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by Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

Ngöndro Program 2001

Ratnashri Meditation Center, Sweden

In the next few days, we are going to discuss in detail on taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The basic purpose of taking refuge or to get involve in the study and practice of the Dharma is to purify all our obscurations. It says in the Prayer Book: "All mother sentient beings, especially those enemies who hate me, obstructors who harm me, and those who create obstacles on my path to liberation and all knowingness, may they experience happiness and be separated from suffering, and I will quickly establish them in the state of the unsurpassed, perfect, complete and precious buddhahood." As we ourselves desire to free from suffering and to gain happiness, in the same way, all other sentient beings have the same desire. Our Dharma study and practice is to purify all our mental obscurations. Mental obscurations arise when we encounter something negative. We get upset when we do not like something. That is why the prayer mentions "enemies". When we look at enemies, our mind shakes and cannot stay in one place. Aggressiveness rises up. At that time, Dharma practice has to be applied. When everything goes well, we do not need special Dharma practice. There is no problem. We need to do Dharma practice in order to free ourselves from different types of sufferings and obstacles both on a day-to-day basis and in the long run. In order to free ourselves completely from suffering and to attain buddhahood, we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. For example, when we are hungry, we take refuge in the food. We rely on the food. When we are thirsty, we take refuge in a bottle of water. When we feel cold, we take refuge in the heat either by wearing warm clothes or by turning on the heater. When we feel hot, we take refuge in the cold by using air-conditioning or staying in the shaded areas or swimming. So, that is the idea of taking refuge. Here, we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha because in the samsara, where we are now, there is no real happiness. Even if we take refuge under the tree when it is hot, that only helps temporarily, but it cannot help us to solve all our problems. We take refuge in the food when we are hungry, but again that does not help us all the time. There comes other fundamental problems, especially our mental obscurations. No matter how much we take refuge in the outer materials, outer technology, they cannot help us to free from all the suffering. Because of that reason, Buddha worked to attain complete Enlightenment, buddhahood, to free completely from suffering.

‘Buddha’ is a Sanskrit word translated into ‘a fully enlightened one’, the one who fully perfected in all the purification. In Sanskrit, Tibetan or in other languages, the word was translated long time ago. People do not use the word ‘Buddha’ so much as nowadays. In Sanskrit or Tibetan, we say ‘sang-gye’ which means the fully awakened one. Sang means fully awakened from ignorance and gye means fully blossomed, like a lotus, knowing the suchness, the reality of all phenomena. Nowadays, the word ‘Buddha’ is popular in the world and we say Buddha everywhere. Basically, a fully awakened one does not confine to a specific Buddha or a specific person, but rather it can be achieved by anyone. We use the word ‘Buddha’ to refer to a specific Buddha, the historical Buddha once appeared on this planet and taught Dharma teachings. In fact, there are many Buddhas, hundreds and thousands of Buddhas. Anybody who achieves that state fully can become Buddha. Anyone whose mind is completely free from all obscurations and attain absolute peace, the absolute reality, that person can be a Buddha. Anyone can take refuge in that individual when he attains that absolute state. So that is basically what Buddha is.

Mind is very profound and complex. Because of its complexity, we are capable of producing lots of things in a complex way. Like computers, we make such a complex computer nowadays. We need to think so much, put all the necessary mechanical things together, put lots of knowledge and information together to make it works, isn’t it? Like aircraft, automobiles and machines, all are mind-created. Every year, something new – new features or new in design, is made and put into the market. If you do not make something new all the time, people would not be interested. Mind can create such complexity. However, our mind is too much externalized right now. We project everything from outside. If one can internalize the mind and realize the complexity of the mind, one can become a Buddha. Due to the fact that there are many different levels of the mind, there are many stages of Buddha. Buddha manifests in Nirmanakaya, Sambogakaya and Dharmakaya form according to the individual’s level and ability of the mind —from ordinary level to those who are accomplished in their meditation and to those who attain the ultimate state of Buddahood, the Enlightenment state. Of these, Dharmakaya is the most profound state that we have to actualize within the mind. Only Buddha can actualize this state. Then from that state manifests Sambogakaya and Nirmanakaya. So Dharmakaya is the base to manifest the other two. The analogy is like when there is mind, there is thinking and from thinking there is physical actions. If there is no mind, we cannot talk and we cannot have any physical movement.


The historical Buddha, who was born as a person in this world, called Siddhartha who lived in a powerful Kingdom in Northern India. His father was a very successful and powerful man. When Siddhartha was very little, he was a little special when compared to other ordinary people. Then he grew up in the Kingdom, went to school and studied all the different aspects of knowledge. He was a little smarter, a little faster and gentler, more peaceful than other children. People admired and respected him. He grew up that way. Since he was the only son in the family, his father had very high expectation that he should stay in the Kingdom and rule the Kingdom. He grew up in the perfect environment. All the positive things, education etc were present there. He stayed in the Kingdom until he was 29. He learned every knowledge. He was gifted physically and mentally. Sometimes he went for a retreat and meditated and his father became worried and wondered why he wanted to meditate when his life is alright. Even nowadays, we may think that way that if somebody meditate, that person may have some problems or imbalances. His father sent a minister to ask him if Siddhartha had a problem. The minister said that he did not have any problem. He just wanted to do that. Siddhartha could stay under the tree for a long time meditating.

One day, he saw a man who was very old and had difficulty in walking and seeing. The man was shaking his head. Siddhartha had a very sharp mind and with such discriminating wisdom, he asked one of his attendants, "What is this? Does this happen only to some individuals?" The attendant explained, "This is normal and can happen to everybody." Siddhartha continued, "It looks like it is a very uncomfortable experience. You cannot see well, cannot walk well. You have to use a walking stick to walk. Why do we need this?" The attendant explained, "It happens." Another day, he saw a person who was sick, physically full of pain. The man could not tolerate the agony, but had no choice. He was watching the person and perceived all the difficulties and suffering. He asked, "Who is he? What is happening to him?" Attendant explained, "He gets sick. When people get sick, they went through these experiences. Medicine may help a little, but otherwise, they do not have so much choice but have to go through these." Another day, he saw a person who was dead. His body was carried out to the road. His relatives were crying and screaming, "Don’t leave us behind. Please come back. I cannot take this. What should I do?" They were in pain. Siddhartha was very shocked to see these things. He asked his attendant, "What is this?" "This is called death. When a person dies, he or she goes this way. Relatives and friends have difficulty in accepting this. That is why they are crying," replied his attendant. Siddhartha was thinking about these things seriously as a king of the country. He thought, "When people go through these, how can I help them? Is there any solution to free from this kind of suffering?"

