THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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A Commentary by the Venerable Master
Hsuan Hua

Praises at the Summit of Mount Sumeru

Chapter Fourteen

Overview of Chapter Fourteen

After the Buddha had ascended to Trayastrimsa Heaven at the summit of Mount Sumeru,

Outline:

  • The assembly gathers.
  • The Thus Come One radiates light.
  • The Bodhisattvas speak verses in praise.
  • Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva of the East
  • All Wisdom Bodhisattva of the South
  • Superior Wisdom Bodhisattva of the West
  • Meritorious Wisdom Bodhisattva of the North
  • Vigorous Wisdom Bodhisattva of the Northeast
  • Good Wisdom Bodhisattva of the Southeast
  • Knowledgeable Wisdom Bodhisattva of the Southwest
  • True Wisdom Bodhisattva of the Northwest
  • Unsurpassed Wisdom Bodhisattva of the Nadir
  • Solid Wisdom Bodhisattva of the Zenith

Chapter Fourteen Praises at the Summit of Mount Sumeru

Commentary:

This chapter was also spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha as he sat on the Universal Light Treasury Lion Throne in the Wondrous Splendid Palace, prior to the proclaiming of the dharma door of the Ten Dwellings. This is the fourteenth chapter and is titled Praises at the Summit of Mount Sumeru.

The assembly gathers.

Sutra:

At that time, due to the Buddha’s spiritual power, in each of the ten directions a great Bodhisattva, accompanied by Bodhisattvas as numerous as the dust motes in a Buddhaland, traveling from worlds beyond countries as numerous as the dust motes in a hundred Buddhalands, came and joined the assembly.  

Commentary:

At that time, after the preceding chapter “Ascent to the Summit of Mount Sumeru” had been spoken, due to the Buddha’s manifestation of great spiritual power, in each of the ten directions there was a great Bodhisattva. The ten Bodhisattvas symbolize the Ten Dwellings. Each great Bodhisattva was a leader of Bodhisattvas and was accompanied by Bodhisattvas as numerous as the dust motes in a Buddhaland.Traveling from worlds beyond as many countries as there are dust motes in a hundred Buddhalands, each Bodhisattva came and joined the assembly. Earlier in the sutra the number of dust motes in ten Buddhalands was used, but now the figure has increased to the dust motes in a hundred Buddhalands. From many worlds, they came to the Wondrous Splendid Palace in order to draw near Shakyamuni Buddha.

Sutra:

Their names were Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva, All Wisdom Bodhisattva, Superior Wisdom Bodhisattva, Meritorious Wisdom Bodhisattva, Vigorous Wisdom Bodhisattva, Wholesome Wisdom Bodhisattva, Knowledgeable Wisdom Bodhisattva, True Wisdom Bodhisattva, Unsurpassed Wisdom Bodhisattva, and Solid Wisdom Bodhisattva.  

Commentary:

All of you who are listening to the lecture should contemplate this: When the Buddha was about to speak this chapter called “Praises at the Summit of Mount Sumeru” of the Flower Adornment Sutra, the great Bodhisattvas from the worlds of the ten directions all brought their Bodhisattva retinues and assembled here to rejoice in and praise the Buddha’s merit and virtue and to help the Buddha propagate the Dharma. If all the Bodhisattvas come to listen to the Flower Adornment Sutra, how much the more should we ordinary people? We should listen even more attentively.

What were the names of the leaders of the Bodhisattvas? Their names were Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva. This Bodhisattva has understood the Buddhadharma and opened up great wisdom.The second was All Wisdom Bodhisattva, who attained all kinds of wisdom because he understood all of the Buddhadharma. The third was Superior Wisdom Bodhisattva, whose wisdom was rare and special. The fourth was Meritorious Wisdom Bodhisattva, who had created all kinds of merit and virtue and attained genuine wisdom. The fifth was Vigorous Wisdom Bodhisattva, who attained great wisdom through cultivating vigorously. The sixth was Wholesome Wisdom Bodhisattva, who specialized in doing good deeds, and whose wisdom opened up after he had done many good things. The seventh was named Knowledgeable Wisdom Bodhisattva, because he cultivated the prajna dharma door and attained wisdom. The eighth was called True Wisdom Bodhisattva. This Bodhisattva cultivated the dharma door of no false speech. He kept the precept of not lying. Since he never lied to anyone, he attained true wisdom. The ninth was named Unsurpassed Wisdom Bodhisattva, because no one else’s wisdom could compare with his. And the tenth was called Solid Wisdom Bodhisattva. His wisdom was firm and steadfast, free from doubts, just like vajra—solid, bright, and sharp.

