THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 5

CHAPTER 2

Twenty-five Means to Enlightenment

I4 The profound transmission of selecting the organ.
J1 Ananda traces his enlightenment and makes grateful obeisance.


Sutra:

Upon receiving the Buddha's instruction, Ananda and the great assembly gained wisdom and awareness that was perfectly penetrating and free of doubt and delusion.

Commentary:


Upon receiving the Buddha's instruction, Ananda and the great assembly gained wisdom and awareness that was perfectly penetrating. At that time their wisdom was complete and bright and their enlightenment reached perfect penetration. And they were free of doubt and delusion.

Sutra:

All at the same time, they placed their palms together, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and he said to the Buddha, "Today our bodies and minds are illumined, and we are happily free from obstruction."

Commentary:


All at the same time, they placed their palms together, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and he said to the Buddha, they made a full prostration at his feet and Ananda said, "Today our bodies and minds are illumined." They clearly understood. "And we are happily free from obstruction. We have attained a blissful state free of hindrance, doubt, and obstacles."

J2 He asks for instruction in the perfect penetration of the organ.
K1 He has not yet penetrated the organ.


Sutra:

We have understood the meaning of the ending of the six and the one. Still, we have not yet gone through to fundamental, perfect penetration.

Commentary:


We have understood the meaning of the ending of the six and the one. We see clearly the principle that when the six are free, the one also is gone. Still, we have not yet gone through to fundamental, perfect penetration. What is the source of perfect penetration? We still don't know.

K2 He is fortunate to meet the Thus Come One.

Sutra:

World Honored One, we who have floated and floundered our way through aeon after aeon, homeless and orphaned, had no idea, we never imagined that we could meet with the Buddha in such a close relationship. We are like lost infants who have suddenly found their compassionate mother.

Commentary:


World Honored One, we sound-hearers with something left to study, who have floated and floundered our way, bobbing and sinking in the bitter sea of birth and death, and failing to get out of the wheel of rebirth, through aeon after aeon, homeless and orphaned, without parents to take care of them, orphans often have no roof over their heads and must sleep out in the open at night. We had no idea, we never imagined that we could meet with the Buddha in such a close relationship. It never occurred to us that we could encounter the Buddha, who is like a compassionate mother to us. We are like lost infants who have suddenly found their compassionate mother. The child that was lost now finds its mother and will have milk to drink.

Sutra:

Because of this, we accomplished the Way in this assembly. Yet, the secret words which we received are the same as our basic enlightenment, and so it is the same as if we hadn't even heard them.

Commentary:


Because of this, opportunity which we have had, because of the dharma the Buddha spoke, we accomplished the Way in this assembly. Yet, the secret words which we received are the same as our basic enlightenment. The secret dharmas which the Buddha taught us were such that each of us were enlightened to different things, and yet the enlightenment is our own, and so it is the same as if we hadn't even heard them. Ananda says, "The dharma the Buddha speaks causes us to become enlightened." The dharma was what the Buddha spoke, but the enlightenment is our own.

We understand our basic nature,
We see our basic mind.

It is not something that is obtained from outside. That's why it's no different than if we hadn't heard at all.

K3 He hopes the Buddha will make the profound transmission.

Sutra:

"We only wish the greatly compassionate one will bestow upon us the profound secret as the Thus Come One's final instruction." After saying this he prostrated himself, withdrew, and held himself ready for the secret opportunity as he awaited the Buddha?s hidden transmission.

Commentary:


Ananda continued to beseech the Buddha. We only wish the greatly compassionate one will bestow upon us the profound secret as the Thus Come One's final instruction. He asks the Buddha to again give rise to great compassion and bestow on him the profound secret dharma, the great Shurangama Samadhi. He wants the water of samadhi. "As the Thus Come One's final instruction. Let this be the ultimate instruction the Buddha gives us." Once he had made this request, he prostrated himself, withdrew, and held himself ready for the secret opportunity. He returned to his seat and waited for Shakyamuni Buddha to transmit the wonderful dharma to him secretly. "Secret" means that although everyone is present, the Buddha transmits a dharma-door to Ananda without the others realizing it. So the text says: as he awaited the Buddha's hidden transmission.

J3 The Buddha instructs all the sages to speak.
K1 The Buddha asks all the sages.


