THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Merit and Virtue from First Bringing Forth the Mind

Chapter Seventeen. A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

He universally reaches all the worlds of the ten directions,
Yet he does not grasp at any location.
He adorns and purifies lands totally without remainder,
Any yet has never given rise to discriminations of purity.

Living beings, whether in good places or bad places, with
All their different karma, influences, and retributions:
Complying with them, considering them, he enters the Buddha’s powers,
Completely comprehending them all.

The various different natures of all those in the world,
Their various activities while dwelling in the three states of existence,
Sharp roots, mediocre roots and inferior roots:
In this way all are completely contemplated.

The pure and impure, and all kinds of understandings,
Superior, inferior, and mediocre--all are clearly perceived by him.
As for the activities of living beings which lead to various places,
He can completely explain their continuation in the three states of existence.  

Commentary:

He universally reaches all the worlds of the ten directions. The Bodhisattva goes everywhere to the worlds of the Buddhas in the ten directions to “worship the Buddhas, praise the Thus Come Ones, and vastly cultivate the making of offerings.” Yet he does not grasp at any location. Although the Bodhisattva goes everywhere, he is not attached to a “best” place or a “worst” place. He doesn’t have this kind of discriminating mind, nor is he attached. He just goes to the ten directions to reverently make offerings to all Buddhas. He adorns and purifies lands totally without remainder. He goes to all the lands of the ten directions in order to adorn all Buddha lands, not just a single Buddha land. Any yet has never given rise to discriminations of purity. Although he adorns lands, he doesn’t produce thoughts of wanting to purify them. He doesn’t discriminate between purity or impurity, adorned or unadorned.

Living beings, whether in good places or bad places. He doesn’t pay attention to whether living beings are in the hells or the heavens. That is not important to him. With All their different karma, influences, and retributions – he also does not discriminate among living beings’ different karmic influence and retributions in the three states of existence. Complying with them, considering them, he enters the Buddha’s powers. This is,

Complying with potentials and speaking Dharma.
Contemplating the opportunity to dispense the teaching.
According with the person and speaking the Dharma.
According with the sickness and prescribing the medicine.

This is how the Bodhisattva teaches. He uses all the expedient powers of the Buddha, Completely comprehending them all. He understands whatever expedient method he uses to teach and transform living beings.

The various different natures of all those in the world refers to all the various root natures of all beings. Their various activities while dwelling in the three states of existence—this means all the things which living beings do in the three states of existence while turning without rest. Sharp roots, mediocre roots and inferior roots. Regardless of whether beings have sharp roots, which means they are smart; or mediocre roots, which means they are common individuals; or inferior roots, which means they are stupid, the Bodhisattva doesn’t discriminate. In this way all are completely contemplated. All the various root natures of beings are clearly understood by the Bodhisattva.

The pure and impure, and all kinds of understandings. Perhaps beings are pure or impure. In all kinds of ways he understands all the root natures of living beings. Perhaps they have Superior, inferior, and mediocre--all are clearly perceived by him. Superior roots are the same as good or sharp roots; inferior roots are dull roots; and roots which are neither sharp nor dull are mediocre. The Bodhisattva comprehends them all. As for the activities of living beings which lead to various places. Living beings receive the result of the causes they plant. One will receive the result according to the path one practices. All is brought about by oneself. He can completely explain their continuation in the three states of existence. In the wheel of the desire, form and formless realms of existence, living beings flow and turn in birth and death continuously without cease. The Bodhisattva, for the sake of living beings, is able to speak about this in detail.

Sutra:

Dhyana concentrations, liberations and all samadhis,
Defiled and pure, their causes and arisal each are different;
Also included are the different sufferings and pleasures from the past.
He purely cultivates the Buddha’s power so all of these can be perceived.

Living beings’ karma and delusions continue in all destinies.
Cutting of all destinies, one obtains still extinction.
Whereupon all kinds of outflowing Dharmas will never again arise.
The seeds of these habits are all clearly known.

