THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

For this reason, as regards those three periods of time, the first falls to the extreme of existence, the next falls to the extreme of emptiness, and neither is the ultimate meaning. The final period is the statement both that the everywhere-calculated nature is empty and that the two remaining constitute existence, which tallies with the Middle Way and so is the ultimate meaning.

Commentary:

For this reason, the reason given in the previous discussion of the principles of the Three Natures, as regards those three periods of time, the first Period involves attachment to existence, and so falls to the extreme of existence, the next Period involves attachment to emptiness, and so falls to the extreme of emptiness. Each inclines to one side or the other, and so neither Period’s Teaching is Dharma of the ultimate meaning. In the final period is the statement both that the everywhere-calculated nature is empty – that everything is empty and non-ultimate -- and that the two remaining, the nature That Arises Dependent on Something Else and the Perfectly Accomplished Real Nature, when understood, constitute wonderful existence. Wonderful existence is true emptiness, and true emptiness is wonderful existence. With wonderful existence and the emptiness of the Three Non-Natures, the Nature Everywhere Calculated and Attached to, the Nature That Arises Dependent on Something Else, and the Perfectly Accomplished Real Nature are all gone; which tallies and agrees with the principle of the Middle Way and so that Teaching is the principle of the ultimate meaning.

Prologue:

This was determined based upon the Deep Secret Sutra.

Two, Shastra Master Wisdom Light who received his distant transmission from Manjushri and Nagarjuna, and his proximate transmission from Nilanetra and Bhavaviveka. He based himself upon such Sutras as the Prajna and such shastras as the Madhyamaka, and so forth.

Commentary:

This, the assessment of the Teachings of the Dharma Marks School established by Shastra Master Precept Worthy, was determined based upon what is said in the Deep Secret Sutra.

Two is Shastra Master Wisdom Light (Jnanapragha) who received his distant transmission from the two great Bodhisattvas Manjushri and Nagarjuna (“Dragon Tree”), and his proximate, near transmission from the two Shastra Masters Nilanetra (“Blue Eye”) and Bhavaviveka (“Clear Discussion”). Continuing their line in direct transmission, He based himself upon such Sutras as the Prajna Sutras, the Nirvana Sutra, and the Dharma Flower Sutra, and on such Shastras as the Madhyamaka Shastra, the Shastra on the Awakening of Faith in the Great Vehicle (Mahayanashradhotpada Shastra by the Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha), the Great Perfection of Wisdom Shastra (Mahaprajnaparamita Shastra by the Bodhisattva Nagarjuna), and so forth to establish his Teachings of Three Periods.

Prologue:

He also established Teachings of three periods which explain the Great Vehicle doctrine of Marklessness as the true and ultimate meaning. They are: that the Buddha at first in the Deer Park spoke the small, explaining the mind and the states as both existent. Afterwards in the middle period, for those of average faculties, he spoke the Great Vehicle doctrine of dharma marks, the principles of consciousness – only of states being empty and the mind existing. That was because their faculties were inferior and not yet able to totally enter the undifferentiated sameness of true emptiness. At the end in the third period, for those of superior faculties, he spoke the Great Vehicle doctrine of marklessness, determining that the mind and states are both empty, with the one flavor of sameness, as the true and ultimate meaning.

Commentary:

He, Dharma Master Wisdom Light (Jnanaprabha) of the Dharma Nature School, also established Teachings of three periods of time: initial, intermediate, and final, which explain the Great Vehicle doctrine of Marklessness as the true and ultimate meaning. He said that the Teaching of Marklessness – Real Mark – was the true and actual Great Vehicle Dharma of Sameness. What are his Three Periods of time? They are: that when the Buddha at first in the Deer Park for the Five Bhikshus spoke the Dharma of the Four Truths, it belonged to the Small Vehicle. It was explaining the inner mind and outer states as both existent, and so it fell into existence. Afterwards in the middle period, for those of simply ordinary, average faculties suited neither to the Great or Small he spoke the Great Vehicle doctrine of dharma marks. The principles he explained were not in that case that mind and states were both existent, but instead the doctrines of consciousness only -- Dharma Marks -- School of states being empty and the mind existing. That dismissed outer states as non-existent, but still considered the mind to exist, saying:

The Three Realms are only consciousness;
The myriad dharmas are only from the mind.

That kind of doctrine was taught to those kinds of living beings because their faculties were inferior and not yet of highest level. They were not able to totally tally with and enter the principle of the wisdom of undifferentiated sameness of true emptiness and wonderful existence.

At the end in the third period, for those people of sharp, of superior faculties who had wisdom, he spoke the Great Vehicle doctrine of marklessness, determining not only that the mind is empty but that the mind and states – inside and outside -- are both empty. As it is said:

The eyes see forms outside,
But inside there is nothing.
The ears hear defiling sounds,
But the mind does not know.

With that principle of the one flavor of sameness of true emptiness and wonderful existence as the true and ultimate meaning it was wonderful Dharma of the utmost truth.

