THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 2

P3 He repeats Ananda’s question and reveals his mistake.

Sutra:

"If, as you ask, your seeing shrinks and becomes small when you enter a room, then when you look up at the sun is your seeing pulled out until it reaches the sun’s surface? If you build walls and eaves which can press in and cut off your seeing why then is there no evidence of a joining when you drill a small hole? Therefore, that idea is incorrect.

Commentary:

If, as you ask, your seeing shrinks and becomes small when you enter a room
- your idea is that your seeing is something you can open out and fold up and put away again - then when you look up at the sun is your seeing pulled out until it reaches the sun’s surface? Actually, all you need to do to see the sun is to lift your face and look. But if, as you say, your seeing shrinks when you enter a room, by the same token, can you take hold of your seeing with your hand and pull it out all the way to the sun when you look at it? If you build walls and eaves which can press in and cut off your seeing. When you build the house, its walls would be able to press in and cut off your seeing, according to your idea. If your seeing could be severed, you could also connect it up again by drilling a small hole in the wall which you can see through. Why then is there no evidence of a joining when you drill a small hole? For example, if there is a tear in a small robe, a patch will be seen after it is sewn up. In the same way, if your seeing is severed from itself by the walls of a house and then reconnected by a hole, why isn’t there the slightest evidence of the point of connection? There certainly should be some sign of it. Therefore, that idea is incorrect. The doctrine you propose is completely mistaken.

P4 He brings up the cause of the obstruction.

Sutra:

"From beginningless time until now, all living beings have mistaken themselves for things and, having lost the original mind, are turned around by things. That is why they contemplate bigness and smallness in the midst of all this.

Commentary:

From beginningless time until now, all living beings have mistaken themselves for things.
“All living beings” includes beings born from wombs, from eggs, from moisture, and by transformation, as well as beings having form, beings lacking form, beings that have thought, beings that lack thought, beings that do not have thought entirely, and beings that do not lack thought entirely. All have mistaken themselves and considered themselves to be things. They do not know that things are basically objects within their true mind. And, having lost the original mind, are turned around by things. Their true minds are not fundamentally lost, but they seem lost to them. They do not know that they still have their fundamental minds. Thus the fundamental, everlasting true mind is turned around by things, instead of it turning things around. That is why they contemplate bigness and smallness in the midst of all this. You look and say that the seeing is big and then that it is small. That shows that you are completely upside-down. Ananda, you are very pitiful.

P5 He instructs him to turn things around with self mastery.


Sutra:

"If you can turn things around, then you are the same as the Thus Come One.

Commentary:

What is meant here? To be turned around by things means to become attached to whatever outside appearance you encounter, to whatever state you’re in, and to get stuck in it. As soon as you become attached, you run after things. Your self nature loses its control and pursues external states. Once it runs outside after things then the more it runs, the further away it gets. And the further away it gets, the more it runs. It’s like when you lose your way. The longer you are unable to find the way, the more nervous you become. And the more nervous you become, the farther away you go. The farther away you go, the farther you go down the wrong road. Following after things and being turned around by them involves the same principle.

To “turn things around,” now; what does that mean? It means not running after things, but instead having things follow you and run after you.

”Things are inanimate,” you say. “How can they run after me? Living things can run after people, and we people can run after things, because we are animate. But how can things run?”

Don’t be too rigid in your interpretation. Things turn you around, or you turn things around; if you do not run after things, things will be turned around by you: the meaning is that if you understand your true mind, then all external states are merely manifestations of the mind. They are things that are manifested from within your mind. Since they are in your mind, why do you want to run after them? Don’t run after them.

Basically, there is no separation between you and things. To turn things around is to understand that everything is made from the mind alone, that everything is a manifestation of the mind alone. To be turned around by situations is to “turn your back on enlightenment and unite with the dust.” To oppose the doctrine of enlightenment and form an association with external dust, mundane objects, is to be turned around by things. To turn your back on enlightenment and unite with the dust is to form an association with things. It is as when someone wants to open a business but lacks sufficient funds, and someone else offers to buy shares of stock. When you turn your back on enlightenment and unite with the dust, it is as if you had formed a partnership with the dust. You have joined together with it. That is to be turned around by things. If you turn things around, you “turn your back on the dust and unite with enlightenment.” You oppose the things which you see now, you separate yourself from them and unite with enlightenment. It is like turning your hand over. The back of your hand represents turning your back on enlightenment and uniting with the dust. To turn your hand over is to turn your back on the dust and unite with enlightenment. Just turn it over. That is what is meant by turning things around. If you can turn things around, you are the same as the Thus Come One. Why is the Thus Come One called the Thus Come One? Because he turned his head around; he came to understand. He truly understands, and thus he is called the Thus Come One. If you understand your true mind, then you are the same as the Thus Come One.

Sutra:

"With body and mind perfect and bright, you are an unmoving place of the Way.

Commentary:

How can the body and mind be perfect and bright? You have obtained a kind of enlightenment and are the same as the Thus Come One, and so you have light and are especially perfect. You are an unmoving place of the Way. Then wherever you are is a place of the Way. Every place is the dharma body. “A place of the Way” is a place to cultivate the Way. For example, the place where the Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi tree, cultivated the Way, and opened enlightenment is called the Bodhi Place of the Way. Now we are in the Buddhist lecture hall, and so it is called the Buddhist Lecture Hall Place of the Way. If you can turn things around, then wherever you are is the dharma body. Wherever you are is in a state of unmoving suchness. Wherever you go, there is no difficulty. Wherever you go is an unmoving place of the Way. “Unmoving” signifies a kind of samadhi-power. You can turn things around because you have samadhi-power, the power of the great Shurangama Samadhi.

Sutra:

"The tip of a single fine hair can completely contain the lands of the ten directions.”


Commentary:

The tip of a single fine hair
refers not to a hair on the head but to a fine hair on the body. It can can completely contain the lands of the ten directions. The lands of the ten directions are all contained on the tip of a single strand of fine hair. Such a small place can contain the lands of the ten directions. How vast would you say those lands are?

"I don’t believe this principle,” you say. “One of my fine hairs couldn’t even hold a single person, let alone the lands of the ten directions. Not to mention a person, it couldn’t support even a very small particle of something. How could it possibly contain all the lands of the ten directions?”

That is just how wonderful the Buddhadharma is. Your lack of understanding of the Buddhadharma lies just here. Although the tip of a fine hair is small, the small can contain the great. In the small can appear the state of the lands of the ten directions. If you have opened the Buddha eye, you can see this state very clearly. You have that kind of spiritual penetration, that kind of wonderful function. “In the midst of the small, the great appears.” The place is small, but it can manifest a large state. How? Because you are the same as the Thus Come One. The Thus Come One can manifest the great in the midst of the small. He can manifest limitless unbounded lands. That is how wonderful the dharma is.

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