THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 5

Sutra:

In sounds, language is intermingled.
But the meaning in a word, a name, a phrase,
Is such that no single one can include them all.
How can this bring perfect penetration?

Commentary:


There are those who awaken to the Way be means of the defiling object of sounds. Nevertheless, in sounds, language is such that no single one can include them all. No one word or one name or one phrase can say everything about everything. How can this bring perfect penetration? One cannot choose sounds as the way to attain perfect penetration.

Sutra:

Awareness of smells comes through contact with them.
Apart from them, one does not know that they exist.
Since sensation of them is not constant,
How can one reach perfect penetration?

Commentary:


The pure youth Adorned with Fragrance awakened to the Way by means of the defiling object of smells. But awareness of smells comes through contact with them. The nose must inhale the vapors of a scent for it to be aware of them. Apart from them, one does not know that they exist. They are not there. Since sensation of them is not constant / How can one reach perfect penetration? Since the nature of smells is not constant or unchanging, one does not always have an awareness of them, and so they can't count as the best method for perfect penetration.

Sutra:

Flavors are not to us fundamental.
They only exist when there is something to taste.
Since this sensation is not perpetual,
How can one derive perfect penetration?

Commentary:


Although there are those who awaken to the Way by means of the defiling object of flavors, flavors are not to us fundamental. The nature of flavors is not the complete and perfect self-nature. They only exist when there is something to taste. It's only when there is something with flavor that the defiling object of flavor comes to be. Since this sensation is not perpetual / How can one derive perfect penetration? The awareness of tastes is not there all the time. Therefore, don't select this dharma-door as the one for perfect penetration.

Sutra:

Touch becomes clear only when something is touched.
Without an object there can be no contact.
With fluctuation between contact and separation,
How can one gain perfect penetration?

Commentary:


Touch becomes clear only when something is touched. Although there are those who awaken to the Way by cultivating the objects of touch, touch can only be known when there is an object to come In contact with. Without an object there can be no contact. The only way contact can be experienced is for there to be someone who makes contact with some object. With fluctuation between contact and separation / How can one gain perfect penetration? Therefore, the defiling object of touch cannot be used, either, as the most effective dharma door for perfect penetration.

Sutra:

Dharmas are known as 'internal dust.'
Reckoned as 'dust,' they are certainly sense objects.
Involvement of subject and object cannot be pervasive;
How then can they lead to perfect penetration?

Commentary:


Mahakashyapa cultivated the mind through dharma-objects, and he attained the samadhi of the extinction of feeling and thought. Dharmas are known as "internal dust." Dharmas are conditions of the mind. Reckoned as "dust," they are certainly sense objects. Since they are defiling objects, they have a location. Since they have a location, they are not at the level of "nonexistence and yet not non-existent." Involvement of subject and object cannot be pervasive. An interaction involving subject and object is not full and complete, not all-pervasive. How then can they lead to perfect penetration?

N2 Examining the five organs.

Sutra:

Although seeing itself is clear and penetrating,
Making bright what is before one,
it cannot shine behind.
Ever reaching only half the four directions,
How can it manifest perfect penetration?

Commentary:


Although seeing itself is clear and penetrating: the eyes' ability to see is bright and clear, but, making bright what is before one, it cannot shine behind. If it looks in front, it cannot see behind. If it looks left, it cannot see to the right. Ever reaching only half the four directions: it can only see two of four sides at any one time. How can it manifest perfect penetration? It is not the one to choose for perfect penetration.

Sutra:

The nose's breath penetrates in and out.
But in the rests between there is no air.
These interruptions render it inconsistent.
How can one use it for perfect penetration?

Commentary:


The nose's breath penetrates in and out. This stanza discusses the organ of the nose. But in the rests between there is no air. Sometimes the breath stops. There are pauses. These interruptions render it inconsistent. This aspect is a deficiency and makes this organ inadequate also. It is not all-pervasive. How can one use it for perfect penetration? Therefore, this one cannot be selected for perfect penetration, either.

Sutra:

The tongue is not an organ apart from cause;
Flavors form the source of its sensation.
When flavors cease, it knows nothing at all.
How can it attain perfect penetration?

Commentary:


The tongue is not an organ apart from cause. Flavors must enter in upon the tongue for it to experience sensation. Without flavors, it lacks any awareness. Flavors form the source of its sensation. It experiences sensations because of the defiling object of flavor. When flavors cease, it knows nothing at all / How can it attain perfect penetration? You cannot use it to reach perfect penetration.

Sutra:

It is the same for the body as for objects of touch.
Neither can be regarded as a perfect awareness.
With defined and limited invisible divisions,
How can it be used for perfect penetration?

