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Introduction:  Importance of the Sutra   *   Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma

Chapter 5

Then the World Honored One upon the Lion’s Throne emitted simultaneously from his five extremities a precious light which shone far throughout the ten directions to anoint the crowns of as many Thus Come Ones and Dharma-Prince Bodhisattvas as there are motes of dust. 5:185

All those Thus Come Ones also emitted from their five extremities precious lights which were as numerous as motes of dust and which came from the various directions to anoint the crown of the Buddha as well as the crowns of all the great Bodhisattvas and Arhats in the assembly. 5:186

Groves, trees, pools, and ponds all proclaimed the sound of Dharma. The lights blended and criss-crossed like a jeweled silken net. It was an unprecedented event for everyone in the great assembly, and they all attained the Vajra Samadhi. 5:186

Then the heavens rained down hundreds of precious lotus flowers of variegated combinations of green, yellow, red, and white. All the space in the ten directions turned the colors of the seven gems. 5:187

This Saha world with its mountains, rivers, and great earth disappeared totally, and all that could be seen were lands as numerous as motes of dust coming together as one realm. Pure praises in songs and chants spontaneously pervaded in celebration. 5:187

Then the Thus Come One said to Dharma-Prince Manjushri, “You should now contemplate these twenty-five great Bodhisattvas and Arhats who are beyond learning. 5:189 .

”Each has explained the initial expedient in his accomplishment of the Way. All say they have cultivated to true and actual perfect penetration. Their cultivation is equal without distinctions of superior and inferior or earlier and later. 5:189

”I now wish to cause Ananda to become enlightened, and so I ask which of these twenty-five practices is appropriate to his faculties, and which will be, after my extinction, the easiest expedient door for living beings of this realm to enter in order to accomplish the Bodhisattva vehicle and seek the unsurpassed Way.” 5:190

Dharma Prince, Manjushri, receiving the Buddha’s compassionate instruction, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and, basing himself on the Buddha’s awesome spirit, spoke verses to the Buddha. 5:191

“The sea of enlightenment in nature is perfect and clear.
Complete, distinct Bodhi is a miraculous source.
But when basic brightness shone so that objects appeared,
With objects’ existence, the nature’s brilliance ceased. 5:192

”Confusion and falseness bring about emptiness.
Relying on emptiness, time and space take form.
Thoughts settle, making countries and lands.
What knows and feels becomes living beings. 5:192

”The emptiness created within Great Enlightenment,
Is like a single bubble in all the sea.
Lands like fine dust motes, subject to outflows,
All come forth out of empty space.
Just as the bubble bursts, space is no longer there.
How much the less the three states of being! 5:193

“Returning to the source, the nature is not two.
Many are the entrances through expedients;
None of them does the sagely nature fail to go through.
Compliant or adverse, all is expedient.
First resolve and entering samadhi,
Come slow or fast as there are different norms. 5:194

”Form and thought combined become the ‘dust.’
Their essence is not discernible.
How can one use what lacks clarity,
And expect to gain perfect penetration? 5:196

”In sounds, language is intermingled.
But the meaning in a word, a name, a phrase,
Is such that no single one can include them all.
How can this bring perfect penetration? 5:196

”Awareness of smells comes through contact with them.
Apart from them, one does not know that they exist.
Since sensation of them is not constant,
How can one reach perfect penetration? 5:197

”Flavors are not to us fundamental.
They only exist when there is something to taste.
Since this sensation is not perpetual,
How can one derive perfect penetration? 5:197

”Touch becomes clear only when something is touched.
Without an object there can be no contact.
With fluctuation between contact and separation,
How can one gain perfect penetration? 5:198

”Dharmas are known as ‘internal dust.’
Reckoned as ‘dust,’ they are certainly sense objects.
Involvement of subject and object cannot be pervasive;
How then can they lead to perfect penetration? 5:198

“Although seeing itself is clear and penetrating,
Making bright what is before one, it cannot shine behind.
Ever reaching only half the four directions,
How can it manifest perfect penetration? 5:199

“The nose’s breath penetrates in and out.
But in the rests between there is no air.
These interruptions render it inconsistent.
How can one use it for perfect penetration? 5:199

”The tongue is not an organ apart from cause;
Flavors form the source of its sensation.
When flavors cease, it knows nothing at all.
How can it attain perfect penetration? 5:200

