THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds

Chapter One, Part One
A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua_

8. Gandharva Kings

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Gandharva Kings. Specifically, they were: Gandharva King Governing Nations; Gandharva King Light Resembling Trees; Gandharva King Pure Eyes; Gandharva King Floral Crown; Gandharva King Universal Sound; Gandharva King Happily Dancing Splendid Eyes; Gandharva King Lion Banner of Wonderful Sound; Gandharva King Universally Releasing Jeweled Brilliance; Gandharva King Banner of Vajra Trees’ Blossoms; and Gandharva King Joyfully Displaying Ornaments Everywhere. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of gandharvas, and they all deeply believed in and understood the Great Dharma, delighting in it, cherishing it, and diligently and tirelessly cultivating it.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Gandharva Kings. Gandharva is a Sanskrit word that means “searching for fragrance.” They don’t do anything productive. They just wait until people have finished preparing their meals, and then they go to people’s doors to smell the aroma of the food and to make music. Their music causes people to be happy and so people give them something to eat. Therefore, gandharvas are also called “music spirits.” They are also one of the types of spirits who play music for the Jade Emperor. These spirits can play any kind of music and they know how to use all the different musical instruments.

“King” indicates that they were the gandharvas with the most power and authority.

Specifically, they were: Gandharva King Governing Nations. “Governing Nations”—Dhrtarastra—is the name of the Celestial King in the East. He is one of the Four Celestial Kings—the one who protects and maintains his land, enabling all sentient beings to dwell in peace. “Governing Nations” is the king of the musical spirits.

Gandharva King Light Resembling Trees is also a king of the musical spirits, so named because he emits light that resembles a tree.

Gandharva King Pure Eyes has clear, pure eyes. Gandharva King Floral Crown wears a cap made of flowers. Gandharva King Universal Sound makes music that can be heard everywhere throughout the world. Gandharva King Happily Dancing Splendid Eyes likes to rock-and-roll and so he’s called “Happily Dancing.” On the one hand he makes music, and on the other hand he rocks and rolls. “Splendid Eyes”: His eyes are extremely beautiful. Because he rocks and rolls and because he has such magnificent eyes, many people like to listen to his music.

The next Gandharva King was named Lion Banner of Wonderful Sound. His music is exceptionally and exquisitely beautiful. Also present were Gandharva King Universally Releasing Jeweled Brilliance, Gandharva King Banner of Vajra Trees’ Blossoms, and Gandharva King Joyfully Displaying Ornaments Everywhere. He displays pervasive adornments. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of gandharvas. The ten Gandharva Kings just mentioned are the leaders, and the total number of gandharvas is infinite.

And they all deeply believed in and understood the Great Dharma—the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma. They believed in and understood it, delighting in it, cherishing it, and diligently and tirelessly cultivating it. Since their faith was deep, they cherished its importance. Since they cherished and valued the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, they delighted in it and deeply believed in and understood it, and diligently cultivated it without weariness.

Celestial King Governing Nations is in charge of the gandharvas and also in charge of one other division: the pisäcas. Pisäca is a Sanskrit word that translates as “ghost who eats essence and energy.” This kind of ghost is really terrible. It devours people’s essence and energy and also the essence and energy of the five kinds of grains. The reason that the five grains do not have much flavor when people eat them is that the pisäca ghosts have already devoured them. They eat the essence and energy of people and of the five grains in order to sustain their life.

Celestial King Governing Nations watches over the gandharva spirits and the pisaca ghosts and causes them to diligently cultivate without weariness. They diligently cultivate the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, which means they don’t just cultivate for a while and then feel tired and quit.

VI. The Oceanic Multitudes Gather Like Clouds

D. Celestial Beings

1. Celestial Princes of the Moon

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Celestial Princes of the Moon. Specifically, they were: Celestial Prince Moon; Celestial Prince Brilliance from King-of-Flowers-Cowl; Celestial Prince All Manner of Pure and Wonderful Radiance; Celestial Prince Instilling Peace and Joy in the Hearts of the World; Celestial Prince Bright Eyes of the King of Trees; Celestial Prince Manifesting Pure Light; Celestial Prince Universally Roaming Yet Unmoving Light; Celestial Prince Sovereign Constellation King; Celestial Prince Moon of Pure Enlightenment; and Celestial Prince Great Majestic Light. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Celestial Princes of the Moon, and they all diligently illuminated the treasures in the minds of sentient beings.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Celestial Princes of the Moon. Specifically, they were: Celestial Prince Moon; Celestial Prince Brilliance from King-of-Flowers-Cowl; Celestial Prince All Manner of Pure and Wonderful Radiance; Celestial Prince Instilling Peace and Joy in the Hearts of the World, who causes all sentient beings in the world to attain peace of mind.

Celestial Prince Bright Eyes of the King of Trees is also known as Great King of Trees, and his eyes glow. Celestial Prince Manifesting Pure Light causes a clear, pure light to appear throughout the world. Celestial Prince Universally Roaming Yet Unmoving Light roams throughout the worlds of the ten directions, yet does not move from his original place. Celestial Prince Sovereign Constellation King is the king among constellations, and he is free and at ease. Also present was Celestial Prince Moon of Pure Enlightenment. Pure, perfect enlightenment is like the moonlight. And Celestial Prince Great Majestic Light has extremely awesome virtue. These ten princes just mentioned and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Celestial Princes of the Moon, and they all diligently illuminated the treasures in the minds of sentient beings. They were constantly diligent in their cultivation and so were able to bring forth the treasures in the hearts of sentient beings.

The Buddha is like the pure, cool moon in space. Sentient beings who have purified the water of their minds will be able to reflect the moonlight there. And so it is said,

The Buddha is like the pure, cool moon,
Always traveling through space.
When the water of sentient beings’ minds is pure,
Bodhi is reflected within it.
The Buddha is always in the great void, roaming about. No matter who you are, if the water in your mind is pure, the Way of Enlightenment will appear there.

