THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Ten Dwellings ___

Chapter Fifteen. A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

Destroying all existence in the wheel of birth and death,
Turning the pure and wonderful Dharma wheel,
Being unattached to all worlds:
He speaks this way for the Bodhisattvas.

Commentary:

Destroying all existence in the wheel of birth and death. “All existence” refers to all existence in the triple realm: the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm. In the triple realm there are twenty-five realms of existence, but in general, in all realms, there is birth and death. One revolves in the wheel of birth and death within the six paths, and it is hard to stop. But now one smashes and stops that wheel of birth and death, thus instead, turning the pure and wonderful Dharma wheel. The Buddha turns the clear, pure, wonderful, Dharma Wheel—the great Dharma Wheel—and speaks the pure, wonderful Dharma, being unattached to all worlds. Causing living beings in all worlds to have no attachments: He speaks this way for the Bodhisattvas, causing all the Bodhisattvas to leave the wheel of birth and death and instead turn the inconceivable, supreme, wonderful Dharma Wheel and get rid of all attachment, thus causing all living beings to bring forth the thought of enlightenment. This supreme, great Dharma of non-attachment is spoken also for Bodhisattvas of the First Resolve.

Sutra;

All living beings fall into evil paths.
Limitless kinds of suffering bind and pressure them.
Of acting as a place of refuge to save and protect them:
He speaks this way for all Bodhisattvas.

This is the Bodhisattva’s dwelling in the first resolve,
Its one aim and resolution to seek the Unsurpassed Way.
As are the dharmas of instruction that I speak,
So, too, are those of all the Buddhas.

Commentary:

Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva says, “All living beings fall into evil paths. Living beings fall into the three evil paths of the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. Why is it? It is because of this they make mistakes, create offense karma, and fall into the three evil paths where limitless kinds of suffering bind and pressure them. In the paths of the hells there are mountains of knives, oil cauldrons, and the hell of the iron pillar. When hungry, one swallows iron pellets; when thirsty, one drinks molten copper. These sufferings bind them. Of acting as a place of refuge to save and protect them. The Bodhisattva is a refuge for all those who are suffering.

He speaks this way for all Bodhisattvas. He tells them how one should be a savior and a place of refuge for beings. That is why the Dharma of the Ten Dwellings is spoken. This is the Bodhisattva’s dwelling in the first resolve. Of the ten Bodhisattva Dwellings, the first is the Dwelling of First Bringing Forth the Resolve. Its one aim and resolution to seek the Unsurpassed Way. Because from the start the sole aim of the Bodhisattvas has been to seek Buddhahood, therefore they now dwell in the Dwelling of First Bringing Forth the Resolve.

As are the dharmas of instruction that I speak—Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva says that as he now speaks the instruction of the Ten Dwellings, the Dharma of Bodhisattvas and living beings--so, too, are those of all the Buddhas—all the Buddhas also speak it thus.

Sutra:

The Bodhisattva on the Second Dwelling, the Ground of Regulation,
Should bring forth thoughts such as these:
“May all living beings in the ten directions,
Follow the teachings of the Thus Come One,”
Thoughts of benefit, of great compassion, of happiness,
Thoughts of peaceful dwelling, of pity, and of gathering in,
Thoughts of protecting living beings, of them being the same as oneself,
Thoughts of a teacher and of a Guiding Master.

Commentary:

The Bodhisattva on the Second Dwelling, the Ground of Regulation. The Bodhisattva on the Second Dwelling should bring forth thoughts such as these: “May all living beings in the ten directions—wishing all living beings in the ten directions and the three periods of time--follow the teachings of the Thus Come One. May all beings, with regard to the Buddhadharma, offer up their conduct in accord with the teaching, and follow the principles taught by the Buddha in their cultivation.” The Bodhisattva on the Ground of Regulation needs to have thoughts of benefit, of great compassion, of happiness, thoughts of peaceful dwelling, of pity, and of gathering in, causing all living beings to be peaceful and undisturbed, sympathetic and accepting. They should also have thoughts of protecting living beings, of them being the same as oneself—they protect other living beings as they would themselves—and also thoughts of a teacher and of a Guiding Master. They act as instructors and guides for all beings.

Sutra:

Once they dwell in superior, wonderful thoughts such as these,
Then he has them recite and practice and seek much learning,
To always delight in quietude and proper consideration,
And draw near to all Good Knowing Advisors.

