THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Preface:

Therefore he obtains:
Ten bodies in succession, yet mutually operative,
Six positions not disordered, yet reciprocally contained.

And so:


The vast and great can enter where there is no place,
Dust-motes and hairs envelope with nothing left outside;
Clearly arrayed, like mustard seeds within a jar;
Completely simultaneous, like drops of water in the sea:
One and many unobstructed, like a thousand lamps in empty space;
Hidden and revealed together realized,
like the crescent moon in an autumn sky;
Layer on layer lights interlace,
like the Lord’s net of trailing pearls;
Thought after thought makes perfect fusion,
like an evening dream’s passing time.
Dharma doors pile up in layers,
like clouds billowing in space;
Myriad practices unfurl profusely,
like flowers blooming on brocade.

Commentary:

Therefore he obtains: As a consequence of the previous Specifics interfuse with principle, so a thousand distinctions combine without obstruction, therefore he obtains ten bodies in succession, yet mutually operative.

There are two lists of ten bodies. The first list is:

1.   The Bodhi Body.
2.   The Body of Vows.
3.   The Transformation Body.
4.   The Dwelling and Maintaining Body.
5.   The Body Adorned with Fine Marks.
6.   The Power Body.
7.   The As-you-will Body.
8.   The Body of Blessings and Virtue.
9.   The Wisdom Body.
10. The Dharma Body.

The second list is:

1.   The Living Beings Body.
2.   The Country Body.
3.   The Karmic Retribution Body.
4.   The Sound Hearer Body.
5.   The Body of One Enlightened by Conditions.
6.   The Bodhisattva Body.
7.   The Thus Come One Body.
8.   The Wisdom Body.
9.   The Dharma Body.
10. The Empty Space Body.

Those ten kinds of bodies are simultaneously completed and mutually operative, and so this is called the Door of Simultaneous Reflection Yet Mutual Interaction.

What is the Living Beings Body? “Living beings,” as was just discussed, means “multitude-born” born from a multitude of conditions coming together. Each category of living being has its own body. The Living Beings Body means that the Bodhisattvas:

Contemplate potentials and entice with teachings;
According to the person speak the Dharma.

They take a look at the opportune conditions and use the appropriate kind of teaching to teach and transform living beings. They contemplate potentials and entice with teachings, and according to the person speak the Dharma. They speak the kind of Dharma that is suited to a particular person and, as a result, they make appear bodies of living beings in order to speak the Dharma for living beings.

As for the Country Body, the countries that we live in have all been transformationally made to appear by Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas make a Country Body appear by transformation in order to benefit living beings and teach and transform them. They cause all of the living beings upon that Country Body to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi.

Then there is the Karmic Retribution Body. Living beings all have the karmic retribution of living beings. Bodhisattvas also make karmic retribution bodies appear in order to teach and transform living beings. They also make appear bodies of Sound Hearers the appearance of Sound Hearers is that of Bhikshus as well as those of Ones Enlightened by Conditions (also called the Solitarily Enlightened) to teach and transform living beings.

Anyone of us now who brings forth the mind of a Sound Hearer is a Sound Hearer, and whoever brings forth the mind of One Enlightened by Conditions is One Enlightened by Conditions. If you bring forth the mind of a Bodhisattva, you are a Bodhisattva. Your Bodhisattva may be a transformation body made to appear by transformation by a Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas also make appear bodies of Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattva bodies are always benefiting living beings. They forget all about themselves and benefit living beings. They also make appear the bodies of Thus Come Ones, that is, of Buddhas, as well as Wisdom bodies, the bodies of persons with wisdom. They also make appear the Dharma Body and the Empty Space Body. However, the ten bodies can simultaneously be made to appear by transformation without the basic substance ever changing.

That is why the ten bodies are described as being in succession, which means that they are very clearly discernible yet mutually operative. There appear bodies of living beings, the characteristics of country bodies, karmic retribution bodies, Sound Hearer bodies and bodies of those Enlightened by Conditions all of which mutually appear and do the Buddha’s work without obstructing one another. We people who have just one single body are not that way. If we go to New York, we are no longer in San Francisco, and if we go to Honolulu we are no longer in New York. They are not like that, however. They can make those ten kinds of bodies appear all at the same time, without any mutual interference. In this Door of Simultaneous Reflection Yet Mutual Interaction, those ten kinds of bodies can be made to appear simultaneously.     

Six Positions not disordered, yet reciprocally contained.

