THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Praises in the Tushita Heaven Palace

Chapter Twenty-Four. A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

All Buddhas of the three periods of time
Have Dharma bodies which are completely pure.
According to those who should be transformed,
They can universally manifest wonderful form bodies.

The thus Come One doesn’t think to himself,
“ I will make a body like this.”
Rather it naturally reveals itself,
And he never gives rise to distinctions.

Commentary:

All Buddhas of the three periods of time have Dharma bodies which are completely pure. All the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time are like measureless and boundless sand grains in the Ganges River--there are nayutas of asamkhyeyas, inexpressible, incalculable numbers of them. Despite the fact that there are so many Buddhas, the Dharma body of all Buddhas is just one Dharma body. Although we talk about all the Buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time, nonetheless, they mutually share a single Dharma body. The lights of Buddhas reciprocally illumine one another; the emptiness of Buddhas is interpenetrating; the minds of Buddhas are mutually sealed; and the bodies of Buddhas are of one identical substance. There aren’t any differences among them. There isn’t any discrimination of self or others. Just as one Buddha teaches and transforms living beings, so too are all Buddhas teaching and transforming living beings. And all Buddhas teaching and transforming living beings is just a single Buddha teaching and transforming living beings.

So the Buddha’s Dharma body, his response and retribution body, and his transformation bodies are all of the same substance--they’re all one body. There isn’t any discrimination of self or others between them. They aren’t at all like people who think, “You do your thing, and I’ll do my thing.” They don’t make such distinctions. When the Buddhas do things, “One is all and all is one.” Buddhas don’t make distinctions among themselves. You could also say that many Buddhas are just one Buddha, and one Buddha is many Buddhas. They divide and yet are not divided; they are unified, and yet are not unified. And so the Dharma body is completely pure. Although the Buddhas have different names, their basic substance is one. We people in this mundane world make all kinds of discriminations of self and others. The Buddhas don’t make discriminations among themselves, so there’s no self and no others as far as they are concerned. And so,

All is one,
One is all.

What is mean by “Buddha”? When most people think about the Buddha, they are confused about the Buddha. They say the Buddha is some spiritual entity, that the Buddha is inconceivable. In fact, that’s not the way it is.

The Buddha is just true principle, and true principle is just the Buddha, if you understand true principle, you have a clear understanding of the Buddha. If you don’t clearly understand true principle, you do not have a clear understanding of the Buddhadharma. True principle says there is wisdom you can enter; there is cultivation that can be cultivated. If you have wisdom and you can cultivate the Dharma, then you can deeply enter the basic substance and nature of the Buddha. If you don’t have wisdom and you don’t cultivate, then you won’t be able to enter the substance and nature of the Buddha. And yet, you are also never apart from the substance and nature of the Buddha. You are still there within the true principle.

Before it was said that you can’t see the Buddha in marks or form. Well, if we can’t see the Buddha in forms or characteristics, what do we look for? Look for true principle. True principle doesn’t have substance or marks. It doesn’t have characteristics. It is the Real Mark which is without marks. Because it has no marks, therefore it has no distinctions.

According to those who should be transformed, they can universally manifest wonderful form bodies . Although True Emptiness is without marks, that does not prevent it from containing Wonderful Existence. And so, within the unchanging basic substance, there is still “according with conditions.” If you can accord with conditions, then you can manifest whatever transformation is appropriate. The Tathagata appears in whatever transformation body is appropriate in order to teach and transform living beings and cross them over. This is to say, he speaks to living beings in whatever body is appropriate, to cross them over and to cause them to accomplish the Way. Whatever transformation is appropriate for whatever kind of living being is the transformation body he appears in.

