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The ''Three-C's'' of Each Yana and Their Interconnections

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Before we begin the discussion, I must explain that the term "Three-C's" was first used by me in my book Buddhist Meditation Systematic and Practical. The first "C" is the cause or seed. The second "C" is the course or practice (the path). And the third "C" is the consequence or result. They are analogous to the seed, the flower, and the fruit.

First I will give a general idea of the causal position or the seed. Here we have the very interesting question of Who is the Master of the Practitioner? What is the motive which pushed you to begin practice and what is the real seed of Buddhahood? All three questions have the same answer. I have written an essay entitled, "The Practitioner's Motivation," because there are many people who have not thoroughly understood their motivation for undertaking Dharma practice. Most are even quite foolish. They mistakenly take the "I" or ego as Master of their practice. Such people are not able to get the Dharma fruit, no matter how diligently they persevere.

The fundamental motive can never be the "I." In Buddhism, the "I" should be destroyed. It is the eighth consciousness, which has been elevated to this position by the deluded clinging of the seventh-consciousness. Both the seventh and eighth- consciousness are traps within transmigration. One can rightly accuse them of being the Masters of Transmigration but definitely not the Masters of Full-Enlightenment. Especially for Buddhists, the "I" must be destroyed by the Buddhist Dharma, by meditation, and by the Wisdom of Sunyata. But most persons, even including scholars, Rimpoches, and tulkus have not yet gotten rid of the "I." Even these reputed experts mistake it for the initial motive of practice. It is quite a fundamental error, so do not mistake the "I" to be the seed of practice in any of the three vehicles of Buddhism.

This mistake in the consciousness belongs to the category of basic ignorance tormenting all sentient beings. It is sometimes called one branch of 12-fold causation. The first mistake thus is ignorance, clinging to the belief of a subjective experiencer and objective world, and the related second mistake is inner action. This inner action is not the common motions of feet or hands, but is the activity of the thought process. This means the thinking and conceptualizing mentality. So because of this ignorance, the further eleven causations form the entire transmigration. None of the 12-fold causations can be the motive for study of the Dharma since they all have their roots in basic ignorance.

The third mistake is the Sunyata. Scholars like to say that we are non-ego, thus they conclude that the motive of practice is the Sunyata. But they are just talkers and have no actual experience. They mistake the fruit for the seed. But Sunyata, by its very nature, can never be the seed or motive. By trying to plant Sunyata as the seed of practice, the majority of scholars have cut themselves off from the living Buddha-dharma. Please remember that Sunyata is the consequence and can never be fully experienced without extensive meditation practice. In living Buddhism, Sunyata is never regarded as the first motive, or as Master of the practitioner.

Well, could it be that the Master of the practitioner is the mind? Since everything comes from the mind, and the mind is the Chief, then if we are mindful, we can practice the Dharma. This is reasonable and true, but mindfulness still needs somebody to practice it. Mind has several meanings. Physically it is the heart, psychically it is the mind. Others say it is the consciousness. Mind is really not so definite and precise, it cannot be regarded as the initial motive of practice. So we have not yet reached the beginning point. One can rise or fall by the mind, so what is the underlying motive which guides mind to pursue the mindfulness practice?

There is the ninth consciousness or Tathagata Womb Consciousness which represents that all sentient beings innately possess Buddha-Nature. This Buddha-Nature must be developed into Full Enlightenment, then Buddhahood can be realized. Otherwise, it just remains dormant or undiscovered. But our Tathagata Womb Consciousness is not the underlying motive of the practitioner, for one still must have a motive to discover his potentiality of Buddhahood.

Next, one might think that the Bodhicitta is the motive of the practitioner. The Vairocana Tantra says, "Bodhicitta is the seed, the Great Compassion is the root, and Skillful Means is the ultimate result." But who practices the Bodhicitta? The Bodhicitta cannot practice itself. There must be some master or beginning point behind the Bodhicitta. To develop the Bodhicitta is a practice. To know that the Bodhicitta is the seed of Full Enlightenment is very important. But who is it that recognizes this fact? And who is it that guides the practice of Bodhicitta? So we can see that the Bodhicitta is not the primary master.

Some mistake the Great Compassion for the initial motive. They say that the Buddha has Great Compassion and good mind. So one must do likewise and then can get Buddhahood. But actually the Great Compassion is a Consequence, and cannot be regarded as a Cause. We must still look for the seed that would cause one to develop the Great Compassion.


If all the above things have failed to meet the requirements to be the first Cause, motive or master of the practitioner, what is left?

The Right View is the cause. The Right View is the master of the practitioner, the initial motive of the practitioner, and the first seed of the practitioner. Why?

Previously we said that "I" was not the cause because it must be destroyed. But then why should the cause be the Right View? It is because the Right View is not produced by the "I," but rather is produced from the Dharma, what you have heard of the Buddha's teachings.Right View comes from the Buddha's wisdom, from Buddha's Full Enlightenment. You learn the Right View from Buddha's philosophy and this certainly is not the "I."

The "I" is the subject of ignorance and the ignorancesystem is based on the "I." Transmigration is the transmigration of the "I." So when we have the Right View we can recognize that the "I" is the master of transmigration, whereas the Right View is the master of the practitioner.

The practitioner learns the Right View by hearing, reading and thinking about the Buddhist teachings. This is called the Buddhist Right View. It is different from the ignorance system. It is not human thought, nor heavenly thought, nor Divine Revelation from God, nor a source from the Bible, nor from the Bhagavad Gita. Rather it is a source from the fully awakened Mind of Buddha which sees things as they really are. It is the subject which destroys the object which is the "I." The "I" becomes the object destroyed by the Right View. Our Right View is the real master which can destroy the system of ignorance.

Sunyata is not the first cause, but the person who has the Right View knows about the Sunyata quite well. The Right View must include the theoretical basis of Sunyata but this must not be mistaken for the actual realization. The Right View firmly guides one to practice the Sunyata. One sees that Buddhist philosophy lays most stress on Sunyata and practices it thoroughly to get the true realization. This is the Right View which is quite different from the premature Sunyata preached by those aforementioned scholars.

Consciousness is not the master of the practitioner. The Right View comes from the tradition of Buddhism, not from human consciousness. To produce Buddha's Wisdom, many, many methods and stages are given. The Buddha taught how to transmute all eight consciousnesses into the five wisdoms of Buddhahood. The first five consciousnesses are transformed into the Wisdom of Achievement. The sixth consciousness is transformed into the Wisdom of Discrimination. The seventh consciousness is transformed into the Wisdom of Equality. The eighth consciousness is transformed into the Great Mirror Wisdom. Finally the ninth consciousness (Tathagata-womb consciousness) is transformed into the Wisdom of Buddhahood (Wisdom of Totality).

The Right View guides one to transform all the consciousnesses into Wisdom, but it is not itself consciousness. By studying the Dharma one gets some theoretical wisdom. Along with all the principles of Buddhism this knowledge produces the Right View. The Right View is just like a little outline of Wisdom and is so important. From the study of the entire system of Buddhism, the Right View is produced, and it then guides one's actions to transform consciousness into Buddha's wisdom. The Right View is like a catalyst without which the transformation cannot take place.


Again, the mind is not the first cause. The Right View distinguishes what kind of mind is adequate for practice. It recognizes the mind of mindfulness, the disturbed mind, etc. If you have the Right View then you can say, "Oh, this is the disturbed mind," "This is the mind of Truth," or "This is the seventh consciousness which holds the eighth consciousness." The mind is very complex. Without the Right View one cannot distinguish if the mind is the physical heart or the psychological thoughts, or if the mind is just equal to the Truth or to the Tathagata or to wisdom. Thus the Right View is essential for diagnosing the condition of the mind, and for guiding it towards liberation. Without the Right View, the mind is like an airplane without a pilot. So impress upon your mind that Right View is the essential ingredient in our practice of the Buddha Dharma.

Within the Right View one recognizes that the Tathagatawomb is the innate characteristic of all sentient beings. By using his Right View the practitioner is able to search out and discover the Tathagata-womb but the Tathagata-womb is like the "eye" which cannot see itself. Therefore it is helpless without the "vision" of Right View.

Likewise, as mind is not the motive of practice, the Bodhicitta is not either. The Right View drives one to become a Bodhisattva by practicing the Bodhicitta. Without light View there would be no impetus to develop the Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is like a blind man who cannot find his way without the "guide dog" of Right View.

