THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

CHAPTER 7

Ananda Gives Rise to Faith


H2 Ananda understands his mind and gives rise to faith.
I1 Based on the instructions they become enlightened.
J1 Description of how they awakened, based on the teaching.

Sutra:

At that time, Ananda and the great assembly, filled with the subtle, wonderful instruction of the Buddha, the Thus Come One, were peaceful in body and mind and were without obstructions. Everyone in the great assembly became aware that his or her mind pervaded the ten directions, beholding emptiness in the ten directions as one might look at a leaf or at an object held in one’s hands.

Commentary:

At that time,
after the discussion of the seven elements, Ananda and the great assembly, the great Arhats, the holy assembly devoid of outflows, the great Bhikshu Sangha, and the rest - were filled with the subtle, wonderful instruction of the Buddha, the Thus Come One. This most subtle and wonderful state, this most inconceivable doctrine, this dharma, was the instruction given to the great assembly. The members of the great assembly, having obtained the World Honored One’s subtle, wonderful instruction, were peaceful in body and mind. “Peaceful” means that, basically, there wasn’t anything at all. Everything was empty; the dust had been washed away with water, and all that was left now was the light of the Buddha-nature. This is to be peaceful; there isn’t anything at all. Everything is empty. Inside there is no body or mind. Outside there is no world. When one attains this state, there isn’t anything at all.

Why aren’t we peaceful? Because within we are still attached to our bodies. If someone says one sentence about us, we become afflicted. Whenever anyone is the least bit rude to us, we can’t put it down. We are not at peace.

And they were without obstructions. Because they were peaceful, they were free of obstructions; they were not hindered by their bodies or their minds.

Inside there is no body and mind.
Outside there is no world.

Therefore, there is no obstruction. Why are you obstructed? One of my disciples is always wondering if she’s going to get a letter from her boyfriend, or else she is busy writing to him. That’s an obstruction. Why is she that way? Because she is not at peace in body and mind. She is hindered, so she can’t put it down. If you are without obstruction. What benefit is there in hanging on to him, anyway? You think of him everyday until your hair turns white and your eyes blur and you get very old. There’s no benefit in it.

By this time, I’m no longer hindered by anything. In the past, when I was building temples in Hong Kong, my hair turned white, but now it’s turned black again. Since I’m not obstructed by anything, I lecture sutras for you now, and it’s simply lecturing. When I finish, I don’t place any special meaning on it. I’m not attached. If some difficult problem arises, I think of a way to work it out at the time, and once it’s resolved I don’t worry about it. I forget about it, not intentionally, but naturally. Why? Because if you look upon everything as really important, you won’t be able to put it down. If you look upon everything as being no problem, as being very ordinary, then there’s nothing going on at all.

If Mount T’ai fell down before you,
You wouldn’t be surprised.

That means that no matter what great calamity should occur, even if your house should fall in, you pay no attention. If you pay no attention, then even if it does fall down, it won’t harm you. Why do things harm you? It’s because you can’t put them down. You are hindered by them. You get scared, and so you get hurt. If you aren’t afraid, if you have your wits about you, then it doesn’t matter where you are.

Everyone in the great assembly became aware. Everyone knew. I don’t know whether everyone in the present great assembly is aware. That his or her mind pervaded the ten directions. Their minds filled up the dharma-realm in all the ten directions. Beholding emptiness in the ten directions. Do you see the emptiness of the ten directions? What is it like? The emptiness of the ten directions is definitely not big. How big is it? One can see it as one might look at a leaf or at an object held in one’s hands. Seeing it is like looking at the palm of your hand. “Leaf,” the commentary says, refers here to a page of Buddhist scripture, but that is not necessarily the case. It might be the leaf of a tree, the leaf of a flower, or any kind of leaf at all. It’s an analogy, so it’s basically not real to begin with. “Object” is said in the commentary to refer to the amala fruit, which exists in India but not in China. In general, the members of the great dharma assembly awakened at that time to the principle that the emptiness throughout the ten directions and the entire experience was in their own minds. It was not beyond a single thought of the mind. So, the mind dharma is wonderful. To the ends of empty space, throughout the dharma-realm, there is no place that the mind does not reach. Since the mind is that big, the great is compressed into the small. You can see the emptiness of the ten directions as clearly as you can see something held in the palm of your own hand. Why is this? I’ll tell you: at that time the members of the dharma assembly have all obtained the penetration of the heavenly eye. They have all obtained the wisdom eye. Therefore, they can perceive this state; they can perceive that the myriad dharmas are only the mind and that the mind contains the myriad dharmas. The mind contains the true and the false.

What is it that holds both the true and the false? It is our true mind. Our true mind contains the true and false and is without a location. It exhausts empty space and pervades the dharma-realm. So, where is it? It is neither there nor not there. Thus, the mind contains the myriad dharmas, and the myriad dharmas are just the mind.

