THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

Sutra:

Further, the functions of memory, discrimination, and verbal comprehension in your mind bring into being knowledge and views. From out of them appear the six defiling objects. Apart from the defiling objects there are no appearances. Apart from cognition they have no nature. But they become entangled in a falseness. This is the third layer, called the turbidity of afflictions.

Commentary:


Further, the functions of memory, discrimination, and verbal comprehension in your mind bring into being knowledge and views. "Verbal comprehension" refers to study of either Buddhist texts or secular books. From out of them appear the six defiling objects. These functions bring into being knowledg, the realization of things you originally didn't know " and views" the understanding of things you originally didn't understand. But the knowledge gained from books is worldly; it is not the ultimate, genuine revelations of the self-nature. Once you have knowledge, the six defiling objects "forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas" appear. Apart from the defiling objects there are no appearances. If you separate from the wearisome dust, there are no substances or appearances. Apart from cognition they have no nature. But they become entangled in a falseness. If they didn't get together, there wouldn't be any falseness. Once there's a true, there's a false. Without the true there is no false. When there is the false, then there is the true. "True" and "false" are relative concepts. It's as Lao Zi said:

Once the great Way is gone, humaneness appears.
Once the wise appear, then comes great deceptiveness.
Once close relatives are at odds, then comes the filial child.
Once the country is in turmoil, then come the loyal ministers.

Only when the great Way is gone do we talk about humaneness. When the great Way is still in evidence, there is no need for a concept like humaneness. When everyone is cultivating the Way, everyone knows enough not to cause others to give rise to affliction. All know enough to respect themselves and respect others, so there's no need to speak of humaneness. When people are all of fairly average intelligence, there is not much possibility of them cheating one another. It's only when someone intelligent appears and notices how stupid the others are by comparison that he decides he can play a trick and cheat them without their ever realizing it. So when the wise ones appear, there is great deception. If they all practiced the five-fold method of kindness between:

1) prince and minister;
2) father and son;
3) husband and wife;
4) brothers; and
5) friends,

no one would put on airs about being a kind father or a filial son. But, if the father is not kind, the child must compensate; this is when filiality arises. Or if the child is not filial, the father must compensate with kindness. Thus, "Once the close relatives are not in harmony, then comes the filial child."

How do you tell who the loyal officials are in times of peace? Who are the traitors? When the country is at peace, the loyal ministers don't wear placards which read, "LOYAL," nor does anyone brand the heads of the traitors. But when there is unrest in the country, the ministers' loyalty will reveal itself. Why is it that to this day people speak so highly of Yao Fei? It is because when the country was in turmoil he was able to combat the enemy.

The principle here in the sutra text is the same that Lao Zi was expressing. If there were only one element involved, things would not become turbid. The one true dharma-realm, or the treasury of the Thus Come One, or empty space, that would not give rise to turbidity. But because they get together and form a bloc, a falseness arises. This proves that there is truth and falseness in everything. So, even in the treasury of the Thus Come One, falseness comes forth from truth. In just the same way, we people have bodies which are tangible, solid objects, but in addition each of us also has a shadow. In the analogy the shadow stands for the false which arises from the true; it represents our ignorance. It is from ignorance that all our various problems arise. And here, the falseness which arises is the third layer, called the turbidity of afflictions.

Sutra:

And then day and night there is endless production and extinction as your knowledge and views continually wish to remain in the world, while your karmic patterns constantly move you to various places. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fourth layer, called the turbidity of living beings.

Commentary:


And then day and night there is endless production and extinction. Again and again your thoughts arise and cease, all day long without stopping, as your knowledge and views continually wish to remain in the world. "Knowledge and views" here refer to your intention, which is to remain in the world. You want to be immortal. You want to stay in this world forever and never die, while your karmic patterns constantly move you to various places. Your retribution body moves from one country to the next, from one land to another. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fourth layer, called the turbidity of living beings. Because the thoughts in your mind are continually born and continually die, they are like living beings who are continually born and continually die. It is, therefore, referred to as the turbidity of living beings.