These ten Bodhisattvas represented the Ten Dwellings. Where did they come from?

Sutra:

They came from the Indra Flower World, the Padma Flower World, the Jeweled Flower World, the Utpala Flower World, the Vajra Flower World, the Wondrous Fragrance Flower World, the Delightful Flower World, the Arunakamala Flower World, the Naradhara Flower World, and the Empty Space Flower World.

Commentary:

They came from  

1. The Indra Flower World. Indra refers to Lord Sakra.

2. The Padma Flower World. The padma flower is the red lotus flower.

3. The Jeweled Flower World. The flowers were made of many gems and jewels.

4. The Utpala Flower World. The utpala is the blue lotus flower.

5. The Vajra Flower World.

6. The Wonderful Fragrance Flower World.

7. The Delightful Flower World. When people see this kind of flower, they feel happy.

8. The Arunakamala Flower World. Arunakamalais Sanskrit and means “sunrise flower.” The flower is reddish, like the color of the rising sun.

9. The Naradhara Flower World. Naradharais Sanskrit and means “held by people.” Everyone likes to hold this flower.

10. The Empty Space Flower World. There was also a world by the name “Empty Space Flower.”

The ten Bodhisattva leaders were from these ten worlds.

Sutra:

Each of them had purely cultivated the brahma conduct in the presence of a Buddha. The names of the Buddhas were Extraordinary Moon Buddha, Inexhaustible Moon Buddha, Unmoving Moon Buddha, Wind Moon Buddha, Water Moon Buddha, Liberation Moon Buddha, Unsurpassed Moon Buddha, Constellation Moon Buddha, Pure Moon Buddha, and Bright Understanding Moon Buddha. Arriving at the Buddha’s place, these Bodhisattvas bowed at the Buddha’s feet. Each one, in the direction from which he came, created a Vairocana Treasury Lion Throne and sat upon it in full lotus.  

Just as the Bodhisattvas assembled on the summit of Mount Sumeru in this world, it was the same way in all worlds. The names of the Bodhisattvas, their worlds, and the Buddhas were all the same.  

Commentary:

Each of them had purely cultivated the brahma conduct in the presence of a Buddha. These ten Bodhisattvas had drawn near ten different Buddhas. The names of the ten Buddhas all have the word “Moon” in it. This represents their perfectly interpenetrating wisdom and virtue as well as their unobstructed blessings and wisdom. Their wisdom, blessings, and virtue are all perfect, just like the full moon. The names of the Buddhas were Extraordinary Moon Buddha, Inexhaustible Moon Buddha, Unmoving Moon Buddha, Wind Moon Buddha, Water Moon Buddha, Liberation Moon Buddha, Unsurpassed Moon Buddha, Constellation Moon Buddha, Pure Moon Buddha, and Bright Understanding Moon Buddha.  

Arriving at the Buddha’s place, all these Bodhisattvas bowed at the Buddha’s feet. These Bodhisattvas arrived at the place where Shakyamuni Buddha was. They made obeisance to the Buddha three times and circumambulated him three times to the right. Each one, in the direction from which he came, created a Vairocana Treasury Lion Throne and sat upon it in full lotus. Vairochana means “Pervading All Places.”

Just as the Bodhisattvas assembled on the summit of Mount Sumeru in this Saha world, it was the same way in all worlds throughout the ten directions. The Bodhisattvas in all the other worlds also assembled on the Mount Sumerus in those worlds. The names of the Bodhisattvas, their worlds, and the Buddhas were all the same. The names were all the same. The ten Bodhisattvas had the same names, their worlds were also named after the same flowers, and their Buddhas’ names also had the word “Moon” in them.

II. The Thus Come One radiates light.

Sutra:

At that time, the World Honored One emitted a trillion splendidly colored lights from his toes, illumining all the worlds in the ten directions, so that the Buddhas and assemblies in the palaces of Lord Sakra on the Mount Sumerus could all be seen.  

Commentary:

At that time, the World Honored One, that is, the Shakyamuni Buddha in the Wondrous Splendid Palace of Lord Sakra on the peak of the Mount Sumeru in every world, emitted a trillion splendidly colored lights from his toes on both his feet, illumining all the worlds in the ten directions, so that the Buddhas and assemblies in the palaces of Lord Sakra on the Mount Sumerus could all be seen. The Buddha’s light shone into Lord Sakra’s palace atop Mount Sumeru in each and every world. Shakyamuni Buddha, the great Bodhisattvas, and the great assembly in every world appeared within the light.