2. Celestial Princes of the Sun

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Celestial Princes of the Sun. Specifically, they were: Celestial Prince Sun; Celestial Prince Bright Flaming Eyes; Celestial Prince Sumeru-Light Awe---Inspiring Banner; Celestial Prince Immaculate Jewel Adornment; Celestial Prince Non-Retreating Courage; Celestial Prince Brilliance from Exquisite Flower Garlands; Celestial Prince Supreme Banner Light; Celestial Prince Jeweled Cowl Universal Light; Celestial Prince Bright Eyes; Celestial Prince Upholding Superior Virtue; and Celestial Prince Universal Radiance. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Celestial Princes of the Sun, and they all cultivated diligently in order to benefit sentient beings and increase their good roots.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Celestial Princes of the Sun.  Specifically, they were: Celestial Prince Sun. There was the Celestial Prince Bright Flaming Eyes. His eyes radiate light, which is why he is called “Bright Flaming Eyes.” Celestial Prince Sumeru-Light Awe-Inspiring Banner has light resembling that of Wonderfully High Mountain. He inspires awe and respect in everyone who sees him.

Celestial Prince Immaculate Jewel Adornment has a jewel called “Immaculate,” which enables him always to be pure. No defilement can taint him.

Celestial Prince Non-Retreating Courage only progresses; he never retreats. Celestial Prince Brilliance from Exquisite Flower Garlands has a wondrous necklace of flowers and also has a kind of light. The next Celestial Prince was named Supreme Banner Light. No one’s light is more spectacular than his. There is another Celestial Prince called Jeweled Cowl Universal Light. Celestial Prince Bright Eyes radiates light from his eyes. Celestial Prince Upholding Superior Virtue is absolutely superior in his virtuous practice. And finally there is Celestial Prince Universal Radiance, who emits a magnificent light everywhere.

These ten and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Celestial Princes of the Sun. There are an extremely great number of Celestial Princes of the Sun, and they all cultivated the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma diligently in order to benefit sentient beings and increase their good roots. They help sentient beings who have not yet planted good roots to plant them. They help sentient beings who have already planted good roots to increase them. They help sentient beings who have already increased their good roots to bring them to maturity. They help sentient beings whose good roots have already matured to attain liberation.

3. Kings of the Heavens of the Thirty-three

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Heavens of the Thirty-three. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Sakra-Indra; Celestial King Universally Praised Full Voice; Celestial King Compassionate Eyes and Precious Cowl; Celestial King Jeweled Light Banner of Renown; Celestial King Inspiring Happiness Cowl; Celestial King Admirable Proper Mindfulness; Celestial King Sumeru Splendid Sound; Celestial King Fulfilling Intentions; Celestial King Delightful Pure Floral Light; Celestial King Eyes of Wisdom; and Celestial King Effortless Light of Awakening. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Heavens of the Thirty-three, and they all diligently initiated great works in all worlds.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Heavens of the Thirty-three. The Heaven of the Thirty-three is also called the Trayastrimsa Heaven. It is located at the summit of Mount Sumeru. The Heaven of the Four Kings is located halfway up Mount Sumeru. Trayastrimsa is Sanskrit and means “thirty-three.” The Trayastrimsa Heaven is basically one heaven, but within it there are eight heavens to the east, eight heavens to the west, eight heavens to the south, and eight heavens to the north. Four times eight makes thirty-two. Add to that the central heaven, and that makes thirty-three heavens, which is why this is called the Heaven of the Thirty-three, or Trayastrimsa.

Why does the text say there was “a countless number of kings from the Heaven of the Thirty-three”? This world is not the only world there is. In the Dharma Realm there are infinitely many worlds; it would be impossible to calculate their number. In this world today with its scientific advances, people have gone on explorations to the South and North Poles, but no matter how much they explore, there will always be more to explore. Even exploring the moon and the stars, they will never be able to completely discover the secrets of heaven and earth. When the secrets of the universe have all been discovered, this world will come to an end. When this world disappears, another world will come into being. One Mount Sumeru, one sun and one moon, and one set of the four continents makes one world. Since the number of Mount Sumerus is infinite and the number of worlds is infinite, the number of Celestial Kings from Heavens of the Thirty-three is also infinite.

The Lord in the Heaven of the Thirty-three was previously a woman. Because she came across a Buddha image whose gold was peeling and flaking off in a dilapidated temple, she resolved to collect enough funds to repair them and convinced thirty-two other women to help. Together they repaired the temple and regilt the image. Due to the merit and virtue she accumulated from renovating the temple, she was reborn in the heavens. Because she had adorned the Buddha image, she became the Lord of the Heaven of the Thirty-three. That is a brief account of the background of this Celestial King.

Specifically, they were: Celestial King Sãkra-devanam Indra. Sakra means “able.” Indra means “ruler.” And in between is the word devanam, which means “of the gods.” Therefore, this god is called “Sakra-devanam Indra” which means “Able Ruler of the Gods.” This is the same god referred to in the Amitabha Sutra as shi ti huan yin and in the Surangama Mantra in the phrase na mo yin tuo la ye. This Celestial King is the Lord of the Trayastrimsa Heaven. All sentient beings everywhere praise Celestial King Universally Praised Full Voice, and the sound of his voice fills heaven and earth. The eyes of Celestial King Compassionate Eyes and Precious Cowl are extremely kind, and he has a jeweled cowl. The name of Celestial King Jeweled Light Banner Renown is known everywhere. Sentient beings are delighted as soon as they see Celestial King Inspiring Happiness Cowl. Everyone has respectful regard for Celestial King Admirable Proper Mindfulness. Celestial King Sumeru Splendid Sound is called Wonderfully High Splendid Sound because the sound of his voice is quite supreme. Celestial King Fulfilling Intentions can bring whatever thoughts sentient beings are having to realization. However, he brings only good thoughts to realization, not evil ones. If you have a bad thought, he will not help you fulfill it. Why not? It’s because all the gods like people to do good and do not like for them to do evil. Celestial King Delightful Pure Floral Light is very compassionate, so whoever sees him becomes very happy. He is as pure and beautiful as a lotus blossom. There is another Celestial King named Celestial King Eyes of Wisdom. His wisdom is as radiant as the light of the sun. And Celestial King Effortless Light of Awakening is able to enlighten all sentient beings.

