THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

Liberation of the Organs

L2 The decisive doctrine that the liberation of the organ by untying the knot is entry
into the perfect penetration.
M1 He teaches him to untie the knot from within the organ.
N1 He must resolve on the most superior mind.


Sutra:

The second resolution is this: if you definitely wish to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi and to be especially courageous and dedicated in your cultivation of the Bodhisattva Vehicle, you must decisively renounce all conditioned appearances.

Commentary:


I've finished explaining the first decisive resolution for you. The second resolution is this: if you definitely wish to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi, with me here are sound-hearers and condition-enlightened ones who have something left to study and who have decided to turn from the small toward the great, to make the resolve for enlightenment, and to be especially courageous and dedicated in your cultivation of the Bodhisattva Vehicle, then when you bring forth the resolve for Bodhi, you should practice the Bodhisattva Way. Be courageous and fierce. Don't quickly advance and then all of a sudden retreat. Don't go forward two steps and then back three. If you are "courageous" you will be the ultimate victor. If you are "dedicated" you will be like a tiger whose attack is so strong and violent that none can withstand it. The great generals of old, like Zhu Ba Wang, were courageous and fierce in this way; they would stand until they had won and would never admit defeat. They were not afraid to die, let alone undergo every sort of difficulty. No matter how tough the enemy was, they were not afraid. You must decisively renounce all conditioned appearances. Be decisive; don't waver. Don't vacillate between the great vehicle and the small vehicle, as Ananda does, unable to make up his mind. He wants to bring forth the resolve for the great vehicle, but he can't let go of the dharma of causes and conditions. He says, "The Buddha's explanation of causes and conditions is really good. Why has the Buddha decided to reject it now and even to tell us not to cultivate it?" When you decide to do something, be firm about it. Don't stand with each foot in a different boat. There's a saying in China,

One person has feet in two boats;
He wants to go south on the river,
and he wants to go north.

Where do you think he'll be able to go as he stands there with each foot in a different boat? This is a prime example of indecisiveness. But now the Buddha is telling them to he decisive and renounce all conditioned appearances. The conditioned dharmas belong to the small vehicle. "Conditioned" refers to all creation. Anything with form and appearance is a conditioned dharma. All conditioned dharmas, anything with form and appearance, will eventually undergo destruction. Unconditioned dharmas have no form and appearance and so they can never be destroyed. Earlier in the sutra the Buddha gave the example of empty space, asking when it would be destroyed. The answer was that it would never be destroyed, since it has no form or appearance. That was another case in which the Buddha used empty space to represent the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One.

N2 An analogy to show that he must know where the knot is.

Sutra:

You should carefully consider the origin of affliction and the beginningless creation of karma and perpetuation of rebirth, who creates it and who endures it?

Commentary:


You should carefully consider the origin of affliction. You should look into this in the most minute detail. The Buddha tells Ananda, "What is the origin of affliction?" Do we know what the origin of affliction is? Where does affliction come from, anyway? And the beginningless creation of karma and perpetuation of rebirth. If you can't finish things up this life, you have to be reborn and come back next life. Who creates it and who endures it? Who creates karma and who undergoes the retribution?

Sutra:

Ananda, if in your cultivation of Bodhi you do not carefully consider the origin of affliction, you cannot realize the empty falseness of the sense-organs and sense-objects or the location of delusion. If you don't even know its location, how can you subdue it and reach the level of the Thus Come One?

Commentary:

Ananda, if in your cultivation of Bodhi, the Enlightened Way, the dharma of the great vehicle Bodhisattvas, you do not carefully consider the origin of affliction, you cannot realize the empty falseness of the sense-organs and sense-objects. You won't recognize the illusoriness of the four elements, the six sense-organs and six defiling objects, the five skandhas, and the like, or the location of delusion. You won't know where you are upside-down and where you are not upside-down. If you don't even know its location, if you don't understand where delusion comes from, what its origin is, how can you subdue it? How can you tame the upside-down ignorance and afflictions? You won't be able to do it, or to reach the level of the Thus Come One. If you can?t subdue it, how can you obtain the ultimate, wonderful fruition of the Thus Come One?

Sutra:

Ananda, consider the ordinary person who wants to untie a knot. If he can't see where the knot is, how can he untie it?

Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha calls out again, "Ananda, consider the ordinary person who wants to untie a knot. Suppose a string gets all tangled up, and someone wants to untangle it. If he can't find the knot, how can he untie it?" This passage, of course, refers to the above instruction that you must know the location of the arisal of delusion; only then can you get rid of it. If you don't even know the origin of the delusion, how can you get rid of it? If you don't know the location of what is upside-down, you cannot develop your skill in cultivation.

Sutra:

But I have never heard that one can obliterate empty space. Why? It is because emptiness has no form or appearance; therefore there are no knots to untie.

Commentary:


Now the Buddha brings up an example of something without any knots to be untied. What is it? He says, "But I have never heard that one can obliterate empty space. I've never heard of anyone smashing empty space or slicing it into little pieces. Why? It is because emptiness has no form or appearance; therefore there are no knots to untie. The nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One inherent in you is the same as empty space."

N3 He tells him that the organ is actually the knot.

Sutra:

But now your visible eyes, ears, nose and tongue, as well as your body and mind, are like six thieving matchmakers who plunder the jewels of your household.

Commentary:

But now your visible eyes, ears, nose and tongue, as well as your body and mind, are like six thieving matchmakers. People think that the six sense-organs are helpful, but actually it is just these six destructive things that steal the dharma-jewels of our selfnature.

But you still don't realize this. You consider the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind to be your best friends. Who would have guessed that these six are what invite the thieves into the house. They plunder the jewels of your household. For instance, your eyes catch sight of something. Before you saw it, everything was fine. As it says:

What the eyes don't see,
the mouth won't hanker for.
What the ears don't hear,
the mind won't commit offenses about.

Someone is eating something and you see it, and you grow a hand in your throat which reaches out, grabs the thing, and eats it. Why does the mouth become so gluttonous? Because the eyes see something good to eat. You say your eyes help you because they enable you to see things, but just because you see things you give rise to a lot of affliction. For instance, you see something or someone beautiful and you want it. But once you get it, it's a source of affliction. And if you don't get it, that's affliction, too, because you just keep chasing after it.

The ears hear some pleasant sound and they become greedy to hear more. Once greed arises, then if you haven't got what you want, you think of ways to get it, and if you do get it, you are afraid of losing it. So the ears bring you a lot of affliction, too. To "plunder the jewels of your household" just means to lead you to give rise to afflictions. If you are without any affliction, you will not lose the gems of your household, but once you give rise to affliction, your gems are gone. As it says,

The firewood gathered in a thousand days,
Goes up in a single blaze.

By the same token, you cultivate for a thousand days and all the progress you make, perhaps a state of light ease, will disappear with the first evidence of affliction, the first signs of ignorance. It is said:

A spark of fire burns down a forest of merit and virtue.

When your nose smells something fragrant, your mind gets greedy. When your tongue tastes a fine flavor, you also give rise to greed. The body comes in contact with objects of touch. Some objects of touch bring pleasant sensations, and some bring unpleasant ones. The mind conditions dharmas. In short, because of your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind, you give rise to various kinds of afflictions, and the gems of your household are all taken away from you.

We speak about no outflows. Well, the six consciousnesses that are produced by the interaction of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind with their defiling objects are what are called outflows. If you can reach the level where,

The eyes see shape and form,
but inside there is nothing;
The ears hear the defiling sounds,
but the mind does not know of them,

then you will not be plundered by thieves. But if you don't have the required skill; if you lack samadhi-power; if you chase after the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind and cannot return the light and illumine within, then you have outflows and are being robbed of your inherent wealth.

The six sense-organs are described here as "thieving matchmakers." It used to be in China that weddings had to be arranged through a matchmaker. In early Chinese history, during the Zhou dynasty, prior to the Lie Guo, there were no matchmakers. People just found their own mates in the way that is customary in the West today. In fact, during the Zhou dynasty things between men and women were extremely casual. There were no rules to speak of at all. Then Confucius revised and edited the Six Classics: the Book of Poetry, the Book of History, the Book of Changes, the Book of Rites, the Book of Music, and the Spring and Autumn Annals. From then on there had to be a matchmaker whose job it was to select men and women who were well suited for one another. Then, if they were about the same age and size, overtures would be made. "Such and- such a young lady is very virtuous." "Such-and-such a student is very intelligent.' Once the introductions were complete, everything was arranged.

