THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Contents * Door 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6* 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * previous * next ***Preface

Prologue:

Therefore, the Buddha Ground Shastra, Part One, says, “It strings together and attracts, and so it is called ‘Sutra,’ because the Buddha’s Sagely Teaching strings together, threads through, attracts, and holds the meanings that should be spoken and the beings who are taught. This may be the stringing together and attracting of both what is spoken and those taught; or it may be stringing together and threading through the Dharma marks, and attracting and holding those taught.”

Commentary:

Previously it was talking about how the meanings did not go beyond the two terms “stringing together” and “attracting.” The section now confirms the meaning of those two terms. Therefore, the Buddha Ground Shastra, Part One, says…. There is a treatise called the Buddha Ground Shastra, the first roll of which states, “It string together and attracts.”

It strings together the meanings that are spoken, and attracts and holds those with potential to be taught, “and so it is called ‘Sutra.’” That’s why it was given that name, “Because the Buddha’s Sagely Teaching strings together, threads through, attracts, and holds the meanings that should be spoken.” It links together the principles that should be spoken, “And attracts and holds the beings who are taught,” the lb who should be taught and transformed.

“This may be the stringing together and attracting of both what is spoken and those taught.” The stringing together and attracting under discussion may be of both the Dharma that is spoken and those with potential who are taught. “Or perhaps it may be stringing together and threading through the Dharma marks,” the characteristics of the Dharma that is spoken, “And attracting and holding those living beings who are taught.”

Prologue:

Moreover, the Samparigraha Shastra by heavenly relative explains “Stringing and threading” by saying, “That is, because it strings together and threads through the reliances, the marks, the Dharmas, and the meanings.”

Commentary:

Moreover, it now says, in the Mahayana-Samparigraha Shastra, which was written byHeavenly Relative Bodhisattva, it explains the two terms “stringing together” andthreading through” by saying,“That is, because it strings together and threads through the reliances.” “The reliances” means that which is threads through “The marks, the Dharmas, and the meanings.” The principles.

Prologue:

“’The Reliance’ means the particular places where, the particular reasons why, and the particular beings for whom it was spoken.”

Commentary:

What is meant by “reliances?” “’The Reliances’ means the particular places where” the Sutra was spoken. In this case, the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken in the Country of Magadha. “The particular reasons why” means the cause and conditions which resulted in the Sutra being spoken, “And the particular beings for whom it was spoken” means once the causes and conditions exist, then the Sutra is spoken for the sake of those which potential. They are the ones for whom it was spoken.

Prologue:

“’The marks’ means marks of conventional truth and marks of truth in the supreme sense. ‘The Dharmas’ means the skandhas, the realms, the places, the arisals from conditions, the truths, the kinds of eating, the still considerations, the limitless, the formless, the liberations, the victorious places, the pervasive places, the Bodhi Shares, and unobstructed understandings, non-strife, and so forth. ‘The meanings’ are speaking according to secret meaning, and so forth.”

Commentary:

Previously it talked about stringing together the reliances, and now it discusses stringing together the marks. What marks are those? “’The marks’ are of two kinds, which means the first kind is mark of conventional truth, that is, worldly dharmas, and the second kind is marks of truth in the supreme sense.” There is also stringing together “’The Dharmas.’” There are a great many dharmas, but taken together that means they do not go beyond the Dharmas of the five skandhas, the Eighteen Realms, and the Twelve Places.” If they are discussed in detail, they amount to 84,000 Dharma Doors. Taken in general, “Dharmas” refers to:

The Five Skandhas

  1. Form.
  2. Feeling.
  3. Thinking.
  4. Activities.
  5. Consciousness.

The Six Organs: Objects: Consciousnesses:

1. Eye 1. Sights. 1. Eye Consciousness.

2. Ear. 2. Sounds. 2. Ear Consciousness.

3. Nose. 3. Smells. 3. Nose Consciousness.

4. Tongue. 4. Tastes. 4. Tongue Consciousness.

5. Body. 5. Objects of Touch. 5. Body Consciousness.

6. Minds 6. Dharma. 6. Mind Consciousness.

The Twelve Places

The Six Organs: The Six Objects:

1. Eyes. 7. Sights.

2. Ear. 8. Sounds.

3. Nose. 9. Smells.

4. Tongue. 10. Tastes.

5. Body. 11. Objects of Touch.

6. Mind. 12. Dharmas.

The Arisals From Conditions” means:

The Twelve Links of Conditioned Co-Production

  1. Ignorance, which conditions…
  2. Activity. Activity conditions…
  3. Consciousness. Consciousness conditions…
  4. Name and Form. Name and Form condition…
  5. The Six Entrances. The Six Entrances condition…
  6. Contact. Contact conditions…
  7. Feeling. Feeling conditions…
  8. Love. Love conditions…
  9. Grasping. Grasping conditions…
  10. Becoming (Having). Becoming conditions…
  11. Birth. Birth conditions…
  12. Old Age and Death.

