THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

CHAPTER 3

The Six Entrances

N2 The six entrances are the treasury of the Thus Come One.
O1 General statement.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Ananda, why do I say that the six entrances have their origin in the wonderful nature of true suchness, the treasury of the Thus Come One?

Commentary:

The five skandhas of form, feeling, thinking, activity, and consciousness have now been explained. All five are a manifestation of the wonderful nature of true suchness of the Thus Come One’s treasury. Now the Buddha again calls out: Moreover, Ananda, why do I say that the six entrances have their origin in the wonderful nature of true suchness, the treasury of the Thus Come One? Why is it said that the six entrances - the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind - are all the nature of the Thus Come One’s treasury? The six entrances will be distinguished below, and it will be explained.

O2 Specific explanation.
P1 The eye entrance.
Q1 Brings up example to reveal the false.


Sutra:

“Ananda, although the eye’s staring causes fatigue, the eye and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. Staring gives rise to the characteristic of fatigue.

Commentary:

The Buddha called out: Ananda, although the eye’s staring causes fatigue - this refers to the earlier discussion of the eye that looks into emptiness until its staring gives rise to the characteristic of fatigue. The eye stares and eventually becomes tired. The eye and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. Staring gives rise to the characteristic of fatigue. These two kinds of manifestations are not apart from Bodhi. In the true nature of Bodhi, the characteristic of fatigue is produced.

Q2 Explains that the false has no substance.

Sutra:

“Because a sense of seeing is stimulated in the midst of the two false, defiling objects of light and dark, defiling appearances are taken in; this is called the nature of seeing. Apart from the two defiling objects of light and dark, this seeing is ultimately without substance.

Commentary:

Why do I say that within the true nature of Bodhi the staring gives rise to the characteristic of fatigue? Ananda, you should know that because a sense of seeing is stimulated in the midst of the two false, defiling objects of light and dark - it becomes involved with the two characteristics of form, light and dark, two false, defiling objects. Light and dark are part of the empty and false environment which lies before you. With the existence of this empty, false environment, there arises the nature of seeing. Defiling aspects are taken in - the seeing takes in the forms and appearances of the defiling environment which lies before it. This is called the nature of seeing. It is the nature of the substance of seeing. This “nature of seeing” does not refer to the “understanding the mind and seeing the nature” which is discussed in the Chan school. Here, the “nature of seeing” refers to the substance and nature of one’s ordinary seeing. “Understanding the mind and seeing the nature” means one understands one’s own mind and sees one’s own nature. “Seeing the nature” refers in that case to seeing one’s own inherent Buddha nature. But the “seeing-nature” referred to here is just the nature of ordinary seeing. Apart from the two defiling objects of light and dark, this seeing - when this nature of seeing becomes separate from the two defiling objects of light and dark - is ultimately without substance. It hasn’t any actual substance. There is nothing which actually exists.

Q3 It has no source.

Sutra:

“Thus, Ananda, you should know that seeing does not come from light or dark, nor does it come forth from the sense organ, nor is it produced from emptiness.

Commentary:

Thus, Ananda, you should know that seeing does not come from light or dark.
The nature of seeing does not come from light, nor is it produced from within darkness. Nor does it come forth from the sense organ - nor is it produced from the eye, nor is it produced from emptiness. Nor is it produced from within emptiness.

Sutra:

“Why? If it came from light, then it would be extinguished when it is dark, and you would not see darkness. If it came from darkness, then it would be extinguished when it is light, and you would not see light.


Commentary:

Why? If it came from light -
if the nature of seeing came from the defiling object of light - then it would be extinguished when it is dark. The two defiling objects of light and dark cannot exist simultaneously. When one comes, the other goes. They cannot stand together. If you want to say that the seeing comes from light, then there could not be any darkness. And you would not see darkness. And so the nature of seeing would not see dark things. But when the light goes, the seeing can see the darkness. So the seeing does not come from light, nor does it come from darkness. If it came from darkness, then it would be extinguished when it is light. If the nature of seeing arose from the defiling object of darkness, there would not be any light. We would not be able to see the characteristic of light.

Sutra:

“Suppose it came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of light and dark: a nature of seeing such as this would have no self-nature.

Commentary:

If you say the seeing is produced from the eye, suppose it came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of light and dark. If it came from the eye, it would not be composed of the two kinds of defiling appearances of light and dark. According to that explanation, a nature of seeing such as this - the seeing essence - would have no self-nature. If it came from the eye, it would not have its own substantial nature. So it is not brought about from the sense organ.

