This is an English translation of Nan Huai Jin’s ‘Explanation of the Yogacarabhumi Sastra’, which is a sastra that discusses the various stages in yogic practice. Please note that my translations are amateur and you need to do your own research, do not believe what I write here and please test it out for yourselves. I welcome any corrections if you spot any.


Chapter 2


8. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, but there is still negligence and laziness, giving up prayoga.”

The 8th line says, why is it that when we cultivate, we are not capable and cannot attain samadhi? Suppose that there are no mistakes like the seventh line mentions, however there is a in-born personality problem of laziness. You say that being negligent is not laziness? Laziness is not negligence? Hey, one is a captain, and the other is the vice-captain. “Laziness” is real laziness, greedy to eat and sleep, lazy to do anything, and he won’t do any duties if you ask him to. His disposition is laziness, one look and you know he is a lazy beanbag.

What is “negligence”? Carelessness, doing things carelessly. You say that you have to chant a sutra and meditate everyday? You read the sutra carelessly a little, “XXX…” You hit the wooden-fish (tool that monks hit when chanting), the mind is anxious, wanting it to be quickly finished so that you can have some free time. You feel like you want to get some free time for yourself, in reality this is a negligent mentality. Why do you want to leave so much free time? Sitting there — not thinking, the karma of not-thinking will lead to the wisdom becoming increasingly stupid. The karma of rebirthing will turn him into a goose, a cow, this kind of being. Don’t think that when the pig finishes eating it does not think, it is still thinking, it has an alambana (realm), what is its alambana? “Hnggg…” It goes into the muddle-headed alambana.

Therefore, because of “the error of negligence and laziness, one gives up prayoga“, this is more serious. What is prayoga? All of the cultivation methods are all prayogaprayoga means a processing-plant. Why do we have to pray to the Buddha? Why do we have to chant sutras? Why must we do Gong Fu? Prayoga. It is to have this beginningless bad karma, taking this thought, and using this processing-plant dharma-door to grind it away… Why do we have to meditate? It is only to cultivate prayoga, this is prayoga in a broad meaning.

What is the narrow meaning of prayoga? Four prayogas:

  1. Warming
  2. Peaking
  3. Enduring
  4. First Worldly Dharma

Who would like to volunteer to write on the blackboard? Do not be negligent, it is a type of merit. It might not be a deed, but it is a still a virtue. Warming means that you meditate and genuinely sit until the arising of what the Esoteric Sect calls Tummo (T/N: The mandarin words mean “clumsy fire”.), opening the qi channels, warming the entire body, attaining the true fire-force of samadhi. Peaking means that the qi channels are opened up to the crown. Enduring means that the false-thoughts are naturally severed. This is only still the First Worldly Dharma. Including the Esoteric sect or orthodox teachings, all of the Gong Fu to do with the qi channels, are nothing more than the four prayogas of Warming, Peaking, Enduring, and First Worldly Dharma. When you reach the world’s number one, then you can only call it cultivating the Dharma of leaving the world.

He says, as a result of oneself having “negligence and laziness”, then the cultivation of the four prayogas cannot be diligently done. The four prayogas are the big principle. Chanting the Buddha’s name can also be chanted until the accomplishments of the four prayogas. Cultivating cessation-vipasanya and others are also the same. However the typical person will not do real cultivation because of laziness; They forgive themselves with negligence, they are very forgiving to themselves. Moreover, they are sometimes repenting after forgiving themselves, feeling that they have not changed for good. However after five minutes, they find many other reasons to convince that they have done the right thing. Humans are like that, therefore they can never cultivate to accomplishments.

9. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there are still many types of hindrances rising for other matters.

Even though we assume that we do not have the mistakes above, however, because of external things, not wanting to do other people’s things… Therefore, I scold some people the phrase “A good cat governs 7 families”. You all know, when you raise a good cat, it will want to catch the mice in the house, even in other people’s homes, therefore “a good cat governs 7 families”. Settle one’s own home, but messily provoking other people’s matters, where people do not want anything to do with him. Even though he is a little warmhearted, people dislike him, finding him so annoying! In this world, are there such people? Many, many, you are also one, haha. Helping other people’s matters blindly (to no avail), and not only just other people, but the things that you do not like to do, you also do them blindly, making a complete mess, causing a hindrance to yourself.

10. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still the inability to tolerate coldness, heat, and other hardships.

When cultivating the Bodhisattva path in cultivation, the hard to pass is passed, the hard to endure is endured. What is the tenth mistake? When the climate changes, becoming cold, oh no, it is too cold, it is not good to meditate. There is no electric stove, there is no heater. If the place too hot, oh no, there is no air conditioner, how can I meditate here? The Feng Shui of this place is not good. That place’s moisture is too heavy. And you are scared of cold, scared of heat. If you do not have the fortitude of a dhuta (wandering monk), you cannot cultivate.

You say you want to change the environment before cultivating, do you want Shakyamuni Buddha’s seat? I’m afraid you cannot sit either. If you say you can enter samadhi when on that seat, I will immediately invite Shakyamuni Buddha here and let you sit. Even if you are on it, you will not be able to enter samadhi. When the light is lit, you say “it is too bright”. When it is turned off, you say “ah, this is too dark”. “Can it not be too bright or too dark?” “Oh gosh, the window in front is open, this cannot do.” Humans have this bad habit. You need to pass what is hard to pass, and endure what is hard to endure.

11. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still pride and anger, such that you cannot accept instructions.”

Pride is arrogance, haughtiness; Anger is the temper being particularly big, but it is not hatred, you don’t have enough for hatred. Hatred is when you are ready to kill someone without hesitating, not caring at all, this is real hatred. How can you guys have hatred? If someone has a bigger temper than you, he can scare you. Yours is just anger, a big temper, big habit. You disapprove of something and your temper comes. In reality it is a liver disease, strong liver fire. Therefore, because of a prideful mind, an angry mind, not accepting other people’s good ‘teachings’, you cannot enter samadhi.

12. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still inverted thinking of teachings.

Your thinking is unclear about the doctrine taught by the sutras. The logical thinking inside the doctrine, you understand it absolutely wrong, therefore we say “inverted thinking”. Similarly, when you look at Buddhist sutras, Buddhist studies, you all still feel “Ah, this is not right.” You start having new thoughts, calling it the ‘modern’ faction. Ducks are specialised in following the tide, if you want to follow the new tide, go ahead and become a duck and be washed out by the tide of the generation. Therefore, throughout my life, I have never followed the tide (or trend) of the generation, and eventually now I have become the newest trend, all of my old things are now popular. Why is that so? Because I do not follow the tide, however that tide tosses and turns, eventually, I stand here without moving. So believe well in the old, honestly and sincerely cultivate your way.

13. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still the forgetting of teachings that have been given.

Do you people have this experience? No? After listening, you forget, so what is the use of this. Correct any mistakes you made, and make sure you do not do it. You say “you have to forgive me, my grandmother gave me a bad brain.” There is no brain that is bad, let me tell you, it is about whether you wish to put in hardwork or not, study these words I have just said carefully. Intelligent people can understand after just listening, but I am stupid, I recite it a hundred times, do you think you will know after that? It is all about whether you want to do the work. After reciting a hundred times, if you compare with these intelligent people, they have fallen behind and you have succeeded. Diligence can substitute dullness, remember this.

14. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still the error of falsely-dwelling as a layperson or monastic. (Translation may not be accurate)

Just like upstairs here like us, monastics and laypeople stay together. Therefore, sometimes you might think, to shave my hair is quite a pity when you see the beauty of other people’s hair. Ah, in reality, it is not the appearance, but the mind.

15. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still enjoying the five appearance of beddings. The five appearance of beddings will be talked about later. (Translation may not be accurate)

Although there are no mistakes made earlier than 15, however, you feel that the meditation cushion is not good, the cotton is not thick enough. You feel that the cushion you sleep on is not comfortable, the blanket is not good, or the clothes that you wear are inconvenient. These habits are called “appearance of beddings”. There are 5 types of mistakes, we won’t talk about them here, it is about the monastic’s genuine cultivation discipline, I will talk about it later on.

16. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still not abiding by the sense doors, away from the external.

Even though there is no such mistake as above, however, when you should be separated with the worldly, letting go of these matters, this includes a lot, as a result, they are not genuinely let go of. The six sense-roots are not kept by discipline. Liking to watch television is the eye-sense-root not keeping by discipline, seeking form and appearance in the world, liking to watch movies. Liking to listen to music, the ear-sense-root is not kept by discipline. Liking to hear jokes, whatever else… to the point when you dream, or when you chant the Buddha’s name, some people’s minds arise a yellow false-thought, that your head’s light comes out, turning black, don’t talk irresponsibly and foolishly. These are not abiding by the sense doors, out of the six sense doors, particularly the Yi sense (6th for thoughts), too many false-thoughts and frustrations.

17. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is no moderation of food, the body is heavy, and it cannot be endured.

Gluttony! Moreover, eating indiscriminately, not eating when hungry. Therefore I tell you all not to make your stomach hungry and go and eat a bit. You say “Never mind, I will eat later.” Then you cause stomach sickness to slowly simmer… and then you break the rules. You say, “This vegetable dish is nice to eat, today there are a lot of mushrooms, a lot of cauliflowers…” After eating two mouths, you see that fresh tofu, you eat another two mouths, eventually the stomach and intestines are spoiled, you cannot enter samadhi, therefore the first difficulty is taking care of food and drink. If you eat improperly, the body becomes heavy, when you meditate it becomes uncomfortable, aches here, swelling and numbness there, because your intestines are not clean and all kinds of sicknesses come. If not you sit there saying “Oh… Poo…” It is not your qi opening, the sound of qi opening is different, your hiccuping sound is different from when the qi channels open. If your qi really opens, I will prostrate to you. After you eat, you sit there and go “er!” If not, the upper body is stifled, the bottom farts, the two people beside you cannot sit anymore because they can smell you.

18. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still personality with excessive sleep, leading to following appearing frustrations.

Greed for sleep, loving to be dull-minded (murky/dizzy). You must know that when you sleep excessively, it is easy to follow frustrations. What is following frustrations? Have you chanted the Bai Fa Ming Men Lun (translated as Commentary for hundred dharma-doors for enlightenment)? For example when you sleep too much it is easy to lou-dan (leak vitality/essence, meaning ‘wet dreams’), it is easy to have dreams, and all of these habits. Sleeping excessively harms the qi, such that qi cannot easy open up. Of course, if you do not sleep at all, it can harm the blood. When you sit on a chair too long it can harm the bones. If you walk too long without rest, it can harm the tendons. Too much action can harm the blood. My mummy, my grandmother! This body made up of the four elements is so hard to handle, we need to harmonise the four elements before we can enter samadhi. So is learning Buddhism to attain the Tao that simple? Just running to the temple to convert to Buddhism, and you are converted? How can it be that simple! This knowledge, it is even there in one section of the Yogacarabhumi Shastra.

19. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is no practice of shamatha first to cease the inner mind, as the zhong-yin (or zhong-you) does not enjoy it.

If you don’t sit until you reach cessation/samadhi, shamatha is cessation, and cannot even cease the thoughts, therefore, your inner mind cannot be peaceful. During murky sleep, the habitual energy that is intrinsically brought by the ling-hun (spirit), has the zhong-yin-shen (or zhong-you-shen; Sanskrit: antarābhava-kaya; translated as middle-yin-body or the bardo-body) alambana (realm). This zhong-yin also includes the bardo in rebirth. The phenomenon that is like dreams or fantasies, there are many habitual energies that have not been eliminated, therefore your inner mind cannot attain samadhi, you do not like the cultivation method of samadhi, therefore if I ask you to meditate you really dislike it. Here, the zhong-yin-shen explanation has been erased from the books.

