THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Four Holy Truths____

Chapter Eight. A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED MOST VICTORIOUS, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE WAY LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED BURNING, PERHAPS CALLED MOST SUPERIOR GRADE, PERHAPS CALLED DECISIVENESS, PERHAPS CALLED INVINCIBLE, PERHAPS CALLED PROFOUND EXPEDIENTS, PERHAPS CALLED ESCAPE, PERHAPS CALLED NOT VULGAR, PERHAPS CALLED PENETRATION, PERHAPS CALLED NATURE OF LIBERATION, PERHAPS CALLED ABLE TO RESCUE AND SET FREE.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva again says: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED MOST VICTORIOUS, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE WAY LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED BURNING. It burns up all afflictions. PERHAPS it is CALLED MOST SUPERIOR GRADE. It is the path of the highest order, and so you should vigorously cultivate it. PERHAPS it is CALLED DECISIVENESS. One decides to cultivate this path, and doesn’t give rise to any doubt. PERHAPS it is CALLED INVINCIBLE. Nothing can smash this path; it is as solid as vajra. PERHAPS it is CALLED PROFOUND EXPEDIENTS. This is an ultimate skillful means. PERHAPS it is CALLED ESCAPE. One leaves the jail of the Three Realms. PERHAPS it is CALLED NOT VULGAR. Cultivators should have lofty personalities and pure thoughts. They sould not have low and vulgar thinking or conduct. PERHAPS it is CALLED PENETRATION. This path penetrates all directions, even other universes. PERHAPS it is CALLED THE NATURE OF LIBERATION. Practiced to perfection, this path embodies the nature of liberation, so that all of one’s actions are without impediment. PERHAPS it is CALLED ABLE TO RESCUE AND SET FREE. One can go to the other shore. One travels from this shore of birth and death across the mid-current of afflictions and arrives at the other shore of Nirvana.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED MOST VICTORIOUS, THE FOUR HOLY TRUTHS CAN BE DESCRIBED IN FORTY TRILLION NAMES SUCH AS THESE, WHICH BY ACCORDING WITH LIVING BEINGS’ THOUGHTS, CAN CAUSE THEM ALL TO BE TAMED AND SUBDUED.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva, having expounded the names of the Four Holy Truths, calls out: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED MOST VICTORIOUS, I have described fory names of THE FOUR HOLY TRUTHS, but these forty eventually transform into FORTY TRILLION NAMES SUCH AS THESE, WHICH BY ACCORDING WITH LIVING BEINGS’ THOUGHTS, CAN CAUSE THEM ALL TO BE TAMED AND SUBDUED. When living beings hear these names, according to their own dispositions, they all understand and attain advantage. They can leave suffering and attain bliss, and cast off birth and death.

SUTRA:

IV. THE WORLD LEAVING FILTH

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THE HOLY TRUTH OF SUFFERING AS EXPLAINED IN THIS SAHA WORLD, IN THE WORLD CALLED LEAVING FILTH IS PERHAPS CALLED REGRET AND HATE, PERHAPS CALLED WAITING, PERHAPS CALLED REVOLVING, PERHAPS CALLED CITY, PERHAPS CALLED ONE FLAVOR, PERHAPS CALLED ILLEGAL, PERHAPS CALLED HABITAT, PERHAPS CALLED LOCATION OF FALSE ATTACHMENT, PERHAPS CALLED FALSE AND VAIN VIEWS, PERHAPS CALLED WITHOUT NUMBER.

