THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

 

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Sutra:


“I fear that deluded people may misunderstand and slander this Dharma-door, and will cut off their nature which possesses the seed of Buddhahood for hundreds of ages and thousands of lifetimes.

“Good Knowing Advisors, I have a verse of no-mark which you should all recite. Those at home and those who have left home should cultivate according to it. If you do not cultivate it, memorizing it will be of no use. Listen to my verse:

With speech and mind both understood,
Like the sun whose place is in space,
Just spread the ‘seeing-the-nature way’
Appear in the world to destroy false doctrines.

Dharma is neither sudden nor gradual,
Delusion and awakening are slow and quick
But deluded people cannot comprehend
This Dharma-door of seeing-the-nature.

Although it is said in ten thousand ways,
United, the principles return to one;
In the dark dwelling of defilements,
Always produce the sunlight of wisdom.

The deviant comes and affliction arrives,
The right comes and affliction goes.
The false and true both cast aside,
In clear purity the state of no residue is attained.

Bodhi is the original self-nature;
Giving rise to a thought is wrong;
The pure mind is within the false:
Only the right is without the three obstructions.

If people in the world practice the Way,
They are not hindered by anything.
By constantly seeing their own transgressions,
They are in accord with the Way.

Each kind of form has its own way
Without hindering one another;
Leaving the Way to seek another way
To the end of life is not to see the Way.

A frantic passage through a life,
Will bring regret when it comes to its end.
Should you wish for a vision of the true Way,
Right practice is the Way.

If you don’t have a mind for the Way,
You walk in darkness blind to the Way;
If you truly walk the Way,
You are blind to the faults of the world.

If you attend to others’ faults,
Your fault-finding itself is wrong;
Others’ faults I do not treat as wrong;
My faults are my own transgressions.

Simply cast out the mind that finds fault,
Once cast away, troubles are gone;
When hate and love don’t block the mind,
Stretch out both legs and then lie down.

If you hope and intend to transform others,
You must perfect expedient means.
Don’t cause them to have doubts, and then
Their self-nature will appear.

The Buddhadharma is here in the world;
Enlightenment is not apart from the world.
To search for Bodhi apart from the world
Is like looking for a hare with horns.

Right views are transcendental;
Deviant views are all mundane.
Deviant and right completely destroyed:
The Bodhi nature appears spontaneously.

This verse is the Sudden Teaching,
Also called the great Dharma boat.
Hear in confusion, pass through ages,
In an instant’s space, enlightenment.”

Commentary:

“With speech and mind both understood.” Understanding speech is to know how to lecture on Sutras and explain the Dharma. Understanding the mind refers to the mind-ground Dharma door of Dhyana meditation. If you can lecture on Sutras, speak Dharma, and cultivate Dhyana meditation, you are “Like the sun whose place is in space;” you are like bright light which illuminates the void and yet is nowhere attached.

“Just spread the ‘seeing-the-nature Way’”; the Dharma door which the Sixth Patriarch transmits teaches you to understand your mind and see your nature. Understand the mind and there are no difficulties. See your nature and there is no anxiety. When you see your original face, you understand the Buddhadharma.

“Appear in the world to destroy false doctrines.” This Dharma-door exclusively speaks of transcendental principles, and destroys all heretical, non-Buddhist religions.

Dharma is neither sudden nor gradual,
Delusion and awakening are slow and quick.

Essentially, the Dharma is neither sudden nor gradual. However, confused people must be taught to cultivate gradually, while wise, enlightened people understand the sudden Dharma. If you are stupid, you become enlightened a little slower. If you are intelligent, you become enlightened a little faster.

