THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Names of the Thus Come Ones

Chapter Seven. A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

All of them were skilled at contemplating the realm of all living beings; the Dharma Realm; the realm of the world; the realm of nirvana; all of the retribution of karma; the succession of the workings of the mind; all meaning of texts; the worldly; the world-transcending; the conditioned; the unconditioned; the past, present, and future.

Commentary:

All of these Bodhisattvas had entered the sagely position. They were great Bodhisattvas with virtue and they had all obtained the Wonderful Contemplating Wisdom. Having obtained this wisdom, they universally and capably observed the causes and conditions of all living beings. So it says,

All of them were skilled at contemplating the realm of all living beings. Living beings become the type of living being that they are due to their particular causes and conditions. “You plant the cause and reap the fruit.” As is the cause so is the effect. If one is greedy, one will become a hungry ghost. If one is hateful, one will fall into the hells. If one is stupid, one will turn into an animal. The realm of living beings is unlimited and unbounded. For example, take a good look at dogs—why are dogs, dogs? You ought to know it’s because they are stingy and miserly and they can’t give anything up. Dogs are extremely stingy and most unwilling to give. So they become dogs and have to watch the door for people. When a stranger comes along, they bark to inform the owner saying, “All of you watch out, take care, don’t let this person come and steal your valuables!” They tell you to “Look out, look out!” And if you don’t look out, they’ll go and bite the person. Why? Because they are afraid that he will come in and run off with all of the owner’s things. When people are simply too greedy and they don’t want to give anything up, then in the future, they can become dogs and have to watch the door. Being greedy creates the causal condition for being a dog.

Why do living beings become chickens? They become chickens because they like to lie. Right after chickens lay their eggs, they immediately tell everyone how big their eggs are. They say, “I’ve laid some eggs and they are excessively big, they’re huge, they’re really big. They are bigger than anyone else’s.” They themselves don’t realize that the reason they are saying “excessively big” is because the karmic offenses they created in the past are excessively big. Without realizing it themselves they continue to cheat people, saying “excessively big”, not realizing that they are actually being very frank about themselves. In actuality they are saying, “Why is it that I am just a little chicken? It’s because my offenses are excessively great and that’s because I’ve always lied.” Basically they don’t really know what big or small is, but they go right ahead and say, “my eggs are excessively big”, in order to cheat everyone. Even as little chicks, they cheat people.

So in general, living beings all have their own nature: horses, cows, sheep, chickens, dogs, and pigs. They have individual causes and conditions. In general, they were extremely lazy and didn’t do anything all day.

The Great Bodhisattva who is endowed with great virtue takes one look at all living beings and he understands them all, and knows how they all became the living beings that they are and how in their confusion they lost their way in the Dharma Realm. Basically the Dharma Realm is pure—the basic self-nature. But living beings become confused about their pure basic self-nature. This confusion doesn’t mean that they’ve lost it. It just means that they don’t understand it. Since they lack understanding, they are born into this world. Once in the world, living beings are like motes of dust floating in space: suddenly they are high and suddenly they are low, suddenly up, suddenly down, suddenly in heaven, suddenly in hell, suddenly a hungry ghost, suddenly an animal. Floating and bouncing and undergoing retribution according to their karma, they must receive the appropriate retribution.

The Sutra continues to say, the Dharma Realm; the realm of the world; the realm of Nirvana. If in this world, one day you decide to cultivate and bring forth the Bodhi Heart, then you can obtain the fruit of Nirvana. The Four Fruits of Nirvana are Permanence, Bliss, True Self, and Purity. All of the retribution of karma—this refers to all of the obstacles of bad karma and all of the retributions undergone. It also means all of the rewards of good karma. The good rewards and bad retributions are all different. The succession of the workings of the mind—this refers to the karmic obstacles that appear in succession within the mind—which one comes first, which one comes next. Those that come first will go through retribution first, and those, which come later, will receive retribution later.