Commentary:

The Bodhisattva on the Ten Dwellings, previously mentioned--once they dwell in superior, wonderful thoughts such as these, seeking the unsurpassed path, then he has them recite and practice and seek much learning. Then all the Bodhisattvas and living beings are caused to recite Sutras, practice the Buddhadharma, pursue much learning and extensive knowledge through reading, reciting, accepting, and maintaining the Sutras. This is for the sake of acquiring extensive learning of all Buddhadharmas.

To always delight in quietude and proper consideration. Cultivators should always like to be quiet and tranquil and should not talk too much. They shouldn’t pay attention to what is none of their business, or read so many useless things. This is to be pure and quiet and to cultivate Dhyana samadhi—still consideration—the cultivation of thought. And draw near to all Good Knowing Advisors: They always draw close to all the good Knowing Advisors, not evil knowing advisors. Good Knowing Advisors teach you how to cultivate and get rid of your bad habits and faults. Evil knowing advisors teach you how to increase your bad habits and how not to cultivate. So, you should draw close to good teachers and avoid bad teachers.

Sutra:

Their speech is harmonious, pleasing, devoid of what is coarse and rude.
They speak at the proper time and also without fear.
They penetrate to the meaning and practice in accord with Dharma,
Far removed from stupidity and confusion, their minds do not move.

This is the initial study of the Bodhisattva’s conduct.
Those who can practice this conduct are true disciples of the Buddha.
Now that I’ve explained what it is they should practice,
Disciples of the Buddha should diligently study in this way.

The Bodhisattva in the Third Dwelling of cultivation,
Should rely on the Buddha’s teaching to diligently contemplate
All dharmas as impermanent, involved with suffering, and empty,
Without self or others, and without creation.

All dharmas cannot be delighted in;
They have no such names, and have no location.
They lack differentiation, and are not true and actual.
One who contemplates this way is called a Bodhisattva.

Commentary:

Their speech is harmonious, pleasing, devoid of what is coarse and rude. Cultivators at all times and in all places should speak harmoniously and not coarsely, rashly, beratingly, or sarcastically, ridiculing others. They must avoid backbiting, vulgar, abusive, scurrilous, and deceitful speech—all such are in opposition to principle. Harmonious and pleasing speech does not hurt the ear and is not hard to listen to. All like to hear it. A Bodhisattva’s speech is always courteous. They speak at the proper time and also without fear.

When it’s time to speak, speak.
If you are given gifts legally, take them.
If it’s time to be happy, be happy.
If you cry when it’s time to be happy, you have lost out.
If you are happy when it’s time to cry, that’s being stupid.

When it’s time to speak, speak; otherwise, don’t. That is “knowing the time”. If you don’t know the time and speak whenever you please, and when it’s not in accord with the potentials, that’s wrong. Speaking must be done in accord with opportunities and without fear. Say what you must say. Don’t fear to speak when it’s the right time, rather than speaking when the time is not right. You must understand when the time comes, and then you certainly must speak. When it’s not time, then you definitely should not speak.

They penetrate to the meaning and practice in accord with Dharma. You must clearly understand all the doctrines. If people understand them, and rely upon them in cultivation, then they are far removed from stupidity and confusion, their minds do not move. You must be far removed from stupidity and confusion and leave behind all perverse and upside-down actions, all unclear speech and unclear thoughts. If you don’t understand yourself, you will cause others not to understand. You r mind not moving just means you have samadhi power. This is the initial study of the Bodhisattva’s conduct. The Bodhisattva who has just brought forth the mind cultivates this. These are the ten kinds of dharmas the study of which the Bodhisattva should encourage upon the Dwelling of the Ground of Regulation. Those who can practice this conduct are true disciples of the Buddha. If you can cultivate according to this Dharma, you are a true Buddhist disciple. Now that I’ve explained what it is they should practice. Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva says that he is now teaching the Bodhisattvas what Bodhi conduct they should practice. Disciples of the Buddha should diligently study in this way. All the Buddha’s disciples should diligently study this kind of dharma and not be lazy.

