THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

CHAPTER 2

The Reason for Perfect Penetration

K2 Then the Buddha speaks of the empty-not-empty treasury of the Thus Come One
to explain the reason for perfect penetration.
L1 He answers and then asks a question.
Ml He reiterates the doubt about the elements.
N1 He restates Purna's doubt.


Sutra:

Purna, you also asked whether the natures of water and fire would not destroy each other if the natures of earth, water, fire, and wind were all perfectly fused and pervaded the dharma-realm, and whether subtle emptiness and the great earth would not be incompatible if both pervaded the dharmarealm.

Commentary:

Purna, you also asked whether the natures of water and fire would not destroy each other if the natures of earth, water, fire, and wind were all perfectly fused and pervaded the dharmarealm. You say, "Where there's water, there can't be fire, and where there's fire there can't be water. The natures of water and fire are not compatible.'"

You should know that water, fire, and every other thing has a nature, although it may not be capable of thought. Put you can't see this nature with the ordinary flesh eyes. When it's already become fire, we can see it, but before it becomes fire there is still a nature there. The same is true of water. This nature is contained within the dharma-realm. It pervades the dharma-realm. By use of the sun you can obtain fire, and by use of the moon you can obtain water, because the nature of those elements exists in emptiness. You see emptiness as empty, but it is actually replete with all appearances. And emptiness is just the dharma-realm. Purna doubts, however, that the nature of both fire and water can pervade the dharma-realm. "Purna, you also wonder whether subtle emptiness and the great earth would not be incompatible if both pervaded the dharma-realm. 'Emptiness is emptiness,' you reason, 'and if there is emptiness, there shouldn't be earth. The earth is a solid object, so there shouldn't be any emptiness where it is. If emptiness pervades the dharma-realm, earth shouldn't. If earth pervades the dharmarealm, then emptiness shouldn't' " the Buddha reiterates Purna's doubt.

N2 An analogy clarifies the appearance of the nature.

Sutra:

For example, Purna, the substance of emptiness is not the myriad things, and yet it does not prevent the inclusion of all appearances within it.

Commentary:


There is an analogy to explain this principle, Purna. For example, Purna, the substance of emptiness is not the myriad things, and yet it does not prevent the inclusion of all appearances within it. It is basically empty of anything, but though its own substance has no appearance whatever, it does not oppose the natural arising of all things.

Sutra:

Do you know the reason why? Purna, the empty space is bright on a sunny day, and dark when the sky is cloudy. It moves when the wind rises up, it is fresh when the sky clears. It is turbid and hazy when the weather is foul, it is obscure when a dust-storm breaks out. It casts a bright reflection on a pool of clear water.

Commentary:


Do you know the reason why? Purna, the empty space is bright on a sunny day, and dark when the sky is cloudy. It moves when the wind rises up, it is fresh when the sky clears. This refers to the time right after a rain when everything is sparkling clean. It is turbid and hazy when the weather is foul, it is obscure when a dust-storm breaks out. It casts a bright reflection on a pool of clear water. So in the great void, there are no appearances, but the appearances are allowed to appear at will, with no resistance on the part of emptiness. The same thing occurs
in the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is also basically devoid of appearances. And yet the seven elements, the five skandhas, the six sense organs, the twelve places, and the eighteen realms are all in the treasury of the Thus Come One, and it does not resist the arising of those appearances.

N3 He questions and explains about the falseness of appearances.

Sutra:


What do you think of these conditions which come into existence at different places? Are they created from these conditions themselves or do they find their origin in emptiness? If they arise from those conditions, Purna, then on a sunny day since the sun is bright, all the worlds of the ten directions should take the form of the sun. Then how does it happen that on a sunny day one still sees the round sun in the sky? If emptiness is bright, emptiness itself should shine. How does it happen that when there is a covering of clouds and fog there is no light in evidence?

