Extracted from the website of Buddhist Vajrayana Charity Funds Association and translated (斷與證) into English:
Severance and Proof
When a practitioner determines to learn Buddhism and practise cultivation, one must understand where one currently stands. What does one need to sever in this position? What proof is one looking for? Then, by taking a step by step approach in cultivation, results can be achieved and proof can be derived from cultivation.
For example, the Five Basic Precepts of Hinayana help practitioners avoid committing karma, and in turn attain individual liberation; hence, known as 'Precept of Individual Liberation'. By adhering to the Five Precepts well, one can commit to the Precept of Virtue Assimilation so as to practise all good deeds. One can then cultivate the Precept of Benefit Enrichment to Sentient Beings, and widely practise all virtuous dharmas to benefit sentient beings. Therefore, precepts help practitioners sever evil and cultivate benevolence. The practice of the Six Perfections is only meaningful when one upholds the precepts well. For ordinary people, no matter how bold they are in practice, without precepts their diligence is all in vain.
|Once the precepts of Hinayana and Mahayana are satisfactorily upheld, perfection in the practices of improving oneself and uplifting others (remark: In Chinese 二利 means 自利利他), then with the practitioner maintaining good relationships with others, one can then take one further step closer to Buddha. Thereafter, one can practise Vajrayana in stages: starting from the cultivation of the Accumulation Stage, the Application Stage and the Yoga Stage.|
|●||The Accumulation Stage is to approach and attend upon various Buddhas. If a person is not good on ethics and morality, and if one does not observe the precepts, one cannot get close to Buddha even if one has made offerings to the Buddha and has constructed a Buddha temple; and even though one has taken refuge in the Buddha for a number of years, all will be in vain. Therefore, when one approaches and attends upon the Buddha, one should ask whether one's mind matches with Buddhism.|
|●||After the Accumulation Stage comes the Application Stage, which is the practice of learning Buddhism, including mantra recitation and visualisation, for a practitioner to practise reciting the Buddha's name and remembering the Buddha. Within this, the relationship between the Buddha and the practitioner can be classified into the ‘Application of the Front’, that is the sign of approaching and attending upon looks like; the ‘Application from the Top’, which is the practitioner’s qualifications; ‘Application from Within’, which reaches into the practitioner’s heart, then there is Yoga and the attainment of unification can be acquired.|
|●||The Yoga Stage has only the Application from Within, that is the Body of Samaya.|
|The Body of Wisdom can be acquired when one reaches the Second Phase Empowerment and the Third Phase Empowerment (remark: The ritual for performing an empowerment can be divided into four parts: ‘vase’ (Tibetan: bumpa) or water empowerment; secret (Sanskrit: guhya) empowerment; knowledge-wisdom (Sanskrit: prajna-jnana) empowerment; word, fourth, or suchness empowerment). The Body of Samadhi can be acquired when the Fourth Phase Empowerment is reached.|
|The Body of Samadhi is the Dharma Body (Dharmakaya) of Buddhist practice, the Body of Wisdom is the Resulting Body (Sambhogakaya) of Buddhist practice, and the Body of Samaya is the Reminiscence Body (Nirmanakaya) of Buddhist practice.|
The above is from the perspective of Precepts and Bodies (Kaya). Starting from Emptiness, with one stage following consecutively to another, with ‘Emptiness of Selflessness of Person’ (atma-sunyata) in Hinayana, then progressing to ‘Emptiness of Selflessness of Dharma’ (dharma-sunyata) within the Bodhisattva Pathway.
In turn, one practises Yidam Visualisation in order to enter into ‘Emptiness of Selflessness of Buddha’. From these three types of Emptiness of Selflessness, one can reach all the way to the highest stage in Vajrayana to become the Entity Nature Body. That is, from the Entity Nature Emptiness to the Entity Nature Body; the Great Pleasure Wisdom Emptiness to the Great Pleasure Wisdom Body. From this, one can see that the Emptiness Nature is practised and certified progressively from Hinayana, Mahayana to Vajrayana.
The practising cultivator must understand what is required to be severed at each stage, he/she will have the possibility to obtain proof of that particular Dharma position. For example, the Impermanence Heart helps to sever all causes of time-wasting in life and death, and to sever all types of frivolous consumption in life that reduces one's life span, and that reduces your link with Buddhist practice. That is to sever the demons and obstacles of time. Once the severance is made, the ‘Diligence Heart’ is proven, and there is time for Buddhist practice.
Everyone knows【Vajra Sutra】with its full name【Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra】, which is also known as【Buddha's Discourse on Vajra Cutter Perfection of Wisdom Sutra】(remark: Chinese name is【佛說能斷金剛般若波羅蜜多經】. The title relies on the power of the vajra (diamond or thunderbolt) to cut things as a metaphor for the type of wisdom that cuts and shatters illusions to get to ultimate reality.) We all should pay attention to the word ‘severance’.
What do we need to sever? To sever all sufferings, all troubles, all non-dharmas (that is non-Budhhism) so as to acquire Diamond Perfection of Wisdom/Vajra Prajna-paramita (denotes indestructible). If one does not have this kind of ‘severance’ spirit, how can one acquire achievement and certification (proof)!
Finally, here mention incidentally that Vajrayana talks about ‘severance’ which means ‘immediately detach, disunite disport’, that is to chop the nail and slice the iron (remark: this is a Chinese idiom) that denotes action taken resolutely and decisively without hesitation with rather high speed action. This term is different from another term ‘elimination’. ‘Elimination’ means slowly and gradually get rid of or remove with rather slow speed action.
No matter one is a devout Buddhist, a Buddhist who has taken precepts or a learning and practicing Vajrayana cultivator must immediately ‘sever’ what they have done wrongly on precepts. One should then reveal and confess offence until there is sign of recognition that offence has been obliterated. For example, if you have ever participated in some activities held by (existed since more than 30 years) religious sects with abnormalities, newly-risen sects or non-Buddhists, all these are regarded as ‘undesirable origin/ bad link’ (Vajrayana especially and highly regards the importance of origin). If you do not ‘sever’ at once, or still secretly associate with those sects without detaching them, you have been infected by ‘pollution origin’ at the minimum. Since you are mingled with fallacies through learning and listening these abnormal and non-right sects, you will not have good merits, good and positive results, most excellent achievements and in turn your proof in this life will naturally be encountered difficulties, and more seriously that will affect your next life!