THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

M2 The Thus Come One uses an analogy to show there is no cause and instructs him to immediately stop.
N1 The analogy to explain that there is no cause.

Sutra:

The Buddha said to Purna, "Although you have cast off doubts, you still have not ended residual delusions. I will now employ a worldly event in questioning you."

Commentary:


Purna wanted to know why false thinking should arise in the fundamental purity which pervades the dharma-realm, false thinking which covers over the wonderful bright mind of everyone. In reply, the Buddha said to Purna, "Although you have cast off doubts, you still have not ended residual delusions. When I explained the continuity of the world, the continuity of living beings, and the continuity of karmic retribution to you, you got rid of your doubts, but you still haven't completely realized the principle and are not yet totally clear. You still have a few questions. I will now employ a worldly event in questioning you. It will be easy for you to understand an ordinary event, a worldly
phenomenon, so I will employ one in asking you some questions."

N2 He correlates the dharma and the analogy.

Sutra:

"Have you not heard of Yajnadatta in Shravasti who on impulse one morning held a mirror to his face and fell in love with the head in the mirror? He gazed at the eyes and eyebrows but got angry because he could not see his own face. He decided he must be a li mei ghost. Having lost all his bearings, he ran madly out. What do you think? Why did this person set out on a mad chase for no reason?"

Purna said, "That person was insane. There's no other reason."

Commentary:


"Purna, haven't you heard this story? Have you not heard of Yajnadatta in Shravasti who on impulse one morning held a mirror to his face? Didn't you hear the news about Yajnadatta in the City of Flourishing Virtue?" At that time there were no newspapers; word just got around. Yajnadatta's name means "arrived in a temple," (ci jie) because once his mother went to a god's temple to pray and gave birth to her son while she was there.

One morning Yajnadatta got up and impulsively, with out any forethought, picked up a mirror and held it to his face. His own face was reflected in the mirror, and he loved what he saw. He was delighted with how handsome the head in the mirror was. He fell in love with the head in the mirror. He gazed at the eyes and eyebrows. He scrutinized the features and decided the head was superb, but got angry because he could not see his own face. Then, suddenly he flew into a rage. "Why don't I have a head?" he demanded. "Imagine how fine it would be if I had a head like that!" He got exasperated because he couldn't see his own face and thought he didn't have a head. "I can see the head in the mirror perfectly well. Why can't I see my own face and eyes?" He decided he must be a li mei ghost. At this point he made a mistake. He thought he was a ghost or a weird creature of some kind. Li mei ghosts dwell in the mountains, and they have a kind of bewitching power. Li mei and wang liang are two kind of ghosts. There?s a verse in Chinese about them:

Lutes, flutes, ballon guitars:
Eight great kings, every king on top.
Li mei, wang liang:
Four small ghosts, each ghost to the side.

Once he had decided he was a ghost, he lost all his bearings, he ran madly out. He was trying to shake the ghost. He ran up and down the streets of the city. There wasn't any other reason for his behavior except that he had become possessed with the idea that he was a ghost.

What do you think? Purna, what's your idea about this? Why did this person set out on a mad chase for no reason? What was actually behind the unreasonable behavior that led him to run madly about?

Purna said, "That person was insane. There's no other reason." Yajnadatta went crazy; he had no sane motive. He didn't understand, and therefore, he said he must be a weird creature, because he couldn't see his own head. Now, is it true that he didn't have a head? I believe that all of you are more intelligent than Yajnadatta, and that none of you would conclude that you didn't have a head just because you saw a head in a mirror. Basically, he hadn't lost his head, but he thought he had.

Purna had asked Shakyamuni Buddha why living beings give rise to falseness for no reason. Shakyamuni Buddha then brought up Yajnadatta and asked why he had decided on impulse that he didn't have a head. Purna replied that Yajnadatta's mind had gone mad. Why do living beings give rise to falseness? It's just because they give rise to falseness in the true mind. It's certainly not that fundamentally there is a root of falseness there which can produce the falseness. The principle is the same as with the case of Yajnadatta.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "What reason can you give for calling false the wonderful enlightened bright perfection, the fundamentally perfect bright wonder? If there is a reason, then how can you say it is false?"

