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Buddhism A to Z: "E" Entries

Earth Store (Bodhisattva)

"Earth Store Bodhisattva is named after the earth, which not only gives birth to things and makes them grow, but can store a great many things within itself as well. Because this Bodhisattva is like the earth, he can produce the myriad things and make them grow. Anyone who believes in him may obtain the treasures stored in the ground: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of pearl, red pearls, and carnelian. . . .

"His Sanskrit name is , "Earth Store". There are ten aspects of the earth: it is wide and extensive; it supports all living beings; it is impartial; it receives the great rain; it produces grasses and trees; it holds all planted seeds; it holds many treasures; it produces medicines; it is not moved by the blowing wind; and it does not tremble at the lion's roar." (SPV 20 21)

"You could say that Earth Store Bodhisattva is the dumbest of the Bodhisattvas, and also the most intelligent. Why is he dumb? It is because he does things no one else wants to do. He can bear what others can't bear and yield when others can't yield. When his parents were extremely mean to him, it didn't make any difference; he was filial just the same. That is why within Buddhism Earth Store Bodhisattva is known as the Bodhisattva of great filiality and also as the Bodhisattva of great vows. He said, 'Until the hells are empty I will never become a Buddha.' Until every single living being is taken across, he doesn't want to attain proper and equal enlightenment. Take a look at that kind of vow-power- doesn't it seem kind of dumb? On the other hand, we can also say he is the most intelligent Bodhisattva. That is because he stands out above everyone else. He transcends all his peers. Someone asks, 'Is he trying to be special?' No. He does what others don't want to do and are not able to do. And so we can say that he is the most intelligent Bodhisattva. In short, it can be said of Earth Store Bodhisattva that he has great vows, great conduct, great wisdom, and great compassion. . . . Jyou-hwa Mountain is the sacred Wayplace devoted to Earth Store Bodhisattva." (SPV 136)

1) Ch. , 2) Skt. , 3) Pali-----, 4) Alternate Translations: Bodhisattva Treasury/Womb of the Earth.

See also: Bodhisattva, Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva.

BTTS References: SPV, TT 136.

Eight Consciousnesses

1) eye-consciousness or seeing, 2) ear-consciousness or hearing, 3) nose-consciousness or smelling, 4) tongue-consciousness or tasting, 5) body-consciousness or tactile feeling, 6) mind-consciousness or cognition, 7) , the defiling mind-consciousness which is the faculty of mind, and 8) , or storehouse, consciousness.

Consciousness is used exclusively in the sense of distinction-making activities of the mind, which include both the making of the distinctions and the distinctions made. Conscious awareness and what is normally unconscious are both considered aspects of consciousness in the Buddhist sense of the word.

The Consciousness-Only School describes the mind as a system of seven active consciousnesses () which all develop out of the eighth, or storehouse, consciousness. The latter is passive and contains the potentials, or "seeds" (), for the development and activity of the first seven consciousnesses. The seventh consciousness acts as a communication link between the eighth consciousness and the first six consciousnesses. It contains the sense of self, of ego individuality, with which it defiles the communications to the first six consciousnesses. The sixth consciousness is a perceptual and cognitive processing center, while the first five consciousnesses are the perceptual awarenesses of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body.

Formal division is made among these seven consciousnesses after their emanation from the eighth, but division is totally based upon mental distinction. The eight are still basically "one". To use a simple analogy, let us think of a room with seven light-bulbs. You flick on the light switch and seven distinct lights shine. Turn the switch off and the lights disappear. Yet there is just one electric current; the electrical source is comparable to the storehouse consciousness, or, as it is understood after the transformation of consciousness, to the enlightened mind.

The system for describing the eight consciousnesses, and the mental dharmas () which arise out of them and are dependent upon them, was developed as an important part of a pragmatic psychology of mind. The system can be used to describe, in a manner that is accurate and practical, both mental functioning and the specific techniques employed on the Path to the enlightenment that is Buddhahood. It provides a way to account for mental processes without recourse to the notions of a real, permanent self () or of real, permanent external (and also internal) objects (dharmas). All actual and potential realms of experience are shown to be contained within the transformations of consciousness and appear as manifestations of the distinction-making mind.

Nevertheless, because of our attachment to and belief in the reality of self and the reality of the "objects" () which we perceive and understand to be the external world, the true nature of ourselves and the world is obscured so that we are unaware of it.

"I. The Eye Consciousness. We say that eyes see, but it's not actually the eyes themselves that see. It is the eye consciousness which sees. II. The Ear Consciousness. We say the ears can hear, but if you sliced off your ears and laid them aside, would they be able to hear of themselves? If you gouged out your eyes and set them aside, would they be able to see? Could you say, 'I'm not going to the movies, but I'll send my eyes along, and they can take in the show?' Obviously not. The eyes cannot see by themselves. It is the eye consciousness which does the seeing. And where does the eye consciousness come from? From the mind--the Mind King. The same is true for all the other consciousnesses as well. III. The Nose Consciousness, IV. The Tongue Consciousness, V. The Body Consciousness, And VI. The Mind Consciousness. . . .

