THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

I2 His explanation.
J1 He answers Purna.
K1 First he speaks of the not-empty treasury of the Thus Come One to explain the reason for the continual arisal.
L1 He answers the first question.
M1 He reiterates the question.


Sutra:

The Buddha said, "Purna, you have asked why in fundamental purity the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise."

Commentary:

This passage begins an extremely important section of the Shurangama Sutra. It explains why people become people. The Buddha said, "Purna, you have asked why in fundamental purity the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise. You wonder why these things come to be in the originally pure treasury of the Thus Come One." The Buddha reiterates the question Purna has just asked. Now he will answer it.

M2 He investigates the question.


Sutra:

"Have you not often heard the Thus Come One expound upon the wonderful light of the enlightened nature and the bright wonder of the fundamental enlightenment." Purna said, "Yes, World Honored One, I have often heard the Buddha expound upon this subject."

Commentary:

The Buddha said to Purna: Have you not often heard the Thus Come One expound upon the wonderful light of the enlightened nature and the bright wonder of the fundamental enlightenment? Thus Come One is one of the ten titles of a Buddha. It is just another name for Buddha. Some people think there is a certain Buddha named Thus Come One, but that is not the case. Every Buddha in fact is called the Thus Come One.

The enlightened nature refers to each person's truly enlightened self-nature. "Wonderful light" means stillness and constant illumination. The word "wonderful" also represents purity. The enlightened nature is the one true principle the Buddhanature inherent in us all, the primary nature that multiplies to become myriad things. "Bright wonder" refers to illumination and everlasting quietness. Although it is quiet, it has the ability to illumine the entire dharma-realm the three thousand great thousand world system. "Fundamental enlightenment" refers to the natural, primary essence inherent within us, which neither increases nor decreases, is neither produced nor destroyed, is neither defiled nor pure. Fundamental enlightenment is also called initial enlightenment.

Ignorance comes from the arisal of falseness in the primary truth. Based on fundamental enlightenment, there arises a kind of falseness the function of according with conditions. Purna said, "Yes, World Honored One, I have often heard the Buddha expound upon this subject. The Buddha frequently explains this doctrine."

M3 He pinpoints his delusion.


Sutra:

The Buddha said, "You speak of the light of enlightenment; is it that the natural light is called enlightenment? Or are you saying that enlightenment is initially without light and that then there is a so-called brightening of the enlightenment?"

Commentary:


The Buddha said, "You speak of the light of enlightenment; is it that the natural light is called enlightenment?" "Light of enlightenment" refers to the "wonderful light of the enlightened nature" and to the bright wonder of the fundamental enlightenment. The Buddha asks Purna, 'Are you saying that the nature of enlightenment is definitively bright? Is that what you refer to when you say "enlightenment"? Or are you saying that enlightenment is initially without light and that then there is a so-called brightening of the enlightenment? Is this what you mean by "bright enlightenment"? he asks Purna.

Sutra:

Purna said, "If the absence of light is called enlightenment, then there is no light whatever."

Commentary:


At this point Purna is as impulsive as Ananda in answering the Buddha. Purna said, "If the absence of light is called enlightenment, then there is no light whatever. If enlightenment can be called enlightenment without bright added to it, then there isn't anything that is bright." His meaning here is that one certainly has to add light to enlightenment. But he is mistaken. Why? Enlightenment is fundamentally bright, and therefore there is no need to add any light to it. The light you add is not genuine light. This can be likened to the mani gem which is fundamentally bright. There is certainly no way to separate the mani pearl from its brightness. It's not that brightness is added to the mani pearl to make it shine. Needing to add brightness would be like needing to turn on the light for it to be bright. But there is no need to turn on enlightenment because its fundamental substance is brightness. So Purna makes a mistake here.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "If there is no bright enlightenment without light added to it, then it is not enlightenment with it; and it is not light without it. The absence of light is not the still, bright nature of enlightenment, either."

Commentary:


The Buddha said, 'If there is no bright enlightenment without light added to it, then it is not enlightenment with it. If you say that unless light is added there is no bright enlightenment, I say it is not enlightenment if you have to add light to it. And it is not light without it. Perhaps you say that there is no need to add light to enlightenment because enlightenment is not bright; however, the absence of light is not the still, bright nature of enlightenment, either." The "absence of light" refers to fundamental ignorance. "Your ignorance is not the still, bright nature of enlightenment" is what the Buddha is saying. The still enlightenment is neither produced nor extinguished, neither defiled nor pure. Enlightenment is said to be "still' because it is as calm and clear as water. Thus it is a mistake to suppose that you have to add light to enlightenment. To add light to enlightenment is to add falseness to truth. If you don't add light to it, there is no false in the true.