Sutra:

Then the World Honored One told all those in the assembly who were great Bodhisattvas and great Arhats, their outflows extinguished: "All of you Bodhisattvas and Arhats who are born from within my dharma and have attained the stage beyond learning, I now ask you: When you first brought forth your resolve and became enlightened to the eighteen realms, which one of these brought perfect penetration? Through which expedient did you enter samadhi?"

Commentary:


The Buddha knew that Ananda had withdrawn and readied himself for the secret opportunity to receive the Buddha's silent transmission. The Buddha knew what was on Ananda's mind, but for the time being he did not respond to Ananda's request. First he questioned the twenty-five sages. He asked who had obtained perfect penetration and where they had obtained it from. He asked them which sense-organ they used to become enlightened. Then the World Honored One told all those in the assembly who were great Bodhisattvas and great Arhats, their outflows extinguished, this sentence was added as narrative when the sutra was compiled. What follows is the Buddha's words. All of you Bodhisattvas and Arhats who are born from within my dharma and have attained the stage beyond learning, you were

Born from the Buddha's mouth,
Transformationally born from the dharma.

You have reached the fourth fruition of arhatship, the level beyond learning, or you are great Bodhisattvas. I now ask you: When you first brought forth your resolve and became enlightened to the eighteen realms, which one of these brought perfect penetration? In the end, which sense-organ, which realm, was perfectly penetrating? Through which expedient did you enter samadhi? Through which dharma-door did you attain samadhi?

K2 The assembly tells their former cases.
L1 The sages speak in general.
M1 Perfect penetration through the six defiling objects.
N1 Ajnatakaundinya: the object of sound.


Sutra:

Kaundinya, with the others of the five bhikshus, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "When I was in the Deer Park and the Pheasant Garden, I observed the Thus Come One immediately after his accomplishment of the Way. Upon hearing the Buddha's voice, I understood the four truths."

Commentary:


Kaundinya, also known as Ajnatakaundinya, was one of the Buddha's disciples. His name means "understanding the original limit" (jie ben ji); "the very first to understand" (zui chu jie). He was the first of the Buddha's disciples to become enlightened. He was a dharma-nature elder, because his enlightenment came early and he was quite old by this time. With the others of the five bhikshus, he arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "When I was in the Deer Park and the Pheasant Garden, I observed the Thus Come One immediately after his accomplishment of the Way." It's said that the Pheasant Garden was a grove of trees where a lot of pheasants lived. The grove once caught fire, and the pheasants wetted down their wings with water and beat out the fire. So it's said that this spot was a very efficacious one. There was an unusually magical atmosphere about the place. The geomantic properties were excellent. People who cultivate the Way should find places to abide that are endowed with such an efficacious atmosphere, because it?s said of such places:

When people draw near,
It's magical for them.

In other words, it's easier to get enlightened there. "At that time," Kaundinya continued, "We observed the Thus Come One right after he had been certified to the Way. At first,

He sat beneath the Bodhi tree,
Saw one night a brilliant star,
And awakened to the Way.

"Then he came to the Deer Park to meet us five bhikshus. Upon hearing the Buddha's voice, the sound of the dharma he spoke, we awakened to the Way. I understood the four truths." The Buddha turned the dharma wheel of the four truths three times. He said, "This is suffering; its nature is oppressive. This is origination; its nature is seductive." The origination of afflictions is seductive. "This is extinction; its nature is that it can be certified to. This is the Way; its nature is that it can be cultivated."

Next he said, "This is suffering; you should know it. This is origination; you should cut it off. This is extinction; you should certify to it. This is the Way; you should cultivate it." On the third turning he said, "This is suffering; I already know it. This is origination; I have already severed it. This is extinction; I have already certified to it. This is the Way; I have already cultivated it."

After the Buddha finished these turnings, Kaundinya became enlightened. Earlier in the Shurangama Sutra, Kaundinya has explained that he awakened because of the two words, "guest dust." He understood that the guest was not the host. The host does not go, while the guest does.