As for the Great Compassion, it cannot be the first motive to practice because it belongs to the position of Consequence. However, the Right View does recognize that one who becomes Buddha has to practice the Great Compassion. Great Compassion is guided by the Right View, but not vice-versa. Because one has read many biographies of the Bodhisattvas and found many good examples of the Great Compassion, he knows if he has Right View that he must also develop it.

One should recognize that the Right View is the seed of all seeds, and is the fundamental ingredient in cultivating Buddhahood. Each yana, Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana has its own particular Right View. The Right View is divided into two parts. First is the Right View of Causation or of Cosmos. There are four kinds of Causation, one for the Hinayana, two for the Mahayana, and a fourth for the Vajrayana. They will be explained below. One must learn how the world was formed, how to change it, and how it can eventually become the Buddha's Mandala. The second part is the Right View of Life Value. From this we learn of the value of life and see how we should spend it all practicing Buddhism.

Now that we have talked about the cause of all causation, we will next talk about the general ideas of each of the three"C's".

Buddha taught three aspects of knowledge. The first is obtained through hearing, which includes reading, because to read the Sutras is just like hearing the words of the Buddha. The second is obtained through thinking. This means reflecting on what has been read or heard. The third is obtained through practicing what we have learned. Among these three, the first two belong to the Causal position, while the third or practice belongs to the Course or Path. These three types of knowledge also prove that the Right View is the master of the practitioner.

Buddha taught the Eight Conditions for the Full Enlightenment, the Arya-Marga. First is the Right View (Samyak Drsti) which is the Right View with regard to the four noble truths and freedom from the common thoughts of delusion. Second is Right Thoughts (Samyak-Samkalpa). The third is Right Speech (Samyak-Vac). This means to avoid all false and idle talk. From the Right View one develops the right philosophy or central thought. From the central thought you think of things relating to Dharma. This is Right Thinking. From Right Thinking one is able to develop Right Speech and talk about Right Dharma.

Fourth is Right Karma (Samyak-Karmanta), correct conduct or deeds, getting rid of all improper actions. When you keep the Right View, all your Karmas will be without impurity.

The fifth is Right livelihood (Samyak-ajiva). One avoids the five immoral occupations. One would not be a killer of animals, a gambler, a soldier, or a drug peddler or a communist, who rejects and destroys every religion.

The sixth is called Right Diligence (samyak-Vyayama). One's energy should be directed towards the attainment of Nirvana. Many people waste vast amounts of energy earning money or a reputation for themselves. But when your effort is accompanied by Right View, such things are of secondary importance.

The seventh is Right Memory (Samyak-Smrti). It includes the true and eliminates the false.

The eighth is Right Samadhi (Samyak-Samadhi). This is correct meditation where all absorption is under the guidance of Right View. One must never think that absorption itself is a good thing. It must be properly oriented.


The Tantra gives four steps. The first is Right View; the second is Practice or Training; the third is Conduct or Deeds; the fourth is Result. The third of conduct corresponds to the course and the result corresponds to the consequence position. Of these four, Right View comes first. This gives further proof of the correctness of choosing the Right View as the seed of all causes within the "Three-C'x".

In Confucianism they have Five Steps. Confucius said sincerity is the way of the Tao. Study it wisely, inquire into it searchingly, reflect upon it carefully, discriminate about it accurately, and practice it wisely. Among these five, the first four belong to the Causal position and all of them form the Right View. The last belongs to the position of Course.

Generally, a person follows his habitual Karmic patterns. Whatever has been accumulated in his eighth consciousness is reflected in his present behavior. Therefore, a gentlemanly person has sown many gentlemanly seeds in the past, while a cruel person has sown many cruel seeds. One is born in a certain time, place, and family which are compatible with his habitual Karma. The habitual Karmic patterns are very difficult to change by social education, school education, or family education. They mostly reinforce habitual Karma rather than unwind it.

Astrologers can quite accurately predict the course of events in one's life since few people aspire to destroy the habitual Karmic activity. But Buddhism does not cater to fatalism. It emphasizes that one can put an end to all the confusion, thus becoming Buddha in this lifetime. But one must follow some teaching from outside his habitual consciousness. If the motive comes from his own Karmically conditioned consciousness certainly he will not gain liberation. The teaching that comes from "outside" the habitual consciousness is the Right View. So be discriminating, do not merely follow your habitual patterns as a guide. Develop the Right View. There is less time than you think.

Buddha discovered the Right View and left many teachings for us, so why not study them thoroughly? This philosophy which you create by studying the texts of Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana, and by associating with good teachers is "outside" your habitual Karma. It is indispensable for all Buddhist practitioners. It cannot be emphasized enough that the Right View is the essential motive of practice.

The Three-C of Each Yana

Each yana has its own Right View. This does not mean that there are three separate Right Views. But one which becomes more mature as the practitioner progresses through the three yanas. It is like going from High School to College to Graduate School. If the Hinayana was the complete Right View then there would be no need for the Mahayana and Tantra. Now I would like to discuss the three "C" of each yana.

1. Hinayana

A. The Cause of the Hinayana

For the first "C" of Elinayana one must know what the Sutras say, especially the doctrine of the Four Noble Truths. These Four Noble Truths are the Right View of the Hinayana. They are Buddha personal teachings.

There are also the Four Agamas. The Agamas are collections of the four divisions of Hinayana Scripture. The first Agama is called Dirghagama. It is cosmological and consists of long treatises as to how the world came to be formed. The second is called the Madhyamagama. It contains metaphysical treatises. The third, the Samyuktagama is a collection of miscellaneous treatises. Lastly, there is the Ekottarikagama. It contains descriptions of several types of subjects. Buddha first taught the Hinayana in the Deer Garden. This is called Early Buddhism, the source of Buddhism for the Hinayana. The Buddha also gave personal instructions in the form of four line stanzas (Gathas). After the Parinirvana, they were collected by his disciples in a text called the Dharmapada (Dhammapada). However, the text is not arranged according to the practical sequence but rather according to literary consideration. I have arranged it into a practical sequence as follows: 1. Impermanence 2. Renunciation 3. Vinaya (commandments) 4. Bodhicitta 5. The Great Compassion 6. Concentration Meditation 7. Wisdom 8. Buddhahood. I feel that this is a little better than the old classification because it lays more stress on the practice. It has been published in the form of two small booklets. (Chenian Booklets New Nos. 64 and 65.)

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The Fundamental idea of the Hinayana follows the Four Noble Truths. The first is pain, the second is the cause of pain, the third tells the possibility of the end of pain, and the fourth tells the way thereto. Reading all of these you might have the Right View of Hinayana. Hinayana Right View has nothing to do with whether you wear a Yellow Robe or you come from Ceylon, as some people think, nor does it have to do with a shaved head, or begging food or bare feet. When one is aware of the pain of Transmigration there is the Right View to practice Hinayana.

It is very sad that most American Buddhists are not aware of the pain of Transmigration. America is just like a small heaven. Everything is easy, everything is comfortable, life is easy, people have plenty to eat. When they die they are laid to rest in some large and beautiful cemetery. Most Americans have never even seen a corpse. Under such luxurious conditions it is very difficult for them to see that this dream life is impermanent and painful. Without deeply feeling the impermanence of life one is apt to fritter away this time. This is certainly the case for most Americans who utilize their free time only for more and more clever and varied entertainments, until most are so bored with these cheap pastimes that they are not even aware of impermanence. But Yama, the God of Death, makes no exceptions and very soon you and your entire family and everything you thought was reality will be gone. I hope that you have lived your life fully and meaningfully, but unless you grasp the impermanence of this life, you are only cheating yourself.

No matter how many fine comforts you give to your loved ones, it does them no good. You are only creating more pain and delusions for them, It is like pouring salt into an open wound. They have enough of these false comforts. So if you really love your family, give them what they need. Set an example for them by learning the Right View, and then practicing the Dharma.

When a person passes the limit of physical pain, he loses consciousness and is no longer aware of the pain until he reawakens. Americans have no physical pain, but I am sorry to say that their spiritual pain is so intense that most are unconscious of the fact. Most Americans have no intense desire to practice. They just want to remove a little tension from their body-mind so that they feel more relaxed and have good health. Their realization is only superficial to the extent that some regard the supernatural powers of the sages, for example Padmasambhava transmuting his entire flesh body into light, as mere fantasy or mythology. But when the tension is gone they immediately return to the same place to get more tension again.

So do whatever you can to reawaken yourself and others to the fundamental impermanence of existence. If you really want to lead a full life you must realize Full Enlightenment.