Commentary:


Purna, what is your opinion about this? What do you think of these conditions which come into existence at different places? Are they created from these conditions themselves or do they find their origin in emptiness? If they arise from those conditions, Purna, if the seven appearances arise of themselves, then let's take the sun as an example. On a sunny day since the sun is bright, all the worlds of the ten directions should take the form of the sun. All the lands and countries should look like the sun and have the ability to shine. Then how does it happen that on a sunny day one still sees the round sun in the sky? Moreover, if emptiness is bright, emptiness itself should shine. If the light is not produced from the sun, but from emptiness, then emptiness
should be innately bright. How does it happen that when there is a covering of clouds and fog there is no light in evidence? Emptiness doesn't give off light or have the ability to shine.

Sutra:

You should know that brightness is not the sun, is not emptiness, and is not other than the emptiness and the sun.

Commentary:

You should know Purna, that the function of brightness is not the sun, it doesn't necessarily come from the sun. Nor does it necessarily come from emptiness. But it's also the case that it doesn't necessarily not come from emptiness and the sun. It is not other than they. Ultimately where does it come from? It comes from the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One.

N4 He correlates the analogy with the dharma.

Sutra:

The truly wonderful enlightened brightness is the same way. If your karma finds expression in emptiness, then emptiness will appear. If your karma finds expression in one or another of earth, water, fire, or wind, that one will appear. If your karma finds expression in them all, they will all appear.

Commentary:

The truly wonderful enlightened brightness, the pure nature and bright substance of the everlasting true mind, is the same way. If your karma finds expression in emptiness, then emptiness will appear. If your karma finds expression in one or another of earth, water, fire, or wind, that one will appear. If you have created the causes to bring about one or another of the elements of earth, water, fire, or wind, then the element you have created will appear. If your karma finds expression in them all, they will all appear. If you create them simultaneously, then they simultaneously appear. For instance, a person might obtain fire from the sun and water from a pearl at the same time.

Sutra:

How can they all appear? Suppose, Purna, the sun's reflection appears in a single body of water, and two people gaze at it, both at the same time. Then one person walks east and the other walks west. Each person, still looking in the water, will see a sun go along with him, one to the east, one to the west, seemingly without there being any fixed direction for the movement of the sun?s reflection.

Commentary:

How can they all appear? Suppose, Purna, the sun?s reflection appears in a single body of water, and two people gaze at it, both at the same time. If the water is clear, the sun's reflection can appear in it. The people see a single reflection of the sun in the water. Then one person walks east and the other walks west. Each person, still looking in the water, will see a sun go along with him, one to the east, one to the west. When the two stood together, they saw one sun. When they parted, there were two suns, one accompanying each of them, seemingly without there being any fixed direction for the movement of the sun's reflection. Which is true then? Which is false? These two suns appear unexpectedly. No one anticipated there would be more than one.

Sutra:

"You shouldn't belabor the question and say, 'If there is one sun, how can it follow both people? Since the sun is double, why does only one appear in the sky?' This is just to revolve in falseness, because it cannot be proved."

Commentary:


You shouldn't start arguing the point and belabor the question and say, "If there is one sun, how can it follow both people? Since the sun is double, why does only one appear in the sky?" To get caught up like this is just to revolve in falseness, because it cannot be proved. There's no foundation in fact. You may say it's one, but how can it follow both people? You may want to say it's two, but basically there isn't even one. How could there be two? Even the one is empty and false. So the whole argument is baseless.

N5 He explains the meaning to resolve his doubt.

Sutra:

Contemplate the fundamental falseness of appearances. They are just like flowers that are conjured up in space and produce empty fruit. Why, then, investigate the meaning of their formation and disappearance?

Commentary:


When you look at appearances, contemplate their fundamental falseness. It's all like the sun's reflection in water, just mentioned. There was an appearance, but it was illusory. The one sun became two. How did the change take place? When did it divide? You can't see it clearly. One person sees only one sun, but it follows him. The same thing happens to the other person. And you can't point out and explain clearly exactly how those appearances come into being. They are just like flowers that are conjured up in space and produce empty fruit. Why, then, investigate the meaning of their formation and disappearance? How can you determine that earth, water, fire, and wind overcome one another? How can you ask about their mutual destruction?

Sutra:

Contemplate the fundamental truth of the nature. It is solely the wonderful enlightened brightness, the wonderful enlightened bright mind. Originally, it is neither water nor fire. Why, then, ask about incompatibility?

