THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

N2 Finally the explanatory gatha.
O1 The explanation.


Sutra:

The knots must be untied successively.
When the six are released, even the one ceases to be.
Select an organ preferred for perfect penetration;
Enter the flow and realize proper enlightenment.

Commentary:


The knots must be untied successively. It is necessary to follow an order in releasing the knots.' How does one release them successively? How did they get bound together in the first place?" you ask.

To begin with, the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One is not subject to production and extinction. But, confusion takes on the aspect of emptiness, delusion and obscurity make emptiness. At that point, ignorance arises. Therefore, although the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One is neither produced nor destroyed, relying on truth, a falseness arises, and with it the mind subject to production and extinction, a consciousness. This consciousness divides into the sixth, seventh, and eighth consciousnesses.

But the source of the eighth consciousness, which is founded on ignorance that creates production and extinction, is the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is not subject to production or extinction. Its source is the pure nature and bright substance of the eternal true mind.

Relying on truth a falseness arises, the treasury of the Thus Come One changes into the alaya consciousness, the eighth consciousness, also called the "storehouse" consciousness. The eighth consciousness is the basis for the existence of the five skandhas: form, feeling, thought, activity, and consciousness. Starting with the skandha of consciousness, one progresses to the skandha of activity. This is the seventh consciousness, the manas consciousness (mo na shi), also called the "transmitting" consciousness (chuan song chi). This consciousness transmits messages from the sixth consciousness to the eighth consciousness. It forms the activity skandha.

The next skandha is that of thought; this is the sixth consciousness, the mind-consciousness. The feeling skandha is the first five consciousnesses of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body. The skandhas of feeling, thought, activity, and consciousness correspond to one knot each. The form-skandha counts as two knots, because it is coarser. Thus, the six knots start with the eighth consciousness and progress through the seventh and the sixth, and then through the five. With the existence of the five skandhas, the five turbidities come into being, producing all kinds of obstructions. If we want to untie these knots we must first stop chasing after the skandha of form. Once these two knots are broken open, then the other skandhas of feeling, thought, activity, and consciousness are released as well; the six knots are all untied. "The knots must be untied successively," because the skandha of form is composed of coarse knots, while the remaining skandhas of feeling, thought, activity, and consciousness are extremely subtle.

"So why do they begin their formation from the inside and work outward?" you wonder.

It is because the eighth consciousness is the first to arrive at conception. It all starts with the eighth consciousness. The five skandhas and the eighth consciousness become bound together in the knot of birth and death. It starts with the eighth consciousness; you release it by starting with the form skandha. The process can be likened to removing clothes. You take off an outer layer, and an inner layer is revealed. In this way, you take off layer after layer until you have removed them all; then the knot is untied. That's how it's explained, but actually if you release one knot, the other five will disappear as well. The verse says: When the six are released, even the one ceases to be. When the six sense-organs, the knots, are freed, the one disappears as well. This will be explained in detail later in the text.

Select an organ preferred for perfect penetration. The method for cultivation is applying effort right at the entrance to the six organs. That is, the eyes are not turned by forms, the ears are not turned by sounds, the nose is not turned by smells, the tongue is not turned by flavors, the body is not turned by objects of touch, and the mind is not turned by dharmas. You transform what takes place at the entrance to the six organs. You return the light to illumine within; you do not seek outside. Guard and gather in your body and mind. Seek within yourself.

In cultivating the six organs, you have to select one organ which will lead you to perfect penetration. The Buddha has already laid the groundwork for this. He discussed the efficacy of twelve hundred of each of the organs and told Ananda to see which organs were more complete. The eyes, for instance, are not complete, but the ears are. The tongue and the mind are also complete organs. Three are complete and three are not. You are to select a complete organ and then develop your skill in cultivation with regard to it. Shakyamuni Buddha has tacitly implied that the organ of the ear will lead to perfect penetration, but he has not come right out and said it. He wants Ananda to make his own selection; he wants him to figure it out for himself.

Select an organ preferred for perfect penetration, and enter the flow and realize proper enlightenment. Enter the flow of the dharma-nature
of the sages. Turn against the flow of the six sense-objects of an ordinary person. After entering the flow, one can accomplish proper enlightenment, that is, become a Buddha.

O2 Specific passage about the supreme meanings.

Sutra:

Extremely subtle, the adana consciousness
Makes patterns of habit that flow on in torrents.
Fearing you will confuse the truth with what is not,
I rarely tell you of all this.

Commentary:

This is dharma which Shakyamuni Buddha rarely speaks. "I rarely tell you of all this," I don't ever like to explain this dharma. Just imagine: Shakyamuni Buddha rarely explained this dharma for the great Arhats, the great Bodhisattvas, and the great bhikshus, and yet how easily we have had the opportunity to hear this wonderful dharma spoken by the Buddha!

