"Ananda, heavenly beings for whom the perfection of light has become sound and who further open out the sound to disclose its wonder develop a more focused level of practice. Arriving at the bliss of still extinction, such beings are in the Heaven of Lesser Purity.
Ananda, heavenly beings for whom the perfection of light has become sound and who further open out the sound to disclose its wonder develop a more focused level of practice. For them, perfect light has become sound, and when they distinguish this sound more clearly, it reveals a subtle and wonderful level of practice. Arriving at the bliss of still extinction by means of this subtle practice, such beings are in the Heaven of Lesser Purity. Still extinction means the absence of thought. Their minds and natures are quiescent. These gods have obtained a bit of genuine purity, but not total purity.
"Those in whom the state of purity is emptied experience the boundlessness of light ease in their bodies and minds, and they accomplish the bliss of still extinction. Such beings are in the Heaven of Limitless Purity.
Those in whom the state of purity is emptied experience the boundlessness of light ease in their bodies and minds, and they accomplish the bliss of still extinction. Having obtained genuine purity, they then attain to the principle of emptiness, which leads them to discover the boundlessness of purity. This purity has no end. At that time they become physically and mentally at ease, attaining true self-mastery. They have experienced the Wonderful Existence within True Emptiness and the True emptiness within Wonderful Existence, which is a state most people do not know about. Most people are greedy for external forms, so their energy flows out.
Their nature flows out into emotion;
Their emotions flow out into desires.
When their sexual desire is aroused, they are obsessed with finding a partner with whom they can indulge their burning desire. This is what the quest for external sensual gratification involves. But is it really necessary for there to be external forms for such an experience to occur? No.
Within True Emptiness, there is True Form. If you understand, then True Form is just True Emptiness. You can experience True Emptiness and Wonderful Existence right here and now.
The Heart Sutra says:
Form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form.
Form is just emptiness; emptiness is just form.
The bliss of still extinction—the principle of emptiness—is tens of millions of times more intense than the bliss derived of external physical gratification. If you want that experience, though, you must first stop your involvement with external sensory experiences. Otherwise, the True Emptiness within you cannot manifest.
Here, these heavenly beings experience boundless physical and mental light ease. This is the level where, "Form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form is just emptiness; emptiness is just form." You cannot fake this. You can't say you've reached this level if you haven't. It can't be experienced through mere words; it only counts if you are really there, just as only the person who drinks a glass of water knows if the water is cold or warm. Such beings who have accomplished the bliss of still extinction are in the Heaven of Limitless Purity.
"Those for whom the world, the body, and the mind are all perfectly pure have accomplished the virtue of purity, and they consider this to be a superior abode in which they can return to the bliss of still extinction. Such beings are in the Heaven of Pervasive Purity.
"Those for whom the world, the body, and the mind are all perfectly pure have accomplished the virtue of purity. In the previous heaven, only the body and mind experienced total purity. The beings in the heaven now discussed have developed their skill to the point that they can change the world itself. This world is basically impure, but they can transform it into a pure one. The principle here is the same one expressed in the saying:
The mind is itself the Pure Land;
The inherent nature is Amitabha Buddha.
If your mind is pure, the Buddhalands are pure. If your mind is not pure, you do not perceive the purity of the Buddhalands, either. If you're in the Land of Ultimate Bliss but do nothing but cry all day long, then there's no bliss. If you're in the Saha World and you're happy from morning to night, then you're like the Bodhisattvas of the Ground of Happiness. The principle here is that "everything is made from the mind alone." If you can see through it all and put it down, you will be free and at ease. If not, you won't experience freedom and ease. When the world, the body, and the mind are all pure, then the pure and bright virtuous nature is accomplished.
And they consider this to be a superior abode in which they can return to the bliss of still extinction. This superior abode is a supreme capability to travel anywhere without hindrance. It is a psychological experience wherein they attain quiescent bliss. Such beings are in the Heaven of Pervasive Purity. There isn't any place that isn't pure. They perceive the entire Dharma Realm as pure.
"Ananda, those who flow to these three superior levels will be replete with great compliance. Their bodies and minds are at peace, and they obtain limitless bliss. Although they have not obtained genuine Samadhi, the joy within the tranquillity of their minds is total. This is called the Third Dhyana.
Ananda, those who flow to these three superior levels will be re- plete with great compliance. That means they can comply with the wishes of living beings and make them happy. Their bodies and minds are at peace, and they obtain limitless bliss. They do not have any false thoughts in their minds, so they do not act on false thoughts with their bodies. They experience no unrest in either body or mind. They are not oppressed by afflictions or worries. These beings have no such experiences. Their bodies and minds are quiet and peaceful.
They are also dependable. How are they dependable? They have no desires. They are not always pursuing members of the opposite sex. They are physically and mentally at peace. When your body and mind are not at peace, then a new thought arises as soon as the last one ceases. "Ali, that person is beautiful." Or, "So-and-so is really hand- some." All day long you think about such things. But if one's body and mind are at peace, then those kinds of thoughts simply do not arise any more. It all boils down to one problem. I keep talking and talking, but in the final analysis, what leads you to create offenses is just this one problem. It's that first thought of ignorance that stirs up so many ca- lamities as a consequence. Emotional love and desire come from that ignorance. So the first of the Twelve Links of Conditioned Causation is ignorance. Ignorance leads to activity, which leads to consciousness. From consciousness come name and form. It all starts right there.
Although the beings described here have not broken through ig- norance, nonetheless they obtain limitless bliss. Although they have not obtained genuine Samadhi, the joy within the tranquillity of their minds is total. They don't have genuine concentration, but in the peace and quiet of their minds there is a kind of joy. This is called the Third Dhyana. When you reach the Third Dhyana, your thoughts do not arise. You obtain the genuine bliss of still extinction. It is said:
When no thought arises, the entire substance appears.
When the six sense organs suddenly move,
one is covered as if by clouds.
That moment without any thought arising is the essence of the Buddha. Your eyes taking a look and your ears listening is the movement by which you are obscured. You're in the clouds. You cover up your own nature.
Before the stage now being discussed, one's thoughts were still active. For instance, when one's pulse stopped, one would think, "How is it my pulse has stopped?" and with that one thought the pulse would begin again. When one's breath stopped, one would think, "I'm not breathing." And that thought would trigger the breath to start up again. That's what happened before thoughts ceased. This no longer happens in the Third Dhyana. If the pulse or the breath ceases–no matter what happens–one pays no attention. Such thoughts do not arise anymore. One has no thoughts at all. They can't be found. That's what is meant by the lines, "When no thought arises, the entire substance appears." That's the state of the Third Dhyana.
To be continued