Buddha chose India as the place to propagate the Dharma because the people there are aware of the pain and impermanence of life. Usually in India people are very lazy. As soon as a man earns enough money to eat for the day, he may stop working. Since everything is impermanent, he would rather have more free time than more money. That was why Buddha also taught diligence.

To propagate the Dharma in America one must first emphasize the pain of transmigration and then the students will create time for themselves to practice the Dharma. Then they can get the real Bliss Void, instead of the temporary pleasure of drinking wine and of sexual intercourse. This is the cause of the Hinayana by which one gets the motivation to practice. By reading the Four Agamas one can learn how the Universe was formed, how private Karma is suffered, and what is the cause of birth in the six realms. This will produce the Right View of impermanence and all activity of nonsense will be eliminated from our lives.

B. The Course of the Hinayana

The course of Hinayana can be learned from Buddha own example. It is written in his biographies. Most practices are summarized under the term of the Thirty-Seven Bodhis.

To grow up, a Bodhi Tree must have many roots, leaves, branches and fruits. The course of the Bodhi has been explained in terms of thirty-seven factors. We have already talked about the Eight Branches of the Right Path. Here we may mention the rest of the thirty-seven.

Of these thirty-seven factors (Bodhipaksika-dharma) there are first the Four Stages of Memory or Subjective Reflection (Smrityupasthana), then the Four Proper Lines of Exertion (Samyakprahana), the Four Steps towards Supernatural Powers (Siddhipada), the Five Spiritual Faculties (Pancaindryani), the Five Powers (Panca-balani), the Seven Degrees of Enlightenment (Sapta-bodhyanga) or diligence, and the Eight-fold Right Path (Asta-Marga) which has already been explained.

Altogether they add up to thirty-seven and all are necessary. They all belong to the Course of Hinayana and we have to practice each of them. They were taught personally by the Buddha during his lifetime and it is said that five hundred disciples became Arhats.

There are two kinds of Buddhas. In a world there is only one completely perfect Buddha. At the very beginning everything is very difficult so there must be a perfect Buddha to teach the Hinayana. Such a Buddha has not only practiced and achieved the personal attainment of Buddhahood, but also has enough merit to connect with the six kinds of sentient beings and cause them to have faith in him. He is also so perfect that he can personally find and give out all the doctrine correctly.

Another kind of Buddha is one who at any time personally follows all the doctrine of Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana and can get Full Enlightenment for himself and for some others. Such a Buddha is His Holiness the Karmapa, who accomplished the Full Enlightenment through Tantric practice of Sambara. His crown was made from the hairs of one hundred thousand Dakinis, one hair from each. Although he himself has attained Buddhahood, he could not yet lead a whole period of sentient beings to practice through the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. This is called Buddhahood of private consequence. (It is not the same as Pratyeka-Buddhahood which pertains to Hinayana only.)

Those practicing the thirty-seven Bodhis need to be led by a Perfect Buddha such as Gautama himself. Through his guidance a good foundation may be established on which the practice of the Mahayana and Vajrayana may be based. This concludes the explanation of the course of practice of the Hinayana. There is not enough time now to explain each Bodhi in detail.

C. The Consequence of the Hinayana

Next is described the third "C" of the Hinayana, the Consequence of Arhatship. There are four degrees. The first is the Srottapanna. He is just entering the stream of the Dharma and has already left the state of a human being. Through the practice of renunciation he has freed himself from the complex delusions of the three realms of haveness. But this is only a beginning, it is not yet the highest stage.

The second degree is that of the Sakridagamin which means once-more-to-come. One who attains this Consequence has cut off all the gross or rough delusions of the self, but there still remains subtle delusions which force him to return once more to the habit of desire, the human state. Therefore it is called the stage of once-more-to-come.

The third degree is the Anagamin, or one who will never return. Because he has cut off all the delusions of self he will not come again, but still must be reborn in a heaven of form or of non-form.

Fourth, the highest degree is the Arhat. Arhat means "one who has killed all the thieves." That is, the inner thieves or foes. All inner thoughts or delusions have been killed. When he has killed all these inner thieves, he is worthy of heaven's and men's offerings, which is another meaning of Arhat. The Arhat enters into his own Hinayana Nirvana. This is called non-born.


These four degrees of Arhat are the result of consequence of the thirty-seven Bodhis. The Arhat has cut off the painful transmigration but has not great Bodhicitta to save others, and so remains in that Hinayana Nirvana. He must be saved by the Buddha himself calling his name and awakening him by saying, "This kind of Mrvana is not complete. Even though you can abide there for an endless time, it is not the real Buddhahood. So you must develop the Bodhicitta and learn the Mahayana."

But if you learn Hinayana in Ceylon and never hear about the Mahayana, or if you have some false view that the Mahayana may not be the Buddha's teachings, then the highest Consequence you can get is just these four degrees of Arhat. So in order to practice the whole system of Buddhism, do not take these four degrees as the final Consequence. This will be further explained below in the talk on the whole system of the three "C's".

When Buddha Gautama began to establish Buddhism, he knew that each person had to lay the foundation of Hinayana. Those who practice Hinayana follow the Buddha's personal teachings. They purify themselves and destroy their personal ego. To get rid of all the sorrows they have to practice renunciation and meditation on the Sunyata of personality. At that early time, Buddha laid most stress on this self-development through purification and defeating the sorrows by meditating on the non-ego of personality.

But that does not mean that Buddha stopped there. As mentioned earlier above, I classified the Dharmapada, the personal teaching of Buddha, into eight parts. Among these are two steps of Bodhicitta and Great Compassion. These two belong to the Mahayana. I could not find even a few stanzas about Great Compassion (and Bodhicitta) in the Dharmapada, so I had to select them from another Buddhist Sutra that is not part of the Dharmapada. From this we can see that Buddha laid most stress on each of his disciples becoming purified through the Hinayana doctrine. In order to develop great Bodhicitta and save others one must first purify one own self.

Buddha taught some of his doctrine by means of his own personality of Nirmanakaya. He also appeared as the great Sambara, the Vajra Heruka, to show the Yidam of Tantra and to impart the Tantric doctrine to a certain few persons such as the Emperor, named Anzar-bodhi. During his whole lifetime he only imparted the Tantra to this one person. On the other hand he foretold that some Bodhisattvas would talk more deeply and explain the more profound doctrines. So he did not teach more Mahayana himself, but rather foretold that the great Bodhisattva Nagarjuna would teach it and that Padmasambhava and the great Lama Gampopa would teach the Tantra.

Development does not mean that everything must be taught by Buddha himself, since Buddha is not a human pudgala. Pudgala is a Sanskrit term and means a certain person or personality. Buddha has three kayas, the Nirmanakaya, the Sambhogakaya, and the Dharmakaya. Dharmakaya means that even a stone can teach you. A spider can teach patience. A bee can teach you diligence. An ant can teach you boldness. Even grass can teach you. All these kinds of teachings belong to the Dharmakaya. Many inspired Ch'an monks have comprehended through such teachings. When one saw his own reflection in water he comprehended. When one saw the peach flower he comprehended. When one heard some sound from a rock hitting a bamboo he comprehended. These are examples of the Dharmakaya teaching.

Nagarjuna is an old Buddha, even before Buddha Gautama. He was born in this world and taught many Mahayana Sutras. Some from his own remembrance, others he got from the Dragon Palace. These Sutras were personally taught by Buddha in the Dragon Palace.

According to scientific investigation which looks only at documents, the Mahayana was not taught by Buddha. Most of the Hinayana Scriptures are in the Pali language, and Buddhaheaven's original language was Pali. Most of the Hinayana Tripitaka has been translated by the Pali Text Society of London. The Mahayana Sutras are mostly in Sanskrit and the Tantra is also in Sanskrit. This has caused some followers of the Hinayana to say that the Mahayana is not the Buddha's teaching. This is quite a mistake. Why did Buddha teach Hinayana so much more than Mahayana during his lifetime? Because he saw that most of the believers at that time were Hinayana instruments. They were not able to understand the Mahayana doctrine.

When he was preaching the Dharma Flower Sutra, Buddha wanted to explain how even in evil things the Sunyata nature can be found. Five hundred Arhats foreknew this and left their seats saying, "Now Buddha is going to talk about evil things." Actually, Buddha wanted to talk about the Mahayana.


A. The Cause of the Mahayana

We must know that the Mahayana is also the Buddhas teaching. We should not believe, as the Ceylonese Hinayanists say, that the Mahayana is not the Buddhas teaching. Why do we need the Mahayana? Because the Mahayana Right View is right! How does this Right View, the Cause of Mahayana, differ from the Right View of Hinayana?