For example, if one needs to be crossed over by the body of a Buddha, then the Buddha will manifest the body of a Buddha and speak the Dharma. If one needs to be taken across by the body of a Pratyekabuddha, then the Buddha will manifest the body of a Pratyekabuddha to speak the Dharma and cross over this living being. If the body of a Brahma King is appropriate, he manifests the body of a Brahma King to speak the Dharma and take living beings across. If the body of a Prime Minister is needed to take one across, then the manifests the body of a Prime Minister to speak the Dharma for living beings. If the body of an elder or layperson is needed to take one across, then he manifests the body of an elder or layperson to speak the Dharma. If the body of a young lad or a maiden is needed to cross one over, then he manifests the body of a young lad or a maiden and speaks the Buddhadharma. And so, whatever living being’s body is appropriate in order to take someone across, that’s the body the Buddha manifests.

According to their kind, the Buddha teaches and transforms living beings and speaks the Buddhadharma for them. All kinds of wonderful form bodies universally pervade and manifests everywhere. The Buddha can universally display bodies of all living beings and then speak the Dharma for them.

The thus Come One doesn’t think to himself, “I will make a body like this.” The Buddha isn’t like living beings who strike up false thoughts every day. He doesn’t think in this way, “I think this and I think that. I think I want to accomplish Buddhahood. I think I want to become a living beings. I think I want to be number one. I want to be finer than everybody else. I want to get rich. I think I want to be famous.” These are all just big false thoughts. Nor does he think, “I think I want a good family. I want a good body--a really healthy body.” Thoughts like that are aimed at seeking self-benefit; they’re thoughts to help yourself. The Buddha doesn’t have false thoughts that he has manifested a body, perhaps the body of a Buddha, or the body of a Pratyekabuddha, or an Arhat’s body. He doesn’t have these kinds of thoughts. It is in the absence of false thoughts that such transformations can occur. He doesn’t have to think, and yet these transformation bodies very naturally appear. They are very naturally brought about without any kind of effort in their creation. When a transformation is appropriate, it isn’t thought up, Rather it naturally reveals itself. All kinds of bodies are manifested. And he never gives rise to distinctions. He manifests all kinds of bodies and yet doesn’t make any kind of discrimination.

Why is this? It is because in the past, his vow-power and the various virtues attained from his cultivation of the Six Perfections, the ten thousand conducts, and his great, awesome, spiritual powers, were completely brought to accomplishment. And so, he doesn’t need to make any kind of effort in the creation of these bodies. He doesn’t have to think about it. For instance, if you’re asked a question you have to think about it before you answer, and once you have to think about it, before you answer, you’ve already fallen behind--you’re way behind. If you didn’t have to think before answering, you would be capable of “effortless creation.” If you have to think about it even for a second, then you’ve fallen behind by several tens of thousands of great kalpas. To think about it means you have no wisdom. People with real wisdom understand immediately, without even having to do anything. It’s like a really sharp knife which can slice a hair into many sections. The knife is so sharp that if a stand of hair were blown against it, it would sever it instantly. The blade is that sharp. That’s the kind of sharpness that’s meant here. Being that way is called,

Understanding the mind and
Seeing the nature.
Having no afflictions and
Having no worries.

Sutra:

He makes no discrimination about the Dharma Realm,
And also does not rely on it.
Yet, in the midst of the mundane world,
He manifests measureless bodies.

Commentary:

He makes no discrimination about the Dharma Realm. The worlds of the ten directions are within the Dharma Realm of the Buddha. The Buddha considers one world to be all worlds and all worlds to be one world. To be exhaustion of empty space and the boundaries of the Dharma Realm, all those different worlds are without ant kind of distinction among them. And he also does not rely on it. The Dharma Realm is without a place of reliance, and the Buddha’s Dharma body also has no place of reliance, either. If he had a place of reliance then there would also be places that he didn’t rely on, because it would be by means of the places he didn’t rely on that his place of reliance would be defiled. But a Buddha has no place of reliance whatsoever.

Yet, in the midst of the mundane world, he manifests measureless bodies . Within the world he displays a limitless number of bodies.

