THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Manifestations of the Thus Come One

Chapter Two, A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

I.A.1.c. The ways in which the Buddhas bestow aid

Sutra:

What are the ways in which the Buddhas bestow aid?  

Commentary:

What are the ways in which the Buddhas bestow aid? All of us who are present here are being aided by the Buddhas. The Buddhas’ aid can help to perpetuate our resolve for Bodhi; they can make it so we don’t forget our bodhi resolve. The aid of the Buddhas can cause us to always keep our commitment to realize Bodhi. The aid of the Buddhas can make everything be auspicious and go according to our wishes. Absolutely everything is due to the Buddhas’ aid. Although the Buddhas aid us, we beings are not aware of it. Within the Buddhas’ Dharma-body we are permeated with the Buddhas’ Dharma, yet, we are unaware of that.

If you can cultivate and attain the fruition, you will know that everything is due to receiving the aid of the Buddhas. If you can open up your Five Eyes, you will know that absolutely everything is due to receiving the Buddhas’ aid. Not only do people and all other sentient beings receive the aid of the Buddhas, all of the trees, the grass, insentient things, the soil, and the rocks receive the Buddhas’ aid as well. The power of the Buddhas’ aid exhausts space and pervades the Dharma Realm. You could never finish speaking about it. Therefore, absolutely everything receives the Buddhas’ aid. There is a public record that relates to this passage of text, proving that everyone receives the Buddhas’ aid. This event took place when the Buddha first appeared in the world.

In the city of Campa lived a wealthy elder. Although he held a high position in society, he didn’t have a son. Consequently, he made offerings to six masters who happened to be from non-Buddhist sects. He did this because he wanted a son. Everyday he respectfully made offerings and bowed to these six masters. He told them he wanted a son.

Now, it’s not known which one, but among the six masters there was one who manifested spiritual powers, after which the elder’s wife became pregnant. But this wealthy elder was never satisfied with anything; when “given an inch, he would take a foot.” Once his wife was with child, he happily returned to these six masters and said to them, “My wife is pregnant. Can you tell me whether she will give birth to a boy or a girl?”

The six masters took a look at her physiognomy and said to the elder’s wife, “You are going to have a daughter.”

When the elder heard that his wife was going to have a daughter, he became very distraught again. He said, “If I have a son, I can bequeath my family heritage to him. But if I have a daughter, I won’t be able to give her anything! I have so much wealth; what am I to do?” He was extremely vexed.

At that time, a Good Knowing One came to his home. After he arrived he asked the elder, “Why are you so worried?”

The elder replied, “I’m so old now, and I was hoping for a son. My wife became pregnant, but there are six masters who have informed me that the child in her womb is a girl. I have so much wealth and property, yet I don’t know what will become of it in the future. That’s why I’m so worried.”

The elder had no children. Having sought for one, he got one. However, he was going to get a daughter instead of a son, so this caused him to be distressed again. This truly is the “suffering of not getting what you seek for.”

At that time the Good Knowing One began praising the Buddha, saying, “The Buddha knows everything. Go ask the Buddha. Maybe what the six masters said wasn’t right.” So the elder went off to talk to the Buddha. He asked him if his wife was going to have a boy or a girl. The Buddha replied, “It’s definitely going to be a boy! Not only will it be a boy, he will be extremely handsome.”

What do you think the elder did next? He was really an old fool; he didn’t have any wisdom. He went back and told the six masters, “I asked the Buddha and he said that my wife is going to have a son. She’s definitely going to have a son. The Buddha guarantees that it will be a boy; it’s not going to be a girl. All of you read her physiognomy and told me that I absolutely wouldn’t have a son, that I would have a daughter. Well, you all turned out to be wrong.

Now, when the six masters heard that, they became extremely jealous. They thought to themselves, “Your Buddha says that you’re going to have a son. Very well, we’ll make it so that you won’t have a daughter or a son!” Whereupon they took an amalaka fruit, mashed it into a pulp, and added poison to it. Then they instructed the elder to bring it back to his wife and give it to her to eat. They told him, “If your wife eats this piece of fruit, even if she has a girl, the girl will become a boy. Not only that, his features will be extremely handsome. You should quickly return home and give this to your wife to eat.” The elder returned home and gave the fruit to his wife to eat. As soon as she ate it, she died. She had neither a son nor a daughter.

When the elder took his wife to be cremated, the Buddha was aware of this. He knew that the six masters had poisoned the elder’s wife. When the Buddha came to where the elder was, the elder said to him, “Buddha, you say you don’t lie, but you told me my wife was going to have a son. Now she is dead, and I don’t even have a daughter! What am I going to do? What you said was wrong.”

