THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 5

Sutra:

If there are women who would like to leave the home-life and hold the pure precepts, I will appear before them in the body of a bhikshuni and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:


If there are women who would like to leave the home-life and hold the pure precepts. They also want to study the Buddhadharma.

They also leave the worldly home, the home of afflictions, and the home of the triple realm. Women have more precepts than men. They hold three hundred forty-eight precepts. Women are said to have a body with five outflows. So they have a lot more precepts. I will appear before them in the body of a bhikshuni and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Sutra:

If there are men who want to uphold the five precepts, I will appear before them in the body of an upasaka and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. If there are women who wish to base themselves in the five precepts, I will appear before them in the body of an upasika and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:


If there are men who want to uphold the five precepts, that is, no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, and no intoxicants, I will appear before them in the body of an upasaka and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. I will manifest as a layman and speak the Dharma for them. If there are women who wish to base themselves in the five precepts, they also want to uphold these precepts. I will appear before them in the body of an upasika. I will manifest as a laywoman and speak dharma for them,
enabling them to accomplish their wish.

R3 Wives of officials.

Sutra:

If there are women who govern internal affairs of household or country, I will appear before them in the body of a queen, first lady, or noblewoman and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:


If there are women who govern internal affairs of household or country. Perhaps these women look after matters, or perhaps they work for governmental departments which handle a country's internal affairs, and they govern matters of state. I will appear before them in the body of a queen, first lady, or noblewoman and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. Perhaps Guan Yin Bodhisattva manifests as the female ruler of a country, or as the wife of the ruling man. Perhaps she appears as an influential matron or a woman versed in social graces. In this way she fulfills the wishes of such women.

R4 Virgin youths.

Sutra:

If there are virgin lads I will appear before them in the body of a pure youth and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:

If there are virgin lads. For youngsters who have not known women and are still chaste, I will appear before them in the body of a pure youth and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Sutra:

If there are maidens who want to remain virgins and do not wish to marry, I will appear before them in the body of a gracious lady and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:

If there are maidens, that is, women who have never known men and have never married, who want to remain virgins and do not wish to marry. They do not wish to get near men, to marry, or to undergo the experience of being taken. I will appear before them in the body of a gracious lady and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Q4 He responds to those who wish to leave the eight divisions.

Sutra:

If there are heavenly beings who wish to escape their heavenly destiny, I will appear in the body of a god and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:

If there are heavenly beings who wish to escape their heavenly destiny. These gods or goddesses don't want to stay in the heavens; they would like to transcend the triple realm. I will appear in the body of a god and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. Since they want to transcend the heavens, I manifest before them and, using all kinds of dharmas, enable them to get what they want.

Sutra:

If there are dragons who want to quit their lot of being dragons, I will appear before them in the body of a dragon and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:

If there are dragons who want to quit their lot of being dragons. The average opinion in this day and age is that dragons do not exist. Some people will accept myths about ancient dragons, frightening and immense. There's no way to say for sure about those, but dragons do exist. Where do they live? In dragon palaces in the sea. "We've explored the depths; why haven't we ever run across them?" you wonder. If you can detect their whereabouts, they're not true dragons, because dragons are spiritual creatures. They have spiritual powers and can make themselves big or little at will. They can grow as big as empty space itself. They can shrink to the size of a mote of dust if necessary. They can disappear suddenly, and reappear just as unexpectedly. Their spiritual powers give them the ability to transform themselves in endless ways. Why do they have such powers but only the body of an animal? As cultivators in previous lives, they brought forth the resolve for the great vehicle, but they didn't hold the precepts. They were "quick with the vehicle but slow about the precepts." They were very casual. Since they were "quick with the vehicle," they obtained spiritual powers. But since they did not accept the precepts, they fell into the animal realm. If dragons decide they want to transcend the realm of dragons, Guan Yin Bodhisattva will appear before them in the body of a dragon and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Sutra:

