As far as Tathagata meditation is concerned, only the Mahavairocana Tathagata Buddha can manage it completely. While other incarnations, such as the Buddha, still follow the supremacy to guide the Tathagata meditation subject. The incarnation, the instructor of this meditation, then uses the appropriate time procedure to guide the Bodhisattva in practicing the conduct and establishing the subject until this Bodhisattva acquires the supreme Tathagata meditation.
In this age and future ones, if a faithful disciple can meet the Buddha, who is authorized and can guide in conformity with the Tathagata meditation, that disciple has the unique opportunity to learn proper Tathagata meditation. But if the disciple’s instructor is not a Buddha, it is very hard for the disciple to acquire the correct Tathagata meditation.
Furthermore, when a faithful disciple meets the Bodhisattva, who claims to create the appellation of the Tathagata meditation, the Bodhisattva strictly follows the supreme principles of this Tathagata Meditation sutra and guides his or her followers by every means available. In this way, the disciple may acquire the meditation subject. However, that attestation is not the attested Tathagata meditation, only the Bodhisattva’s one. It is the same for the Arahant, Solitary Enlightened One, Pràtyeka, Sràvaka, Ordinary Person, or Heretic who has the opportunity to have the Tathagata Meditation sutra. They later instruct their own disciples in meditation by following the sutra’s principles strictly to ensure their followers’ achievement. However, the highest level the practitioner achieves will correspond only to the degree of his or her instructor: that is, Arahant, Solitary Enlightened One, Pràtyeka, Sràvaka, Ordinary Person, or Heretic.
Tathagata meditation is ultimately a terrific, mind-transmitted-to-mind, seal-attested subject closely connected with the basic rank of enlightenment. The subject is supreme, matchless, and all-embracing: nothing can be excluded from it. The moment a practitioner of this subject achieves the ultimate level is also the moment he or she acquires these characteristics. Therefore, his or her instructor must be not only honest, intelligent, and awake, but also completely enlightened, so that the disciple is seal-attested in the initiative Bodhi-mind ceremony, which allows him or her to practice Tathagata meditation. This attestation is unthinkable, undiscussable, and thus wonderful for the practitioner of Tathagata meditation.
One cannot fully perceive Tathagata meditation by using logical intelligence, writing, or research. Neither can anyone who is unenlightened comprehend the essence of this meditation. Why? Because the unenlightened person’s mind is still full of false expectations, and doubts, and is conservative, so he or she cannot judge the Tathagata meditation brightly. The more he or she uses intelligence to guess and reason as a way to comprehend, the more he or she gets lost from the principles. Furthermore, there are many inappropriate directions for practicing, including training, accumulation of stillness, and fixed thought. The deeper one practices in these directions, the more profound the mistakes one makes. The only exception is the person who has acquired the dharma’s nature, is self-aware of the essential nature of Tathagata meditation, and thus fully understands the meditation of the Tathagata, which is comprehensive and unique.
The essential nature of Tathagata meditation is naturally calm, perfectly still, all-embracing, and equal. When a practitioner acquires these characters, he or she has what is called meditative intelligence. This lets the practitioner clearly see the karma seeds in each meditation disciple who is holding them in his or her karma consciousness, and thus the level of attested knowledge becomes a class distinction, low or high. Being aware of others’ accumulated karma as well as his or her own, the practitioner has truly attested complete liberation through knowing, seeing, and solving.
In the past, the patriarchs instructed the meditative sect that it is the original transmitting one. During that period, called the Middle-Life Period, faithful disciples completely reserved their trust and obedience to the patriarchs. Research in that period was not a priority, so people had less reasoning with which to contradict the sect. Therefore, the findings were also fewer and less significant. In spite of that, the patriarchs still ought to establish the authentic targets as a compass that faithful disciples could rely on to follow their practiced route without diverging. These targets are sect, principles, essence, and use, as follows:
❖ Eliminate false conceivability to establish the sect.
❖ Use no initial illusory thought to create the principles.
❖ Use the pure mind1
to form the essence.
❖ Apply the Buddhist intelligence to set the use.
Later, when the patriarchs were no more, some superior monks and nuns and great virtuous monks and nuns still followed this method to establish the sect, the principle, the essence, and the use to guide their faithful disciples. But through their lack of comprehension, they made a lot of mistakes and got lost and thus they emphasized research, and practiced in accordance to their own desires. Because original meditative nature and essential nature of original enlightenment were reduced, intuitive enlightenment was erased, and by directing confused illusory consciousness toward research, one becomes a stickler for every written word and distinguishes the gain from the loss. Then one practices by following one’s wild reasons, without the mindfulness necessary to be acutely aware of meditative nature; thus, one gets lost and cannot obtain the result of the dharma subject of liberation through solving.
____________ Without initial illusory thought.