Yet another day, he saw a monk who was walking peacefully, calmly and gently. Siddhartha asked, "Who is that person?" Attendant answered, "He is a monk." "What is he looking for?" "He is looking for nirvana, the Enlightenment." "What is Enlightenment?" "Enlightenment is the solution to all the suffering." He was inspired and thought, "I must go this way because there is no other choice. Even though right now I am so powerful and I can give order and can get anything I want in this country, but I cannot order people not to get old, not to get sick, not to die. This is the most critical time. I must do something to help all the people in the world who are suffering." He was thinking like this day and night, "This beautiful palace will not last long. It will become an illusion even though it does so much at the time. Life is like a dream." Because of that reason, Siddhartha renounced the Kingdom. This was very difficult for an ordinary person to understand because everything was in perfect conditions. They could not find anything unpleasant around him. They tried to do everything to make him happy. Many people were confused. His father was very upset and depressed.

Siddhartha left the Kingdom and searched for the Dharma teachings – the solution to how to encounter all the delusion and suffering that sentient beings had. For six years, he was practicing and meditating, under great hardship, not eating food and not drinking. He ate only one grain per day. He found out that that was not a solution neither – just enduring hardship was not the solution to free from suffering. What then was the solution? He achieved a very high state of meditation, a very high state because, otherwise, he could not have sustained his life by eating only one grain per day. Still, he was not satisfied with the achievement. He continued to seek. He finally realized that the mind is the one. When we do not know how to relate to the mind, we suffer. When we know that, the real peace is just there, within the mind. With that realization, he went to Bodhgaya and meditated there. "On this very seat, I will stay until I actualize the complete result with all my effort. I am committed to this. Even when my whole body crumbles, disintegrates, I will sit here. With this kind of determination, strength and critical insight, he sat there. With one-pointed mind, he attained Buddhahood. He was then called Buddha.

This happened more than 2500 years ago. So attaining Buddhahood was not some kind of a creation of religion, culture or tradition, but rather it was something that he went through, investigated, scrutinized and finally realized the complete nature of mind – the Enlightenment. At that moment, Buddha said, "I reveal such an undefiled ambrosia which is so profound. So profound because the ordinary mind, the duality mind cannot penetrate through. The mind needs to be free from duality. That is why meditation becomes so important. It is in total peace because all delusion is dissolved in that state. It is unfabricated and completely free from all elaboration, like space. Space is free from all elaboration. The mind is of that nature, of luminosity nature, meaning that all the excellent qualities such as great compassion, great wisdom and all the knowing qualities are just there. Just like when a candle is lit, it has all the brilliant qualities to dispel the darkness. In fact, all sentient beings have that nature.

For forty-five years from age thirty-five to eighty, he walked on this planet with people talking to people, teaching, instructing and helping as many as he could. He taught all sutra teachings. When people had delusion, they went to him for help. For example, one time, a woman suffered a lot because she lost her only child. She could not accept that. She went around and asked people for help. She said, "I want to get the child’s life back. I cannot accept this. Why do I deserve this? I do not want this. If my child is not coming back, I will die with the child." She went to many different places, meeting many spiritual masters. Of course, nobody could help to bring back the life of the child. So finally she arrived to Buddha. She gave the body to Buddha and cried, "I want this child’s life back!" Buddha, knowing all the conditions, with great compassion, said to her, "I understand your feeling and what you are going through. Maybe we can do something. You leave the child here and I will watch the child. You go to this small village and visit from house to house. If you can find a handful of mustard seed from a house where nobody died, maybe we can do something about your child." She was very excited and replied, "Yes, I will look for it. She just went around from house to house, from door to door. At that time, there was no general hospital available. All the children were born in individual’s house and all the people died in their house. She went around the whole day and could not find any house where nobody died. They told her that their parent died, their brothers and sisters died, their children and relatives died. By the end of the day, she was totally exhausted, but felt much relieved. She realized that it was not just her child died, but rather, everybody died. Some died when they were young, some when they are old. Everyone lose their relatives, friends and family. Without much choice, she came back to Buddha and said, "I could not find any house where nobody died." Buddha said, "It is not just your child. All died. Even suppose we could bring back the life of your child, he would die sooner or later. One day I will die. One day you will die. We cannot do anything about not to die, but we can train ourselves to face death, when it comes, in a positive way. We do not have to die with delusion, but we can die peacefully and joyfully. We can do that much. Her mind was awakened by this insight and said to Buddha, "I need to take refuge in you and please give me the path and instructions on how to die peacefully and joyfully." Buddha said, "Sister, just follow me."

Like that, Buddha walked on this planet, living with people and eating with people. People perceive something special about Buddha. Buddha walked very peacefully, spoke very softly and gently. People admired him. People took refuge in him in order to achieve the enlightened state to free from delusion. One time, a wild elephant came through. Through Buddha’s great compassion and great wisdom, he realized that elephant was also suffering as we human beings do. He pacified the great neurosis, the great negative thoughts. Even that wild elephant took refuge in the Buddha. So people and sentient beings took refuge in the Buddha is to free from delusion and suffering. However, only a few had the opportunities to meet Buddha physically. Therefore, the teachings of Buddha (Dharma) and our Dharma practices become important. Dharma practices are methods to open the mind.

We are born in this world, growing up in different ways depending on system in different countries. We make effort to survive in our lives and then at the end, we die. Everything is impermanent, of transitory nature. It comes and goes. Look at today’s flower, so fresh and beautiful. Next day, it faints and decays. Today we buy a fresh flower and after a couple days, we throw it in the trash. Today, we pay a lot to buy a new computer and after some time, we throw it away because it is no longer useful. While living in the delusion and having all our negative thoughts, we make so much effort and suffer unnecessarily. When the negative thoughts are purified, we feel free, relaxed and happy. But when negative thoughts arise in the mind, we feel so much suffering. Everything seems negative, "I do not like this and that." When the negative thoughts disappeared, everything seems fine and nothing seems to matter much. You would say, "It is okay." So that is universal. Buddhas’ teachings, the Dharma helps us step by step to purify our delusion and negative thoughts and to realize our own nature of mind.

First, it is important to see that as a historical Buddha, he realized that nature. Buddha went through all the steps since the day he was born, growing up in the Kingdom and dealing with people. He left the Kingdom, went through great hardship and finally attained Enlightenment. He went through all the procedures in life to show us that we, too, can do the same thing. He did not use magic to solve the problem, but rather he showed us the practical way and laid out all the steps for us to follow. For example, when dealing with the mother who had a child, as mentioned before, he just showed her the practical thing in the life. She had so much grievances from what she went through. Buddha showed her the way. Through her own wisdom, she accepted the situation even though her child’s life was never brought back. There are ways to accept things in life even though things may go wrong, even when we cannot replace them. That was how Buddha taught. Usually in our lives, if something cannot be replaced, we cannot accept it. Instead of fighting with that, we learn how to accept that. Buddha taught in this marvelous way. We learn to purify our delusion and negative thoughts. That is why we take refuge in the Buddha.

