THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

P3 The nose entrance.
Q1 Brings up an example to reveal the false.

Sutra:

“Ananda, consider, for example, a person who inhales deeply through his nose. After he has inhaled for a long time it becomes fatigued, and then there is a sensation of cold in the nose. Because of that sensation, there are the distinctions of penetration and obstruction, of emptiness and actuality, and so forth, including all fragrant and stinking vapors. However, both the nose and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. Overexertion will produce the characteristic of fatigue.

Commentary:

The eyes and ears have already been explained above. Now it is the nose entrance which will be discussed. “Ananda,” Shakyamuni Buddha calls Ananda’s name in order to cause him to be particularly attentive. “You should listen well to the doctrines I explain for you. Consider, for example, a person” - suppose there were such a one. What does this person do? He hasn’t anything to do, so he plays a joke on him self. How? He inhales deeply through his nose. He keeps sniffing in. He inhales sharply. Now, usually we make use of our sense of smell when there is something to smell, but this person inhales deeply through his nose, and not only does he do it deeply, he does it for a long time. After he has inhaled for a long time it becomes fatigued. If you breathe in for a long time, you will feel tired. The nose will get tired. And when it gets tired false thinking arises. The nose gives rise to false thinking. What kind of false thinking? Probably it thinks, “Rest. Rest.” But the person does not let it rest. And so then it has a sensation. What sensation? Then there is a sensation of cold in the nose. The breath it takes in feels cold. Extremely icy. Because of that sensation, there are the distinctions made. In the midst of that icy breath, it gives rise to discriminations concerning the sensation of the breath entering the nostrils. What distinctions does it make? Penetration and obstruction. “Ah, my nostrils are stopped up.” Or, “I can breathe through my right nostril but not through my left one.” He starts making distinctions. Not having anything to do, he finds something to do, producing all those discriminations. Emptiness and actuality. “Emptiness” refers to penetration, and “actuality” refers to obstruction. He thinks, “Ah, do I have a cold now, since I can’t breathe through my nose?” He makes these kinds of distinctions.

And so forth, including all fragrant and stinking vapors. What is meant by “stinking?” The Chinese character (xiu, to stink) is a combination of the character (zi, self) and the character (da, great); so “stinking” is explained as “a great self.” To look upon oneself as very great is what is meant by “stinking.” So it is said, “a great self stinks.” Some people don’t know what “fragrant and stinking vapors” refers to. I’ll tell you. Take a fish, set it down somewhere, and pay no further attention to it. After a while it will stink. And when it begins to stink, it will produce worms. Basically fish are edible, but once there are worms in them, you don’t want to eat them. Not to speak of eating them, all you have to do is think about what they would smell like, and that is enough to make you want to vomit. Just as when someone speaks of sour plums your mouth waters, or when you think about standing on the rim of a ten thousand foot precipice, your legs grow weak, and the soles of your feet begin to ache: it’s the same principle. If you think about stinking things, you want to vomit.

It’s very strange: people from Shanghai only like to eat things that stink. They like to eat bean curd that smells like excrement from a toilet. Wouldn’t you say that is strange? I’m not slandering people from Shanghai: that’s really the way they are. Then again, when I went to Pu Tou mountain, to Fa You monastery and Pu Ti monastery, the people native to these areas ate nothing but stinking sugar cane. Basically sugar cane is for making sugar, and I don’t know what they did to it, but it stank to high heaven. Basically I am not choosy about what I eat. I eat the good and bad alike. When it comes to food, I don’t make use of the consciousness of the mind which makes distinctions. But that sugar cane stank so badly it was not easy to eat. The people of that area could not get along without eating it, though. That’s an example of “to each his own.” They like to eat that stinking sugar cane, and if you didn’t give it to them to eat, they thought you were mistreating them. And so it is in this world; there are many kinds of things to eat, and people like to eat things with different tastes. People’s natures are different every single place you go.

You don’t have to pay any attention to whether things stink as long as you don’t have a “great self.” Looking upon one’s self as very great is stinking. It is more stinking than stinking fish and stinking excrement. No one dares get near you. Why? It is not because you are great; it is because you have turned into something stinking.

Q2 Explains the false has no substance.


