THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

The second, depending on the place. Whenever wisdom exhausts the limits of reality, subject and object both disappear. One falsely speaks of relying on the true, yet there are no countries.

How much the more so when kshetras and dust-motes enter each other, and defiled and pure both blend and fuse. In the universal extension of the perfect teaching, it is difficult to distinguish its separate locations.

Commentary:

The second, depending on the place. Previously it talked about the time, which was the time of no time. The place, too, is the place of no place. What does “place of no place” mean anyway? The discussion of time and place is according to the Six Realizations:

1.      The Realization of Faith.
2.      The Realization of Hearing.
3.      The Realization of Time.
4.      The Realization of a Host.
5.      The Realization of Place.
6.      The Realization an Assembly.

In the Flower Adornment Sutra Prologue, the Realization of Faith is not discussed. In Sutras, it is the word “Thus.” The Realization of Hearing is not discussed. In Sutras it is the words “I have heard.” Nor is the Realization of a Host discussed. In Sutras it is the Dharma Speaking Host. The Realization of an Assembly is not discussed either. In Sutras it is, for instance, the words “twelve hundred fifty in all.” Only the Realization of Time, which in Sutras in the words “at one time”, and the Realization of Place, which in the Sutras is the Bodhimanda where the Dharma is spoken, are discussed here.

In the world there is no time, and there also is no place. So we refer to the time of no time and the place of no place. Whenever wisdom exhausts the limit of reality, comes to the end of the principle of the reality limit, then “comprehension is ultimate, and in a single thought one then tallies with the family of the Buddha.” The terms are changed, but the meaning is the same. Wisdom exhausting the limit of the truth means understanding the nature of the Treasury of the Thus Come One (Tathagatagarbha). When that happens, then Subject and Object both disappear. There is no one who exhausts anything, and nothing is exhausted. The doer and the object of the action both disappear. When you still have subject and object, you have not reached the reality limit. When you do get there, subject and object no longer exist. As it is said:

When you obtain the one,
The myriad matters all are ended.

Before you attain the one, you have lots of troubles. The troubles arise from your not having reached the one. When you do reach the one, all troubles are gone.

Inside there is no self,
Outside there are no others.

There is no self, no others, and no objects. What would you say that was? Subject and object are both gone.

Therefore, one falsely speaks of relying on the true, yet there are no countries. One says falsely, expediently, that is depends upon “the true,” that is on the place, and yet it is not the case that there is n country, a location. The Flower Adornment Sutra is not the same as other Sutras, which are spoken in the Saha World. It is spoken in the seas of worlds of the Flower Treasury. It is not apart from the Saha World, and so is not the pure or the defiled, not the pure land or the defiled land, but free from purity and defilement. So one falsely speaks of relying on the true, yet there are no countries.

How much the more so when kshetras and dust-motes enter each other. I talked before about how a single fine mote of dust could contain the entire Three Thousand Great Thousand World-System. How? If you want to know how the immensity of the Great Trichiliocosm can fit into a particle of dust, you first have to know how it cannot fit. If you understand how it can’t fit inside, you will understand how it can. If you don’t understand how it can’t fit, how could you hope to understand how to fit it inside? Here, kshetras and dust-motes enter into each other. The Great Trichiliocosm can fit in a particle of dust, and vice versa, without the Trichiliocosm shrinking or the particle of dust enlarging. This is:

Nothing large or small.
No inside and no outside.

Let’s just put the Three Thousand Great Thousand World-Systems into Three Thousand Great Thousand World-Systems, and the fine motes of dust into fine motes of dust, and not mix them up with each other. As soon as we mingle them, people start having false thoughts like, “If you put a huge Three Thousand Great Thousand World-Systems into a tiny mote of dust, won’t the people in it all suffocate from lack of space of breathe?” You are so compassionate, worrying like that about the inhabitants of the Great Trichiliocosm, you are sure to become a Buddha very soon.

And defiled and pure both blend and fuse. I was just talking about this. The Saha World is the defiled land, and the worlds of the Flower Treasury are the pure land. When the Buddha spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra, it was in the pure land, whose ground is made of gold and vajra, and which experiences the six types of earthquakes. you may say, “Then Shakyamuni Buddha must have left the Saha World.” No, he didn’t. He was still in the Saha World. The Saha World was just the Flower Treasury and vice versa. That is blending and fusing of the defiled and pure. They intermingle, so there is no defilement or purity. When it talked before about there being no subject or object, that was from the point of view of the Initial and the Sudden Teachings.

