THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 4

CHAPTER 3

Ananda Attaches to Causes and Conditions

J2 He also instructs Ananda.
K1 Ananda traces the Buddha's words and attaches to causes a conditions.


Sutra:

Ananda then bowed at the Buddha's feet, arose in the great assembly, and said to the Buddha, "The World Honored One now explains that when the three conditions of the karma of killing, stealing, and lust are cut off, the three causes for them do not arise. Then the madness of Yajnadatta in the mind ceases of itself, and just that ceasing is Bodhi. It is not something obtained from anyone else. These clearly are causes and conditions; why, then, does the Thus Come One abruptly reject causes and conditions?"

Commentary:


Ananda then bowed at the Buddha's feet, he prostrated himself and grasped the Buddha's feet, then arose in the great assembly, and said to the Buddha, "The World Honored One now explains that when the three conditions of the karma of killing, stealing, and lust are cut off" the Buddha has discussed how the greed of killing, the greed of stealing, and the greed of lust, these three kinds of karma, bring about the continuity of the world, the continuity of living beings, and the continuity of karmic retribution. When these three conditions are cut off, the three causes for them do not arise. Then the madness of Yajnadatta in the mind, that confusion in the mind, ceases of itself, and just that ceasing is Bodhi. It is not something obtained from anyone else. It does not come from somewhere outside. That's what the Buddha said. These clearly are causes and conditions. This principle is quite obviously the dharma of causes and conditions. Why, then, does the Thus Come One abruptly reject causes and conditions? Why does the World Honored One reject causes and conditions, spontaneity, and mixing and uniting? What you are talking about right now is the dharma of causes and conditions.

Sutra:

It was through causes and conditions that my mind became enlightened, World Honored One, and that is not only true of us who are young in years, of us sound-hearers who still have to study. Mahamaudgalyayana, Shariputra, and Subhuti, who are now in this assembly and who followed the elder brahmans, became enlightened and obtained the state of no outflows upon hearing the Buddha expound upon causes and conditions.

Commentary:

Ananda said, "It was through the principle of causes and conditions that my mind became enlightened, World Honored One, and that is not only true of us who are young in years, of us bhikshus, of us sound-hearers who still have to study." The level of fourth-stage arhatship is called the position of "having nothing left to study." Those at the level of the first, second, and third fruition still have to study. "Sound-hearers" are the arhats who awakened to the Way upon hearing the Buddha speak dharma. Mahamaudgalyayana, of the "big bean clan," Shariputra, "son of the egret," and Subhuti, "born into emptiness," who are now in this assembly and who followed the elder brahmans, the brahmans who expounded the theory of spontaneity became enlightened and obtained the state of no outflows upon hearing the Buddha expound upon causes and conditions. They heard
the doctrine of the twelve links of conditioned causation as expressed by the Buddha and became enlightened. They became arhats with no outflows. They had no more ignorance, and so:

All their outflows were ended;
They had done what had to be done,
And would undergo no further becoming.

When all their outflows were ended, they became fourth-stage arhats, they obtained the penetration of the extinction of outflows. They had done what had to be done and would not have to undergo further rebirth.

Sutra:

Now you say that Bodhi does not come from causes and conditions. So the spontaneity that Maskari Goshaliputra and others advocated in Rajagriha then becomes the primary meaning! I only hope you will let fall great compassion and break through my confusion.

Commentary:


World Honored One, you previously spoke the dharma of causes and conditions and the arhats opened enlightenment and were certified as having attained the fruition. Now you say that Bodhi does not come from causes and conditions. Now you've done away with causes and conditions. The spontaneity that Maskari Goshaliputra and others advocated in Rajagriha then becomes the primary meaning!

