THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 5

N4 Physician King: the object of taste.

Sutra:

The two dharma princes, Physician King and Superior Physician, and five hundred Brahma gods in the assembly arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "From beginningless kalpas until now, we have been good doctors for the world. In our mouths we have tasted many herbs, wood, metals, and stones of the Saha world, a hundred and eight thousand flavors. We know in detail the bitter, sour, salty, bland, sweet, and pungent flavors, and the like, in all their combinations and inherent changes. We have a thorough knowledge of whether they be cooling or warming, poisonous or non-poisonous."

Commentary:


The pure youth, Adorned with Fragrance, awakened to the Way through the sense-object of fragrance. Upanishad awakened to the Way through the sense-object of form. Kaundinya awakened to the Way through the sense-object of sound. These two Bodhisattvas, Physician King and Superior Physician, awakened to the Way through the sense-object of flavor.

Physician King and Superior Physician Bodhisattva were brothers. In the past, Physician King Bodhisattva made a vow to be a good doctor for the world, so that all who came to see him would be cured of their illness, no matter what the sickness was. He made this vow at the time of the Buddha called Vaidurya Light, before the bhikshu Sun Treasury, in whose dharma assembly was an elder named Constellation Light. His brother made a similar vow at the same time. Similarly, in China, there was Emperor Shen Neng who tasted the hundred herbs and developed the science of herbal medicine. His stomach was like glass, and he could see whether what he had eaten was poisonous or not. Unfortunately, people in modern China totally fail to comprehend such historical events as this. They say such things are merely legends, superstitions.

Actually, this is a commonplace occurrence, documented in Chinese medicinal texts. But modern Chinese students don't read the classics, and so they don't understand such things. Having read these texts myself, I am convinced that Emperor Shen Neng was a reincarnation of Physician King Bodhisattva, who came to China to help found the study of medicine there.

The two dharma princes, Physician King and Superior Physician, and five hundred Brahma gods in the assembly arose from their seats. The Buddha is the Dharma King, so another name for Bodhisattva is dharma prince.

These two Bodhisattvas and their retinue of five hundred gods arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "From beginningless kalpas until now, we have been good doctors for the world. In our mouths we have tasted many herbs, wood, metals, and stones of the Saha world, a hundred and eight thousand flavors."

At that time in India, the nature of medicines was composed of these four elements, herbs, wood, metals, and stones. We know in detail the bitter, sour, salty, bland, sweet, and pungent flavors, and the like, in all their combinations and inherent changes. We know which medicines are compatible and which ones are not. Those which are compatible can cure illnesses when mixed in appropriate combinations. Those which are not compatible, but are in opposition to one another, can kill people if taken in combination. So it says in the Yao Xing Fu (Treatise on the Nature of Medicines), "Of the basic herbs, there are eighteen that act in opposition and nineteen flavors. Fan lo, bei lian, and gong wu." That refers to fan xia, gua lo, bei lian, and wu dou, which are in opposition to one another. "Licorice roots do not combine with kai zao, ba qi, gan zui, or lian hua." Licorice root is described as a predominately compatible herb in the Treatise on the Nature of Medicines. It can act as a base for many combinations. But it is not compatible with kai zao, ba qi, gan zui, or lian hua. If someone takes it in combination with these, he might die. Li lu and xi xing together will also kill if taken together. Xi xing taken by itself cures headaches. We have a thorough knowledge of how these herbs are compatible or incompatible and which ones have changes inherent in them which will occur if they are used in combination with the wrong herbs, as well as whether they be cooling or warming, poisonous or non-poisonous. They can be cold, hot, neutral, or warm. Some people whose natures are cool to begin with can't take cooling medicines, and people with warm natures are unable to stand a warming medicine. The two Bodhisattvas also knew how much poison was contained in any given herb.

Sutra:

While serving the Thus Come One we came to know that the nature of flavors is not empty and is not existent, nor is it the body or mind, nor is it apart from body and mind. We became enlightened by discriminating among flavors.

