Lecture III 11th November, 1938
I began to read you an old text in the last lecture.
This text will show us how the eastern mind understands meditation with in Yoga.
The meditation is guided in a certain direction.
If we gets some understanding of the eastern way we shall be more able to understand the parallel line in the West.
The East has a high degree of consciousness of such things, it values much which we do not even dream of, or rather at best we only dream of it.
We are enormously surprised when we meet these things or we dismiss them as unhealthy, yet it is often the most healthy people who produce just these things.
We are simply prejudiced because we know nothing of them.
Eastern texts show us how processes, which we have forgotten or never knew, can in the course of thousands of years become an elaborate technique.
We shall find symbols in this eastern material which we shall meet again in our western examples.
But we shall only find fragments in the latter, poor indeed when we compare them with the rich perfection and wealth of detail in the eastern texts.
I read you a shortened version of the beginning of the Amitayur-Dhyana-Sutra in the last lecture.
The text goes on to say that the imprisoned King called for the help of Mahamaudgalyayana.
This name is a wrong transcription of Moggallan a who was a personal pupil of the Buddha.
All these pupils became saints in Buddhism as Christ’s disciples did in Christianity.
They possessed special powers, Buddha powers, because they had been completed or perfected.
They had the strength of an elephant and other wonderful supernatural gifts.
Moggallana appeared at once in the spirit before the King, coming with a speed equal to the flight of a falcon or an eagle, and told him of the eight precepts (the eightfold path).
Day after day did he come.
This eightfold path is the foundation of Buddhism.
We find a description of it in another text in the Sacred Books of the East. Vol. XI. p. 146 ff.
The Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness.
Dhamma-Kakka-Pavathana Sutta. ” Reverence to the Blessed One, the Holy One, the Fully-Enlightened One.
- Thus have I heard. The Blessed One was once staying at Benares, at the hermitage c alle d Migadaya. And there the Blessed One addressed the comp any of the five Bhikkhus.”
Bhikkhus are begging monks who wear yellow robes; they stand silently with down-cast eyes and wait before the houses, holding out their begging bowls. The people usually fill these bowls with rice. These Bhikkhus never thank and if they do not receive anything they move on. They are only allowed to eat food which is given to them.
“And Buddha said:
- There are two extremes, 0 Bhikkhus, which the man who has given up the world ought not to follow – the habitual practice, on the one hand, of those things whose attraction depends up on the passions, and especially of sensuality – a low and pagan way (of seeking satisfaction), unworthy, unprofitable, and fit only for the worldly-minded – and the habitual practice, on the other hand, of asceticism (or self-mortification), which is painful , unworthy and unprofitable.
There is a middle path, 0 Bhikkhus, avoiding these two extremes, discovered by the Tathagata” – “Tatha” means thus and “gata” going. Thus -going, or he who behaves like this. Tathagata is always translated as the perfect one but this is not really accurate. “a path which opens the eyes and bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvana!
What is the middle path, 0 Bhikkhus, avoiding the two extremes, discovered by the Tathagata – that path which opens the eyes and bestows understanding, which leads to peace.
of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvana? Verily! it is this noble eightfold path; that is to say:
Right speech ;
Right contemplation (or concentration).
This 0 Bhikkhus, is that middle path, avoiding these two extremes, discovered by the Tathagata – that path which opens the eyes and bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvana!”
These are the classical precepts of Buddhist teaching.
We will now return to the Amitayur-Dhyana-Sutra.
When the Crown Prince heard that his mother was nourishing the King, he wanted to kill her but his ministers did not agree to this; his wise physician Jiva (the living one, the liver) was particularly against it.
He rebuked the Prince in a way that made an impression.
But, though the Prince refrained from killing his mother, he imprisoned her in a hidden palace.
She appealed to Buddha and implored him to send the Wise One to her also, and his other pupil An and a Buddha grants her wish and Moggallana and An and a come immediately.
And Sakyamuni, the Buddha himself, also appears before her eyes.
The Buddha shows her all the ten worlds in order that she may chose in which she would like to be born (eight of these worlds lay on the horizon at the four points of the compass and the Four intermediate points the other two are the zenith and nadir (above and below).
She chooses the western kingdom of Amitabha (or Amitayus).
Buddha now teaches her the meditation (the Yoga) through she can be reborn in the kingdom of Amitabha.
“Buddha then replied:
Thou and all other beings besides.”
Namely those with the same purpose.
“ought to make it their only aim, with concentrated thought, to get a perception of the western quarter”.