Extremely subtle, the adana (tuo na) consciousness. This is a very subtle consciousness, even more so than the eighth. The "adana" is also called the "pure" consciousness. It is the seed of purity.

This especially fine and subtle consciousness makes patterns of habit that flow on in torrents. This is the source of our birth and death. As soon as falseness arises in the one truth of that subtle consciousness, one thought of ignorance, it turns into habits that come on like a torrent. Nothing will curtail them. Here the torrent refers to our birth and death. Being born and dying, in birth and death, again and again, sometimes a person, sometimes an animal, sometimes born as a god, sometimes falling into the hells, spinning ceaselessly, patterns of habit flow on in torrents.

Fearing you will confuse the truth with what is not, I rarely tell you of all this. Why isn't the true dharma talked about? Why don't I express the subtle wonder of the genuine dharma for you? I'm afraid people will think that the true is false and that they will think what is really false is true. For example, you were determined to add "bright" to "enlightenment," and by doing so you just add confusion to confusion and become doubly deluded.

"Normally I don't explain this wonderful dharma. I speak the small vehicle doctrines for you small vehicle people. The genuine, wonderful dharma of the great vehicle is something I've never told you about before. I haven't done so because you people of the small vehicle still don't have the stature to hear it. You haven't turned from the small toward the great. So even when I wanted to explain it, I refrained."

Sutra:

With your own mind, you grasp at your own mind.
What is not illusory turns into illusion.
If you don't grasp, there is no non-illusion.
If even non-illusion does not arise,
How can illusory dharmas be established?
This is called the Wonderful Lotus Flower,
The Regal Vajra Gem of Enlightenment.

Commentary:

With your own mind, you grasp at your own mind. Living beings do not understand that the division of seeing and the division of appearances are manifestations of the mind alone. The three realms come only from consciousness; The myriad dharmas spring only from the mind. Not understanding that all things are made from the mind alone, they become attached to the seeing-division, that is, to their own subjective viewpoint, their eighth consciousness. The appearance division refers to external objects. Basically, the division of seeing and the division of appearances are both empty and false. They are figments of your own mind. Most people never realize that they should return the light and illumine within. They just keep seeking outside themselves. They get confused about the true and chase after what is false. If you realize that the myriad dharmas come from your mind alone; if you, recognize your own mind, and see your own nature, you will know that the two divisions of seeing and appearances arise from your own mind. If you understand the bright substance and pure nature of your eternal true mind, you will not run outside, but will return home.

What is not illusory turns into illusion. Because living beings are confused about what is true and chase after what is false, they come to have doubts about what basically was not illusory, and so that becomes illusory. You must be able to not grasp at these illusory appearances. Not grasping is the important point here. The reason most people are confused by the six sense-organs and six sense objects is that they grasp at the two divisions of seeing and appearances. They become attached to the belief that their capacity to see is the division of seeing and that what they see really exists. They don't know that it is empty and false, it is illusory. If you don't grasp, there is no non-illusion. There isn't any non-illusion. If even non-illusion does not arise. What is not empty and false basically does not come into being: there is no place where it is produced. How can illusory dharmas be established? How can empty illusory dharmas exist? They don't.

This is called the Wonderful Lotus Flower, wonderful and subtle. The lotus flower arises from the mud but is not defiled by it. It grows in mud but is itself pure. And, the flower and fruit appear simultaneously. It is the Regal Vajra Gem of Enlightenment. Vajra is the most durable and toughest substance. It represents wisdom. Nothing can destroy or break through genuine wisdom. "Regal" means free and easy, as a king is. "Gem of enlightenment" refers to our true mind. If you can keep from grasping at the two divisions of seeing and appearances; if you can return to the source, then you can return to the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One by turning the consciousnesses into wisdom. Once the turning is accomplished, the two divisions turn into a wonderful lotus flower, the gem of enlightenment.

Sutra:

In this Samapatti that is likened to illusion,
Transcend all study instantly.

Commentary:

It is also called by another name, Samapatti that is likened to illusion. "Samapatti" is a Sanskrit word which means "holding equally," that is, the equal maintaining of the power of samadhi and the power of wisdom. With wisdom you can untie the six knots. With samadhi you will not create the six knots. In this samapatti, one should transcend all study instantly. "Instantly" is literally "in a finger-snap." In no time at all, one transcends the positions in which there is still study and arrives at the position of no further study, that is, the fourth fruition of arhatship. The positions of the first, second, and third fruitions, where there is something left to study, are transcended in a finger-snap, as one is certified to the fourth fruition, arhatship.

Sutra:

This abhidharma, incomparable
Is the single pathway through nirvana's gate,
Taken by Bhagavans in all the ten directions.