Sutra:

The Buddha’s body is changeless.
However, it does transform.
For in the midst of the unchanging Dharma
He makes appear shapes by transformation.

Commentary:

The Buddha’s body is changeless. Originally, the Buddha’s body cannot be sought in form. You don’t look for it in form. And yet it never leaves form. You can’t leave aside physical form when you talk about the Buddha’s body. The Buddha’s body never changes. But you can’t leave aside changes and transformations when you go looking for the Buddha. “Changeless” refers to it being True Suchness. Therefore, True Suchness is the Buddha’s Dharma body. The Buddha’s Dharma body is unchanging, it accords with conditions and yet doesn’t change.

However, it does transform. It accords with conditions and so you can’t say it doesn’t change and transform, For in the midst of the unchanging Dharma he makes appear shapes by transformation. From within the Dharma which does not change, according to conditions, shapes are brought about through transformation. What is this like? It’s like the situation of some people walking together down the road at night who see a tree trunk from a great distance, and one of them say, “There’s somebody up there.” An ignorant person in the crowd agrees and says, “Yup, there’s somebody up there.” But a person with wisdom who can see a little better, then tells them, “You say it’s a person, but it’s not.” The one who thought it was a person then jumps to another conclusion and say, “Oh, it’s not a person, look, it’s a ghost! It certainly must be a ghost.” But all along it’s just a tree trunk. The principle here is that at first glance, you mistake shape for something it’s not; then at second glance, you speculate further about what the shape is, and eventually, may distinguish the thing as being a tree trunk.

The person has the Nature Everywhere Calculated and Attached To and the Nature That Arises Dependent on Something Else, so he gives rise to false speculations. Both conclusions he jumps to--that it is a person and that it is a ghost--are the Nature Everywhere Calculated and Attached To. Finally recognizing it as a tree is the Nature That Arises Dependent on Something Else.

Another way to put it is that a person sees a rope, and his first thought is, “What is that?” the second thought is, “That’s definitely a snake.” That’s the Nature Everywhere Calculated and Attached To. He’s scare when he thinks it is a snake. But upon closer examination, he realizes it’s a rope. That’s the Nature That Arises Dependent on Something Else. If he were to take the rope apart and discover that it is just fibers of hemp, then it out there’s really nothing there at all--it’s empty. That’s the Perfectly Accomplished Real Nature. So, if you can understand this analogy, you can also understand the Buddha’s body. Within non-changing, it follows conditions. Unchanging and yet changing, it doesn’t move and yet follows conditions.

Sutra:

Proper Enlightenment cannot be measured.
It is equal to the Dharma Realm and empty space.
Unfathomable in its depth and vastness,
It is completely cut off from the path of words and language.

The Thus Come One is skillfully able to penetrate;
He practices the way in every place.
He can travel without obstruction
To the multitudes of countries in the Dharma Realm.

Commentary:

Proper Enlightenment cannot be measured. It is equal to the Dharma Realm and empty space. “Proper Enlightenment” is just the Buddha. Ultimately, how many Buddhas are there? They are innumerable. How many living beings are there? There are as many living beings as there are Buddhas. Living beings are just the division bodies of the Buddha. Buddhas are the basic substance of living beings. Divided, they’re measureless; united, they’re one. Therefore, there isn’t any division between living beings and Buddhas. Buddhas are the Buddhas of living beings, and living beings are the living beings of Buddhas.

So, how do living beings accomplish Buddhahood? First they have to cast out greed, hatred, and stupidity, and diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. Let’s take greed as a case in point. Everybody has a mind that is greedy--filled with insatiable greed. If we don’t satisfy our greed, we give rise to ignorance, and then we become afflicted. And when we have afflictions we do all kinds of stupid things. This whole process reveals a lack of propriety. So greed, hatred, and stupidity are called the Three Poisons. Speaking of greed, perhaps one is greedy for name, perhaps one is greedy for benefit, or maybe, one is greedy for blessings and profit. There are many kinds of greed and desires.