Maskari Goshaliputra was a leader of an externalist path that propounded spontaneity. His name means one who has not seen the Way, ( bu jian dao). By using causes and conditions, the Buddha destroyed the theory of spontaneity. Now that the Buddha has renounced causes and conditions, Ananda says, spontaneity must reign supreme. I only hope you will let fall great compassion and break through my confusion. Buddha, I hope that with your mind of great kindness and compassion you will bring us out of our confusion. Instruct those of us who don't recognize true principle, those of us with too much false thinking.

K2 The Thus Come One expels his deep emotion and upbraids him for attaching so tightly.
L1 He uses an analogy to expel his emotion and put forth his meaning.


Sutra:

The Buddha said to Ananda, "Let us take the case of Yajnadatta in the city: if the causes and conditions of his madness cease, the nature that is not mad will spontaneously come forth. The entire principle of spontaneity and causes and conditions is nothing more than that.

Commentary:


The Buddha said to Ananda, "Let us take the case of Yajnadatta in the city: if the causes and conditions of his madness cease. Can you explain the causes and conditions of his madness? If his madness ceases, the nature that is not mad will spontaneously come forth. The entire principle of spontaneity and causes and conditions is nothing more than that. Tell me, what aspect of his situation arose from causes and conditions, and what aspect of it was spontaneous? That's all there is to say about these two principles: it's just a matter of what I have explained here."

Sutra:

Ananda, Yajnadatta's head was spontaneously there, it was a spontaneous part of him. There was never a time when it was not. Why, then, did he suddenly fear that he had no head and start running about madly?

Commentary:


Ananda, do you realize that Yajnadatta's head was spontaneously there? He never lost it, and he never got it back. It was a spontaneous part of him. That's just the way he was: he had a head. There was never a time when it was not. It wasn't that originally he didn't have a head. Why, then, did he suddenly fear that he had no head and start running about madly? His head was there; it was never lost. You tell me, then, why he got scared and said that he was afraid he didn't have a head. He frightened himself into losing his head and started running around like a mad man. What were the causes and conditions here? Where was the spontaneity?

Sutra:

If he naturally had a head and went mad due to causes and conditions, would it not be just as natural for him to lose his head due to causes and conditions?

Commentary:


Why didn't he really lose his head?

Sutra:

Basically his head was not lost. The madness and fear arose from falseness. There was never any change that took place. Why, then, labor the point about causes and conditions?

Commentary:


Basically his head was not lost. The madness and fear arose from falseness. He picked up a mirror one morning and said that he could see the eyes and eyebrows of the head very clearly in the mirror, but fretted that he could not see his own eyes and face. Madness and fear arose, and he went running crazily about. His madness and fear arose from falseness. There was never any change that took place. Although he went mad and began running about in fear that he had no head, there really hadn't been any change at all. So why, then, labor the point about causes and conditions? What causes and conditions are you going to make out of this? What spontaneity was involved?

Sutra:

If the madness were spontaneous, the madness and fear would be fundamental. Before he went mad, then, where was his madness hidden?

Commentary:


If the madness were spontaneous, if you want to argue the point and say that in fact his madness arose spontaneously of itself, the madness and fear would be fundamental, the madness and fear would have been there all the time. Before he went mad, then, where was his madness hidden? Show me the place that the madness was hiding. You can't find it.

Sutra:

If the madness were not spontaneous, and his head were in fact not lost, why did he run about in a state of madness?

Commentary:


If the madness were not spontaneous, were we to say his natural state he was not mad, and his head were in fact not lost, there was nothing false about his head; it was not a phony head in the first place, why did he run about in a state of madness? Why did he go mad and run about?

Sutra:

If you realize that you have a head and recognize the madness of your pursuit, then both spontaneity and causes and conditions become idle theories. That is why I say that the three conditions' ceasing to be is itself the Bodhi mind.

Commentary:


Ananda, if you realize that you have a head, if you understand clearly about your own head, and recognize the madness of your pursuit: you see that it is you who are running madly about. When you know that you have not lost your head and realize that there is no reason for you to be running crazily about, then both spontaneity and causes and conditions become idle theories. Talk about causes and conditions and spontaneity just becomes a joke. That is why I say that the three conditions, ceasing to be is itself the Bodhi mind. When there is no more greed of killing, greed of stealing, or greed of lust in you, when you have cut off these three causes and conditions, you have attained the Bodhi mind.