Sutra:

The nature of enlightenment is essentially bright. It is false for you to make it bright enlightenment.

Commentary:


The nature of enlightenment refers to the inherent enlightenment of the self-nature. It is essentially bright, Purna. It is false for you to make it bright enlightenment. If you say that light must be added to the nature of enlightenment, you create a falseness. If you falsely add light to enlightenment, it is not genuine enlightenment. It is an enlightenment created from false thinking. It is not the original enlightenment.

M4 He explains continual arisal.
N1 Initially there is sudden arisal.
O1 There is no enlightenment and the three subtle appearances arise.

Sutra:

Enlightenment is not something that needs to be made bright, for once that is done, an object is established because of this light. Once an object is falsely set up, you as a false subject come into being.

Commentary:

Enlightenment is not something that needs to be made bright. The enlightened nature and the basic enlightenment are certainly not something to which light must be added to make them enlightenment. They are bright enlightenment inherently. For once that is done, an object is established because of this light. If you add light to it, you set up an object; something about which there is an enlightenment. "An object" refers to the appearance of karma, the first of the three subtle appearances of delusion. This delusion establishes the object, the appearance of karma. Once an object is falsely set up, you as a false subject come into being. Once there is a falseness, the appearance of karma, you react to the falseness. It is the source of your false thinking. Basically there was no need to add light to enlightenment, but with this false thought the appearance of karma comes into being and from it your false subjectivity is created an unreal process, which is the second appearance of delusion: the appearance of turning.

The general import of this section of text is that basically we are all Buddhas. Well, then, if we originally were Buddhas, how did we become ordinary beings? And why haven't living beings become Buddhas? Where does the problem lie? Originally we were no different from a Buddha. But living beings can be transformed from within the Buddha nature. How are they transformed? The Buddhas have millions of transformation bodies which come out of their light and nature. The Buddha-nature is light; but that refers to the wonderful light of basic enlightenment. Basic enlightenment is the natural inherent enlightenment of us all, and it is also the Buddha's light. And it is from within this light that the beings are transformed. To illustrate this point, I will use an analogy which is not totally apt, but which will suffice to make the principle clear. A transformation body of the Buddha is like a photograph of a person, except that the photograph has no awareness; it's inanimate, where as the Buddha's photographs are transformations. By transformation he produces a person whose nature comes from the Buddha and whose features have a likeness to the Buddha's. It's also like a reflection in a mirror. When we pass by the mirror there is a reflection; once we've gone by it disappears. The Buddha's transformation-bodies are like this, too.

Basic enlightenment is like the mirror. Suddenly in the mirror an image appears; this is likened to the arisal of the first ignorant thought. As soon as that thought arises, living beings come into existence. Now we are talking about bright enlightenment. The basic substance of enlightenment is bright. Purna wants to add brightness to enlightenment. But enlightenment is like a light which is already on. If you flipped the switch, you have added something extra, and in the process you have turned it off. Purna thought that if you turned on the light it would get bright, and that before he flipped the switch there was no light. But it was fundamentally unnecessary. The fundamental substance of enlightenment is bright, without anything more having to be done to it. And that is where the important point lies.

Sutra:

In the midst of what is neither the same nor different, difference blazes forth. And what is different from that difference becomes sameness, because of the difference. Once sameness and difference are created then due to them what is neither the same nor different is further established.

Commentary:

The false setting up of the appearance of karma produces the appearance of turning. Once the appearance of turning arises then in the midst of what is neither the same nor different, difference blazes forth. In the original emptiness where there is nothing that is the same and nothing that is not the same, difference comes into being, hot and bright as a fire. Originally there wasn't any sameness or difference in emptiness, but suddenly these two come into being to create the world. And what is different from that difference becomes sameness, because of the difference. Next there comes into being what is not the same as the difference that has blazed forth in emptiness. After the appearance of turning arises the appearance of manifestation; thus in emptiness the world manifests.

Purna asked why in the treasury of the Thus Come One there suddenly arise the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth; the Buddha is now answering that question. Once sameness and difference are created then due to them what is neither the same nor different is further established. Emptiness originally has no appearance, but now the world manifests appearances. "What is neither the same nor different" refers to living beings. They are said to be "not the same" because each living being has a different appearance. They are said to be "not different" because all living beings share the quality of sentience. The appearance of karma, the appearance of turning, and the appearance of manifestation are all created from ignorance. This section has discussed the appearance of manifestation. One unenlightened thought creates The three subtle appearances. What is experienced from them becomes the conditions For the growth of the six coarse appearances. These three delusions are primary and not easy to discern.

