THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Ten Grounds _______

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

Sutra:  

At that time, the Greatly Wise and Fearless Bodhisattva, Vajra Treasury, having heard what was said, and wishing to make the assembled multitudes happy, for all disciples of the Buddha used verses and said:  

Commentary:  

At that time, the Greatly Wise, if you have great wisdom, then, no matter what happens, you have no problems. People who lack wisdom, however, have problems no matter what happens. And Fearless, you should not be afraid of people, but you also must not go around bullying people. Fearing and bullying people amount to the same thing. To be fearless doest not mean to beat up on people or to argue with them. It is just that, as a result of your own great wisdom, there is nothing that you fear. Bodhisattva Vajra Treasury, who was it who was greatly wise and fearless? It was Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva who, having heard what was said by Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva in his verses, and wishing to make the assembled multitudes happy, for all disciples of the Buddha, for all the great Bodhisattvas, used verses and said:  

Sutra:  

The deeds of Bodhisattvas’ grounds of practice, are sources most supreme of Buddhas all; clear discussion of them in detail is foremost, rare, and hard to come upon.

Their subtleties are difficult to see, apart from thought, they go beyond the mind; the states and realms of Buddhas that appear; cause those who hear to be confused and doubt.  

Commentary:  

The deeds of Bodhisattvas’ grounds of practice, Bodhisattva Vajra Treasury said, “During a Bodhisattva’s cultivation on the causal ground, he experiences the events on the Ten Bodhisattva Grounds, which are sources most supreme of Buddhas all. There is nothing higher than they are, and they are the basic Dharma-doors for accomplishing Buddhahood. Clear discussion of them in detail is foremost, rare, and hard to come upon. They are rarely explained.

Their subtleties are difficult to see; practices of Bodhisattvas have fine points which are not easy to understand. Apart from thought, they go beyond the mind. These kinds of Dharma-doors are such that the path of language is cut off, and the place of the mind’s workings is extinguished. They go beyond all reflection and deliberation. The states and realms of Buddhas that appear -- all that manifest are the Buddhas’ states -- cause those who hear to be confused and doubt. It is very hard for those who hear of these Dharma-doors to understand them, and it is very easy for them to give rise to doubts and confusion.

Sutra:  

If one holds the mind like Vajra, with deep faith in the Buddhas’ foremost wisdom, knowing that the mind-ground lacks a self, one can hear these dharmas most supreme.

Like pictures that are painted in the air, like traces of the wind in empty space, the wisdom of the muni is that way, its distinctions very hard for one to see.

I am mindful that the wisdom of the Buddhas is superior beyond conception; there’s no one in the world who can receive it.

Silent, then, am I and do not speak.  

Commentary:  

If one holds the mind like Vajra, living beings give rise to doubts and confusion, because they do not have the wisdom to understand these most superior Dharma-doors. If they can hold onto their minds with vajra-like solidity, with deep faith in the Buddhas’ foremost wisdom, knowing that the mind-ground lacks a self, one can hear these dharmas most supreme. Knowing that the entrances into the mind-ground are necessarily devoid of self, they will be able to hear these most supreme Dharmas.

Like pictures that are painted in the air, one should not become attached upon hearing of these magnificent Dharmas. They are all like paintings in space, with no shape or characteristics, and like traces of the wind in empty space, which also lack shape or characteristics. The wisdom of the muni is that way, Shakyamuni Buddha’s wisdom is also like that, its distinctions very hard for one to see. No matter how hard you try, they are not easily understood or seen.

I am mindful that the wisdom of the Buddhas, is superior beyond conception. It is excellent and not easy to conceive of. There’s no one in the world who can receive it. No one in the world can understand this Dharma or accept these principles. Silent, then, am I and do not speak. Therefore, I remain silent and do not explain them for anyone.

Sutra:  

At that time, when Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva heard this said, he addressed Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, saying, “Disciple of the Buddha, the multitudes are already gathered here. They all have well purified the depths of their minds and have well cleansed their thoughts. They have well cultivated many practices. They have well accumulated the aids to the path. They have been well able to draw near hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhas. They have accomplished limitless good roots of merit and virtue. They have cast off all stupidity and doubt. They have no defilements. They have deep faith and understanding. Within the Buddhadharmas they do not follow other teachings. All is well, disciple of the Buddha; you should receive the Buddhas’ spiritual power and speak. All these Bodhisattvas will be able to certify as knowing all these profound places.