Commentary:


It is the same for the body as for objects of touch. The dharma-door of the body is like the objects of touch. Neither can be regarded as a perfect awareness. Its awareness is not complete in itself. With defined and limited invisible divisions / How can it be used for perfect penetration? It is characterized by boundaries and number, and it is invisibly connected with objects of touch, and therefore it is not an appropriate choice for perfect
penetration.

Sutra:

The mind's knowledge is a mass of deliberations.
What it perceives is never profound insight.
Unable to get beyond reflection and thought,
How can it reveal perfect penetration?

Commentary:


The mind's knowledge is a mass of deliberations. What the mind knows are mental dharmas, defiling objects of mind, a conglomeration of random thoughts. What it perceives is never profound insight / Unable to get beyond reflection and thought / How can it reveal perfect penetration? It can never get to what is tranquil and profound; it can never reach what is ultimate, because one can never get beyond it as long as thought, false thinking and the stream of consciousness, remains. How can this lead to perfect penetration?

N3 Examining the six consciousnesses.

Sutra:

The seeing-consciousness combines three aspects.
Probe its origin: it has no appearance.
Since its very substance is variable,
How can it bring perfect penetration?

Commentary:


The seeing-consciousness combines three aspects. The verse now discusses the consciousnesses, which are a combination of the six sense-organs inside and the six sense objects outside. The six sense-organs have awareness, while the six sense-objects do not. Therefore, the six sense consciousnesses should be half-aware and half-unaware. These three aspects combine into the consciousnesses. Probe its origin: it has no appearance. The consciousness has no appearance. Since its very substance is variable, how can it bring perfect penetration? Since the consciousness itself is in a state of flux, how can you use it to gain perfect penetration? So the eye-consciousness won't work, either.

Sutra:

The heart of hearing penetrates the ten directions.
When borne on the strength of great causes,
Those of initial resolve cannot enter this way.
How can one expect to gain perfect penetration?

Commentary:


The heart of hearing penetrates the ten directions. The dharma door that Universal Worthy Bodhisattva cultivated was the earr-consciousness. But hearing is pervasive only when borne on the strength of great causes. This dharma door requires the power of great and awesome causes. Only then can one cultivate it. Those of initial resolve cannot enter this way. Beings with initial resolve to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way will not find this dharma door appropriate. Since those of initial resolve cannot enter it, how could it be selected for perfect penetration? How can one expect to gain perfect penetration? This one won't do, either.

Sutra:

Reflecting on the nose is a provisional method.
It only serves to gather in and settle the mind.
Once settled, the mind is simply still.
How can that be perfect penetration?

Commentary:

Reflecting on the nose is a provisional method. Sundrananda cultivated the white spot at the tip of his nose. The cultivation of this dharma door involves thought, and so it is a clever provisional expedient. It only serves to gather in and settle the mind. It is to help quiet a scattered mind. Once settled, the mind is simply still. Its aim is to bring the mind to dwell in one place, but since there continues to be a dwelling-place for the mind, how can that be perfect penetration? It is not the one to pick.

Sutra:

Speaking dharma through the medium of language,
Is enlightened to by those of former accomplishment.
But words and phrases are not free of outflows.
How can this make perfect penetration?

Commentary:


Purnamaitreyaniputra spoke the dharma and awakened by means of the tongue, speaking dharma through the medium of language. In speaking dharma and lecturing sutras, one's voice must be good and one must be accomplished in expressing oneself in language. Then it is enlightened to by those of former accomplishment / But words and phrases are not free of outflows / How can this make perfect penetration? Since they are subject to outflows, they cannot be selected for the dharma-door of perfect penetration.

Sutra:

Refraining from transgressions only controls the body.
Lacking a body, there is nothing to restrain.
Since its source is not all-pervasive,
How can it bring perfect penetration?

Commentary:


The Venerable Upali held the precepts. Refraining from transgressions only controls the body. Both the upholding of precepts and the violation of precepts is done with the body. This is a dharma-door that relates to body and mind. Lacking a body, there is nothing to restrain. If you didn't have a physical body, there would be no need to control it. Since its source is not all-pervasive / How can it bring perfect penetration? This dharma-door is not all-encompassing. It cannot be chosen as the method for perfect penetration, either.

Sutra:

Spiritual penetrations are based on past causes.
What connection have they with distinguishing dharmas?
Conditioned thought is not apart from things.
How can one attain perfect penetration?

Commentary:

Maudgalyayana was foremost in spiritual penetrations, and it was from the mind-consciousness that he accomplished his spiritual powers. Spiritual penetrations are based on past causes. Possession of spiritual powers comes from causes and conditions set up in past lives. What connection have they with distinguishing dharmas? They are a different thing from discrimination.

