By Nhat Quan
In the sutras the Buddha taught:
All seawater has only one taste, the taste of salt, all my teachings have only one taste, the taste of liberation.
According to the purpose and principles of those who follow the Buddha, enlightenment and liberation are the core. To be worthy of that paramount purpose, you must practice as the Buddha taught. You must first know what to liberate, and then find a way to practice to be liberated. This is a very important issue. Therefore, you must first understand the word liberation clearly, according to Buddhist dictionaries, the word liberation means:
- Is to get rid of the bondage of afflictions and get rid of the confusing world of suffering;
- Being out of bondage in the three realms of desire, form, and formless;
- Is to end the cause of birth and death samsara karma;
- To not be bound by attachments to the mind;
- To achieve liberation from the bondage of the mundane world, from the domination of desires, to live in complete freedom;
- Is freedom from delusion and suffering, from rebirth in samsara and attaining Nirvana
- The mind that is free from afflictions and other physical conditions and attains Nirvana.
- And liberation is when the six organs of sense come into contact with the unbound six dust or the six sense objects..
Thus, the ultimate goal of a Buddhist practitioner is to take liberation as salvation. If you do not grasp the meaning of liberation, it will be difficult for you to achieve your goal on the path, liberation is what liberation is.
By definition, to be freed you must see the opposite of bondage. Because you feel bound, you pray for liberation. In the encirclement of afflictions, it is impossible to get out by yourself, so you must rely on the teachings of the Buddha to get rid of the afflictions. As defined above, to be liberated means to open up, to untie, to be free. When you're in a bind, you long to be open. Being in a very tight confinement situation, you want to be free, to get out. So when it comes to liberation, you are being surrounded, not being free. Surrounded and forced is of course suffering. To clarify, the meaning of liberation is to liberate the suffering of human life.
If you want to be free from the suffering of human life, you have to look closely and see clearly what is binding and causing you suffering in order to seek liberation. Every time you pray, you pray that the Buddha blesses you to be free from all suffering and to remove all afflictions.
Thus, eliminating afflictions and ending suffering in this way is due to the Buddha's blessing. But the truth is that the Buddha cannot help you to be liberated. Moreover, there are many people who think that to talk about liberation is to say something very far and far away, that as ordinary people you can never reach. Talking about liberation is talking about Saints, not ordinary people. So when you say cultivation for the purpose of liberation, you consider it as something that will never happen, never come, and then despise yourself and retreat, which is the disease of people who do not have the will to progress.
As defined, you are in tight bondage, being freed from tight bondage is called liberation. If you are not tied down, you are not forced, then you do not seek liberation. Like a fish surrounded by a net, there is no way out, it jumps up to get out of the net, that is, it frees the net. If it's out of the net, it doesn't need to jump. In the same way, if you are already a saint, there is no affliction, no suffering, then there is no need to say practice in order to be liberated.
The reason why you say practice or seek liberation is that you are afflicted with afflictions, bound by many evil and dark thoughts that you have not yet conquered. So you have to work hard to break all the ropes of afflictions, to jump to a new horizon, which is called liberation. In the spirit of Theravada, the A Ham Sutra has a story that Master Phu Lau Na came to ask the Buddha:
- World-Honored One, please teach me the essential Dharma so that I can go to a secluded place to practice.
The Buddha then taught:
If the eye sees form without chasing, not grasping, that is close to Nirvana. Conversely, if the eye sees form and chases after it, clinging to it is far from Nirvana. The ears hear the sound, the nostrils smell, the body touches, and the mind is predestined with the Dharma. If you don't chase, you don't cling tightly to Nirvana, if you chase and cling tightly, you'll be far from Nirvana.
After receiving the essential dharma, Master Phu Lau Na went to a secluded place to practice. Within three months, he attained Arahantship.
Six organs of sense contacting six dust or six sense objects without chasing, without attachment, or clinging to it is liberation. If you chase after it, if you cling to it, it's a perversion. Perversion or being liberated is very simple, without waiting for another life, but right in the present moment, eyes see forms, ears hear sounds, noses smell odors, tongues taste flavors, body touches, the mind is connected with dharma objects, you are not chasing, not clinging, right there you are liberated. Liberation is not a distant thing, you can reach it, it is a reality. Right where you or anyone can be liberated, anyone can do it. So when it comes to the practice of liberation, it sounds far away, sublime, but the truth is very close, very real. Conversely, corruption is not uncommon. If the eye chases the form and then clings to the form, the ear chases the sound and then clings to the sound, etc., then you are a perverted person.