At that time, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke verses, saying:  

Commentary:  

At that time, when Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva finished listening to Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, and having heard this said, he addressed Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, saying, “Disciple of the Buddha, the multitudes are already gathered here. They all have well purified the depths of their minds of faith, and have well cleansed their thoughts. They have well cultivated many practices. They have well accumulated the aids to the path. They have been well able to draw near hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhas. They have accomplished limitless good roots of merit and virtue. They have cast off all stupidity and doubt. All of them have already done away with ignorance and confusion. They have no defilements, no filth. They have deep faith and understanding. They believe in and understand the Buddhadharmas, and within the Buddhadharmas, they do not follow other teachings. They always study and practice Buddhadharma and do not follow other teaching methods of side doors and outside ways.

“All is well, disciple of the Buddha,” he said. “You are really good, Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, great disciple of the Buddha, you should receive the Buddhas’ spiritual power and speak. You should receive the Buddhas’ great, awesome spiritual might and, for this great assembly, speak the Buddhadharma. All these Bodhisattvas, in this assembly, will be able to certify as knowing all these profound places. They will certify to the profound Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds. They are all capable of realizing and understanding them.”

At that time, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke verses, saying: He used verses to reiterate what he had just said.

Sutra:  

We wish you to speak of the most tranquil, Bodhisattvas’ practices unsurpassed, discriminating each and every ground, wisdom pure, and accomplishment of proper enlightenment.  

This assembly is free from all defilements; their determination and understanding are bright and pure. They have served limitless Buddhas. They can know the meaning of these grounds.  

At that time, Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva said, “disciples of the Buddha, although the assembly gathered here all have well purified their thoughts, have cast off stupidity and doubt, and in the deeply profound dharma they do not follow others’ teachings, there are still other living beings with deficient wisdom, who, upon hearing these profound and difficult-to-conceive-of matters would give rise to more doubts, and, in the long night they would suffer much distress. I take pity upon them and, therefore, remain silent.”  

At that time, Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke verses, saying:  

Commentary:  

We wish you to speak of the most tranquil, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva said, “I wish that you, great Bodhisattva, would speak these most peaceful Dharmas, Bodhisattvas’ practices unsurpassed, the most superior Dharma-doors of cultivation, discriminating each and every ground, and analyze and explain the principles of the Ten Grounds, wisdom pure, and accomplishment of proper enlightenment, causing all living beings to obtain pure wisdom, and in the future to become Buddhas. This assembly is free from all defilements. He said, “Their determination and understanding are bright and pure. Their resolution and their comprehension are both very, very pure. They have served limitless Buddhas. They can know the meaning of these grounds.  

At that time, right after that, Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva said, “disciples of the Buddha, although the assembly gathered here all have well purified their thoughts, have cast off stupidity and doubt, and in the deeply profound dharma they do not follow others’ teachings, they are not turned by the externalist teachings of side doors and outside ways, there are still other living beings with deficient wisdom. Although this assembly may understand, there are other living beings besides them who do not understand. They, who, upon hearing these profound and difficult-to-conceive-of matters, unsurpassed, subtle and wonderful dharmas, are ones who would give rise to more doubts. They would easily produce doubts, and, in the long night of ignorance and stupidity, they would suffer much distress. They themselves would constantly be unable to see through it all, put it all down, and would not obtain comfort, but would undergo vexation. I take pity upon them and, therefore, remain silent. Since I pity those kinds of living beings, I am silent and do not speak.”  

Sutra:  

Although these multitudes have pure, vast wisdom, and their profound and sharp understanding can make decisive choices, their minds unmoving like the king of mountains, and cannot be overturned, like the great sea.

There are those who have not practiced long nor yet understood, they practice with consciousness, not with wisdom. Hearing this they will doubt and fall into bad paths. I take pity on them and, therefore, do not speak.  

Commentary:  

Although these multitudes have pure, vast wisdom, Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva says, “Although most of the multitudes in this Dharma Assembly are pure and undefiled and have great wisdom, and their profound and sharp understanding can make decisive choices. They also have the capacity which is durable, bright, and sharp due to their profound Prajna wisdom, their minds unmoving like the king of mountains. Each one of the great Bodhisattvas has a mind which does not move, like Mount Sumeru, cannot be overturned, like the great sea. They cannot be turned over in the same way that no one is able to overturn the ocean.