Today I will tell you the plain truth. Everyday I lecture the sutras, but rarely do I speak plain truth. Today I’ll say a little. Why? I can’t speak much plain truth because you won’t believe it. I say a little and you cannot believe it, so if I were to say more you would believe it even less. That’s because you don’t like to hear the truth, nor do you like to actually cultivate. So I have no way to speak true Dharma for you. I have to wait. I wait for an opportunity. And now an opportunity presents itself because we have come to this verse and the doctrine should be explained here. What is the Sudden Teaching? Sudden means, “cut it off.” Cut what off? Cut off your sexual desire. Can you do it or not? You say, “What’s the use of that?” Do you see? You don’t believe. Very well, then, I will not talk about it. If I say more, you will disbelieve even more strongly. That’s all there is to it. It’s just this much:

Cut Off Ignorance Immediately!

Ignorance is just sexual desire. Can you cut it off? Can you? You can’t cut it off, and so you don’t believe in the true Dharma.

When you do cut it off, you will attain the Sudden Teaching. What is the gradual teaching? “Slowly, slowly,” you say. “I can’t cut it off all at once. How can I put it down? How can I let it go?” The sudden becomes gradual. That’s all there is to it. Do you get the point? I give intelligent people this little bit and they cut it off. But stupid people can’t put their desire down. “I don’t believe this is the true Dharma,” they say. “I don’t believe this is the Sudden Teaching.” That’s why I have never spoken this way before. If you believed, you would have become a Buddha long ago. It’s just because you don’t believe that you are still wallowing in the mud, turning in the six paths of rebirth. If you want to turn, turn. Nobody is forcing you to stop.

It is a question of sooner or later. You may not want to cut it off now, but when you decide to become a Buddha, you will certainly have to cut it off.

But stupid people cannot comprehend
This Dharma-door of seeing the nature.

The Sudden Teaching is the Dharma-door of seeing the nature. If you cut off sexual desire you can understand your mind and see your nature.

Don’t speak of this Dharma to stupid people. They cannot understand it and they won’t believe it, just as now, when I told you to cut it off and you couldn’t do it. Stupid people cannot comprehend, they cannot understand. If you tell them, they won’t believe you.

Although it is said in ten thousand ways,
United, the principles return to one.

There are a thousand, ten thousand, millions of Dharma-doors used to explain this principle. There are 84,000 Dharma-doors to counteract just this kind of affliction, just that kind of ignorance. But when you trace them to the root, they are all just one, just the Sudden Dharma which tells you to cut off ignorance immediately and manifest the Dharma-nature.

In the dark dwelling of defilements,
Always produce the sunlight of wisdom.

Having affliction, you are in a dark room, but having wisdom, you are out in the dazzling sunlight.

The deviant comes and affliction arrives,
The right comes and affliction goes.

Today I will give you a little basic Dharma. If I never say it, you will never know. Deviant refers to the arousing of sexual desire. Do not take it as happiness; it is an affliction.

What is “right” is Prajna wisdom. Genuine wisdom breaks through ignorance and casts out affliction.

The false and true both cast aside,
In clear purity the state of no residue is attained.

This is Nirvana without residue. You say, “The verse says,‘The false and true both cast aside’– I’ll ignore both of them!” If you ignore them, you are still in the dark dwelling. When you have transcended the deviant and the right, then they have nouse. There is only “right” because there is “deviant;” there is only “deviant” because there is “right.” When neither one exists, that is clear purity, Nirvana without residue.

Bodhi is the original self-nature;
Giving rise to a thought is wrong.

Do not seek Bodhi outside yourself. The enlightenment nature is already complete within the Prajna wisdom of your self-nature. Nevertheless you still give rise to false thoughts. Originally, in clear and pure Nirvana without residue, there is no-thought, no recollection, and no falseness. It is complete in samadhi, morality, and wisdom.

The pure mind is within the false:
Only the right is without the three obstructions.

The pure mind is within the false, like water in the ice; the ice has the potential to become water.

In order to separate yourself from the three obstacles, you need only cultivate and uphold the right Dharma. The three obstacles are the karma obstacle, that is, all the karma you have created in past lives and in the present one; the retribution obstacle, that is, your body, which undergoes the obstructive effects of your karma; and the affliction obstacle, that is, all your troubles and worries.