The Thus Come One has totally put an end to afflictions.
His great wisdom light shines upon the world.
With respect to the Buddha’s ten powers,
Although the Bodhisattva has not yet been certified to them,
Nonetheless he does not doubt them.

The Bodhisattva in a single hair pore,
Universally makes appear the measureless kshetras of the ten directions.
Whether they have defilement or purity,
All the various kinds of karma created
are all understood by him.

Within a single particle of dust are measureless kshetras,
And measureless Buddhas and disciples of the Buddhas.
All the kshetras are different but not jumbled.
As with one, so too, all are clearly perceived.

Commentary:

Dhyana concentrations. The Four Dhyanas, the Four Stations of Emptiness, plus the Concentration of Extinction of Feeling and Thought, make up the Nine Successive Concentrations. Liberations are the eight liberations, and all samadhis refer to all the various stages of concentration. Defiled and pure, their causes and arisal each are different. If you plant pure causes it is easy to obtain concentration and liberation. Also included are the different sufferings and pleasures from the past. Perhaps in their past lives living beings received mostly suffering or perhaps they received mostly pleasure. He purely cultivates the Buddha’s power so all of these can be perceived. The Bodhisattva cultivates the Buddha’s Ten Powers so he can clearly understand these kinds of causes and conditions.

Living beings’ karma and delusions continue in all destinies. Why do living beings revolve in the six paths? Because of karma and delusion, they perpetuate within the various destinies. They give rise to delusion, create karma, and undergo the retributions over and over again, so they continue on without cease in the turning wheel of the Six Paths. Cutting of all destinies, one obtains still extinction. If one is able to cut off all of the Six Paths of the turning wheel, then one will obtain still extinction and be able to leave the three states of existence. Whereupon all kinds of outflowing Dharmas will never again arise. This means cutting off all kinds of bad habits, faults, ignorance and afflictions – not producing thoughts of desire. The Bodhisattva eternally cuts off all outflows and all bad habits, for he’s aided by the ten powers of the Buddha. The seeds of these habits are all clearly known. The seeds of all living beings’ habits are completely understood by the Bodhisattva.

The Thus Come One has totally put an end to afflictions. The Buddha has no afflictions. He has cut them off. His great wisdom light shines upon the world. Because one has no afflictions, one’s basic wisdom naturally manifests. With respect to the Buddha’s ten powers – the ten wisdom powers of the Buddha -- Although the Bodhisattva has not yet been certified to them, Nonetheless he does not doubt them. He has implicit, deep faith. Although the Bodhisattva hasn’t obtained the Ten Powers, yet his heart is without doubts about them, and in the future he is certain to obtain them.

The Bodhisattva in a single hair pore, Universally makes appear the measureless kshetras of the ten directions. He is able to pervasively make appear the immeasurable Buddha kshetras of the ten directions. Whether they have defilement or purity – Buddha kshetras may be defiled or they may be pure; they are of various different kinds -- All the various kinds of karma created are all understood by him. Living beings create all kinds of karma and receive all kinds of retributions, and the Bodhisattva understands them completely.

Within a single particle of dust are measureless kshetras, And measureless Buddhas and disciples of the Buddhas. Within a single bust mote there are manifested immeasurable Buddha kshetras, and within those immeasurable kshetras, there are also immeasurable kshetras Buddhas speaking the wondrous Dharma. There are also immeasurable oceanic, great assemblies, immeasurable great Bodhisattvas who reverently circumambulate each of those Buddhas and request them to speak the Dharma. All the kshetras are different but not jumbled. Within a single hair pore or perhaps a single particle of dust, there manifest immeasurable Buddha kshetras, and they are not mixed up together. All are in order and well arranged. As with one, so too, all are clearly perceived. When one is able to understand a single world system or a single Buddha kshetra, then one can perceive them all. And they are seen very clearly, without being mixed up or jumbled.