All meaning of texts—one may be confused coming and confused going, all confused by the process of karmic retribution. However, one day you come in contact with the Sutras and the unsurpassed wonderful Dharma. The unsurpassed wonderful Dharma is what is meant here by “all meanings of texts”. You come upon a transcendental Dharma door, a Dharma door that transcends the world. So the text goes on to say the worldly; the world transcending—right within the world one can transcend the world. It’s not that one has to separate from the world in order to transcend the world. It’s right within the world that one transcends the world. Doesn’t it say in the Sixth Patriarch’s Platform Sutra that if you want to transcend the world, to become a Buddha, you’re going to have to enlighten right in the midst of worldly dharmas? If you enlighten to worldly dharmas, then in doing that, you’ve transcended the world. It’s not that you have to separate from worldly dharmas and go somewhere else to search for world-transcending dharmas. Leaving the world to separate from worldly dharmas to look for some world transcending dharma is just like looking for horns on the head of a rabbit. So it says in the Sixth Patriarch’s Platform Sutra:

To search for Bodhi apart from the world,
Is like looking for a hare with horns.

Transcendental dharmas are just included within worldly dharmas and Bodhi is included right within affliction. You can’t say you want to separate from affliction to look for some other Bodhi, for if you look apart from affliction, there is no Bodhi, because affliction is just Bodhi—if you don’t know how to use it, it’s affliction; if you know how to use it, it’s Bodhi. It is like water and ice: Bodhi is like water and affliction is like ice. Ice isn’t water and the water isn’t ice; however water is ice and ice is water. Water and ice are analogous to Bodhi and affliction. The ice becomes ice from water, and the water can change into ice. When the ice melts, it becomes water. Living beings are Buddhas; enlightened you are a Buddha, confused you are a living being. Although the Buddha and living beings are two different words, they are basically the same. They are basically one.

The conditioned; the unconditioned—Conditioned dharmas are those which are conditioned; they have a shape and appearance. The unconditioned have no shape and no mark. However, the conditioned has an end, and the unconditioned has no end.

The past, present, and future—they know all of the Buddhadharma of the past, present, and future. All of the Great Bodhisattvas with virtuous conduct have attained this kind of wisdom.

Some people heard it said that the Buddha is living beings and living beings are the Buddha, and they became really delighted. After that, they told everyone to call them Buddha. “Don’t call me by my name, just call me Buddha, because living beings are Buddhas!” Some people started calling them Buddha, but there were others that did not call them Buddha, and so they became irate and said, “I told you to call me Buddha! Why aren’t you calling me Buddha?! I’m going to give you a hard time!” Then someone said to this person, “But the Buddha is kind. His heart is compassionate toward all living beings and he doesn’t get angry or afflicted. If you were a Buddha, you should also not have a temper and not have any afflictions. Now you still have a temper and afflictions so you are still a living being.” So these people woke up from their Buddha dreams, and after that they cultivated the Way very straightforwardly and didn’t get angry. Later on, as a matter of fact, they did become Buddhas. So Buddha is not just a word, not just a name. One must truly have virtuous practice and true Way Virtue, and not have any selfishness or any thoughts of seeking fame or profit. One must truly have no attachments. Living beings are the Buddha—right—but you have to cut off your attachments. The Buddha said, “All living beings have the Buddha nature, all are capable of becoming Buddhas. It’s only because of false thinking and attachments that they don’t certify to the fruit.

So be careful that you don’t hear it said that living beings are the Buddha and then think you are a Buddha yourself, thinking that you have become a Buddha already. First you must cultivate. If you don’t cultivate, then you’ll be a living being forever. Cultivate, return to the origin and go back to the source and truly become enlightened, truly certify to the fruit, end birth and death, then at that time you will be a Buddha. When you have perfected the three enlightenments and completed the ten thousand practices, then you are a Buddha. It’s not just a matter of saying, “The Buddha and living beings are the same, so I’m a Buddha right now.” It’s not something you just say. You must truly have virtuous practices and then it counts.

The Buddha is like water and living beings are like ice. The Buddha is like the piece of ice that has transformed into water. At their source, water and ice are the same, but they look slightly different. If you take a piece of ice and hit somebody over the head with it, you can kill them in a single blow. But if you pour a cup of water over their head, you can use all of the inner strength you have and throw it on their head as hard as you possibly can, but you won’t be able to kill them or harm them, no matter how strong you are. The water is analogous to the Buddha. So you can’t just casually say, “I’m a Buddha.”

Question: Do animals become animals because when they were people they were stupid?

