THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

N5 He teaches him to enlighten and perfectly enter.
O1 He causes him to investigate and enlighten to the perfection of the six.


Sutra:

Ananda, now you wish to oppose the flow of desire that leads to birth and death. You should turn back the flow of the organs to reach a state of neither production nor extinction.

Commentary:


The Buddha again calls to Ananda: Now you wish to oppose the flow of desire that leads to birth and death. You don't want to follow along with that flow any more but want to develop the skill to oppose the flow. You should turn back the flow of the organs to reach a state of neither production nor extinction. You want to return and find the source of the flow of birth and death.

Sutra:

You should investigate all of these six functioning organs to see which are uniting, which are isolated, which are deep, which are shallow, which will penetrate perfectly, and which are not perfect.

Commentary:


You should first figure out which organ penetrates the most perfectly, without obstruction, and which organ will not lead to perfect penetration.

Sutra:

Once you have awakened to the organ which penetrates perfectly, you should thereupon reverse the flow of its beginningless involvement in false karma. Then you will know the difference between one that penetrates perfectly and one that does not. Then a day and an aeon will be one and the same.

Commentary:


Once you have awakened to the organ which penetrates perfectly, if you can find the source of birth and death and oppose the flow of karma, you will know which organ penetrates most perfectly. You should thereupon reverse the flow of its beginningless involvement in false karma. You don?t have to comply with the flow of birth and death, you can counteract it. Then you will know the difference between one that penetrates perfectly and one that does not. When you understand which organ penetrates most perfectly, and if you then cultivate, then a day and an aeon will be one and the same. Before you understood about the perfect organ, you could have cultivated for an aeon and still not become a Buddha. Once you understand the perfect organ which is not subject to birth and death, you can cultivate for one day, and it will equal the cultivation of a great aeon.

O2 He causes him to enter one and liberate six.

Sutra:

I have now revealed to you the fundamental efficacy of the tranquil perfect brightness of these six. This is what the numbers are; it is up to you to select which one to enter. I will explain more to aid your progress in it.

Commentary:


I have now revealed to you the fundamental efficacy of the tranquil perfect brightness of these six. I have explained the principle very clearly for you. The basic nature of these six is very still and pure. I have told you the extent of the efficacy of each organ. You know now which organs function with the greatest capacity and which are less efficient. This is what the numbers are; it is up to you to select which one to enter. I have explained to you the degree of each organ's potential. It's up to you, Ananda, to make a careful choice in deciding which one can be entered. See which organ you respond to.

Basically, it's already been made clear that the organ of hearing penetrates most perfectly, but the Buddha is not going to tell Ananda that directly. He's going to let Ananda pick it out. The Buddha simply stated the degree of each organ's capability and leaves it up to Ananda to make the choice. And that's what he tells him now.

I will explain more to aid your progress in it. After you have made your selection, I will explain things for you in greater detail. I will reveal to you how to work with that organ in order to advance in your cultivation.

Sutra:

The Thus Come Ones of the ten directions cultivated by means of all of the eighteen realms and obtained perfect, unsurpassed Bodhi. All of them were generally adequate.

Commentary:

The Thus Come Ones of the ten directions. The Buddha brings up the Tathagatas of the ten directions as certification. They cultivated by means of all of the eighteen realms and obtained perfect, unsurpassed Bodhi. All of them were generally adequate. The five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, and the eighteen realms: of these, none was more adequate than any other.

Sutra:

But you are at an inferior level and are not yet able to perfect comfortable wisdom among them. Therefore, I shall give you an explanation, so that you will be able to enter deeply into one door.

Commentary:


But you are at an inferior level. The Thus Come Ones of the ten directions become perfected by means of the five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, and the eighteen realms and can obtain unsurpassed Bodhi through any of them. For them, any one of these is as adequate as any other. None is less effective. But you are different, your root-nature is inferior at this point. You are still very stupid and are not yet able to perfect comfortable wisdom among them. You can't choose just any one of the five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, or the eighteen realms and obtain through it the wisdom that is perfect and masterful. Therefore, I shall give you an explanation, so that you will be able to enter deeply into one door. I will explain the workings of each organ for you until you understand how to enter deeply into one door.

