THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

Moreover, perhaps it is only impure, because Magadha and so forth cover up the characteristics of purity. Perhaps it is only pure, because, its ground being of vajra, the characteristic of impurity is ended. Perhaps both, because there is no obstruction between the hidden and the revealed. Perhaps neither one, because each obscures the other, so the two characteristics are ended.

Commentary:

Both the non-obstruction of pure and impure and the interpenetration of connection and restriction, which were introduced before, have two sets of four predications. We are now going to consider the second predication in the first, the non-obstruction of pure and impure.

Moreover, perhaps it is only impure, that the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra is only spoken in the impure land. Why? Because Magadha and so forth cover up the characteristics of purity. The appearance of the pure is covered over, so there is only the appearance of the impure. Perhaps it is only pure. Some people may say that it was only in the pure land, the worlds of the Flower Treasury, because, its ground being of vajra, the characteristics of impurity is ended. “The characteristic of impurity” just means the defiled land. They say it is gone, having been covered over by the Vajra.

Perhaps both, because there is no obstruction between the hidden and the revealed. Perhaps there are times when the Saha World is concealed and the worlds of the Flower Treasury appear, and times when the Saha World appears and the worlds of the Flower Treasury are concealed, so they are not mutually obstructive. Or perhaps the Saha World and the worlds of the Flower Treasury simultaneously appear, or are simultaneously concealed, and therefore the hidden and the revealed are non-obstructive for those reasons. Perhaps neither one. Maybe the Saha World and the worlds of the Flower Treasury both fail to appear, because each obscures the other. The forms and characteristics of each of the two may be covered up by the other, so the two characteristics are ended. Neither one appears.

Now here listening to the Sutra lectures, some people who understand something of the principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra feel that it is inconceivable wonderful. They comprehend a bit, even though they don’t totally understand, and the more they think about it the more wonderful and inconceivable they find it. Others listen and find it very dry and flavorless. “What in the world is the Dharma Master talking about? I don’t understand a word of it. It doesn’t make any sense. What is all this about ‘defiled,’ ‘pure,’ ‘neither defiled nor pure,’ ‘non-obstruction of defiled and pure?’ I haven’t the faintest idea what it’s trying to say.” The more they listen, the more trouble it is for them and the more ignorance they have. Coarse doubts, subtle doubts, and doubts of ignorance arise. All these people are listening to the Sutra, but some afflicted the more they listen. Before listening to the Sutra, they didn’t have any afflictions; but as soon as they hear it, ignorance and afflictions start up. They can’t sit still in their seats, and they feel very constrained when bowing to the Buddha. They feel like they’re sitting on pins and needles and keep thinking, “I hope it will be over soon. It’s still not over. When it’s done I can go get some rest.” They find listening to the Sutra harder than any work they might do. Others here really like to listen to the Sutra. As soon as they hear it, it’s as if they had entered samadhi. They are unaware of anything else but listening to the Sutra. So you see, even in this there are defiled states and pure ones, as well as states of non-obstruction of purity and defilement, and states which are neither defiled nor pure. What kind of state is neither? The person falls asleep while listening to the Sutra and hasn’t any idea what was said. Then there is neither defilement or purity. Both are ended.

For others, as they listen, defilement is pretty much the same as purity, and there’s no real discrimination between the pure and the impure ¾ which is non-obstruction of purity and defilement. Why? They have false thoughts the whole time, so although they keep hearing me say “defilement” and “purity,” “pure” and impure,” they don’t make any distinctions between them, and so it turns out as non-obstruction of the defiled and pure. There are then also four predications to cover the people listening to the Sutra here.

Prologue:

Next, explanation of the two sets of four predications concerning the interpenetration of the connected and the restricted. That is, perhaps restricted, because it is this one realm. Perhaps connected, because it includes the ten directions. Perhaps both, because this realm is actually pervasive. Perhaps neither, the two characteristics being ended.

