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 * 21 * 22 * 23
24 * 25 * 26 * 27 * 28 * 29 * 30 * 31 * 32 * 33 * 34 * 35 * 36 * 37 * 38 * 39 * 40 * contents * previous * next

The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds

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

5) Heavens of the Thirty-three

Sutra:

Moreover, Celestial King Sãkra-Indra gained a passage into liberation of experiencing great happiness of recollecting the appearance of Buddhas of the three periods and clearly seeing everything including the formation and decay of their lands.

Commentary:


Moreover, the text will now elaborate upon the principles brought up previously that have not been fully discussed. Celestial King Sãkra-Indra is Sãkro-devanam Indra. Sãkra means “Able” and Indra means “Celestial Lord.” Therefore he is “Able to be Celestial Lord.” He gained a passage into liberation of experiencing great happiness of recollecting the appearance of Buddhas of the three periods of time in a single thought, so that a single thought is replete with the three periods of time, and clearly seeing everything including the formation and decay of their lands. He can in a single thought recall how the Buddhas of the past appeared in the world, and how their lands went through the stages of formation and decay. He is able to see all of this distinctly, not only for Buddhas of the past, but also for Buddhas of the present and future. Since he is able to see all of this clearly and understand these states, he is extremely happy. He obtained this passage into liberation.

Basically, we have discussed Sakra, “Able to Be Celestial Lord” many times, and I do not wish to repeat my explanation again at this time. However, a couple of people are wondering, “What’s meant by ‘Able to Be Celestial Lord’? What’s meant by ‘Unable to Be Celestial Lord’?” They are having many doubts. Therefore, I will tell you very briefly the story behind “Able to Be Celestial Lord.” Those who have heard this explained before can listen to it one more time. Those who have not should pay special attention.

Most people know him as Heavenly Lord, or Lord God, but they do not realize how he became Lord God, and so they claim, “Lord God is the one and only true God. He is almighty, ultimate, and perfect.” However, those are claims made by human beings. Lord God did not take you by the ear and tell you, “I am Lord God. I am the true God, the ultimate Lord, the perfect spirit.” He wouldn’t do that. Not to mention Lord God, even people who have high status, wisdom, and knowledge will not toot their own horns, introducing themselves in this way: “Do you know who I am? I am a great Professor.” Even if he were a great professor, he would not say he was one. By the same token, why would the true God proclaim that he is the true God? For example, a Dharma Master would not introduce himself by saying, “I am great Dharma Master so-and-so, and all the others are little Dharma Masters.” He would not be that conceited. Even people would not be that smug, so how could an intelligent god or spirit be so full of himself? Therefore, those claims came from the imaginings of people. They said, “This is the true God, the ultimate God, the perfect God.” Actually, those were just words of flattery, spoken by those who knew no shame and didn’t take good stock of themselves.

Now we are discussing this true God. Countlessly many eons ago—it’s not known how long ago—this god was a poor, unmarried woman. One time, she came upon a broken-down temple. Nobody had taken the initiative to repair it. She said to herself, “The roof of this temple has caved in, and I must repair it. Otherwise, the Buddha images will be ruined by the rain, and that would not be right.” Thereupon she rounded up her friends so they could repair the roof of the temple together. How many friends did she manage to round up? Thirty-two women.  Then, including herself, these thirty-three women pooled their savings and repaired the roof, so that the Buddha images would no longer be exposed to the winds and the rain. Having completed their work, they became the lords of thirty-three heavens. The leader of the group became the lord of the central heaven overseeing thirty-two other heavens: eight in the east, eight in the west, eight in the south, and eight in the north. The other thirty-two women each became the lord of one of those thirty-two heavens. Well, is that all the Celestial Kings there are? No, there are many heavens and many Celestial Kings. But, the specific Heavenly Lord Sãkra under discussion was formerly a woman who had led thirty-two other women in repairing a temple. People who do not know the past causes and conditions of Lord Sãkra talk nonsense, insisting that he is the one and only God who existed right from the start. Why do they make such a claim? It’s because they are only aware of the events that have happened in recent decades. They have no idea of events that occurred hundreds or thousands or millions of years in the past. And since they do not know, they create their own theory of a true god, an ultimate god, a perfect god. Since nobody contested their claim or took the case to court, the mistake has been perpetuated up to the present time. Everyone should deeply understand this principle.

Sutra:

Celestial King Universally Praised Full Voice gained a passage into liberation of being able to realize how the Buddha’s physical body comes to be the most pure, vast, and peerless in the world.

Commentary:

Having heard the story told just now, someone again has doubts and is thinking, “I don’t agree with that theory.” If you don’t agree, you can study deluded theories, if you wish. There’s no problem.

