THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

II. SPECIFIC PRAISE OF THAT WHICH ILLUSTRATES

Preface:

Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle,
Understanding and expanding the mind and its states;
Exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature,
Penetrating the result which includes the cause;
Deep and wide and interfused,
Vast and great and totally complete,
Surely this must be:
The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra!

Commentary:

Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle.  To open is, for example, to take a knife and cut something open ¾ perhaps lychee nuts. If you crack open the outer shell of a lychee nut, you have opened it up. Once you have opened it, you disclose it, opening and disclosing what? Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle. What, then, is the mysterious and wonderful, the fine and subtle? It is just the Dharma Realm that was previously discussed. The previous section of text was the Presentation of the Substance of the Doctrine. The section of text just given is called the Specific Praise of That Which Illustrates the mysterious and subtle. It is too wonderful! To open and disclose the mysterious and subtle is to open up this inconceivable state.

Understanding and expanding the mind and its states. To understand is similar to illumining, and expanding means enlarging. One expands the small to make it great. A fan is a good example. It starts out quite small, but then extend it, open it out, and it becomes very large. Umbrellas work the same way. Most of the time umbrellas are kept furled up small, but when it rains people open them and they’re quite large. Now what is being expanded and opened up is the mind and its states. National Master Ch’ing Liang was aware that our states are really small, that we are unable to let go at all. Whenever someone says something good about you, you grab it and run. Whenever someone says anything bad about you, the feature on your face all merge together, and your eyebrows limit into a frown. With that kind of state, how can you cultivate? Or, maybe someone scolds you, and you virtually go insane; or people slander you and you sink into a fit of depression. Why does that happen? It is from not understand and expanding the mind and its states, from being too small-minded. You need to be able to understand and expand the mind and its states.

Exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature. “Exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature: is a phrase from the Book of Changes: “By exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature, they arrived at Fate.” I remarked before that National Mater Ch’ing Liang was very learned, and that he had thoroughly mastered the Book of Changes. In this composition he uses a great many expressions which are taken from the Book of Changes. “Exhausting” means using up. Here one exhausts uses up  the mysterious and wonderful principles than which there is nothing more mysterious and wonderful. “Fathoming” also has the idea of finishing, which makes it parallel to using up.

Here, the nature is fathomed to the utmost. In fathoming the nature of people, one fathoms the nature of people, one fathoms one’s own nature, and one fathoms the nature of all things. One realizes, “Oh, this person likes to go off and have a good time in the mountains. That person likes to go swimming and enjoy himself in the water. This person likes to sit in meditation. That person likes to take drugs. Each one likes something different.” Once you know what each one likes, then you have fathomed their nature. Once you have fathomed the nature of people, you still need to fathom your own nature. “I know about people, but now what kind of a person am I? Isn’t it the case that I don’t have the least bit of samadhi power, or even a fraction of wisdom? Don’t I just want to get angry all day long and always feel like getting upset? That’s really strange, who tells me to get upset? Why does it happen? Where does it come from? Oh! It’s basically because my ignorance is so heavy.” That is how one fathom one’s own nature. Once one knows oneself, one can say, “Come on, don’t be so rotten. You ought to go along a good path,” and that way one acts as one’s own supervisor. Once you know about people and about yourself, you still need to know about things. For example, a teacup is a thing used for drinking tea, while an incense burner is used for burning incense. When you know what everything is used for, and what it’s good for, then you have fathomed the nature of all things, exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature.

Penetrating the result which includes the cause. To penetrate means to go through, so that results encompass causes, and causes penetrate through to results. It is as is said: Causes include the sea of results, and results penetrate through to the causal source. “Causes include the sea of results” means that the time when one is on the causal ground encompasses the result ground. “And results penetrate through to the causal source” means that at the time of the result there is also penetration through to the causal source. This Sutra states, “Upon first production of the thought, one right then accomplishes Proper Enlightenment.” In the very first thought- instant of the initial production of the resolve, one just then accomplishes Proper, Equal, Right Enlightenment and becomes a Buddha. Therefore, that is the meaning of Causes include the sea of results and results penetrate through to the causal source. It is as mysterious and subtle as that.