O2 The external environment becomes the conditions and extends into six coarse appearances.

Sutra:

This turmoil eventually brings about weariness. Prolonged weariness produces defilement. The combination of these in a murky turbidity creates affliction with respect to wearisome defilement.

Commentary:

Now the six coarse appearances will be discussed. This section explains the first five coarse appearances.

The six coarse appearances are:

1. The appearance of knowledge.
'This represents an inherent attachment to dharmas. The knowledge here is not ultimate wisdom; it is an appearance of awareness and is endowed with the ability to discriminate.

2. The appearance of continuation.
This represents a discriminating attachment to dharmas.

3. The appearance of grasping.
This represents the inherent attachment to self.

4. The appearance of reckoning names.
This represents the discriminating attachment to self.

5. The appearance of the arisal of karma.

6. The appearance of suffering bound to karma.

Because one is attached to karma, the appearance of this suffering follows.

The first time you hear these you probably won't understand much about them, but after you investigate them over a period of time you will come to understand. For now, let it pass into your ears, and in your eighth consciousness there will be an impression. If you investigate the Buddhadharma for a long time, it is certain that you will come to a point where things connect and you suddenly understand.

This turmoil: in the midst of what is not the same and not different spoken about above, and the world and emptiness, difference blazes forth, and a turmoil is created, lacking any order. This turmoil eventually brings about weariness. In this sameness and difference which is suddenly created, a weariness eventually arises. The weariness is the first of the six coarse appearances: the appearance of knowledge. Prolonged weariness produces defilement. Prolonged weariness is the second coarse appearance: the appearance of continuation. Defilement is the third coarse appearance: the appearance of grasping. The combination of these in a murky turbidity. They get mixed up together and appearance: the appearance of reckoning names. This turbidity creates affliction with respect to wearisome defilement. Wearisome defilement is affliction; affliction is simply wearisome defilement. The 84,000 kinds of wearisome defilement are simply the 84,000 kinds of afflictions. From the various conditions just discussed, afflictions arise, and with afflictions come the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and everything else. This is the fifth coarse appearance: the appearance of the arisal of karma.

Sutra:

Arisal is the world; stillness is emptiness. Emptiness is sameness; the world is difference. What is neither sameness nor difference is the actual conditioned dharmas.

Commentary:

This section explains the sixth coarse appearance: the appearance of the suffering bound to karma. Arisal is the world. Arisal is coming forth movement. Stillness is emptiness. Stillness is quiet unmoving. Emptiness is sameness; the world is difference. What is emptiness the same as? Originally emptiness is the same as everything. It is not different from anything because in emptiness there are no distinctions. It is just because there are no distinctions that it is called emptiness. But with the arisal of the world there is difference. The world is different from emptiness in that it has form, shape, and appearance. The arisal of the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth produce the world. This will be explained in detail later in the text.

What is neither sameness nor difference is the actual conditioned dharmas. Originally there isn't anything in emptiness that can be said to be the same or different, with the arisal of:

1. the appearance of karma,
2. the appearance of turning, and
3. the appearance of manifestation

as well as

1. the appearance of knowledge,
2. the appearance of continuation,
3. the appearance of grasping,
4. the appearance of reckoning names,
5. the appearance of the arisal of karma, and
6. the appearance of suffering bound to karma.

We use the terms sameness and difference to describe what takes place.

N2 Afterwards there is continuation.
O1 The continuation of the world.
P1 The birth of the subjective realm becomes four elements.


Sutra:

The interaction of bright enlightenment and dark emptiness sets them in a perpetual rotation; thus there is the pervasiveness of wind which supports the world.

Commentary:

The world has four elements: earth, water, fire, and wind. First we will discuss the pervasiveness of wind. When light is added to the genuine fundamental bright enlightenment, ignorance arises and the light is bound in duality with darkness. Dark emptiness: emptiness is some times murky and obscure. When the darkness of emptiness and the light of enlightenment interact, the interaction sets them in a perpetual rotation. Emptiness and the substance of bright enlightenment that is ignorance which has resulted from adding bright to enlightenment are set in opposition and eventually there is movement. As soon as there is movement, there is the pervasiveness of wind. With that movement, wind arises. Beneath the earth there is a pervasive wind which supports the world. Nowadays we talk about space where there is no atmosphere, but out beyond space there are other places where there is wind. "Pervasiveness" here is lun in the Chinese text; lun means "wheel," but such a literal translation is not necessary here, as the connotation is "pervasiveness." The wind has a power which supports the world. This will be discussed in detail later in the text.