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD LEAVING FILTH, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE ACCUMULATION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED THING WHICH HAS NO ACTUALITY, PERHAPS CALLED ONLY WORDS, PERHAPS CALLED NOT PURE AND PRISTINE, PERHAPS CALLED GROUND OF PRODUCTION, PERHAPS CALLED OBSESSION AND GRASPING, PERHAPS CALLED VULGAR AND LOW, PERHAPS CALLED INCREASE AND GROWTH, PERHAPS CALLED HEAVY LOAD, PERHAPS CALLED ABLE TO PRODUCE, PERHAPS CALLED COARSE AND ROUGH.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva calls out: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THE HOLY TRUTH OF SUFFERING AS EXPLAINED IN THIS SAHA WORLD is known by many names, IN THE WORLD CALLED LEAVING FILTH – the Western World – it is also known by different names. It is PERHAPS CALLED REGRET AND HATE. To “regret” means to be sorry for having made a certain move. To “hate” means to feel a resentment that goes deep into the bones. PERHAPS it is CALLED WAITING. This suffering is just there waiting for you to undergo it. PERHAPS it is CALLED REVOLVING, living beings revolve in the six paths without stopping. PERHAPS it is CALLED CITY. This is the city of suffering wherein living beings dwell. PERHAPS it is CALLED ONE FLAVOR. When you come right down to it, suffering is just a single flavor. PERHAPS it is CALLED ILLEGAL. Things that oppose the law and go against the Dharma will bring on suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED HABITAT. If living beings dwell in the “burning house” then they will experience only suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED LOCATION OF FALSE ATTACHMENT. Living beings hang on to their false obsessions and thereby undergo suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED FALSE AND VAIN VIEWS. Their views are not proper and upright, they are erroneous. PERHAPS it is CALLED WITHOUT NUMBER. The sufferings undergone are so many that there is no way to ascertain their actual number.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED LEAVING FILTH, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED WITHOUT EQUAL, PERHAPS CALLED UNIVERSAL CASTING OUT, PERHAPS CALLED LEAVING FILTH, PERHAPS CALLED MOST SUBLIME FACULTIES, PERHAPS CALLED RENOWNED ASSEMBLY, PERHAPS CALLED NO WAITING, PERHAPS CALLED DESTROYING DELUSION, PERHAPS CALLED UPPERMOST, PERHAPS CALLED ULTIMATE, PERHAPS CALLED SMASHING THE EGG.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva calls out again: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED LEAVING FILTH, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED WITHOUT EQUAL. There is nothing that can compare to it. PERHAPS it is CALLED UNIVERSAL CASTING OUT. It completely eradicates all afflictions. PERHAPS it is CALLED LEAVING FILTH. One is removed from all defilement. PERHAPS it is CALLED MOST SUBLIME FACULTIES. This is the most supreme foundation. PERHAPS it is CALLED RENOWNED ASSEMBLY. This is an assembly in which we extol and praise the Buddhas. PERHAPS it is CALLED NO WAITING. You do not have to aid it or wait upon it. PERHAPS it is CALLED DESTROYING DELUSIONS. It smashes all delusions and doubts. PERHAPS it is CALLED UPPERMOST. This is the most high, most incomparable dharma. PERHAPS it is CALLED ULTIMATE. When you reach the level of ultimate extinction, you leap over birth and death. PERHAPS it is CALLED SMASHING THE EGG. The first five skandhas have been destroyed; the next five skandhas have not yet arisen.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED LEAVING FILTH, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE WAY LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED SOLID THING, PERHAPS CALLED SHARE OF EXPEDIENTS, PERHAPS CALLED BASIS OF LIBERATION, PERHAPS CALLED ORIGINAL NATURE WHICH IS SOLID, PERHAPS CALLED THAT WHICH DEFIES SLANDER, PERHAPS CALLED MOST PURE, PERHAPS CALLED THE LIMIT OF ALL EXISTENCE, PERHAPS CALLED SECURE ENTRUSTMENT, PERHAPS CALLED DEEDS THAT REACH THE ULTIMATE, PERHAPS CALLED PURE DISCRIMINATION.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva calls out again: DISCI-PLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED LEAVING FILTH, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE WAY LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED SOLID THING. There is nothing more solid and resolute than this path. It is like vajra. PERHAPS it is CALLED SHARE OF EXPEDIENTS. Everyone has a share in this type of skillful expedient means. Whoever cultivates will come to success. PERHAPS it is CALLED BASIS OF LIBERATION. If you can cultivate the Way, you can become liberated. It is CALLED ORIGINAL NATURE WHICH IS SOLID. The fundamental nature of the Tao is actual and solid, not false. PERHAPS it is CALLED THAT WHICH DEFIES SLANDER. There is no way you can malign or argue about this Tao. PERHAPS it is CALLED MOST PURE. When culti-vators cut off their own false thinking, they can attain the most pure, wonderful Dharma. PERHAPS it is CALLED THE LIMIT OF ALL EXISTENCE. One departs from the twenty-five realms of existence in the Triple World; one reaches the very border of these realms. PERHAPS it is CALLED SECURE ENTRUSTMENT. Whoever relies on or entrusts his faith to this path, will find protection and security. They won’t suffer any loss. PERHAPS it is CALLED DEEDS THAT REACH THE ULTIMATE. It is pursued to the ultimate point. PERHAPS it is CALLED PURE DISCRIMINATION. Pure discrimination means making no discriminations.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED LEAVING FILTH, THE FOUR HOLY TRUTHS ARE DESCRIBED IN FORTY TRILLION NAMES SUCH AS THESE, WHICH, BY ACCORDING WITH LIVING BEINGS’ THOUGHTS, CAN CAUSE THEM ALL TO BE TAMED AND SUBDUED.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva calls out: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, do you know how many names there are for the Four Holy Truths? IN THE WORLD CALLED LEAVING FILTH, THE FOUR HOLY TRUTHS ARE DESCRIBED IN FORTY TRILLION NAMES SUCH AS THESE. The original forty that I have elucidated for you multiply into forty trillion, WHICH BY ACCORDING WITH LIVING BEINGS’ THOUGHTS, CAN CAUSE THEM ALL TO BE TAMED AND SUBDUED. Living beings’ bodies and minds are subdued. They bring forth the Bodhi resolve, and they quickly accomplish the Buddha Way.

