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Chapter 1


Again are Bodhisattvas seen, whose heads, eyes, and bodies whole. These are other Bodhisattvas who give their heads, eyes and bodies. The Bodhisattvas mentioned above gave outer wealth and inner wealth. The outer wealth refers to wives and children; the inner wealth is their bodily flesh, their hands and feet. But they did not give their entire bodies. They only gave their flesh, or their hands or feet. Now these Bodhisattvas give their very heads and eyes, their entire bodies. Are offered up most joyfully. If any living being at all is in need of a head, they will give up their heads; if they need eyes, they will give up their eyes. In fact, they’ll give their whole bodies, or any part of them.

Someone thinks, “That’s idiotic! How can you give your own body to others?”

You think the Bodhisattvas are stupid, but they think that you are stupid. Why? In being able to give, seeking the utmost Way, they are able to end birth and death. In not giving you may feel that you are intelligent, but you’ll never be able to end birth and death. If you wish to end birth and death, you must imitate the great, fearless spirit of these Bodhisattvas who give up their bodies, hearts, and lives to others, to the world.

They give cheerfully. They don’t give angrily. They don’t say, “So you’re giving? Let’s have a little contest. If you give ten thousand dollars, I’ll give twenty thousand. If you give twenty thousand, I’ll give thirty thousand.” They are not competitive in their giving. On the contrary, they give happily and cheerfully.

Why do they give? They are seeking the Buddha’s wisdom.


I see royal monarchs who
visiting those Buddhas’ courts
ask about the utmost Way,
and then forsake their pleasant lands,
palaces, ministers, concubines,
and, cutting off their beards and hair,
clothe themselves in Dharma robes.


J2. morality


Manjushri! Wonderful Virtue Bodhisattva! I see royal monarchs. I also see kings, not just one king, but many of them, visiting those Buddhas’ courts. What are they doing? They are going off to visit the Buddhas. To ask about the utmost Way. They ask about the supreme Buddha Way. After they ask about it, the Buddha instructs them in the doctrines of suffering, emptiness, impermanence, and non-self. He says, “Everything in this world is bound up in suffering.

Wealth and honor are like a dream before dawn
Power and fame are like a floating cloud.
The bones and flesh of the present Also are unreal.
Devotion turns to hatred…

Wealth and honor are as insubstantial as a dream just before the sum comes up. Power and fame are like floating clouds in space. They do not last. The bones and flesh of the present moment, the relationships of father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger brothers, are also unreal. You may love someone and be very close to them, but in the future, as time goes by, love will turn into contempt and hatred.”

When the kings hear this instruction from the Buddhas, they immediately, without further thought, forsake their pleasant lands, their happy pleasure grounds. They give them away. Palaces, ministers, concubines. Their palaces made of jewels, their halls and pavilions made of aloeswood and sandalwood, their ministers and their concubines. Why do they give them away?

And, cutting off their beards and hair. They become novices, and they clothe themselves in Dharma robes. They put on the clothing worn by those who have left home, the kshaya or five-piece sash worn by novice monk.

The kings leave the home-life seeking the Dharma of the Precepts, and so this section deals with morality.


Seen are Bodhisattvas who
becoming Bhikshus, dwell alone
within the wilds, in quietude,
reciting Sutra texts with joy.


J3. patience


Seen are Bodhisattvas wholeave the home-life to become Bhikshus. Becoming Bhikshus, dwell alone. This section deals with the perfection of patience. Perhaps Bodhisattvas are seen who dwell deep in the forests or in mountain caves. Evil people may come upon them. When such people strike or rebuke them they must patiently endure it. When evil beasts bite them, they also must be patient and not become frightened or alarmed. So these four lines discuss patience. They like to read and recite Sutras.


Again are Bodhisattvas seen,
striving with heroic vigor,
entering the mountains deep,
to ponder on the Buddha Way.


J4. vigor


Again are Bodhisattvas seen, striving with heroic vigor. How are they vigorous? They go without eating to study the Buddhadharma. They go without sleeping to study the Buddhadharma. They aren’t like some people who go without eating but make up for it by sleeping more, saying, “I haven’t eaten so I can’t cultivate. I’ll sleep a little more instead.” When others are not sleeping they are asleep. That is not heroic vigor. Those with heroic vigor will go without eating because they forget about food altogether. They don’t deliberately refrain from eating in order to put on that they are cultivating. They just forget about eating and sleeping; they forget about everything. What do they think of? They think only to cultivate and to study the Buddhadharma. Entering the mountains deep. They go deep into the mountain valleys to ponder on the Buddha Way. Ponder means that they cultivate the Buddhadharma; they cultivate in accord with the Dharma.


