Outline: This is part three, the Exhortation Turning.


In this, the third of: the Three Turnings of the Four Holy Truths, the Buddha exhorts his disciples to do what he has done. He says;

      1. This is suffering. You should understand it.

2. This is origination. You should cut it off.

3. This is extinction. You should certify to it.

4. This is the Way. You should cultivate it.

"All of you living beings should know," continues the Buddha...Know what? Know that the dharmas of the Three Vehicles have been praised by the sages. The Buddhas of the past have praised them. The Buddhas of the present praise them. The Buddhas of the future will praise them. All the Buddhas throughout the three periods of time and the ten directions have used the Dharma-doors of the Three Vehicles as expedients for inducing living beings. So they are praised and lauded by all the Buddhas. They say, "These Dharmas are the most wonderful. They are rare and hard to encounter.

They will make you free. What is freedom? When you obtain natural wisdom, that is freedom. When you have not obtained this natural wisdom, you are not free. What is natural wisdom? You might say it was the wisdom of knowing the minds of others. That brings freedom. Unbound...Bound means as if tied up by a rope and not being liberated. Unbound means liberated. No strings. No hang-ups. One leaves upside-down dream thinking far behind and so one is unbound. This refers to the attainment of the highest wisdom by means of which one can put everything down. That's being unbound.

Self-reliant. One relies on nothing and in one's heart, one seeks nothing. Not relying means that when this life is over one doesn't undergo further existence. Because when one has ended birth and death, one has no future becoming, no future birth. Not to be born again, not to undergo further existence is to be self-reliant, to depend upon nothing. One shouldn't rely on others. Here we speak of two aspects: there is that which relies and that which is relied upon. That, which depends, is the self-nature. The thing depended upon is birth and death. When there is no birth and death, the object of reliance is gone so there is no more reliance.

When one is self-reliant, one seeks nothing. This means that one has done what one has to do. One has established one's pure conduct. One has succeeded in one's cultivation of practices. One then seeks nothing because one has attained all one's wishes. At the level of self-reliance, one certifies to the fruit, ends birth, and gets free of death.

Riding upon these Three Vehicles by means of non-outflow roots, the Five Roots; powers, the Five Powers; enlightenments, this refers to the Seven Limbs of Enlightenment; Ways, refers to the Eight Sagely Way Shares; dhyana concentrations, of which there are Four Dhyanas and Eight Concentrations; liberations, the Eight Liberations, the samadhis and so on...

To explain the Five Roots once again, the first is faith. In studying the Buddhadharma, you must have faith. Otherwise you will pain no response. The second is mindfulness. You must always be mindful and not forget what you are doing. Vigor is the third. You have to make vigorous progress. Don't get lazy in the Dharma Assembly. Don't follow your own inclinations to be lax. You must be vigorous. Also you need the root of Concentration, the fourth, and lastly the root of Wisdom. Those are the five roots. "Root" means they bring about the growth of their good roots. From the Five Roots, Five Powers grow.  They are the Powers of Faith, Vigor, Mindfulness, Concentration, and Wisdom.

Ways refers to the Eight Sagely Way Shares, which have been discussed before.

Dhyanas refers to the Four Dhyanas, First, Second, Third, and Fourth. There are three heavens in each of the first three dhyanas and nine heavens in the fourth dhyana. The gods in the heavens of the Four Dhyanas cultivate Dhyana samadhi, but people, regular human beings, can also attain the states of the Dhyanas. Before, when lecturing the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, I spoke about the Four Dhyanas in great detail, but today I will reiterate.

Those who attain the state of the First Dhyana have merely attained a state. Not only the gods who dwell in the Dhyanas heavens, but even people who cultivate can enter the concentration of the First Dhyana. It is called "the Joyous Ground of Leaving Production." They leave afflictions behind and give rise to happiness. This happiness transcends all human happiness. Why don't they give rise to affliction? Because they have attained this kind of happiness and take the joy of Dhyana as their food. Those who attain the state of the First Dhyana feel very satisfied and comfortable all day long. Their bodies have never felt better. The pleasures of sexual intercourse are nothing compared to this feeling. This happiness makes them feel that anything less is quite common place.

