Apr 26, 2020

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 6 Comments

Letter to Disciples No. 35: CULTIVATION OF BLESSINGS OR CULTIVATION OF WISDOM, OR BOTH? (Thư gửi các trò số 35: TU PHƯỚC HAY TU HUỆ, HOẶC SONG HÀNH?))

Recently, there is a comment in Part 11 of the series of “Right Dharma Teaching, Wrong Method of Practice” which I see as a kind of perception (pratyaksa) in Buddhist cultivation. I would take it as the reason for writing this article:

Toilaai
[email protected]
123.24.160.225
Submitted on 2013/09/04 at 10:20

Dear Mr. Nguyen Thanh!
Through your series of “Right Dharma Teaching, Wrong Method of Practice”, I could see that you have put an enormous effort in writing it. Thank you for distilling main points that others may know but have yet been able to do like you.

Regarding the methods of practice in Song Nguyen Tantra House as written in the articles, I find it more realistic than others. Unfortunately, I stay too far from you!

In your reasoning about methods of practice for those who are busy earning their livings, it is logic, but in my narrow knowledge, this method is merely the cultivation of blessings rather than the practice for ultimate liberation.

This is just a rude opinion of an ordinary man, hope you accept it with a delight.

What “Toiilaai” said and then admitted that “this is just a rude opinion of an ordinary man”, it really is because your opinion is dictated by feeling rather than being based on Buddhist sutra and dharma. Nonetheless, I am still delighted to read it because your comment poses an issue on whether we “cultivate blessings” or “cultivate wisdom”, based on which I will give you a reasoning below.

Actually, if “Toiilaai” had gone through the series of “Right Dharma Teaching, Wrong Method of Practice”, you would know which path Song Nguyen Tantra Hose is going on, otherwise “Toiilaai” will belong to four kinds of a vase that the Buddha took as an example in reading (listening to) Dharma. (see Letter to Disciples No. 34)

Buddhist scriptures say the practitioner of any Buddhist school or division should “cultivate both blessings and wisdom”. The spiritual balance is way bias towards either of the sides depending on their method of practice. I note the issue posed by “Toiilaai” but I will not reason it on the basis of Svatantrika’s view as you did but on the Prasangika’s view. Specifically, I will explain about the practice that show a bias towards blessings or wisdom, and what Song Nguyen Tantra House is practicing, then you will understand.

What is the cultivation of blessings? Blessings refers to the enjoyment of pleasures (body-speech-mind) in the World of Desire (kamadhatu) as the result of the cultivation of good deeds. Hence, any method of practice in any religion that is related to the ten good deeds (dasa-kusala-karmapatha) is called the cultivation of blessings. This form of cultivation is found in activities like worshipping and bowing, praying, doing charity, doing good actions, avoiding bad actions, being prudent in speech. These good deeds will lead to rebirth in the World of Desire where the inhabitants enjoy the pleasure of the five desires for eons. Christianity, Catholicism, Protestantism, Caodaism and Islam are following this method and they are generally called as the religion of God!

A higher level of spiritual capacity is the cultivation of merit (merit also includes blessing) which leads to the rebirth in the World of Form (Rupadhatu) as the result of super good deeds. Therefore, any method of any religion that is related to practicing good deeds and meditation (mainly samadhi) is called the cultivation of merit (i.e. accumulate worldly merit). This method will enable the practitioners to be reborn in the World of Form where the inhabitants reside with delight in the light (prabha) of meditation. It could be said that Hinduism is doing this form of cultivation.

Higher than that is the practice of meditation (samadhi) which belongs to the “enjoyment” in the World of Formlessness (arupadhatu). The results attained from firm, uninterrupted meditation to four states of formlessness (including infinite space, infinite consciousness, nothingness, and neither-perception-nor-non-perception) lead to rebirth in the World of Formlessness where only consciousness exists and rests in thoughtlessness (Acinta). Any religion or practitioner that focuses on meditation (excluding the visualization of 16 objects of non-self) belongs to this form of cultivation (merit).

Among above methods of practice whose results are subjected to worldly blessings and merits, from low to high, practitioners are warned not to fall into three kinds of trap that impede them from liberation, including (1) Delight (2) Clarity and (3) No-thought. That’s why Buddhist Logician Dharmakirti has advised the practitioner to:

Buddhist Logician Dharmakirti

1/ Know exactly what is needed to renounce

2/ Know thoroughly methods to abandon them

3/ Know clearly which objects need practicing

4/ Know completely methods to practice them

Then which way of cultivation does Buddhism advise us to practice? The form of cultivation a practitioner is practicing lets us know which orbit or way he is following. There are five ways of cultivation in Buddhism which lead to different outcomes:

1/ Manussa yana (human vehicle): Full observation of five precepts (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, delivery of false speech and abuse of intoxicants) will enable the practitioners to be reborn in Manussa yana.

2/ Devayana (heaven vehicle): Apart from a full observation of five precepts, the practitioners also conduct other spiritual activities such as practicing kowtow, making offerings, listening to Dharma sermon and giving alms.

3/ Savaka-yana (voice-hearer vehicle): Besides a full observation of five precepts, the practitioners also practice Samadhi meditation and Vipassana meditation (on non-self) continually, which revolves around Four Noble Truths. They practice “almsgiving, charity and patience” by conducting sessions of meditation on four sublime states (loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity). Their three waves of light (prabha) radiantly spread far and wide to every sentient being.