These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Heavens of the Thirty-three. The Celestial Kings just named are the leaders in this heaven. Their number cannot be counted. And they all diligently initiated great works in all worlds. They are all extremely vigorous. The greatest work is cultivating and studying the Buddhadharma—planting causes for bodhi and reaping the fruit of bodhi. The greatest deed is to become a Buddha.

Why do the gods like people to do good? Lord Sakra sends a heavenly messenger down to the world to check up on everyone to determine whether there are more people doing good or more doing evil. If the number of people doing good in the world is greater, then when the gods battle with the asuras, Lord Sãkra will certainly defeat the asuras. But if the number of evil-doers is greater, the gods will lose to the asuras. That is why the gods exhort people to do good and punish them for doing evil. If there are more good people, the gods’ retinue increases. If there are more evil people, the retinue of the asuras increases. That is why the gods to want all sentient beings to diligently cultivate wholesome merit and virtue, and stop committing evil offenses. Therefore, the Celestial Kings employ their methods for teaching and transforming sentient beings.

4. Kings of the Suyama Heavens

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Suyama Heavens. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Well-Divided Time; Celestial King Charming Light; Celestial King Infinite Wisdom and Banner of Meritorious Virtues; Celestial King Skillful at Transforming and Adorning; Celestial King Great Light of Uniting and Upholding; Celestial King Inconceivable Wisdom; Celestial King Hub-of-the-Wheel; Celestial King Blaze of Light; Celestial King Brightly Shining; and Celestial King Universally Contemplating Those With Great Renown. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Suyama Heavens, and they all diligently cultivated vast, great, good roots, forever happy and content.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Suyama Heavens. There are also infinitely many Suyama Heaven kings. Suyama translates as “well-divided time.” In this heaven, day and night are determined by the opening and closing of lotuses. When the red lotus opens, it is day; when the white lotus opens, it is night. There is no sun or moon. The lotus blossoms mark the distinction between day and night, and for that reason, this heaven is called “well-divided time.”

Specifically, they were: Celestial King Well-Divided Time. One of the gods is named “Well-Divided Time,” which means he is the god Suyama. There was another Celestial King called Charming Light, and another Celestial King called Infinite Wisdom and Banner of Meritorious Virtues. He has infinite wisdom, and his merit and virtue resemble a jeweled banner.  Celestial King Skillful at Transforming and Adorning is skilled at bringing about changes and transformations and also quite capable of adorning. Celestial King Great Light of Uniting and Upholding unites all dharmas and upholds limitless meanings. He also emits magnificent light. Celestial King Inconceivable Wisdom has inconceivable wisdom and an inconceivable state of being.

Students of the Buddhadharma must recognize the Dharma clearly. When you study a Sutra, you must deeply understand the meaning of that Sutra. If you study the Dharma Flower Sutra, you must understand the meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra. If you investigate the Surangama Sutra, you must understand the principles of that Sutra. If you study the Flower Adornment Sutra, you must understand its infinite levels of meaning. Once you understand a Sutra, you will be able to explain it to others. If you can explain a Sutra, then you can apply the methods of that Sutra in your cultivation. Therefore, you cannot just listen to a Sutra and let it go at that, never investigating it any further. You must continually seek to refine and deepen your understanding. Only then can you deeply enter the Sutra Treasury. If you can deeply enter the Sutra Treasury, you can have wisdom like the sea.

Celestial King Hub-of-the-Wheel watches over sentient beings in the six paths of the wheel of rebirth—their births upon births and deaths upon deaths and all such problems.

The light of Celestial King Blaze of Light always has a fiery splendor that shines through darkness. The light of Celestial King Brightly Shining illuminates the entire world. And Celestial King Universally Contemplating Those With Great Renown regards all the world’s beings to see which ones have great renown, which ones are extremely kind and good, which ones are excellent cultivators, which ones have the most moral virtue, and which ones are the most filial to their parents. That is because filial people will have great renown, as will people of moral virtue and people who cultivate. People will revere them. Therefore, this Celestial King looks to see which people in the world have the most renown.

These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Suyama Heavens. All the Celestial Kings just mentioned are the leaders. The number of Celestial Kings is infinite. And they all diligently cultivated vast, great, good roots, forever happy and content. These Celestial Kings are extremely vigorous, and sincere. They nurture their good roots and cultivate blessings and wisdom. They are always happy and content; they never worry. Since they know how to be content, they are happy. Since they are happy, they are content. They are never dissatisfied. Since they are satisfied, they are always delighted. Since they are patient, they are at peac

5. Kings of the Tusita Heavens

Sutra:

Moreover, there was an inconceivable number of Kings of the Tusita Heavens. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Contentment; Celestial King Happiness Like an Ocean and a Cowl; Celestial King Banner of Supreme Merit and Virtue; Celestial King Quiescent Light; Celestial King Wonderfully Adorable Eyes; Celestial King Pure Moon at Jeweled Peak; Celestial King Supreme Courageous Strength; Celestial King Vajra Wonderful Brightness; Celestial King Star-Adorned Banner; and Celestial King Adorable and Adorned. These and others acted as leaders of an inconceivable number of Kings of the Tusita Heavens, and they were all diligently mindful of the names of all Buddhas.

