The Question about the Four Applications of Mindfulness
If the Four Applications of Mindfulness can
completely perfect the Path, why speak of the Thirty-seven? If you
because of conciseness speak of the Four Applications of
Mindfulness, and of The Thirty-Seven when speaking in detail, this
(procedure) is not acceptable. Why is this the case? If one were to
speak in detail the (speaking) would be endless.
Even thought the Path can be attained when the
Four Applications of Mindfulness alone are perfected, still one
should speak of the Four Right Efforts (Samyakprahana) and all of
the other (Thirty-Seven) Dharmas. What is the reason for this? It is
because the thoughts of sentient beings are varied, and the Dharmas which are
pleasing to them and which they understand are likewise varied.
Although the Buddha’s Dharma possesses one truth and one mark, for
the sake of sentient beings he resorts to differentiated teachings
in the Twelve Sections of the Sutras and the 84,000 Dharmas. If it
were not this way, the first turning of the Dharma Wheel, when the Four
Noble Truths were taught, would have been sufficient and there would
have been no need for further Dharma (teaching).
Since there are sentient beings who abhor
suffering and are attached to pleasure, he has taught the Four Noble
Truths for them (as follows):
- All the Dharmas of
body and mind are suffering and lack any pleasure,
- The causes and conditions of suffering are
(to be found) in craving and all the defilements,
- The place where suffering is extinguished is called Nirvana;
- With Skill in Means (upaya) one reaches
Nirvana and this is the Path.
There are sentient beings who have many
confused thoughts, and, their thoughts being perverted (viparyasa),
they are attached to this body, to feelings, thoughts and
Dharmas and consequently perform wrong
deeds. It is for these people that the Four Applications of
Mindfulness were taught. So it is that all the Paths and Dharmas
were taught separately for (different) individuals. For example, a
physician cannot cure all diseases by using one single drug. Because
diseases are not all the same, the drugs themselves cannot be
(limited) to one (kind). The Buddhas in the same way, depending on
the various mental ills of men, used a variety of "drugs" to cure
them. He sometimes taught but one Dharma to deliver beings, as in
the case when he said to one Bhiksu: "Do
not take what does not belong to you."
The Bhiksu said: "(I) know, O! Bhagavan."
The Buddha asked: "What do you know?"
The Bhiksu replied: "All
Dharmas are not mine, I should not grasp them."
At other times, the Buddha used two
Dharmas to deliver beings, namely: (1) concentration (samadhi) and
(2) wisdom (prajna); or sometimes three: (1) morality (sila) (2) concentration
(3) wisdom. On other occasions he used Four Dharmas—the Four Applications
of Mindfulness. Thus it is that the Four Applications of Mindfulness
alone can attain to the Path. The rest of the Dharmas differ (from them) in
respect to practice, specific number and intuitive view. Therefore, the Four
Right Efforts and all the other Dharmas should also be taught. Further,
the Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, because the power of their faith is
great and in order to save all sentient beings, were taught all
Thirty-Seven (Limbs of Enlightenment) by the Buddha at the same time.
If we talk about the various Dharmas such as the Ten Notions (samjna) and the like, they
are all contained in The Thirty-Seven Limbs of Enlightenment. Thus,
The Thirty-Seven are like a mixture of various drugs which can
effectively cure all the diseases of sentient beings and for this
reason there is no need for a great deal of (further) discussion. An
illustration (of this principle) is that although the Buddha has
infinite power, only Ten Powers (bala) are listed, since they are
sufficient to save sentient beings.
These Thirty-Seven have Ten Dharmas as their
foundation. What are the ten?
- Faith (sraddha)
- Morality (sila)
- Thoughtful Intentions (samkalpa)
- Vigor (virya)
- Mindfulness (smrti)
- Concentration (samadhi)
- Wisdom (prajna)
- Tranquility (prasrabdhi)
- Rapture (prithi)
- Even-Mindfulness (upeksa).
(1) Faith is faith as Faculty (indriya) and as Power.
(2) Morality is Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood.
(3) (Explanation missing in text.)
(4) Vigor is the Four Right Efforts: Vigor as Faculty;
vigor as Power; vigor as Enlightenment-
Limb; and Right Endeavor
(5) Mindfulness is mindfulness as Faculty, mindfulness
as Power, mindfulness as Enlightenment-
Limb and Right Mindfulness.
(6) Concentration is the Four Bases of Psychic Powers (rddhipada);
concentration as Faculty;
concentration as Power; concentration as
Enlightenment-Limb; and Right Concentration.
(7) Wisdom is the Four Applications of Mindfulness: wisdom as Faculty; wisdom as
investigation into Dharmas; wisdom as Enlightenment-Limb; and Right View.
(8-10) (Explanation missing in text.)
When mindfulness of these Dharmas
is firmly established in accord with the conditions of wisdom, then
it is called the Application of Mindfulness. Because it destroys all
evil Dharmas and enables one to practice the right Path, it is called
Right Effort. Since it enables the mind under secure control to move with
safety and comfort in the conditioned realm (samskrta), it is
called the Psychic Power. Attaining to a flexible mind, it is
called Faculty, and to a mind of knowledge, it is called Power. Since
it is the way of the practice of the Path, it is called Enlightenment-Limb,
and being the way of intuitively viewing the path, it is called the Path.
An Eye Has Appeared
in the palm of each hand.
Have you noticed it? Investigated it?
What in the world is a hand doing with an eye in it?
Or have you let it slip by as "too occult", and
missed its wonderful meaning and even more wonderful use?