There are three universal truths found in Shingon Buddhism, the universal essence, universal form, and universal function.
The universal essence is in regard to the chakra body, otherwise known as the wheel body. The chakra body is a circle composed of elemental circles which encompass the nature of all phenomena including the dharma, the law of universal norms, Buddhist teachings, karmic consequences, thought and all things. There are three Buddha bodies or three chakra bodies for three types of listeners. The first chakra body exists in its own nature, this body manifests in the form of Buddhas who read the innate original nature by meditation. The second is the right dharma chakra body which connects the Bodhisattva to those who search for liberation by right dharma. The third is the doctrine command chakra body which exists in wrathful forms that must command those difficult to convert. Each chakra body is made up five chakras into a Stupa which creates the Matrix world.
The first chakra is the earth chakra found just below the naval and represented by the yellow square. This is the root chakra which roots the lower body into the `yoga throne of indestructible diamond` This is the throne of Indra which casts light brilliantly onto all beings cultivating Ji. This chakra acts as support and ultimately resembles the uncreated. The mantra for this chakra is Namah a
The second chakra is the water chakra found at the naval which changes into the white circle. The water chakra, also known as the lotus throne, radiates like a clear moon and irrigates all things with the water of great compassion, nourishing all in Samadhi. This chakra acts as an agent of quickening and ultimately resembles ineffableness. The mantra for this chakra is Namah VA
The third chakra is the fire chakra found at the heart which changes into a red pyramid. This chakra shines like the red rising sun and emits a fire of knowledge to burn all defilements. This is a seal of the dharma world which acts as maturation and ultimately resembles a freedom of defilement. The mantra for this chakra is Namah ram
The fourth chakra is the air chakra found in between the eyes which changes into a black half moon. This chakra exercises the power of freedom and exorcises maleficent and demonic influences. This is the seal of turning the wheel functioning as growth and ultimately meaning freedom from causality. The mantra for this chakra is Namah ham
The fifth chakra is the space chakra found at the top of the head which changes to a blue jewel. This chakra is the great space, the great void and seal of the great wisdom sword. This chakra acts as all pervasive and ultimately resembles the attributes of space. The mantra for this chakra is Namah kham
The sixth Chakra is the consciousness existing above and beyond the head which changes to white or all colours. This is the chakra of perception and determination, formless in nature. This chakra is ungraspable and ultimately void. The first five physical chakras pervade the sixth and yet the sixth pervades all five. The mantra for this chakra is Namah Hum
These chakras are made of the primary colours including white, which is all colours, and black which is void of colour. All together these chakras colour and shade all things. These are the six eternal, omnipresent and indestructible elements which are irreducible components of all three dharma bodies, that of desire, form, and formless worlds.
The universal form is in regard to four Mandalas. The all pervading oneness which Shingon calls Mahaivairocana is the dharma body fused with form in the conditioned cosmos, equivalent to the virtues of one of the Buddhist faith. This dharma body is Mandala, the form of all encompassing and complete circle. The first of the four mandalas is the great mandala. This is the universe of form composed of the six elements and colours made up of images. The second mandala is the Samaya mandala which is the universe of symbolic form which identifies the Buddha’s powers and the bodhisattva’s vows through symbols such as the vajra, sword, jewels and such. The Samaya mandala is activated with the coming together of hand gestures called mudras. The third mandala is the dharma mandala which contains all sounds of the universe and identifies with the original vow. All sounds are resembled by their Sanskrit seed sound, the seed which flowers into all words. The fourth mandala is the action mandala which is composed of all actions and is uncoloured where as form is forgotten and form is seeing. In the center of the four mandalas is the great radiating light of the sun, of Mahiavairocana, all the mandalas existing as attributes of Mahaivairocana. The four mandalas within the being interpenetrate each other without hindrance uniting body and mind with Buddha body and mind in a universal form of suchness.
