Tibet House News Delhi Nalanda Certificate Course NCC1
5th Session Notes /19/06/2022)
THE FOUR SEALS
All composite things are impermanent. All contaminated things are suffering nature
All phenomena are empty of nature. Transcending sorrow is peace, Nirvana.
This is the four seals of Buddhist teachings. In Sanskrit it is Mudra, in Tibetan, it is called phyag-rgya, pronounced as Chaggya.
To be free from misery and suffering, you need to know this seal properly. Study these four lines. You will need to get conviction to realize the true meaning of this seal through learning, reflection, and meditation. Buddha did not say everything is impermanent, he said all composite things are impermanent. What are composite and non-composite phenomena?
We are body and mind. Body is a material part and mind is a mental and temporal part. Temporal means parts in time. Anything which is composed of particles, materials, and temporal parts is composite phenomena. A table is composed of so many materials composites, this is how our the material world are. Mind is a mental world where attention, fear, joy are experienced. It doesn’t have material parts. They have temporal parts. Book by Stephen Hawkin "A brief history of time" is good. Mind is made of temporal segments of mind.
All phenomena composed of physical parts and temporal parts are impermanent in nature. Impermanence is of two kinds: gross impermanence and subtle impermanence. Gross impermanence is a phenomena whose continuum can come to an end. Subtle impermanence is momentariness involved in any phenomena.
Impermanence can also be of three kinds:
1. Impermanence whose continuum can invariably come to an end no matter what you do. The dates and years, 2021 end its own.
2. Impermanent phenomena whose continuum never ends like time and mind, whose continuum can never be stopped.
3. Impermanent phenomena which if you make effort, you can stop otherwise it will continue and perpetuate, never stops on its own.
Our mind belongs to the second category. Our mind never ends no matter what we do. Within the mind we have the self grasping ignorance and self centered attitude, afflictive obscuration and cognitive obscuration. But we can stop these feelings and afflictions if we make effort.
All composite phenomena of gross impermanence also has elements of subtle impermanence. A seed of peepal tree growing into a big tree, change is visible but subtle changes it under goes are not visible to our eyes.
Mediation on gross impermanence and subtle impermanence is very important. Transformation comes through meditation. All contaminated things are of the nature of suffering. Contamination here means afflictions. What is influenced by afflictions is contamination. Driver's of our mind is under the dictates of self grasping ignorance and self centered attitude.
Arya Nagarjuna explains:
When ceasing of karma (action) and affliction leads to nirvana
Action and affliction arise from conceptual thought
This arises from (mental) elaboration
Elaboration ceases through emptiness
The ceasing of contaminated karmas and afflictions is Nirvana. Contaminated karmas and afflictions arise from conceptual thought. Conceptualization of inappropriate attention, which in turn arises from the elaboration of self grasping ignorance and elaboration ceases through the wisdom of emptiness. Five points are mentioned here, suffering, karma, affliction, inappropriate attention, and self grasping ignorance.
So the root cause of our suffering is the self grasping ignorance. Just as we don't see anything darkness, with ignorance we don't see the reality. How get rid of this darkness of ignorance? Just as you need a light to remove darkness, you need a light wisdom to remove the darkness of ignorance. What is this wisdom?
Wisdom is a discerning mind whose apprehension of the object tallies with reality. What is reality? Reality is what is indicated in the third seal, everything is of nature of emptiness and selflessness. What is emptiness and selflessness? We shall study in the next class.
Note: This is a student's note. Error and omissions are bound to be there. A serious student should study the actual teachings of the teacher, Geshe Dorjee Damdul la, from www.tibethouse.in website. I write these notes to help my understanding and recollections. རང་གི་ཡིད་ལ་ངེས་ཕྱིར་ངས་འདི་བྲིས། (Tib:Rang gi yid la nges phyir ngas dhi bris).