The Bodhisattva in the Third Dwelling of cultivation,--the Third Dwelling of a Bodhisattva is that of cultivation-- Should rely on the Buddha’s teaching to diligently contemplate. One should rely on the Buddha’s teaching to respectfully practice and purely contemplate; this means being without laziness in one’s cultivation. One should contemplate all dharmas as impermanent, involved with suffering, and empty. You should know that all dharmas are impermanent, are suffering, and are empty, without self or others, and without creation. They are without self and people. You must break all attachments—have no attachment to self or others, and have no attachment to any creator, because no one creates those dharmas. All dharmas cannot be delighted in; They have no such names, and have no

location. One cannot take pleasure in dharmas which are ultimately vain and illusory; they don’t even have a name or a location in which they can be pinned down. They lack differentiation—differences--and are not true and actual. Dharmas are without discrimination. Discrimination is a function of the conscious mind. With wisdom, there is no discrimination. All dharmas are empty and false—unreal. One who contemplates this way is called a Bodhisattva. To observe all dharmas like that is just the Dwelling of Cultivation of the Bodhisattva. The Bodhisattva should cultivate in this way.

Sutra:

Then he causes them to contemplate the realms of living beings
And, by exhorting contemplation of the Dharma Realm,
Worldly discriminations are ended and none remain.
All this he should encourage them to contemplate.

In worlds of the ten directions, and empty space,
All the earth, water, fire, and wind,
The desire realm, form realm, and formless realm—
He should exhort the contemplation of all this to bring them to an end.

They contemplate these realms with each of their differences.
Until they find their ultimate substance and nature.
Obtaining such a teaching and diligently cultivating it,
They are then called true disciples of the Buddha.

The Bodhisattva of the Fourth Dwelling of Noble Birth,
Is born from all sagely teachings.
Completely penetrating all existence as non-existent,
He transcends those dharmas and is born of the Dharma Realm.

His belief in the Buddha is solid and indestructible.
Contemplating dharmas as still and extinct, his mind is at peace.
According with all living beings, he completely understands
That their substance and nature are empty, false, and lacking actuality.

Commentary:

Then he causes them to contemplate the realms of living beings and, by exhorting contemplation of the Dharma Realm, worldly discriminations are ended and none remain. All the worldly discriminations are clearly understood. All this he should encourage them to contemplate. All the realms of living beings, the Dharma Realm and the world should be thoroughly observed and understood. In worlds of the ten directions, and empty space—the vast infinitude of all world realms and empty space--all the earth, water, fire, and wind. Earth, air, fire, and wind, the realms of the four elements—must be contemplated. The desire realm, form realm, and formless realm—he should exhort the contemplation of all this to bring them to an end. The three realms of desire, form, and formlessness should also be observed. All their different characteristics should be known.

They contemplate these realms with each of their differences. Until they find their ultimate substance and nature. Obtaining such a teaching and diligently cultivating it—so that their substance and their nature, as well, can be observed to the ultimate and completely understood, observing all the causes and conditions in the Dharma Realm-- they are then called true disciples of the Buddha. The one who can illumine all the dharmas and all the causes and conditions of the Dharma Realm is called a real Buddhist disciple.

The Bodhisattva of the Fourth Dwelling of Noble Birth. The Fourth Dwelling is that of Noble Birth. Why? Because one is born from all sagely teachings. Completely penetrating all existence as non-existent—all existence is empty--he transcends those dharmas and is born of the Dharma Realm. He transcends all conditioned dharmas and is born with the Dharma Realm as his substance.

His belief in the Buddha is solid and indestructible. Your belief in the Buddha should be solid, unmoving, and indestructible. It should be more solid than vajra. Contemplating dharmas as still and extinct, his mind is at peace. All dharmas are characterized by still extinction. He observes this and his mind doesn’t move. According with all living beings, he completely understands—the realm of living beings is completely understood--that their substance and nature are empty, false, and lacking actuality. Knowing the substance of all living beings is false and identical with empty space: there is nothing really there at all.

Sutra:

Worlds, kshetras, karma, and retribution,
Birth, death, and nirvana, are this way, too.
Disciples of the Buddha contemplate dharmas thus—
Those personally born from the Buddha are called Buddhist disciples.