Sutra:

Originally, your seeing and hearing were not different natures, but a multitude of defiling objects has divided them until suddenly they became different. Their natures have a mutual awareness, but their functions are in opposition. Sameness and difference arise and they lose their identity. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fifth layer, called the turbidity of a lifespan.

Commentary:

Ananda, and all of you people who have not attained the state of being without outflows, originally, your seeing and hearing were not different natures. They weren't of two sorts to begin with. They were one and the same. But a multitude of defiling objects has divided them until suddenly they became different. Their natures have a mutual awareness, but their functions are in opposition. Seeing and hearing share a common knowledge. The meaning is this:

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

So the pure, bright nature has a common awareness, but the functions of the six aspects differ. The division into six aspects calls up different functions which are in mutual opposition. Eyes can see but cannot hear. Ears can hear but they cannot see. The nose smells scents. It cannot see or hear. The tongue senses tastes and cannot smell or see or hear. Sameness and difference arise and they lose their identity. They have no fixed definition. Since the six sense organs have lost their mutual identity, their functions lose their accuracy. They are not the same and not different, but with regard to both aspects, there is a lack of clear definition. Hence, it says, "Sameness and difference arise and they lose their identity." This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fifth layer, called the turbidity of a lifespan.

M3 He makes clear what he must subdue.
N1 He should decide on what to accept and what to reject.


Sutra:

Ananda, you now want to cause your seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition to return to and tally with the permanence, bliss, true self, and purity of the Thus Come One.

Commentary:


Ananda, you now want to cause your seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition " smelling and tasting are included here as well" to return to and tally with the permanence, bliss, true self, and purity of the Thus Come One. Seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition originally arose from false conditions. Now you want to cause them to return to and tally with the treasury of the Thus Come One and the four virtues of nirvana: permanence, bliss, true self, and purity.

Sutra:

You should first decide what the basis of birth and death is by relying on the perfect, tranquil nature which is neither produced nor extinguished.

Commentary:

You want to tally with the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. You should first decide what the basis of birth and death is by relying on the perfect, tranquil nature which is neither produced nor extinguished. Use the perfectly fused, pure, and tranquil nature; then you can unite with the treasury of the Thus Come One.

N2 The subduing and severing described in terms of dharma and by analogy.
O1 First he speaks of the dharma.


Sutra:

By means of this tranquility, turn the empty and false production and extinction so that they are subdued and return to the source of enlightenment. The attainment of this source of bright enlightenment, which is neither produced nor extinguished, is the mind on the cause-ground.

Commentary:


By means of this tranquility, turn the empty and false production and extinction. Use the tranquility of the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One to cause your empty, false nature to come back and be false no longer, so that they are subdued and return to the source of enlightenment. Subdue your afflictions and return to your fundamental enlightenment, which is neither produced nor extinguished. This is the mind on the causeground of cultivation. This is the mind you use in initial cultivation. Don't use the mind subject to production and extinction; use the perfect, tranquil nature which is neither produced nor extinguished.

Sutra:

Then you can completely accomplish the cultivation of and certification to the ground of fruition.

Commentary:


If on the cause-ground you use the mind which is neither produced nor extinguished, then you can completely accomplish the cultivation of and certification to the ground of fruition. The "ground of fruition" refers to the accomplishment of Bodhisattvahood or Buddhahood. If you apply your effort in cultivation and understand genuine principle, then you can quite naturally and very quickly cultivate and be certified to the fruition.

O2 He explains by analogy.

Sutra:

It is like purifying muddy water by placing it in a quiet vessel which is kept completely still and unmoving. The sand and silt settle, and the pure water appears. This is called the initial subduing of the guest-dust affliction.

