覺 (Consciousness)

覺者 覺悟之謂也

事至而悟知 曰悟 未至而先知 曰覺 故悟難 而覺則尤難也

The character JUE in its meaning encompasses enlightenment and awareness. Comprehending, after an incident has occurred, is awareness. Comprehending, before an incident occurs, is JUE. Developing acuteness of awareness is not easy, and to acquire the acute inner capacity of JUE is even more difficult.

中庸曰 至誠之道 可以前知 國家將興 必有禎祥 國家將亡 必有妖孽

見乎蓍龜 動乎四體 禍福將至 善 必先知之 不善 必先知之

The Book of Zhong-Yong said, “People who live a surpassingly authentic way of life possess an ability to foreknow1. If a country flourish, some auspicious sign must have been manifested; if a country fall, evil omens must have existed. Such signs are discerned by profound premonitory means or intuition of our bodies. Whether impending misfortune or good fortune, people who have JUE can foresee it no matter if its nature be good or ill.”

Note1: Every phenomenon in the universe is all authentic in nature. Thus, people who are authentic can naturally possess the ability to foreknow because they are very close to the nature of the universe.

曰前知 曰先知 皆覺之功也 然非至誠則不能焉

又曰 誠則明 明則動 動則變 變則化

夫至於明動變化 則覺之功用大矣

This capacity which is called foreknowledge or foresight is a remarkable ability inherent in JUE. However, without personal character of surpassingly authentic being, such ability is inaccessible. The Book of Zhong-Yong further said, “Authenticity guides people to comprehension; comprehension evolves to action; action leads to transformation; transformation culminates in sublimation.”1 The capabilities of comprehension, action, transformation and sublimation all come from the tremendous power of JUE.

Note1:The transitional process comprising authenticity, comprehension, transformation and sublimation is metaphysical. Compare Buddhism’s or Taoism’s wisdom that intelligence is revealable and obtainable through a mind of Non-attachment.

莊子以人之生死 等於夢覺

嘗曰 (出自齊物論) 夢飲酒者 旦而哭泣 夢哭泣者 旦而田獵

方其夢也 不自知其夢也 覺而後知其夢也 且有大覺 而後知其大夢也

又曰 予惡乎知悅生之非惑耶 又惡乎知惡死之非遠行而不知歸者耶

Scholar Dzon1 contrasted both dream and JUE to comment on human life and death. He said, “One who has dreamt at night the enjoyment of wine and partying might cry in the morning; one who has dreamt the heartache of crying over pain and loss might go hunting in the morning for joy2. When dreaming in sleep, no one realizes that they are only in a dream. When awakened profoundly (JUE), people come to realize that they are indeed in a dream. Furthermore, the greatest JUE causes people to realize that all experience is encompassed in a pervasive dream.”

Scholar Dzon also said, “How uncertainly sure we are that people’s joy for life is not a deceit! Indeed, how uncertainly sure we are that people who fear death are not lost in a long journey knowing not how to get back home!”

Note1: Scholar Dzon was born in the Chinese Warring States period (BC 475-221) and was a prominent Taoist. He wrote more than one hundred thousand words of philosophical writings. His name has been traditionally been spoken together with that of Lao Tze, the Taoism founder, as Lao-Dzon.

Note2: Scholar Dzon tried to say that any event in the dream is totally irrelevant to reality. Whatever happens in the dream would not impact the dreamer’s reality.

細玩斯言 則知人之夢而不覺者 因有生死之見存也

Reflecting on these words, you soon realize that people cannot be JUE (awakened) from their dreams if they have convinced themselves that life and death exist in ultimate importance.

有生死之見 斯有人我眾生壽者之相

有人我眾生壽者之相 斯有貪嗔癡愛四字之迷

愈迷則愈夢 愈夢則愈不覺

愈不覺則愈陷於迥輪之苦海 而不得脫 不亦重可哀哉

Because of the presence of such delusion, illusive images of ‘other people’, ‘myself’, ‘different living things’ and ‘people of longevity’1 become insidiously introduced distinctions. Because of the widespread acceptance of such illusions, the four perplexities of avarice, hatred, ignorance and lust therefore come into being. The more people are deluded and beset with the perplexities, the more they live in their dreams.

