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The True Meaning of the Dharma

"You, monks, should not thus cultivate the notion (samjna) of impermanence, suffering and non-Self, the notion of impurity and so forth, deeming them to be the true meaning [of the Dharma], as those people [searching in a pool for a radiant gem but foolishly grabbing hold of useless pebbles, mistaken for priceless treasure] did, each thinking that bits of brick, stones, grass and gravel were the jewel. You should train yourselves well in efficacious means. In every situation, constantly meditate upon [bhavana] the idea [samjna] of the Self, the idea of the Eternal, Bliss, and the Pure ... Those who, desirous of attaining Reality [tattva], meditatively cultivate these ideas, namely, the ideas of the Self [atman], the Eternal, Bliss, and the Pure, will skilfully bring forth the jewel, just like that wise person [who obtained the genuine, priceless gem, rather than worthless detritus misperceived as the real thing.]" — The Buddha, Chapter Three, "Grief",The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra

Accordingly, impermanence, suffering, and non-Self are not the true meaning of the Dharma. By believing impermanence to be the truth of Dharma, one clings to impermanence. By believing suffering and the Four Noble Truths to be the essence of the Dharma, one clings to suffering. By believing non-Self to be the true meaning of the Dharma, one clings to non-Self. Such clinging is not the Dharma.

What then is the Dharma?

On close examination, impermanence, suffering and non-Self are Buddhist concepts used to show that the individual self is not eternal, that belief in permanence leads to suffering, and that non-Self offers almost anyone liberation from egocentricity and the freedom from suffering. Finally, dependent arising shows us the principle of cause and effect with regard to suffering. This is the essence of the Dharma.

Thus the Dharma is what the Buddha taught.

What then are the Self, the Eternal, Bliss and the Pure?

Each of them are ideas for Buddhists to meditatively cultivate. Once the mind is freed of egoistic desires and ignorant craving, it is possible to view the Self, the Eternal, Bliss and the Pure without clinging to them.

For the Self is not the ego, nor is it the individual. Indeed, the Self is the basic form of awareness that becoming increasingly obvious as growth and transcendence. At some point, the Self ceases to identify with the mind or body. The individual self is defined as a person who is the object of his or her own consciousness. In contrast, the Self is called "higher consciousness" and is beyond the limits of human consciousness yet encompasses the interdependence of all phenomenon, from human consciousness to nature to the cosmos itself. Thus Adi-Buddha is the personification of this higher consciousness called the Self. being one of its non-Self forms. In short, the Self signifies Buddha.

As for the Eternal, Bliss and the Pure, these too are ideals. The Eternal signifies the Dharmakaya, in which the Buddha embodies the Dharma, and refers to that which has always existed and is represented by the Eternal Buddha, which in the case of the Pure Land is Amida Buddha.

Bliss signifies Nirvana, and is represented by the Buddha World called "Pure Land of Bliss".

Signifying Dharma, the Pure is represented by the Pure Land, and more intimately, the Pure Mind achieved through meditation on the Dharma.

Thus, the Self, the Eternal, Bliss and the Pure represent the Buddha, the Dharmakaya, Nirvana and Dharma.

on Grief:
Eternal Buddha:
Pure Land of Bliss:
Religious views of the self:

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