THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Sutra Store

Prologue:

Within The First, to start with, the names will be explained, and afterwards the characteristics will be described. 

Now the First, also called Sutra (Hsiu Tu Lu) and called Sutra
(Su Ta Lang), which are southern and northern variations of the Sanskrit sounds.

Commentary:

Within the First, the Sutra Store, transliterated from Sanskrit into Chinese hsiuto lo, which is also called hsiu tu lu, and su ta lang – ultimately what is it? Ultimately it is “Sutra.” And so, within the First, to start with, the name will be explained. The meaning of the term will be defined first, and afterwards the characteristics will be described. Next what it is like will be revealed. Now the first, the explanation of the name, also called Sutra (Hsiu Tu Lu), which is just the same as hsiu to lo, “Sutra,” and called Sutra (Su Ta Lang), which is the same thing, too. It’s the same term, but in some areas people speak with lighter accents, while in other areas the accent is heavier. Where accents are heavier, people have “larger” tongues. Where accents are lighter, people’s tongues re “smaller,” like those of birds, whose called are pleasant to hear; but, since there tongues are small, the sounds of their voices are very attenuate… which are southern and northern variations of the Sanskrit sounds. The Chinese here says literally Ch’u, which means the modern Hunan region, and Hsia, the Ch’ang An area, known infull a Hua Hsia contrasted with Central China which is known as Hua Chung, and the Southern area, known as Ch’u Hsia. It’s referring to the difference between the Northern and Southern accents.

Prologue:

The ancients translated it as “Tallying Text.” In the Wisdom Shastra it is called “The Text Store.”

“Tallying” means tallying with principles and tallying with potentials, “Text” means stringing together, threading through, attracting, and teaching.

Commentary:

The ancients, ancient Worthies, translated it as “Tallying Text”, which in the standard dialect is pronounced ch’i ching, but in Cantonese k’ei king. “Tallying” means:

Above, tallying with the principles of all Buddhas;
Below, tallying with the potentials of living beings.

In the Wisdom Shastra, the Maha-prajna-paramita Shastra, it called “The Text Store.”

“Tallying” means tallying with principles and tallying with potentials, uniting with the principles of all Buddhas and with the potentials of living beings. “Text” means four things:

  1. Stringing Together (kuan)
  2. Threading Through (ch’uan)
  3. Attracting (she); and
  4. Teaching (hua)

They are also listed as:

  1. Stringing together (kuan)
  2. Attracting (she);
  3. Permanent ( ch’ang)
  4. Method (fa)

“Stringing together” means:

Stringing together the meanings that are spoken.

“Attracting” means:

Attracting and holding those of potential who are taught.

Prologue:

It is a text that tallies with principles and unites with potentials, receiving its name from its principal action. A tallying text is a store, being so explained from its containing function.

Commentary:

It is a text that tallies with principles and unites with potentials. To tally with principles means it is in accord with the Buddhadharma, while to tally with potentials means it adapts itself to the situations of living beings. That is what is meant by text. Receiving its name from its principal action.A tallying text, if you talk about it being a “tallying text,” is a store. It takes its name from storing, being so explained from its containing function. “Store” was previously described as a functioning is involved, and this explanation is derived from that function.

Prologue:

Furthermore, it is said that its proper translation is “string,” since a string strings flowers together. “Text” in the sense of “Warp” is what holds the weft. In this area the term “string” is not esteemed, and so the word text is retained.

Commentary:

Continuing to discuss the meaning of the character for “text” which was used to translate the Sanskrit word “Sutra,” Furthermore, it is said, there’s another way of discussing it, namely, that its proper translation, if you really want to translate the literal meaning of “Sutra,” is “String,” a thread or cord. Why? It is since a string strings flowers together. Strings can string flowers together, and Sutras arrange words together in the same way. “Text” in the sense of “warp” is what holds the weft. The threads of the warp, too, are arranged row after row, and they hold the threads of the woof or weft. The crosswide threads are the text, the warp, while the lengthwise threads from the weft. Whichever way you look at the warf – the text – and the weft, the arrangement is row by row, so the loom is used for comparison. The warf is the part that contains and hold the woof or weft. In this area, the term “string” is not esteemed. In China, strings were very ordinary, so if you called Sutras, “strings,” it would be disrespectful, like saying they were common, ordinary tings. If “Sutra” had been translated that way, people would have held Sutras in low regard, since strings are everyday objects with low value, and so the word text is retained. That’s why it was translated as “text” instead of “string.”