Commentary:

Next, explanation of the two sets of four predications concerning the interpenetration of the connected and the restricted. What follows is an analysis of the two groups of four statements as to whether there is connection with the ten directions or restriction to a single direction and location.

That is, perhaps restricted, because it is this one realm. it may simply be confined to the appearance of the Saha World, at the seven places where the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken, and so restricted. Perhaps connected, because it includes the ten directions. There may be penetrative connection with the Flower Treasury’s worlds of the Buddhalands of the ten directions where the Flower Adornment Sutra is being spoken simultaneously. Perhaps both, because this realm is actually pervasive. It may be that while the Flower Adornment Sutra is being spoken only in the Saha World, it can at the same time pervade throughout the worlds of the ten directions. For instance, in the Saha World the Buddha is seen sitting on the Lotus Flower Lion’s Throne, and in all Buddhalands in the ten directions the Buddha is also seen sitting on the Lotus Lion’s Throne, lecturing Sutras and speaking Dharma. Perhaps neither, the two characteristics being ended. There may not be any connection or restriction at all.

Prologue:

Moreover, perhaps it is restricted, because this realm gathers in all realms. Perhaps connected, because this realm enters all realms. Perhaps both, because it both gathers and enters. Perhaps either, because forms are obscured and characteristics ended.

Commentary:

Moreover, perhaps it is restricted, because this realm gathers in all realms. It may be confined to the appearance of the Saha World but with the Saha World gathering in all worlds. Perhaps connected, because this realm enters all realms. Maybe while in this world it penetrates through to all of the other worlds of the Flower Treasury. Perhaps both, because it both gathers and enters. It may be that while in this world it both gathers all other worlds into this one, and enters into all those other infinitely many worlds as well. Perhaps neither, because forms are obscured and characteristics ended. The aspects of one may cover up those of the other and vice-versa, so there is no connection or restriction. In that case, when the connected and the restricted inter-penetrate, the two characteristics of connection and restriction both come to an end.

Prologue:

Furthermore, if one uses a single dust-mote to represent kshetras, there are also four predications which may be known.

If one proceeds from the minute to the vast, in general there appear ten places.

Commentary:

Furthermore, if one uses a single dust-mote to represent kshetras talking in terms of a minute particle of dust standing for all Buddha kshetras, then there are also four predications which work the same way as the four given above and so may be known. They need no explanation.

If one proceeds from the minute to the vast... “The minute” means what is very tiny, while “the vast” is what is huge. One world is minute; the worlds of the ten directions are vast. A single mote of dust is tiny; the kshetra lands of the ten directions are huge. One person is minute; immeasurably many people are vast. Vast means the many, while minute means just a few. If one goes from the few to the many, from the tiny to the huge, to discuss this principle, then in general there appear ten places. If they appeared in detail, there would be no way to discuss them, no many and no few.

The Birthday of Dharma Protector Wei T’ou Bodhisattva was just celebrated, and many Dharma Protectors came to participate. They all got along with each other and didn’t fight. They didn’t beat each other up with their jeweled pestles, but protected and supported the Way Place instead. It was a rare Dharma Assembly. Next year there will be a lot more Dharma Protectors than there were this year, and this place may not be large enough for all of them. I think there will be over a hundred next year, as yesterday there were several tens, which can become several hundreds, several hundreds in turn being capable of becoming several thousands, which can become several tens of thousands. The Dharma Protecting Bodhisattvas have inexhaustible transformations, so in this, too, from the minute to the vast, in general there appear ten Dharma Protectors. Yesterday’s ten Dharma Protectors were all extremely high and great. Now do you understand?

