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Seeing Does not Intermingle

VOLUME 2, Chapter 1


N6 He shows that the seeing does not intermingle.
O1 Ananda doubts the self-nature because of the unclear intermingling of material things and the seeing.


Ananda said, “I recognize that the seeing-nature does not return to anything, but how can I come to know that it is my true nature?”


The Buddha explains it once for Ananda and he does not understand. He explains it twice and he still doesn’t understand. He explains it three times, four times, five times, six times and still he does not understand. He still has not recognized his true mind clearly. Now Ananda has another doubt.

Ananda said, “I recognize that the seeing-nature does not return to anything.” The word “recognize” reveals Ananda’s doubt. In fact, he says he knows that the seeing-nature does not return to anything, as the Buddha has just explained, but in fact he doesn’t know what it is ultimately all about. Within his “knowing” that the seeing-nature does not return, a doubt has already arisen, a doubt which resides in and is produced from the so-called knowing.

But how can I come to know that it is my true nature? Now he makes it even clearer. “I know it does not return, but for it not to return is one thing; how do I know it is my true nature?” If he had no doubts, if he really recognized it, how could he fail to know it is his true nature? He knows the doctrine of being unable to give the seeing-nature to anyone, but he still does not know that the seeing-nature is truly the nature of his mind. After all that the Buddha has explained, Ananda still doesn’t have a mind. It is still lost, because he still doesn’t recognize it and still doesn’t know he has it. I believe that at this point in the sutra, Ananda was at a total loss.

O2 The Thus Come One divides material things and the seeing clearly to reveal the self-nature.


The Buddha told Ananda, “Now I have a question for you. At this point you have not yet attained the purity of no outflows. Blessed by the Buddha’s spiritual strength, you are able to see into the first dhyana heavens without any obstruction, just as Aniruddha looks at Jambudvipa with such clarity as he might an amala fruit in the palm of his hand.


The Buddha sees that Ananda is simply too pitiful, because he puts all his effort into literary learning. He asks questions repeatedly, and he doesn’t understand after repeated explanations. One complication after another arises. As it is said, “Branches spring from the joints.” There aren’t any branches, but Ananda wants to produce leaves by making branches spring from the joints. Since Ananda was so pitiful, the Buddha taught him, using the spirit derived from the “great kindness where there are no affinities” and the “great compassion where the substance is the same.” You should be most compassionate towards whoever has the least affinities with you. That is what is meant by “the great kindness where there are no affinities.” If they have no conditions with you, if they don’t get along with you, you should have a compassionate attitude toward them.

I have told you that “one person is all people; all people are just one person.” One is all, all is one. That is what is meant by great compassion where the substance is the same. For example, I consider your difficulties as I would my own. No matter what, I think of a way to alleviate your difficulties. Thus I often see some of my disciples smoking cigarettes, and I hope that they will put a stop to their smoking. If you stop smoking, you can breathe the same air as the Buddha. If you don’t stop, then the clouds you breathe in and the fog you breathe out will keep the light of the Buddha from reaching you.

The bad habit of smoking is painful suffering, and it is conduct which is not in accord with Dharma. If my disciples who truly want to study Buddhism don’t quickly put a stop to it, I will consider it something that I myself have done. Why? I base myself on the Buddha’s spirit of “great compassion where the substance is the same.” So I hope that no one will have faults. I hope that everyone will be a perfect person. When any one of you is not a completely good person I will feel that I myself am not a good person, because I am just like you.

Therefore, since I want to be a good person, I have to think of a way to cause you to be a good person, too. That is what is meant by the “great compassion where the substance is the same.” If everyone had this attitude nowadays, there wouldn’t be any wars or fighting in the world, no arguments, nothing at all.

The Buddha told Ananda, “Now I have a question for you. At this point you have not yet attained the purity of no outflows. You have not obtained the fourth fruition of arhatship. You have merely accomplished the first fruition, which does not reach the purity of no outflows.” The purity of no outflows is the purest of purities. Nothing is defiled about it. It’s easy to talk about, but it’s a very difficult state to reach. In that state, there are no outflows from the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind.

When your eyes see things and you run outside, that is an outflow. If your ears hear something, and you cannot apply the skill of returning the hearing, but instead run outside and listen, that is an outflow also. Your nose smells scents, your tongue tastes flavors, your body comes in contact with objects, your mind climbs on dharmas: these are all classed as outflows.

I’ve explained before that it is like a glass bottle with a hole in the bottom. It leaks when water is poured into it. If you people don’t cultivate and don’t attain the state of no outflows, each of you is like a leaky bottle. You flow constantly from the heavens to the realm of people. From the human realm you flow into the animal realm and from being an animal you flow into a hungry ghost and into the hells. You go with the flow, back and forth, without knowing where you are flowing to. It depends on what kind of karma you have created.