Commentary:

Worlds, kshetras, karma, and retribution. Worlds: there is the world of proper enlightenment, the world of sentient beings, and the world of utensils. The Sages, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas are the world of proper enlightenment. Living beings are the world of sentience; the mountains, rivers, the great earth, all buildings and vegetation—those are the world of utensils. All living beings of the worlds and Buddha countries give rise to delusion and create karma. Because of one thought of ignorance, they produce delusion, create karma, and receive retribution. They create good karma and receive good retribution; they create evil karma and receive evil retribution.

Birth, death, and nirvana, are this way, too. Birth, death, and Nirvana are also like that. Birth and death: having affliction is just birth and death. If you turn it into enlightenment, that is just Nirvana. Disciples of the Buddha contemplate dharmas thus—Buddhist disciples should contemplate dharmas in this way. Those personally born from the Buddha are called Buddhist disciples. If you can be without attachment, that is the same as being born personally from the Buddha, so the Buddha’s disciples are called “sons” of the Buddha.

Sutra:

All the Buddhadharmas of the past,
The future, and the present time,
They understand, amass and perfect.
In this way, their cultivation and study become ultimate.

All the Thus Come Ones in the three periods of time
Can accord with and contemplate all as equal.
The various kinds of discriminations cannot be obtained.
One who contemplates in that way, penetrates the three periods of time.

As I now proclaim it and praise
All the merit and virtue of the Fourth dwelling,
If one can rely on the Dharma and diligently cultivate,
One quickly accomplishes the unsurpassed Bodhi of a Buddha.

The next, the Fifth Dwelling of all the Bodhisattvas,
Is called the Dwelling of Endowment with Skill-In-Means.
They deeply enter limitless, clever, expedient means,
And bring forth karma of ultimate merit and virtue.

Commentary:

All the Buddhadharmas of the past, the future, and the present time. In the past, present, and future—the three periods of time—the past Buddhas spoke Dharma, the present Buddhas speak Dharma, and the future Buddhas will speak Dharma. They understand, amass and perfect. The Bodhisattvas know that with the Buddhadharma a little can accumulate into a lot. From knowing nothing, a little understanding is accumulated; from a little understanding, it grows into a lot; from a lot of understanding, it grows into perfect understanding, until one can completely understand all of the Buddhadharma.

In this way, their cultivation and study become ultimate—in that way, they cultivate the six perfections and the ten thousand conducts to the attainment of the ultimate Buddha fruit. All the Thus Come Ones in the three periods of time—all Buddhas, past, present, and future-- can accord with and contemplate all as equal. They follow causes and conditions to observe all living beings as being the same as Buddhas.

The various kinds of discriminations cannot be obtained. Various discriminations are unobtainable and non-existent. One who contemplates in that way, penetrates the three periods of time. If one contemplates in that way, without any attachment, one can penetrate the three periods of time completely without obstruction.

As I now proclaim it and praise—Now I, Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva, praise all the Bodhisattvas, and all the merit and virtue of the Fourth Dwelling, that is the Fourth Dwelling of Noble Birth. If one can rely on the Dharma and diligently cultivate—if one can rely on this dharma to industriously practice-- one quickly accomplishes the unsurpassed Bodhi of a Buddha. One can quickly accomplish the Buddhas’ Bodhi fruit. The next, the Fifth Dwelling of all the Bodhisattvas. This Fifth Dwelling is called the Dwelling of Endowment with Skill-In-Means. The Fifth Dwelling is “Perfection of Skill-In-Means.” They deeply enter limitless, clever, expedient means. What is meant by “Perfection of Skill-In-Means”? These Bodhisattvas deeply enter the Dharma doors of clever skill-in-means-- and bring forth karma of ultimate merit and virtue. They cultivate their merit and virtue to perfection and bring about that karmic fruit of perfection.

Sutra:

The amassed blessings and virtue cultivated by the Bodhisattvas,
Are for rescuing and protecting all the flocks of beings.
With concentrated thought they benefit and bestow happiness.
Their one aim, out of pity, is to save and liberate.

For the sake of all worlds they dispel the mass of difficulties,
Leading out all who exist and causing them to rejoice.
They subdue each of them without missing any,
Causing them to be endowed with virtue and to tend towards Nirvana.

All living beings are boundless,
Limitless, numberless and inconceivable.
They also cannot be counted, measured, or compared.
Such dharmas they hear and receive from the Thus Come One.

On this Fifth Dwelling of being a true disciple of the Buddha,
One perfects expedient means and rescues living beings.
The Honored Ones of all merit, virtue, and great wisdom,
Employ such dharmas to instruct.