Prologue:

It is also said, “As the five parts of India call it ‘String,’ ‘Mat,’ ‘Well-Rope,’ and ‘Sagely Teaching,’ all referring to the Sutra, then ‘text’ is actually in conflict.” To take issue with the ancient worthies, “text” is not in conflict.

Commentary:

There are a lot of rhetorical questions and answers in the text of the Prologue, and so it says, it is also said. Some people say, “as the five parts of India, Northern India, Southern India, Easter India, Western India, and Central India, call it ‘string,’ some call it ‘string,’ while others call it ‘mat,’ or ‘well-rope,’and still others call it ‘sagely teaching’ – all those various meanings referring to Sutra they all mean ‘Sutra.’ Then, according to those explanations, ‘text’ is actually in conflict.” The word “text” they say is somewhat in conflict with those meanings. It is not tally opposed to them, but there is a discrepancy between them. To take issue with the ancient worthies, reprimanding them for their line of argument, “Text” is not in conflict. There is no conflict between “text” and those meanings. Those terms are not irreconcilable with “text.” “To take issue with” means the principles advanced by the ancient worthies were not necessarily right, and so it says, “’text’ is not in conflict.” To translate “Sutra” as “text” fits in with the meaning of “string” and so forth.

Why does it talk of conflict here? It’s because there are some people with nothing to do finding something to do, people with no work to do fearing they’ll be out of a job. They find something to do by saying, “This isn’t right,” and “That isn’t correct,” and “That’s no good.” Archaeologists ten to be like that. They tell you, “You’re all wrong in that. There’s no support for it. My version is right. There is such and such supporting evidence.” Actually, what support do they have? Theirs can just as easily be disclaimed. So, sometimes what the ancients said was not necessarily right. Because of that, when you lecture Sutras, it’s enough to explain the principles appropriately. Once you start saying something is absolutely correct or incorrect, that’s dealing in rights and wrongs – simply gossip.

Once you open your mouth, you’re made a mistake.
If you give rise to thought, you’re committed an error.

Basically, nothing can be said. To talk is to stir something up when there was nothing going on.

Prologue:

Now to examine this in further detail, if the one term for four things is actually in conflict with them all, then the ancients’ objections will stand.

If one connects it with the required meaning, “text” itself pertains to “Mat.” The conflict should be with “sagely teaching.” Therefore, the Liang Samparigraha Shastra translates it as “Sagely Teaching.” That is not the sagely teaching; yet, it accomplishes the sagely teaching, so the name Hsiu To Lo is added.”

Commentary:

Previously it was talking about how the meaning of the character for “text” (ching) was in conflict with the meanings of the Sanskrit word “Sutra,” how that term was not in accord with the principles of the Dharma. Now, to examine this in further detail, we’re going to go into this matter more deeply. If the one term for four things, one name which has four kinds of meanings, is really in conflict with them all, if they basically are not in accord with each other – if you chose one term to stand for one of those meanings, and it does not fit the other three meanings, there is a conflict, and then the ancients’ objections will stand. This first considers the pro’s and afterwards the con’s. This part is discussing the arguments in favor of it.

If one connects it with the required meaning, to discuss the meaning that is in accord with that line of argument, “text” (ching), pertains to “mat.” The term “text” being close to the word “textile,” coincides with “mat,” and not with “string,” or “well-rope,” or “sagely teaching.” The term “mat would fit it, but not the other three meanings. The conflict should be with “Sagely Teaching.”Ching and the name “sagely teaching” would not match. Therefore, the Liang Dynasty translation of the Samparigraha Shastra,translates it as “Sagely Teaching.”That Shastra, the Mahayana-samparigraha Shastra, says, “There is the Abhidharma, which is not the sagely teaching.” “Abhidharma” means Shastra, and they are not the teaching of the Sage; yet, it accomplishes the sagely teaching, it can, nevertheless, bring the principles of the sagely teaching to accomplishment and assist it, so the name Hsiu To Lo is added.” For that reason it is given the additional name of “Sutra.”

If one term has four meanings, of course each will not fit with the other three. That is like the single Sanskrit word saindhava, which had four meanings: salt, horse, drinking water and urinal. If the king called out for one of those things b the name, how could you tell which he wanted? The great ministers who had wisdom would know. For example, if the king was eating and called for saindhava, you could bring him some salt to add to his food. If you brought him the urinal while he was having his meal, it would be wrong. If he were going traveling and said, “Bring my saindhava,” officials with wisdom would bring him horse. If at that point you were to bring some salt when he was just about to go out, it would be useless. If depended upon the wisdom of the people of the time. The officials would realize, “Oh, the king is going out on a trip and wants to ride his horse.” If you brought in the urinal right then, it wouldn’t be right either. But, when the king did want to urinate, and called for saindhava, you would bring the urinal, not some water. For, if he had to urinate, how could he drink water? You couldn’t bring salt or a horse, either. Those who were wised understood what he wanted.

