THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Light Enlightenment ____

Chapter Nine. A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

If someone knows the Thus Come One’s body and marks do not exist,
And cultivates and attains this understanding,
Then that person will quickly become a Buddha.

Commentary:

If someone knows the Thus Come One’s Body and marks do not exist. “If someone” means let us suppose that there is such a person. Who “knows the Thus Come One’s” means that he knows how the Buddha accomplished Buddhahood. It also means that he knows how the Buddha cultivated, descended from the Tushita Heaven, entered the womb, dwelt in the womb, left the home life, cultivated the way, turned the Dharma Wheel, and entered Nirvana. He knows everything there is to know about how the Thus Come One in the past, cultivated on the causal ground. He knows that the Thus Come One’s “body and marks do not exist.” The Buddha basically doesn’t have any marks or appearance. There is nothing marked and there is nothing unmarked. The Buddha doesn’t have an appearance and yet he is not without an appearance. His substance and characteristics and empty and non-existent, because the Buddha’s body and marks pervade empty space and the Dharma Realm. They are not present anywhere and there is no place where they are not present. Although there is no place where they are, and no place where they are not, nevertheless his body and marks are quiet and still. They are so big that we people can’t see them, so we feel that they don’t exist.

And cultivates and attains this understanding. If you want to know why the Buddha’s body and marks don’t exist, you must cultivate all dharmas, and then you will be able to know that the Buddha’s body and marks do not exist. Even the Buddha had to cultivate to attain the state of non-existence of body and marks. If we want to understand we also have to cultivate, and then we can understand that the Buddha’s body and marks have no existence. But if you only use your mind to try to fathom it and say, “On, I understand,” then that doesn’t count. Your understanding is only superficial and you just have a sketchy idea of it all. You still don’t truly comprehend and understand. If you want to truly understand, then you have to cultivate.

If you’re someone who’s able to cultivate and attain understand then that person will quickly become a Buddha. This kind of person will very quickly accomplish Buddhahood. Why? Because he understands how the Buddha cultivated and accomplished Buddhahood, and so he too will be able to use the Dharma to cultivate. And if you can use the Dharma to cultivate, then it’s for sure you will very quickly accomplish Buddhahood.

Sutra:

If one can look upon this world with a mind that is unmoving,
And see Buddhas and living beings as the same,
Then such a one will accomplish supreme wisdom.

Commentary:

If one can look upon this world If you’re able to see all dharmas of this world with a mind that is unmoving, then right within worldly dharmas you awaken and attain transcendental dharmas.. What is of the world transcends the world. While in the world you transcend the world. It’s not that you leave the world to transcend the world. If transcendental dharmas were apart from this world, then you’d have to be two people to attain them. One person would be a common person and the other would accomplish Buddhahood. You’d have to two people. If you say you can only be one person, then tell me which one you are, the common person or the one who accomplished Buddhahood? You may think that you’re the common person. Well, he’s just a living being. You may think that you’re the person who accomplished Buddhahood. Well, he’s just a living being too. There’s no difference between them. So it says, “with a mind that is unmoving.” There is no discrimination or confusion. There’s no false thinking or attachment.

And see Buddhas and living beings as the same. You are one with the Buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time. This line can be mistakenly read as “the Buddha’s body”, but that’s not what it means. It means that the Buddha and living beings are the same. It’s just that the Buddha has become enlightened and living beings are still confused. The enlightenment and confusion are different; living beings and the Buddha are the same. The Buddha is replete with great wisdom and living beings are full of ignorance and afflictions. When you look for other things, you won’t find so many, but if you look for afflictions then you’ll find that you have lots of them. Everybody has afflictions and gets angry.

But if you can see the Buddhas and living beings as the same, then such a one will accomplish supreme wisdom. You should know that common living beings and the Buddha are basically the same. It all depends on whether you cultivate or not. Transcendental dharmas and worldly dharmas are the same. If you understand, then worldly dharmas are just transcendental dharmas. If you don’t understand, then transcendental dharmas are worldly dharmas. It’s just in the space of a thought. If you turn yourself around, that is your basic original place. And it’s not to be found outside. One with Supreme Wisdom is one of great enlightenment—one with extremely great understanding. One of Supreme Wisdom is also another name for the Buddha.

Sutra:

If with regard to the Buddha and the Dharma
One’s mind is completely level and equal
And the two thoughts do not manifest,
Then one will realize the position which is hard to conceive of.