The Six Positions are:

1.   The Ten Dwellings
2.   The Ten Conducts
3.   The Ten Transferences
4.   The Ten Grounds
5.   Equal Enlightenment
6.   Wonderful Enlightenment

Those Six Positions are not disordered. They are all very neatly arrayed, not the least bit out of order, yet reciprocally contained. That is, at one and the same time, the Ten Bodies are completed and the Six Positions, the six stages, are perfected without the possibility of their becoming mixed up.

And so the vast and great can enter where there is no place. The vast and great means what is largest, while where there is no place means what is smallest. Nonetheless, the vast and great can go in where there is no place - into such an infinitesimal area. However, what is large still does not become small. The wonderful is right at this point. What is more, when the vast and great state enters into the smallest area, that smallest areas also does not become any larger. This is called the Door of Free-and-Easy Non-Obstruction of Vast and Narrow. The vast does not obstruct the narrow, and the narrow does not obstruct the vast. Within the area which has no space may be seen a vast and great state. The vast and great state is also inside the area with no space. And so this is known as Door of Free-and-Easy Non-Obstruction of Vast and Narrow.

The next line says, Dust-motes and hairs envelope with nothing left outside. Dust-motes means fine particles of dust, and hairs refers to individual strands of hair. They are able to take in the vast and great, to describes the principle of the small enveloping the great with nothing left outside, nothing they fail to take in.

As it says in the Shurangama Sutra:

On the tip of a hair appear kshetras of the Jeweled Kings. On the tip of a single strand of a fine hair, all Buddha-lands are manifest, along with all the living beings in those lands yet that is all made to appear on the tip of a strand of hair.

Seated in a particle of dust, they turn the vast, great Dharma Wheel. Seated within a single fine mote of dust, they lecture Sutras and speak the Dharma, and there are limitlessly many living beings listening to the Dharma within that single fine mote of dust. Consequently, this kind of state is The Door of Free and Easy Non-Obstruction of Vast and Narrow. The vast does not obstruct the minute, and the minute does not obstruct the vast. Within the small there manifests the large, and within the large there manifests the small. This kind of state is not a state that ordinary beings can conceptualize.

Clearly arrayed. Clearly arrayed means set out in a very evident fashion, like mustard seeds within a jar just like mustard seeds stored in a glass container, which can be seen very distinctly. They are clearly arrayed like mustard seeds in a glass jar. The individual mustard seeds are very small, but when stored in a glass container, they can be seen very clearly.

Completely simultaneous, like drops of water in the sea. The many do not obstruct the one, and the one does not obstruct the many, just like mustard seeds stored in a glass container. “Completely simultaneous, like drops of water in the sea.” The one participates in the many, and the many participate in the one as well just like the individual drops of water in the sea, each of which has the flavor of the sea in its entirety. The Flower Adornment Sutra is also that way.

One and many unobstructed, like a thousand lamps in empty space. There is no inter-obstruction among the lights that come from lamps. When, within empty space, there are a thousand lamps, each gives off its own light, without the light of one interfering with that of another. One light would never say to another, “Your light is too great. It interferes with my light,” nor would the other light say, “My light is too small. It gets swallowed up by your light.” They do not interfere with one another. That is what is known as the harmony of lights. A thousand lamps in empty space do not obstruct each other. Your light does not interfere with mine, nor does my light interfere with yours. There is harmony of light, and one and many are unobstructed. If there is one, there is light; if there are a thousand, there is also light. One and many are unobstructed and do not obstruct one another. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are just like that: limitless and boundless, yet all very clear.

Hidden and revealed together realized, like the crescent moon in an autumn sky. It is also as in autumn, the Fall Season, the moon in the sky has both a period when it is hidden and a period when it is revealed. Sometimes the moon is waxing, and sometimes it is waning, and yet both aspects are “together realized.” In the combination of hidden and revealed, what is hidden reinforces what is revealed, and what is revealed reinforces what is hidden. Once the moon has waxed to the full, then it wanes. After waning, it then waxes once again. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra also follow that pattern, and so they are like the crescent moon in an autumn sky, like the Fall Season’s moon in empty space.