When Buddha first started teaching his whole system he had to make the believers purify themselves and meditate on the samatha as a foundation for the Sunyata. First one must know the Sunyata of personality, then he can come to know the Sunyata of Dharmas. Without success in the former the latter is very difficult to recognize. That is why the Mahayana developed a little later.

Mahayana is mostly concerned with saving others. But before a person can save others he must first succeed in the meditation on the personality Sunyata. He must know that his own self is Sunyata. Then there is no egoism and he would no longer love himself. Actually, Sunyata of personality, seeing that the self is void, is a very good negative foundation for the development of Bodhicitta to save others. This is the real altruism. If one cannot lose himself to save others then to say that one is working to save others is quite a lie. It is just a cheat.

There is a definite fixed sequence in this practice. First you must see that your self is void; then understand that all Dharmas are also void, and then use a certain Dharma to cure each poison of the sentient beings. Then you can save others. To develop a great Bodhicitta, to lose the self, and to help others, then one might become a Mahayanist. Otherwise Buddhas Great Compassion cannot develop completely.

The cause of Mahayana, the Right View, includes the philosophy of the Great Compassion. A Buddha is a person who saves others; he does not save himself alone. One must save others and develop the Great Mind. Maha means great. Then one enlarges his Sunyata. By this deep wisdom, the Sunyata is enlarged. Therefore it is called Maha, meaning great.

The Right View of Mahayana is based on these two points. One is Great Compassion, the other is the deep Wisdom. Most of the Mahayana Sutras emphasize these two. The cause of the Mahayana may be developed by reading the Mahayana Sutras and listening to the Mahayana doctrine.

B. The Course of the Mahayana

The Course of the Mahayana is the practice. It consists of many methods to enlarge your good mind, to destroy your selfishness and to be altruistic and help others.

If one asks what is the authority for the Bodhicitta, there are three kinds of Bodhicitta in the Mahayana. The first is called the Bodhicitta of Will. In the Sutra called Great Compassion Flower Sutra, Buddha gave many, many examples of how the Bodhisattvas developed their Bodhicitta of will. Many examples such as Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, Maitreya and other Bodhisattvas are mentioned. One gave his head to someone who wanted it, another gave his eyes. Some even gave their heart and others their body and life. One can read many such stories with tears. All are good examples of the Bodhisattva .

On the one hand, in the Mahayana scriptures Buddha always blames the Hinayanists as selfish-minded people who only strive for their own liberation and dont care about ethers. On the other hand, he corrects some of the mistakes of the Hinayana. In Hinayana doctrine when someone has done evil he may fall into Hell and even Buddha cannot save him. They have such incorrect ideas. They think that after Buddhas Parinirvana, he became nothing at all and could not either help you to get rebirth or to atone for your sins. They always say everything is due to yourself, "By self you ascend, by self you fall." Nobody can help you. But in Mahayana there are many good methods of confession. Some taught confession in front of Avalokitesvara, others in front of thirty-five Buddhas.

The real condition of the Buddhas Nirvana is unknown to the Hinayanists. They only know the foundation of Nirvana, only part of Nirvana. So they say such things as "Buddha has died, how can he give inspiration to anybody?" If this is so, then why do the Hinayanists also take refuge in the Buddha? Buddha has already died. Do you just take refuge in his coffin? If he cant do anything, why do you take refuge in him? How can he protect you? Why do you repeat his Dharmapada? He would not hear you if he was nothing at all. This makes Buddha seem like just a dead person.

This has come about through too much emphasis on self-practice, too much emphasis on purity and too much emphasis on self-help. Buddha was too humble! He said, "I cannot help you. If you do wrong you must be punished. If you do wrong you must suffer the results." This was only to make people afraid of doing bad things. Actually, if you become a Buddha you can do everything. Even a God can help others to repent, so why could Buddha not? Even nowadays in Ceylon they still keep such unreasonable ideas.

The course of practice of Bodhicitta is very important in addition to having a good vow. Many Buddhas have good vows. Amitabha has forty-eight. The Buddha of Healing has twelve. Manjusri has ten. Many Bodhisattvas have developed their Bodhicitta of Will. Then following their vows, they put them into practice through their own deeds. This is the second Bodhicitta, the Bodhicitta of conduct.

But still, all this must be done in the Sunyata. So there is the third, the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance. That means that even if I have developed the Bodhicitta, I should not think "I am such a good person, I have developed the Bodhicitta" as if there were some such thing as Bodhicitta apart from the Sunyata. But the Bodhicitta is itself Sunyata. Thus, I myself am Sunyata. I help others who are also Sunyata, and the way to practice the Bodhicitta is also Sunyata. This is called the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance. Such beings prolong their practice for three kalpas. When this lifetime is finished, in order to help others they come back for another lifetime. They do many, many good things in many, many lifetimes. Is this kind of Bodhisattva very bad? Why should the Hinayanists want to reject it?


In the Buddhas history, when he was a Bodhisattva, he transformed himself many times into an animal body, or into a fish or bird, in order to save others. All this history is taught by Buddha himself. Is this a lie? For those in the position of Hinayana, it is very difficult to accept. But we can read all the Mahayana biographies in which Buddha talks about how other Bodhisattvas who later become Buddhas did many, many good things.

We also know that of the Six Paramitas, the first three are for others. To give alms to others, to keep the Vinaya for others and not to harm them, to keep patience with others; all are to help others. Even the second three are for others. Diligence is for others, to practice meditation is for others, and to open the mind of Wisdom is also done for others. So the Six Paramitas have been emphasized and taught to all the Bodhisattvas who do many, many wonderful things for our present time. More and more such Bodhisattvas appear in the world to save us, to settle the world in peace. If there is no Mahayana, why should we believe in Buddha, why should we practice Buddhism? We must know that the Mahayana is very important to mankind.

We must learn to understand this very thoroughly. We have said that the Cause is the philosophy, that the Right View is the general Cause. But it seems that the Hinayana Right View is not really right. It is also a mistake to think like this. The Hinayana is not wrong, it is just hina!

Suppose there is a big table that can hold many books, and a small table that can only hold one or two books. It does not mean that the small table is wrong and that the big table is right. It only means that the small table can only hold a few books, but the big one can hold more. Or suppose there were two knives, a big one and a small one. With the small one you can only cut paper, but with the big one you can kill a bull. it does not mean that the small knife is wrong and the big one is right. Only the size is different. If a seed is given water and other good conditions it may become a big plant. When we talk about Hinayana and Mahayana, it means that the first seed must be Hinayana which can eventually grow and become Mahayana. We cannot say that the son who is a small baby is wrong and the father who is a big gentleman is right. Gradually the son will become a big man. The Cause of the Hinayana is the Hinayana Right View. But from the Right View one must again develop the Mahayana Right View. Small becomes big. Both are right.

Actually if we examine history we find that when Hinayana was taught by Buddha most of his disciples became pure and many succeeded in becoming Arhats. Then when the Mahayana came along, there were many Bodhisattvas, but some of them were false! They just took the good name of Mahayana but actually were not even equal to the Hinayana. It was only those who based their practice on Hinayana renunciation and impermanence and then added the Right View of Mahayana, Bodhicitta, Paramitas and many good methods of practice, that attained the real Mahayana.

To get the Right View of Hinayana there are the Four Agamas. For the Right View of Mahayana there are the Prajna Paramita Sutras, the Avatamsaka (Hwa Yen) Sutra, and the Tathagata Sutra. From these we learn that each person has the Buddha-nature, every person has the potentiality of Buddhahood. One can develop this potentiality and discover his own Buddhahood. All these great Sutras should be read and kept in mind as Right View.

The practices of Mahayana are according to the teachings of the Six Paramitas, three kinds of Bodhicitta and the two kinds of Great Compassion. These two are the Great Compassion of Non-Condition and the Great Compassion of the Same Entity.

When we say, "This person has mercy" or "This person has compassion," we usually refer to certain conditions. He is my friend, therefore he has compassion for me. He has some relationship to me that causes him to feel compassion. This is not the real Great Compassion. Great Compassion has no conditions. Under any circumstances it is always equal towards everybody. Even to the enemy one must have Great Compassion. This is the first kind; the Great Compassion of Non-Condition.

