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  How to Practice "Non-Self" / Written in Chinese by Dr. Yutang Lin / Translated by Stanley Lam / Edited by Dr. Lin and Ann Klein

  The fundamental theme of Buddhist teachings is the demonstration of "Non-Self." Most people find this concept very hard to accept and may also feel very puzzled by it. In daily life everything operates from self-centeredness; such a way is almost universally accepted as the norm of worldly life. However, Buddhism talks about "Non-Self." What could that mean? Although expressions like "selfless" and "unselfish" are also used in worldly life, their meaning is simply to promote the ideal of sacrificing personal interests for others' interests; there is no denial of the existence of a "self." If the "Non-Self" as taught by the Dharma denies the existence of a "self," then such a concept is impractical to social life. If the concept of "Non-Self" which denies the existence of one's self is acceptable, how can it be applied in real life? If the ideal of "Non-Self" does not work in social life, is it not just empty talk or a metaphysical notion?*** Worldly life centers around the self of individuals and groups. Although this results in various difficulties and suffering, as there are no other alternatives, everyone in the society has to comply with such a way of life. Although some political parties, be they in power or not, ostensibly promote the common welfare of all, they cannot do without factional politics and rewards of power and self gain when faced with real gains and losses. Why does the Dharma ignore all these realities of life and advocate "Non-Self" instead? The Dharma also teaches people not to become attached to worldly fame, gains, love and desires; what is the real aim of such teachings? Given that practicing "Non-Self" is contrary to normal worldly considerations, what are the benefits and importance of adopting it?*** For some Buddhists even after accepting by faith or through understanding the real meaning of "Non-Self," they may still encounter the following questions: Since there is no self, who is practicing? Who will attain Enlightenment? Who will guide sentient beings to liberation? How to practice "Non-Self"? How to verify whether one's practice is correct or not? Is the intention to practice "Non-Self" a self-attachment in itself? If it is a self-attachment, would not practicing "Non-Self" reinforce self-attachment? How then could one attain "Non-Self"? If there is no self, why is there a need to practice? Would it not become a fool's self-entanglement and a redundant activity?*** The Dharma teaches that one needs to practice observational meditation on Sunyata and enter into deep Samadhi, only then can one cut off the very subtle fundamental ignorance and self-attachment, and thereby thoroughly realize "Non-Self." Ordinary practitioners usually do not have the ability to enter into deep Samadhi, how then should they practice "Non-Self"? Does it mean there is no way to practice it? Since "Non-Self" is so difficult to understand and practice, is there any other teaching among the ocean of Buddhist teachings that can achieve the same result and yet much easier to practice in ordinary people's daily lives?*** The series of questions were presented above to demonstrate the need and urgency to investigate the subject of How to Practice "Non-Self." For those who want to immerse deeply into the Dharma these questions are difficult to evade and not easy to answer. The present essay attempts to explain each of these difficult issues and provides insight based on my own experiences in practicing "Non-Self." I hope that this essay will be useful to practitioners who are attempting to practice "Non-Self," and that it will arouse in others the motive to practice "Non-Self."

1. The Real Meaning of "Non-Self"
  The Dharma teaches "Non-Self" in order to save sentient beings from the tormenting sea of Samsara; however, "Non-Self" is not a conceptual tool or pedagogical instrument constructed for this purpose. "Non-Self" is a verifiable truth both in terms of philosophical analyses and of attainment of realization through practice. Therefore, the salvation through the Dharma does not involve blind faith, but points out the truth to help people become free from confinement and confusion.*** "Non-Self" does not mean that entities as they are commonly perceived do not exist; it means that the concept of "self" has no referent which has absolutely independent existence. The contents of all our experiences are phenomena resulting from a combination of various conditions; these phenomena change following changes in their constituent conditions, hence they have neither absolutely independent existence nor autonomy. Any denotation or labeling is just a relative cognitive activity of artificial naming and delimitation in the inseparable entirety of our experiences. Although one can denote and distinguish the existence, disappearance, and activities of individual entities in social interactions, under careful inspection one must admit the absence of any object of absolute denotation; those denotations and distinctions are just temporary grasping of appearances, serving as means of convenience. Upon thorough examination, "self" is only a conceptual tool of denotation, but not necessarily related to actual experiences. Ordinary worldly activities and personal speech and actions are all dominated by the concept of "self," without understanding of the nature of this concept, and rarely can people reflect on this issue. People are therefore imprisoned by self-attachment; they not only are trapped in endless suffering, but also reinforce entanglements based on the self; the situation is analogous to a silkworm spinning a cocoon to enclose itself deeper and deeper. If a practitioner can cease the flow of thoughts or even loosen, in Samadhi, the subconscious constrictions of various concepts and dispositions, then he or she will be able to experience the original state which is free from the antagonism of subject and object, i.e., the absence of discriminative identification of "I," "you" and "others."