THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Preface:

The Lion Sprints:
The Ocean-Wide Assembly suddenly certifies in the Grove.
The Elephant King turns ‘round:
Six thousand realize the Way as the words fall.

Commentary:

The Lion Sprints. This is an analogy, that of the Lion’s Sprint Samadhi. This kind of samadhi is one of extremely courageous vigor, resembling a lion’s majesty and prowess. The lion’s sprint is fast, and it is also strong. The Ocean-Wide Assembly. The ocean-like assembly is the sea-wide multitudes, that is, a lot of people. Suddenly Certifies. It very quickly attains to certification in the Grove. The Grove is the Jeta Grove, and also means that all the Great Bodhisattvas assembled together in one place are like a forest. On that occasion, all of a sudden, they all certify to the Fruit, and attain Irreversibility of Position, Irreversibility of Thought, and Irreversibility of Conduct, those Fruit of Irreversibility.

The Elephant King turns ‘round: Six thousand realize the Way as the words fall.

This refers to the time when Shariputra was leading six thousand Bhikshus, all of whom wished to see Manjushri Bodhisattva. Thereupon Manjushri Bodhisattva manifested a body for those six thousand people to see, and spoke Dharma for them, causing all of them to cultivate the Dharmas of Great Compassion, bring forth and increase the greatly compassionate thought of Enlightenment, obtain the substance of Great Compassion, and cultivate the doors of practice of  Great Compassion. Therefore, at that time, the six thousand Bhikshus all certified to the Fruit of Arhatship, and obtained the purity of the Dharma Eye. In the elephant king turns ‘round, the image is that of a whole troop of elephants, lead by an elephant king at the head of the procession. The elephant king turns its head around and takes a look at the rest of the elephants, its retinue. Shariputra resembles a king of elephants as he leads the other Bhikshus, the six thousand who are to attain to the purity of the Dharma Eye and certify to the Fruit. The states represented by the Flower Adornment Sutra are inconceivable. The next passage of text says:

Preface:

Dawn of understanding at the Chaitya in the east:
Fulfillment of wisdom does not differ from first thought.
Sojourning in positions while seeking in the South:
Perfected causes do not exceed a hair-pore.

Commentary:

Dawn of understanding at the Chaitya in the east. This will be discussed in the Sutra text proper. It refers to the Youth Sudhana, “Good Wealth,” going to a large temple, certifying to the Fruit, and opening wisdom. That Fulfillment of wisdom does not differ from first thought. Upon first bringing forth the thought, he certifies to Proper, Equal Right Enlightenment, very swiftly, so it is the same as the first thought, at the time of first bringing forth the thought which means it is very swift. The fulfillment of wisdom does not differ from first thought. Fulfillment of wisdom means that the fruit of enlightened wisdom is perfected and full; does not differ from first thought means that upon first bringing forth the thought, there is certification to Proper, Equal Right Enlightenment, very fast unlike the Buddha who passed through three great asamkhyeyas of kalpas before achieving Buddhahood. In other words, this entire passage speaks of attaining to the fruit position very quickly.

Sojourning in positions while seeking in the South. The Youth Sudhana bowed to fifty-three teachers. The average Chinese person who does not understand the Buddhadharma still wants to take him for a model and says, “The Youth Sudhana made fifty-three visits and bowed to fifty-three teachers.” As a result, within Chinese Buddhism a kind of custom has grown up of visiting teachers. Bowing to a single teacher is not enough: one bows to two. Two is also not enough, so one bows to three ... up to and including one hundred or two hundred. The claim is, the more teachers one bows to the better! Actually, this is a great mistake within Buddhism. The Youth Sudhana, to be sure, made fifty-three visits; but he was carrying out the instructions of his teacher when he bowed to other teachers. He was doing what his own teachers told him to do when they said, “Now I have taught you all my wisdom, spiritual penetrations, and Way-virtue. I have nothing more to teach you. Do you still want to keep on studying Buddhism? Then go to such and such a place, at such and such a distance in the South, and in that spot there is a good, wise advisor who cultivates the Way. His/her name is such and such. Go and bow to him/her as your Master.” Thereupon the Youth Sudhana inasmuch as he for Dharma’s sake forgot about himself, that is, since in his quest for the Buddhadharma he completely forgot about his own sufferings set out for the South in search of the Buddhadharma. He traveled great distances, and afterwards encountered good, wise advisors. He underwent all sorts of hardships and difficulties studying and practicing the Buddhadharma. Because he was very intelligent, he would study and come to understand all the Buddhadharma that a particular good and wise advisor himself had understood; whereupon that good and wise would introduce him to yet another good and wise advisor, and he would draw near that advisor and study the Buddhadharma. One would introduce him to another, and in that way he was introduced to fifty-three good and wise advisors.

