Ch’an Cultivation


-Continued from issue #107

-By Dr. James C.M. Yu (Upasaka Kuo K'ung) Associate Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Auburn University; Advisor, Vajra Bodhi Sea Journal

5) Demolition of Ego-bodies

      Let P be a property or a statement, and B be a part or element of B. Then I accept the following statement as a law:

P is assigned to B if and only if

P can be assigned to all B; and

P is additive.

From this law, the way to attain perfect happiness and tranquility is clear in my mind. It is the demolition of the ego-body.

      The work of demolition consists of three steps:

1st step: Inside Cleanup. To demolish one's own ego-body.

2nd step: Outside Cleanup. To have no thought of the existence of the ego-bodies of others.

3rd step: Non-cleanup. To have no thought of demolition in one's mind when the work has been completed.

The three steps form one solution, which cannot be separated. This is very important and essential. The work in the first step is called merit and the work in the second and third steps is called virtue. Merit-virtue is one, not two. Merit without virtue will demolish the ego-body temporarily, but as time goes on a new ego-body forms again. Therefore, with merit but no virtue, one's ego-body will be dying and being re­born in the time domain. We may say that performing merit is to escape the bondage of space and performing virtue is to escape the bondage of time. To escape the space-time bondage, merit-virtue must be completed as one, not two. To understand this, one has just to think of the purpose and the formation of the ego-sphere. Its purpose is existence and survival, protection and prosperity. Its formation is rooted in the principle of dualism. This is not speculation but has a solid foundation. Let us examine it further.

The formation of the ego-body depends on two conditions. The first is an inner condition that a human being has a human nature. The second is an outer condition that a human being has an environment and that influence-response or karmic relation is at work.

If one had no human nature, then one would be like a piece of wood or a metal bar. In that case, he would respond to a change of his environment, but he would have no freedom to select the response. That is: the influence-response or karmic relation would be a dead one, just like the stress-strain relation of a metal bar which can be determined in a laboratory. To say that a human being has no freedom to select the response is, of course, against our experience. Therefore, I have awakened to the fact that human beings have a nature, a human nature, which consists of freedom as its essential and indispensable element.

It is clear that the formation of the ego-body is basically the response of the human nature to environmental changes. One may think that, since the ego-body is a consequence of the environmental changes, nothing can be done to avoid having one. To think in such a way is to deny the essential element of the human nature's freedom. A human being without freedom is not different from a piece of wood or a piece of metal; at most, he is just a wonderful machine. To think in such a way implies that the influence-response relation is a dead one, and the essential element of freedom is ruled out from the human nature.

Merit is the use of human freedom to demolish one's own ego-body, while virtue is the breaking off of the karmic relation, or equivalently the removal of the environmental source, which stimulates the growth of the ego-body for the sake of survival. Therefore, merit-virtue is one, not two; united, not separate.

6) My Puzzle—The Vicious Circle

I have awakened to the existence of my ego-body and realize that it is impossible to reach perfect happiness and complete tranquility with such an ego-body. To attain such a wonderful state, I clearly and fully understand that I have to demolish my ego-body. But did I demolish my ego-body after my awakening? No, I didn't. I made some effort to weaken it. As to demolishing it, didn't and couldn't. Why? Why couldn't do what I should have done? I was greatly puzzled.

Since I knew the solution, I kept cultivating myself to weaken the ego-body. At a time when my ego-body was weakened to a certain degree, the reason why I couldn't demolish it bubbled up. The reason: I was raid that I would have nothing left after ego-body was demolished. I was startled the reason. I further noticed that the thought of fearing having nothing left after the demolition of the ego-body is still geed for something; and greed for something is one of the very sources of the formation of the ego-body. Hence, the problem 1 the solution form a vicious circle.

The situation of the vicious circle troubled me for quite a while. This finding leaves me three directions to ponder:

A) The ego-body is the human nature and there is nothing, which can be done to demolish it. Hence, perfect happiness and tranquility, full understanding and communication, worldly peace and harmonious living are simply impossible. The hope of attaining such a wonderful state of mind is just a daydream, an expectation without any ground, and a false thought.

B) The ego-body is not a human nature.

C) If the ego-body is the human nature, and if I will have nothing left after its demolition, I will still do it in order to sacrifice myself by will power and weak the vicious circle.

The third way of thinking is not natural or compatible with my experiences and observations. Not many conducts and behaviors of human beings are motivated by sheer sacrifice. And on the other hand, sacrifices are in many cases simply motivations for obtaining something else in different form and different color. Therefore, I will not search any further in this direction. The other two ways of thinking are all centered in one question is the ego-body the human nature?

D) Is the Ego-body the Human Nature?

This question is critical. The answer to the question is the turning point of my life. If the ego-body is the human nature, there is not anything that one in do to alter it. If it is not the time, one only has to find his or her in original nature provided there is one.

Therefore, I accept, the following, statement as a law:

      Human beings have a human nature. This statement is not mathematical hypothesis but a physical law. It is not a philosophical theory but a reality, which can be found in one's heart. One has observed his or her own conduct and thoughts to prove to himself or herself that he or she has a human nature. The proof must be sound and firm. It is so firm that, even with a sword on his neck, he still believes and says that he has a human nature.

To see or realize the human nature is not easy, but to show that the ego-body is not human nature is not "difficult at all. One has only to understand the meaning of the word "nature." This word "nature" will he studied in the next chapter as a central notion. At this time it suffices only to observe one condition of the nature. That is: nature is independent of time. In other words, nature remains the same when the environment changes. Since the ego-body is a product or response to the environmental changes for survival and other purposes, it changes with the environment. Therefore, it is not a nature. This conclusion can also be obtained if one observes that the ego-body is formed by weaving together, all the forces of affinity (positive and negative). The force of affinity is a function of time. Hence, the ego-body is not a nature.

If one knows one's own nature, fine can 1ive by it and respond to all environmental changes according to it. If one does not know one's nature, one either wants to follow the environmental changes or he lost in them or to be one's self. If one wants to be one's self, the purpose, and the only purpose, of one's life is to see and realize one's own nature. Otherwise, how can one be one's self?