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:

That Dharma Realms are great or small, created or destroyed,
That they exist or do not exist, their minds do not move.
In the past, the future, and the actual present
Their scrutinizing thoughts and considerations are forever decisive.

That all dharmas are without characteristics,
Without a substance, without a nature, empty and not actual,
Like illusions, like a dream, apart from discriminations—
They are always happy to listen to such doctrines.

The Bodhisattvas at the Seventh Position of non-retreat,
With regard to Buddhas, Dharmas, and the Bodhisattva conduct—
Whether they exist or not, escape or don’t escape—
Although they hear this spoken, still do not retreat.

In the past, and future, and the present times,
That all Buddhas exist, that they do not exist,
That the Buddhas’ wisdom has exhaustion or has no exhaustion,
That the three times have one mark or various kinds of marks,…

Commentary:

That Dharma Realms are great or small, created or destroyed. Some people say that the Dharma Realm is big, and some say that it is small; some say the world is big, and some say that it is small. Some say the Dharma Realms undergo coming into being as well as a time of destruction, that they all undergo formation, dwelling, destruction, and emptiness. Or they say that world realms also undergo formation, dwelling, destruction, and emptiness. But these are all hypothetical, not actual, ways of speaking—like a passing sensation, like wind blowing by the ears, like illusions: spoken words that are just words which have no actual substance. That they exist or do not exist, their minds do not move. So no matter whether someone says that Dharma Realms exist or that they do not exist, the Bodhisattva’s mind does not move. Why is that? It is because he has the power of samadhi concentration, which holds his mind fast so that it does not move. In the past, the future, and the actual present—no matter whether it is the past, the future, or the present--their scrutinizing thoughts and considerations are forever decisive. He ponders deeply, considers it, and thinks it over; he’s very firmly established, constantly having the power of decisiveness.

That all dharmas are without characteristics; all dharmas have no form or appearance, without a substance, without a nature, empty, and not actual—all of them also have no substance and no nature, and are not true and actual. That is, their having substance, nature, or characteristics is all non-actual. They are all empty and false, like illusions, like a dream, apart from discriminations— they are like a false illusion, and also like the false states encountered in dreams. They are apart from discriminations—the basic substance of dharmas has no discriminations. They are always happy to listen to such doctrines. The Bodhisattvas who have perfected the Dwelling of Rectifying the Mind always like to hear these kinds of wonderful Dharmas and inconceivable doctrines. Their minds definitely are not turned by these states or words. They are not buffeted by the wind of words, but are “thus, thus unmoving, constantly clear;” constantly clear, thus, thus unmoving.

The Bodhisattvas at the Seventh Position of non-retreat. The Seventh Dwelling of the Bodhisattvas is that of non-retreat, the Dwelling of Irreversibility. With regard to Buddhas, Dharmas, and the Bodhisattva conduct. As to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, the Three Jewels—the Buddha is the Buddha Jewel, the Dharma is the Dharma Jewel, and the Sangha is the Sangha Jewel. The Bodhisattvas are the Sangha Jewel. Whether people praise them or slander them, the Bodhisattva does not move his mind. Whether they exist or not, escape or don’t escape—whether people say that there are Buddhas, or that there are no Buddhas, that there is Dharma, that there is no Dharma; whether people say that there is a Sangha, that there is no Sangha, or if people say, “Your cultivating the Buddhadharma is totally useless. Escape the three realms? How can one escape the three realms? There is no way to escape them. People like you are really stupid. Cultivating the Bodhisattva conduct is too stupid!”

Although they hear this spoken, they still do not retreat. Although they hear people slander the Buddhadharma in that way, when there are people who say, “What you call the Buddha is just a demon, and the demon is just the Buddha…” True, a demon can become a Buddha, and the Buddha can be a demon: it’s all in how you look at it. Therefore, hearing people praise or slander in this way, their minds do not move. Although they hear this spoken, they do not retreat. They are incapable of saying, upon hearing people talk this way, that they won’t cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. Not cultivating the Bodhisattva Way would be retreating. Not retreating means still being vigorous—at all times being vigorous—with no time of retreat.