Seen, too, are those who’ve left desire,
who dwell in constant solitude,
deeply cultivating Dhyana Samadhi
and attaining five spiritual penetrations.

Again are Bodhisattvas seen
in the peace of Dhyana, with palms joined,
who, with a thousand ten thousand lines,
sing praises of the Dharma kings.


J5. Samadhi


Maitreya Bodhisattva continues, saying, “I also see Arhats and Bodhisattvas who have left desire .” To leave desire means to separate oneself from lust. If you separate from lust you can cultivate the Way. Those who cultivate the Way should not have thoughts of greed. They should not be greedy for wealth. They should not be greedy for sex. They should not be greedy for material possessions. Once rid of all thoughts of greed one may be said to have “left desire.”

Who dwell in constant solitude, they like to live in the wilds, where few people go. Deeply cultivating Dhyana Samadhi. All day they sit in Dhyana. If you wish to develop your wisdom, it is essential that you cultivate Samadhi. Without Samadhi you will have no wisdom. So this passage of verse deals with Dhyana Samadhi. You should deeply cultivate Dhyana Samadhi. This is not to say that you cultivate it today and fail to cultivate it tomorrow. You can’t cultivate for one day and rest on the next, or rest for a day and then cultivate for half a day, or cultivate one day and rest for ten days. You should cultivate every day without resting, not the other way round. If you rest every day and do not cultivate, you’ll not attain Dhyana Samadhi. If you wish to obtain deep Dhyana Samadhi, truly to take the joy of Dhyana as your food, and come to know the true flavor of Dhyana, then you must work hard at your cultivation every single day.

When the time comes to sit in Dhyana, you must go ahead and do so, regardless of how busy you are. You must find time in the midst of all your myriad activities to sit in Dhyana, without missing a single day. Then you can obtain the realm of skill in Dhyana Samadhi.

And attaining five spiritual penetrations. Through deep Dhyana Samadhi they attain five kinds of spiritual penetrations.

And what are they? The penetration of the Heavenly Eye, the penetration of the Heavenly Ear, the penetration of Others’ Thoughts, the penetration of the Knowledge of Past Lives, Penetration of the Complete Spirit. They have not obtained the Penetration of the Extinction of Outflows because this Penetration is only attained at the level of Equal Enlightenment and Wonderful Enlightenment. Because these are Bodhisattvas who have just brought forth the resolve to cultivate, they obtain only five of the Six Spiritual Penetrations.

Where do the Five Spiritual Penetrations come from? They come from the cultivation of Dhyana Samadhi, from the recitation of Sutras, and from holding mantras. If you can sit in Dhyana meditation every day with singleminded concentration, you can obtain them.

You can obtain them from reciting Sutras. For example, the Great Master Chih-Che recited The Dharma Lotus Sutra all day long until he became enlightened. When he came to the “Chapter of the Events of Medicine King Bodhisattva” where it says, “This is true vigor; this is called a true Dharma offering,” as he recited the words he entered the Dharma Flower Samadhi and obtained a most lofty state.

He saw the Dharma assembly at Vulture Peak still in progress; it had not dispersed. He saw that Shakyamuni Buddha was still there speaking the Dharma. So, one can also become enlightened by reciting the Sutras. But you must recite with a sincere heart. You can’t recite on the one hand and strike up false thinking on the other. Don’t recite on the one hand and climb on conditions on the other, thinking, “So and so has a lot of money. I’ve got to think of a way to get some money out of him for my own use.” You can’t open enlightenment reciting Sutras that way because you’re not reciting Sutras, you’re reciting “money.”

You must recite mantras and Sutras singlemindedly in order to become enlightened.

Again are Bodhisattvas seenin the peace of Dhyana, with palms joined. They are sitting in Dhyana with their hands placed together, who, with a thousand ten thousand lines. They make up verse after verse, to sing praises of the Dharma kings. They praise the Buddhas of the ten directions. They do not simply praise Shakyamuni Buddha, but all the Buddhas of the ten directions, because they have been revealed in the light of Shayamuni Buddha’s white hair-mark. But praising the Buddhas of the ten directions is just to praise Shakyamuni Buddha. Why? Because Shakyamuni Buddha himself is one of the Buddhas of the ten directions!


Again are Bodhisattvas seen,
of profound wisdom and solid will,
able to question the Buddhas and
accept and hold all they have heard.

Further seen are Buddha’s disciples,
with wisdom and samadhi perfect,
who, with limitless analogies,
preach Dharma to the multitudes.