The Buddha said `Mandala is what gives birth to all Buddhas, incomparable excellent flavor` Firstly, the mandala means circle, wheel, or chakra, a totality of the whole, completeness. Totality is formed by its parts, like a wheel is formed of a hub, spokes and empty space. A circle is an assembly, such as a circle of friends, or bodhisattvas. Secondly what gives birth to all Buddha`s and awakens the Buddha nature within? In Buddhism this is the seed, the bodhicitta. The citta is planted in the earth of the mind of all knowledge, than moistened by the water of great compassion, warmed by the sun of great wisdom, animated by air of great method and obstructed in space of great void, the citta develops into the dharma world as a sprout of inconceivable dharma nature. Thirdly the most excellent flavor is that in referring to the dharma world as a sea of milk, oceans of unformed chaos with unobstructed potentiality. Churned, the milk solidifies and the most refined, the most pure part rises to the surface. Condensing, unchanging, firm, without residue, we find a concentration of the dharma.
Mandala is a circle, birth to Buddha and concentration. A mandala is a circle of ritual enclosure contained within is a field free of distractions. Mandala is a platform for awakening a place of the way. Way or `do` is synonymous with awakening, a dojo is a place of the way, of awakening. Mandala is a map of the cosmos, a representational domain for self realization through the purifying of karmas. The domain is entered or `yoked` to through universal functioning of the three mysteries.
The universal function is the truth of the three interpenetrating mysteries. Actions of men are of three types which are physical actions of the body, speech and functions of the mind. These three functions are adorned as mysteries because unless awakened are truly inconceivable.
The first mystery is the mystery of the body which is activated through hand gestures called mudras. These mudras are bodily interpenetration with phenomenon and the Dharma body which consists of five bodies. These being the precept body a perfection of precepts beyond moral conditioning, the meditation body free from illusion, The wisdom body of prajna and perfected knowledge, the liberation body of unconditioned nirvana and the knowledge of liberation where clear perception abides in liberation. The left hand resembles these five dharma bodies where as the right hand resembles the five elements. The performer of these gestures is really affirming a vow and performing a seal of faith.
The second mystery is the mystery of speech which is activated through invocations called mantras or dharanis. Dharani is a verbal formula to invoke Buddha, a calling for oneness. Dharani is a support which sustains. Mantra stems from the Sanskrit seeds of `man` which means thought and `tra` which means liberates or container. Thus mantra means container of thought. This is the container for the essence of doctrine and the Dharma bodies. One syllable can contain all dharmas beyond which conceptualizing, illusory words are able to convey the dharmas unconditioned suchness beyond causality and the limitations of space and time. Although Mantras contain powers capable of miracles, the true aim is that of liberation.
The third mystery is the mystery of the mind activated through visualizations. The mind lies in a formless void, and it is important to note here that Esotericism does not aim at the void but to interpenetrate form. Visualization manifests through a one pointed concentration that brings the image into the mind-heart within the chakra body which forms a seal of entry. The mind`s eye sees that true form is emptiness. There is no grasping here, no differentiating the illusory of the symbol or to see real by cutting the unreal but to just see things as they are in their non-duality.
The external formal mandala is not the true mandala but a meditational support consisting of externalized rites for a realization of an internal yoke to the true mandala. To realize this inner mandala satisfies all desires. Mandala abides in the mind and knowing this one can receive full fruition of the Bodhi-citta tree and recognize god`s eye view. Mandala does not differ from consciousness nor consciousness differs from mandala, they are identical. The outward painted mandala is both a schema of Dharma world made up phenomenal dharmas and a schema, the underlying organizational framework, of the mind of being. The mandala is an energy grid that represents the constant flow of the divine and demonic, the human and animal. These are impulses that interact in constructive or deconstructive patterns that are a mesocosm consisting of the macrocosm with the microcosm, the mundane with sublime. The Mandala purges the body of demons and embodies the divine through the cleansing of the elements. Mandala is a template for the divine. The energy flows into the center of the mandala, rather implodes to the source which is a reversal of the original cosmology. The energy flows through channels (nadis) into energy centers composed of concentric circles (chakras) to reach unity with the `godhead`. The mandala wholly contained within mind interpenetrates all phenomena.