Sutra:

Within a single hair pore are seen the ten directions,
And all worlds exhausting the realm of space.
There is not a single place which is empty without a Buddha.
In this way the Buddha kshetras are totally purified.

Within a single hair pore are seen Buddha kshetras,
And also are seen all living beings.
The six paths of the three periods of time are each different.
In the time of days, nights, and months, they are liberated or bound.

In this way the Bodhisattvas of great wisdom,
Singlemindedly tend towards the position of Dharma king.
They compliantly consider where the Buddhas dwell,
And obtain boundless, great happiness.  

Commentary:

Within a single hair pore are seen the ten directions. The Bodhisattva sees the worlds of the ten directions within a single hair pore. And all worlds exhausting the realm of space. Not only does he see the worlds of the ten directions, but his seeing includes all the Buddha kshetras which exhaust the realm of space and pervade the Dharma Realm. There is not a single place which is empty without a Buddha. There is no place where there is not a Buddha. That is, the Buddha totally fill up all places. In this way the Buddha kshetras are totally purified. All the particles of dust manifest the world systems of the ten directions. And each of the world systems of the ten directions contain immeasurable Buddhas who teach and transform living beings. These Buddha kshetras are purified and adorned.

Within a single hair pore are seen Buddha kshetras. Within every hair pore there are seen the Buddha kshetras of the ten directions. And also are seen all living beings. Not only are all the Buddhas seen, but all the living beings also appear as well. The six paths of the three periods of time are each different. The Three Periods of Time are the past, present, and future. The Six Paths are the gods, human beings, asuras, hungry ghosts, the hells and the animals. The beings who dwell in those realms are different. In the time of days, nights, and months, they are liberated or bound. Perhaps this takes place in the daytime, or at night, or for a month; it is different for each person. Either living beings are bound up by karma or they obtain liberation.

In this way the Bodhisattvas of great wisdom, all the Bodhisattvas of great wisdom who have attained the states spoken of before. Singlemindedly tend towards the position of Dharma king. They turn their minds to the fruit position of Dharma King, by cultivating the Six Crossings Over and the Ten Thousand Practices. They compliantly consider where the Buddhas dwell. They accordingly reflect upon the Buddhas’ state, And obtain boundless, great happiness. They understand the states of all Buddhas, and so they produce a limitless heart of great happiness.

Sutra:

The Bodhisattva’s division bodies, measureless millions,
Make offerings to all Thus Come Ones.
With spiritual penetrations which transformationally appear, supreme and unequalled,
He is able to dwell in all the places where the Buddhas practice.

Measureless Buddhas’ places are all penetrated and gazed upon.
All the treasury of Dharmas are doted upon and savored.
He sees the Buddhas, hears the Dharmas and diligently cultivates.
As if drinking sweet dew, his heart is delighted.  

Commentary:

The Bodhisattva’s, the one who has brought forth the Bodhi mind, has division bodies, measureless millions. By means of the transformations from his spiritual penetrations, that many division bodies appear; they are innumerable. They Make offerings to all Thus Come Ones. What do these measureless division bodies do? They travel everywhere to the world systems of the ten directions and make offerings to all Buddhas, Thus Come Ones. With spiritual penetrations which transformationally appear, supreme and unequalled. The Bodhisattva’s spiritual penetrations and transformations are the most rare and supreme. None are able to compare with them. He is able to dwell in all the places where the Buddhas practice. The Bodhisattva is able to go to all the places in the ten directions where the Buddhas teach and transform living beings, and make offerings to those Buddhas.

Measureless Buddhas’ places are all penetrated and gazed upon. Te Bodhisattva is able to go to measureless Buddha lands and deeply investigate all the Dharma spoken by the Buddhas. Basically, the Buddhadharma is very solid and durable, and not easy to penetrate, yet he wants to investigate it. The Buddhadharma is very high, and he gazes upon it. He also wants to exhaust his strength to study it. All the treasury of Dharmas are doted upon and savored. He is able to seek the flavor of the treasury of all Buddhas’ Dharmas. He sees the Buddhas, hears the Dharmas and diligently cultivates. He sees al Buddhas and hears all the Dharmas, and then diligently cultivates them. As if drinking sweet dew, his heart is delighted. When the Bodhisattva comprehends the Buddhadharma, it is just like drinking sweet dew which dispels one’s thirst and wipes out one’s greed, hatred and stupidity, so one’s heart gives rise to great joy.