Commentary:


While serving the Thus Come One, we reverently paid homage and made offerings to the Buddha. We came to know that the nature of flavors is not empty and is not existent. Flavors don't come from emptiness, nor do they come from existence. Nor is it the body or mind, nor is it apart from body and mind. The nature of flavor does not arise from the tongue's tasting flavors; nor do flavors exist apart from the tongue's tasting them. We became enlightened by discriminating among flavors. We contemplated in minute detail the source of flavors and from this became enlightened. When we had made discriminations to the ultimate point, to the point where there could be no further discrimination, we became enlightened. We became aware that originally flavor is flavorless!

Sutra:

The Thus Come One sealed and certified us brothers and named us as Bodhisattvas Physician King and Superior Physician. Now in the assembly we are dharma princes who have ascended to the Bodhisattva level because we became enlightened by means of flavors.

Commentary:


The Thus Come One sealed and certified us brothers and named us as Bodhisattvas Physician King and Superior Physician. The Buddha gave us Bodhisattvas these two names. Now in the assembly we are dharma princes who have ascended to the Bodhisattva level because we became enlightened by means of flavors. We tasted flavors until we became enlightened and reached the level of a Bodhisattva.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As we have been certified to it, the cause of flavors is the superior means.

Commentary:


Flavor is the best method. Flavors are the best for eating. They are the most flavorful and also the least flavorful. The least flavorful is the most supreme, wonderful flavor. But you'll have to taste it for yourself to find out whether or not it is flavorful.

N5 Bhadrapala: the object of touch.


Sutra:

Bhadrapala and sixteen awakened lords who were his companions, arose from their seats and bowed at the Buddha's feet. He said to the Buddha:

Commentary:


The name Bhadrapala is Sanskrit and means "worthy guard" (xian shou) and also "worthy protector" (xian de). When Bhadrapala first began to practice the Way, he was very arrogant. There was once a Bodhisattva named "Never Slighting" who concentrated on the practice of being respectful to people. He bowed to whomever he met, and then said, "I don't want to slight you, because in the future you will all become Buddhas." When he did this to the arrogant Bhadrapala, Bhadrapala scolded him: "You low-down idiot," he said, "how can you be so cheap? You're worthless!" And after that encounter, he even urged people to go beat up Never Slighting Bodhisattva. When Never Slighting would bow to these people, they would kick him while he was prostrate. Sometimes they gave him nosebleeds, sometimes they knocked his teeth out. From this display of arrogance, Bhadrapala fell into the hells. He remained there for a very long time before he again became a person. Bhadrapala and sixteen awakened lords who were his companions, "awakened lords" refers to Bodhisattvas, arose from their seats and bowed at the Buddha's feet. He said to the Buddha:

Sutra:

We first heard the dharma and left the home-life under King of Awesome Sound Buddha. Once, when it was time for the Sangha to bathe, I followed the custom and entered the bathhouse. Suddenly I awakened to the fact that water does not wash away the dust, nor does it cleanse the body. At that point, between the two, I became peaceful, and I attained the state of there being nothing at all.

Commentary:

We first heard the dharma and left the home-life under King of Awesome Sound Buddha. King of Awesome Sound Buddha was the first of all the Buddhas. If anyone asks you who the first Buddha was, you now know what to tell them. Bhadrapala left the home life under that Buddha. Once, when it was time for the Sangha to bathe, I followed the custom and entered the bathhouse. Left-home people bathed every fortnight. That was the rule at the time. Suddenly I awakened to the fact that water does not wash away the dust, nor does it cleanse the body. It was because of water that he became enlightened. He was awakened through the object of touch. At that point, between the two, I became peaceful. How is it water doesn't wash the dust? How does it not wash the body? That's the wonderful point. If you don't understand, investigate Chan. Look into this and you, too, can awaken through the object of touch. Between water not being able to wash the dust and not being able to cleanse the body, he experienced tranquility. He attained the state of there being nothing at all. That means there was no object of touch.

Sutra:

To this day, I have never forgotten that past experience. Having left home with the Buddha, I have gone beyond learning. That Buddha named me Bhadrapala. Wonderful touch was revealed, and I accomplished the position of the Buddha's disciple.