However, there are those who have not practiced long nor yet understood. Within the Great Assembly there are also those who first gave rise to the thought for Bodhi perhaps ten or twenty years ago, which is a very short time. They have not yet attained to the understanding which comes from wisdom. They practice with consciousness, not with wisdom. They go along with their discriminating consciousness in what they do and do not use wisdom.” To use wisdom is to recognize all states. If one employs consciousness, one merely discriminates states and does not recognize them. Hearing this they will doubt and fall into bad paths. As soon s they hear about the Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds, they will have doubts and will either fall into the hells, the hungry ghosts, or the animals -- the three evil destinies. I take pity on them and, therefore, do not speak. Since I pity the living beings who are like that, therefore I don’t speak, for if I did speak, they would doubt and disbelieve, and that would be their downfall, because you cannot slander the Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds without falling into the three evil destinies.

Sutra:  

At that time, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva again addressed Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, saying, “Disciple of the Buddha, I hope you will receive the Buddhas’ spiritual power and explain in detail these inconceivable dharmas. These people should obtain the Thus Come Ones’ protection and mindfulness and give rise to faith and receptivity. And why? When one explains the Ten Grounds, the dharma of all Bodhisattvas is that way: that they obtain the Buddhas’ protection and mindfulness. Because they obtain the Buddhas’ protection and mindfulness, they can be courageous about these grounds of wisdom. And why? These are the Bodhisattvas’ most initial practices for accomplishing all Buddhas’ Dharmas.

Just as written words which say numerous things are based upon an alphabet in that alphabet is fundamental to them and none of them departs from it in the slightest, so too, disciple of the Buddha, all Buddhas’ Dharmas are based upon the Ten Grounds in that the Ten Grounds are fundamental to them. Through successful cultivation of them, one obtains all wisdom. Therefore, disciple of the Buddha, I wish you would explain them. These people will certainly be protected by the Thus Come Ones and caused to believe and receive these Dharmas.

At that time, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke verses, saying:  

Commentary:  

At that time, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva again addressed Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, saying, “Disciple of the Buddha, I hope you will receive the Buddhas’ spiritual power. Great Bodhisattva, I wish that you would receive the power of spiritual penetrations of the Buddhas of the ten directions and of Shakyamuni Buddha, and explain in detail these inconceivable dharmas. Analyze and describe these Dharma-doors for us. These people should obtain the Thus Come Ones’ protection and mindfulness. The people who are here in this Dharma Assembly should be protected and remembered by all Buddhas, and give rise to faith and receptivity. They will have faith. And why? When one explains the Ten Grounds, the dharma of all Bodhisattvas is that way: that they obtain the Buddhas’ protection and mindfulness. When all Bodhisattvas hear the Dharma, it should be that way for them. All Buddhas should protect and remember them. Because they obtain the Buddhas’ protection and mindfulness, they can be courageous about these grounds of wisdom. They can give rise to great courage. And why? These are the Bodhisattvas’ most initial practices. These are Dharma-doors which Bodhisattvas cultivate at the very beginning for accomplishing all Buddhas’ Dharmas. The Dharmas spoken by all Buddhas are produced within the Ten Grounds and accomplished through them.

Just as written words which say numerous things are based upon an alphabet, they all need a basic alphabet, in that alphabet is fundamental to them and none of them departs from it in the slightest. In the final analysis, not even a minute portion of them is not of the alphabet. So too, disciple of the Buddha, all Buddhas’ Dharmas are based upon the Ten Grounds in that the Ten Grounds are fundamental to them. The Dharmas spoken by all Buddhas all take the Ten Grounds as their basis. By successful cultivation of them, one obtains all wisdom. If you cultivate the Ten Grounds to the ultimate point, and accomplish the wisdom of the Ten Grounds, you give rise to all wisdoms. Therefore, disciple of the Buddha, I wish you would explain them. Due to that, Great disciple of the Buddha, we all want you to explain them for us. These people will certainly be protected by the Thus Come Ones. The people who hear these Dharmas will definitely be protected and remembered by the Buddhas, and caused to believe and receive these Dharmas, they will offer up their conduct according to them.

At that time, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke verses, saying: He repeated in verse form what he had said before.

Sutra:

Good indeed, disciple of the Buddha, I wish you would proclaim all the grounds of practice to approach and enter Bodhi; of all the comfortable Honored Ones throughout the ten directions, none is not proactive of and mindful of the basic roots of wisdom.

