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

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

Sutra:

In response, his spiritual powers manifest, like light and shadow.
The Dharma wheel he turns is true and actual, identical to space.
For unending eons, he abides in the world.
This is the realization of King Magnanimous.

Commentary:

In response, his spiritual powers manifest . The Buddha’s spiritual powers manifest everywhere in response to potentials. His wisdom universally sheds light on sentient beings. Since the Buddha is endowed with wisdom, he—knows how to utilize his spiritual powers. His spiritual powers can also aid his wisdom. Therefore the Buddha appears according to the different kinds of sentient beings, to teach and transform them, like light and shadow. This works like a light that disperses shadows. Once the light appears, the shadows vanish. Sentient beings’ karmic obstacles resemble shadows. The Buddha’s spiritual powers and wisdom resemble light. Sentient beings’ karmic obstacles also resemble ice, while the Buddha’s spiritual powers and wisdom-light resemble the sun, which melts the ice. At that point, sentient beings can return to the origin and go back to the source. Although sentient beings are laden with karmic obstacles, after being illumined with the Buddha’s wisdom-light, their karmic obstacles will disperse. That is, although you may have karmic obstacles, if you cultivate according to the Buddhadharma, you can get rid of them.

The Dharma wheel is true and actual, identical to space. The great Dharma wheel constantly turns, and this is something that truly and actually happens. Although it is true and actual, you should not become attached to it. Do not be attached to the notion that there is a Dharma wheel that is turning, or that there are sentient beings who should be liberated. Once you become attached, you have an attachment to dharmas. Therefore, although the Dharma wheel is true and actual, it resembles space, which is intangible. You cannot find anything in empty space. The Buddha’s constant turning of the Dharma wheel resembles space.

For unending eons, he abides in the world. The Buddha is not attached to anything he does. That is the way he deals with the world and teaches and transforms sentient beings. He abides throughout countless, measureless great eons. He performs the Buddha’s work, which is like an image in a mirror, and sits in a Way-place resembling the moon’s reflection in water. In other words, he is not attached. This is the realization of Kumbhandha King Magnanimous. That king understands and has realized this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Sentient beings are ever blinded by the cataract of ignorance.
The Buddha’s radiance lights up the path to peace.
Rescuing and protecting them, he frees them from suffering.
This is the dharma door contemplated by Terrifying.

Commentary:

Sentient beings are ever blinded by the cataract of ignorance. Why are sentient beings, sentient beings? Because of a single thought of unenlightened ignorance, they fall and become sentient beings. However, although sentient beings are unenlightened, they are still endowed with their original Buddha nature. But that unenlightened state covers them over. What is the lack of enlightenment? It is ignorance, which resembles cataracts in one’s eyes, blurring one’s vision. Since one cannot see clearly, one continues doing muddled and confused things. From this state of muddled confusion, beings give rise to many doubts and delusions. For example, they doubt the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. They are supposed to rely on the Buddha, but they do not believe in the Buddha. They are supposed to rely on the Dharma, but they do not study the Dharma. They are supposed to rely on the Sangha, but they do not revere the Sangha. They do not believe in, study, or revere the Triple Jewel. For that reason, they are “ever blinded.”

The Buddha’s radiance lights up the path to peace. This is a path leading to peace and security, upon which there are no calamities or perils. Why are there no calamities? The Buddha’s light drives calamities away. Rescuing and protecting them, he frees them from suffering: The Buddha acts as a kind father and guiding master for sentient beings. He works to protect sentient beings, like a nurse. The Buddha is a nurse for sentient beings. Sentient beings have so many problems that it seems likely they would make the Buddha nervous. Likely, I said, because that’s only my conjecture. It might not be that way. The Buddha has great samadhi power. No matter what happens, he remains thus, thus unmoving. Even if you oppose the Buddha, he acts as if nothing is going on. Even when you slander the Buddha, he considers your words to be praise. He enables beings to leave suffering and experience joy.

