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Chapter 14: To Face a Buddha Is Dangerous

Buddhas have three bodies: a transformation body, a reward body and a real body. The transformation body is also called the incarnation body. The transformation body appears when mortals do good deeds, the reward body when they cultivate wisdom and the real body when they become aware of the sublime. . But actually, there’s not even one buddha-body, much less three. This talk of three bodies is simply based on human understanding, which can be shallow, moderate or deep.

People of shallow understanding imagine they’re piling up blessings and mistake the transformation body as the buddha. People of moderate understanding imagine they’re putting an end to suffering and mistake the reward body as the buddha. And people of deep understanding imagine they’re experiencing buddhahood and mistake the real body as the buddha. But people of the deepest understanding look within, distracted by nothing. Since a clear mind is the buddha, they attain the understanding of a buddha without using the mind. .

Individuals create karma. Karma doesn’t create individuals. . Only someone who’s perfect creates no karma in this life and receives no reward. The sutras say, “Who creates no karma obtains the dharma.” . When you create karma, you’re reborn along with your karma. When you don’t create karma, you vanish along with your karma. .

Someone who understands the teaching of sages is a sage. Someone who understands the teaching of mortals is a mortal. A mortal who can give up the teaching of mortals and follow the teaching of sages becomes a sage. But the fools of this world prefer to look for sages far away. They don’t believe that the wisdom of their own mind is the sage.

The sutras say, “Among men of no understanding, don’t preach this sutra.” .

The sutras say, “When you see that all appearances are not appearances, you see the tathagata.” The myriad doors to the truth all come from the mind. When appearances of the mind are as transparent as space, they’re gone. .

When mortals are alive they worry about death. When they’re full, they worry about hunger. Theirs is the great uncertainty. But sages don’t consider the past. And they don’t worry about the future. Nor do they cling to the present. From moment to moment they follow the way. .

Bodhidharma, for the first time in these sutras, looks at the people who are not enlightened and who are bound to misunderstand him. Hence, he talks about the possibility of the ordinary, unenlightened mind, and how it looks at things. He himself talks about it, so that he can make it clear that all these so-called understandings of the mind - either shallow or deep, or even very deep - all are wrong.

This is very rare, because Bodhidharma never thought about the people who would be his audience. He only thought about the truth. And he talked about it without any consideration of those who were listening to it, or reading it. This is part of his compassion; this is the part that makes the arhatas and the bodhisattvas separate.

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