"The mind consciousness, the sixth or 'intellectual' consciousness, is not really the mind, properly speaking. The sixth consciousness is the function of the mind whose substance is the seventh consciousness, the Manas Consciousness, also called the 'transmitting' consciousness or the 'defiling' consciousness. It is the substance of the mind. It continually transmits the functions of the sixth consciousness to the eighth consciousness, The Alaya Consciousness. The eighth consciousness is called the , which means 'storehouse', because it stores all information transmitted to it by the seventh. . . ." (HD 31-32)

"The human mind is an ever-spinning whirlpool in which mental activities never cease. There are four stages of production, dwelling, change, and decay in thought after thought. Often the seventh consciousness is described as a sea in which the currents of thought surge and seethe; meanwhile, the eighth consciousness is likened to a sea in which the apparent movement of waves has subsided, but underlying the placid surface is an uninterrupted rush of mental activity. The seventh consciousness is the 'transmitting' consciousness'; it relays sensory information from the sixth consciousness to the eighth (the Storehouse or Alaya Consciousness) and from the eighth back to the sixth and so forth. It takes for a self that which basically is devoid of a self. Because of a fixation to a false reckoning, thought movements rage on without stop. The wave patterns within the seventh consciousness are more apparent and forceful, whereas the movements of the eighth consciousness are still and imperceptible. Within the eighth consciousness are stored the seeds of all habit energies and impressions from beginningless time, and there are very subtle movements and a constant state of flux in that sphere." (EDR IV 27-28)

1) Ch. , 2) Skt. , , 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translations: awareness, knowledge.

See also: Consciousness-Only School, One Hundred Dharmas, Five Skandhas--consciousness.

BTTS References: HD 30-33; EDR IV 26-28; "Verses Delineating the Eight Consciousnesses", T.S.


Hsuan-Tsang (Ven.). . Hong Kong, 1976.

Eighteen Realms

The Eighteen Realms are comprised of the Six Organs, the Six Objects, and the Six Consciousnesses.

The Six Organs are: 1) eyes, 2) ears, 3) nose, 4) tongue, 5) body, 6) mind.

The Six Objects are: 1) sights, 2) sounds, 3) smells/odors, 4) tastes/flavors, 5) objects of touch, 6) dharmas (or objects of mind).

The Six Consciousnesses are: 1) eye-consciousness , 2) ear- consciousness, 3) nose-consciousness, 4) tongue-consciousness, 5) body-consciousness, 6) mind-consciousness.

The Six Organs and the Six Objects taken together are known as the Twelve Bases. They are the bases for the production of the Six Consciousnesses.

Like the Five Skandhas, the Eighteen Realms are a way of analyzing the entire psycho-physical world as an aid to breaking attachments to it. Everything that we experience is included in the Eighteen Realms. The first five or the Six Objects include the entire external world. The first five of the Six Organs describe our physical bodies. Together they comprise the entire physical world. The mind organ, dharmas as objects of mind, and the Six Consciousnesses comprise the world of mind. All mental experience is included within them. Since both mental and physical worlds are completely included, there is no need for recourse to a real, permanent self or soul to describe any experience.

According to the teachings of the Mahayana, all dharmas are empty of any real, permanent, inherent identifying characteristics.

Therefore, in emptiness there . . . [are] no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or mind; no sights, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch or dharmas; no field of the eyes, up to and including no field of mind-consciousness. (HS 56-57)

1) Ch. , 2) Skt. , , 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translations: fields, sense-fields, constituents, element, factors,psycho-physical constituent elements, elements in sense consciousness.

See also: Eight Consciousnesses.

BTTS References: HD 31; HS 56-59; PS 334-335.

Eightfold Division of Ghosts and Spirits

1) gods, 2) dragons, 3) , 4) , 5) , 6) , 7) , 8) .

All eight categories of beings are not ordinarily visible to the human eye; however, their subtle bodies can be clearly seen by those with higher spiritual powers. Gods are discussed in a separate entry. (See gods.) Brief descriptions of the other seven follow.

Dragons "can do all kinds of transformations; they can become big or small. They can appear and disappear. How did they get to become dragons? They are said to be 'spiritual', that is, 'inconceivable'. How did they get to be dragons, that is, animals, if they have spiritual penetrations? When they were cultivating the Way, they were 'quick with the vehicle and slow with the precepts.' They cultivated the Great Vehicle Dharma with great vigor, but they did not keep the precepts. Because they cultivated the Great Vehicle Dharma, they gained spiritual penetrations. Because they failed to keep the precepts, they turned into animals. . . .

" are 'speedy ghosts.' They get around very fast. There are ground-travelling and space-travelling . There are water-travelling too. are very fierce. Some specialize in sapping people of their energy. You may know some people who have very weak energy-systems. No matter what kind of good food they eat, they never have any energy. Most likely a ghost is busy living off of their energy. Some drink human blood; some eat people's essence. There are many varieties of .

" are 'incense-inhaling spirits', musicians in the court of the Jade Emperor. When the emperor wants some music, he lights some incense and the all come to play.

" have big tempers. Take a look around you: whoever has a big temper is an . There are human , ghost , and animal . . . .

" is a Sanskrit word that means 'ugly'. It also means 'no (an alcoholic beverage like beer)'. They have the blessings of the gods but not the authority. They enjoy heavenly blessings, but they have no say in running things. Since they have no power, they are always fighting for power, battling with the heavenly armies.

" are great golden winged -birds. They have a wingspan of three hundred sixty . When they flap their wings, the ocean waters part and all the dragons at the bottom of the sea are exposed as potential meals. The dragons have no time to transform into anything. They are gobbled up on the spot by the , who eat them with the same relish as we eat noodles. All gone!