Where do greed and desires come from? They come from thoughts which are selfish. If you don’t have selfish thoughts, then you won’t have a lot of greed and desire. If you were without greed and desire, you wouldn’t have a lot of afflictions. If you didn’t have a lot of afflictions, then your wisdom would manifest. You wouldn’t be stupid or confused. So by purely cultivating precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, we completely eradicate greed, hatred, and stupidity. Percepts mean “stopping evil and guarding against transgressions.” They also mean “not doing any evil and offering up all kinds of good conduct.” If you don’t do any evil and can offer up all good conduct, then you are constantly in samadhi. Having proper concentration produces wisdom. From holding precepts, samadhi arises, and from samadhi comes wisdom. When you have wisdom, you can smash through stupidity and ignorance. So why haven’t we have people accomplish Buddhahood? It’s just because we have greed, hatred, and stupidity, and so we haven’t been able to purely cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.

The Buddhas purely cultivated precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, and completely eradicated greed, hatred, and stupidity. They did this over a long period of time, little by little, step by step. Buddhas basically are the same as living beings. But because they got rid of all their faults and bad habits, they accomplished Buddhahood. If we living beings could get rid of our bad faults and habits--completely casting them out--then we too could very quickly accomplish Buddhahood. Buddhas are greatly enlightened beings. They truly understand. Everyone can accomplish Buddhahood. Everyone can attain great enlightenment and great wisdom.

“Buddha” isn’t an exclusive name laid aside for Buddhas only. There’s hope for all of us living beings too. We can all become Buddhas. Living beings are included with the nine Dharma Realms:

  • The Dharma Realm of Bodhisattvas;
  • the Dharma Realm of The Conditionally Enlightened Ones;
  • the Dharma Realm of Sound Hearers;
  • the Dharma Realm of gods;
  • the Dharma Realm of humans;
  • the Dharma Realm of asuras;
  • the Dharma Realm of hell-beings;
  • the Dharma Realm of hungry ghosts, and
  • the Dharma Realm of animals.
These are all called living beings.

When Shakyamuni Buddha realized Proper Enlightenment he said, “All living beings have the Buddha-nature; all can accomplish Buddhahood.” All of you people who have wisdom, think about it. We are all included within the definition of “living beings.” We can all accomplish Buddhahood. Buddhas and living beings are level and equal. However, Buddhas have already attained their inherent great wisdom. We living beings haven’t attained our inherent wisdom yet, and so we continue to be stupid and attached. When the Buddhas first began their cultivation of the Way, they were living beings just like we are. But they endure what people cannot endure; they yielded where people cannot yield; they ate what people are unable to eat; they bore what people cannot bear. That is why they were able to rise above the crowd and become outstanding individuals. Thus the Buddhas were able to return to the origin and go back to the source. They returned to their inherent wisdom. They cultivated and sacrificed themselves for others. Shakyamuni Buddha, for instance, gave up his body for a tiger and he cut up his flesh into pieces to feed an eagle. He practiced bitter practices that are too difficult for most people. He was a person who made a vow to cultivate, and then later he was certified to the fruit of Arhatship. Then he cultivated the Bodhisattva path, the Six Paramitas, and then ten thousand practices. He helped to cross-over living beings by cultivating the Bodhisattva path.

He first attained self-enlightenment. “Self-enlightenment” refers to enlightening oneself. Enlightening oneself means that he himself obtained great wisdom. Then he enlightened others. He caused other people to also attain great wisdom . That’s called the Enlightenment of others. And when he had attained great wisdom himself and enabled others to also attain great wisdom, he is said to have the Perfection of Enlightenment and Practice, the third type of enlightenment. The Three Kinds of Enlightenment are perfected, and the ten thousand virtues are complete. Therefore he’s called Buddha. Buddhas are those who have attained Unsurpassed Proper and Equal Right Enlightenment, so they are also called Greatly Enlightened Ones, and Greatly Wise Ones.