If the king was thirsty and wanted to drink some water and said, “Now I want saindhava,” and you brought the urinal, that wouldn’t work, for the king couldn’t drink urine. Salt wouldn’t do either. The king already thirsty, and salt would just make him thirstier. You couldn’t bring his horse either when he wanted to drink. That’s one word which had four meanings, and the word “text” (ching), is the same. It is a “tallying text,” “tallying” meaning to fit with, and that one term has four meanings.

Prologue:

The ancient virtuous ones, seeing that the followers of Confucius and Micius both called their works “text,” adopted it and elaborated with the term “mat” to designate the sagely teaching. With the inclusion of both meanings, they accord with the practice of both regions. The adopted meaning enriched the term. They further added the word “tallying” to distinguish it from the word “mat,” which was very fitting.

Commentary:

The ancient virtuous ones were people in the past with virtue in the Way. It’s not necessarily referring to specific individuals, but saying rather that all those ancients with virtue, seeing in this way that the followers of “Confucius and Micius both called their works “Texts…” Confucianism’s teaching host was Confucius (family name K’ung, given name Ch’iu) and personal name Chung Ni. Micius (Mi Tsai), maintained a teaching of universal love which was truly vast. Yet Mencius criticized him for being a beast, not a person. If he had only talked and hadn’t actually put his teaching into practice, Mencius would have scolded him even more.

The way it went was that, prior to the time of Mencius, there were Yang Tse (Yang Chu) and Micius. Yang Tse had a philosophy of every man for himself, only looking out for number one, which was the epitome of selfishness. Micius was the opposite, totally altruistic and public-spirited. Yet his altruism was excessive to the extreme. Yang Tse didn’t go far enough, and Micius went too far, so neither was in harmony with the Middle Way.

What was Yang Tse’s every man for himself philosophy like? He said:

If by plucking out a single hair from my body I could benefit the world, I would not do it.

He would not have pulled one hair from his body even if it would have benefited all humankind and made things right with them. His attitude was, “I wouldn’t pull out one of my hairs to help you.” See how selfish that was. Just one hair from his body – it’s not talking bout more than that. There would be even less question of his giving away more than that. But he wouldn’t pull out one hair to help all human beings. That’s the kind of person he was.

Micius was another story, and protested against that attitude saying:

If by plucking out a single hair from your body you could benefit the world, you would not do it. I would let my body be cleaved in two from head to foot if it would benefit the world.

“Provided it would help the world, I would let myself be killed.” Would you say that was actual practice or not? That is truly love for all the citizens of the world. “If it would only help all of you, I would do it. I would not mind my life for that.” He was that admirable, and yet Mencius said of them:

The egoism of Yang Tse means he has no lord. The universal love of Micius means he has no father. One who has no lord and no father is a beast

Mencius said that for Yang Tse there was no lord, no emperor, since he was so selfish he would not help the emperor. He said that in Micius’s universal love, he loved anyone, whether it was or was not his father or mother. His universal love is what many people today profess. His love was so universal that for him no one was his father, because he did not distinguish between those related thing for anybody. No one was more distant or close to him, more related or less related to him. Confucianism advocated that love should start at home, with loving your father, mother, sisters and brothers, and then:

Filiality to one’s own elders carries over to the elders of others.
Care for one’s own youngsters carries over to the youngsters of others.

But he wasn’t that way. Whether close, distant, you, me, others – he loved them all. That was his concept of universal love, which got really messy. So Mencius said it meant he had no father, and that people who recognized neither lord nor father were beasts, simply animals.

Micius, however, was able to put his creed of universal love into practice, and so people believed in him at the time. Yet Mencius – who didn’t enjoy scolding people – scolded him. When he saw those kinds of side-tracked, off-center teachings confusing people and getting away with it, he just had to criticize them. Micius actually did have a lot of talent. He was able to make wooden gliders, flying machines, which could fly several hundred miles through the air – and that was many centuries ago. You say, “We’re never seen that recorded in history.” That’s the way they did things in China. They didn’t write all of that down in books or keep records, so no one believes it. Yet if it had been released, people would have been able to make airplanes and gliders in those early days. China had gunpowder in the Chou Dynasty. It knew how to manufacture it, but did not develop it. The Chinese didn’t want to develop lethal weapons and said, “This stuff is really no good. Let’s not invent any more of it.”