Commentary:


The Buddha said to Purna, "What reason can you give for calling false the wonderful enlightened bright perfection, the fundamentally perfect bright wonder?" The Buddha is referring to the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is still and yet constantly illumining, illumining and yet constantly still. It is subtle, wonderful, and inconceivable. "What reason," the Buddha asks Purna, "can you have for saying that the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One is empty and false? If there is a reason, if there's some basis for it, if it is a critical judgement, if there's some good reason behind your doing so, how can you say it is false? If you can pass a critical judgment about something, it must exist. It would be true, not false, and you wouldn't be able to say it was empty and false."

Sutra:

All your own false thinking becomes in turn the cause for more. From confusion you accumulate confusion through kalpa after kalpa; although the Buddha is aware of it, he cannot counteract it.

Commentary:


All your own false thinking, although it is false, gives rise to a lot more falseness. False thoughts are like ants in a short amount of time a few can produce many. Or like bacteria. How does this happen? It's as I've said before:

The good get together,
The bad gang up:
People find their own kind.

In the same way, false thoughts arise, accumulate, and becomes in turn the cause for more. Suddenly there's a lot of false thinking. In fact, that is what keeps people from be coming enlightened. If it isn't one false thought coming in, it's another one arriving; they flock in and out like guests at an open house. I asked one of you what you thought about in meditation, and the answer was, "Sometimes I think about good things to eat, sometimes about wearing nice clothes, or about living in a fine house, or buying a new car. Sometimes I even plan how I'm going to buy a helicopter when I get the money." When you sit in meditation, all these thoughts arise. One goes by and the next one arrives, coming and going, all your own false thinking.

From confusion you accumulate confusion. One instance of confusion breeds a lot more, through kalpa after kalpa. Because your false thinking is so great, you can't put a stop to it, and so you keep your self-nature busy from morning to night. Basically, the self-nature is fundamentally pure and pervades the dharma-realm, but when it entertains too much false thinking, it can't rest. It entertains false thinking for kalpa after kalpa and is never finished. Today this false thought invited me over, and tomorrow I've been asked by that false thought to go to a play. The day after tomorrow I've got a date with another false thought to go dancing, and then there are meetings and social gatherings. In general, there are a lot of things happening. And so for kalpa after kalpa, from time without beginning until today, you still haven't finished having meetings.

Although the Buddha is aware of it, he cannot counteract it. The Buddha sees all this going on, but he can't counteract it. He can't get you to turn around and face the other way. You are still friends with the false thoughts and can't renounce them.

If you can't renounce death,
you can't change life.
If you can't reject the false,
you won't succeed with the true.

"Does 'renouncing death' mean that I die now, and does 'changing life' mean I go off to a new rebirth?" you ask. No. It means that while you are still alive, you look upon yourself as a living dead person. If you do that, then you won't flare up if someone criticizes you or gloat if someone compliments you. Just pretend you are dead. Don't be so worried about your reputation, and don't put a lot of energy into this thin shell of physical existence. "Renounce death," in that way, and then after such a "big death' you can have a "big life."

If you can't reject the false,
you won't succeed with the true.

Why haven't you attained to your precious, perfectly enlightened nature? It's because you have too much false thinking and can't renounce it. And every day your mind that seeks advantage from situations grows. Once you start seeking advantage from situations, there?s no point in hoping to accomplish the Way.

Most people put their energy into lifeless things. People who cultivate the Way should apply their skill to living things. "Lifeless things" means your physical body, which keeps you hopping on its behalf. In the future, your body will certainly die. The "living thing" is our self-nature which never dies. When your physical body dies, your self-nature does not die. It just moves to a new house.