So the text says, “Proper Enlightenment cannot be measured.” For as many living beings as there are, there are equal number of Buddhas. Buddhas just come from living beings. Therefore, it’s not certain how many Buddhas there are. If you don’t believe this, try to calculate a little. If we only consider the human realm--just how many human beings are there on earth? You could try to get the total number, but even if you could determine the total number of living beings in this world at a given moment, you would discover that beings are constantly being born, and dying. So it’s hard to get the exact number. In the future, if you’re able to figure out the total, you’ll still be faced with more birth and deaths. You won’t be able to get an exact number. The past is also like this. Therefore, the number is limitless.

Living beings are limitless and Buddhas are limitless. We people shouldn’t think of Buddhas as being so far away from us. The Buddhas are right in front of us. Buddhas are living beings who have completely turned themselves around. They understand the mind and see the nature. They know how they got born and they know how they will die. When they’re born, they know where they came from, and when they die, they know where they’re going. It’s right at this point that Buddhas are different from us living beings. When we’re born, we don’t know where we came from, and when we die, we don’t know where we’re going. Coming we’re confused, and going we’re confused. We’re busy fighting for fame and profit in the world. And yet, just when you’re about to understand, you die. Would you say this is pitiful or not?

“The Buddhas are equal to the Dharma Realm and empty space.” The Buddhas, the Dharma Realm, and the realm of empty space are all alike. How big is empty space? The Buddhas’ Dharma body is that big too. However lofty the Dharma Realm is, the Buddhas are also that lofty. The Buddhas are identical with the Dharma Realm and the realm of empty space. Proper Enlightenment is Unfathomable in its depth and vastness. If you’re talking about depth, the Buddhas’ state is unfathomable. If you’re talking about vastness, the Buddhas’ state doesn’t have any boundaries or limits. Moreover, It is completely cut off from the path of words and language. Ultimately speaking, what are the Buddhas like? You can’t express that in words and language.

The path of words and language is cut of,
And the place of the mind’s activities is extinguished.
This is the inconceivable state of Buddhas.

The Thus Come One is skillfully able to penetrate. The Buddha can proficiently fathom all principles. He practices the way in every place. He cultivates and teaches and transforms living beings in every place. He can travel without obstruction to the multitudes of countries in the Dharma Realm. Whatever place the Buddhas wish to go in all of the Buddhalands in the ten directions of the Dharma Realm, they can go to. There aren’t any obstructions in their way. That is because the Buddhas are nowhere present, and yet are nowhere not present. There isn’t any place where the Buddhas don’t live, there isn’t any place where the Buddhas do dwell. To the exhaustion of the worlds of the ten directions, the wisdom body of the Buddha exists. There isn’t a single dust mote where all the Buddhas of the past, all the Buddhas of the present, and all the Buddhas of the future, haven’t sacrificed their lives to teach and transform living beings. Therefore, the Buddhas, in order to teach and transform living beings, sacrificed thousands of bodies without begrudging any. Now we, not to speak of sacrificing our bodies to help living beings, can’t even give up a small finger to help living beings. We can’t even pull out a single hair from our heads to aid living beings. If we could benefit everything under heaven by pulling out a single strand of hair, we still wouldn’t do it, because we’re selfish. If we weren’t so selfish, we’d open great wisdom.

Sutra:

At that time, Wisdom Banner Bodhisattva received the Buddha’s spiritual power, universally contemplated the ten directions, and spoke these verses.