Answer: That’s right that’s where animals come from. People don’t cultivate and eventually they become animals. For example, mosquitoes have a Buddha nature. But this Buddha nature is very, very, tiny—minute. The Buddha nature is like a seed, a kernel, the seed of the Buddha nature, which every one of us has planted within us. So we come into this world and out of this one seed grows a person or perhaps another kind of living being. First it becomes a person because people are the most efficacious and magical of creatures. But if a person doesn’t cultivate, in every lifetime his Buddha nature gets smaller and smaller. It’s like a seed, which if it gets dry, will just get dryer and dryer until it finally withers into nothing. So why is it that people can cultivate and become Buddhas? It’s because we have a Buddha seed in our self-nature. The Buddha nature is a Buddha seed. If you plant one seed, you can reap a lot of fruit, or harvest a lot of grain. This represents the perfection of the accomplishment of Buddhahood. This isn’t to say it is exactly like that—this is just an analogy. But it’s true that if a person doesn’t cultivate, he’ll fall down lower and lower. If you cultivate you can ascend, you can transcend. Therefore, no matter who you are, you ought to cultivate. If it weren’t for the fact that people can either fall or rise up, then nobody would need to cultivate. But, if you cultivate you can become a Buddha, return to the origin, go back to the source, open great wisdom, have the three bodies, four wisdoms, five eyes, six spiritual penetrations, know all and see all. It’s because of this that you want to cultivate. If you couldn’t attain that position, then nobody would need to cultivate. You say, “Well, how come I don’t see anyone who has cultivated to that point?” Well, if they have obtained that fruit position they are not necessarily going to let you know about it. If they’ve attained it, they themselves will know or perhaps other sages will know.

Certified sages will know, but they wouldn’t tell an ordinary person. They wouldn’t go up to ordinary people and say, “Hey, now I’ve certified to the fruition of Buddhahood, I’m a Buddha!” They wouldn’t do that. True—Shakyamuni Buddha said that he had become a Buddha, but only someone like Shakyamuni Buddha could do that. Now we are cultivating and have not actually perfected the fruition of Buddhahood. Even if you’ve certified to the first, second, third, or fourth fruition, that’s still not the fruition of Buddhahood. It’s not really becoming a Buddha. Birth and death have not yet been ended. For example, I’ve said that the “Fruit Monk” of Taiwan has certified to the First Fruition and I know; the minute I saw him I recognized him. But two of my disciples looked at him and saw an old monk who was a lot of fun, but they couldn’t recognize him.

Sutra:

Then all the Bodhisattvas had this thought, “Would that the World Honored One would look upon us and pity us. We hope that according to what pleases us, he will instruct us about the Buddhalands, the Buddhas’ dwelling, the adornments of Buddhalands, the Buddhas’ Dharma nature, the purity of Buddhalands, the Dharma spoken by the Buddhas, the nature and substance of Buddhalands, the Buddhas’ awesome virtue, the perfection of Buddhalands, and the Buddhas’ Great Bodhi.

Commentary:

Then all the Bodhisattvas had this thought. At that time, all of the Bodhisattvas with virtue and position all began thinking and considering. Basically, Bodhisattvas are constantly in samadhi; they don’t have any thoughts and they don’t consider anything. However, having come to attend the Buddha’s Dharma Assembly, although they are basically without any consideration, they give rise to considering. What do they start thinking and considering? It is because they know that what they themselves understand when compared to what the Buddha understands is short by quite a bit. So they earnestly seek the Dharma. They wish to understand more about the Buddhadharma. So they give rise to thinking and considering and say:

“Would that the World Honored One would look upon us and pity us. The World Honored One is the Buddha. “Would that the World Honored One” means only if the World Honored One would pity us and look upon us. When they ask him to pity them, they’re beseeching the Buddha to extend his compassion and loving protection. They are saying, “May the World Honored One please be compassionate, give us his loving protection and have pity upon all of us Bodhisattvas.”

We hope that according to what pleases us, he will instruct us. “We hope that you will instruct us about the Buddhalands. We hope that you will explain for us how the Buddhalands are perfected, also about the Buddhas’ dwelling—how the Buddhas dwell in the state of Great Compassion.

The adornments of Buddhalands—we hope that you will explain how when the Buddhas of the past accomplished what they did, they adorned their Buddhalands.

We hope that you will explain for us the Buddhas’ Dharma nature--the inherent, pure Buddha nature, and how it is accomplished through cultivation.