Do you like it if I ask you to read books? Strictly speaking, why do you like reading books but do not like to meditate? Because from beginning less, your karma is messiness and heavy-mind (can mean neurotic or over-anxiousness as well). Reading books is a chaotic mind, do you know? Liking to read books is this. Some people who read books cannot receive what is inside, becoming dazed, that is the heavy habitual energy of murkiness. You say that I do not dislike reading books, and just want to cultivate samadhi. However, when reading books, I am not murky, just unresponsive like a goose, lost in thought while sitting over there, this is also cumulatively heavy karma. Therefore, many people fall under this avyākṛta (T/N: avyākṛta is wu-ji-xing, meaning no-memory. It is one of the 3 natures, including shan-xing/virtuous nature and er-xing/unvirtuous nature) fruit of karma. Are there people who seem lost in thought? You ask them what they are thinking of, they say “nothing”. You ask them if they have entered samadhi, they say no. Muddle-headedness, the head is like a plank of wood, going into the karmic fruit of avyākṛta. If this karma is prolonged, the rebirth will turn into a monkey like Sun Wu Kong’s brothers, ha, so please take notice.

20. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is still no cultivation of vipasanya to increase wisdom, there is no happiness.

Because you start to cultivate guan (watching; can be translated as vipasanya), cultivate zhi-guan (cessation-watching)now these two are spoken of seriously. Even when you succeed at cessation-watching, it is not counted as samadhi, because samadhi is proper, genuine steadiness. Because you are unclear about the dharma-door of cultivating watching, therefore your wisdom cannot develop at all. When you do the White Skeleton Visualisation and cannot watch (or visualize) it, you need to be able to visualize it, then your wisdom power can develop. If the white skeleton visualisation cannot even be visualised, look at how your wisdom-root’s habitual energy is really muddled and blunt! Only by chanting the Buddha’s name often, chanting mantras, repenting, do you understand? Do not be discouraged, diligence will substitute dullness. Even if you cannot do it in one year, you will definitely be able to do it in 20 years! A man of character studying Buddhism must have this determination. These 20 lines of mistakes hinder us from attaining samadhi, are you clear on them?

Thus are the 20 laws, which can be treated by samatha-vipasanya to enter the one-mind alambana (realm).

These twenty lines can seem very scary, we don’t seem to have one line that we are correct. If you want to treat them one by one, my gosh! High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, the whole body is full of diseases, how can you treat them? Maitreya Bodhisattva says never-mind, be at ease, there is just one thing, “one-mind alambana“, thoughts are focused as one, and these twenty types of sicknesses will be eliminated. If you can chant the Buddha’s name until your mind is not chaotic, when cultivating both cessation (shamatha) and watching (vipasanya) to reach the one-mind alambana, the first step of the four dhyanas and eight samadhis, then we don’t need to talk about these 20 types of sicknesses anymore.

Again, the treatment methods for these 20 types, is summarised as four appearances, which may serve as hindrances to allowing samadhi to arise. What are the four?

It is saying that the reason for these “20 types” not attaining samadhi, summarised, has four types of phenomena which can be a big hindrance during cultivation of samadhi. Which four?

1. The method for samadhi is not well-used.

You are unclear about the method of cultivating samadhi. For example, when you chant the Buddha’s name, you do not know the actual method; For example when you visualize in the Esoteric Sect, I teach you the Zhunti method, and you are not clear about the method; When I ask you to cultivate the White Skeleton visualization/vipasanya, you are also not clear. Then naturally you will not attain samadhi, it is a hindrance. When I ask you to study and research it properly, you say “Ah, I am lazy to research it.” It is not that you are lazy to research, your drowsiness and avyākṛta (one of the three natures, meaning memory) has come, this habitual energy is like a blank, dazed goose.

Therefore, you cannot use the method to reach samadhi well. San-qiao, these two words are very troublesome, therefore I always tell people who are cultivate the Mahayana path, sometimes when you chant the Buddha’s name until the false-thoughts and frustrations disappear, and you are not thinking, it is blank but not drowsy/murky and not scattered, then you are in samadhi. Sometimes you feel that your body is not right, or you ate too much into your stomach and intestines, and cannot enter samadhi, then you get up and exercise a bit; If not, you find a person to chat with. But do not hinder other people cultivating, do not hinder others. If not, it is up to you, there are many methods, you need to know how to use methods well, regulating yourself. This mind is the hardest to regulate.