What is the Saha World? “Saha” is a Sanskrit word that means “Able to Bear.” The living beings of this world can bear the suffering of greed, hatred, stupidity, and so forth. It is also known as the evil world of the five turbilities, and it is the world in which we now live. What is the Flower Treasury? In the middle of the seas of fragrant water there is a huge lotus flower. With-in the flower are worlds to the number of fine motes of dust. So it’s called the “Flower Treasury of Worlds.” Those world-systems take up twenty tiers, and on very tier are limitless worlds. The Saha World we live in is on the thirteenth tier. Now, in the universal extension of the perfect teaching of the perfect Sutra, the perfect Dharma, there being nothing higher, it is difficult to distinguish its separate locations. How could you locate it in a place? If you said it had a location, it would not be perfect. All you can say is that is has no location. That is:

There is no place where it is,
And no place where it isn’t.

No place is without it. Everywhere to the exhaustion of empty space and the Dharma Realm is the Way Place where the Flower Adornment Sutra is spoken.

It  talked before about how in the ten kinds of time there is constant proclamation of this Sutra. The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra is always being spoken. To have heard a single word of it gives you inconceivable merit and virtue.

Prologue:

Moreover, the true is not beyond specifics, and does not destroy what is relied upon. Using the previous time of no time, there is pervasion of this place of no place.

Commentary:

We just talked about how the Perfect Teaching pervades the Dharma Realm, so there is no way to determine its particular location. Now it says, moreover, the true is not beyond specifics. The true Dharma, the one, true Dharma Realm, is absolutely not somewhere outside of specifics, and so it does not destroy what is relied upon, “what is relied upon” meaning the place. Although it says there is no place, it still does not eradicate locations. It is said to have no location since it pervades all locations, and so has no fixed location. That doesn’t mean locations are destroyed.

Using the previous time of no time, of there being no fixed time, there is pervasion of this place of no place, the location of no fixed location. That is why it’s called a Dharma door of un-obstructed interpenetration with time and place in perfect fusion. Time does not interfere with place, nor does place get in the way of time. The time pervades all places, and the place, too, pervades all times. Time and place have no mutual obstruction.

Prologue:

Furthermore, some say this Sutra was spoken in the impure land, because he dwelt in Magadha and do forth. Others say the place of speaking was the Pure Land, because it was in the Flower Treasury. Still others speak the doctrine of true thusness and say the two kinds of lands have no fixed differences of place, for in one place there are differences of seeing and hearing.

Commentary:

Great Master Ch’ing Liang is raising these questions to determine ultimately where the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken. On the surface there are to be Seven Places and Nine Assemblies, it being spoken on three occasions in five assemblies among people, and on four occasions in four assemblies in the heavens. The verse goes:

The Bodhi Way Place was the First,
The Ninth the Jeta Grove,
The Third and Fourth the Trayastrimsha,
and the Yama Heaven.
The Universal Light Bright Palace
the Second, Seventh, and Eighth,
Tushita and Others’ Transformations
the Fifth and Sixth respectively.

Listed, the Nine Assemblies in Seven Places are:

1.   The Bodhi Way Place.
2.   The Universal Light Palace.
3.   The Trayastrimsha Heaven.
4.   The Suyama Heaven.
5.   The Tushita Heaven.
6.   The Heaven of Comfort Gained from Others’ Transformations.
7.   The Universal Light Palace.
8.   The Universal Light Palace.
9.   The Jeta Grove.

That is why the Prologue says furthermore, some say this Sutra was spoken in the impure land. There are some people who say, “The Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken in the impure land of our Saha World.” Why do they say that? It’s because he dwelt in Magadha and so forth. It’s because the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken beneath the Bodhi Tree in the country of Magadha in India. Others say the place of speaking was the Pure Land. Someone else objects, “The Flower Adornment Sutra was certainly not spoken in the impure land. Why not? It’s because it was in the Flower Treasury. The Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken in the worlds of the Flower Adornment Sutra with their six kinds of earthquakes and ground of yellow gold, a state entirely different from that of the impure land where I maintain it was not spoken. It was spoken in the pure land for sure!” The two people argue with each other, one insisting it was in the pure land, and the other debating that it was the impure land.

Still others speak the doctrine of true Thusness. Someone else says, “The inconceivable states of the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra are those of the doctrine of true thusness:

The Thus Come One takes the Way of True Thusness,
And Comes to accomplish Proper Enlightenment.”

And, talking in terms of the doctrine of true thusness, they say the two kinds of lands have no fixed differences of place. You could say it was the pure land, and you could also say it was the impure land. The Saha World is the impure land in contrast to the worlds of the Flower Treasury, whereas in contrast to the Saha World, the Flower Adornment Sutra being spoken in the worlds of the Flower Treasury is said to be in the pure land. The two lands, impure and pure, are seen as such by people. Some people see the pure land, and others see the impure land. There’s nothing fixed about it. The differences are due to people. For in one place there are differences of seeing and hearing. It’s just that in one and the same place, people see and hear differently. Some people will see it as the impure land, while others will see the same place as the pure land. If it’s as the pure land, they’ll see the worlds of the Flower Treasury, and if they see it being spoken in the impure land, they’ll see the Saha World. It’s due to differences in the dispositions of people that what they see is not the same.

