THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
M2 Perfect penetration through the five organs.
N1 Aniruddha: the eye organ.
Aniruddha arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "When I first left home, I was fond of sleeping all the time. The Thus Come One scolded me and said I was no better than an animal. When I heard the Buddha's scolding, I wept and upbraided myself. For seven days I did not sleep, and I lost the sight in both my eyes."
Aniruddha means "never poor" (wu pin) and "according to your wish" (ru yi). He arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "When I first left home, I was fond of sleeping all the time. The Thus Come One scolded me and said I was no better than an animal." Shakyamuni Buddha spoke this way to him:
Hey! Hey! How can you sleep,
Like an oyster or a clam?
Sleep, sleep for a thousand years,
But you'll never hear the Buddha's name.
When the Buddha said that to him, he became repentant. When I heard the Buddha's scolding, I wept and upbraided myself. "How can you be so gutless?" I asked myself. "Why do you like to sleep all day long? All right for you, I'm going to forbid you to sleep!" For seven days and nights I did not sleep. He probably walked around and sat alternately to keep himself from falling asleep, and I lost the sight in both my eyes. The eyes will work during the day, but they need to rest at night. If you don't let them rest and they get too tired, they just quit working. They go on strike. So Aniruddha couldn't see a thing.
The World Honored One taught me the vajra samadhi of the delightful seeing, which illumines and is bright. Although I had no eyes, I could contemplate the ten directions with true and penetrating clarity, just as if I were looking at a piece of fruit in the palm of my hand. The Thus Come One certified me as having attained arhatship.
The World Honored One took pity on me because I was blind and taught me a certain method. It was called the vajra samadhi of the delightful seeing, which illumines and is bright. I cultivated this samadhi for a long time, and I obtained a heavenly eye which covered half my head (ban tou tian yan). Although I had no eyes, although I didn't use the ordinary flesh eyes to look at things, with this heavenly eye, I could contemplate all the places in the ten directions with true and penetrating clarity, just as if I were looking at a piece of fruit in the palm of my hand. It was like seeing an Amala fruit in my hand. The Thus Come One certified me as having attained arhatship.
The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, returning the seeing back to its source is the foremost method.
The Buddha asks all the Bodhisattvas and disciples about the perfect penetration that they have obtained. As I have been certified to it, returning the seeing back to its source is the foremost method. As I, Aniruddha, have learned, you turn the seeing around and bring it back to your own original nature to cultivate it. This is the best dharma-door.
N2 Kshudrapanthaka: the nose organ.
Kshudrapanthaka arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha:
Kshudra means "born on the way." The custom in India was that after a woman married and was about to give birth, she would return to her mother's home to have the child. In Kshudra's case, his mother, who should have really gone back a month or two in advance, waited until the last minute to return. The distance between her home and her mother's was considerable, probably about one or two hundred miles. Since she had waited until she was of full term, she only got half way there when her labor started, and she gave birth right then and there by the side of the road. That's how Kshudra got his name. His younger brother, Kshudrapanthaka, got his name the same way. Panthaka means "born in the same fashion." In Kshudrapanthaka's case, the mother again waited too long and gave birth en route. So he was Kshudra's brother, Panthaka.
Kshudrapanthaka was extremely stupid. When one leaves the home life, the first thing one is given to learn is a short verse that is to be recited every morning. I recited one version earlier. This is another version:
Don't do evil with deeds of body, mouth, or mind;
Don't bother any living being in the world.
With proper thought, regard the desire-realm as empty;
And stay far away from non-beneficial practices.
When Kshudrapanthaka tried to learn this verse, he had the help of five-hundred arhats, but after a hundred days of study, he hadn't learned one line of it. Pretty stupid, huh? He'd remember "deeds of body, mouth, and mind," but would forget "don't do evil." Or he'd remember "don't do evil," but would forget "with deeds of body, mouth, and mind." I'm sure none of you are that stupid. When his brother, Kshudra, saw that five hundred arhats had taught his brother for a hundred days and he still didn't know one line, he ordered him to return to lay-life. "Go find a wife and be done with it," he said and sent him on his way, refusing to allow him to stay and be a bhikshu.
Kshudrapanthaka thought, "I want to be a monk like all these people; what meaning is there in my returning to lay-life?" So he took a rope, went into the back gardens, and prepared to hang himself. Just as he was ready to do it, the Buddha manifested as a tree spirit and asked him, "What are you up to?"
