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

Prologue:

The meanings established by this master in the extent of their principles are perfectly complete. Only with the name of the Three Stores Teaching does there seem to be a slight overlapping, because the other three teachings also have the three.

Commentary:

The meanings established by this master in the extent of their principles are perfectly complete. Now, National Master Ch’ing Liang is going to determine whether Great Master Wise One who established the previously discussed Eight Teachings was correct or incorrect. He indicates that he feels they were accurately established and very well expressed. Only with the name of the Three Stores Teaching – the Three Stores or Tripitaka Teaching for those of the Small Vehicle – is there a minor problem, he says, Only with it does there seem to be a slight overlapping. It’s not completely distinct but runs into the others somewhat, although not a lot. And so later he’s going to say that it doesn’t really matter. However, the minor overlap is because the other three, the Connective, Separate, and Perfect Teachings, also have the term Three Stores. That means it looks a little like they are mixed up together, since there are places in each of those three other Teachings which discuss the Three Stores.

Prologue:

He did it that way because the Wisdom Shastra mainly calls the Small Vehicle the Three Stores, and because the Accomplishment of Truth Shastra itself says, “I now wish to speak the actual meaning within the Three Stores.”

Commentary:

Now National Master Ch’ing Liang defends Great Master Wise One’s use of the tern “Three Stores” (Tripitaka) to indicate the Small Vehicle Teaching. He did it that way because the Wisdom Shastra, the Maha Prajna Paramita Shastra, mainly calls the Small Vehicle the Three Stores, not only is it because of that, but also because the Accomplishment of Truth Shastra, the Satyasiddhi Shastra, itself says, “I now wish to speak the actual meaning within the Three Stores.” For that reason Great Master Wise One use the term “Three Stores.”

There are people with great intelligence and people whose intelligence is small. Those with small intelligence feel that they are better than everyone else. If it were great intelligence, they would feel they were more stupid than everyone else, since they would have:

Great wisdom which resembles stupidity.

But those with small intelligence not only consider themselves better than anyone, but are jealous of this person and obstructive of that person.

Prologue:

The first, by contrast with the doctor of old’s precepts, Samadhi, and wisdom, sets up these three matters as being distantly dissimilar, and in that it differs from the latter three teachings.

Commentary:

The first, by contrast with the doctor of old’s precepts, Samadhi, and wisdom in the Nirvana Sutras’s analogy. The doctor of old represents those of outside ways, while the contemporary doctor stands for Buddhism. Those of externalist ways also have precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, with two types of each: deviant and proper. But hey don’t clearly distinguish between the two. For example, they hold to the deviant precepts of cattle and dogs. They imitate cows by eating grass instead of food, and by sleeping out-of-doors. They started doing that because some of them obtained something like the heavenly eye which only saw half the picture and had no idea of the rest. They saw a cow reborn in the heavens and thought, “Oh! Cows can go to heaven! I must act like a cow!” so they began eating grass, living in a cowsheds, and being cowlike.

Others one day saw a dog reborn in the heavens and thought, “Oh! Dogs can go to heaven! I should act like a dog!” so they crouch by the door and watch it for people, eat excrement and dung, and in general do what dogs do. Actually, the cow or dog wasn’t born in the heavens because it acted like a cow or dog, but because that particular animal had good and evil karma from past lives. When the evil karma ripened, it became a cow or dog. Having worked through its evil karma, it had good karma remaining which ripened so it was reborn in the heavens. But hose of outside ways who hold to such precepts are unable to see those causes and effects in operation. Having had a glimpse of such rebirth in the heavens, they didn’t even look into the matter closely to discover why it could occur. They simply jumped to the conclusion that by acting like cows or dos they would secure heavenly rebirth as well.

Holding proper precepts, on the other hand, means cultivating the ten wholesome karmic ways – which one does by not committing the ten evil ways of karma – and holding the five lay precepts. Those of outside ways do have proper precepts too, but they prefer to cultivate the deviant ones. Among those of outside ways there are also 95 types of samadhis, along with penetrations which are ghostly, however, not spiritual. They are assisted by evil ghosts and deviant spirits to whom the people keep making offering without realizing they are bad. All day long these kinds of people think, “How can I get some spiritual penetrations and be able to know the past and the future? I should make offerings to the ghosts and sprits so they’ll help me.” They have that kind of also thought every day, and finally get through to the deviant spirits and evil ghosts. Some of them become their informants, whispering things in their ear which other people cannot her.