Commentary:

Moreover, there was an inconceivable number of Kings of the Tusita Heavens. There were also boundlessly, infinitely many Celestial Kings of Tusita Heavens. Tusita is a Sanskrit word that means “contentment.” This heaven is so named because Maitreya Bodhisattva cultivated the Compassionate Heart Samadhi and attained eternal happiness and contentment. Thereupon he created a heaven known as the Heaven of Contentment. The beings there are perpetually content. To be content is to be without greed. A greedy person cannot be content: No matter how much you have, you never feel it is enough. When you become content, you say, “I have enough!” and are no longer greedy. Therefore, contentment is the lack of greed. Without greed, there are no afflictions. Without afflictions, you are happy at all times. Therefore, the Celestial Kings of the Tusita Heaven are always blissful.

Specifically, they were: Celestial King Contentment, who is always happy. The happiness of Celestial King Happiness Like an Ocean and a Cowl is like a vast ocean and also like a precious cowl. The merit and virtue of Celestial King Banner of Supreme Merit and Virtue are exceptionally lofty, resembling a jeweled banner. Another Celestial King is called Celestial King Quiescent Light. His light is absolutely quiet. It doesn’t make a sound. It’s not like our electric lights that hum and buzz all the time. Our electric lights would be named “Noisy Light.” With quiescent light there is light, all right, but there is no sound at all. The eyes of Celestial King Wonderfully Adorable Eyes are extremely beautiful. Anyone who sees his eyes, even another god, adores them.

Celestial King Pure Moon at Jeweled Peak resembles a jeweled mountain peak and also the clear, pure moonlight. Celestial King Supreme Courageous Strength is exceptionally superior. His strength is extraordinary. When he battles with the asuras he always defeats them. Celestial King Vajra Wonderful Brightness is named Vajra, because he is very brave. He also emits a wondrous light. Celestial King Star-Adorned Banner uses the stars and the twenty-eight constellations as his adornments. He is like a jeweled banner. And there was Celestial King Adorable and Adorned, whom all people and all sentient beings like. He is also beautifully adorned. These and others acted as leaders of an inconceivable number of Kings of the Tuçita Heavens. These ten Celestial Kings just named are the leaders. The total number of other Celestial Kings cannot be conceived or expressed—it is so great. And they were all diligently mindful of the names of all Buddhas. They are always diligent, never lazy. They are mindful of the Buddhas and uphold their names. They keep in mind all the names of all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time—the Buddhas of the past, present, and future. With ever-increasing diligence, they uphold the Buddhas’ names without forgetting them.

In a few days we will be holding a Buddha-recitation session, which is a very rare event. Buddhists should participate in such sessions with the resolve to attain some spiritual skill in this specific period of time—perhaps resolving to attain the Buddha-recitation Samadhi, or to see light or flowers and thereby have their karmic obstacles eradicated. It is not at all easy to have the chance to attend a Buddha-recitation session. As you can see, the Celestial Kings also are mindful of the Buddhas. If we in the human realm are not mindful of the Buddhas, won’t we end up falling even lower? All of you have a very rare opportunity now to participate in this Buddha-recitation session and be courageously vigorous during those seven days. I hope that no Buddhist will miss this chance.

6. Kings of the Heavens of Bliss from Transformations

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Heavens of Bliss from Transformations. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Skilled at Transformations; Celestial King Silent Radiance; Celestial King Illumination of Powerful Transformations; Celestial King Lord of Adornment; Celestial King Light of Mindfulness; Celestial King Soaring Thundercloud; Celestial King Supreme Light Among the Multitudes of Wonders; Celestial King Wonderful Cowl Light; Celestial King Accomplishing Joyful Wisdom; Celestial King Flower Light Cowl; and Celestial King Universally Viewing the Ten Directions. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Heavens of Bliss from Transformations, and they all diligently tamed all sentient beings, causing them to attain liberation.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Heavens of Bliss from Transformations [Nirmana-rati]. There were also innumerable Celestial Kings who bring about changes that cause bliss to come into being.

Specifically, they were: Celestial King Skilled at Transformations, who is good at transforming. He transform-ationally creates the seven treasures to adorn his palace, and also conjures up all kinds of lotuses. His transformations delight all sentient beings. Celestial King Silent Radiance is virtually silent, and yet has a radiance about him. Celestial King Illumination of Powerful Transformations has inconceivable strength as well as light. Celestial King Lord of Adornment adorns all the palaces and all the gods. Celestial King Light of Mindfulness always recites the Buddha’s name and emits light from his mouth. There is another Celestial King called Soaring Thundercloud. The inconceivable state of Celestial King Supreme Light Among the Multitudes of Wonders is extremely sublime, and he also emits light. The exquisite jeweled cowl of Celestial King Wonderful Cowl Light shines continually. Celestial King Accomplishing Joyful Wisdom has achieved a joyful kind of wisdom. Celestial King Flower Light Cowl has a lotus flower light that resembles a jeweled cowl. And Celestial King Universally Viewing the Ten Directions can see all worlds throughout the ten directions from right where he is sitting.

These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Transformation of Bliss Heavens. These ten kings of the Heaven of Transformation of Bliss were the leaders, but besides them, there were countless others. And they all diligently tamed all sentient beings, causing them to attain liberation. They are very vigorous in subduing beings, causing them to behave themselves and not violate the moral precepts. They cause all beings to attain Dharma doors to liberation, so that they no longer dwell among the three poisons.