”It is the same for the body as for objects of touch.
Neither can be regarded as a perfect awareness.
With defined and limited invisible divisions,
How can it be used for perfect penetration? 5:200

”The mind’s knowledge is a mass of deliberations.
What it perceives is never profound insight.
Unable to get beyond reflection and thought,
How can it reveal perfect penetration? 5:200

”The seeing-consciousness combines three aspects.
Probe its origin: it has no appearance.
Since its very substance is variable,
How can it bring perfect penetration? 5:201

”The heart of hearing penetrates the ten directions.
When borne on the strength of great causes,
Those of initial resolve cannot enter this way.
How can one expect to gain perfect penetration? 5:201

”Reflecting on the nose is a provisional method.
It only serves to gather in and settle the mind.
Once settled, the mind is simply still.
How can that be perfect penetration? 5:202

”Speaking Dharma through the medium of language,
Is enlightened to by those of former accomplishment.
But words and phrases are not free of outflows.
How can this make perfect penetration? 5:202

”Refraining from transgressions only controls the body.
Lacking a body, there is nothing to restrain.
Since its source is not all-pervasive,
How can it bring perfect penetration? 5:203

”Spiritual penetrations are based on past causes.
What connection have they with distinguishing dharmas?
Conditioned thought is not apart from things.
How can one attain perfect penetration? 5:203

”One may contemplate the nature of earth,
But it is firm and solid, not penetrable.
What is conditioned is not the sagely nature.
How can one use it for perfect penetration? 5:204

”One may contemplate the nature of water,
But such mental reflection is not the true and real.
This state of suchness is not an enlightened view.
How can it give perfect penetration? 5:204

”One may contemplate the nature of fire,
But admitting dislike is not true renunciation.
This expedient cannot be one for beginners.
How can one use it for perfect penetration? 5:205

”One may contemplate the nature of wind,
But movement and stillness are not non-dual.
Duality cannot bring highest enlightenment.
How can one expect perfect penetration? 5:205

”One may contemplate the nature of emptiness.
But, its aspect is murky and dull; it lacks awareness.
What is unaware is different from Bodhi.
How can it bring perfect penetration? 5:206

”One may contemplate the nature of consciousness;
But one is regarding a consciousness that is not eternal.
Even the thought of it is empty and false.
How can one get perfect penetration? 5:206

”All activities are impermanent.
So, too, mindfulness has its origin in rising and ceasing.
Since cause and effect go beyond cause and effect,
How can we use it for perfect penetration? 5:207

“I now say this, World Honored One,
Buddha, who has revealed the Saha world:
In this land the true substance of teaching
Resides in hearing the sounds purely.
If one wants to attain samadhi,
hearing is the best way to enter. 5:207

”Apart from suffering, liberation is found.
How excellent is he who contemplates
the world’s sounds! 5:208

”Throughout kalpas as numerous as Ganges’ sands,
He enters Buddhalands as many as fine dust motes.
Obtaining great power of self-mastery,
He bestows fearlessness on living beings. 5:209

”Wonderful is the sound of Guan Shi Yin,
A pure sound, like the ocean’s roar.
He saves the world and brings peace to all within it.
He has transcended the world,
and his attainment is eternal. 5:209

”I now make this report, 0 Thus Come One,
Regarding what Guan Yin has just explained:
It is like someone in a quiet place
When drums are rolled throughout the ten directions,
Hearing at once the sounds from all ten places.
This, then, is the actual true perfection. 5:210

”The eyes cannot see through solid forms.
Mouth and nose are much the same.
The body registers awareness only through contact.
Tangled in thoughts, the mind lacks clear connections. 5:210

”Sounds can be heard even through solid walls.
One can listen to things both near and far.
None of the other five organs can match this.
It, then, is penetration true and real. 5:211

”The nature of sounds is based in movement and stillness.
One hears according to whether there is sound.
With no sound, there is said to be no hearing.
But this does not mean that the hearing has no nature. 5:212

”In the absence of sound, the nature is not gone.
Nor does it arise in the presence of sound.
Entirely beyond production and extinction.
It is, then, truly everlasting. 5:212

”Ever-present, even in dream-thinking,
It does not disappear when conditions and thought are gone.
Enlightened, this contemplation transcends cognition,
Reaching beyond both the body and the mind. 5:213