In the past, and future, and the present times—in the past, the present, and the future--that all Buddhas exist, that they do not exist—whether it is said that there were Buddhas in the past, or that there were no Buddhas in the past; that there are Buddhas in the present, or that there are no Buddhas in the present; that there will be Buddhas in the future, that there will be no Buddhas in the future—in the midst of all these various kinds of ways of talking, the Bodhisattva in the Dwelling of Irreversibility does not move. He is not turned by them.

That the Buddhas’ wisdom has exhaustion or has no exhaustion. If someone says that there is a time when the Buddhas’ wisdom does not exist—that there is a time when it is exhausted; that the Buddhas’ wisdom is not inexhaustible—that it can be exhausted; of if someone says it has no limit—that there are no bounds to the Buddhas’ wisdom-- that the three times have one mark or various kinds of marks,… of if someone says that the three periods of time have one single mark; or that the three periods of time have different kinds of marks—in the face of that kind of talk—he does not retreat. The Bodhisattva on the Dwelling of Non-Retreat, upon hearing such things, does not retreat.

Sutra:

…That one is just many, that many are just one,
That texts accord with meaning, that meaning accords with texts;
Thus it is that they reciprocally evolve:
For the irreversible person, this should be spoken.

Whether dharmas have marks or have no marks,
Whether dharmas have a nature or have no nature;
Various distinctions mutually accompany them:
This person, once he has heard, obtains the ultimate.

Commentary:

…That one is just many, that many are just one. People with attachments say that one is one and that many are many. If you tell them that many are one, they don’t believe you. If you tell them that one is many, they also do not believe you. Why? Because they are attached. When there are no attachments, one comes from many, and many comes from one. Basically, there is no difference between one and many. Therefore, it says that one is just many and many are just one. Ones add up to many, and many unite into ones. That texts accord with meaning, that meaning accords with texts. There is a meaning within the texts, and so the texts reveal the meaning. The meaning is also produced from the texts, and so the meaning reveals the texts. Literary Prajna is meaning. Real Mark Prajna is the true principle behind texts and meaning. That is Real Mark Prajna. Thus it is that they reciprocally evolve. What was said—that many are just one, that one is just many; that texts accord with meaning, that meaning accords with texts—these different kinds of doctrines all reciprocally evolve. They are all interconnected; they have a mutual connection in their evolution—a mutual relationship.

For the irreversible person, this should be spoken. This irreversible person also should know these kinds of doctrines of non-obstruction: that specifics and specifics are non-obstructed, that principle and specifics are non-obstructed. The doctrines of the non-obstruction of principle and specifics are all understood by this irreversible person. This person is the Bodhisattva.

Whether dharmas have marks or have no marks—whether it is said that dharmas have marks or that dharmas have no marks, whether dharmas have a nature or have no nature—if it said that dharmas have a nature, or if dharmas have no nature, the irreversible Bodhisattva is not terrified or afraid. Upon hearing those kinds of doctrines, he is unable to be turned by those states. Various distinctions mutually accompany them. There are various distinctions which come along as a retinue. This person, once he has heard, obtains the ultimate. The irreversible person, after he has heard these various kinds of dharmas, becomes enlightened to the ultimate principle; he reaches their ultimate meaning.

Sutra:

At the eighth, the Bodhisattva Dwelling of Pure Youth,
The actions of the body, speech, and mind are all complete.
Everything is pure, and there are no flaws.
One is born as one intends and attains self-mastery.

