Dharma Notes

Definition of the Week

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Definition of the Week (54): Phenomenon (dharma)

The Sanskrit word dharma (Tib. cho) has two meanings:

  1. Phenomenon
  2. Teaching

The definition of dharma is holding its own identity. If something holds its own identity it eliminates another identity as being itself. For example, mind holds its own identity of being clear & knowing, which eliminates the possibility for it to be matter, i.e. being atomically established.

In the context of the teachings, a dharma mind holds its own identity of virtue, which eliminates the identity of non-virtue from the mind.

☞  Purbu Chock:

Definition: That holding its own identity.
Phenomenon is synonymous with existent. To exist it has to possess an identity, and that which does not exist does not hold an identity.
To be empty of inherent existence, it has to possess an identity, because it has to be a dependent arising.

☞ Chandrakirti:

Any definitions of compounded phenomena   [6.215]
And any definitions of non-compounded phenomena,
The emptiness of that alone,
It is the emptiness of definitions.

☞ The First Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gedun Drub:

Take the subject ‘the emptiness of the quintessential nature of the definitions of compounded and non-compounded phenomena alone’ – it is the emptiness of definitions – because it is the emptiness that is the lack of the true existence of definitions.

☞ The appearing desirability that gives rise to attachment, and the appearing darkness giving rise to anger, these do not hold their own identity. Running after them one is just running after one’s projections.

Definition of the Week (55): Object of Knowledge

Purbu Chock: That suitable to be made an object of awareness.

Object of knowledge is synonymous with existent. That which does not exist cannot be made a object of mind. That which exists can be comprehended and can be made an object of mind.

The causal nature of the afflictions, their nature of intense generation, their conditional nature and them being the source of all suffering can be comprehended and be made an object of mind.

Definition of the Week (53): Established Base

☞ Purbu Chock:
Definition: That established by prime cognition
Established base is synonymous with, among others, existent, phenomenon and object of knowledge.
That established objectively as existent is reality, such as the compounded being impermanent, that under the control of karma and afflictions being suffering, the existence of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and their qualities, as well as one’s ability to attain these.

Everything not established by prime cognition, and rather refuted by it, is less than fiction, such as the compounded being static and permanent, that under the control of karma and afflictions being delightful, attractive and happiness, the non-existence of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, or one being unable to transform one’s mind into the Dharma Jewel, and become Sangha Jewel and Buddha Jewel.

☞ Lama Tsong Khapa:
There are six causes for the generation of mental afflictions: … Regarding mental attention it is the mistaken mental attention which exaggerates the attractive or non-attractive, the grasping at the impermanent as permanent and so forth.

Desire and attachment are generated in dependence on exaggerating the attractive qualities of the object. Anger and hatred are generated in dependence on exaggerating the non-attractive qualities of the object. Both are generated in dependence on projecting existence from its own side where there is none.

When we are attached, we are attached to our own projection, and when we are angry, we are angry at our own projections. Since anger and attachment are perceived as the two main sources for worldly happiness, the worldly mind becomes tired out in constantly having to keep up its projections.
Give the mind a rest by giving the mind the alternative of liberation and enlightenment.

Definition of the Week (52): Existent

☞ Purbu Chock:
Definition: Being the object of prime cognition

In Buddhism the dividing line between something that exists and something that is only projected or imagined, is whether it is the object of prime cognition or not.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
The only antidote against the afflictions is to cut through the false appearances projected by mistaken conception and understand the reality of the object.

☞ Gyaltsab Je:
One is mistaken with regards to the truth of suffering by grasping at purity, happiness, permanence and self. Understanding the four aspects of the truth of suffering, which are impermanence, suffering, empty and selfless, counteracts this.
Take the subject suffering of suffering
it is impermanent – because it is generated adventitiously
it is suffering – because it is powered by karma and afflictions
it is empty – because there is no separate controlling self
it is empty – because it is not established in the nature of an independent self.
To exist it has to be the object of prime cognition. E.g., while the fiction of Harry Potter exists, not even one atom Harry Potter does exist.
The permanence of our aggregates, the happiness of samsara we always project, and the self that supposedly posseses these aggregates or enjoys the supposed happinesses of samsara are like Harry Potter – not the object of prime cognition.

Definition of the Week (51): Form

☞ Purbu Chock:
Definition: That which is suitable to be form

☞ This comes from a sutra where the Buddha said:
“Oh bikkhu, because it exists as form and is suitable to be form it is the contaminated form aggregate.”
The word suitable in the definition means that form is suitable to cause the harm of future lives through meeting with the physical sense powers.
Through the meeting of outer forms with the sense powers, attachment or anger are generated in the consciousness—attachment when the form is perceived as pleasant and anger when the form is perceived as unpleasant.
Through these disturbing thoughts one creates karma, which in turn functions as cause for future lives, in which one is again exposed to the different sufferings of cyclic existence.

☞ Form and matter are synonymous, and the definition of matter is that which is made up out of particles. Therefore the aggregate of form encompasses everything that is made up out of particles.

Divisions: The form aggregate is elevenfold: the five physical sense powers, the five sense objects, and non-revelatory form.