For example, the ghost may come and say, “Tell that person he’s going to die within a week. I’ve checked it all out clearly. Just tell him you know.”

He tells him, and sure enough the person dies within the week.

Then everyone says, “Oh, you see. He’s got spiritual penetrations! Before the man died he knew the exact day and time!” all the people without eyes believe in those ghostly penetrations of his.

He can also tell people’s fortunes, saying for example, “Be careful! Tomorrow you could be involved in an auto accident it will be okay.” Watch out. If you’re cautious it will be okay.”

Sure enough, the next day the person’s almost in a wreck, but fortunately the car is not totaled and the man doesn’t die. He then says, “That’s because my Teacher So and So told me to watch out. If I hadn’t been careful I’d have been goner;” and after that he really believes in him.

When people believe in outside ways, their faith is very strong, far more so than when they believe in true and actually Dharma. Take a look attachment how much grass there is everywhere in the world, but how rare lotuses are and how they can only grow in the water. Although they emerge from the mud, they are not stained by it – and they are very scarce. Although there’s lots of grass, it hasn’t much use; and even though lotuses are rare, everyone likes them. The 95 kinds of externalists cultivate those kinds of outside-way dharmas, constantly talking of ghosts, spirits, and marvels. They predict good luck and calamities for people, and are concerned with spiritual penetrations and transformations. That’s the constant preoccupation of externalists with their deviant samadhis.

Proper Samadhi, on the other hand, refers to the Four Dhyanas, the Four Stations of Emptiness, and the Four Successive Stages of Samadhi discussed in the Shurangama Sutra.

The Four Dhyanas

The Four Stations of Emptiness

There can be both deviant wisdom and proper wisdom too, the deviant coming from attachment to views of a body and vies of extremes. The externalists base themselves on deviant knowledge and deny cause and effect. They claim there in no purity and no defilement, and so eat excrement instead of grains and, unlike most people, go naked and form nudist camps in the mountains. Now, when swimming in water one can dispense with other clothes besides a bathing suit; but if you go naked in the hills that’s being like a beast. Yet even animals grow fur, shedding their thick coasts in the spring and growing new ones in the fall to keep off the winter cold. But those outside ways go nude in the hills saying they have no mark of men or women; and lots of senseless people think it’s incredibly wonderful to go join them in studying such upside-down dharmas. That’s deviant knowledge and deviant views.

Once there was an old cultivator, but one somewhat on the order of those externalists who eat excrement and go nude. Although he claimed to be a Buddhist, all he cultivated were outside ways. That meant his outlook and knowledge were deviant. One day a person came and asked him, “You’re an old cultivator with a lot of practice behind you, but does a great cultivator fall within cause and effect or not?” That’s what he asked him, meaning, “for you, is there cause and effect?”

The old cultivator very casually, without a moment’s hesitation, replied majestically, “Great cultivators do not fall within cause and effect!” he bellowed it out. Now, that one sentence might not have seemed important, but when he died he because an old fox. That doesn’t mean he was an old fox when he was born, but rather that the fox lived many, many years – not just 500 but more than 5000 – and turned into an old fox essence. The old fox essence had some conditions with Ch’an Master Pai Chang. It began to turn up attachment the Master’s Sutra lectures, taking on the appearance of an elderly layman with a long white beard and the ruddy face of a child – for it had spiritual penetrations by then.

Day after day that layman came, and one day he didn’t leave after all the others had gone. After Sutra lectures people are supposed to depart right away, not linger on. It is only common courtesy to allow lecturers to get away, not tie them up and make them stay. They may want to rest after the effort they have made, but be embarrassed to simply walk out when you try to detain them, yet be afflicted that you still don’t feel they have done enough. That day, however, the old fox essence didn’t leave.

Ch’an Master Pai Chang asked it, “Old gentleman, where do you live?”

It replied, “Elder Dhyana Master, I live on the mountain behind here.”