The Truths means The Four Noble Truths:

  1. Suffering.
  2. Accumulation.
  3. Extinction.
  4. The Way.

The Four Kinds of Eating are:

  1. Eating by portions.
  2. Eating by contact.
  3. Eating by thought.
  4. Eating by consciousness.

Ordinary people eat by portions – each has an amount of food to eat, a portion. Ghosts and spirits eat by contact. When you offer food to them, they come and use their noses to make contact with the food. The gods eat by thought. As soon as they think of eating something, that kind of food materializes, and it disappears when they have eaten their fill. It’s not like us who think about eating good food, but it never comes, unless we take money and buy it. If you don’t buy it, no matter how much you think about it, it doesn’t think about you. You think it’s not bad, but it thinks you’re pretty rotten, and doesn’t get near you. All the gods have to do is think of it and it comes. They don’t have to buy it. In the heavens of the Station of Boundless Emptiness and the Station of Boundless Consciousness, eating is done simply by consciousness. In eating by thought, they still have to think about it. Here, there is no need to think: their eating takes place by their “consciousness of food.”

It’s very difficult to speak the Buddhadharma. When you speak it, some people believe, and others don’t. They say, “The Dharma Master talked about four kinds of eating. I believe there is such a thing as eating by portions. It does work that way: you have your portion, I have mine, and others have theirs. That’s how we eat. But as to eating by contact, and the ghosts and spirits getting full by contact, how come I can’t get full that way?” Would you like to get full by contact? Then hurry up and become a ghost or a spirit, and then you will. Right now you can’t. But when you smell the aroma of food, you do enjoy it.

Talking about food, you probably think the things we eat are not alive, right? Actually they all have their own lives. Each piece of fruit, for example, has a life to it. If you plant the seeds from the fruit in the ground, they will grow because they’re alive. They have a kernel of life (jen) which is their life. To the ordinary eye, it is just one, but if you open the five eyes, you will see it is really two. You say, “I don’t believe a word of it. That’s just seeing double from having dim vision.” Not bad dim eyes make one see double. But the person who has opened the five eyes can see two: the life and the essence. After you’ve made an offering of the fruit, its life is gone; its essence has been eaten by the ghosts and spirits.

By making contact with it, the ghosts and spirits eat its life-essence. When you make an offering to the Buddha, the Buddha too accepts the essence. So I’ll tell you something, if you eat fruit after it has been offered to the Buddha or to the ghosts and spirits, its favor won’t be nearly as good as before it was offered. Why? It is because its life-essence has died. Before I told you, you didn’t know this secret, and now that I’ve told you, probably no one will eat the fruit used in offerings. However, although the flavor is lacking, it is something left have the favor of Buddhahood. You may plant a seed of Buddhahood: you wish to eat the Buddha’s left-overs, and so you tie up conditions with the Buddha. Now that I’ve said this, probably everyone will fight over offered fruit. Wouldn’t you say that was strange? After it’s been said, you fight over it, but before it was said, no one wanted to eat it. When discussed from one point of view, no one eats it, but discussed from another, you all fight to eat it. Which of the two is right? I don’t know either.

The still considerations are the dhyanas. Dhyana is a Sanskrit word that translates as “still consideration.” There are Four Dhyanas:

  1. The First Dhyana.
  2. The Second Dhyana.
  3. The Third Dhyana.
  4. The Fourth Dhyana.

There isn’t a fifth dhyana, although people who haven’t heard the Buddhadharma before assume after the fourth dhyana there must be a fifth and sixth, and keep adding dhyanas. “Still consideration” means the purifying and quieting down of reflections and considerations. To purify and still one’s reflective process means to turn one’s back on the mundane “dust” and unite with enlightenment. The “Dust” means worldly dharmas, while enlightenment refers to world-transcending dharmas. If you want to turn back from the dust and merge with enlightenment, you have to investigate dhyana, sit in meditation.

When you do that, each person has a different kind of state, yet a similar state too. That’s because when one first starts, the states are different, but ultimately they are the same. When you begin, you feel your legs and back ache and sitting is very uncomfortable. But when you obtain the flavor of dhyana you:

Take dhyana bliss as food
And are filled with Dharma joy.

When you have that experience it won’t make any difference whether you eat or not. During the six periods of the day and night you will be within the flavor of dhyana and sustained by dhyana bliss. That flavor of dhyana is sweeter than either sugar or honey. Every day you drink the water of sweet dew and eat the food of dhyana. Within that state, when it first begins, you feel extremely comfortable and at ease, and very, very happy. Nothing is more comfortable, free, and blissful.

