Only `No Self` Can Enter Into Stability

Why did I discuss the statement through which Shariputra was able to intuit the Truth? `All phenomena arise and disintegrate reliant upon causes and conditions.` Actually the most important truth one can learn from this statement is that of `No Self.` An Arhat is able to attain awakening because he contemplates on `Impermanence,` generates the desire of `transcending the samsara,` and then reaches the realm of `No Self.` Inherent in the statement, `all phenomena arise and disintegrate reliant upon causes and conditions,` is the concept of `No Self.`
Here I shall point out to everyone that one must have an understanding of `No Self` when one practices meditation; otherwise, one is unable to enter into the state of `stability.` Give this matter some reflection. As soon as one sits down to meditate ?even before entering into `stability` ?thoughts start to arise. A thought emerges, such as, `Who owes me money?` One`s mind drifts to the issue of money. Some people have never experienced `stability` in meditation because as soon as they sit down, such thoughts as `who has reprimanded me or offended me` start to surface.
Let us use some simple illustrations. Yesterday`s sun was just as bright as today`s, but did anything happen to annoy you? On my way home yesterday, it suddenly started to rain. My car had been very clean, but its sides soon got splashed by other cars passing mine. A car in front of me was moving very slowly and, as I sped up, my windshield got splashed and dirtied. The thought surfaced that I would have to wash my car again, and I could not help thinking what a nuisance that was. [audience laughter]
Did anything else bother me yesterday? Well, yesterday`s teaching, as well as that of the first two days, went quite smoothly but, while I was going over today`s topic of Samadhi, it occurred to me that I had had already discussed this topic before. To avoid repeating myself, I should present this topic from a fresh angle, but I could not think of anything new. [audience laughter] This is also a nuisance. After all, I do have to face everyone, don`t I? [audience laughter]
Then I reflected on something that had happened earlier during the teaching. I had in my hand a small piece of paper on which were jotted some of the key points of yesterday`s discourse. The windows were wide open and a breeze was coming in, causing the paper on the table to flutter. That was why I had decided to hold it in my hand. You know, I gesticulate quite a bit with my hands when I talk. Because of my `note sheet,` one of my hands became immobilized. [audience laughter and applause] Therefore, I found myself wondering what I was going to do with the next day`s `cheat sheet.` When I cheated at school, I used to hide the text book under my seat, and the cheat sheet was written on my set square. [audience laughter] I thought to myself, `Now I don`t have a set square, and this paper is so flimsy, what am I going to do?` Good thing there is no draft today, so I may use both of my hands. Such considerations as these arose in my mind!
I also thought of the following: Before I go to bed, at around 11:00 p.m., Mrs. Lu usually makes some snacks for me. But, for the past four consecutive nights, my midnight snack has been just a bowl of plain boiled noodles, without any variation. [audience laughter] I was getting annoyed. [audience laughter] Plain noodles again! [audience laughter] Finally today she brought from home some Taiwanese meat stuffings which will impart a little flavor to the noodles! Last night, at around 11:00 p.m., Mrs. Lu and I went to QFC to do some shopping. We picked up a few items: four packages of beans, each containing ten different varieties, and a packaged whole chicken to use for making chicken broth. I was standing next to Mrs. Lu in the poultry section. First she picked up one chicken and, after looking at the price tag, she remarked, `Four dollars, too expensive.` [audience laughter] And she put it down. Right there and then, I felt frustrated, `So I don`t even deserve a four dollar chicken?` [audience laughter] Really, [to Mrs. Lu] how much was the second chicken you picked up? [audience laughter] The second chicken was three dollars. The difference in price was one dollar, and she bought the second chicken. In my mind, I had this troubling thought, `Why did she buy the cheaper one for me? Am I not the honored and revered guru?` [audience laughter and applause]
Then we went to buy some bread and bananas. We actually still had three bananas at home, but they had already turned black. [audience laughter] So I bought a few green bananas. When we got home, I peeled one of the green bananas and started eating it, along with a bowl of noodles. Then Mrs. Lu asked me, `The banana is still so green, why are you eating it?` [audience laughter] As she questioned me, I became annoyed. `We have been together for so many years, don`t you know that I love green bananas?` [audience laughter] Isn`t it so! I do not care much for over-ripe bananas, although Mrs. Lu prefers them because she thinks they are more fragrant that way. I like green bananas because they have a `different` taste to them. They have a unique texture and flavor which I don`t know how to describe. [audience laughter] I do not care for the taste of over-ripe bananas; I prefer the greener kind.