I take refuge in the Buddha means that I want to become Buddha. I want to attain Enlightenment. I will practice the Dharma until I have perfected my mind. This does not mean how much new things we are going to learn. When we study and practice the Dharma, we tend to look for new things, new information all the time. There are not so many new things to be learned. It depends on how much we practice and how much we purify our negative thoughts. This is what counts. It counts when we put the Dharma teachings into practice, when we bring the teachings into our mind and exercise it thoroughly. This is how we take refuge in the Buddha.

Buddha used his wisdom mind to purify all the obscurations. There are two types of obscurations-obscurations of afflictive emotions and subtle obscurations. First, obscurations of afflictive emotions like ignorance, attachment, pride, jealousy and hatred. When any of these are in our mind, it takes away all our peace, joy and happiness. So Buddha purified these negative thoughts. But just that much is not enough. Just by reducing a little bit, those deeply-rooted bad negative thoughts are bound to manifest in the mind. We have to totally uproot them. To uproot them, we have to purify all our subtle obscurations before we can attain Enlightenment. So Buddha purified both of these obscurations. When you meditate, your mind becomes calm and peaceful. Then there is clarity. When there is clarity in the mind, then critical insights come. Through critical insight, you can penetrate the reality of the mind. In this way, you will see the nonexistence nature of afflictive emotions. They are just like cloud. When you see the cloud at a distance, you see that it looks like a mountain that you can be held on to. But when you are inside a cloud, can you grasp the cloud? No. Negative thoughts are like that. When you have some critical insight, you see a glimpse of the true nature. Then you make effort in order to purify obscurations repeatedly. It is not enough to do one or two times. We have to dedicate ourselves to do it the rest of the life. This is crucial because there is no other choice. Jus like what Buddha did, he purified all the obscurations without exception.

Then he revealed the two great wisdoms - knowing the nature of phenomena and knowing everything. Knowing the nature of phenomena is like the nature of water in the ocean. The water in Indian Ocean and the water in the Pacific Ocean are the same, isn’t it? There is no difference. But there is a difference in locations and names. Indian Ocean belongs to some countries while Pacific Ocean belongs to some other countries. Sometimes people from different countries have argument over the territories. But for the water, there is no difference. Like sky, you can say, "This is the sky of Sweden. Nobody is allowed to come here without our permission." Then you cross the border, enter into the Danish sky and you need permission. But for the sky itself, there is no difference. Buddha came to know that everything is in that nature, as it is. It is unfabricated, unelaborated. We fabricate it, elaborate it. This is this and that. We made a lot of boundaries. Through delusion, we make all the fabrication and complication. Buddha realized that everything is in that nature, as it is, precisely without any mistake. There are many different types of trees, sentient beings and so on. Their appearance is due to the result of many different causes known as karma and can be distinctly identified without any mistake. So Buddha can develop and manifest this kind of wisdom. This is what Buddha is.

Buddha’s compassion manifests to every sentient being without exception. Buddha’s compassion is not greater to the buddhists than to the non-buddhists. It is impartial to human and non-human, to buddhists and non-buddhists. Buddha’s compassion is like sunshine. When the sun shines, it shines everywhere - to the snow mountain, down to the valley, to clean places and unclean places. Buddha’s compassion is impartial and complete therefore everyone can take refuge in the Buddha.

Here is a story. At the time of Buddha, there was a king, Bimbisara, who was very devoted to Buddha and his followers. He himself was a great practitioner. He achieved a very high level of realization in spite of his busy life as a king. His son was a very aggressive person. He had a bad friend. Together they put his father to prison. His father died in the prison. Not only that, he harmed Buddha and together with his friend, they divided the Sangha, the Dharma practitioners. Because of all the negative deeds and such great negative thoughts, he got very sick. He got lots of pimples on his body. The whole palace smelled puss that was produced by his sick body. Many physicians in that area came and treated him, but no one could help. The best physician came to him and tried to treat him. At the end, the doctor advised him to take refuge in the Buddha. The king was desperate to do anything, but since he had harmed Buddha and his followers in many ways, the king thought that Buddha would hate him. That was why he never thought of seeking help from Buddha. He told the physician that he did not think that Buddha would help him. The physician said that if the king took refuge in the Buddha, Buddha would help him. The king hesitated and asked the physician again, "Are you sure that Buddha would really help me?" The physician replied, "Yes, I am sure. You should go and ask for help and he will help you." At that moment, the king got some prediction that he would die within a couple of days. So he was very afraid and desperate. The king prepared the elephant to rid on and set off the journey. He asked the physician to sit next to him to help him just in case something might happen. Together, they went to see the Buddha.

At that time, Buddha was teaching high up on the mountain in a temple with thousand of monks listening to the Buddha’s teaching. At a distance, when the King saw Buddha, Buddha said, "Welcome the King." The king thought that there must be some great king coming. The king just looked around because he did not think that the greeting was for him. He proceeded. When he came closer, once again Buddha said, "You king, welcome!" Still, he thought that there must be some great king coming from another country, maybe from god realm or some other places. He looked around and proceeded. When he came very close to Buddha, Buddha called his name and said, "Welcome, the King!" The king became very emotional because he harmed Buddha in so many ways and seeing Buddha having such great compassion and also he had such a great sickness. With all these emotions, he fainted and fell down from the elephant to the ground. All the people rushed to help him. When he awoke, he got such great devotion to the Buddha. The king perceived that Buddha had no resentment, no aggression to him. Buddha said to him, "Now, you go and purify all your negative karma." The king replied, "Yes, I will purify not only all my negative karma, but the negative karma of all sentient beings." He became such a great Dharma practitioner. This is how Buddha helped those who harmed him and his followers. Buddha had no resentment. That is why we take refuge in the Buddha. The king took refuge in the Buddha and practiced the Dharma sincerely and achieved a very high realization and purified all his obscurations and negative karma.