Here, the use of the word "matchmaker" in the text carries much the same meaning. The six sense-organs interact with the six defiling objects, and between them the six consciousnesses arise. The communications that occur between the sense-organs, the sense-objects, and the consciousnesses are a lot like the job of a matchmaker. The match is made and the involvement happens before anyone realizes that a thief is present. But the thief steals your wealth of merit and virtue. It plunders the gems of your household.

What are the gems of your household? You should know that yourself. Whatever you take to be your gems, you should carefully protect. I don't know what your gems are, and you don't know what my treasures are.

"I know what my gems are," you say. "They are gold, silver, and diamonds."

No, they're not. Although I don't know what your gems are, I do know that if you think those are your gems, you're mistaken. "Well, what are my household gems, then?" you wonder.

So now you yourself don't know what they are? Even though you don't know, I can tell you, although I'd rather not. But since you want to know, I think I should comply and tell you, except that I'm afraid you won't believe me. Do you see what a spot I'm in? I can't figure out if it's better to tell you or not. If I tell you and you don't believe me, then I've wasted some energy. But if I don't tell you when you want to know, there's always the chance that you might believe me. So now I've decided to tell you. What are your treasures? They are simply the pure nature and bright substance of your eternal true mind within the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One.

The Buddha-jewel of your self-nature, the dharma-jewel of your self-nature, and the Sangha-jewel of your self-nature are your gems, too. Also, in your own physical being you should cultivate precepts, cultivate samadhi, and cultivate Wisdom, as they, too, are the gems of your household. The light of your enlightened nature is also a true gem of your household.

"I can't even see those things; how can I lose them?" you ask. Ah, that's the very reason I didn't want to tell you. You don't believe what you can't see, and so it's no wonder you don't believe this, because it really is an invisible thing. But you have some sense of awareness, even though you can't see it. If your awareness is coupled with wisdom, you will have more jewels. If you are stupid, however, you will lose your jewels. Examine yourself: are you wise or stupid? This is not to say, though, that you should stand up and announce that you have wisdom like the Buddha's, like a certain person who calls himself a patriarch. All I did with him was to say I was going to kill him, and he fled in terror. Next time you meet up with a person like this, just beat him up from head to foot, and if he cries, "Why are you beating me?" you can answer, "I'm just beating empty space, since you basically don't exist, right? How can you be aware of pain? If you are aware of pain, you're no different from an ordinary person, and you can't compare yourself to the Buddha. If you aren't aware of the pain, then you're just a block of wood or a piece of rock. You don't have any sensation, so you're just like excrement." Tell him that, and say, "Take my advice and don't go around acting crazily the way you have been. Don't go around saying, 'I'm just like the Buddha without any difference. I am the Buddha, I am a patriarch.' If you do that, in the future you will fall into the uninterrupted hells." Such people are insane; how can they cultivate and accomplish Buddhahood? Have you ever heard of a crazy Buddha? No. Crazy people like that cannot enter the Buddhadharma because they are already immersed in the views of heavenly demons and externalist ways. The Buddha himself cannot save such people. They are really a pitiful lot.

Sutra:

And, thus, from beginningless time living beings and the world have been bound up together, so that the material world cannot be transcended.

Commentary:


And, thus, from beginningless time living beings and the world have been bound up together. The six sense organs, the six defiling objects, and the consciousnesses in between communicate back and forth until they are as dependent upon one another as the two beasts, lang and bei. The lang has the use of its two front legs, and the bei has the use of the two back legs. So the lang and the bei have to work together in order to walk. If they aren't in harmony, the lang can't move, and the bei can't go anywhere by himself, either. The same kind of interdependence is required of the six sense-organs, the six sense-objects, and the six consciousnesses between them. They play the same kind of trick. From time without beginning there has been the continuity of the world and the continuity of living beings. The two get stuck together until living beings can't get out of the world, and the world can't exist without living beings. They are glued together, so that the material world cannot be transcended. The "material world" refers to all the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, the buildings, and other manmade objects. "Living beings" refers to the realm of sentience.

Eventually living beings cannot separate themselves from the material world, and the material world cannot be free of the sentient world. The material world draws in the sentient world, enticing it until the two interlock and cannot transcend one another. So there is a definite interdependence among the continuity of living beings, the continuity of the world, and the continuity of karmic retribution. Without any living beings, there would be no world; without any world, there would be no karmic retribution. To have a world there must be karmic retribution and there must be living beings. If one does not exist, none exist.

N4 He shows the efficacy of the six organs.
O1 He asks about and explains what living beings and time and space are.