Ch’an Master Pai Chang said, “Then why don’t I recognize you, since you live back there?”

The old fox essence said, “It’s only natural that you don’t recognize me. I’m not a person.”

The Master asked, “Well, then, what are you?”

It said, “I am a fox.”

Dhyana Master Pai Chang exclaimed, “What do you mean? You’re a person now, so how can you be maintaining you’re an animal?”

The fox said, “It’s the truth.” Then it knelt in front of Dhyana Master Pai Chang and said, “In the past I, too, was a person who cultivated the Way, but I cultivated outside ways and was very arrogant. I was especially unprincipled in what I said, very brash and flippant, not afraid of anything. I didn’t fear cause and effect. One time a person asked me, ‘Do great cultivators fall within cause and effect?’”

Dhyana Master Pai Chang asked, “So what did you reply?”

The fox said, “I told him they didn’t fall within cause and effect, and just form that one sentence I became a fox, and I haven’t been able to get free of this fox body in all this long, long time.”

Ch’an Master Pai Chang said, “Oh, you were really wrong.”

“How was I mistaken/” the fox asked.

Dhyana Master Pai Chang said, “Great cultivators are not unclear about cause and effect. It’s not that they don’t come under it; they are not obscure about it. They would never fail to understand cause and effect.”

As soon as it heard that, the old fox suddenly opened enlightenment and exclaimed, “Oh! So that’s how it is! I really was wrong.” As soon as it had admitted its mistake and understood, it was free. The next day it didn’t’ come to the Sutra lecture, but in the evening came and told Ch’an Master Pai Chang, “Having received instruction form you I’ve achieved understanding, and no longer have to have this body of a fox. Tomorrow if you go to the mountain out back you’ll find an old white fox body – which will be the me of right now, though not the me of the future. You could use a Buddhist ceremony and give me stinking skin bag some kind of burial.”

Dhyana Master Pai Chang agreed. The next day he went out to the mountain, and sure enough attachment the mouth of a cave there was a fox that had died a natural death. The Master said, “Good indeed, good indeed! Now you’ve attained rebirth. We’ll use the ceremony for members of the Sangha to perform the funeral.” Then he called out all of the left-home Dharma Masters form the monastery to help send it off to rebirth. They recited the Going Off To Rebirth Mantra 49 times and spoke Dharma for it, and the story came to an end.

The reason that person had turned into a fox was from denying cause and effect, saying he didn’t fall under it. That shows how dangerous the deviant wisdom of externalist ways can be. We who study the Buddhadharma must be extremely careful to have proper knowledge and proper wisdom. Only true and proper wisdom will work.

Those with deviant knowledge and deviant wisdom have attachments, attachments to views of a body and views of extremes. They say, “This body is me. All of this belongs to me.” It never occurs to them that when they die that body is not theirs, and that all fo their possessions belong to someone else. Their attachments are extremely heavy and so they deny cause and effect, saying there is no such thing. They develop worldly knowledge and argumentative intelligence – deviant knowledge and deviant views. For that reason, in the future it’s not even sure they will get to be foxes, but are in danger of turning into a much lower order of animal – perhaps a tiger or a dung beetle in a latrine. It’s not fixed. Because they don’t believe in cause and effect they get to have a taste of it, the product of their deviant wisdom.

Proper wisdom, on the other hand, results from understanding that views of a body and views of extremes are incorrect, and not having attachments. People who are like that can say, “This body is a false combination of the four elements. Attachment the time of death when the four elements disperse, this body disappears. So I shouldn’t be attached to it or to views of extremes.” People who do hold to extremist views have lopsided outlooks, never thinking along the lines of the Middle Way but always going off to one side or the other instead. People acquire proper knowledge and proper wisdom form being able to see through and put down views of a body and of extremes. When they do that, their wisdom opens, and in addition they obtain unimpeded eloquence. Then they tell you,

“You absolutely must be sure to deeply believe in cause and effect. Don’t disbelieve it! If there’s the cause there will be its effect. If you plant good causes you will reap good effects, and if you plant evil causes the effects you’ll reap will be evil. If you plant melons that’s what you’ll harvest, and you’ll get beans if it’s beans you’ve sown. If you put in potatoes they won’t grow to be hot peppers.”