Prologue:

First, the seven places and nine assemblies of this Jambudvipa yet also throughout the Dharma Realm, as in the chapter on ascending sumeru. Two, throughout a billion individual realms of the same kind, which also pervade the Dharma Realm, as in the light illumination chapter. Three, pervading kshetras of different kinds, in the shape of trees and so forth. Four, pervading seeds of kshetras. Five, pervading the Flower Treasury. Six, pervading the rest of the seas of kshetras, whether seeds or kshetras. Seven, pervading the previous six kinds of kshetras’ dust-motes, all of which have kshetras of similar and different kinds. Eight, places to the ends of the realm of empty space, and of what is encompassed by the tip of every hair, each of which has boundless seas of kshetras. Nine, like Indra’s net. Ten, the same as all other Buddhas.

Commentary:

First, the seven places and nine assemblies of this Jambudvipa, yet also throughout the Dharma Realm, as in the chapter on Ascending Sumeru. The first is that the Continent Jambudvipa, our Saha World, has seven places and nine assemblies where the Flower Adornment Sutra is spoken, yet those seven places and nine assemblies pervade the entire Dharma Realm, the way it happens in the Chapter on Ascending Mount Sumeru. That chapter says, “When the World Honored One accomplishes Buddhahood, he does not rise from beneath the Bodhi tree yet ascends to the summit of Mount Sumeru to the Trayastrimsha Heaven Palace to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra" The speaking of the Flower Adornment Sutra pervades every possible location. In a summary fashion one talks about seven places and nine assemblies, but actually it extends everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm, the first.

Two, throughout a billion individual realms of the same kind, which also pervade the Dharma Realm, as in the light Illumination Chapter. The second is throughout a billion world realms which also all have a Mount Sumeru, seas of fragrant waters, Iron Ring Mountains, and a set of four great continents. Each one of those world realms pervades the entire Dharma Realm, as the Chapter of Light Illumination describes in great detail.

Three, pervading kshetras of different kinds, in the shape of trees and so forth. The third refers to pervasion not simply of the Dharma Realm, but also to pervasion of all the other different kinds of places where there is flowing water like rivers, as well as lakes and locations with trees, and so forth. Four, pervading seeds of kshetras. Our Lotus Flower Banner World System has twenty tiers, each tier of which has limitless and boundless seeds of worlds. Where we are living now is its thirteen tier. The fourth is to pervade all seeds of worlds.

Five, pervading the Flower Treasury. The fifth refers to pervasion of the worlds of the Flower Treasury. The Thus Come One pervades throughout worlds proclaiming the Flower Adornment Sutra’s wonderful Dharma. Six, pervading the rest of the sea of kshetras, whether seeds of kshetras. The sixth is the pervasion of the rest of the kshetras, seas, and world systems, just as of the ones before, both the seeds of worlds and the worlds themselves. Seven, pervading the previous six kinds of kshetras’s dust-motes, each mote of dust of the previous six kshetra locations, whether the same or different, all of which have kshetras of similar and different kinds. Eight, places to the ends of the realm of empty space, any place with empty space, and of what is encompassed by the tip of every hair. The tip of every hair can encompass dust-motes, so this means any spot that can take in a particle of dust, each of which has boundless seas of kshetras. In each particle of dust there appear Dharma Realms many as boundless seas of kshetras.

Nine, like Indra’net. The places where the Flower Adornment Sutra is spoken are inexhaustibly multilayered, in the same way as the network banner in front of the palace of the god Indra. Its lights all shine upon each other, and its interstices all penetrate each other, so that each light reflects all the other lights in infinite profusion. Ten, the same as all other Buddhas. Not only does Shakyamuni Buddha speak the Flower Adornment Sutra like this, but every Buddha upon accomplishing Buddhahood first speaks the Flower Adornment Sutra in the same way.

Prologue:

Although of the previous ten kinds, each pervades the Dharma Realm, still the first nine are the actual places where Vairochana speaks Dharma. Moreover, of the places where the Ten Dwellings and so forth are spoken, although each pervades the Dharma Realm, up to and including dust and hairs, their doors still are not identical, nor are they confused.