7. Kings of the Heavens of Mastery Over Others’ Transformations

Sutra:

Moreover, there were innumerable Kings of the Heavens of Mastery Over Others’ Transformations. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Attainment of Self-Mastery; Celestial King Lord Wondrous Eyes; Celestial King Wonderful Banner-like Crown; Celestial King Courageous Wisdom; Celestial King Phrases of Sublime Sounds; Celestial King Banner of Splendid Light; Celestial King Gate to the Realm of Quiescence; Celestial King Banner Embellished with Wonderful Wheels; Celestial King Ease and Comfort of Flower-Bud Wisdom; and Celestial King Power of Indra’s Wonderfully Adorned Brightness. These and others acted as leaders of innumerable Kings of the Heavens of Mastery Over Others’ Transformations, and they all diligently cultivated the vast, great Dharma door of unconstrained skillful means.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were innumerable Kings of the Heavens of Mastery Over Others’ Transformations [Paranirmitavävartin]. They are able to transform the bliss enjoyed by other gods into their own, and so they attain great freedom and ease. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Attainment of Self-Mastery, who has attained ease and comfort. Celestial King Lord Wondrous Eyes has extremely beautiful eyes. The headdress of Celestial King Wonderful Banner-like Crown is very beautiful. The wisdom of Celestial King Courageous Wisdom is fierce and brave. Celestial King Phrases of Sublime Sounds emits wonderful sounds and speaks wonderful words. Celestial King Banner of Splendid Light emits light resembling a jeweled banner. Celestial King Gate to the Realm of Quiescence remains unmoved no matter what situation he encounters. Quiescent means unmoving. Celestial King Banner Embellished with Wonderful Wheels is subtly wondrous and inconceivable, adorned like a splendid banner. Celestial King Ease and Comfort of Flower-Bud Wisdom. When a lotus is about to bloom but hasn’t opened yet, that’s a bud. This Celestial King has wisdom, and enjoys ease and comfort. Why does he enjoy ease and comfort? Because he has wisdom. If he didn’t have wisdom, he wouldn’t enjoy ease and comfort. And Celestial King Power of Indra’s Wonderfully Adorned Brightness. Indra is another name for Sakra, Lord God. Since this Celestial King is endowed with the power of Indra, he possesses the wonderfully adorned brightness of great wisdom.

These and others acted as leaders of innumerable Kings of the Heavens of Mastery Over Others’ Transformations. Those ten Celestial Kings are the leaders of all the Celestial Kings from the Heavens of Mastery Over Others’ Transformations, which are infinite in number. And they all diligently cultivated the vast, great Dharma door of unconstrained skillful means. Being unconstrained, they can practice skillful means. Through practicing skillful means, they attain freedom and ease.

8. Kings of the Great  Brahma Heavens

Sutra:

Moreover, there were uncountable Kings of the Great Brahma Heavens. Specifically, they were: Celestial King ãikhin; Celestial King Wisdom Light; Celestial King Light of Wholesome Wisdom; Celestial King Universal Cloud Sound; Celestial King Freely Contemplating the Sounds and Speech in the World; Celestial King Still and Quiet Bright Eyes; Celestial King Light Pervading the Ten Directions; Celestial King Transforming Sounds; Celestial King Dazzling Eyes; and Celestial King Pleasing, Ocean-like Sounds. These and others acted as leaders of uncountable Kings of the Great Brahma Heavens, and out of great kindness they sympathized with all sentient beings, universally shining light, delighting them all.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were uncountable Kings of the Great Brahma [Mahabrahma] Heavens. Brahma means “pure and clean.” The kings in this heaven are very comfortable. Specifically, they were: Celestial King ãikhin. The Sanskrit name Sikhin means “Upholding a Cowl.” Since this Great Brahma Heaven King cultivates pure practices, he has a flesh cowl on the top of his head. He feels very comfortable and at ease. He has three eyes and four arms, and looks like a pure youth—a child. Dressed in golden-hued clothing, his body is the color of silver. He feels very free and at ease. His name is also translated as “Conch Cowl” because his flesh cowl resembles a jeweled conch.

Celestial King Wisdom Light has radiant wisdom. Celestial King Light of Wholesome Wisdom has the radiance of skillful wisdom. Celestial King Universal Cloud Sound issues the sounds of cloud and thunder everywhere. Celestial King Freely Contemplating the Sounds and Speech in the World observes the languages and sounds of those in the world and remains free and at ease. Without leaving his place, he contemplates the sounds and language of beings in the world.

Since Celestial King Still and Quiet Bright Eyes likes to cultivate chan samadhi, he has these tranquil, bright eyes. The light of Celestial King Light Pervading the Ten Directions shines throughout the worlds of the ten directions. Celestial King Transforming Sounds is able to create and transform all kinds of sounds. When sentient beings hear those sounds, they are happy. The light of Celestial King Dazzling Eyes sparkles and shines. He enables beings to attain this light and become joyous. And the sounds of Celestial King Pleasing, Ocean-like Sounds evoke great joy in sentient beings.

These Celestial Kings just mentioned and others acted as leaders of uncountable Kings of the Great Brahma Heavens. The kings of the Great Brahma Heavens are infinitely many. And out of great kindness they sympathized with all sentient beings, universally shining light, illumining all those who are ready to be saved, delighting them all. They were sympathetic towards sentient beings who are immersed in extreme suffering, and wished to save them. How did they save sentient beings? They caused sentient beings to be filled with the joy of Dharma and to take Dhyana-bliss as their food.

9. Kings of the Voices-of-Light Heavens

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Voices-of-Light Heavens. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Winsome Light; Celestial King Pure and Exquisite Light; Celestial King Comfortable Sound; Celestial King Wisdom of Supreme Intent; Celestial King Pleasing, Pure, and Wonderful Sounds; Celestial King Sound of Wholesome Reflection; Celestial King Universal Sound Pervasively Shining; Celestial King Most Profound Voice of Light; Celestial King Brightness of Immaculate Renown; and Celestial King Supreme Pure Light. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Voices-of-Light Heavens, and they all abided in the unobstructed Dharma of vast, great, quiescent joy.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Voices-of-Light  [Àbhasvara] Heavens. The gods in the Voices-of-Light Heaven use light as their language. They don’t speak, since they do not have language in the usual sense. They don’t have random thoughts either. They communicate by sending forth rays of light. Their light conveys various kinds of speech and words. And when they see the light, they understand what is being said.