Commentary:


"To this day, I have never forgotten that past experience. I've never forgotten how I was aware of the water when I entered the bathhouse that time." Although Bhadrapala went through the hells after that, he still never forgot his awakening. From the time of the Buddha King of Awesome Sound, to the time when Bhadrapala spoke these words in Shakyamuni Buddha's assembly is a period beyond reckoning. Never Slighting Bodhisattva was just Shakyamuni Buddha in a former life. And Bhadrapala, now in Shakyamuni Buddha's assembly, was the person who in a previous incarnation slandered and had others beat and oppress Never Slighting Bodhisattva. He was that bhikshu who was so arrogant and full of self-pride that he fell into the hells. Having left home with the Buddha, I have gone beyond learning. That Buddha named me Bhadrapala. He says, "Now I have left the home life and gone beyond learning. That Buddha who enabled me to go beyond learning named me Bhadrapala. Wonderful touch was revealed, and I accomplished the position of the Buddha's disciple. The object of touch disappeared, but a wonderful object of touch was revealed." When he says he's a "disciple of the Buddha," he means he has been certified to the position of Bodhisattva.

Sutra:

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

Commentary:


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

N6 Kashyapa: the object of dharmas.

Sutra:

Mahakashyapa, Purple-golden Light Bhikshuni, and others arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha:

Commentary:


Mahakashyapa. "Maha" means great; "Kashyapa" was his name. Since there were many people with the last name Kashyapa, the word "great" was added to indicate who was being referred to. Kashyapa means "great turtle clan" (da gui shi). His ancestors had seen a huge turtle with a map on its back and took their name from this incident. Mahakashyapa is also known as "drinker of light" (da yin guang). The light of his body seemed to swallow up all other kinds of light, because they disappeared in the brilliance of his light.

His personal name was Pippala, which is the name of a tree. His parents had no son, and they prayed for one to a pippala tree; as a result they had a son, whom they named in the tree's honor. Mahakashyapa was a fire worshipper. He cultivated the skill of smelting fire. There were all kinds of outside religions in India. Water worshippers, fire worshippers, and earth worshippers. The latter would bury themselves in the earth and if they remained alive for a certain number of days, they could become spirits. These outside religions were confused and confusing.

Purple-golden Light Bhikshuni, who was Mahakashyapa's wife. At the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, Mahakashyapa was 120 years old, and his wife was probably close to one hundred. Long ago, at the time of Kashyapa Buddha, his wife saw a Buddha-image being battered by wind and rain, to the point that there was no gold left on the figure. She resolved to repair the temple, but didn't have enough money. She also hoped to regild the image, but that was even more expensive. However, where there's a will, there's a way, and this woman's heart was strong and true. Everywhere she went she begged for money, and over a period of years she accumulated the equivalent of about 100,000 American dollars. Then she hired a goldsmith to regild the image. The goldsmith was moved by her decision to repair the Buddha image despite her own poverty, and he offered to do the work for half the wage. So the two of them shared the merit and virtue of this. Soon the temple was repaired so that it didn't leak anymore, and the Buddha image was regilded. After that in every life, this woman's body shone with a purple golden light. After the goldsmith, who was Mahakashyapa in a former life, finished the Buddha image, something strange happened between him and the woman. "Your heart is very good," he said to her. "I'll take you for my wife, and I will be your husband. Not just in this life, but from now on, in every life, we will marry one another." That's why I guessed that since Mahakashyapa was 120, his wife must have been at least a hundred. Even so, they were still very strong and active in their cultivation. Mahakashyapa's wife cultivated the Way and was certified to the fruition.

And others in his retinue arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha.

Sutra:

In a past kalpa in this region, I drew near to the Buddha named Sun-Moon-Lamp, who was then in the world. I heard dharma from him and cultivated and studied with him. After that Buddha's extinction, I made offerings to his sharira and lit lamps to continue his light. Purple-Golden Light gilded the Buddha's image. From that time on, in life after life, my body has always been perfect and has shone with a purple-golden light. The bhikshuni, Purple-Golden Light, and others make up my retinue, and we all brought forth the resolve for Bodhi at the same time.