There are people who investigate dhyana to the point that they have skill and can do kungfu. There is a very inconceivable state right before the first dhyana – and so it’s called wonderful. While you are sitting in meditation, by itself your arms can lift and start to perform a very spontaneous kind of kung fu. It’s not as when you study t’ai chi ch’uan and have to exert yourself and follow certain movements. Without your thinking of how to do it, on their own they go through the movements. You don’t have to intentionally extend or flex your arms or whatever – your arms do it themselves. You say, “Is that being possessed by a demon?” No. Some people who don’t know this can happen become alarmed when this kind of movement takes place. Also, your body feels very soft and compliant, as if your bones were all soft as flesh. This is the start of a kind of transformation.

People who cultivate can all do kung fu, and it’s because of that. But to have it happen, you really have to cultivate and investigate dhyana. If you’ve only been sitting for two and a half days, or if when you sit you just strike up false thinking, of course there won’t be any mutual response with the Way. That it is still consideration means as you sit there you need to quiet down your thinking process, put a stop to considerations and reflections. If you start being free from false thinking, your skill will appear. You’ll have kung fu. But you shouldn’t think about that. Don’t think, “The Dharma Master said that I’d be able to do kung fu. I wonder what day that will be.” As soon as you think like that, it will never happen.

If you have thought, it’s false thought.
If there’s no thought, it’s a response.

You shouldn’t have any thoughts. Kung fu comes about from daily cultivation. You don’t make it happen by false thinking about it. Rather, the more false thinking you have, the less chance will there be for your kung fu to appear. It’s just like trees; they grow every day, but you don’t see them growing. The tree itself could never say, “How much did I grow today? How much more will I grow tomorrow?”

Someone says, “Of course it couldn’t think that way, it’s an insentient object.” You see it as insentient, but actually it too grows from using the energy of sentience. The air has sentience within it, and it employs that air. There is wonderful existence inside of true emptiness, even though you see it as merely empty.

There are a number of different states before one reaches the first dhyana, and when one does reach it, there is proof. You can’t just say, “I’ve gone to the first dhyana? There is certification that one has reached the first dhyana, and that is that one’s pulse stops. The person therefore seems dead, except that he hasn’t stopped breathing. If you continue cultivating and use effort and reach the second dhyana, breathing also stops. Then the person really seems dead – except he still has mindfulness, still knows he is sitting in meditation. The thought that he is seated there still remains. It’s the outer breath that ceases in the second dhyana, while the inner breathing is activated. That inner breathing has its own inhalation and exhalation. Then one is like a living dead person: no pulse, no breathing. Yet the person is not dead – it’s just the state of the second dhyana.

When one reaches the third dhyana, thought also disappears. That’s stilling of consideration to the utmost point. When that happens, one is not aware that one is seated in meditation. However, it’s not being a sleep, for people who are asleep still have heartbeats and breathe in and out. In the third dhyana state:

When not a single thought arises,
The entire substance manifests.

You don’t give rise to a single thought. So, some people say they have opened enlightenment, and others claim they have certified to the fruit. That’s truly to know no shame. What fruit have you certified to and what enlightenment have you opened? Have you opened the enlightenment of a dog and certified to the fruit of a cow? What’s dog enlightenment? Dogs are greedy – greedy to become enlightened. Cows are angry – about wanting to certify to the fruit, and say, “How come I haven’t certified to the fruit!!!” The dog says, “How come I haven’t opened enlightenment!!!” They both want to open enlightenment. You can turn around and look and ask yourself if your pulse has stopped and if you’ve still breathing. Is it the case or not that you have:

No self, no others,
No living beings, and no life-spans.

When you are seated there, and also when you get up and walk around, do you or do you not have thought? In walking, sitting, standing, and lying down, are you without thought? If you reach that state, it still doesn’t mean you’ve opened enlightenment or certified to the fruit.

My good gentleman, old cultivator, long-time investigator of dhyana, when you reach the first dhyana, your pulse stops, and you can sit for seven days at a time without getting up from your seat, and without eating or drinking. That’s when you have entered the samadhi of the first dhyana, which is extremely pleasant. There is no happier experience in the world – it’s the happiness of the heavens, not of people. When you reach the second dhyana, you can sit for 49 days at a time without getting up, eating or drinking. While in that samadhi, the joy is far greater than that of the first dhyana. When you reach the third dhyana, you have no thought, and can sit three years at a sitting. So you claim you’ve certified to the fruit, that you’ve opened enlightenment? Can you sit for three days at a time?

For example, Yuan Liao Fan and Ch’an Master Yun Kuo sat face to face for three days, and didn’t strike up a single false thought. Ch’an Master Yun Kuo figured Yuan Liao Fan was enlightened, that he had kung fu and was very pleased with him. But when he asked him, “Yuan Liao Fan, how is it you’ve able to have no thoughts for three days?

