THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

VII. THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF BENEFIT OF SUDDEN TRANSCENDENCE

Preface:

Truth and falseness interlink and mingle:
Within the ordinary mind one sees the Buddha mind.
Specifics and principle are together cultivated:
On relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom.

Commentary:

Truth and falseness interlink and mingle. Falseness comes from truth, and truth comes from falseness, and so the false is not separate from the truth, and truth is not separate from falseness. That is why truth and falseness are said to interlink and mingle. What they resemble is waves in water and wetness: the waves are not separate from wetness, nor is the wetness separate from the waves. However, wetness definitely is not waves. Wetness and waves form an analogy for truth and falseness. In the analogy, falseness is comparable to the production of waves within wetness, while truth is comparable to wetness. Therefore, there is wetness in waves, yet the original substance of wetness has no waves. Wetness by itself does not necessarily have waves. This makes an appropriate model for the principle of the interlinking and mingling of truth and falseness. Nevertheless, falseness includes truth, and truth is included within falseness as well. Although they have two names, in origin they are one identical substance, comparable to wetness.

In Great Master Yung Chia’ Song of Enlightenment it is said:
Not seeking truth, not cutting off the false;
Fully knowing both dharmas are empty without appearance.

The reason there is no search for truth is that truth has no appearance. The reason there is no cutting off of falseness is that falseness, also, has no appearance. When you are confused, that is falseness. When you wake up, that is truth. That is what is meant by Truth and falseness interlink and mingle. Truth and falseness are not separate, not apart from each other, and so the text continues, within the ordinary mind, right within the mind of the ordinary person, one sees the Buddha mind. You can see the mind of the Buddha. However, whereas ordinary people can become Buddhas, can Buddhas become ordinary people? You can’t put it that way; for if the Buddha became an ordinary person, then people would have not further need to become Buddhas. The Buddha does not become an ordinary person. If the Buddha transformationally creates the body of an ordinary person, then it is the transformation body that becomes an ordinary person, while the Buddha’s basic substance is still in a state of unmoving suchness. However, are ordinary people ordinary people forever? No. It is right within the mind and nature of ordinary people that one is able to see the Buddha nature. That allows one to say that ordinary people can become Buddhas, but not that the Buddha returns to being an ordinary person. Hence “within the ordinary mind, one sees the Buddha mind.” It is right within the state of an ordinary, common individual that the Buddha’s state can be seen. Why? The reason is that truth and falseness interlink and mingle, that they are inseparable.

What enables living beings to become Buddhas is that living beings possess the Buddha Nature. All living beings have the Buddha nature, not just people. All living beings can become Buddhas. You may say, “I keep hearing about ‘all living beings,’ but when it comes right down to it  I don’t know what is meant by ‘living beings.’ “ Now I will tell you. There are womb-born living beings, those born from eggs, moisture-born, and transformationally born. Living beings that are womb-born are born from wombs due to the existence of emotion. Womb-born due to emotion come forth.

Egg-born because of thought are had. Those living beings born from eggs are born due to the existence of thought. An example is a mother hen sitting on her eggs. She sits there and thinks to herself, “my sons or daughters are going to be born. Hurry up and hatch!” She sits there day after day, all day long, and won’t move, that old mother hen, thinking, “They’ve got to hatch. They’ve got to be born. Hurry up!” She thinks that over and over again, and lo and behold, her wish is fulfilled and the little chicks are born. As they are born they use their beaks and crack open the egg shell. Once they crack it open, she is terrifically happy. She gets so heated up sitting there that her feathers fall out, but even then the mother hen doesn’t leave them. She wouldn’t leave them even if it meant giving up her life. Her attitude is, “Even if it kills me, I shall give birth to these little son and daughter chicks!” That is how they are born from thought. Prior to that, when she was laying the eggs, it was with the intention of giving birth to chicks. Then she sat on them, and they were born.