Commentary:

Bright Light Banner Bodhisattva had finished speaking, praising the Buddha, praising the Dharma, and praising the Sangha. Then, At that time, again there was a Bodhisattva called Wisdom Banner Bodhisattva. “Wisdom” refers to his great wisdom. “Banner” represents the fact that his wisdom is just like a jeweled banner, everywhere illumining the dark, ignorant minds of living beings, causing all living beings to attain the light of wisdom. Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit word which can means both “enlightening sentient beings” and “enlightened sentient being.” Bodhisattvas enlighten both sentient and insentient beings, and are living beings who have attained enlightenment. You yourself will also become enlightened with wisdom, if you wish to enlighten living beings.

This Bodhisattva received the Buddha’s spiritual power. Bright Light Banner Bodhisattva received Shakyamuni Buddha’s great, awesome, spiritual power. Using all the great, awesome, spiritual power of the Buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time, he universally contemplated the ten directions. He everywhere contemplated all of the causal conditions of living beings throughout the lands of the ten directions, in great detail, deciding who should be crossed over. Then he spoke Dharma for them. And so for those living being who ought to be crossed over, he spoke these verses. He used simple verses which are very easy to understand, in order to speak the Dharma for living beings.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

VENERABLE ABBOT: “If you have a question, you can bring it up and we’ll discuss it.”

FIRST QUESTIONER: “You were talking about the root of greed and desire being selfishness. I was wondering, where does selfishness come from?”

VENERABLE ABBOT: “From ignorance.”

FIRST QUESTIONER: “Where does ignorance come from?”

VENERABLE ABBOT: “From your non-enlightenment; non-awakening.”

FIRST QUESTIONER: “What makes me non-awakened?”

VENERABLE ABBOT: “Because you’re ignorant; you haven’t awakened. If you could break through ignorance, then you’d be enlightened.”

SECOND QUESTIONER: “Since there are many different kinds of afflictions which are cause by ignorance, how is the one who is afflicted to know what is the proper way to end his affliction? Since he is afflicted, he won’t be able to see his own afflictions.”

VENERABLE ABBOT: “The back of your hand is affliction, and the palm of your hand is Bodhi. Realizing Bodhi is just like flipping your hand from back to palm. When you turn affliction around, it’s Bodhi. Afflictions are the same as Bodhi. Birth and death are the same as Nirvana. If you understand, then afflictions are Bodhi. If you don’t understand, then Bodhi is affliction. Bodhi isn’t outside of afflictions, and there are no afflictions outside the scope of enlightenment. So I constantly cite the analogy of water and ice. If you pour a bowl of water over a person’s body, even you use a lot of strength, still you won’t hurt the person. However, if this bowl of water turned into ice, and you hit the person in the head with it, this person would certainly die. Bodhi is just like water. Afflictions are like ice. If you melt ice, it becomes water; when you freeze water, it becomes ice. So, afflictions are Bodhi; birth and death are Nirvana. This is the principle.

“Today, many young students have come to investigate the Buddhadharma, and I can transmit a dharma of studying to you. The dharma of studying has three parts. If you don’t want to hear this message, you can plug up your ear. (laughter). The three parts are the eyes, mouth, and mind. The eyes. You read the book you’re studying with your eyes, and you recite with your mouth. You use your mind to ponder the principles of this book. If you can study a book this way, you can very quickly remember the contents. The principles contained in the book and your mind unite into one. This is very important. When studying, it’s a very important method. Also, in addition to the eyes, mouth, and mind, there are the three ‘on’s.’

“When it comes to studying, don’t be afraid of being too stupid or too dumb. It’s only to be feared that you won’t work hard. If you work hard, then you’ll eventually reach success. You can also use these three ‘on’s.’

1. On the rod. When you’re walking, you can recite out loud the book that you’re studying.

2. On the toilet. When you study and still are unable to remember the contents of the book, then when you go to the toilet, think about the book that you’re studying, and at that time, you can very quickly remember it. When you’re going to the toilet you don’t have any false thinking. It’s very easy to remember the book that you are studying.