Commentary:


We should all remember the important point: their relationship of husband and wife in life after life was not based on emotional love. Rather, they married in every life and then cultivated together. They investigated Chan and sat in meditation. In life after life, they did the Buddha's work. They studied the Buddhadharma and cultivated the Way. Now do you understand?

Mahakashyapa explains: In a past kalpa in this region, I drew near to the Buddha named Sun-Moon-Lamp, who was then in the world. I heard dharma from him and cultivated and studied with him. A very, very long time ago, a Buddha named Sun-Moon- Lamp Buddha appeared in the world. The sun can illumine things in the daytime; the moon can light things at night; lamps can shine day and night. Daytime represents existence, and night represents emptiness. Thus it's both noumenon and phenomenon; phenomenon and noumenon. It's also neither noumenon and phenomenon; not phenomenon and not noumenon. That means it's not attached to emptiness or existence.

After that Buddha's extinction, I made offerings to his sharira. The merit and virtue of making offerings to the Buddha's sharira is equal to that of making offerings to the Buddha himself. I lit lamps to continue his light, so the Buddhadharma would expand and flourish. Purple-Golden Light gilded the Buddha's image. From that time on, in life after life, my body has always been perfect and has shone with a purple-golden light.

Mahakashyapa's appearance was very full and complete. And I'm sure his wife was also lovely. The bhikshuni, Purple-Golden Light, and others make up my retinue, and we all brought forth the resolve for Bodhi at the same time. The important point was that they cultivated together. Their relationship was not based on emotional love.

Sutra:

I contemplated that the world's six sense-objects change and decay; they are but empty stillness. Based on this, I cultivated extinction. Now my body and mind can pass through hundreds of thousands of kalpas as though they were a fingersnap.

Commentary:


Mahakashyapa continues, "I contemplated that the world's six sense-objects change and decay." He is, basically, discussing objects of mind, but here he refers to the six sense-objects, because the objects of mind have no shape or appearance; they are the shadows of the first five sense objects. The objects of mind exist because of the first five sense-objects. If the first five did not exist, the objects of mind would not come to be, because they have no substance of their own. Forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas, these six objects, interact, change, and decay. "They are but empty stillness. Their very essence is empty. There isn't anything there at all. Based on this, I cultivated extinction. I used the power of this contemplation," says Mahakashyapa, "to cultivate the Samadhi of Extinction, which means I put an end to the sixth mind-consciousness and no longer dwelt in the discriminating mind." This is also known as the Samadhi of the Extinction of Feeling and Thought. Now my body and mind can pass through hundreds of thousands of kalpas as though they were a finger-snap. His mind could endure through as long a period of time as hundreds of thousands of kalpas, as though they were but an instant of time, the snap of a finger. Mahakashyapa is actually in samadhi now,in the Samadhi of Extinction, inside Chicken Foot mountain in Yunnan province in China.

Sutra:

Based on the emptiness of dharmas, I accomplished arhatship. The World Honored One says that I am foremost in dhuta practices. Wonderful dharma brought me awakening and understanding, and I extinguished all outflows. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, dharmas are the superior means.

Commentary:

Mahakashyapa says: Based on the emptiness of dharmas, I accomplished arhatship. The World Honored One says that I am foremost in dhuta practices. "Dhuta" is a Sanskrit word; it means "ascetic" ( dou sou). It means to strike up your spirits and go forward with vigor; to work hard and not be lax. There are twelve dhuta practices:

1. Wearing rag robes;
2. possessing only three robes;
3. begging for food;
4. consecutive begging;
5. eating only one meal a day;
6. eating a fixed and moderate amount of food;
7. not drinking juices after noon;
8. dwelling in an Aranya (a quiet place);
9. dwelling beneath a tree;
10. dwelling in the open;
11. dwelling in a graveyard;
12. always sitting and never lying down.

Wonderful dharma brought me awakening and understanding, and I extinguished all outflows. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. Buddha, you are asking each of us about the cause and conditions regarding perfect penetration, our initial resolve which brought about our certification. As I have been certified to it, dharmas are the superior means. The sense-object of dharmas, this cause, is the best means.

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