This is the dharma door contemplated by Terrifying. Kumbhandha King Terrifying understands this dharma door, and so he enters this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Full of woes, beings drift and flounder in the sea of desire.
The Buddha’s wisdom shines universally, vanquishing misery entirely.
Dispelling their suffering, he speaks Dharma for them.
Wondrous Adornment has enlightened to this.

Commentary:

Full of woes, beings drift and flounder in the sea of desire. Everyone has desire, which is as profuse as water in the sea. Some people have the desire for leadership. They want to be the leader, number one. They may wish to be President, governor, mayor, and so forth. Some people exhaust their means and wealth in order to be elected to office, and then afterwards they want to get their money back. How do they go about doing it? They take bribes and become corrupt. Some people have a desire for wealth. They go into business, farming, or some other profession, but no matter what they do, their goal is to make money. They desire wealth. Then there are those who desire fame. They want a good name. They cannot bear to hear others say even one uncomplimentary thing about them. To them, praise is sweeter than candy, but criticism is as bitter as huanglian [a bitter herb similar to goldenseal]. That’s the desire for fame.

Some people want to live in fancy houses, wear beautiful clothes, or buy fine pairs of shoes. Their desire may be great or small, but it is desire nevertheless. Some men want to find a girlfriend; some women want to find a boyfriend. That’s the desire between men and women, which is the most difficult to cut off. For that reason, sentient beings drift to and fro in the sea of desire. From the shore of birth and death, they are borne along the current of afflictions. It’s very difficult for them to arrive at the other shore of nirvana. They drift about, and eventually, they sink to the bottom of the sea.

This sea is “full of woes.” For instance, someone falls from the realm of the gods to the human realm. From the human realm he falls to the realm of asuras. From the realm of asuras he falls to the path of animals. From the path of animals he falls to the path of hungry ghosts. From the path of hungry ghosts he winds up in the hells. Day by day he sinks lower. Day by day he drifts farther and farther away.

He keeps drifting farther away from the Buddhadharma. He sinks down farther and grows distant from his original Buddha nature. For that reason, the sutra says, “Full of woes, beings drift and flounder in the sea of desire.” That sea is full of woes, or sufferings. First of all, there are the Three Sufferings: (1) the suffering within suffering, (2) the suffering of decay, and (3) the suffering of process. Then there are the Eight Sufferings: (1) birth, (2) old age, (3) sickness, and (4) death; (5) the suffering of being apart from those you love; (6) the suffering of being together with the ones you hate; (7) the suffering of not getting what you seek; (8) the suffering of the raging blaze of the five skandhas. That’s a general description. A detailed explanation would include measureless and boundless sufferings.

The Buddha’s wisdom shines universally, vanquishing misery entirely. The Buddha’s wisdom light shines upon the evil paths and dispels all the suffering therein. Dispelling their suffering, he speaks Dharma for them: After getting rid of their suffering, the Buddha teaches them the Dharma, leading them from confusion back to enlightenment, from suffering to bliss. Wondrous Adornment has enlightened to this state. This is the passage into liberation understood by Kumbhandha King Wondrous Adornment.

Sutra:

The Buddha’s body responds universally, nowhere unseen.
He transforms the multitudes, using an array of expedients.
With a voice like thunder, he lets fall the Dharma rain.
Lofty Wisdom enters this dharma door .

Commentary:

The Buddha’s body responds universally, nowhere unseen.
The Buddha is like a clear, cool moon,
Forever coursing in space.
When the water in sentient beings’ minds is clear,
Enlightenment is reflected therein.

The Buddha resembles a clear, cool moon, roaming easily in the void. When the water in the minds of sentient beings is pure, the Buddha’s clear cool moon will be reflected in the bodhi of their minds. That is how the Buddha’s body universally responds.

In a thousand pools of water, there will be a thousand moons.
Extending ten thousand cloudless miles, there will be ten thousand miles of sky.
One moon universally appears in all bodies of water.
The moons in those bodies of water all trace back to one moon.