Layer on layer lights interlace, like the Lord’s net of trailing pearls. Layer on layer means one layer after another, in multi-tiered and inexhaustible profusion, lights interlace. To interlace means to intertwine. Your light shines upon me, and my light shines upon you, as “layer on layer lights interlace.” Lights shine upon one another as in the lattice-work banner before Shakra, Lord Indra’s Heaven; and it is the same as the net in the Great Brahma Heaven. The lattice-work banner is cylindrical in shape, and has holes along its sides, just like a fish net which has one hole after another so that the fish are  trapped inside, but the water can pour out. However, within each hole there is inlaid a precious pearl. Each pearl can emit light. Upon this lattice-work banner there are inexhaustibly multi-layered amounts of holes, which are inlaid with inexhaustibly multi-layered amounts of previous pearls. The lights mutually interlace, which is the reference of “like the Lord’s net of trailing pearls.” The pearls of that banner of netting shine upon one another.

Thought after thought makes perfect fusion, like an evening dream’s passing time. This Sutra is one of interpenetration without obstruction. “Thought after thought makes perfect fusion, like an evening dream’s passing time.” It is like a dream one has at night during which one feels that a very, very long time has gone by. One dreams of being an Emperor, of holding public office, of striking it rich all kinds of dreams. Periods of time as long as whole lifetimes go by in the time of a single evening’s dream. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra also have that kind of inconceivability about them, and so it further states.

Dharma doors pile up in layers. The Dharma doors of the Flower Adornment Sutra are inexhaustibly multi-layered, both inexhaustible and multi-leveled, and so they are said to pile up in layers, like clouds billowing in space. What they resemble is banks of clouds in empty space. No sooner has one cloud gone by than another comes along. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are also that way.

Myriad practices unfurl profusely. Myriad practices means the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Conducts, which unfurl profusely, like flowers blooming on brocade. This resembles embroidering more flowers on top of flowers, adding flowers to brocade. To start with there were plenty of flowers on the piece of embroidery, yet one adds even more flowers. These flowers, however, are also inexhaustibly multi-layered, and so are compared to flowers blooming on brocade. In China there is a saying:

To add flowers to brocade, there are a thousand;
To give coal within the snow, not half of person.

To add flowers to brocade is as when someone is president, this person sends this gift and that person sends that gift, and if the president’s wife wants a diamond necklace to wear, immediately countless hundreds of people send her one. One person sends one, and then someone else sends one. She only wanted one, but in the long run she receives several hundred. Nonetheless, she can’t say to people, “I have one already, I don’t want yours.” That’s the meaning of To add flowers to brocade, there are a thousand. To give coal within the snow, not half a person. This refers to a person who is very, very cold out in the snow. The person is so poor, he doesn’t even have a house to live in, and so he lives under the snowy ground; but no one comes along to give that person a lump of charcoal to warm himself. Originally, To add flowers to brocade described the tendency of people in our present age to:

Flock to flames and fawn on power.

That they flock to flames means that they go where it’s hot, that they run to warm places. Fawn on power means that they go and submit themselves to authority. Here, however, the principles within the Flower Adornment Sutra are being compared to flowers added to brocade.

Preface:

Too high is it for gazing,
So Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice are dried-up gills and scales before the dragon’s gate;
Too deep to be surveyed, so Sound Hearers of superior virtue stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly.

Commentary:

Today’s translator came to me ahead of time saying she didn’t understand the “dried-up gills and scales before the dragon’s gate.” She wanted to get it all clear in advance. Now I see it was because she was due to translate tonight, which is understandable. But basically, before the Sutra is lectured, whether you understand the principles or not, you cannot ask questions. That’s because if before the Sutra is explained you come with questions and someone else comes with questions, there may be several hundred people all of whom don’t understand. That makes several hundred people all coming to ask questions, and in a given day there would not be enough time just for answering those questions. Therefore the rule when Sutras are lectured is, before the Sutra is explained, if you understand then you understand; and if you don’t understand you wait until it’s explained to understand, you can’t ask in advance. That’s because there are so many people, there’s no way to answer all their questions. What she asked about today was the “dried-up gills and scales before the dragon’s gate.” She didn’t know what it was talking about. Now I’ll tell you.

“Gills” are located on the side of a fish’s head, while “scales” are the fish’s scales. There is a story connected with this, a kind of legend handed down, and it concerns carp.