Commentary:

At the eighth, the Bodhisattva Dwelling of Pure Youth. The eighth is the Bodhisattva’s Pure Youth Dwelling. Pure Youth means the original self-nature, the original nature, which has not been depleted. It also means “pure yang body”. Dwelling means to abide in that place. As a virgin youth, being without any deviant knowledge or deviant views, and without unwholesome habits, the actions of the body, speech, and mind are all complete. “Complete” means no flaws. The body does not kill, steal, or engage in sexual misconduct. The mouth has no four evils of abusive language, profanity, lying, and gossip. The mind has no greed, hatred, and stupidity. Bad habits are totally gone, so it is called “complete”, with nothing lacking in the least and nothing added at all—exactly right. Everything is pure, and there are no flaws. The three karmas of body, mouth, and mind are pure and without mistakes. One is born as one intends and attains self-mastery. The Bodhisattvas’ samadhi power is complete; they can travel to whatever place their thoughts wish to go. They roam and play among humans and act as sovereign master. Whatever they like is in accord with Dharma.

Sutra:

One knows what all the minds of living beings delight in,
Their various intentions and understandings, each of which is different,
And every one of the dharmas that they have,
The marks of creation and destruction of the countries of the ten directions.

Up until swiftly obtaining wonderful spiritual penetrations,
One goes anywhere according to one’s thoughts.
In the presence of all Buddhas, one listens to the Dharma,
And praises their cultivation without any weariness.

Commentary:

One knows what all the minds of living beings delight in. Delight means what their hearts like. The Bodhisattva on the Dwelling of Pure Youth knows what all living beings like, their various intentions and understandings, each of which is different. Each kind of living being has its own kind of thought; all are different, and their understandings are also different. And every one of the dharmas that they have—all the dharmas that they cultivate-- the marks of creation and destruction of the countries of the ten directions—he knows the creation, dwelling, destruction, and emptiness of all worlds in the lands of the ten directions.

Up until swiftly obtaining wonderful spiritual penetrations. When a Bodhisattva obtains those wonderful spiritual penetrations—he gets them very quickly-- one goes anywhere according to one’s thoughts. In all places at all times, he need only think of a place, and will arrive there. In the presence of all Buddhas, one listens to the Dharma. In all the Buddhas’ Bodhimandas in the ten directions and the three periods of time, he goes to hear the Dharma, and praises their cultivation without any weariness. He praises their cultivation of conduct which truly accords with Dharma, and their heroic vigor which has no laziness, sloppiness, or weariness.

Sutra:

One understands and knows the countries of all Buddhas,
Quaking, sustaining, and contemplating them;
Passing beyond measureless Buddhalands,
One travels throughout worlds of boundless number.

Asamkhyeya dharmas are all investigated.
As one wishes one receives bodies, all of sovereign mastery.
With speech and skillfulness that fill all places without fail,
For all the numberless Buddhas one performs services.

At the ninth, the Bodhisattva’s Dwelling of Dharma Prince,
One can see living beings undergoing different births.
There is no affliction or manifestation of habit which one does not know,
And one well comprehends all the expedient means that are practiced.

All dharmas are different, and the awesome deportments are each distinct.
Worlds are not the same in their former and latter boundaries,
The mundane and the primary truth of those,
One comprehends well and knows without exception.

The Dharma King’s Skill-In-Means and positions of peaceful establishment,
And all the dharmas suited to those positions,
The Dharma King’s palaces—what one undertakes or enters—
And within them, that which is contemplated and seen…

Commentary:

One understands and knows the countries of all Buddhas. The Pure Youth Bodhisattva is well versed in the understanding of all Buddhalands, those countries, quaking, sustaining, and contemplating them. Sometimes those countries quake, sometimes they don’t; sometimes they are sustained, skillfully contemplated, and understood. Passing beyond measureless Buddhalands. The Pure Youth Bodhisattva quakes, sustains, contemplates, and transcends Buddhalands without limit. One travels throughout worlds of boundless number. He can bring about the playful samadhi and roam in empty space throughout the Dharma Realm, through limitless and boundless Buddhalands.