III. The Bodhisattvas speak verses in praise.

A. Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva of the East

Sutra:

Then Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva, relying on the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the ten directions and spoke in verse.  

Commentary:

Then Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva, relying on the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, aided by Shakyamuni Buddha’s great spiritual power, universally contemplated the worlds of the ten directions and spoke in verse to explain the principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra.

Sutra:

As the Buddha radiates pure, clear light,
The Teacher of the World is seen by all,
Dwelling in Wondrous Splendid Palace
On the peak of Sumeru, the King of Mountains.  

Commentary:

As the Buddha Shakyamuni, who is seated in the Wondrous Splendid Palace on Mount Sumeru, hosting the Flower Adornment Dharma Assembly, radiates pure, clear light of a trillion huesfrom his toes, the Teacher of the World is seen by all. All the great Bodhisattvas and sentient beings in lands as numerous as dust motes in a hundred Buddhalands see the Teacher of the World—the Buddha—dwelling in Wondrous Splendid Palace on the Universal Light Treasury Lion Throne, on the peak of Sumeru, Wonderfully High, the King of Mountains.  

Sutra:

All the Celestial Lord Sakras
Invite the Buddha into their palace.
They all use ten wonderful verses
To praise the Thus Come Ones.

Commentary:

All the Celestial Lord Sakras in the ten directions invite the Buddha into their palace, the Wondrous Splendid Palace. They all use ten wonderful verses / To praise the Thus Come Ones, the Buddhas in all the Wondrous Splendid Palaces.

Sutra:

In those great assemblies,
All the multitudes of Bodhisattvas
Arriving from the ten directions
Created thrones and sat upon them.  

Commentary:

In those great assemblies, that is, in all the great assemblies hosted by Buddhas throughout the worlds of the ten directions, all the multitudes of great Bodhisattvas / Arriving from the bodhimandas of their Buddhas in worlds throughout the ten directions / Created thrones, Vairocana Treasury Lion Thrones, and sat upon them.  

Sutra:

All the Bodhisattvas in those assemblies
Have the same name as I.
The worlds from which they come
Are also of the same name.

Commentary:

All the Bodhisattvas in those Dharma assemblies of Buddhas throughout the worlds of the ten directions have the same name as I. They are all named Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva.

When we were in Oregon, someone asked why there were two Buddhas with the same name. Not only does this happen with Buddhas, there are plenty of Bodhisattvas and Arhats (Hearers) and Sages Enlightened by Conditions who also share the same name. Therefore, it’s not strange at all. If you hear the Flower Adornment Sutra, you’ll know that many Bodhisattvas have the same name, many worlds have the same name, and many Buddhas also share the same name.  

The worlds from which they come / Are also of the same name as Jambudvipa, the southern continent of the Saha world.

Sutra:

The World Honored Ones of their lands
Have the same name as well.
In the presence of their Buddhas,
They cultivated unsurpassed pure conduct.

Commentary:

The World Honored Ones of their lands where they came from also have the same name. The names of their Buddhas were also identical. In the presence of their Buddhas, beneath the bodhi tree, they cultivated unsurpassed pure, undefiled, compassionate conduct. They cultivated conduct that was free from jealousy and selfishness. They cultivated all kinds of practices arising from a great resolve for the spiritual Path.

Sutra:

Disciples of the Buddhas, you should contemplate
The sovereign power of the Thus Come Ones.
Those in every Jambudvipa
Say that the Buddha is among them.

Commentary:

Disciples of the Buddhas, you should contemplate and understand that all of this is brought about by the sovereign spiritual power of the Thus Come Ones. / Those in every Jambudvipa, in the southern continent of every world, say that the Buddha is among them. They all say the Buddha is there turning the Dharma wheel and teaching sentient beings.

Sutra:

All of us now see the Buddha
Dwelling on the summit of Sumeru.
Throughout the ten directions it is also thus
Due to the sovereign power of the Thus Come Ones.

Commentary:

All of us now see the Buddha / Dwelling on the summit of Mount Sumeru. /Throughout the ten directions it is also thus. Sentient beings in the ten directions all see the Buddha on the summit of Mount Sumeru. This is due to the sovereign spiritual power of the Thus Come Ones.  