Sutra:

Ananda, what is meant by the time and space of living beings? 'Time' refers to change and flow; 'space' refers to location.

Commentary:


"Ananda, now I'll ask you. What is meant by 'living beings'? What is meant by 'time and space'? Do you know?" Ananda didn't answer, so the Buddha explained it for him: What is meant by the time and space of living beings? 'Time' refers to change and flow; 'space' refers to location. Time and space in Chinese are rendered here as shi and jie respectively. This compound also means 'world.'

Sutra:

You should know by now that north, east, south, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, above and below are space. Past, present, and future are periods of time. There are ten directions in space and three periods of time.

Commentary:

You should know by now that north, east, south, west, the four directions, and northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, the four intermediate directions, as well as above and below are space. Past, present, and future are periods of time. There are ten directions in space and three periods of time.

O2 He calculates its inherent efficacy step by step.

Sutra:

All living beings come into being because of false interaction. Their bodies go through changes and they are caught up in time and space.

Commentary:


All living beings come into being because of false interaction. These false appearances become involved with each other. Their bodies go through changes. It's like a small commercial enterprise or trade center. You give me something in return for something you don't have. And they are caught up in time and space. They are caught up in the 'world.' You may not see it, but there is a definite connection between one?s physical body and the world. People?s bodies are a small business, and their interaction with the world is big business. In this way they keep appearing and disappearing, as their involvement forever grows.

Sutra:

However, although there are ten directions in space, those known in the world as north, south, east, and west are the only ones that can be clearly fixed. Above and below have no position; the intermediates have no definite direction. Determined clearly to be four in number, they are then combined with the three periods of time. Three times four, or, alternately, four times three, make twelve.

Commentary:

However, although there are ten directions in space, those known in the world as north, south, east, and west, everyone knows them, are the only ones that can be clearly fixed. Most people speak of only four directions. Above and below have no position; the intermediates have no definite direction. When you say something is in between, what are you relating it to? You can't establish a fixed middle. Determined clearly to be four in number, everyone agrees on this; it's very obvious they are then combined with the three periods of time. Three times four, or, alternately, four times three, make twelve. Here we have fixed the number of the world, the three periods of time and the four directions.

Sutra:

Increase it three times: itself multiplied by ten and again by ten, to reach the thousands: one thousand two hundred is the greatest possible efficacy of the six organs.

Commentary:


Increase it three times. Consider twelve three ways: as itself, that is, twelve; multiplied by ten, which makes one hundred and twenty; and again by ten, which makes one thousand two hundred; this is to reach the thousands: one thousand two hundred is the greatest possible efficacy of the six organs. Beginning with twelve and increased to a maximum of twelve hundred: this is the limit of the efficacy of each of the six organs, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind when they interact with the world. The 'increase (by) three times' has to do with the three kinds of continuity, of living beings, of the world, and of karmic retribution.

Sutra:

Ananda, you can thereby establish their value. For example, the eyes see darkness behind and light in front. The front is totally light; the back is totally dark. With your peripheral vision included, you can see two thirds around at most. Therefore, its capacity can be expressed as an efficacy which is not complete. One third of its efficacy is without virtue. Know, then, that the eyes have an efficacy of only eight hundred.

Commentary:


This is the way Shakyamuni Buddha explained the sutra. The meanings will be explained as the sutra continues. Don't be nervous at this point. Ananda, you can thereby establish their value. You can decide for yourself which of the six organs are superior and which are inferior.

For example, the eyes, which potentially have an efficacy of twelve hundred, see darkness behind and light in front. They can see what's in front, but not what's behind. Of course, this does not refer to the Buddha eye. A person with the Buddha eye can see not only in front, but behind, to both sides, above, and below, he can see the entirety of empty space. That's not at issue here, because we are talking about the ordinary flesh eye at this point. The front is totally light; the back is totally dark. With your peripheral vision included, you can see two thirds around at most. You can't see all the way around. Therefore, its capacity can be expressed as an efficacy which is not complete. One third of its efficacy is without virtue. You can see in front and to the sides, but you can't see behind. Know, then, that the eyes have an efficacy of only eight hundred. They are not a superior organ since they don't use the entire potential of their efficacy.

What is being explained now is explained in preparation for the instruction given by the twenty-five sages when they discuss their perfect penetration. Each has selected an organ for perfect penetration.

O3 He reveals the range of efficacy of the six sense-organs.

