THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

N3 He gives a detailed account about the nature and its characteristics.
O1 The element earth.
P1 He reveals its nature and divides it.

Sutra:

“Consider the nature of earth: its coarse particles make up the great earth. Its fine particles make up motes of dust, down to and including motes of dust bordering upon emptiness.

Commentary:

Consider the nature of earth.
Now I will explain the element earth to you, Ananda; you should be particularly attentive. Don’t be like you were before when you neglected samadhi power and concentrated on being learned. Now I am explaining for you the basic doctrines of samadhi power.

Take a look at the nature of earth: its coarse particles make up the great earth. “Coarse” means that, for the most part, the earth consists of accumulations of dust bound together. Its fine particles make up motes of dust. The smallest parts are motes of dust, down to and including motes of dust bordering upon emptiness.

"Motes of dust bordering upon emptiness” are the smallest particles, invisible to the ordinary eye. They are neighbors of emptiness; they are more or less empty space, which isn’t anything at all. You say, “When the sun shines through a crack we can see fine motes of dust dancing in empty space.” That’s something you can still see. A mote of dust bordering upon emptiness cannot be seen with the ordinary eye.

Sutra:

“If one divides those fine motes of dust, their appearance is at the boundaries of form. Then divide those into seven parts.

Commentary:

If one divides those fine motes of dust, their appearance is at the boundaries of form.
Motes of dust bordering on emptiness are the very finest, the most minute among things which have form. Nothing is smaller than they are. Still, they have an appearance of form which can be perceived. Then divide those into seven parts. If you divide these finest of fine motes of dust which border upon emptiness into seven parts, so that they border even more upon emptiness, these divided motes are actually emptiness itself. Basically there is no appearance of form. This is an explanation of the nature of earth.

P2 He explains the division in detail.

Sutra:

“Ananda, if this mote of dust bordering upon emptiness is divided and becomes emptiness, it should be that emptiness can give rise to form.

Commentary:

Ananda, if this mote of dust bordering upon emptiness is divided and becomes emptiness -
although motes of dust bordering on emptiness are very small, they still have a visible shape. There is still something there. But, if the motes of dust bordering upon emptiness are divided into seven parts, they are truly and actually emptiness itself. Therefore, it should be that emptiness can give rise to form. Form can become emptiness, and emptiness contains form within it.

Sutra:

“Just now you asked if mixing and uniting doesn’t bring about the transformations of everything in the world.

Commentary:

Just now you asked -
Ananda has just now asked - if mixing and uniting doesn’t bring about the transformations of everything in the world. Isn’t that why there are all these changing and transforming appearances?

Sutra:

“You should carefully consider how much emptiness mixes and unites to make a single mote of dust bordering upon emptiness, since it makes no sense to say that dust bordering on emptiness is composed of dust bordering on emptiness.

Commentary:

You should carefully consider
- take a look at this - how much emptiness mixes and unites to make a single mote of dust bordering upon emptiness. When you divide a mote of dust bordering upon emptiness, it becomes emptiness. But, to proceed in the opposite direction, how much emptiness must you mix and unite to make a mote of dust bordering upon emptiness? Since it makes no sense to say that dust bordering on emptiness is composed of dust bordering on emptiness. You should not say that motes of dust bordering upon emptiness combine to make motes of dust bordering upon emptiness. It is emptiness which must unite to make motes of dust bordering upon emptiness. But how much emptiness would you say is needed? Would you use seven parts, since one mote of dust bordering upon emptiness divided into seven parts becomes emptiness? How much emptiness?

This is what he asked Ananda.

Sutra:

“Moreover, since motes of dust bordering upon emptiness can be reduced to emptiness, of how many motes of such form as this must emptiness be composed?

Commentary:

Moreover, since motes of dust bordering upon emptiness can be reduced to emptiness
- since when they are divided they become united with emptiness - of how many motes of such form as this must emptiness be composed? How many particles of dust make up the entirety of empty space? How many motes of dust bordering upon emptiness are united into emptiness? That would not be a small number! Here the word “form” is used to represent the element earth.