"The dragons were getting very upset about this, because large numbers of them were being eaten, their species had become endangered. They went to the Buddha to complain, and the Buddha gave them each a thread from his precept sash, saying, 'You can wear this, and then you will be invisible to the -birds.'

"That worked fine for the dragons, but the -birds were then going hungry. And so they went to the Buddha and said, 'What about us? Dragons are our primary food supply. We're going to starve!' Shakyamuni Buddha said, 'Don't worry. I'll tell all of my disciples to set out some food for you when they eat lunch every day.' That is why left-home people set some food out for the birds.

" are also musical spirits in the Jade Emperor's court. The Jade Emperor does a lot of entertaining and always has play music so the gods can dance. The gods can dance! They dance because they are so happy they forget about everything.

" are huge snake-spirits." (DFS IX 1677-1678)

1) Ch. , , ; 2) Skt. , 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translations: eightfold pantheon . . . , eight divisions of gods and ghosts, (lit.) gods, dragons, and [others of] the eight divisions.

See also: gods, ghosts, Ten Dharma Realms, Six Paths of Rebirth.

BTTS References: DFS IV 562, VII 1233-1235, 1254-1257, IX 1675 1678; SS VII.

Eightfold Path

1) Right Views, 2) Right Thought, 3) Right Speech, 4) Right Conduct, 5) Right Livelihood, 6) Right Effort, 7) Right Mindfulness, 8) Right Concentration.

The Eightfold Path is one of the principal constituents of the Holy Truth of the Path (see Four Holy Truths).

"1) Right views refers to understanding of the Four Holy Truths. It also can refer to insight into the nature of the Dharma Body of the Buddhas.
Right views "refers to your manner of regarding something, your mental outlook and your opinions, not to what you view with your eyes. You practice the non-outflow conduct in contemplating yourself. Your own views and understanding must be proper." (AS 125)

2) Right thought means freedom from mental attachments, to have renounced thoughts of hatred and harm. It can also refer to the purification of the mind so that one no longer has any polluted thinking. It is sometimes translated 'right resolve' or 'right aspirations,' indicating the importance of mental intention.
"If it is not in accord with propriety, don't listen to it. Why would you think about it? Because you listened to it."
(DFS IV 663)

3) Right speech means always speaking the truth, avoiding false speech, coarse speech, harsh speech, and frivolous speech. Right speech also means that because one realizes the emptiness of all dharmas, one can resolve all disputes.
"If it is not in accord with propriety, don't talk about it. Don't gossip." (DFS IV 663)
"If someone speaks improperly to you, you should think of it as proper. This is the pure karma of speech. Worldly people are of many kinds, and when they speak improperly, do not criticize them saying, 'Ah! He's speaking incorrectly!' On the other hand, be careful not to get too close to such people either." (AS 125-126)

4) Right conduct means that one does not take life, steal, or engage in sexual misconduct.
"If it is not in accord with propriety, don't do it. Don't do deviant things like going into the gambling business and developing spiritual powers in the numbers racket. That's deviant action.
"What is right action? Sitting in -meditation without any false thinking. Studying the Buddhadharma. That is the most proper form of action.
"'But,' you ask, 'if I study the Buddhadharma, where will I get food to eat?'
"You shouldn't worry about that. If you study well, you will naturally have food to eat." (DFS IV 664)
"Proper action refers to pure bodily karma. Use non-outflow wisdom to discard improper bodily karma, specifically sexual desire. I can't make it clear; I can't say it frankly. Many people say, 'Oh well, emptiness is form, and form is emptiness,' and they casually play around. That is improper action." (AS 126)

5) Right livelihood refers to having a correct lifestyle or way of life. One is content and has few wishes. One avoids karmically unwholesome occupations such as selling alcohol or drugs, selling firearms, being a butcher, or doing fortune-telling. It also refers to one's way of relating to others. For example, you should not dress or act eccentrically to call attention to yourself. You should not praise yourself, calling attention to your good deeds. You should not act in a loud or overbearing manner.
"'Look at me,' says the Great Vehicle monk dressed in Small Vehicle robes. 'I'm special. You should make offerings to me.'
"`He's special,' say the blind followers. 'He's probably a Buddha or a Bodhisattva,' taking the gaudy rick-rack for a treasure." (AS 126)

6) Right effort means you should be vigorous in your practice, always thinking, saying, and doing what is right and not what is improper.
"Strangely enough, if you chat with someone, the more you chat, the more energy you have--talking, talking, too much talking. But of what use is all your vigorous talking? It's improper vigor." (AS 127)
"What is deviant vigor? Deviant dharmas harm other people. Those who cultivate deviant dharmas work very hard in the six periods of the day and night, cultivating all kinds of ascetic practices. Nevertheless, their ascetic practices are not beneficial. They may imitate the behavior of cows or of dogs, or practice being like chickens. They may imitate cows, eat grass, and say they are being vigorous because cows eat grass all day long. This happens because they saw that a cow was born in the heavens. They didn't realize it was because of the merit and virtue accrued from acts which the cow had performed in previous lives. They thought the cow had been born in the heavens because it ate grass! And so they take a cow for their teacher. The cow has no understanding of Dharma whatsoever, and so studying with a cow is called improper vigor." (DFS IV 665)
"Right vigor means to cultivate according to the Buddhadharma. One should not cultivate dharmas which the Buddha did not teach. That is called offering up your conduct in accord with the Buddha's instructions. Right vigor means vigor with the body and vigor with the mind. Mental vigor means recollecting the Three Jewels and not neglecting them for an instant. Vigor with the body means putting the teachings into actual practice. . . . " (DFS IV 666)

