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

Chapter One, Part Four & Five
A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua__

IX. Heaven and earth display auspicious portents
The quaking of the earth

Sutra:

At that time, by the Buddha’s spiritual power, the ground in the Flower Treasury Adorned Sea of Worlds underwent all the six kinds of quaking in their eighteen forms.

Commentary:

At that time, after the previous verses were spoken, by the Buddha’s spiritual power, the ground in the Flower Treasury Adorned Sea of Worlds underwent all the six kinds of quaking in their eighteen forms. The Lotus Flower Treasury World-System contains various world seeds. Our world is located in the thirteenth tier of the Lotus Flower Treasury World-System. There are infinitely many worlds, not just our world.

The earth quakes by virtue of the Buddha’s spiritual power. There are six kinds of earthquakes: banging, roaring, crackling, shaking, rising, and surging. Banging, roaring and crackling pertain to sound, and shaking, rising, and surging pertain to movement.

There are many reasons why the earth might quake. Earthquakes may cause great disasters, whereas tremors may not cause any harm.

1.   When there are great floods, earthquakes may also occur.
2.   When spirits want to test out their own powers, they cause the earth to quake.
3.   When the Buddha-to-be enters the womb (in the life he is to become a Buddha), the earth will quake.
4.   When the Buddha leaves the womb, the earth will quake as well.
5.   When the Buddha cultivates and attains the Way, the earth will also quake.
6.   When the Buddha turns the Dharma wheel, the earth will quake as well.
7.   When the Buddha ceases to expound the Dharma and teach and transform sentient beings, the earth also quakes.
8.   When the Buddha enters nirvana, the earth quakes as well.
9.   When a great Bhikshu with the power of spiritual fulfillment attains sovereignty of mind and contemplates the earth disappearing, he can cause the earth to quake with his spiritual powers.
10.  When a Buddha bestows a prediction upon a Bodhisattva, saying, “You will become a Buddha in this world,” the earth spirit, in delight, causes the earth to quake.

These are ten circumstances in which the earth may quake. There are other reasons, such as:

1.   The earth may quake in order to frighten all the demon kings.
2.   The earth may quake in order make everyone concentrate when the Dharma is spoken.
3.   The earth may quake to cause lazy beings to grow more alert and aware. “Ah, I shouldn’t be so lax. Heaven and earth are impermanent. The earth is quaking now!”
4.   The earth may quake to cause sentient beings to understand the characteristics of the Dharma and the importance of the Dharma.
5.   The earth may quake so as to cause sentient beings to see the place where the Dharma is spoken.
6.   The earth may quake so as to cause mature sentient beings to attain liberation.
7.   The earth may quake so as to cause sentient beings to follow the Proper Dharma and inquire about the proper meaning.

There are four more reasons that earthquakes occur. These are not related to the Flower Adornment Sutra, but it wouldn’t hurt for everyone to know them.

1.   To cause unkind sentient beings to change their evil ways and become good.
2.   To cause sentient beings who believe in heavenly deities to realize that the heavens are not an ultimate end.
3.   To cause egotistical sentient beings to feel shame and remorse.
4.   To cause people who recite spells to harm others to become compassionate.

There are six basic types of earthquakes, and these six occur in three classes, making eighteen forms of quaking in all.

Sutra:

[Those quakings were] namely, moving, pervasive moving, universally pervasive moving, rising, pervasive rising, universally pervasive rising, surging, pervasive surging, universally pervasive surging, shaking, pervasive shaking, universally pervasive shaking, roaring, pervasive roaring, universally pervasive roaring, banging, pervasive banging, universally pervasive banging.

Commentary:

[Those quakings were] namely, moving, pervasive moving, universally pervasive moving. Moving is a visible form of quaking. Movement in one location is merely “moving.” Movement in the four directions—east, west, north, and south—is called “pervasive moving.” Such movement occurs successively in the different directions, not simultaneously. Movement in eight directions, whether simultaneously or successively, is called “universally pervasive moving.”

Rising refers to the earth being raised upwards in one place. Rising in four directions is called pervasive rising, and in eight directions, universally pervasive rising. Surging is the same kind of movement as rising, except that it takes place at a faster speed. Surging refers to the earth moving upwards quickly in one place. Surging in four directions is called pervasive surging, and in eight directions, universally pervasive surging.

Shaking describes the sound of parts of the earth shaking against each other. There is banging in one direction, pervasive shaking in four directions, and universally pervasive shaking in eight directions—the four cardinal and four intermediate directions. Roaring, which is also a sound, takes place in one location. Pervasive roaring refers to roaring in the four directions, and universally pervasive roaring occurs in eight directions. Banging refers to parts of the earth knocking against each other in one place. Banging in the four directions is called pervasive banging, and in the eight directions, universally pervasive banging.