Sutra:

For example, the ears hear everywhere in the ten directions, without loss. They hear movements, whether far or near, and stillness without bounds. Know, then, that the organ of hearing is complete with an efficacy of twelve hundred.

Commentary:


Shakyamuni Buddha told Ananda: For example, the ears hear everywhere. The ears' sensation of hearing is unobstructed. They're not like the eyes, which use only a part of their potential. The organ of hearing reaches everywhere, to the front, back, left, and right, and above, below; wherever there is a sound, it can hear it in the ten directions, without loss. There's nothing the ears cannot hear. They hear movements, whether far or near, and stillness without bounds. Know, then, that the organ of hearing is complete with an efficacy of twelve hundred.

Sutra:

For example, the nose smells odors with each inhalation and exhalation of the breath. It is deficient at the point between the inhalation and exhalation. The organ of smell can be considered to be deficient by one third. Know, then, that the nose has an efficacy of only eight hundred.

Commentary:

For example, the nose smells odors, it has the ability to smell, with each inhalation and exhalation of the breath. It is deficient at the point between the inhalation and exhalation. Between inhaling and exhaling there is a moment's pause during which no smelling takes place. The organ of smell can be considered to be deficient by one third. It is also deficient by one third. Know, then, that the nose has an efficacy of only eight hundred.

Sutra:

For example, the tongue can proclaim the entirety of worldly and transcendental wisdom. Although language varies according to locality, the principles go beyond boundaries of any kind. Know, then, that the organ of the tongue is complete with an efficacy of twelve hundred.

Commentary:

Basically, the tongue is the organ of taste, but that is not its only function. Here the tongue's ability to speak is discussed. For example, the tongue can proclaim the entirety of worldly and transcendental wisdom. The tongue can speak dharma; it can express both worldly and world-transcending dharmas. Although language varies according to locality, there are differences in language and dialect, the principles go beyond boundaries of any kind. When the patriarch, Bodhidharma, came from India to China, he was confronted by the language barrier. The Chinese did not understand his language so they nicknamed him "the barbarian," as an expression of their prejudice. Most people wouldn't even speak to him, and those who tried didn't understand much of what he had to say, so no matter where Patriarch Bodhidharma went, no one paid any attention to his teaching of the Buddhadharma. That being the case, he went to Loyang to Bear's Ear mountain and sat in meditation facing a wall. This was a case of a language barrier preventing someone from establishing conditions with people.

Although the languages differ, the principles are inexhaustible. Know, then, that the organ of the tongue is complete with an efficacy of twelve hundred. It fulfills its maximum potential.

Sutra:

For example, the body is aware of touch, registering it as pain or pleasure. When it makes contact, it is aware of the thing touched; when in isolation, it has no tactile knowledge of other things. Isolation has a single and contact has a dual aspect. The organ of the body can be considered as deficient by one third. Know, then, that the body has an efficacy of only eight hundred.

Commentary:


For example, the body is aware of touch; the body senses physical contact, registering it as pain or pleasure. You find some kinds of contact undesirable and some enjoyable. When it makes contact, it is aware of the thing touched. When the organ of the body and the object which is external to it come together, there is an awareness of contact. When in isolation, it has no tactile knowledge of other things. When the contact is withdrawn, there is no knowledge of it; one is unaware of it. Isolation has a single and contact has a dual aspect. In isolation we become an individual entity; when we come in contact with something, there is an experience of touch, either painful or pleasurable. The organ of the body can be considered as deficient by one third. Of the potential efficacy of twelve hundred, it is deficient by one third. Know, then, that the body has an efficacy of only eight hundred.

Sutra:

For example, the mind silently includes all worldly and transcendental dharmas of the ten directions and the three periods of time. Regardless of whether it be sagely or ordinary, everything is included in its boundlessness. Know, then, that the organ of the mind is complete with an efficacy of twelve hundred.

Commentary:


For example, the mind silently includes all worldly and transcendental dharmas of the ten directions and the three periods of time. The realm of the five defiling objects has just been discussed. The "mind" here refers to the sixth mind-consciousness. The mind is quiet, but in its discriminations it encompasses all the dharmas of the world and what is beyond the world. Regardless of whether it be sagely or ordinary, everything is included in its boundlessness. Know, then, that the organ of the mind is complete with an efficacy of twelve hundred. The mind also fulfills its entire potential of twelve hundred efficacies.

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