THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

EXPLANATION OF THE MEANING OF THE TEXT

Sutra:

When Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

Verse:

Reversing the light to shine within,
Avalokiteshvara enlightens all the sentient beings; thus he is a Bodhisattva.
His mind is thus, thus, unmoving, a superior one at peace;
With total understanding of the ever-shining, he is host and master.
Six types of psychic powers are an ordinary matter,
And even less can the winds and rains of the eight directions cause alarm.
He rolls it up and secretly hides it away;
And lets it go to fill the entire world.

Commentary:

The name Avalokiteshvara is Sanskrit; in Chinese it is rendered guan zi zai , “Contemplating Ease”. To be at ease is to be happy about everything and to be without worries or obstacles. To be unimpeded is to contemplate ease. If you are impeded, then you are not contemplating ease. Reversing the light to shine within is contemplating ease. If you don’t reverse the light to shine within, you’re not contemplating ease.

What is meant by “reversing the light to shine within”? Regardless of what the situation is, examine yourself. If someone has wronged you, you should think to yourself, “Basically, I was wrong.”

If you say, “When people don’t act properly toward me, I don’t look to see whether I’m right myself; I just smash them right away, smash their heads in so that blood flows” – then you haven’t won a victory, but have only shown your complete lack of principles and wisdom. To reverse the light to shine within is to have principles and wisdom. Reverse the light and contemplate whether or not you are at ease.

I will explain the two characters zi zai , which together mean “ease”. The zi is oneself, and the zai is where one is. I’ll say it word for word. Are you right here (zai), or aren’t you? In other words, do you have false thoughts, or not? If one has false thoughts, then one (zi) is not right here. It’s very simple. To reverse the light to shine within is simply to see whether you have false thoughts. If you have false thoughts, then you aren’t at ease. If you don’t have false thoughts, then you are at ease. That’s how wonderful it is.

Avalokiteshvara enlightens all the sentient beings; thus he is a Bodhisattva. What is a Bodhisattva? A Bodhisattva is somebody who wants to enlighten sentient beings. The Chinese word for “enlighten” is jiao , to make people understand. It isn’t the jiao , which means to stir up trouble. Add the element “hand” to the character jiao , meaning to enlighten, and it becomes another jiao : it turns into a lot of trouble. The stirring-uptrouble jiao is not to enlighten sentient beings, but to make them stupid and to try to turn what is good in their lives into what is evil. But here in the verse, jiao means to bring understanding to all sentient beings.

What is meant by “sentient?” Be careful not to misunderstand the text here by hastily assuming that the word “sentient” (you qing ) means emotional love (qing ai ) as the Chinese characters can be interpreted in another context. No, to enlighten sentient beings is to empty yourself of love. You must see love as empty. That is to be a Bodhisattva.
Therefore, the verse says, His mind is thus, thus unmoving, a superior one at peace. “Thus, thus, unmoving” means there is no dharma that is not thus. All dharmas are thusness-Dharma and all afflictions and troubles have disappeared. To be unmoved is to have the power of samadhi. Doesn’t the Lotus Sutra say, “His mind is at peace?” To be “at peace” this way is to be very happy and to possess great tranquility.

With total understanding of the ever-shining, he is host and master. You should have the total understanding of the evershining prajna wisdom. If you don’t understand, then you do not shine; if you are not shining, then you don’t understand. Therefore, you should understand and then understand even more, shine and shine even more. You should shine brightly in your total comprehension and totally comprehend in your shining brightness – that is understanding. You should be very clear.

What is being very clear? Being very clear is not being muddled and stupid. If you understand that to do a certain thing is wrong and you still go ahead and do it, that is piling stupidity on top of stupidity. You are doubly stupid. That is because you are not equal to being host. Being “host and master” is being able to be in control.

“I am master and I am host,” someone says. “I tell everyone else to do anything I think they should be doing. I am not controlled by other people, but I myself control others. I won’t do anything, so I just tell people to help me do my work, but I won’t help them do theirs.” No, being host and master is not like that. To be host and master is to be free of confusion and never to do anything confused. To be in control at all times is to have genuine wisdom. You are without prejudice, and you don’t act on the basis of deviant knowledge and views. You don’t take drugs or do anything improper or disruptive. If you act improperly, then you get a chance to take a look at stupidity.