Specifically, they were: Celestial King Winsome Light. All sentient beings adore this Celestial King since he shines his light upon them and makes them happy. Celestial King Pure and Exquisite Light has a pure and clear light, and when sentient beings attain this wonderful light, they also become pure and increase their wisdom day by day. Celestial King Comfortable Sound uses his comforting sound to bestow comfort and ease upon sentient beings. Celestial King Wisdom of Supreme Intent has the most supreme and perfect intent, enabling sentient beings to produce the wisdom of being mindful of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Without wisdom, one could not be mindful of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. But now since there is wisdom, one can produce the wisdom of being mindful of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The  Celestial King Pleasing, Pure, and Wonderful Sounds uses his sounds to delight sentient beings and free them from affliction. His mind and body are pure. His pure and wondrous sounds inspire sentient beings to bring forth the resolve for bodhi and produce the wisdom of enlightenment. Celestial King Sound of Wholesome Reflection causes all sentient beings to engage in wholesome reflection, which means reflecting on what is good, not on what is bad. One reflects on all kinds of wholesome Dharma doors. The wonderful sound of Celestial King Universal Sound Pervasively Shining universally shines upon sentient beings, causing them to attain light. Celestial King Most Profound Voice of Light deeply cherishes and protects all sentient beings, enabling them to attain most profound voices of light. Celestial King Brightness of Immaculate Renown shines his immaculate, undefiled light everywhere, so that each sentient being receives just the right amount of light. And the pure, clear light of Celestial King Supreme Pure Light is most sublime.

These ten aforementioned Celestial Kings and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Voices-of-Light Heavens, and they all abided in the unobstructed Dharma of vast, great, quiescent joy. Since this Dharma door is vast and great, it is unobstructed. Because there is joy, one attains quiescence, which is a kind of samadhi. “Vast and great” refers to scatteredness. But whether one is scattered or concentrated, one is in samadhi. One does not renounce movement in favor of stillness, and so one’s state is vast and great. One does not become attached to the pleasurable feeling of Chan, and so one’s Dharma door is unobstructed. One abides in this state of nonobstruction.

10. Kings of the Heavens of Pervasive Purity

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Heavens of Pervasive Purity. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Pure Renown; Celestial King Supreme Views; Celestial King Serene Virtue; Celestial King Sumeru Sound; Celestial King Eye of Pure Mindfulness; Celestial King Delightful, Sublime Illumination; Celestial King Sovereign World Ruler; Celestial King Comfortable Blazing Light; Celestial King Joyful Contemplation of the Transformations of Dharmas; Celestial King Transformation Banner; and Celestial King Wondrous Adornment of the Sounds of Constellations. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Heavens of Pervasive Purity, and they all dwelt peacefully in vast, great Dharmas and diligently benefited beings in all worlds.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Heavens of Pervasive Purity [Subhakrtsna].  Whereas in the previous section, the Celestial Kings still have voices of light and need to communicate by means of light, the present set of kings of the Heaven of Pervasive Purity do not need any of that.

Specifically, they were: Celestial King Pure Renown. He has already obtained pure wisdom and is no longer deluded. He has seen through and let go of defiled dharmas, and he enjoys a far-reaching reputation. Celestial King Supreme Views. Supreme can also mean “victorious.” The views of this Celestial King are the most intelligent, so he does not harbor wrong knowledge and views. He has only right knowledge and views. Wrong knowledge and views involve looking exclusively at others’ faults. Right knowledge and views consist of looking at your own faults. If you are always looking at others’ faults, you have wrong knowledge and views. If you look at your own faults, you have right knowledge and views. This Celestial King has transcended the issues of right and wrong between himself and others, and so is endowed with supreme views.

Celestial King Serene Virtue. “Serene” refers to samadhi. He has the virtue of samadhi—pure concentration. Being serene means not being noisy, not stirring up a ruckus. He quietly carries out his work without people noticing—that’s “serene virtue.” As the saying goes,

Good that is done hoping others will notice is not true good.
Evil you fear others will find out about is great evil.

True goodness is seldom seen by people; it’s not necessary for people to see or know about it. On the other hand, if you do evil and are afraid that others will find out, then that is great evil. Therefore, cultivators of the Way who truly understand the meaning of serene virtue will not apply effort for fame and profit. If you keep away from fame and profit, you will obtain serene virtue.

Sumeru means “Wonderfully High,” and so the sound of Celestial King Sumeru Sound is extremely wonderful and high. Sentient beings can easily hear his Dharma sound.

Having opened the Five Eyes, Celestial King Eye of Pure Mindfulness looks only at pure dharmas, not defiled dharmas. Therefore, those who have opened their Five Eyes should not look at other people’s mistakes. You shouldn’t think, “Well, I’ll check to see if so-and-so is stealing things.” You try to take a look, but you cannot see clearly. Why not? Because your motive is impure. Why would you want to see if they are stealing or not? Or, you may think, “I want to check and see if so-and-so has killed anybody.” That’s also an impure thought, and you won’t be able to see clearly. Or, you may think, “I want to see if so-and-so has lustful thoughts… Ah, yes, he has very strong thoughts of lust. In fact, he indulges in lustful thoughts from morning to night. I see so-and-so being involved with this man, or with that woman….” Actually, all of that is false and impure. If you weren’t impure, why would you bother to look into such things? Those are cases of not having obtained the eye of pure mindfulness. With the eye of pure mindfulness, you contemplate right dharmas, not wrong dharmas. You should recognize true things, not fake things. “I wonder if he is drinking? Ah, brandy, whiskey—over a hundred bottles!” That’s a false vision. Don’t think that everything you see is real. If you are intent on acting falsely and looking at improper things, you will enter a trap, and eventually you yourself might end up drinking. That’s the demons’ power of temptation. The demons want you to be impure. The eye of pure mindfulness contemplates only what is pure, so that the mind and eyes are both pure.