Sutra:

Enter one without falseness, and the six sense organs will be simultaneously pure.

Commentary:

Enter one without falseness. You enter deeply into one organ to the point that the false is gone and the purity is absolute. When one organ is without falseness, the six sense organs will be simultaneously pure. They will all become pure and comfortable at the same time.

M2 He instructs him to untie the knot and enter perfect penetration.
N1 Ananda restates the Buddha?s words and asks for benefit.


Sutra:

Ananda said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, how do we oppose the flow, enter deeply into one door, and cause the six organs to simultaneously become pure?"

Commentary:


Ananda still didn't really understand what he had heard the Buddha say, and so he asked the Buddha about it. Ananda said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, how do we oppose the flow? What do you mean by opposing the flow of birth and death? How do we enter deeply into one door? Which door should we enter into deeply? Where is this door? How do we cause the six organs to simultaneously become pure? How do we enter one without falseness and thereby cause all the six organs to be pure at once? What's the principle involved here?"

N2 The Thus Come One answers the question with a multifold statement.
O1 The knot of delusion is deep.

Sutra:

The Buddha told Ananda, "You have already obtained the fruition of a Shrotaapanna. You have already extinguished the view-delusions of living beings in the three realms, but you do not yet know that your organs have accumulated habits that are without beginning. It is through cultivation that one severs not simply these habits, but also their numerous subtleties as they pass through arisal, dwelling, change, and extinction."

Commentary:


The Buddha told Ananda, "You have already obtained the fruition of a Shrotaapanna, the first fruition of arhatship." "Shrotaapanna" means "entering the flow," entering the flow of the dharma-nature of a sage. It also means "opposing the flow," of the six defiling objects that ordinary people experience. The Vajra Sutra explains the four fruitions very clearly. It says that one who "enters the flow" does not enter forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas. "Not entering" means one is not turned around by the six sense-objects. Whether what people at this stage see is beautiful or not beautiful, their minds are not moved, because they have already severed the eighty-eight categories of view-delusion. They are not moved by anything they see, hear, smell, or otherwise perceive. This stage of arhatship is also called "preparing for the flow" of the sage.

You have already extinguished the view-delusions of living beings in the three realms. This refers to the eighty-eight categories of view-delusion. But you do not yet know that your organs have accumulated habits that are without beginning. These habits have been piling up for numerous lives and numerous aeons. It is through cultivation that one severs not simply these habits, but also their numerous subtleties as they pass through arisal, dwelling, change, and extinction. There are all sorts of divisions, sections, interrelationships, circumstances, and causes and conditions. It is by cultivating that you can sever the habits of many aeons.

O2 The one and the six are due to falseness.

Sutra:

You should now contemplate the six organs further: are they one or six? If you say they are one, Ananda, why can't the ears see? Why can't the eyes hear? Why can't the head walk? Why can't the feet talk?

Commentary:


The Buddha says to Ananda, "You should now contemplate the six organs further: are they one or six? You ask me why are all the six organs pure when one organ is free of falseness? But take a look now: are they six or one? Are they one or six? If you say they are one, Ananda, if you say that the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind are of a single substance, why can't the ears see? Why can't the eyes hear? What's the reason that eyes can only see things and cannot hear them? Why can't the head walk? If they were a single substance, the feet could walk and the head could, too. The eyes could see and could also hear, if they were one substance. Why can't the feet talk?" That reminds me of the man who came to visit yesterday and said he was the American patriarch. I told him that he was indulging in "intellectual talk- Zen," to which he replied that his was "intellectual foot-Zen." He thought his answer was really wonderful. Here, the Buddha asks Ananda, "Why can't the feet talk?'

