In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Buddha talks about the 4 Inverted Views – that need to be uprighted if we are to walk the Buddha’s path.
The Sutra of Unsurpassed Reliance also says the same thing.
Notice here that the Buddha says that you should only LIMIT your application of impermanence, suffering, not self and impurity to the 5 skandhas (your body with all its mental and physical processes – of physical form, bodily sensations, perceptions, formations and sensory consciousness).
Because if you blanket apply these 4 to the Buddha’s Dharma Body as well – your invert the Buddha’s meaning – your view then becomes wrong because it’s upside down.
The Four Inversions
“Ānanda, dharmas such as form:
- are impermanent, yet one perceives them as permanent.
- Dharmas boil down to suffering, yet one perceives them as happiness.
- Dharmas have no self, yet one perceives [that they have] a self.
- Dharmas are impure, yet one perceives them as pure.
This is the meaning of inversion. Then perceiving dharmas as impermanent, suffering, having no self, and impure is not called an inversion.
However, if one applies this [non-inversion] to a Tathāgata’s wondrous dharma body, it becomes an inversion. To correct this inversion, I expound that a Tathāgata’s dharma body has four virtues. What are these four? They are
(1) the eternity pāramitā,
(2) the bliss pāramitā,
(3) the true-self pāramitā, and
(4) the purity pāramitā.
“Ānanda, an ordinary being entertains the four inverted perceptions of the five aggregates, which constitute a sentient being. He takes impermanence as permanence, suffering as happiness, nonexistent self as self, and impurity as purity.
“Ānanda, a Tathāgata’s dharma body is the object of His knowledge of all wisdom-knowledge [sarvajña-jñāna]. A voice-hearer or Pratyekabuddha cannot perceive a Tathāgata’s dharma body because his inverted training cannot be rectified. Why not? Because he thinks that
(1) he should train to realize a Tathāgata’s supreme eternal dharma body by taking it as impermanence, not eternity;
(2) he should train to realize a Tathāgata’s supreme blissful dharma body by taking it as suffering, not bliss;
(3) he should train to realize a Tathāgata’s supreme dharma body symbolized as the true self by taking it as no self, not the true self;
(4) he should train to realize a Tathāgata’s supreme pure dharma body by taking it as impurity, not purity.
Therefore, a voice-hearer or a Pratyekabuddha, who does inverted training on his path, cannot realize a Tathāgata’s dharma body with the four virtues. Therefore, its four virtues—eternity, bliss, the true self, and purity—are beyond his state.
Correction of Inversions
“Ānanda, if someone believes in a Tathāgata’s words and can see that His dharma body is eternity, bliss, the true self, and purity, his mind is not inverted and truly holds the right views. Why? Because, Ānanda, a Tathāgata’s dharma body is the eternity, bliss, true-self, and purity pāramitās. If someone follows the excellent wondrous path to observe a Tathāgata’s body, he goes from illumination to higher illumination, and from a secure place to the utmost joyful place. He is a Buddha’s true son and is loved and remembered by Him. He is born from a Buddha’s mouth [i.e., from hearing the Dharma] and will attain what a Buddha has attained. He is born from being transformed by the Dharma and will acquire the Dharma wealth.
[Don’t take worldly delights to be pure – Instead, look for the real purity within your own Buddha Nature]
“Ānanda, an icchantika rejects the true Dharma because he is greedy for and delights in his stinking and filthy births and deaths. To remove this affliction, I expound that one should delight in the Mahāyāna and train accordingly in order to acquire the purity pāramitā as the fruit.
[Don’t take your body with its 6 senses (5 aggregates) as your real self – Take your Buddha Nature to be your True Self]
Ānanda, a non-Buddhist holds the wrong view that one has a self, which leads to grasping and attachment. However, dharmas such as form have no self because they never contend. While:
- Buddhas everywhere in the three time frames [past, present, and future] and I expound that a Tathāgata is the true self,
- A non-Buddhist takes the five aggregates, which constitute a sentient being, as a self and feels secure and happy.
To remove this affliction, I expound that one should practice prajñā-pāramitā [the wisdom pāramitā] in order to acquire the true-self pāramitā as the fruit.
[Don’t think that absolutely everything is empty (i.e., The View of Void) – if you let go of all that is empty – you will find a richness, a bliss right within your self when you meditate]
Ānanda, a voice-hearer dreads his repeated birth and death, and delights in cessation of his suffering. To remove this affliction, I expound that one should enter the samādhi door that ends the view of void in order to acquire the bliss pāramitā as the fruit.
[Although solitude training (like meditation retreats) is important – don’t just fixate on this. Use what you’ve learnt to help others]
Ānanda, a Pratyekabuddha overlooks things that can benefit others, does not live with others, but enjoys pondering the truth in solitude. To remove this fixation, I expound that one should cultivate a Bodhisattva’s great compassion in order to go everywhere in the ten directions to do things that benefit sentient beings. Forever abiding in altruistic deeds, one acquires the eternity pāramitā as the fruit.
Ānanda, because of these four virtues, a Tathāgata is actually called the dharma realm, which, like the vast open sky, the ultimate domain of space, is attached to neither existence nor nonexistence and is ever abiding, beyond past, present, and future.
Source: The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Unsurpassed Reliance