7) ". This means mindfulness of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha (see Three Jewels). Deviant mindfulness means mindfulness of deviant views, prejudiced views, love and emotion. Deviant mindfulness means always thinking about yourself first." (DFS IV 666)

8) Right concentration refers to taking leave of one's desires and of unwholesome dharmas and then entering the first and those succeeding (see four dhyanas) in the correct fashion.
"Right concentration is the opposite of deviant concentration. What is deviant concentration? It's concentration that is an attachment, that you can't let go of. For example, some people like to drink, and although you tell them not to, they continue to drink with great concentration because they have deviant concentration. Or some people like to take drugs. The more they take, the stupider they get. When you tell them not to, they say 'I can get enlightened taking this stuff. When I take this, things really start happening. I go through changes. I see and hear differently. The world becomes adorned with the seven jewels. Isn't that a state?' It's deviant concentration, that's what it is! For example, one person came here to listen to a lecture, but not a word could get in because he had his deviant concentration going, and he was very attached: 'I'm right! I can't listen to you!' That's deviant, knowledge, deviant views, and deviant concentration.
"Then what is right concentration? Right concentration is the cultivation of the Four Dhyanas and the Eight Samadhis. Don't have a self at all. Cultivate these Dharmas, but forget your 'self'. If you have forgotten your 'self', how could you still keep on drinking, taking drugs, and indulging yourself? Everyone looks for advantages for themselves, but people who cultivate . . . forget about advantages. That's right concentration." (DFS IV 669-670)

1) Ch. , , 2) Skt. (), 3) Pali (), 4) Alternate Translations: Proper Eightfold Path, Eight Sagely Way Shares; Aryan Eightfold Path.

See also: Four Holy Truths, Four Applications of Mindfulness, mindfulness, samadhi.

BTTS References: HS 87-88, DFS IV 663-670; AS 125-128.

Eight Winds

1) praise/approval, 2) ridicule, 3) suffering, 4) happiness, 5) benefit, 6) destruction/devastation, 7) gain (OR acclaim), 8) loss (or bad repute).

Su Dung-pwo (1037-1101), a famous Chinese poet, wrote the following poem to describe a state he had experienced in meditation:

I bow to the god among gods;
His hair-light illuminates the world.
Unmoved when the Eight Winds blow,
Upright I sit in a purple-gold lotus.

"He sent the poem to the Great Master Fwo-yin (1011-1086), and the Master's reply was two words: 'Fart, fart.' As soon as Su Dung-pwo saw the Great Master Fwo-yin's criticism, he couldn't get it out of his mind, and he rushed across the Yangtze--he lived on the south side of the river and Great Master Fwo-yin lived on the north side--to find the Master and scold him. He wanted to tell the Master that he had written an enlightened poem, and so how could the Master possibly have replied, 'Fart, fart?'

"In fact, when Great Master Fwo-yin criticized him, not only did Su Dung-pwo fart, he blazed forth and wanted to scorch Fwo-yin to death. And so he rushed across the river and burst unannounced into the Master's quarters and shouted, 'How could you possibly scold someone and slander him that way by writing "fart, fart"?'

"Fo-yin replied, 'Who was I slandering? You said that you were unmoved by the Eight Winds, but just by letting two small farts I've blown you all the way across the Yangtze. And you still say that the Eight Winds don't move you? You don't have to talk about eight winds; just my two farts bounced you all the way up here.'

"Then Su Dung-pwo thought, 'That's right. I said that I'm unmoved by the Eight Winds, but two words have been enough to make me burn with anger.' Realizing that he still didn't have what it takes, he bowed to the Master and repented. . . .

"I. Praise. For example: 'Upasaka, you are really a good person; you really understand the Buddhadharma, and your wisdom really shines. Furthermore, your genius is unlimited and your eloquence is unobstructed.

II. Ridicule. For instance: 'It's the scientific age now, and you are studying Buddhism. Why do you study that old, superstitious rubbish?' Really ridiculous ridicule and yet you think, 'They're right. How can I study Buddhism now in the scientific age? Cause and effect, no me and no you--how can such metaphysical theories be worth anything in the age of science? I am I, and people are people.' You become confused and are moved by the blowing of the wind.

III. Suffering. The wind of suffering makes you suffer. To be unmoved while ceaselessly performing ascetic practices is an example of being unmoved by the wind of suffering.

IV. Happiness. To eat well, to wear good clothes, to have a good place to live, and to be especially happy all day long, thinking, 'This certainly is good,' is to be moved by this wind.

V. Benefit. You think, 'All I did is go to a lot of trouble cultivating. I don't even have any polluted thoughts. Consequently, people come to me and make an offering of a million dollars to build a temple.' And they are very, very happy. That is to be moved by the wind of benefit.

VI. Destruction. Perhaps the wind of benefit blew yesterday, but tomorrow people may come and ruin everything. They'll tell people, 'That monk is no good. Don't believe in him; he will do anything. Believe in me instead.'

VII. Gain.

VIII. Loss." (HS 18-20)

1) Ch. . 2) Skt. , 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translation: prospersity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure.

BTTS References: HS 18-20; FAS Ch26 II 158.

Eighty-Eight Deluded Viewpoints

"There are Eighty-Eight Deluded Views, which are suddenly eradicated, and Eighty-One Cognitive Delusions (see entry), which are gradually eliminated.