Ultimately, are the ears capable of seeing? They are. Are the eyes capable of hearing? They are. Is it possible for the head to walk? No, the head can't walk. Is it possible for the feet to talk? No, the feet can't talk. How can you say that the ears can talk and the eyes can hear? This principle is something which each person must come to know for himself or herself. A person who has experienced it understands this principle of the mutual functioning of the six organs. But Ananda is now only a first-stage arhat, so he has not yet experienced the simultaneous inter-functioning of the six sense organs. The mouth, too, can not only speak, but can also see and hear.

"Dharma master," someone protests, "the things you say aren't even in the sutras. You're just blabbering nonsense." There are a lot of things that aren't found in the sutras. If the sutras fully explained it all, there would be no need for commentaries such as mine. As t the sutras, the printed words are black, the paper is white, and if you pursue the sutras simply of themselves, you're running after something that's dead, not something that's alive.

Although we say the sutra is like a road, and can be recited,
It has no direct relation to your very life!

If you want to end birth and death, you have to use the mind not subject to production and extinction in your cultivation of the Way. The sutra is something subject to production and extinction. In the future, the sutras will disappear. The very first to go will be the Shurangama Sutra. In the Dharma-ending Age, the first to disappear will be this sutra, and that's why I like to lecture it wherever I go. Every time it's explained, people come to understand a little more of its principles. That's why I really like to lecture.

Ananda hadn't experienced the mutual functioning of the six sense-organs, because he had not yet reached the fourth stage of arhatship. When one reaches that level, the eyes can eat and the ears can talk. Isn't that wonderful?

What was originally one pure brightness,
Divides into six separate functions.

When these six separate functions return to the one original brightness, one experiences the mutual functioning of the six. If you believe such a state exists, that's fine. If you don't believe it, just relax. Eventually you will come to believe it. When it happens to you someday and you exclaim, "How is it my ears can talk?" then you will believe it. At that time you'll know that your teacher was not cheating you after all.

You will have this experience when your six sense organs function in mutual accord. Before that happens, however, you shouldn't be obsessed with false thinking about it to the point that you decide to train your ears to talk. It's not something you can train your organs to do. Actually, you can train them if you want to, but do it by sitting in meditation and investigating dhyana. You have to develop your skill through hard work. You can't fear the pain in your legs or the ache in your back. Nor should you think it's something you can't do. Anyone can become a Buddha.

All living beings have the Buddha-nature.
All can become Buddhas.

Above all, you should learn the Shurangama Mantra by heart. We recite it twice every day in this Shurangama Sutra study session, which will probably last nearly three months, seventy days, at least. That,'s one hundred forty recitations of the mantra, let's say one hundred fifty in total. You should be able to memorize it in that many recitations. If you can't, you won't be allowed any excuses!

Sutra:

"If the six organs are definitely six, then as I now explain this subtle, wonderful dharma-door for you in this assembly, which of your six organs is receiving it?"

Ananda said, "I hear it with my ears."

The Buddha said, "Your ears hear by themselves; what does that have to do with your body and mouth? And yet you ask about the principles with your mouth, and your body displays veneration."

Commentary:

"If the six organs are definitely six, if there's no doubt about it, then as I now explain this subtle, wonderful dharma-door for you in this assembly, I am expounding for you the rare, wonderful, and inconceivable dharma-door of the great Shurangama Samadhi, which of your six organs is receiving it? Since your six organs are definitely divided into six, which of them receives the dharma I am speaking?" That's what he asked Ananda. Ananda didn't even stop to consider. He just impulsively answered the Buddha. Ananda said, "I hear it with my ears." He only mentioned the organ of hearing.

The Buddha said, "Your ears hear by themselves; what does that have to do with your body and mouth?" Your ears themselves do the hearing, and so it doesn't have anything to do with your body and mouth. And yet you ask about the principles with your mouth, why do you use your mouth to ask about the doctrines? Whether or not you understand what you hear shouldn't have anything to do with your body or mouth, because, after all, they are separate organs. They are not one. And your body displays veneration. You are upright and attentive to represent your respect for the dharma. Therefore, if you say they are six separate entities, why are these other two cooperating like this?