*** Since there is no self, who is practicing? My Guru, Yogi C. M. Chen, had written an essay in Chinese to specifically discuss this topic. In that essay he taught that the Right View is the self-nature of practice. For details, please refer to "An Inquiry as to the Self-Nature of Practice" in The Second set of Collected Essays from Qu Gong Zhai (the Bent Arm Study.) Nevertheless, for novice practitioners their Right View seems to be limited to conceptual notions and not associated with insight born of experiences. Judging from the paths of ordinary practitioners, they do not necessarily have a completely correct view as they embark on the path. Some were motivated by traumatic events; some started practice as a way out in the face of obstacles; some were adventurous out of curiosity; some were inspired by friends and relatives; there are all sorts of causes and conditions. Then, during those years on the path of practice, there are times of diligent practice and periods of indolence; if it is only the Right View that is directing the practice, why are there periods of indolence? Besides, one's understanding of the Dharma will gain depth only after accumulation of experiences in life; in other words, the establishment and maturation of the Right View is cultivated through a life of practice. Based upon the above reflection, we may argue that the fundamental driving force of practice is the innate enlightened awareness in every sentient being. This enlightened awareness is clouded by worldly habits, influences and entanglements, but it would sometimes surface because of a variety of causes and conditions, and then one would start to practice the Dharma. If the enlightened awareness is properly protected and sustained, one's practice will not become lax or even regress, but will eventually result in its complete development, i.e., full Enlightenment. Although the above proposal lacks clear reference when compared with indicating the Right View as the self-nature of practice, it is clearly rooted in intuitive experiences. Although the innate enlightened awareness cannot be objectively described, it can explain the various phenomena that occur on the path of practice, and it is in accordance with the Dharma teaching that "the enlightened nature is innate to all sentient beings," as well as with the Dharma teaching that it is possible for sentient beings to become enlightened through observing the conditional nature of all things, i.e., intuitively comprehend the truth without first being taught the Dharma. Therefore, this proposal does have merits to serve as a valid reference.*** In physics there is a particle theory and a wave theory of light, they are different and yet not contradictory; both theories are needed in order to explain fully the various phenomena of light. In the analysis of the main cause of practice, we need to consider both the Right View and the innate enlightened awareness in order to explain fully the various phenomena of practice. If the Right View is accepted as the self-nature of practice, then there is of course no "self" in the Right View; if the innate enlightened awareness is taken as the driving force of practice, then, because such awareness transcends all learned concepts, it cannot be limited by the concept of a "self." In conclusion, it means that progress in practice occurs irrespective of the existence of a "self."*** According to the theory that the innate enlightened awareness is the driving force of practice, practice does not entail a "self" as the subject, it is just the awakening process of such innate enlightened awareness; attainment of Enlightenment does not entail a self, it simply means the full development of the innate enlightened awareness; salvation of sentient beings does not entail a self, it is just the awakening of dormant enlightened awareness by the ostensive display of fully developed enlightened awareness. Practicing "Non-Self" simply means giving up self-attachment in order to regain the original clarity of the mind. Being able to maintain an open perspective, let go of things, be tolerant, not compete with others, and leave causes and conditions to their natural courses would be close to practicing "Non-Self." "Non-Self" is the truth; those who act accordingly will be liberated, and those who do not will remain trapped; there is nothing to compel, nor any need to argue. Practicing "Non-Self" is merely the awakening of the innate enlightened awareness to acting and living in accordance with the truth; there is no deliberation in achieving any result, and even the salvation of beings through the spreading of the Dharma is just an activity that is necessary in accordance with the truth, hence it is not a kind of self-attachment. "Non-Self" does not require practice to realize, and there is nothing to be practiced either; the so called practicing "Non-Self" simply means to give up all sorts of self-attachment and one's grasping of a substantial "self." If a sentient being becomes aware of the presence of some self-attachment, then it is necessary to employ various methods to release it in order to refresh the innate "Non-Self." Therefore, practicing "Non-Self" is not a fool's self-entanglement, but rather a wiseman's taking appropriate medication for a diagnosed disease.