SUTRA:

V. THE WORLD ABUNDANCE

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THE HOLY TRUTH OF SUFFERING AS EXPLAINED IN THIS SAHA WORLD, IN THE WORLD CALLED ABUNDANCE IS PERHAPS CALLED PLACE OF LOVE AND DEFILEMENT, PERHAPS CALLED ROOT OF TREACHERY AND HARM, PERHAPS CALLED SHARE IN THE SEA OF EXISTENCE, PERHAPS CALLED BROUGHT ABOUT THROUGH ACCUMULATION, PERHAPS CALLED ROOT OF DIFFERENTIATION, PERHAPS CALLED INCREASE AND GROWTH, PERHAPS CALLED PRODUCTION AND EXTINCTION, PERHAPS CALLED OBSTRUCTIONS, PERHAPS CALLED THE BASIS OF KNIVES AND BLADES, PERHAPS CALLED BROUGHT ABOUT THROUGH MULTIPLICITY.

COMMENTARY:

Once again, Manjushri Bodhisattva calls out: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THE HOLY TRUTH OF SUFFERING AS EXPLAINED IN THIS SAHA WORLD is known by various names. IN THE WORLD CALLED ABUNDANCE, the world to the north, it is also known by different names. It is PERHAPS CALLED PLACE OF LOVE AND DEFILEMENT. With love there is defilement; with defilement there is suffering. For example, there is the suffering of separating from the things or people that you love. So take heed; do not fall into the whirlpool of love and defilement. It’s very hard to get out. PERHAPS it is CALLED ROOT OF TREACHERY AND HARM. Where there is love, there is treachery; with treachery there is harm. So we say that suffering is the root of treachery and harm. PERHAPS it is CALLED SHARE IN THE SEA OF EXISTENCE. Everyone has a share in this sea of suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED BROUGHT ABOUT THROUGH ACCUMULATION. Suffering is brought about through the amassing of afflictions. PERHAPS it is CALLED ROOT OF DIFFERENTIATION. Everyone thinks only of his or her own benefit and starts to differentiate between this and that, yours and mine, and so forth. All of these distinctions are the roots of suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED INCREASE AND GROWTH in evil karma. When evil karma increases, your suffering also grows. PERHAPS it is CALLED PRODUCTION AND EXTINCTION. This suffering is pro-duced and then extinguished, produced and then ex-tinguished in a perpetual cycle that never stops. PERHAPS it is CALLED OBSTRUCTIONS. Suffering ham-pers and impedes you, creating myriad obstructions so you don’t bring forth the Bodhi resolve. It obstructs your accomplishing the Buddha Way. PERHAPS it is CALLED THE BASIS OF KNIVES AND BLADES. The source of weapons like sharp knives and swords is suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED BROUGHT ABOUT THROUGH MULTIPLICITY. Many many types of afflictions and ignorance bring about this type of suffering.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED ABUNDANCE, THE HOLY TRUTH OF ACCUMULATION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED DISGUSTING, PERHAPS CALLED NAME, PERHAPS CALLED ENDLESS, PERHAPS CALLED SHARE AND NUMBERS, PERHAPS CALLED NOT DESERVING FONDNESS, PERHAPS CALLED ATTACK AND DEVOURING, PERHAPS CALLED VILE THING, PERHAPS CALLED CRAVING AND OBSESSION, PERHAPS CALLED UTENSIL, PERHAPS CALLED MOVEMENT.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva calls out again: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED ABUNDANCE, THE HOLY TRUTH OF ACCUMULATION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED DISGUSTING. It is really repulsive; nobody likes it. PERHAPS it is CALLED NAME. This accumulation has no true and actual principle; it is just a false name. PERHAPS it is CALLED ENDLESS. The afflictions that accumulate are endless and boundless. PERHAPS it is CALLED SHARE AND NUMBERS. Each of the twenty-five realms of existence has a share in this accumulation of suffering. The phrase “numbers” refers to conditioned dharmas that can be counted and which have a measure. PERHAPS it is CALLED NOT DESERVING FONDNESS. One can’t possibly be greedy for or fond of this accumulation. PERHAPS it is CALLED ATTACK AND DEVOURING. It preys upon living beings just like wild beasts prey upon smaller animals. It devours your very wisdom life and your treasures. That’s what afflictions and worry do. PERHAPS it is CALLED VILE THING. It is very coarse, low, and undesirable. PERHAPS it is CALLED CRAVING AND OBSESSION. All living beings are enamored of this accumulation; they are obsessed with it and crave it at all times. PERHAPS it is CALLED UTENSIL. It is a vessel that carries afflictions, a vessel that carries ignorance. PERHAPS it is CALLED MOVEMENT. Its nature is unstable and there is a lot of motion as it brings afflictions together.