Yuan Liao Fan replied, “It’s because I know that every single thing happens spontaneously. What I’m supposed to have I certainly will get; and what I’m not supposed to have, I won’t get even if I think about it.”

Ch’an Master Yun Kuo said, “Oh, I thought you were a great sage and great Worthy, but it turns out you’re just an ordinary, common person.”

Although Yuan Liao Fan knew that everything was spontaneous, he still liked to wear a high hat, and here Ch’an Master Yun Kuo had knocked him off. He was a little upset – it wasn’t as sweet as eating candy, but burned like eating hot peppers. He asked Ch’an Master Yun Kuo, “How come you say I’m an ordinary, common person?”

Ch’an Master Yun Kuo told him, “Ah, for so many years you’ve been tied up by Fate. You can’t get beyond your destiny.”

Yuan Liao Fan asked, “Can one’s destiny be escaped? Isn’t Fate fixed?”

Ch’an Master Yun Kuo said, “You are highly educated. You must have read the Book of Changes where it says:

Pursue good fortune and avoid doing what brings calamity.
Those who do good will have reason to rejoice.
Those who do bad will have calamities.

So you can seek out what’s auspicious, and extricate yourself from the inauspicious. If Fate could not be escaped, how could one “pursue good fortune and avoid doing what brings calamity?”

As soon as Yuan Liao Fan heard that, he really did have a kind of enlightenment, and said, “Oh, so that’s the way it is!” Afterwards, he concentrated on doing good deeds. Each day he did good, and his wife, who was illiterate, helped him. She used a goose-quill to print a red circle in a ledger for each good deed he did. From that time on, nothing happened the way the astrologer had predicted any more.

There’s more to the story. To start with, Yuan Liao Fan hadn’t been a scholar, but was training to be a doctor. That was what his father had wanted him to do, his idea being hat as a doctor he could both rescue the world and bring the dead back to life, in addition to making money to keep himself alive. So Yuan Liao Fan trained to be a doctor. Later on there was an old astrologer and physiognomist who saw him. The diviner, who was named K’ung, had a long, white beard and white hair, but the face of a child. He took one look at Yuan Liao Fan and said,

“You are a Confucian scholar. You could be an official in the imperial government, so why aren’t you studying for the examinations?”

He wasn’t called Yuan Liao Fan then, but Yuan Hsiao Hai, and he said, “My father wants me to be a doctor.”

The astrologer told him, “You could study and be the fourteenth listed Hsiu Ts’ai (one of the highest ranking scholars on the examinations) in such and such a year.” He told him the exact rank, and also what year he would take public office, what year he would take charge of a county, what his salary would be, and how after that, at the age of 54, on the 14th day of the 8 th month he would, at mid-night in his own bed, come to the end of his life and die without an heir – without a son.

Yuan Liao fan took note of what they physiognomist told him and things started turning out that way. He got the rank of Hsiu Ts’ai, did take charge of a county, etc… etc.., as predicted. So all day long he never had any false thinking because it was all laid out in advance and fixed. “What’s mine is certainly mine, and what’s yours is certainly yours; what’s your won’t be mine, and what’s mine won’t be yours,” was his philosophy, and so he didn’t have false thoughts. It wasn’t until he met Ch’an Master Yun Kuo that he realized he was being dead, that one’s destiny is alive not dead, and changed his outlook.

After being helped by Ch’an Master Yun Kuo and starting to do good, nothing the astrologer-physiognomist had predicted for him came true anymore. Then he knew that human life is not predetermined but malleable. That being the case, if you do good, you can have a longer life; and your life will be shorter if you don’t do good. He was supposed to die at the age of 54, on the 14 th day of the 8 th month. But once he started doing good and the predictions stopped coming true, he decided to try to have a son, even thought his chart said he would have none.

He set about performing three thousand good deeds. His method was, as a county magistrate, to reduce the tax burden in his area by one half that year, from two ounces of silver per land holding to one. That way indirectly every person in the county received that gift from him. Then he went and asked the high monks at Wu T’ai Mountain to transfer the merit from that good act to his guest for a son. Not long after, his wife became pregnant and bore a son. He lived to be over 80 years of age. From his story we can see that a person’s life is not fixed. Since one’s life is not fixed, we shouldn’t be bound up by some preconceived notion of our Fate, but should perceive it as alive and susceptible to change. As it is said:

If one’s physiognomy is good, but one’s mind is not good, poverty and suffering will be one’s lifelong lot.

If one’s physiognomy is not good, but one’s mind is good, blessings and honor will be one’s lifelong lot.

If one’s physiognomy and mind are both not good, toil and poverty will be one’ constant fate.

If one’s physiognomy and mind are both good, blessings, honor, and renown will be one’s lifelong lot.

