Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Ten Bodies Part 4(十身四)
Sentient Being-body, Land-body, Karma-body, Sravaka-body, Pratyekabuddha-body, Bodhisattva-body, Tathagata-body, Wisdom-body, Dharma-body, Absolute Space-body.
Continuing yesterday’s discussion on Pratyekabuddha-body and Bodhisattva-body, next is Tathagata-body.
Tathagata means “to take the true Path, to achieve enlightenment. To take the true Path.” We often speak of the Buddha, who was born in India nearly 2600 years ago. Is it true the Buddha left our world? No. Even now, when we recite “Sakyamuni Buddha”, we still address Him as our original teacher. He is still with us. His Dharma is still with us. His body exists in the Saha world. He continues to return through His vows.
Every time He enters our world, He abides by the true principles. He carries the principles among people, and promotes them through words and physical actions. That is how to take the true Path to achieve enlightenment. In this world, He sets an example and practices along with others.
We use what is called “cooperative deliverance,” through which we teach others through kind words, and help them achieve realization by influencing them through interactions. We lead others to practice as we do, thus talking the true Path to achieve enlightenment. That is the Dharma-body of the Tathagata, or the teachings of Ultimate Reality.
In the past I have talked about total sincerity, it is called Ultimate Reality. We should practice the true principles of the Tathagata in our daily lives with total sincerity. We must practice constantly. That is Ultimate Reality. The Tathagata is the true principle of our pure nature that we all possess. If each of us can follow this principle and practice with our pure, innate nature, then everyone who sits before me is a Tathagata. If we listen to the Dharma and apply it to our daily lives, we can follow the true Path of the Tathagata. When we practice it amongst the masses and teach others what we have learned, that is achieving enlightenment. That is a fundamental truth we must recognize when learning Buddhism.
So the Tathagata-body does not refer to Sakyamuni Buddha of 2500 years ago, it refers to applying His spiritual essence and principles to our minds and bodies now, so we can teach each other. This Truth and Path are called Tathagata-body.
With a heart of total sincerity, practice the true principles of the Tathagata in your daily living. That is called Ultimate Reality. If we can teach one another with our spirit, conduct and body, we have the Tathagata-body.
The eighth body is Wisdom-body. “When wisdom is perfect and clear, all Dharma can be understood.” That is called Wisdom-body. Once we realize our own pure nature as Buddha did, our wisdom will be perfect and clear. If we apply the true Path of the Tathagata in our daily lives, then wisdom is constantly with us. If we apply wisdom when dealing with everything, then everything becomes perfect and clear. So wisdom leads to perfection and clarity.
Dharma includes worldly and world-transcending Dharma. Worldly Dharma is inseparable from daily life, from people and everyday phenomena. World-transcending harma means transcendent principles. What is transcendent? Everyone in this world relates to other people. Family, relatives, and those we love cannot escape birth, aging illness and death. How do we transcend this? With the Truth.
We should understand the truth about life, about how life begins, and how people come together when conditions accumulate, and separate when conditions dissipate. We should understand all this, then we will be able to let go.
There is a family that brings me much comfort. This family sent their dearest member to us. It is a Tzu Chi family. The husband was a Tzu-Cheng and a commissioner. The wife was also a commissioner, and their children are very supportive. The husband was from Chang-hua. He had nasopharyngeal carcinoma for many years.
Once I went to Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital and saw him. I told him that we should remember to cherish our body and cooperate with the doctors when we are ill. “It is natural and logical to seek a doctor when one is sick. When our life, by the laws of nature, comes to an end, we need to be very open-minded and accept it. Do you understand?”
He said he understood, and had a smile on his face. He knew that under the laws of nature, his last day would come. He passed away peacefully. His wish was to dedicate himself to Tzu Chi when he was healthy, and to donate his body when he died. So his body was brought from Chang-hua to Hualien by car that very night.
His wife, son, daughter and son-in-law accompanied him. He was sent to the medical school before dawn. After proper arrangements, the entire family came to the Abode. I met them before I left. The whole family looked very peaceful. There were no struggles of parting, or the anguish and suffering of letting go. Everyone was so at peace. Though it was hard to let go, everyone’s face looked so serene and blessed.