L2 Tells him repeatedly to expel absolutely all emotion.

Sutra:

The Bodhi mind's being produced and the mind subject to production and extinction's being extinguished is simply production and extinction.

Commentary:


We refer to the Bodhi mind as being produced and the mind of production and extinction as being extinguished, but in reality they have no actual substance or nature.

Sutra:

The ending of both production and extinction is the effortless Way. If there is spontaneity, then clearly it must be that the thought of spontaneity arises and the mind subject to production and extinction ceases: that, then, is still prouction and extinction.

Commentary:


The ending of both production and extinction is the effortless Way. It is the great Shurangama Samadhi. If there is spontaneity, then clearly it must be that the thought of spontaneity arises. You should understand that if there is spontaneity, then the thought of spontaneity arises, and the mind subject to production and extinction ceases. You should realize that. That, then, is still production and extinction. If your understanding is that the mind subject to production and extinction is extinguished, then you are proposing a case of production and extinction, not a case of spontaneity.

Sutra:

To call the lack of production and extinction spontaneity is the same as to say that the single substance formed by the combination of all mundane appearances is a mixed and united essence, and that whatever is not mixed and united is basically spontaneous in nature.

Commentary:


To call the lack of production and extinction spontaneity is the same as to say that the single substance formed by the combination of all mundane appearances is a mixed and united essence. Saying that spontaneity is the opposite of production and extinction is just like saying that spontaneity is the opposite of a lot of appearances in the world coming together and forming a mixed and united substance. It is like saying that a lack of mixing and uniting is spontaneity. Spontaneity in those terms is still in the realm of duality.

Sutra:

When spontaneity is devoid of spontaneity, and mixing and uniting are devoid of their unifying quality, so that spontaneity and unity alike are abandoned, and both the abandonment of them and their existence cease to be that is no idle theory.

Commentary:


When spontaneity is devoid of spontaneity, and mixing and uniting are devoid of their unifying quality. The phrase, "mixing and uniting" refers to causes and conditions. When spontaneity isn't spontaneity and mixing and uniting don't have the causes and conditions of mixing and uniting, so that spontaneity and unity alike are abandoned. The two doctrines of spontaneity and of the uniting aspect of causes and conditions are each abandoned. And both the abandonment of them and their existence cease to be. When one separates from causes and conditions and spontaneity, both are gone. There is no spontaneity and no causes and conditions; both dharmas are abandoned. That is no idle theory. There aren't any causes and conditions and there isn't any spontaneity. Such an explanation as that is no idle theory, it's not just talking in riddles.

L3 He directly scolds him for his excessive attachment to idle theories.

Sutra:

Bodhi and Nirvana are still so far away that you must undoubtedly pass through kalpas of bitterness and diligence before you cultivate them and are certified.

Commentary:


Bodhi and Nirvana, those fruitions, are still so far away that you must undoubtedly pass through kalpas of bitterness and diligence before you cultivate them and are certified. If we look at where you are now, Ananda, Bodhi and Nirvana are very far away, indeed. You will certainly have to pass through very many kalpas, enduring a lot of suffering and toiling at great length, before you can finish cultivating and reach certification and attainment to Bodhi and Nirvana.

Sutra:

You can hold in memory the twelve divisions of the sutras spoken by the Buddhas of the ten directions and their pure, wonderful principles as many as the sands of the River Ganges, but it only aids your idle theorizing.