The Buddha told the elder, “You asked me whether your wife was going to have a son or a daughter. You didn’t ask me how long your wife was going to live. Although this has happened and your wife is now dead, I guarantee you that you will still have that son. If you don’t believe me, just take a look.”

Sure enough, they took a look and saw that the heat from the fire had caused the skin of the wife’s abdomen to burst open. And there was a child sitting on the fire looking very much at ease. The Buddha said, “Quickly go and pick up the child.” The six masters, who were also there, said, “Don’t do it!”

The elder took a look at his son and thought to himself, “How can I pick him up!” He then said, “If the Buddha told me to fall into the Hell of Boiling Water, the boiling water would become cool. This is just an ordinary fire. Basically, there isn’t any problem.” And with that, he picked up the child, handed him to the Buddha, and said, “The Buddha has aided this child. Although his mother was poisoned to death, and was cremated, the fire didn’t burn this child. This is due to the power of the Buddha’s aid.”

The Buddha then took the child from the elder and said to him, “Beings’ lifespans are as ephemeral as bubbles on the water. This child was in the fire but didn’t get burned to death. As a result of his reward from previous lives, he won’t be burned to death in this life.”

Then the elder requested the Buddha to name his son. The Buddha said, “Since the fire didn’t kill him, I will give him the name, Fire.” In Sanskrit, fire is jyotih, so the child was called Jyotishka. On the one hand, he received the power of the Buddha’s aid, and on the other hand, he himself cultivated this kind of reward whereby he couldn’t be burned by the fire.

I.A.1.d. The practices of the Buddhas

Sutra:

What are the practices of the Buddhas? 

Commentary:

All of the Bodhisattvas are now wondering: “What are the practices of the Buddhas? What do they do? How do they conduct themselves?” These are some of the things they want to know about.

All Buddhas refers to the Buddhas throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time. What they do is to teach and transform beings. They cause beings to realize the Buddha Way together. Whatever the Buddhas do, it is just right. They never do too much nor too little; it’s just right. It’s right here where their conduct differs from that of beings.

There are ten opportunities that all Buddhas never pass up. The first is that all Buddhas realize Proper Enlightenment at the opportune time, neither too soon nor too late. Right when it’s time for them to realize Proper Enlightenment, they do so. The Buddhas never miss the opportunity to realize Proper Enlightenment.

The second is that all Buddhas never miss the opportunity to bring those with whom they have conditions to maturity. When beings are nearly mature and are ready to attain liberation, at that precise moment the Buddhas come to help them reach maturity and attain liberation. However, this is referring to those beings with whom the Buddhas have affinities. Those beings who do not have affinities with them must wait until their conditions ripen before they can be liberated.

The third is that all Buddhas never miss the opportunity to bestow predictions of bodhi upon beings. They tell beings when they will become Buddhas, what the name of their lands will be, what their Buddha names will be, and what their kalpas will be called.

The fourth is that all Buddhas, throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time, never miss the opportunity to manifest all kinds of spiritual powers in order to accord with the minds of beings.

The fifth is that all Buddhas, throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time , never miss the opportunity to manifest the body of a Buddha for beings according to their level of understanding. They enable beings to understand as much as they are able to understand.

The sixth is that all Buddhas never miss the opportunity to practice great renunciation. No matter what it is, they can renounce it. No matter what it is, they can let go of it. They are not greedy or stingy at all. They can renounce absolutely everything.

The seventh is that all Buddhas never miss the opportunity to enter into all communities. Communities refer to cities. It’s not that when they should go to the city they don’t go, and when they shouldn’t go to the city, they go. They go to a community or a city at the most appropriate time.

The eighth is that all Buddhas never miss the opportunity to gather in and transform beings. They do it at the most appropriate time.

The ninth is that all Buddhas never miss the opportunity to subdue beings who engage in the ten evil deeds and who neglect to do what is good. They don’t pass up the opportunity to tame and subdue such beings.

The tenth is that all Buddhas never miss the opportunity to reveal the inconceivable spiritual powers of the Buddhas. They manifest them exactly when they should.

All Buddhas never miss these ten kinds of opportunities in their practice. This has been a general discussion. If I were to speak of these ten opportunities in detail, I would never be able to finish discussing them, for their meanings are infinite.

I.A.1.e. The powers of the Buddhas

Sutra:

What are the powers of the Buddhas?

Commentary:

All of the Bodhisattvas are now wondering, “What are the powers of the Buddhas?” I have explained the Ten Powers before. The Buddhas’ powers are limitless, boundless, and inconceivable. They will now be explained in a general way.

The first is all Buddhas have powers that are vast and great.