Why did the Buddha speak of existence instead of emptiness at that time for those of the Small Vehicle, and only of the emptiness of states but not of the mind during the intermediate period? It’s because if you start right out talking to those of the Two Vehicles emptiness, how there is nothing whatsoever and hat all return to nothing being obtained:

No knowing and no attaining,

They hear and are scared. They exclaim, “Then what are we cultivating for? If nothing exists and everything is empty, it’s the same whether we cultivate or not.” They are terror-stricken and cease to cultivate out of fear.

Someone may be told at first that the Buddhadharma is very easy to cultivate – that whoever cultivates becomes a Buddha; but after cultivating for awhile it turns out not to be so simple. After a day of cultivation one still doesn’t understand. The next day one cultivates a bit more, but still is somewhat confused. The day after that, one cultivates but sill can’t figure out just how deep or great the Buddhadharma is. At that point one feels like retreating and wants to leave the Way Place, yet still can’t quite give it up. So half-way along the road one gets stuck and strikes up false thinking all day long wondering, “What’s to be done? In cultivating the Buddhadharma there’s nothing whatsoever. No matter how much one cultivates it’s still all the same. I am just as much of a monkey as I was before, and just as lazy. I haven’t changed at all.” One doesn’t know what road to take.

So the Buddha didn’t tell them about emptiness in the beginning, and even later only described half being empty with a half that still existed. It was only at the end that he said there was nothing at all, that when all is empty wonderful existence appears, and that you can’t attain to wonderful existence until all is empty, since it is within true emptiness. Then can there be wonderful existence apart form true emptiness? No. It’s within it. If you are truly empty you’ll have wonderful existence. If you lack it you aren’t truly empty.

At the beginning of the Ch’an session I spoke the verse:

Those from the ten directions have assembled,
And together study the unconditioned.
This is the field where Buddhas are selected:
The one whose mind is empty takes first place.

People have come here from the ten directions – or you could say it was transformation bodies of the Buddhas of the ten directions, not their Dharma bodies. Then each person could be a transformation body of a Buddha of a direction. Maybe you are Buddha’s transformation bodies from the zenith and I’m a transformation body of a Buddha from the nadir. Someone else could be from the East, another from the West, and others from the North and South – it’s not fixed. All have assembled and together study the Dharma of the unconditioned – how to be very natural, uncontrived, and not attached to marks. The unconditioned is just the Dharma of marklessness for which, as I’m always telling you, you simply need to have no afflictions and knock over Mt. Sumeru.

Somehow or other this year I ended up discussing the Dharma of the non-existence of the four Marks of Conditioned Dharmas. That’s an intertwining of response and the Way. Don’t get the idea that when I write these verses I plan them for several days ahead. I write them on the spot, and the essays and longer poems too. I’ve never been into working it all out – I just write and that’s it; and I hardly ever revise, unless I inadvertently write the wrong characters. So, we’re studying unconditioned Dharma, and this is a Way Play where Buddhas and Patriarchs will be picked. But you’ll only win top honors – get selected o become a Buddha – if your mind is empty, the “honor” being to return to the origin and go back to the source.

For people who are using effort it is very important not to be stiff and attached, not to hang on so tightly that you can’t let go. In cultivating you have to be flexible. If you’re stiff and rigid you will:

Enter the fire and catch a demon.

But you can’t get lazy either on the pretext that laziness and taking it easy are what is meant by not being rigid, and fall asleep as you please – for that’s also a mistake. You should remember:

If you go too fast you’ll trip.
Tarry and you’ll fall behind.
Never rush and never tarry and
You’ll get there right on time.

In archery for example, if you pull the bowstring too taut it will break and you won’t be able to shoot the arrow. On the other hand, if you draw the bow too slowly there won’t be any strength behind it and your arrow won’t go anywhere. But if you don’t overdo it or underdo it, you’ll hit the bull’s eye with a single shot if your aim is correct.

Here’s something else of importance. Every day we live inside this icebox, but don’t feel it’s cold. People who visit, however, often feel they cannot take it, and one person has even renamed Gold Mountain Temple “ Cold Mountain Temple.” If people can manager to stay in spite of that, it’s”

Practicing what is difficult to practice,
Bearing what is difficult to bear.

So, after this, no matter where you go, you don’t need to fear it will be an icebox Way Place, because since you’ve come from one icebox it’s basically no problem to go into another. That’s one thing I won’t have to be concerned for you about. But when you do go some place that’s not an icebox, don’t wear as many clothes!

Yet even though we’re living here in the icebox, I still feel it’s quite hot. Didn’t you see how my brow was sweating just now? If I sweat in the icebox, I’d do so even more outside it. But we should remember that when our Patriarch Shakyamuni Buddha was on Ice Mountain it was a lot colder than in an icebox -- for it basically was a mountain of ice, far more freezing than a simple box of ice. Yet he sat in meditation for six years there, bitter as it was, and afterwards achieved Buddhahood. We here living in the icebox should be at all times remember that it was on ice mountain that our ancient Patriarch Shakyamuni Buddha accomplished the Way – not on fire mountain. If you can always keep that in mind, you won’t be afraid no matter how cold it gets. That’s why I still sweat, and if you do not believe it, if you think that way yourself you too will sweat. That’s because:

Everything is made from mind alone.