One moon’s reflection appears in all bodies of water, meaning that it appears in the minds of all sentient beings. All the moons in those bodies of water can be traced back to the moon in the sky. They all come from that one moon. When sentient beings face the moon, they all feel that the moon is shining on them. They argue among themselves, insisting that the moon is shining on them alone. The moon might say, “Don’t fight among yourselves. I shine on everyone. I am not biased. Don’t fight.” That’s the same idea behind the Buddha’s body universally responding so that no one fails to see it. Just as there is no one who doesn’t see the moon, there is no one who fails to see the Buddha’s body.

He transforms the multitudes, using an array of expedients. The Buddha does not employ only one dharma door. He uses an assortment of skill-in-means. He dispenses the teaching according to the person. He dispenses medicine according to the illness. If he sees a child, he may say, “You study hard now. Learn to recite the sutras and mantras.” The child thinks, “If I learn my characters, I’ll be able to recite the sutras and mantras. Won’t that be cool?” The prospect of being able to recite the sutras and mantras spurs him on to study. That is one example of an expedient method, from which you can understand many others. The Buddha, out of great compassion, designs clever, provisional methods to teach and transform sentient beings.

With a voice like thunder, he lets fall the Dharma rain. The Buddha’s voice resembles a thunderclap. When thunder roars, sentient beings hear it. The Buddha sends down the rain of Dharma, speaking Dharma for sentient beings. Lofty Wisdom enters this dharma door. Kumbhandha King Lofty Wisdom enters this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Pure, clear light is not released in vain.
Encountering it, beings find their severe obstacles dispelled.
The proclamation of the Buddha’s merit and virtue is boundless.
Robust Arms understands this profound principle.

Commentary:

Pure, clear light is not released in vain. This refers to the Buddha’s light, which is the light of wisdom. It is never released in vain. The Buddha may not release this light. If he does release it, however, it will most definitely have an impact. It has its function. What is this function? Encountering it, beings find their severe obstacles dispelled. Once the Buddha’s pure light shines on you, no matter how tremendous your obstacles are, they will be dispelled. What are severe obstacles? They include acts such as patricide, matricide, killing an Arhat, destroying the harmony of the Sangha, and shedding the Buddha’s blood—offenses for which one cannot repent. However, even these heavy obstacles can be eradicated. Once the Buddha’s light shines on you, your obstacles, however great, are dispelled. Whereas grave obstacles are like an iceberg, the Buddha’s light is like sunlight. Sunlight can melt an iceberg. The proclamation of the Buddha’s merit and virtue is boundless. If you try to describe the Buddha’s merit and virtue in detail, you will be unable to find its boundaries. There is no way to finish talking about it. Robust Arms understands this profound principle. Kumbhandha King Robust Arms has attained this profound, wonderful principle.

The Flower Adornment Sutra appears to have many repetitive passages. There are often sets of ten in everything that is brought up, such as ten kings and ten sets of verses. There seems to be no fear of repetition. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are infinitely multi-layered and inexhaustible. There’s no way to finish talking about them. There are kings who oversee the kumbhandhas, gandharvas, asuras, kinnaras, garudas, gods, dragons and the rest of the eightfold division. Each king has his job and his own subordinates. Therefore, in translating the sutras, we should not be intimidated by the complexity of the work. Don’t be afraid of adding more names to our committees. The more people you have, the more you can pool their strength and resources. There isn’t just one Kumbhandha King, or one Gandharva King. There are always ten. By the same token, at the very least, we should have ten translators. We must emulate the states described in the Flower Adornment Sutra to produce fine work. Therefore, in the future, at least ten people should be involved in publishing the sutras. When we get ten people together, we will succeed in our job.

Sutra:

Wishing to bring comfort and joy to sentient beings,
He cultivates great compassion for measureless eons.
With various skill-in-means, he relieves their pain:
Flowers of Purity sees thus.