The Chinese character for “carp” is used in the name of Confucius’s son, K’ung Li, “Confucius Carp.” How did he get the name Confucius Carp? It is because at the time when he was born, the Emperor made him a gift of two carp, and so Confucius said, “Ah, there, he must be named ‘Confucius Carp!’ “ However, I don’t think it was very appropriate to name him ‘Confucius Carp’. Even if it is the Emperor who presents you with carp, still they are dead, and he intends for you to eat them. So how can you beget a live son and call it by the name of dead fish? So Confucius begat a son and couldn’t even come up with a name for him, and so he opted for ‘Confucius Carp.’ He commemorated the fact that he had carp to eat that day, and so that’s how his son became a ‘Carp.’ Now, it is characteristic of carp that they can leap. They leap and jump like frogs. In this line, “the Dragon’s Gate” refers to the gate to the Dragon Palace.



How high is the Dragon’s Gate? I’ve never paid a visit to the Dragon’s Palace, and so I don’t know how high it is, but at the very least it must be twenty feet high. It’s that high, but if any carp, whether large or small, can swim up and jump over the gate, jump from outside to within the gate, then that carp can become a dragon. Based on that there is a saying:

The carp has leaped the Dragon’s Gate.

When the carp has leaped the Dragon’s Gate, once it gets over it, it can become a dragon. But if the carp leaps and does not make it, then it will tear its gills or have its scales scraped off. Torn gills and scraped-off scales are not so bad, but it also may be dashed to death. Therefore, the line between life and death is right at this point. This is just as when someone is about to become enlightened. If you have no more attachments and have gone through all the demonic obstacles, then you become enlightened. However, if right when you’re about to become enlightened you become attached, then you will be possessed by a demon, and may even lose your life. Consequently, becoming enlightened is not so easy. It is like a carp’s leaping the Dragon’s Gate. If it manages to leap it, then it can become a dragon. If it doesn’t make it over, it turns into mud that is, it dies and afterwards turns into mud. That explains the phrase dried-up gills and scales. Dried-up means dried out by the sun, the fish-gills and fish scales dry up by the sun and turn to dust. So “Dried-up gills and scales before the Dragon Gate” refers to the carp who have not managed to leap over the Dragon Gate, and end up being dried out by the sun outside the gate.

Therefore, it says, too high is it for gazing. If it were of ordinary height one could see it; but if it is too fantastically high, you cannot get a glimpse of its summit. In the Analects, someone asks Confucius’ disciple Yen Hui what kind of state his teacher, Confucius, has. Yen Hui replies:

The more you gaze at him, the higher he is.

That means the more you look at him, the higher he appears to be. Nothing is higher. He is just too high.

The more you born into him, the more solid he becomes.

If you use a drill to bore into him, he becomes even more solid. There is no way to drill through him.

Regarding him from the front, suddenly he is behind.

He was right in front of you, but before you know it, there he is behind you.

That is all inconceivable. Now here, instead of saying as there, “The more you gaze at him, the higher he is, it uses, Too high is it for gazing.” So this amounts to saying that it is even higher, too high for gazing at altogether.

So Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice. As a Bodhisattva of accumulated practice, you may have been cultivating from limitless kalpas to the present, life after life, for one does not know how long. However, if you do not believe in the Flower Adornment Sutra, and fail to cultivate according to the principles in the Flower Adornment Sutra, then you cannot arrive at the Buddha’s family. If you do believe, then that counts as having leapt over the Dragon’s Gate. If you do not believe in the Flower Adornment Sutra, then that is like not having leapt over the Dragon’s Gate. You haven’t leapt it because it is too high for you to leap over. The Flower Adornment Sutra represents the Dragon’s Gate, and Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice are like the carp that have not made it over the Dragon’s Gate, and so cannot become dragons. They are dried-up gills and scales before the Dragon’s Gate. Do you understand?

Too deep to be surveyed. Deep means like the water of the ocean, the bottom of which cannot be seen. No matter how much you scan and survey it, you will not be able to see how far it is to the bottom of the sea. So Sound Hearers of superior virtue, ones who have great virtue, like Shariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Subhuti, Aniruddha, and the Venerable Kashyapa all of those Sound Hearers of superior virtue Stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly. What do they stop? They stop up their ears and cover up their eyes.

They had eyes but did not see Nishyanda Buddha,
Had ears but did not hear the perfect, sudden Teaching.

That’s what it means when it says that they stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly. Seeing is receiving with the eye, and hearing is listening with the ears, but they plug up their ears and cover their eyes.
Although they are right beside the Buddha in the Seven Places and the Nine Assemblies, still they do not hear or understand these principles.
We have been lecturing the Flower Adornment Sutra for more than a week now, and today it has accurred to me to ask all of you if you remember National Master Ch’ing Liang’s vows or not. Without looking at your paper, who can recite them from memory for me?

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