Sutra:

Therefore, you should know that if they are not one, then they must be six. And if they are not six, they must be one. But you can't say that your organs are basically one and six.

Commentary:

Therefore, because of the foregoing, you should know that if they are not one, then they must be six: If they aren't one, they are six. And if they are not six, they must be one. But you can't say that your organs are basically one and six. You can't say they are both one and six.

Sutra:

Ananda, you should know that these organs are neither one nor six. It is from being upside-down and sinking into involvements throughout time without beginning that the theory of one and six has become established. As a Shrotaapanna, you have dissolved the six, but you still have not done away with the one.

Commentary:


Ananda, you should know that these organs, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind, are neither one nor six. It is from being upside-down and sinking into involvements throughout time without beginning until the present that the theory of one and six has become established. It arose because relying on the truth, you gave rise to falseness and brought about ignorance and delusion in your self-nature. You end up sinking into involvements. You say, "You give me this, and I'll give you that." That's the way you get involved. It's like opening a big company with a main headquarters and branches. Because of delusion and involvements, the theory of one and six became established in the profoundly tranquil nature of the Thus Come One's treasury, in the eternal true mind. As a Shrotaapanna. Ananda, you have obtained the fruition of a first-stage arhat. The definition of a first-stage arhat is one who does not "enter into" forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas. You have dissolved the six. You are not turned around by the six defiling objects. You wouldn't say, "Is that food good to eat?" You wouldn't have that thought. Or, when looking at a form, you wouldn't say, "That's really beautiful." As soon as one thinks 'beautiful," one becomes attached; and one races after that beautiful thing. How far one runs, no one knows. One mile, two, three, four, or is it a hundred or two hundred miles? Who knows how far you will run after beauty? That's being turned by the defiling objects of form.

As to smelling fragrances, I remember a time in Manchuria when I was reciting the Great Compassion Mantra with over a dozen of my disciples. We were kneeling as we recited, and after we'd said the mantras more than two hundred times, the entire room filled with a rare fragrance. There weren't any flowers in the room or anything else that would emit such a fragrance. In fact, the fragrance was out of this world, not like anything we'd ever smelled before. One of my disciples got greedy and began sniffing loudly and muttering, "How sweet, how fragrant!" The more he sniffed, the more fragrant it was, and the more he wanted to smell it.

I said to him, "You're here reciting the Great Compassion Mantra. Don?t go chasing after scents." The tongue tastes flavors. One time I accompanied an experienced old cultivator to a layperson's house for a meal offering. This old cultivator supposedly possessed the status of elder years and lofty virtue in the Way. But when we were served the food, he remarked to me, "This food is really good. It's my favorite kind. Do you like it?"

I said, "I don't know what it tastes like."

"Oh? Haven't you eaten any?"

"I ate it, but I don't know what it tasted like," I said.

"Well, if you don't recognize tastes, haven't you turned into a piece of wood?"

"But I ate," I retorted. "Wood can't eat. The reason I don't know what it tasted like is that I just ate my fill, I didn't pay attention to its flavor."

But as a result of that conversation, I thought to myself, "Such a lofty old cultivator, and he's still expending his energy on food and drink. He's attached to what is good to eat and what is not. What's to be done?" Now the Shurangama Sutra discusses "dissolving the six." How do you do it? Once you are certified to the first fruition of arhatship, you get rid of that level of experiencing. Your eyes don't seek after beauty, your ears don't register fine sounds, your nose isn't greedy for fragrances, your tongue doesn't crave flavors, your body doesn't become attached to objects of touch, and your mind isn't aware of dharmas.

But you still have not done away with the one. What is "the one?" It represents his attachment to dharmas, an attachment that still remains. Although forms, sounds, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas have been dissolved, the attachment to dharmas has still not been severed.

O3 He uses an analogy to clarify the dharma.

Sutra:

It is like emptiness fitting into differently shaped vessels. The emptiness is said to be whatever shape the vessel is. But if you get rid of the vessel and look at the emptiness, you will say it is one and the same.