How can it be that two different kinds of countries are seen right in the same spot? This is an inconceivable state, and is due to the fact that what Sages and ordinary people see are not the same. There’s a differences between what is seen with the ordinary people’s eye of flesh and the pure Dharma eye of a Sage. When someone attains the purity of the Dharma eye, he can see the seas of worlds of the Flower Treasury right within the Saha World. Ordinary people and those of the Two Vehicles can only see the Saha World, made up of dirt, mud, metal and rocks, with their meat eyes. For those who have obtained the purity of the Dharma eye, the defiled is just the pure. Right within the unclean land they can see the pure land of the Flower Treasury. Then has the impure land changed? No, it hasn’t. The eyes of flesh of ordinary people see the pure land of the Flower Treasury as the impure land. Have the worlds of the Flower Treasury changed into the impure land? No. What is seen differs according to the dispositions of living beings.

What looks like water to us becomes fire when seen by ghosts, and the gods see it as vaidurya. What is seen differs. Another example is our lecture hall. Some people while here listening to the Sutras see light and flowers and various other supreme states. Other people just listen to the Sutras and only see the lecture hall with several Buddha images and a certain number of people in the audience. People who have opened the pure Dharma eye, on the other hand, see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions all here protecting the Dharma assembly, with all the gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division, the good Dharma-protecting spirits, adorning the Way Place. The states seen are not the same.

A few days ago one of my disciples asked me, “How come the Youth Good Wealth came here?”

I said, “He came here to practice giving.”

So he made an offering to the temple not to be outdone by the Youth Good Wealth. He asked, “How come the Youth Good Wealth turned silver?”

I said, “It’s probably because he has some silver to give.” It could be that way, I don’t know. He came here to play, I do know that. For he’s a youngster.

Prologue:

Of the three preceding doctrines, the last one approaches that of our school.

Actually, the place of speaking of this Sutra is such that pure and unclean are non-obstructive. And connection and restriction interpenetrate, each having two sets of four predications.

Commentary:

Of the three preceding doctrines, that is, in the above discussion of how some say the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken in the pure land and others say it was in the impure land, while still others say the pure is just the impure and vice-versa so they are non-dual and that’s where the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken, the last one approaches that of our school. The final version is pretty much the same as the doctrine we adhere to.

Actually, the place of speaking of this Sutra, the Flower Adornment Sutra, is such that pure and unclean are non-obstructive. The pure does not interfere with the unclean and vice-versa. They have no mutual obstruction. People with pure dispositions see it as the pure land, while those whose dispositions are a bit off see it as the impure land. So it says, and connection and restriction interpenetrate. Connection does not interfere with restriction, nor does restriction block connection. “Connection” means connecting with the impure land while in the pure land. “Restriction” means being restricted either to the pure land or to the impure land. Here there is interpenetration of connection and restriction. One does not rule out the other, each having two sets of four predications. Each kind is explained by two sets of four statements.

Prologue:

First, as between the pure and the impure. Perhaps it is only the defiled, perhaps it is only the pure, as in the two previous doctrines. perhaps both, because the Flower Treasury includes the Saha; perhaps neither, the characteristics of purity and defilement being ended, because they are the same as the one Dharma Realm.

Commentary:

This passage is going to discuss the two sets of four predictions, of which this now is the first. It says, as between the pure and the impure, in considering the two doctrines of it’s being the pure or the impure, perhaps it is only the defiled. Some people say it was only the defiled, that the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken in the Saha World. Perhaps it is only the pure. Or else they maintain that the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken in the pure land, the worlds of the Flower Treasury, as in the two previous doctrines. This is the same as the two positions maintained before. Perhaps both. Or perhaps one says it was both the defiled and the pure, the defiled not ruling out the pure, or the pure excluding the defiled, so that the Saha World is just the Flower Treasury and vice-versa, because the Flower Treasury includes the Saha, the Saha World being part of the worlds of the Flower Treasury. Perhaps neither. This means there is no defiled and no pure, the characteristics of purity and defilement being ended. There stops being any appearance of defilement or any appearance of purity. Why? Because they are the same as the one Dharma Realm. Defilement and purity are both within the oneness of the true Dharma Realm, so neither one exists, since they unite with the Dharma Realm. That’s the first set of four predications.

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