So looking at someone’s physiognomy is not as good as looking at their mind. If your mind is good, then that is true goodness. For that reason, people should not be tied up by Fate. If you want to look into this question in more depth, there is the Autobiography which was written by Yuan Liao Fan which tells about it very clearly. Human Fate is not preordained.

I was asking people who claim to be enlightened if they could sit for three days at a stretch without getting up. Yuan Liao Fan was able to sit for three days, but he wasn’t enlightened, nor had he certified to the fruit – so how much the less have you who can’t even sit for three days. I’m afraid you couldn’t sit still for three successive one-hour periods. In the third dhyana, one can sit for three years, and when one reaches the state of the fourth dhyana, one can sit for nine years without getting up, eating or drinking. At that time, one doesn’t just not have thoughts, but the thought process stops altogether and one’s consciousness doesn’t move. There’s no movement of it, but consciousness still exists.

Those are the states of the Four Dhyanas, also called the Four Still Considerations. There is a great deal that could be said about them, if one does into their subtle aspects. In the first dhyana, for instance, there is no more nose consciousness or tongue consciousness, but only the consciousness of eyes, ears, body and intellect. The positions of the second and third dhyanas are distinctly different positions. There are three heavens to each of the three dhyanas, three to the first, three to the second, and three to the third, while there are nine heavens to the fourth dhyana. They are discussed at length in the Commentary to the Sutra of Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattvas.

There are also The Four Limitless Minds:

  1. The Limitless Mind of Kindness.
  2. The Limitless Mind of Compassion.
  3. The Limitless Mind of Joy.
  4. The Limitless Mind of Giving.

Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Giving are the four.

Kindness can bestow happiness.
Compassion can pull one out of suffering.

With kindness, one gathers in and receives all living beings. That they are limitless means the scope of one’s thinking has no limit, and that the living beings received, taught, and transformed are also limitless. One’s compassion is limitless, and so are the living beings saved and crossed over.

Joy means being happy about others doing well: “When I see people being kind, I follow and rejoice. I’m happy about it and praise them. I do the same when I see people being compassionate and extricating beings from suffering.” That means not being jealous. When one sees others cultivating the Bodhisattva Path, the more they cultivate the more you yourself should be please. You should not say, “I see him cultivating and I’m jealous. How did you get ahead of me in your cultivation?” The limitless mind of joy means that, instead of becoming jealous, one is happy about anybody’s long pints, without a hair’s breadth of jealousy.

But one still has to give up those three limitless minds of kindness, compassion, and joy. If you don’t you’ll have an attachment to: “I am kind. I can bestow happiness upon living beings. I am compassionate. I can rescue beings from suffering. I am joyous – I don’t get jealous.” That’s being unable to put it all down. That’s to have attachments, so the fourth is to give that all up, to renounce the limitless minds of kindness, compassion, and joy – so there isn’t any of that and:

One acts as if not acting.

“Although I practice all that kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy, I don’t attach to the state of practicing them” not to have such attachments is the meaning of giving, which is also limitless, the limitless mind of giving.

Don’t think, “I protect and support the Way Place. I am a Dharma Protector. I have contributed so much money, and I have a good amount of merit and virtue.” Your merit and virtue won’t be slight, but you shouldn’t have that kind of attached attitude. If you do, then it’s slight. If you think it’s not slight, it will be slight, but if you don’t think of it as being great or slight, then it fills the entire Dharma Realm. So every single thing depends upon the one present thought of your mind. If that one thought of your mind is:

So great there is nothing beyond it,
So small there is nothing within it.

Then it is as vast as the Dharma Realm, and as minute as s speck of dust. It’s all in how you use it.

In studying the Buddhadharma, we are just studying how not to have attachments, no mark of self. Without a mark of self, how can there be any suffering or gladness? In studying Buddhadharma, it’s essential not to be jealous. If you are jealous, you will never be able to become a Buddha. Look into this yourself. From ancient times up until the present, from beginningless time, did any Buddha become a Buddha from being jealous? I know you will have to say there never was one. Then why do you want to be a jealous Buddha? There’s no such thing. You also shouldn’t fight to be number one. If you do, you are second-rate. Why? Because you fight. If you do no fighting, engage in no strife, then that is number one. You attain the non-strife samadhi. Don’t be like stupid living beings who are always fighting to be number one – trying to be first in everything.

That reminds me of a story. Once upon a time six animals – a horse, an ox, a goat, a rooster, a dog, and a pig – bowed to each other as brother. Each one wanted to be a big brother, however. The horse said, “None of you can run as fast as I can. In the world there are 1000-mile horses, but no 1000-mile oxen or 1000-mile roosters, not to speak of 1000-mile dogs or pigs. On the basis of the ‘1000-mile horse’ I should be a big brother.”