2. Reflection on the Adoption of a "Self"
  Although there is indeed no self in terms of philosophy and realization, nevertheless, real-life relationships based on interests and social functions of society are all built upon this concept of a "self." Why does the Dharma not conform to the worldly ways but insist on preaching an opposite approach to life? The reason is that if we reflect on all the suffering and causes in the world, we will discover that this concept of a "self" is the basic factor of much unnecessary but strictly man-caused suffering. Adhering to "self" will necessarily yield prejudices and biases, and thereby render one incapable of treating others equally and extending one's love to all sentient beings; consequently it becomes difficult for one to learn about various skillful service to others. Nevertheless, as it is commonly understood, it is obvious that there are distinct individuals with respective needs, speech, actions, rights and responsibilities; if "Non-Self" is to be implemented thoroughly, then how should society be structured and operate? How should the lives and sustenance of individuals be protected? Should we not restrict the discussion to the distinctions and choices between right and wrong at the moral level instead of investigating further and thereby shattering the foundational concept of our social structures?*** In order to understand the basic compassionate intention from which the Dharma teaches "Non-Self," one needs to recognize first the scope of saving sentient beings from suffering to happiness that are envisioned by the Dharma. The goal of the Dharma is to set all sentient beings completely free from the suffering of life and death in Samsara for all eternity. If we do not make fundamental changes and live in accordance with the reality of Non-Self, then it will be impossible to achieve this goal of ultimate liberation. If Non-Self cannot be practiced thoroughly, then any charitable activity is only a show performed in a relative situation. In other words, when one holds onto a "self" and is under the pressure of the environment, self-preservation will replace charity, and worldly interests and power will definitely rule in life. During harvest years the old and the weak may still have a share of the left-overs, but in times of famine the poor will not be able to even sustain their lives. Worldly regulations can do very little to rectify such a situation. As to the safeguard of our environment and what we might encounter, how can we maintain an upper hand over the forces of nature? No matter how hard people endeavor, there is no absolute protection of social and individual well-being. Adoption of a "self" will necessarily result in competition, confrontation, suspicion, jealousy and discord; the rule of survival of the fittest is no less applicable in the human world than in the jungles.*** Pitfalls of the adoption of a "self" have been described briefly above; nevertheless, how can the sustenance and stability of the society be ensured with "Non-Self"? Even though a small number of practitioners with clear and pure Dharma insight and lofty aspiration are practicing "Non-Self" in life, nevertheless most people do not follow their examples but stick with the practices of self-centered ways. How then can the society be improved and the customs changed? Salvation of all sentient beings from Samsara for all eternity is even further away. If the self-centered ways of the society cannot be changed, what good can a few people practicing "Non-Self" bring? Therefore, it is necessary to explain the importance of practicing "Non-Self."

3. The Importance of Practicing "Non-Self"
  First, I need to explain that advocating "Non-Self" is not only not contrary to the sustenance and stability of the society, but even conducive to it. Usually it would seem that if we carry out the ideal of "Non-Self," then individual rights and responsibilities would become out of the question; consequently it would either become empty rhetoric or be used by the ruling class to hypnotize the public in order to reap tangible benefits. If ordinary people sincerely practice "Non-Self," would it yield a sequence of undesirable side effects? In order to understand the root of the problem, the first priority is to recognize that the stability and sustenance of a society basically relies on mutual trust and good nature of its constituent members. All rules and regulations are very limited in function; they are either so complicated that only professionals can understand them or dependent on the interpretation and implementation of the enforcer for their applications. If everyone sets their priority on reinforcing their self-attachment and taking care of their own interests, then all rules and regulations are merely cosmetics for the cruel scenes of survival of the fittest. If, however, there is a consensus in the society that it is important to practice "Non-Self," then an atmosphere of harmony, happiness, mutual help and understanding will naturally prevail. Only with the practice of "Non-Self" can people really understand and care for one another, as well as realize the common fate of being a sentient being subject to the suffering of birth, aging, sickness and death. Besides, whether or not one can enjoy real peace and happiness in life also relies on practicing Non-Self and benefiting others. This point is much more important and fundamental than calculating gains and losses in the material world.