THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

Sutra:

It is not dana, nor shila, nor virya, nor kshanti, nor dhyana, nor prajna, nor paramita.

Commentary:


In the empty treasury of the Thus Come One, the six perfections are also emptied. In the previous passage, the four truths were said to be empty. Immediately after his enlightenment, the Buddha explained the four truths and their three turnings. The emptying of the four truths and twelve links of conditioned causation makes the dharmas of the sound-hearers and the condition-enlightened ones empty. Now the emptying of the six perfections makes the dharmas of the Bodhisattvas empty.

The first of the six perfections is dana, Sanskrit for giving. There are three kinds of giving: giving of wealth, giving of dharma, and giving of fearlessness. In giving wealth, one gives material objects to people in order to help them out. Lecturing sutras and speaking dharma is an example of giving dharma. Giving of fearlessness ocurs when someone is afraid of something and you think of a way to comfort him so that he isn't frightened any more. The next is shila, Sanskrit for "precepts." There are the five precepts, the eight precepts, the ten precepts, the two hundred and fifty precepts for bhikshus, and the three hundred and forty-eight precepts for bhikshunis. There are also the ten major and fortyeight minor Bodhisattva precepts.

Kshanti is Sanskrit for "patience." We say we study Buddhadharma, and it's not that difficult to learn the concepts. What is difficult is to put the concepts into practice. The way some people study patience is to tell others to be patient with them, so that they will have no need to be patient with others. So they say to other people who are not patient with them, "You have studied so much of the Buddhadharma, you should have more patience. Why do you get so upset when I say just one thing to you?" They blame others for not being patient, but they can't be patient themselves. And how do they rationalize it? "I understand the Buddhadharma: I am supposed to be without a self. So I don't have any patience. I don't have the view that there's a self, so when it's time to be patient, it's you who should be patient, not me."

But, when it's time to eat, they remember they are not supposed to have any view that there are people, so they think they don't have to give anyone else anything to eat. When there's work to be done, or when they're in a difficult spot, they remember that they are not supposed to have the view that there is a self, so they say they don't have to take care of such things. And, if they kill someone, they say, "It doesn't matter, because there aren't any living beings to begin with. So I haven't really killed anything." Or they hit someone for no reason at all, and when asked why they did it, they say, "There aren't any living beings, and you belong in that category, so I haven't really hit anything at all!" That's deviant knowledge and deviant views for you. When they eat meat they say, "It doesn't matter, living beings aren't supposed to have the characteristic of a lifespan anyway. Since you don't have the characteristic of a lifespan, you can die at any time, so I can go ahead and eat you. Besides, once you're dead, your flesh will just get rancid if I don't eat it. That's what adherents of externalist religions say. They say that domestic animals are put here just for human beings to eat, and if they aren't eaten, they will overpopulate the world. If people didn't eat cows, sheep, and pigs, they would multiply until they filled up the world. But think about it; people don't eat cats, but the world has yet to be overridden with cats. In fact, when people don't eat animals, not so much killing-karma is created, and the animals don't multiply so quickly. So some people misinterpret the principles, such as the principle of patience, and say that other people should be patient with them, but that they themselves don't have to be patient with others.

Virya is Sanskrit for "vigor." There is physical vigor and mental vigor. When your mind is vigorous, you are seeking Buddhadharma at all times. When your body is vigorous, you practice the Buddhadharma at all times.

Dhyana is also a Sanskrit word; it means "quiet consideration." There are many kinds of dhyana; but now the Buddha says that there isn't any dhyana, either.

Prajna, another Sanskrit word, means "wisdom." There are three kinds of prajna: literary prajna, contemplative prajna, and actual-appearance prajna. Thus, the six perfections, or paramitas, are all empty.

Paramita, also Sanskrit, means to reach the other shore. It refers to the successful completion of anything. We cultivate and become Buddhas; having progressed from the state of an ordinary beings to the state of Buddha is a case of paramita. For an ordinary person to become a Bodhisattva is another kind of paramita. Going from San Francisco to Oakland is also a kind of paramita. Now all these dharmas in the treasury of the Thus Come One are said to not exist. They are all emptied. Previously, when we said that empty space does not exclude any appearances, we were talking about the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty. Here we are discussing the empty treasury of the Thus Come One. In describing the empty treasury of the Thus Come One, the word "not" is used, but it does not signify total negation. What still exists is the basically wonderful, perfect mind. But that mind is not called by these names, so here the empty treasury of the Thus Come One is being described.

Sutra:

Nor any other: it is not the Tathagata, nor the arhats, nor samyaksambodhi, nor parinirvana, nor eternity, nor bliss, nor true self, nor purity.