Commentary:

Wishing to bring comfort and joy to sentient beings...The Buddha wishes that all sentient beings be peaceful and happy. Most sentient beings are too deeply immersed in worry, sorrow, and suffering; thus they do not wish to leave their suffering. They are constantly wallowing in worry, sorrow, pain, and vexation. Every person has his own suffering and vexation. A king has his own suffering and vexation, a president has his suffering and vexation. Every family creates its own movie or performs its own play. Every individual also has his or her internal conflicts. Therefore, the Buddha willingly takes on suffering himself so that sentient beings can be happy. He cultivates great compassion for measureless eons. He took on various ascetic practices and cultivated great compassion. It was not the case that he practiced this great compassion for only one or two days. For measureless eons until the present, he has been cultivating this practice of great compassion to universally save all sentient beings. With various skill-in-means, he relieves their pain: Having perfected his great compassionate mind and practice, the Buddha adopts various provisional methods to dispel sentient beings’ sufferings, enabling them to leave suffering and attain bliss. Flowers of Purity sees thus. Kumbhandha King Flowers of Purity understands this principle.

Sutra:

The self-mastery of his spiritual powers is inconceivable.
His body appears universally in the ten directions,
Yet neither arrives nor departs:
King Vast Visage understands thus.

Commentary:

The self-mastery of his spiritual powers is inconceivable. The Buddha’s spiritual powers are measureless and boundless, and so is the spiritual strength of his self-mastery. Spiritual powers derive from a very spontaneous kind of wisdom. Self-mastery comes from samadhi power. If you have true wisdom, you will acquire spiritual powers. If you have true samadhi power, you will attain self-mastery. If you lack samadhi power, you will not have self-mastery. The Buddha’s spiritual powers and his self-mastery are both inconceivable. They cannot be conceived of by the mind or expressed with words.

His body appears universally in the ten directions. Since the Buddha’s self-mastery and spiritual powers are inconceivable, his body can universally appear in the worlds of the ten directions, yet neither arrives nor departs . Actually, the Buddha has not gone to the ten directions, nor has he come from any specific direction. The Buddha neither comes nor goes. The one can manifest the many; the many can manifest the one. One and many are mutually non-obstructive. One is just many; many are just one. One and many are nondual. Therefore, there is no coming or going. The Vajra Sutra says, “The Thus Come One neither comes nor goes.” He is different from us because if we go there, we are no longer here; and if we are here, we are not there. The Buddha has this free and easy, wondrous functioning of spiritual powers:

Without moving from the Way-place,
He pervades the Dharma Realm.

Although the Buddha is stationed at the Way-place, he manifests his body throughout the worlds of the ten directions. What is more, sentient beings throughout the worlds of the ten directions can also see the Buddha and hear the Dharma.

King Vast Visage understands thus. Kumbhandha King Vast Visage has attained this samadhi and understands the principle of this passage into liberation.

Let me explain how dragons became dragons, and how tigers became tigers. Dragons harbor much hatred. They have huge tempers and become angry at the drop of a hat. On the other hand, they are very courageous and vigorous when it comes to cultivation; they do not fear suffering or difficulty. Unfortunately they do not observe the precepts. They are “fast with the Vehicle, but slow with the precepts.” They are very quick in cultivating the Great Vehicle, but they are slow and lax when it comes to holding the precepts. They do not pay attention to the precepts. They say, “There’s no need to hold the precepts. They’re very unnatural.” They do not regard the precepts highly. Since these people were fast with the Vehicle, they acquired spiritual powers. Since they were slow with the precepts, they fell into the animal realm. Although they have become animals, they have the spiritual powers to make themselves big or small and to come and go at will. Dragons can fly and transform themselves in inconceivable ways. However, they experience four kinds of suffering.