Sometimes we may think that Buddha has passed away for more than 2500 years ago. We do not have a chance to see him but yet his Dharma teachings are still very fresh, very applicable. To that, it is very important to understand that Buddha cultivates his bodhicitta (mind of Enlightenment) unceasingly to free all sentient beings from suffering and delusion. Since sentient beings are still not free from suffering, Buddha’s wisdom and compassion continue to manifest even during this time. Therefore, when we now study and practice Dharma, we get much benefit. When you sit down and meditate, take refuge in the Buddha, say some prayers and bring the Dharma teachings to your heart, you get much benefit. That comes from Buddha’s blessing. Infinite Buddhas’ activities are manifested unceasingly, therefore, we need not go to some special place or rely on some material things in any physical form. All we need is our pure motivation, interest and effort.

In samsara, within the six realm in this universe, everything is of cyclic existence. Cyclic means going around and round. This is due to our delusion. The analogy is like a fly flying from this corner to that corner thinking that it has flown a long distance. Then it stays there for some time and then flies to a new place. So, from there, it flies back to here thinking once again that it has flown so far. Sometimes it flies up in the ceiling and stayed there for a few moments until it is disturbed. Every time, it thinks that it flies to a different dimension, different place. However, no matter how far the fly goes around, it is still inside this tent. Likewise, we go around in this world just like the flies fly around this tent. Nowadays, because of the good transportation system, you can easily fly from here to Hawaii to have a vacation, to enjoy the beautiful islands. However, if you stay there for too long, you will experience suffering there too. It is not a place where you can stay all the time. If you are buddhists, you may like to go to India to see Buddha’s birth place, or Bodhgaya, Buddha’s enlightened place. When we go there, there are lots of suffering too. If you live in India, you may think, "Let’s go to the western countries which are highly developed and can see many wonderful things at many wonderful places." You made lots of efforts and there too has lots of suffering. This is what samsara is, in cycle, back and forth. If you do not get out of this cycle, there is no permanent place of peace and happiness. That is why we take refuge in the Buddha. It is not because we are trying to make people buddhists. If you do not practice Dharma, just becoming a buddhists does not make much difference. The most important purpose to practice the Dharma teachings is to purify our negative thoughts, our delusion and to develop and manifest good qualities in the mind so that our mind becomes more peaceful, calm and clear. Then we do things more precisely, less mistakes. This is the purpose of taking refuge in the Buddha.

Buddha’s twelve great deeds outline his life:

1. Descending from Tushita heaven to the human realm.

2. Buddha being conceived in mother’s womb

3. Birth as a prince

4. Receiving all-round education: studying and learning all kinds of knowledge like arts, astrology, philosophy, sciences, physical education and military skills.

5. Marriage

6. Renouncing the Kingdom

7. Six year of hardship in search of truth

8. Proceeding to Bodhgaya

9. Subduing all maras and demons during his meditation

10.   Enlightenment

11.   Giving Dharma teachings

12.   Passing away

Buddha was born when his mother was walking to Lumbini (nowadays, Napa). There were lots of stories about how his mother proceeded to Lumbini. After Buddha was born, he was taken back to the Kingdom. He stayed in the palace and many great masters came to see him. When he was a young child, he went to school and studied all different aspect of knowledge. He then married. By seeing the nature of samsara, he renounced his Kingdom. He underwent six years of hardship. He then realized that mind is the most important. Because of that he proceeded to Bodhgaya to practice meditation. The remaining subtle inner delusion manifested into maras and demons. He meditated with great loving-kindness and compassion to all the maras and demons. With one-pointed concentration, he subdued all the maras and demons and purified all delusion. After that, there is no obstacles left in his mind. By the power of clarity and one-pointedness, he perfected his wisdom and compassion and attained Buddhahood. After that, out of his wisdom and compassion, he taught the Four Noble Truths - the truth of suffering, the truth of the origins of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering and the truth of the causes of the cessation. For forty-five years he gave the precious Dharma teachings. When he was eighty years old, he went to Kusinagara and he passed away there. He showed us that we all have to go through this journey. We are born, live the life and then die. But Buddha passed away with great peace and joy. He gave his joy and peace to others impartially. Therefore, we follow that path. How fortunate we are to have the opportunity to study and practice the Buddha’s teachings and follow Buddha’s footsteps! We need to have great determination and devotion to purify all your negative thoughts and bring forth all the good qualities within the mind just as Buddha did. This is what we called taking refuge in the Buddha and cultivating bodhicitta. From that time up to now, hundreds and thousands of people got much benefit by studying and practicing the Dhamra teachings. We are following just that path. We should feel fortunate and dedicate our lives to follow Buddha’s footsteps.

There are three qualities concerning Buddha’s wisdom, compassion and ability:

1. Buddha’s wisdom penetrate into all knowledge

2. Buddha’s compassion reaches all sentient beings and

3. Buddha’s ability is there when we study and practice the Dharma, which has the ability to purify our delusion          and to manifest all good qualities within our mind. Buddha’s activities have the ability to awake our primodial          wisdom.

The study of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is most important at the start because it is like opening the gate towards Enlightenment. It is also most important in the middle because we read many books, practice and progress on the path to Enlightenment. It is most important at the end because we become perfect, become Buddha. We embody Buddha’s wisdom and compassion, embody all his Dharma teachings. Historically, Buddha went through the life experienced and realized the cyclic existence of samsara and then renounced samsara. He renounced the causes of suffering delusion, but not the sentient beings. Renounce does not mean not eating food, not wearing clothes or going to mountain. These are primitive way of renouncing. The actual renunciation is to renounce the cause of suffering. By knowing what suffering is universally and the causes of suffering, we understand that suffering does not just happen to us but to everybody. The only way to get out of that is to renounce and purify the causes of suffering. This is called renunciation. Buddha did this historically and taught us this teaching.

As mentioned before, due to the different levels of the mind, Buddha manifests in Nirmanakaya, Sambogakaya and Dharmakaya form according to the individual’s level and ability of the mind – from ordinary level, to those who are accomplished in their meditation and to those who attain the ultimate state of Buddahood, the Enlightenment state. Historical Buddha came to this planet in Nirmanakaya form. People had seen Buddha, lived with Buddha and received his teachings face to face. This is also called the manifestation body or the emanation body. Sambogakaya, the enjoyment body who possesses all the perfect qualities. Buddhas wearing silken robes and jewel ornaments like Chenrezig and Tara are manifested in this form. They can be perceived by great bodhisattvas who are highly accomplished in their meditation and has purified most of their obscurations. They possess pure vision. Dharmakaya is the ultimate buddhahood which is formless. When one achieve total, complete perfection, buddhahood, one achieve Dharmakaya. The ultimate nature of Nirmanakaya, Sambogakaya and Dharmakaya is the same. But the appearance of Nirmanakaya can be seen by ordinary people, while Sambogakaya is seen by great bodhisattvas who are high accomplished, while Dharmakaya is seen directly by Buddha himself. Dharmakaya is like space, no form, free from concept and form. Look at the mind, mind has no form. Sambogakaya is like a sun or moon in the sky manifest in an insubstantial form and Nirmanakaya is like the reflection of the sun or moon on the ocean water. The reflection in the water can be seen directly in short distance. To see the sun and the moon, we have to look up higher not so close. Bodhisattvas are very close to the sun and the moon while Nirmanakaya is close to the reflection of the sun and moon. These are just analogies for us to understand.