Commentary:

“The two thoughts” mentioned here are the thought of the Buddha and the thought of the Dharma, the discrimination between the Buddha and the Dharma. If there were no Dharma, then there wouldn’t be any Buddha; if there were no Buddha, then there wouldn’t be any Dharma. They are completely equal. If there weren’t any Buddha, where could Dharma come from ? If there weren’t any Dharma, then how could you accomplish Buddhahood? If with regard to the Buddha and the dharma . What if there were a person who regarded the Buddha and the Dharma with a mind which is completely level and equal. What does he understand? He understands the Buddha and the Dharma. He understands that they are equal, that they are one. It’s not that there is no Buddha or Dharma. If you said there is no Buddha or Dharma, then what Buddha could we believe in, and what Dharma could we believe in and cultivate? It’s true that when one reaches the state of Buddhahood, there is the Buddha and yet there’s also no Buddha. Basically this person himself is the Buddha, so what other Buddha is there? Since he has accomplished Buddhahood he doesn’t need the Dharma. Basically his theory is true, but you can’t say that until you’ve proved it yourself. When you reach the ultimate state where there is nothing left to cultivate and nothing left to certify to, then you can say, “there is no Buddha or Dharma.” But common people who just begin to cultivate can’t just casually say such things. If you say there is no Buddha or Dharma, then what Buddha and Dharma do you believe in? what do you have belief in? If you have reached that level, fine, but you can’t say that if you haven’t. Here, the text is referring to someone who has truly understood. He knows for himself: “Oh there’s no Buddha and no Dharma. There’s no Dharma and there’s no Buddha. The Buddha and Dharma are level and equal. They’re one. The Buddha is the Dharma, and the Dharma is the Buddha.” But, if you haven’t certified to that level and you say there is no Buddha and no Dharma, then you are one of those of outside ways who believe in dull emptiness. Those of outside ways sit there and think that there isn’t anything at all. They sit there and say, “Look at me.” What are they? They’re ghosts.

And the two thoughts do not manifest, The two thoughts are the Buddha and the Dharma. Thoughts of the Buddha and thoughts of the Dharma. It doesn’t mean that you’re only mindful of one particular Buddha or that you are only mindful of one particular Dharma. It means your thoughts of the Buddha and thoughts of the Dharma don’t appear. Your mind doesn’t discriminate between the Buddha and the Dharma. Without that discrimination than one will realize the position which is hard to conceive of. To “realize” means to travel to that place. I means to go step by step and actually walk to that place. The “position which is hard to conceive of” refers to the Buddha-position.

Question: If it’s the case that one does not create offenses if one explains the Dharma incorrectly, then what about the cultivator who became a fox immortal because he answered a question incorrectly?

Answer: Someone asked him, “Are great cultivators subject to cause and effect?” And he answered, “No”. All he said was no. But because of that, he turned into a fox spirit. It’s because he denied cause and effect. He said great cultivators aren’t subject to cause and effect. He said there was no cause and effect.

Question: Why did he say there wasn’t any cause and effect?

Answer: He gave the wrong answer and so he had to be a fox spirit for five hundred lives. After five hundred years as a fox, he went to listen to Dhyana Master Pai Chang lecture on the Sutras. He manifested as an old man and went to listen to the Dharma. One day after the lecture was over he didn’t leave and Dhyana Master Pai Chang asked him why he didn’t go. He said, “I want to go to your room and talk to you, and I don’t want everybody else to hear me.” Dhyana Master Pai Chang knew what he was all about, so he took the fox spirit to his room.

The fox spirit said, “I’m a fox.”

Pai Chang said, “You don’t have to tell me about yourself, I recognize you.”

The fox spirit said, “I used to be a cultivator. One day a person asked me if great cultivators were subject to cause and effect.”

Pai Chang said, “What did you say?”

He said, “I said they didn’t have to undergo cause and effect. It’s just because of saying that one sentence that I became a fox. I don’t understand what I said wrong. Are great cultivators subject to cause and effect?”

Pai Chang said, “Okay, now you ask me that same question.”

The fox spirit asked, “Please, Superior One, are great cultivators subject to cause and effect?”

Pai Chang said, “Great cultivators aren’t confused by cause and effect. You see, there’s just that little bit of difference in how you say it. You said there was no cause and effect and I said that they aren’t confused by cause and effect.”

When the fox immortal heard this he understood immediately and said, “Ah!” And he got rid of his fox body.