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED ABUNDANCE, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED SEVERING THE PERPETUATION, PERHAPS CALLED REVEALING AND DISCLOSING, PERHAPS CALLED NO WORDS, PERHAPS CALLED NOTHING TO BE CULTIVATED, PERHAPS CALLED NOTHING TO BE SEEN, PERHAPS CALLED NOTHING TO BE DONE, PERHAPS CALLED STILL QUIESCENCE, PERHAPS CALLED COMPLETELY BURNED, PERHAPS CALLED RELINQUISHING A HEAVY LOAD, PERHAPS CALLED ALREADY CAST OUT THE BAD.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva says: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED ABUNDANCE, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED SEVERING THE PERPETUATION. It is the perpetual flow of birth and death that is severed. PERHAPS it is CALLED REVEALING AND DISCLOSING. It opens up the true and actual principle so that people can understand. PERHAPS it is CALLED NO WORDS. This is the Dharma Door of the True Mark. Therefore it cannot be expressed through words. PERHAPS it is CALLED NOTHING TO BE CULTIVATED. When one has cultivated to the extreme point, then there is nothing more to cultivate. As it is said,

Having done all there is to do,
One does not undergo futher ex-istence.

After one accomplished one’s task and perfects it, one need not undergo further existence. One need not be reborn again. PERHAPS it is CALLED NOTHING TO BE SEEN. Because afflictions have been destroyed and do not arise again, they can no longer be seen. PERHAPS it is CALLED NOTHING TO BE DONE. After one has accomplished one’s task, there is nothing more to be acted upon. PERHAPS it is CALLED STILL QUIESCENCE. One is apart from afflictions. One is without any more suffering and thereby reaches the state of still quiescence. PERHAPS it is CALLED COMPLETELY BURNED. All afflictions have been consumed; there are none left whatsoever. PERHAPS it is CALLED RELINQUISHING A HEAVY LOAD. One puts down and renounces the heavy load of obstacles of afflictions, the obstacles of karma, and the obstacles of retribution. PERHAPS it is CALLED ALREADY CAST OUT THE BAD. The bad has already been thrown out; only the good remains.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED ABUNDANCE, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE WAY LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING, IS PERHAPS CALLED STILL AND QUIET PRACTICE, PERHAPS CALLED CONDUCT OF ESCAPE, PERHAPS CALLED DILIGENT CULTIVATION AND CERTIFICATION, PERHAPS CALLED PEACEFUL AND SECURE JOURNEY, PERHAPS CALLED LIMITLESS LIFESPAN, PERHAPS CALLED SKILLED AT UNDERSTANDING AND KNOWING, PERHAPS CALLED ULTIMATE PATH, PERHAPS CALLED HARD TO CULTIVATE AND PRACTICE, PERHAPS CALLED ARRIVING AT THE OTHER SHORE, PERHAPS CALLED UNRIVALLED.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva says: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED ABUNDANCE, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE WAY LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF SUF-FERING, IS PERHAPS CALLED STILL AND QUIET PRACTICE. When you accomplish your Way karma, you reach the state of still quietude. PERHAPS it is CALLED CON-DUCT OF ESCAPE. You cultivate the way that leads to escape from the Three Realms. PERHAPS it is CALLED DILIGENT CULTIVATION AND CERTIFICATION. You can be certified to this path. PERHAPS it is CALLED PEACEFUL AND SECURE JOURNEY. You peacefully travel toward the fruition of the sage. PERHAPS it is CALLED LIMITLESS LIFESPAN. This is a bright way that leads to rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, where Amitabha Buddha – also called the Buddha of Limitless Life – abides. PERHAPS it is CALLED SKILLED AT UNDERSTANDING AND KNOWING. You are skilled at comprehending the true mark of all dharmas. PERHAPS it is CALLED ULTIMATE PATH. In cultivating this path, you reach the ultimate place, Nirvana. PERHAPS it is CALLED HARD TO CULTIVATE AND PRACTICE. This is not an easy road to practice, but although it’s difficult, don’t be afraid. If you can apply yourself diligently, you will certainly be successful. As it is said;