Commentary:

Although of the previous ten kinds of places, each place pervades the Dharma Realm, still the first nine places before are the actual places where Vairochana speaks Dharma. The former nine places are the locations where Vairochana Buddha speaks the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra. Moreover, of the places where the ten dwellings and so forth are spoken, in the Flower Adornment Sutra, when the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Conducts, the Ten Transferences, the Ten Grounds, and Equal Enlightenment are spoken, although each pervades the Dharma Ream, that is, then Ten Dwellings pervade the Dharma Realm, and so do the Ten Conducts, the Ten Transferences and the Ten Grounds, up to and including dust and hairs, up to and including pervading all fine motes of dust and tips of hairs, their doors still are not identical. The doors of the Ten Dwellings are not the doors of the Ten Conducts, nor are the doors of the Ten Conducts the doors of the Ten Dwellings. Their doors are still not the same. Although they are said to pervade the Dharma Realm, nonetheless:
Each well has its location.

Nor are they confused. They are incapable of becoming mixed up with each other. The Ten Dwellings stay the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Conducts remain the Ten Conducts. The Ten Transferences are still the Ten Transferences, and the Ten Grounds stay the Ten Grounds. You cannot say they get mixed up and become indistinguishable. That cannot happen. They cannot become confused.

The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are multi-leveled and inexhaustible. When you understand one principle a bit, it turns out to have another level which you do not understand. When you understand that level, beneath it there is yet another level which you do no understand. They are totally inexhaustible. All these numbers are just to make you realize they are countless. That is why it expresses things in terms of the number of fine motes of dust in kshetras, representing the infinitude of this Dharma. Didn’t I tell you before that it resembles false thinking, false thoughts being infinite as well? The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are infinite in that way, and wonderful! The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is very wonderful, but the Flower Adornment Sutra is even hundreds of thousands of times more wonderful than the Lotus Flower Sutra. Its wonder is so vast it cannot be described. For that reason, the Dragon King stored it in the Dragon Palace. Fortunately, Nagarjuna Bodhisattva went to the Dragon Palace and brought it back so that people in the world could have the opportunity to hear and see the Flower Adornment Sutra.

Now you say, “I’ve been listening to the Flower Adornment Sutra for so long and its principles are simply boundless. First you say something is, and then that it is not; and then it is; then it’s that the many are the few, and next that the few are the many. There is no way to calculate these numbers!” Just wait until you open the wisdom of the Buddha:

One relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom.
Within the ordinary mind one sees the Buddha mind.

Then you will understand. Temporarily, before having reached that state, you shouldn’t worry about not understanding the Flower Adornment Sutra. “If I can’t understand it, then I’m not going to listen to it,” you may say. “Since I can’t understand it, why listen to it?” If you do not hear it, you will never have the opportunity to plant vajra seeds; you will never have the opportunity to hear true and actual Dharma. So, even if you do not understand it, you should listen to and study it. If you already understood it, there would be no need to study it. As it is said:

Upon attaining to the one, the myriad matters come to an end.

When you have obtained the one, everything is over. if you have not obtained the one, you must seek for it. Once you do attain the one, the ten thousand things all come to an end; but before you have attained it, the ten thousand things are not yet ended.

“Well,” you say, “for me, the ten thousand things are ended. I can go to sleep, just shut my eyes, and the myriad things are ended.” Right ... if you could just always keep your eyes shut and sleep. What a pity you can’t! Then you could dream up an emperor like the Monk Shun Chih of the Ch’ing Dynasty. He as a Bhikshu who lay down to go to sleep and slept for sixty years, during which time he went off to be emperor of China. He was emperor for sixty years and then died, at which time the Monk Shun Chih awoke from his leep and spoke the following poem:

I slip off the Dragon robe and exchange it for the sanghati,
Regretting very much that I was off by just a thought.
Basically, I am just a tattered western monk:
What was I doing going to the emperor’s house?!
if you can do that, then it’s okay.

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