The purity of Buddhalands—What Dharma doors are cultivated to purify the Buddhalands? How can one cultivate and practice to obtain the purity of the Buddhalands?

The Dharma spoken by the Buddhas—We hope that the Buddha will explain to us all of the Sutras spoken by the Buddha, the unsurpassed and extremely deep Dharma. We hope that you will explain and instruct us on this.

Respect for Sutras  

All of us have been investigating the Buddhadharma for so many years and we ought to have a certain amount of common sense. What sort of common sense should we have? Common sense is what everyone should have without anyone having to tell them about certain matters. What common sense am I referring to? For example, the Three Baskets and Twelve Divisions of the Sutras—regardless of what Sutra it is, we ought to look upon it as being more important than all of the true jewels among men, and we shouldn’t casually place a Sutra in an unclean place, perhaps putting it in a place where someone sits down. Regardless of what Sutra it is, wherever one finds a Sutra, just in that place is a Buddha. This is said in the Vajra Sutra. It’s not just the place where the Vajra Sutra is found that one finds the Buddha. But, regardless of what Sutra it is, wherever it is, just in that place is the Buddha. So you shouldn’t put a Sutra in a place where someone sits down. Why shouldn’t you do that? Because it is disrespectful. Why would you want to put a Sutra in a place where people sit, in such an unclean place? I’ve noticed that a lot of people fail to take heed of this matter, which requires very, very, little common sense. Why is it that even people who have studied the Buddhadharma for so many years still don’t understand this? They very casually put their Sutras anywhere. Some people lack the common sense to the degree that they actually walk on the Sutras. You can’t do this, this is incorrect.

With respect to the Sutras spoken by the Buddha, regardless of which Sutra it is, whether in English or Chinese, you can’t put anything on top of it. You can’t place books about worldly subjects on top of Sutras. Whether they are novels, articles, scientific textbooks, or storybooks, they can’t be placed on top of Sutras. The Sutras of the Buddha may be placed on top of other books, but other books may not be placed on top of Sutras. This is also a matter of common sense. For example, books that have commentaries in them should also be placed below Sutras because Buddhist Sutras are books with just the Sutra text in them. The commentaries, even if they have Sutra text in them, have commentaries, so they should be placed below the Sutras. Why? Because anybody can write a commentary but Buddhist Sutras are something special. So if a commentary is placed on top of a book which just contains a Sutra text and nothing else, this is also a sign of disrespect. People who cultivate the Buddhadharma at all times in every place want to be extremely attentive. You might just say, “Isn’t this just a matter of attachment to dharma?” Not bad, of course it is. It’s attaching to dharmas, but before you are enlightened you can’t just say, “I don’t have any attachment to dharmas, I don’t have any attachment to self.” If you think your dharma attachment and attachment to self have disappeared, they haven’t. At a time when they are emptied, it’s a time when you don’t have to think that they are emptied; they very naturally disappear by themselves. When you arrive at a time when dharmas and self are both empty then you don’t have to be attached in this way. But before you have arrived at a state when both dharmas and self are empty, it is a mistake to say, “I want to be without attachment to dharmas.” That is a mistake. If you want to be without an attachment to dharmas, then you also have to be without an attachment to self. You may say, “Oh, I’m without an attachment to self.” Well then, I’ll pick up a stick and whack you over the head and see whether or not you’re attached to a self! We’ll see if you can take it or not. If you can really take it, to the point where you don’t have the slightest pain in your mind or even the least bit of anger, then you pass. But your attachment to self still exists if you get hit and then think, “Well, I don’t like getting hit. You hit me and it hurts so much. I can’t take it.”