Joyfully they preach the Dharma,
transforming all the Bodhisattvas,
defeating thus the troops of Mara,
and beating on the Dharma drum.


J6. prajna


Maitreya Bodhisattva says to Manjushri Bodhisattva, again are Bodhisattvas seen. I also see Bodhisattvas of profound wisdom and solid will. Their wisdom is extremely profound, and their determination is extremely firm and solid. Able to question the Buddhas andaccept and hold all they have heard.They are well able to question the Buddha concerning their doubts. They ask about the Dharma, and having received their answers, they can put what they have heard into actual practice in accord with Dharma--that is, they accept, uphold, and cultivate in accord with Dharma.

Further seen are Buddha’s disciples.
Also seen are sons of the Dharma King. With wisdom and samadhi perfect. Their Samadhi power and their wisdom power are perfected. Who, with limitless analogies,they use an uncountable number of parables, analogies, and doctrines in order to preach Dharma to the multitudes.They expound the Buddhadharma for the sake of living beings.

Joyfully they preach the Dharma. The more they speak, the more they like to speak. This is known as “unobstructed eloquence.” The Dharma which they speak is extremely profound, subtle, and wonderful. Transforming all the Bodhisattvas. They teach and convert all the Bodhisattvas. Defeating thus the troops of Mara. They smash through the demonic hosts and beating on the Dharma drum. They loudly beat the great drum of the Law. Their Dharma preaching sounds like the beating of the Dharma drum.


Seen too are Bodhisattvas
in silence and tranquility;
though worshipped by the gods and dragons,
they do not find it cause for joy.

Also seen are Bodhisattvas
dwelling in forests, emitting light,
relieving those suffering in the hells,
and leading them to the Buddha Way.


I3. miscellaneous questions concerning the Six Perfections

J1. Dhyana Samadhi


Seen too are Bodhisattvas in silence and tranquility. They are silent; they do not speak. They sit in full lotus, meditating. As they meditate, because they have skill in Dhyana Samadhi, various beings come to worship them. Though worshipped by the gods and dragons,they do not find it cause for joy. They don’t think that it’s of any consequence. Why not? Because they have ability, profound skill, in Dhyana Samadhi. Their thoughts do not stir. In cultivation it is most important to be without thought. Do not have thought. Do not have what thought? Do not have false thought.

If you can be without false thought, just that is non-production. If you have no false thought, just that is no extinction. If you have no false thought, just that is no impurity. If you have no false thought, just that is no increase. If you have no false thought, just that is no decrease. If you have no false thought, there will be no “right”. If you have no false thought, there will be no “wrong”. If you have no thoughts, there will be no good, no evil. Why? Because, if you have no thoughts at all, that is purity, the purity of the self-nature, the wonderful nature, True Suchness.

However, being without thought isn’t just a matter of saying, “I don’t have any thought.” If you hold onto the “not having of thought,” that means you still have thought! If you can have no thought, just that is subduing your mind. If you can be without thought, you have defeated the troops of Mara. The absence of thought is most wonderful.

Why do they take no delight when the gods and dragons worship them? Because they have no thought. It is also because they have patience. They have “patience with production.” If you have no thought, then when people make offerings to you and revere you, you will not become arrogant and think, “I’m really an accomplished cultivator. Look at all the people who are making offerings to me.” If you have no thought, then if people rebuke you, beat you, defame you or try to ruin you, you will be able to endure it.

This is no thought. No thought is something which everyone who studies the Buddhadharma should learn. If you are without thought, then you have no affliction. With no affliction, that is Bodhi. Bodhi is just affliction; affliction is just Bodhi. Still, if you can use it, it’s Bodhi; if you can’t use it, it’s affliction.

Before Patriarch Bodhidharma went to China, he sent ahead two of his disciples, Fo-t’o and Ye-she. The two Indian disciples went to China where they taught the Dharma-door of the Dhyana School. Their teachings are not based on language. It is a direct pointing to the mind, to see the nature and realize Buddhahood.

At that time in China there was another Indian monk named Bodhiruchi. The two monks taught the Dhyana School, and Bodhiruchi taught the Madhyamika School. Bodhiruchi persuaded the Chinese Dharma Masters to run Bodhidharma’s two disciples right out of the country. They were driven to Lu Mountain. At Lu Mountain, the Venerable Master Yuan, seeing them, asked, “Why did they expel you? Ultimately, what Dharma-door do you transmit?”

Fo-t’o and Ye-she said, “We teach the doctrine of the Dhyana School. The Chinese Dharma Masters and Bodhiruchi, on one hand are jealous of us, and on the other hand they do not understand the Buddhadharma. Because we were outnumbered, they succeeded in driving us out. The Dharma-door we teach, we will now illustrate with an anology.