The next day Dhyana Master Pai Chang took the monks up into the mountains and sent the fox spirit off to rebirth.

The reason the fox spirit answered “no” was because he thought for a great cultivator, anything goes. He thought that if a great cultivator want to, he could kill people, start fires, eat people, have false thinking, do whatever he wanted to do, and not undergo any cause and effect. He was completely wrong.

Buddhism came to China during the Han Dynasty. After the Han there was the Chin Dynasty. After the Chin there was thee Sung, Chi, Liang, Chen, Northern Wei, Sui, and Tang Dynasties. During those several hundred years there weree lots of changes.

When Buddhism was transmitted to China, the dharmas of the three robes, bowl, and sitting cloth of a left-home person were all complete. But after a while during the Tang Dynasty things became complicated and messed up. Some left-home people didn’t wear the sash or even the robes. They were destroying the appearance of left-home people. So, at the time of National Master Ching Liang, the left-home people had this left-home-but-not-left-home, lay-but-not-lay appearance. The left-home people didn’t have a special appearance

National Master Ching Liang saw that this situation was not healthy so he made a vow to keep his three robes—the great robe, the seven-piece robe, and the five-piece robe—his eating bowl, and his sitting cloth with him at all times. In order to correct this fault among the Sangha, he made ten vows, the first of which was that he would not reject the appearance of a Sramana, or left-home member of the Sangha. He would adhere to even the supereficial aspects, even the outer appearances.

At that time there were lots of Sanghans-but-not Sanghans, lay-people-but-not-lay-people, who said that people didn’t need to receive the precepts and that people shouldn’t hold them. They said that if you held them in you heart, then that would be enough, so what need would there be to receive them?

They had these kinds of deviant knowledge and deviant views.

Even though they spoke this way they didn’t hold the precepts in their conduct. They didn’t receive the precepts and they didn’t hold the precepts, so basically there weren’t any precepts. Therefore, National Mster Ching Liang made a second vow that his mind would not oppose the precepts of the Thus Come One.

The people who were studying Buddhism at that time were not respectful towards the Sutras. So, his third vow was that he wouldn’t sit with his back to the Sutra of the dharma Realm. When he sat down, if there was an Avatamsaka Sutra around, he would sit facing the Avatamsaka Sutra no matter what time it was or what the circumstances were. He wouldn’t turn his back to the Avatamsaka Sutra. He said that he felt that it would not be respectful to turn his back to the Sutra. He did this in order to correct another fault of that time—that people were not respectful towards the Sutras.

The fourth vow that he made was that his feet wouldn’t tread on the dust of a nunnery. The “dust” spoken of here means that he wouldn’t go inside a Bhikshuni temple and walk on the ground. His feet wouldn’t go inside. But it isn’t because of this that he’s called Ching Liang (Peure Refreshment). His name comes from the place where he lived. Wu Tai Mountain is known as Pure Refreshment Mountain, so he took that as his title. He didn’t use his own name, which originally was Cheng Kuan.

His feet wouldn’t tread upon the soil of a nunnery. Not only would his legs not walk there or his feet not tread there, but his mind wouldn’t strike up false thinking about the place. All of these vows were made in response to the circumstances of his times.

His fifth vow was that his eyes wouldn’t look upon improper things. His eyes wouldn’t look at attractive things. For instance, movies, plays, and strip-tease are improper things. To look at any of these is to break the precepts. “Improper” means anything that is not in accord with the rules. For instance, if you’re a man and a woman goes by and you look the woman over, to check out whether she is beautiful or not, then you’ve violated the precepts. There’s a verse that explains how one should be:

The eye view forms outside, inside there is nothing.

The ears hear mundane sounds, but the mind doesn’t know.

If you’re not moved by external things that’s okay, then you can look and be however you want and there’s no problem. But, if in your mind you still have false thinking, then you shouldn’t look, because if you look, you’ll have even more false thing. This is very important and I’m afraid that a lot of people have forgotten it so I’ve spoken about it again.

Sutra:

If there is someone who sees the Buddha and living beings
As level and equal, and peacefully dwelling,
Yet without dwelling and without a place of entering,
Then that person will become one who is difficult to encounter.

Commentary:

If there is someone who sees the Buddha and living beings as level and equal, and peacefully dwelling, Living beings and the Buddha and the mind are all level and equal, and they dwell peacefully. This means they don’t move. Yet without dwelling and without a place of entering, although they dwell, at the same time they are without a place of entrance. If one can have this kind of view then that person will become one who is difficult to encounter. He will become a rare person, one who is hard to encounter. That person is a Buddha.