“looking in the western direction and prepare thy thought for a close meditation on the sun; cause thy mind to be firmly fixed (on it) so as to have an unwavering perception by the exclusive application (of thy thought), and gaze upon it (more particularly) when it is about to set and looks like a suspended drum. After thou hast thus seen the sun, let (that image) remain clear and fixed, whether thine eyes be shut or open; – such is the perception of the sun, which is the First Meditation.”
The text takes for granted that we know what a meditation is, but the West has no such training, we are not taught by trained teachers as the East is, so we are inclined to imitate foolishly.
“Next thou shouldst form the perception of the mater; gaze on the water clear and pure, and let (this image) also remain clear and fixed (afterwards); never allow thy thought to be scattered and lost. When thou hast thus seen the water thou shouldst form the perception of ice. As thou seest the ice shining and transparent thou shouldst imagine the appearance of lapis lazuli. Transparent and shining both within and without. Beneath this ground of lapis lazuli there will be seen a golden banner with seven jewels, diamonds and the rest, supporting the ground.”
This is a very curious idea. We can understand the sun and the ground but when things go underground they become incomprehensible. They go from the conscious to the unconscious in psychological language. But the Queen should be able to see things which are not seen consciously, so Buddha tells her to produce the golden banner through effort. This effort is not made by the head, it is very difficult for us to grasp because we have no training. The East has the faculty of vision but we take no trouble to acquire it. There are some exceptions, the Roman Catholic Church, for instance, has some exercises of the kind, but most people know nothing about them.
“This banner extends to the eight points of the compass, and thus the
eight corners (of the g round) are perfectly filled up.”
The image that should be seen is as follows:
Keep this image well in mind.
“Every side of the eight quarters consists of a hundred jewels,”
It is thought of as an octagon.
“every jewel has a thousand rays, and every ray has eighty four thousand colours which, when reflected in the ground of lapis lazuli, look like a thousand millions of suns, and it is difficult to see them all one by one.”
It is easy to imagine the difficulty!
The train of thought here is: hold fast to the sun, the source of light; then to the water and then to the ice, both mirroring surfaces.
Lapis ‘lazuli is blue and polished, so it is also a mirroring surface.
We sometimes dream of it as an image of the unconscious.
“Over the surface of that ground of lapis lazuli there are stretched golden ropes intertwined crosswise; divisions are made by means of (strings of)
seven jewels with every part clear and distinct.”
We come now to the cross lines, these are golden ropes which are stretched over the lapis lazuli.
“Each jewel has rays of five hundred colours which look like flowers or like the moon and stars. Lodged high up in the open sky these rays form a tower of rays, whose stores and galleries are ten millions in number and built of a hundred jewels.
Both sides of the tower have each a hundred millions of flowery banners furnished and decked with numberless musical instruments.
Eight kinds of cool breezes proceed from the brilliant rays.
When those musical instruments are played, they emit the sounds ‘suffering’, ‘non-existence’, ‘impermanence’, and ‘non-self’.”
The “non-self” equals Maya, illusion, that is, the things which we mistake for the Self.
“Such is the perception of the water, which is the Second Meditation. When the perception has been formed, thou shouldst meditate on its (constituents) one by one and make (the images) as clear as possible, so that they may never be scattered and lost, whether thine eyes be shut or open. Except only during the time of thy sleep, thou shouldst always keep this in thy mind.”
We should always keep the image before our inner eye.
“One who has reached this (stage of) perception is said to have dimly seen the Land of Highest Happiness (Sukhavati). One who has obtained the Samadhi (the state of supernatural calm) is able to see the land (of that Buddha country) clearly and distinctly: (this state) is too much to be explained fully; – such is the perception of the land, and it is the Third Meditation.”
This image, represented in our diagram, is then the highest happiness.
The text continues with the meditation on the jewel-trees of the Amitabha Land and with the meditation on the water of the Amitabh a Land.
. . . “The perception of the water is as follows: – In the Land of Highest Happiness there are waters in eight lakes; the water in every lake consists of seven jewels which are soft and yielding.” Precious-stone water.
“Deriving its source from the King of Jewels.”
This is Cintamani, the most precious jewel.
It is the wishing pearl that fulfils all wishes.
It is really our picture, and is connected on the one hand with the teaching of Buddha and on the other with the Perfect One himself.