The more people indulge in these dreams, the more difficult it is to be JUE. The more difficult it is to be JUE, the more you lose yourself in the suffering sea of endless reincarnation from which there is no escape. How achingly pitiful this prospect is!

Note1: Image of other people (人相, 心存憎愛, 分別計較之相) means that we have minds of hatred, fondness, differentiation and comparison toward other people.

Image of myself (我相, 心生堅執自我之相) means that we have minds of stubborn self-centered perception of our own self.

Image of different living things (眾生相, 心念隨逐世間流轉之相) means that our minds are influenced easily by any worldly matters.

Image of people of longevity (壽者相, 心識妄動, 造業無窮之相) means that our minds are full of rash desires that cause an everlasting karma for our own self.

間嘗考究生死之理 乃知人本無所謂生 亦無所謂死

何也 生死者 乃陰陽二氣之聚散耳

I have from time to time meditated on the facile teaching of life and death distinguished, and find that humans themselves have neither so-called life nor death. Life and death are merely the two united and separate dual-air of Yin-Yang1.

Note1: Carefully consider Yin-Yang: Yin-Yang has two sides of separate and united air. In Chinese metaphysics, everything contains Yin-Yang.

氣聚則生 氣散則死 而我之神 即隨其聚散以為去來焉

The “united” dual-air underlies what some call life; the “separate” dual-air underlies what some call death. The coming and going of the soul in popular conception accords with the “united” and “separate” dual-air.

當其神之來也 則氣聚而託於形 形即由是而長 故謂之生

When the soul comes, the dual-air manifest their aspect of unity and become cast into a body. The body, from then on, starts to grow and is referred to as having “life”.

及其去也 則氣散而離於形 形即由是而壞 故謂之死

When the soul goes, the dual-air manifest their aspect of separation and come out of a physical body. The body decays and is referred to as being in “death”.

是神者我也 形者我所居之舍也 我有來去 故舍有成壞

The ‘soul’ is my inward personhood, and the ‘body’ is a ‘house’ in which I live. Just as in my mundane routine of coming and going to attend to my house of abode, the “house” of my body features processes both of formation and decay.

然則生者非生也 以神之來而形成耳 死者非死也 以神之去而形壞耳

Thus, ‘life’ is not really ‘life’ but a body is forming after a soul has come; ‘death’ is not really ‘death’ but a body is decaying as soon as a soul has gone.

而彼去來 權不在我 又實在於陰陽之氣之聚與散

則是我身者 天地之一物也 我安得私而有之哉

However, the power of the coming and the going of my soul does not belong to me. It abides, instead, upon the two “united” and “separate” dual-air of Yin-Yang. Thus, my body which is only a part of the universe after all, should not be so obsessed by its own particular self.

昔有人告舜曰 汝身非汝有 是天地之委形也 性命非汝有

是天地之委順也 子孫非汝有 是天地之委蛻也

At one time, a subject told Emperor Seon1, “Your body, which is a natural molded-together figure within this universe, does not belong to you2; Your life, which is a natural movement of ‘unity’ and ‘separation’ inhering in Yin-Yang within this universe, does not belong to you3; your progeny, who are products of natural exuviation within this universe, do not belong to you4.”

Note1: Emperor Seon, see chapter 13 REN.

Note2: Because we have no control of how our bodies are formed.

Note3: Because we have no control of our coming to or leaving this world.

Note4: Because we have no control of the number of our progeny.

信如此言 則我之身體性命與子孫 皆非我有

何況身外之禾稼土木 禽獸魚鱉 金玉珍寶 穀帛財貨 皆天之所生 地之所養


If these words be true, then all my body, life and progeny are no longer ‘mine’. Neither ‘mine’ indeed, are the objects that are outside of my body, not implements for farming, not the cemented or wooden constructions, nor any animals, fishes, gold, jade, treasure, rice, clothes, money, goods. They are all produced and nourished by Heaven and Earth, and we cannot claim that they are our belongings any more.