Buddhists as well as cultivators want to be liberated not a distant matter, but a reality in daily life. If a person's six organs of sense come into contact with six dust or six sense objects without attachment, without pursuit, without being attracted or bound by the six sense objects, that is liberation. The truth is that you attach yourself to six dust or six sense objects, which means you see it, you chase it, cling to it, and then you lament and beg the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help. Buddha told you to let go, but you held on too tight, stuck your hand in it, and then lamented Buddha and Bodhisattva for not saving!
Again, attachment is called greed when the desire exceeds the need. The senses bring pleasure but if you do not pursue, nurture, or increase the desire to enjoy that pleasure, there is no greed. When pursuit arises, then there is greed. For example, eating and drinking need to be hygienic and nutritious to nourish the body, there is no need to be fussy about delicious and strange dishes. When you begin to like to eat delicious food, you refuse to eat what is not to your taste, seek strange, rare, superior, and excellent dishes, then there is greed and pleasure of the tongue, of the taste, of the eat binding.
It is also from the mouth that speech comes, and when speech is no longer a means of expressing ideas to support the seeing, hearing, knowing that you enjoy criticism, stabbing, speaking to deceive, divide, cause hatred, no longer a word of peace, then there is already bondage in the mouth, in the word.
When you no longer see clothes just to cover the body but just want to wear them beautifully, with really good products, with high-class goods, with expensive brands, then there is greed and attachment from the body. In regards to clothing, also, when you no longer see a house, a place to stay is just a means of sheltering from the sun and rain, but only dreaming of luxurious, sophisticated, and modern houses, then you have There is greed and attachment coming from the body, related to dwelling.
When the ear is no longer a means to hear, to understand, to support the seeing and to know, you just want to hear really beautiful, smooth, and wonderful sounds like singing, music, wasting precious time. If you indulge in stimulating, pleasurable sounds for the ear sense, then you already have greed and attachment to sound.
When the eye is not only a sense that helps you to perceive things, see your space and position, and surrounding circumstances but makes you run after beautiful images, beautiful appearance, and majesty or elegant demeanor. Whether it is a beautiful woman, a handsome man, or just an object, animal, nature, flowers, grasslands, majestic mountains, your eyes are always delighted to see, to be seen, to be seen just because there is pleasure in a look Your view then has greed and attachment coming from the form.
When the nose is not only necessary to breathe and maintain life, but to immerse you in the pleasure of scents, find ways to process and create all kinds of fragrances to mask the stench. You are addicted and infatuated with fragrance, and can fast, save money to buy expensive perfumes and oils. Must have it to apply to the body to be satisfied. So you were greedy and attached to the scent.
When the pleasure of sex intoxicates you, it must be satisfied by any ways, any means, which can make you unjust, adulterous, coercive, raped, or covet the husband or wife of another. So you already have greed and attachment that comes from the flesh, the body, and the touch.
That is to say, attachment comes from the five senses, form, sound, smell, taste, and touch. If you take the time to look closely, you will see that these five senses are closely related. It is possible that as long as one sense is pleasurable, all the other senses will also be delighted. Quite subtle, hard to notice but still recognizable. When the ears are too engrossed in enjoying beautiful, romantic, and wonderful music or the eyes are contemplating a beautiful picture, having a seductive image, or reading a paragraph describing an attractive scene, it also arouses sexual desire in the body. When you eat a delicious dish, you want it to be presented beautifully, attractively, and give off a strong, aromatic scent, otherwise, the food cannot be completely delicious.
In addition, you also enjoy pleasure in the spirit, in the mind, in thinking, in learning, in acquiring knowledge, and in understanding, which entails the enjoyment of being praised, flattered, and touched by fame honor, reputation, self-worth, and the acceptance of others. These are also invisible ropes that bind you to what is called Dharma, the object of the sixth sense which is consciousness.
Pleasure in the spirit is also joy and happiness because of being loved, respected, protected, cared for, cared for, served, visited, reminded, not forgotten, not ignored, not drowned… Those are also invisible strings that bind you because when you lack those things, you are very miserable and pessimistic, bored with life. This attachment is considered to be of the emotional type, belonging to craving.
All attachments in the body or mind can make you angry, anger, and reproachful once you do not satisfy your desire, as desired, as expected. It was agreed that brought along anger and delusion.