Secured in them, that wisdom is also fundamental; all the Buddhas’ Dharmas are produced from them; just as written words are comprised by alphabets, so, too, the Buddhas’ Dharmas are based upon these grounds.  

Commentary:  

Good indeed, disciple of the Buddha, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva said, “How good you are! You are the Buddhas’ great disciple. I wish you would proclaim, take pity on all living beings and speak the Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds. All the grounds of practice to approach and enter Bodhi. Teach us how to tend toward, enter, go along, and cultivate the Bodhisattvas’ path of Enlightenment. Of all the comfortable Honored Ones throughout the ten directions.” Comfortable Honored Ones are the Buddhas. None is not proactive of and mindful of the basic roots of wisdom. They always wish to aid and uphold, protect and remember people who hear the Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds and who cultivate the Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds, because the Ten Grounds are the basic root of wisdom.

Secured in them, that wisdom is also fundamental. The wisdom derived from cultivating the Ten Grounds is fundamental to them. All the Buddhas’ Dharmas are produced from them. Why are the Ten Grounds called ’Grounds?’ It is because they are the foundation for all Dharmas spoken by the Buddhas. Just as written words are comprised by alphabets. Just as when one writes words or characters, they are all based either upon an alphabet or syllabify, like “A, B, C”; or upon radicals, as, for example, for Chinese characters the three drops of water, the simple standing person radical, or the double standing person radical, etc. “Alphabet” stands for all of those, which are the basis of written words. So, too, the Buddhas’ Dharmas are based upon these grounds, because the Buddhas’ Dharmas are all produced from the Ten Grounds, in the same way as all written words are based upon the alphabet.

Sutra:  

At that time, all the assembly of great Bodhisattvas, simultaneously and with a single sound, spoke verses to Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, saying: “you of superior, wondrous wisdom undefiled, of boundless, discriminating eloquence, please proclaim profound and wonderful words, interactive with the foremost meaning.  

Commentary:  

At that time, all the assembly of great Bodhisattvas. After Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva had finished speaking his verses, all the Great Bodhisattvas of the ten directions, limitless like fine motes of dust, simultaneously and with a single sound, said the same thing at the same time. They spoke verses to Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, saying: “you of superior, wondrous wisdom undefiled. They said, “Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, great disciple of the Buddhas that you are, you have already certified to the attainment of the most superior, subtle and wonderful wisdom that is pure and free from defilement. You of boundless, discriminating eloquence, which enables you to speak in great detail and with a great deal of principle, please proclaim profound and wonderful words. We hope you will explain the unsurpassed, deeply profound, subtle and wonderful principles of the Ten Grounds, interactive with the foremost meaning. The Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds are interactive with the Primary Truth.

Sutra:  

You who mindfully maintain pure practices, and are replete with virtues from Ten Powers, with eloquence to discriminate the meanings, please explain the most superior grounds.

With Samadhi and precepts joined to form upright thought, free from arrogance as well as deviant view, this assembly has no doubts in mind, and only wants to hear them well explained.

As one thirsty thinks of icy water, as one hungry dreams about good food, as one sick reflects on wholesome medicine, as a bee is greedy for good honey.

So, too, do we in just that way, wish to hear these Dharmas of sweet dew.

Good, indeed, one of wisdom vast and great, please tell us how to enter the Ten Grounds, accomplishing Ten Powers without obstruction, and the well-gone ones’ practices, one and all.  

Commentary:  

You who mindfully maintain pure practices. All of these people are mindful of and cultivate all pure practices, and are replete with virtues from Ten Powers. They all cultivate the Buddhas ten kinds of powers and amass all kinds of merit and virtue. With eloquence to discriminate the meanings, please explain the most superior grounds. We request the great Bodhisattva to speak the supreme Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds. With Samadhi and precepts joined to form upright thought. All of those listening cultivate Samadhi and hold precepts, and they all have proper knowledge and proper views. Free from arrogance as well as deviant view. They have no overbearing pride or arrogance, nor any considerations of deviant views. This assembly has no doubts in mind. Those in the Great Assembly now have no doubts about the Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds, and only wants to hear them well explained. They all wish the Bodhisattva would speak the Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds.