The joyous ground of leaving production occurs when you sit in meditation but also continues when you are not sitting. Walking, standing, sitting, and reclining, you are enveloped in this happiness. The more you. Cultivate this state the more it increases. After sitting for a time, your pulse stops. Then, as you are sitting, two hours seem like a couple seconds. Or you sit for two days and it feels like five minutes. The Venerable Master Hsu Lao sat on Chung-nan mountain for eighteen days in this kind of state. All you need to attain this state is to meditate sincerely. It's not that hard. It is not hard at all: especially for young people. If you don't meditate or cultivate, then of course you can't attain it. But if you work hard and cultivate you will easily attain this state of the first dhyana. This isn't something that just belongs to the gods. You, in your ordinary, mortal human body, can attain this state provided you cultivate. There's nothing very special about it. It's very common, very ordinary. It's the first step in cultivation, just getting in the door. It does not mean that you are real high or anything. For example, a few days ago I said there was someone here in our lecture hall who had attained this state. But it's only the first step on the journey. If you wish to attain the real advantage—to certify to the fruition of sage-hood, you have to work extremely hard, and pour on effort to go forward. Don't just stop there.

The Second Dhyana is called the "Ground of the Joy of the Production of Concentration." In this time of happiness, you must not become greedy and attach to it thinking how fine it is. Once that happens you come to a standstill and this is of no use. Remember you are cultivating concentration: don't let the state move your mind, but keep your mind always in concentration. They say,

The nagas (dragons) are always in samadhi.

There's no time they are not in samadhi.

Walking, standing, sitting, and reclining, one should remain in concentration and not let the mind become caught up in external conditions. Don't let the mind run outside to climb on conditions. The mind should be like still water, deep and clear, translucent and still. Then, as you continue to meditate and cultivate, not only will your pulse stop, but your breath will stop as well; you can sit there for any length of time but it will seem like a very short time. However, you still have thought. In the first dhyana you haven't much concentration going, in the second dhyana you've gotten a bit of concentration and your breath stops, but you haven't stopped thinking yet. You may be sitting there for some time when you suddenly think, "How long; have I been sitting?" With that false thought you come right out of samadhi. Before you had that false thought you sat for a long time without knowing how long it was—no mark of people, no mark of self, no mark of living beings, and no mark of a lifespan. As soon as a thought arises, "Hmm...there's something I meant to do...I've got to go to the bank a little later and see how much I've got in my account. Then, later on I'm going to buy some vegetables. Let's see, what shall I have for lunch today?" As soon as you have these false thoughts, you come out of samadhi and your thought hasn't stopped.

The Third Dhyana is called the "Wonderful Ground of Leaving Joy." In the first dhyana one is happy, in the second concentration arises, but this concentration is not separate from happiness. The joy of dhyana remains in the state of the second dhyana. In the third dhyana one leaves happiness behind and obtains a wondrous, never before experienced, inconceivable, subtle happiness. One leaves behind the state in which one takes dhyana as ones food and is filled with the joy of dhyana. This happiness is the happiness of the heavens, it is not something experienced by human beings. If you want to try it out, work hard at your dhyana meditation.

The Fourth Dhyana is called the "Pure Ground of Casting Out Thought."  In the third dhyana, thought stops. In the third dhyana one does not give rise to false thinking, and yet thought hasn't been entirely cast out until one reaches the fourth dhyana. In the fourth dhyana, one puts thought somewhere else entirely--no thought. In this state the afflictions of the guest-dusts have been completely purified. But this does not mean that one has certified to the fruit. The fourth dhyana is not the attainment of the fruition of sagehood. It is just the attainment of a state of "light-peace."

Yesterday, we talked about the four dhyanas. Today we will discuss the Four Formless Samadhis. What are they? They are:

1. The samadhi of the station of boundless emptiness.

2. The samadhi of the station of boundless consciousness.

3. The samadhi of the station of nothing whatsoever.

4. The samadhi of the station of neither perception nor non-


In the heavens of these four stations are called the heavens of the formless realm. The samadhis are therefore called formless samadhis. The gods dwelling in the formless realm have only consciousness they have no material form. The four are also called the Four Stations of Emptiness, because they are formless. The four dhyanas and the four stations of emptiness are called the Eight Concentrations.

Liberations: There are eight liberations. What are they?