The rooster wouldn’t stand for that and said, “All you can do is run, but there’s no great use in running 1000 miles. Every day at dawn I wake people up so they all go to word. I help the world most of all. I’m first in my contribution. If it weren’t for my crowing when the sun comes up, they’d keep on sleeping, and the lazy ones never would get up. I should be big brother.”

The ox said, “You won’t do. You can’t be big brother. I’ve got a far harder head with two horns growing from it. If you don’t believe it, try me out, and with one blow I’ll do you in, chicken. How can you be big brother?” The rooster was ruled out, and the ox was going to be it.

The goat wasn’t about to stand for that, and said, “You have a set of horns, but so do I, and mine are even longer than yours. I’m smarter than you too. You have to work all day long, but I don’t have to do a single thing. No one makes me work. I have far greater blessings than you do. I should be big brother.”

The dog wouldn’t stand for that, and said, “Your horns are useless. With one bite I could bite you to death. I should be big brother.”

The pig wouldn’t stand for that and said, “I am actually number one. Which one of you is as fat as I am? See how much flesh I have on my body and you’re so skinny. How can you be big brother?”

They all wanted to be big brother, all fought to be number one. But which one was? None of them.

The formless. “The Formless” means what has no shape or characteristics, which is emptiness. There are four kinds of emptiness, known both as the Four Stations of Emptiness and as the Four Formless Attainments. They are:

  1. The Station of Boundless Emptiness.
  2. The Station of Boundless Consciousness
  3. The Station of Nothing Whatsoever.
  4. The Station of Neither Thought Nor Non-Thought.

The liberations means the Eight Liberations, theVictorious Places means the Eight Victorious Places, and The Pervasive Places the Ten All-Places. The Eight Liberations means eight kinds of attainment of freedom from any kinds of bonds. If the person is strung up by his feet with his head pointing down, then he is said to be hanging upside-down. Ullambana is the day for releasing those who are hanging upside-down, those who have not obtained liberation.

The Eight Liberations:

  1. The Liberation in which inwardly there is the mark of form, and outwardly form is contemplated.
  2. The Liberation in which inwardly there is no mark of form, and outwardly form is contemplated.
  3. The Liberation of the Pure Liberation Body wherein pure liberation has been attained.
  4. The Liberation of the Station of Boundless Emptiness.
  5. The Liberation of the Station of Boundless Consciousness.
  6. The Liberation of the Station of Nothing Whatsoever.
  7. The Liberation of the Station of Neither Thought Nor Non-Thought.
  8. The Liberation of the Samadhi of the Extinction of Feeling and Thinking.

Let’s just say “form” means a good-looking person, to make it clear. For men it would be a beautiful woman, and for women a very handsome man. Why do you want to contemplate that? It’s because you’re not free of it: it’s precisely what you can’t put down. You haven’t seen through it, so you can’t put it down. And do you even want to put it down? If you’re a layperson, it doesn’t matter that you haven’t put it down, for you never intended to, right? But if you are someone who cultivates the Way and wants to put it down, and don’t want to be moved by outer marks of form, you should contemplate like this:

“Ah! This person with form and shape has nine apertures which constantly flow with impurities. What is there to love, attach to or crave about that?” that’s how you should think, about the nine apertures which are always pouring forth filth. The eyes have eye matter, ears have ear-wax. The nose has snot, and there is saliva and phlegm in the mouth – all of which is very dirty. To those seven holes add those for excreting and urinating, and you have the nine holes from which impure substances flow non-stop. If you go without bathing for a few days, your body stinks so no one can bear it since it’s too over-powering. They can’t take the stench. You should see through all that. After death, the body breeds worms, turns blue, turns to pus, and then becomes a skeleton – a whole range of unclean happenings. Make that contemplation for the Liberation in which inwardly there is the mark of form and outwardly form is contemplated.

The Liberation in which inwardly there is no mark of form, and outwardly form is contemplated. Inside there is none of that, so contemplating the marks of such kinds of states, you ought to wake up and understand them. Once you understand them, you won’t crave them; and without that craving you won’t be upside-down.

Why is it that you care so upside-down?
Why is it that you are so confused?
It’s just because you don’t understand this principle!

And so laypeople have no intention of becoming liberated, and even left-home people don’t really want to either. As long as have that attachment, you won’t be free. Those inner attachments tie you up.

The Liberation of the Pure Liberation Body wherein pure liberation has been attained.

The next four Liberations are the Four Stations of Emptiness: the Four Formless Attainments talked about before.

If you are liberated you should even be free of emptiness. Otherwise you still have the fetter of emptiness. You need to get free of consciousness too, or else you will have an obstacle of consciousness.

If you have attachments you can’t be liberated, so you have to study the Eight Liberations. There is liberated knowledge, and there is liberated vision: you should get free of: “knowledge” and become free of views, and have liberated knowledge and vision.