Sutra:

He has already obtained the Thus Come One’s supreme samadhis.
He well enters all Dharmas and his wisdom increases.
With a heart of faith, unmoving like Sumeru,
He acts as a treasury of merit and virtue for living beings everywhere.

His kind heart is vast and pervades living beings.
He vows that they will quickly realize all wisdom,
Yet he’s always without attachment or a place of reliance.
Apart from all afflictions, he has obtained freedom and ease.

He sympathizes with living beings, using vast wisdom,
And everywhere gathers in all the same as himself.
He know they are empty, without appearances or actuality,
Yet he cultivates, and his mind neither becomes lax nor retreats.

The measure of the merit and virtue of a Bodhisattva’s bringing forth the resolve,
Cannot be completely lauded, even for millions of kalpas.
Because it produces all Thus Come Ones,
The Solitarily Enlightened Ones and Sound Hearers are peaceful and happy.

All living beings in the lands of the ten directions,
Are all given peace for measureless kalpas.
He exhorts them to uphold the five precepts and the ten goods,
And the four dhyanas and the stations of the other four concentrations.  

Commentary:

He has already obtained the Thus Come One’s supreme samadhis. The Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind, has already obtained the Buddhas’ supreme samadhis. He well enters all Dharmas and his wisdom increases. He skillfully enters, penetrates and explains all dharmas, so that his wisdom increases day by day. With a heart of faith, unmoving like Sumeru. The Bodhisattva’s heart of faith cannot be moved nor made to retreat and it’s as solid as Mt. Sumeru. He acts as a treasury of merit and virtue for living beings everywhere.

His kind heart is vast and pervades living beings. The Bodhisattva’s heart of kindness and compassion is vast and it pervades all living beings. He vows that they will quickly realize all wisdom. He vows that all living beings will quickly realize all Wisdom. Yet he’s always without attachment or a place of reliance. Although he’s attained All Wisdom, the Bodhisattva’s heart is without any attachment or a place on which it relies. He also wishes to cause the hearts of living beings to be without any attachments or a place or reliance. Apart from all afflictions, he has obtained freedom and ease. Why are living beings, living beings? Because they haven’t been able to separate from afflictions, then they would obtain freedom and ease.

He sympathizes with living beings, using vast wisdom. The Bodhisattva has sympathy towards all living beings and he also uses expansive wisdom to benefit them. And everywhere gathers in all the same as himself. He protects and cherishes all living beings in the same way he protects himself. He know they are empty, without appearances or actuality. The Bodhisattva knows that all dharmas are empty and not real. Yet he cultivates, and his mind neither becomes lax nor retreats. Although everything is empty, still the Bodhisattva who cultivated the Bodhisattva Path is not lazy and he does not turn back. Day by day he becomes more vigorous.

The measure of the merit and virtue of a Bodhisattva’s bringing forth the resolve – the measure of such merit and virtue -- Cannot be completely lauded, even for millions of kalpas. Even if one lauds and praises the merit and virtue of the Bodhisattva who first brought forth the Bodhi mind for measureless millions of kalpas, one still would not finish speaking about it. Because it produces all Thus Come Ones. Why is the merit and virtue of the Bodhisattva who first brings forth the mind inexhaustible? Because it is able to produce all the Thus Come Ones. All Buddhas in the past cultivated the Bodhisattva Path and then became Buddhas, so that The Solitarily Enlightened Ones and Sound Hearers are peaceful and happy. This merit and virtue causes all of the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions to obtain peace and happiness.