The Buddhist Cosmology
The Buddhist Cosmos is instructionally approached in my mandala from the sides with visual guides for the mantras and mudras to be used in approaching the center to stimulate the three mysteries and seal one into the mandala. Following the chakra bodies is the mudra for the golden turtle which arises out of the sea of samsara. The golden turtle is untarnished and is free to roam between nirvana and samsara as earth and water. On top of the golden turtle is the jewel palace of Mt. Sumeru, the immoveable resides here. Following these embodiments one is to hold their hands in J-Yin and chant the seed syllables of the elements `Ah Vi Ra Hum Kham` and embody Mahavairocana, the body of all form. Earth supports one where water is necessary in welfare as fire is to burn away false assumptions and delusions while the air blows away the dust of passions and space remains non-discriminating without distinctions. This Dharani destroys hindrances. Ah enters Nirvana through cessation, Vi is the bondless Samadhi, Ra is the dust of defilements wiped away, Ha+U+M is the three liberation gates which severe distinctions of formlessness and finally Kham which is space and void, the negation of negation and void of void, Buddha hood. This is the stupa of the body and when perfected all bad karma vanishes.
Following the chakra chain is the Heaven realms. This begins with the six heavens of the world of desire. The first heaven exists on earth which consists of the four kings of the directions, protector, wide-eyed, renowned and virtuous. Following the first heaven is the last earthly heaven which is on the summit of Mt. Sumeru in Indra`s palace located in the center of heaven. The third heaven exists in the realm of the sky and is the heaven of `Yama` or time. This is the heaven of the king of the world of the dead where the season is always good and inhabitants enjoy occasional pleasures. The next heaven is the heaven of commitment where inhabitants are content with their pleasures. This is the pureland of Miroku, the future Buddha, and the realm where bodhisattvas dwell before born on earth. The fifth heaven is the joy in transformations where inhabitants enjoy pleasures which the create themselves. The sixth heaven is the free enjoyment of transformation and pleasure created by others. King Mara the tempter reins in this heaven.
Following the heavens of the world of desire are the heavens of the world of form which consists of heavens belonging to four meditations. All forms of existence until now constitute the world of desire and now inhabitants are free of passion and desire. The heavens of the first meditation have transcended smell and taste but are still hindered in meditation, however not of sexual desire. There are five mental functions in this heaven which are investigation, reflection, joy, bliss and Samadhi. This is the abode of Brahma where one believes not to be bound of causation and can transform heaven and earth at will. There are no Buddhist inhabitants in this Hindu realm. The Heavens of the second meditation have transcended the five senses and types of consciousness. Thought, joy, and renunciation are all that remain. There is no pleasure or pain and attraction. True identity is recognized. The heavens of the third meditation are like the second but contain only one thought. The heavens of the fourth meditation are cloudless in that they need no support. There is an auspicious birth as the result of an abundance of merit. Here exists the heaven without thought that is without mental, perceptive and feeling functions, a warm resemblance of death. This is a heaven without Buddhist inhabitants for non returners, although they have not escaped the wheel of being. The non-returner has reached three fourths of the level of attainment. That is they have first entered the stream by turning against the stream of samsara. Secondly is the once-returner who has one more birth on earth to attain nirvana and the non-returner does not return to the desire realms of false practices and views. Finally one may become an Arhat to be unborn and escape rebirth.