All dharmas arise from the mind;
All dharmas are extinguished by the mind.
When the mind arises, all dharmas arise;
When the mind is extinguished,
all dharmas are extinguished.

Thus, the true mind is neither produced nor destroyed, and dharmas are also neither produced nor destroyed. So you see, everyone in that great dharma assembly became enlightened. If we haven’t become enlightened, having heard the sutra up to this point, shouldn’t we be ashamed? I’m not joking with you. People must get enlightened now! Whoever doesn’t get enlightened will be beaten! I’m going to force you into it!

Sutra:

All the things that exist in the world were the wonderfully bright inherent mind of Bodhi.

Commentary:

At that time, the members of the great dharma assembly were aware of the emptiness in the ten directions as if it were a leaf or an object held in their hands. And they also were aware that all the things that exist in the world were the wonderfully bright inherent mind of Bodhi. All are things in the Bodhi mind.

Sutra:

The essence of the mind was completely pervading and contained the ten directions.

Commentary:

The mind
is the Bodhi mind. The essence of the mind was completely pervading. The subtle, wonderful principle of the Bodhi mind is completely pervading. There is no place it is not complete. It is without the slightest deficiency, so it is said to be completely pervading. If there’s too much, it cannot be said to be complete; if there’s too little, it is not complete, either. There’s just as much as there should be. Thus, according to living beings’ minds there is a response in the right amount. That is to be completely pervading.

And contained the ten directions. “The ten directions” is just a figure of speech. Basically, it’s not just ten directions; it pervades all places.

Sutra:

Then they looked back upon their bodies born of their parents as a fine mote of dust blown about in the emptiness of the ten directions; sometimes visible, sometimes not, as a single bubble floating on the clear, vast sea, appearing from nowhere and disappearing into oblivion. They comprehended and knew for themselves, and obtained their fundamental wonderful mind, which is everlasting and cannot be extinguished.

Commentary:

Then they looked back.
Before, they had looked out, and they hadn’t been able to see their own eyes. But, now they looked back and probably could see their own eyes. The Buddha said that one’s seeing cannot see one’s own face; so how is it that they can now see their own eyes? They have opened the heavenly eye. With the heavenly eye you can see not only outside, but inside. When you look at your body, it is like a crystal container.

You look in this crystal container and can see what color your blood is. When you obtain the penetration of the heavenly eye, the wisdom eye, and the Buddha eye, you can see what is in every part of your body. You can see what sickness there is, the places where the blood and energy don’t flow well. You can see inside and outside. At that time the members of the great assembly looked upon the ten directions as upon something held in the palms of their hands, and they also saw their own stomachs. They saw the insides of their own bodies. Their bodies were the same size as the emptiness of the ten directions.

“Then why,” you may ask, “does it say that the body, born of one’s parents, is like a fine mote of dust?”

The body that is just as big as the emptiness of the ten directions is the dharma body. The flesh body is the retribution body, which is like one fine mote of dust in the emptiness of the ten directions. Wouldn’t you say that this is as small as you can get? Thus, the sutra says that they looked back upon their bodies born of their parents, the unclean body given them by their parents, as a fine mote of dust blown about in the emptiness of the ten directions; sometimes visible, sometimes not; as if suddenly there, suddenly gone, like a lamp about to go out but not yet gone; not yet gone, but having only a little light left. The body born of production and subject to extinction eventually will cease to be. Although it’s here now, it will certainly be gone in the future. So, the body is as if there, as if gone. This body is extremely perishable. So don’t be so turned around by it, so attached to this very impure body which was born of your parents. Don’t be so greedily fond of your body, so unable to put it down. You look upon this body as extremely valuable, when actually it’s really useless. Not to be able to put down your own body is the greatest kind of waste.

Each member of the great assembly saw his body as a single bubble floating on the clear, vast sea, as a little bubble bobbing on a very pure, great sea, appearing from nowhere and disappearing into oblivion. It can’t arise and isn’t extinguished. Where does it come from? Where does it go to? It is without an origin. They comprehended and knew for themselves - each person fully comprehended and was completely aware, and they all obtained their fundamental wonderful mind, they all attained their fundamentally inherent, wonderfully bright mind, which is everlasting and cannot be extinguished. It is neither produced nor destroyed.

I2 He gratefully praises the benefit he has received.
J1 First he gratefully praises the Buddhadharma.

Sutra:

They bowed to the Buddha and placed their palms together, having obtained what they had never had before. Then, facing the Thus Come One, Ananda spoke verses in praise of the Buddha.