If there are yakshas who want to get out of their present fate, I will appear before them in the body of a yaksha and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:


If there are yakshas. "Yakshas" is a Sanskrit word which means "speedy" (jie yi). It also means "courageous and strong" (yong jian). Yakshas are a kind of ghost. There are three main types of ghost:

1. Earth-travelling ghosts;
2. Flying ghosts;
3. Space-travelling ghosts.

A line on the Shurangama Mantra reads, "Yau Cha Jye La He." It refers to the yakshas. In the mantra, the names of the kings of various kinds of ghosts are called. Each king of ghosts rules over a lot of lesser ghosts, and when the name of the ruler is called, all the other ghosts must also respectfully obey one's commands. If the yakshas want to get out of their present fate, if they don't want to be ghosts, I will appear before them in the body of a yaksha and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. Guan Yin Bodhisattva will manifest as a yaksha ghost and help them obtain their wish.

Sutra:

If there are gandharvas who wish to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of a gandharva and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:

If there are gandharvas. "Gandharva" is a Sanskrit word that means "incense skandha" ( xiang yin), because the act of smelling incense forms their consciousness. They are musicians for the Jade Emperor. When the Jade Emperor lights "sinking-in-the-water incense" wood, they smell the fragrance and are attracted. They come and enjoy making music for the Jade Emperor. These gandharvas may wish to be freed from their destiny as gandharvas. They do not want to be gandharvas any more. I will appear before them in the body of a gandharva and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Sutra:

If there are asuras who wish to be liberated from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of an asura and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:


If there are asuras who wish to be liberated from their destiny. They want to leave the retinue of asuras. I will appear before them in the body of an asura and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

This section includes the beings of the eightfold division of ghosts and spirits, but in the Shurangama Sutra the garudas are not included. In the "Universal Door Chapter" of the Lotus Sutra, it is related that Guan Yin Bodhisattva appears in the body of a garuda also. "Garuda" is a Sanskrit word; it means "great golden-winged Peng bird (da peng jin chi niao)". Garudas are also part of the eight divisions, and the fact that the sutra does not include them here is perhaps the fault of an omission in copying the text, or perhaps they are understood to be included in the general category of "living beings" mentioned below.

Garudas diet exclusively on dragons. Their wing-span is three hundred thirty great yojanas. A small yojana is forty Chinese miles (one Chinese mile is approximately one-third of an English mile). A middle-sized yojana is sixty miles. A great yojana is eighty miles. With one flap of its wings, the golden-winged Peng bird flaps away all the waters of the seas. Its strength is that great. Once the waters of the seas are gone, the dragons are exposed. In this way, the garuda was just about to finish off the entire population of dragons. So the dragons went to see the Buddha to seek rescue. The great golden-winged Peng bird is about to cause the retinue of dragons to become extinct. What can be done?They sought the Buddha's compassion in helping them out; they hoped he would forbid the Peng bird to eat them. The Buddha gave the dragons pieces of his kashaya for them to attach to their horns. After that, the Peng bird dared not eat them. With nothing to eat, the Peng bird also went to the Buddha to ask him to save his life. "No one is eating you," said the Buddha. "Why have you come and asked to be saved?"

"It's true that no one is threatening me, but without anything to eat, I will die of starvation," said the Peng. "You don't permit me to eat dragons anymore, and with nothing to eat, I'm about to die of hunger." So he asked the Buddha to be compassionate and think of a way to help him.

"You don't have anything to eat? All right, after this, I will feed you. Every time I and all my disciples eat, we will offer something to you to eat. You don't have to eat dragons any more." That is why, during the high meal offering at noon, a little of the food is taken outside and offered to the great golden-winged Peng bird. This sutra does not mention the garuda, but we should be aware that the eightfold division of ghosts and spirits includes this kind of being.