Sutra:

In each and every world,
They resolved to seek the Buddha Path.
Relying upon vows such as these
They cultivate the conduct of bodhi.

Commentary:

In each and every world throughout the ten directions, they resolved to seek the Buddha Path. In past lives, these Bodhisattvas made vows to seek the Buddha Path. 

Relying upon such vows to follow the unsurpassed Buddha Path, they cultivate the conduct of bodhi. They walk the path to enlightenment in life after life.

Sutra:

The Buddha takes on various bodies
And travels pervasively to all worlds.
Nothing in the Dharma Realm could hinder him;
He cannot be fathomed by anyone.

Commentary:

The Bodhisattvas resolved to cultivate the bodhi conduct, and the Buddha takes on various bodies / And travels pervasively to all worlds. The Buddha’s Dharma body pervades the Dharma Realm, so it encounters no obstructions anywhere. Nothing in the Dharma Realm could hinder him; / He cannot be fathomed by anyone. No one can fathom the wonderful functioning of the Buddha’s spiritual penetrations. 

Sutra:

His wisdom light constantly shines everywhere.
It dispels darkness in all worlds.
Unequalled is he, without peer.
How could anyone know him?

Commentary:

His wisdom light constantly shines everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm. It dispels darkness in all worlds. The greed, hatred, and delusion among those in the world are gradually eradicated. Unequalled is he, without peer. / How could anyone know him? In every aspect, the Buddha is incomparable. No other sentient being can compare with him. How could anyone know the Buddha’s state? It’s not easy to know.

* * * *

The Sutra in Forty-two Sections lists twenty kinds of difficult things, which include the following:

It’s hard for poor people to give.
It’s hard for rich people to study the spiritual Path.

It’s hard for wealthy and honored people to cultivate, because they think they already have everything. They are greedy to enjoy themselves and cannot bear to suffer. Cultivation is very difficult for them. If you ask a poor person to practice giving, he finds it difficult, too, because he hardly has anything of his own.

When the Buddha was in the world, there was a very poor couple. They were so poor that they had to beg for food on the streets every day. Begging for food isn’t that bad. The couple had a dilapidated wooden shack to live in, and all they had in the way of clothes was a tattered pair of pants, which they had to share. Of course the man and his wife didn’t wear the pants together; they took turns. Every day, one of them would wear the pants and go out to beg for food, and the other one would stay home and wait. The one who went out would bring the food back for both of them to eat. Since they couldn’t afford any new clothes, they simply took turns wearing that pair of pants and going out to beg. Although they were destitute to that degree, they felt their life was pretty good.

One day a Pratyekabuddha noticed this poor couple and took pity on them. He wanted to give them a chance to plant blessings, so he went to seek alms from them. He stood in front of their wooden shack and beat on his wooden fish to announce his presence. The couple looked out the window and saw the monk standing there. Then they looked at each other and said, “We don’t have anything ourselves. How can we give him alms?”

“Alright,” said the woman. “Why don’t we give him our one pair of pants.”

“Are you crazy?” asked the man. “That’s our only pair of pants, and the two of us have to share it. If we give it away, how are we going to live?”

The woman said, “Do you know why we’re so poor now? It’s because we didn’t practice giving in past lives. If we give this pair of pants to the monk, maybe it’ll be better for us in the next life.”

“Nonsense!” said the man. “Our life depends on this pair of pants. Without it, we can’t even go out the door. How can we stay alive?”

“Look at the monk,” said the woman. “He hardly has any clothes either. His pants are so tattered that they barely cover his legs. We might as well give our pants to him.”

The man looked at the monk and saw that indeed, his thighs were exposed and it was as if he wasn’t wearing pants at all. “Fine,” he said. He tossed the pants through the window to the monk.

The monk put on the pants and went to Sravasti to report to the king how that poor couple had given away their only pair of pants. When the king heard this, he thought, “I never knew there were people in such poverty in my state.” He immediately sent people to take abundant provisions of clothing and food to the couple. Having given away their pair of pants, the couple later on realized the spiritual Path.

“If people are sincere, the Buddha will respond.” Since they performed an act of giving with total sincerity, they were immediately able to realize the spiritual Path. When we cultivate and investigate chan, we should also be like that poor couple who gave their one and only pair of pants away. We who practice chan must do what is hard to do, bear what is hard to bear, let go of what is hard to let go of, and accept what is hard to accept. Only then will there be some hope for success in our practice.

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