“Womb-born due to emotion come forth.” That means that parents give birth to sons and daughters as a result of emotions. The egg-born are due to the mother’s thinking. A mother hen on her eggs is really an example of focusing one’s mind. That’s really having no scattered thoughts. When hens are setting, they have no scattered thoughts. The only false thought they have is, “Hurry up, hurry up.” Another day ought to do it.” The next day it’s, “Just a little longer.” She waits for maybe three or four weeks, and then they are born.

Moisture-born due to union are conceived. Those born from moisture are born when potentials come together. Moisture and earth unite, and at that point there is something with a not defiled and not pure aspect to it, and then all of a sudden they are born. You could not say that it was clean, but you couldn’t quite call it dirty before it has produced larvae. But, as earth and water combine and receive the light of the sun due to the various causes and conditions, larvae are born, or maybe butterflies. Actually, butterflies are transformationally born. Transformation-born due to separation are produced. They arise from separation. There are others. As the Vajra Sutra says:

Whether womb-born, or egg-born; whether moisture-born, or transformationally born; whether with form of without form; whether with thought or without thought; not lacking thought, and not not lacking thought.

Some have shape and form that can be seen and some do not. There are living beings that have thinking, and living beings that lack thinking. There are also living beings that do not lack thought, and living beings not not lacking thought. There are that many different kinds of living beings. If you wish to understand them in detail, you can investigate the Shurangama Sutra where they are very clearly explained.

The literal meaning of “living beings” is “the multitude-born.” That is, they are born from a multitude of conditions coming together, uniting, and assisting in their birth. Living beings can all become Buddhas because they all have the Buddha Nature, and so “Truth and falseness interlink and mingle. Within the ordinary mind one sees the Buddha-mind.”

Specifics and principle are together cultivated.
Specifics refers to specific characteristics, while principle means the principle and substance. Specifics have appearances, whereas principle has no shape. For example, when we accomplish Buddhahood, we accomplish a principle. We know there is a certain kind of principle and so we want to cultivate. We base ourselves upon that principle to cultivate. The Flower Adornment Sutra discusses four kinds of Dharma Realms:

1.   The Dharma Realm of Specifics.
2.   The Dharma Realm of Principle.
3.   The Dharma Realm of Non-Obstruction of Principle and Specifics.
4.   The Dharma Realm of Non-Obstruction of Specifics by Specifics.

The text now says, “Specifics and Principle are together cultivated.” The specific marks are cultivated, and the principle is cultivated too. The specifics do not obstruct the principle, and the principle does not obstruct the specifics. That is “Specifics and principle are together cultivated.”

One relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom. Basic wisdom is everyone’s inherent wisdom. Relying upon that inherent wisdom, one seeks to obtain and accomplish the wisdom of a Buddha. The accomplishment of the Buddha’s wisdom is just the realization of our own inherent wisdom. Everyone has that basic wisdom, and so everyone can open the wisdom of a Buddha. If it were not for that basic wisdom, no one would be able to accomplish Buddhahood. However, everyone has it. Not only do people have it, all living beings have that basic wisdom, and that is why it says, Specific and principle are together cultivated: One relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom.

If all of you investigate the Flower Adornment Sutra to the point that you understand it, that is seeing the Buddha mind within the ordinary mind. If you go on to use the methods of the Flower Adornment Sutra to cultivate, then that is relying on basic wisdom to seek and obtain the Buddha’s wisdom. Unless you read Flower Adornment Sutra, you will not know of the Buddha’s true blessings and honor. The Flower Adornment Sutra is the Buddha’s greatest store of treasures. There are priceless, true treasures within the Flower Adornment Sutra, and so those who read it then know the wonderful aspects of the Buddhadharma.

If you had started from the beginning to memorize as much of the Preface text as I explained, so that you could recite it without looking at the book, by now you would be able to recite a great deal. However, if you didn’t do that at the start, by now you will have forgotten and if you try to go back and memorize it now, you will feel it is quite a lot. None the less, if one has determination, one can succeed and if you want to do it, you will still be able to manage it, and a week from now you can recite for me. We’ll see who can recite it. If you can’t recite all of it, it doesn’t matter! But if you can recite all of it, that’s even better, and I’ll be very please. But if you can’t recite it all, I won’t be displeased, because my...Every thing is ok,’ and if I were displeased about something, that would be ‘not ok.’