The contact between the consciousness and the form object seems non-descript, it seems such a simple thing. But the potential harmful impact on one’s life is enormous. Once attachment or anger for the object have been generated, it will be very hard not to act on this attachment or anger, in this way causing further suffering to oneself and others.

The Great Je Lama Tsong Khapa:
Engaged in they do not satisfy and are the door to all suffering.
The perfections of cyclic existence cannot be relied upon,
Please bless me to recognize their shortcomings,
And to generate strong aspiration for the bliss of liberation.

Definition of the Week (50): Permanent

☞ Purbu Chock:
The definition of permanent is: An existent phenomenon that does not change from moment to moment.

Examples; Space, truth of the cessation and selflessness.

Space, the mere absence of obstruction and contact, does not change. It can be filled, like the full parking space, or empty, like the empty parking space, but it pervades everything unchangingly.

☞ Shantideva:
Like the elements of earth and so forth, [3.21]
And like space as well,
May I always be the basis for the many necessities
Of the boundless sentient beings.

☞ Gyaltsab Je:
Dedicating for Time and Expanse
May I always become, in many ways, the cause for the necessities of the boundless sentient beings, like the four elements of earth, water, fire and wind are the basis for the actions of sentient beings, and similar to space, which is permanent.

From the Stacking of Jewels,
Bodhisattvas work for the welfare of sentient beings like the five elements.

Definition of the Week (49): Functionality

☞ Purbu Chock:
The definition of “functionality” is “able to fulfill a function.”

The function is to be fulfilled is to be able to create an effect.

Every effect is a cause and every cause is an effect because they are able to fulfill the function.

Lama Tsong Khapa:
If the appearance of dependent relation,
Which is unbetraying, is accepted separately from emptiness,
And as long as they are seen as separate,
Then one has still not realized the Buddha’s intent.

☞ Om Mani Padme Hum
The earlier and later syllables of the mantra are cause and effect. Within their interdependence intrinsic appearance disappears and the clarity of emptiness shines through.

Definition of the Week (48): produced (product)

Purbu Chock:
The definition of produced (product) is generated.

Produced is synonymous with impermanent phenomenon and compounded phenomenon.

The emphasis here is on the past tense. A compounded phenomenon only exists once it has been generated, when the process of generation and production lies in the past.
Only then can one say it has been produced, and at this time it is already in the process of disintegration, producing the next moment. In such a way generated phenomena are never at rest.

All impermanent phenomena are produced, like a mirage. Similarly, these aggregates are produced too.

Definition of the Week (47): Compounded Phenomenon

Purbu Chock:
The definition of compounded phenomenon is disintegration.

As such: A compounded phenomenon does not abide, but is always in the process of disintegration. It is synonymous with impermanent phenomenon.

Food for thought: The “compounded” does not refer to the parts of the phenomenon, but to its causes and conditions. Therefore, a compounded phenomenon is a phenomenon that is generated from the coming together of its causes and conditions.

For example, like the sprout, that is only generated once all the causes and conditions aggregate.

We are also compounded, as the self of today is the product of the causes and conditions of the past, and the self of the next life will be the product of the causes and condition of this.

As a star, a visual aberration, a lamp;
An illusion, dew, a bubble;
A dream, lightening, and a cloud;
View all the compounded like this.

Definition of the Week (46): Impermanence

Purbu Chock:
The definition of impermanence is momentariness.
It is synonymous with disintegration.

An impermanent phenomenon goes through the stages of generation, abiding and disintegration. The lower view asserts the step abiding in-between generation and disintegration.

That is the go-stop-go view, which is not possible. Upon generation there is no moment of rest, but the generated phenomenon is already disintegrating.
In such a way we are never at rest, but rather in a constant state of change.

The Buddha said that among recognitions, the recognition of impermanence leaves the deepest impression, similar to the foot step of the elephant being the deepest among the animals.

Definition of the Week (45): Omniscient Knowledge

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsan:

A pristine wisdom gone beyond that realizes directly the ten dharmas of bodhicitta and so forth. Omniscient knowledge is mutually inclusive with buddha’s consciousness.

Each aspect of a buddhas mind is omniscient, knowing all aspects of the two truths directly and simultaneously. It is free from duality with regard to its object of emptiness, and at the same time dualistic with regard to the illusory objects of the worlds.

Lama Tsong Khapa reg. dharma kaya: The final result, which is endowed with a variety of uncontaminated aspects, born from having meditated on the trainings.

From the Two Truths:
Because it is the body of all dharmas,
And because it is the basis of all qualities, beyond thought.
It follows logic and is entity,
And hence is the dharma kaya of the rescuer.

Since “body” is an accumulation, the “dharma kaya” is called an “accumulation of dharmas”, because the name of the result is applied to the cause.

If one thinks, “Why is it seen here only as the cause?”, the reason is that it is the basis for all qualities, both worldly and those gone beyond.

Since it is like this, the word “dharma” is used for inference, and the word “kaya” is used for the nature.

Lama Tsong Khapa here refers to the resultant state as a whole as dharmakaya, which includes all four bodies. The omniscient consciousness is one of them.

