V 10-21 Understand the Five Aggregates within Oneself, Like Mirror reflecting Form 五蕴自明 如镜见形
Disclaimer: The translations are not official nor endorsed by 2OR, so please just treat it as a ‘fan-based’ translation. The Buddha-Dharma is profound. No matter how you convey it, it won’t be completely perfect. Because the Buddha-Dharma is an experience, it’s an awakening 【佛法深奥无比，怎么写，都不会是究竟圆满。佛法是一种悟】. Please enjoy, and I hope it serves as a good filler until the official English version comes out.
How does a person lose their conscience? It’s because of desire. When they see something good, they want it. When they smell something good, they want to eat it. When they think about something good, they want to get it. They also want their body to feel good. Isn’t that right? They think about feeling good. All of this will create outflows of your originally wholesome qualities. That’s because these ‘six thieves’ will make you lose your Buddha-nature. Also, these six thieves will attract many other unnecessary mental and material desires. When you desire something unnecessary, then you are inviting it. Unnecessary objects are also something your six thieves helped you invite, isn’t that right? Where does a thief come from? It comes from your eyes. Why do some women experience a bad marriage? It’s because they are filled with desires and greed. They see that their husbands aren’t wealthy, while others have wealthy husbands, so they develop greed. Then, as a result, their marriage becomes ruined.
As human beings, we should prefer to be morally upright despite being less well-off. We mustn’t let our greed invite trouble upon us. When greed resides in your mind, the desires for the material reside within you, and it will eventually ruin you. That is the source of negative karma. Everything Master has talked about in the recent chapters lead to the next topic of the source of negative karma. Do you where does negative karma come from? Many people asked, “Master, why do I have so much negative karma?” Your six thieves invite negative karma. Isn’t the reason why you want to eat the best comes from the desire of your mouth? Isn’t the reason you want to use the best comes from your mind's desire? When you hate somebody, doesn’t that hate come from your mind? You want to enjoy the fruits without doing the labour. How could you be well with these kinds of thieves residing in your mind? That’s why negative karma basically comes from these six channels: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.
In this chapter, Master will first talk about thoughts. After you have learnt and are practising Buddhism, you must go out and spiritually awaken others. When you talk about the Buddha-Dharma, you must be able to explain these things, and not just about Little Houses. ‘One’s thoughts mustn’t be attached to forms’. In other words, your thoughts mustn’t possess attachments to material forms like a good car or a good house. Your thoughts must be pure. ‘The nose doesn’t forget to breathe’. What does it mean? Many people depend on their noses to breathe, but they never pay attention to it. In other words, don’t forget about your original, inherent nature. Although you can’t sense it, it helps you succeed in many things. That’s why ‘don’t forget about your breath’. The second meaning from the line ‘One’s thoughts mustn’t be attached to forms’ is that the word forms could also mean invisible forms like smell and taste. Don’t be gluttonous. Delicious things should be consumed moderately, and the same applies to other bland-tasting foods. The six thieves must be empty. In other words, one must first understand the five aggregates within you. Then you will see that the five aggregates are empty.
What the Bodhisattvas expound is also about understanding the five aggregates within oneself. One must understand everything about themselves. Feeling, cognition, formation and consciousness. Feeling is what you feel. Cognition is related to your thoughts, then that forms into action. Then that becomes a part of your consciousness. They are feeling, cognition, formation and consciousness. One must empty the five aggregate. One must recognise that feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness are like a mirror that sees a form. You might not understand, so let Master elaborate. Master asks you, doesn’t imagination take a form? Within your mind, you might hate somebody and think that they’re evil. Although hatred is formless, it has taken form within your mind. Although you may look indifferent on the surface, your mind has already formed a negative image of them. That’s why the Bodhisattvas tell us that one’s mind is like a mirror. You must use it to introspect the things that reside within your mind and distinguish whether it’s wholesome or unwholesome. It’s that concept, do you understand? Are your thoughts unwholesome or wholesome? Although your thoughts are invisible to others, you can use your mind’s mirror to observe them clearly and thoroughly.
Do you know how people check spirits in the ancient past? They take out a mirror and direct it around the room during the daytime and nighttime. Then three days later, they would see a shape of a person reflected on to the mirror when they direct it around in the room. That’s a ghost which had been hiding at a corner. That’s why you should direct a mirror around. Mirrors are of the yin element. When you’re sleeping at night, and a mirror is facing your feet and your body, it could slowly cause your spirit to scatter. That’s why mirrors are very important. What is a mirror? It is something that reveals. It can be used to reveal your inner demons and unwholesome thoughts. When people repent in front of Master, they say, “Master, I’m not a good person.” They acted like that because they used their mind’s mirror to reflect on themselves. Do you now understand? You must reflect on your feelings, behaviour, thoughts and consciousness as if it’s like a mirror reflecting on objects. There is a Chinese saying called ‘unwholesomeness begets malicious form’. When somebody acts furiously, don’t they look scary? Your consciousness also has form. If you are unwholesome, your whole demeanour will also look unwholesome.
So if you want to understand the five aggregates within you, you must reflect on your feelings, behaviour, thoughts and consciousness like a mirror facing something with form. Then your essence, energy and spirit will flow freely up and down. What does that mean? If what you think can stand the test of Heaven, then it flows up. In the Human Realm, we describe these as being ‘upper-class’. What do we mean by midstream? It means that your inner mind has resistance. Regardless of your worldly blessings, fame and gains, you are resistant to it and remain unmoving. That’s why we describe it as standing firm as a rock in mid-stream, is that right? Then, how does a person act ‘lower-class’? It’s when they constantly think of desiring unwholesome things, and their energy doesn’t flow smoothly, and they constantly lose their temper, complain or are driven to distraction. Their spiritual energy then flows downwards and act ‘lower’ class. Would a person who constantly thinks of unwholesome thoughts be energetic? An Arab prince passed away at the age of 33. When you think about these people, you can imagine that they have too many women and too much wealth. Thus his essence was exhausted, his energy ceased, and his spirit left. So everything flowed downwards.
You must understand, the flowing of one’s essence, energy and spirit relies on one’s mental control to stop it from flowing downwards towards unwholesome thoughts and change it. Every living person will occasionally have unhealthy, debased, or immoral thoughts. So one must consciously use will themselves out of those thoughts, change them, and distinguish them. It’s like holding up a mirror towards it and inspecting it. That way, you could cultivate concentration and wisdom. A person’s ability to settle down comes from training and cultivation. That’s why everybody must cultivate themselves. If you are somebody who can sit quietly, even that tiny behaviour comes from your cultivation. It’s already not easy. If Master invited ten beggars to sit among you at a lecture, how do you think they will sit or stand? Or where their eyes will move? Master doesn’t need to say another word, but you could imagine how they behave. When Master asks you to listen to him at his lecture, if you can’t sit or stand still, or your eyes wander around looking at other guys or girls, it indicates that you lack essence, energy and spirit, and you are somebody aimless.
That’s why concentration and wisdom come from cultivation. Master asks you, are you presently cultivating your wisdom? Where are you learning it from? Cultivate your spirit, cultivate a lofty sentiment, cultivate a set of noble morals. Keep your mind as still as water. Concentration can liberate. When one’s mind is calm, how can you not liberate?