"There are ten basic deluded views which manifest themselves in relation to the Four Holy Truths in each of the Three Worlds-desire, form, and formless. The ten are greed, hatred, stupidity, arrogance, doubt, the view of (bodily) self, one-sided views, deviant views, the view of being attached to views, and the view of grasping (non-beneficial) prohibitive precepts.

"In the world of desire, all ten operate in relationship to the Truth of Suffering, while seven (all except the view of self, one-sided views, and the view of grasping prohibitive precepts) operate in relation to the Truths of Accumulating and Cessation, and eight (all except the view of self and one-sided views) operate in relation to the Truth of the Path. In the form and formless worlds the relationship of the delusions to the Truths follows the same order with the exception of hatred in relation to all four Truths, since hatred must be eliminated before one can enter . Thirty-two deluded views in the world of desire, twenty eight in the world of form, and twenty-eight in the formless world total eighty-eight. . . .

"Upon eliminating the Eighty-Eight Deluded Views, one becomes a first-stage Arhat (Skt. , Stream-winner)." (HS 123 124)

1) Ch. , , 2) Skt., 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translations: deluded views.

See also: Eighty-One Cognitive Delusions, Four Holy Truths, Arhat.

BTTS References: HS 123-124; S42 8.

Eighty-Four Thousand Dharma-Doors

Eighty-four thousand is a symbolic number, which represents a countless number of Dharma-doors.

"In cultivation there are 84,000 Dharma-doors. . . . Of those 84,000 Dharma-doors, ultimately which Dharma-door is number one. Of the 84,000 Dharma-doors, 84,000 are number one. What does that mean? It means, if a Dharma suits your potentials, then it is the number one Dharma. If it doesn't suit your potentials, then it is not number one for you. However, if it doesn't suit your potentials, it may suit someone else's potentials. Any Dharma that suits anyone's potentials is number one for that individual. Therefore, they are all number one Dharma-doors; all are non-dual Dharma-doors. If you try to force a discrimination about which is best and say, 'This one is number one, that one is number two, and then there are the third, the fourth, counting up to 84,000,' no one would cultivate the 84,000th Dharma-door. Why not? Because it is the very last one. The way that people's minds work is that they want to be number one. Therefore, I don't pay attention to whether I'm right or not; I just call all the Dharma-doors spoken by the Buddha 'number one', without any 'number two'. Whether you take a logical, psychological, philosophical, or scientific stance, all are number one. Each one is included in the 84,000 Dharma doors. The same applies to each one of us. Each person is number one. There is no number two. For there to be a number two, you would have to tie two people together.

"You say, 'Now I understand! Now that you've spoken about this Dharma, Dharma Master, I have become enlightened. What have I become enlightened about? When a man and a woman marry, that counts as number two!'

"Not bad. Not only number two, it's even number three. A third one also appears. And so it would go, all the way up to 84,000. But if you don't count that way, then all are number one. Every single one is number one. . . ." (TT 107-108)

1) Ch. , 2) Skt. , 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translations: myriad Dharma-doors.

See also: Dharma-door.

BTTS References: TT 107-108.

Eighty-One Cognitive Delusions

"There are nine degrees of cognitive delusions, which manifest themselves on nine separate grounds. The nine degrees are simply the higher superior, the higher intermediate, and the higher inferior; the middle superior, the middle intermediate, and the middle inferior; the lower superior, the lower intermediate, and the lower inferior. The Nine Grounds are the Five Destinies [=Six Paths of Rebirth minus ], which comprise the first ground, the Four Dhyanas, and the Four Formless Samadhis. . . . Upon eliminating the first six degrees of the first ground, one becomes a second stage Arhat (Skt. , Once-Returner). Upon eliminating the final three degrees of the first ground, one becomes a third stage Arhat (Skt. , Never-Returner). When all the remaining seventy-two are eliminated, one becomes a fourth stage Arhat (Skt. ). sometimes only the fourth stage is referred to as Arhatship." (HS 124)

1) Ch. , 2) Skt. , 3) Pali .

See also: Eighty-Eight Deluded Viewpoints

BTTS References: HS 123-124.

Eleven Benefits from Making Images of Buddhas.

By making images of Buddhas a person plants karmic seeds, which are causes. The seeds will sprout and grow when conditions are appropriate, either in this life or future lives, and bear these eleven fruits or beneficial results.

"1) In every life you will have clear vision.

2) You will not be born in evil places. Your friends and neighbors will all be good people. You won't meet up with evil people or evil beasts.

3) You will always be born in a noble family. You will be born into a household that is wealthy and honored.

4) Your body will be purple-golden in color.

5) You will be very wealthy.

6) You will be born in a worthy and good family.

7) You can be born a king. Now there are no kings, but you could be President. It amounts to the same thing. Or if you insist on being a king, you can find a country with a monarchy and be born there.

8) You can be a Wheel-Turning Sage King. That is even higher than being President. If you cultivate while you are a Wheel-Turning Sage King, you can become a Buddha.

9) You can be born in the Brahma heavens and live for an aeon. You can be a king among the gods.

10) You will not fall into the evil paths. Those who make images of Buddhas will not fall into the hells, the animal realm,or the realms of ghosts.

11) In future incarnations you will still be able to revere the Three Jewels. You will not fall." (DFS III 470-471)

See also: causation, karma, blessings.


There are at least three ways in which the idea of "emptiness" can be understood: a) on the intellectual level, b) in practice, and c) as a description of enlightenment.