The second is all Buddhas have a supreme and incomparable power; there is nothing higher than it.

The third is all Buddhas, throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time, have limitless and boundless powers.

The fourth is that all Buddhas cultivate blessings and wisdom at the level of planting causes. Consequently, they obtain the power of great majesty that comes from their previous cultivation.

The fifth is all Buddhas have a power that is difficult to attain.

The sixth is all Buddhas have nonretreating power; they never retreat from their resolve for Bodhi. They advance with vigor and never retrogress. They have this nonretreating power. While cultivating, they advance and never go backward.

The seventh is all Buddhas have a power that is solid.

The eighth is all Buddhas have an indestructible power. There is no way anyone can destroy it.

The ninth is all Buddhas have inconceivable powers in all worlds.

The tenth is all Buddhas have the power not to be moved by beings. Beings have no way to disturb the Buddhas.

This is the Flower Adornment Sutra’s meaning. Since I am not looking at anyone’s commentary, there may be times when I speak incorrectly. You may take a look at the Flower Adornment Sutra Prologue [by National Master Qing Liang of the Tang Dynasty]. I’m giving you an explanation based on what I remember. If you want more detail, you can investigate more on your own. As we investigate the Flower Adornment Sutra, it would be best if those of you who know Chinese do some studying beforehand. Then, when I lecture for you, you will have an understanding of the text. If you don’t read in advance, what use is it to have the Prologue? If you can read the Prologue before and after the lecture, taking time out to investigate it even if you are busy, then you will come to understand the Flower Adornment Sutra. This is an opportunity that is difficult to encounter.

Ten additional powers are listed in the Prologue. The first is, Buddhas have the power whereby their bodies and lives cannot be destroyed.

The second is, Buddhas have the power to contain other worlds within a single pore.

The third is, Buddhas have the power to manifest and hold large mountains on the tip of a single hair.

The fourth is, while within samadhi, Buddhas have the power of free and independent functioning.

The fifth is, Buddhas have the power of always pervasively expounding the Dharma. At all times, they pervasively fill up all worlds in order to speak the inconceivable, wonderful Dharma.

The sixth is, Buddhas have the power of being endowed with a virtuous appearance that can subdue demons.

The seventh is, Buddhas have the power of a perfect, penetrating sound. When the Buddhas speak Dharma, their sound pervasively fills up the great trichiliocosm. All beings can hear it.

The eighth is, Buddhas have the power of an unobstructed mind; a mind without any impediments.

The ninth is, Buddhas have the power of a subtle and secret Dharma body.

The tenth is, Buddhas are replete with the power of the cultivation of wisdom. These are the ten additional powers.

I.A.1. f. The fearlessnesses of the Buddhas

Sutra:

What are the fearlessnesses of the Buddhas?  

Commentary:

Buddhas fear nothing at all, unlike ordinary beings, who have things they fear. Buddhas are fearless. The Buddhas’ fearlessnesses are also limitless and boundless.

Speaking in general terms, the first is the fearlessness of hearing and upholding. The Buddhas have the fearlessness of hearing, cultivating, and upholding.

The second is the fearlessness of eloquence. Buddhas have unobstructed eloquence. The principles they speak are completely accurate.

The third is the fearlessness of two kinds of emptiness in which beings and dharmas are both empty.

The fourth is the fearlessness of being flawless in awesome deportment. Buddhas have perfected the three thousand awesome deportments and eighty thousand fine aspects of conduct. Every aspect of their deportment is perfect. They have an awesome demeanor that beings revere.

The fifth is the fearlessness of being without errors or faults in the three modes of karma—physical, verbal, and mental. The Buddhas do not commit the three evil acts of killing, stealing, or sexual misconduct with their bodies. Their minds do not give rise to the three evils of greed, anger, and delusion. Their mouths do not commit the four evils of lying, loose speech, harsh speech, and divisive speech.

The sixth is the fearlessness of external protection. The Buddhas enjoy the protection of all the Dharma protectors. Therefore, none of the celestial demons or externalists can take advantage of them.

The seventh is the fearlessness of having proper mindfulness. Within samadhi, at all times the Buddhas dwell in proper mindfulness and proper concentration.

The eighth is the fearlessness of expedient means. Buddhas use all kinds of expedient means to teach and transform beings, leading them to make a great resolve for bodhi, and to end birth and death.

The ninth is the fearlessness of All-Wisdom. Buddhas have All-Wisdom; they understand everything, regardless of what it might be.

The tenth is the fearlessness of being perfect in all practices. They have completely cultivated and perfected the six perfections and the myriad practices.

Buddhas have these ten kinds of fearlessnesses. This has been a very simple explanation of them. If I were to speak of them more extensively, they are also measureless and boundless.