1. The suffering of being eaten by the birds with golden wings. Golden-winged peng birds like to gobble up dragons. It’s one thing if the dragons do not appear, but should they appear, a golden-winged bird can swoop down and gobble them up the way we swallow noodles. Golden-winged birds can spot dragons from 108,000 miles away. As soon as they see them, they immediately fly over to devour them. Dragons lose their spiritual powers at the very sight of a golden-winged bird. They freeze on the spot and wait helplessly to be gobbled up. Why is that? Because golden-winged birds specialize in subduing dragons. Dragons become very tame when they meet a golden-winged bird. They lie there as if in a drunken stupor, oblivious to everything. Although they have spiritual powers, they are finished once they see a golden-winged bird.

2. The suffering of manifesting their original body during intercourse. When dragons are engaged in intercourse, they no longer look like dragons. They assume their original shape and look like snakes. Usually they have golden-colored scales, but when they engage in intercourse they look like big snakes.

3. The suffering of having parasites lodged in their scales. Tiny parasites lodge themselves right in the scales of a dragon, gnawing at the dragon and making it unbearably itchy. Tiny bugs bite the dragon from within every scale, making it unbearable for the dragon.

Then what do you suppose the dragon does? It wants to rub its body against something to relieve the itch. When people have an itch on their body, they scratch it. Since the dragon’s claws cannot reach those itchy places, the dragon wants to rub its body against some surface to relieve the itch. It goes to the beach and rubs its scales against the sand. The sand, baked by the sun, feels like fire against the dragon’s body and is very painful.

4. The suffering of rubbing its body against hot sand. Rubbing against this fiery sand is an agonizing experience for the dragon.

Those are the four sufferings of a dragon, and they are quite a handful for it to deal with. You shouldn’t think, “Dragons are so free, soaring through the skies with total ease and independence. They can instantaneously go anywhere they please, without needing to buy an plane ticket.” You may think a dragon’s life is one of ease and comfort, but that is not the case.

Sutra:

Moreover, Dragon King Virupakshagained a passage into liberation of dispelling the burning agony of all those in the path of dragons.

Commentary:

Moreover, Dragon King Virupakshagained a passage into liberation of dispelling the burning agony of all those in the path of dragons. There are many kinds of dragons, and they experience many kinds of suffering. “Burning” describes a raging blaze. The pain they experience is so agonizing, it is as if they are being burned by fire.

Sutra:

Dragon King Sagara gained a passage into liberation of manifesting the bodies of limitless sentient beings by transforming his own dragon body in a single thought.

Commentary:

Dragon King Sagara lives in a salty sea. He has gained a passage into liberation of manifesting the bodies of limitless sentient beings by transforming his own dragon body in a single thought. Not necessarily over a long period of time, but just in one thought, he transforms his own dragon form, manifesting the bodies of measureless sentient beings. No matter what bodies sentient beings have, he will manifest in a corresponding body. To creatures that fly, he manifests as a flying creature. To sentient beings that swim, he manifests as an aquatic creature. To mammals, womb-born beings, he manifests as a womb-born being. To beings born from eggs, he manifests as an egg-born creature. He manifests in various bodies to teach and transform sentient beings. That is his passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Dragon King Banner of Cloud-like Sounds gained a passage into liberation of uttering the ocean of the Buddha’s boundless names with a refreshing sound amidst all destinies.

Commentary:

Dragon King Banner of Cloud-like Sounds has a sound resembling cloud and thunder, as well as a banner. He has gained a passage into liberation of uttering the ocean of the Buddha’s boundless names with a refreshing sound amidst all destinies—the twenty-five levels of existence within the three realms of existence. This includes the paths of rebirth of the gods, humans, asuras, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings. To speak of them in a general way, there are six paths of rebirth. When broken down in further detail, there are twenty-five levels of existence. All these levels of existence fall within the Desire Realm, the Form Realm, and the Formless Realm. Within those Three Realms, this Dragon King speaks Dharma with a pure sound.

A person’s voice or sound is important. If your voice is loud and clear, everyone enjoys hearing the Dharma you speak. If your voice is not pure or resonant, even if you speak Dharma that is good, people will not enjoy hearing you. Pure sound is like music. If your voice is like music, people become mesmerized by your voice to the point that they forget all of their idle thoughts. They enjoy hearing your pure sound.