Definition of the Week (44): The Perfection of Wisdom

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsan:

The definition of the perfection of wisdom is: A transcendental wisdom that has gone beyond and is distinguished by three qualities.

Definition Key

  1. The quality of the basis – it exist only in the continuum of buddhas.
  2. The quality of aspect – it is a non-dual transcendental wisdom.
  3. The quality of being free from the object of negation – it is illusory-like, empty of true existence.

Four-fold Nominal Division:

  1. Natural Perfection of Wisdom – i.e., emptiness.
  2. Textual perfection of wisdom – e.g., the small, medium and great Perfection of Wisdom Sutras.
  3. Path perfection of wisdom.
  4. Resultant perfection of wisdom.

The natural perfection of wisdom is cognised by relying on the textual perfection of wisdom. By meditating on the thus realized path perfection of wisdom one manifests the resultant illusory like non-dual transcendental wisdom gone beyond the two obscurations.

Reg. ‘perfection’: The Sanskrit word ‘paramita’ means literally ‘gone beyond’, or ‘going beyond’, whereby Lama Tsong Khapa and his students identified the first as the final meaning.

The ‘perfecting’ of generosity and so forth lies therefore in their ‘going beyond’, for which they need to be combined with the wisdom realizing emptiness.

The Buddha said in the 8000 Verse Perfection of Wisdom Sutra that what bodhisattvas lacking the perfection of wisdom cannot achieve over thousands of eons, a bodhisattva with the perfection of wisdom can achieve in one day.

8000 Verse Perfection of Wisdom Sutra: Chapter 29: Ensuing Knowledge

Subuti, further, the bodhisattvas, the great sattvas, should generate ensuing knowledge of the perfection of wisdom in this way:

  • Because all phenomena lack attachment they should consequently be known as the perfection of wisdom.
  • Because all phenomena are not divided they should consequently be known as the perfection of wisdom.
  • Because all phenomena lack arising they should consequently be known as the perfection of wisdom.
  • Because all phenomena are equal in lacking change they should consequently be known as the perfection of wisdom.
  • Because all phenomena are consequently realised be wisdom as lacking self and as lacking a knower of aspects, they should consequently be known as the perfection of wisdom.
  • Because all phenomena are expressed be mere name and through mere imputation they should consequently be known as the perfection of wisdom.

Definition of the Week (43): The Actions of the Path of Meditation

Bodhisattvas on the path of meditation are the beneficiaries of the actions of the path of meditation, such as mental independence and the like.

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsan:
The definition of the action of the mahayana path of meditation is: The benefits attained through meditating on their causal path of meditation.

Six-fold Division:

  1. Internally their mind is thoroughly pacified – their manifest afflictions are subdued.
  2. Through this they are respectful towards every sentient being.
  3. They have overcome the power of ´the afflictions such as attachment and so forth.
  4. Through this they do not experience suffering from external harm, such as from poison, fire and the like.
  5. Internally they abide in the action of achieving highest enlightenment.
  6. Through this the external place where such a person resided becomes a holy place, worthy of worship by gods and humans.

All of these benefits are achieved through the path perfection of wisdom, the non-dual transcendental meditative equipoise on emptiness, which is achieved in dependence on the scriptural perfection of wisdom.

Shakyamuni Buddha: This Perfection of Wisdom is a great Mantra.

Definition of the Week (42): Antidotal Knowledge Aspect

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsan: An exalted wisdom that is able to overcome its antithetical class is the definition of antidotal knowledge aspect.

To be a path it has to counteract its antithetical affliction, such as love counteracting anger, impermanence counteracting attachment or wisdom counteracting ignorance.

To be a happy meditator, it is important that over time the meditation becomes an antidote against the afflictions, because only a lessening of these disturbing thoughts can produce the inner happiness that one is looking for. The meditation needs to hit the spot. Otherwise our meditation will drive on one side of the highway, and our delusions happily on the other side of the highway in the opposite direction, leaning out of the windows, waving and jeering at us.

Definition of the Week (41) – The Sangha Jewel

Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsan

The definition of the Sangha Jewel is: A superior being possessing any of the eight qualities relating to knowledge and liberation.

Definition Key

  1. Knowledge of suchness – Seeing the emptiness of the mind and the lack of inherent establishment of the afflictions, knowing thus the afflictions to be adventitious.
  2. Knowledge of the world of multiplicity – Seeing the emptiness of the complete buddhas, the lack of inherent existence, within all sentient beings.
  3. Knowledge by self – Having personal knowledge of the above two.
  4. Liberation from a level of attachment obscuration.
  5. Liberation from a level of obstruction obscuration.
  6. Liberation from a level of obscurations of inferiority.
  7. Qualities of knowledge.
  8. Qualities of liberation.

Nominal Divisions:

  1. Conventional Sangha Jewel: Any superior being, i.e. Someone realizing emptiness directly.
  2. Ultimate Sangha Jewel: The truth of cessation and the truth of the path.

The way we go for refuge to the Sangha is by taking them as examples. We let us be inspired by the lifestyle and way of practice of the great bodhisattvas or buddhas, such as the Ever-crying Bodhisattva, or His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and so forth, and try to emulate them as good as we can.