There is also the Great Compassion of the Same Entity. One must know that the Dharmakaya is everywhere, it is within everybody. We are together with our parents, with our girl friend or boy friend, and our foes; all are within the Dharmakaya Entity. The Great Compassion of the Same Entity means that without others our Dharmakaya is not complete. So we must be with everybody, with every animal, with every plant, with everything within the whole of space. There is no place however small that is not within our Dharmakaya. If somebody catches a hair on our head our whole body feels pain. In the same way, if any being is suffering, we must feel the same symptom too. We must share even their small sufferings. Even to our enemy we must have Great Compassion. These two, Great Compassion of Non-Condition and Great Compassion of the Same Entity, are always practiced by the Mahayana Bodhisattvas.

There are many biographies of the Bodhattvas that one should read to make his Right View of the Mahayana stronger. But also you must personally practice it in your daily life. You must examine yourself and try, instead of loving yourself, to love others. This is a very important practice. The whole Entity of the Dharmakaya is ones self of Non-Egoism. It is the self with all others. This is our goal. If any part, at any time, on any occasion, is lacking Great Compassion or lacking the Right View of Sunyata, you cannot succeed in your Great Event of becoming Buddha. Please listen attentively and carefully. Here we use the word "self" but actually there is no self; it is only for convenience of speaking that we say "self."

When Buddha reached Full Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree he saw that the whole Dharmadhatu and all sentient beings had already become Buddha. At least in his conception, in his mind, from his viewpoint, it is like this. Whether the objective individual persons have themselves attained it or not is another question.

To be a Buddha means to realize and obtain the whole Dharmakaya. This is the Consequence of the Mahayana. The whole Dharmakaya is your body; naturally, whether you have completely realized it or not depends upon your practice. All practice is only to complete your Dharma-body. When the Dharmakaya has completely appeared to you, at that time you are really a Buddha. No exception can oust you from your Great Compassion, or from the Entity of Sunyata.

The Bodhisattva of the Mahayana practices all kinds of actions through many lifetimes to help others. Positively he increases his good merits (Wisdom and Great Compassion), negatively, he reduces his selfishness (egoism and ignorance). These two are the basis for the Ten Stages of the Bodhisattva.

C. The Consequence of the Mahayana (or the Ten Stages of the Bodhisattva, Ten Bhumis)

The motive which inspired me to talk about this subject of the three "Cs" of each yana was questions recently asked me about these ten stages. The Bodhisattva discards his selfishness and works to help others; he gradually develops his wisdom and traverses through Ten Stages. There are many ways to classify these stages. Some follow the Hinayana, some the Mahayana. They all are different. Here we will follow the Mahayana.

The first Boddhisattva Stage (Bhumi) is called "Joyful" (Pramudita). When he attains this stage the Bodhisattva has overcome his former difficulties and now begins to enter the path of Buddhahood. He now begins to see that to help others is the real cause of happiness, while to selfishly look out for oneself is really to make pains and difficulty for oneself. Real happiness is to help others, real difficulty is to be selfish. So the first stage is called the stage of Joy at having overcome the former difficulty caused by selfishness. To enter the path of Buddhahood is to know that helping others is the real happiness.

The second Stage is called "Vimala" (Purity). In this second stage the Bodhisattva realizes that selfishness is a defilement and that to help others is the way to purify the dirt of selfishness and egoism. These Bodhisattvas surpass those of the first stage.


The third Stage is called "Prabhakari." At this stage the Bodhisattvas positive work for others is like a great torch lighting the way for beings. Therefore this stage is called the stage of "Developing Light."

The fourth Stage is called "Arcismati." The light of the preceding third stage is now becoming more bright. The wisdom is "Glowing," which is the meaning of Arcismati.

The fifth Stage is "Surdurjaya" or "Mastery over Final Difficulties." It is very difficult to be victorious. The superficial selfishness may be conquered easily, but the final subtle selfishness is very difficult to conquer.

Now the Bodhisattva can lift his light for others and show them the brightness, purity and joy. So the sixth Stage is called "Abhimukhi" (Appearing for Others). At this point comes the appearance of the Wisdom above the duality of pure and impure. It is more transcendent than the fifth Stage.

The seventh Stage is "Duramgama," the stage of "Going Far." The Bodhisattva goes far above the ideas of self in order to save others. He has advanced far beyond his selfishness. People dont expect him to act selfishly.

The eighth Stage is called "Acala," the attainment of "Calm Imperturbableness." No difficulty can possibly disturb him. The Bodhisattva just abides in his deep samadhi of Non-Self.

The ninth Stage is called "Sadhumati," the stage of "Good Discrimination." The Bodhisattva develops discriminatory wisdom to know where and how to save others. Now he also possesses the Ten Powers of Buddhahood.

The more you help others, the deeper your Wisdom becomes. Eventually one reaches the confirmation stage of Bodhisttvahood. This is very close to the Buddha. It is called the stage of the fertilizing power of the "Law Cloud" (Dharma-megha). Just like a cloud in the sky, the Bodhisattva can shower Dharma-rain to help the sentient beings discover their Buddha-nature.

I was asked by Great Upasika Helen Palubinskas, "A certain lama claims that the ten stages of Bodhisattva correspond to the ten ox-herding pictures. Is this so?" Actually, the ten ox-herding pictures were invented by a Chinese Chan Buddhist monk as a sort of parable to teach the disciples to train their own minds on Chan. They do not correspond to the Ten Stages of Bodhisattva. This is quite a mistake.

Buddha himself also sometimes made a parable to teach the Bhiksus. It contained eleven "actions" of an ox, but this was only a temporary example, not the real realization. It was not a practical explanation of the Bodhisattva stages.

For the Mahayana the first "C", the Cause, is to know the causation of Tathagata or the Buddha-nature or the potential of Buddhahood. The second "C", the Course, is to actually carry out all the good Bodhisattva conducts, to practice the Six Paramitas in ones everyday life, to meditate on the two-fold Sunyata of personality and of Dharmas, and to always try to help others, even to the extent of sacrificing ones own life many times. Then one may increase his Great Compassion and decrease his egoism and gradually traverse the Ten Stages. Finally, after passing the Tenth Stage one may become Buddha. This is the third "C", the Consequence of the Mahayana.

The Hinayana Right View is Impermanence, Renunciation and the Non-Egoism of Personality. The Right View of Mahayana is the Bodhicitta, the Great Compassion and the truth of two-fold Non-Egoism. When these are practiced it is the Course. When one attains all the stages, it is the Consequence.

3. Vajrayana

A. The Cause of the Vajrayana

The Cause of the Vajrayana is to read the Tantric Books. For the lower three Tantras, there is the Vairocana Tantra. Vairocana is called the Great Sun Tathagata. He is the central Buddha of the Five Buddhas. Each of the Herukas have their own Tantra, for example, the Tantra of Hevajra (Jepa Dorge in Tibetan). Most of the Tantras include both the Evolutional Yoga (Jaying) and the Perfect Yoga (Tzo-ing).

But before reading these books, the cause of Anuttara Tantra should be the Four Initiations. The usual method is to get the Initiations from a Guru. This is a very important Cause. Then after getting the Initiations one can read the Tantras. From the Tantras one can get the philosophy of Tantra.

The philosophy of Tantra differs from Mahayana and Hinayana, just as they differ from one another. Hinayana and Mahayana are both exoteric doctrines. The Vajrayana is esoteric. The former is just the plain truth, the latter is very secret.

Even if one tries to read the Tantra, without the Impartation and Explanation of the Guru one will not understand. The Tantras themselves have been purposely confused and mis-arranged by the ancient sages in order to keep it a secret. After you have found a Tantric Guru and have gotten his permission and first Initiation, then you can read the main Tantra and recognize the philosophy.

The difference between the Tantric philosophy and that of the Mahayana is this: Mahayana philosophy says that all Dharmas are empty. This includes the Dharmas of mentality and also those of materiality. But even though the Mahayana has such a theory they never take the material reality into their practice. But Vajrayana emphasizes that both materiality and mentality should be harmonized and identified. Eventually one lays most stress on the materiality, on Fire, Water, Earth and Air. All of these must be taken into ones practice.

Mahayana says that every Dharma is Sunyata through a process of mentalization. But in Tantra the philosophy emphasizes the identification of materiality and mentality. Their practice also follows their philosophy. The Mahayana also meditates on the Sunyata of both mentality and materiality but it is only a meditation. They dont take the material things into their practice as the Vajrayana eventually does. The body, the Five Elements, the Deep Breathing, the Tumo, the Kunda Bodhicitta, the Red Bodhi and the White Bodhi and the Vajra love are never integrated by the Mahayana practitioners.

One must very clearly recognize the identity of Materiality and Mentality. This is the Cause of the Vajrayana. The Mahayana Idealism must not be held to again!