Sutra:

From such confused causes, the cause of confusion perpetuates itself. When one realizes that confusion has no cause, the falseness becomes baseless. Since it never arose, why would you hope for its extinction? One who obtains Bodhi is like a person who awakens to realize the events of a dream; even though his mind is awake and clear, he cannot get hold of the things in the dream and physically display them.

Commentary:


From such confused causes, the cause of confusion perpetuates itself. You encounter confusion and it seems to really exist. The false thinking appears to be real enough, but actually it is phony. You seem to have false thinking, but actually the confusion doesn't have a substantial nature. Thus, you can't say that confusion gives rise to confusion, because confusion doesn't have any substance of its own. When one realizes that confusion has no cause, that there is nothing for confusion to rely on; that it has no seed, no root, the falseness becomes baseless. Once you realize that confusion hasn't any substance, how can the false remain? Since it never arose: It has no way to come into being. The person who said he didn't have a head thought he didn't have one, but it was really growing right there on his shoulders. Confusion is a temporary lack of clarity. It's not that your confusion completely obliterates your enlightened nature. Why would you hope for its extinction? If it doesn't arise, how can you say it is destroyed?

One who obtains Bodhi is like a person who awakens to realize the events of a dream. When he was asleep he was the emperor, had a whole passel of advisors, ate fine foods, and was richly dressed, and everything he did reaped immeasurable blessings. Even though his mind is awake and clear, he cannot get hold of the things in the dream and physically display them. Could he bring out the events in the dream and show them to people? No. Who is the person whose mind is "awake and clear?" It's the Buddha. The Buddha can speak dharma to point out that you experience all kinds of states in a dream, but he can't take the states from the dream and display them for you in actuality. Although the Buddha speaks dharma to destroy confusion and falseness, nevertheless he can"t physically get hold of false thoughts and confusion and show them to you. All he can do is use analogies to instruct you. Don't expect him to pull out the actual things as proof. So, he's like the person who awakens from a dream and can talk about all the things that happened, but he can't pull out the actual things of the dream and show them to you.

Sutra:

How much the more is that the case with some thing which is without a cause and basically non-existent, such as Yajnadatta's situation that day in the city? Was there any reason why he became fearful for his head and went running about? If his madness were suddenly to cease, it would not be that he had obtained his head from someplace outside; and so before his madness ceases, how can his head have been lost?

Commentary:


How much the more is that the case with some thing which is without a cause? Since you can't display the things you saw in a dream to prove to others that you saw them, how much the more impossible would it be to prove the existence of something that has no source, no root, and no cause, and that is basically nonexistent? Confusion certainly has no substance or appearance.

There isn't any "thing" there at all. It is like Yajnadatta's situation that day in the city. Was there any reason why he became fearful for his head and went running about? Was there really any reason why he got frightened and began to question the existence of his own head? His doubt was this: He said he couldn't see his own head and concluded that he didn't have a head. He saw a head in the mirror but didn't realize that it was his own. He thought it existed independent of him there in the mirror. So, he scolded himself for not having a head and called himself a headless freak. And that's why he began running around. If his madness were suddenly to cease, it would not be that he had obtained his head from someplace outside. His craziness might stop, but it isn't that his head has returned from somewhere else. This represents the fact that although we have given rise to confusion, confusion has no nature of its own; it has no substance or appearance. Although the true suchness of the self-nature may become confused, it is never lost. And, when there is no confusion, it isn't the case that one has obtained the true suchness of the selfnature.

In the same way, one's head is one's own all along. It's not the case that one can obtain a head or lose a head. And so before his madness ceases, how can his head have been lost? When Yajnadatta lost his head, where did it go? That's the topic for today. If you know where it went, then you understand a certain amount of this sutra. If you don't know where it went, you should listen attentively to the sutra right now, and you will understand. Even before his madness ceases, then, has he in fact lost his head, or hasn't he? Is it really gone?

Sutra:

Purna, falseness is the same way. How can it exist?

