What Is the Three Dharma-Seals About? (4)


© Anonymous, June 6, 2013 at 9:08 PM (http://tantrismuskritik.blogspot.tw/2013/06/what-is-three-dharma-seals-about-3.html?showComment=1370524120093#c6867157820178231215")

Here we can see that the Three Dharma-Seals actually describes two classes of dharma in the dharma-realm.

These two kinds of dharma are entirely different from each other in nature, with one class being the dharma of an arising-and-ceasing nature and the other a neither-arising-nor-ceasing nature. The latter is nirvana, or the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha.

The arising-and-ceasing dharma-seals are connected to the Four Noble Truths, in particular the truth of suffering. The truth of suffering means that everything within the three realms and the six paths of rebirth is afflicted with sufferings, which is why in the sound-hearer sutras, it is sometimes said that everything is suffering.

As a matter of fact, all being suffering is sometimes regarded as the fourth dharma-seal in the Buddha dharma. The amount of the arising-and-ceasing dharmas can be increased ad infinitum or reduced all the way to zero. Hence, the arising-and-ceasing dharma-seals are like the arising-and-ceasing dharmas in that they can be increased or decreased. This is the type of arising-and-ceasing dharma-seals among the Three Dharma-Seals.

The second type of dharma-seal is the dharma-seal of nirvana, which is a neither-arising-nor-ceasing and everlasting dharma. It is a unique dharma and one that is in a class of its own in the dharma-realm. Because of this, its quantity cannot be increased or decreased.

The Three Dharma-Seals specially established by the Buddha is to confirm that the life of every sentient being is a dharma-seal.

One part of every life is of an arising-and-ceasing nature whereas the other is neither-arising-nor-ceasing. The part that is neither-arising-nor-ceasing is the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha. The part of an arising-and-ceasing nature is our five aggregates because they undergo all kinds of changes.

This is indeed the key difference between the Three Samadhis realized by sound-hearers and bodhisattvas: sound-hearers have realized that “all formations are impermanent” and “all dharmas are of no-self”; once they have extinguished these arising-and-ceasing dharmas, they are said to have realized nirvana, for they themselves will become a non-arising dharma in future lifetimes. This is not the case for bodhisattvas.

When bodhisattvas realize the Three Dharma-Seals, they do so by means of directly realizing the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha along with the arising-and-ceasing dharmas. Therefore, their realization of the Three Dharma-Seals is more complete than that of the sound-hearers. (Part 4)


  1. We have said that the purpose of learning the Buddha dharma is to attain liberation from births-and-deaths, then what is the perspective from the Buddha dharma regard births and deaths?

    We also want to eliminate vexations through learning the Buddha dharma, what then is the perspective from Buddha dharma about vexations?

    The answer is “maha prajna paramita,” a term all of you is quite familiar with!

    Literally, it means reaching the opposite shore through great wisdoms. Maha means great. Prajna is roughly equivalent to what we called wisdom. What about paramita? It means to arrive at the opposite shore - crossing over the ocean of births and deaths and reaching the shore of liberation.

    In other words, maha prajna paramita summarizes what the perspective from the Buddha dharma regards births and deaths and vexations: that we should gain our understanding by means of great Buddhist prajna wisdom and then eliminate vexations and ends the cycles of births-and-deaths. That is why we always say that we have to rely on wisdom to accomplish the above goals.

    Let me use an example to illustrate. For instance, everyone uses mirror daily and we all know that the image in the mirror is not real.

    Zoologist experimented with monkeys and when monkeys saw their own image in the mirror, they made threatening gestures and tried to fight with their image in the mirror. When monkeys see the image of banana in the mirror, they would throw away the one in their hands and try to grab the one in the mirror. All this shows that monkeys had no idea that the image in the mirror is unreal.

    Alternatively, observing that the images in the mirror come and go, monkeys may come to the conclusion that the images in the mirror cannot last forever and is therefore unreal. However, in this case, although they understand the unreal and impermanent nature of the images, they fail to take notice of the existence of the mirror. This is not something hard to imagine.

    If there is a giant mirror, so big that we cannot even see the edge of it, then the images in this mirror would oftentimes be taken for real. In the second scenario, one sees the image in the mirror but was unaware of the mirror. One knows the images are impermanent but does not know where the mirror is.

    And there could also be a third scenario, in which one sees both the image and the mirror, and understands that the images are what reflected by the mirror. (Part 5)

    1. Many thanks for your posting. I will post it.

  2. If we take the three scenarios and change the subjects in them into human beings, you can see that the first group of people are most ignorant and have the least wisdom because they cannot even tell that the image in the mirror is not real.

    What about the second and third group of people? The Buddha dharma describes the second group of people as the ones with liberation wisdom. They know that the images in the mirror are not real and would not cling to them, though they have not attained the wisdom of reality as they have not seen and located the mirror. This is the second group of people.

    How about the third group? The third group of people has not only recognized that the images in the mirror are impermanent and unreal but have also looked for and found the mirror. They also know that the images in the mirror are manifested by the mirror. Of course, as they have already found the mirror, the third group of people possesses not only the wisdom of liberation but also the wisdom of reality.

    A patriarch once said, “All sentient beings possess the virtues and wisdoms of the Tathagata; but because of delusions and attachment, they cannot realize them.” We can draw an analogy between this saying and the images in mirror: That which goes through births and deaths is our five-aggregate body (our physical body) as well as this mind of ours that can see, hear, perceive and know. These five aggregates that go through births and deaths are like the images in the mirror which come and go - they will never become neither arising nor ceasing, or everlasting.

    The patriarch’s saying that “all sentient beings possess the virtues and wisdoms of the Tathagata” means that all sentient beings have their own mirrors (Tathagata) and their five aggregates are the images reflected in their own mirrors. (Part 6)