Commentary:


You can hold in memory, you can remember very clearly and never leave anything out, the twelve divisions of the sutras spoken by the Buddhas of the ten directions. I explained the twelve divisions of the canon at the beginning of this sutra. I wonder if anyone still remembers them. And their pure, wonderful principles as many as the sands of the River Ganges. In the twelve divisions of the canon the doctrines are pure and inconceivable and as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, but it only aids your idle theorizing. Although you can remember so many sutras, it does nothing but help you concoct idle theories. It's not real.

L4 He proves to him that idle theories have no merit.

Sutra:

You can discuss causes and conditions and spontaneity and understand them perfectly clearly, and people in the world refer to you as the one foremost in learning. You have spent aeons upon aeons saturating yourself with learning, yet you could not avoid the difficulty of Matangi.

Commentary:


I will list the twelve divisions of the canon again for you:

1. Prose;
2. Repetitive verses;
3. Bestowal of predictions;
4. Interjected passages;
5. Analogies;
6. Former events;
7. Present lives;
8. Universalities;
9. Previously non-existent dharma;
10. Unrequested dharma;
11. Unconnected dharma;
12. Discussions.

When I listed them, I didn't look at any note's or refer to any commentary. I remembered them. In the same way, those of you who are following this explanation of the sutra should remember what you read. When you study, you should aim at remembering it. It's a lot of bother when you don't remember clearly what you've studied, so that you have to look things up before you can explain them. You should work to remember the essential parts of the sutra. You can discuss causes and conditions and spontaneity and understand them perfectly clearly. You can remember the principles very clearly and explain them precisely. And people in the world refer to you as the one foremost in learning. You have spent aeons upon aeons saturating yourself with learning.

You've developed your intelligence and memory-power. Oh, now I get it. Now I know why none of you remember the things I explain. I figured it out when I reached this passage of text in the sutra. It never occurred to me before. You've seen that Ananda was able to remember so many sutras but that it didn't do him any good, so you have decided not to commit a single sentence to memory. You don't want to be like Ananda, who depended on erudition and neglected samadhi. That's probably it, isn't it?

He became infused with study and learning, like the incense saturates the air here in the hall. In fact, those of you who come to hear the sutras every day may not remember what you've heard, but just think how helpful it is in ridding yourself of bad habits and faults. At the very least, when you are studying the sutras you won't be smoking cigarettes or doing other things that are bad for you Every day that you study you get better. Some people say that when they study they advance a little and then retreat a little, but in the final analysis, retreating from having studied is a lot better than not having studied at all. If you never take a single step forward, how could we even speak of retreat?

"Yet you could not avoid the difficulty of Matangi. Although you remember so many things, you still couldn't keep out of trouble with Matangi. In other words, as soon as you see a woman, you get confused. Tell me, what use are you? No matter how many books you've read, no matter how much Buddhadharma you remember, what use is it all if you forget everything as soon as you see a woman? Why are you like that?" the Buddha asks Ananda. Ananda, no doubt, was red in the face at this point. Although he had been certified to the first fruition of arhatship, he must have blushed when Shakyamuni Buddha asked him that question.

Sutra:

Why did you have to wait for me to use the spiritual mantra of the Buddha's summit? The fire of lust in Matangi's daughter's heart died instantly, and she attained the position of an Anagamin. Now she is one of a vigorous group in my dharma assembly. The river of love dried up in her, and she was able to set you free.

Commentary:


The Buddha said, "You've studied so much Buddhadharma, but you go berserk as soon as you see a woman. You lost your head, and you followed that woman right into her house, and once you got in there you were on the verge of doing some unmentionable things. What were you up to, anyway?" At this point the Buddha was like a judge cross-examining Ananda. Why did you have to wait for me to use the spiritual mantra of the Buddha's summit and tell Manjushri Bodhisattva to go save you? You yourself remember so much of the twelve divisions of the canon; why didn't you recite them for her? Why did you lose control? You see a woman and forget everything. The way you look at it, the only thing that exists in the whole world is women.