Deep and Wide and Interfused. Deep means profound, and wide means vast. You could say that deep means very deep, extremely profound, one-does-not-know-how profound, as deep as the sea; while wide means vast and great extent. Both profound and  vast, it is compared to the great sea. Interfused means combined and fused, interpenetrated. The principles of the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra are both profound and vast, and yet they also combine, interpenetrate, and perfectly fuse. They may be described both as perfectly fusing and as interpenetrating; as being fused together, and as being strung through. They are both combined and fused, and strung together as if threaded on a string strung through and so interpenetrated.

Vast and great and totally complete. Totally complete means just as it ought to be: not deficient or excessive, not too little and not too much just right. It is also entirely whole and totally complete replete with wonderful, subtle and inconceivable principles.
Surely This Must Be:

The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra!

The seven words Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra constitute the title of the Sutra, which has a common name and a particular name. Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment is the particular name, the name that is particular to this Sutra. The single word Sutra is the common name, inasmuch as all Sutras are called “Sutra” in common. Just as people of whatever nationality are called “people” as their common name, so too all separate Sutras have the common designation “Sutra.” Just as people all have their own personal names, Sutras also have their own individual names. The family names of Mr. Jang and Mr. Lee are Jang and Lee respectively; but they also have personal names, for example, Big Jang or Little Lee, which are personal names. Westerners too, may be called Steve, Stan, Frank, or any number of particular names.

Great in the title means that, because its substance encompasses empty space and has no borders whatsoever, it may be called “great.” Means are just methods, i.e., the Buddhadharmas, which comprise inexhaustible Dharma doors that are as infinite, as unending and as deep as the sea. Described in terms of height and depth, it is Great. Described in terms of breadth and extent, it is Expansive. It is so expansive that there is nothing more expansive, and everything is included within it. Its functioning is great, its substance is great, and its appearance is great. Its functioning is expansive, its substance is expansive, and its appearance is expansive. That’s a simple summary explanation of the three words Great Means Expansive.

The Buddha is a greatly enlightened person: free from enlightenment, and from anything enlightened to. What is meant by “free from enlightenment”? Day after day we want to become enlightened, and so we are not free from enlightenment. After one becomes enlightened, one is free from enlightenment, and from anything enlightened to. One is freed from what there was to become enlightened to. Someone may now say, “Well, then, does that means that all I have to do is be free of enlightenment to be a Buddha?” Go ahead and try. You can be a phony Buddha.

Brightly shining everywhere. The Buddha’s wisdom brightly shines everywhere, even brighter than the light of the sun: shining everywhere on all. The Buddha’s light shines everywhere. If you can shine everywhere on all, then you can say you are free from enlightenment and from anything enlightened to. If you cannot shine everywhere on all, then you cannot be said to be free from enlightenment and from anything enlightened to.

Brightly shine every where. As to wisdom brightly shining everywhere, once one is free from Enlightenment and from anything enlightened to, then the light of one’s wisdom is brighter than the light of the sun:

Shining everywhere on all.

If you can shine everywhere on all, then you can say you are free from Enlightenment and from anything enlightened to. If you cannot shine everywhere on all, then you cannot be said to be free from Enlightenment and from anything enlightened to.

A few years ago I met a person from China who thought that he was enlightened. He said, “I used to read all sorts of books: Buddhist, Taoist, medical and so forth; but now I don’t read books at all. I no longer need books at all.” His meaning was that he was perfected, that he had all-wisdom. I asked him, “What do you do now?” He said, “Oh, I sell wine.” I said, “It’s no wonder you don’t read books: you’re drunk on wine!” He was very embarrassed.