He heard the Buddha's voice and awakened to the Way. People's voices are a very important part of them. Your voice should be resonant. If your voice is full and carries well, people will enjoy listening when you speak dharma. If your voice is unclear and you hesitate and stammer when you speak, then people will not like listening to you. The Buddha's voice was crystal clear like a lion's roar. No matter how many people were assembled, they could all hear him, and they all understood his meaning. Nor was it only people who understood; all the animals also understood the dharma the Buddha spoke. So it is said,

With a single sound he spoke the dharma.
All beings understood, each according to their kind.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks us bhikshus to speak. I was the first to understand, and the Thus Come One certified me and named me Ajnata. His wonderful sound was both secret and allpervasive. It was through sound that I became an arhat.

Commentary:


The Buddha asks us bhikshus to speak. Buddha, you have now asked all the bhikshus how they attained perfect penetration. I was the first to understand, and the Thus Come One certified me and named me Ajnata. I was the first to become enlightened and obtain liberation. His wonderful sound was both secret and all-pervasive. I heard the Buddha's subtle, wonderful sound, and it tallied with my self-nature. It was both intimate and perfectly pervading. It fused perfectly with my self-nature. It was through sound that I became an arhat. I cultivated through sound and became enlightened.

Guan Yin Bodhisattva cultivated the perfect penetration of the ear-organ. After the twenty-five sages each discuss their perfect penetration, Manjushri Bodhisattva selects the ear as the best senseorgan for Ananda to use to obtain perfect penetration. He says cultivation of the ear-organ is the most appropriate dharma.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, sound is the superior means.

Commentary:


The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. The Buddha asks which of the eighteen realms was the one through which I obtained perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, sound is the superior means. My enlightenment came through sound. It was in that way that I obtained the fruition of arhatship. So I think sound is the most important. It is the best method to use for cultivation.

N2 Upanishad: the object of form.

Sutra:

Upanishad arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I also saw the Buddha when he first accomplished the way. I learned to contemplate the appearance of impurity until I grew to loathe it and came to understand that the nature of all form is unclean. Bare bones and subtle dust all return to emptiness, and so both emptiness and form are done away with. With this realization, I accomplished the path beyond learning."

Commentary:


Upanishad's name means "the emptiness of the nature of form" (se xing kong). He'd always been plagued with strong sexual desire. Because of it, the Buddha taught him to cultivate the contemplation of impurity. This means that he observed how his own physical body, as well as everyone else's, was unclean. The specific practice is called "contemplating the nine aspects of impurity":

1. Contemplate swelling. After death, the body starts to swell up.

2. Contemplate the green mottled flesh. After the swelling, the body breaks out in green areas like big bruises.

3. Contemplate flesh broken open. After it turns green, it pops open.

4. Contemplate blood and filth. When it breaks open, the blood and other things flow out.

5. Contemplate pus and rot. The pus begins to ooze out of the body as it starts to rot.

6. Contemplate it being eaten by worms. Out of the pus and rot emerge worms which feast on the flesh.

7. Contemplate it scattering. The flesh begins to fall off.

8. Contemplate the bare bones. Once the flesh is gone, there are just the bones underneath.

9. Contemplate it being burned. It is burned by the fire and turns into ashes. The ashes drift into emptiness and turn into dust, until at last there's nothing left.

Upanishad was very attached to forms. He would take special notice of every woman he saw to remark on how beautiful this one was, how exquisite that one was, and how attractive another was. He put all his efforts into this kind of thing.

After he met the Buddha, the Buddha taught him to cultivate the contemplation of nine aspects of impurity.

Upanishad arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha: I also saw the Buddha when he first accomplished the way. I learned to contemplate the appearance of impurity until I grew to loathe it. I, too, was with the Buddha just after he accomplished the Way, and the Buddha taught me to cultivate the contemplation of nine aspects of impurity. From this I realized that no matter how beautiful a person may be while alive, no matter how attractive or how exquisite she is, so that the more you think about her the more enticing she becomes, nevertheless, once she dies, she will swell up just as grotesquely as anyone else. She'll get just as green and mottled, and her flesh will break open. Could you love her then? Then the blood and filth oozes out, and the corpse starts to stink. Dogs like it at this stage, but people stay far away from it. Then the pus and rot forms. Just thinking about it makes you want to vomit! It would be impossible to kiss her by this time. Then the worms grow: big ones and little ones. The flies and blueflies come in swarms. They draw near to her and at that point you wouldn't even get jealous. The flesh scatters and the bare bones are all that remain. Then it's burned and the entire thing disappears. Tell me, where has that beautiful person gone? Through this contemplation he grew to loathe forms, and came to understand that the nature of all form is unclean. He realized that no matter how beautiful the form was, its source was impure. The father's semen and the mother's blood is an unclean origin. Bare bones and subtle dust all return to emptiness, and so both emptiness and form are done away with. With this realization, I accomplished the path beyond learning, that is, the fourth fruition of arhatship.

