THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
26 Imitating the King’s Blinking Habit
There used to be a man who wanted to please the king. He asked someone how he could go about it. That person told him, “If you want to please the king, you should imitate him.”
The man immediately went to where the king was, and seeing that the king had a habit of blinking his eye, started to imitate his blinking habit.
The king asked him, “Do you have an eye problem? Or is it on account of the wind that you are blinking?” The man replied, “No. It’s not that I have an eye problem, nor is it on account of the wind. Wishing to please your Majesty, I’ve taken to imitating your Majesty’s blinking habit.”
When the king heard this, he was outraged. The king oppressed him cruelly in various ways and then had him banished.
People in general have the same problem. They wish to draw near to the Buddha, the Dharma King, so as to pursue the wholesome Dharma and grow. Upon being able to draw near him, they fail to understand that the Thus Come One, the Dharma King, exhibits various shortcomings as a skill-in-means to cross over living beings. Perhaps they hear the Buddha using certain incorrect phrasings in his teachings at which point they start to ridicule and slander him, imitating his mistakes. Because of this, they had obtained from the Buddhadharma, and fall into the three evil paths. This is just like the man who imitated the king’s blinking habit.
27 Sending Pure Spring Water
Once there was a village five yojanas away from the capital city that produced pure spring water. The king ordered the villagers to send him some of this water every day. The villagers, feeling exhausted by this ordeal, wished to move to another village. But the chief of the village said to them, “Don’t go away. I will go and ask the king to change the distance from five yojanas to three, so you won’t have to exhaust yourselves by walking such a long distance.”
He went and submitted his case to the king, and the king declared that the distance was changed to three yojanas. When the people heard this, they were delighted. Someone said, “You are still walking the five yojanas you have always walked. There hasn’t really been any change in the mileage.” Although the villagers heard this, they had faith in the king, and they never gave up.
Common people are like this, too. They cultivate the Proper Dharma to get across the five paths of rebirth and to head for Nirvana City. As time goes on they grow weary and wish to give up their pursuit. No longer wishing to go forward, they revert back to birth and death. The Thus Come One, the Dharma King, establishes a great skill-in-means, and within the Once Vehicle, he speaks of three. Those of the Small Vehicle are delighted when they hear this. Thinking the path is easy to walk, they cultivate good and virtuous acts and aspire to cross beyond birth and death. Later, they hear others tell them that there were no three vehicles to begin with, that originally there was only a single path. But because they cling to what the Buddha first proclaimed, they are just like the villagers in this story.
28 The Mirror in the Treasure Chest
There was once a poor and destitute man who always had debts and had no means to repay them. In order to avoid his creditors, he fled to the open wilderness. There he discovered a treasure chest filled to the brim with rare jewels. On top of all the jewels was a bright mirror. When the poor man saw all this, he was beside himself with joy and started to look through it. Then he saw an image reflected in the mirror and became frightened. Putting his palms together, he said, “I thought this was just an abandoned chest. I didn’t know that you were here. Please do not be offended!”
Ordinary people behave in the same way. They are driven to destitution by innumerable afflictions and hounded by the demon king, creditor of birth and death. Wishing to flee from birth and death, they enter the Buddhadharma, cultivate wholesome dharmas, and perform meritorious acts. This is like encountering a treasure chest. Deluded by their own image as reflected in the mirror of the view of a body, they falsely perceive there to be a “self.” Thereupon they close the treasure chest, thinking the “self” to be true and real. Consequently, they fall and lose all their merit and virtue, as well as their Dhyana samadhis, their shares of the Way, and their wholesome non-outflow acts. They lose the fruit of the Way of all the Three Vehicles. Just as that foolish man relinquished the treasure chest, those who cling to a view of self give up the Buddhadharma.
29 Blinding the Immortal Who Had Gained the Five Penetrations
Once a man went to the mountains to study the Way and became an immortal replete with the five spiritual penetrations. With his heavenly eye, he could clearly discern all the treasures hidden in the earth. When the king heard about him, he was elated. He said to his ministers, “In what way can we make this person remain in our country forever and not move to another place? Then our treasury will always be filled with rare jewels.”
A certain foolish minister went on his own to the immortal, plucked out his eyes, and presented them to the king, saying, “I have plucked out the immortal’s eyes so that he won’t be able to leave but will always remain in our country.” The king told the minister, “The reason I wanted the immortal to stay here was so that he could see all the treasures hidden in the earth. But now that you have plucked out his eyes, what use could they be?”
Worldly people behave in the same way. They see someone practicing dhutanga (bitter) practices in the mountain groves, the wilderness, the graveyards, or underneath trees, cultivating the four ceasings of the mind and the contemplation of impurity These people then force the cultivator to go to their homes where they ply him with many kinds of offerings. Thus they ruin his wholesome dharmas, so that he is no longer able to achieve the fruition of the Way. By plucking out the cultivator’s eyes of the Way, all benefits are lost, and they end up with absolutely nothing. They are just like that foolish minister who for no reason destroyed the immortal’s eyes.
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