There Is No Suffering 26

Even with methods that do not need sense faculties or sense objects—where mind contemplates mind—a body is needed. I teach a method called ‘cat watching mouse,’ where the mind of awareness watches its thoughts. However, the very thoughts that the mind watches arise from interactions with the environment. Hence, one needs a body and senses to practice. Pure awareness is not enough. There are beings reborn in realms—sometimes called the heavens of form and formlessness—with highly refined, almost imperceptible forms, or no form whatsoever. Due to previous merit and practice, they are free from sources of suffering. However, since they have limited or no form they cannot practice. Although some are able to practice, they cannot derive consistent power because they lack the six sense faculties. In most cases, beings reborn in higher realms of reality spend all of their time receiving the positive retribution13 and bliss of past virtuous actions.

Three Gates of Liberation

The sutras say that a human body is difficult to obtain, and we should look upon our body as a precious vehicle to practice contemplation. Some might say that bodhisattvas have no bodies but in fact, great bodhisattvas can use everything and anything as a body and can, through contemplation, realize emptiness and attain the complete liberation of a buddha. The word zizai in the Chinese translation of the name of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva means liberation. In fact, Buddhadharma speaks of three gates of liberation: the gate of emptiness, the gate of no-form, and the gate of no-vow.

Liberation Through the Gate of Emptiness