THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 2

Seeing Is Not Separate

N8 He shows that the seeing is not separate.
O1 Ananda doubts that his body and seeing each have a substance.


Sutra:

Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, if this seeing-essence is indeed my wonderful nature, my wonderful nature is now in front of me. If the seeing is truly me, what, then, are my present body and mind? Yet it is my body and mind which make distinctions whereas the seeing does not make distinctions and does not discern my body.

Commentary:

The Buddha expounded this kind of wonderful principle, wonderful dharma, wonderful samadhi, and Ananda still did not understand. Instead, he kept talking. Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, if this seeing-essence is indeed my wonderful nature, my wonderful nature is now in front of me. The seeing-essence which can see is certainly my wonderful nature, and it is before me.” Now he says it is in front of him! “If the seeing is truly me, what, then, are my present body and mind? If my seeing sees me, what then are my present body and mind called? What things are they? Yet it is my body and mind which make distinctions whereas the seeing does not make distinctions and does not discern my body. My body and mind make distinctions, but my seeing, which does not make distinctions cannot discern my body.”

Sutra:

"If it is really my mind which causes me to see now, then the seeing-nature is actually me, and the body is not me.

Commentary:

If it is really my mind which causes me to see now, then the seeing-nature is actually me, and the body is not me.
If you say the seeing-nature is truly the mind, it can cause me to see and the seeing-nature which can see is then truly me. I see, and since I see, I know it is truly mine. But I can’t see my seeing, so in fact, I don’t know if it is mine or not. If the seeing is me, then my body is not me. It becomes a thing. It becomes something else.

When Ananda talks, he truly causes people not to understand. It is fortunate that the Buddha has great knowledge and great wisdom which enables him to answer as he does.

Sutra:

"How is this different from the question the Thus Come One asked about things being able to see me? I only hope the Buddha will let fall his great compassion and explain for those who have not yet awakened.”

Commentary:

How is this different from the question the Thus Come One asked about things being able to see me?
How is this different from what you, World Honored One, asked me earlier? You said, “If seeing is a thing, things should be able to see me.” Now the seeing is in front of me, and it is the same as the doctrine the Buddha spoke earlier. I only hope the Buddha will let fall his great compassion and explain for those who have not yet awakened. World Honored One, I hope you will bring forth the mind of great compassion and explain to me the doctrines which I have not yet understood.

O2 The Thus Come One explains that the myriad dharmas are a single substance.
P1 He scolds him for his false proposal.


Sutra:

The Buddha told Ananda, “What you have now said - that the seeing is in front of you - is actually not the case.

Commentary:

You could say that Ananda is confused within confusion. Actually, though, Ananda is certainly not confused. But he manifests the appearance of being confused in order to cause living beings not to be confused. He is acting as a model for living beings. He enables them to see that Ananda, confused to such an extent, is able to become enlightened. Now as we look into the meaning of the sutra, some people may be more intelligent than Ananda, and they will be even less confused. That is the meaning of it. Earlier in the sutra, Ananda said that his seeing was in front of him and had no connection with his body. Then he asked the Buddha to instruct him about this doctrine. The Buddha told Ananda - since Ananda asked, Shakyamuni Buddha is now going to tell him. “What you have now said - that the seeing is in front of you - is actually not the case. You say that the seeing which can see is in front of you, but your assertion is totally mistaken, completely incorrect.” The Buddha straightened him out immediately.

P2 He dismisses it as the seeing.
Q1 The Thus Come One’s question.


Sutra:

"If it were actually in front of you, it would be something you would actually see, and then the seeing-essence would have a location. It wouldn’t be that there is no evidence of it.

Commentary:

If it were actually in front of you -
if it really were the case that the seeing is in front of you, it would be something you would actually see. You should see the seeing. But you haven’t seen the seeing, so what you have said is wrong. If you actually could see it, then the seeing-essence would have a location. To be in front of you would be to have a location. It wouldn’t be that there is no evidence of it. If the seeing is in front of you, what indication is there of it that makes you think it is there?

Sutra:

"Now as you sit in the Jeta Grove you look about everywhere at the grove, the ponds, the halls, as far as the sun and moon, with the Ganges
River before you. Now, before my lion’s seat, point out these various appearances: what is dark is the groves, what is bright is the sun, what is obstructing is the walls, what is clear is emptiness, and so on from the grasses and trees to the finest particle of hair. Their sizes vary, and since they all have appearances, none cannot be located.

Commentary:

This section of text is spoken to break up Ananda’s attachment. Now as you sit in the Jeta Grove you look about everywhere at the grove, the ponds, the halls, as far as the sun and moon, with the Ganges River before you. Sitting in Prince War-Victor’s grove, among small pools of water here in the sublime abode, looking upward to the palaces of the sun and moon, and facing the Ganges River, now, before my lion’s seat, point out these various appearances. With your hand, point to these various forms, these various shapes and appearances. What is dark is the groves - the places in darkness are the groves of trees; what is bright is the sun - the places where the sun is shining; what is obstructing is the walls, which impede and do not allow things to go through; what is clear is emptiness, which goes through and offers no obstructions; and so on from the grasses and trees to the finest particle of hair. I have been speaking generally; “and so on” includes everything in between that has not been mentioned, from blades of grass to the finest particle of hair. Didn’t I just say,

On the tip of a hair
the lands of the Buddha appear.
Sitting in a fine mote of dust
one turns the great dharma wheel.