Asamkhyeya dharmas are all investigated. A countless asamkhyeya of dharmas, in a single thought, he can inquire about them all. As one wishes one receives bodies, all of sovereign mastery. The Pure Youth Dwelling Bodhisattva can receive whatever kind of body he wishes to have. The Bodhisattva does not fear birth and death but wants to turn in the wheel of birth and death, and he obtains rebirth in accord with his wishes—very free and independent and without pain.

With speech and skillfulness that fill all places without fail. His sounds are all harmonious and skillful, and there is no place in the Dharma Realm where those sounds do not permeate. For all the numberless Buddhas one performs services. The Pure Youth Bodhisattva is skilled at expounding al dharmas by means of clever expedients; and, what is more, he makes offerings to all Buddhas in the ten directions, serving and waiting upon them all.

At the ninth, the Bodhisattva’s Dwelling of Dharma Prince. The Ninth Dwelling is that of Dharma Prince. One can see living beings undergoing different births. He knows all the different ways that living beings are born and die. There is no affliction or manifestation of habit which one does not know. Their afflictions, their seeds, and their habitual energies—he knows them all. And one well comprehends all the expedient means that are practiced. All the expedient Dharma doors which are cultivated: he understands them as well.

All dharmas are different, and the awesome deportments are each distinct. All dharmas are different; they are not the same. Worlds are not the same in their former and latter boundaries—the Dharma King’s worlds and their limits are not the same. The mundane and the primary truth of those—perhaps it is the common truth or perhaps the transcendental primary truth--one comprehends well and knows without exception. The Dharma Prince knows these Dharma doors well, along with the Dharma King’s Skill-In-Means and positions of peaceful establishment. The Dharma King has proficiency in teaching and transforming living beings, and his peaceful places also take living beings across. And all the dharmas suited to those positions. Whatever the place, whatever the state, he knows what method to use to teach and transform living beings. The Dharma King’s palaces—what one undertakes or enters—the great way of the Dharma King--and within them, that which is contemplated and seen…by using the Dharma, he is able to contemplate and understand all these various methods.

Sutra:

With Dharmas of the Dharma King’s Anointment of the Crown
And spiritual might, he’s aided; thus he is without fear.
Reposes, palaces, and praises—
One uses them to instruct and command the Dharma Prince.

Speaking for them in this way, with nothing unexhausted,
And he causes their minds to be without attachments.
Knowing this, they cultivate proper mindfulness,
And all Buddhas appear before them.

Commentary:

The Buddha is the Dharma King; the Bodhisattva is the Dharma Prince. With Dharmas of the Dharma King’s Anointment of the Crown—when the Bodhisattva becomes a Buddha, his crown is anointed with sweet dew-- and spiritual might, he’s aided; thus he is without fear. All of the Buddhas of the ten directions anoint the crowns of the Dharma Princes. The power of the Buddhas assist them so that they are not afraid but always practice the four unlimited minds of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving.

Reposes, palaces, and praises: The Dharma King teaches them how he rests, and how he carries out his business in the palaces, and also the praises and slander he receives. One uses them to instruct and command the Dharma Prince. All these dharmas are taught to the Dharma Princes.

Speaking for them in this way, with nothing unexhausted. As previously mentioned, the doctrines were spoken by the Buddha to the Dharma Princes. And he causes their minds to be without attachments. The Buddha speaks Dharma to break living beings’ attachments. If living beings have no attachments, then the Dharma is unnecessary. Why speak the Dharma? Because living beings have attachments. Knowing this, they cultivate proper mindfulness. The Buddha speaks Dharma in order to teach living beings how to change the deviant and return to the proper, get rid of consciousness, retain wisdom, and understand how to cultivate proper thought: how to have proper knowledge and proper views and obtain proper samadhi. And all Buddhas appear before them. If you are able to use proper mindfulness in your cultivation, then all the Buddhas will appear before you; all the Buddhas will anoint your crown and bestow on you a prediction of future Buddhahood.