This Dragon King has the passage into liberation of “uttering the ocean of the Buddha’s boundless names with a refreshing sound.” Each Buddha has 10,000 names; and 10,000 Buddhas have 100 million names. That is why it is called the “ocean of names.” In the beginning each Buddha had 10,000 names, but sentient beings could not manage to remember so many, and so the number was reduced to 1,000. But even then sentient beings could not manage to remember so many, since their dispositions were coarse and inferior. They could not remember so many names. Then the number was decreased to 100, but even that was too many. Sentient beings’ memories had deteriorated, and so they couldn’t remember the 100 names of the Buddha. Finally this was changed to ten names, which are: Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Pervasive Knowledge, One of Perfect Understanding and Conduct, Well-Gone One Who Understands the World, Unsurpassed Lord, Taming and Subduing Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, and World Honored One. After the number of Buddhas’ names was reduced to ten, it was easy for people to remember them.

Since each Buddha has 10,000 names, this is called the passage into liberation of “the ocean of the Buddha’s boundless names,” all of which this Dragon King can remember.

Sutra:

Dragon King Mouth Aflame gained a passage into liberation of universally appearing in boundlessly many Buddhalands differently established.

Commentary:

Dragon King Mouth Aflame can emit fire from his mouth that turns into a volcano. The fire he spouts can melt a mountain, hence his name. He gained a passage into liberation of universally appearing in boundlessly many Buddhalands that are differently established throughout the ten directions . Every Buddha world is established or brought into being differently. For example, the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss was set up by Amitabha Buddha. The Saha world is where Sãkyamuni Buddha propagates the Buddhadharma; he has set up this world. The worlds that the Buddhas set up are different. Each world has its unique individual features, and so the text says, “differently established.” Some worlds have been set up over a long period of time; others have been set up over a short period of time. Some worlds are adorned, while others are not. These worlds are manifestations with which the Buddhas respond to the potential of sentient beings, so as to save them. That Dragon King has attained that particular passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Dragon King Blazing Eyes gained a passage into liberation of learning how the Thus Come One’s kind sympathy dispels coverings and fetters of all sentient beings’ hatred and delusion.

Commentary:

Dragon King Blazing Eyes, by means of his spiritual powers, emits a fiery light from his eyes. He has gained a passage into liberation of learning how the Thus Come Ones’ kind sympathy dispels the coverings and fetters of all sentient beings’ hatred and delusion. Hatred is prompted by ignorance, afflictions, and temper. Those who have huge tempers have intense hatred in their hearts. That is the covering of hatred. Then there is the covering of delusion. Delusion covers wisdom; and hatred covers compassion. When sentient beings are bound by these fetters of hatred and delusion, they lose their freedom.

“The Thus Come One’s kind sympathy”: Since sentient beings’ coverings and fetters of hatred and delusion obstruct their cultivation of the Way, the Buddha brings forth great kindness and compassion to dispel those coverings and fetters of greed, anger, and delusion. That is the passage into liberation of dispelling the three poisons of greed, anger and delusion, which brings about the perfection of the Three Non-Outflow Studies of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.

Sutra:

Dragon King Banner of Clouds gained a passage into liberation of revealing to all sentient beings the sea of great happiness, joy, and blessings.

Commentary:

Dragon King Cloud Banner gained a passage into liberation of revealing to all sentient beings the sea of great happiness, joy, and blessings. When sentient beings do not understand, he reveals and explains a principle to them, after which they understand. Since sentient beings are obstructed by delusion, after they hear his explanation, their obstruction of delusion goes away. He enables beings to give rise to great happiness and joy. Because they obtain blessings and wisdom, they are immensely happy. The great happiness, joy, and blessings continue to increase until they become like a sea. That is his passage into liberation.