Below heaven there is nothing that difficult. It’s only to be feared that your mind is not concentrated.

If you can single-mindedly apply your skill in your cultivation, then no matter how difficult the path, you will always find a way. PERHAPS it is CALLED ARRIVING AT THE OTHER SHORE. This is the way that leads to the other shore – the state where there is no more production or destruction. PERHAPS it is CALLED UNRIVALLED. Nothing can surpass or excel this Dharma.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD ABUNDANCE, THE FOUR HOLY TRUTHS CAN BE DESCRIBED IN FORTY TRILLION NAMES SUCH AS THESE, WHICH, BY ACCORDING WITH LIVING BEINGS’ THOUGHTS CAN CAUSE THEM ALL TO BE TAMED AND SUBDUED.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva says: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD ABUNDANCE, THE FOUR HOLY TRUTHS have many names. I have elucidated forty names for you, but those forty expand and CAN BE DESCRIBED IN FORTY TRILLION NAMES SUCH AS THESE, WHICH, BY ACCORDING WITH LIVING BEINGS’ THOUGHTS – complying with what they like to hear -- CAN CAUSE THEM ALL TO BE TAMED AND SUBDUED. These names can inspire living beings to become resolved on the Buddha Way.

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

ON LECTURING SUTRAS

Some people say, “You can’t lecture Sutras, because if you make a mistake, you will commit offenses.” There is another saying, “To interpret the Sutras incorrectly is like breaking your very bones.” If you do not lecture the principles cor-rectly, it’s as dangerous as if your very bones were smashed! Moreover, others say, “By relying on the text in explaining the meaning, you wrong all the Buddhas of the three periods of time.” That is even a more severe statement! It implies that if you rely on the Sutra text to explain its meanings, then you’ll become the mortal enemy of the Buddhas of the three periods of time.

Well, what should we do? You should understand that people who mouth those aphorisms are usually those who are ignorant and lack wisdom. They do not understand the Buddha’s intent or the state of the Buddha’s wisdom. Could it be the case that the Buddha spoke the Sutras just so that people could commit limitless offenses by lecturing them? That is totall irrational! Saying that you aren’t supposed to lecture Sutras for fear that you’ll make a mistake is taking much too harsh a view of things. Why did the Buddhas speak the Sutras in the first place? Is it really the case that they did it in order to increase the offenses of living beings? Of course not! One who maintains that living beings commit offenses just by lecturing the Sutras is 80,000 miles away from the Buddha’s original intent. It is a completely ridiculous theory!

Now the Dhyana School does not put much emphasis on speaking or writing. When someone from that school says “Do not rely on the text to explain the meaning,” he is speaking in a particular context in order to break people’s attachments. For instance, there was once an extremely arrogant Dharma Master who came to a Ch’an Hall. He was putting on airs and felt that investigating Ch’an had no meaning whatsoever. He said, “All of you sleepy ghosts are just sitting on your Ch’an benches like living dead people, doing nothing. What benefit is there is this?!”