A particle, that is, a fine mote of dust, and a strand of fine hair represent the very smallest possible things. Their sizes vary, and since they all have appearances, none cannot be located. Big or small, all these things have a form and appearance, and everything which has form and appearance can be pointed out. Now which among them would you say your seeing is? Which thing is your seeing?

The seeing has been discussed again and again, but Ananda still does not understand, and so the seeing is still being explained. These are the ten manifestations of seeing, ten kinds of distinctions made to point out that the seeing is neither produced nor extinguished, and that it does not come or go. Actually, Ananda had perhaps already understood, but on behalf of living beings he has requested dharma, since many living beings still do not understand. As he investigated the seeing-nature with Shakyamuni Buddha, it was as if they were reciting a play line by line, each in harmony with the other.

Sutra:

"If it is certain that your seeing is in front of you, then with your hand you should with certainty point out what the seeing is. Ananda, if emptiness is the seeing, then how can it remain empty since it has already become your seeing? If a thing is the seeing, how can it be external to you as an object, since it has already become your seeing?

Commentary:

If it is certain that your seeing is in front of you:
if you definitely want to say that your seeing is a thing that appears before you, then certainly it is like an object which has been placed there. Then with your hand you should with certainty point out what the seeing is. If it is in front of you, you should be able to point right to it. Well? Hurry up and speak.

But Ananda did not make a sound. Why? He wasn’t in control. He wanted to bring up another point to discuss, but he hadn’t thought of one yet, so he was still tongue-tied.

Ananda, if emptiness is the seeing, then how can it remain empty since it has already become your seeing? You ought to know this! Don’t you understand yet? At this point the Buddha gets nervous. Basically the Buddha hasn’t any fire but by now it seems likely that his fire rose up. If emptiness is the seeing, it should not have the name “emptiness.” Where has emptiness itself gone off to? Where there is seeing, there should not be emptiness. If your seeing is located there, emptiness should not be there. So which is the emptiness - emptiness or seeing?

If a thing is the seeing, how can it be external to you as an object, since it has already become your seeing? Perhaps you say, “It’s not that my seeing is the emptiness. It’s rather that all the things I see before me are my seeing.” Well, then, what are things? If things are your seeing, they should not be called things. If they aren’t things, what are? Speak up! The Buddha confronts him directly and presses him to answer.

Sutra:

"You can cut through and peel away the myriad appearances to the finest degree in order to distinguish and bring forth the essential brightness and pure wonder of the source of seeing, pointing it out and showing it to me from among all these things, so that it is perfectly clear beyond any doubt.”

Commentary:

You can cut through and peel away the myriad appearances to the finest degree.
Make special use of your brain to think it over and investigate clearly and in minute detail, so that you don’t speak casually and confusedly again. Don’t just answer me without a moment’s hesitation. Now you should exhaust your brain-power to investigate this question. Cut through the myriad appearances - distinguish among the appearances of the ten thousand things as if you were cutting through them and dissecting them with a knife, and peel them away, as if you were using a knife to take the skin off bit by bit.

To distinguish and bring forth the essential brightness and pure wonder of the source of seeing. Clearly distinguish the essential brightness which everyone can see and understand, the most pure and most wonderful source of the seeing that can see. Pointing it out and showing it to me from among all these things. You tell me; you indicate clearly which is your seeing and which are things, so that it is perfectly clear beyond any doubt. Can you make this distinction? Try it out.

Q2 Ananda answers.
Q3 The Buddha seals and certifies him.


Sutra:

Ananda said, “From where I am now in this many-storied lecture hall, as far as the distant Ganges River and the sun and moon overhead, all that I might raise my hand to point to, all that I indulge my eyes in seeing, are all things; they are not the seeing. World Honored One, it is as the Buddha has said. Not merely myself, who am a shravaka of the first stage who still has outflows, but even Bodhisattvas cannot break open and reveal, among the myriad appearances which are before them, an essence of seeing which has a special self-nature apart from all things.”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is.”

Commentary:

Ananda said
, in answer to the Buddha’s instruction: From where I am now in this many-storied lecture hall - the lecture hall had two stories - as far as the distant Ganges River - when I look into the distance I see the Ganges River - and the sun and moon overhead, all that I might raise my hand to point to, all that I indulge my eyes in seeing, are all things; they are not the seeing. When the eyes are lowered or closed they are “stored away,” but to open them up wide is to indulge them. “Anything that I see when I open them and indulge them, anything that can be pointed to, is a thing; it is not the seeing-essence. Nothing can be shown to be the seeing.”

World Honored One, it is as the Buddha has said. It is like the doctrine which the Buddha explained before, namely, that not merely myself, who am a shravaka of the first stage who still has outflows, but even Bodhisattvas cannot break open and reveal, among the myriad appearances which are before them, an essence of seeing which has a special self-nature apart from all things. I am a shravaka who has just begun to study, a sound-hearer who has attained only, the first fruition and whose power of spiritual penetrations is quite small. Therefore I still have outflows, since one becomes a being without outflows only upon attaining the fourth fruition of arhatship. But the Buddha said that not even at the level of a Bodhisattva can one break open the myriad appearances before one, as if one were to cut them open with a knife, and find the seeing-essence among them. “For your seeing-nature is not a thing, and you cannot locate it as a thing among the myriad things.”

The Buddha said, “So it is, so it is. This time you have spoken correctly. That is the way it is.” He said it twice: “Correct; correct.” The Buddha emphasizes the point by repeating himself. This shows that he very much agrees with Ananda’s opinion. He said, “Now your view is not mistaken. It is not like the mistakes you made before.”

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