When we listen to the sutras and investigate the Buddhadharma, we should have this attitude: “Renew yourself constantly; become a new person day after day.” Every time you listen to a sutra, you should act as if you are hearing it for the first time. Do not think, “I have heard it so many times already.” If you are hearing a sutra for the first time, you are bound to be very attentive. You will not think about other things or doze off. However, if you think, “I’ve heard this so many times. We hear sutras today, tomorrow, and the day after that. It’s too much…,” then it will be rather meaningless to you. Being bored, you will fall asleep or have false thinking and not pay attention. If, however, you can think to yourself, “This is the first time I am hearing the sutra. I must pay attention and not let this pass in vain.” Then you will most certainly attain something. If you listen to one sentence, you will understand that sentence. If you listen to one chapter, you will understand that chapter.

In the past, at Jiangtian Monastery on Gold Mountain in Zhenjiang Province of China, there lived a monk known as the “Living Buddha of Gold Mountain.” Wherever he went to listen to the sutras, he always knelt when he listened. He did not kneel on a cushion or a bowing mat. He knelt on the tile floor, placing his palms together very respectfully. If the Dharma Master lectured for two hours, he would kneel there for two hours, being very respectful and not lazy in the least bit. He wasn’t like some of you who, after listening to the lecture for a while, hunch over the table and fall asleep, or lean against the wall and doze off. Therefore, you should keep in mind that, “it’s not easy to be able to hear the Buddhadharma.” Then you won’t be lazy.

Sutra:

Dragon King Taksaka gained a passage into liberation of eradicating all fears by means of a pure sound that rescues and protects.

Commentary:

Dragon King Taksaka gained a passage into liberation of eradicating all fears by means of a pure sound that rescues and protects. This Dragon King attained a pure sound that rescues and protects. When any being hears his sound, all the fear and terror in that being’s mind will vanish. That’s the passage into liberation gained by this Dragon King.

Sutra:

Dragon King Boundless Stride gained a passage into liberation of manifesting all Buddhas’ bodies as well as the successive stages of their dwelling.

Commentary:

Dragon King Boundless Stride can fly and soar in the air and undergo changes and transformations. He has extensive spiritual penetrations. He has gained a passage into liberation of manifesting all Buddhas’ bodies— not just the body of one Buddha, but the bodies of all Buddhas—as well as the successive stages of their dwelling , the stages of a Buddha’s life in the world: his appearing in the world, dwelling in the world, turning the Dharma wheel, taking across sentient beings, and entering nirvana. This Dragon King has obtained this passage into liberation and understood this principle.

Sutra:

Dragon King Swift Pure Color gained a passage into liberation of giving rise to the ocean of all sentient beings’ great aspirations and happiness.

Commentary:

Dragon King Swift Pure Color can fly and undergo transformations very swiftly. He has gained a passage into liberation of giving rise to the ocean of all sentient being’ great aspirations and happiness. He enables sentient beings to attain profuse aspirations and rejoicing, which are inconceivable and ocean-like. That is his passage into liberation. He can make sentient beings very happy. What are they happy about? They are happy about the Buddhadharma. What do they aspire toward? They aspire toward the Buddhadharma. He can influence sentient beings to turn away from confusion and return to enlightenment, renounce the deviant and follow the proper. He has attained this particular passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Dragon King Booming Sounds Carrying Everywhere gained a passage into liberation of manifesting all impartial, delightful, and unobstructed sounds.

Commentary:

Dragon King Booming Sounds Carrying Everywhere is so named because he releases a great Dharma sound throughout the Dharma Realm. He has gained a passage into liberation of manifesting all impartial, delightful, and unobstructed sounds. Originally they weren’t there, but now he makes them appear. This kind of sound is impartial. Any sentient being can hear this Dharma sound. Upon hearing this Dharma sound, sentient beings are delighted at heart and extremely happy. How happy are they? They arrive at the state of nonobstruction. These sounds are unobstructed, and for that reason all sentient beings simultaneously get to hear this impartial, delightful, unobstructed sound. This Dragon King has obtained this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Dragon King Free from Burning Afflictions gained a passage into liberation of a cloud of great compassion that overspreads everywhere, eradicating all the suffering in the world.

