THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Volumes: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * previous * next * Exhortation * Contents

Volume 3

P4 The tongue entrance.
Q1 Brings up an example to reveal the false.


Sutra:

“Ananda, consider, for example, a person who licks his lips with his tongue. His excessive licking causes fatigue. If the person is sick, there will be a bitter flavor; a person who is not sick will have a subtle sweet sensation. Sweetness and bitterness demonstrate the tongue’s sense of taste. When the organ is inactive, a sense of tastelessness prevails. However, both the tongue and the fatigue originate in Bodhi. Stress produces the characteristic of fatigue.

Commentary:

Before you heard the sutra, you were together with your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind every day, but in all that time you never knew where they came from. Who would have guessed that there were so many things in the treasury of the Thus Come One?

How big is the treasury of the Thus Come One, anyway, that it is able to contain so many things?

The treasury of the Thus Come One is bigger than anything else, and so it can contain everything. If it were not bigger than anything else then it would never be able to contain so many things.

Where does it put so many things?

Divide it up into categories. You have your own eye-entrance, and other people have their own eye entrances; you have your ear entrance, and other people have their ear-entrances; you have your nose entrance, others have their nose entrances; you have your tongue entrance, and they have their tongue entrances. If they were all just jumbled up together, when it came time to use them, how would you be able to? If they were not simply lumped together but were divided so that each person’s entrances were in an individual place, there would have to be a lot of places. It would have to be a big space. That’s why I say that the treasury of the Thus Come One is bigger than anything else and can contain everything. There is nothing it does not contain. Where are we now? We are all in the treasury of the Thus Come One.

”We haven’t seen what the treasury of the Thus Come One looks like,” you say.

You see it every day, but you don’t recognize it. In all your daily activities you are within the treasury of the Thus Come One. What your eyes see, what your ears hear - absolutely everything is within the treasury of the Thus Come One. Yet you don’t know what the treasury of the Thus Come One looks like. In China there is the saying,

I can’t tell what Lu mountain
really looks like,
Because I myself am standing
on Lu mountain.

Why can’t you tell what Lu mountain looks like? Because you are on the mountain itself, and so you cannot see it in its entirety. Those of you who understand know that everything is a manifestation of the treasury of the Thus Come One. Those who don’t understand the Buddhadharma don’t even know what is meant by the treasury of the Thus Come One. Such people slander the Buddha. How? They say, “All Buddhism talks about is the treasury of the Thus Come One, the treasury of the Thus Come One, and how it contains everything. The Buddha’s greed is greater than anyone else’s. He stores away absolutely everything.” But this is a mistake. The treasury of the Thus Come One is not the Buddha’s. Everyone has a share in it. So that kind of view is a mistake.

Ananda, consider, for example, a person who licks his lips with his tongue. He uses his tongue to lick his own lips. I’ll tell you something funny. More than likely that man didn’t have a girlfriend, so he took to kissing himself. Do you believe that? It’s true! His excessive licking causes fatigue. He doesn’t just lick them once and let it go at that. He continually licks his lips. He licks himself for a long time and then gets tired. If the person is sick - if the person who is licking his lips is sick, there will be a bitter flavor. After licking for a long time he will be aware of a very bitter flavor. What kind of sickness does this sick person have? Perhaps he’s love sick; that is, he’s thinking about women. So he licks his own lips for a long time and is aware of bitterness. He feels, “Ah, this isn’t flavorful – it’s not very interesting.” Do you notice how when I speak Buddhadharma nobody seems to understand very well, but as soon as I begin to explain such matters as this, everyone understands?

A person who is not sick will have a subtle sweet sensation. Someone who is not sick will have ever so slight a sensation of sweetness. Sweetness and bitterness demonstrate the tongue’s sense of taste. Because of these two flavors, the organ of the tongue manifests. Then the function of the tongue can appear. When the organ is inactive, a sense of tastelessness prevails. When the tongue is not in motion, tastelessness constantly prevails in the tongue. “Tastelessness” means no flavor whatsoever. However, both the tongue and the fatigue come together. They originate in Bodhi. Why does the tongue get fatigued in that way? Stress produces the characteristic of fatigue. It occurs when, in the true nature of Bodhi, a falseness arises, and prolongation produces the characteristic of fatigue.

Q2 Explains that the false has no substance.

Sutra:

“Because the two defiling objects of sweetness and bitterness, as well as tastelessness, stimulate a recognition of taste which in turn draws in these defiling sensations, it becomes what is known as a sense of taste. Apart from the two defiling objects of sweetness and bitterness and apart from tastelessness, the sense of taste is originally without a substance.