*** The next point is to explain the necessity of practicing "Non-Self." If we give up practicing "Non-Self" because such practitioners are rare, while "practitioners" of self-centeredness are abundant, then not only would society become more profit-oriented and unstable but also each one of us would never enjoy a moment of spiritual peace and joy. However, if one can endure the difficulty of staying above the flood of self-attachment in this impure world and practice service of the great compassion of the common entity born of "Non-Self," then it would become possible for one not only to influence people's minds and customs through devoted and enduring service but also to develop fully one's potential for life; even attain the summit of supreme Enlightenment and transcend the ocean of suffering of samsaric life and death. Practicing "Non-Self" is not only related to an individual's awakening and value of life, but also closely related to the ultimate salvation of all sentient beings; hence, it is not only something that we should not speak lightly about giving it up, but also the great path that all those who want to save all beings from suffering should tread.*** Worldly people are not ignorant about right or wrong; they do not really object to having a clear, luminescent and peaceful mind; nor do they really object to benefiting themselves and others and sharing the enjoyment of a peaceful, joyful and beneficial life with all; however, due to practical considerations of worldly life, they cannot put their private gains after the welfare of others; hence they just spend their lives in the same old routine and are unable to set themselves free. If they see someone who really devotes himself to the practice of selflessly benefiting others, they would be most willing to lend a helping hand to such great deeds of universal salvation. Therefore, people with such noble aspirations should lead the multitude by starting early in devoting themselves to the salvation activities of Dharma in order to foster speedy realization of a pureland on Earth.*** Practicing Dharma to gain Enlightenment one should follow the example as set by Sakyamuni Buddha who gave up all worldly pleasures, practiced solely for gaining liberation from Samsara; and in order to concentrate all his efforts on Dharma activities, even relied on begging for a living. If one cannot enter a life of Dharma practice because of a lack of finances, or even prays for a house or some property to be free from financial worries before one is willing to start a serious practice, then the mentality and practice of such a Buddhist is contrary to that of our original teacher Sakyamuni Buddha; how could one expect to gain Enlightenment in this way?*** Talking about "Non-Self" is equivalent to saying that everything is a phenomenon arising from a combination of causes and conditions, therefore, the Dharma does not consider lightly the technical aspects of social life, but rather recognizes that all bits and pieces have their effects. Nevertheless, the main cause for deciding the direction and extent of technical applications is the fundamental question of the degree of purity of people's minds, therefore, the preaching of Dharma often emphasizes the guidance of people's minds.*** Science is based upon the objective nature of the antagonism between subject and object, and relies on concepts to establish systems of theories as backbones of its activities. From the point of view of "Reality being without a Self" as taught by the Dharma, science is of course established on an artificial distinction of phenomena and hence lacks absolute reliability. The evolution of various scientific theories and repeated revisions of all sorts of scientific conclusions are well-known to all. Scientific knowledge is only what is obtained through relative cognition; not only does it have limits and defects, but it also cannot direct the uplifting of spiritual life or the course of liberation from Samsara. On the big issue of liberation from samsaric life and death, there is nothing that science can handle properly; we can rely only on the Dharma. No matter how advanced scientific technology develops, it cannot ensure an individual's peace and happiness; whereas practice according to the Dharma could eliminate bad karma and change ominous situations to auspicious ones. The reason is that the reality of the universe is far beyond what can be reached by scientific knowledge and technology, and the functioning of karmic forces, gods and ghosts indeed exist.*** Thorough practice of "Non-Self" would not cause one to become disinterested and indifferent; rather one would, because of lessening of selfishness and revival of innocence, naturally generate increasingly more sympathy, kindness and compassion. After experiencing "Non-Self" one would not be proud of oneself but sincerely respect everyone. Non-Self would lead to no prejudice or bias, and one would not sustain fixed opinions of others which would lead to arguing and antagonism. Non-Self would lead to no attachment to phenomena, and hence would not comment on matters prematurely. Non-Self would lead to no greed, no jealousy and no suspicion. Therefore, practicing "Non-Self" will naturally result in peace of mind and harmony in the world. One's opinions and understanding are more or less biased which are habitually conditioned by environment and disposition. Many problems and disturbances can result if one insists on the correctness of one's views. If one can reflect and realize that one's view may be biased or inapplicable to others' situation, and hence applies self-restraint, without commenting too easily, then it would be easier for one to return to the original clarity and equanimity.