Blessed by the Buddha’s spiritual strength, you are able to see into the first dhyana heavens without any obstruction. Although Ananda hasn’t attained the purity of no outflows, he can borrow the Buddha’s strength in order to see the realm of the first dhyana heavens. Ananda had already opened the Buddha’s wisdom eye, but he still couldn’t see the first dhyana heavens.

When it comes to opening eyes, there are a thousand levels and distinctions. It isn’t just a simple matter of opening eyes and being able to see things, as it is with ordinary eyes. Some people can see for three miles, some for seven miles, some for ten, some for thirty, or 300 or 3000. At the very most, one can see 84,000 miles and can contemplate things that occur within 80,000 great kalpas. It’s not the case that as soon as your eyes open you can see everything. Only by relying on the strength of the Buddha’s spiritual penetrations, was Ananda able to see the first dhyana heavens clearly, in all purity, without any obstruction, just as Aniruddha looks at Jambudvipa with such clarity.

The Venerable Aniruddha was foremost in the heavenly eye. His name is Sanskrit and is interpreted to mean “not poor.” In this life and life after life, Aniruddha is never poor. This venerable one was a cousin of the Buddha. I mentioned earlier that he had a strange problem. Whenever the Buddha explained sutras, Aniruddha fell asleep. Then the Buddha scolded him:

Hey! Hey! How can you sleep
Like an oyster in the deep?
Sleep, sleep, a thousand years;
The Buddha’s name you will not hear.

Oysters stay in their shells and never stick their heads out. When the Buddha scolded him this way, Aniruddha’s zeal arose: never again would he sleep! He gazed fixedly and did not sleep day and night. After seven days and seven nights of no sleep, he went blind. Then he went to the Buddha and asked him for help. The Buddha told him not to worry and taught him the Vajra Illuminating Light Samadhi. By cultivating that samadhi,

Aniruddha obtained the penetration of the heavenly eye and thereafter he could see Jambudvipa - which means the whole world - as he might an amala fruit in the palm of his hand. There are many Jambudvipas of which the one we live in is just one. The amala fruit grows in India, but not in China. I don’t know whether it is grown in America. But the point is that the world, as large as it is, is seen as clearly as a piece of fruit held in the hand.

I’ll say more about Aniruddha. In a former life he was a farmer who was very poor. Every day he took coarse rice to the fields in his lunch box - or if they didn’t have boxes back then, he probably wrapped it in paper and tied it with a string. The rice he ate was rough and of poor quality but very inexpensive. He didn’t have the money to buy meat to eat or milk to drink or anything else but the coarse rice.

One day Aniruddha met an old bhikshu who lived on the mountain. This old bhikshu was already certified as a pratyekabuddha. Every seventh day he came down from the mountain into the city to beg for food. With his bowl he begged sequentially at seven houses. If he received food at the seven doors, he would eat. If not, he went back to the mountain and didn’t eat.

On that particular day, famine had struck the area and no one had anything to eat. Food was terribly expensive. The pratyekabuddha came down the mountain and begged at seven houses, and no one had anything to give him. According to his vow, after seven houses he turned around and started back with an empty bowl. On his way back, he met a farmer on the road, and the farmer probably called out to him, “Old cultivator, did you get any food today?”

The old cultivator said, “No. No food to eat today. Will have to go hungry.” The farmer thought that over and said, “You didn’t get any food today and that means you have to go hungry for seven more days before you come back down the mountain to beg for food again. That won’t do. If you aren’t afraid that my rice won’t be good to eat, I won’t eat my food, I’ll give it to you.”

The pratyekabuddha was extremely happy. Why? He’d already gone hungry for seven days and if he’d had to go back that day without anything to eat he would have had to go hungry for two whole weeks. Although he had attained enlightenment, food was still important to him. He too got hungry if he didn’t eat. So he was very grateful. “Thank you very much,” he said, and he transferred merit to the farmer, saying, “Those who practice giving are sure to reap rewards. Those who give seeking happiness will surely later be at ease.” He said, “You are giving food to me now, and I certainly will fulfill your wishes for whatever you may seek. If you want happiness and you make an offering, you will certainly be at peace afterward. You will have that kind of reward.”

Now what do you suppose happened to the farmer who had given the food to the pratyekabuddha? A strange thing happened. If I tell you, you won’t believe it. I also find it unbelievable. But Shakyamuni Buddha explained it this way in the sutra, and there is no reason not to believe it. You must believe the unbelievable.

What happened?

As soon as he began to hoe the ground, a rabbit hopped out of the ground and in a single leap landed on his shoulder. Once there, it didn’t move. The farmer got scared. He couldn’t figure out why the rabbit had hopped on his back. No matter how hard he tried to shake it off, no matter what he did, the rabbit wouldn’t get down. So he stopped working and went back home as fast as he could so that his wife could have a look and see what it was all about. When he got home, his wife discovered that the rabbit had turned to gold.