Sutra:

“Suppose it came forth from emptiness. When it looks in front of you, it sees the shapes of the defiling dust; turning around, it would see your sense organ. Moreover, if it were emptiness itself which sees, what connection would that have with your entrance?

Commentary:

Suppose it came forth from emptiness.
Suppose you say the essence of seeing is produced from within emptiness. When it looks in front of you, it sees the shapes of the defiling dust. Looking in front, it can see the defiling dust. Turning around, it would see your sense organ. When the seeing turned back, it would see your eye. It sees in front; why can’t it see when it turns around? Nothing is obstructing it. Why can’t you see your own eyes? Moreover, if it were emptiness itself which sees - moreover, if you say it is produced from emptiness, if emptiness itself sees emptiness, what connection would that have with your entrance? Would it have any connection with your own basic nature? Do you have anything to do with what goes on with emptiness? So it is not produced from emptiness.

Q4 Concludes by returning the false to the true.

Sutra:

“Therefore, you should know that the eye entrance is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature.

Commentary:

Therefore,
because of this, Ananda, you should know that the eye entrance, the first of the six entrances, the eye organ, is empty and false. Its arisal is empty and false, and its extinction is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence - it is not produced from causes and conditions, and its extinction is not based on causes and conditions - nor is spontaneous in nature. Nor does it come about spontaneously. Its place of origin is within the treasury of the Thus Come One.

P2 The ear entrance.
Q1 Brings up an example to reveal the false.


Sutra:

“Ananda, consider, for example, a person who suddenly stops up his ears with two fingers. Because the sense organ of hearing has become fatigued, a sound is heard in his head. However, both the ears and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. Monotony will produce the characteristic of fatigue.

Commentary:

Now the ear entrance will be discussed. Ananda, consider, for example, a person - basically there is no such person who plays around like this. The Buddha just supposes there might be such a person - who suddenly stops up his ears with two fingers. He plugs up his ears. Because the sense organ of hearing has become fatigued, a sound is heard in his head. After you have plugged up your ears for a long time, they don’t hear the sounds outside, but inside something goes haywire. A sound comes forth inside. The sounds we hear are sounds outside, but now he stops up his ears so he can’t hear outside, and he hears a sound inside. To plug up your ears for that long would be like staying in your room for a long time and not going outside to look at things. After a long while you will feel very depressed, and you’ll want to go out for a walk and run around. In the same way the ear usually listens to things going on outside. If you do not permit it to listen, but instead stop it up so it cannot hear, it will listen inside. What kind of sound occurs inside the head? Try it out. Stop up your ears for a couple of days and see what sound you hear. Then you will know. So I won’t discuss now what kind of sound the person in the example heard.

However, both the ears and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. The characteristic of fatigue and the ear are both the true nature of Bodhi within the treasury of the Thus Come One. Monotony will produce the characteristic of fatigue. One ignorant thought produces falseness, and then it turns into the functioning of the ear organ.

Q2 Explains that the false has no substance.

Sutra:

“Because a sense of hearing is stimulated in the midst of the two false, defiling objects of movement and stillness, defiling appearances are taken in; this is called the nature of hearing. Apart from the two defiling objects of movement and stillness, this hearing is ultimately without substance.

Commentary:

Because
it relies on the two false, defiling objects of movement and stillness - hearing dwells in the midst of them. In the midst of them arises a hearing nature - defiling appearances are taken in. The two defiling objects of movement and stillness cause the nature of hearing to arise in the ear. The hearing nature is like a magnet which attracts pieces of metal. These defiling appearances are not pure and clean. They are called “dust” in Chinese. Why is there defilement in people’s self natures? I’ll tell you why. It is because the eyes look at things and attract defiling appearances, which makes them unclean. The ears hear sounds and attract the defiling appearances. They attract unclean things. Basically the self nature is clear and pure. It has no defilement. But because the eye and ear attract unclean external things, the self nature within becomes defiled also.

The word “attract” (xi ) can also mean to “inhale,” as in inhaling cigarette smoke. When one inhales cigarette smoke, it passes into the lungs, and although ordinary people cannot see into their own insides, the fact remains that one’s throat, windpipe, and lungs become coated with tar. Haven’t you seen the black tar collected in a chimney? People who smoke have the same kind of deposits of tar in their lungs. But since you haven’t had an operation to disclose this, your intestines, throat, and internal organs can be coated with tar and you still are unaware of it. “Defiling aspects are taken in” is the same kind of principle. Because you take in external defiling appearances, your self nature is coated with a kind of tar, although you cannot see it. It is defiled by these things, and because it is covered over, it lacks light. Shen Xiu said,

The body is a Bodhi tree,
The mind a bright mirror stand.
Time and again brush it clean,
And let no dust alight.