Following the heavens of the world of form are the heavens of the formless world. These heavens are without form, beyond spatiality and subjection to causality. There are no longer the five physical aggregates but only aggregates of the mind/function. These again are perception, connotation, volition and consciousness. This is an ecstatic state of pure spiritual existence consisting of four meditations of the void. The first is infinite space in which the mind severed of form. Next is infinite consciousness which severs the mind of infinite space into infinite consciousness. Next we find non-existence which severs the mind of infinite consciousness to not exist. Finally we reach neither thought nor non-thought which severs the mind from thought contained in consciousness and non-thought of non-existence. Beyond this is the unconditioned immutable eternal world of the Buddhas.
Following the heavens are the ten stations of Buddha hood which are not hierarchical but horizontal identities, that is virtues that occur instantaneously upon attaining the realization of Buddha mind. The first station is of the dharma cloud, the perfection of the paramita of knowledge, whence wisdom and compassion has been perfected the bodhisattvas virtue permeates like a cloud and rains the elixir of Dharma to nourish and irrigate all sentient beings. The second is the station of wisdom of skills is where the paramita of power is perfected, powers and eloquence have been mastered which gives freedom to aid all beings with versatility of powers being paramitas, vows, supernatural faculties, mind, faith, compassion, love, dharanis and such things of suchness. The third station is of immovability, the perfection of the paramita of vows which is immutable in wisdom, immoveable in formless and fulfills the liberation of all beings. The third station is overcoming the supremely difficult, that is the perfection of the paramita of patience, the non-duality of mundane and absolute. The fourth station is of being face to face with wisdom, the paramita of wisdom consists of the immediate presence of wisdom, that is perceives absolute identity with the eyes. The fifth station is overcoming the supremely difficult, that is the perfection of the paramita of patience, the non-duality of mundane and absolute. The sixth station is that of blazing wisdom, the paramita of exertion where knowledge burns brilliantly and burns away illusion. The seventh station is that of manifesting light, the paramita of patience where the delusions of practice has been cut and one has the patience to understand. The eighth station is the freedom from defilements and union of body-mind which is the paramita of precepts where the delusion of practice is cut by removing improper action from beginningless time. The ninth station is the station of joy, the giving paramita which is the single thought of non discriminating knowledge. The tenth station is of far-reaching practice, the perfection to the paramita of method, this is a great compassion which is entirely selfless and consists of spiritual aims toward all sentient beings.
Descending from the center is the realm of man and the eight disasters which befall him. These consist of a world of secular views, deformed senses, remote places, the heavens of long life without thought, and of the world of mappo where no Buddha appears. The last three disasters are hungry ghosts, animals and hells which will soon be covered. Next is the realm of the Asuras which are figures of Hindu mythology that are `without wine or beauty` and are false gods seeing in Buddhism as belligerent beings whom make war on Indra and when they gain supremacy in this endless battle evil and chaos prevail. Following this is the realm of animals consisting of living creatures such as the birds, bees, beasts, dragons, shells and insects that are all suffering of mutual slaughter. This is the realm of the blind sheepman whom are spiritually blind and trapped in samsara by illusion.
The realm of the hungry ghosts consists of three classes of ghosts, each with three subclasses. The first class is ghosts with no possessions which consist of torch mouthed ghosts, needle thin throat ghosts and ghosts with foul breath. The Second class is ghosts with few possessions which consist of needle-haired ghosts, ghosts with rank hair and ghosts with large ulcers. The third class is ghosts with many possessions consisting of ghosts who receive discards and live on food after being used in offerings, ghosts who receive lost food that is left wayside by travelers and powerful ghosts.
There are than single isolated hells in mountains and deserts and neighboring hells which are smaller progressive hells which lay in close proximity to each hell. I have added a hell to the Shingon cosmology and that is the suicidal hell, this realm where one selfishly throws away their gift of life. There are also radical hells which consist of eight cold and eight hot hells.