Commentary:

Because the two defiling objects of sweetness and bitterness, as well as tastelessness, stimulate a recognition of taste which in turn draws in these defiling sensations, it becomes what is known as a sense of taste.
The word “tastelessness” appears here, but you can say that it doesn’t count as a flavor, so the text merely says, “two false, defiling objects.” “Plain cabbage boiled in plain water is tasteless and hasn’t any flavor.” If one doesn’t add any salt or any oil but just cooks the cabbage in plain water, it will be tasteless. Within bitterness and sweetness a kind of awareness arises and takes in the two appearances. Apart from the two defiling objects of sweetness and bitterness and apart from tastelessness, the sense of taste is originally without a substance. Although tastelessness basically lacks flavor, it gives rise to sweetness and bitterness, and so you could say that tastelessness is the sweet and is the bitter, and that is why the text refers to “two kinds of defiling objects.” Apart from them, taste has no substantial nature of its own.

Q3 It has no source.

Sutra:

“Thus, Ananda, you should know that the perception of sweetness, bitterness, and tastelessness does not come from sweetness or bitterness, nor does it exist because of tastelessness, nor does it arise from the sense organ, nor is it produced from emptiness.

Commentary:

This is the same principle as was stated above. Thus, Ananda, you should know that the perception - the tasting that was explained above - of sweetness, bitterness, and tastelessness - when your own tongue recognizes the flavor of bitterness and of tastelessness - does not come from sweetness or bitterness. It is not from the flavors of bitterness and sweetness that the recognition arises. Nor does it exist because of tastelessness. Nor is it because of tastelessness that there is that kind of recognition. Nor does it arise from the sense organ. It is also not produced from the tongue. Nor is it produced from emptiness.

Sutra:

“For what reason? If it came from sweetness and bitterness, it would cease to exist when tastelessness was experienced, so how could it recognize tastelessness? If it arose from tastelessness, it would vanish when the flavor of sweetness was tasted, so how could it perceive the two flavors, sweet and bitter?

Commentary:

Why? If it came from sweetness and bitterness - if the nature which recognizes tastes came from sweetness and bitterness - it would cease to exist when tastelessness was experienced. There would be no recognition of tastelessness. So how could it recognize tastelessness? Then how would one know the flavor of tastelessness? If it arose from tastelessness - if the taste recognizing nature arose from tastelessness - it would vanish when the flavor of sweetness was tasted. The nature that recognizes sweetness would disappear. So how could it perceive the two flavors, sweet and bitter? If, in fact, there were no recognition of sweetness, how could he still know of the two characteristics of sweetness and bitterness?

Sutra:

“Suppose it came from the tongue which is obviously devoid of the defiling objects of sweetness and bitterness and of tastelessness. An essence of tasting such as this would have no self nature.

Commentary:

Suppose it came from the tongue which is obviously devoid of the defiling objects of sweetness and bitterness and of tastelessness.
If it came from the tongue, there would not be the flavors of sweetness and tastelessness, and bitterness. Why not? The tongue itself doesn’t have a flavor of sweetness or tastelessness or of bitterness. An essence of tasting such as this would have no self nature. The taste recognizing nature would not have a self nature.

Sutra:

“Suppose it came from emptiness: the sense of taste would be experienced by emptiness instead of by the mouth. Suppose, moreover, that it was emptiness itself which tasted; what connection would that have with your entrance?

Commentary:

Suppose it came from emptiness.
If the taste recognizing nature came from within emptiness, the sense of taste would be experienced by emptiness instead of by the mouth. Emptiness would naturally know what it tastes; how would you know? If the taste recognizing nature tastes were to come from emptiness, emptiness itself would recognize them, and your mouth would not be able to recognize them. Suppose, moreover, that it was emptiness itself which taste - if emptiness itself knew of this taste recognizing nature, what connection would that have with your entrance? It wouldn’t have any connection with your tongue entrance.

Q4 Concludes by returning the false to the true.


Sutra:

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

Commentary:

Therefore
, because of that, you should know, Ananda. Don’t continue to be so confused; don’t continue to be so stupid; don’t continue to be so unclear. You ought to know that the tongue entrance is empty and false. It is an empty falseness. It is not counted as causes and conditions. It neither depends upon causes and conditions for existence nor is it spontaneous in nature. It, too, is produced from within the true nature of Bodhi, the wonderful nature of true suchness of the Thus Come One’s treasury.

previous * next * contents

return to top