The next Celestial King is named Universally Praised Full Voice. His sound is praised for filling the Dharma Realm. He gained a passage into liberation of being able to realize how the Buddha’s physical body comes to be the most pure, vast, great, and peerless in the world. Each Buddha has three kinds of bodies: a Dharma body, a reward body, and transformation bodies. His reward body is his physical body, which is the most pure and undefiled, unlike the physical bodies of ordinary people, which are defiled and unclean. Each Buddha’s physical body is replete with Thirty-two Hallmarks and Eighty Subtle Characteristics. Every mark and characteristic is pure, vast, and great. A Buddha’s reward body appears in countless worlds to teach and transform sentient beings, and it is peerless in the world. In the world, a wheel-turning sage king is endowed with the most characteristics of virtue, yet he only possesses thirty hallmarks and so cannot compare with a Buddha. No one in the world, albeit honored and noble, can rival the light and hallmarks of a Buddha. Celestial King Universally Praised Full Voice attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Celestial King Compassionate Eyes and Precious Cowl gained a passage into liberation of having cloud of kindness cover all.

Commentary:

The Celestial King named Compassionate Eyes and Precious Cowl always regards sentient beings with compassionate eyes. His eyes release a light-cloud of kindness, and on his head is a jeweled cowl, which is replete with many jewels constantly flowing forth. He forever bestows the many jewels upon sentient beings. He has understood as aspect of the Buddha’s state and gained a passage into liberation of having a cloud of kindness cover all. This is an analogy. He is like a cloud of kindness that spreads out over sentient beings, causing them to bring forth a mind of compassion so they will not kill; a mind of giving so they will not steal; a mind of holding precepts so they will not engage in lust; a mind of patience so they will not be stubborn and obstinate; a mind of vigor so they will not be lazy; a mind of dhyana-samadhi so they will not be scattered; and a mind of prajña wisdom so they will not be stupid. This cloud of kindness spreads out everywhere over sentient beings, enabling them to cross from this shore of birth and death over to the other shore of nirvana. This Celestial King attained this passage into liberation and understood this aspect of the Buddha’s state.

Sutra:

Celestial King Jeweled Light Banner of Renown gained a passage into liberation of constantly seeing the Buddhas and manifesting awe-inspiring bodies of various shapes and forms before all rulers of the worlds.

Commentary:


Celestial King Jeweled Light Banner of Renown gained a passage into liberation of constantly seeing the Buddhas and manifesting awe-inspiring bodies of various shapes and forms before all rulers of the worlds, kings and so forth. Before world rulers, the Buddha appears in various forms. His majestic presence inspires awe, and his virtue inspires respect. That is the state of liberation attained by this Celestial King.

Sutra:

Celestial King Inspiring Happiness Cowl gained a passage into liberation of knowing the karma of blessings that produces the cities, villages, and palaces of all sentient beings.

Commentary:

Celestial King Inspiring Happiness Cowl gained a passage into liberation of knowing the karma of blessings that produces the cities, villages, and palaces of all sentient beings. This Celestial King knows why certain sentient beings have wealth such as palaces, cities, and villages. He knows where those rewards of blessings come from. If you can diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom and extinguish greed, anger, and delusion, you will achieve the reward of cities, villages, and palaces. However, if you exclusively commit offenses and crimes and fail to cultivate good works, merit and virtue, you will not obtain such blessings. These blessings come from doing good. This Celestial King has obtained such a passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Celestial King Proper Mindfulness gained a passage into liberation of revealing the deeds of all Buddhas that bring sentient beings to maturity.

Commentary:


Celestial King Proper Mindfulness has proper thoughts. He gained a passage into liberation of revealing the Buddhas’ deeds. Originally the case was closed, so to speak, but now he opens it up and points out the deeds that bring sentient beings to maturity carried out by the Buddhas of the ten directions. Deeds of bringing sentient beings to maturity are just deeds of bringing Buddhas to maturity. When sentient beings mature, they become Buddhas. Their Buddha fruit ripens. Those who have not planted good roots are caused to plant good roots; those who have planted good roots are caused to have those good roots increase and grow; those whose good roots have already increased and grown are caused to have them ripen; those whose good roots are ripened are led to liberation. In this case, bringing sentient beings to maturity means effecting their liberation. This Celestial King obtained this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Celestial King Lofty Splendid Sound gained a passage into liberation of knowing the changing characteristics of the eons of formation and decay in all worlds.