Therefore, the Hinayana Bhiksus prohibit watching shows, singing, dancing, making jokes and more. Mahayana Bodhisattvas allow them, why is that so? Because then you can regulate the mind. If you cannot regulate the mind, then when the mind is jumping around like a monkey, what do you do? The big temples in the Esoteric sect, in a more secluded area, when you get angry, “dong!” they push you inside and lock you up. Inside there is a human statue, males and females, you then point at each of them and scold, “You scoundrel! Dog, I’ll beat you to death!” You hit for half the day, all these people are all shadows, after hitting you have no more energy. The teacher asks you, “Are you better now?” You say you repent, you are much better. When the door is opened, you meditate. You want to sing, you get a place to sing; You want to dance, the esoteric sect lets you dance. They even teach the deva dance of Dunhuang mural, using these songs and dances to let you regulate the mind. When you have not attained samadhi yet, there is no choice, humans are that troublesome. After eating you want to shit, after shitting you want to eat, it is just that annoying. You must regulate/adjust it well, you must know good-tricks. Therefore this is how your cultivation has hindrances, understand?

2. All cultivation of samadhi methods completely do not have “additional tasks” (may be incorrect translation)

After you have the method for cultivation, you must still have “additional tasks”. For example, when cultivating the White Skeleton Visualisation, why did I ask you all to cultivate it? Wasting so much money to get white skeleton models from Gaoxiong and Taipei, why? Because you people have not seen white skeletons before, now there are no dead people who are placed outside, the graveyard that the Buddhist scriptures talk about do not exist now, you have not seen them before, so we have to buy the models for you to look at. These are types of additional tasks. In that way, why can’t you succeed at White Skeleton Visualisation? There must be all kinds of additional task methods…There is a dissecting room at the Tai Da Hospital where they brought dead human bones to the Mahayana learning residence. Once you have seen them, then it is easier to be on the path, this is just one of the types of extra tasks. Therefore, a cultivator must know about medicine, about martial arts, and know about everything. Why do cultivators need to know so many things? It all belongs to extra tasks in cultivation.

 

Flour… Bread is made from flour, right? The flour is put together and baked, and this becomes bread. Therefore you absolutely need to have ‘extra tasks’, if not it just flour. Therefore he says, regarding cultivation methods, you absolutely lack extra tasks.

3. Incorrect/inverted extra-tasks

Even though you know that you need to have ‘extra tasks’, however you’ve done it wrongly! When you need to be hungry, you eat until you are full; When you have to be full, you purposely empty your stomach. You need wisdom, cultivation path needs to have great wisdom! Therefore, extra tasks have many different methods.

4. Unhurried/postponing/slowing extra-tasks

Even if you become a ‘Zhu-Ge-Liang’ regarding extra-tasks, you think, “Ah! Why did I not think about it during that time? It should be done this way!” What is the point of this? How much regret will you have forever?

There are 20 types of white-methods for treatment, conflicting as such, one ought to know the appearance as such, from this, it can cut off (untranslated)… swiftly you are able to dwell properly, with such mind to achieve samadhi.

This “20 types of white-methods for treatment”, “white” refers to virtuous attending/thinking, black is evil attending/thinking. However you say, when I hear it this way, cultivation is so difficult, oh my mother! When can I ever do it? Enough, I won’t do it anymore. It is not difficult, there is just one path, when these habits are all treated – virtuous actions! Do more virtuous actions! Bodily karma increases “white method”, people who attend/think of virtuousness will find it easy to enter samadhi. Therefore, why can’t we enter samadhi? Your evil karma is too heavy, you can only have “white methods to treat as such”. “You should know this appearance is as such”, every situation, whether it is physiological or mental should be understood clearly. “From this, it can cut off (untranslated)”, “swiftly”, “you are able to dwell properly”, meaning that you are able to enter samadhi alambana quickly. “With such mind to achieve samadhi”, it is not only the body that gets samadhi, the mind also can awaken to the Tao.