All living beings in the lands of the ten directions, Are all given peace for measureless kalpas. The Bodhisattva always cultivates giving in the lands of the ten directions, to cause living beings to obtain peace and happiness, doing so throughout measureless kalpas. He exhorts them to uphold the five precepts and the ten goods. He exhorts all living beings to receive and uphold the Five Precepts, which are not killing, not stealing, not engaging in improper sex, not lying, and not taking intoxicants. When one practices the ten good acts, with the body one does not kill, steal or engate in improper sex,; with the mouth one does not engage in evil, divisive, false, or harsh speech; and with the mind, one does not have greed, hatred, or stupidity. If one turns the ten evils around, they become the Ten Goods. And the four dhyanas and the stations of the other four concentrations. The Four Dhyanas are the first, second, third and fourth dhyanas. And the other four are the Four Stations of Emptiness – the station of limitless space, the station of limitless consciousness, the station of nothing whatsoever, and the station of neither thought not non-thought, together with the concentrations of the extinctions of feeling and thought, these are called the nice successive concentrations.

Sutra:

Moreover, for many kalpas he bestows peace and happiness,
Causing them to sever delusions and become Arhats.
Although that collection of blessings is measureless,
It does not compare to the merit and virtue from bringing forth the mind.

He also teaches the millions of multitudes to become enlightened to conditions,
So they obtain the practice of non-contention of the subtly wondrous path.
If that were used to gauge the Bodhi mind,
Neither calculations nor analogies could compare to it.

Within a single thought he is able to traverse kshetras as numerous as dust motes;
In this way he passes through measureless kalpas.
The numbers of these kshetras can still be measured,
But the merit and virtue from bringing forth the mind cannot be known.  

Commentary:

Moreover, for many kalpas he bestows peace and happiness. For many kalpas in the past he has given living beings security and joy, Causing them to sever delusions and become Arhats. He causes all living beings to cut off delusion, certify to the truth, and accomplish the path of Arhatship. Although that collection of blessings is measureless, although the blessings and virtue from this is measureless and limitless, It does not compare to the merit and virtue from bringing forth the mind. Yet it cannot be compared with the merit and virtue from first bringing forth the Bodhi mind.

He also teaches the millions of multitudes to become enlightened to conditions. He also teaches a quadrillion living beings to accomplish the path of Those Enlightened to Conditions, So they obtain the practice of non-contention of the subtly wondrous path. They obtain the samadhi of non-contention, and the subtly wondrous and inconceivable path. If that were used to gauge the Bodhi mind. If the act of teaching living beings to become Ones Enlightened to Conditions, was compared to the merit and virtue from first bringing forth the Bodhi mind, Neither calculations nor analogies could compare to it. There is no way that calculations or analogies can compare with that merit and virtue.

Within a single thought he is able to traverse kshetras as numerous as dust motes. In a single thought he is able to pass beyond kshetras as numerous as dust particles. In this way he passes through measureless kalpas. He further passes through such a long time of measureless kalpas. The numbers of these kshetras can still be measured. Although that is such a long time and there are so many Buddha kshetras, yet one can still calculate kshetras. But the merit and virtue from bringing forth the mind cannot be known. No one can know how great the merit and virtue of the Bodhisattva who has first brought forth the Bodhi mind is.

Sutra:  

In the past, future and present,
The number of all kalpas is without limit or measure.
The number of these kalpas can still be known,
But the merit and virtue from bringing forth the mind is unfathomable.

Using the Bodhi mind to pervade the ten directions,
There are no differentiations which are not known.
In a single thought the three periods of time are all clearly penetrated.
Thereby he benefits measureless living beings.

The living beings of the world systems of the ten directions,
Their desires, understandings, expedient methods, intentions, and what they do,
As well as the bounds of space, can still be fathomed,
But the measure of the merit and virtue from first bringing forth the mind is hard to know.