4. How to practice "Non-Self"
  Dharma practices include many different types of practice, including living in seclusion in remote areas and practicing in retreats, but none of these is separable from the consistency of body, speech and mind, nor can any practice be irrelevant to life. The main purpose of retreats is not the maintenance of solitude, but to concentrate on one's practice in order to achieve realization so that one may participate in universal salvation of all sentient beings. Hence, the practice of "Non-Self" should blend into both Dharma practices and daily activities, with attention paid to the complementation and harmonization of these two aspects. With regard to Dharma practices, the first level is to understand the real meaning of "Non-Self." One recognizes through mental investigation that this concept of a "self" does not have a definite referent because whatever is experienced does not possess independent existence.*** One's "self" as it is commonly known, is only a designation formed by custom within a social culture, and there is no necessary connection between an individual and the concept of a "self." One's actual experience is an inseparable totality without conceptual boundaries. "Self" can serve only as a fuzzy labeling; although it is functional in social life, under philosophical analyses it does not refer precisely to an object. All phenomena result from combination of causes and conditions, and there is no substance with an absolutely independent existence that can be ascertained as a "self."*** Then one needs to rely on Dharma practices such as chanting of a Buddha's name, counting breaths or practicing meditative concentration, in order to cultivate the strength of one's meditative stability. After one's meditative stability is well cultivated, then one may contemplate in meditation the true meaning of "Non-Self" so as to establish it as a clear and firm recognition. Both the cultivation of meditative stability and the confirmation of the right view of "Non-Self" in meditation could not be achieved instantaneously and requires long-term and diligent practice. For more discussion on meditation, please refer to another work of mine: A Golden Ring: An Introduction to Buddhist Meditation.*** The practice of "Non-Self" in daily life is discussed below: Although the concept of one's "self" controls ordinary people's lives, it is very subtle and not easily discernible. In reality, what one's "self" involves is a very complicated psychological process which entangles with personal fame, gains and losses, considerations, opinions, emotions, wishes and desires. Therefore, just relying on the cultivation of right view as mentioned above is not enough to untie this entanglement, but can only provide a directional guidance toward liberation. In order to actually eliminate this psychological entanglement of one's emotions and thoughts, one must start with the reduction of attachment to one's "self." Although one's "self" is not easily discernible, its expressions in daily life can be found in one's immediate reactions to people, objects and events. If one would step back and observe objectively, one could usually notice the individual "self-attachment" that differs from person to person. With regard to the spontaneously arising "self-attachment" that may occur at any moment, one needs to practice letting it go and learn to be open-minded so as to apply the scalpel of "Non-Self" to dissect the entanglements of the "self." What is described in this passage is not in conflict with the traditional teaching that one needs to contemplate "Non-Self" in deep meditation in order to clear up the self-attachment of subtle ignorance; the reason is that it is impossible for real practitioners of "Non-Self" not to be able to recognize and yield the "self-attachment" that arises in daily life. It is exactly because of continuous practice of not being misguided by the ever present multiple facets of the "self" in daily life that one could eventually achieve the breaking through of fundamental ignorance through deep meditation.*** Practicing "Non-Self" in daily life would not render one inoperative. Due to the practice of "Non-Self," one realizes the similarity of all sentient beings in experiencing suffering and happiness, and thereby generates compassion of the common entity, and it becomes the motivation for furthering selfless service. Because of giving up "self-attachment," one can be considerate, can look at things from a totality and long-term perspective, and hence can serve others even better. In fact, a practitioner must have undertaken long-term service, come into contact with all sorts of people, and undergone many kinds of situations to become knowledgeable of the multiple aspects and layers of life. The practitioner can then recognize what is of more significance to life, and therefore can make unhesitatingly the wise choice of devoting oneself to the propagation of the Dharma in order to benefit oneself and others.

5. Guidelines for the Practice of "Non-Self"
  When one is aware of "self-attachment" in daily life, how should one practice giving it up and becoming open-minded? Reflecting on my experiences in this practice I carefully formulate the following guidelines for your consideration:

(1) Immediate Sublimation of the "Self"
  Whenever we encounter people or events, whatever the situation or mentality, usually our immediate responses are based on self-centered considerations. One can immediately expand upon such responses of self-attachment and reflect that sentient beings of the ten directions and three times (past, present and future) all similarly care about their "selves," and are thus limited by their self-centeredness and would certainly experience the accompanying suffering. Based on this understanding, one prefers "Non-Self" over "self-attachment" in terms of openness, expansiveness, equality, and universal love. Therefore, one would sublimate the caring for one's "self" into the sympathy for all sentient beings, wishing that all sentient beings under all circumstances could become free from suffering and achieve happiness. Then one further sublimates this sympathy into Bodhicitta, wishing that all sentient beings could learn and practice the Dharma, soon escape from Samsara, and completely realize their original Enlightenment.

