Quotes from Sūtra on Upāsaka Precepts, Vol. 2
On Two Adornments, Chapter 12
“The wise can distinguish mundane dharmas from transmundane dharmas. Mundane dharmas refer to all worldly teachings and worldly meditation. Transmundane dharmas refer to the doctrines of the five skandhas, twelve sense fields, and eighteen elements. Because the bodhisattva knows the causes and conditions of the two types of dharmas, he can benefit himself and others in their present and future lives.”
Excerpts from A Discourse on the Sūtra on Upāsaka Precepts
Venerable Xiao Pingshi
Other than worldly teachings, all worldly meditation are also mundane dharmas; for example, the four concentrations and the four formless absorptions (C: sì chán bā dìng; 四禪八定), and even kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are no exceptions.
Transmundane dharmas consist of the Bodhi of the Two Vehicles and the Great Vehicle; the Two Vehicles is to understand that the five skandhas (C: wǔ yīn 五陰), six entries (C: liù rù; 六入), and eighteen elements (C: shíbā jiè; 十八界) are illusory, but it still does not lead to the realization of the ultimate reality. The phenomenon of “dependent origination without a fundamental cause” (C: yuánqǐ xìng kōng; 緣起性空) taught in the Two Vehicles is also included in the Buddha Bodhi of the Great Vehicle for verifying the aggregates, which are all dependently arising phenomena and their natures are impermanent emptiness.
On the other hand, the bodhisattvas of the Great Vehicle also know that the five skandhas, twelve sense fields, and eighteen elements conditionally arise and cease, but they pursue deeper into the original cause of arising--the existence of the eighth vijñāna, tathāgatagarbha.
Furthermore, it is necessary for bodhisattvas to confirm their knowledge of the phenomenon of dependent origination without a fundamental cause for the five skandhas, twelve sense fields, and eighteen elements by realizing the reality through xianguan (literally, direct observation). Direct observation means directly observing and witnessing the fact that all dharmas are selfless, arise and cease solely relying on this mind (ālaya-vijñāna).
The arising and ceasing phenomena occur due to the presence of ālaya-vijñāna; thus, all dharmas depend upon the vijñāna-only (the eighth vijñāna) to arise and cease. Any wise bodhisattva practitioner should be aware of the differences and carefully distinguish these two types of dharmas to benefit himself and others in their present and future lives.
A Discourse on the Sūtra on Upāsaka Precepts, Vol. 3, pp. 292-299