If your attachment to a self still exists, then how can your attachment to dharmas be empty? So you can’t casually say, “I have no attachment to dharmas.” If you want to be without attachment to dharmas, you first have to be without any attachment to a self. With respect to attachment to a self, just a moment ago, I presented the example of being hit over the head. If a person approaches you with a knife to cut off your head, and at that time you can be totally uncaring and without the attachment to a self, there’s no problem. But if you are unable to be like that, you can’t be disrespectful to the Sutras of the Buddha. If you are disrespectful to the Buddhas’ Sutras then you will eternally never get enlightened and will forever be without any attainment in your cultivation. Why? You are without the slightest bit of respect towards the Buddha’s Sutras and this is the same as being disrespectful towards the Buddha. Why do people want to be respectful and make offerings to the Triple Jewel? Why do they want to bow to members of the Sangha when they see them? It’s because these are the instructions, the policy that was established by the Buddha. These were the instructions the Buddha intended to be passed on and no one can just casually change them. If a person says, “I wish to change the instructions of the Buddha”, one can ask that person “Are you the Buddha?” One may say, “I’m a monk and I don’t wish anyone to bow to me.” Well, if you don’t want anyone to bow to you then you can return to lay life. Because, if you are a monk and you don’t wish anyone to bow to you, it’s just because in your heart, you feel you don’t have what it takes to be a monk. If you are a person who has left the home life then you have the standing to receive bows and offerings from gods and humans and if you don’t want to receive a person’s tokens of respect, then it’s because you yourself feel you don’t really have the qualifications to be the monk that you are.

Whatever Sutra it is, we should respect it and protect it and never put it in an unclean place. For example, you shouldn’t take sutras with you into the toilet and read and recite them there. This is the most disrespectful you could be towards a Sutra. Furthermore, regardless of what Sutra it is, if it’s in your possession, you should protect it thoroughly. You don’t want to break up a set of Sutras and take one volume out of a set and carry it off someplace else. Sutras all have their retinues. They also have their integrity from the beginning “Thus I have heard” to the very end when everyone is delighted and retires. They all have their succession, their beginning and their end, and all the volumes should be kept together and they shouldn’t be scattered. A few days ago in the library, I noticed a set of the Avatamsaka Sutra, which had been split up, and two volumes of two different sets were set out with some very ordinary books in a box. That’s not right.

Admit Your Mistakes

When people who practice the Buddhadharma have an offense, they should admit it. You can’t think to yourself that it’s okay to have offenses and not let other people know or be willing to let others take the blame for an offense you committed. Instead you should be very honest and straightforward. Regardless of how great the offense it, you have to admit it. If you don’t admit it, your mistake doubles and you’re committing twice the offense. Not admitting it is also an offense. Because your negligence is also an offense, it is tantamount to lying. You’ve broken the precept against lying. If you conceal and protect your own offenses, you will be making an offense on top of the original one. Because of this, the Bodhisattvas won’t help out at all. You could cultivate for a hundred thousand million great kalpas and you’ll never have any accomplishment. For those who cultivate the Way—the straight mind is the Bodhimanda. If you have an offense you should admit it. If you don’t admit your offenses, your mind won’t be straight; and if you don’t have a straight mind, you won’t get any response with the Buddhadharma. If you don’t have any interaction with the Buddhadharma, regardless of how hard you cultivate, you won’t have any response. This is extremely important. Those of us who cultivate the Buddhadharma should be very attentive to and especially protective of the Dharma spoken by the Buddha. For example, we should protect the Sutras we are translating, regardless of whether they are correct or not. We cannot perhaps burn them up or throw them into the ocean. These are actions, which destroy the Dharma, and anyone who does this within the Buddhadharma is just destroying the Dharma from within. It doesn’t make any difference whether the work is with or without a commentary, or whether it is correctly or incorrectly translated, such an act of destruction is just breaking up the Buddhadharma and cutting off the Buddha seed.

For example, there was a person who burned up the Sutras he had translated. This kind of person will forever be without any wisdom. Take a look at the stupid characteristics of a pig. This comes from not honoring and respecting the Buddhadharma and from destroying and eradicating the Buddhadharma. So for hundreds of kalpas, such a being had to fall into the hells and afterwards, after he was able to get out of the hells, still he remained a very stupid living being and didn’t have any wisdom at all. If you are able to understand this, you’ll know that any activity which tends to destroy the Buddhadharma is extremely dangerous. But if you don’t understand the Buddhadharma and look upon such actions and think, “Oh, what he has done is very fine”, then you’ll just bore into the hells along with him.

The nature and substance of Buddhalands—what is the “nature and substance of a Buddhaland”? How does one accomplish the substance and nature of a Buddhaland?

The Buddhas’ awesome virtue—what Dharma doors are cultivated to obtain the awesome virtue of Buddhas?

The perfection of Buddhalands—what Dharmas do the Buddhas cultivate to perfect such Buddhalands? The Bodhisattvas in their hearts brought forth these thoughts to ask the Buddha.