Sutra:

Forms and feelings are without number;
Thinking, process and consciousness are also like this.
If one is able to know this
Then one can become a great muni.
If worldly and world transcending views
Are leapt far beyond
And if one is well able to know all Dharmas,
Then such a one will accomplish great brilliance.

Commentary:

The five skandhas (form, feeling, thinking, process, and consciousness) are being referred to here. Form refers to beautiful forms. Feelings means being receptive. Thinking is false thinking. Process occurs when your false thinking doesn’t stop, but carries over into actuality. Consciousness refers to your discriminating mind. You discriminate between good and evil, existence and non-existence. So, if you can turn your consciousness so that it becomes wisdom, then everything will be okay. If you can’t turn your consciousness, then your discriminating mind will make lots of discriminations. That is your consciousness playing tricks. Forms and feelings are without number. The skandhas of form and feeling have no number. There’s no way to count them. Thinking, process and consciousness are also like this. The three skandhas of thinking, process, and consciousness are also like this. There’s no way to count them. There’s no way to represent them with numbers. If one is able to know this. If you’re able to know that forms, feelings, thinking, process, and consciousness are uncountable, then one can become a great muni. In the very near future you’ll become a great Muni, a person who has reached great extinction. Reaching great extinction is accomplishing Buddhahood. If you’re a person with proper knowledge and proper views and you don’t get caught up in forms, feelings, thinking, process, and consciousness, then you can transcend them and illumine and view the five skandhas as empty.

Then you’ll very quickly accomplish Buddhahood. People don’t become Buddhas because they revolve and turn within form, feeling, thinking, process, and consciousness. They don’t illumine and view form, feeling, thinking, process, and consciousness as empty. Knowing that they have no number is to know emptiness. If you can see them as empty, then you’ll very quickly accomplish Buddhahood.

If worldly and world transcending views are leapt far beyond. The Sixth Patriarch said,

The Buddhadharma is here in the world,
Enlightenment is not apart from the world.
To search for Bodhi apart from the world
Is like looking for a hare with horns.

The Buddhadrharma is right within worldly dharmas. If you think that you have to leave worldly dharmas in order to study transcendental dharmas, the dharmas of Bodhi, then you are mistaken. The Buddhadharma is right within the world. If you can open enlightenment without leaving worldly dharmas, then you have correctly understood. To leave worldly dharmas and look for transcendental dharmas is like looking for horns on a rabbit; it’s impossible. One who knows this transcends both worldly and the world transcending dharmas—both are leapt far beyond. The worldly and world transcending dharamas are leapt far beyond. And if one is well able to know all Dharmas. One is well able to understand, practice, and uphold all dharmas. Then such a one will accomplish great brilliance. Not long from now you will accomplish a storehouse of great, bright light—the great brilliance of the world transcending. This great brilliant light ultimately is Buddhahood.

Sutra:

If someone toward all-wisdom produces a mind of transference,
And sees the mind as not being produced,
Then such a one will obtain great renown.
Living beings are without production and also without extinction.
If one is able to obtain this kind of wisdom
Then one will accomplish the Unsurpassed Way.
Within one there are the limitless,
And within the limitless there is one.
If one understands that they mutually arise,
Then one will accomplish fearlessness.

Commentary:

If someone towards all-wisdom. It is necessary for you to be able to understand all Buddhas before you can have All-Wisdom. Produces a mind of transference, What does it mean to bring forth a Bodhisattva’s mind of transference?

  • He makes transference from himself to others. He transfers his merit and virtue as a universal gift to all living beings in the Dharma Realm. He dedicates it to all living beings. If you can have All-Wisdom, then you may be able to see the Buddha. But if you have All-Wisdom, you should make a vow to use it to make transference to all living beings so that they too will be able to attain All-Wisdom. You should make transference from yourself to them.
  • He makes transference from the cause to the effect. In the future everyone will obtain the fruit of Buddhahood. Now we are cultivating on the cause ground. The aim of this transference is to help living beings throughout the Dharma Realm accomplish the Buddha Way together.
  • He makes transference of the specifics to the principle. We want to dedicate all our specific practices to the still, unsurpassed, and pure principle substance of all Buddhas.
  • He makes transference from the small to the great. At present, the measure of our minds and thoughts is very small. We must make a vow that our minds will pervade the Dharma Realm, fill empty space, and include the ten thousand things. If we are now cultivating the Dharmas of the Small Vehicle, then we should dedicate our practice to the Great Vehicle. There are all kinds of transferences.