(2) Bodhi as the Criterion
  When people hold different opinions with regard to certain matters, how do we decide which is correct, which is superior, and who is sincere? Success and failure of worldly matters depend on combinations of opportunities and conditions; it is often the case that when certain opportunities are lost, they are lost forever. There are matters that affect the long-term well-being of many people, but the decisive factor to their outcome may be just some personal opinions. How then should we act in such complicated and subtle situations of the world? "Bodhi as the criterion" emphasizes that one's action and inaction in daily life should be regulated by considerations involving the ultimate liberation of all sentient beings in the ten directions and three times. This criterion may seem too philosophical to be applicable to worldly matters; how could one decide whether something is in accordance with such a boundlessly wide standard? The universe is not limited to the realm of human senses and knowledge, and there are indeed supernatural beings such as Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods and ghosts, and karma, and their respective effects. In this boundless reality, no matter how something is judged by the world, if one's sincerity is actually in accordance with the Bodhicitta directed at all sentient beings, then the unfolding of events will naturally be arranged by powerful supermundane forces. This is not just an article of faith; it is born from the common experiences of generations of Buddhist practitioners.*** Therefore, "Bodhi as the criterion" is not an empty idealistic slogan but the basis of activities in life for the wise ones. With one's daily life based on Bodhi as the criterion one would not be anxious about being respected or despised by the world at any particular time. One needs only to set the mind on Bodhi, to practice and spread the Dharma in an earthly manner, and to allow matters to develop naturally so as to decide what is true and right, without going for any temporary display of eloquence in mouth or on paper. Wherever there is competition, there is attachment. The first requirement in practicing "Non-Self" is to be tolerant, non-competitive, and to avoid worthless disputes but instead devote one's mind and energy wholeheartedly to the great career of Bodhi; this is called "broadminded tolerance."*** Using Bodhi as the criterion there would no longer be the problem of individual antagonism, disputes or vengeance; hence life and matters all become simplified. They all become just a matter of one's appreciation of life and the great career of Bodhi with its accompanying choice of activities. We do not have control over others'activities; all that we can do is to give advice and encouragement on the path of Bodhi. Since all are equal as sentient beings, no one could criticize or reprimand others. The Law of Cause and Effect is applicable to all, and everyone should reflect on the lesson that "one would receive the results of one's own actions."

(3) Observe and Learn from Innocence
  As we observe the innocence of infants and toddlers who cannot distinguish "you" and "me," we can see clearly that the notion of one's "self" is indeed only an acquired concept. Sometimes infants cry and then suddenly the crying changes to laughter, forgetting all about their sorrows so easily. They stop eating as soon as they feel full, and fall asleep readily when tired; they are simply without greed and worries. Some older people, having seen through many worldly affairs, also act out their natural feelings and become close to being innocent. Practitioners of "Non-Self" should reflect upon their own minds to discern evaluation to past events, attachment and delusion to personal relations and material comforts, and expectations to the future; they should view all these as illusions that hinder the clarity and freedom of mind. They should no longer attach to these illusions, nor do they need to take counter actions toward such illusions; they are simply no longer confined by these illusions, and instead direct their minds and efforts to Dharma practices and actively participate in service related to the path of Bodhi.*** If a practitioner can grasp the above three guidelines in daily life, then worldly interactions in life are also opportunities to improve oneself and help save others. Thus one gradually approaches the great path of "Non-Self" and would peacefully abide in the original purity that is without competition, worries, and greed.