One should read the Tantras concerning the practice of each Yidam and recognize it very clearly. One must also get the Four Initiations. The experienced Guru is in the Position of Consequence. The Tantric method of initiation uses this result in the position of Consequence as the position of Cause. This is the special point of the Tantra.

B. The Course of the Vajrayana

Each yana has its own Silas. In Vajrayana one must recognize the doctrine of Silas very clearly and keep them in ones practice. This is very important. To learn the Vajrayana Silas is the Cause. To practice them in ones deeds is the Course. One by one they must be constantly remembered and actually practiced in ones deeds.

Hinayana Silas pertain mostly to the body and speech. Mahayana keeps the Hinayana Silas and also adds the Bodhisattva Silas which pertain mostly to the mind. The Bodhisattva Silas concern mostly mental states that can be observed by oneself but that cannot be easily observed by others. This is one reason why the Mahayana Silas are more difficult to keep than the Hinayana Silas.


There are also many Silas of Tantra. There are fourteen Main Silas and Eight Great Silas of Three Samaya, e.g., Vajra Samaya, Bell Samaya and Mudra (Embrace) Samaya. There are many explanations of them. But I am sorry to say even in Tibet there are very few who teach the Tantric Silas to their disciples. Most of the Tantric Silas concern Vajra Love. Therefore most of the Gurus keep the Tantra secret and dont impart these Tantric Silas. Many lamas dont know their real meaning. Try to ask those Lamas if they can repeat these fourteen? But I repeat them. Every night I examine myself to see if I have committed any deviation from them or not. I repeat them every night, in Chinese. If something is not right, I have to repeat the one hundred words of the Dorje Sempa incantation. Very few lamas, even those specialized scholars, can repeat these. Even the scholars that may know the words of Silas cant explain the real meaning. Their Gurus have not taught these Silas.

When giving an Initiation the Guru should ask the disciples, "Did you observe this Sila and that Sila?" But even though I have received many initiations, never has a Guru asked me about these Tantric Silas. I was fortunate enough to learn about them from my first Gelugpa Guru who even himself never explained about them but he did impart them to me. Even this Gelugpa Guru, I am sorry to say, did not himself understand them but just gave us the good idea to repeat them.

I am going to write a book called "The Subtle Discriminations between all the Teachings of Karma-Mudra" in Chinese. (This Chinese work has since been written and published in Hong Kong and reprinted in Taiwan.) This is very important for both scholars and practitioners.

When most Gurus give Initiations they usually ask, "Have you received the Five Precepts? Have you received the Ten Goodnesses?" At the most they may ask, "Have you received the forty-two Bodhisattva Silas?" They never say, "You must learn the Silas of Tantra before I initiate you and see if you can keep them."

One of the Silas says that the Tee Lee (Kunda Bodhicitta) must not be discharged. But nowadays even the very learned Gurus discharge. For example, see the great famous Guru who has three wives and many children. He discharges a lot and so gets disease. He uses his strength for too much sexual intercourse, I am sorry to say. He himself can not keep the semen. So how could he teach those who are his students to practice well?

The proper Course of practice for the Tantra is first to practice the Higher Tantra. The Anuttara Yoga involves two parts.

First the Evolutional Yoga of how to make the human body become a Buddha Body and then the Perfect Yoga which is very important. An available book on this subject is Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. This refers to the Perfect Yoga, the Course.

I learned the Six Doctrines from many sources; The Naropa Six Doctrines, his sister Nukumas Six Doctrines, and other Six Doctrines. I also learned the perfect Yoga of other Herukas. These are not all divided into Six Doctrines. The Great Power Vajra (Tib: Jig Je) has four yogas. The first is called Mantra Yoga, the second Samaya Yoga, the third is Form Yoga and the fourth is called Wisdom Yoga. There is another Heruka called Jepa Dorje (Hevajra) whose Perfect Yoga is divided into four initiations. There is another Vajra Heruka called Secret Cathering Vajra (Guhya Samaya) and another called Mahamaya Vajra. All the Perfect Yogas have different sections and different names, but most are similar to one another. I will write an essay in Chinese dealing with the similarities and differences between all these Perfect Yogas of all Herukas and how to practice all the essentials. This will be one of my important works.

In Tantra there are many secrets, unlike the Mahayana that just talks about the Sunyata. There are many conditional secrets. One must distinguish between Dharma conditional secrets and that of Dharma-nature. In Tantra, for example in Mahamudra and the Great Perfection, the secrecy stems from the very nature of the Truth. But Tantra also has many secrets involving the conditional secrets of materiality. There are very many scientific methods involving Breathing, the Inner Nerves, the Elements and the Vajra Love. There are many, many scientific and reasonable methods of practice, but they cannot be discussed with a person who has only a little theoretical knowledge of Sunyata. These scientific, reasonable and fruitful methods are written about in the Jaying and Tsoying in the Anuttara Yoga of all kinds of Herukas.

Most English translations follow the Six Yogas of Naropa. It is simplified, others are very elaborate. But the very important books on the Perfect Yoga of other Tantras have not been translated into English.

Most Tantric practice is not so simple as the Mahayana. In the Mahayana the main point is to help many sentient beings and to keep the meditation of the two-fold voidness, of persons and of Dharmas. This is enough.

But Tantra, the Perfection Yoga, is very, very difficult and even a whole lifetime might not be enough to practice and realize. One must spend many years in a hermitage to transform the human body into a Buddha body. After you get the sign of a Buddha body, you can practice the second initiation of nerves, chakras, and the red and white Bodhi. This also takes many years; eventually you will even be able to control the semen from discharging. But this is still not enough.

The real discharge is of the mind. If the mind produces love, or lust, or even for one moment lacks the Sunyata meditation, it is also a leak. There are four leaks. First is the physical discharge of the White Bodhi (semen). But this is only the grossest kind. The second is the emotion of passion or lust and it is also a leak. So is the mental condition of ignorance (the third leak). If the wisdom of Non-Egoism is lacking for even one minute, this is also a leak. And even a moment without Right View is a leak, which is the fourth kind. So there are four leaks: the physical discharge, the emotion of lust, the mental condition of ignorance, and lack of Right View. It is very difficult to avoid these subtle leaks. Some material leaks are more than the obvious one of semen. If you talk too much it is a material leak too. Or if the perspiration increases it is also a material leak or there may be a leak of the semen with the urine. Even if it does not leak into the Dakinis lotus, still after Vajra is taken out, it may still leak out when urinating. It can also leak out with the stool or with the spittle. All these are real leaks. To completely remain without a leak is very difficult.

The practitioner of Vajrayana must not rest even for a moment. When he sleeps he should practice the Sleep Yoga. When he dreams he should practice the Dream Yoga. When the time of death comes, he must use the chance to get the Dharmakaya. When the Bardo comes he must practice the Bardo Yoga to get the good Sambhogakaya. After the Bardo passes he must practice the proper method to get the Nirmanakaya and good rebirth. There are many, many methods but you must practice them before death and prepare yourself.

So while you are still alive, when you walk, every step must be with the Sunyata; when you talk every word must be with the Sunyata. Every action must be connected with the Sunyata, with the Yidam, with the incantation and with the visualization. Not even one minute can be wasted! This is why the Vajrayana allows a person to reach full achievement in this lifetime. He must practice without being quenched until Full Enlightenment is achieved and then he must still keep his body here in order to do good and ultimately to help others. This is the real goal of Tantra. You must practice very carefully and diligently, and then you can get the Consequence of Vajrayana.

C. The Consequence of the Vajrayana

It is said that above the Ten Bhumis there is an eleventh, a twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth stage. The number differs in the various traditions. In any case, these high Consequences of Vajrayana cannot be explained except by those who have already experienced them. And those who have realized them did not show us very much in detail.

We do know that in the Buddhist tradition, when a Hinayana monk dies in order to see if he has gotten the four degrees of Consequence or not the following signs are looked for: If he has gotten the first, the forefinger can bend backward after death; if he gets the second, two fingers can be bent back; if he gets the third, three fingers; and if the fourth, all the fingers.

The Mahayana attainment of the Ten Bhumis can be witnessed by the Guru or by the practitioners own supernatural power.

In the Vajrayana, I myself have seen that when my Guru died his six-foot body contracted to a small mass of only one foot in diameter.