So, the followers of Confucius and Micius both called their works “texts.” In Confucianism there is the Book of Odes, the Book of History, the Book of Changes, the Book of Rites, and the Spring and Autumn Annals – the Five Classics or “Texts.” The word “Book” or “Classic” in referring to these works is the character ching which has been translated “text” in this discussion. The Book of Mencius is called by the same word “text.” So the ancient virtuous ones adopted it and elaborated with the term “mat” to designate the sagely teaching. The Indian word “Sutra” had “mat” as one of its meanings, and so the Chinese word for “text” (ching) or “textile”/”mat” (his ching) was borrowed to indicate the Sagely Teaching. With the inclusion of both meanings, the concept of textile from the Indian term, and the use of the term “text” to mean the Chinese classics of Confucianism and Micius’ teachings, they accorded with the practice of both regions – Indian and Chinese. The meanings in each country were understood by all. The adopted meaning enriched the term. The extra meaning was auxiliary to the meaning the word already had. They further added the word “tallying” to distinguish it from the word “mat.” To call it a “tallying text” (ch’i ching) made it different from the meaning of textile (hsiu ching) contained in the India word, which was very fitting. That was a really good idea, very felicitous and appropriate.

Prologue:

Two, setting forth the characteristics. The four terms of the western region, although they designate different things, are interrelated in meaning. Therefore, they are all called “Sutra.” And so “sagely Teaching” is multi-faceted, comprising the above three meanings.

Commentary:

Two, setting forth the characteristics. The second explains the characteristics of “Sutra,” which had four meanings in India:

  1. string.
  2. mat.
  3. well-rope.
  4. Sagely Teaching.

The four terms of the western region, India, although they designate different things, each having a different name, are interrelated in meaning. They mean just about the same thing. And so are very similar. “String” is something like “mat,” and “mat” is somewhat like “well-rope.” “String,” “mat,” and “well-rope” are all called “Sutra,” and are all called “Sagely Teaching.” Therefore they, those four meanings, are all called “Sutra.”And so “Sagely Teaching” is multi-faceted. It’s a term that covers a great deal. The words spoken by Sages to teach people are called the “Sagely Teaching.” The Sage spoken of here is the Buddha. Sutra, Vinaya and Shastras are all included within it. “Sagely Teaching” includes “string,” “mat,” and “well-rope,” comprising the above three meanings.

Prologue:

Therefore the Samyukta Hridaya says, “’text; has five meanings: One is ‘Bubbling Spring.’ Two is ‘Bringing Forth.’ Three is ‘Revealing.’ Four is ‘Inked Cord.’ Five is ‘ Garland.’ ‘Bubbling Spring’ means a flow without end. ‘Bringing Forth’ means a flow unrolling and bringing up. The meaning is the same as that of ‘well-rope,’ since it draws out. ‘Revealing’ is properly the ‘Sagely Teaching,’ since it reveals specifics and principle. ‘Inked Cord’ means a standard fixed for what is accurate and what deviates. It is also the cord that means ‘text,’ (warp in the context of weaving), which holds the weft, and is similar to the meaning of ‘mat.’ ‘ Garland’ is the same as ‘string,’ for strings link flowers together, connecting them to make a garland.”

Commentary:

Therefore the Samyukta Hridaya“Samyukta Hridaya: is short for the Samyukta-abhidharma-hridaya-shastra, the “Conjoined Abhidharma Heart Treatise,” in which a great many principles are assembled together. In the eighth roll of that treatise it says, “’text’ has five meanings. One is ‘Bubbling Spring.’ It is like a course of water that springs up from the earth. Two is “bringing forth’ all principles. Three is ‘revealing,’ making clear and explaining so that people can understand. Four is ‘inked cord,’ such as those used by carpenters as guidelines. Five is ‘garland,’ in that it is like flowers linked to form a garland.

“’Bubbling spring’ means flow without end. A text is like an inexhaustible source of water that bubbles up from the ground in a continuous and unending flow. ‘Bringing Forth’ means unrolling and bringing up. That is, Sutra text, from being few, grow to be many. The meaning is the same as that of ‘well-rope.’ A Sutra text is like the rope that holds the bucket one lets down in a well to get water, since it draws out. ‘Revealing’ in its meaning is properly the ‘Sagely Teaching,’ the words spoken by Sages to teach and transform people, since it reveals specifics and principle. It makes both phenomena and noumenon appear. ‘Inked Cord’ means a standard fixed for what is accurate and what deviates. With the guideline of an inked cord you can tell what is accurate and what deviates. Without that inked cord as your standard, you would not be able to tell the difference between them, for you would have nothing to measure them against. You wouldn’t be able to tell right from wrong, proper form deviant. A “standard” means a model or pattern.