The Eight Victorious Places are based upon the Eight Liberations, and represent supreme knowledge and supreme vision. Such knowledge and vision is not the same as that of ordinary, worthy people, and so it is called “victorious,” supreme, surpassing such knowledge and such views. If you understand the Eight Liberations, also called the “Eight Castings Off the Back,” and the Eight Victorious Places, you won’t be confused. When you study the Buddhadharma, you need to be able to apply it. If you study without being able to apply it, no matter how long you study, it will be useless. If you can apply even one sentence, you will attain advantages.

The Eight Victorious Places:

  1. The Victorious Place in which inwardly there is the mark of form, while outwardly a small amount of form is contemplated.
  2. The Victorious Place in which inwardly there is the mark of form, while outwardly a large amount of form is contemplated.
  3. The Victorious Place in which inwardly there is no mark of form, while outwardly a small amount of form is contemplated.
  4. The Victorious Place in which inwardly there is no mark of form, while outwardly a large amount of form is contemplated.
  5. The Victorious Place of the Color Blue.
  6. The Victorious Place of the Color Yellow.
  7. The Victorious Place of the Color Red.
  8. The Victorious Place of the Color White.

What do you contemplate? You contemplate the corpse of a dead person. What is meant by “a small amount” is a single corpse. You first look a how one person after death swells up and bursts, breeds worms, turns to pus and oozes blood, and turns blue. One uses the Nine Mark Contemplation of a rotting corpse. When your contemplation reaches accomplishment, the many do not obstruct the few, nor do the few obstruct the many. The one is the many, and the many are just the one. Why do you start by contemplating a small amount? It’s because if you contemplated many, your samadhi might scatter, and when you don’t have samadhi, you can’t handle the contemplation of many. When you do have samadhi then you can.

Afterwards come Blue, Yellow, Red, and White. You contemplate lights shining forth:

Blue-colored of blue light; yellow-colored of yellow light; red-colored or red light; white-colored of white light.

When those colors of light are emitted, you should not figure you have attained some kind of certification to the fruit or especially supreme state. See how in the Shurangama Sutra it describes the fifty states of the skandha demons – you don’t want to get caught up in that. You should remain such that:

The eyes contemplate forms outside,
but inside there is nothing.

That is, when your contemplations reach accomplishment, it should be as if no such thing were going on. That way you attain the Victorious Places.

After hearing about the Eight Liberations and the Eight Victorious Places, it’s not enough just to remember them. You then have to perform those contemplations. You should contemplate so you see right through all that, and afterwards put it down. Don’t listen to the Sutras day after day, and have more false thinking the more you hear. To start with, before hearing the Sutras, you had a small bit of liberation; but after listening o Sutras and studying the Buddhadharma, you have no liberation at all. It has all run away. Before studying the Buddhadharma, you didn’t have very much desire. You looked upon all that as very ordinary. But after studying the Buddhadharma, from morning to night you are plagued by filthy thoughts, which never leave you alone. No matter how you try to get rid of them, they won’t go. At any instant, you have impure thoughts, and you can’t find any thoughts that are pure. You can’t manage to have a body and mind, which are pure.

Actually, it’s not that you can’t manage to; nor do you really have more unclean thoughts tan before. It’s just that before you only thought you had a bit of liberation, but in reality you didn’t. That’s because you didn’t understand at the time, and didn’t realize how ferocious the unclean thoughts were. You were always forming a corporation with them, and:

If you draw near the rouge, you turn red.
If you draw near the ink, you turn black.

You were around unclean things, and do didn’t realize how unclean you were. It’s like being in the mud and not thinking the mud is dirty until you get out of it and realized them, and now you do somewhat, and so you feel unclean.

The Ten Pervasive Places, the Ten All Places, are stations of the pervasion of everything. What are they?

The Ten Pervasive Places:

  1. The Pervasive Place of Blue.
  2. The Pervasive Place of Yellow.
  3. The Pervasive Place of Red.
  4. The Pervasive Place of White.
  5. The Pervasive Place of Earth.
  6. The Pervasive Place of Air.
  7. The Pervasive Place of Fire.
  8. The Pervasive Place of Water.
  9. The Pervasive Place of Emptiness.
  10. The Pervasive Place of Consciousness.

Taken together those ten are called the Ten Pervasive Places or the Ten All Places. The reasons black, the fifth of the five colors, is not included is that black if yin. The color black is not very appropriate, and so one contemplates blue, yellow, red and white, those pervasive places. In the Shurangama Sutra is discusses in great detail how each of the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water – pervades all places, talking about seven elements. Here with emptiness and consciousness pervading all places, it is called the Ten Pervasive Places. If you can become liberated based upon that you reach the Victorious Places, in which you can attain victorious knowledge and victorious vision. Then afterwards you accomplish the abilities represented by the Ten Pervasive Places.