Those good and wise advisors were definitely not like the present “good and wise advisors” who only know how to climb on conditions: “If you come take refuge with me, first you have to make offerings to me, present me with a red envelope. You have to make offerings to the Triple Jewel and be respectful to your teacher.” Furthermore, if you want to go on to receive the precepts, you have to make more offerings to the Triple Jewel. If you want to go one further and leave home, you have  to make still more offerings to the Triple Jewel. At the time of leaving home and receiving the precepts, there are Three Masters and Seven Certifiers, and the preceptee must make offerings to all of them. All of the Youth Sudhana’s good and wise advisors at that time were not greedy for offerings. They did not climb on conditions. They were all good and wise advisors with spiritual penetrations. They had Way-virtue and spiritual accomplishments, and cultivated the Bodhisattva Way. They were not concerned about whether you made offerings or not. If you were seeking the Dharma with sincerity, they would teach you. That is how it happened that there were fifty-three good and wise advisors who taught the Youth Sudhana under the very last of whom he certified to the Fruit.

Presently the custom in Chinese Buddhism dictates that you visit teachers, the more the better. None of the lay people understand or find it strange. They figure the Buddhadharma is paying visits to teachers. This visiting of teachers has brought a lot of trouble into Buddhism. One Dharma Master’s refuge-disciple will go off and pay a visit to some other Dharma Master, and if the first Dharma Master knows about it, he gets jealous: “You want to go bow to another teacher? You’re really not a loyal disciple of mine! You’ve done me wrong! Obviously the reason you’re bowing to another teacher is that you have no faith in me.” He gets jealous and starts to hate his disciple: “You are certain to fall to the hells.” He may even curse his disciple with falling to the hells. That’s the reaction if you let the teacher know. What if he does not know; if you turn your back on your teacher and steal off to bow to another teacher? That’s what happens in Chinese Buddhism. They steal off and bow to other teachers. For example, if there’s a very famous Dharma Master, people say, “Oh! That Dharma Master is in town. Let’s go visit that teacher and take refuge with him!” They keep visiting teachers and taking refuge with them.

Now, when you take refuge, if you have faith in the Buddha, you definitely took refuge the first time, so why would you want to take refuge a second time? By so doing you’re just cheating yourself. If you figure, “Oh, the first time I didn’t understand, and I don’t know if when I took refuge the Buddha was able to come. At that time I was all sloppy and insincere, so the ceremony was all messed up.” If you figure the Buddha didn’t come the first time, the Buddha also will not come the second time. Why is that? The Buddha came the first time and the second time, upon seeing that you have already failed to believe in Buddhism, why should he come again? Now, why is it that these Dharma Masters do not say to you, “You shouldn’t bow to any other teachers. You can take refuge once and that’s it”? It’s because if they informed you, they wouldn’t get red envelopes. No one would make offerings. That is what is described by:

Left-home people are not greedy for wealth:
the more the better!

I’m speaking very frankly with you, telling you the way it is. What’s more, I’m absolutely not afraid of my disciples going and making visits to other teachers. Whoever wants to go visiting can go. So a few months ago someone came and said me, “I want to go some other place and bow to another teacher. Is that all right?” I said, “If you want to, that’s fine.” Why is that? It’s because if you think another teacher has Way-virtue and Buddhadharma to teach you, then it’s no problem. Provided that you tell me, I certainly will not prevent you. But in China they don’t give notice. They steal off and bow to teachers, which amounts to turning their backs on and opposing good teachers.

If they bowed to the teacher and then cultivated, that would be one thing; but they don’t cultivate either. After they’ve bowed to that teacher for a few days, they’ve had enough. They figure that teacher has gone stale, and go on to bow to a fresh, new teacher. Consequently within this one lifetime they don’t understand a single phrase of Buddhadharma. All they’ve done is bow to a certain number of teachers. For example, at New Year’s several Chinese lay people will all bow to a whole lot of teachers. One says, “I bow to eight,” the next says, “I bow to nine,” and the third says, “I bow to over ten, which is more than either of you.” However, they don’t get to fifty-three. Why do they bow like that? They’ll tell you, “The Youth Sudhana made fifty-three visits, so it’s a good idea for us to bow to a few more teachers. Then, for instance, if we fall into the water, one teacher can stretch out his hand and pull us out, but if there are more than ten, then it won’t take any effort at all.”

