THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Chapters: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * 11 * 12 * 13 * 14 * 15 * 16 * 17 * 18 * 19 * 20

The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra

Chapter 7: The Analogy of the Transformed City
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

At that time, the guide, knowing that they were rested and no longer weary, made the city disappear, saying to them, “All of you, come, let us go. The jewel cache is near. The great city was merely something I created from transformation to give you a rest.”

Outline:

M3. Making the city disappear to lead them to the jewel cache.

Commentary:

At that time, the guide, the Buddha, knowing that they were rested and no longer weary—they had had their rest and were full of energy again made the city disappear, saying to them, “All of you, come, let us go. The jewel cache is near. We are right near it.” Those of the Hearers who have certified to the Fourth Fruition of Arhatship should go ahead and cultivate the Great Vehicle. You are not too far away from Buddhahood. The great city was merely something I created from transformation to give you a rest. This city is not real, so do not take what is false for what is true.

Sutra:

Bhikshus, the Thus Come One is also like this. He now acts as a great guide for all of you. He knows that living beings should leave and cross over the evil road of the torments of birth and death which is so steep, difficult and long. He shall respond to and save them.

Outline:

K2. Making the analogy.
L1. Combining.
M1. Analogy of the guide.


Commentary:

Bhikshus,” said Shakyamuni Buddha addressing the fourfold assembly, “The Thus Come One, the Buddha, is also like this, like the principle I spoke above. He now acts as a great guide for all of you. I am acting as a great leader for all of you, teaching and transforming you. He knows that living beings should leave and cross over the evil road of the torments of birth and death; if you are alive, you will have afflictions, troubles, and experience extreme danger. Which is so steep, difficult and long.” It is a long, hard road. One should get rid of afflictions and cross over birth and death. He shall respond to and save them. He will go and teach a particular type of living beings if he is meant to go to a particular place to teach that type of living beings.

Sutra:

If living beings only hear of the One Buddha Vehicle, they will not wish to see the Buddha or to draw near to him. Instead, they will think, “The Buddha path is long and far; it can only be accomplished after much labor and suffering.” The Buddha knows their minds to be weak and lowly. When they reach the “Midway-Nirvana”, he uses the power of expedients to rest at the Midway and to speak of the two Nirvanas. If living beings dwell on these two levels, the Thus Come One then tells them, “You have not yet finished your job. The level you are dwelling at is near the Buddhas’ wisdom. You should observe and ponder this: the Nirvana you have attained is not the real one. The Thus Come One has but used the power of his expedients and, within the One Buddha Vehicle, discriminated and spoken of three.”

Outline:

M2. Analogy of followers.


Commentary:

If living beings only hear of the One Buddha Vehicle--if I were to start right out speaking The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, the Dharma-door of the One Buddha Vehicle, they will not wish to see the Buddha. The Dharma-door of the One Buddha Vehicle is difficult to believe in and difficult to understand. It is not easy to have faith in it or to comprehend it. So, if living beings heard it, they would not want to see the Buddha. They would think, “Cultivating the Buddha Path is entirely too hard.” Or to draw near to him, because they are afraid they will lose their grip on the false things they are grasping. If they were to lose the false and gain the true, what would they do? So, they would not want to get near the Buddha. Instead, they will think, the Buddha path is long and far--because cultivating the Buddhadharma to become a Buddha takes an incredibly long time. You must pass through three great asankheya eons! Such a long time. Good grief! That is too much. It can only be accomplished after much labor and suffering. Who knows how much hard work is involved, cultivating all the ascetic practices and so on?

The Buddha knows their minds, Shakyamuni Buddha and all the Buddhas know the thoughts passing through the minds of living beings. To be weak and lowly. They are weak and soft, not solid at all. As soon as they undergo a bit of opposition, they cannot stand it. Lowly means that they are base and stupid. When they reach the “Midway-Nirvana”, when they have travelled three hundred yojanas, he uses the power of expedients, clever expedient devices, to rest at the Midway. The midway of cultivating the Way is 300 yojanas. And speak of the two Nirvanas.

They were three hundred yojanas into their five hundred yojana trek. They still had two hundred yojanas to go. Transcending the desire heavens, they traveled one hundred yojanas. Transcending to the form realm heavens, they traveled two hundred yojanas. Transcending the formless realm, they traveled three hundred yojanas. Thus, they transcended the three realms. When Bodhisattvas who have transcended the three realms have subdued and destroyed the delusions of dust and sand, they are said to have arrived in the Land of Expedients With Residue. Having then traveled four hundred yojanas, if they then break through the delusions of ignorance, they arrive at the Adorned Land of Real Retribution. Then they have traveled five hundred yojanas. They have made it. So, the halfway point is the three hundred yojana mark. The Buddha spoke about the two Nirvanas to give them a rest.