Commentary:


Nor any other means that all the levels of enlightenment, from the six paramitas through the ten dwellings, the ten faiths, the ten practices, the ten transferences, and the ten grounds, up to and including the fruition of Buddhahood, are included in the emptying. Progressing from the level of Bodhisattvahood to the fruition of Buddhahood takes a long time, and there are many dharmas along the way, but none of them exists; they are all empty, and the fruition of Buddhahood is also empty. It is not the Tathagata which is Sanskrit for the Thus Come One. Even the title of Thus Come One is empty. Nor the arhats, those worthy of the offerings of people and gods. Nor is it samyaksambodhi. The title "One of Proper and Universal Knowledge" is also empty. "Proper knowledge" is the mind being the myriad dharmas. "Universal knowledge" is the myriad dharmas being the mind. One of proper and universal knowledge realizes that,

The mind is the myriad dharmas;
The myriad dharmas are the mind.

Nor is it parinirvana. The Sanskrit word "nirvana" is interpreted as meaning "not produced and not extinguished." Even the concept of non-production and non-extinction is non existent. Nor is it eternity, nor bliss, nor true self, nor purity.

"Eternity" means unmoving. "Bliss" means being filled with the joy of dharma. "True self" is the comfort of having attained the genuine self. "Purity" is what is obtained from the dharma of nirvana. These names are also non-existent. They are also empty. You may ask, then, what there is in the treasury of the Thus Come One. I've told you before that everything is there. You ask what is not there; there isn't anything there at all. Everything is made from the mind alone. The treasury of the Thus Come One is empty, is not empty, and is both empty and not empty, and so the mystery in it is endless. You can say that things exist, you can say that they are empty, and you can say that they do not exist and are not empty. After you have studied the Buddhadharma for a long time, you will understand this.

P2 In the non-empty treasury everything exists.

Sutra:

Therefore, it is neither mundane nor transcendental, since the treasury of the Thus Come One is the fundamental brightness of the wonderful mind.

Commentary:


What has been discussed above is the empty treasury of the Thus Come One. Therefore, it follows from these principles that it is neither mundane nor transcendental. The treasury of the Thus Come One is empty. There aren't any dharmas. This is called,

Sweep away all dharmas,
And separate from all appearances.

The total absence of any dharmas is true emptiness. True emptiness can bring about wonderful existence.

'Mundane" refers to the six ordinary dharma-realms. "Transcendental" refers to the four holy dharma-realms. The treasury of the Thus Come One is the fundamental brightness of the wonderful mind. On the other hand, the mundane and transcendental dharmas are just the treasury of the Thus Come One, fundamentally bright and illumining. They are the wonderful mind which is still and constantly illumining, illumining and constantly still. The text here says the treasury of the Thus Come One "is not," and the text that follows says that absolutely everything "is" the treasury of the Thus Come One, the fundamental brightness of the wonderful mind.

Sutra:

It is the mind, it is emptiness, it is earth, it is water, it is wind, it is fire, it is the eyes, it is the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind. It is form, it is sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas. It is the realm of eye-consciousness, and so forth up, to and including the realm of mindconsciousness.

Commentary:


It is the mind, the discriminating, conscious mind, it is emptiness, it is earth, it is water, it is wind, it is fire, it is the eyes, it is the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind. It is form, it is sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas. It is the realm of eye-consciousness, and so forth, up to and including the realm of mind-consciousness. So, the empty treasury of the Thus Come One is also the existent treasury of the Thus Come One, the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty. Thus, in the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is empty and yet not empty, there is the fundamental brightness of the wonderful mind. It is the five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, and the eighteen realms.

Sutra:

It is understanding and ignorance and the ending of understanding and ignorance, and so forth up to and including old age and death and the ending of old age and death. It is suffering, it is accumulation, it is extinction, and it is the way. It is knowing and attaining. It is dana, it is shila, it is virya, it is kshanti, it is dhyana, it is prajna, and it is paramita, and so forth, up to and including the Tathagata, the arhats, samyaksambodhi, parinirvana, eternity, bliss, true self, and purity.

Commentary:


This section of text describes the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty. Previously, the empty treasury of the Thus Come One was described. Now it is said to be not empty. If it's empty, why is it now said not to be empty? After it's empty, it can be not empty. If it were empty and if that's all there were to it, it wouldn't be wonderful. It's because true emptiness is what gives rise to wonderful existence. And wonderful existence produces true emptiness. So now the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty is giving rise to wonderful existence. Therefore, the five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, the eighteen realms, the four truths, and the twelve links of conditioned causation, and so forth, none of them is empty. They can be empty or not empty because there are no fixed dharmas. That's why the Vajra Sutra says,

Even dharmas should be relinquished,
Not to speak of no dharmas.