6. Practice Tolerance as a Different Approach with the Same Result
  For ordinary people untrained in philosophical analyses the real meaning of "Non-Self" is actually difficult to understand. Some people who study Buddhism are good at talking elaborately with Buddhist jargon. Even though what they say is impeccable, but they can only encircle in jargon. They cannot explain Buddhist theory once they leave the circle of jargon. This kind of understanding is not clear and thorough. Enlightened masters of Chan (Zen) even ignore teachings found in the Sutras and their commentaries; however, they can make use of various skillful means to affect those who are suitable. Learning the path of Buddha should be so thorough that it becomes just as lively and flexible as the examples set by Chan masters.*** Practicing "Non-Self" in daily life is usually contrary to worldly ways, therefore, novice practitioners quite often find it difficult to implement. In fact, the essence of Buddhism cannot be confined to one type of practice; when one's theoretical understanding of Buddhist teachings is thorough, many methods of practice can be harmonized. The Heart Sutra points out the wisdom of practicing Sunyata, which amounts to recommending the practice of "Non-Self." Following the style of the Heart Sutra I have written the Heart of Sublimation through Limitless-Oneness Compassion Sastra to point out the practice of the great compassion of common entity, which amounts to recommending the practice of tolerance. A Chinese proverb says that "one achieves greatness by being tolerant." Practicing tolerance to achieve boundless openness and practicing "Non-Self" to restore original purity are different approaches to the same result. This Sastra of mine has been included in my book Wisdom and Compassion in Limitless-Oneness which contains also an essay bridging the Heart Sutra and this Sastra. Practicing "tolerance" in daily life is easier to grasp than practicing "Non-Self" because one does not need to know thoroughly the real meaning of "Non-Self;" as long as one can be tolerant and receptive to differences, then one would gradually approach boundless openness, and there is no "self" in such boundlessness!*** The common foundation for practicing tolerance and "Non-Self" is Bodhicitta. Without the guidance of Bodhicitta, practicing "Non-Self" would easily result in retreat and inactivity. Without the openness of Bodhicitta, practicing tolerance would simply mean forcing a certain ideal upon oneself. If one's life centers around ordinary worldly careers or even charitable careers, then even though one may thereby escape from the narrow-mindedness of self-centeredness, one's mentality would still fluctuate with the wax and wane of one's activities, and one cannot achieve the spiritual summit that transcends the common karma of all human beings. Whereas with complete identification with Bodhicitta, there is no more antagonism of any kind but only the abiding in extraordinary peace and harmony. The wax and wane of Dharma activities are just the summary expression of the actions of all sentient beings on the path of Enlightenment according to their respective degrees of awakening; there is no high or low, nor gain or loss. Delusion and Enlightenment are all arising from conditions, and yet Bodhicitta can liberate people in all situations. All enlightened beings would prostrate to Bodhicitta which cares about and liberates all sentient beings. All sentient beings should take refuge in Bodhicitta in order to accomplish both escaping from suffering and achieving lasting happiness.

Concluding Remarks
  The practice of "Non-Self" is very difficult to grasp and its effect cannot be seen right away, therefore most people give only their verbal approval without being able to practice it thoroughly. Nonetheless, in order to transcend the supreme suffering of samsaric life and death, and to provide service to all beings on the path to Enlightenment, one needs to proceed through this Dharma course. Although practicing tolerance and practicing "Non-Self" are referred to above as different approaches with the same result, upon closer examination one sees that they are indeed two sides of the same coin, and that they complement each other without a clear boundary. Practicing "Non-Self" not only enables one to become liberated from the self-imposed limitations of selfishness and to enjoy a broadminded and peaceful life, but also enables one to learn various skillful means to thoroughly help save others. This practice would yield results only after a long period of selfless dedication to Dharma service, but its effects could benefit a wide spectrum of sentient beings in the ten direction and three times (past, present and future). As there is no way out of the samsaric suffering for all eternity without properly adopting this practice, if we are to make a wise choice, then there is only one way which is to put "Non-Self" to practice.*** Once I dreamed of a female ghost, and I wrote "Namo Amitabha Buddha" in Chinese to her in the dream, then she disappeared. I recognized this dream as an omen that ghosts could be helped with prints of my handwritten "Namo Amitabha Buddha;" so I put into practice the printing and distribution of such prints, which are to be burnt in order to save the tormented ghost beings. Since I first distributed those prints, Dharma friends from all over the world are reporting back to me incidents after incidents of miraculous experiences. Upon reflection, I do not think I have any special powers, but I have sincerely practiced and propagated the Dharma for many years; therefore, I have been granted blessings from my Guru Yogi Chen, Buddhas, as well as Dharma Protectors so that there can be such effects in Bodhi activities. Here I record this fact as an encouragement to those who aspire to devoting their lives to the practice of the Dharma. Such a major undertaking for the long term benefits would certainly not be in vain. The Buddhas will definitely bless and guide sincere practitioners. Those of us who cling to this aspiration should not procrastinate, so as not to worthlessly delay the time of one's final Enlightenment. / The End

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