An initial thought often creates active wishes, and active wishes give rise to initial outbursts of false conceivability, a chain of events not unlike the wind acting on the water to create waves. The initial illusory thought creates desire, and desire leads to ambition. Ambition often acts or performs the untruth, however. Untruth works in conformity with seeking passion, and the greater the seeking passion is, the more significant the illusory thoughts that are created. Therefore, if the sitting meditation’s practitioners initiate illusory thought and continually follow it, their original minds become wildly confused. This is why the patriarchs used pure mind to form the essence: they aimed at controlling the initially wild and confused illusory thought to return it to the original nature and essential nature. The essential nature is the source of self-enlightenment, whereas the practice of meditation aims at enlightenment. Therefore, meditative sitting should not have false conceivability or the initial illusory thought.
In the old days, the patriarchs established the meditative sect carefully and thoroughly. While their minds were pure, they put themselves into the practitioners’ body-mind-essential nature and then had to come up using pure mind to establish the essence. That’s ultimately wonderful. Why? This is because pure mind is inherent in the essential nature-body-mind of the practitioners. On account of the initial illusory thought and false conceivability, the essential nature-body-mind is followed by that initial illusory thought and holds false conceivability, and one becomes erroneous, maddened, and confused. This is why the patriarchs chose pure mind as the practiced basic essence: in order for the practitioner to return to the original essential nature. The patriarchs also used Buddhist intelligence as a complete lit torch. The enlightened people of Buddhism and among the faithful followers aim at guiding all faithful followers to reach liberation through knowing, seeing, and solving. On account of the purpose of Buddhism, individuals’ own vows and common wills—even though the enlightened ones have established the Meditative sect, the Still Salvation sect, or the Fairy’s Place sect—are all means of guiding faithful followers to reach the result of liberation through solving. Through the above will, vow, and object, the patriarchs have established the sect, the principles, the essence, and the use. These intentions are closely related and collaborative, guiding faithful practitioners to achieving the result of liberation through knowing, seeing, and solving.
False conceivability is innumerable. One should therefore practice until true conceivability is achieved. What is the cause of false conceivability? False conceivability arises from error. When one is in error, confused illusory thoughts are still forming. But when one is enlightened, when one thoroughly and brightly affirms, one has no more initial thoughts—not even one. One-initial-thought ceases to exist, and there is no more illusory thought. Therefore, the Buddha said,
When one is not yet enlightened, even though one’s conceivability is considered true conceivability, it is still false. On the other hand, when one has been enlightened, one’s conceivability is true even though it is considered false conceivability. False and true are just associated with erroneousness and enlightenment, respectively.
This Tathagata Meditation sutra is not outside of bringing liberation to the practitioner through knowing, seeing, and solving. It is explained in the present period of inferior-life destructive dharma when people compete through their own reasons and actions. It’s very strange and difficult to understand. Why? This is because meditation is not imparted from the root; the patriarch is no longer transmitted by his or her predecessor. This is an obvious reason, a matter of course for criticizing in the period of unsettlement and difficulty believing. On the other hand, those who are disgusted with what proceeds in this present period of inferior life initiate the mind into practicing and acting out the dharma Tao. When their practice is accomplished and their actions have obtained results, they will recognize that every period is the same. In any given period, Buddha’s nature is everlasting and true dharma has already existed. Because our minds are unsettled, indifferent, and not eagerly self-confident, we wrongly divided time into three periods, as follows:
❖ The Superior Life Period, which is considered the Authentic Dharma Period,
❖ The Middle Life Period, also called the Gentle Life Period, and
❖ The Inferior Life Period, our own time, also known as the Destructive Dharma Period.
When we initiate the Bodhi mind to practice and perform, it’s in real time with authentic dharma. On the other hand, when we practice and act lazily, tardily, and indifferently, it’s in real time with lost dharma. What is compiled and described in this Tathagata Meditation sutra today existed already a long time ago, as the Tathagata meditation is immortal.
In view of Tathagata meditation or the truth, one knows how to practice self-confidence and self-enlightenment in the present moment, use virtuous deeds to create effortful deeds, and follow thousands and thousands of dharmas to be aware of dharmas. One realizes that in any given period, the truth is useful for the present. In other words, one has no desire for the past and no expectations for the future. On the other hand, when one practices with the aim of achieving one’s usually-false expectations and unreal imagination, one’s practice is still in progress, for one’s mind is still nourishing false expectations and unreal imagination. When these are disappointed, one’s practiced road is dispersed along with one’s fixed orientation. Buddha called usually-false expectations and unreal imagination “confused illusory thoughts,” which are distant from the essential nature. Such practice will not lead to any destination, even if carried on for thousands of lifetimes. But the practitioner who is aware of his or her ignorance and prevented karma and aims to dissolve them is the one who knows how to practice the dharma Tao.
This Tathagata Meditation sutra guides its practitioners to rely on the original nature and essential nature—so that they will be acutely aware of the meditative nature, which leads to endless results. Tathagata meditation is a subject that embraces all six doors of the meditation subject. Therefore, it is also called the first-rate Supreme Tathagata meditation, and it completely includes the visible teachings together with the supreme secret, the visible practices along with the secret practices, and the unique invisibleness and visibleness. Tathagata meditation also has sect, principles, essence, and use. The practitioner who has the opportunity to read this sutra needs to think about these purposes carefully. The realization of these goals is a necessary condition for obtaining the result of meditation practice. Otherwise, it is easy for the practitioner to get lost in the way of practice. The follower should rely on these intentions as a compass to direct his or her practice. This Tathagata Meditation sutra’s sect, principles, essence, and use are not much different from those established by the patriarchs. The main difference is the establishment of the sect, which is formed by using one’s mind to follow the Tathagata’s manipulation, aiming at self-enlightenment, as follows:
❖ Follow Tathagata’s manipulation to create the sect.
❖ Act without retention to build the principles.
❖ Use enlightenment to form the essence.
❖ Perform the vows to establish the use.