Sutra:

If there are kinnaras who wish to transcend their fate, I will appear before them in the body of a kinnara and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:


If there are kinnaras who wish to transcend their fate. "Kinnara," also a Sanskrit word, means "questionable spirit" (yi shen). They are so called because they appear to be human, but on their heads is a horn. They are another type of music spirit that plays music for the Jade Emperor. I will appear before them in the body of a kinnara and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Sutra:

If there are mahoragas who wish to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of a mahoraga and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:


If there are mahoragas. "Mahoraga" is a Sanskrit word which means "great python spirit" (da mang shen) and also "earth-dragon" (di long). The dragons mentioned above can roam in space and are called heavenly dragons. This python, also called a dragon, is confined to the earth. It does not have spiritual powers. Mahoragas are also one of the beings of the eightfold division of ghosts and spirits. If mahoragas wish to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in the body of a mahoraga and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Q5 He responds to people who seek to be people.

Sutra:

If there are living beings who like being people and want to continue to be people, I will appear in the body of a person and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:

If there are living beings who like being people and want to continue to be people. They want to be people life after life. They like being a person and always want to be a person. So Guan Yin Bodhisattva says: I will appear in the body of a person and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. He will speak Dharma for these kinds of beings and help them to be successful in their wish.

Q6 He responds to those non-humans who wish to leave their non-human state.


Sutra:

If there are non-humans, whether with form or without form, whether with thought or without thought, who long to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in a body like theirs and speak Dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish.

Commentary:

If there are non-humans. This refers to animals and creatures other than people who are with form or without form, with thought or without thought. If there are beings like this who long to be freed from their destiny, I will appear before them in a body like theirs and speak dharma for them, enabling them to accomplish their wish. "With form" means that they have a tangible, visible shape. "Without form" means that they have no visible shape. There are many kinds of beings "with thought." Beings "without thought" include earth, wood, metal, and stone. Beings "without form" originally were sentient beings, but they have dispersed into emptiness and fallen into oblivion. This is usually a temporary state, and at some point they can again go through rebirth and become a person.

P3 Concludes with the name and the reasons.

Sutra:

This is called the wonderful purity of the thirty-two response-bodies, by which one enters into all lands and accomplishes self-mastery by means of the samadhi of becoming permeated with hearing and cultivating hearing and by means of the miraculous strength of effortlessness.

Commentary:


This is called the wonderful purity of the thirty-two response-bodies, by which one enters into all lands and accomplishes self-mastery by means of the samadhi of becoming permeated with hearing and cultivating hearing. One develops the skill of turning back the hearing to hear the self-nature by cultivating every day. And one applies the miraculous strength of effortlessness. "Effortlessness" refers to wonderful principle of the unconditioned. With it, there is no need to go through the conception of an idea and the thought-process of working out the idea, as people must when they want to do something. The Bodhisattva does not have to conceive the idea or think it through.

Within samadhi he can do all kinds of things. In the samadhi of becoming permeated with hearing and cultivating hearing he can attain the miraculous power of effortlessness. And in this way he accomplishes self-mastery. Very naturally, matters are taken care of.

O2 Fourteen fearlessnesses.
P1 He relies on kindness.


Sutra:

Also, World Honored One, using this vajra samadhi of becoming permeated with hearing and cultivating hearing, and using the miraculous strength of effortlessness, because I have a kind regard equally for all living beings in the six paths, I go throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time and cause all living beings who encounter bodies of mine to receive the meritorious virtue of fourteen kinds of fearlessness.

Commentary:


Also, World Honored One, using this vajra samadhi of becoming permeated with hearing and cultivating hearing, and using the miraculous strength of effortlessness, because I have a kind regard equally for all living beings in the six paths, I have a regard for the kindness of the Buddhadharma, just as do all beings in the six paths of gods, humans, asuras, animals, hungry ghosts, and beings in the hells. I go throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time, past, present, and future. I cultivated the practice of being permeated with hearing until I attained the vajra samadhi, and I did not need to conceptualize or think about things in order to be able to do them. I cause all living beings who encounter bodies of mine to receive the meritorious virtue of fourteen kinds of fearlessness. I have attained fourteen kinds of virtue in bestowing fearlessness.

