THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

CHAPTER 4

The Two Decisive Doctrines

H2 The Thus Come One teaches him to deeply enter one door.
I1 He distinguishes the door by means of two decisive doctrines.
J1 He shows the wonderful path of cultivation.

Sutra:

The World Honored One then took pity on the soundhearers and the condition-enlightened ones in the assembly, all those who were not yet at ease with the Bodhi mind, and on all living beings to come after the Buddha's extinction during the Dharma-ending Age. He revealed the wonderful path of cultivation of the unsurpassed vehicle.

Commentary:


The World Honored One then took pity on the soundhearers and the condition-enlightened ones in the assembly, all those who were not yet at ease with the Bodhi mind, they were not yet enlightened, and on all living beings to come after the Buddha's extinction during the Dharma-ending Age. He explained this dharma-door not only for the members of that dharma assembly, but for living beings in the Dharma-ending Age, which refers to us living beings right now. Don't suppose that the Buddha didn't speak this sutra directly for us. When the Buddha was still in the world, he knew already that living beings of the Dharma-ending Age would be difficult to tame and difficult to subdue; therefore, he reveals here the wonderful path of cultivation of the unsurpassed vehicle: the great white-ox cart, which the Buddha discussed in the Dharma Flower Sutra. The Buddha revealed this dharma so that those of us who cultivate during the present age will be able to reach accomplishment more easily.

The period when the Buddha was in the world is called the Proper Dharma Age. This period lasted for a thousand years, and during it people were strong in Chan samadhi. After the Buddha had entered extinction and the thousand years of the Proper Dharma Age had passed, the Dharma Semblance Age began. It, too, lasted for a thousand years. During this period, people were strong in the building of temples and stupas. They didn't cultivate Chan samadhi, but sought the reward of blessings. When the Buddha was in the world, people sought wisdom, but during the Dharma Semblance Age they renounced the roots and grasped at the branches. After the Dharma Semblance Age, came the Dharma Ending Age, when people are neither strong in Chan samadhi nor strong in the building of temples and stupas. They are strong in fighting. Wherever you go in the present age, people quarrel with people, families fight with families, and countries war against countries. In every space and corner of the world there is contention and unrest. So now, when we sit in meditation and lecture on and study the sutras, it is nothing other than the appearance of the Proper Dharma Age within the Dharma-ending Age. But we have to really do it, really practice what the sutras teach, without being the least bit sloppy about it. If we step forward firmly and practice it intensely, then there will be a response.

Now I'm not encouraging you, according to the method I discussed earlier, as when the Bodhisattva Manjushri encouraged Ananda and Matangi's daughter, because, in fact, your enlightenment is your own; it's not something you do for me. All I'm doing is pointing out the way to you.

J2 He explains the two decisive doctrines.
K1 A general statement.


Sutra:

He proclaimed to Ananda and to the great assembly, "If you want to have decisive resolve for Bodhi and not grow weary of the wonderful samadhi of the Buddha, the Thus Come One, you must first understand the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment. What are the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment?"

Commentary:


He proclaimed to Ananda and to the great assembly; the Buddha instructed Ananda and Purna and all the great Bodhisattvas and arhats, if you want to have decisive resolve for Bodhi, for enlightenment, and not grow weary of the wonderful samadhi of the Buddha, the Thus Come One. The word "samadhi" is transliterated from Sanskrit into Chinese in various ways, but they all represent the same word. "Wonderful samadhi" refers to the inconceivable Shurangama Samadhi. Don't grow weary. Don't become lazy and get hung up in sleeping all day long, so that you never work at developing your skill. If you keep your spirits up and apply yourself with vigor every day, then you won't become weary. You must first understand the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment. You have to be clear about the initial resolve for Bodhi. There are two resolutions regarding this. What are the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment? What is this two-fold process of selection that should be made so that you will be able to know which doctrines are correct and which are incorrect?

Purification of the Turbidities

K2 Categorizing the two doctrines.
L1 The decisive doctrine that the cause is identified with the result,
the purification of the turbidities is entry into nirvana.
M1 He causes him to look into cause and effect.

Sutra:

Ananda, the first resolution is this: if you wish to renounce the position of sound-hearer and cultivate the Bodhisattva Vehicle, and to enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha, you must carefully consider whether the resolve on the cause ground and the enlightenment on the ground of fruition are the same or different.

