THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Ascent to the Summit of Mt.Sumeru

Chapter Thirteen. A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

VII. The music in the palace ceases.
VIII. Each Lord Sakra recalls his past causes and conditions.

Sutra:

Then for Lord Sakra, due to the Buddha’s spiritual powers, all the music in the palace spontaneously ceased. He himself recalled how in the presence of past Buddhas he had established all kinds of wholesome foundations in the Dharma, and so he spoke in verse:  

Commentary:

Then for Lord Sakra, chief among gods, due to the Buddha’s majestic virtue and great spiritualpowers, all the music in the palace spontaneously ceased. Because Sakra hadn’t eradicated his habits, he still indulged in the enjoyment of fine sights and sounds. Every day all kinds of music were played for him, to entertain and delight him. When the Buddha arrived, however, all the music spontaneously stopped. Sakra’s music sounds even better than the music of our human realm. When people who love music hear some enchanting music, they become as if drunk or dazed, oblivious to everything else. They enter the samadhi of music and go wild. For example, when some people listen to rock ‘n roll, they lose themselves so completely that they wouldn’t even know it if they died, because they are in music samadhi.

He himself recalled how in the presence of past Buddhas he had established all kinds of wholesome foundations in the Dharma. Sakra himself then remembered all the causes and conditions of the past, and all the firm foundations he had set down in the Dharma in the bodhimandas of Buddhas of the past. And so he spoke in verse to tell the Buddha about those causes and conditions of his distant past.

IX. Each Lord Sakra praises the Thus Come Ones in unison.
A. They describe the situation in this world.

Sutra:

Kasyapa Thus Come One has great compassion;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.

Commentary:

Kasyapa Thus Come One has great compassion. “Kasyapa” is a Sanskrit word translated as “Drinker of Light,” because KasyapaBuddha’s light can absorb and outshine all other lights. No other light rays are brighter or more dazzling than his body’s light. He also has the light of compassion, which can swallow up and overcomes deviant light. Kasyapa Buddha is a Buddha endowed with the light of great compassion.

There is nothing more auspicious than this. This is the most auspicious of all lucky matters. That Buddha once entered this palace. In the past, Kasyapa Buddha came into Wondrous Splendid Palace and spoke the Dharma. He spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra.Therefore this place is most auspicious. Because of this, Wondrous Splendid Palace is a most auspicious jeweled palace. All the past Buddhas have spoken Dharma in this palace.

Sutra:

Kanakamuni Buddha’s vision is unobstructed;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.

Commentary:

Kanakamuni Buddha’s vision is unobstructed. “Kanakamuni” translates as “Golden Immortal,” or “Golden Silence.” “Golden” means that he was radiant, and “silence” means that he was unobstructed. Therefore this Buddha is radiant and unobstructed. His vision is unimpeded. There is nothing more auspicious than this. This is the most auspicious among all lucky events. That Buddha once entered this palace. Kanakamuni Buddha also came to Wondrous Splendid Palace and spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra. Therefore this place is most auspicious. For this reason, Wondrous Splendid Palace is the most auspicious bodhimanda.

Sutra:

Krakucchanda Buddha is like a golden mountain;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.

Commentary:

Krakucchanda Buddha is like a golden mountain. “Krakucchanda” is a Sanskrit word which means “what should be severed is already severed.” What ought to be severed? Afflictions. Not only does this Buddha have no afflictions, but all Buddhas are without afflictions. This Buddha’s body resembles a gold mountain. There is nothing more auspicious than this. Among all lucky events, this is the most auspicious. That Buddha once entered this palace. In the past, Krakucchanda Buddha, who severed what ought to be severed, also came to Wondrous Splendid Palace and spoke the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra. Therefore this place is most auspicious. Wondrous Splendid Palace is the most auspicious bodhimanda.

Sutra:

Visvabhu Buddha is free from the three defilements;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.

Commentary:

Visvabhu Buddha is free from the three defilements. “Visvabhu”, transliterated here as pi she fu can also be transliterated as pi shi po bu. Pi shi po means “All-Pervasive.” Bu means “At Ease.” Defilements refer to defiling habits. The three defilements are: (1) habits, (2) seeds, and (3) current karma. That is, the three defilements include present karma, past seeds, and habits from the distant past. Being free from three defilements can also be explained as being pure in the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind. The Buddha “Pervasively Free and at Ease” is free from all filth and defilements, not only the three defilements. There is nothing more auspicious than this. /That Buddha once entered this palace. Visvabhu Buddha, the Buddha who is pervasively free and at ease and who doesn’t have the three defilements, also came to Wondrous Splendid Palace during past eons and spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra. Therefore this place is most auspicious. Thus Wondrous Splendid Palace is the most auspicious bodhimanda. 