The cold hells cause inhabitants to suffer by degrees of coldness. The arbuda hell is so cold that it causes blisters. The nirarbuda hell is even colder causing blisters to burst. Atata is the hell of chattering teeth. Hahaua is the hell and sound made by sufferers. Huhuua is the hell and sound of the breath of sufferers. The blue lotus hell is so cold that it causes patches on the skin to look like blue lotus. The red lotus hell is even colder and causes patches of red lotus on the skin. The great red lotus hell consists of the skin being entirely covered by red lotus.
The hot hells cause suffering to inhabitants in karmic retribution. The rebirth hell contains inhabitants who are repeatedly put to death and immediately brought back by a cold wind, renewed to torture. The hell of black ropes has sufferers bound with ropes and chopped to pieces. The hell of multitudinous combinations consists of combinations of instruments used to torture. The wailing hell`s inhabitants wail in anguish. The great wailing hell`s inhabitants wail in great suffering. The hell of scorching heat is self explanatory. Finally there is the hell of non-intervals which is for the worst of the five deadly offences that are patricide, matricide, killing an Arhat, doing injury to the body of a Buddha or cause disunity in the Sangha. There is no interval of suffering in between death and rebirth here, no interval in hell, in life. There is no part of body-mind that does not suffer.
Ascending from the center is the three stages of awakening which is permeated by the three mysteries. These stages are the three kalpas which are false tenets to be destroyed. These objective cuttings of false tenets consist of stages of fearlessness which relate to subjective attainment of mental tranquility. These stages of fearlessness are states of rest that are free of anxiety and suffering which escapes turning the karmic wheel. These are not just `absences` of fear but total regeneration of being which directly correspond to the ten stages of mind. The ascension of these stages of mind is a centrifugal expansion that is outward flowing from the center to periphery which is then followed by a centripetal return back to the center.
The first kalpa is the delusion to the nature of man, that there is permanent individuality and that the ego is real and not a temporary composition of the five aggregates which are form, perception, conception, volition, and consciousness. This kalpa is removed by meditating on the voidness of aggregates as well as the twelve linked chain of dependent co-origination which gives rise to birth and suffering. The links of the chain are ignorance (the cause of all illusion), actions produced by ignorance, consciousness which arises in the womb, name and form, the six sense organs, contact, perception/ sensation, desire, the attachment of grasping, existence, birth and death.
There are four fearlessnesses which belong to the first Kalpa. The first fearlessness is the fearlessness of virtue which is the result of good karma in previous lives. This fearlessness takes refuge in the three jewels which are the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. One who has attained this level of fearlessness has turned from the worldly life by taking the five precepts which are to not kill, steal, be promiscuous, use immoderate language and abuse intoxicants. Thus one has removed fear of three paths being the hells, ghosts and animals. This commences the first practices of the three mysteries and awakens the bodhicitta. This stage of fearlessness consists of the first three stages of mind. The first stage is the mind of sheep life and profane which consists of an endless cycle of rebirths for those lacking spiritual awareness. Those at this level of mind are uncontrolled and entrapped in illusion. They work on the animal level and are trapped in a fight or flight response. The second level of mind is of the foolish child who abstains. Those at this level of mind are ignorant and naïve but ethical. They live a profane life and do not hurt man. The third level of mind is of the fearlessness of a baby where one has faith in the gods and rebirth but the ego is still attached and one remains a worldly being.
The Second fearlessness belonging to the first Kalpa is the fearlessness of body. One meditates on their body and realizing impurity thus eliminates desire and greed. Those at this level of fearlessness experience heat, forms of Samadhi and honzen`s wondrous form body. The fourth stage of mind resides at this level of fearlessness which is the mind that understands an atman and the five aggregates. This is the first Buddhist stage of mind where all being are recognized as a temporary link or flux of the aggregates.