Afterward, whenever he took a piece of the golden rabbit to exchange it for money, the piece grew back. Since he was a poor man, he didn’t dare take the whole rabbit to sell, so he broke off the four paws to sell, and by the time he got back, the rabbit had grown four more paws. And because of that, his wealth was inexhaustible. Not only was he wealthy from then on in that life, he was wealthy for life after life for ninety-one great kalpas, in the heavens, among people, no matter where he was. So he’s called Aniruddha – “never poor.”

In Buddhism, it is said of giving that you “relinquish one and obtain ten thousand in return.” It says so in the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva. Everyone should believe that doctrine deeply, without the least bit of doubt. Look at the Venerable Aniruddha, who resolved the problem of a pratyekabuddha’s hunger by offering him his inferior food, and the pratyekabuddha transferred merit to him so that he obtained the reward of inexhaustible wealth.

In China, when a thousand monks are gathered together there is bound to be one arhat among them. You should think every monk you meet is an arhat, although it is not that easy, and arhats are one in a thousand. But then it remains to be seen if you can recognize him. The Venerable Aniruddha made an offering to only one monk, but the monk was a pratyekabuddha, and so he obtained that kind of good reward.

Now why didn’t the pratyekabuddha receive any offerings when he went to beg for food that day? Once again this must be explained in terms of cause and effect.

Cultivating wisdom and not cultivating blessings,
the arhat holds an empty bowl.
Cultivating blessings and not cultivating wisdom,
the elephant is bedecked with necklaces.

If you only know how to cultivate wisdom, you say, “I’m going to study the sutras and investigate the Buddhadharma.” That’s fine, you can open wisdom. But you also should cultivate giving. You must nourish your blessings and your wisdom. You should seek blessings by making offerings to the Triple Jewel. If you do not plant blessings, then in the future when you’re an arhat who goes out begging, no one will give you any food because you have no blessings.

On the other hand, if you cultivate blessings but do not cultivate wisdom, if you only know how to do good deeds and how to practice giving, then in the future you’ll be the elephant bedecked with necklaces. You’ll cast off this body and become a big dumb elephant whose body is strung with necklaces and adorned with gems. In former times, women wore such necklaces in their hair. The necklaces were beautiful on the outside and hollow in the middle. One who has blessings but no wisdom is the elephant bedecked with necklaces. Thus when you cultivate the Way, you should cultivate both blessings and wisdom, cultivate outside by doing good deeds and cultivate inside until you obtain the light of wisdom. Then you can obtain a mutual response with the Way.


"Bodhisattvas can see hundreds of thousands of realms. The Thus Come Ones of the ten directions see everything throughout the pure lands as numerous as fine motes of dust. Living beings’ sight does not extend beyond a fraction of an inch.


Differences exist when it comes to seeing things. Arhats of the first stage cannot see the first dhyana heavens, while a second-stage arhat can see the first dhyana heavens but not the second dhyana heavens. Arhats of the third fruition can see the second dhyana heavens but not the third dhyana heavens, unless they are aided by the Buddha’s spiritual strength; in that case they can see the fourth dhyana heavens and the heavens of the four stations of emptiness. Bodhisattvas, the great beings, are different; Bodhisattvas can see hundreds of thousands of realms. The Bodhisattva of the first ground can see a hundred worlds, the Bodhisattva of the second ground a thousand worlds, and the Bodhisattvas of the third ground ten thousand worlds. What is seen at each position of enlightenment is different.

The Thus Come Ones of the ten directions see everything throughout the pure lands as numerous as fine motes of dust. Only the Buddhas of the ten directions are able to see throughout the pure adorned lands of all Buddhas; they see them clearly and completely. Thus the Vajra Sutra says, “All the various thoughts that occur to all the living beings... are known completely and seen completely by the Thus Come One.” When Bodhisattvas possess the understanding of others’ thoughts, they know what’s on your mind without your saying a word. All the Buddhas can see your thoughts even more clearly.

Living beings. sight does not extend beyond a fraction of an inch. “Living beings” refers to ordinary people. When compared to the vision of a sage or of the Buddhas, you can’t see farther than a tenth of an inch or an inch at the most, even if you use all your power of sight. The Buddhas can see all the pure lands as numerous as fine motes of dust, and you can’t even see one land. You can’t even see all of San Francisco. If you look to the left, you can’t see what’s on your right. If you look to the right, you can’t see what’s on your left. If you look ahead, you can’t see what is behind you, and if you try to see behind you, you can’t see what’s in front of you. There are obstructions in the eyes of ordinary people.

Although the seeing-nature is neither produced nor extinguished, your physical body has limitations, and that is why you cannot see. The Arhats, the Bodhisattvas, and the Buddhas all have the spiritual penetration of the heavenly eye, and their seeing penetrates without obstruction.

But consider what living beings can see: I can see you now, but if I hold a piece of paper up in front of my eyes, it stops me from seeing you. And the piece of paper is not even a tenth of an inch thick. The same would be true if I held up an inch-thick board. That’s how it is with ordinary peoples’ eyes. If you open the heavenly eye, of course, there is no obstruction and you can see everything. Compared to the Buddha, we truly are off by a long way.

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