THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Where do the Ten Dharma Realms come from?
If anyone wishes to understand
All people of the three periods of time,
He should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm;
The Tathagatas are made from the mind alone.
IF ANYONE wishes to understand. Suppose there are people who wish to understand how people become people.
All people of the three periods of time. "Shouldn't it be 'all Buddhas of the three periods of time'? Why did you say 'all people of the three periods of time'?" you ask. People are Buddhas. If you call a person a Buddha, that's okay; and if you call the Buddha a person, that's okay, too. Why is this? Because a person can become a Buddha. A Buddha is just a person who has realized Buddhahood. If you talk about Buddhas, no one really understands. "What's a Buddha?" they ask. Everyone knows what a person is. So we'll talk about people, and it will become easier to understand.
Who are the people we're discussing? The Buddhas.
"Am I a Buddha?" you ask. You are.
"Are other people Buddhas?"
Yes, they are too. You are a Buddha, but an unrealized Buddha. After your realization, you will become a true Buddha. Now you are a false Buddha. False Buddhas can become true Buddhas, and true Buddhas can become false Buddhas. If anyone wishes to understand / All Buddhas of the three periods of time. The verse starts with the word "if " to indicate that this is only a hypothetical situation; don't be attached and think that it's real. The Buddhas of the three periods of time are just people who have realized Buddhahood.
He should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm. How can the Dharma Realm have a nature? If it had a nature, how could it be called the Dharma Realm? Actually, this refers to the nature of the living beings in the Dharma Realm. Every living being of the Dharma Realm has its own nature. You have your nature, and I have my nature. "I don't know what you mean by 'nature'." You say. Well, your temper is bigger than mine; and mine is deeper than yours. Thus, our natures are different.
Each living being in the Dharma Realm has its own nature. Pigs have the nature of pigs; horses have the nature of horses. Men have the nature of men, and women have the nature of women. Each has his or her own nature. Those who like to eat sweet things have a sweet nature; those who like to eat sour things have a sour nature; those who like hot, spicy things have a hot nature. Those who like to eat bitter things have a bitter nature, like all of us here. [Note: In Chinese, the same character means both 'bitter' and 'ascetic.'] We cultivate ascetic practices. Cultivation is ascetic practice; even going to the dining hall to eat is an ascetic practice. When it comes to ascetic practices, none of you should fall behind. You should race toward the front. In the "ascetic practice" of eating, all of you race toward the front, don't you?
If you look into it, you'll find that everything has its own nature. Trees have the nature of trees; flowers have the nature of flowers; grass has the nature of grass. Each thing has its own nature. So "the nature of the Dharma Realm" refers to the nature of each living being in the Dharma Realm. Do you understand? Previously you thought that the Dharma Realm had a nature, but now you know this is referring to the nature of living beings in the Dharma Realm.
The Tathagatas are made from the mind alone. The original verse from the Avatamsaka Sutra said: If anyone wishes to understand / All Buddhas of the three periods of time, / He should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm; / Everything is made from the mind alone. I changed the second line to say, All people of the three periods of time, and I also changed the last line to The Tathagatas are made from the mind alone. Buddhas are created from the mind. If your mind cultivates the Buddhadharma, you will become a Buddha. If your mind likes the Bodhisattvas, you can practice the Bodhisattva Way and become a Bodhisattva. If your mind wants to fall into the hells, you are bound to fall.