Buddha has special qualities called the ten powers, four fearlessness and eighteen unequal qualities.

The ten powers or strengths are:

1. Knowing right and wrong completely and perfectly

If we practice virtue, the virtuous actions will manifest into peace and happiness. Through the virtuous practice, suffering will not come. Buddha knows that directly, exactly and perfectly. It is because through the virtuous practice, its benefit is enjoyed by all the sentient beings in the six realms and can help sentient beings to be free from the samsara. It does not create any undesirable conditions. Thus suffering will never come. Usually, we do not have this knowledge. For example, when you go to the river and see a fish, you immediately made an association to a nice meal. We are not so aware of the suffering it brings to the fish. But Buddha perceives that directly.

2. Directly perceiving karma cause and result

There are so many varieties of karma causes in all the six realms. In the human realm, there are so many different types of human beings. Each individual has its own cause and each cause manifests result. Then there is animal realm, hell realm and so on. Buddha can directly perceive them all.

3. Knowing the ability of each individual directly

When Buddha taught, he could perceive each disciple and being directly. Individuals have different abilities: some can receive very profound teaching, some are just beginners. He knew precisely how much devotion, perseverance and the power of the mind each individual had. For us, it is a very hidden and mysterious subject. We do not know who has ability and of what level.

4. Power to perceive directly the constitution of the mental elements, seeing the profundity of the mind.

5. Power to see all the wishes of each individual without any mistake.

Different people have different wishes and they all make wishes in a different way. We cannot perceive that. We know only our own mind what we wish. Even there were millions of people out there, Buddha had the power to perceive all directly without any mistake.

6. Buddha has perfected the practice of all the vehicles and paths

Therefore, he understood and knew all the different paths each individual was walking on -in the six realm, beyond samsara, path of Shravakas, the hearer path, Pratyeka Buddhas, the solitary realizer path and the bodhisattva path. Buddha perceived all and gave teachings accordingly.

7. Buddha perfected all the paths of meditation

Because of his achievement, he could perceive all the causes of suffering, all the different levels of the causes and how to purify each of them and how to proceed towards Enlightenment.

8. Buddha never forgot any teaching he had studied

Because of that, he had limitless recollection to his past lives. We do not know even this life. Buddha could recollect limitless lives before.

There was a story. During Buddha’s time, a baby girl was born wearing a white robe. When she grew up, she did not have to buy any clothes because the clothes she had grew with her. After some time, she saw the suffering nature of samsara so she renounced samsara and became a nun. Her white robe was transformed into yellow and soon she achieved the arhat state. Lots of monks were very inspired and wondered why she was so special. Buddha said:

At the time of Buddha Akshobhya, there was a poor couple. They had only one set of clothes to wear. One time, Buddha Akshobhya visited this town and a monk was sent to go around to inspire people to come to see Buddha. He went around announcing loudly, "Buddha is here in town. Anyone would like to make a connection to the Buddha, receive teaching, make offering and so on, it is the best time to do so now." The woman asked the monk to come to their home and gave the only set of clothes to the monk and asked the monk to offer that to the Buddha. They could not go to see the Buddha. The monk took the set of old, filthy clothes and offered to the Buddha. The Buddha took up the offering in his hand and explained that that was the best offering he received that day. There were many people there and some of them were very rich. They thought that the clothes were so old and filthy wondering why Buddha was so happy with that. They came forth and asked the Buddha. The Buddha explained how pure motivation and great devotion that couple had making this offering. It was not the thing that count, but rather their supreme motivation. So they asked Buddha where the couple were and Buddha said that they lived down in the village. They were so poor and had nothing. People became curious and made them clothes and brought them to the assembly. This nun is a rebirth of that wife.

So Buddha could see and recollect the past so clearly and precisely. That is why when we have purified all our negative thoughts, the clarity of the mind enables us to meditate well and our memory becomes better, and better. That is why meditation is so important. Many great meditators or practitioners have such a clear, fresh mind of a young child. We could not meditate because our mind is completely occupied with all the negative thoughts and it takes away all mental peace and clarity. Because of that, we forget so much and some even become senile. Meditation brings back freshness and clarity to the mind. Sometimes, people think that people do meditation because they have problems. In reality, those who can meditate have much calm and peace in the mind. Those who are mentally disturbed or busy-minded cannot meditate. Those who can meditate are those who have mental strength to keep the clarity and peacefulness in the mind. So we have to change our perception. Doing meditation is the best kind of vacation we can have. If you can meditate both in the morning and in the evening, that would be the best. We do not have to go anywhere for vacation, just stay wherever you are and it is the best place to rest the mind.

9. Ability to perceive what kind of rebirth each individual will have

Because of the clarity in Buddha’s mind, he could perceive what rebirth every individual would have, whether the individual would born as a human being, an animal, in the god realms or beyond samsara.

10.   Power of knowing the exhaustion of all afflicting emotions.

The ten powers are like the indestructible vajra – its nature cannot be destroyed by others and its nature destroys all the delusions and obscurations which pile up like big mountains. Even though some bodhisattvas may partially have these ten powers but only Buddha has these powers completely and perfectly. To have these powers, we need to have a very strong meditative concentration to purify all the mental afflicting emotion and all the subtle obscurations, to attain complete Enlightenment.

Buddha has four fearlessness:

  1. When Buddha said that he attained Enlightenment or Buddhahood, nobody could disagree with that. Nobody could prove that Buddha had not attained Enlightenment. Buddha is free from this kind of fear. Nobody could create obstacle for him.

For us, even when we have received a Ph.D. degree, we are not so confident. Even if we are successful in business, still we are not confident. We need to work hard to secure what we have.

  1. When Buddha said that he had purified all the obscurations including all afflictive emotions, all the gross and subtle obscurations, nobody could say that he had not done so. So he was free from those fear.
  2. When Buddha said to his disciple, "If I gave this meditation instruction and if you practice accordingly, you will achieve such and such realization." Nobody could argue that what Buddha said was not true. Buddha knew so clearly and precisely from his wisdom. So he was free from that fear. For us, we usually say we hope, we guess and we cannot say for sure.
  3. When Buddha said to a person, "When you involve in this kind of negative thoughts under this kind of conditions, you would face obstacles." Nobody could oppose to that.