If you think it’s cold, it’s cold. If you think it’s hot, it’s not. If you think it’s suffering, it’s suffering. If you think it’s bliss, it is bliss. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is not blissful of itself. It’s just that when one is born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss one feels blissful and had that kind of happiness.

Even though we are here in a building which is like an icebox, it’s not an icebox. Don’t get that wrong and start figuring, “Oh, an icebox is where one keeps things to eat. How can people live in one?” Don’t think it’s really the case just because I say it’s that way. It is an analogy, an example. Shakyamuni Buddha became a Buddha after living on ice mountain. Now as we live here in the icebox, what do you want to become? Everyone think it over.

You say, “I never thought about that, about what I want to become.” Then I’ll tell you first what I wan to become: a cold ghost. But I don’t want you to turn into that, but instead to become cold-accomplished Buddhas. If you don’t become Buddhas form the cold, I’ll become a frozen ghost for sure. If you do all become Buddhas, however, then I’ll follow along after you and become a Buddha too. That’s because if you all got to be Buddhas and I didn’t, it would be too unfair. There has to be justice in the world, and if the disciples get to be Buddhas, even if the Teacher has turned into a frozen ghost, he should get to turn into a Buddha. That’s my hope. What your hopes are I don’t know. Why do you want to live in an icebox?

Do you know or not? If you know, I don’t have to tell you. If you don’t know, I will. It’s because you have conditions with the cold.

All dharmas are produced from conditions.
All dharmas are extinguished from conditions.
Our Buddha, the Great Shramana
Constantly speaks that way.

So, we live in the icebox due to having icebox causes and conditions – or how would we have gotten into he icebox? That’s something you cannot deny. You have to admit you have those causes and conditions, which right now you must undergo.

People who don’t believe in causes and conditions don’t accept their fate. If you believe in them, you’ll accept it. Accepting your fate is for example realizing, “If I’m good to people but they aren’t good to me, if I help people and they don’t help me, if I don’t scold people but people scold me, it’s all due to causes and conditions. As is the cause so is the effect. The cause being such, the condition is also thus. It’s never off.”

You say, “Well, I don’t believe that.”

When the time comes for you to believe, you’ll believe. Now that time hasn’t come, so you don’t. By the time you do believe, however, it will be too late.

So, people come here to be cold, and yet:

If you don’t undergo suffering,
You won’t enjoy blessings.
If you don’t undergo demons,
You won’t become a Buddha.

Demons help Buddhas becomes become Buddhas, and so I say:

Accepting fate, one should be content,
And rid oneself of afflictions,
Neither liking sounds or forms,
Even less desiring profit and fame.
Glare at me, I do not see it.
Scold me, I reply with courtesy.
Hit me, and I kneel before you,
Only laughing, never crying.
Among humans, such a one is rare.
In the world, you will not find him.
He is a true disciple of the West,
Who’s attained the mani pearl.

“Accepting fate, one should be content.” For example, if I’m a left-home person and no one makes offerings to me, I should think, “That’s just the way it’s supposed to be. If people do make offerings, that’s the way it’s supposed to be too.

Obtaining, one is not delighted;
Losing, one does not worry.

“If people make offerings to me, I shouldn’t get happy about it, and if they don’t I should not worry or fear starving to death.

If one knows how to be content,
One is always happy,
If one can be patient,
One is peaceful of oneself.

So, accepting fate one should be content, “And rid oneself of afflictions.” The natural result of contentment is that one no longer want afflictions and chucks them in the garbage for compost, “Neither liking sounds of forms.” One no longer craves music or beautiful forms, “Even less profit and fame.” Far from seeking to be famous, one even forgets one’s own name, and basically has none. “What name do I have? What am I called?” One forgets—because names are false and don’t deserve one’s attention. One isn’t greedy for money either. “Glare at me, I do not see it.” You may glare at me in hatred, but that’s your business; I do not see. “Scold me, I reply with courtesy.” If you tell me off I apologize and say, “I’m really sorry that I made you so mad,” in a very courteous fashion pointing out the principle involved. That doesn’t mean telling the other person he or she is wrong and you are right, which is basically irrelevant. It just means being polite.

“Hit me, and I kneel before you.” If someone strikes me I just kneel down.

You may object, “What use is that?” Well, what use is here in not kneeling? “Only laughing, never crying”—all I can do is smile, and not cry. “Among humans such a one is rare.” You won’t find anyone else like that in the world, so it’s truly to be number on. “In the world, you will not find him,” anyone like that. “He’s a true disciple of the West,” a true Buddhist disciple, “Who’s attained the mani pearl.” He has the precious jewel, and so doesn’t have a temper –no greed, anger, or stupidity, nothing at all. That’s someone with:

Great wisdom which resembles stupidity.
Great cleverness which is like clumsiness.

There is a saying that goes:

When one becomes as if greatly clumsy,
That is cleverness.
When one learns to be as if stupid,
One is rare in the world.
People think it’s very odd to see a person with no temper.

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