A different interpretation defines “shaking” in as shaking in four directions, “pervasive shaking” as shaking in eight directions, and “universally pervasive shaking” as shaking in ten directions. However, I do not think this interpretation is apt, because we would not be aware of shaking in the upper direction. Therefore, only nine directions should be mentioned.

I find that defining “shaking” as shaking in one place, “pervasive shaking” as shaking in four directions, and “universally pervasive shaking” as shaking in eight directions more reasonable.

There is also the distinction between successive and simultaneous shaking in the various directions. Simultaneous shaking means shaking occurs at the same time in one, four, or eight directions. Successive shaking means shaking occurs first in one direction, then another, then another, and so forth.

These eighteen forms of quaking represent the eighteen realms—the six faculties, the six sense objects, and the six consciousnesses—which can also be said to undergo quaking.

IX. Heaven and earth display auspicious portents
The making of offerings

Sutra:

Each and every one of the world leaders manifested inconceivable clouds of offerings and rained them upon the oceanic multitudes in the Thus Come One’s bodhimanda.

There were clouds of all kinds of adorning fragrance and flowers, clouds of all wonderful ornaments of mani, clouds of exquisite nets of dazzling light from jewels, clouds of perfect radiance from a boundless array of mani jewels, clouds of jewels of a myriad colors and a treasury of pearls, clouds of assorted precious candana incenses, clouds of canopies made of various jewels, clouds of magnificent mani gems resonating with pure and wondrous sound, clouds of wheel-like necklaces of sunlight mani beads, clouds of resplendent radiance from assorted jewels, and clouds of myriad ornaments, each distinct. There were measureless, inconceivable numbers of clouds of offerings such as these. Each and every one of the world leaders manifested such clouds of offerings and rained them upon the oceanic multitudes in the Thus Come One’s bodhimanda, covering them all.

Commentary:

Each and every one of the world leaders—the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas in the Way-place where the Dharma assembly was going on, as well as gold, silver, bronze, and iron wheel-turning sage kings—manifested inconceivable clouds of offerings and rained them upon the oceanic multitudes in the Thus Come One’s bodhimanda. There is no way to imagine these clouds of offerings to the Buddha. These clouds fell like rain upon the site where the Buddha attained the Way, where the ocean-like assembly of sages were gathered. What kinds of clouds were there?

There were clouds of all kinds of adorning fragrance and flowers, clouds of all wonderful ornaments of mani, clouds of exquisite nets of dazzling light from jewels. The flame-like radiance of jewels formed beautiful, flower-like nets. There were also clouds of perfect radiance from a boundless array of mani jewels, clouds of jewels of a myriad colors and a treasury of pearls, clouds of assorted precious candana incenses, clouds of canopies made of various jewels, clouds of magnificent mani gems resonating with pure and wondrous sound, clouds of wheel-like necklaces of sunlight mani beads. The glow of these clouds resembled sunlight. There were also clouds of resplendent radiance from assorted jewels, and clouds of myriad ornaments, each distinct.

There were measureless, inconceivable numbers of clouds of offerings such as these. The number of these clouds could not be conceived or expressed in words. Each and every one of the world leaders manifested such clouds of offerings as mentioned earlier and rained them upon the oceanic multitudes in the Thus Come One’s bodhimanda, covering them all. No one was left out.     

X. Conclusion that the situation is universal and infinite

Sutra:

Just as each and every world leader in this world was delighted and made offerings in this way, so too, in all worlds in the Flower Treasury Adorned Sea of Worlds, all the world leaders made offerings in the same way.

Commentary:

Just as each and every world leader in this world was immensely delighted and made offerings to the Buddhas in this way, so too, in all the infinite worlds in the Flower Treasury Adorned Sea of Worlds, all the world leaders made offerings in the same way. In other words, in every world the king of every country saw a Buddha realizing Buddhahood in his country, and created these clouds of offerings. 

Sutra:

In each of those worlds, a Thus Come One was seated in a bodhimanda. Each and every world leader had his individual faith and understanding.

Commentary:

In the Flower Treasury Sea of Worlds, all the world leaders resolved to present to the Buddha the vast clouds of offerings mentioned previously. In each of those infinite worlds, a Thus Come One was seated in a bodhimanda beneath the bodhi tree, where he realized Proper Enlightenment.