And the Buddhas’ Great Bodhi—how do the Buddhas certify to great enlightenment? Within all those hearts of these Bodhisattvas, these thoughts arose, and in their minds, they asked the Buddha for instructions.  

Question: Can one write one’s name inside of a Sutra cover? Is that being disrespectful?

Answer: It’s okay to write your name inside a Sutra to identify it as yours so it won’t get lost. This is not considered disrespectful, especially if you do it very neatly with a brush or a pen. You don’t want to scribble your name in but you should be very careful, respectful, and proper. There’s a way to write or sign your name that is very respectful and there is also a way to write with your eyes closed, not paying attention. When you write your name inside of a Sutra you should do it very carefully and respectfully.

Sutra:

Please speak in the same way that all the World Honored Ones in all the worlds of the ten directions, the Buddhas, speak: For the sake of bringing all Bodhisattvas to accomplishment, for the sake of causing the Tathagata’s seed nature never to be cut off, for the sake of rescuing and protecting all living beings, for the sake of causing all living beings to eternally leave all afflictions, for the sake of causing them to fully know all practices, for the sake of speaking all Dharmas, for the sake of completely casting out all defilements, for the sake of eternally severing the nets of doubts, for the sake of pulling out and casting away all wishes and expectations, for the sake of obliterating all love and attachments. Speak the Bodhisattvas Ten Dwellings, Ten Conducts, Ten Transferences, Ten Treasuries, Ten Grounds, Ten Vows, Ten Samadhis, Ten Penetrations, and Ten Summits.

Commentary:

Please speak in the same way that all the World Honored Ones in all the worlds of the ten directions, the Buddhas, speak: For the sake of bringing all Bodhisattvas to accomplishment. These Bodhisattvas as numerous as fine motes of dust, who had status as well as virtuous practice, were ready in this very life to become Buddhas. They also thought, “It’s the same for all Buddhas, World Honored Ones, throughout all worlds of the ten directions.” “All the Buddhas” are the ones honored in the world and beyond the world. They speak Dharma “for the sake of bringing all Bodhisattvas to accomplishment.” In order to teach and transform living beings they cause them to practice the Bodhisattva Way, that is, to cultivate the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Conducts. After that, these living beings will accomplish all the Bodhisattva positions.

Pu Sa is an abbreviation of the Sanskrit word Bodhisattva. The full transliteration into Chinese is pu ti sa to. Translated it means “one who enlightens those with sentience”. It also means “one among all sentient beings who is enlightened”. Enlightenment is a sword of wisdom, which you use in chopping up your false thoughts. Say for instance, you have some thoughts of desire, but you are not afraid to let them come up. Don’t be afraid of the arising of the thoughts; just be afraid of enlightenment being late. If the thoughts of desire come up, you should wield your sword of wisdom, your Vajra King Jeweled Sword. Use your demon-cutting sword and cut off the thoughts of desire just as they arise. Now this cutting off just means enlightening. You become enlightened and you should investigate your thoughts of desire. “Where did they come from?” It’s usually the case when faced with some state, or circumstance, thoughts of desire come up. When you haven’t seen a certain state, then you don’t have thoughts of desire about it. Therefore, in the face of the state you should see as though not seeing.

The eyes look at forms and appearances,
and inside there is nothing.
The ears hear mundane sounds,
but the mind does not know.

It’s said, “When faced with a state, have no mind.” You’re encountering some circumstance and having no mind is enlightenment. If you have that thought of enlightenment then your future is bright. It’s just to be feared that when the thoughts of desire arise, you run after them, are turned by the state and are unable to be in a state of unmoving suchness. If you are unable to be thoroughly clear, the confusion will just get deeper and deeper, and you will fall. Take a look at stupid living beings. Why are they stupid? Because their confusion is too deep and they don’t know how to wake up. Bodhisattvas are living beings who are enlightened. Once, they were the same as we are. Not only were the Bodhisattvas the same as we are, but even the Buddhas were the same as we are. They too, were muddled and confused living beings. But then, day by day they cultivated, year by year they cultivated, life after life they cultivated. They cultivated for a long time—one great kalpa, two great kalpas, for three great Asamkhyeya kalpas—and then they became Buddhas. So Bodhisattvas are ones who come into realization through gradual cultivation and Buddhas are also that way.