Pleasure in the spirit is not entertainment that makes the mind comfortable, relaxed, stress-free, but complacent, satisfied with yourself because you have tried, succeeded, and completed the task, duty, or responsibility. Without that satisfaction and complacency, the evildoer will never do evil. There must be something interesting in doing evil to motivate it, even if it is wrong. Torturing others, causing others physical or mental pain, also brings pleasure to the perpetrator. Likewise, there are those who torture their own bodies or wallow in suffering. Feelings or sensations are invisible strings that bind you.
You have realized the bondage of carrying this birth-and-death body. The body is made up of the Five Great Aggregates and the seven elements act as an obstacle you don't notice, you only see the pleasure it brings. The five things that make up a person are: form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, as well as six dust or six sense objects, the objects of which the senses are: form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and dharmas. The Buddha saw it as suffering, as a karmic hindrance, but you see it in reverse, consider it happy, beautiful, interesting, enjoyable, nurturing, indulging in it, so that you become a human but like a trapped animal.
This body of the Five Aggregates is bound by material needs you need to be satisfied. Sure, there are necessities to sustain life, but since you've crossed the line of need and sufficiency, from that arise innumerable troubles, afflictions, and pitiful things.
Say it again and again, but if you abuse your body, don't take care of it properly, or force yourself to be ascetic, it's not right either. The Buddha taught that it is the extreme path, which should be avoided. The Buddha himself, after six years of asceticism, received a bowl of milk from the cowherd Sujata to restore his body to health, thereby continuing to practice to have results, leading to Enlightenment.
On the path of cultivation, it is for the sake of liberation, so don't be attached, don't fall in love with six sense objects. Not being attached, not infatuated with the six sense objects is the cause of liberation, there is no need to look for anything else. No need to have magical powers, no need to know the past and future, no need to have a bright aura to be liberated. Demons or gods also have an aura, know the past and future, but still cannot be liberated. The liberation of Buddhism is very real, nothing dreamlike, far-fetched, or difficult to understand.
          According to Mahayana Buddhism or Development Buddhism, reaching the goal is to become a Buddha, attain the fruit of Buddha, or even stop at Bodhisattva status, not becoming a Buddha because of making a great vow to return to the world to save people. Regardless of the fruition, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or Arahants have really eradicated all defilements, completely cut off cravings, and are no longer bound by anything, completely free, completely fearless. They have attained the so-called absolute freedom. To achieve this absolute freedom, they had to work hard and practice to free themselves from the chains of bondage.
The ropes that hang around the neck of a slave who must submit to their master are none other than your own body, along with your mind, with its almost never satisfied desires for enjoyment almost endless. The ropes tighten the ties of love, predestined relationships, animosity, and debt repayment, from life to life, entangled by the vines of the forest of passion and sensuality, which humans are like apes, like monkeys, clinging, delighting in passing from branch to branch, chasing after pleasure from one place to another, from one realm to another, not knowing when to stop. The buddhas and bodhisattvas have completely removed these obscurations.
 Because there are constraints, there is liberation, that is, going beyond those constraints. The ropes are just a symbol of being tied and chained. The ropes here are completely invisible, and so is the bondage, no one is seen tying anyone, who is tying whom, but they are extremely tight ties!
The rope that binds your limbs or your body can be made of materials that are iron, trees, hemp ropes, vines, or whatever it is that can be destroyed, damaged, worn out, or disintegrated with time. Due to nature or for some other reason, it is cut, and thrown away and thus you are free from restraint, from being tied down, free, at ease, liberated. This binding therefore cannot be considered certain. In contrast, the bondage without a rope, the invisible bondage, the hands and feet, the body are not tied, but you can't be free, can't be comfortable. It seems that you always feel that your heart is entangled, busy, worried, anxious, losing food, and losing sleep! It is because your mind has been bound by the desire to enjoy material things, and wealth as well as the desire to be successful, satisfied, have a career, have fame, authority, and position, as well as the desire to be loved. So you are always hoping, waiting, working, trying, having to pursue, explore, accumulate, keep, calculate, arrange, plan, project... That is forcing your body to have to run east and west, walking up and down, enduring extreme suffering, even hurting lives. Your mind is always busy day and night, sometimes leading to distraction!
As a human, you also need food, clothing, shelter, and medicine to treat illness and take care of your body, but if you don't stop at the level of knowing enough, let the invisible strings of the mind not Knowing enough becomes the bottomless pocket of greed that dominates, it pulls you everywhere, and from there, you can create countless evil karma.