When the old Ch’an Master heard this, he roared, “If you rely on the Sutras to explain the meaning, you have wronged the Buddhas of the three periods of time!” Those words scared the haughty Dharma Master out of his wits. He was so shocked that he didn’t dare say another word. He stood there petrified, not knowing whether to advance or retreat. Finally, feeling as if the wind had been taken out of his sails, he left the place.

From the above public record, you can see that this aphorism was spoken under a special set of causes and conditions. It shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that whatever the Buddha spoke is the law and that if you interpreted it in any way short of 100% correct you would commit an unpardonable offense. Now of course, if you can truly understand, then there is nothing, absolutely nothing.

Sweep away all dharmas,
Separate from all marks.

But before you have reached that level of under-standing, you still have to cultivate and study according to the Sutras. And if you are to culti-vate and study according to the Sutras, you need to understand their meanings. If you are lecturing on the Sutras and you don’t explain the meanings of the text, what do you explain? Just now in the Sutra text it said, “Perhaps it is called nothing to be cultivated.” If you insist that this means “don’t cultivate, don’t cultivate!” because the Sutra says there is nothing to be cultivated, then you have made a mistake. On the other hand, if you insist that it means “you’ve got to cultivate, you’ve got to cultivate!” then you’ve also erred. Either proposition is going to an extreme. You should abide by the Middle Way. There is another saying that goes;

Relying on the Sutras to Explain the meaning,
One wrongs the Buddhas of the three periods of time.
Separate from the Sutras by just a single word,
And that’s the same as the demons talking.

Here it says if you depart from the Sutras by just a single word, it’s as if the Demon King were speaking. How can we reach a place where we are not wronging the Buddhas, and yet not speaking for the Demon King? At the moment when you have completely cut off your love and desire, then, no matter what you say, it will be correct. Conversely, before you cut off your desire, whatever you say is always incorrect. To put it in a nutshell, those who have sexual desire, are ordinary people; those who cut off their sexual desire are sages. The purpose of cultivating the Way is to cut off love and desire. Then you can leave the Three Realms.

SUTRA:

VI. THE WORLD GATHERING IN

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THE HOLY TRUTH OF SUFFERING AS EXPLAINED IN THIS SAHA WORLD, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, IS PERHAPS CALLED ABLE TO ROB AND PILLAGE, PERHAPS CALLED UNWHOLESOME FRIEND, PERHAPS CALLED MUCH TERROR, PERHAPS CALLED ALL KINDS OF PLAYFUL THEORIES, PERHAPS CALLED THE NATURE OF HELL, PERHAPS CALLED NON-FACTUAL MEANING, PERHAPS CALLED THE BURDEN OF GREED AND DESIRE, PERHAPS CALLED DEEP AND HEAVY ROOT, PERHAPS CALLED FLOWING AND TURNING WITH THE MIND, PERHAPS CALLED FUNDAMENTALLY EMPTY.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva CALLS OUT: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THE HOLY TRUTH OF SUFFERING AS EX-PLAINED IN THIS SAHA WORLD is known by many names. IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, the world to the northeast, it IS PERHAPS CALLED ABLE TO ROB AND PILLAGE. Like a thief who robs people of their jewels, suffering robs people of their prajna wisdom. PERHAPS it is CALLED UNWHOLESOME FRIEND. It is not a decent friend, but an evil advisor. PERHAPS it is CALLED MUCH TERROR. This suffering instills fear and horror into living beings’ hearts. PERHAPS it is CALLED ALL KINDS OF PLAYFUL THEORIES. It spawns many kinds of devious and idle theories that are not true or principled. PERHAPS it is CALLED THE NATURE OF HELL. The nature of all hells is characterized by suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED NON-FACTUAL MEANING. Suffering has no ac-tual or true meaning. It is not true happiness. PERHAPS it is CALLED THE BURDEN OF GREED AND DESIRE. When you have greed and craving, your load of suffering keeps on getting heavier and heavier. PERHAPS it is CALLED DEEP AND HEAVY ROOT. Suffering is the deepest and most heavily rooted of all afflictions. PERHAPS it is CALLED FLOWING AND TURNING WITH THE MIND. Following along with living beings’ myriad thoughts, it turns and evolves into more and more suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED FUNDAMENTALLY EMPTY. If your wisdom is entirely emptied, then all that is left is suffering. Or you can interpret this line to mean: suffering’s nature is basically empty. It has no actual substance.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE ACCUMULATION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED GREED AND FIXATION, PERHAPS CALLED ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH EVIL, PERHAPS CALLED MISTAKES AND TRANSGRESSIONS, PERHAPS CALLED SPEEDY, PERHAPS CALLED ABLE TO ATTACH AND GRASP, PERHAPS CALLED THOUGHT, PERHAPS CALLED THE FRUIT OF EXISTENCE, PERHAPS CALLED CANNOT BE DESCRIBED, PERHAPS CALLED CANNOT BE GRASPED, PERHAPS CALLED FLOWING AND TURNING.