You should not be attached to the existence of dharmas, because if you are, you have an attachment to dharmas. If you have an attachment to dharmas, it is the same as if you had not understood the dharma. Originally you have an attachment to self, but then when you encounter the dharma you give rise to attachment to dharmas. In Buddhism, then, you can't have any attachments. If there are no attachments, existence is just non-existence. If you have attachments, then non-existence exists.

P3 In the empty-not-empty treasury is perfect fusion.

Sutra:

It is both mundane and transcendental, since the treasury of the Thus Come One is the wonderful brightness of the fundamental mind.

Commentary:


In the previous passage, it is said that it is the five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, the eighteen realms, the four truths, the twelve links of conditioned causation, the six paramitas, and so forth, including the titles of the Thus Come One. It is all these things. Further, it is both mundane and transcendental, since the treasury of the Thus Come One is the wonderful brightness of the fundamental mind, the basic mind that is still and always illumining.

Sutra:

It is apart from 'is' and 'is not.' It is identical with 'is' and 'is not'

Commentary:


It is apart from "is," from existence, and "is not," nonexistence. It's not that is does exist, and it is not that it doesn't exist. That's true emptiness and wonderful existence. So, the principle of the treasury of the Thus Come One which is empty and yet not empty is that it is apart from emptiness and existence and yet not apart from emptiness and existence. And, in light of this principle, the Buddha spoke what follows.

N2 He upbraids them for conceptualizing and verbalizing.

Sutra:

How can living beings in the three realms of existence on the level of worldliness and the sound-hearers and those enlightened to conditions on the level of transcendence make suppositions about the supreme Bodhi of the Thus Come One with the minds that they know of, or enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha through the medium of worldly language and expressions?

Commentary:


How can living beings in the three realms of existence on the level of worldliness,in the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm, in the six common dharma-realms, the sound-hearers and those enlightened to conditions on the level of transcendence, the arhats of the two vehicles, how can they make suppositions about the supreme Bodhi of the Thus Come One with the minds that they know of? At that time, Purna had already been certified as having attained the fourth fruition of arhatship, so the Buddha says, "The minds you know of" the mind of an ordinary person and the mind of an arhat, "How can you investigate the Buddha's enlightenment which no one surpasses? Or enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha through the medium of worldly language and expressions? You want to know the Buddha's knowledge and vision, you want to get into the same state as the Buddha; but how can that be?" Worldly language is the knowledge and vision of ordinary people. And even you who have transcended the mundane and are at the fourth stage of arhatship still cannot imagine the state of the Buddha. You can't use language and consideration to make suppositions about it, to guess at it. "Make suppositions" means you don't really know, but you assume something about it. For example, a child likes to eat candy, so it supposes that everyone likes to eat candy. It doesn't know that some grown-ups don't like candy.

By the same token, ordinary people, and even arhats who are still in the state of the small vehicle, don't have total comprehension, and so they don't know the state of the Buddha.

N3 Conclusion: an analogy for the seeming loss.

Sutra:

For example, lutes, flutes, and guitars can make wonderful sounds, but if there are no skilled fingers to play them, their music will never come forth.

Commentary:


Although the treasury of the Thus Come One is empty, it is nonetheless replete with all dharmas. For example, lutes, flutes, and guitars can make wonderful sounds. Various instruments can make subtle, wonderful sounds. But if there are no skilled fingers to play them, their music will never come forth. No matter how fine the instrument is, there is no way it can play itself. There must be clever fingers to play it. Although the text speaks of "skilled fingers," there must also be a skilled mind. The mind cannot control the fingers if it is not skilled. The skill in the fingers comes from a skilled mind, which is what brings forth the exquisite sounds.

Sutra:

You and all living beings are the same way. The precious, enlightened mind is perfect in everyone. Thus, I press my finger upon it and the ocean-impression emits light; you move your mind, and the wearisome defilements spring up.

Commentary:


The musical instrument that needs a musician before it can make music; the instrument may be fine, but what comes out may not sound so good if one is not a musician, is an analogy for the treasury of the Thus Come One. The Buddha tells Purna, "You and all living beings are the same way. With your ordinary thought you try to make suppositions about the state of the Thus Come One, and so you fit the analogy. The precious, enlightened mind is perfect in everyone. Every person is complete with it. Thus, I press my finger upon it and the ocean-impression emits light." Here the Thus Come One refers to himself. "All I need do is press my finger and the ocean-impression emits light." What is the 'ocean-impression'?

