Does mental defilement pollute and constrain our mind? Because of our ignorance, we attach to our ego and possess ions. We are constrained by them. If we are free from attachments, and do not cling to any belongings, then we will be free from suffering. This is the ancient patriarch's teaching in guiding practitioners to the stage of no rebirth.
The teaching continues; "The wise ones observe the three realms of existence. They realize that the Five Skhandas are illusions. When they realize that there is no external object to cling to, they attain the state of no rebirth." There is no fast track nor short cut to the path of Bodhi. When the mind understands that the source of all is void, it's like suddenly seeing the light at the end of a tunnel. We do not feel in a state of gain or loss, past or present, when we attain this wisdom. The awakened mind clings to nothing. It understands the absolute truth and the void nature of all things.
It attains understanding of voidness, equality, and great wisdom. It does not attach itself any longer to the three realms of existence nor Nirvana. Nor will it attach itself to the fact that it is ferrying the suffering sentient beings over to the other shore of Nirvana. Neither will it attach itself to attaining Buddhahood. It will work vigorously to cultivate the Six Perfections. The awakened mind will utilize the expedient path to help all beings. These are the ones who have the Bodhisattva spiritual foundation. (According to the Nagarjuna Bodhisattva, this spiritual foundation can be further divided into three different levels.)
The aim of returning to one path allows us to concentrate on attaining the universal wisdom of understanding the truth of voidness. Generally speaking, cultivating the path of the greater-vehicle is equivalent to practising the One-Vehicle.
But the teachings of Buddha-Dharma propagate according to the minds and the conditions of the time and space. The classification of the Three Vehicle or One Vehicle depends on the practitioner's mind and aspiration. It is rather common for practitioners to classify which sutra or teaching is the greater vehicle, and which is the smaller vehicle. In fact, this is not the right way of classification. There are people who practice the Mahayana path, but who do not attain the Mahayana goal. Sometimes they may even deteriorate to follow other beliefs. This commonly happens.
The point is, practitioners should always examine their motivation of practice — is it for the sake of freeing themselves from rebirth? Or to ferry all sentient beings to attaining enlightenment? How do we practise the Dharma? Are we practising the path of relieving ourselves, or the path of the Six Perfections? What do we realize? Do we attach ourselves to phenomena and existence? Have our minds realized voidness and thus attained the stage of no rebirth? Eventually all sentient beings will become Buddhas and realize the great wisdom of the One-Vehicle. But before we come to that stage, we cannot classify ourselves as the practitioners of One-Vehicle simply because we are reading the One-Vehicle sutra or learning the One-Vehicle Dharma!
(Translated by Lim Yang, edited by Ke Rong, proofread by Shi Neng Rong (6- 7-96))
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