”Now, in the Saha world, the theory of sounds
Has been proclaimed and understood. 5:213

”Living beings are confused about the source of hearing.
They follow sounds and so they turn and flow.
Ananda’s power to remember was exceptional;
Nonetheless, he fell prey to a deviant plot.
Was it not from heeding sounds that he was nearly lost?
By turning back the flow, one will make no such mistake. 5:213

”Ananda, you should listen attentively:
I rely upon the Buddha’s awesome power,
In describing to you the Vajra King,
A samadhi inconceivable of likeness to illusions.
It is the true mother of all Buddhas. 5:215

”You may hear the secret Dharma-doors
Of Buddhas as numerous as motes of dust,
But without first renouncing desire and outflows,
You may amass learning, but you will still make mistakes. 5:216

”You concentrate on learning to uphold the Buddha’s Dharma.
Why don’t you listen to your own hearing? 5:218

“Hearing does not spontaneously arise;
Because of sound it gets its name.
But when hearing returns and is free of sound,
What does one call that which is set free? 5:218

”As soon as one sense-organ returns to the source,
The entire six are liberated. 5:220

”Sight and hearing are like an illusory covering.
The Triple Realm, a vision of flowers in space.
When hearing reverts, the cataract is gone.
The ‘dust’ gives way to pure and perfect insight. 5:220

”When purity is ultimate, the light is penetrating.
A stillness shines and includes within it all of emptiness.
Looking at the world from this point of view,
Everything that happens is just like a dream.
Matangi’s daughter, too, is part of the dream.
Who was able, then, to physically detain you? 5:221

”It is like a puppeteer who plays with shadows
And works the dolls to seem as real as people.
Although one sees them move about freely,
They are really governed by a set of strings.
Cease operating the controls and they return to stillness.
The entire illusion is without a nature. 5:222

”The six sense-organs are also thus.
At first there was one essential brightness.
Which split into a six-fold combination.
If but one part ceases and returns,
All six functions will stop as well.
In response to a thought, defiling objects vanish,
Becoming pure and wonderful perfect brightness. 5:223

”If there is residual defilement, one must still study.
When the brightness is ultimate, that is the Tathagata. 5:224

”Ananda, and everyone in the great assembly,
Turn yourselves around and revert the hearing.
Return the hearing and listen to the self nature
Till the nature reaches the supreme way.
That is what perfect penetration really means. 5:224

”It is the gateway entered by Buddhas as many as dust motes.
It is the one path to Nirvana.
Thus Come Ones of the past perfected this method.
Bodhisattvas now merge with this total brightness.
People of the future who study and practice
Will also rely on this Dharma.
Through this method I, too, have been certified.
Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva was not alone in using it. 5:225

”As the Buddha, the World Honored One, requested,
I choose sincerely a skill-in-means,
One to save those in the final aeon
Who seek to escape the mundane world,
And perfect the heart of Nirvana:
The best way is to contemplate the sounds of the world. 5:226

”All the other kinds of expedients
Require the awesome spirit of the Buddha.
In some cases they bring immediate transcendence,
But they are not the customary means of practice,
Spoken for those of shallow and deep roots alike. 5:227

”I bow to the Ones Come Thus and the Tripitaka,
And to those inconceivable ones with no outflows,
Trusting they will aid those in the future,
So that no one will doubt this dharma-door.
It is an expedient easy to master;
An appropriate teaching for Ananda
And for those immersed in the final age.
They should cultivate this organ of hearing,
A perfect penetration that surpasses all others.
It is the way to the true mind.” 5:228

Thereupon, Ananda and all in the great assembly experienced a clarity of body and mind. Having attained such profound instruction, they contemplated the Buddha’s Bodhi and Parinirvana like someone who, having traveled far on business, knows that he is on the road home, though he has not returned completely. 5:229

Throughout the entire assembly, the gods, dragons, and all the eightfold division, those of the two vehicles who were not yet beyond learning, as well as all the Bodhisattvas of initial resolve, as numerous as the sands in ten Ganges Rivers, found their fundamental mind and, far removed from dust and defilement, attained the purity of the Dharma Eye. 5:230

The Bhikshuni named “Nature” attained Arhatship after hearing this verse. 5:230

And limitless beings brought forth a matchless, unequalled resolve for Annuttarasamyaksambodhi. 5:231

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