Technically, emptiness means that all dharmas have no independent existence of their own, apart from reliance on other dharmas. All dharmas have no real, individual essences that distinguish them from all other dharmas. In other words, everything in the world, both physical and mental, is interdependent with everything else in the world. The temporary existence of each is dependent on its relations with what is not it. There is no such thing as something existing entirely on its own, seaparate, and with no causal relation with anything else. That is, all dharmas are empty of individual inherent being, also called 'own-being', 'intrinsic nature', or 'self-nature' (Skt. , Ch. ).


The Bodhisattva Nagarjuna logically showed that all dharmas are empty in the following way:

"The own-being [of a dharma] () is a self contradictory notion, so Nagarjuna has little trouble demolishing any proposition whose terms are held to have . If it is real, it must exist. If it exists, it must be subject to change . . . .

"The following abstract pattern expresses Nagarjuna's standard strategy of refutation: You say that C relates A and B. A and B must be either completely identical or completely different. If they are completely identical, C cannot obtain, because two things that are completely different have no common ground and so cannot be related. Therefore, it is false that C obtains between A and B.

"The insistence that A and B must be completely identical or different rather than partly identical follows from the definition of as not dependent on another. Qualifications such as 'some' and 'partly' are excluded because the discussion is concerned not with common sense assertions such as 'some fuel is burning and some is not', but with concepts of own-being and essence. What pertains to part of an essence must pertain to the whole essence. A defining property is either essential or non-essential. If it is non-essential then it is not really a defining property of an essence. If it is essential, then the essence can never be devoid of the property." (Robinson, R.H., "Classical Indian Philosophy", 75-76; rpt. IN Elder, Joseph W., ).


Intellectually, we can also try to understand emptiness by the negative method-by understanding what it is not. Of the Five Types of Emptiness, it is only the fifth, true emptiness, which is the enlightened emptiness proclaimed by the Mahayana teachings:

"1) This kind of emptiness lacks any knowing consciousness; it has no awareness. This emptiness, the ordinary emptiness known to most people, is called insensate emptiness because it consists merely of the emptiness we can see with our eyes, and it lacks its own awareness. It is the false, insensate emptiness that people see in places where there is nothing at all. That lack of anything in a place is not the true emptiness.

"2) This is emptiness as it has been understood by those of certain external paths, none of whom understand the principle of true emptiness. They say that when people die they cease to exist, that is, they are annihilated. And so their version of emptiness is called the emptiness of annihilation.

"3) This emptiness is a contemplation cultivated by those of the Small Vehicle. They analyze form as form, mind as mind, and sort them into their constituent dharmas without realizing that they are all empty. They only go so far as to say that because a perceptible characteristic can be analyzed as one of the form-dharmas, that because feeling, cognition, formations, and consciousness can be analyzed in terms of various mind-dharmas, they are empty. As a consequence, those of the two vehicles are not certified as ones who have realized the wonderful meaning of true emptiness. They stop at the transformation city. They stand there, at that empty and unreal place, cultivating the contemplation of the emptiness of analyzed dharmas. That is what is called superficial , not profound . . . .

"4) The fourth kind of emptiness is cultivated by the Condition-Enlightened Ones, the Pratyekabuddhas, who have the bodily experience of the emptiness of dharmas.

"5) Bodhisattvas cultivate the contemplation of the emptiness of wonderful existence." (HS 21-23)

. C.

The lack of substantiality of matter according to the analysis of the New Physics is often wrongly compared to Buddhist emptiness. At most it can be used as an example to aid the understanding of the form (see Five Skandhas). The New Physics does not deal with the emptiness of the other four , which are categories of mind, not of matter-energy.


Below is a story about a monk who was a scholar of the , which is perhaps the most well-known of the sutras that explain the meaning of emptiness.

"Master Teh Shan . . . left home at the age of twenty. After being fully ordained, he studied the Vinaya-pitaka [see Tripitaka] which he mastered. He was well-versed in the teaching of the noumenal and phenomenal as expounded in the sutras. He used to teach the Diamond [Vajra] Prajna . . . .

"Said he to his schoolmates:

When a hair swallows the ocean
The nature-ocean loses naught.
To hit the needle's point with mustard seed
Shakes not the needle's point.
(Of) [learning] and [what is beyond learning]
I know and I alone.

"When he heard that the Ch'an Sect was flourishing in the South, he could not keep his temper and said: 'All who leave home take a thousand aeons to learn the Buddha's respect-inspiring deportment and ten thousand aeons to study the Buddha's fine deeds; (in spite of this) they are still unable to attain Buddhahood. How can those demons int the south dare to say that the direct indication of the mind leads to perception of the (self-) nature and attainment of Buddhahood? I must (go to the south,) sweep away their den and destroy their race to repay the debt of gratitutde I owe the Buddha.'

"He left Szu Ch'uan province with Ch'ing Lung's Commentary [on the Diamond Sutra] on his shoulders. When he reached Li Yang, he saw an old woman selling (lit. mind refreshment) [a kind of Chinese hors d'oeuvres] on the roadside. He halted, laid down his load and intended to buy some pastries to refresh his mind. The old woman pointed at the load and asked him: 'What is this literature?' Teh Shan replied: 'Ch'ing Lung's Commentary.' The old woman asked: 'Commntary on what sutra?' Teh Shan replied: 'On the Diamond Sutra.' The old woman said: 'I have a question to ask you; if you answer it, I will offer you mind refreshment; if you cannot reply, (please) go away. The Diamond Sutra says: "The past, present and future mind cannot be found." What do you want to refresh?'