Commentary:

Celestial King Lofty Splendid Sound gained a passage into liberation of knowing the changing characteristics of the eons of formation, dwelling, and decay and emptiness in all worlds. He knows how many eons it takes for a world system to undergo the stages of formation, dwelling, decay, and emptiness. He knows this all clearly. When a world system progresses from the stage of formation to the stage of dwelling, from dwelling to decay, and from decay to emptiness, there are changing characteristics involved. He knows the features of those changes and the periods of time required for those changes to take place. This Celestial King has understood this state.

Sutra:

Celestial King Fulfilling Intentions gained a passage into liberation of pondering future Bodhisattvas’ practice of taming sentient beings.

Commentary:


The Celestial King named Fulfilling Intentions gained a passage into liberation of pondering—this means always remembering and never forgetting—future Bodhisattvas’ practice of taming sentient beings. He recalls how future Bodhisattvas will tame and subdue sentient beings, causing sentient beings to turn from the small to the great and change their evil ways and go towards the good. He attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Celestial King Pure Floral Light gained a passage into liberation of apprehending the causes underlying the joy of all the gods.

Commentary:


Celestial King Pure Floral Light gained a passage into liberation of apprehending the causes underlying the joy of all the gods. Gods experience great joy. What causes did they plant so as to reap their present rewards of joy? This Celestial King is very clear with regard to those causes. Because the gods cultivated the Five Precepts and the Ten Good Deeds as their causes, they obtain the reward of joy. That is the passage into liberation of this Celestial King.

Sutra:

Celestial King Eyes of Wisdom’s Sun gained a passage into liberation of revealing to all gods the good roots by which they attained rebirth, freeing them from delusion.

Commentary:

The Celestial King named Eyes of Wisdom’s Sun won the liberation door of revealing to all gods in the heavens the good roots by which they attained rebirth, freeing them from delusion. The gods can then get rid of their foolish delusions and doubts. This Celestial King attained such a passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Celestial King Effortless Light gained a passage into liberation of enlightening all the celestial multitudes, forever severing their myriad doubts.

Commentary:

The Celestial King named Effortless Light gained a passage into liberation of enlightening and instructing all the celestial multitudes to awaken to and enter the Buddha’s state, forever severing their myriad doubts. He causes all the gods to forever cut off their doubts and bring forth proper faith. That is his liberation.

Sutra:

At that time Celestial King Sãkra-Indra received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of the Heavens of the Thirty-three, and spoke the following verse:

Commentary:


At that time, Celestial King Sãkra-Indra, Able to Be Celestial Lord, received the Buddha’s great awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of the Heavens of the Thirty-three, and spoke the following verse in praise of the Buddhas.

Sutra:

I reflect upon the Buddhas of the three periods of time,
How all their states are level and equal.
The decay and formation of their lands
The Buddha’s awesome spirit makes visible to all.

Commentary:


Celestial King Sãkra-Indra says: I reflect upon the Buddhas of the three periods of time—past, present, and future, how all their states are level and equal. The states of the Buddhas of the three periods of time are level, without high or low. The decay and formation of their lands./ The Buddha’s awesome spirit makes visible to all how those Buddha lands go through the stages of decay and formation. All sentient beings can see the Buddhas and understand this state by means of the Buddha’s great awesome spirit.

Sutra:

The Buddha’s body, vast and great, pervades the ten directions.
His wondrous, unrivaled form benefits all beings.
His brilliance bedazzles all and everywhere.
Universally Praised contemplates and sees this path.

Commentary:


The Buddha’s body, vast and great, pervades the ten directions. The Buddha’s Dharma body is vast, great, and boundless. It pervades all places throughout the ten directions. To the ends of space and the Dharma Realm, in every bit of empty space, the Dharma body abides. His wondrous, unrivaled form benefits all beings. The Buddha’s wondrous form is incomparable and can benefit all sentient and insentient beings. His brilliance bedazzles all and everywhere. The Buddha’s pure light can shine on all beings. No sentient being fails to be bathed in that compassionate brilliance. His light is equal, making no distinctions between those with good roots and those will dull roots. All are blessed by this dazzling light. Universally Praised contemplates and sees this path. This principle is contemplated by the Celestial Lord Universally Praised Full Voice; he can see this state.

Sutra:

The Thus Come One’s expedients emanate from his ocean of great kindness.
In ages past, his cultivation was extremely pure
As he transformed and guided boundless sentient beings.
Celestial King Precious Cowl enlightens thus.