Commentary:

This Abhidharma, incomparable. "Abhidharma" translates as "peerless." This refers to the kind of dharma, the method, being discussed. Is the single pathway through nirvana's gate, it is the unsurpassed method to untie the knots, taken by Bhagavans in all the ten directions. "Bhagavan" in the transliterated pronunciation po qie fan, is found at the beginning of the fourth section of the Shurangama Mantra. It is a universal name for the Buddha, used and recognized by Buddhas, spirits, and ghosts in referring to Buddhas. Here "Bhagavan" is not translated, because the original word includes six meanings. A translation can render only one meaning.

The six meanings of Bhagavan are:

1) Comfortable. The Buddha's nature is comfortable, in the same way that the name "Contemplate in Comfort" given to Guan Yin Bodhisattva means that he is a comfortable Bodhisattva.

2) Dazzling. This meaning describes the Buddha's light, which pervades the dharma realm.

3) Decorous. The Buddha is correct in his bearing and never lax or lazy. We should try to be the same. When you listen to sutras, you should sit in an appropriately respectful manner. Don't lounge or slouch or stretch out. It should be as if the Buddha himself were before you speaking the dharma. Since we believe in the Buddha, we should show our respect to him. We shouldn't be lazy right before the Buddha's eyes; when listening to sutras, you cannot lie down or go to sleep. You shouldn't lie down when reading sutras, either. I've told you before that if you do that, you will become a snake in a future life. Snakes have to lie down even when they move from place to place. They can't stand up. When you read a sutra, you should sit up straight and perhaps place it on a table in front of you. If you have one degree of respect, you increase your wisdom by one degree. If you have ten degrees of respect, you increase your wisdom by ten degrees. If you have a hundred, thousand, or ten thousand degrees of respect, you increase your wisdom by the same amount. You also increase your good roots.

The Vajra Sutra says it clearly: "There is a Buddha in any place that the sutra text is found," a Buddha. Your respect will bring a response; if you lack respect, there won't be a response. Consider it as if Shakyamuni Buddha himself were lecturing the sutra for you and the Venerable Ananda was by your side. And around you in the great assembly are all the great Bodhisattvas as well. Let it be just like the dharma assembly on Magic Mountain. If you had that kind of respect, there would be no way you could fail to get enlightened. "But Ananda had listened to so much of the teaching and still hadn't become enlightened. Can I become enlightened now, on first hearing it?" How do you know Ananda hadn't become enlightened? Maybe Ananda was intentionally pretending not to be enlightened so that the Buddha would speak the sutra and we now can hear it. Ananda became a Buddha a long time ago, not to speak of his gaining any lesser enlightenment! He's just appearing as the spokesperson and acting like he doesn't understand. In fact, Ananda remembered every bit of the dharma the Buddha spoke; how could he not have understood the principles the Buddha is explaining here? He has long since understood and is just requesting dharma on behalf of us who are living beings now. He's a model, an example for us. You shouldn't think that you're smarter than Ananda. You're not.

4) Renowned. Everyone praises the Bhagavan; everyone respects him.

5) Lucky.

6) Honored and noble.

Since the title, Bhagavan, has these six meanings, it is not translated. Among the five kinds of terms not translated, it is the one that has many meanings.

Is the single pathway through nirvana's gate. This dharma door is the one by which the Buddhas of the ten directions accomplished Buddhahood. They took the road that led to nirvana.

L3 He discusses his enlightenment.

Sutra:

When Ananda and the great assembly heard the unsurpassed, compassionate instruction of the Buddha, the Thus Come One, this harmonious and brilliant geya verse with its clear and penetrating wonderful principles, their hearts and eyes were opened, and they exclaimed that dharma such as this had never been before.

Commentary:

When Ananda and the great assembly heard the unsurpassed, compassionate instruction of the Buddha, the Thus Come One. Ananda and everyone in the great assembly were influenced by the reiterative verse the Buddha spoke about the one path for entrance into nirvana taken by all the Buddhas of the ten directions. Nothing could be more lofty than this compassionate explanation. This harmonious and brilliant geya verse. "Geya," reiterative verse, recapitulates the prose which precedes it. Such verses have a fixed number of characters in each line in the Chinese, be it four, five, six, or seven. This verse's dharma is expressed in a harmonious and illuminating way, so it is said to be "harmonious and brilliant," with its clear and penetrating wonderful principles. This subtle wonderful principle expresses what is absolutely fundamental and essential.

Their hearts and eyes were opened. Ananda and the members of the great assembly came to understand a great deal more doctrine than they ever had before. Their minds were clearer and their eyes were brighter, and this in turn increased their wisdom. Here, "eyes" refers to the opening of the wisdom eye. And they exclaimed that dharma such as this had never been before. "This dharma is so wonderful! There's never been anything like it before!"

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