Sutra:

Sikhin Thus Come One is free from discrimination;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.

Commentary:

Sikhin Thus Come One is free from discrimination.Buddhas are usually named according to their virtues. For example, Shakyamuni Buddha’s name means “Able to Be Humane” and “Still and Silent.” “Able to Be Humane” refers to movement while “Still and Silent” refers to stillness. “Able to Be Humane” means being able to pervasively teach and transform all beings, and being endowed with the Four Unlimited Aspects of Mind: kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and giving/equanimity. “Still and Silent” means having the Four Virtues of eternity, joy, true self, and purity.

“Sikhin” is also Sanskrit, translated as “Worn on the Topknot.” This Buddha resembles a pearl or a jewel worn on the topknot. He is free from all discrimination. He has great wisdom and fully understands the true character of all dharmas.

There is nothing more auspicious than this. Any place that Sikhin Thus Come One goes to becomes an auspicious place. Nothing is more felicitous than this. That Buddha once entered this palace. Lord Sakra says, “In the past, Sikhin Thus Come One also came to Wondrous Splendid Palace and spoke the Great Flower Adornment Sutra. I now recall this event from the past.” Therefore this place is most auspicious. Because of this, Wondrous Splendid Palace is the most auspicious great bodhimanda.

Sutra:

Vipasyin Buddha resembles the full moon;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.

* * * *

We are now holding a Buddha Recitation Session, and we are discussing the auspiciousness of ten Buddhas who all went to the Universal Light Palace, also known as the Wondrous Splendid Palace, to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra and the chapter “Ascending to the Summit of Mount Sumeru.” Now, on the summit of Gold Mountain, we are also speaking the chapter “Ascending to the Summit of Mount Sumeru.”

We are also holding a chan session, and hopefully someone will become enlightened. It’s too bad one disciple can’t be here to join the session. He’s holding his own session on the mountain. Today I want to announce to all of you, and I’m not afraid that you will be jealous of him: Among the people at Gold Mountain Monastery, this particular disciple has the most endurance. I don’t know if you know this, but one time someone beat him over the head with a big stick, and a bump the size of a teacup sprang up on his head. He just smiled. He didn’t get mad, and he didn’t strike back at that person. Did you know about that?

Now, as we “strike up” this chan session, if any of you can take a beating, then you’ll have a way. If you can’t take it, then you’re not striking up the chan session, you’re merely sitting in chan and investigating chan. Now, you shouldn’t be afraid when you hear about people getting beaten. You shouldn’t think, “I’ve really been fooled into joining this chan session. If I get a beating, that will be really unfair.” Don’t think about it. You can think like that after you’ve been beaten. Before you’ve been beaten, don’t have such a false thought. Try it out.

* * * *

Commentary:

Vipasyin Buddha resembles the full moon. “Vipasyin” is a Sanskrit word which has four meanings: pure contemplation, sublime contemplation, sublime vision, and pervasive vision.

Since he is like a full moon illuminating all places, he is called “Pervasive Vision.” Because he is perfectly round like the full moon, he is called “Pure Contemplation.” In general all four meanings of his name are preserved. There is nothing more auspicious than this. This Buddha is the most excellent among all that is auspicious. That Buddha once entered this palace. Vipasyin Buddha also came to Wondrous Splendid Palace to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra, including this chapter “Ascending to the Summit of Mount Sumeru.” Therefore this place is most auspicious. And now, Shakyamuni Buddha has come here to speak the same chapter of the Flower Adornment Sutra. So, this place is the most auspicious, great bodhimanda.

Sutra:

Pusya Buddha has fathomed the foremost truth;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.  

Commentary:

Pusya Buddha has fathomed the foremost truth. “Pusya,” this Buddha’s name in Sanskrit, translates as “Increasing Abundance.” He has thoroughly understood the principle of the foremost truth. What does this mean? Before a thought has arisen, that is the foremost truth, truth in the primary sense. If you give rise to a thought, then it isn’t the foremost truth. 

One time, Manjushri Bodhisattva and Layman Vimalakirti were having a conversation. Manjushri Bodhisattva asked Layman Vimalakirti, “What is the foremost truth?” Layman Vimalakirti kept his mouth shut and didn’t say a word. Therefore it is said,

Do not open your mouth to express the nondual dharma door.
Do not speak in vain about the foremost truth.

As soon as you verbalize it, it becomes secondary. Without one word, it is truth in the primary sense. “Increasing Abundance” Thus Come One clearly understands the principles of the foremost truth.

There is nothing more auspicious than this. This is the most propitious blessing of all. That Buddha once entered this palace. In the past, “Increasing Abundance” Thus Come One came to Wondrous Splendid Palace. Therefore this place is most auspicious. Because of this, Wondrous Splendid Palace is a most auspicious bodhimanda. 