Sutra:

When these motes of form mass together, a mass of form does not make emptiness; when emptiness is massed together, a mass of emptiness does not make form. Besides, although form can be divided, how can emptiness be massed together?

Commentary:

When these motes of form mass together, a mass of form does not make emptiness.
You have been postulating that particles of form unite with particles of form in order to make emptiness; but actually, a union of particles of form cannot make emptiness. Didn’t the Buddha just say, “It makes no sense to say that dust bordering on emptiness is composed of dust bordering on emptiness?” Now he says that motes bordering upon emptiness cannot unite with motes bordering upon emptiness to create emptiness. The motes of dust bordering on emptiness have already become emptiness; how can there still be motes bordering upon emptiness to unite with each other? When emptiness is massed together - suppose you say that you can combine emptiness to get motes of dust bordering upon emptiness - a mass of emptiness does not make form. Since it is empty, how can it also have a shape, a form, and an appearance? Besides, although form can be divided - when you have the appearance of form you can divide it up into minute particles - how can emptiness be massed together? Since emptiness is empty, what method can there be of making the emptiness come together? How can you unite emptiness with emptiness? It has already become emptiness, is it possible that you can bring the emptiness together further to form a mote of dust bordering upon emptiness?

P3 He concludes by showing the substance and function.

Sutra:

“You simply do not know that in the treasury of the Thus Come One the nature of form is true emptiness, and the nature of emptiness is true form. Pure at its origin, it pervades the dharma-realm. It accords with living beings’ minds, in response to their capacity to know.

Commentary:

You simply do not know,
Ananda, that in the treasury of the Thus Come One - the treasury of the Thus Come One is the true mind, the real appearance. You don’t know that if you investigate the question of emptiness and the motes of dust bordering upon emptiness to its primary source, you still won’t be able to resolve it. But the principle is found in the treasury of the Thus Come One: The nature of form is true emptiness, and the nature of emptiness is true form. At its ultimate point, the appearance of form is true emptiness; and at its ultimate point, the nature of emptiness has true form. Basically, it is not defiled, not pure, not produced, not extinguished, and it neither increases nor diminishes. Basically, it is unmoving. In its basic nature, pure at its origin, it pervades the dharma-realm with nothing in excess and nothing deficient.

“The nature of form is true emptiness, and the nature of emptiness is true form.” This kind of wonderful function accords with living beings’ minds, in response to their capacity to know. It responds to their capacity: the extent of the wonder which each living being is capable of is revealed.

P4 He rejects the two theories for being mere conjectures.

Sutra:

"It is experienced to whatever extent is dictated by the law of karma. Ignorant of this fact, people in the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions or to spontaneity. These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the conscious mind, are nothing but the play of empty words which have no real meaning.

Commentary:

It is experienced to whatever extent is dictated by the law of karma.
It accords with living beings’ minds and appears in accordance with the karma of each living being, in the amount that each is capable of knowing. The nature of form is true emptiness, and the nature of emptiness is true form. Pure in its origin, it pervades the dharma-realm. This wonderful function follows the karmic responses of each living being and gives rise to the kind of retribution that each should receive.

People in the world are so deluded as to assign its origin to causes and conditions. Who are they? They are people who cultivate according to externalist sects and provisional vehicles and ordinary people. They are confused about the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is pure at its origin and pervades the dharma-realm. They do not recognize it. They believe it is based on causes and conditions. This is the attachment of adherents of the small vehicle: the dharma of causes and conditions. Or they assign it to spontaneity. Adherents of externalist sects are attached to the nature of spontaneity. How is it that they get cheated in this way? These mistakes, which arise from the discriminations and reasoning processes of the conscious mind - it is the distinction making conscious mind of adherents of the small vehicle, of externalist sects, and of ordinary people, making distinctions and calculations. They make calculations with considerations and distinctions. They speculate about things which have not yet happened, speculations which are nothing but the play of empty words which have no real meaning. The false thinking, distinctions, and calculations of the conscious mind - whether you talk about causes and conditions or spontaneity - are all just words. None of it is real. There isn’t any true and actual principle which can be spoken.

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