Commentary:

The amassed blessings and virtue cultivated by the Bodhisattvas. The Fifth Dwelling Bodhisattvas cultivate all blessings and virtue. Virtue is also accumulated from a little to a lot. One cultivates bit by bit. Why do the Bodhisattvas cultivate blessings and virtue? They are for rescuing and protecting all the flocks of beings. Their blessings, virtue, spiritual power, and strength are to rescue all living beings—not to benefit themselves but to benefit others. With concentrated thought they benefit and bestow happiness. They single-mindedly think of benefitting living beings and making them all happy. That’s the heart of the Bodhisattva. Their one aim, out of pity, is to save and liberate. They always pity all living beings and cause them to go from confusion and resolve on enlightenment, cast off the deviant and return to the proper, bring forth the Buddha mind, leave this shore of birth and death, cross over the sea of afflictions, and arrive at the other shore of Nirvana.

For the sake of all worlds they dispel the mass of difficulties. The Bodhisattva uses compassion for all the worlds and dispels all disasters. Leading out all who exist and causing them to rejoice. He leads and guides all living beings out of suffering and causes them to become happy and bring forth the resolve for Bodhi. They subdue each of them without missing any. All living beings, the obstinate, hard-to-tame living beings, he tames. There is not one who isn’t tamed, not one left over. This means that they all obtain liberation and happiness. Causing them to be endowed with virtue and to tend towards Nirvana. All living beings are complete with blessings and virtue and set out on the road to Nirvana.

All living beings are boundless. All living beings are without bounds, without limit, and without number—inconceivable. How many are there? An inconceivable number: Limitless, numberless and inconceivable. One can’t use a scale to measure the length of all these boundless, limitless, countless, measureless living beings. They also cannot be counted, measured, or compared. Such dharmas they hear and receive from

the Thus Come One. They hear and accept the Ten Dwellings Dharma, the Perfection of Skill-in-Means, that expedient Dharma door.

On this Fifth Dwelling of being a true disciple of the Buddha, one perfects expedient means and rescues living beings. The true disciples of the Buddha all accomplish the Perfection of Skill-in-Means in order to save living beings. The Honored Ones of all merit, virtue, and great wisdom, employ such dharmas to instruct. They use the various above-mentioned dharmas to instruct all living beings.

Sutra:

The Sixth Dwelling is the perfection of proper thought.
About the self nature of dharmas they are not deluded.
Proper mindfulness and reflection are removed from discriminations.
All the gods and men cannot disturb it.

Hearing praise or slander of the Buddha or of the Buddhadharma,
Or of the Bodhisattvas and the conduct they practice,
That living beings have limits or are without limits,
That they are defiled or undefiled, hard or easy to save,…

Commentary:

The Sixth Dwelling is the perfection of proper thought; about the self-nature of dharmas they are not deluded. In the Sixth Dwelling, that of Rectifying the Mind, the Bodhisattvas clearly understand and recognize the Buddhadharma, without any confusion or delusion. Proper mindfulness and reflection are removed from discriminations. They use proper thought and wisdom to think about the Dharma. They are not like common people who use the discriminating heart to discriminate. They don’t use consciousness; they use wisdom. All the gods and men cannot disturb it. All gods and men can’t undermine this state or move the Buddha’s mind.

As for the Bodhisattva of the Dwelling of Rectifying the Mind, since his thought is proper, he has samadhi power. His samadhi power is perfected, and so when he hears people praise the Buddha or slander the Buddhadharma—the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha—his mind does not move. He is not moved by the wind of language. Hearing praise or slander of the Buddha or of the Buddhadharma, or of the Bodhisattvas and the conduct they practice—whether the doors of conduct cultivated by the Sangha Jewel are praised or slandered, his mind does not move. That living beings have limits or are without limits—or if it’s said that living beings can be counted, that they have a numerical limit, or none at all-- that they are defiled or undefiled, hard or easy to save,…Or, if it’s said that living beings are defiled, or that they are undefiled; that they basically are pure, or that they basically are defiled and cannot be pure, these different manners of speaking; or that they are easy to save, or hard to save: the Bodhisattva in the Dwelling of Rectifying the Mind, in the midst of all of this, does not move his mind.

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