Basically this verse is a fine expression of principle, but these are not the words of one who has seen his nature. It talks about cultivation, a level prior to seeing the nature. It likens cultivation of the Way to dusting a mirror, over and over again to keep it bright. One who cultivates the Way is like one who wipes the dust off the mirror. After Great Master Shen Xiu spoke this verse, the Sixth Patriarch, the Great Master Hui Neng, replied with the following verse:

Originally Bodhi has no tree,
Nor any bright mirror stand.
Originally there is not one thing.
Where can the dust alight?

That is to say, everything is taken care of. In cultivating the Way he has already been certified as having obtained the fruition. After one has been certified as having attained the fruition, it is not necessary to do the kind of work the Great Master Shen Xiu’s verse speaks of. Most people say that Great Master Hui Neng’s verse is well said, but that the Great Master Shen Xiu’s is poorly stated. Actually, both verses are good. For those who understand the Buddhadharma, every dharma is Buddhadharma. When you speak Buddhadharma to those who do not understand, they do not realize it is Buddhadharma. So you should conscientiously investigate this doctrine. If you understand it, you can understand all doctrines.

This is called the nature of hearing - when the organ of the ear takes in the defiling objective realm. Apart from the two defiling objects of movement and stillness - if the hearing nature is separated from the two defiling objects of movement and stillness - this hearing is ultimately without substance. It hasn’t any nature of its own.

Q3 It has no source.

Sutra:

“Thus, Ananda, you should know that hearing does not come from movement and stillness; nor does it come from the sense organ, nor is it produced from emptiness.

Commentary:

Thus
refers to the circumstance spoken of above, in which “the ear and the fatigue are both Bodhi. Monotony gives rise to the characteristic of fatigue.” Ananda, you should know that hearing does not come from movement and stillness. It is not from movement and stillness that the hearing nature comes. Nor does it come from the sense organ. Nor does the hearing nature come from the ear. Nor is it produced from emptiness. Nor is the nature of hearing produced from within emptiness.

Sutra:

“Why? If it came from stillness, it would be extinguished when there is movement, and you would not hear movement. If it came from movement, then it would be extinguished when there is stillness, and you would not be aware of the stillness.

Commentary:

Why? If it came from stillness -
this is more or less like the meaning presented above, but you should not be annoyed. The doctrine must be explained in minute detail. The Buddha explained the realm of the six organs in great detail.

It would be extinguished when there is movement, and you would not hear movement. If the nature of hearing came from stillness, then when there is movement it would be destroyed. There would not be any hearing nature. But there is a hearing nature when there is stillness, and there is a hearing nature when there is movement.

If it came from movement, then it would be extinguished when there is stillness, and you would not be aware of the stillness. If the hearing nature came from within movement, there wouldn’t be any stillness. You wouldn’t know about the characteristic of stillness. If it came from within stillness, then you wouldn’t know there is a characteristic of movement. Therefore, the hearing nature is not produced from the two defiling objective appearances of movement and stillness.

Sutra:

“Suppose it came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of movement and stillness: a nature of hearing such as this would have no self nature.

Commentary:

Suppose it came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of movement and stillness.
The two defiling objects of movement and stillness would be absent. A nature of hearing such as this spoken of above, would have no self nature. Why? If it had a substance, it would have a substantial nature, but you cannot find the substantial nature of the hearing nature.

Sutra:

“Suppose it came from emptiness: emptiness would then become hearing and would no longer be emptiness. Moreover, if it were emptiness itself which hears, what connection would it have with your entrance?

Commentary:

Suppose it came from emptiness -
if it is produced from within emptiness - emptiness would then become hearing and would no longer be emptiness. Suppose the hearing nature arose from within emptiness. Emptiness is devoid of knowing and awareness; it is senseless, and so if emptiness were to have a nature of hearing, it could no longer be called emptiness. Therefore, hearing does not come from emptiness. Moreover, if it were emptiness itself which hears - suppose we say that the hearing nature is produced from emptiness, then what connection would it have with your entrance? What would it have to do with you? It wouldn’t have any connection with anyone.

Q4 Concludes by returning the false to the true.

Sutra:

“Therefore, you should know that the ear entrance is empty and false, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence, nor is spontaneous in nature.

Commentary:

Therefore, you should know that the ear entrance is empty and false.
Because of this, you ought to know that the ear entrance - that kind of hearing nature - is an empty falseness, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence, nor is spontaneous in nature. It does not originate by being produced either from causes and conditions or by spontaneity.

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