"Teh Shan remained speechless." (, Series One, pp. 58-60)

It took his encounter with the old woman to teach Teh Shan that intellectual understanding was not enough. He then went on to learn on another level from her teacher the enlightened Chan Master Lung Tan, who showed him the way to a real understanding of the meaning of emptiness.


Emptiness, ill-conceived, destroys a stupid man as would a [poisonous] snake when handled improperly, or a spell badly executed.

(Nagarjuna, )

In America from the Beatniks to the present there have been many who have dangerously misunderstood the doctrine of emptiness as an invitation to self-indulgence: "Everything's OK." "Let it all hang out." "Morality is an uptight hang-up we have to get over." "Our feelings should be our guide." All these have involved wrong attempts to interpret the doctrine of emptiness in one way or another to deny cause and effect. In the long run the advocates of such positions drown in the sea of bad karma they themselves create, yet when they go under they are unable to see that as empty. For those who have truly realized emptiness, living in complete harmony with the moral precepts is the natural foundation of their being in the world.

II. Emptiness in Practice


We can use emptiness as an indestructible sword of to cut through our afflictions and doubts.

Rightly understood, 'emptiness' is not a concept to be understood intellectually; it is a way of life. It points to the emptying of our experience moment after moment. What do we mean by emptying experience? First we should remove 'me' and 'mine' from every thought that arises in consciousness. Emptiness is a tool that can extricate us from ego-centered experience and liberate us from the prison of selfishness. We learn to see ourselves and our concerns, both desires and fears, as empty--like a mirage or a dream, as ephemeral as a bubble or a flash of lightning. Emptying ourselves opens us up to the fullness of the world.

What is emptying experience? It is also eliminating the boundaries that we have drawn to cope with the world--the 'walls' we erect to protect ourselves, the 'turf' we stake out to rule, and the fantasies of future conquests that we map in our minds. Emptying ourselves must lead to the emptying of the 'other', the 'not-self', so that self and other are no longer two. When the line that divides them is erased, emptied, then there is no conflict, no longer anything to fear or gain.

True emptiness is identical to the fullness of wonderful existence. It can be reached through the hard work of becoming aware of every single thought and emptying them one by one.


When a practitioner of the Path wrongly assumes a particular or other meditational experience to be true emptiness, he is in great danger of blocking further progress or of falling. The mentions a Bhikshu who attained the Heaven of No Cognition and assumed that he had attained enlightenment. When his lifespan there came to an end, he slandered the Dharma and fell into the hells. (See also SS VIII, YY Section 5 pp. 1120; Luk, tr. SS 199; DJDL.)

III. .

This refers to the many passages in the sutras that are descriptions, as far as language will allow, of the true emptiness that is wonderful existence.

1) Ch. , , 2) Skt. , 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translations: void/nothingness (misleading), transparency.

See also: Mahayana and Hinayana Compared, Nagarjuna (Bodhisattva).

BTTS References: HS 21-23, 57; FAS-PII(2) 93-94, 102, 106; FAS-PII(3) 68-69; PS Ch2.


The Way of enlightenment is ineffable,
Surpassing the paths of language.
All Buddhas are born from it.
This Dharma is hard to conceive.
(EDR I 96)

Of enlightened beings only the enlightenment of a Buddha

(see Buddha) is perfect and complete. The less than perfectly enlightened beings are Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats (see those listings).

All enlightened beings have the following in common:

1) they have seen through the illusion of self;

2) they have achieved permanent release from the cycle of rebirth;

3) as a by-product of their enlightenments, they possess spiritual powers (see Five Eyes, Six Spiritual Powers), including that of the extinction of outflows.

Becoming enlightened "is like opening a lock...on a door. You have to have a key to get it open. The key was made to fit the lock, and that's what opens it now. How do you find the key? It's by working hard at your cultivation, constantly keeping yourself at it, doing inquiry while sitting in meditation, reciting the Buddha's name, holding mantras, reciting Sutras--in all of that, you're looking for the key. When you find it, you'll open the lock in your mind. What's the lock?. . . .

It's ignorance. It locks you up in the dark. . . ." (FAS-PII(1) 232-233)

"One day the Buddha and his great Bhikshus left the Jeta Grove in the city of Shravasti, where they were living, and went to accept an offering of food, leaving behind only one small (novice monk) to watch the door. After the Buddha had departed, an (Buddhist layman) came to the monastery to request that a member of the Sangha come and accept offerings at his home on behalf of the Three Jewels. Finding that all the Bhikshus and the Buddha had all gone out, he said to the one small who was left, 'That's okay. I'll invite you, , to come and accept my offering. Come with me.' The small nervously consented to accompany him, nervously because he had never gone out by himself to accept an offering before. He'd always gone with Bhikshus. Once he found himself obligated to speak Dharma, he realized that he didn't have any idea what to say. Although this concern weighed on him, he accompanied the host who had so sincerely asked him to go and accept the meal-offering. After they had eaten, the inevitable happened. The host very respectfully turned to the small and bowed deeply, requesting Dharma. As an expression of his sincerity, the host kept his head bowed as he knelt before the small , waiting for him to speak Dharma. There sat the small staring at his host prostrate before him. And then what do you suppose happened? Without uttering a word, he slipped off his chair, tiptoed outside and beat a hasty retreat back to the Jeta Grove. Naturally he felt ashamed at having eaten his fill and then having run away without speaking the Dharma.

