Most practitioners who know how to seek the true nature of practice often examine and correct their nature, solve and transform ignorance. As a result, they notice changes in their own characteristics and behaviors. For the practitioners of sitting meditation, their Buddhist intelligence always corrects and eliminates bad habits, illnesses of hot temper, and offensiveness, so that the body and mind become perfectly still, which provides comfort in the meditative sitting. For that reason, the characteristics and behaviors change.
The one who does meditative sitting knows how to correct his or her own characteristics and examine others’ characteristics. He or she cures his or her own sickness and helps others cure theirs. Such a practice is innumerable preciousness. The most difficult thing is knowing how to criticize others’ defects without awareness of our own bad habits. So the Bodhisattva makes his or her own body the main target. When he or she sees others, he or she does not hurry to criticize, but hurries to look within himself or herself for correction. That is the innumerable preciousness.
The practitioner who adopts the dharma subject of Tathagata meditation is engaging in the way of practice and action of the Bodhisattva’s conduct rank. Therefore, he or she should imitate the Bodhisattva to lighten himself or herself for correction, train for absorption and assimilation, and help all those around himself or herself. The practitioner and others are then mutually integrated, avoiding hesitation, conflict, and differentiation, and preventing the division into different stages of the precept’s dharmas. This is also called acting to be aware of the precept’s dharmas. Owing to such a practice and assimilation, the body and mind are not reluctant to engage in meditative sitting. The meditation scene proceeds, the mind is not entangled and differentiated. Having a mind without entanglement and differentiation, one can perform Tathagata meditative sitting correctly on sect-principles-essence-use, reaching for liberation through knowing, seeing, and solving.
As far as change of character is concerned, it is an immeasurably useful and good way for those who know how to use and lighten self-nature, enlightened-nature, which means “I must be self-aware and aware of my own nature to be enlightened nature.”
If one doesn’t know how to utilize, one is struck with fear and considers it to be karma, and therefore one exhaustively destroys
it. He or she steps into the way of the bud is dry
and the seed is flat
(the conditions are not good for growing) of the two-practiced way of attested acquisition.
Most practitioners were disgusted with life because it is competitive and tormented, uninterruptedly black-and-white. Practitioners therefore seek a way of practice imbued with more serene reasons for living. Thus they practice the dharma subject, sitting meditation. Naturally, their characters are ascending while their minds and thoughts are sacred-common. After inclining to sanctity, disconnecting from the commonplace, and practicing for a while, one notices that vulgar karma seeds are depraved into passions and greediness in every way, and thus one comes to despise and distinguishes between ignorance and enlightenment. However, if this distinction is excessive, one becomes hindering and opposing. One doesn’t expect one’s own character to change often, and human nature is changing every nanosecond.
When we practice meditative sitting, knowing how to correct our own characteristics, examining our own nature, and realizing the movement of characters and behaviors—which are rhythmical in the six Tao—we therefore become fully aware of thousands and thousands of natures.
Those who don’t engage in the way of practice continue living with conservative natures and their own ideals, and thus live in passions and greed. The practitioner and nonpractitioner differ on that point. The more he or she knows how to practice in the way of the Bodhisattva’s conduct and the supreme dharma subject, the less he or she distinguishes between ignorance and enlightenment, or between sanctity and vulgarity. In general, one seeks the place of the essential nature of those who don’t engage in the way of practice yet. If one notices any nature of a good character, one absorbs it for oneself. If the practitioner is found in some place or situation, his or her mind and will are entangled, but he or she immediately releases them in order to be smooth and flowing. At the same time, he or she approaches and helps non-practitioners to be happy and beneficial. Such behavior is called “One who approaches vulgarity does not lose sanctity.”
If the practitioner fails to carry out the previous teaching and nourishes the dream of the Sacred Monk, then when he or she meets hindrance or opposition, he or she becomes separated and hesitant. Such a state draws the mind and will of a practitioner into a dream, and he or she does not find the pulse of life in truth. The practitioner is introduced into a still isolation place. The first point he or she engages with is the Fairy Tao; the second is that he or she practices the two-practiced way of the attested acquisition, which is incomplete.
The practicing rank of the Bodhisattva’s conduct very much needs effortful deeds of correction of characteristics and virtuous deeds that correspond with living beings. That is why the Bodhisattva completed the essential nature as well as absorption-for-salvation, and the attested practice of no-birth dharma endurance. The Bodhisattva’s conduct is fully aware of how ignorance is formed: the hindrance and opposition of individual natures not in conformity cause ignorance. If they match, one is naturally aware of one’s characteristics, and one’s mind is naturally bright; one then has no hesitation or separation at all. When a practitioner performs meditative sitting, his or her body-mind absorbs and salves changing natures along with his or her own characteristics, so they are all unified. At that point, one enters the authentic contemplation; if they do not match, one cannot enter. Those are the sincere words of this Tathagata Meditation sutra.
In the Middle Period, also known as the Gentle Life Period, the practitioners of meditative sitting took up the goal of dissolving hindrances and oppositions as the basis of progress. They engaged in the practice of the dharma subject of the Shangha’s six harmonies as a gauge of one’s level. In that time, the patriarchs often said, “Error is derived from thousands and thousands of dharmas. One should step into thousands and thousands of dharmas to practice, aiming to be fully aware of thousands and thousands of dharmas, without dharma error, directly enlightened.” For example, when one steps on a thorn, one should use another thorn to pull the stuck thorn out.
As for the meditative sect, from the moral point of view, the practitioner must perform one’s own profit as well as the other’s profit, which also becomes one’s own profit. This is why one must initiate the Bodhi mind-vow, which is not outside of reliability-conduct-vow along with precept-mindfulness-Buddhist intelligence. Why is Reliability-conduct-vow practiced in parallel with precept-mindfulness-Buddhist intelligence? This is because the reliable mind leads the practicing to the ultimate enlightenment; because the practice of conduct (Tao conduct) allows one to help living beings; and because the initiation of the vow allows complete enlightenment. These are the three fundamental targets; all practitioners must perform them to engage in the authentic practice and authentic attestation.
Reliability-conduct-vow is a useful dharma subject; its practice is the present attestation. Why? This is because the more reliable the practitioner’s mind, the greater the awareness and knowledge he or she earns. The nobler and more upright the morality the practitioner promotes, the more trust and esteem monks and nuns hold toward him or her. As a matter of fact, reliability-conduct is the original vow of the Bodhisattva, serving the unique vow.
Once practitioners engage in the practice of reliability-conduct-vow, they are already practicing precept-mindfulness-Buddhist intelligence. But this does not mean they are practicing precept-mindfulness-Buddhist intelligence in order to have precept-mindfulness-Buddhist intelligence. Why? Because when practitioners preserve and respect the reliable mind, the place of the reliable mind includes the determined orientation of the unique mind, which naturally is mindfulness and true enlightenment. When the practitioner keeps Tao conduct nobly and solemnly, it is of course in precepts. There are three sets of precepts in the field of attested practice.
 which is the way practiced by fairies and deities, who acquire the attested Tao in the low ranks. It is also called the fairy-deity’s attested acquisition of low rank, or simply the two-practiced way of low attested acquisition.