So now, the Buddhas of the ten directions first wish to teach and transform all living beings so they will cultivate the Bodhisattva Path.

They speak Dharma for the sake of causing the Tathagata’s seed nature never to be cut off. Why must one cultivate the Bodhisattva Path? It’s with the hope that the Buddhas’ seed nature will never be severed, which means that it passes continuously from those who accomplished Buddhahood in the past, to those who accomplish Buddhahood in the present, to those who will accomplish Buddhahood in the future. Continually, the Buddhas’ seed nature is never cut off. Because it is not cut off, all living beings can be rescued and saved, and have the opportunity to leave suffering and attain bliss.

The Buddha speaks Dharma for the sake of rescuing and protecting all living beings. Why does one wish to accomplish the position of a Bodhisattva? It’s in order to cause the Buddhas’ seed nature not to be severed. Why does one wish to not have the Buddhas’ seen nature severed? It’s because one wants to rescue and protect all living beings. All living beings are “entrenched in deep water and scorched by a blazing fire”. They are in the Triple World—the world of desire, the world of form, and the world of formlessness. They’re in a burning house. In the burning house, there is never any time of peace and it’s very dangerous. So the Bodhisattvas wish to rescue and protect all living beings to cause them to leave suffering and attain bliss, to resolve their minds on Bodhi and soon become Buddhas. That is the reason.

The text says, for the sake of causing all living beings to eternally leave all afflictions. In addition, the Bodhisattvas wish for all living beings to forever leave the three poisons of greed, hatred, and stupidity. The three poisons are a general term for afflictions. These three poisons undermine living beings to the point that they are completely upside-down. “They are born in a dream and die as if drunk.” They don’t know how to get out of the Triple World and find the place of permanence, bliss, true self, and purity—the Four Virtues of Nirvana.

The Buddha speaks Dharma for the sake of causing them to fully know all practices. The Bodhisattvas wish to rescue and protect all living beings and cause them to eternally leave all afflictions. In order to enable them to leave all afflictions, it is necessary for them to understand all Dharma doors and know how to cultivate all practices. If you know these doors of practice, then you can leave affliction.

For the sake of speaking all Dharmas the Buddhas speak the Dharma for the sake of all living beings.

The Buddhas speak Dharma for the sake of completely casting out all defilement. Why do they want to speak the Dharma for living beings? Because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas wish to cast out all of living beings’ stupidity and false thinking—their mad minds and wild natures—all of their defilement. Defilement refers to all kinds of impure dharmas, not just one, but many.

For instance, liking to eat is a defiled dharma, liking to sleep is a defiled dharma. Liking wealth and becoming confused by it is a defiled dharma. Being greedy for sex and becoming confused by it is also defilement, as is liking fame and becoming confused by it. Wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep—these five are all defiled dharmas. You should completely cast out and sever defiled dharmas. This complete casting out is just like the construction work we are doing. The rooms get very dusty. Every place is covered with sand and mud and is unclean. In order to clean it up you use water, a mop, or a vacuum. That's completely casting out. The dust is just representative of defilement. In our minds there is dust and defilement. Perhaps you like wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep; these five are all defiled dharmas. You say, “Well, I’ve heard this before.” If you’ve heard it before and you haven’t completely cast them out, then what use is it? You still haven’t cleaned up your act.

The Buddha speaks Dharma for the sake of eternally severing the nets of doubts. You should get rid of all your doubts about the Dharma, all your doubts about the Buddhas, and all of your doubts about the Sangha. Permanently sever the net of doubts!