“It is also the cord that means ‘text’ (‘warp’ in the context of weaving) – the part of a textual arrangement which holds the weft. The warf holds the woof or weft of a loom, and is similar to the meaning of ‘mat.’ It has about the same meaning as that of ‘mat’ or ‘textile.’ ‘ Garland’ is the same as ‘String.’ Some kind of thread or cord must be used to make a garland, for strings link flowers together, joining and connecting them to make a garland. If you have a string, you can thread flowers into a garland. In the same way, if there are Sutras, they can cause people’s wisdom to appear. Wisdom is like the flower garland.

Prologue:

Taken together, the above five meanings do not go beyond “stringing together” and “attracting.”

Commentary:

Taken together means considered in general. Previously the discussion was divided up, but now the above five meanings are being put together. They were:

  1. Bubbling Spring (yung ch’uan)
  2. Bringing Forth (ch’u sheng)
  3. Revealing (hsien shih)
  4. Inked Cord (sheng mi)
  5. Garland (chien man)

Those five meanings do not go beyond two terms which are used to sum them up: Stringing Together” and “Attracting.” “Stringing together” means:

Stringing together the meanings that are spoken.

“Attracting” means:

Attracting and holding those with potential to be taught.

Those two lines include all the meanings of “Sutra.”

If one understands all of the various meanings discussed previously, one will understand why the Buddha spoken all the Sutras.

The Buddha spoke them to cause all of us living beings:

To go back to the origin and return to the source.
To turn away from confusion and take refuge with enlightenment.

That is also:

To turn our backs on the mundane dust,
and unite with enlightenment.

Otherwise, if no living beings listened to the Sutras the Buddha spoke, the Sutras would be useless. Therefore, if there were no living beings, there would be no Sutras; and without Sutras, there would be no way to teach living beings to become Buddhas.

We have listened to a great many Sutras, and we should put them into actual application. Don’t let it be that the more you hear, the more deeply confused you become, saying, “I’ve listened to the Sutras, and I don’t believe them.” Since you listen to the Sutras, you should believe in their principles. You should act upon however much you know of the principles in the Sutras – a little if little, and more if more. The important thing is to actually put them into practice. As it is said:

What is spoken is Dharma;

What is practiced is the Way.
You may speak wonderfully and well,
But if you do not truly practice,
Then there is no Way.

If you don’t cultivate the Way, but say, “I can lecture Sutras,” if all you can do is listen to Sutras but are unable to practice according to them, then it is useless. You have to be able to actually cultivate. What is meant by cultivating? It means getting rid of your faults.

For example, a few weeks ago we matched the line:

Toppling mountains to fill in oceans,
increasing the great earth.

Mountains represent arrogance, and the ocean stands for having an inferiority complex. If you have pride and arrogance, that’s high mountains. If you have an inferiority complex, that’s great seas. With an inferiority complex, you feel, “I’m not as good as other people. I’m a really useless person. I’d be better off dead. There’s no meaning to my being in the world. I should die sooner and next life will be better.” Who would have expect that, not having made a good job in this life, you turn out to have it even worse in your next life.

To die like that is called:

Deserting right before the battle.

In the world, there is still a place to run to. But, if while alive you want to die, once you retreat from that battle, there’s no place else to run – except the hells. When you get there, King Yama says, “Oh? Go try out the Mountain of Knives and the Forest of Swords.” You may think the world’s a bitter place, but it’s far more bitter there. From morning to night you’ll cry like a baby, and no one will save you. But if you topple the mountains and fill in the seas – get rid of your pride and your feelings of inferiority so you don’t look down on yourself – you increase the great earth. You make it level ground. That’s the explanation according to cultivation of the Way.

Another line we had to match was:

Listening to Sutras and hearing Dharma,
one should cultivate the Way.

If you listen to the Sutras and hear the Dharma, you should cultivate. Don’t fail to cultivate. If you don’t cultivate, what use is there in listening to Sutras? What use is there in hearing Dharma? So you have to cultivate. One person did a good job matching with:

To understand the mind and see the nature,
one must investigate Dhyana.

Do you want to understand the mind and see the nature? Then you have to investigate Dhyana. If you don’t investigate Dhyana, there’s no way to understand the mind and see the nature. How do you investigate Dhyana? It’s by sitting in mediation. Someone else matched the line with:

Investigating Dhyana, sitting in mediation, one ends birth and death.

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