It is a kind of samadhi which the Buddha has where the myriad things are all known to the mind as if they had been imprinted on it like a seal. When the ocean is completely smooth, it can reflect the myriad things; it is what is meant by the "ocean-impression emits light." You move your mind, and the wearisome defilements spring up. As soon as a thought comes to your mind, the tiresome dust arises. The false-thinking mind manifests itself. The Buddha presses his finger and the ocean-impression emits light, which shows how subtle and miraculous the state of the Buddha is. Purna and other living beings don't have such a subtle state. They exist in a state of wearisome defilements.

L2 Again the explanation brings up a question.
M1 Purna asks about the cause for falseness and decides to vigorously cultivate.


Sutra:

It is all because you do not diligently seek the unsurpassed enlightened Way, but are fond of the lesser vehicle and are satisfied with little attainment.

Commentary:


Here the Buddha scolds Purna even more severely. "Why haven't you cut off your wearisome defilements? Why do you move your mind and let the tiresome dust spring up? It is all because you do not diligently seek the unsurpassed enlightened Way. You aren't attentive at all times to the unsurpassed path to enlightenment, but are fond of the lesser vehicle and are satisfied with little attainment. You are greedy for the dharmas of the small vehicle and are content with having attained a slight state." This section of text is very important. Everyone should take a look at himself. Ask yourself whether you are actually diligently seeking unsurpassed Bodhi. Are you genuinely seeking the Buddhadharma? If you really want to understand the Buddhadharma, you should diligently seek unsurpassed Bodhi. Ask yourself what you are doing here every day. "Is it the case that I just follow the crowd? If people laugh, do I laugh? If people talk, do I talk?" If you just follow the crowd, you are not really developing your own skill. If you are really working on yourself, then you aren't even aware of it when someone beside you speaks. You don't even hear them. If someone walks past you, you don't even see them. "I'm not deaf, I'm not blind," you say. "Why wouldn't I see them? Why wouldn't I hear someone speak?" If you are able not to see and not to hear, even though you are not blind or deaf: that is the wonderful. Then you've really got something. You are not blind or deaf, but,

Your eyes see forms,
but inside there is nothing.
Your ears hear mundane sounds,
but the mind does not know.

If you can be like that, then I know that you are diligently seeking unsurpassed Bodhi. If you are not like that, you should be courageous, truly set your mind on the Way, and seek the Unsurpassed Path.

One day someone said to me, "There's not a single place here that's quiet." If you yourself are quiet, then every place is quiet. If you yourself are not quiet, then no place will be quiet. If you are not quiet within and are turned around by external states, there will be external states wherever you go. No matter where you go, to the mountains, to the rivers, on the great earth, in the houses and cottages, on the porches and verandas, no matter where you go it will not be quiet. It is because you can't even get along with yourself. You get angry with yourself. And why is that? Because you can't control your environment. You are influenced by it. When someone passes by a person who diligently seeks for Bodhi, he doesn't notice the person passing; if someone says something nearby him, he doesn't even hear it.

"You are always urging the impossible," you protest. "It can't be done."

If you can find a way to do the impossible, then it counts. All of these things are insignificant states if you have the Way. If you can turn the noisy city into a mountain grove, you've got some skill. So, ask yourself whether you are diligently seeking the unsurpassed Bodhi. Or have you come here just to find fault with people instead? "So-and-so is all right, but so-and-so is always wrong." Do you just keep pointing the camera outward to take pictures of others and never of yourself? You should return the light and look within. Have you really been studying during the time you have been studying the Buddhadharma? If not, then you've wasted your time. If you have been seriously studying, ask yourself what advantages you have gained. If you haven't gained any, you should work even harder. Take for example your ability to recite the Shurangama Mantra. How are you doing? Can you recite it from memory? After all, the Shurangama Sutra was spoken on behalf of the Shurangama Mantra. Without the Shurangama Mantra, there wouldn't even be a Shurangama Sutra. So, even if you don't understand the text of the Shurangama Sutra, you pass if you can recite the Shurangama Mantra from memory. But don't worry about it too much. You should still eat when it's time to eat and sleep when it's time to sleep. Don't get so concerned about not being able to recite the Shurangama Mantra from memory that when it's time to eat you can't get the food down, and when it's time to sleep you have insomnia. If you get all bothered about it, you'll be even less able to learn the Mantra.