P2 He lists the fourteen fearlessnesses.
Q1 Fearlessness in the eight difficulties.


Sutra:

First: because I do not contemplate sounds for my own sake, but rather listen to the sounds of those whom I contemplate, I can enable living beings throughout the ten directions who are suffering and in distress to attain liberation by contemplating their sounds.

Commentary:


This is the first of the fourteen kinds of fearlessness. First: because I do not contemplate sounds for my own sake, but rather listen to the sounds of those whom I contemplate, I can enable living beings throughout the ten directions who are suffering and in distress to attain liberation by contemplating their sounds. It's not that he just takes note of his own sound; he contemplates the sounds of beings in the world. "Since my skill at returning the hearing to hear the self-nature is accomplished, there is no need for me to contemplate myself. I can contemplate all the living beings in the world and enable those who are anguished to be freed. I listen, regarding their sounds of suffering, and I enable them to attain liberation."

Sutra:

Second: since my knowledge and views have turned around and come back, I can make it so that if living beings are caught in a raging fire, the fire will not burn them.

Commentary:

Second: since my knowledge and views have turned around and come back, that is, since Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva has the skill of returning the light to illumine within, I can make it so that if living beings are caught in a raging fire, the fire will not burn them. If such a living being can recite the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva and can cultivate, then if he enters a great fire, the fire will not be able to burn him.

Sutra:

Third: since contemplation and listening have turned around and come back, I can make it so that if living beings are floundering in deep water, the water cannot drown them.

Commentary:


Someone says, "I will test Guan Yin Bodhisattva to see if he'll really respond. I'll sit on a pile of wood and set it afire and see if I burn up." In that case, you'll certainly burn. "But why does the sutra say that if you enter a great fire it will not burn you?" That's because the "if" means that it happens to you without your intending it.

Someone else says, "Guan Yin Bodhisattva says that if one is caught in deep water, one will not be drowned, so I'll just jump into the ocean and see if I drown." Again, you're sure to drown. It is when you unexpectedly meet with suffering or difficulty that Guan Yin Bodhisattva will rescue you. But if your intention is to test him out, he will pay no attention to you, because basically you don't believe in Guan Yin Bodhisattva. If you really believed in him, there would be no reason to test him out. The safest thing would be not to test him out.

Sutra:

Fourth: since false thinking is cut off, and my mind is without thoughts of killing or harming, I can make it so that if living beings enter the territory of ghosts, the ghosts cannot harm them.

Commentary:


If false thinking is cut off, and you don't have any ideas of killing or harming, and if you can recite the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, you can enable beings who enter the region of rakshasa ghosts to not be harmed by the ghosts.

Sutra:

Fifth: since I am permeated with hearing and have brought hearing to accomplishment, so that the six sense-organs have dissolved and returned to become identical with hearing, I can make it so that if living beings are about to be wounded, the knives will break into pieces. I can cause swords of war to have no more effect than if they were to slice into water, or if one were to blow upon light.

Commentary:


Fifth: since I am permeated with hearing and have brought hearing to accomplishment, so that the six sense-organs have dissolved and returned to become identical with hearing, that is, when the skill of cultivating the return of the hearing to hear the self-nature is accomplished, the six sense-organs function mutually. Then I can make it so that if living beings are about to be wounded, the knives will break into pieces. For instance, suppose someone takes up a knife with the intent of cutting off someone's head. Just as the blade is about to fall, the knife of itself breaks into pieces. I can cause swords of war to have no more effect than if they were to slice into water, or if one were to blow upon light. I can cause the sharp weapon which is about to cut into someone's shoulder to have the effect of slicing into water: that is, once it has passed through, it is gone, and no injury is sustained. Or, I can make the cut of the blade have the effect of blowing upon light: that is, no effect, since no matter how much you blow on light, it will not move.

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