3. On the pillow. At night when you are about to go to bed, as you lay your head on the pillow, don’t have so many extraneous false thoughts. Don’t think about boy friend and girlfriend, old friend and young friends--all kinds of thoughts like this. As you lie there on the pillow, keep your head cool and lucid, and you can very easily recall the principles of the book you’re studying. Therefore, at that time, it’s very easy for you to mesh with the principle of the book. It’s easy for you to understand it at this time.

“So this is the method for studying. Why do you study? You study in order to understand true principle; in order to increase your wisdom. That is why you study. Because you want to acquire a little erudition, a little brains. If you want to acquire any learning, remember that it will be a great aid to developing your wisdom if you decrease the amount of your false thinking.

You’ll be able to develop wisdom very quickly. Because I see that you are very sincere in coming here today, I decided to give you a brief outline of this method of studying. Not only is studying that way, learning to be a human being also requires adherence to a code of ethics. You have to abide by certain principles. You should ask yourself, ‘Am I studying for my own benefit, or for the sake of all people?’ if it’s just for myself, then it will only be of benefit to me and not of benefit to other people.” You should try to expand your mind and develop this kind of selfless thinking a bit. If you expand your mind, your future will be bright without limit. As it is said,

Sacrifice the small ego for the Big Self.”

Sutra:

If a person can believe and receive
All-Wisdom without obstruction.
And if he cultivates Bodhi practices,
His mind will be limitless.

Within all countries
The Buddha universally manifests measureless bodies.
Yet these bodies do not have a location.
Nor do they dwell in Dharmas.

Commentary:

If a person can believe and receive All-Wisdom without obstruction. And if he cultivates Bodhi practices, his mind will be limitless. “If” means supposing. Wishing to further clarify his meaning, Wisdom Banner Bodhisattva brings up a hypothetical case. He say, “suppose there is a person who can believe and uphold the Dharma spoken by the Buddha. The Buddha is All-Wisdom itself, and and the Dharma spoken by the Buddha is one Dharma of All-Wisdom.” “Without obstruction” means perfectly fused without any hindrances. If he practices the Dharma of awakening to the Way--Bodhi--then “his mind will be limitless.” Once you give rise to great mind for Bodhi, this mind becomes limitless and has no boundaries. It has no limit, no number.

Within all countries. The limit of the mind is like the Dharma Realm. It’s like empty space. So within all countries, The Buddha universally manifests measureless bodies. The Buddha, in all the countries of the ten directions, universally manifests measureless, wonderful form bodies. Yet these bodies do not have a location. Although they are limitless, they are without a place of dwelling. Nor do they dwell in Dharmas. Moreover, they don’t come attached to dharmas. So people are seen as empty and dharmas are seen as empty. Because people are empty, this body doesn’t dwell anywhere; and when dharmas are empty, one doesn’t dwell in dharmas. When attachments to self and dharmas are both emptied, one is totally apart from attachments. One is nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

Sutra:

Each and every Tathagata
Makes appear bodies by means of spiritual powers.
Throughout inconceivable kalpas,
No calculations or reckonings
can reach their end.

As to all living beings of the three periods of time,
Their number can completely be known,
But the number of bodies revealed by the Thus Come Ones,
Cannot be ascertained.

Sometimes they manifest one or two;
At other times, limitless bodies.
Although universally manifesting in lands of the ten directions,
In fact, they are not two kinds.

Commentary:

Each and every Tathagata makes appear bodies by means of spiritual powers. This is speaking of all the Buddhas throughout the ten directions and three periods of time. Every Buddha has hundreds of thousands of millions of transformation bodies. This is to say, by means of spiritual penetrations they can manifest these bodies. Through the Buddhas’ great, awesome, spiritual power, these bodies manifest in infinite variety. So Wisdom Banner Bodhisattva goes on to say, Throughout inconceivable kalpas, no calculations or reckonings can reach their end. Even if one uses calculations and analogies, the number of these Buddhas’ bodies still cannot be fathomed.