Six types of psychic powers are an ordinary matter. If you can be in control, you will naturally have the six psychic powers. They are:
1) the psychic power of the heavenly eye; 2) the psychic power of the heavenly ear; 3) psychic power with regard to past lives; 4) psychic power with regard to the minds of others; 5) the spiritually based psychic powers; and 6) the psychic power of the extinction of outflows.

If you do not have the six types of psychic power, it is because you are not in control, because you are influenced by all the external circumstances you find yourself in. You are influenced by people and have no influence yourself to affect the situations that confront you. When you are able to turn situations around, then no matter what comes you will be unmoved. Don’t be bold and say that you already know how, because to be unmoved means that even in a dream you are not affected by states of consciousness. That is to be host and master. If you are not affected by internal or external states, and if you have real wisdom and the six psychic powers, then you have a very ordinary talent working for you – nothing spectacular, just something very ordinary.

And even less can the winds and rains of the eight directions cause alarm. “The winds and rains of the eight directions” refers to the last two lines of a famous poem by Su Dong Po (1037-1101):

I bow to the god among gods;
His hair-light illuminates the world.
Unmoved when the eight winds blow,
Upright I sit in a purple-gold lotus.

Su Dong Po sent the poem to the Great Master Fo-yin (1011- 1086), and the master’s reply was two words: “Fart, fart.” As soon as Su Dong Po saw Great Master Fo-yin’s criticism, he couldn’t get it out of his mind, and he rushed across the Yangtze – he lived on the south side of the river and Great Master Fo-yin lived on the north side – to find the master and scold him. He wanted to tell the master that he had written an enlightened poem, so how could the master possibly have replied, “Fart, fart?”

In fact, when Great Master Fo-yin criticized him, not only did Su Dong Po fart, he blazed forth and wanted to scorch Fo-yin to death. So he rushed across the river and burst into the master’s quarters without ceremony and shouted, “How could you possibly scold someone and slander him that way by writing ‘fart, fart’?”

Fo-yin replied, “Who was I slandering? You said that you were unmoved by the winds of the eight directions, but just by letting two small farts I’ve blown you all the way across the Yangtze. And you still say that the winds of the eight directions don’t move you? You don’t have to talk about eight winds; just my two farts bounced you all the way up here.”

Then Su Dong Po thought, “That’s right, I said that I’m unmoved by the eight winds, but two words have been enough to make me burn with anger.” Realizing that he still didn’t have what it takes, he bowed to the master and sought repentance. What are the winds of the eight directions?

1) Praise. For example: “Upasaka (Sanskrit term for a Buddhist layman), you are really a good person, you really understand the Buddhadharma, and your wisdom really shines. Furthermore, your genius is unlimited and your eloquence unobstructed.”

2) Ridicule. For instance: “It’s the scientific age now, and you are studying Buddhism. Why do you study that old superstitious rubbish?” Really ridiculous ridicule, and yet you think, “They’re right. How can I study Buddhism now in the scientific age? Cause and effect, no me and no you – how can such metaphysical theories be worth anything in the age of science? I am I, and people are people.” You become confused and are moved by the blowing of the wind.

3) Suffering. The wind of suffering makes you suffer. To be unmoved while ceaselessly performing ascetic practices is an example of being unmoved by the wind of suffering.

4) Happiness. To eat well, to wear good clothes, to have a good place to live, and to be especially happy all day long, thinking, “This certainly is good,” is to be moved by this wind.

5) Benefit. You think, “All I do is go to a lot of trouble cultivating. I don’t even have any false thoughts. Consequently, people come to me and make an offering of a million dollars to build a temple, and they are very, very happy.” That is to be moved by the wind of benefit.

6) Destruction. Perhaps the wind of benefit blew yesterday, but tomorrow people may come and ruin everything. They’ll tell people, “That monk is no good. Don’t believe in him; he will do anything. Believe in me instead.”

7) Gain.

8) Loss.

Those are the eight winds. The verse says, “And even less can the winds and rains of the eight directions cause alarm.” It means that the eight winds blow, but I don’t move.

He rolls it up and secretly hides it away. When you close this sutra, you should store it in a good place, not a place that indicates your lack of respect. You should respect it.

And lets it go to fill the entire world. When you open it, the wisdom of prajna fills the sixfold union – that is, north, south, east, west, above, and below, which together represent the world. This prajna dharma-door is very wonderful.

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