Some practitioners have completely become light at their death and shone away, as Marpa did. Many have predicted the day of their own death. For some, there have been six kinds of earthquakes. And some have died very peacefully with light, earthquake and foreknowledge of the day of death. For some, there have appeared rainbows and their relics have given off five kinds of color. For some, five colors of light appeared, different from the five colors that appeared for some Mahayana monks. Some Vajrayana practitioners have left only hair and nails, and some became completely transformed into light. Some have Parinirvana along with their wives. Marpa had nine wives. His first wife died and became light and passed into the body of the second wife who also became light and passed into the succeeding wives in order until the ninth wife who entered Marpas body which then became light. This is not just talk, or a myth or a fiction. These things have been repeatedly proved in India, Tibet and China.

How does the Vajrayana compare with the Mahayana Ten Bhumis? When Biwapa got the First Initiation from Damama he immediately attained the Sixth Bhumi. When one reaches the first Bhumi one can see one hundred Buddhas? Worlds, fly to one hundred Pure Lands. With each stage, the number increases until Buddhahood is reached, then one can see every world.

But in Tantra, one hundred thousand worlds, one hundred thousand Buddhas and one hundred thousand Dakinis come at once. An example is His Holiness the Karmapa Dushomchampa whose crown is made of the hairs of one hundred thousand Dakinis. At the very moment he attained Full Enlightenment, one hundred thousand Dakinis and Buddhas were all around him and each Dakini gave one hair. This is a method in the position of Consequence. However, the Ten Bhumis of Mahayana are not as clearly apparent in Vajrayana. For example, suppose someone started from my home in Hunan and passed through Eastern China, then across the China Sea, then across Japan and finally reached the Pacific. If we ask the traveler, "You passed such and such a stream in Hunan, what did the trees look like? What did the house look like?" Maybe the small details are not so clear to him and he wont be able to answer you. But he has already passed through that place. And after he arrives at his destination he knows everything. He can contact local people and by his Samadhi and Wisdom he can know everything as well as a Mahayana Bodhisattva. But when he was still on the course the details seemed to be not as clear as the Mahayana Ten Bhumis.

We have talked three times about the three "Cs" of Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Now we will go on to discuss their interconnection within the whole system.

II The Three-Cs in the Whole System of Buddhism

The development of Buddhism was not smooth. When Buddha first came into this world to teach he was alone. He had his own supernatural remembrance of his past lives in past worlds. But there were no established scriptures of tradition here to help him. Although Buddha himself had conceived the whole system, his disciples were not prepared to receive it all. So he had to work gradually over a long period of time.

He had two problems. First, to establish a simplified system, and secondly to enlarge that system as the disciples progressed. Even considering the Yanas two at a time, there is always something to practice and something to advance to. We can see how Buddhism progressed by studying the history of the sages.

But who can see this? It must be someone who can accept all the doctrines of Buddha and his successors. He must also understand the historical conditions and level of wisdom of the people. He must know that Buddha has at least three Yanas taught by his three Kayas. The Nirmanakaya is Buddha Gautama himself.

Buddha had the very difficult task to open a new road for us and prepare the way for the development of Buddhism in the future. Buddha foretold the future and prepared his representatives to continue his work. We must know that when a Buddha dies he does not merely become nothing. He can transmit his light into some person. When Padmasambhava was born in the lotus, his Buddha body was formed from the light of Buddha Gautama. Buddha was not here for just one lifetime.

One must also recognize the Dharmakaya teaching. Anything in the entire Universe, anything, any voice, any color, can be used as a point of inspiration between the Dharmakaya and the disciple. Many teachings of Tantra and Chan have been taught in such a form. Some Chan monk who only saw a blossomed flower immediately comprehended. Another monk was passing by some prostitutes and heard "I have no mind. You also have no mind." and immediately comprehended. The meaning is that the prostitute has no mind to love her friend, and her friend has no mind to love the prostitute. Actually this is evil talk and if a common person had passed by he would have taken no notice of it. But this monk had kept the Hua Tou "Where is my mind?" as his objective every moment. He passed through the streets but his mind never forgot his Hua Tou, being neither distracted by children nor women on the streets. But this evil talk he overheard was accidentally concerned with his Hua Tou and when he met it he immediately comprehended. Even worldly knowledge teaches that the cosmos is a great classroom. Everything is a kind of teaching. It is up to you to prepare yourself and accept it and utilize it. This refers to the Dharmakaya teaching.

Therefore it is not enough to just accept the personal Nirmanakaya teaching of Buddha Gautama, the Hinayana. One must also understand the teaching of his representatives, the Bodhisattvas, who continued his teaching after his parinirvana, and one must also recognize the teaching of the Dharmakaya. Then he can recognize all the teachings of the whole system and itemize and arrange them so that his wisdom becomes very clear. But those whose wisdom is superficial, whose faith is limited and whose knowledge is narrow, those whose minds have not opened widely to accept all the Buddhas teachings, think that only what they themselves believe is the teaching of the Buddha. They think that the teaching of others is false. That is why the Southern tradition always says that the Northern tradition is not the Buddhas teaching, and the Japanese accept the Tung Tantra from China but reject the Anuttara Tantra of Tibet.

In an ancient China, Hinayana and Mahayana were practiced simultaneously by the same individuals. Before Tung, before Sung, from Han till Tung, and even till Sung, many Chan masters lived on mountains without coming down for thirty or even forty years. Because of this Hinayana practice, many got the Offspring Chan and became fully realized. But after Sung, the Chan teachings were talked about commonly everywhere in China, even by cake-vendors and boys.

The monk we spoke of above had tried through all kinds of meditations and exertions to find out the truth of the real mind. Then he only needed those two sentences, "I have no mind, You also have no mind," and he immediately comprehended that there is no Mind at all. Finally he understood what was his real mind. This kind of teaching is not acceptable to the Hinayana. They think that Buddha has died and that nothing can help us. You have to understand by yourself. It would seem that when this monk finally comprehended, it was by himself, but actually there is a great inspiration between the Dharmakaya teaching and the disciple.

There is another story. A butcher had slaughtered some pigs and was selling the pork in the street. Surely he is a sinner and should fall into bad realms. But still since the Dharmakaya pervades everything, everything can be utilized as a teacher, just like the spider who taught patience. A monk who was meditating on his Hou Tou trying to find the real truth, passed that house where the butcher was selling pork. One customer asked for the lean pork without fat. After the butcher sold it to him, another customer asked for the lean pork, and then another and another. Losing his temper, the butcher threw away his knife and yelled, "Everywhere lean! Everywhere pork! Where is there no lean pork?" The monk heard just part of this and comprehended. Everywhere is the truth. There is no need to search for it. Everywhere is the lean (pork). Everywhere is the lean (Truth). So he comprehended. There are many such stories in Chan books.

Maybe other religions and philosophers notice similar things. But if they are ambitious political persons they just take the teachings for use as a great gun. Robert Bruce took the advice of a spider. The spider had tried to build a web six times and had fallen down each time. Bruce himself had also tried and failed six times. But both gained at the seventh attempt. Very few Chan talkers have recognized the truth. It is called Mouth Chan. It is also called Sand-like Chan for like sand by the river, it is very abundant everywhere, but there is very little gold.


Now in China many Chan monks do without the Hinayana. Without practicing meditation, they stay in bars and teashops and claim to have a mad-like realization. Actually they dont respect their Hinayana foundation on one hand, and on the other hand, they dont know that they themselves are followers of the Tantra. They dont search out the history of Bodhidharma. They dont know that Bodhiarma himself was a Tantric sage of India and Tibet and taught the Tantra again after he returned there from China. They brand the Tantra as a doctrine of outsiders. They say that the great Guru Padmasambhava was a Brahmanist. Even at present when Tantra is flourishing in the West, they reject Chinese Tantra. Even many Chan monks reject the Chinese Tantra. They dont acknowledge any Tantric masters. This is due to their lack of knowledge.

In this way the whole system of Buddhism has been broken into small fragments. This makes me very sad. So in my booklets and books I always emphasize the whole system of Buddhism and ask all Buddhists to take good care to practice all of it.

If someone reads my book Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical, they might be afraid that there is not enough time in one lifetime to practice it all. Therefore, it may seem that this talk of mine is foolish. But this is not true. I never ask everyone to practice everything of all the Yanas, but rather to recognize and practice the essential points of each. So now I must point out the essential points.

Even though the entire Pali Tripitaka is available in English, I dont recommend that people read it all. But one must learn the doctrines of Impermanence and Renunciation very well. Mahayana students sometimes neglect these, but they are the real Cause of the Mahayana and Vajrayana also. All Yanas depend on them. A person who actually goes to a cave or hermitage and meditates and keeps the idea of the Impermanence has understood the whole point of the Hinayana very well.