The Bodhisattva’s vows are equal to the ten directions,
His kind heart permeates the flocks of beings everywhere.
All are cause to cultivate and accomplish the Buddha’s merit and virtue,
Therefore his power is boundless.

Living beings’ desires, understandings, and what delights their hearts,
Their roots, and the expedient methods they practice, are each different.
Within a single thought all are understood.
All wisdom and the wisdom-mind are equal and the same.

All living beings’ delusions and karma continue throughout the three realms
without momentary interruption.
The limits of these can still be known,
But the merit and virtue from bringing forth the mind is difficult to conceive.

By bringing forth the mind one is able to separate from the afflictions of karma,
And make offerings to all Thus Come Ones.
When karma and delusion are left behind and the continuity is severed,
Everywhere throughout the three periods of time, one is liberated.

Commentary:

In the past, future and present / The number of all kalpas is without limit or measure. How many kalpas are there throughout the past, future and present? Basically their number cannot be fathomed. he number of these kalpas can still be known. Although normally those kalpas cannot be fathomed, nonetheless, their quantity can still be known. But the merit and virtue from bringing forth the mind is unfathomable.

Using the Bodhi mind to pervade the ten directions / There are no differentiations which are not known. If one uses a Bodhi resolve that is so vast that it permeates the worlds of the ten directions, then the root natures of all living beings can be completely understood. In a single thought the three periods of time are all clearly penetrated. The past, present and future are totally comprehended within a single thought. Thereby he benefits measureless living beings. In this way, the Bodhisattva who resolves his mind on Bodhi causes living beings to leave suffering and attain bliss, and to cast off birth and death.

The living beings of the world systems of the ten directions, are very many. Their desires, understandings, expedient methods, intentions, and what they do / As well as the bounds of space, can still be fathomed. Living beings’ desires, understandings, skill-in-means, intentions and deeds, and even the bounds of space, can still be fathomed, measured, and known. But the measure of the merit and virtue from first bringing forth the mind is hard to know. The Bodhisattva’s merit and virtue from first bringing forth the Bodhi mind is not easily known. There is no way it can be measured.

The Bodhisattva’s vows are equal to the ten directions – they fully pervade the ten directions. His kind heart permeates the flocks of beings everywhere. He uses a heart of kindness and compassion to cross over living beings everywhere, so that they all leave suffering and obtain happiness. All are cause to cultivate and accomplish the Buddha’s merit and virtue. He wants to cause all living beings to become Buddhas and perfect all the merit and virtueof the Buddhas, as well. Therefore his power is boundless. Because of that, the power from the merit and virtue of first bringing forth the Bodhi mind has no bounds.

Living beings’ desires, understandings, and what delights their hearts, what living eings desire, what they wish to understand, everything which their hearts want, Their roots, and the expedient methods they practice, are each different. Their faculty are not the same. each of the skill-in-means they practice is also different. Within a single thought all are understood. Although this is a very complex situation, the Bodhisattva can comprehend it all in a single thought. All wisdom and the wisdom-mind are equal and the same. this is because All Wisdom and the wisdom-mind are identical.

All living beings’ delusions and karma. Living beings give rise to delusion, create karma, and undergo the retribution, and continue throughout the three realms without momentary interruption. The states of existence of the desire, form, and formless realms, are continuous and unceasing, without a single moment’s respite. The limits of these can still be known. Living beings’ karmic delusions and all those other things can still be known. But the merit and virtue from bringing forth the mind is difficult to conceive. The merit and virtue from first bringing forth the Bodhi mind is inconceivable.

By bringing forth the mind one is able to separate from the afflictions of karma. If you bring forth the Bodhi mind you will be able to leave far behind all deluded karma and all afflictions, And make offerings to all Thus Come Ones. You will be able to extensively make offerings to all Buddhas. When karma and delusion are left behind and the continuity is severed – when the karma of continuosly flowing and turning in birth and death can be severed, Everywhere throughout the three periods of time, one is liberated. Liberation is obtained everywhere throughout the past, present, and future.

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