As to all living beings of the three periods of time, their number can completely be known. There are Buddhas of the three periods of time, and there are also living beings of the three periods of time--that is, the past, present, and future. As to all these living beings, how many are there? Their number can still be known. It is reckonable. But the number of bodies revealed by the Thus Come Ones, cannot be ascertained. As to the bodies the Buddhas manifest--how many bodies are there? What is their number? They can’t be reckoned.

Wisdom Banner Bodhisattva continues, Sometimes they manifest one or two. Maybe the Buddhas will each manifest one body of a Buddha. Maybe they will manifest two bodies. At other times, they will display limitless bodies--up to and including a limitless number of Buddhas’ bodies. Although universally manifesting in lands of the ten directions, in fact, they are not two kinds. These bodies manifest everywhere throughout all Buddha-lands within the ten directions. Yet actually, there isn’t any duality to the Buddhas Dharma body; the Buddhas don’t have two bodies. Although they manifest limitless bodies, it’s just one Dharma body. From this one Dharma body appear limitless bodies. And limitless bodies return to the one Dharma body. That is why the Bodhisattva says they are not two kinds; they are non-dual.

Sutra:

Consider for instance, the pure, full moon,
Which everywhere appears in all waters.
Although its reflections are infinite,
Originally, the moon isn’t two.

The same is true for one with unobstructed wisdom,
Who accomplishes Equal, Proper Enlightenment.
Although he universally appears in all lands,
The Buddha’s substance is non-dual.

It is neither one, nor two;
It is also not limitless,
But merely accords with those who should be transformed
To display limitless bodies.

Commentary:

Consider for instance, the pure, full moon. Another analogy is used to explain the Buddha’s state. It is like the pure, full moon in empty space, Which everywhere appears in all waters. The light of the moon everywhere appears in all waters. This is not to say that the moon’s own substance goes into the water; rather, it’s just a reflection of light. So there’s a saying,

One moon is universally reflected in all waters;
All the reflections return to a single moon.

And Although its reflections are in-finite, originally, the moon isn’t two. This reflection of moonlight appears in limitless waters. Although there are so many reflections, originally there is only one moon, not two. The Buddha is like the pure, full moon. Although each living being feels that he or she is face to face with the Buddha, yet the Buddha has only on Dharma body. It is said,

In the water of a thousand pools
A thousand moons appear.
For ten thousand miles there’s not a cloud;
For ten thousand miles, the sky is clear.

The same is true for one with unobstructed wisdom, who accomplishes Equal, Proper Enlightenment. This wisdom is like the perfectly fused and unobstructed wisdom of a Buddha. It was due to this kind of wisdom that he was able to accomplish Buddhahood--Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment. Although he universally appears in all lands, the Buddha’s substance is non-dual. The Buddha accomplishes Buddhahood in this world, that world, and in measureless other worlds. So this line says he “universally appears in all lands.” Yet, no matter how many worlds he manifests in to accomplish Buddhahood, the Buddha’s basic substance is non-dual.

It is neither one, nor two. Not only is the Buddha’s basic substance said to be non-dual, it isn’t even one. If it’s not even one, how can it be two? It is also not limitless. It’s also not limitless or boundless. It’s merely a manifestation, that’s all. But merely accords with those who should be transformed to display limitless bodies. The Buddha contemplates the causes and conditions of living beings and dispenses the teachings by speaking Dharma for them. According to the roots and natures of living beings, he teaches and transforms them. Those who have not yet planed good roots, he causes to plant good roots. Those who already have planted good roots, he causes to increase their good roots. Those who have already increased their good roots, he causes to bring their good roots to maturity. Those whose good roots have already matured, he causes to attain liberation. According with those living beings who should be transformed, the Buddha “displays limitless bodies.” He makes appear measureless bodies to teach and transform living beings. He breaks their attachments and enables them to return to their true original source and ultimately to become Buddhas. This is the Buddha’s hope.

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