Commentary:

The Thus Come One’s expedients emanate from his ocean of great kindness. “Thus Come One” is one of the Buddha’s ten titles. “Expedients” refers to “ocean of great compassion.” And “ocean of great compassion” is “expedients.” Because of expedients, the Buddha’s great compassion is revealed; and out of great compassion, the Buddha employs expedients. The Buddha’s compassion is oceanlike. In ages past, his cultivation was extremely pure. In past eons, the Buddha cultivated many practices and achieved a pure Dharma body, and was able to use expedient, great compassion. Because the Buddha cultivated, he obtained purity. Purity is proof of cultivation. Without cultivation, there is no purity. Purity attests to true cultivation.

As he transformed and guided boundless sentient beings. The Buddha teaches, transforms, and guides sentient beings with expedient great compassion, causing them to sever afflictions, smash their ignorance, and achieve the Dharma body. The dharma door of expedient great compassion is without boundaries. It is like a cloud of kindness that overspreads everywhere. Celestial King Precious Cowl enlightens thus to this state and gains this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

As I recall the Dharma King’s sea of meritorious virtue,
Supreme and unequaled in all the world,
Immense happiness swells in my heart:
This is the liberation of the god Jeweled Light.

Commentary:

The Celestial King Jeweled Light Renown says: As I recall the Dharma King’s, the Buddha’s, sea of merit and virtue, which is boundless, supreme and unequalled in the world. There is nothing more lofty than the Buddha’s merit and virtue. It is peerless. When I recall this kind of state, immense happiness that exhausts empty space and pervades the Dharma Realm swells in my heart: / This is the liberation of the god Jeweled Light. He has obtained this state, this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

The Buddha knows sentient beings’ ocean of good karma
The various supreme causes leading to bounteous blessings.
All are revealed, without remainder.
The god Cowl of Happiness sees thus.

Commentary:


The Buddha knows sentient beings’ ocean of good karma / The various supreme causes, all their good deeds, leading to bounteous blessings and rewards. All are revealed, without remainder. All of those good causes are made apparent, with nothing left out. Those who plant small good causes will reap small rewards of blessings. Those who plant great good causes will reap great rewards of blessings. It is not off by a hair. The god Cowl of Happiness sees thus. Celestial King Cowl of Happiness sees this state.

Sutra:

The Buddhas appear throughout the ten directions,
Everywhere pervading all worlds.
Observing the minds of sentient beings, they manifest to tame them.
Celestial King Proper Mindfulness enlightens to this path.

Commentary:


The Buddhas appear throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time, everywhere pervading all worlds, filling empty space and the Dharma Realm. Observing the minds of sentient beings, they manifest to regulate and tame them. The Buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time observe sentient beings’ minds and demonstrate dharma doors of taming and regulating. They teach sentient beings with much greed to cultivate the contemplation of impurity; they advise sentient beings with much hatred to cultivate the contemplation of compassion; and they remind foolish sentient beings to cultivate the contemplation of causes and conditions. Observing the faculties of sentient beings, the Buddhas employ various expedient dharma doors to teach and transform, regulate and tame them.

However, in doing this, the Buddhas are not attached to marks. Therefore, the Vajra Sutra says, “The Buddha takes across all sentient beings to still quiescence, and yet there is not a single sentient being whom he has taken across to still quiescence.” Why is this? The Buddha does not grasp at marks. He saves sentient beings, but he does not retain a mark of sentient beings. He is not attached to saving sentient beings, unlike we ordinary people who become attached to whatever we do. “I have given a bowl of rice to someone, and so I’ve performed a good act.” Or, “I’ve given a cup of water to someone, and so I’ve been of benefit to sentient beings.” As for greater benefits, we become even more attached to these. But the Buddha benefits all sentient beings without retaining the mark of benefiting sentient beings. That is how the Buddha differs from ordinary people. Celestial King Proper Mindfulness enlightens to this path. He understands the principle of this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Wide, enormous eyes on the Thus Come One’s wisdom body
See all the motes of dust in all worlds without exception,
Universally pervading the ten directions.
This is the liberation of the god Cloud-Sound.

Commentary:


Wide, enormous eyes on the Thus Come One’s wisdom body, a bright body of wisdom light that illumines the whole world. Because the Buddha has wisdom, his light universally shines. These eyes see all the motes of dust in all worlds throughout the ten directions without exception. All the myriad phenomena and sentient beings in the world are completely seen and known by the Thus Come One. That’s why the text says, “without exception.” Universally pervading the ten directions. The vast, great eyes of the Thus Come One’s wisdom body see all the motes of dust in worlds, and this state pervades the worlds of the ten directions. This is the liberation of the god Cloud-Sound. Celestial King Lofty Splendid Cloud-Sound understands this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

The bodhi practices of all disciples of the Buddha
Fully appear in the pores of the Thus Come One
In all their measureless perfection.
Celestial King Intentions perceives this with clarity.