This is called the four fearlessness. We take refuge in the Buddha because he has this kind of great wisdom, great compassion, great power and great ability. The four fearlessness is like a lion.

Buddha possess eighteen unequal qualities:

1. Perfect physical movements

Buddha performed all actions peacefully and gently. Anyone who perceived that admired such physical discipline. There was a story:

Buddha had a disciple called Gadayana. Gadayana walked with much physical discipline. Anyone who saw him admired him and developed great devotion. Before Shariputra (Buddha’s great disciple) met Buddha or became a Buddhist, he had been a great teacher with many great disciples. One day, he met Gadayana on the road and Shariputra perceived Gadayana’s great physical discipline and greatly admired that. Shariputra thought that he must be a special person. Shariputra asked Gadayana what he practiced and Gadayana replied, "All the phenomena come from the cause and that cause is explained by the Buddha and Buddha explained also how to cease the causes of suffering in samsara." As soon as Gadayana said that, Shariputra thought that he might be Buddha and asked Gadayana, "Are you Buddha?" Gadayana said, "No, I am not Buddha. I am a disciple of Buddha." Shariputra was so impressed because even Buddha’s disciple had such great qualities. Shariputra asked, "Can I see Buddha?" Gadayna took him to the Buddha. On the way, Gadayana explained "All the phenomena comes from the cause and that cause is explained by the Buddha and Buddha explained also how to cease the causes of suffering in samsara." As soon as Shariputra heard that he was awakened. When Shariptura met Buddha, he took refuge in the Buddha and followed the Buddha. So Buddha’s physical actions and all the bodily movements are always performed with consciousness, mindfulness and there is no fault in them.

2. Buddha possessed unequal speech

Buddha always gave the right speech with the right amount in a clear and precis manner. His speech would stay in the mind of each individual. There is no empty speech or gossip.

3. Buddha’s mind always can remember and he never forget anything.

4. Buddha’s mind is always in meditative state, always stayed completely at the present moment.

5. Buddha has no duality thought

Buddha has no duality thought like good or bad, like or dislike. His mind is always in equanimity with no attachment or aversion. Mind is completely clear just like wind that can be blown to any place, not just stay at one place. We should look at wind as an example to remind ourselves to free from attachment and aversion when we go through place to place. Buddha has no attachment to nirvana or aversion against samsara. Buddha actualized the equanimity nature of mind.

6. Whatever Buddha did, Buddha did it consciously

Buddha did all things full of awareness. Buddha met every individual, taught and did all things full of awareness. That is why he knew every individual precisely without any mistake.

7. Buddha’s interest in all sentient beings never decrease

We sometimes may loose interest in doing things or practicing the Dharma. We may think, "This is so boring. Why am I sitting here? Let’s go out and do something else. It’s better to work instead." Unlike us, Buddha’s interest in helping every sentient being never decrease.

8. Perseverance

Buddha’s joyful effort in benefiting sentient beings continued like the stream of water that never stop. If Buddha see anybody who is successful in purifying suffering and delusion, Buddha would feel so happy, indescribably happy.

9. The power of mindfulness presents all the time.

10. The brilliant wisdom, the wisdom that pervades all knowledge always exists in Buddha’s mind.

11. Buddha is free from all obscurations.

12. Buddha always possesses the wisdom which is completely free from all the obscurations. That wisdom never declines. Buddha never forgets the wisdom that generates consciousness of the primordial wisdom.

13. Buddha’s activities related to the body, speech and mind were always run by wisdom awareness. Through that, Buddha could benefit sentient beings through walking from place to place, through sitting in a big assembly with hundreds and thousands of disciples. Even when sleeping and eating, Buddha did them with wisdom awareness in order to benefit countless sentient beings.

14. Buddha possessed unequal quality of speech

Buddha gave teachings to thousands of disciples. Every word that he used had profound great quality and could be understood by every individual regardless of background or levels of practice (newcomer or advanced practitioner). Everybody got benefit according to individual’s capacity. Buddha did not need any translator. He spoke one language and could be understood by all people who might speak completely different languages.

Great bodhisattvas like Milarepa have perfected such power of speech. One time when Milarepa was out in the forest, there was a hunter whose hunting dog was chasing a deer and the deer came to Milarepa. Milarepa gave teaching to the deer and after that, when the dog came by, both the dog and the deer could understand what Milarepa said and especially the meditation instructions.

15. Buddha’s mind is infinite like space. Because of that, infinite wisdom activities can be manifested.

16. Buddha’s primordial mind perceives infinite lives from the beginningless time.

17. Buddha’s primordial mind perceives the future endless time.

18. Buddha’s primordial mind perceives the present. Buddha’s primordial mind perceives all knowledge everywhere any time horizon without any obstruction.

So Buddha processessed ten powers, four fearlessness and eighteen unequal qualities. Unequal means unequal even to the achievement of the great bodhisattvas. Therefore we take refuge in the Buddha. That means that I would like to become Buddha and achieve all these great qualities in our body, speech and mind.

Here is an example illustrating how Buddha’s physical body has no limit. Nobody can really measure Buddha’s body. Maudgalyayana, Buddha’s disciple, always stayed with Buddha whenever Buddha walked, sat or stood. Since Buddha was a little taller than regular people, Maudgalyayana could not see the top of Buddha’s head. He would like to see it because the top of Buddha’s head had a sign of the perfection of bodhicitta (as one of the 112 attributes of Buddha’s physical body). Possessing the most medical power, Maudgalyayana flew in the sky and tried everything hoping to see that. As he flew higher, Buddha’s body grew the same height. At last, Maudgalyayana was exhausted and he could not find out how big or small Buddha’s body really was. There was no measurement. It was limitless. Another time, Maudgalyayana was sitting next to Buddha who was giving teachings to hundreds and thousands of disciples. His speech could be heard very clearly and precisely – neither too soft nor too loud. Maudgalyayana looked down to the gathering of thousands of people who were listening to the teachings and wondered how Buddha’s voice sounded at a distance. Out of curiosity, Maudgalyayana walked to the end of the gathering. To his surprise, he could hear just as good, not soft and not loud. He went farther to the Indian Ocean. He flew above the Ocean. No matter how far he went, he could hear just as good. So he could not find any limit to Buddha’s speech. It was limitless.