So, just in one single evening, many thoughts such as these rage through one`s mind. If one becomes bogged down by these thoughts, how can one not have troubles? As spiritual cultivators, we know that all these things which I have just mentioned are as small as sesame seeds. But sometimes small matters the size of sesame seeds can cause a riot! Some married couples fight over small matters like the ripeness of bananas. [audience laughter] You know that it makes no sense to fight over a banana peel, yet a little garbage can, indeed, start some big fights. There is really nothing more insignificant than such matters, and we have to be able to let them go. One must learn to let go of the insignificant as well as the significant graspings. After all, there is fundamentally nothing in this world that should disturb one`s mind. `All phenomena arise and disintegrate dependent on causes and conditions.` Nothing exists inherently and independently ?this is the essence of Emptiness. When you realize this, nothing will trouble you.
Do you know the license plate number of my new car, a Mercedes Benz? I was afraid to purchase a Mercedes 600 because it would bring questions to some people`s minds. I was criticized for five whole years for driving a Rolls Royce. So, although the Mercedes 600 is a very nice car, I was afraid to buy it. [laughter] I picked the Mercedes 500 because it is not the top of the line. This way I would have some peace and quiet and be free from criticism for a while. But a different sort of trouble arose. When the license plate arrived, it was `546` ?which sounds like `I have died` in Mandarin. [laughter and audience laughter] A shiver went up my spine when I looked at the number! [audience laughter] So, what do you do when you are given such a number? Let me tell you, you look at it from another angle –`Everything is fine!` [The number 546 can also sound like `everything is fine!` in Mandarin.] [audience laughter and applause] So, many troubles are self-created because we believe that they are inherently troublesome. Now you should think of them as inherently empty, that `everything is fine!`

Nothing Inherently Exists - No Matter and No Thought

As Buddhist practitioners, we have to learn to enter into `stillness.` I have discussed two very important formulae for this, `no matter` and `no thought.` One must realize that everything is inherently empty of a separate existence, then one may enter into Samadhi. How can one enter into Samadhi when one`s mind still grasps certain matters as if they inherently exist? One cannot. One also must empty one`s mind. When the self-contracted mind is transcended, one will obtain the Dharma Taste. At such a moment, the `ching, chi, and shen` will return to their source. `No matter` and `no thought` are the most important formulae to enter into Samadhi in meditation. If one is unable to transcend both the objective world and the subjective mind, one will absolutely not be able to enter into Samadhi.
In the beginning, the Buddha told us that to become liberated from troubles (the accomplishment of an Arhat), one must realize the inherent emptiness of the `self.` The `self` is the source of all troubles. All troubles of sentient beings exist because of the `self.` I now realize that Sheng-yen Lu is not Sheng-yen Lu, and Lian-sheng is not Lian-sheng. By releasing the mind into the condition prior to the `self,` troubles are transcended. Where do troubles come from? From wanting to save one`s own face. To put it simply, when one sees through the `self,` when the `self` becomes crystal clear, when the `empty nature` of the `self` is understood, one will no longer have troubles. Today, you have not yet awakened to this realization, so of course still have troubles and want to fight to save your face. Where is one`s face? You have troubles if you must fight for this face of yours! In conceptual realization, one abandons the self and is no longer attached to it. To understand `no matter` and `no thought` is to know the `fundamental emptiness of the self.`
It is true that you have been wronged and have many frustrations. I also have many frustrations. Sometimes we all feel that we have been wronged. Take for example all our volunteers who have donated their services to the housekeeping and the patrolling of the grounds. Every day, after the teaching is finished and most people have left, these volunteers stay behind to pick up the garbage, clean the bathrooms, vacuum the floors, and tidy up the place. Since these chores are not performed in my presence, the volunteers think to themselves, `It`s been four days and the Grand Master has not noticed us at all. We might as well quit. We have worked so hard, yet the Grand Master has not even come by to speak a few words of appreciation to us.` [audience laughter] As a matter of fact, behind each ceremony are many nameless volunteers who have put in a lot of hard work. Because their contributions have not been recognized, they might not want to volunteer next time. Their frustrations are justified. In the True Buddha School, there are many unsung heroes who have contributed their efforts, while encountering many frustrations, such as being misunderstood or even slandered. But all of these troubles can be liberated if the `egotistical self` is released! Otherwise, one will have frustrations, will cry and shed tears, slap oneself, and bang one`s head against the wall. [audience laughter]