Commentary:


Ananda, why is it that you have revolved head over heels on the wheel of rebirth from time without beginning and have given rise to these six organs which cannot be called one and cannot be called six? What's the reason? I'll bring up another analogy as further substantiation. It is like emptiness. That is, it's like our nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is no one else's but ours. It's like putting emptiness into differently shaped vessels. In emptiness we make a lot of square vessels, and round vessels, and triangular vessels, and hexagonal vessels, and octagonal vessels. When we set them in emptiness, the emptiness becomes triangular, and square, and hexagonal, and octagonal, and round. The emptiness is said to be whatever shape the vessel is. Ultimately, though, did the emptiness change? It did not. It was just because the vessels were different that the emptiness took on different shapes. But if you get rid of the vessel and look at the emptiness, you will say it is one and the same. The emptiness is still just one. In fact, it isn't even one. If it were one, it wouldn't be emptiness. And that's the way the treasury of the Thus Come One is. The addition of the vessels is the existence of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.

The fundamental, single, pure brightness,
Divides into six separate functionings.

That's why you can't say they are six and you can't say they are one. They are neither one nor six. They are just like the great void. If you're just like the great void, why do you want to retain so much ignorance and affliction? It's just because you won't reject these that you cannot perceive your original face. And, since you cannot realize your original face, you can't reach the ultimate understanding.

Sutra:

But how can that emptiness become alike and different at your convenience? Even less can it be one or not one. Therefore, you should understand that the six receptive functioning organs should be the same way.

Commentary:

But how can that emptiness become alike and different at your convenience? How can you say that emptiness becomes the same or different? You can't say that, because emptiness is fundamentally unchanging. Even less can it be one or not one. How can you make it one or not one? In emptiness there isn't anything at all. That's why it's said:

The self-nature is like emptiness;
Both true and false are within it.

Based on the true, the false arises, and when the false vanishes, the true appears. If you don't get rid of the false, the true won't appear. So in our cultivation we have to put an end to what is false. It's also said:

Dust it today and scrub it tomorrow.
Rub it and polish it until it's like a mirror.

What is referred to here is the self-nature, expressing the same principle that the Great Master Shen Xiu expressed in his famous verse:

The body is a Bodhi tree,
The mind like a bright mirror stand.
Time and again brush it clean,
And let no dust alight.

The line "Time and again brush it clean" refers to the kind of diligence that is necessary during cultivation. People criticize this verse, saying it is incorrect. It's not incorrect; it simply describes what is essential during cultivation of the Way. The Great Master Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch, wrote this verse in answer:

Originally Bodhi has no tree.
The bright mirror has no stand.
Originally there is not a single thing;
Where can dust alight?

This verse describes the experience of a person who has been certified as having attained the fruition of sagehood. Thus, people who have not accomplished the fruition of sagehood should study the Great Master Shen Xiu's verse. Those who have been certified to the fruition should follow the verse of the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch.

Yesterday that "American patriarch' came and contended that the Sixth Patriarch said there is nothing profound and nothing shallow. That's an example of having a superficial knowledge without understanding the underlying reasons, and using it to indulge in intellectual talk-Zen. When I called him on this, he said his was "foot-Zen." As I told you, he thought his answer was very clever, but I thought to myself, "You came out here from New York in a broken-down car, but since you didn't have to walk, you say you have 'foot-Zen.' " The only trouble was that his "foot-Zen" didn't get him anywhere when he got here.

Therefore, you should understand that the six receptive functioning organs should be the same way. I was explaining a four-line verse for you, and there are still two lines left. But I'm not a rakshasa ghost who wants to eat you. I'm not even hungry at the moment, so I'll finish the verse. Do you remember it?

The self-nature is like emptiness.
Both true and false are within it.
When you awaken and fathom all dharmas,
To penetrate one is to penetrate them all.

That refers to the method discussed here of entering deeply into one door. If you enter one and awaken to its falseness, all six organs are purified.

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