Commentary:


Ananda, the first resolution is this: if you wish to renounce the position of sound-hearer, if you sound-hearers and conditionenlightened ones want to relinquish the small vehicle, the two lesser vehicles, and cultivate the Bodhisattva Vehicle, the most supreme vehicle, and to enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha, you must carefully consider whether the resolve on the cause ground and the enlightenment on the ground of fruition are the same or different. You should investigate in minute detail what the mind is which brings forth the initial resolve at the time of planting causes. The "ground of fruition" is the state of a Bodhisattva. Is the mind on the cause-ground and the enlightenment on the ground of fruition the same?

Sutra:

Ananda, it is impossible while on the cause-ground to use the mind subject to production and extinction as the basis for cultivating in quest of the Buddha vehicle, which is neither produced nor extinguished.

Commentary:

Ananda, it is impossible while on the cause-ground, at the time you have first brought forth the resolve for enlightenment, to use the mind subject to production and extinction, your sixth mind-consciousness, as the basis for cultivating in quest of the Buddha vehicle, which is neither produced nor extinguished. If you try using the mind subject to production and extinction as the foundation of your cultivation of the Way and expect to accomplish Buddhahood and attain nirvana with its four virtues of permanence, bliss, true self, and purity, you will find that it is impossible. It can?t be done.

Sutra:

For this reason, you should realize that all existing dharmas in the material world will decay and disappear. Ananda, contemplate the world: what thing is there that will not waste away?

Commentary:

For this reason, based on the above reasoning that you can't seek the Buddha-Way with a mind subject to production and extinction, you should realize that all existing dharmas in the material world will decay and disappear. Use your wisdom to look into this: The material world is the world of dependent retribution, composed of the mountains, the rivers, the earth, and the various buildings. All of these existing dharmas will change and become extinct.

Ananda, contemplate the world: what thing is there that will not waste away? Is there any one among all the conditioned dharmas which create form and appearance that will not spoil? Which among them will not be destroyed?

Sutra:

But, has anyone ever heard of the disintegration of the void? Why not? It is because the void does not exist, and so it can never be destroyed.

Commentary:


But, has anyone ever heard of the disintegration of the void? You've never heard of the obliteration of empty space. Why not? It is because the void does not exist, and so it can never be destroyed. The void is not something created or man-made. The void is fundamentally devoid of anything at all; that's why it is called emptiness. Anything that can be made is not the void. And, since it basically isn't anything at all, it can't be destroyed. The void is always there.

M2 He describes the five turbidities.
N1 He explains the substance of the turbidities.


Sutra:

While you are in your body, what is solid is of earth, what is moist is of water, what is warm is of fire, and what moves is of wind. Because of these four bonds, your tranquil and perfect, wonderfully enlightened bright mind divides into seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition. From beginning to end there are the five layers of turbidity.

Commentary:


The Buddha now discusses the four elements. While you are in your body, what is solid is of earth. The skin, flesh, muscles, and bones are the solid parts of the body. What is moist is of water. Saliva, tears, blood, and secretions belong to the element water. What is warm is of fire. Body heat and temperature belong to the element fire. This functions so that the body always maintains a fairly constant temperature. What moves is of wind. Circulation and respiration belong to the element wind. Because of these four bonds: the four elements combine. They intermingle. This one gets connected with that one, and they form an independent company. Before you know it, the four elements have linked up together and formed a party called the 'body bloc." Then there is no way for your inherent Buddha-nature to appear. And so relying on truth, falseness arises. Your tranquil and perfect, wonderfully enlightened bright mind: the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is tranquil, the true nature of Bodhi, divides. Your wonderful enlightened bright mind separates; some of it goes to the eyes, into seeing. Some of it goes to the ears as hearing.

Thus it is said:

The original, single pure brightness,
Divides into six different aspects.

It goes to the body and becomes sensation. And when it goes to the mind it is called cognition. From beginning to end there are the five layers of turbidity. The four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind bring about the five layers of turbidity, the evil world of the five turbidities.

N2 A general analogy for the appearance of the turbidities.

Sutra:

"What is meant by 'turbidity?' Ananda, pure water, for instance, is fundamentally clear and clean, whereas dust, dirt, ashes, silt, and the like, are basically solid substances. Such are the properties of the two; their natures are not compatible. Suppose, then, that an ordinary person takes some dirt and tosses it into the pure water. The dirt loses its solid quality and the water is deprived of its transparency. The cloudiness which results is called 'turbidity.' Your five layers of turbidity are similar to it."