Commentary:

The bodhi practices of all disciples of the Buddha. This refers to the Bodhisattvas undergoing their last rebirth who live in the Inner Courtyard of the Tusita Heaven. They are the Buddha’s disciples. The practices of the enlightened Way that they cultivate fully appear in the pores of the Thus Come One. From the moment of their initial resolve to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, all the way until they are Bodhisattvas undergoing their last rebirth, their practices of cultivation are completely manifest in the Thus Come One’s pores in all their measureless perfection:

Celestial King Fulfilling Intentions perceives this with clarity. This is the state that he understands, the passage into liberation that he has attained.

Sutra:

All peaceful, happy events in the world
Arise because of the Buddha.
Supreme and unparalleled is the Thus Come One’s meritorious virtue.
Floral King enters this place of liberation.

Commentary:

All the peaceful, happy events in the world. The “world” includes both the human and heavenly realms. All these happy causes arise because of the Buddha. They come about from the Buddha’s aid, because the Buddhadharma enables sentient beings who lack good roots to plant good roots. It helps those who have planted good roots to make them increase and grow. It helps those whose good roots have increased and grown to bring them to maturity. And it helps those whose good roots have matured to attain liberation. From the beginning to the very end, as sentient beings practice various Dharma doors, they are nourished by the Buddhadharma so that they can achieve the Buddha Way. For this reason, the sutra says, “All the peaceful, happy events in the world / Arise because of the Buddha.”

Supreme and unparalleled is the Thus Come One’s meritorious virtue. For three asamkhyeyas of eons, the Buddha cultivated blessings and wisdom, and for a hundred eons he planted the marks and characteristics. Nothing can compare with the supreme merit and virtue of the Buddha. Floral King enters this place of liberation. Celestial King Pure Floral Light can understand this principle.

Just now the text brought up how all the happy events in the world arise because of the Buddha. Since some people have not yet understood the principle involved, I will try to explain it by way of a simple analogy. The Buddha is our greatly compassionate father. Long ago, he made arrangements for the happy events in our lives, whether in the heavens or in the human realm. The Buddha has already made arrangements for the delightful experiences we will go through. This is like parents who buy many toys for their children. When the children see those toys, they are delighted. This kind of happy event comes about from the parents. All the sentient beings in the heavens and the human world are the Buddha’s children and grandchildren, and so the Buddha bestows happiness upon us. For this reason, we say that all happy events arise because of the Buddha. If you think of it like that, you will be able to believe this principle.

Sutra:

If one recalls an iota of the Thus Come One’s meritorious virtue,
Or produces even one thought of devoted admiration,
The terrors of all evil paths will forever be dispelled.
Eyes of Wisdom awakens profoundly thus.

Commentary:


If one recalls an iota of the Thus Come One’s meritorious virtue. “An iota” is used to describe the magnitude of the Thus Come One’s merit and virtue. Not to talk about a lot, suppose one recalls a very small fraction, as small as a dust mote’s worth, of the Buddha’s merit and virtue, or produces even one thought of devoted admiration. Or, maybe it’s a single thought of admiration for the Buddha, without mixing in random thoughts. If you can recall even the smallest fraction of the Buddha’s merit and virtue, or bring forth a single thought of respect for the Buddha, then the terrors of all evil paths will forever be dispelled. The fears, suffering, and offenses of the three evil paths—hell beings, hungry ghosts, and animals—will completely be dispelled. They will never occur again. Eyes of Wisdom awakens profoundly thus. Celestial King Eye of Wisdom-Sun has deeply enlightened to and understood this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Within quiescent dharmas, great spiritual powers
Respond to the minds of all beings everywhere.
All doubts and delusions are severed.
This is the attainment of King Bright Light.

Commentary:


Within quiescent dharmas, great spiritual powers. The quiescent characteristics of all dharmas cannot be proclaimed with words. Still and quiet dharmas are not spoken and not transmitted: That is how you should contemplate them. From the beginning, all dharmas are characterized by still quiescence. All dharmas are still and quiet to begin with, and yet within them, the Buddha manifests great spiritual powers to teach, transform and instruct sentient beings, helping them cast out their doubt and delusions. While still and unmoving in the Way-place, the Buddha displays various spiritual powers that respond to the minds of all beings everywhere. The response and the Way are intertwined. The Buddha is in universal communication with all sentient beings. There is not a single sentient being that does not obtain the response and aid of the Buddha. All doubts and delusions are severed. Sentient beings’ doubts are cut off, and they give rise to faith. This is the attainment of King Bright Light. Celestial King Effortless Light has attained the state of this passage into liberation.

previous * next * contents

return to top