If people in the world practice the Way,
They are not hindered by anything.

You can realize the Way by success in any Dharma-door at all. But first you must understand the true Dharma. Then you can cultivate it walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, with no obstacles whatsoever.

By constantly seeing their own transgressions,
They are in accord with the Way.

Mind your own business. Don’t watch other people, like a camera which can only take pictures of what is outside, but can’t take pictures of itself. You say, “That person is bad! He drinks, smokes, and takes drugs. No one can teach him. He steals! He kills! Just look at him!” You talk nothing but big talk; you only criticize others. You never ask yourself, “Did I kill today? Did I steal? Did I have deviant thoughts of lust? Did I lie or drink?” You never turn the light inward because you are too busy shining it outside.

If you wish to practice the Way, you should cultivate yourself and see your own faults. Then you will be in accord with the Way.

The Sixth Patriarch’s verse is excellent. It is profound, deep, and of inexhaustible use. It is simple and clear: anyone can understand it. If you can understand the meaning, and memorize it as well, it will greatly aid your cultivation.

Each kind of form has its own way
Without hindering one another;

Everything which has a shape and an appearance is a kind of form. While dwelling in forms, if you are able to wake up and understand, to cut off desire and cast out love and be unattached to the forms, then you will naturally possess the Way. You need not look for it anywhere else.

Leaving the Way to seek another way
To the end of life is not to see the Way.

If you understand and are unconfused by forms, then there is no difficulty and no annoyance. But if you leave the Way, saying, “This is not the Way. I am going to find another way,” you are just adding a head on top of a head.

If you see what happens and understand,
you can transcend the world.
If you see what happens and are confused
you fall beneath the wheel.

If you become confused and give rise to view delusion, you fall into the dust of external states and objects and to the end of your life you will not see the Way.

A frantic passage through a life,
Will bring regret when it comes to its end.
Wishing for a vision of the true Way,
Right practice is the way.

When you arrive at the Way, everything you do from morning to night is in accord with Dharma. You do right and proper things, not deviant things. If you leave your daily activities and look elsewhere for the Way, your whole life will be suffering and when you are old you will have regrets. “I have wasted my life!” you will say. “If only I hadn’t drunk so much wine, I wouldn’t be so stupid now. If only I hadn’t gambled, Iwouldn’t be so poor. If someone had just told me, I could have cultivated. But I never met a Good Knowing Advisor.”

You met a Good Knowing Advisor, but you didn’t recognize him. His teaching passed by like the wind–in one ear and out the other. You never reformed your own faults and you never corrected your bad habits and so, at the end, you have regrets.

Cultivate properly. Do not criticize others and wash their clothes for them, saying, “This person’s clothes are filthy! I’d better wash them. And look at him! He’s jealous. He’s afraid others are going to be better than he is.” This is called, “washing other people’s clothes.”

If you don’t have a mind for the Way,
You walk in darkness, blind to the Way.

If you only do things in darkness, if you only do things which you do not wish others to see, you are not practicing the Way.

If you truly walk the Way,
You are blind to the faults of the world.

There are those who say, “The Dharma-ending age is really bad! There is no more Dharma. Cultivators do not give proof to the fruit.” Why don’t you give proof to the fruit? The Dharma itself has no “right,” “image” or “ending” age. If you cultivate the right Dharma, you live in the right Dharma age. If you do not see the faults of the world, but see all living beings as the Buddha, then you yourself are Buddha. If you see all living beings as demons, then you are a demon.

If you attend to others’ faults,
Your fault-finding itself is wrong:

Does the Buddha look at other people’s faults? No. The Buddha sees all living beings as Buddhas.

Others’ faults I do not treat as wrong;
My faults are my own transgressions.

If he is wrong, do not follow his example. If he is wrong, do not join him and do not see his errors. Have great compassion for everyone. Be merciful. Say, “These living beings are indeed pitiful! I vow to take them all to Buddhahood.”