Next there come The Seven Bodhi Shares, which form part of the Thirty-Seven Wings of Enlightenment, which are:

  1. The Four Application of Mindfulness.
  2. The Four Right Efforts.
  3. The Four As-You-Will Accomplishments.
  4. The Five Roots.
  5. The Five Powers.
  6. The seven Bodhi Shares,
  7. The Eight Sagely Way Shares.

We’ll take the Five Roots and the Five Powers first. A root is that from which something is produced and grows. From that production and growth, it comes to have a kind of power. It grew up in the first places because it had a root. The Five Roots are:

  1. The Root of Faith.
  2. The Root of Vigor.
  3. The Root of Mindfulness.
  4. The Root of Samadhi.
  5. The Root of Wisdom.

The Thirty-Seven Wings of Enlightenment are a kind of Dharma cultivated within the Hinayana. Nonetheless, they reach through to the Great Vehicle. They are a Dharma held in common by the Great and Small Vehicles. It’s not the case that the Great Vehicle shouldn’t cultivate what the Small Vehicle does. The Great Vehicle comes forth from the Small Vehicle, and the Small Vehicle is included within the Great Vehicle. Without the Great Vehicle, the positions of the Small Vehicle would not be revealed, and without the Small Vehicle, one would never reach the positions of the Great Vehicle. When I spoke Dharma for the people in Australia, I discussed this principle at great length. Therefore, people who cultivate the Great Vehicle should also know the Thirty-Seven Wings of Enlightenment.

Of the Five Roots – “root” meaning that from which something is produced and grows – the first is that one needs to have a root of faith. If you don’t have a root of belief, then there won’t be any way for the remaining four roots to be produced and grow. First you must believe that you yourself are certainly able to become a Buddha. Yet that requires studying the Buddhadharma, and to do that you need vigor. So the second is the root of vigor, which is very important. You can study the Buddhadharma for however long, but if you don’t make progress and are not vigorous, it’s of no use. You must not be lazy or indolent, but at all time watch over the thoughts of your own mind. You need to be vigorous in body, and also in mind; but if that vigor is not constant, if you are vigorous for one day and then rest for three, it’s of no use either. You have to be vigorous both day and night, at all times and in all places, with both your body and your mind, second after second and month after month, constantly.

Once you have that root of vigor, you must be ever mindful of it, and always think about it. Being mindful means remembering. It doesn’t mean studying a lot of Buddhadharma and then forgetting it, so that you turn mute when asked a question. Before you’ve been asked, you have a whole lot to say, but as soon as someone asks you about the Buddhadharma, you close your mouth and can’t speak. Ordinarily, one doesn’t know where all that talk you do comes from you should know the reason you can’t remember is that you talk too much, and that disperses your wisdom so you can’t remember. If you ordinarily didn’t let yourself get so scattered outwards, you would remember, you would be mindful, and the root of mindfulness would be born. After that, you would have samadhi, so when you met with states you would, from having the root of samadhi, be unable to fail to recognize a state or to be confused by one.

With the production of the root of samadhi, the root of wisdom is produced. After it is born, you still have to tend, it, which means cultivating. Then when it grows up, it will have strength which you can use to help you cultivate the Way.

The Five Powers are:

  1. The Power of Faith.
  2. The Power of Vigor.
  3. The Power of Mindfulness.
  4. The Power of Samadhi.
  5. The Power of Wisdom.

When the roof of faith grows large, one has the power of faith. When the roof of vigor grows large, you have the power of vigor. When the roof of mindfulness grows large, one has the power of mindfulness. When the root of Samadhi grows large, one has the power of Samadhi, and when the roof of wisdom grows large, one has the power of wisdom. Each has its own power, together called the Five Powers. They have strength great enough to take you from the position of an ordinary person to the position of Buddhahood. Their power is greater than that of present-day rockets. Rockets have the power to take you from earth to the moon or to other planets, but they can’t take you to Buddhahood. The Five Powers can take you from being common-place to being a Buddha, so their power is far greater than anything science can produce.

When I tell you about the Five Roots and the Five Powers, you should understand how huge their power is. Otherwise you won’t be able to use them. For example, if a hero doesn’t have enough room to employ his martial arts, he may be able to perform kung fu, but can’t since he’s too cramped. That’s just like you saying, “Oh, yes, the Five Powers,” but ultimately not having the faintest idea how great their power is. Now I’ll tell you. There is no power greater than the power they have to take you from the position of an ordinary living beings to the position of Buddhahood. Those five kinds of powers help you not retreat from the resolve for Bodhi, and to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. The Five Roots and the Five Powers are ten of the Thirty-Seven Wings of Enlightenment listed before.

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