Commentary:


There is an analogy for cultivation and certification of the mind on the cause-ground. It is like purifying muddy water. As we just discussed, when someone throws dirt into clean water, the water turns muddy. The dirt loses its solidity, and the water loses its clarity. This represents living beings who are originally in the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, but who then get mixed up with the four elements and the five turbidities and give rise to ignorance and affliction. From the one truth arises the false. This falseness is not true; the truth is not false. It's as I explained earlier. The true can be represented by our bodies and the false by our shadows. Is the shadow true? No. It only exists when there is a light shining on the body. The shadow then represents ignorance, be cause ignorance is also basically unreal; it is something false which arises from the true. But, because this one falseness arises, every kind of falseness arises. This can be illustrated by the analogy here of dirt being thrown into water, causing both the dirt and the water to lose their fundamental qualities and become mixed together.

Now the mind on the cause-ground cultivates to return to purity; this is like putting the muddy water in a quiet vessel which is kept completely still and unmoving. What is this quiet vessel? This represents you who sit in Chan. When we sit in meditation and investigate Chan, we are purifying the muddy water by sitting there unmoving. When we have developed samadhi-power, we pour the pure water of samadhi into our self-nature. Then your body is like the quiet vessel. But you must be completely unmoving. It's not the case that you can move your legs at the first sign of pain, or that you can lean back and relax when your back hurts. Those of you who stretch out your legs at the slightest inclination or stack pillows behind you in a nest have not yet learned how to conserve your blessings. You are always looking for ways to get comfortable. In America, people are forever concerned about comfort, and even in the poorest households there is a television set. We can't say this is being "completely still and unmoving." One who is still and unmoving is not afraid of anything. A little leg pain is no big deal. The sand and silt settle, and the pure water appears. The sand and silt represent your ignorance and affliction. When they are gone, your self-nature, represented by the pure water, appears. The water of samadhi becomes evident, and you develop some samadhipower.

This growing samadhi-power is called the initial subduing of the guest-dust affliction. The reason it is called "guest-dust" is that it is not real. It is the false that arises from the true. From true nature of Bodhi a false thought is produced, and from it come ignorance and affliction. "Guest-dust" means that it is not something inherent in you but is something external. The dust of ignorance and affliction is false and does not come from your self nature. Since it has no origin, it is called "guest-dust affliction." It is not real.

Sutra:

The complete removal of the mud from the water is called the eternal severance of fundamental ignorance.

Commentary:


The previous passage explained how, if muddy water is put in a quiet vessel and kept still, the sand and silt will settle to the bottom. But, if there is a complete removal of the mud from the water, if the water is put in another, clean vessel, then there is what is called the eternal severance of fundamental ignorance. If you simply let the mud stay in the bottom of the vessel, saying that the water is clean, so there's no need to bother about the mud, then as soon as the vessel is moved, the mud will be stirred up again. That represents ignorance and affliction coming up again. Getting rid of the mud is called eternally cutting off basic ignorance. It takes a long time for the sand and silt thrown into the clear water to settle to the bottom. Then to remove the sediment altogether from the water is a lot more work. But only then do you reach a state of total purity. Fundamental ignorance refers to the appearance-ofproduction ignorance, and it is not at all easy to get rid of. You shouldn't think it's so simple. Even a Bodhisattva at the stage of equal enlightenment has one bit of it left. When that last bit of the appearance-of-production ignorance is severed, one realizes Buddhahood.

N3 He concludes with certification to the ultimate fruition.

Sutra:

When clarity is pure to its essence, then no matter what happens there is no affliction. Everything is in accord with the pure and wonderful virtues of nirvana.

Commentary:


When clarity is pure to its essence, you've gotten rid of the sediment entirely. The clarity is totally devoid of falseness; it is one hundred percent true. This represents arrival at the ultimate fruition, the accomplishment of Buddhahood. At that time there is a clear appearance. "Pure to its essence" means "devoid of any ignorance or affliction whatsoever." Then no matter what happens there is no affliction. At this stage we no longer say that affliction is Bodhi, because by this time there isn't any affliction at all. When you sever fundamental ignorance there naturally is no affliction. Everything is in accord with the pure and wonderful virtues of nirvana. Everything is in harmony with the principle of no production and no extinction. Everything is pure and undefiled, like the subtle, wonderful merit and virtue of nirvana.

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