Simply cast out the mind that finds fault,
Once cast away, troubles are gone;
When hate and love don’t block the mind,
Stretch out both legs and lie down.

“I really love him!” you say. “I would gladly give up my life for him.” This is all just emotion. If you truly had the compassionate heart to love and protect all beings, you would say, “I vow to take him to Buddhahood. If he does not realize Buddhahood, I will not realize Buddhahood.”

Today someone asked to formally become a Buddhist by taking refuge in the Triple Jewel, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. After taking refuge you must follow the rules. Those who believe in the Buddha should not be as they were before. If they are, others will say, “He is a Buddhist, but he still has his same old life-style. He hasn’t changed.” Therefore I have made this vow: if those who have taken refuge with me do not realize Buddhahood, I will just wait here for them. You must realize Buddhahood before I do. I have no other method. If you take refuge, you should cultivate a little faster. Don’t make me wait for you. I will wait a long time, but eventually I may dislike it and say, “I will wait no longer. I’m finished. This is it!”

“Stretch out both legs and lie down.” This appeals to lazy people! However, this is not laziness or sleep. It represents freedom. Unchained, unshackled, unfettered, and free, you “leave upside-down dream-thinking far behind and attain ultimate Nirvana.” Do not interpret the Sixth Patriarch’s Sutra as saying that you should stretch out both legs and go to sleep.

If you hope and intend to transform others,
You must perfect expedient means;

To practice expedient means, one must know what Dharma should be spoken to what living being. For that one must be unattached.

Don’t cause them to have doubts, and then
Their self-nature will appear.


Do not cause living beings who hear this Dharma to disbelieve, and you will then be able to use the brilliant wisdom of your own nature.

The Buddhadharma is here in the world;
Enlightenment is not apart from the world.

The Buddhadharma includes both mundane and transcendental dharma. Buddhadharma is in the midst of the world and yet transcends the world. There is no awakening and no Prajna wisdom apart from the world.

To search for Bodhi apart from the world
Is like looking for a hare with horns.

Do you think you can find a rabbit with horns? There is no such thing. If you separate yourself from worldly things to seek the transcendental dharma elsewhere, that is like looking for a rabbit with horns.

Right views are transcendental:
Deviant views are all mundane.

Right views are enlightenment. To what is one enlightened? To the fact that sexual desire must be cut off–that is transcendental dharma. Deviant views are mundane views. When you casually follow your desires, yielding to them instead of causing them to yield to you, you are holding to deviant and mundane views.

Deviant and right completely destroyed:
The Bodhi nature appears spontaneously.

When neither the deviant nor the right remain, the Bodhi nature is spontaneously manifest. You need not look for the Bodhi nature anywhere else.

This verse is the Sudden Teaching
Also called the Great Dharma Boat.

This verse is the verse of sudden enlightenment and the Dharma-door of realizing Buddhahood. It is called the Great Dharma Boat because it can ferry all living beings from the shore of birth and death across the current of affliction to the other shore of Nirvana.

Hear in confusion, pass through ages,
In an instant’s space, enlightenment.

If you are deluded, many ages may pass before you become enlightened. If you are on the verge of enlightenment and can put down every one of your desires, you can suddenly become enlightened in the space of an instant. If you truly, truly understand, you can open enlightenment instantly.

Sutra:

The Master said further, “In the Ta Fan Temple I have just now spoken the Sudden Teaching, making the universal vow that all living beings of the Dharma-realm will see their nature and realize Buddhahood as they hear these words.”

Then among Magistrate Wei and the officials, Taoists and lay-people who heard what the Master said, there were none who did not awaken. Together they made obeisance and exclaimed with delight, “Good indeed! Who would have thought that in Ling Nan a Buddha would appear in the world?”

Commentary:

After they heard the markless verse, they said, “Ah! This is really fine! Who would have imagined that in Ling Nan a Buddha would appear in the world?

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