"For a long time the host knelt with his head bowed, but finally, having heard nothing, he lifted his head to steal a peek. And he saw that there was no one on the seat before him. The small had disappeared. At the moment he saw the was gone, he became enlightened. He awoke to the emptiness of people and the emptiness of dharmas. 'Haaa! So that's the way it is!` he exclaimed, and wished immediately to seek certification of his enlightenment. Naturally he headed for the Jeta Grove in search of the small .

"Meanwhile the small , petrified that his host would pursue him in quest of the dharma, had run back to the Jeta Grove, headed straight for his room, slammed the door, and locked himself in. Who would have guessed that not long after he had locked the door, he would hear a knock? The little stood frozen with fear, not making a sound, on the inside of the door. He was totally panic-stricken. After all, he had eaten the host's food, and now the host had come demanding the Dharma. His nervousness reached such an extreme that at the height of his anxiety, he suddenly became enlightened; he also awakened to the emptiness of people and the emptiness of dharmas.

"This story illustrates that it is not certain under what circumstances one will become enlightened. . . . Some hear the sound of the wind and become enlightened. Some listen to the flow of water and become enlightened. Some become enlightened upon hearing a wind-chime; others upon hearing a bell ring.

"'I have heard all those things many times. Why haven't I become enlightened?' you may ask.

"How should I know why you haven't become enlightened? You must wait for enlightenment until your time arrives, just as you must wait for food to be cooked before you can eat it. You must wait till you are ripe for the opportunity, then anything you encounter can cause you to become enlightened. . . . It is only necessary that you continue to cultivate and investigate the Buddhadharma with determined and concentrated effort. " (SS I 38-39)

When someone becomes enlightened, an auspicious earthquake occurs. Although the earth moves in six ways, no one is injured.

In order for enlightenment to be accepted as genuine, it must be certified (see certification).

In the the Buddha said this about claims of enlightenment:

I command the Bodhisattvas and Arhats to appear after my cessation in response-bodies in the Dharma-Ending Age, and to take various forms to rescue those in the cycle of rebirth. . . .

But they should never say of themselves, 'I am truly a Bodhisattva'; or 'I am truly an Arhat. . . .

How can people who make such claims, other than at the end of their lives and then only to those who inherit the teaching, be doing anything but deluding and confusing living beings and indulging in gross false claims?" (SS VI 48-55)

1) Ch. , , , 2) Sanskrit: , 3) Pali: , 4) Alternate Translations: awakening.

See also bodhi, no self, Five Eyes, Six Supernatural Powers, outflows, ignorance.

BTTS References: SS I 38-39; SS VI 48-55; DFS IV 519; EDR I 96; FAS-VP 40;
FAS-PII(1) 232-234.

expedient Dharmas

"Being 'expedient` means being unattached. For example, once there was a child crawling toward a well which was flush with the ground. If the child had continued, it would have fallen into the well. The Buddha saw this, but he knew that if he had called the child back, it would not have listened, but would have continued to crawl forward. And so he made a fist with one hand, held it out, and called, 'Child, come back! I have candy in my hand for you! I have candy. Do you like candy?' When the child heard that there was candy, it turned around and came back. There was no candy in the Buddha's hand after all. But was the Buddha lying? No. That is an example of a an expedient method. He used his empty fist to save the child because there was no other method that would have worked at that point. The doors of expedients are countless. In general, whatever method will save a person is the Dharma-door you should use." (SS V 194)

"Skill-in-means [an alternate translation of 'expedient Dharma'] refers to provisional teachings: clever, expedient devices. Skill-in-means can also be explained as meaning 'exclusive Dharmas'. They are not restrained by any fixed standards; therefore, they are 'expedient'. In teaching beings one has to devise different kinds of Dharma-doors. As it is said,

One devises a method according to the event;
One devises a method according to the time; and
One devises a method according to the circumstances.

Because of the different situations that arise, one has to use methods suited to the particular time and place. 'Skill-in-means implies that the methods are not constant and unchanging, but rather impromptu methods set up for a special purpose. Through those means one can `pervasively bring the seas of living beings to maturity.' This is:

Observing the opportunity and enticing with the teaching;
Speaking Dharma according to the person, and
Dispensing the medicine based on the illness."
(EDR V 220-221)

Moreover, she emitted clouds of bodies of all kinds, equal in number to the realm of living beings, which arrived before all living beings everywhere, and according to those beings' needs, spoke Dharma for them using all kinds of forms of speech and modes of expression. Perhaps they spoke of the power of worldly blessings and of the spiritual penetrations. Or else they described how fearsome the three realms are, causing them to no longer create the karma of worldly conduct, but to separate themselves from the three realms and to escape from the dense forest of views. Or else they lauded the path of all-wisdom, causing them to transcend the ground of the Two Vehicles. Or else they spoke of neither abiding in birth and death nor abiding in nirvana, causing them not to become attached to either the conditioned or the unconditioned. (EDR V 79-80)

1) Ch. , , ; 2) Skt. , 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translations: device, stratagem, means, skill-in-means, skillful means, provisional dharmas, skill in expedients, able management/diplomacy.

See also: Bodhisattva.

BTTS References: EDR V 79-80, 220-221; FAS Ch15 46ff (Dwelling in the Endowment of Skill-in-Means); SS V 194.

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