The third level of fearlessness belonging to the first kalpa is that of the non self. This is the recognition that the body-mind is composed temporarily of the five aggregates and thus lacks any true existence and permanent self. This severs attachments and cools the mind in union or yoga with honzen that cuts desire and pride which leads to tranquility. The fourth level of fearlessness belonging to the first kalpa is fearlessness of the Dharmas. Having realized the non-existing self one severs Dharma attachments by analyzing them and seeing that they too are composed of five aggregates and arise by co-dependent origination without self nature. One at this level of fearlessness knows the twelve link chain and meditates on the ten illusions arising of environmental conditions. These illusions consist of sleight of hand, mirage, dreams, reflections and shadows, echoes, moon reflected on water, floating bubbles, dust, and fire wheels. The stage of mind corresponding to these two levels of fearlessness is the fifth level where the seeds of karma have been eradicated and the truth of the twelve linked chain is realized but cannot be taught.
The second Kalpa is to eradicate the false tenet that dharmas have a true and permanent nature that underlies the five aggregates. This kalpa removes the duality and therefore existence of nirvana and samsara. Forms in yogic practices are realized to be merely illusory forms arising in the mind and that not a single dharma exists outside of mind.
Belonging to the second Kalpa is the fifth level of fearlessness, that of the non-self of the dharmas. Having meditated on essential voidness all dharmas are realized to be formed by the linking of the five aggregates and thus exist in the store-consciousness. Essentially void, nothing exists outside of mind; there is no dichotomy between subject and object. Through this subtle union all things are undifferentiated in their self-nature.
Two levels of mind belong to the fifth fearlessness of the second kalpa. The sixth stage of mind seeks the welfare of others as a bodhisattva of the Mahayana branch of Buddhism. All dharmas and the three worlds are known in the storehouse. The seventh stage of mind has awakened to the truth that the mind is unborn. Prior to now objects had been voided and now the mind is voided as unconditional and timeless. This is achieved through eight negations being non… birth, extinction, cessation, permanence, uniformity, diversity, coming and going. The removal of these erroneous views equates in the right view.
The final Kalpa is to discard the false tenet that dharmas are separate and that subject and object are different. Identity and suchness is revealed. All dharmas are in the one true middle way. The stage of fearlessness associated to this kalpa is the fearlessness of the identity of the self-nature of all dharmas. 10,000 dharmas are suchness and suchness is the 10,000 dharmas. Prior the non-duality of dharmas, mind and voidness (sunyata) has been realized. Now voidness is itself void, the self nature of dharma is without nature and one discovers the reality of the phenomenal. Nothing can have context and therefore the self is nullified by nullifying the ground it has to stand on.
The final three stages of mind belong to this final level of fearlessness of the third Kalpa. The eighth stage of mind is of the one-way of non-action and suchness. The voidness of mind is…void. All dharmas and all thought are contained in one thought. The three truths of voidness, provisional existence and middle existence are realized. The truth of `middle existence` is the middle way of the first two truths. All dharmas are co-dependent and thus temporary causal relation and void, yet experienced and not denied which equates in provisional existence. Dharmas and existence are on the same two-sided coin as voidness. Reality is thus the middle way of the non duality of existence and voidness and forms are known to be nothing but manifestations of suchness. The ninth stage of mind realizes the absence of self-nature and full reality as is without the distinctions of phenomenon and real. This can best be described as the interdependent nature of Indra`s net of phenomenal and real where each thing is in the universe and the universe is in each thing. The tenth stage of mind is adorned by mysteries. This is the unobstructed view of all reality. Whereas the ninth stage is the expression of identity the tenth puts this in practice through body, mind and speech becoming Buddha.
A final important thing to note is that although all dharmas are ephemeral and changing they are real just as they are. The phenomenal and the void are equally real and codependent. This being said these symbols are and are not what they signify. Though they signify emptiness they are in fact empty. The signified and signifier are both dual and non-dual. The emphasis is form, not minor or universal but all forms inner-reflecting the interdependent nature of reality which is not to be seeing as an illusion but real as is. The body of the Buddha is all things and the body of all beings is Buddha.
This is the first draft of the Mandala of Revolutions and of this blog. More images and a more comprehensive guide will be coming soon!