"I'm not going to go on living."
"Not go on living? After you die, what then?"
"I don't know."
"Don't die," the tree spirit said. "Don't take your own life. There is a reason why you are stupid. You should strive to change your faults of the past. Once you change, everything will work out fine."
"What are the causes and effects from the past that make me so stupid now?" Kshudrapanthaka asked.
Remember that the tree spirit was a transformation of Shakyamuni Buddha; when Kshudrapanthaka asked that question, the Buddha appeared in his original Buddha-body and said, "In a past life you were a tripitaka master with five hundred disciples. Every day they wanted to study with you, but you did not teach them. You didn't lecture the sutras or explain the dharma, even if people requested it. They might kneel before you for three days and nights and still you would not speak it for them. Because you would not explain the dharma, you became stupid to the point that you don't understand a single sentence of dharma."
Upon hearing that, Kshudrapanthaka was greatly ashamed. "How could I have been like that?" That's what is called being stingy with the dharma. You should all remember this. After I explain the dharma for you, you should explain it wherever you go. Be sure not to harbor the attitude of "I'm not going to explain it for you! If you understand it, what will happen to me?" Don't be jealous of others' understanding of the Buddhadharma. The more jealous you become, the less you yourself will understand.
Kshudrapanthaka had been stingy with the dharma, so he was stupid. But because he still had good roots, too, he was born at the time of the Buddha.
Having told him of his past causes, the Buddha took up a broom and asked, "Do you know what this is?"
"It's a broom."
"Can you remember that?"
Then the Buddha instructed him, "Then just recite this way every day: just say, 'broom,' 'broom,' 'broom' all day long."
Kshudrapanthaka recited that for a few weeks. Then the Buddha stopped by to ask, "How are you doing? Can you remember that?"
"Yes, I remember it," replied Kshudrapanthaka.
"Fine," said the Buddha. "I'll just change the words a little to 'sweep clean.' Try reciting that now."
So he recited, "Sweep clean, sweep clean, sweep clean." And he used that invisible broom to sweep clean his own defilements. What he was doing was sweeping clean the defilement of his stinginess with the dharma. Remember this. Take the principles that I am explaining to you in the Shurangama Sutra and explain them to others. If you do that, in future lives you will have exceptional wisdom and intelligence. If you like to practice the giving of dharma, you will never be stupid.
I am deficient in the ability to memorize and do not have much innate intelligence. When I first met the Buddha, I heard the dharma and left the home-life. But, when I tried to remember one line of a verse by the Thus Come One, I went through a hundred days remembering the first part and forgetting the last, or remembering the last and forgetting the first.
"Born on the way in the same fashion" tells of his experience now. I am deficient in the ability to memorize and do not have much innate intelligence. Ananda never forgets anything that passes by his eyes. He is able to memorize things and is endowed with intelligence. But I, Panthaka am extremely stupid. When I first met the Buddha, I heard the dharma and left the home-life. Although I left home, when I tried to remember one line of a verse by the Thus Come One, the one line of verse was: "Don't do evil deeds with body, mouth, or mind." I went through a hundred days remembering the first part and forgetting the last, or remembering the last and forgetting the first. I would remember the first few words and forget the last ones. When I would remember the last words of the line, I forgot the first ones again. So in all that time I never mastered even one line of verse. That's how stupid I am.
Kshudrapanthaka was stupid because in past lives he refused to lecture the sutras and speak dharma for people. Wherever you go, then, you should make every effort to help others speak the sutras and propagate the dharma in order to teach and transform living beings. Take this as your personal responsibility. Don't be stingy with the dharma!
I've already said this, but it bears repeating. Kshudrapanthaka had to undergo the retribution of being stupid because he could not practice the giving of dharma, he was stingy. My lecturing the sutra now is the giving of dharma. And why do I lecture for you? Because if I understand the dharma and I do not explain it for you, in a future life I may not even come up to Kshudrapanthaka. He was unable to learn one sentence of verse in a hundred days; I might not be able to remember a single word in a whole year. That's why I don't charge money for lectures. I don't look for any kind of recompense on your part; I just lecture the sutras and speak dharma for you. I don't want to be stupid. If there are those of you who aren't afraid of being stupid, then just experiment. Go ahead and have the attitude, "I understand the Buddhadharma, but I'm not going to explain it to you." Try it out, and in the future, when you are more stupid than Kshudrapanthaka you'll know that what I say is true. You'll end up being the victim of the experiment. Ever since I first heard a dharma master say that if you don't practice the giving of dharma you will end up stupid, I have never forgotten it.