1. The liberation in which inwardly there is the mark of form; outward form is contemplated.

2. The liberation in which inwardly there is no mark of form; outward form is contemplated.

3. The liberation in which the pure body of wisdom certifies to the complete dwelling.

Add to these three the liberations of the Four Formless Samadhis:

4. The liberation of the station of boundless emptiness.

5. The liberation of the station of boundless consciousness.

6. The liberation of the station of nothing whatsoever.

7. The liberation of the station of neither perception nor non-perception.

Then add:

8. The liberation of the samadhi of the extinction of feeling and perception.

These are also called "Eight Castings off the back." This is getting affliction off your back, and attaining liberation.

What is meant by the first?

1. "Inwardly there is the mark of form." This means that within you, you still have the thought of desire, of sexual desire. People are just people, after all, when they just begin cultivating the Way they can't avoid the problem of sex. (i.e. form) You may wish to cut off this desire, but you have previously planted the seeds of desire within you. You still have these thoughts and feelings. So, inwardly there is the mark of form.

"Outward form is contemplated." How is this contemplation performed? One uses the Contemplation of the Nine Signs, and the Contemplation of Impurity to look at outward forms. Once you understand the impurity of all form, you won't be attached to the marks of form, i.e., you won't form sexual attachments. You will thereby attain this first liberation. If you are attached, you can't be liberated. This means you have to put it down in order to be free; as long as you can't put it down, you won't be free. How do you put it down? You must see right through it; see it for what it really is. Then you can put it aside. If you can't see through it, you won't be able to put it down. As long as you can't put it down, you can't be free. So you first cultivate this contemplation.

2. Inwardly there is no mark of form; outward form is contemplated. Those who apply effort for a time, without realizing quite how, get rid of thoughts of sexual desire (form). Is that enough? No. You must continue to contemplate external forms. As you look at the most beautiful woman, you realize that eventually she will die, she will get old.

There are Nine Contemplations:

1. Time faction. When that lovely woman dies, her body will first swell up.

2. Secondly the body will turn a mottled green color.

3. It will start to rot.

4. It will break open and discharge blood.

5. Discharges of rotten flesh and pus.

6. It will be devoured by birds and beasts and    insects.

7. Its remains will be in a dismembered conditions.

8. Finally it will be nothing but a skeleton.

9. Which eventually turns into ashes.

Thus the four elements it was originally composed of will each return to where they came from. The element earth will return to the earth. The water will go back to water. The fire will return to fire, and the wind goes back to the wind. It's all empty once again. You contemplate one person like this, a hundred, a thousand, a million---once you understand this contemplation of impurity--be they male or female--depending on your preference, you won't lust after them. The absence of lust is liberation.

3. Having broken through these marks of form, you then reach the next level of liberation in which "The pure body of liberation." Since you have seen through it and put it down you obtain the pure wisdom body. You then certify to the perfect dwelling. "Perfect dwelling" is just liberation, dwelling in purity's original substance.

Then you become liberated with regard to 4. Emptiness 5. consciousness   6. nothing whatsoever, and 7. neither perception nor non-perception--that is, the four stations of emptiness.

Finally, you attain liberation of the samadhi of the extinction of feelings and perceptions. At that time your consciousness is just about to be extinguished, but has not quite yet been extinguished. After eighty thousand great aeons that consciousness will arise again. Therefore, although one obtains the stations of emptiness and so on, one has not yet ended birth and death. The attainment of the samadhi of the extinction of feelings and perceptions is not the end of birth and death, either. In the Four Dhyanas and the Four Stations of Emptiness, plus the Samadhi of the extinction of the feelings and perceptions together are called the Nine Successive Samadhis.

The text continues with Samadhi. There are three kinds of samadhis. What are they? The samadhi of emptiness. The samadhi of signlessness. The samadhi of wishlessness.

These three samadhis, if you accomplish the emptiness, signlessness, and wishlessness-it would take a long time to explain this in detail and so for right I will just mention their names.

And so on means as above all the principles just talked about...

You shall amuse yourselves and attain limitless peace and joy by cultivating this skill, you attain the joy of dhyana as your food and are filled with the bliss of dharma. So you are extremely happy. Sporting in Dhyana samadhi you obtain that limitless peace and happiness. This means if you attain the Nirvana of True Emptiness you forever leave all troubles and disasters. With no troubles or disasters your happiness and peace is unlimited.