Sutra:

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

Commentary:

Because a sense of smelling is stimulated in the midst of the two false, defiling objects of penetration and obstruction -
the defiling objects of penetration and obstruction, those unclean things become manifest, and within them arises a smelling nature. The Chinese character (wen), can mean both to hear and to smell. Here it does not refer to hearing, but rather to the smelling nature. Defiling appearances are taken in. Because the smelling nature inhales the two defiling appearances of penetration and obstruction, this is called the nature of smelling. Once again, the smelling nature (wen xing, ) does not refer to the hearing nature (also wen xing) which returns the hearing to hear the self nature. It is not what Guan Yin Bodhisattva refers to when he says, “returning the hearing to hear the self nature, which I practiced to accomplishment of the Unsurpassed Way.” He listened to his own self-nature, and practiced to accomplishment the Unsurpassed Way. He obtained the perfect penetration of the ear organ. The text here, though, refers to the ability to smell. Apart from the two defiling objects of penetration and obstruction, this smelling is ultimately without substance. Apart from the two defiling states of penetration and obstruction, apart from these two defiling objects before one, smelling basically has no substantial nature.

Q3 It has no source.

Sutra:

“You should know that smelling does not come from penetration and obstruction, nor does it come forth from the sense organ, nor is it produced from emptiness.

Commentary:

This is the same as the doctrine explained above. You should know, Ananda, that smelling, the smelling nature, does not come from penetration and obstruction. It is not from penetration and obstruction that the smelling nature comes into being. Nor does it come forth from the sense organ. Nor is it that the nose produces the smelling nature. Nor is it produced from emptiness. Where does it come from?

Sutra:

“Why? If it came from penetration, the smelling would be extinguished when there is obstruction, and then how could it experience obstruction? If it existed because of obstruction, then where there is penetration there would be no smelling; in that case, how would the awareness of fragrance, stench, and other such sensations come into being?

Commentary:

Why?
What doctrine leads me to say that it does not come from penetration and obstruction, nor from the sense organ, nor from emptiness? I will explain it to you. Listen. If it came from penetration, the smelling would be extinguished when there is obstruction. Penetration and obstruction are direct opposites, and so if the nature of smelling came from penetration, obstruction would not have a smelling nature. The nature that smells obstructions would be extinguished. And then how could it experience obstruction? If the nature that smells obstructions were absent, how would you be able to know there are obstructions? If it existed because of obstruction - if the smelling nature existed because of obstructions, then where there is penetration there would be no smelling. You would not be able to smell with the smelling nature. How is it that you could perceive penetration and could perceive obstruction? Therefore, it does not come from penetration, and it does not come from obstruction. You should understand the nature of smelling. In that case, how would the awareness of fragrance, stench, and other such sensations come into being? Since it is neither penetrations nor obstructions, how do the sensations of fragrance and stench come into being?

Sutra:

“Suppose it came from the sense organ, which is obviously devoid of penetration and obstruction. A nature of smelling such as this would have no self nature.

Commentary:

Suppose it came from the sense organ -
if it were produced from the nose - which is obviously devoid of penetration and obstruction. It hasn’t any connection with penetration and obstruction. A nature of smelling such as this would have no self nature. However you explain it, it hasn’t any self nature either.

Sutra:

“Suppose it came from emptiness: smelling itself would turn around and smell your own nose. Moreover, if it were emptiness itself which smelled, what connection would it have with your entrance?

Commentary:

Suppose it came from emptiness -
if the smelling nature came forth from emptiness - smelling itself would turn around and smell your own nose. It should first smell your nose. Moreover, if it were emptiness itself which smelled, what connection would it have with your entrance? Moreover, there’s another way to explain it. Let’s just suppose that the smelling nature did come from emptiness. Then what connection would it have with your nose entrance? Think it over. Is there any such principle?

Q4 Concludes by returning the false to the true.

Sutra:

“Therefore, you should know that the nose 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
- you ought to know the reason behind this doctrine is - that the nose entrance is empty and false. The nose organ, along with the smelling nature which is produced in it, is also empty, false, and unreal, since it neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence nor is spontaneous in nature. As to its origin, it is not counted as a dharma produced from causes and conditions. Nor is its origin a spontaneous coming into being. Ultimately where does it come from? Have I not already explained it above? The five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, and the eighteen realms - all these functions and awareness - do not go beyond the wonderful nature of true suchness of the Thus Come One’s treasury. They are all produced from the wonderful nature of true suchness of the Thus Come One’s treasury. Because of the first ignorant thought, all kinds of false views and false characteristics arise. The division into seeing and characteristics arises. “Seeing” is the ability to perceive; “characteristics” refers to things with form and appearance which are perceived. They are all created from the ignorant thought of the false thinking mind.

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