If one brings forth a mind of transference and sees the mind as not being produced. Although you make transference, you should do it as if nothing were going on. You shouldn’t be attached to your transference. When we make transference we do it because that’s what we’re supposed to do. You should look at your mind as not having brought forth the thought of transference. Otherwise, you will become attached. You should smash through the merit and virtue that you get from your transference. If one can be free of such attachments then one will obtain great renown. In the future, it will be possible for one to become a person with great renown.

Living beings are without production. If you understand the true mark of all dharmas, then the Buddha is not produced or destroyed, living beings aren’t produced or destroyed. The Buddha, the mind, and living beings aren’t produced or destroyed. If you’re able to understand this principle, then you’ll be also without extinction. When you’re without production, then you also aren’t destroyed. If one is able to obtain this kind of wisdom. If you’re able to get this kind of wisdom, then you won’t have any attachments. You don’t have any self or anything that belongs to the self. There’s no one cultivating and nothing that is cultivated. Therefore, you’re able to have this kind of wisdom. If one has this kind of wisdom, Then one will accomplish the unsurpassed way. One should be able to accomplish the unsurpassed Buddha fruit.

Within one there are the limitless and within the limitless there is one. One is few; the limitless are many. But the many are not just many and the one is not just one. One spreads out into many and the many return to one. Therefore, the one gives rise to the limitless. So the one is not just one and the limitless are not just limitless. They mutually produce each other, and they are mutually unobstructed. Therefore, within the one are the limitless. Where do the limitless come from? They come from the one. If there is no one, then there can be no limitless. And if there are no limitless, then there can’t be a one. And if there’s no one, then that’s zero. So, within the limitless there is the one. Within the limitless you’ll be able to understand the one. The one produces the limitless and the limitless returns to the one.

If one understands that they mutually arise. You should understand that they mutually arise, that the one produces the limitless and the limitless returns to the one. Then one will accomplish fearlessness. If you understand this principle, then you’ll very quickly accomplish fearlessness. A fearless person at the very least is a great Bodhisattva and ultimately will become a Buddha.

 

Sutra:

At that time, light passed through this world and everywhere illumined ten Buddhalands in the east. It was also like this in the south, west, north, the four intermediate directions, as well as above and below. Within each of those worlds there were a billion Jambudvipas, reaching up to a billion Ultimate Form heavens. All of these were clearly revealed in this light.

Just as in this place one could see the Buddha, the World Honored One seated on his lotus flower treasury lion’s throne, with Bodhisattvas as many as fine motes of dust in ten Buddhalands circumambulating him, so too, in each of those billions of Jambudvipas there were billions of Thus Come Ones seated in the same way.

Because of the spiritual power of the Buddha, in each of the ten directions there was a great Bodhisattva, who was accompanied by Bodhisattvas to the number of fine motes of dust in ten buddhalands, who came to the Buddha’s place.

Their names were Manjushri and others. They came from countries called Golden Colored World and others and the Buddhas they served were called Unmoving Wisdom Thus Come One and others.

At that time, in the presence of all those Buddhas, the voices of the Manjushri Bodhisattvas in all those places, rang out in unison as they spoke verses:

 

Commentary:

At that time is the time when Manjushri Bodhisattva finished speaking his verse. Light passed through this world and everywhere illumined ten Buddhalands in the east. The light emitted from the bottom of the Buddha’s feet illumined all worlds. It went beyond this world to ten Buddhalands in the east. In every country there was a Buddha. It was also like this in the south, west, north, the four intermediate directions, as well as above and below. They too were illumined by the Buddha’s light. Within each of those worlds there were a billion Jambudvipas, reaching up to a billion Ultimate Form heavens. All of these were clearly revealed in the light. The light illumined Jambudvipa, reaching up to the Ultimate Form Heaven. That means it passed through lots of heavens. It went through the Suyama Heaven, the Trayastrimsha Heaven, the Heaven of the Four Kings, right up through a billion heavens. They were all revealed in this light.