Then, sticking their hands up in the air, they opened and closed their fists several times. “Was that fast or not?” they asked.

“Very fast,” replied the Venerable Yuan.

“Bodhi and affliction,” they replied, “are just that fast. With one turn, affliction becomes Bodhi. Change again and Bodhi becomes affliction. It’s as fast as opening and closing your hand. Opening the hand is like Bodhi. The fist is like affliction. The fist and the palm are both the same hand undergoing changes.

The Dhyana School teaches that the mind itself is the Buddha. Understand the mind and see the nature. It is not the case that Bodhi is to be found apart from affliction, nor is there any affliction apart from Bodhi. Affliction is just Bodhi; Bodhi is just affliction. Birth and death is just Nirvana; Nirvana is just birth and death. If you have no thought, that is Nirvana. If you have thought, that is birth and death.

So the Dharma-door of no-thought is the foremost, the most wonderful. If you can not produce a single thought, then the entire substance manifests. If you are without a single thought, that is no thought. Without thought, your inherent Buddha nature manifests. If you have not arrived at the level of no thought, then you have not ended birth and death. If you arrive at the state of no thought, then the ghosts and spirits have no way to disturb you.

So the text says, “though gods and dragons worship them, they do not find it cause for joy.” Why don’t they rejoice? Becaue they have entered deep Dhyana Samadhi and arrived at the state of no thought. At the state of no thought, they have returned to the root and gone back to the source. They have returned to the original face, to the wind and light of their native land. Everything belongs to them; it’s all theirs and so when the gods and dragons pay them reverence, it’s just the way things are. It’s no cause to rejoice. The Bodhisattvas employ the skill of Dhyana Samadhi.

Also seen are Bodhisattvas dwelling in forests, emitting light. They cultivate self-benefit and they benefit others as well. They dwell in the forests where they cultivate Dhyana meditation. After awhile they put forth great light. Why do they do this? They are relieving those suffering in the hells. They use their light to illumine the dark recesses of the hells, and cause the denizens of hell and the hungry ghosts to leave suffering and attain bliss. The Bodhisattvas meditate, benefittig themselves, and then they emit light to benefit others. And leading them to the Buddha Way. They give the hell-beings and the hungry ghosts the chance to seek the Buddha Way.


Also seen are Buddha’s disciples
who have not slept, but walk at ease,
within the forest groves; they seek
with diligence the Buddha Way.


J2. vigor


Also seen are Buddha’s discipleswho have not slept, but walk at ease. They don’t ever sleep. If they do sleep, they just sit there and doze off for perhaps a second. What are they doing? They are cultivating the Pratyutpanna Samadhi, the Standing Buddha Samadhi. To cultivate this Dharma, a person stays in a single room and walks continually without sitting or reclining for ninety days. For ninety days they do not sleep. They are allowed to eat and go to the toilet but not to sleep. They battle exclusively with the demon of sleep for three months.

Within the forest groves; they seek with diligence the Buddha Way.
They want to find the road to the accomplishment of Buddhahood.


Seen too are those with perfect precepts
intact, with awe-inspiring manner,
their purity like precious pearls,
with which they seek the Buddha Way.


J3. Morality


Seen too are those with perfect precepts. Also seen are those Bodhisattvas who observe the moral precepts, guarding them as they would hold a precious pearl. This section of text refers to the Ten Types of Precepts:

1) Intact precepts. The Bodhisattva who has intact precepts has not violated the heavy-grade of the ten evils and five rebellious acts. If these offenses are committed it is as if one had lost one’s life raft. Without the raft, you cannot get across the sea. This means that you will not be able to cross from this shore of birth and death, over the heavy current of afflictions, to the other shore which is Nirvana. So it is most important to have intact precepts, meaning that offenses have not been committed on the heavy-grade.

2) Unbroken precepts. The Bodhisattva who has unbroken precepts has not committed offenses of the ten evils and five rebellious acts on the middle-grade. If these offenses have been committed, it is as if one has torn a hole in the life raft; it is ruined and cannot be used. If you do not observe the precepts, then, carrying such offenses, you will not be able to become a Buddha.

3) Unpunctured precepts. If the precepts are punctured, this is like a life raft which is not ripped, but has a leak the size of a pin-point. It soon become useless. Unpunctured morality means that one does not violate the lesser-grade of the ten evils and five rebellious acts. To commit offenses of the lesser-grade is not so serious, and so it is said to be like a hole. With a hole, the raft won’t float. If you do not hold the precepts purely, you won’t be able to become a Buddha.