Each and every world leader had his individual faith and understanding…Each king and leader gave rise to deep faith and understanding of the Buddhadharma, thus gaining three benefits:

1.   The benefit of hearing. Upon hearing the Buddha’s words, they understood the principles behind them and grew in faith and understanding.
2.   The benefit of reflection. Upon hearing the Buddha’s words, they pondered the principles conveyed through language.
3.   The benefit of cultivation.
a.   Cultivation of practices. By cultivating various practices of samadhi, we can realize sagehood.
b.   Cultivation of Dharma. By cultivating in accord with the Dharma, we become filled with Dharma joy. The Dharma involves faith, vows, and practice.
c.   Cultivation of the fruition. Through cultivation, we can understand the principles and realize the fruition of sagehood.
d.   Cultivation of benefits. Through cultivating, we attain various benefits.
e.   Cultivation of conversion. We can change from being ordinary people and become sages.
f.    Cultivation of sameness. The dharma doors that we understand and awaken to are the very same ones that past Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Arhats realized.
g.   Cultivation of the ultimate. We must cultivate to the utmost point.

1) Cultivation of ultimate great compassion. Through cultivating great compassion to the utmost point, we can enter the Buddha’s state and can benefit all sentient beings, thereby achieving the virtue of kindness.

2) Cultivation of ultimate great wisdom. We can enter the Buddha’s power of wisdom, at which point we will gain incomparable compassion and wisdom, thereby realizing the Buddha’s virtue of wisdom.

3) Cultivation of ultimate freedom and ease. We can eliminate all obstacles, and our mind and environment will be characterized by freedom and ease. In fact, the mind and environment  are nondual. We will achieve the Buddha’s virtue of severance; in other words, we will realize all the Buddha’s passages into liberation.

In each world, every leader obtained the benefits of hearing, reflection, and cultivation.

Sutra:

[Each world leader had] individual conditions, individual expedient passages into samadhi, individual practices of dharmas that aid the Way, individual accomplishments, individual happiness, individual inclinations, individual enlightenment and understanding of dharma doors, individual entry into the states of the Thus Come One’s spiritual penetrations, individual entry into the states of the Thus Come One’s powers, and individual entry into the Thus Come One’s passages into liberations.

Just as it was in this Flower Treasury Adorned Sea of Worlds, so it was in all seas of worlds in the ten directions to the ends of the Dharma Realm and space.

Commentary:

The preceding passage stated that each world leader had his own faith and understanding. Having developed faith and understanding, each was guided by his own individual conditions in cultivation. Moreover, every world leader cultivated his own individual expedient passages into samadhi. Every king and leader undertook individual practices of dharmas that aid the Way. They did all sorts of good deeds that generated merit to aid their cultivation. Since they cultivated their own dharma doors, they also had individual accomplishments. Each leader’s accomplishments caused him to experience individual happiness. Every leader followed his individual inclinations to delve more deeply into his dharma door. Having entered deeply, they experienced individual enlightenment and understanding of their own dharma doors. The wonderful functioning of spiritual powers they attained from cultivation made possible their individual entry into the states of the Thus Come One’s spiritual penetrations, their individual entry into the states of the Thus Come One’s powers of wisdom, and their individual entry into the Thus Come One’s passage into liberations. These passages into liberation signify the Buddha’s virtue of severance. Having severed all afflictions, he attained liberation.

Just as it was in this Flower Treasury Adorned Sea of Worlds, it was the same in all seas of worlds in the ten directions to the ends of the Dharma Realm and space. It was the same in all those worlds. All the world leaders formed clouds of offerings and finally entered the Thus Come One’s passages into liberation.

Praise:

In the Flower Adornment Oceanic Assembly,
Its jeweled treasury of spiritual literature
Has sutra-rolls the size of a great trichiliocosm  in a single atomic particle,
Which is broken open by this very person.
Then flowers rain down in profusion,
And the Dharma Realm is everywhere permeated with fragrance.

Commentary:

In the Flower Adornment Oceanic Assembly, which is endless and inexhaustible, Its jeweled treasury of spiritual literature—This sutra is a jeweled treasury of spiritual literature. Anyone who recites this sutra will derive merit and benefit. The effort will not be in vain. One will certainly gain advantages.

This sutra has sutra-rolls the size of a great trichiliocosm, which can fit in a single atomic particle, which is broken open by this very person. One can take a knife and cut open this particle, then take out the sutra. Who can do this. You can, if you know how. Then you will understand the principles in the Flower Adornment Sutra.

Then celestial mandarava flowers rain down in profusion, as in the line from the Great Compassion Repentance, “Jeweled flowers rain down in profusion from the heavens.”

And the Dharma Realm is everywhere permeated with fragrance. Sentient beings throughout the Dharma Realm are permeated with and can smell the Dharma-fragrance and merit of the Flower Adornment Sutra. It is not the Dharma Realm that smells the fragrance, but the sentient beings within the Dharma Realm. The Dharma Realm is a location, with no nature of its own. This concludes the explanation of Chapter One of the Flower Adornment Sutra.

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