Conditioned thought is not apart from things. Spiritual penetrations still require the thought process, however, and therefore they are not divorced from the material plane, they are not complete in themselves. How can one attain perfect penetration? Cultivation through spiritual penetrations is also not the way to go.

N4 Examining the seven elements.

Sutra:

One may contemplate the nature of earth,
But it is firm and solid, not penetrable.
What is conditioned is not the sagely nature.
How can one use it for perfect penetration?

Commentary:


One may contemplate the nature of earth / But it is firm and solid, not penetrable. Maintaining the Earth Bodhisattva made use of the dharma-door of contemplating the earth. Earth has the qualities of solidity and firmness. It is not penetrable. It is a conditioned dharma, not a dharma-door for entering the flow of the sages. What is conditioned is not the sagely nature / How can one use it for perfect penetration? It doesn't measure up as the best dharma-door for perfect penetration.

Sutra:

One may contemplate the nature of water,
But such mental reflection is not the true and real.
This state of suchness is not an enlightened view.
How can it give perfect penetration?

Commentary:


One may decide to cultivate by the contemplation of water and enter the water-contemplation samadhi, as did the pure youth Moonlight. One may contemplate the nature of water / But such mental reflection is not the true and real. For one to enter samadhi according to this method, the thought process, a contemplative consideration, is also initially involved. This state of suchness is not an enlightened view. It is not a natural, spontaneous kind of contemplation. How can it give perfect penetration? So the contemplation of water cannot be considered the method for perfect penetration.

Sutra:

One may contemplate the nature of fire,
But admitting dislike is not true renunciation.
This expedient cannot be one for beginners.
How can one use it for perfect penetration?

Commentary:

Fire-head Vajra, Ucchushma, cultivated the contemplation of fire, because he had a tremendous amount of desire. The Buddha instructed him to contemplate the fire of desire in his body. One may contemplate the nature of fire / But admitting dislike is not true renunciation. His decision to reject this was not in itself genuine abandoning. This expedient cannot be one for beginners. It is not a skill-in-means appropriate to those of initial resolve. How can one use it for perfect penetration? It cannot be selected as the dharma-door for perfect penetration.

Sutra:

One may contemplate the nature of wind,
But movement and stillness are not non-dual.
Duality cannot bring highest enlightenment.
How can one expect perfect penetration?

Commentary:


The Dharma prince Crystal Light used the element wind in his cultivation. One may contemplate the nature of wind / But movement and stillness are not non-dual. Movement and stillness are opposites; they are not absolutes. Duality cannot bring highest enlightenment. Opposites are not the dharma of unsurpassed enlightenment. How can one expect perfect penetration? You can't pick this one for the dharma-door to perfect penetration.

Sutra:

One may contemplate the nature of emptiness.
But, its aspect is murky and dull; it lacks awareness.
What is unaware is different from Bodhi.
How can it bring perfect penetration?

Commentary:


One may contemplate the nature of emptiness. Empty Space Treasury Bodhisattva cultivated a body as boundless as emptiness and awakened to the Way. But Manjushri Bodhisattva says here: I contemplate the nature of emptiness and see that its aspect is murky and dull; it lacks awareness. This lack of clarity makes it not an appropriate initial method for enlightenment. What is unaware is different from Bodhi / How can it bring perfect penetration? This one can't be picked as a method to gain perfect penetration.

Sutra:

One may contemplate the nature of consciousness;
But one is regarding a consciousness that is not eternal.
Even the thought of it is empty and false.
How can one get perfect penetration?

Commentary:

Maitreya Bodhisattva cultivated the element of consciousness. He contemplated the nature of consciousness. One may contemplate the nature of consciousness / But one is regarding a consciousness that is not eternal. Take a look at the consciousness of the discriminating mind; it is not everlasting. Even the thought of it is empty and false. Where there is something contemplated, and a thought of contemplation, they are empty and false. How can one get perfect penetration? So it cannot be considered perfectly penetrating.

Sutra:

All activities are impermanent.
So, too, mindfulness has its origin in rising and ceasing.
Since cause and effect go beyond cause and effect,
How can we use it for perfect penetration?

Commentary:


Great Strength Bodhisattva cultivated the element of perception. He "gathered in all six organs until a pure mindfulness linked them together." All activities are impermanent / So, too, mindfulness has its origin in rising and ceasing. Both the nature of the recitation and that which is recited are dharmas subject to production and extinction. When you are reciting, it arises; when you cease reciting, it is extinguished. Since cause and effect go beyond cause and effect we seek to go beyond what is subject to cause and effect. How can we use it for perfect penetration? So the dharma-door of mindfulness of the Buddha is not best suited for perfect penetration.

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