Commentary:


Contemplate the fundamental truth of the nature. It is solely the wonderful enlightened brightness, the wonderful enlightened bright mind. These two phrases refer to the same thing, the second is just added for the sake of literary style. So the wonderful enlightened mind, originally, it is neither water nor fire. Although it is not either of these, it contains them both. The treasury of the Thus Come One is replete with that kind of functioning, but it doesn't originally manifest as water and fire. It is just the nature of water and fire. Why, then, ask about incompatibility?

You still don't understand the principle of contemplating the nature, so you ask about the mutual destruction of the appearances of water and fire. You don't know that the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One is complete with all the myriad dharmas and their functionings. You only know how to see the physical aspect of things, which, although it exists, is basically false. It is just like the one reflection of the sun which split in two and followed each person. Was it real? No. And that's the way all appearances are.

M2 He completes his discussion of the three aspects of the Treasury of the Thus Come One and exhorts him to cultivate.
N1 Ultimate disclosure of the perfect fusion.
O1 The mind in confusion and enlightenment is faced with the arising of conditions.
P1 Based on the arising of defiled conditions there is obstructive existence.


Sutra:

Purna, you think that form and emptiness overcome and destroy one another in the treasury of the Thus Come One. Thus the treasury of the Thus Come One accordingly appears to you as form and emptiness throughout the dharma-realm.

Commentary:


Purna, you think that form and emptiness overcome and destroy one another in the treasury of the Thus Come One. "You" here does not just refer to Purna. It refers to you and me and everyone here investigating the Shurangama Sutra. You think that form and emptiness are incompatible and that they battle with one another and destroy one another in the treasury of the Thus Come One. Thus the treasury of the Thus Come One accordingly appears to you as form and emptiness throughout the dharmarealm. Since that's what you think, that's what happens throughout the dharma-realm.

Sutra:

And so, within it the wind moves, emptiness is still, the sun is bright, and the clouds are dark. The reason for this lies in the delusion of living beings who have turned their backs on enlightenment and joined with the "dust." Thus, the wearisome defilements come into being and mundane appearances exist.

Commentary:


And so, since form and emptiness continually overcome one another in the treasury of the Thus Come One, there arises the function of according with conditions. Because of this, form and emptiness come into being, and their appearance and functioning pervade the dharma-realm. Within it, within the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the wind moves, emptiness is still, the sun is bright, and the clouds are dark. The reason for this lies in the delusion of living beings. In the midst of so many appearances, living beings become muddled and unclear. They don't understand the principle of true emptiness, and so they are muddled. Therefore, in the true emptiness of the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, they give rise to the three subtle
delusions and the six coarse delusions. One unenlightened thought produces the three subtle appearances; States become the conditions for the growth of the six coarse appearances.

As I explained above, the three subtle appearances are the appearance of karma, the appearance of turning, and the appearance of manifestation. The six coarse appearances are the appearance of knowing, the appearance of continuity, the appearance of grasping, the appearance of reckoning names, the appearance of the arisal of karma, and the appearance of suffering bound to karma. When living beings give rise to these appearances, they are confused. Once confused, they turned their backs on enlightenment and joined with the "dust." They turn away from the true nature and get involved with the experiences of the six sense-objects. And this is all because they think that in the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One there is mutual incompatibility. Since they turn their backs on enlightenment and get mixed up with defilements, the wearisome defilements come into being and mundane appearances exist. The mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and the continuity of the world come into being.

P2 Based on the arising of pure conditions, there is unobstructed fusion.


Sutra:

With the wonderful brightness that is not extinguished and not produced, I unite with the treasury of the Thus Come One. Thus the treasury of the Thus Come One is the unique and wonderful enlightened brightness which completely illumines the dharma-realm.

Commentary:


"With the wonderful brightness, the wonderfully enlightened bright mind, that is not extinguished and not produced." Here the Buddha is referring to himself, unite with the treasury of the Thus Come One. Thus the treasury of the Thus Come One is the unique and wonderful enlightened brightness, there is only the wonderfully enlightened bright mind which completely illumines the dharma-realm, shining on absolutely every place.