I said you should look and yet not see, listen and yet not hear. But people are turned around by situations and cannot control them. You pay a lot of attention to something when you first see it. But after a while you forget about it, and it ceases to exist for you. Take a clock as an example. The old ones used to go "tick, tock" and then chime. If you had such a clock, you might notice its ticking at first, but after you got used to it, you wouldn't even hear it anymore. If you listen for it, it's still ticking, but if you pay no mind to it, it's as if it isn't there at all. This proves that if your mind is not attached to something, it doesn't exist. And that's what's meant by

The eyes see forms,
but inside there is nothing.
The ears hear sounds,
but the mind does not know.

So you join everyone here in meditation, but then complain that a certain person wiggles. The person beside you keeps moving; but don't put the blame on him. It's just that you don't have enough samadhi-power. If you did, then no matter how much the person next to you moved, you wouldn't even know it. How do you know that person is moving? Because you are moving. Your mind is moving.

That's a state. There are little states and big states, good states and bad states. All you have to do is know how to use the Buddhadharma and none of them is any problem.

"But I can't use it now," you protest. If you can't use it, you have to think of a way to do so. You have to keep heading in that direction. As your skill deepens, you will quite naturally not be moved by states. Once you have enough samadhi, no state will move your mind. In China there's a saying:

When you have studied in depth,
You won't have a temper.

People fly off the handle when they lack sufficient education. If your samadhi is sufficient, then even if something is really bad, you can influence it for the better. For example, I've said that as long as I am in San Francisco the earth will not quake. People who don't understand the Buddhadharma think that this is impossible. But if you understand the Buddhadharma and you practice until you have some samadhi, then wherever you are, the earth stays put. It's absolutely certain that there won't be a problem. So now we are all studying samadhi-power, and when you really have samadhipower, it will be peaceful wherever you go. If you don't have any samadhi, then even peaceful places won't be peaceful, because your mind is moving. With samadhi-power you can transform your environment. This is most important.

Therefore, you must first study the Shurangama Mantra, and then you must study the Shurangama Samadhi. With the Shurangama Samadhi, you are not afraid of anything; you are really solid. So now I am telling the earth here in San Francisco to remain solid, and even if an atom bomb fell, it wouldn't matter, it wouldn't go off. You should all have faith and not be afraid. With the Shurangama Mantra, and with the fact that we are explaining the Shurangama Sutra, there is nothing to be afraid of. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are certainly protecting us as we study the Buddhadharma here, so none of you should worry.

Sutra:

Purna said, "I am non-dual and complete with the Thus Come One's perfect brightness of the precious enlightenment, the true wonder of the pure mind. But long ago I was victimized by false thoughts that have no beginning and I have long endured the turning wheel of rebirth. Now I have attained the sagely vehicle, but it is not yet ultimate. The World Honored One has completely extinguished all falseness and obtained wonderful true eternity."

Commentary:


Having heard the Buddha say that Purna did not diligently seek unsurpassed Bodhi, was greedy for the dharmas of the lesser vehicle, and was satisfied with a little, Purna responded: I am nondual and complete with the Thus Come One's perfect brightness of the precious enlightenment. He said that he and the Buddha were both replete with the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the true wonder of the pure mind. There is no division into two, and it is not that there is more or less of anything. But, although the Buddha's true, wonderful, pure mind and mine each has the precious enlightenment and is perfectly bright, long ago I was victimized by false thoughts that have no beginning and I have long endured the turning wheel of rebirth. In the past I got caught up in beginningless false thoughts, and for ever so long I have been turning over and over again in the six paths of rebirth. Now I have attained the sagely vehicle. Now I have been certified as having attained the fourth fruition of arhatship. But it is not yet ultimate. But I haven't yet gotten completely rid of my left-over
habits of false thinking. My true mind has not yet revealed itself. The World Honored One has completely extinguished all falseness and obtained wonderful true eternity. For the World Honored One, the false is gone and only the true remains. His state is particularly subtle, wonderful, and truly eternal. It will never change.

Sutra:

I venture to ask the Thus Come One why all living beings exist in falseness and conceal their own wonderful brightness, so that they keep drowning in this deluge?

Commentary:


"I venture to ask the Thus Come One, I dare to question the Buddha, why all living beings exist in falseness. Why do they suddenly give rise to falseness?" This is like Purna's earlier question: "If the fundamental purity pervades the dharma-realm, why do there suddenly arise the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth?" Living beings' self-nature is basically pure and devoid of falseness. Why then does the falseness arise?

And why do they conceal their own wonderful brightness, so that they keep drowning in this deluge? They cover over their wonderfully bright true mind, and they go on in this world, turning through the paths of rebirth, until they are submerged in this world, just like being drowned. They keep sinking into the mire of the wheel of birth and death.

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