Commentary:


The head didn't actually go anywhere. It wasn't lost. The only reason he thought he didn't have a head is that he got confused. Purna, falseness is the same way. How can it exist? Where is the root of falseness? It doesn't have any support or any foundation. Without a root, then, where do you suppose confusion and falseness really are? You can't find them.

N3 He explains that he should immediately stop.

Sutra:

All you need do is not follow discriminations, because none of the three causes arises when the three conditions of the three continuities of the world, living beings, and karmic retribution are cut off.

Commentary:


All you need to do you don't have to use any other method, is not follow the discriminations of your false thinking, because none of the three causes arises when the three conditions of the three continuities of the world, living beings, and karmic retribution are cut off. If you don't give rise to discriminations, then there is no world, there are no living beings, and there is no karmic retribution; the three conditions are cut off. These three continuities existed in the first place because of your false consciousness and discriminating mind. When the conditions are cut off, the causes do not arise.

Sutra:

Then the madness of the Yajnadatta in your mind will cease of itself, and just that ceasing is Bodhi. The supreme, pure, bright mind originally pervades the dharma-realm. It is not something obtained from anyone else. Why, then, labor and toil with marrow and joint to cultivate and be certified?

Commentary:


Then the madness of the Yajnadatta in your mind, your mad mind, will cease of itself. Your confusion will quiet itself, and just that ceasing is Bodhi. It's not the case that once it ceases it can start up again. The ceasing itself is Bodhi. Simply getting rid of the confusion is the true. It's not that after the confusion is gone, there is the true. Rather, once you understand in the midst of your confusion, the truth reveals itself. They are not two things. Your understanding is true, and your lack of understanding is confusion. The confusion basically has no foundation, and if you can stop it, that ceasing is itself Bodhi, the enlightened nature.

The supreme, pure, bright mind, which is incomparable and undefiled, with a light that shines everywhere, originally pervades the dharma-realm. It is not something obtained from anyone else; that is, it doesn't come from someplace external. It is something inherent in every person. The true mind, the supreme, pure, bright mind, is not greater in the Buddha's case, even by a little bit, nor is it even a little bit smaller in the case of living beings, although it is in the midst of confusion. The supreme, pure, bright mind is innate in everyone; no one lacks it. It is not something borrowed from someone else or obtained from some external place. Why, then, labor and toil with marrow and joint to cultivate and be certified? An example of labor and toil is that of parents for their children. They nourish the baby, change its diapers, and do everything in their power to display their kindness and concern for it. By the same token, you don't need to treat your self-nature like a baby and labor and toil on its behalf because the self-nature is inherent in you. You don't have to care for it with the toil "of marrow and joint."

The butcher, Pan Ding, in Zhuang Ze's Yang Shen Zhu, was so powerful that he could decapitate a cow without exerting his "marrow and joints." He could cut through with a single swipe. The meaning of "marrow and joints" here in the text is that you don't have to calculate and formulate a plan for how you are going to cultivate and become certified. There is no cultivation of this dharma and no certification to it. One cultivates as if not cultivating and is certified as if there is no certification. This is the effortless Way. And the fine points of it are perfectly fused and unobstructed. You don't have to cultivate and be certified. Didn't Ananda say earlier, 'So that I needn't pass through countless aeons to attain the dharma body?" He doesn't have to go through three great asamkhyeya kalpas to attain the dharma body. The wonderful dharma of the Shurangama Sutra is just in this: It is not necessary to labor and toil in marrow and joint to cultivate and be certified.

N4 He concludes with an analogy to show it is not lost.

Sutra:

This is to be like the person who has a wish fulfilling pearl sewn in his clothing without-realizing it. Thus he roams abroad in a state of poverty, begging for food and always on the move. Although he is indeed destitute, the pearl is never lost.