When they start talking about the truth of cause and effect, their eloquence becomes unobstructed as they speak all wholesome dharmas. When people hear them talk they say, “He’s right. I should reform and become a new person. I won’t be that confused and muddled anymore. I won’t drink wine the way I used to so much, or smoke the way I used to, smoking so much. And I won’t take dope the way I did so much.” They understand, an example of using all wholesome dharmas.

Cleverly employing the wearisome dust to dot he Buddha’s work;

Well knowing the expedients to cross over living beings.

Their proper knowledge and proper views come from believe in cause and effect which gives them proper and accurate wisdom.

There is another explanation of great wisdom, which is “not having wisdom.” How can that be? If you still have a “wisdom,” how can that be called great wisdom? Any wisdom that can be “had” can’t be considered great. It’s when wisdom is not “had” that it is great.

You may say, “Well, I don’t have any wisdom.” But there still is a problem with that, for if you know you don’t have wisdom, that’s still “having” wisdom. If you don’t “know,” then that’s really great wisdom:

Great wisdom which resembles stupidity.

Greatly wise people seem stupid. For example, they see things wrong with people, but don’t talk about them. If they were to discuss others’ faults, that wouldn’t count as great, for the great should include the small. If you understand, then anything is right; if you lack understanding, then everything is wrong. Whatever people do, in doing it they think they are acting correctly, or they wouldn’t act that way.

You may say, “There was at least one time when I clearly knew something was wrong but still wanted to do it, and in fact did it.” That wasn’t understanding clearly but rather understanding obscurely. If you had truly understood, how could you have gone ahead and done it? You sort of understood, but not really. Your understanding was muddled, so you didn’t understand that it was muddled.

The text here is talking of how the Three Stores Teaching is contrasted with the doctor of old’s precepts, samadhi, and wisdom – the deviant version of them – and how it sets up these three matters, those three dharmas, as being distantly dissimilar to them in all particulars; and in that it differs from the latter three teachings, the Connective, Separate, and Perfect Teachings’ doctrines. Because of that, it is appropriate and correct for Great Master Wise One to use the name “Three Stores” for the Small Vehicle Teaching.

Prologue:

That is because the doctrine of the Connective Teaching fuses the three, because the Separate Teaching relies on the one dharma nature to reveal the three, and because in the Perfect Teaching the three and the one are non-obstructive.

Commentary:

That is because the doctrine of the Connective Teaching fuses the three. This may be interpreted in two ways. On the one hand you could say that the doctrine of the Connective Teaching connects the previous Three Stores Teaching with the Separate Teaching and the Perfect Teaching which come after it. On the other hand it could be saying that the three -- the Connective, the Separate, and Perfect Teachings – all fuse and interconnect with each other. Either explanation will work. It is also because the Separate Teaching relies on the one dharma nature. the Buddhanature which all people have is replete with all dharmas and free from any errors that could arise from the five desires for sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and objects of touch. Those errors are avoided by holding precepts, and the Paramita of Holding Precepts is therefore used to accomplish Buddhahood. The Separate Teaching, which is that of Prajna, is spoken based upon the single nature of dharmas – in order to reveal the three. “the three” here can mean either the Connective, Separate, and Perfect Teachings, or else precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. And in the Perfect Teaching the three and the one are perfectly fused and non-obstructive. The three are just the one, and the one is just the three. They do not interfere with each other. That is called “perfect,” which can be explained as either the three – the Connective, Separate, and Perfect – interpenetrating with the one, the Three Stores Teachings, or with the one which is their totality; or else as the interpenetration of the one Dharma Nature and the Three Non-Outflow Studies of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. In any case its meaning is that of perfect interpenetration without obstruction.

Prologue:

The reason it is not called the Small Vehicle teaching is that this teaching also has the Great Vehicle, for the Bodhisattvas of the six paramitas have cut off and ended the thirty-four minds and become true Buddhas.

Commentary:

The reason it is not called the Small Vehicle teaching is that this, the Three Stores teaching also has the Great Vehicle, for in it there are the Bodhisattvas of the six paramitas.