Preface:

Principle changes according to specifics,
so one and many conditionally arise without bounds.
Specifics interfuse with principle,
so a thousand distinctions combine without obstruction.

Commentary:


Principle changes according to specifics. Principle and specifics are also interlinked and mingle. Therefore, at times principle may accord with specifics and change and transform. Principle accords with specifics and consequently one becomes many. The many also become one. Whether one or many, those kinds of arisals from conditions are boundless. They have no limit, which is why it says, principle changes according to specifics. So one and many conditionally arise without bounds. The meaning is the same as that of having no boundary. If you understand one mode, then you can understand all modes. If you do not understand even one mode, then you won’t understand mode after mode. Therefore it is said:

Once one is attained, ten thousand
specifics come to an end.

If you attain to the one, the myriad particulars may all be ended. If you have not attained the one, then you cannot attain the many. If you have not attained the many, then you have not yet understood the one.

A single root divides into ten thousand ramifications;
Ten thousand ramifications return to a single root.

In the world, all the various forms, shapes and characteristics are produced from the one. You calculate it: people are one, dogs are two, cats are three, pigs are four... Calculating you’ll calculate to limitless and boundlessly many living beings, including even lions and tigers in the computation of all living beings. Where do they all come from? They come from the one, and so, “A single root divides into ten thousand ramifications.” What, then do the ten thousand ramifications do? They return to the root. They all go back to a single place. What is that place? It is the place of one birth and one death. No matter who you are, you cannot escape birth and death. Therefore, although their shapes and characteristics are not the same, when the fruit is reaped, they again are one. Therefore, “A single root divides into ten thousand ramifications” is birth, and “Ten thousand ramifications return to a single root” is death. If you investigate the problem of birth and death to the point that you understand them, then one and many are unobstructed and have no bounds, So one and many conditionally arise without bounds. Those kinds of causally conditioned arisals have no bounds.

Specifics interfuse with principle. If specifics are fused together and blended with principle, then specifics and principle interpenetrate without being mutually obstructive, so a thousand distinctions, a thousand distinctions means a thousand kinds of differences, combine without obstruction. Although there are a thousand or ten thousand kinds of distinctions, they combine with one another. Combine has the same meaning as interlink and mingle. They combine with one another without obstruction. Even though they combine, they do not interfere with one another. No obstructions arise. That is a wonderful kind of state.

You may say as well that the ordinary and the sagely interlink and mingle; that specifics and principle interlink and mingle; that good and evil interlink and mingle; that true and false interlink and mingle; that right and wrong interlink and mingle. What, after all, is ‘right’? Doesn’t ‘right’ come from ‘wrong’? If you have ‘wrong,’ then you have ‘right.’ If you have ‘right,’ then you have ‘wrong.’ So right and wrong interlink and mingle. You can transform this statement into trillions of statements, which itself is an example of one and many conditionally arising without bounds. You could also call it a thousand distinctions combining without obstruction. That is how it works.

At this point in the explanation of the Preface, some people have raised a doubt. There’s a student of Philosophy saying, “That has something to it. It’s pretty logical.” However, there’s a sociologist who’s saying, “That’s not correct. Right is right and wrong is wrong. How can you talk of not distinguishing right and wrong, good and evil, specifics and principle, or true and false? If you don’t distinguish between them, how can you determine what is true and what is false?” Well, if you don’t have anything to do and you want to find something to do, then there are all kinds of things you can find to do. But if you are not interested in adding a head on top of a head, then basically there is nothing to do. If you want to go one further and are trying to avoid being like Yajnadatta, the man who went wandering all over the place looking for his head, then there is even less to do.

