THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

CHAPTER 2

The Five Skandhas

M2 He specifically explains that what is false is true.
N1 The five skandhas are the treasury of the Thus Come One.
O1 A general statement.


Sutra:

"Ananda, why do I say that the five skandhas are basically the wonderful nature of true suchness, the treasury of the Thus Come One?

Commentary:

Ananda, why do I say that the five skandhas are basically the wonderful nature of true suchness, the treasury of the Thus Come One?
I will tell you, Ananda.

O2 A specific explanation.
P1 The form skandha.
Q1 Explains the dharma with an analogy.


Sutra:

"Ananda, consider this example: when a person who has pure clear eyes looks at clear, bright emptiness, he sees nothing but clear emptiness, and he is quite certain that nothing exists within it.


Commentary:

Ananda, consider this example: when a person who has pure clear eyes looks at clear, bright emptiness, he sees nothing but clear emptiness.
His eyes are not diseased, unlike the person who had a film over his eyes. He looks at space - clear for thousands of miles. “He sees nothing but clear emptiness.” It is just empty space, nothing else. There aren’t any clouds in it. And he is quite certain that nothing exists within it. In that emptiness there isn’t anything at all. The treasury of the Thus Come One is the same way. In the treasury of the Thus Come One, if you truly understand, there isn’t anything at all. That’s what the Sixth Patriarch was talking about when he said, “Basically, there is not one thing; where can the dust alight?” That experience, too, is the treasury of the Thus Come One.

Sutra:

"If, for no apparent reason, the person does not move his eyes, the staring will cause fatigue, and then of his own accord, he will see strange flowers in space and other unreal appearances that are wild and disordered.

Commentary:

The person is the one mentioned above who with clear eyes looks at empty space and finds that there is nothing at all there. Empty space is all there is. If, for no apparent reason, the person does not move his eyes - if he fixes his gaze on emptiness and does not move - the staring will cause fatigue. He stares with unmoving eyes, looking straight into empty space and after a long time he gets tired. Then of his own accord, he will see strange flowers in space. After looking at emptiness for a long time, he sees things in it - for example, strange flowers, that is to say, unreal ones. Why are there strange flowers? Because he has looked for so long that his eyes have become fatigued, and so all kinds of strange flowers appeared, as well as other unreal appearances that are wild and disordered. There are not only strange flowers, but other things he has never seen before, in the five colors and six hues, things which all seem to be real but are not. Perhaps the head of an animal is seen on a human body, or perhaps a person’s head is seen with an animal’s body. Many irrational things are seen in emptiness - things never seen before - because the eyes become blurry from too much staring. This kind of circumstance is concerned with the skandha of form.

Sutra:

"You should know that it is the same with the skandha of form.

Commentary:

Now we look at all the things in the world that have form and appearance and we think every one of them is real. In actuality, they follow the same principle as the example of the person who stares into space so that the “staring causes fatigue” and who “of his own accord” sees strange flowers in space. You should know that it is the same with the skandha of form. It is like that, too.

Q2 Explains the analogy in detail.

Sutra:

"Ananda, the strange flowers come neither from emptiness nor from the eyes.

Commentary:

Ananda
, do you know that the skandha of form is the wonderful true suchness nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One? You should know, Ananda, that not any of the strange flowers - those strange flowers and all the other wild and disordered unreal appearances - come neither from emptiness nor from the eyes.

Sutra:

"The reason for this, Ananda, is that if the flowers were to come from emptiness, they would return to emptiness. If there is a coming out and a going in, the space would not be empty. If emptiness were not empty, then it could not contain the appearance of the arisal and extinction of the flowers, just as Ananda’s body cannot contain another Ananda.

Commentary:

You should know the reason for this, Ananda, is just as with the doctrine I have explained above, that if the flowers were to come from emptiness, if you say the flowers and the wild and disordered unreal appearances emerge from the emptiness, they would return to emptiness. Since they are produced from emptiness, they should return to emptiness also. If there is a coming out and a going in, the space would not be empty. If the strange flowers can come forth from emptiness and can return to and enter emptiness, it wouldn’t be emptiness. Emptiness is called emptiness because there is not a single thing in it. If something comes out of it and goes back into it, it can’t be counted as emptiness, because there would be something in it. If emptiness were not empty, then it could not contain the appearance of the arisal and extinction of the flowers. If emptiness is not emptiness, the appearance of flowers would have nowhere to come forth and nowhere to be extinguished. Just as Ananda’s body cannot contain another Ananda. Emptiness doesn’t have anything in it, so the flowers do not come from emptiness. Otherwise, emptiness would not be empty and it would be like your body, Ananda, which cannot contain another Ananda. No other Ananda can come into your body, and in the same way, if space is to be empty, it cannot contain external things.