Out of greed, you do not refuse unjust means, tricks, immoral, shameless, or unscrupulous. This greed can also lead you to evil actions such as killing people, harming people in all ways, getting possessions, gaining positions, or even taking lovers of others. Greed and craving push you to prison, hell, and heavy retribution.
To give up unwholesome dharma is to give up the karma that leads to bondage, to give up the binding cause, you are no longer confined. So if you want to be liberated first, you already know that six organs of sense that comes into contact with six dust or six sense objects is bondage. Besides the six organs of sense, you must also pay attention to:
- Body, mouth, and mind.
Think good thoughts, think bad, think about gain và loss. According to those thoughts, if the mouth says good, the body does good, or the mouth speaks badly, the body does bad. This is creating good karma and bad karma. If thoughts stop, then karma will cease. The end of creating karma not only liberates the present life but also frees you from samsara as well.
Why does Venerable One advise you to chant sutras, recite Buddha's name, practice meditation, and walk in reciting the Buddha's name?
The purpose of chanting and reciting the Buddha's name is to bind your mind, chant for the mind, and focus on remembering the sutras so you don't think wrongly. Likewise, sitting meditation, or any other method, is to let go of all crazy thoughts, that is a way to cut off the seeds of karma, and untie you so that you are not bound in samsara. Without creating karma, nothing can bind you.
Patriarch Doshin or Tao-Hsin (580-651) when he was a little monk at the age of fourteen, met Patriarch Seng-Ts'an (?-606) with folded hands and said:
- Venerable Master, please teach me the method of liberation.
Patriarch Seng-Ts'an looked straight in the face and asked:
- Who binds you?
He panicked and looked for something that bound him, and when he couldn't find it, he said:
- Venerable Master, no one binds me.
Patriarch Seng-Ts'an says:
- Don't bind to ask for liberation?
There he attained enlightenment. He was enlightened where nothing could bind him. There is no binding, ie no karma, no karma is liberation. If you seek liberation, but continuously create karma, you cannot be liberated. Liberation is the real thing that is available, does not come from anywhere, is not given to you by anyone, just because you cannot control the wandering thoughts, sadness, love, anger, and hate, etc., you create karma, and karma leads you to go in samsara.
According to the Small Sutra on Ending Loving Kindness (Culatanhasankhayasutta) of the Majjhima Nikaya:
A person is called enlightened and liberated when he lives contemplating impermanence, lives contemplating separation from greed, lives contemplating cessation, lives contemplating renunciation in feelings, and is not attached to anything in the world. Without defilements, he attains Nirvana. He knows well that: Birth is over, the holy life has been accomplished, what needs to be done has been done, and there is no coming back to this life.
In short, So, to be liberated, to be truly free, you must first master the six senses, no longer be bound by them, not enslave them, not let them manipulate your body and mind. The six senses are always yearning and demanding to be satisfied, if not satisfied, anger and delusion arise, thereby creating karma and receiving retribution. Just like that, suffer and drift in samsara, in the six paths, and in the three realms. Your mastery of the six senses is only the first step on the path to liberation. That is keeping the virtue. Along with keeping the precepts, you also have to practice meditation and wisdom. Precepts, concentration, and wisdom are the three basic practices in Buddhism.
Real liberation must have wisdom, which is a true recognition and knowing, that is, having a right view of suffering, of not-self, of impermanence, of the emptiness of all things, of all things without any attachment where Name and Form. No attachment to both good and evil, no attachment to yes and no, permanent and intermittent, purity and impurity... That means no attachment to the dharmas, no attachment to the self, to the permanent, unchanging. In the end, it is also from this I, that craving arises, lust, and causes innumerable sins. If you don't get entangled in a single word of attachment, you will be truly liberated.
Liberation is the attainment of absolute freedom, which is attained in the mind. Even though the mind still relies on the physical body as a means from which to reach liberation, the mind is limitless, as vast as space, and has great potential. It is impossible to think about, it cannot be expressed in words, it cannot be seen with the eyes or heard with the ears, nor can it be pointed with hands. Because this is the true mind, the mind that does not distinguish between this and that does not cause troubles, greed, hatred, and delusion, but it is Initial form, or Original form, or Original face or Buddha-nature like the footprints of a crow's foot in real space difficult to find. See nothing but not nothing. Liberation is like flapping wings and flying like a bird into space. No that has. Yes but no. Form means No. No means form.
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