Sutra:

Because emptiness produces movement, hardened light sets up a solidity which is the store of metal. Bright enlightenment makes this hardness; thus there is the pervasiveness of metal which secures the lands.

Commentary:


Because emptiness produces movement, hardened light sets up a solidity which is the store of metal. The combination of light which has been added to enlightenment and the darkness of emptiness creates a movement which becomes wind. The hardness of this false light creates an obstructiveness which becomes metal. Metal is the hard quality of the element earth. Bright enlightenment makes this hardness. Because the light of metal is added to enlightenment, a solid quality arises; thus there is the pervasiveness of metal which secures the lands. Within earth, water, fire, and wind, metal plays a part of supporting the world.

Sutra:

Obstinate attachment to unenlightened awareness results in the formation of metals, while the vibration of illusory awareness causes wind to rise up. The wind and metal rub together; thus there is the light of fire which is changeable by nature.

Commentary:

Obstinate attachment to unenlightened awareness results in the formation of metals. Metal is hard and so is earth. This hardness collects in a store, while the vibration of illusory awareness causes wind to rise up. The metal creates a state of movement, and from that wind arises. In this situation the wind and the metal come in contact. The wind and metal rub together; thus there is the light of fire which is changeable by nature.

Sutra:

The brightness of the metal produces moisture, and from the light of fire steam arises; thus there is the pervasiveness of water which encompasses realms in the ten directions.

Commentary:

The brightness of the metal produces moisture. When metal is heated it will sweat; water drops will appear in its glossy surface. Because of the fire, a moisture is eventually produced on the metal. This moisture is one aspect of water. And from the light of fire steam arises. From the moisture of the metal a moist vapor is produced. When the light of fire from below rises, it creates steam as it passes over the metal. Thus there is the pervasiveness of water which encompasses realms in the ten directions. Because of the phenomenon of condensation and evaporation when the metal meets fire, there is the water cycle which encompasses the lands of the ten directions.

P2 The arisal of the objective realm becomes four habitats.


Sutra:

Fire rises and water falls, and the combination sets up a solidity. What is wet becomes the oceans and seas; what is dry becomes the continents and islands.

Commentary:


After explaining the pervasiveness of water, the Buddha tells how the seas and mountains come into being. Fire rises and water falls. Fire leaps high; water flows down. The previous passage says that the metal sweats and the fire rises so the moisture evaporates thus creating the water cycle. So the fire rises and the water falls, and and the combination sets up a solidity. This produces the solid earth. What is wet " the water that descends and collects becomes the oceans and seas; what is dry becomes the continents and islands" the dry land.

Sutra:

Because of this, fire often rises up in the oceans, and on the continents the streams and rivers ever flow.

Commentary:

Because of this, because the fire rises and the water falls, what is wet becomes the seas and what is dry becomes the land, fire often rises up in the oceans. Volcanoes and the like arise. Although it is the sea, there often arises the light of fire. And on the continents the streams and rivers ever flow. The rivers and streams flow on ceaselessly.

Sutra:

When the power of water is less than that of fire, high mountains result. So it is that mountain rocks give off sparks when struck, and become liquid when melted.

Commentary:

Water and fire battle with one another and when the power of water is less than that of fire, high mountains result. When the fire overpowers the water, high mountains are formed. So it is that mountain rocks give off sparks when struck, and become liquid when melted. When you pound the rock, sparks form out of it. When you heat rocks to a certain point, they melt like in a volcanic eruption. How can volcanoes spew forth fire? It is because of the battle for power between water and fire.

Sutra:

When the power of earth is less than that of water, the outcome is grasses and trees. So it is that groves and meadows turn to ashes when burned and ooze water when twisted.

Commentary:

When the power of earth is less than that of water, the outcome is grasses and trees. When the strength of the earth is not as great as the strength of water the conditions of water and earth produce the grasses and trees. So it is that groves and meadows turn to ashes when burned and ooze water when twisted. Ashes are simply earth. If you twist the blades of grass or parts of the tree, liquid will flow out.

P3 The result becomes the seed for continuation.


Sutra:

A falseness is produced with interaction as the seeds, and from these causes and conditions comes the continuity of the world.

Commentary:

A falseness is produced with interaction as the seeds. A false thought arises and fire and water become the seeds of mountains by mutual interaction. From these causes and conditions comes the continuity of the world. From this interaction which forms the seeds, the world ends and then begins again. It is destroyed and then arises once more. Once it arises it is again destroyed. From production, dwelling, decay, and emptiness, and various circumstances, the continuity of the world is perpetuated, which goes on without cease.

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