Sutra:

That is why, within it, the one is limitless; the limitless is one. In the small appears the great; in the great appears the small.

Commentary:


In the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the one is limitless; the limitless is one. One is all and all is one. In the small appears the great; in the great appears the small. Great and small are unobstructed; one and many are unhindered. You can also say that the one represents the treasury of the Thus Come One, which can manifest the myriad dharmas. And the myriad dharmas all return to the treasury of the Thus Come One. "The one" can also refer to the one mind, in that the myriad dharmas are all from the mind. The mind contains the myriad dharmas. The true mind is the treasury of the Thus Come One, the treasury of the Thus Come One is the true mind. You can't use the limited knowledge of ordinary people to reflect upon the subtle, wonderful, enlightened bright mind, with its inconceivable transformations. You'll never totally understand it that way.

Sutra:

Unmoving in the Bodhimanda, yet pervading the ten directions, my body contains the ten directions and endless emptiness. On the tip of a single hair appear the lands of the Jeweled Kings. Sitting in a mote of dust, I turn the great dharma wheel, destroy the defilements, and unite with enlightenment, so, true suchness, the wonderful enlightened bright nature, comes into being.

Commentary:


Unmoving in the Bodhimanda, yet pervading the ten directions. This phrase refers to the Buddha's dharma body in the Bodhimanda which does not move but goes to all countries in the ten directions. My body contains the ten directions and endless emptiness. Not only does it pervade all Buddhalands, it even fills up empty space.

Well, if empty space is filled up, does it then cease to be empty? Does it wipe out empty space? Does it obliterate emptiness? No. What pervades the ten directions and endless emptiness is the dharma body, which has no appearance. On the tip of a single hair appear the lands of the Jeweled Kings. This is truly an inexpressibly wonderful state. All the Buddhas' lands appear in a single hair. This is the dependent appearing in the proper. The body is the proper retribution. The Buddhalands are the dependent retribution. So, in the smallest division of the proper retribution a single hair appears the largest division of the dependent retribution the Buddhalands. In the small appears the great.

Sitting in a mote of dust, I turn the great dharma wheel. Here the mote of dust refers to a mote of dust bordering on emptiness, which is one seventh of the smallest division of the dependent retribution. In it appears the great the Buddha's body, as he turns the dharma wheel to teach and transform living beings. Thus, in the small appears the great, and in the great appears the small. Ultimately how can it be like this? It is the wonderful functioning of the Buddhadharma, a glimpse of the Buddha-nature. Another example of the great appearing in the small is when we hold up a mirror to reflect miles and miles of scenery. In order to know about this state, you have to understand the principle of the unobstructedness and perfect fusion of noumena and phenomena. It's just what is meant by the one being limitless and the limitless one, which was discussed above. It also pertains to the meaning of dharani, which is to gather in all dharmas and hold all meanings. And, where does this gathering occur? In the Buddha-nature. After you hear more sutras, you will naturally come to understand this principle. This doctrine is so inexpressibly wonderful that I'm not going to say any more about it now.

The Buddha says that, sitting in a mote of dust, he turns the great dharma wheel. Someone with virtue in the Way can turn the dharma wheel to teach and transform living beings in all three realms the realm of desire, the realm of form, and the realm of formlessness. When you don't see him, he may sometimes be in the heavens teaching living beings by lecturing the sutras and speaking dharma. Sometimes he may be in the hells, lecturing sutras and speaking dharma to teach living beings. Sometimes he goes into a mote of dust to turn the dharma wheel in order to teach and transform living beings. Although a mote of dust is small, the living beings within it are no fewer than the number of living beings in this world. This state is inconceivable and inexpressible. To describe it in words is just to reveal its superficial aspects. Why do living beings have to be living beings? Because they are plagued with the wearisomeness of defilement. They turn their backs on enlightenment and unite with defilement. The Buddhas have been able to destroy the defilements, and unite with enlightenment, so, true suchness, the wonderful enlightened bright nature, comes into being. Our true mind is the treasury of the Thus Come One are different names for the same thing.

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