It’s not just a matter of saying, “I’ve already opened Enlightenment.” What Enlightenment have you opened? How did you open it? It is comparable to a lock: You need a key to be able to open the lock. If it was locked and you opened it, how did you get it open? Did you simply break the lock? That does not count as opening if; that’s unreasonable, and like a thief wantonly destroys other peoples’ property. The Buddha is free from Enlightenment and of anything enlightened to, and shines and so is called “Buddha”

A Flower has fragrance, which here represents the virtuous conduct which the Buddha perfected, and which adorns him with a rare fragrance. Adornment is decoration. The merit and virtue from cultivation are used to adorn the ten kinds of bodies which the Buddha has. That is Adornment.

Sutra has a great many meanings, among which are those of “bubbling spring” and “inked cord.” “Bubbling spring” means that the sutra is like a spring of water which bubbles up from within the earth and flows incessantly without interruption. The meaning of “inked cord” comes from the fact that sutras discuss various kinds of guidelines and methods that show people how to cultivate. They are just like the cords used by carpenters which they hold taut to make a straight line. “Inked cord” stands both for cords chalked white and cords inked black. You may object that if it’s chalked white it can’t be an inked cord though maybe the chalk could stand for white ink. Anyway, if you object to chalk being called ink, you may call it whatever you like.

Sutra has four further meanings:

1.   Stringing together.
2.   Attracting.
3.   Permanent.
4.   Method.

“Stringing together” refers to the Way, for example, recitation beads are pierced through and strung together on a string. From the very beginning until the end, all the words in a sutra are strung together in the same way as recitation beads. It completely strings together all the meanings which are spoken.

“Attracting” means it attracts and holds those with potential to be taught. It is comparable to a magnet which attracts iron filings as soon as it appears. It attracts and holds those with potential to be taught. Those of you who have come here, some from as far away as New York, were attracted here by this Sutra, as those with potential to be taught. You may say, “I don’t believe that. I came on my own.” When you “came on your own,” it was just the power of the Sutra that attracted you only you were unaware of it. You were drawn here from New York like an iron filing to a magnet.

At this year’s summer session there is old friend of mine, who is also an old friend of one of my disciples. I remember once when I went to New York, he took me to the YMCA and helped me a great deal besides. At that time I couldn’t speak English. Not only that, but I couldn’t even speak Chinese. However, when I went to New York, at least I wasn’t like Mr. Tou. When he got to New York and someone asked him, “Where are you going?” He replied, “I’m going to New York.” When they asked again, “Where are you going?” He again said, “I’m going to New York.” He’d been in New York for over four hours, and when they asked him, “What part of New York are you going to?” He just said, “I’m going to New York.” He was just going to New York. At least, I wasn’t such a country bumpkin as that. I called this old friend of mine on the phone, and he came and took me to stay at the YMCA. That time I found him, and this year he has come to find me. Why is that? He was attracted by the Sutra. He’s saying, “I don’t believe it.” Believe it or not, you came. This is just an explanation of the meaning. You don’t necessarily have to believe this reason just because it’s stated, and it isn’t necessarily that way. So put your mind at ease, and don’t feel you have to argue with me. O.K.? That’s attracting and holding those with potential to be taught.

“Permanent” means unchanging. Not only does it not change now, but it did not change in the past, and also in the future it will not change. From the beginning to the present it has not changed, and so it is permanent. “Method” means that all living beings, whether of the past, the present or the future; from this direction or from that direction; from the East, West, North, South, above or below, the Southeast, the Southwest, the Northeast or the Northwest all the ten directions and three periods of time should rely upon this method to cultivate.

The term Sutra has that many meanings and more, but if I give more I’m afraid you won’t remember them... or maybe you have already forgotten them. You say, “The Dharma Master is always joking.” If I didn’t joke, how much truth would I have to talk about? If you hear it as joking, it’s joking. If you hear it as Buddhadharma, it’s Buddhadharma. It’s not a question of whether the Dharma Master is joking: if you feel what I say is incorrect, then even if I speak correctly, it’s incorrect. If you consider what I say correct, then even if I speak confusedly and incorrectly, you feel, “That’s not bad. He certainly speaks a lot better than these American Dharma Masters.” Isn’t that right? It is that way.

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