Commentary:


What is meant by "turbidity?" In discussing the five turbidities, I will first explain the word "turbid" for you. Ananda, pure water, for instance, is fundamentally clear and clean, there is not the least bit of murkiness about it, whereas dust, dirt, ashes, silt, and the like, are basically solid substances. They are not transparent. Such are the properties of the two. These are properties of water and earth; when they are not mixed together, water is clear and dirt is solid. Their natures are not compatible. Water won't go along with the dirt, and the dirt won't comply with the water.

Suppose, then, that an ordinary person takes some dirt and tosses it into the pure water. The ordinary person mentioned here is of the common, vulgar sort, a stupid worldly person who does not cultivate the Way. He doesn't have anything to do, so he goes looking for something to do. He makes a little work for himself. He takes some dirt and puts it in the water. How much dirt? Maybe a little, maybe a lot. If he has a jar of water, then he probably takes a handful of dirt. If it is a bucketful of water, he probably takes a shovelful of dirt. If he finds a whole pool of water, he will have to use a ton of earth. There's nothing fixed about it. The point is that the water and the dirt get mixed up together. It can be a little or a lot, big or small.

There's no big, no small, no inside, no outside.
One cultivates oneself, understands by oneself,
And makes one's own arrangements.

The same principle applies here. He arranges it himself. He uses whatever amount he uses. What do you suppose happens when he throws the dirt into the water? There is a chemical reaction. The dirt loses its solid quality and the water is deprived of its transparency. When the dirt hits the water it dissolves, losing its solidity. And the water which was originally clean and clear turns murky. The result is a mixture that is neither water nor dirt. This is how the science of chemistry was discovered; you should not think it is such a simple matter. The cloudiness which results is called "turbidity." Your five layers of turbidity are similar to it. Your four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind bring about the five turbidities by the same process.

N3 He explains in detail the names of the turbidities.

Sutra:

Ananda, you see that emptiness pervades the ten directions. There is no division between emptiness and seeing. However, although emptiness has no substance and your seeing has no awareness, the two become entangled in a falseness. This is the first layer, called the turbidity of time.

Commentary:


Ananda, you see that emptiness pervades the ten directions. There is no division between emptiness and seeing. Can you distinguish which is your seeing and which is emptiness? Is there a line drawn between your seeing and empty space? The meaning is that the nature of seeing and emptiness are one and the same. You can see, but basically there is not any "thing" that sees. There is no substance in evidence. The seeing is simply emptiness, and the emptiness is the seeing. However, although emptiness has no substance, "Its substance is just emptiness," someone argues. Well, get hold of that substance and let me see it. You can't grasp it. There isn't anything there after all. The seeing is just within emptiness. Yet there could never be any contention between the seeing and emptiness. Though it is present, the seeing would never demand the evacuation of emptiness. There is no clash between them. Although this is the Dharma-ending Age, strong in fighting, seeing and emptiness are not at odds.

And your seeing has no awareness. The seeing it self is devoid of awareness; the awareness lies with you yourself, not with your seeing per se. In this situation, where the emptiness has no substance and the seeing no awareness, the two become entangled in a falseness. This is the first layer, called the turbidity of time. That's how time, the kalpa, comes into being. Ignorant worldly people with nothing in particular to do toss some dirt into clean water; and now you have gotten your seeing mixed up with emptiness in much the same way. The result is the turbidity of time. "Time" here is the word "kalpa," a Sanskrit word which is interpreted as meaning a division of time.

Sutra:

Your body appears in full, with the four elements composing its substance, and from this, seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition become firmly defined. Water, fire, wind, and earth fluctuate between sensation and cognition and become entangled in a falseness. This is the second layer, called the turbidity of views.

Commentary:

Your body appears in full, with the four elements composing its substance. You cannot become liberated, and the four elements combine into your body. With this combination come the awarenesses, such as seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition. The four elements cause these awarenesses to become firmly defined. Water, fire, wind, and earth fluctuate between sensation and cognition. They go back and forth, back and forth, and a false awareness and comprehension arise. When that happens, they become entangled in a falseness. This is the second layer, called the turbidity of views. The false comprehension and awareness combine yet again to form another falseness, the turbidity of views.

The explanation of the five turbities I gave earlier is entirely different from this one. That explanation was in terms of the world. This explanation is in terms of your own body. In fact, the external turbidities exist because of the five internal turbidities. By the same token, if you can get rid of your five corporeal turbidities, the five external turbidities will subside as well.

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