Sutra:

The Thus Come One certified me and named me Upanishad. The object of form came to an end, and wonderful form was both secret and all-pervasive. Thus, it was through the appearance of form that I became an arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, form is the superior means.

Commentary:


The Thus Come One certified me and named me Upanishad. The Buddha sealed and certified me and named me "The emptiness of the nature of form." I saw through form; it was empty in its nature and just disappeared, and so I got rid of my attachment. The object of form came to an end. Since my unclean form no longer existed, wonderful form was both secret and all pervasive.

In true emptiness it turned into subtle wonderful form. It was through the appearance of form that I became an arhat, that I awakened to the Way. I was one who used to be fond of sex, but I got beyond it; I transcended it. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. The Buddha wants to know which of the eighteen realms is perfectly penetrating. As I have been certified to it, form is the superior means. I awakened to the Way through the object of form. I saw through the object of form and was certified to the fruition.

N3 Adorned Fragrance: the object of smells.

Sutra:

The pure youth, Adorned with Fragrance, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I heard the Thus Come One teach me to contemplate attentively all conditioned appearances."

Commentary:


The pure youth, Adorned with Fragrance, was adorned with a fragrant light. "Pure youth" does not mean that he was a child, a person so young he didn't understand anything at all. "Pure youth" means he entered the Way as a virgin youth. He was a virgin when he left home. He never married. After Upanishad finished explaining his causes and conditions, the pure youth, Adorned with Fragrance, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I heard the Thus Come One teach me to contemplate attentively all conditioned appearances. The Buddha told me to look into all conditioned dharmas in minute detail."

Sutra:

After I heard the Buddha's instruction, I sat in repose in the quiet of a pure dwelling. When I saw the bhikshus light sinking incense, the fragrant scent quietly entered my nostrils. I contemplated this fragrance: it did not come from the wood; it did not come from emptiness; it did not come from the smoke, and it did not come from the fire. There was no place it came from and no place it went to. Because of this, my discriminating mind was dispelled, and I attained the absence of outflows.

Commentary:

"After I heard the Buddha's instruction, I sat in repose in the quiet of a pure dwelling. The Buddha told me to look into conditioned appearances, and I went off to cultivate and develop my skill." A "pure dwelling" refers to a place where people are vegetarian and the environment is tranquil. He uses this expression to praise the Buddha. "When I was in my pure dwelling cultivating, I saw the bhikshus light sinking incense." "Sinking incense" is called agaru in Sanskrit. This fragrant wood sinks when placed in water, and from this it takes its name.

The fragrant scent quietly entered my nostrils. I contemplated this fragrance: it did not come from the wood; it did not come from emptiness. I contemplated the source of the fragrances: it was not the wood. If it came from the wood alone, there would be no need to burn it in order for it to emit fragrance. If it came from emptiness, it should be ever-present. But it must be lit for the fragrance to rise; before it is lit, there is no pervasive fragrance. The fragrance also does not come from the smoke. Nor does it come from the fire. There was no place it came from and no place it went to. Because of this, my discriminating mind was dispelled, and I attained the absence of outflows. Because I contemplated in this way, my mind subject to production and extinction disappeared. I was certified to the fruition of no-outflows.

Sutra:

The Thus Come One certified me and called me "Adorned with Fragrance." Defiling scent suddenly vanished, and wonderful fragrance was both secret and all pervasive. It was through the adornment of fragrance that I became an arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, the adornment of fragrance is the superior means.

Commentary:

The Thus Come One certified me and called me "Adorned with Fragrance." Defiling scent suddenly vanished, and wonderful fragrance was both secret and all pervasive. It was through the adornment of fragrance that I became an arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. He wants to know which sense-organ is perfectly penetrating. As I have been certified to it, reckoning it from my point of view, the adornment of fragrance is the superior means.

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