Impermanence will also lead one to the Sunyata of Personality and by having renounced, one will get the Sunyata of Dharmas in the Mahayana more easily.

One must also understand Karmic Causation, the law of Cause and Effect. Even science recognizes cause and effect; plant these seeds, get this flower. But our Cause and Effect is more general and involves past and future lives. This is very difficult to receive, but a real Buddhist must accept it. If you understand Cause and Effect, then the seed of the Hinayana is in your hand. There is no need to go to Ceylon and become a Bhikshu. To practice just one yana the Bhikshu has an advantage. It is not so convenient for the layman to keep all the two hundred and fifty Silas. But still, if the Karmic Causation (Cause and Effect), Non-Ego of Personality, Renunciation, and Impermanence are well understood, this is a good foundation for Mahayana and Vajrayana. There is no need to read a lot of Hinayana books. This is enough for a foundation. Then one can live in a cave or hermitage.

We dont emphasize the result of the Hinayana, but only the Cause of Karmic Causation Philosophy and the course of Renunciation. These are very important, but one should not worry about the fruit of Hinayana. Rather one should practice the renunciation in a cave or hermitage and not pursue Arhatship. Just leave it. It is like a person going from Berkeley to New York on business. He cannot stay in Berkeley for he has a more important goal. So one should take the Cause and Course of Hinayana only, but not the Consequence.

But one must not just talk about Renunciation. One must actually do it. You may talk about Renunciation "Renounce! Renounce!" but at the same time today you want to do some job, tomorrow some kind of business. It is not enough to have such desire, you must actually put it into practice. You must renounce again and again even if tomorrow you go without food. This is real Hinayana.

But the Hinayana Non-Ego Personality is not enough. When one practices he will meet many persons and circumstances and many things and conditions. All persons and things, either good or evil, are Sunyata. So the Causation of Alaya, or storehouse, must be learned. In the Eighth Consciousness are stored many seeds of Karma, not only of evil human Karma but also the seeds of Buddhahood. All are in the Eighth Consciousness.

Another Mahayana principle is the Tathagata Causation of the potentiality of Buddhahood. One need not follow his old Karma, but can positively create a new life. The Hinayana cannot understand this because their wisdom is not deep enough. But how can they criticize those whose knowledge is deeper than theirs? By the Tathagata Causation, the Bodhisattva can progress in the whole system of Buddhism, discover his own Buddha-nature and create Bodhisattva merit through the Six Paramitas. This is the motive to help others. He does not want to improve his human nature but to uncover his Buddhahood. So he increases his Bodhicitta. In order to practice the course of Bodhisattva Action he follows the examples of the great Bodhisattvas and is reborn again and again to contact many beings and get the Non-Ego of Dharma Wisdom. He can even give his own life. He can even do something evil. For example, to kill a robber in order to save five hundred merchants, to have sexual intercourse with a woman in order to convert her as a disciple.

The Cause of the Mahayana includes the philosophy of Tathagata Causation and the two-fold Non-Egoism. In the Course there are the Six Paramitas which are important as well as the Ten Goodnesses and the Forty-two Bodhisattva Silas as well as the fifty-one positions of practice in Hwa-yan School. But again, as in the case of the Hinayana, we dont pay too much attention to the exoteric Mahayana Consequence.

To return to the example of the businessman whose final goal is New York; he may go first to Los Angeles to get a little more business, but he cannot linger there. He cant stay in Berkeley or Los Angeles but must look forward to his highest reward in New York. So the Bodhisattva must go on and practice the Vajrayana. The Ten Bhumis emphasized by the Mahayana are a long journey of ten stages through three great kalpas. At each stage he learns how to get more deep meditation, more deep Wisdom, more Great Compassion and to increase his realization. In this progressive course each stage is deeper than the last one. When he has completed all ten stages, then he has a hope to be a Buddha. These Ten Stages take three full kalpas.

But the Mahayana seems so slow. So many sentient beings are suffering! It is very painful for them! Who could be so cruel to let them suffer so long?

For shortening the journey, or reducing the time it takes to reach Full Enlightenment, the Bodhisattva should advance to the Vajrayana. Usually the Bodhisattva of the eighth bhumi (stage) may be advised by the Buddha himself during a period when there are no Tantras being taught. The Tantric teaching is very difficult to meet; out of one thousand Buddhas, only two teach the Tantra. In this age there is Shakyamuni and in the future it is not the next Buddha, but the one after Maitreya, the Lion-Roar Buddha, who will incarnate from Karmapa Rimpoche and will teach Tantra.


In our talk of the entire system of Buddhism, the Vajrayana is included, but the system that will be taught by Maitreya Buddha will not go beyond the Mahayana. The Mahayana has the Great Compassion of the mind but has no techniques to control the 5 material elements directly. The 6 Paramitas do not deal with the energy (five elements) nor does the Idealist school which always says that everything is only ideas. Only the Vajrayana, whose philosophic principle is called the Seven Elements of Causation, is complete.

What are the Seven Elements of Causation? The first element is called the Right View. The second element is the 9th consciousness. These first two belong to the category of mentality. The next five are the five elements of materiality. The Tantric Dharma maintains that the truth is not purely spiritualism, but also includes materialism. It is not only psychic but also physical. Tantra emphasizes the non-dualism or identification of mentality and materiality; neither is to be regarded as more important than the other. This is the first "C" of the Vajrayana. Unless one thoroughly comprehends the non-dualism of mind and matter, there can be no hope of success in the practice of Tantra. The next two "Cs" reveal this principle much more deeply.

The second "C" of Course integrates the 5 material elements through the practice of deep-breathing. Tantric breathing does not merely include the element of air or wind, but also contains the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the space element. It is the technique of the deep breathing practice to divide the nasal openings into five parts, like a Chinese coin. The middle is the space element, the top is the wind element, because wind is very light and usually rises to the top. The lower portion is the earth element because earth is very heavy and settles to the bottom. Fire occupies the outer edge, while the water element occupies the inner portion of the nasal. Therefore, all five material elements can be controlled by proper practice of the deep breathing. This is why the Tantric practitioner can do many things which the Bodhisattva cannot. He is able to penetrate and transcend the five poisons, saving the sentient beings who have fallen under their way. This is similar to what the Mahayanist tries to do, except that the Bodhisattva does not have the power to fully penetrate and sublimate the five poisons. But the Vajrayanist does and therefore attains enlightenment much more quickly.

When talking about the Course position of Vajrayana, it is necessary to introduce those methods which are not available in the Mahayana. These are the initiation of the Tantra which can bring the Buddhahood into the practitioner so that he becomes the Yidam. The Yidam can acquire more merit in one day than the Bodhisattva can learn in several kalpas. This is because the methods of practice are quite different, and the Guru of Vajrayana is accomplished in the Full-Enlightenment. He is able to introduce all the real Buddhas to come into your mind. Your mind is always identified with Buddha. Therefore, whatever you think, talk, or act is not different from the Buddha, and all good merit is very easy to accumulate.

It takes three kalpas for a Bodhisattva to get Full-Enlightenment. It takes one kalpa for him to just get the merit. It is also called the 5 paths. The first path of spiritual food and the second path of preparatory practice takes one kalpa. The third path of the Right View of Sunyata together with the fourth path of practice takes another kalpa and the fifth path of non-practice takes the last kalpa. But in Vajrayana Mahamudras first stage is equal to the merits of the first kalpa, the second stage till the third are equal to that of the second kalpa, the fourth stage is equal to that of the third kalpa. That is why the time it takes to achieve Full Enlightenment in Vajrayana is shortened.

The goal of the Consequence position of the Vajrayana not only includes the four degrees of Arhat, but also includes the Ten Bhumis of the Bodhisattva. The details of these two methods may not be clear to the Vajrayanist exactly, for he dwells more on the principles involved. For example, if you walk from Berkeley to Los Angeles you may know how all the mountains, rivers and factories appear and can describe them quite clearly to the minutest detail. But if you fly from Berkeley to Los Angeles, your traveling time is greatly reduced but you cannot describe the stations as well. However, this does not mean that you have not made the journey, and in this case one should be more concerned about reaching his destination rather than exploring terrain. So the five Buddha kayas are once and for all accomplished by the Vajrayanists. When accomplished, you can see everything in Los Angeles very clearly.

For the consequence of the whole system, we dont take the Hinayana or Mahayana goal, but only the Full-Enlightenment of the Vajrayana. Thus the time is shortened and it is not impossible to attain.


By Yogi C. M. Chen