The two Nirvanas are 1) with residue, and 2) without residue. Nirvana with residue means that there is something left. This is the Nirvana attained by Arhats who have certified to the fruit and cut off the delusions of views and thought. Their bodies still remain, however. They have not been able to get rid of both body and wisdom. Nirvana without residue means that you use the real fire of samadhi to annihilate the body as well. You can light your own fire from inside. This is called the annihilation of body and wisdom. But, both these Nirvanas belong to the state of the Two Vehicles.

If living beings dwell on these two levels, that of Nirvana with residue and Nirvana without residue, the Thus Come One then tells them, “You have not yet finished your job. Your cultivation of the Path is not yet finished. You are not done yet. You have quite a way to go. The level you are dwelling at is near the Buddha’ wisdom. You should observe and ponder this:The Nirvana you have attained is not the real one. Both Nirvana with residue and Nirvana without residue are not real; they are not genuine Nirvana. The Thus Come One has but used the power of his expedients and, using those clever devices, within the One Buddha Vehicle, discriminated and spoken of three, the Vehicle of the Hearers, the Vehicle of the Conditioned Enlightened Ones, and the Bodhisattva Vehicle.”

Sutra:

He is like that guide, who, in order to give the travelers a rest, conjured up a great city. Then, when they had rested, he told them, “the place of the jewels is near. This city is not real, but merely something I have conjured up.”

Outline:

L2. Drawing the analogy.


Commentary:

He is like that guide; the Buddha is like the guide who knows the way through the hazardous road. Who, in order to give the travelers a rest, knowing that they were weary, conjured up a great city. Then, when they had rested, he told them, “The place of the jewels is near. This city is not real, but merely something I have conjured up.”

Sutra:

At that time the World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses saying,

“The Buddha Great Penetrating Wisdom Victory
Sat in the Bodhimanda for ten eons,
Without the manifestation of the Buddhadharma,
And he did not realize the Buddha Way.
Heavenly spirits and dragon kings,
And the host of asuras,
Constantly rained down heavenly flowers,
As an offering to that Buddha.
The Gods beat upon their heavenly drums
And made all kinds of music;
Fragrant breezes blew away the withered flowers
And fine, new ones rained down.
When ten eons had passed,
He then realized the Buddha Way.
All the gods and humans,
Danced for the joy within their minds.
The sixteen sons of that Buddha
As well as their retinues,
Thousands of millions surrounding them,
All went before that Buddha.
They bowed with their heads at his feet
And asked him to turn the Dharma-wheel,
“May the sagely lion’s Dharma rain
Fill us and everyone!”

Outline:

H2. Verses.
I1. Source of conditions.
J1. Distant conditions.
K1. Verses about Great Penetrating Wisdom Victory becoming a Buddha.

Commentary:

At that time, the World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses saying. The Buddha wanted to go into more detail, so he talked about the doctrines in verse.

The Buddha Great Penetrating Wisdom Victory sat in the Bodhimanda for ten eons. He sat there in full lotus in samadhi, but he did not certify to the fruit in ten eons. Without the manifestation of the Buddhadharma and he did not realize the Buddha Way. Heavenly spirits and dragon kings and the host of asuras, the ugly ones, constantly rained down heavenly flowers as an offering to that Buddha Great Penetrating Wisdom Victory.

The gods beat upon their heavenly drums and made all kinds of music. Fragrant breezes blew away the withered flowers and fine, new ones rained down. When ten eons had passed, he then realized the Buddha Way. The Buddhadharma manifested, and he realized anuttarasamyaksambodhi. All the gods and humans danced for the joy within their minds. They were all ecstatic. Never had they been so happy.

The sixteen sons of that Buddha as well as their retinues thousands of millions surrounding them, all went before that Buddha. They bowed with their heads at his feet and asked him to turn the Dharma-wheel, “May the Sagely Lion’s Dharma Rain fill us and everyone!” Fill us and all living beings.

Sutra:

A World Honored One is very hard to encounter,
Appearing but once in a long time.
In order to awaken all creatures,
He shakes all things.

Outline:

K2. Ten direction Brahma kings request Dharma.
L1. His awesome light shines and shakes all things.


Commentary:

A World Honored One is very hard to encounter. As hard to encounter as he is, we have now encountered him. Appearing but once in a long time. The Buddha does not appear in every generation. Who knows how long one must have to wait before a Buddha manifests? In order to awaken all creatures. Why does the Buddha manifest in the world? To wake up all living beings. He shakes all things. The quaking occurs because they become enlightened very quickly, just as the sounds of drums and bells shake and awake you from your slumber.