Just as in this place one could see the Buddha, Thee World Honored One. In the Saha World they saw the Buddha seated on his lotus flower treasury lion’s throne, in full lotus, with Bodhisattvas as many as fine motes of dust in ten Buddhalands circumambulating him. They circumambulated the Buddha. So too, in each of those billions of Jambudvipas there were billions of Thus Come Ones seated in the same way. They were all just like the Buddha in the Saha World. Shakyamuni Buddha was seated in the Saha World, and in all other places it was exactly the same. The Bodhisattvas all saw Shakyamuni Buddha’s Dharma body. What is this state like? It’s like having lots of mirrors. One person can stand in front of the mirror and lots of bodies will be reflected in the mirrors. When the Buddha speaks the Dharma from worlds as many as motes of dust, it’s as if there is a mirror image of him in each world. That is how the Buddha manifests his body. Therefore, all living beings can see him turn the Dharma Wheel.

Because of the spiritual power of the Buddha, in each of the ten directions there was a great Bodhisattva. In every one of the worlds of the ten directions, there was a great Bodhisattva, who was accompanied by Bodhisattvas to the number of fine motes of dust in ten Buddhalands. Each of the great Bodhisattva leaders had with him other great Bodhisattvas to the number of fine motes of dust who came to the Buddha’s place. They all went to Shakyamuni Buddha’s Way place.

Their names were Manjushri and others. They came from countries called Golden Colored World and others. The Bodhisattvas came to those countries to help the Buddhas turn the Dharma Wheel. What were the Buddhas called? The Buddhas they served were called unmoving wisdom Thus Come One and others.

At that time, in the presence of all those Buddhas, the voices of the Manjushri Bodhisattvas in all those places. There was a Manjushri Bodhisattva in each of the Buddha’s Way Place, they rang out in unison as they spoke verses: What comes next will be the verses that they speak.

Sutra:

Living beings without wisdom are injured and poisoned by the thorn of love.
To cause those people to seek Bodhi is what the Buddhadharma is for.

Commentary:

What are the causes and conditions that bring us living beings to this Saha World? It’s all because of love. For this reason, it’s said:

If your love weren’t heavy, then you wouldn’t be born in the Saha.
If your karma isn’t emptied, then you won’t be born in the Pure Land.

Even though love facilitates the arisal of all afflictions, beings are fond of love. They don’t object to it at all. Now, it’s not that we are prejudiced and say that love is not good. We approach the subject with a spirit of investigation so we can understand the other side of love. It has harmful aspects. In this verse, Manjushri Bodhisattva uses his great compassionate mind to let flow forth the unsurpassed wonderful flavor of sweet dew and ghee. He uses straightforward wisdom to tell us about this. The first line of the verse refers to living beings without wisdom. Why are living beings so upside down? Why do they do so many confused things? It’s because their ignorance is severe. As soon as we have ignorance we give rise to activity. Then activity conditions consciousness, consciousness conditions name and form, name and form condition the six entrances, the six entrances condition contact, contact conditions feelings, feelings condition love, love conditions grasping, grasping conditions becoming, becoming conditions birth, birth conditions old age and death. These are the twelve causes and conditions. They mutually unite with each other and arise.

The verse refers to the thorn of love. In the Sutra of 42 Sections it says,

Not satisfied with one delicious helping, they lick the honey off the blade of the knife and so cut their tongues.

This is just one of many analogies that can be used in talking about love.