When people are illumined by the light of Celestial King Delightful, Sublime Illumination they experience pure delight. Celestial King Sovereign World Ruler causes sentient beings throughout the world to obtain self-mastery and peace. The light of Celestial King Comfortable Blazing Light is blazing and resembles flames, yet it is very comfortable, clear and cool. Celestial King Joyful Contemplation of the Transformations of Dharmas enjoys reflecting on dharmas and on how he can bring about dharmas through the process of transformation. He may think, “If I cultivate the Dharma of the wish-fulfilling pearl, I can bring about anything I wish. I can conjure up whatever I want.” The Wish-fulfilling Pearl Hand-and-Eye can bring about infinitely many miraculous changes and transformations. If you ask it to conjure up a god, it will create a god by transformation. If you ask it to conjure up an asura, the wish-fulfilling pearl will create an asura by transformation. If you want it to create a person, it will. The pearl can create any sentient being among the six paths of rebirth and the Ten Dharma Realms. It is infinitely esoteric and wonderful. This Celestial King reflects upon the wonders of these dharmas from morning to night. “Ah, this dharma is really fine…it’s inconceivable…” He enters the samadhi of delighting in the consideration of dharmas to the point that although he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t feel hungry; although he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t feel thirsty; and although he doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t feel tired. He revels in this samadhi, taking it as his food and drink. Celestial King Transformation Banner can create various kinds of jeweled banners by means of transformation. And there was Celestial King Wondrous Adornment of the Sounds of Constellations. The stars and the twenty-eight constellations emit sounds. This Celestial King has this very splendid adornment.

These ten Celestial Kings and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Heavens of Pervasive Purity, and they all dwelt peacefully in vast, great, unobstructed Dharmas that pervade space and the Dharma Realm and diligently benefited beings in all worlds at all times.

Every night we have been bowing the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas. The power of this Repentance is inconceivable, because the ten thousand Buddhas all come to support you and fulfill all of your wishes. If you seek great wisdom, you will attain great wisdom. If you seek to get rid of your offenses, your offense-karma will be eradicated. If you wish to increase your good roots, it will help your good roots to grow. The Repentance itself does not make your good roots grow; rather, all Buddhas of the ten directions come to aid you, dispelling all illnesses and offenses. Therefore, this Repentance is very important. The Buddhas of the past bowed the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas, the Buddhas of the present bow it, and the Buddhas of the future will all realize Buddhahood through bowing this Repentance. The Venerable Master Hsu Yun himself also bowed this repentance.

Once I met a person from Fujian Province who had a very grave heart condition. He bowed to the Flower Adornment Sutra,  bowing to every single word of the Sutra, totaling over a thousand bows each day. And imperceptibly, his heart trouble disappeared. Therefore, if you are very sincere and earnest in cultivating the Buddhadharma, you will obtain a response.

11. Kings of the Heavens of Vast Fruition

Sutra:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Heavens of Vast Fruition. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Bright Banner of Delight in the Dharma; Celestial King Ocean of Pure Adornments; Celestial King Supreme Wisdom-Light; Celestial King Banner of Carefree Wisdom; Celestial King Delight in Still Quiescence; Celestial King Universal Wisdom Eye; Celestial King Delight in Revolving Wisdom; Celestial King Adept at Nurturing Wisdom Light; Celestial King Immaculately Still and Serene Light; and Celestial King Vast, Pure Brightness. These and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Heavens of Vast Fruition, and none of them failed to regard the Dharma of quiescence as their palace, and to dwell peacefully therein.

Commentary:

Moreover, there were countless Kings of the Heavens of Vast Fruition [Brhatphala]. These heavens are explained in detail in the Earth Store Sutra. You can refer to that sutra for a detailed discussion. In studying the Buddhadharma, if you don’t understand one sutra you can refer to another Sutra for clarification.

Specifically, they were: Celestial King Bright Banner of Delight in the Dharma, who likes the Dharma more than anything else. His banner constantly emits light. Celestial King Ocean of Pure Adornments is adorned with pure light that is oceanic in extent. The wisdom of Celestial King Supreme Wisdom-Light is supreme and gives off light. The wisdom of Celestial King Banner of Carefree Wisdom is like a jeweled banner, very free and at ease. Celestial King Delight in Still Quiescence is fond of being quiet. He likes to enter dhyana samadhi. Celestial King Universal Wisdom Eye illumines the entire world with his wisdom-eye. Celestial King Delight in Revolving Wisdom always turns his light around to shine within and discover his inherent wisdom. Celestial King Adept at Nurturing Wisdom Light is skilled at planting seeds of the light of bodhi-wisdom. Celestial King Immaculately Still and Serene Light is undefiled and constantly abides in the quiescent light of samadhi. And Celestial King Vast, Pure Brightness has profuse, pure light.

These ten Celestial Kings and others acted as leaders of a countless number of Kings of the Heavens of Vast Fruition, and none of them failed to regard the Dharma of quiescence as their palace, and to dwell peacefully therein. The Dharma of quiescence is beyond speech and beyond thoughts. The Celestial Kings take this Dharma as their home and dwell within it as if dwelling in their palaces.