The fire of lust in Matangi's daughter's heart died instantly. Her sexual desire, her ignorance, instantly died, and she attained the position of an Anagamin, the third fruition of arhatship. Matangi's daughter had loved Ananda. He became more important to her than her own life. She went home and told her mother that she absolutely had to trap Ananda. Her mother recited the "former Brahma Heaven mantra," and Ananda became confused. Actually, we say the mantra confused him, but basically the deviant cannot overcome the proper. If Ananda hadn't had the least bit of interest in Matangi's daughter, then the recitation of the mantra would have had no effect. It's certain that Matangi's daughter caught Ananda's eye. He stole several glances at her. "What a pretty girl!" Determined not to look again, he turned his head away but gave in again and took another look. After looking her over a few times this way, the thought of the beauty of Matangi's daughter had planted itself in his mind. So when her mother recited the mantra, Ananda followed her in a daze. If this hadn't been the case, he never would have gone along.

The Buddha realized that Ananda was on the verge of destroying the precept-substance, and so he immediately spoke the Shurangama Mantra. He commanded Manjushri Bodhisattva to take the mantra and go provide protection so that Ananda could be saved. When he got there and recited the Shurangama Mantra, Ananda's mind cleared. "How did I get here?" he wondered, and he headed directly back to the Jeta Grove in the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary. He had been right at the point of intercourse with Matangi's daughter, and when Manjushri Bodhisattva arrived with the Shurangama Mantra, Ananda no doubt jumped up, threw on his clothes, and ran out. When Matangi's daughter realized he was leaving, she pursued him. "Why are you leaving at the most important moment?" she cried. So Ananda ran back to the Jeta Grove with Mantangi's daughter chasing along behind. When she arrived, the Buddha asked her, "What are you doing here?"

"I love Ananda,' she replied.

"What do you love about Ananda?" the Buddha asked.

She said, "I love Ananda's nose."

"We'll cut off his nose and give it to you," was the Buddha's immediate reply.

"I love Ananda's eyes," she continued.

"We'll gouge them out and you can have them," the Buddha interrupted.

"I love Ananda's whole face," she summed up.

"That's easy," said the Buddha, "We'll just slice it off and you can take it back with you."

"If you slice it off, it won't be attractive," she protested.

"If it wouldn't be attractive then, what do you find so attractive about it now when it's still intact?"

And in the moment she took to think that over, she suddenly became enlightened and was certified to the third fruition of arhatship. Because her love for Ananda was so extreme, she instantaneously accomplished to the fruition when the Buddha spoke that dharma for her.

Now she is one of a vigorous group in my dharma assembly. The word translated as "group" here is literally "forest" in the Chinese text; it represents a gathering of people who are courageously vigorous. Let me say to all of you now that you don't have to fear sexual attraction between men and women; all you have to do is wake up to it and realize what it's really all about. Then there will be some hope for you. It's just to be feared that you won't wake up, but will be totally confused and keep going back to it, thinking it is a source of happiness. In actuality, it is really agonizing. If you really understood, you'd never do it again. But you don't, so you think about it when you're awake and dream about it when you are asleep and can't leave it alone.

The river of love dried up in her. Love is like a torrential river which flows on ceaselessly, swirling around you on all sides. But when Matangi's daughter heard the Buddha speak dharma, for her the river' of love disappeared. The fire of love and desire was transformed into an indestructible body of vajra. And she was able to set you free. Because Matangi's daughter was certified to the third fruition of arhatship, she didn't try to hold onto you, and so now you've been set free.

At this point, Ananda was still a first stage arhat. Hadn't even obtained the second fruition, but Matangi's daughter went right past him and was certified to the third fruition.

In five hundred former lives, Ananda and Matangi's daughter had been married to each other. So when she saw Ananda, it was love at first sight, she had met her husband from former lives. Her love for him was unavoidable. In fact, they probably had vows from former lives. Last life she had probably said to Ananda, "In the future, let's always get married to each other. Let us never part." That's why the love between them was so strong that they fell in love as soon as they laid eyes on each other.

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