Sutra:

In five hundred myriads of millions of lands,
In worlds in the eastern direction,
Brahma palaces shone with a light
Such as they never had before.
The Brahmas, seeing these signs,
Followed them to the Buddha.
They scattered flowers as an offering,
And offered up their palaces,
Asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel,
With verses in his praise.
The Buddha knew the time had not yet come
And received their request seated in silence.
From the other three directions, and four points in between,
And, likewise, from above, and below,
They scattered flowers and offered their palaces,
Asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel:
“The World Honored One is very hard to meet;
We pray that through his great compassion and pity
He will open wide the sweet dew door
And turn the supreme Dharma-wheel.”

Outline:

L2. Brahma Kings come to request the Dharma.


Commentary:

In five hundred myriads of millions of lands, in worlds of the eastern direction, Brahma palaces shone with a light such as they never had before. The Brahmas, seeing these signs, followed them to the Buddha. When the Great Brahma Kings saw these signs, they followed the light to the Buddha. Ordinarily their palaces shone with light and they would not think light was anything special. But this light was so bright they thought it quite unusual. “Something special is happening.” They scattered flowers as an offering. The ones they had brought in their flower sacks, very wonderful and fragrant. And offered up their palaces, asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel, with verses in his praise. They scattered heavenly flowers over the Buddha and presented him with their most prized possessions--their palaces. They did this because they wanted him to turn the Dharma-wheel, to speak the Dharma. Before he turned the Dharma-wheel, it was appropriate that they make offerings to him. They praised him with verses.

The Buddha knew the time had not yet come. The Buddha Great Penetrating Wisdom Victory knew it was not yet time to turn the Wheel. And received their request seated in silence. He did not say a thing. From the other three directions, and four points in between. From the east, south, west, and north and the four intermediate directions, and, likewise, from above and below, they scattered flowers and offered their palaces, asking the Buddha to turn the Dharma-wheel.

The World Honored One is very hard to meet.
It is no simple matter to encounter a Buddha. We pray that, through his great compassion and pity. We hope that the Buddha will use his basic wisdom and compassion. He will open wide the sweet dew door. Open wide for all of us the door of sweet dew, the nectar of immortality, so that we may end birth and death. And turn the supreme Dharma-wheel.

Sutra:

The World Honored One, having limitless wisdom,
Received the multitude’s request
And proclaimed various Dharmas for their sakes.
The Four Truths, the Twelve Conditions,
From ignorance up to old age and death —
All arise because of birth.
In this way the host of calamities comes to be;
You should all know this.
When he expounded on this Dharma
Six hundred myriads of millions of billions
Exhausted the limits of all suffering
And all became Arhats.
When he spoke the Dharma the second time,
Hosts like the sands of a thousand myriads of Ganges rivers
Their minds grasping no dharmas,
Also attained Arhatship.
After that, those who gained the Way,
Were incalculable in number;
Were one to count through myriads of millions of eons
One could not reach their limit.

Outline:

J2. Verses about that which is nearby.

K1. Verses concerning the turning of the Dharma-wheel of the “half-word” teaching.

Commentary:

The World Honored One, having limitless wisdom. The wisdom of the Buddha is boundless. No one’s wisdom is greater than that of the Buddha’s. That is why the Buddha is the One of Great Wisdom, the World Honored One, and the Honored One who Enter the World. Received the multitudes’ request, received the request of all the hundreds of myriads of millions of Brahma Kings and of the sixteen sons. And proclaimed various Dharmas for their sakes. He explained all the various Dharma-doors to them. The Four Truths; he began with the Dharma-door of the Four Holy Truths: Suffering, origination, stopping, and the path. The twelve conditions. Then he preached the Twelve Causal Links.

From ignorance up to old age and death. Ignorance is the first of the twelve, and old age and death comprise the last link. All arise because of birth, because of production. Without birth, none of the other twelve would exist. In this way the host of calamities comes to be, all the cares and worries of the world. You should all know this. You should all know suffering, cut off origination, long for extinction, and cultivate the Way. When he expounded on this Dharma. When the Buddha Great Penetrating Wisdom Victory spoke the Four Truths and the Twelve Links, six hundred myriads of millions of billions exhausted the limits of all suffering. All their sufferings were over, and all became Arhats.

When he spoke the Dharma the second time.
The first speaking here refers to the Agama Period of the Buddha’s teaching. The second speaking refers to the Vaipulya Period. Hosts like the sands of a thousand myriads of Ganges rivers, their minds grasping no Dharmas. This means that their minds took in no unwholesome dharmas, no dharmas of affliction, also attained Arhatship. They certified to the Fourth Fruit of Arhatship. After that, those who gained the Way. Those who went from Arhatship on to the Bodhisattva Path, were incalculable in number. You could not count them; no way. Were one to count through myriads of millions of eons, one could not reach their limit. This Buddha saved an uncountable number of beings. They could never be counted.

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