Sutra:

Tirnabhasya Thus Come One has unobstructed eloquence;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.  

Commentary:

Tirnabhasya Thus Come One has unobstructed eloquence. “Tirnabhasya” is a Sanskrit word that means “liberating and speaking.” In order to liberate all sentient beings, one must speak Dharma and proclaim the teachings. Since the Buddha “Liberating and Speaking” is very talented at speaking Dharma, he is said to have unobstructed eloquence.  

There is nothing more auspicious than this. This is the most auspicious of all felicitous events. That Buddha once entered this palace. The Thus Come One “Liberating and Speaking” came to the Wondrous Splendid Palace before and spoke Dharma for sentient beings. Therefore this place is most auspicious. For that reason, the Wondrous Splendid Palace is the most auspicious and great bodhimanda.

Sutra:

Padma Buddha is immaculately pure;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.  

Commentary:

Padma Buddha is immaculately pure. “Padma” is a Sanskrit word that means “red lotus flower.” He resembles a lotus flower growing out of the mud which remains pure and clean, free from the slightest defilement. There is nothing more auspicious than this. This is the most auspicious among all events. That Buddha once entered this palace. “Red Lotus Flower” Buddha also came to the Wondrous Splendid Palace in the past. Therefore this place is most auspicious. Hence Wondrous Splendid Palace is a most auspicious bodhimanda in which to speak Dharma and liberate sentient beings. 

Sutra:

Dipankara Thus Come One is radiantly bright;
There is nothing more auspicious than this.
That Buddha once entered this palace;
Therefore this place is most auspicious.  

Commentary:

Dipankara Thus Come One is radiantly bright. It was DipankaraBuddha who gave Shakyamuni Buddha the prediction of his future Buddhahood. When this Buddha first resolved to seek enlightenment, his body was radiant with all kinds of light, like a lit lamp. Hence he is called “Dipankara,” which means “Burning Lamp.” This Buddha’s body radiated light when he made his initial resolve. Henceforth, in every lifetime, when he was cultivating blessings and wisdom and practicing the Bodhisattva Path—the Six Perfections and the myriad practices—his body was always radiant and he had great wisdom. Since he possessed the light of great wisdom and great compassion, having perfected both compassion and wisdom, he had a magnificent brilliance about him.

There is nothing more auspicious than this. To be able to see DipankaraBuddha is the greatest fortune. Nothing could be more propitious. That Buddha once entered this palace. That most auspicious, radiant Buddha also has been to Wondrous Splendid Palace before. Therefore this place is most auspicious. Since “Burning Lamp” Buddha has been to this place before, the Good Dharma Hall in the Wondrous Splendid Palace is the most auspicious bodhimanda for speaking Dharma. 

IX. Each Lord Sakra praises the Thus Come Ones in unison.
B. They conclude that it is the same in the ten directions.

Sutra:

Just as the Lord of the Trayastrimsa Heaven in this world, through the Thus Come One’s spiritual power, spoke in verse praising the meritorious virtues of the ten Buddhas, so too did the Heavenly Lord Sakras throughout the worlds of the ten directions praise the Buddhas’ meritorious virtues.

Commentary:

Just as the Lord of the Trayastrimsa Heaven, the Heaven of the Thirty-three in this Saha world,through the Thus Come One’s majestic spiritual power, spoke in verse praising all the meritorious virtues of the ten Buddhas mentioned above, from Kasyapa Thus Come One to Dipankara Thus Come One, so too did the Heavenly Lord Sakras throughout the worlds of the ten directions act like Lord Sakra in the Saha World and praise the ten Buddhas’ meritorious virtues.

X. All the palaces expand and become spacious.

Sutra:

At that time, the World Honored One entered the Wondrous Splendid Palace and sat in full lotus. That palace suddenly expanded until it was spacious enough to accommodate all the celestial multitudes. This also occurred throughout the worlds of the ten directions.

Commentary:

At that time, after Lord Sakra had finished praising the ten Buddhas, the World Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha, entered the Wondrous Splendid Palace and sat in full lotus on the Universal Light Treasury Lion Throne, which was made of myriads of precious gems. That palace suddenly expanded until it was spacious enough to accommodate all the celestial multitudes. The Wondrous Splendid Palace suddenly expanded to become very wide and broad. It could accommodate all the multitudes of gods. This also occurred throughout the worlds of the ten directions. The same thing happened to all the other Wondrous Splendid Palaces of the Trayastrimsa Heavens in the ten directions, as happened to the Wondrous Splendid Palace of the Trayastrimsa in the Saha World. Those palaces also became vast, wide, and spacious, and were able to accommodate all the celestial multitudes.

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