Commentary:

All the people in the world like to have people praise them and say they are good. There’s nothing strange about that. People in the world who like fame hear someone say, “You’re the best. You’re number one,” and they hold on to that “number one” and are incredibly happy. Now the Buddha’s disciples also praise the Buddha. They bowed to the Buddha and placed their palms together, having obtained what they had never had before.

Then, facing the Thus Come One,
before the Buddha, Ananda spoke verses in praise of the Buddha. Here Ananda reveals his literary prowess again. It’s been so long since he’s been able to display his erudition that he now wants to speak some lines of verse in praise of the Buddha.

Sutra:

“The wonderfully deep Dharani,
the unmoving Honored One,
The Foremost Shurangama King
is seldom found in the world.

Commentary:

These first two lines of the verse that Ananda composed on the strength of his excellent scholarship and erudition praise the Buddha. The verse praises the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The words: The wonderfully deep Dharani, the unmoving Honored One, praise the Buddha. “Wonderfully deep” praises the Buddha’s dharma body, which pervades all places. The word “dharani” praises the Buddha’s reward body, which is like a dharani. “Dharani” is a Sanskrit word which means “to unite and maintain” - to unite all dharmas and maintain all meanings. The Buddha’s reward body is perfect, and thus it is considered to be a dharani.

The word “unmoving” praises the Buddha’s response bodies. The Buddha manifests whatever kind of body is needed to take people across by speaking dharma for them. That is, the Buddha manifests the body of a Buddha to teach, transform, and save living beings who should be taken across by the body of the Buddha. If they should be taken across by the body of a pratyekabuddha, the Buddha will manifest the body of a pratyekabuddha and take them across. If their causes and conditions are such that they should be taken across by the body of a great elder, the Buddha manifests the body of a great elder to teach and transform them. Yet, though the Buddha manifests many response bodies, their basic substance is “unmoving.” They don’t move from the Bodhimanda, yet they teach and transform living beings. Finally, the words “Honored One” are the name of the Buddha. The Buddha is called the World Honored One.

The Foremost Shurangama King is seldom found in the world. The words “Foremost Shurangama King” praise the Dharma, which is “seldom found in the world.” The Buddha and the Dharma are rare, indeed. The Buddha is rare in the world, and the Dharma is rare in the world. “Foremost” means first. Ultimately, what is first? The Shurangama King is first. It is the ultimately durable king of samadhis, the great Shurangama Samadhi. The Shurangama Samadhi is the dharma-king among samadhis. It is seldom found in the world; in fact, there is no other like it in the world - in the sentient world or the material world.

J2 He awakens to obtaining the dharma body.

Sutra:

“It melts away my upside down thoughts
gathered in a million kalpas.

So I needn’t endure asamkhyeya aeons
to obtain the dharma body.

Commentary:

It melts away,
gets rid of, my false upside down thoughts gathered in a million kalpas. One kalpa is 139,600 years. A thousand times 139,600 years is counted as one small kalpa. Twenty small kalpas are reckoned as a middle sized kalpa. Four middle sized kalpas are a great kalpa. The million kalpas referred to here represent an unknowable amount of time, from time without beginning to the present. The upside down thoughts that are melted away didn’t begin to arise today or yesterday. They came from limitless, limitless kalpas ago, accumulated little by little. They are habitual. Habits are the basic substance of upside down thoughts. Habits make upside down thoughts grow. “Upside down” means that they take what is true as false and what is false as true. They take what is black as white and what is white as black. You tell them that something is white and they say it’s black. They turn things upside-down. If people think one way, the upside down person will certainly think another way. He always wants to have a special style.

So I needn’t endure asamkhyeya aeons to obtain the dharma body. “Asamkhyeya” is a Sanskrit word which means “immeasurable.” Three great asamkhyeya aeons are required for the cultivation and accomplishment of Buddhahood. To go from initial resolve to the first ground of a Bodhisattva takes one asamkhyeya aeon. The passage from the first ground through the seventh ground also takes one asamkhyeya aeon. The passage from the eighth ground to wonderful enlightenment, the accomplishment of Buddhahood, takes a third asamkhyeya aeon. How long a time is three immeasurable aeons? That number is a big number.

Ananda heard the subtle, wonderful dharma-door that the Buddha was expressing, and it enabled him to become enlightened. Since he had become enlightened, he didn’t have to pass through such a long time as three great asamkhyeya aeons before he obtained the dharma body.

But the “obtaining” referred to here is not certification. It is awakening to the principle of the dharma body. He must cultivate further before he can be certified as having actually obtained the dharma body. He has to progress in the development of his skill. He knows that he need not pass through such a long time as three great asamkhyeya aeons before becoming a Buddha. He knows that he understands the pure nature and bright substance of the everlasting true mind. He knows that he himself and all external forms and appearances are the wonderful bright mind of the treasury of the Thus Come One. Since he understands this, he knows he will very quickly accomplish Buddhahood.

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