12. Kings of the Heavens of Great Self-Mastery

Sutra:

Moreover, there were innumerable Kings of the Heavens of Great Self-Mastery. Specifically, they were: Celestial King Ocean of Wondrous Flames; Celestial King Radiant Freedom and Renown; Celestial King Eyes of Pure Merit and Virtue; Celestial King Delightful Great Wisdom; Celestial King Comfortable Unmoving Light; Celestial King Eyes of Wondrous Adornment; Celestial King Brilliance Derived from Wholesome Reflection; Celestial King Delightful Great Knowledge; Celestial King Glorious Banner of Universal Sounds; and Celestial King Renowned for Utmost Vigor. These and others acted as leaders of an inestimable number of Kings of the Heavens of Great Self-Mastery, and they all diligently contemplated the Dharma of marklessness, and were impartial in their practices.

Commentary:

The kings of the Heavens of Vast Fruition take the Dharma of quiescence as their palace, dwelling within that Dharma. This means their minds do not seek outside, but instead abide within still quiescence. Moreover, there were innumerable Kings of the Heavens of Great Self-Mastery [Mahesvara]. The king of this heaven has three eyes and eight arms, and in each of his hands he carries a Dharma-jewel that can produce infinite changes and transformations. The king rides on his great white ox, carrying a whisk in his hand, and looks down on everyone. He feels that he is more lofty and free than anyone else. He looks down on all the kings of other heavens. Thus, he is called the King of Great Self-Mastery. There are infinite instances of such kings.

Specifically, they were: Celestial King Ocean of Wondrous Flames. The flaming light he puts forth is inconceivable, boundless and limitless like the ocean. Celestial King Radiant Freedom and Renown, comfortable and at ease, has a well-known reputation, and his light shines pervasively. Celestial King Eyes of Pure Merit and Virtue cultivates pure practices and thus obtains eyes of merit and virtue, which surpass the eyes of other Celestial Kings by a million times. There was another Celestial King by the name Delightful Great Wisdom. Forever abiding in samadhi, Celestial King Comfortable Unmoving Light always contemplates at ease. Adorned with wonderful eyes, Celestial King Eyes of Wondrous Adornment is replete with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes. He also adorns his wondrous eyes, hence his name. Not engaging in false thinking, Celestial King Brilliance Derived from Wholesome Reflection reflects only on bright light. Celestial King Delightful Great Knowledge has great prajña wisdom. The sound of Celestial King Glorious Banner of Universal Sounds is heard everywhere, like a splendid jeweled banner. And Celestial King Renowned for Utmost Vigor is most vigorous, and his renown is far-reaching.

These ten Celestial Kings just mentioned and others acted as leaders of an inestimable number of Kings of the Heavens of Great Self-Mastery. The ones who were not mentioned by name are infinitely many in number. And they all diligently contemplated the Dharma of marklessness. At all times they contemplate marklessness wherein both people and dharmas are empty. If you have not realized the emptiness of people, there is still a mark; if you have not seen dharmas as empty, there is still a mark. To have no marks means to have no mark of self, no mark of others, no mark of sentient beings, and no mark of life spans. They contemplated, reflected upon, and cultivated the Dharma of marklessness. When there is no mark of a self, the attachment to self is empty. When there is no mark of others, the attachment to others is empty. With no mark of sentient beings, the attachment to sentient beings is empty. With no mark of life spans, the attachment to life spans is also empty.

And they were impartial in their practices. Since there are no marks, there can’t possibly be any contention between self and others. And when there is no mutual contention, then everything each one practices is the impartial Dharma. There are no more views of self or others, or views of right or wrong. Such practice is level and equal.

We have discussed the heavens of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Dhyanas. The kings in all those heavens are great beings making provisional appearances. Theirs are the states of Bodhisattvas, which are not easy for ordinary people to fathom or understand. The Heaven of Vast Fruition and the Heaven of Great Self-Mastery are where Seventh and Eighth Ground Bodhisattvas dwell. That is why those Celestial Kings are able to practice impartially to benefit the world. Each Celestial King has his own virtuous conduct and cultivation.

This section of text is called “Indicating the numbers and extolling the virtues.” The text states the numbers of beings from the various heavens and praises their virtuous conduct. A detailed explanation would reveal that the wondrous functioning of every single Celestial King’s spiritual powers is inconceivable. Right now, the text only mentions some of the more important virtues. Basically, the wondrous functionings of the Celestial Kings’ spiritual powers are mutually inclusive. However, based on the essential quality of each king’s method of cultivation or virtuous conduct, they have been given their names.

The Dharma of being impartial means having no greed, anger, or delusion. One transforms greed, anger, and delusion into precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. This is known as:

Diligently cultivating precepts, samadhi, and wisdom;
Putting to rest greed, anger, and delusion.

People may listen to the explanation of many Sutras, and yet still forget these essential Dharmas. One forgets to ask oneself, “Do I have any greed, anger, or delusion?” If you still have greed, you should counteract it. What method should you use? Use giving, because giving counteracts stinginess and greed. Take a look and see if you have any anger. If you do, counteract it with compassion. Reflect upon yourself again and ask if you are deluded. If you are, use prajña to counteract delusion. Prajña transforms delusion. If you can counteract the three poisons, then you reach impartiality.

Now someone asks, “Does being impartial mean we should have an equal amount of greed and giving? For example, should we have as many thoughts of giving as we have thoughts of greed, and in that way make them level each other out? Is that how it works? We make greed and giving equal, anger and compassion equal, and delusion and prajña equal, because right now they are unbalanced?”

That kind of impartiality becomes half yin and half yang. If, on the other hand, you are entirely yang, then your impartiality is yang. Therefore, you should not keep the greed, anger, and delusion. It is far better to change them into precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.

[Note: This concludes an explanation of the forty groups that assembled at the bodhimanda. There are 410 representatives in all. The volumes that follow will discuss the causes and conditions and Dharma doors of past cultivation.]

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