Sometimes other thoughts occur to me, such as, `I have not indulged in any pleasures in this life. My days are spent energetically in writing, propagating the Buddhadharma, and in cultivation. Why have I attracted so much criticism and slandering? I might as well quit, go back to Taiwan and resume my land-surveying post with the military. I will apply to the Defense Department for my old position of Lieutenant Colonel. [audience laughter] In one stroke I will write off everything I have done. All this toil and sweat has earned me such harsh, mean criticism.` Then these thoughts also occur to me, `Such happenings are very ordinary. I do not have to become self-oriented and self-grasping. Even if someone else has gotten the credit for my work, this is fine, too. I am cultivating the realization of the release of the self, and I will not engage in a struggle concerning my reputation. Nothing really exists independently and we all share in the harvest. This is realization of the inherent emptiness of the self.`
The `release of self` is what one is cultivating in the practice of Buddhism. If you feel that the credit from your work belongs to you, then you are `abiding in the self.` Such a person is not practicing Buddhism, but cultivating how to conduct oneself socially and to pursue prestige in the ordinary, conventional world. To practice Buddhism is to `release the self.` Therefore, the first realization attained by the Arhats is `Emptiness of Self.` If you want to enter into `stillness` or `stability` in meditation, there is no formula other than that of `no matter, no mind, and no self.` If you do not have the determination to learn to `release the self,` then you will absolutely not be able to enter into the Four Holy Realms.
That is why today I can make this statement, `I will not forsake any one sentient being.` What kind of `mind` is this? This is the mind of `the release of self`! The Egotistical Self is transformed into the Infinite Self and all sentient beings have become `I`! When the sentient beings are at ease, I am at ease. When the sentient beings are not at ease, then I am responsible! Every sentient being is `I.` As long as sentient beings benefit through my work, then it is tantamount to `I` getting the benefit. There is no difference between the sentient beings and `I.` [audience applause]
Do not engage in conflicts over the Limited Self. `All phenomena arise and disintegrate dependent upon causes and conditions.` All phenomena will transform and disappear. This is the truth of `Emptiness.` The holy teachings of the Tathagata on the Supreme Enlightenment starts with the realization of `Emptiness of Self` and extends to `Emptiness of Dharma.` `There is inherently no separate existence of I, others, and all sentient beings.` This `not forsaking any one sentient being` is an extension of the identification of `I` with `sentient beings.` Subsequently, renown and status belonging to others also belongs to `I.` Whatever offered by `I` to be enjoyed by others is shared by everyone. This `I` is the Infinite Self, and absolutely not the personal Limited Self. Be sure that you realize this is what you are learning in the practice of the Buddhadharma.
The Oriental Buddhist concept has spread far and wide, and it differs from the concept of an individual Divine God. The views of Buddha Shakyamuni differ from those of the Great Brahmadeva. Christianity, Islam, Taoism, and many other religions reflect the views of the Great Brahmadeva, but the view of the Buddha is a transcendental one that reflects the understanding of `no separate existence of self, others, or any phenomenon between the two.` That is why the Buddha whispered into the ear of Shariputra the statement, `You have tacitly understood this Universal Truth that I have realized.`
The goal of meditation is to arrive at one-pointedness and then return to `zero,` the undifferentiated and unqualified Emptiness. It is a progression from the realm of coarseness to realms of subtlety, more subtlety, and the finest subtlety, until one finally transmutes into Emptiness.
The highest wisdom, or Supreme Enlightenment, attained by the Arhats is the realization of `Emptiness of Self.` The Buddha has taught that `all phenomena are impermanent,` `all phenomena are empty of a self,` and `Nirvana is marked by tranquility and stillness.` The understanding of these three truths constitutes a real spiritual response, a Spiritual Communion.
In Tantrayana practice, there is a visualization that involves the moon disc and seed syllable. The Sanskrit or Tibetan seed syllable is visualized to gradually fade, disappearing from the bottom up, until it finally completely disappears at the highest point. At this moment one enters into the realm of Emptiness. This visualization of the seed syllable is an example of the most subtle kind of visualization.

慶賀真佛宗根本傳承上師八十聖壽 「一生一咒」800萬遍上師心咒活動,從今年師尊的佛誕日正式啟動,請參加者到TBSN官網以下鏈接登記資料: 每持滿十萬遍上師心咒者,宗委會將把名單呈給師尊加持。每持滿一百萬遍者,將列名護摩法會功德主,資料請師尊主壇護摩法會時下護摩爐。