I.A.1.g. The samadhis of the Buddhas

Sutra:

What are the samadhis of the Buddhas?

Commentary:

Samadhi is a Sanskrit word translated as “proper concentration” and “proper perception.” The Buddhas’ samadhis are also limitless, boundless, inexhaustible, and infinite. In brief, there are ten kinds of samadhis.

The first is, Buddhas are always in proper samadhi. Although they are in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, they can pervade all places; they can go everywhere proclaiming the wonderful Dharma in great detail for the sake of beings.

The second is, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can pervade all places and speak the Dharma of no-self for the sake of beings.

The third is, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can reach all lands and enter into the three periods of time—the past, the present, and the future—without there being any obstruction among them.

The fourth is, not only can they pervasively enter into the three periods of time, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can pervasively reach all places and universally enter into vast and great Buddhalands throughout the ten directions, also without obstruction.

The fifth is, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can pervasively reach all places, everywhere manifesting all kinds of Buddhas’ bodies. This is yet another one of their samadhis.

The sixth is, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can pervasively reach all places and, complying with the various minds and various understandings of beings, manifest the purity of the three karmic vehicles—the body, the mouth, and the mind.

The seventh is, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can pervasively reach all places and speak the Dharma for the sake of beings, leading them to renounce love and desire and realize ultimate reality.

The eighth is, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can pervasively reach all places and proclaim the inherent nature of things, which is that they arise from causes and conditions.

The ninth is, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can pervasively reach all places and manifest limitless vast, great adornments, both worldly and world-transcending, enabling all beings to constantly see the Buddhas.

The tenth is, all Buddhas, while in samadhi, in the space of a single thought, can cause all beings to completely understand all Buddhadharmas, understand limitless passages into liberation, and ultimately arrive at the unsurpassed “other shore.”

This is a general explanation of the Buddhas’ ten kinds of samadhis.

I.A.1.h. The spiritual powers of the Buddhas

Sutra:

What are the spiritual powers of the Buddhas?  

Commentary:

The spiritual powers of an Arhat are already inconceivable. They can fly and manifest spiritual transformations. By lifting a hand or a foot, they can shake heaven and earth. The wonderful functions of the Bodhisattvas’ spiritual powers are even more incredible than those of the Arhats. Yet, in comparison, the wonderful functions of the Buddhas’ spiritual powers are still more inconceivable than those of the Bodhisattvas. One could never finish describing the wonderful functions of the Buddhas’ spiritual powers and of their ability to create infinite transformations. We will mention just a few of their spiritual powers here.

The first is the wisdom of the spiritual power of knowing others’ thoughts. All the various thoughts that any being entertains are completely known and seen by the Thus Come One. Why is he able to know the various thoughts in beings’ minds? He has the wisdom of the spiritual power of knowing others’ thoughts.

The second is the wisdom of the spiritual power of the heavenly eye. Not only does the Buddha know the thoughts in beings’ minds within the human realm, he also know the thoughts going on in the minds of beings in the heavens.

The third is the wisdom of the spiritual power of knowing past lives through limitless kalpas.

The fourth is the wisdom of the spiritual power of knowing kalpas throughout all time.

The fifth is the wisdom of the spiritual power of the unobstructed, pure heavenly ear.

The sixth is the wisdom of the spiritual power whereby, without any particular quality, and without movement or action, he can quite naturally go to all Buddhalands.

The seventh is the wisdom of the spiritual power of being able to understand all languages.

The eighth is the wisdom of the spiritual power of being able to manifest innumerable physical bodies.

The ninth is the wisdom of the spiritual power of understanding all dharmas. Regardless of what dharma it is, the Buddha understands it thoroughly.

The tenth is the wisdom of the spiritual power of entering the samadhi of extinction.

The Buddhas’ spiritual powers can be explained in yet another way.

The first is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time can manifest an ineffable, ineffable number of Buddhas coming into the world.

The second is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest an ineffable, ineffable number of Buddhas turning the Dharma wheel.

The third is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest an ineffable, ineffable number of bodies to teach, transform, and tame beings.

The fourth is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest an ineffable, ineffable number of Buddhalands.

The fifth is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest an ineffable, ineffable number of Bodhisattvas receiving predictions.

The sixth is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest all Buddhas of the past, present, and future.

The seventh is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest all worlds of the past, present, and future.

The eighth is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest all of the spiritual powers of the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.

The ninth is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest all beings of the past, present, and future.

The tenth is, in the space of a single thought, all Buddhas can manifest all the deeds done by Buddhas of the past, present, and future.

We could never finish talking about the wonderful functions of the Buddhas’ spiritual powers.

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