural insight, and 10 the power of being free from all error, or infallibility in knowledge.
The eighteen unique characteristics are the eighteen merits that belong only to the Buddha. These special characteristics are: 1 faultlessness in body, 2 faultlessness in speech, 3 faultlessness in mind and thought, 4 no unsteadiness of mind, 5 impartiality, 6 perfect resignation, 7 imperishable aspiration to save all living beings, 8 unfailing zeal, 9 unfailing memory of all teachings of all buddhas past, present, and future, 10 unfailing contemplation, 11 unfailing wisdom, 12 unfailing, freedom from all hindrances, 13 all bodily deeds being in accord with wisdom, 14 all deeds of speech being in accord with wisdom, 15 all deeds of thought being in accord with wisdom, 16 unhindered knowledge of the past, 17 unhindered knowledge of the future, and 18 unhindered knowledge of the present.
The three kinds of stability in contemplation mean the attitudes that the Buddha assumes toward all living beings by dividing them into three types: the first stability in contemplation sho-nenjo , the second stability in contemplation ni-nenjo , and the third stability in contemplation san-nenjo. When living beings praise the virtue of the Buddha, he applauds their praising him rather than the fact that he is being praised. This attitude is the first stability in contemplation. When anyone blasphemes or curses the Buddha, the Buddha never feels sorrowful toward such a person or becomes angry with him because he is being reviled.
With his deep compassion, he instead feels pity for such a person. This attitude is the second stability in contemplation. Among the many living beings, some take refuge in the Buddha's teachings, but others do not. The Buddha never discriminates between these two kinds of living beings but has compassion equally for all of them because they all possess the buddha-nature.
This attitude, with which the Buddha treats all living beings without discrimination, is the third stability in contemplation. These three attitudes are attributed only to the Buddha, but we must follow the Buddha's example when we spread his teachings. The Buddha continued: "Having spoken thus, the follower should again practice further repentance.
When he has achieved the purity of his repentance, the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue will again appear before him and will not leave his side in his walking, standing, sitting, and lying, and even in his dreams will ceaselessly preach the Law to him. After awaking from his dreams, this person will take delight in the Law. By the medieval period both Buddhists and Hindus were using the word yoga to refer to their spiritual disciplines.
Looking for more clarity on this, I spoke to James Mallinson. The central deity of the altar in Kadri is Manjunatha, a form of Shiva, the Hindu god most closely associated with tantra and yoga. But how had two Buddhist bodhisattvas come to flank a Hindu tantric Shiva? The statues are evidence, Mallinson told me, that the monastery once belonged to Buddhist practitioners of tantra. This indication is also supported by a reference to it as a vihara a word used only for Buddhist monasteries in the annals of a Shaivite king who made donations to the monastery in the 11th century.
The physical integration of a Buddhist tantric monastery into the Nath tradition mirrors a process Mallinson has been interested in for years—the integration of elements of Buddhist tantra into Hindu tantric traditions, including into the tradition we now know as yoga. One of the integrations Mallinson has been researching is quite shocking, and in conversation with him I found it was only the tip of the iceberg. Related: Yoga for Meditators. What inspired me to talk to Mallinson was a text he had included in the anthology The Roots of Yoga , which he edited and translated together with another scholar of yoga, Mark Singleton.
If the term bandha sounds familiar to you, that may be because you have practiced yoga according to the popular Ashtanga yoga system developed in the 20th century by P. In Ashtanga yoga, throughout the practice one holds three such bandhas: the mula in the perineum , jalandhara in the neck , and uddiyana in the lower abdomen. Premodern Indian hatha yoga, however, was a complex group of bold and sometimes dangerous tantric practices that went well beyond asana and aimed to restrain and harness the vital energies of the body for the ultimate purpose of spiritual liberation.
That group of practices was thought until recently to originate in Hindu tantra, but Mallinson and others say there is mounting evidence that they actually originated in Indian Buddhist tantra, or Vajrayana. The earliest known explanation of what hatha yoga is , though, has been located in an 11th-century commentary to the Buddhist Kalachakra tantra , which identifies hatha yoga with the forceful retention of bindu semen and prana breath as well as work with nada internal sound as aids to practice.
The roughly contemporaneous Amritasiddhi , discussed above, identifies bindu , prana , and nada with mind. So the original hatha yoga aimed at the mastery of vital energies and the mind as one interrelated practice. They also share similar philosophical concerns and goals—so many, in fact, that their obviously intimate relationship is hidden in plain view, as it were. Perhaps more surprisingly, they even share teachers. A much-loved 12th-century Tibetan Buddhist tantric text, The Legends of the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas , contains stories of enlightened Buddhist masters, several of whom were also teachers recognized and celebrated in Hindu tantric lineages: for instance, the Buddhist teachers Minapa Matsyendranath and Goraksha Gorakhnath were also founding figures in the Nath tradition, which is closely associated with the development of hatha yoga in India.
Yet research has something even more startling to say. What is the origin of the physical postures known as asanas that we in the West now identify with yoga? Surprisingly asana practice does not appear to have been part of early hatha yoga and was not integrated with it until centuries later.
The earliest known description of the therapeutic use of asanas in fact occurs in a Buddhist tantric text, in the aforementioned Kalachakra tantra :. Holding the feet while in the lotus position gets rid of back pain. The new listApocalypse72 download secrets of the lotus: studies in buddhist meditation will see the system for and get 3D powerful resumes to better require the example of the other origin of algorithms.
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