Sutra:

"If the flowers were to come from the eyes, they would return to the eyes.

Commentary:

Perhaps you say that because the eye’s staring causes fatigue, the eyes themselves give rise to the strange flowers and the wild and disorderly, unreal appearances. If the flowers were to come from the eyes, they would return to the eyes.

Sutra:

"If the nature of the flowers were to come from the eyes, it would be endowed with the faculty of seeing. If it could see, then when it left the eyes it would become flowers in space, and when it returned it should see the eyes. If it did not see, then when it left the eyes it would obscure emptiness, and when it returned, it would obscure the eyes.

Commentary:

If the nature of the flowers were to come from the eyes, it would be endowed with the faculty of seeing.
Given that it comes from the eyes, it should therefore have a seeing nature. If it could see - if the flowers in space had a seeing nature - then when it left the eyes it would become flowers in space, and when it returned it should see the eyes. When it went out, there would be no flowers in the eyes, and when it returned the flowers would see the eyes. If it did not see - if when it came back it did not see the eyes, then when it left the eyes it would obscure emptiness, and when it returned, it would obscure the eyes. It would be as if there were a film on the eyes and as if the film would disappear when the flowers went out. But when it returned, it would obstruct the eyes. Your eyes won’t hold anything, and so if the flowers in space returned to your eyes, where could your eyes put them?

Sutra:

"Moreover, when you see the flowers, your eyes should not be obscured. So why is it that the eyes are said to be ‘pure and bright’ when they see clear emptiness?

Commentary:

Moreover, when you see the flowers, your eyes should not be obscured.
Still, if you assume that the flowers come from your eyes, when you see the flowers out in space, your eyes should not have a film on them; there should be nothing obstructing them. Why is it that the eyes are said to be “pure and bright” when they see clear emptiness? Why is it that the eyes are said to be pure and bright when they see clear emptiness, devoid of the flowers? Your eyes are said to be “pure and bright” because there is no film on them.

Q3 Concludes by returning the false to the true.


Sutra:

"Therefore, you should know that the skandha of form is empty and false, because it neither depends on causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature.

Commentary:

Therefore, you should know -
because of what has just been said, you should know that the skandha of form basically is empty and false, because it neither depends on causes and conditions for existence - it does not exist because of causes and conditions, nor is spontaneous in nature.

P2 The feeling skandha.
Q1 Teaches with an analogy.


Sutra:

"Ananda, consider the example of a person whose hands and feet are relaxed and at ease and whose entire body is in balance and harmony. He is unaware of his life processes, because there is nothing agreeable or disagreeable in his nature. However, for some unknown reason, the person rubs his two hands together in emptiness, and sensations of roughness, smoothness, cold, and warmth seem to arise from nowhere between his palms.

Commentary:

Ananda, consider the example of a person whose hands and feet are relaxed and at ease.
He is at leisure with nothing in particular to do. And whose entire body - the Chinese here is literally “the hundred bones” - is in balance and harmony. The meaning is that he is very natural. He is unaware of his life processes. All of a sudden it is as if he himself forgets his own body and life, because there is nothing agreeable or disagreeable. “Disagreeable” refers to a state of suffering. “Agreeable” refers to a state of bliss. He does not experience either suffering or bliss. However, for some unknown reason, the person rubs his two hands together in emptiness. That person has no reason to put his two hands together and rub them in emptiness, but when he does, sensations of roughness, smoothness, cold, and warmth seem to arise from nowhere between his palms. Some people’s hands are very rough, some people’s hands are supple and soft, as if there were a little oil on them. That softness is what is meant here by “smoothness.” Or he may feel that his hands are cold; when he wrings them for a long time they become warm. These are all parts of the function of feeling. The function of feeling comes about when you have a kind of awareness which arises in your mind. The text says that they arise “for some unknown reason”: that the appearances of roughness, smoothness, cold, and warmth are empty and false.

Sutra:

"You should know that it is the same with the skandha of feeling.

Commentary:

Of the five skandhas, you should know that it is the same with the skandha of feeling.

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