Here is another related story. When Maudgalyayana’s mother died and he was looking for his mother’s rebirth. He looked at all the six realms in this planet, other planets, everywhere, but he could not find it. He recalled Buddha said that all sentient beings who were reborn were born from other previous lives and all sentient beings who died will reborn in the next life. Since Maudgalyayana could not find his mother’s rebirth, he thought that maybe his mother did not have any rebirth. So with doubt, he went to Buddha and asked Buddha where his mother’s rebirth was. Perceiving that doubt, Buddha led him to the place where his mother was reborn. From where Buddha was, to the north, countless planets beyond, in a particular place, Maudgalyayana’s mother was reborn. Maudgalyayana still had doubt because he could not see it. So, through Buddha’s blessing, Buddha asked Maudgalyayana to looked right there. Maudgalyayana looked there and he found his mother’s rebirth right there. Sometimes, we wonder where the beings on this planet comes from. They can be from another planet and we may go to another planet. So this is some basic understanding on Buddha’s wisdom body, speech and mind to whom we are taking refuge in.

What is the real meaning of taking refuge in the Buddha? When we look at the picture or statue of the Buddha, we say that this is Buddha. Then we describe as we did here all the supreme qualities of the Buddha. The real Buddha is not the physical external body or object, the real Buddha is all the qualities that it embodies from the mind within. Taking refuge in the Buddha means that I want to actualize all these supreme qualities of the Buddha so that I would be free from suffering and delusion just like Buddha did.

How do we know that Buddha manifests activities unceasingly until samsara ends? From there, we can understand how Buddha manifests activities to benefit countless sentient beings.

First of all, Buddha has practiced Dharma teachings for three limitless eons or kalpa (one complete age of this planet is called one kalpa). It is not a simple thing to do to create such a vast cause. For us, going to school for sixteen to twenty years seems to be a long time and then working for the rest of the life. Then we die and do the same thing again in our next life to create the cause for the lives to come. For three limitless eons, Buddha practiced the Dharma teachings. This creates a complete cause to benefit sentient beings continuously. When Buddha was practicing Dharma teachings, sometimes, he received Dhamra teachings even at the risk of his life, wealth and body. Through that, he accumulated all Dharma teachings and practices. This is the kind of cause he created. Buddha is benefiting sentient beings now and will continue to benefit sentient beings because samsara does not end. For three limitless eons, Buddha cultivated bodhicitta in order to free all sentient beings from suffering until samsara ends. So Buddha’s activities continued, never exhausted.

Sometimes, we may wonder how Buddha can manifest all these activities and we worry that maybe Buddha loses interest in helping sentient beings.

Buddha has purified all the obscurations - gross and subtle. Therefore, Buddha always has a clear and pure mind to benefit all the sentient beings. When our mind is deluded, through obscurations, our interest swings up and down. But Buddha never loses interest in helping sentient beings. Buddha has the ability to continue his activities because he has achieved the complete, excellent and perfect qualities to manifest beneficial activities unceasingly. Therefore, we take refuge in the Buddha.

Buddha never gives up sentient beings. Sentient beings are indispensable in his heart. For us, when we understand samsara and nirvana, we would not like to stay in samsara and would like to reach nirvana. Buddha transcends that duality thought. He has purified all the duality of thoughts. That is why you hear some teachings saying, " If you harm or hurt sentient beings, it is the same as hurting the Buddha. As you respect sentient beings, you respect Buddha too." It is because all sentient beings are in Buddha’s heart. Buddha’s mind is solely for the benefit of all sentient beings. Especially when you practice bodhisattva’s path, to train the bodhicitta mind, Buddha and sentient beings are of equal importance. Buddha taught us how to practice the Dharma teachings with the help of sentient beings. Without sentient beings, we cannot practice the Dharma. We cannot develop compassion and loving-kindness to a piece of rock or to a piece of wood. So sentient beings give us the opportunity to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. So for that reason, sentient beings and Buddha are of equal importance. In fact, Buddha attained buddhahood thanks to sentient beings. Therefore, sentient beings are indispensable factor for attaining buddhahood. So when somebody gives you a hard time, you should feel grateful that that person gives you opportunity to practice patience, loving-kindness and compassion. If you know how to practice Dharma well, you can get benefit from all sentient beings whether in favorable or in unfavorable conditions. Since Buddha attained buddhahood in the Dharmakaya state, all the excellent qualities pervade equally in both samsara and nirvana. From that point of view, Buddha benefit all sentient beings unceasingly and limitlessly.

Moreover, Buddha’s activities manifested effortlessly like the sunshine. When the sun shines, it shines everywhere. Without sunshine, nothing can grow. When there is sunshine, everything grows. The sun does not have to think about shining. It happens effortlessly. We just need to stay in the sunshine to get the benefit. As long as the grass, flowers and plants are in the sunshine, they just bloom without conceptual thoughts. When the sun is obstructed by clouds, it cannot shine well. When the plant has some disease, it cannot grow even when there is sunshine. Since Buddha has purified all the negative obscurations and perfected the complete wisdom and compassion, his activities like the sunshine just manifested effortlessly. Even though Buddhas’ activities are always there, if we are not connected to such activities, we cannot get benefit. In order to get the benefit, we, individually, must create causes and conditions to purify our delusion, to understand the teachings and to experience Buddhas’ activities. So we have to take full responsibility to study and practice the Dharma teachings in order to get the benefit.

You may think Buddha suffers just as we do. This is not true. Buddha has purified all the causes of suffering. Since there is no cause of suffering, Buddha never experiences any suffering or discomfort in samsara. Buddha has all the good qualities to maintain peaceful and clear mind at all time. Like a piece of gold, it will remain as pure even when it is put in the mud for hundred of years. The mud will not affect the gold. Similarly, while the lotus grows in the mud water, its flower blooms brilliantly above the water, stainless. In the same way, Buddha and bodhisattvas are not affected by the samsaric faults. They are committed to stay to continuously benefit all sentient beings.

The nature of Dharmakaya pervades everywhere, beyond all the conceptual thoughts, with all the excellent qualities. It appears after the maras of death has transcended. Dharmakaya is the complete nature of our own mind. Every sentient being is embodied with the Buddha nature, the seed of Enlightenment. That seed has every potential to grow into a great bodhicitta (mind of Enlightenment) tree. If the seed does not have potential, no matter how much we try, it will never grow. When we study about the Buddha, you maybe overwhelmed by all the abilities and qualities that Buddha has and wonder if you can ever achieve that. You may think that you are so limited in many ways. However, it is inconceivable that a small seed has the potential to grow into a giant tree. If you plant the seed at the right place, fertilized the ground and provide moisture and all the necessary conditions, slowly, slowly it will grow into a tree after some years. It grows until it reaches its maximum. Likewise, we have planted our seed of Enlightenment in the Dharma field. When we make effort, put our interest in the study and practice of the Dharma, we are building our courage, inspiration and all the necessary conditions to grow the Enlightenment mind bigger and bigger. From that, it can grow to the maximum. For the time being until Enlightenment, we need all the causes and conditions. But in reality, all the excellent qualities are always there, pervading in our own being. Just like the oil in the mustard seed, that oil is not worse than the oil being produced. The oil being produced is not better than the oil in the mustard seed. But as long as the oil is in the mustard seed, we cannot use it as oil. We say that it is a mustard seed and not oil even though oil is already there, completely pure from the beginning. So see that nature. Our interest in the Dharma study and practice is like producing oil from the mustard seed. All those husk has to be taken out from that seed. We take refuge in the Buddha because Buddha gives complete explanations in great details.