Commentary:


If the Yajnadatta within you, your mad mind, ceases, if your false thinking, your perpetual state of confusion and lack of enlightenment disappears, then Bodhi appears. But, the appearance of Bodhi is not something that is obtained from outside, nor is there any need to nourish it in yourself. It is something we have all along. The Buddha now gives Purna another example: This is to be like the person who has a wish-fulfilling pearl sewn in his clothing without realizing it. The wish-fulfilling pearl makes whatever wish you might have come true. The first "hand and eye" in the great compassion dharma is the "hand and eye of the wish-fulfilling pearl" If you want gold, you can have gold; if you want silver, you can have silver; anything at all can manifest from the wish fulfilling pearl. Someone who has a wish-fulfilling pearl is the wealthiest person on earth, because it can never be used up. You can have whatever wealth and riches come to your mind.

The person in the Buddha's example has a wish-fulfilling pearl sewn in his clothing without realizing it. Maybe he once knew, but with the passage of time, he has forgotten about it. He is probably a very forgetful person and doesn't even remember such an important matter as this. Thus he roams abroad in a state of poverty. He is penniless: so destitute that he has hardly any clothes to wear. Perhaps he doesn't have a house and has to sleep along the road. By this I don't mean that he is like people who get together and go camping out in the open. They do that for fun. This person is so poor that he has no choice. He must beg for food and he is always on the move. He ends up a beggar. Although he is indeed destitute, the pearl is never lost. Although the fact of his poverty is very real, he has still not lost his wish-fulfilling pearl. This shows that although we people are in a state of confusion, our self-nature is not lost.

One may be confused, lack understanding, and not study the Buddhadharma, still, the self-nature is not lost. Those greedy for worldly riches and honor, for entertainment and pleasure, don't realize that these mundane attainments are not genuine riches and honor. The poorest people are those who do not recognize genuine principle; they are those who do not understand the Buddhadharma. Since you don't understand the Buddhadharma, you don't realize that your self nature is like the hidden wish-fulfilling pearl. But, even when you don't understand your self-nature, still the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the supreme, pure, bright mind, is certainly not lost. It is still inherently yours.

Those who cultivate and believe in the Buddhadharma understand that their self-nature is inherent within them, and they come to discover their innate wealth. That is genuine riches and honor.

Sutra:

Suddenly, a wise person shows him the pearl: all his wishes are fulfilled, he obtains great wealth, and he realizes that the pearl did not come from somewhere outside.

Commentary:


Suddenly, a wise person shows him the pearl. The wise person is analogous to the Buddha. Showing him the pearl in his clothing represents pointing out to him his inherent Buddha-nature. All his wishes are fulfilled, when he obtains the wish-fulfilling pearl. He can have whatever he wants, and he obtains great wealth. He be comes an elder with great blessings. He has so much money that he can't count it all, even with the help of accountants. The "great wealth" represents one's understanding of one's inherent self-nature and one's being certified as having attained the enlightened fruition of Bodhi. He realizes that the pearl did not come from somewhere outside. He understands that the "spiritual pearl," the wish-fulfilling pearl, is not obtained from outside. This means that he knows that his inherent Buddha-nature is not obtained from outside himself. When you can accomplish Buddhahood, you will know, and you'll say, "Oh, so that's what it's all about." When you become enlightened, you will know that basically you were an enlightened person all along. You'll think, "If I'd realized this earlier, I wouldn't have had put forth so much effort. I wouldn't have had to go outside begging for food. I wouldn't have had to endure such poverty." But you haven't had a wise person to instruct you, and you yourself have already forgotten. So, as we listen to instruction on the Shurangama Sutra, each of us should discover the wish-fulfilling pearl in his or her clothing. If you uncover your wish-fulfilling pearl, you will become the most wealthy person in the world. Another definition of genuine wealth is this:

The mind's stopping and thoughts' ceasing:
That is true wealth and honor.
Selfish desires cut off completely:
That is the true field of blessings.

If your false-thinking mind stops, if your crazy thoughts disappear, then you have attained genuine wealth and honor. So, when you obtain the wish-fulfilling pearl, you won't have any more greed, because you will already have everything. Everything will be yours, and if you have no selfishness, no thoughts of desire, then you are a person who is a genuine field of blessings.

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