  • Love is like an unpaid debt. You are in debt. You owe somebody some money and you don’t pay it back. What does this illustrate? It illustrates how the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions, those of the Two Vehicles, haven’t cut off desire. Habits of desire are our faults that haven’t been cut off. Not having cut off our habits is like not having paid back a debt. So, cultivators must understand how fierce the thorn of love is.
  • Love is like a rakshasa ghost-woman. Rakshasa ghosts are really poisonous. When a child is born to her, the Rakshasa ghost-woman eats it. When she finishes eating the Rakshasa child then she eats her husband. This is an example of how love causes people to be born and die. From birth and death you fall into the three evil paths of the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals.
  • Love is like a wonderful lotus flower whose roots are hiding a poisonous snake. Someone admires the lotus flower and wants to pick it. But with the poisonous snake there it is possible that he will receive a fatal bite. It’s really fierce! Love is the reason that people can’t avoid the poisonous snake of birth and death. And so it causes them to fall into the three evil paths.
  • Love is like a disagreeable food. When one doesn’t like to eat a certain food but forces oneself to eat it anyway, one can sometimes get sick from it, and even die.
  • Love is like a prostitute or libertine. These kinds of people can destroy your wholesome dharmas. You are captured by the ghost of impermanence and carried off to death.
  • Love is like a Mleccha. A Mleccha causes disruption among common people. He confuses them so they become upside down and end up dying.
  • Love is like an infected sore. This is the analogy that pertains to the line of verse quoted above. This thorn of love is like a sore that is infected. If one doesn’t cut away the bad flesh then the sore will become infested with worms. These worms will cause the sore to get worse everyday until it reaches the point that it eats away the wisdom-life of your Dharma body, and you lose your senses. Why don’t you have any wisdom? It’s because of this thorn of love. It’s because you’ve been injured by this thorn of love.
  • Love is like a destructive wind. If you pay a lot of attention to love then it’s like a destructive wind. It’s like a hurricane or a typhoon. Every time there’s a hurricane or typhoon they name it Miss so and so. It’s not called Mr. Hurricane so and so. Why is this? It’s because young women’s tempers are really big. Wives’ tempers are also like this. For no reason they get angry. And that’s why hurricanes are named after women. None of them are called Mr. Because most husbands are afraid of their wives. They don’t dare open their mouths. So, these people who want to leave home are probably that way because they are afraid that they will have to get married and have a wife. If it weren’t like that then why would they want to leave home? And the Bhikshunis who leave home are afraid of having husbands and children. This isn’t just a joke. This principle is very true.
  • Love is like a comet. This analogy is even fiercer! When a comet comes it causes lots of disasters. It causes people to be poor and have sickness. It causes loss of crops and many people starve to death.

So, love has these nine unbeneficial aspects. Some people hear this and get really angry and think, “This is completely wrong!” Then just act like you didn’t hear it. The verse says that living beings without wisdom are injured and poisoned by the thorn of love. People are harmed by this poisonous thorn of love. To cause those people to seek bodhi is what the Buddhadharma is for. It’s for these kinds of living beings who don’t have any wisdom and who have been poisoned by the thorn of love that the Buddhas speak the Dharma. They speak so living beings will seek the Bodhi mind. All the Dharmas that the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time speak are for this sole purpose. So, you must cut off desire and get rid of love. To cut off desire is to transform the love and desire in your heart. You don’t have to cut it off. You transform it. What do you transform it into? You transform it into the Bodhi mind. Love and desire are stupidity, and the Bodhi mind is enlightenment. You change your heart so that it becomes enlightened wisdom. The Dharmas that all Buddhas speak to take living beings across are about just this.

Sutra:

Universally observe all Dharmas and renounce the two extremes.
The Way accomplished, one never retreats, and turns this unequalled wheel.

Commentary:

Universally observe all Dharmas. “All Dharmas refers to form dharmas, mind dharmas, dharmas pertaining to the mind, non-interactive dharmas, and unconditioned dharmas—all of which should be universally observed. That’s generally speaking. If you were to go into detail it refers to all the 84,000 Dharmadoors. You should universally obtain samadhi and recognize all dharmas.

To recognize all dharmas you must cultivate the Middle Way and renounce the two extremes. The two extremes are emptiness and existence. Don’t fall into emptiness or existence. This is the middle Way. If you lean towards emptiness then you are one-sided. And if you lean towards existence then you are too far to the other side. You don’t want to become attached to the two prejudices of emptiness and existence. Renounce them both.

The Way accomplished, one never retreats. If you’re able to see through to the real mark of all dharmas, then you can cultivate the final meaning of the Middle Way and be certified to the substance and principle of the Middle Way. To accomplish the Way you must never reetreat, and then you’ll never fall. You will certify to the three kinds of non-retreat.

  • non-retreat from position
  • non-retreat from practice
  • non-retreat from mindfulness

Non-retreat from position: If you are cultivating the Bodhisattva Way, then you shouldn’t retreat to the Way of the Two Vehicles. Non-retreat from practice: You’re always vigorous and never rest. You never run back. You always run forward. So, when you cultivate the non-retreat in practice you are courageously vigorous. At all times you are vigorous. You never rest in your cultivation of vigor. Non-retreat in mindfulness: You are mindful of bringing forth the Bodhi mind. You don’t retreat to the Two Vehicles, and become a self-ending Arhat. You want to universally benefit living beings, and turn this unequalled wheel. The Buddha constantly turns the incomparable great Dharma Wheel. It’s an extremely high, unsurpassed Dharma Wheel which can cause people to become Buddhas.

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