COMMENTARY:

DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE ACCUMULATION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED GREED AND FIXATION. People are greedy and attached to the bliss derived from the five desires, and the pleasure which occurs between men and women. PERHAPS it is CALLED ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH EVIL. Once actions have been accomplished through evil, then one is subject to the vicious cycle of rebirth. PERHAPS it is CALLED MISTAKES AND TRANSGRESSIONS. There are mistakes and faults. PERHAPS it is CALLED SPEEDY. This accumulation brings on a very quick retribution. You don’t have to wait until your next life to reap the retribution; it comes right in this very life. PERHAPS it is CALLED ABLE TO ATTACH AND GRASP. This accumulation is able to hold onto and grasp, which is another way of describing greed. PERHAPS it is CALLED THOUGHT. The accumulation of afflictions is the product of false thinking. Many thoughts make up this accumulation. PERHAPS it is CALLED FRUIT OF EXISTENCE. Having done the deeds of accumulation, one will have to undergo the fruit of retribution in the future. PERHAPS it is CALLED CANNOT BE DESCRIBED. There is nothing you can say about these afflictions. There are just too many of them. PERHAPS it is CALLED CANNOT BE GRASPED. There is nothing to be gotten from this. It is just a conglomeration of afflictions. PERHAPS it is CALLED FLOWING AND TURNING. One flows and re-volves in the wheel of the six paths without ceasing.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED NON-RETREATING, PERHAPS CALLED APART FROM LANGUAGE AND SPEECH, PERHAPS CALLED NO SHAPE, PERHAPS CALLED CAN BE DELIGHTED IN, PERHAPS CALLED SOLID AND FIRM, PERHAPS CALLED SUPERIOR AND WONDERFUL, PERHAPS CALLED APART FROM STUPIDITY, PERHAPS CALLED COMPLETE EXTINCTION, PERHAPS CALLED FAR REMOVED FROM EVIL, PERHAPS CALLED GETTING OUT.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva calls out: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED NON-RETREATING. Once you certify to the bliss of still extinction, you attain irreversibility. PERHAPS it is CALLED APART FROM LANGUAGE AND SPEECH. One leaves the mark of all words and speech so there is no language. PERHAPS it is CALLED NO SHAPE. This type of extinction has no shape or form. PERHAPS it is CALLED CAN BE DE-LIGHTED IN. This extinction is something worthy of joy and delight. PERHAPS it is CALLED FIRM AND SOLID. The truth of extinction is indestructible and adamantine like vajra. PERHAPS it is CALLED SUPERIOR AND WONDERFUL. It is also the most sublime and wondrous, unparalleled dharma. PERHAPS it is CALLED APART FROM STUPIDITY. One leaves stupidity and delustion far behind, and wisdom manifests. PERHAPS it is CALLED COMPLETE EXTINCTION. All afflictions are completely eradicated. PERHAPS it is CALLED FAR REMOVED FROM EVIL. One stays far away from all evil. PERHAPS it is CALLED GETTING OUT. It enables one to get out of the burning house of the Three Realms.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE WAY LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED APART FROM WORDS, PERHAPS CALLED NO CONTENTION, PERHAPS CALLED TEACHING AND GUIDING, PERHAPS CALLED WHOLESOME TRANSFERENCE, PERHAPS CALLED GREAT SKILLFUL MEANS, PERHAPS CALLED DIFFERENT EXPEDIENTS, PERHAPS CALLED LIKE EMPTY SPACE, PERHAPS CALLED STILL AND QUIET CONDUCT, PERHAPS CALLED VICTORIOUS WISDOM, PERHAPS CALLED ABLE TO UNDERSTAND MEANING.