Sutra:

At the tenth, Anointment of the Crown, the true disciple of the Buddha
Accomplishes and perfects the most supreme and foremost dharmas.
All the numberless worlds in the ten directions,
He can completely quake and move, his light illumining everywhere.

Commentary:

At the tenth, Anointment of the Crown, the true disciple of the Buddha. The tenth is that of Anointment of the Crown, and the genuine Buddhist disciple won’t retreat but will always follow the Buddhas in study. He accomplishes and perfects the most supreme and foremost dharmas. He accomplishes the most supreme number one Dharma. All the numberless worlds in the ten directions, he can completely quake and move, his light illumining everywhere. The numberless worlds of the ten directions quake in six ways—quaking, roaring, crashing, shaking, surging, and rising—and cause living beings to bring forth the thought of enlightenment. The Bodhisattva on the Dwelling of Anointing the Crown can also emit light and cause, to the end of space and the Dharma Realm all living beings to bring forth the thought of enlightenment.

Sutra:

He sustains and travels to them without exception.
His adornments of purity are all perfected.
The living beings that he instructs have no number,
And he contemplates and knows their roots exhaustively.

His resolve to tame and subdue is also boundless.
He causes them all to tend towards great Bodhi.
All the Dharma Realms he completely contemplates,
And he goes to all the countries of the ten directions.

Commentary:

He sustains and travels to them without exception. The Dharma Prince on the Dwelling of Anointing the Crown can maintain and hold all the Buddhadharmas, and use his spiritual power to go to all lands in the ten directions to make offerings to all Buddhas. There is no Buddhaland he does not go to, so it says, “without exception”. He goes to all lands to make offerings and to serve all those Buddhas. His adornments of purity are all perfected. The Dharma Prince dwelling in Anointment of the Crown has completed all purifications and adornments, so that both are perfect. The living beings that he instructs have no number. The Bodhisattva dwelling in the Anointment of the Crown has no mark of saving beings, although he saves beings. It is as the Vajra Sutra says, “…having taken all living beings across to extinction, there is not a single living being who has been taken across to extinction.” Why? It is because he is apart from attachment to living beings. He knows that: “basically there is not one thing; where can the dust alight?” The beings that he instructs are without number.

And he contemplates and knows their roots exhaustively. He uses his Prajna Wisdom to contemplate the causes and conditions of all living beings to see whether they can be saved or not. He contemplates their root nature. Do they have sharp roots or dull roots? Have they planted good roots or not? If they have not, he helps them to plant them. If they have, he helps them to grow. If the roots have grown, he helps them to ripen. If their roots are ripe, he leads them to obtain liberation. He uses his wisdom, the wonderful contemplative wisdom, to contemplate the root nature of living beings. “Exhaustively” means that he contemplates them very clearly and thoroughly, not haphazardly. Thus, he knows them all exhaustively and can know the dispositions of all living beings—the depth and shallowness of their good roots.

His resolve to tame and subdue is also boundless. The Bodhisattva on the Dwelling of Anointment of the Crown resolves to subdue all living beings. Living beings are difficult to subdue and difficult to tame. You tell them to do good things, and they don’t do them. Tell them not to do bad things, and they certainly will do them—especially living beings in the Saha world, who are particularly stubborn. But, although they are not easy to subdue, he subdues them—a boundless number of them. He causes them all to tend towards great Bodhi. He causes all living beings to go down the great road of Bodhi, that is, to head towards the Buddha position. If you want to head for the Buddha position, you must first cultivate the Six Paramitas and the Ten thousand Conducts.

All the Dharma Realms he completely contemplates. The ten Dharma Realms are those of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Conditionally Enlightened Ones, Sound Hearers, Gods, Humans, Asuras, Animals, Hungry Ghosts, and Hell Beings. He contemplates all realms and uses wisdom to contemplate the root nature of living beings, and he goes to all the countries of the ten directions. The Bodhisattva dwelling in the position of Anointing the Crown goes to all the Way-places throughout the ten directions and respectfully serves and makes offerings to all Buddhas.

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