THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 3

CHAPTER 4

The Twelve Places

N3 The twelve places are the treasury of the Thus Come One.
O1 A general statement.


Sutra:

“Moreover, Ananda, why do I say that the twelve places are basically the wonderful nature of true suchness, the treasury of the Thus Come One?

Commentary:

Moreover, Ananda,
I will explain it further for you. You should listen carefully. Why do I say that the twelve places are basically the wonderful nature of true suchness, the treasury of the Thus Come One? A “place” refers to a specific location. What are these twelve places? They are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind - they make six - and forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas - another six; together they make twelve places. Sometimes they are also called the twelve entrances, like the six entrances mentioned above. But, the twelve places also include forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas. The combination of the six sense organs and six defiling objects are called the twelve places.

O2 A specific explanation.
P1 The place of the eye and form.
Q1 Sets the scene to discuss the organ and object.


Sutra:

“Ananda, look again at the trees in the Jeta Grove and the fountains and pools.

Commentary:

Ananda, look again at the trees in the Jeta Grove and the fountains and pools.
Take a look at Prince War Victor’s grove of trees.

Q2 Asks which gives rise to which.

Sutra:

“What do you think? Do these things come into being because the forms are produced and thus the eyes see, or because the eyes produce the characteristics of form?

Commentary:

“What do you think?”
the Buddha asks Ananda’s opinion. “Do these things come into being because the forms are produced and thus the eyes see, or because the eyes produce the characteristics of form? Is it that the forms are produced and the eyes see them, or is it that the eyes produce these characteristics of form? Explain this doctrine for me. I’ll listen.” The Buddha has another question, and I believe that by now Ananda has a bit of a headache. How do I know that? Because he didn’t say anything. He didn’t answer. So the Buddha continues:

Q3 Discusses each and refutes both.
R1 Refutes the possibility that the eyesight gives rise to form.


Sutra:

“Ananda, if the organ of sight were to produce the characteristics of form, then the nature of form would be obliterated when you see emptiness, which is not form. Once it was obliterated, everything that is manifest would disappear. Since the characteristics of form would then be absent, who would be able to understand the nature of emptiness? The same is true of emptiness.

Commentary:

Ananda, if the organ of sight were to produce the characteristics of form -
if you say that the existence of the organ of sight produces the external defiling objects, the characteristics of form - then the nature of form would be obliterated when you see emptiness, which is not form. Once it was obliterated, everything that is manifest would disappear. The nature of form would disappear, and when the characteristics of form were obliterated, everything would disappear. Since the characteristics of form would then be absent, who would be able to understand the nature of emptiness? Who could know of emptiness? The same is true of emptiness. The proposition that the eye produces the characteristic of emptiness would be wrong for the same reasons.

R2 Refutes the possibility that form gives rise to the eyesight.

Sutra:

“If, moreover, the defiling objects of form were to produce the eye’s seeing, then seeing would perish upon looking at emptiness, which is not form, and once it perished, everything would disappear. Then who would be able to understand emptiness and form?

Commentary:

If, moreover, the defiling objects of form were to produce the eye’s seeing -
if you want to say that forms produce the eyes’ seeing, then when there isn’t any form the eyes could not see, then seeing would perish upon looking at emptiness, which is not form. Emptiness is not form. It has no form or appearance. If you postulate that seeing is produced from forms, then you should not be able to see emptiness, and when there was no form, there would not be any seeing. Once it, the seeing, perished, everything would disappear. When the seeing was gone, nothing could be seen. Then who would be able to understand emptiness and form? Who would know that one thing was emptiness and that something else was form? If there were no seeing, who could know?

Q4 Concludes by returning the false to the true.

Sutra:

“Therefore, you should know that neither seeing nor form nor emptiness has a location, and thus the two places of form and seeing are empty and false. Their origin is not in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously.

Commentary:

Therefore,
because of this, Ananda, you should know that neither seeing nor form nor emptiness has a location, and thus the two places of form and seeing - now just as to form and seeing, both places are empty and false. Form has no nature of its own, and the seeing has no nature of its own, either. Their origin is not in causes and conditions, nor do their natures arise spontaneously. Rather, they are false views which are produced from within the wonderful nature of true suchness of the Thus Come One’s treasury.

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