Buddha came to this planet in order to teach all sentient beings that we do not have to suffer. We have every ability and quality to attain that. We just have to go ahead and make effort. Here is an example. A very poor man was settled on a piece of land where underneath the land, there was a great treasure. He did not realize that so he thought that he was so poor having no food to eat and no clothes to wear. Then a miner came and did some examination on the ground. He detected that lots of treasure was buried underneath the ground. So the poor man made every effort to dig underneath the ground. While he was digging, he found indeed endless treasure. In fact, he was already rich from the beginning having all the treasure underneath. But until he recognized that, he felt that he was so poor. Likewise, we have all the enlightened qualities as Buddha, because of our delusion, we feel that we are so limited, so poor with peace and loving-kindness and that make us suffered. Buddha explained that we do not have to suffer that way. Buddha gave all the instructions and explanations on how to study and practice the Dharma teachings until we actualized them. This is the way to bring real peace and joy.

Milarepa said, "If you do not experience the joy from within the mind, you cannot get joy from outside no matter how much you try. Searching joy and happiness outside is like chasing mirage." If you see mirage at a distance, you think that there is running water. You chase the whole day, day after day. You cannot get anything even when you are totally exhausted. Instead, we should use our energy to explore within the mind, purify all the negative thoughts. That is why we need to meditate. If peace and happiness can be got from outside, we do not have to meditate. Since it is coming from within, we have to meditate to internalize within the mind and be friend with our mind. This is the best friend that can stay with us day after day, life after life.

That is why when we have purified all our obscurations, the total nature of our own mind, the absolute buddhahood, the Dharmakaya reveals itself from within our mind. We take refuge in the Buddha to help us to remove our delusion. Just like looking at the oil which is produced from the mustard seed, we admire the good quality of the oil and want to know all the characteristics and usage. We are inspired to produce more oil from the mustard seed. We feel that it is worthwhile to make effort to produce the oil. In the same way, we take refuge in the Buddha because we admire the absolute, perfect qualities and ability Buddha has. Buddha has purified all the obscurations, delusion and duality thoughts and reached the Dharmakaya state, the ultimate unweaving nature of the mind which is absolutely trustworthy. We are inspired to become Buddha to attain those qualities. Then we read Buddha’s life stories and we practice the Dharma. When we receive the benefit from the Dharma, we practice with joy feeling fortunate.

We feel fortunate when we looked at Milarepa, how much he suffered when he could not receive any Dharma teaching. He was so desperate and he looked for Dharma everywhere. Marpa did not give teaching easily. Later when Milarepa received Dharma teaching, he was completely joyful and satisfied. Even though he had such hard times finding food and clothes, still, he felt that he was the most fortunate people in the world. It was worth all the effort. When he was in the mountain with no clothes to wear and his body was like a skeleton, people who came to visit him and thought that he was a ghost. Milarepa said that he was not a ghost but a human being, a Dharma practitioner. People thought that he was so unfortunate living in such poor conditions with no clothes and no food. They thought that Milarepa could do better than that. Milarepa felt that he was most fortunate. So, like that he made effort joyfully. Nowadays, there are people risking their lives jumping high from snow mountains just to have excitement. So why not make similar joyful effort to the practice of Dharma? Feeling fortunate because we have such a precious human life and have the opportunity to meet the Dharma teaching and have the leisure to study and practice the Dharma. Feeling fortunate is very important. Peace and happiness that you are looking for cannot be found from anywhere. So, having the opportunity to study and practice the Dharma to bring out the peace and happiness from within is the most worthwhile thing to do. Feeling fortunate itself is peace and happiness. There is no need to attach to happiness.

The perfection of Buddha nature is like space, uncompounded. Space is uncompounded because we cannot make space and space cannot be changed or not be changed. Space cannot be obscured by anything because space is still space. Buddha nature is like space. It continues until the end of samsara. Its nature is uncompounded because there is no beginning like space and no disappearing like space. No one can say that there is a beginning or the disappearing of space. The beginning, the middle and the end of space has no difference. Yesterday’s space is the same as today’s or tomorrow’s space. Likewise, Buddha’s qualities never change so that all the excellent qualities as well as all the activities are spontaneously established by itself effortlessly like sunshine. The total undefiled peace is spontaneously established and we have to realize it by ourselves just as Buddha did. The historical Buddha realized that nature by himself in Bodhgaya said, "I found such a nectar, undefiled nectar. It is uncompounded, so profound with great peace, free from elaboration, in luminosity." Such profound nature, we have to actualize it through our meditation. With strong devotion and confidence to Buddha, we have to make effort to purify our delusions. So these are the three great qualities are Buddha:

1. The uncompounded nature

2. The spontaneously established qualities and activities and

3. The excellent qualities can only be actualized by yourself, not by other cause or conditions. That means that you yourself have to make the effort. Nobody can give that to you. We have to first study it and then experience it from within the mind. It is inexpressible means that nobody can communicate to you how it is like. Just like tasting honey, until you put the honey into the mouth and taste it, you do not know how the taste is like no matter how much you have heard about it. So the description of it that you have heard and the actual experience may not be the same. When you put it on the tongue, then you say, "Oh! This is how it tastes like." There is no word to explain directly the taste. You just have to taste it. It is inexpressible. Complete Enlightenment is just like that.

We went through the teachings on Buddha briefly. Of course, Buddhas’ qualities are inconceivable, inexpressible and inexhaustible. In some text, Madhyantavibhaga mentioned that suppose Buddha had to describe about Buddha’s qualities, it took Buddha himself hundreds and thousands of years and still could not finish. Buddha’s qualities are limitless like space. We have no ability to express Buddha’s qualities fully.


May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme victory and ride on omniscience; never turning back;
May all sentient beings gain the flavor of entry into the truth of the nondifference of all Buddhas,
and be able to distinguish all faculties;
May all sentient beings attain increase of the savor of the teaching
and always be able to fulfill the Buddhhas' teaching of nonobstruction.

Last updated on 2002-10-23.