列子曰 天地萬物 不相離也 認而有之 則惑矣

Scholar Lit1 said, “everything within this universe is one substance. Whoever claims that things can belong to them is confused in their understanding.”

Note1: Scholar Lit was also born in the Chinese Warring States period (BC 475-221). A prominent Taoist, he was a contemporary of Scholar Dzon.

噫 此皆覺之之言也

Consider well, for these are all words of JUE.

道德經曰 善攝生者 兕無所投其角 虎無所措其爪 夫何故 以其無死地

Tao Te Ching (chapter 50) said, “One who knows how to preserve and nourish one’s life not only gives the fierce rhinoceros’ horn no place to impale him, but also the dangerous tiger’s claws no place to strike him. How can this be? Because the person has no dead-spot.”

所謂無死地者 無可死之地也

“No dead-spot” refers to a person having no mortal “Achilles’ Heel”.

人自幼至壯至老 有生必有死 即果年高百歲 亦不免同歸於盡

During the period from childhood to youth to old age, mankind has life and inevitably death. Even though a person may have reached an age of more than a hundred years of age, the person eventually will die.

惟聖人勘透此理 不於肉身求生 而於性身求生 不憂肉身之死 而憂性身之死

Of course, sages completely understand this. They don’t pray for their bodies to be immortal, but hope to have the essence of their mind be imperishable. They don’t worry about their bodies; they concern themselves with the death of the essence of their minds.

老子曰 吾身既無 吾有何患

孔子曰 殺身成仁

Lao Tze said, (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 13) “Since we disconcern ourselves, about what kind of disaster we will worry?” Confucius spoke of, “Sacrificing our bodies for the act of benevolence.”

岳飛關羽 殉國而死

Awk Fai1 and Kwan Yu2 both sacrificed themselves for their countries.

Note1: Awk Fai was a famous general in the Southern Song Dynasty (AD 1127-1279) which was invaded by the northern tribes of Jin. At that time, half of the land of China became occupied by the Jin, and Awk Fai fought to reclaim the land. During Awk Fai’s generalship, Jin always lost in battle against him. However, the Jin cunningly corrupted a Southern Song imperial administrator who eventually accused Awk Fai unjustly, and sentenced him to death.

Note2: Kwan Yu – see chapter 7.YI


Jesus sacrificed his body for the salvation of all.


Tathagata Buddha was dismembered alive by a king in India. (see chapter 9.YEN)


The above models illustrate how Saints preserve and nourish their essence of minds.

肉身雖死 真性常存 蓋肉身有形有質 有受死之地 所以有生有死

性身無體無方 無可死之地 故能不生不滅

A physical body can die, but the essence of mind is imperishable. Because a body is a form and physical only, it is subject to death. Thus, life and death are present, as superficially understood. The essence of the mind, neither being physical nor having form, is not subject to death. Thus, it has neither physical growth nor extinction.

人能空此數十年必壞之肉身 而攝此千萬年不死之性身 則為大覺仙人矣

If people would detach themselves from their preoccupation with their short-lived, corruptible bodies, yet preserve and nourish the everlasting essence of their minds, they could be veritable deities of greatest JUE.

且夫人之逐逐營營 奔走醉夢之場 而不自覺者 非性不明 乃物欲蔽之耳

But instead, people are craving and greedy and go to places of frivolous entertainment and in manifold ways forfeit their access to the ability of JUE. Although the essence of their minds is inherently bright, nonetheless it is obscured by their worldly desires.

故木本靜也 而所以動之者 風搖之也

水本清也 而所以濁之者 土渾之也

人本有覺也 而所以無覺者 慾炫之也

For instance, a tree of itself is motionless. When the wind blows, the tree is stirred.

Water of itself is clear. When mixed with mud, the water is dirtied. Mankind of itself has JUE. When tempted with desire, mankind’s JUE is obscured.

身之有慾 如樹之有蠋 樹抱蠋則還自鑿 身抱慾則還自害

故蠋盛則木折 慾熾則身亡

When our bodies are full of desires, it is like a tree that has caterpillars. A tree living with caterpillars on its branches will be consumed. When our bodies are consumed with desires, they become ruined. When caterpillars are crawling all over the tree, the tree does not last long; when desire is burning everywhere within our bodies, lives are cut short.