When you gain this samadhi, you know that it is achieving beginning quiet-thinking anagamya-samadhi, absorbing in wei-zhi-samadhi (samadhi-that-has-not-arrived yet).

Now it tells you “this samadhi” alambana, what is the alambana of samadhi? It is the prelude to the first dhyana alambana. It is this difficult. “achieving first quiet-thinking anagamya-samadhi“, getting close to the samadhi alambana of first dhyana. “absorbing in samadhi-that-has-not-arrived-yet”, not yet genuinely reaching the first dhyana fruit.

(untranslated)

Therefore, you must understand these “20 types”. The sutras all have all of these, but they are dispersed. He gathered and summarised them.

(untranslated)

This is “worldly” samadhi, arriving here is ” a kind of purity of everything worldly”. Then we can start out cultivation. Without reaching the alambana of first dhyana, it is beginning dhyana anagamya-samadhi.

(untranslated)

“Pudgala” means every sentient being, humans, all represent the person who cultivates the Tao. This noun’s usage in the dictionary is one big heap. Dharma Master Xuanzang liked transliteration, because the meanings are too many, so he translated it as Pudgala. In reality, it is saying, this kind of cultivator can “achieve samadhi“, and can expound Buddhist teachings to other people. However, he is still not a Bodhisattva, Arahant – but he is less likely to be wrong when talking about Buddhist sutras and dharma. “Good at instructing”, meaning that you can give other people instructions. You see, cultivation is like this. After hearing all these, are you afraid? (Replies: Afraid!) Ah, afraid, this path is too hard to walk, I say that you quickly take the lift down now, haha.

This is approximately a thicker part of what I will tell you, now let us flip to page 395, Yogacarabhumi-Sastra Volume 21.

(untranslated)

Recorded by Bodhisattva Asanga.

(untranslated)

When we leave home to cultivate the Tao, the Yogacarabhumi-Sastra

 

 

[To be completed…]


8. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, but there is still negligence and laziness, giving up prayoga. (T/N: “even though there is no mistake as above” will be translated as ‘…’ from this point onwards.)

9. The error where … there are still many types of hindrances rising for other matters.

11. The error where … there is still pride and anger, such that you cannot accept instructions.”

12. The error where … there is still inverted thinking of teachings.

13. The error where … there is still the forgetting of teachings that have been given.

14. The error where … there is still the error of falsely-dwelling as a layperson or monastic. (Translation may not be accurate)

15. The error where … there is still enjoying the five appearance of beddings. The five appearance of beddings will be talked about later. (Translation may not be accurate)

16. The error where … there is still not abiding by the sense doors, away from the external.

17. The error where even though there is no mistake as above, there is no moderation of food, the body is heavy, and it cannot be endured.

18. The error where … there is still personality with excessive sleep, leading to following appearing frustrations.

19. The error … there is no practice of shamatha first to cease the inner mind, as the zhong-yin (or zhong-you) does not enjoy it.

20. The error where … there is still no cultivation of vipasanya to increase wisdom, there is no happiness.

Thus are the 20 laws, which can be treated by samatha-vipasanya to enter the one-mind alambana (realm). Again, the treatment methods for these 20 types, is summarised as four appearances, which may serve as hindrances to allowing samadhi to arise. What are the four?

Again, the treatment methods for these 20 types, is summarised as four appearances, which may serve as hindrances to allowing samadhi to arise. What are the four?

1. The method for samadhi is not well-used.

2. All cultivation of samadhi methods completely do not have “additional tasks” (may be incorrect translation)

3. Incorrect/inverted additional-tasks.

 

[Will be translated completely as the commentary is done]

— Volume 20, Yogacarabhumi Shastra

 

Image link (untranslated)

Translated from: http://www.quanxue.cn/ct_NanHuaijin/YuJiaSD/YuJiaSD02.html

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