That reminds me of a public record. Once there was an official, probably the equivalent of a mayor, who was very interested in the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. It was strange, however: of the seven scrolls of the Dharma Flower Sutra, he was extremely familiar with the first three and a half. He memorized those as soon as he read them. But as to the last three and a half scrolls, he couldn't remember them for anything, no matter how many times he read them. He couldn't understand why it was this way, so he asked a high Sanghan of the time, a bright-eyed good knowing advisor who had opened all five eyes and had the six penetrations. When the mayor was announced, the elder monk welcomed him and the official explained his problem. "Of all the Buddhist sutras, it is the Dharma Flower which interests me. I like it best, but I can only memorize the first half of it. What's the reason?" The elder monk said, "Oh, you want to know about that? Well, when I tell you, don't get upset or disbelieve."
"Fine," said the mayor, "I'll believe what you tell me."
So the elder monk explained, "The reason you are a mayor is that you created some merit in your past lives. In the past you were an ox and you helped plow the fields at a temple. Since you made offerings to the Triple Jewel in this way, you amassed some merit. The reason you are only familiar with the first half of the Dharma Flower Sutra is as follows: It is the custom in temples to air the sutra texts on the sixth day of the sixth lunar month. This keeps them from getting wormy. On that day, you approached the Dharma Flower Sutra and sniffed the first volume of the sutra. But you only sniffed the first volume, not the second. That?s why you are so familiar with the first three and a half rolls of the sutra in this life."
The mayor bowed to the elder monk, and after that he was even more diligent in his investigation of the Dharma Flower Sutra. An ox sniffed the sutra and gained so much intelligence, whereas Kshudrapanthaka refused to give the Buddhadharma and became so stupid. If you compare these two incidents and reflect on them, it should be sufficient to keep you from experimenting. In fact, I hope you won't experiment, because to sink to the level of Kshudrapanthaka would be a lot of suffering. On the other hand, we should not look down on Kshudrapanthaka. Although he was dull, he became enlightened after reciting "broom" and "sweep clean" for a short time. We may be smarter than Kshudrapanthaka, but we haven't become enlightened as quickly as he did. So in this respect we do not measure up to Kshudrapanthaka.
The Buddha took pity on my stupidity and taught me to relax and regulate my breath. I contemplated my breath thoroughly to the subtle point in which arising, dwelling, change, and extinction happen in every kshana.
The Buddha took pity on my stupidity. The Buddha felt sorry for me because I was utterly stupid, and he taught me to recite "broom" and "sweep clean." He taught me to relax and regulate my breath. This practice involves holding the in-breath for ten counts and then extending the out-breath for ten counts. No matter how stupid one is, one can probably count to ten! One inhalation and one exhalation is counted as one breath. I contemplated my breath thoroughly to the subtle point in which arising, dwelling, change, and extinction happen in every kshana. In a breath, the point at which you begin to exhale is called the arising, and the sequence progresses through one continuous breath. The Tian Tai school divides this contemplation into six wonderful doors, six aspects of regulating the breath. We will not go into detail about them here, except to say that the beginning of the exhalation is called the arising, and continuing the breath is called dwelling. Change is when the breath is about to end, and extinction is when the breath is finished. This happens in every kshana. In the space of one thought there are ninety kshanas. In every kshana are nine hundred arisings and extinctions. These subtleties are not observable with the ordinary eyes.
My mind suddenly attained vast non-obstruction, until my outflows were extinguished and I accomplished arhatship. Beneath the Buddha's seat I was sealed and certified as being beyond learning.
At that time, I contemplated my breath until I reached a state of there being no self, no others, no living beings, and no lifespan. I Inhaled and exhaled effortlessly and my mind united into One. I had no discriminating thought and no thoughts that seized upon conditions. All thoughts stopped. My mind suddenly attained vast non-obstruction. Oh, I've returned to the origin and have gone back to the source! "Suddenly" here refers to enlightenment.