4) Unscattered precepts. Scattered means that an evil awareness causes one to give rise to evil thoughts. Although pure in body and mouth, the mind is plagued with afflictions. In cultivation, one must practice precepts which are unscattered. These are also called the Samadhi precepts, for with Samadhi, precepts can be held on this level.

5) Following the Way precepts. When those who have certified to the first fruit of Sagehood walk or plant the fields, the bugs of themselves stay four inches away from their feet. In this way, the Sage avoids harming them. This is a precept power which follows upon your cultivation of the Way.

6) Unattached precepts. This refers to Arhats who have eternally severed their greed and attachment to the six objective sense objects in the Triple Realm. Numbers five and six are also called Way precepts, or the Precepts of the Absolute Truth.

7) Precepts praised by the wise. The person who holds the precepts at this level is well able to “emerge from the false and blend with the common.” Although he does not practice the Middle Way, he is able to use the provisional dharmas within both the common and the false truths as an expedient device. Although he does not cultivate the doctrines of the Middle Way, he uses the common truth and the false truth to benefit living beings. Therefore, because he can use provisional dharmas to benefit living beings, he is lauded by those who have wisdom.

8) Precepts of self-mastery. This is the self-mastery of the Bodhisattva Who Contemplates Self-mastery (Avalokiteshvara). They can use their spiritual penetrations to freely roam at play among human beings, and manifest both in opposition and in accord. Although they may appear to do evil deeds, they break neither the precept-nature nor the precept-covering. To keep the precept-nature means that one doesn’t even bring forth the thought to break the precepts. To have the thought to break a precept is to violate the nature of the precept; this has no outward appearance. The precept-covering has a visible form. When one breaks the precept-covering that means one has committed an outward act of precept violation. At this level, neither the precept-nature nor the precept-covering is violated. It may appear that they are broken, but they are not.

The Shurangama Sutra mentions the smashing of demons’ heads to bits. Someone asked me if this wasn’t a case of violating the precepts. I said it was not. That’s a case of non-violation in a state of opposition.

Another example is Dhyana Master Pao-chih of the Liang Dynasty, about the time when Bodhidharma went to China. He was a meat-eater, not a vegetarian. Everyday, he ate two pigeons. In fact, he ate two pigeons at every meal. The cook gave him two pigeons and he ate every last bit--bones and all! The cook thought, “They’re probably pretty tasty,” and one day he snuck one of the wings to take a taste, thinking it wouldn’t matter, that Dhyana Master Chih-kung would never know. But the moment Dhyana Master Chih-kung saw them he said, “Why did you steal a taste of my pigeons?”

I didn’t eat them!” the cook said.

“Really?” said Master Chih-kung. “Very well, watch this!” and he ate both of the pigeons. Then, he opened his mouth and the two pigeons flew out again. One of them flew away, but the other was missing a wing. “Well, where’s that pigeon’s wing,” he said, “if you didn’t eat it?”

“I cleaned and cooked the two birds myself,” said the cook. “How could he spit them back up alive and well?” From this, he knew that Master Chih-kung was no ordinary person; he truly dwelt in the state of a great Bodhisattva. This was a manifestation of a state in opposition to the precepts. Basically, eating meat is wrong, but he could swallow pigeons and spit them out again whole. A while ago someone asked me if one could eat meat and still become enlightened. I said, “If you can swallow a cow in one gulp and then spit it out again alive and well, then you could. If not you’ll surely fall into the hells; you’ll be obliged to pay your debts. If you eat their meat, in the future they will eat yours. There’s not the slightest bit of courtesy involved.”

So, the eight is the Precepts of self-mastery. This means that whatever you want to do, you can do it and it’s all right.

You say, “I’d like to try it out.”

If you have spiritual penetrations, you can give it a try. If you don’t, then you won’t be able to pull it off.

Numbers seven and eight are also called Common Truth Precepts.

9) Precepts in accord with Samadhi. Whenever you do something, it is as if you were in Samadhi. At all times and in all places it is just like being in Samadhi.

10) Perfect precepts. In what respect are they perfect? With regard to the perfection of morality, everything one does is in accord with it. One maintains the precepts in all one’s actions. Although it may look to you as if such people had violated a precept, they exist in the realm of the Bodhisattvas and so they cannot be judged as one would judge ordinary people. That is the perfection of precepts.

Numbers nine and ten are also called the Precepts of the Absolute Truth of the Middle Way.

Intact, with awe-inspiring manner. Their precepts are not the slightest bit deficient. Their purity like precious pearls. Their clear and lofty purity is as priceless as a jewel. With which they seek the Buddha Way.

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