The Six Paramitas

Most of you are familiar with these Six “Crossings to the Other Shore,” but they’re new to people who haven’t heard Sutras before, and bear repetition.

Giving means giving to others, not trying to get others to give to you – don’t be as in the saying:

Left-home people aren’t greedy for wealth: the more the better!

If you yourself don’t give, no one will make offerings to you; and the reverse holds true, too.
If you plant melons, you get melons.
If you plant beans, you get beans.
If you give away wealth, you’ll get wealth back.
By renouncing one, you acquire ten thousand.

Give away a dollar and you’ll have $10,000 later on. People who are rich have all practiced giving in the past, which is why they have money now.

You may say, “But these days some political systems advocate ‘no rich or poor.’”

If so, then why do the officials in power try to get possession of the entire country’s wealth? If there’s really not supposed to be rich or poor, then there shouldn’t be any possessions attachment all. It’s still possessions whether in the hands of officials or citizens. Their method doesn’t work, because they deny the law of cause and effect which says that if you plant good causes you will reap good fruits, and reap gad ones if you plant bad causes. People do it to themselves.

The second Paramita is Holding Precepts. By maintaining them without violation you can also reach the other shore.

“I don’t have any money to give, and holding precepts isn’t easy either,” you protest.

Then practice Patience, the third Paramita. Whoever scolds you or beats you, you don’t get angry, but simply contemplate and say, “They are helping me perfect the Paramit of Patience:

If one scolds the old fool, the old fool just says, ‘fine.’

Scold me some more.” When they scold you some more you say, “It would be even better if you scolded me again.” Do that, and the angriest person won’t be able to stay mad attachment you, since he or she can’t get a rise out of you or make you laugh or cry.

If one beats the old fool, the old fool nods off to sleep.

“If one spites in my face, I let it dry by itself.

That way I save my energy, and you don’t get afflicted.”

That kind of Paramita is truly the jewel within the wonderful!

Upon hearing this kind of news, what fear is there of not accomplishing the Way?

If you can do that, you’re cultivating Patience.

You say, “Being patient isn’t easy either.” Then cultivate the Dharma door of Vigor. Be vigorous in the six periods of the day and night, and you’ll arrive attachment the other shore.

You object, “Vigor is too hard. Bowing to the Buddhas, reciting Sutras, and always keeping attachment it without a moment’s break – being that busy makes one really tired!” then cultivate Dhyana-samadhi. Sitting in mediation and entering Samadhi won’t fatigue you.

“But if I’m always in Samadhi I’ll forget everything,” you protest. If you want to think of things, then study wisdom – Prajna Paramita – which means understanding everything. But that means understanding that everything is empty and contemplating it as such. Any of the Six Paramitas lead s to the other shore.

A Bodhisattva is one who crosses himself over and also crosses other over, benefiting and enlightening himself, and also helping others to do so themselves. He must universally rescue all living beings, and make the vow:

As long as a single being has not become a Buddha,

At death I won’t seek the leisure of Nirvana.

The Bodhisattvas of the Six Paramitas have cut off and ended the thirty-four minds. The Thirty-four Minds begin with the Eight Patiences and the Eight Wisdoms, making sixteen Minds. Then there are Nine Ways of Non-Intermittence, also called Ways of Non-Obstruction. The first translators called them Ways of Non-Obstruction, but later translators of a more scientific, innovative bent termed them “Ways of Non-Intermittence.” There are further Nine Liberations, making Eighteen Minds; and sixteen plus eighteen makes Thirty-four Minds.

The Thirty-four Minds:

8 Patience

8 Wisdoms

9 Ways of Non-Intermittence

+ 9 Liberations

= 34 minds

This is how they work. When one cultivates the Four Truths and cuts off delusions, that is known as wisdom – but to have wisdom one must be patient. For example, when ignorance or thoughts of desire come along, you have to be patient in the face of them – which is Patience with the Dharmas of Suffering. You mustn’t think of them as pleasure but as bitterness, and bear what you cannot bear. When the fire of desire scorches you, it’s ferocious; but hold on and don’t go running after such thoughts. Then wisdom will arise and you’ll realize, “Oh, basically there was nothing to it – just false thinking.” That’s Wisdom Concerning Dharmas of Suffering, which you acquire from having been patient when confronting them.