At that time, Dragon King Virupakshareceived the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the dragon multitudes, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary:

The next Dragon King is named Free from Burning Afflictions. What dragons fear most is heat. Once it gets hot, the dragons cannot take it. They undergo the suffering of having hot sand burn their bodies. Dragons cannot stand the heat. They like inclement weather, overcast with clouds. During such times they are free from heated afflictions, and feel clear and cool. He has gained a passage into liberation of a cloud of great compassion that overspreads everywhere. This cloud is brought about by the power of his great compassionate vows. It spreads out in the sky above, protecting sentient beings. This is the passage into liberation of eradicating all the suffering in the world. He is able to dispel all worldly suffering. That is his liberation.

At that time, the Dragon King Virupakshareceived the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the dragon multitudes, all those in the dragon path, and spoke verses to reiterate his meaning.

Sutra:

Behold the Thus Come One’s Dharma, ever thus,
Benefiting all sentient beings.
With the power of immense kindness and empathy,
He rescues those who have fallen into the fearsome paths.  

Commentary:

Behold. This is telling all sentient beings to contemplate the Thus Come One’s Dharma, ever thus. It is always that way. It accords with conditions and does not change; it does not change but accords with conditions. Benefiting all sentient beings. The reason the Thus Come One speaks Dharma is to benefit sentient beings. When sentient beings obtain the nourishment of the Buddha’s Dharma rain, their Dharma body and wisdom-life are nurtured. With the power of immense kindness and empathy, the Buddha sympathizes with and has pity for all sentient beings. By means of the power of great compassion, he rescues those who have fallen into the fearsome paths. He pulls sentient beings out of the three fearsome paths of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals. The beings in those three paths are terrified, trapped, and in peril. When sentient beings sink and fall into the three evil paths, the Buddha feels pity for them and pulls them out of suffering so they can attain bliss.

Sutra:

Sentient beings with all their differences
Manifest completely on a single hair’s tip.
His spiritual transformations fill the world.
Thus, Sagara contemplates the Buddha.

Commentary:

Sentient beings with all their differences / Manifest completely on a single hair’s tip. This is referring to the tip of a hair on the Buddha’s body, not on the Dragon King’s body. Dragons have scales, not hair. This describes the Buddha’s state, not the state of dragons. You should pay attention to this point. Dragons have scales, not hair. If the text were in fact referring to dragons, it would say, “Completely manifesting on the edge of a scale.”

Sentient beings with all their differences. This includes beings born from womb, egg, moisture, and transformation, those with thought, those without thought, those not completely with thought, and those not completely without thought; those with form, those without form, those not completely with form, and those not completely without form. Sentient beings have various differences, due to their different karmic retributions. Some beings undergo the retribution of suffering, some undergo the retribution of joy, while others undergo the karmic retribution of neither suffering nor joy. In general, they become deluded, create karma, and undergo the retribution. Driven by confusion, they create bad karma and undergo an unpleasant retribution. They have to suffer. Differences in karmic retribution result in different experiences such as suffering, joy, or neither suffering nor joy. All those differences manifest completely on a single hair’s tip. All of those various karmic retributions manifest. The kind of karmic retribution sentient beings undergo depends on the kind of karma they have created: Everything manifests on the tip of a hair on the Buddha. Although that is an incredibly tiny surface, different karmic retributions of all beings appear therein.

His spiritual transformations fill the world: Why is the Buddha able to do this? The Buddha has spiritual powers. He can manifest many within one, and one within many. He can make the small encompass the great, and the great encompass the small, so that great and small are mutually nonobstructive. The endless changes and transformations of the Buddha’s spiritual powers fill the lands of the universe. Thus, Sagara contemplates the Buddha. Since he understands the Buddha’s state, he attains this passage into liberation and this samadhi. Sagara means “ Salty Sea ,” because this dragon king lives in a salty ocean, but he does not fear the saltiness.

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