4/ Pacceka-yana (vehicle of self-enlightenment):  The practitioners carry out all activities as mentioned in the Savaka-yana but their object of meditation (Vipassana) is “Dependent Origination” (Paticcasamupada).

5/ Bodhisattva-yana (vehicle of Bodhisattva): The practitioners carry out all activities as mentioned in the Savaka-yana but their object of meditation (Vipassana) is “Prajna” (wisdom). Furthermore, they follow the Bodhisattva path by practicing Bodhicitta (aspiration and application). Here, because of different methods of practice, the Mahayana is divided into two branches which are known as Sutrayana and Tantrayana. In the Sutrayana system, there are five paths the practitioners must progress through: the path of accumulation, the path of preparation, the path of seeing, the path of meditation, and the path of no-more learning. Meanwhile, Tantrayana practitioners progress through two stages: preliminary and achievement (these two stages include Kriya Yoga, Upa Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Maha Yoga, Anu Yoga, Ati Yoga), and finally attain Budhahood. Then the Bodhisattva-yana also means the Buddha-yana.

 

From those points on, you know which yana (vehicle) Song Nguyen Tantra House is following. All actions of body, speech and mind of the members of the Tantra House are connected to the pure energy spread out from the supreme world of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva who is the manifestation of all buddhas. Our ultimate goal is to strive for a rebirth in the Western Pure Land with the assistance of the Mani mantra (Om mani padme hum) upon the power of the vow of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. I should remind you that as asserted by Tantric scriptures, each time the practitioner recites the Mani mantra, he, at the same time, practice six paramitas (generosity, precept, patience, diligence, meditation and discriminating wisdom). Each time he recites the Mani mantra in combination with the visualization of his Yidam (Avalokiteshvara), he offers benefits to all sentient beings in six samsaric realms. (see the article “What is Tibetan Yoga).

Hence, which methods Song Nguyen Tantra House is following depend on the understanding of each person, but we will know which yana (vehicle) a practitioner is following based on his goal. Buddhism is the path that leads to liberation from the samsaric cycle. Practicing Buddha Dharma merely to be reborn in the world of deva is no other than an ungrateful attitude towards the Compassion One who manifested in this Saha world to show us the path of liberation.

Finally, I would end this article by quoting the “Letter to Disciples No. 34: Dharma Gathering.”

“We stick to the position of “KEEPING MIND IN BALANCE AND ENJOYABLE ATTITUDE”, so that we do not separate our daily life from spiritual life. The most important thing now is that you have known our Yidam is Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, who is the manifestation of all buddhas, the King of the Universe (thus we are called the Prince), and the One who liberates from cyclic existence without effort (thus we cultivate for liberation). Besides, with three unequaled skillful means (upaya), he always gives benevolent hands to save the sentient beings in six samsaric realms, including us. So how to set up an easy connection with our Yidam? You have been taught about mantra, methods of visualization, generation of Bodhicitta, taking the result as the path, the end as a meanswhich all help you to obtain rebirth in the Western Pure Land after death.”

Phuoc Thanh Village, September 5, 2013

THINLEY- NGUYEN THANH


Vietnamese version: Thư gửi các trò 35: TU PHƯỚC HAY TU HUỆ, HOẶC SONG HÀNH?

  1. Andreas Stegemann says:
    Dear Master,

    thank you for sharing this interesting article!
    Interesting for me, although I am not practicioner of Tantrayana.

    Thank you, Master, for spreading the Dharma also in English!

    I take my refuge in Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva!
    I take my refuge in Amitabha Buddha!

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      I too take my refuge in Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva!
      I too take my refuge in Amitabha Buddha!

  2. Saliu Abdulmumin says:
    Dear holy guru

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article.

    You are what beings neef to live a successful life.

    And we the lucky ones have as a guru .

    I am so happy with the way you treat beings.

    I will forever honour you and bown my head to your feet.

    I pray for quick end to Corona viruse.

    My name is Tantra sumaka.

    May Guru live long and have good health for the sake of beings.

    May beings be free from suffering and have enlightenment

  3. Mật Thủy says:
    Dear Guru,

    Thank you for your explaining to “Toilaai” in the letter “Cultivation of blessings or cultivation of wisdom, or both?”. I understand more clearly that the method of practising that Guru is guiding helps us cultivate both merit and wisdom. Meanwhile, we do not separate our daily life from spiritual life, but we take advantage of life as a chance to practice Dharma. We stick to the position of “keeping mind in balanced an enjoyable attitude” and head on the path of liberation – the ultimate purpose of practising Dharma.

    May Guru and your consort good health and longevity for the benefit of all sentient beings.

    May the Covid-19 epidemic will soon come to an end and may all sentient beings be free from suffering.

    Om mani padme hum!

  4. Tantra Ashihata (Simon Michael) says:
    Dear holy Guru,

    My name is Tantra Ashihata.

    I appreciate you for this wonderful article.

    May you bless us with wisdom so that we can be able to practice right so that we will be born in a good realm.

    May Guru live long for the seek of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings be free from suffering and may the end of covid 19 come to end soon.

    Om Mani padme hum.

     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

DMCA.com Protection Status