The next is Patience with Dharmas of Accumulation. This means putting up with afflictions which are not easy to bear – but you have to. Once you do, Wisdom Concerning Dharmas of Accumulation if produced. Then there’s Patience with Dharmas of Extinction and Wisdom Concerning Dharmas of Extinction. But dharmas are not easy to extinguish.

Even dharmas must be renounced, much more non-dharmas.

You even have to put the Dharma down, and must demolish non-dharma even more, so there is:

No knowing and no attaining.

That’s extinction. Patience with Dharmas of the Way and Wisdom Concerning Dharmas of the Way means when you cultivate the Way you’re patient first, and afterwards wise. That makes four Patiences and four Wisdoms.

There is also Patience with Kinds of Suffering, of which there are many. If you can vear them, you achieve Wisdom Concerning Kinds of Suffering. It works the same for Accumulation, Extinction, and the Way, making Eight Patiences and Eight Wisdoms.

The Nine Non-Intermittences and Nine Liberations work like this. The Three Realms – the Desire Realm, the Form Realm, and the Formless Realm – divide up into Nine Stages, each of which ahs nine categories of view delusions which you cut off through cultivation. The entire Desire Realm constitutes one Stage, called the Stage of Mingled Dwelling of the Five Destinies of the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, and asuras live together on it.

There are four Stages to the Form Realm, which correspond to the Four Dhyanas.

The Four Dhyanas

Then one adds the Four Formless Stages, also known as the Four Stations of Emptiness.

The Four Formless Stages

(The Four Stations of Emptiness)

That gives Nine Stages or Grounds, in each of which one must cut off nine categories of view delusions. The delusions are simply the three poisons – greed, hatred, and stupidity – with nine intensities to them.

The Nine Intensities

In discussing greed, hatred, and stupidity, you have to know the intensity you are dealing that though they may have a Mount Sumeru, they couldn’t give any of it away. Others have no greed, and even if all they had was a tiny mote of dust, they could give it away.

Right when one is about to cut off one intensity and one category of view delusions that is called a Way of Non-Intermittence, or Way of Non-Obstruction, for nothing stands in your way attachment that moment. When you’ve actually accomplished the cutting off of the category of view delusions, it’s called a Way of Liberation, for one has broken through and become free of that much ignorance.

View delusions arise from ignorance, since that’s where greed, hatred, and stupidity come from. They were divided up into so many parts, and now they get cut off. When that which prevents you from doing so is cut off, it’s called a Way of a Non-Intermittence or Non-Obstruction; and when you’re actually rid of it, it’s a Way of Liberation. There are, therefore, Nine Ways of Non-Intermittence and Nine Ways of Liberation, one for each category of view delusions. Also, you have to cut off nine categories in each of the Nine Stages. You cut off those of the Desire Realm, but that leaves those of the Form Realm. When they’re cut off, those of the formless Realm remain. When all are cut off, one certifies to the First Fruit of Arhatship, known as the Way of Seeing.

In the text, the Thrity-four Minds have been cut off and ended, and the Bodhisattvas have become true Buddhas, Reward Body Buddhas. When you lecture, you have to know hot to talk, and for that you require understanding. You can’t just speak off the top of your head. In this country there are many self-styled patriarchs who, without knowing what a Bodhisattva or an Arhat is, proclaim themselves such. Yet their Arhats and Bodhisattvas don’t make it; and they end up ghosts of ignorance. They don’t call themselves that of course, since it doesn’t sound as good as being called a Buddha, Bodhisattva, or Arhat whom people all must respect. With such titles they can manipulate people. But they are ghosts of ignorance since they themselves don’t understand and go on to teach others lack of understanding – the ignorant teaching the ignorant like the blind leading the blind. They can’t bring themselves to admit they don’t know, but instead say, “We’re all Bodhisattvas!”

If you like to study the Dharma here, you are welcome to. But if you feel what I say doesn’t make sense, you can find someone who you feel understands more. I would never prevent any disciple of mine from going to study with someone else. I’m happy if you want to go, and happy if you come. The door’s open. In either case, everything’s okay.

previous * next * Contents***Preface

return to top