Doubts are like a big fishing net. You become trapped in them and can’t get out. If you have doubts, you can’t become free. What’s freedom? Freedom is not license. It’s not to say, “If I want to drink water, I’ll go drink one hundred gallons. If I want to eat, I can eat one hundred pounds of bread and butter and eat it all myself. In fact, whatever I want to do, I just do. If I want to be a thief, I’ll just go rob people. This is my freedom. Whatever I want to do, I do.” That’s not true freedom. Yesterday, you heard one disciple say that everybody has his or her own particular prison. This is not some prison that someone else has prepared for us, but as long as our self-natures haven’t become free, we are all as if in jail. If you don’t know how you got here and you don’t know how you can leave, if you aren’t free with regard to coming and going, then you are in jail. Take a look at a caterpillar. In the spring, it wraps itself in a cocoon and later breaks out of the cocoon and becomes a butterfly or some other kind of flying insect. He’s got that great talent. He can work his way out of the cocoon and fly away. People are also trapped in their own cocoon, but they can’t bite their way through and fly away. Would you say that’s pitiful or not? If you are unable to understand your self-nature and you haven’t seen your original face, then you are not free. Those of you who cultivate the Way are just trying to get free. What kind of freedom? “Wait until I really have control; then if I want to live 100 years, I’ll live for 100 years. If I want to live 1000 years, I’ll live for 1000 years. If I want to live for 10,000 years, King Yama will have no way to get at me. If I want to, I can enter Nirvana and pass into extinction. I can do it now.” If you can have that kind of talent, then you have true freedom. But you don’t say, “If I want to eat, I’ll eat, if I want to drink wine, I’ll get drunk.” That’s not freedom, that’s perversion. It’s being totally upside-down! That’s just being indulgent. The more you keep at it the less free you are. You keep it up until you end up in the hells and find out that it’s several tens of thousands of times more suffering than it was in the human realm. So the Buddhas wish to cause living beings to cut off all doubts.

The Buddha speaks Dharma for the sake of pulling out and casting away all wishes and expectations. If you hope or wish for something, you are greedy. For instance, you may say, “I hope that in the future I’ll have a good name.” That’s a useless indulgence. Perhaps you think, “In the future I’d like to have a nice retinue.” That’s also a useless idea. People who have left the home-life may even think, “I’d like to receive a very intelligent and wise disciple, and my disciple will be even better and wiser than I am and in the future will be able to cause the Buddhadharma to spread widely.” That too is false thinking. Every possible thing that you seek for is a false thought, even to the point that if you hope to become a Buddha but only hope and don’t cultivate, you’re just false thinking. When you cultivate, it’s not necessary to hope. You just attend to planting the crop; don’t ask about the harvest. Just plant the field. Set your mind on taking care of the field, weeding and watering and helping the seed to grow. For right now, pay no attention to whether there will be a harvest or not. By doing that you are pulling out and casting away all wishes and expectations. If you have a wish, you are false thinking. You think, “I want to leave home.” If you want to leave home, leave home, don’t just express the wish to. You say, “I want to return to lay life.” That’s also okay, because everything’s okay. So when it comes to absolutely everything—don’t hope.

If it is the Way, progress along it.
If it is not the Way, refrain from it.

If it’s in accord with the Way, then go forward. If it’s not in accord with the Way, then retreat from it. Therefore, pull out and cast away all wishes and expectations.

The Buddha speaks Dharma for the sake of obliterating all love and attachments. I believe this sentence is something most people don’t like to hear. A lot of people don’t want to extinguish their love and attachment. From ancient times until the present, from limitless kalpas until now, the reason people haven’t become Buddhas is because they haven’t destroyed all love and attachments. The cause of your love and attachments is just the things that you can’t give up, things that you can’t let go of, things you can’t see through and put down, things which keep you from being truly free and comfortable. You should learn to destroy all love and attachments. Say for example, a man can give away his wife. He can give her to someone else and not want her; whoever wants her can have her. Perhaps someone can give away his wife and children. Or if they want to leave home, you let them; and if they don’t want to leave home, you don’t force them. Don’t have love and attachments. Love and attachments are just what you can’t give up, what you can’t put down. But you should get rid of them and destroy them. That’s the important point. All of you should investigate this. Shakyamuni Buddha gave away his country, cities, wife, and son—he didn’t want any of them—and left the home life. Who among you has the resolve of Shakyamuni Buddha, that kind of courage and daring to give everything up? Whoever does can become a Buddha.

The Bodhisattvas now make a request for the Dharma saying, “We hope that the Buddha will speak for all of us successor-position Bodhisattvas, about the Bodhisattvas Ten Dwellings, Ten Conducts, Ten Transferences, Ten Treasuries, Ten Grounds, that are cultivated by all Bodhisattvas, the Ten Vows of a Bodhisattva, the Ten Samadhis, the Ten kinds of spiritual Penetrations obtained by all Bodhisattvas, and the Ten Summits cultivated by the Bodhisattvas. We hope that the Buddha will speak about all of these ten kinds of supreme fruit positions that can be achieved by all Bodhisattvas.”

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