What they mean is that if they fall into the hells, if they have ten or so teachers, whichever teacher has Way-virtue can save them. Wouldn’t you say that was just too calculating and hypocritical, that they were conniving slippery-heads? If someone rubs oil on his head then King Yama can’t grab hold of him. The little ghost finds the oil-coated head very slippery: that’s a slippery-head. A few days ago someone came here and said he wanted to cut off his hair that is, shave his head and then be on his way. I said, “Don’t go.” He said, “I have to go. I still have things left to do. I’m going to New York and then to Canada.” I asked him, “If you’re shaving your head, what can you have left to do? You’re not shaving your head, you’re greasing your head!” Therefore, in cultivating the Way, you should recognize true principle. Don’t be like all those stupid couples who don’t understand any principle and who go...about all over the place.

Basically within Buddhism it’s good. However, there are a number of people who do not understand the Buddhadharma who are at error without being aware of it themselves. That way it becomes not good. For example, in this country a few years ago, before you five here had returned from going to Taiwan to receive the precepts, this person was a “Dharma Master,” and that person was a “Dharma Master.” Left-home people were “Dharma Master,” and lay people were also “Dharma Masters.” This “Dharma Master” was a Doctor, and that “Dharma Master” was a Professor. That is what they were getting away with. But since the five here came back from Taiwan, somehow or other all of those ‘precious jewels’ have been:

Without sound and without trace.

There’s nothing left at all. They’ve all been subdued. This one doesn’t go around saying he’s a Dharma Master, and that one doesn’t go around saying she’s a Dharma Master. Or, if they do grit their teeth and say they are themselves, still they’ve been humbled. So this is very strange. Now, we do not want to say that we are true or false. A few years ago in America there were no genuine left-home people Buddhist Bhikshus and Bhikshunis and now there are. Therefore, you Americans should support your fellow Americans, and not pay any attention to me. Even though I am introducing the Buddhadharma to you in this country now, you yourselves should go on to create your very own American Buddhism. But don’t make American Buddhism too “Beautiful”. If you make it too beautiful, that’s also an extreme. So you don’t want it too beautiful, and you Americans now should protect your fellow American left-home people.

When people first come here, before they have been here for a least half a year, they should not seek personal instruction from me. If they want personal instruction, to ask some question, they must wait at least half a year, six months. I remember one disciple who was here for a long time without my ever speaking to him. I realized he was someone who had really brought forth his resolve, and yet I didn’t speak with him. Why was that? In cultivating the Way, if you ask this question today and that question tomorrow, it loses its importance.

Preface:

Opening Fine Dust-motes’ Sutra scrolls:
Then in every thought the fruit is won.
Exhausting sentient beings’ vow doors:
then in every dust-mote practice is fulfilled.

Commentary:

Opening Fine Dust-motes’ Sutra scrolls. To open, as before, means to disclose, in this case revealing the Sutra scrolls many as fine motes of dust. One could also explain it as opening and showing forth the rolls of Sutras that are within fine motes of dust. Fine motes of dust are most minute. However, within fine motes of dust there is the Dharma Realm; and there are limitless and boundless rolls of Sutras as well, which one opens and discloses. If you open and reveal Sutra scrolls as many as fine motes of dust, then in every thought the fruit is won. In thought after thought you accomplish the fruit of Buddhahood. One many also explain this as the Dharma door of opening up the verses and chapters within the Flower Adornment Sutra which are as many as fine motes of dust, and then within every single thought accomplishing the fruit of Buddhahood. Hence it goes on to say:

Exhausting living beings’ vow doors. No matter what vows you make, the vows made by you as a living being constitute limitless and boundlessly many doors. However, it can completely fulfill all of the doors of practice represented by the vows that living beings have made, and Then in every dust-mote practice is fulfilled. In each fine particle of dust, the power of practice of your cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way is accomplished. This represents your having cultivated limitless and boundlessly many doors of practice. If you rely upon the Flower Adornment Sutra in your cultivation of those kinds of doors of practice, then they can be perfected and your work will be accomplished. Therefore, the Flower Adornment Sutra is the most subtle and wonderful of Sutras.

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