As one thirsty thinks of icy water. Like someone hot and thirsty wanting to eat some ice cream, or perhaps drink a milk-shape, or some other cold, refreshing drink. As one hungry dreams about good food. They are also like famished people dreaming of finding some bread to eat, or something to cure their hunger pangs. They think of good things to eat, the finest good. As one sick reflects on wholesome medicine. They are like sick people who think about the best medicines to cure their illnesses. As a bee is greedy for good honey. They are also like honey bees which are greedy for the pollen to become honey and be ready for them to eat. But, as it turns out, when the honey is ready, people come and steal it from them.

So, too, do we in just that way. All the Bodhisattvas wish to hear these Dharmas of sweet dew. We wish to hear those Dharmas which quench thirst, satisfy hunger, cure sickness, and satisfy all one might be greedy for.

Good, indeed, one of wisdom vast and great. They said, “Good, indeed, you of vast, great wisdom, Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, please tell us how to enter the Ten Grounds. We would like you to speak the Dharma-doors of the Ten Grounds, accomplishing Ten Powers without obstruction. You have already accomplished the position of the Ten Powers without obstruction, and the well-gone ones’ practices, one and all, along with pretty much all of the practices of the Well-Gone Ones, the Buddhas. Great Bodhisattva, please very compassionately speak the Dharmas of the Ten Grounds for all of us.

Sutra:  

At that time, the World-Honored One, from between his eyebrows, emitted a pure light, named “Blazing Light of Bodhisattvas’ Powers,” with hundreds of thousands of asamkhyeyas of lights as its retinue, which universally illumined all the worlds throughout the ten directions, pervading absolutely everywhere. The sufferings of the three veil paths all ceased to be. It also illuminated the assemblies of all Thus Come Ones, manifesting all Buddhas’ inconceivable powers. It also illuminated the persons of all Bodhisattvas speaking dharma with the aid of all Buddhas throughout all worlds in the ten directions. When finished doing that, it formed a great platform of nets of clouds of light high in empty space and remained there.

At that time, all the Buddhas of the ten directions also in that way, from between their eyebrows emitted pure lights. Those lights’ names, retinues, and actions were all the same as that one’s. Moreover, they illumined the Buddhas and great assemblies of this Saha World and the person of Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva upon his lion’s throne, and high in empty space, they formed a large platform of nets of clouds of lights. At that time, within the platform of light, through the Buddhas’ awesome spiritual might, were spoken verses, saying:  

Commentary:  

At that time, right then, the World-Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha, from between his eyebrows, emitted a pure light, named “BLight of Bodhisattvas’ Powers,” with hundreds of thousands of asamkhyeyas of lights as its retinue, “Asamkhyeyas” means “limitless numbers of” which universally illumined all the worlds throughout the ten directions, all the Buddhas worlds in the ten directions, pervading absolutely everywhere. Nowhere was there a place upon which they did not shine. The sufferings of the three veil paths all ceased to be. The sufferings of the hell - beings, hungry ghosts, and animals all stopped. It also illuminated the assemblies of all Thus Come Ones, lighting up the assemblies in the Bodhimandas of all Buddhas, manifesting all Buddhas’ inconceivable powers. They used the light to reveal the inconceivable powers of the Buddhas. It also illuminated the persons of all Bodhisattvas speaking dharma with the aid of all Buddhas throughout all worlds in the ten directions. It shone upon all Bodhisattvas speaking with the aid of all Buddhas of the ten directions. When finished doing that, when that ceremony had been completed, it formed a great platform of nets of clouds of light high in empty space. In the sky above it took form as a great platform of nets of light, and remained there. It settled there in mid-air.

At that time, all the Buddhas of the ten directions also in that way, from between their eyebrows emitted pure lights called “Blazing Lights of Bodhisattvas’ Powers.” Those lights’ names, retinues, and actions were all the same as that one’s. The names of those lights, their retinues, and what they did, were all the same as those of Shakyamuni Buddha’s.

Moreover, they illumined the Buddhas and great assemblies of this Saha World. In the countries of the other directions they emitted light, and they also illuminated Shakyamuni Buddha and the great multitudes of this Dharma Assembly in this Saha World, and the person of Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva upon his lion’s throne, along with the Lion’s seat upon which Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva was sitting; and high in empty space, in mid-air, they formed a large platform of nets of clouds of lights. At that time, within the platform of light, with the nets of cloud of light, through the Buddhas’ awesome spiritual might, due to the awesome spiritual power of the Buddhas of the ten directions, and to the awesome spiritual might of Shakyamuni Buddha, were spoken verses, saying:

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