欲救吾身 先去情慾

欲去情慾 先斂五關

五關者 情慾之門 嗜好之府也

In order to preserve our lives, we must restrain our desires. In order to restrain our desires, we must be mindful that our ‘Five Gates of Desire’1 be pushed closed. The “Five Gates of Desire” are the doors to desires, and a province of sensual pleasure.

Note1: The Five Gates of Desire are the desires of eyes, ears, mouth, nose and body.

人能閉關絕慾 則內觀無我 外觀無物 而性明矣

If we can close the Gates and extirpate our desire, we then will neither focus on ourselves inwardly nor distinguish ourselves from other things outwardly. Thus, the essence of minds are enlightened.

性既明 則千百年以後之事 如在目前 千百里以外之事 如觀掌上

Once enlightened, that which will happen in even a future of a hundred thousand years can be seen as if in front of our eyes; and the events that happen even a hundred thousand miles away can be observed as if they are happening close by.

以此言覺 則無所覺 而無所不覺矣

If we live the above precepts to practice JUE, we are unconscious of living JUE. The unconsciousness of having JUE is the supreme JUE.

雖然 覺亦豈易言哉

古往今來 凡造十惡業者 六塵遍染 三業縈纏 要皆陷於不自覺耳

Nevertheless, achieving JUE is hardly without difficulty. From the past to the present, people who have created for themselves some or all of the ‘Ten Evil Karmas’1 are either defiled by the ‘Six Evil Dusts’2 or captured by their physical, verbal and mental sins. They preponderantly fall into the trap without even comprehending the meaning of JUE.

Note1: Ten Evil Karmas are the result of the following wrongdoing:

1) 殺生Killing 2) 偷盜 Stealing

3) 邪婬Lust 4) 妄語 Words of Arrogance

5) 兩舌 Undermining others 6) 惡口 Words of Sleaziness

7) 綺語 Salacious Words 8) 貪慾 Avarice

9) 瞋恨Hatred 10) 邪見 Vicious Thoughts

Note2: Six Evil Dusts are Form, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch and Mind which can all pollute our essence of minds like dust.

是以陰罪陽過 日累月深 背道違真 順邪棄正 生遭顯戮 沒受冥誅 身落三塗

欲求解脫而不得 良可歎也

Thus, iniquities from hidden conspiracies or overt plotting are accumulated daily. These people head against the TAO and betray the truth. They surrender themselves to viciousness and discard their righteousness. In life, they will eventually be punished. After life, they will be further punished and confined in the ‘Three Evil Paths’1. Even if they desperately cry out for rescue then, alas, they cry too late.

Note1:Three Evil Paths are : 1) Path of Fire : a place in hellfire; 2) Path of Blood : a place which belongs to animals that eat each other; 3) Path of Blades : a place for hungry ghosts that are punished by knife, sword, stick, etc.

我德教特提覺字以喚醒之 務望世界男女 及早回頭 勿入沉迷之境 快登道岸


Our Tien De Religion especially emphasizes this character JUE, in order to awaken people to the hope that all can desist in time from immersing themselves in worldly illusions, so that they can quickly return to the firm shore of TAO. Then let it be hoped that their sense of JUE will grow and ever blossom.

然非欲人超棄塵凡 高言虛妙也

Nevertheless, all the above is neither expecting everyone to abandon their worldly practices nor showing off supercilious wisdom.

不過於處世接物之時 遵守廿字 改過遷善 養性修真

悟迷途其未遠 覺今是而昨非

In our living, we can only hope that, when we deal with people, we observe the Twenty Characters Doctrine to correct our wrongdoing and approximate the ideal of kindness. Then, we can nourish the essence of our minds and improve our real selves.

We can come to realize that we might be lost but have not a long distance to go back, and can behave in our today’s better than our past.

則是一覺也 有天堂地獄之別矣

Inherent in such right conduct is another manifestation of JUE. So also are Heaven and hell differentiated.


Since the importance of it is paramount, I explicate this TAO to awaken the people.