Those of you who haven’t heard the explanation of the Shurangama Sutra may not know about Yajnadatta, so I’ll tell you. He is very interesting. One morning he took a look in the mirror and exclaimed, “Hey, that guy in the mirror has a head, how come I don’t have a head? My head’s been stolen! How can that guy in the mirror have a head while I have no head.” Then he went nuts. “How can I live without a head?” He immediately ran out into the streets shouting, “Did you see where my head went? Where’s my head?” He went everywhere asking people. Now, wouldn’t you say that was a case of having nothing to do and looking for something to do? Without a head, how could he have talked? How could he have been asking people? But he didn’t realize that. He was just attached to having lost his head, to not having a head. There’s a Chinese proverb that goes:

Riding on the donkey, one looks for the donkey.
Riding on the horse, one looks for the horse.

Astride the donkey, one goes looking for the donkey, saying, “Where’s the donkey?” Astride one’s horse one goes looking for one’s horse, asking, “How did my horse get away?” without realizing one’s riding it. That’s a case of one single thought of ignorance clouding the person over so that he goes all over looking for it. Think about it. If you were to look down and break through that ignorance, then one would see, “Oh, I’m riding on my horse! I don’t need to look all over for it after all.” “Oh! I’ve been riding on my donkey all along, so I don’t have to go find it after all.” If you go looking for truth and falseness, then you are attached, and you still have truth and falseness. If you are unattached, truth and falseness fundamentally are one single substance.

Ultimately, then, what is the principle of one and many conditionally arising without bounds, so a thousand distinctions combine without obstruction? It has no principle at all. It is what is known as there being no fixed Dharma. You can discuss it from this angle, and discuss it from that angle, and discuss it forwards and backwards but what is spoken is false. If every day you can sit in meditation for a minute longer, then that is true. What is spoken is false; what is practiced is true. If you study and understand more principle, then that is opening more wisdom. If you meditate for a minute longer and obtain more samadhi power, then one may say, “Samadhi and wisdom are together cultivated.” Your listening to Sutras is just the cultivation of wisdom. Your sitting in meditation is the cultivation of samadhi. Isn’t your daily refraining from idle chatter the cultivation of precepts? If you aren’t thinking of stealing things to eat, that also is holding precepts. If you aren’t thinking of stealing all kinds of things here but we don’t have anything worth stealing here so we don’t need to consider that ¾ then you are holding precepts.There’s even less reason to speak of taking life: there is no way to kill in here.

Someone may say, “Oh, that does not apply to me. Every day I want to kill people.” Well, if you want to kill people, start by killing yourself. Why? If you don’t kill yourself, you could turn into a monster, a demon, from wanting to kill people.

You may say, “As for killing myself, I can’t do it.” In telling you to kill yourself, I mean for you to kill your killing mind, not to kill your person. Take that thought of killing of yours and kill it. Tell yourself, “Why is it that I want to kill people? I should put a stop to such thoughts.” You see, if you can do that, then that’s killing the thief which is ignorance. If you cut off afflictions and cast out evil, then that is true and actual killing. Don’t hesitate to kill some more: kill your ignorance. The reason you want to kill people is due to ignorance, so you should start by killing ignorance. That is what I meant by killing yourself, I didn’t mean you should commit suicide, I meant that you should kill your ignorance. Cut off your ignorance. Smash it to bits! When ignorance is cut off and smashed, then there is no darkness, and so there is light. Falseness is darkness. If there is an electric light, then that is truth, not falseness. The principle of truth and falseness is just that. Truth smashes falseness, and falseness displays truth. Look around. Now we have electric lights, true and actual light, and so everyone can see to write. If we didn’t have these lights, if we wanted to study and write, we wouldn’t be able to see to write. “Couldn’t we use the heavenly eye?” Someone asks. If you have the heavenly eye you can use the heavenly. If you don’t have the heavenly eye, what eye are you going to use? These earthly eyes? So that’s truth and falseness.

previous * next * preface text * gatha * contents * Prologue

return to top