THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

The Meaning of Bodhisattva
(continuation)

Sutra:

Because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind.

Verse:

Having no impediments is the true letting go;
When fear is no more, the activity-obstacles depart.
Distortion left far behind, the characteristic of production perishes;
The coarse, fine, and dust-and-sand delusions of your dream-thoughts become Thus.
The three obstacles are dissolved, the three virtues perfected.
The six faculties are used interchangeably, certifying the attainment of the six psychic powers.
When you are capable of this wonderful truth, you yourself enjoy its use;
Those who know easily enlighten the dark and difficult path.

Commentary:

If you have no impediments, you will be unafraid. Fearless, you leave distorted dream-thinking far behind. Everything that is distorted and all dream-thinking no longer exist. Your lack of fear indicates that you have eradicated your affliction-obstacles.

Having no impediments is not at all easy. For instance, “I don’t think about anything at all, except my mother and father.” Not bad. That is the way of filial piety; nonetheless, it is also a kind of impediment. Perhaps you say, “I have a friend whom I haven’t seen in a long time. Although I think about him constantly, day in and day out, I don’t get to see him.” That is also an impediment. In short, whatever you don’t let go of is an impediment. If you can let go of it, then it isn’t one. Therefore the verse says, Having no impediments is the true letting go. One isn’t attached to anything at all.

I remember that when I was on Ling-yan Mountain in Soochow Province in China, I met a monk who had really let go of everything. He did nothing but cultivate dhyana meditation. He was called Da Xiu. What does it mean to let go of everything? I’ll tell you. Da Xiu wrote a verse which said,

There is no great or small,
No inside or out.
I cultivate, come to my end,
And make the arrangements all by myself.

What arrangements did he have to make? In a stone wall he made a hole which was just big enough for one person to sit down in. Then with a slab of rock he made a stone door, which had iron hinges so that it could be opened and closed. Then, all by himself, he sat down inside, closed the door, and came to his end. “I cultivate, come to my end, and make the arrangements all by myself.” He sat down inside, closed the door, and perfected the stillness – he entered nirvana. His was the true letting go. He hadn’t accepted any disciples, so there weren’t a lot of troublesome matters either. That is what is called being unimpeded. To have disciples is also to have impediments; having disciples is a lot of trouble. I don’t know how much trouble there will be in the future, but I don’t pay any attention, because trouble is also not trouble and impediments are also not impediments.

Some people may already have been familiar with the story of Da Xiu, but that does not stop me from talking about him. In explaining sutras, you should not be afraid of talking at length. When you first give sutra lectures, you should speak about what you understand, no matter whether others understand or not. If you don’t understand, you should say that you don’t understand. When you first practice lecturing on sutras, you should “put your foot down on the actual ground.” When you say one sentence, it should be like a hundred pounds of rocks coming down and making a hole in the ground. Anyone who doesn’t want to listen has to anyway. “I am going to put this one sentence in your mind, and your mind will have to accept it.” So, whether or not people have already heard something, you can always talk about it one more time.

You shouldn’t “steal time from work and scrimp on materials” either. For instance, if a house you are building clearly calls for eight-inch beams, and you say, “Oh, it will be all right if I use fourinch beams, since they are a little cheaper,” you are scrimping on materials. And perhaps you are supposed to work for eight hours and you only work for six. “I will just create some confusion about those two hours and say that I worked eight.” That is to steal time from work. Don’t be that way when you lecture on sutras. You must actually do your talking, and not pay attention to whether people understand. You should lecture that way when you are just beginning to lecture, and also in the future. Do you understand? Further, you shouldn’t just explain the principles that I tell you to lecture about. Americans talk about the growth of freedom, and so you can let your own freedom develop and express yourself according to your own wisdom. Then there can be new and creative developments.

That is to be like Dharma Master Dao-sheng. Most other people, when they lectured on the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, said that icchantikas have no Buddha-nature and cannot become Buddhas. But Dharma Master Dao-sheng declared, “Icchantikas[1] have the Buddha-nature too, and they can become Buddhas, right?” Everyone was opposed, but the rocks nodded their heads in agreement. Thus is the meaning of the saying, “Noble Dao-sheng spoke Dharma, and the insensate rocks nodded their heads.”[2] Why did they nod their heads? Because he had brought out something new.

You shouldn’t just follow my road. If I weren’t a genuinely democratic teacher, I wouldn’t allow you to develop your own freedom. You certainly would have to follow after me. “If you don’t follow me,” I’d say, “then your road is confused, you are truly evil, and in the future you will fall into the hells.” But I am not like that. I am for the development of freedom. Because I have now come to America, there is the development of freedom. Everyone has his own wisdom, and I can’t cover your wisdom up, as if I were putting it in a teacup and not letting it out. Unless you have no wisdom and are incredibly stupid so that you have nothing new to develop, you should be attentive to allowing new developments to come forth. Any disciple may contribute to this, no matter who it is. When fear is no more, the activity-obstacles depart. Why is there fear? Because there are activity-obstacles – karmic obstacles. When you are no longer afraid, there are no longer any karmic obstacles.

Distortion left far behind, the characteristic of production perishes. We living beings are distorted (dian dao , literally, “upside down”). If we are able to separate ourselves from the distortion, then the ignorance characterized by production perishes.

The coarse, fine, and dust-and-sand delusions of your dream-thoughts become Thus. If you are without distortion, then you don’t have any dream-thoughts. If you are without dream-thoughts, then you don’t have any coarse delusions, any fine delusions, or any dust-and-sand delusions. Everything has merged with the wonderful truth of true thusness.

The three obstacles are dissolved, the three virtues perfected. At that time your three obstacles, the karmic obstacle, the retribution-obstacle, and the affliction-obstacle, have dissolved. The three virtues which are perfected are the virtue of liberation, the virtue of prajna, and the virtue of the Dharma-body. All three virtues have been fully perfected, perfectly fused.

The six faculties are used interchangeably, certifying the attainment of the six psychic powers. If you are able to use the six faculties interchangeably, then in a wonderful manner each of the faculties has the function of all six. That is to say, you have been able to obtain the six psychic powers. The six faculties are the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. In a wonderful manner, each faculty functions in six ways. This is a certification that you have obtained the six psychic powers. At that time, you are able to make use of the power of the heavenly eye, the power of the heavenly ear, the power with regard to past lives, the power with regard to the minds of others, the spiritually based psychic powers, and the power of the extinction of outflows. You have been certified as having obtained them all.

When you are capable of this wonderful truth, you yourself enjoy its use. When you understand this kind of subtle and wonderful truth, you personally experience its benefit. Those who know easily enlighten the dark and difficult path. When you understand, it is easy to awaken to this truth (dao li , literally, “Way-principle”). If you don’t understand then you will be mistaken and take the wrong turn; you will choose the wrong road.

[1] An icchantika is one who has cut off all good roots, and it was considered impossible for such a person to realize Buddhahood.

[2] The incomplete Fa-xian translation of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra (T. 396) states that icchantikas could not become Buddhas. Later Dao-sheng (ca. 360- 434 A.D.) was vindicated by the arrival of the more complete Dharmakshema translation (T. 374), which contained a passage supporting his contention.

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