The daughter said to me, “I am very grateful to you.”
She responded, “My dad had a very bad temper before joining Tzu Chi. But he completely changed after joining. Then we had a good father for many years and our family lived in harmony. Before my father never listened to anyone. But he listened to you. So he changed and brought harmony to our home. So we must want to thank you. He was so calm and peaceful that we also felt at ease. So we fulfilled his wish and brought him here.”
Hearing this, I also felt a sense of ease. This is the most important moment in life. Normally when we concern ourselves with interpersonal conflicts, we develop habits that carry into future lives. After understanding the principles, we should correct these bad habits and develop good ones and develop good ones. We can improve our temper if we handle everything peacefully, and treat our family well. We often get along with others, but become difficult when it comes to family.
It is hard to be tender and agreeable with one’s family. If his kids, wife and family members said that his temperament had changed and he treated them kindly, it proves that good people are part of the Tzu Chi organization. We know that he had rid himself of deep-rooted habits, and will bring good ones to his future life. That is what puts me at ease.
Don’t we often say that our minds are as different as our habits? Our minds are not reflected through our faces, but through our habits. Our innate nature is the same, but our habits vary. After we are born, external influences cause our temperaments to worsen. We become greedy, and more selfish in dealing with others. These habits develop through external influences. Our spiritual practice purges our minds of these deep-rooted habits, which have been tainted and defiled by ignorance. We must cleanse and purify ourselves. Purification gradually eliminates these did habits.
Our minds are as different as our habits. The influence of the conditions that we are in will enhance our habits. Spiritual practice is about eliminating deep-rooted habits.
So this disciple was well respected and appreciated by his family. He had completely changed and developed good habits. We are at ease knowing that when he is reborn, he will bring these good habits with him. In the future, he will get along well with others. That is what we should know. That is wisdom, we should change ourselves. Everyone’s habits differ. At work, if we have our own biases, it leads to arguments. We must use wisdom to smooth out disputes, and reach perfect resolutions. This requires constantly using principles to shape our habits.
So everyone, we can only learn Buddhism as humans. To change our habits, we must do so in this life. There is no other we can change. If we do not transcend in this life, in which life can we do so? Thus, we must seize this opportunity. How can we really comprehend the Truth and build our wisdom?
In the Sutra of forty-two Chapters, the Buddha told us, “You Sramanas must cast aside cravings & desires. If defilements of desire end, you’ll see the Way.”
With cravings and desire, we constantly develop habits influenced by our environment. To purity our minds, we must eliminate desires and cravings first. Desires and cravings are views of and attachment to “self.” If we love something, we love it wholeheartedly.
Of all the tangible things in the world, what is there to be so attached to? Nothing. So we must first be rid of desires and cravings. We should let go of material possessions, but more so let go of our body. We must resolve to offer our wisdom and devote our energy to accomplish everything. If we are afraid of difficulties and hardships in everything we do, then we are still attached to the desires and cravings. If we “end the defilements of desires” and the ignorance of cravings, then we can “see the Way.” We will see the true meaning of Ultimate Reality.
So what is the Tathagata-body? It is the Ultimate Reality. Ultimate Reality is total sincerity that is constant and unchanging. Since we have resolved to practice, it must be on the Path of Ultimate Reality. “Total sincerity, constant and unchanging” is our Path.
What is having perfect and clear wisdom? It means that worldly matters can never hinder or worry us, whether material things or loved ones. True love is to be able to let others walk the same path as us, so they can correct their past eluded habits. That is true love. Since we have affinities to be together in this life, we should help each other eliminate our delusions and habits for future lives, to be reborn with clear awareness. That is true love.
Leading and guiding our loved ones to the right Path, to change their delusions and habits, is what true love is all about.
So everyone, let’s hope our love is on the true Path. The Path is wide and straight. This is the Truth. We don’t need to complicate our minds to search for the Path. It is right in front of us, underneath our feet, by our side in our speech, in our daily living, in dealing with situations and people. As long as our hearts connect with the Way, the true Path is everywhere. So everyone should be mindful in applying the purity of Tathagata and the true principle of Ultimate Reality. We need to use clear wisdom to see all in the world. So everyone should always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)