. . . “In the midst of each lake there are sixty millions of lotus flowers, made of seven jewels; all the flowers are perfectly round and exactly equal (in circumference), being twelve yoganas . The water of jewels flows amidst the flowers and rises and falls by the stalks (of the lotus); the sound of the streaming water is melodious and pleasing, and propounds all the perfect virtues (Paramitus) , ‘suffering’, ‘non- existence ‘, ‘ impermanence’ , and ‘non-self’; it proclaims also the praise of the signs of perfection, and minor marks of excellence of all Buddhas. From the King of jewels (Citamani) that fulfils every wish, stream forth the golden-coloured rays excessively beautiful, the radiance of which transforms itself into birds possessing the colours of a hundred jewels, which sing out harmonious notes, sweet and delicious, ever praising the remembrance of Buddha, the remembrance of the Law, and the remembrance of the Church ; – such is the perception of the water of eight good qualities, and it is the Fifth Meditation.”
The Sixth Meditation considers the way in which the Amitabha Land is divided.
“Each division of that (Buddha) country, which consists of several jewels, has also jeweled stores and galleries to the number of five hundred millions; within each story and gallery there are innumerable Devas engaged in playing heavenly music . . . . If one has experienced this, one has expiated the greatest sinful deeds which would (otherwise lead one) to transmigration for numberless millions of Kalpas;”
We find Kalpas in Hindu cosmological ideas.
Here the word means an endlessly long time.
There is a piece of fantastic Indian numbering which I would not like to keep from you. Kalpas are 4 yugas of 4800, 3600, 2400, 1200 years of the gods
x 360 = Maha-yuga = 4. 3 2 million years, 2000 x Maha-yuga: Kalpa: 8 milliards 640 million years. A Kalpa is really very long!
The twilight of the gods begins and ends such a period.
The Indians are pessimistic about the age in which we live.
Truth reigns for a certain period at the beginning of a Kalpa, in the next period there is less truth and now we are in the last Yuga, the Kali Yuga, a period when very few people can bear the truth.
“after his death he will assuredly be born in that land.”
The aim of Yoga is to produce this land and it is really created as thought substance.
Indians think of thought as something thinly substantial, thought is not vaporous to them, as it is to us.
They speak of an intuition as an entity which comes to the me; and when they phantasy they make thought beings and put power into those figures.
They have made the land mentioned in the text and live in it.
The text continues with the teaching of the Buddha concerning the Meditation of Amitabha:
.. . “Those who wish to meditate on that Buddha ought first to direct their thought as follows: form the perception of a lotus-flower on a ground of seven jewels, each leaf of that lotus exhibits the colours of a hundred jewels, and has eighty four thousand veins, just like heavenly pictures; each vein possesses eighty four thousand rays, of which each can be clearly seen.”
This is not just a technique or a phantasy, but a goal; whoever wishes to reach this land is obliged to go through this process, he must take the trouble to see such things in detail.
This is no idle talk but a very serious matter.
The whole imagination is drawn into this and they work for days on these pictures.
I met a Lama in India, who told me that a mandala, such as the one in our diagram, could only be created by a Lama, ordinary people should not even try.
In Tibetan monasteries they take infinite pains over these exercises; it is really impossible to imagine the psychology of people who spend years in such extreme concentration, producing forms of a purely psychic nature.
Mme David-Neel tells us about these people in her books.
The text continues:
“Every small leaf and flower is two hundred and fifty yoganas in length and the same measurement in breadth. Each lotus-flower possesses eighty
four thousand leaves, each leaf has the Kingly pearls to the number of a hundred millions, as ornaments for illumination; each pearl shoots out a
thousand rays like bright canopies. The surface of the ground is entirely covered by a mixture of seven jewels. There is a tower built of the gems which are like those that are fastened on Sakra’s head” . . .
Sakra is an Indian God, also called Indra.
. . . “On that tower there are miraculously found four posts with jeweled banners; . . . Such is the perception of the flowery throne, and it is the
. . . When you have perceived this, you should next perceive Buddha himself. Do you ask how? Every Buddha Tathagata is one whose (spiritual)
body is the principle of nature (Dharma-Dhatu-Kaya), so that he may enter into the mind of any beings.”
This (spiritual) body is usually called the “subtle body”, breath or smoke resembling.
This passage is very difficult to understand.
The Dharma-Dhatu-Kaya is complete identity with Buddha.
Dharma is the highest perfection, Dhatu means element and Kaya body.
When the Yogin has perceived what he is, he is Buddha.
And everyone who is Buddha has attained a (spiritual) body which is identical with the principle of nature, the one thing which has no qualities or extension.
The Yogin is the all-pervading essence which is everywhere and in everyone, so “he may enter into the mind of any beings.” ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 20-26.