COMMENTARY:

DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, THE HOLY TRUTH OF THE WAY LEADING TO THE EXTINCTION OF SUFFERING IS PERHAPS CALLED APART FROM WORDS. There is no need for words or speech. PERHAPS it is CALLED NO CONTENTION. One certifies to the Samadhi of being Apart from Contention, and so there is no fighting or strife. PERHAPS it is CALLED TEACHING AND GUIDING. It teaches all living beings and guides them along the Bodhi Road. PERHAPS it is CALLED WHOLESOME TRANSFERENCE. One is skilled at making transferences; transferring from self to others, transferring from the small to the great, transferring from the cause to the result, and transferring from specifics to principle. PERHAPS it is CALLED GREAT SKILLFUL MEANS. One has numerous clever means within one’s grasp to teach living beings. PERHAPS it is CALLED DIFFERENT EXPEDIENTS. There are different skill-in-means to apply to different situations. One can use them all at the appropriate time. PERHAPS it is CALLED LIKE EMPTY SPACE. This way is just like emptiness itself. You look at it, but you can’t see it. You try to listen, but you can’t hear. But if you cultivate according to this Way, then you will accomplish Buddhahood. PERHAPS it is CALLED STILL AND QUIET CONDUCT. One walks on the road that leads to still quiescence. PERHAPS it is CALLED VICTORIOUS WISDOM. This is wisdom most supreme and unique. PERHAPS it is CALLED ABLE TO UNDERSTAND MEANING. One is able to decipher meanings and principles very well.

SUTRA:

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, THE FOUR HOLY TRUTHS ARE DESCRIBED IN FORTY TRILLION NAMES SUCH AS THESE, WHICH, BY ACCORDING WITH LIVING BEINGS’ THOUGHTS, CAN CAUSE THEM TO ALL BE TAMED AND SUBDUED.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva says: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, IN THE WORLD CALLED GATHERING IN, THE FOUR HOLY TRUTHS ARE DESCRIBED IN the forty names I have just listed. But they expand to FORTY TRILLION NAMES SUCH AS THESE, WHICH, BY ACCORDING WITH LIVING BEINGS’ THOUGHTS, CAN CAUSE THEM TO ALL BE TAMED AND SUBDUED. They can cause all living beings to obtain benefit.

SUTRA:

VII. THE WORLD BENEFITTING

“DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THE HOLY TRUTH OF SUFFERING AS EXPLAINED IN THIS SAHA WORLD, IN THE WORLD CALLED BENEFITTING IS PERHAPS CALLED HEAVY BURDEN, PERHAPS CALLED NOT SOLID, PERHAPS CALLED THIEF-LIKE, PERHAPS CALLED OLD AGE AND DEATH, PERHAPS CALLED PRODUCT OF LOVE, PERHAPS CALLED FLOWING AND TURNING, PERHAPS CALLED WEARINESS, PERHAPS CALLED VILE APPEARANCE, PERHAPS CALLED GROWTH, PERHAPS CALLED SHARP BLADE.

COMMENTARY:

Manjushri Bodhisattva says: DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THE HOLY TRUTH OF SUFFERING AS EXPLAINED IN THIS SAHA WORLD, is known by different names. IN THE WORLD CALLED BENEFITTING, the world to the southeast, it IS PERHAPS CALLED HEAVY BURDEN. The road of suffering is very cumbersome. PERHAPS it is CALLED NOT SOLID. Since it is not firm or solid it goes bad easily; this is also a characteristic of suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED THIEF-LIKE. Suffering is like a thief in that it steals away your jewels and robs you of your joy. PERHAPS it is CALLED OLD AGE AND DEATH. It is very miserable, just like old age and death. PERHAPS it is CALLED PRODUCT OF LOVE. People have to undergo suffering because it is the outcome of love. When there is love, there is bound to be suffering, such as the suffering of being apart from the ones you love and so forth. PERHAPS it is CALLED FLOWING AND TURNING. One revolves in the Three Realms, which is the suffering of turning. PERHAPS it is CALLED WEARINESS. Suffering makes you feel tired and drained, so that everything becomes bitter toil, and you derive no joy from it. PERHAPS it is CALLED VILE APPEARANCE. Suffering also has its symptoms and characteristics, all of which are distasteful and loathesome. PERHAPS it is CALLED GROWTH, the growth and maturation of the shoots of suffering. PERHAPS it is CALLED SHARP BLADE. The suffering of life itself is so harsh that sometimes it feels like one is being stabbed by a sharp knife.

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