It was like a door to a room suddenly being flung open. All the air in the room was immediately purified. There was no stale air left. Have you noticed that although there are a lot of people in this lecture hall, the air remains pure? If you asked me why, I'd be hard put to tell you. Let's just say that in a Bodhimanda there is an inexpressibly wonderful purity to the atmosphere.
When you attend lectures on the sutras, it is necessary to be extremely respectful. This is because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will say, "You're a rotten egg! How can you come to the Way-place and act like that?" Everyone should be respectful and modest and have a harmonious regard for one another. Don't become selfsatisfied or arrogant; don't say things like, "Look at how dumb you are! I'm so much smarter than you!" As soon as you have that thought, you start to become stupid yourself. Don't look down on others. The people in this dharma assembly are all my past parents; all are future Buddhas. If you slight these people, it's just like slighting the Buddha. So when you study the Buddhadharma you should regard everyone with impartiality.
In the Bodhimanda, you must follow the rules. When you are listening to the sutra, it is most important not to get up and wander around. And don't recline in your seat or lean over and prop yourself up. You should sit up correctly. Don't be lax and lazy in your attitude. Even if you are a lazy worm, you should not act like one. You should develop yourself into a polite person. Also, don't go to sleep when you come to listen to the sutra. If you do that, then in the future you'll end up like Aniruddha.
The text goes on: I attained vast non-obstruction, that means he became enlightened, until my outflows were extinguished. After he became enlightened, he gradually attained the state of having no outflows. And I accomplished arhatship. He arrived at the fruition of fourth-stage arhatship. Beneath the Buddha's seat I was sealed and certified as being beyond learning. I always accompanied the Buddha and listened to dharma beneath his seat. The Buddha sealed and certified me and said that I, too, had attained the fourth fruition of arhatship.
Such a stupid person also attained the fourth fruition of arhatship. Those who are so intelligent haven't even attained the first fruition. Are you ashamed or aren't you?
The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, turning the breath back to emptiness is the foremost method.
?Bringing the inhalation and exhalation of the breath back into accordance with emptiness, returning it to empty tranquility: this is the best dharma door.
I've been here for many years, but I've never dared talk about rules. Why? This country advocates freedom. Parents don't watch over their children; the children are free to do as they please. After I came to America, I took disciples, but I, too, didn't watch over them. I let them do what they pleased. They could go wherever they wanted, they could have things their own way. They were very independent. But in the sutra lecture assembly, I have noticed that some people are just too independent, far more casual than is appropriate. It is said:
If you don't use a compass and square,
You can't make squares and circles.
In Chinese, the characters for compass and square are combined to form a compound which means "rules." If you don't use the compass, you won't get a perfect circle; and if you don't use a square, the square you draw will end up rectangular or triangular. Today, then, in the Shurangama dharma assembly, I am telling you not to be lazy. Listen to the sutras with a respectful attitude. It should be as if the Buddha himself were here speaking the dharma. You shouldn't think, "This dharma master lectures by telling stories and jokes, as if he were entertaining children." It's not really that way. If you can fathom the meaning of the things I say, you can become enlightened. You can be certified to the fruition immediately. All it takes is a genuine determination in seeking the dharma, and it can happen. If you are sincere while you are listening to this section on the twenty-five sages, you can become enlightened on the spot. That's because these twenty-five sages have each made vows that they will help whoever studies their dharma door to become enlightened. So put your mind on investigating the sutra.
N3 Gavampati: the tongue organ.
Gavampati arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I have mouth-karma created from a past offense. I slighted a shramana, and in life after life I've had this cow-cud sickness."
Gavampati's name is Sanskrit and means "cow-cud" (niu xi). When cows sleep, they snore, and their tongues flap back and forth, making a terrible racket. Gavampati arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I have mouth-karma created from a past offense." What kind of mouthkarma did he create? Once he noticed an old shramana, who was toothless, taking a long time to eat. Gavampati teased the old man, saying, "Old monk, you eat the way a cow chews grass." The old shramana was a certified arhat. His reply was, "Oh, you shouldn't talk about me like that. If you do, you will have to undergo retribution in the future. You'd better repent immediately. Better take it back right away."
Gavampati apologized, and so he didn't have to undergo the retribution of being a cow, but even so, he was endowed with cowlike habits ever afterward. His tongue was like a cow's, and he was always chewing his cud and breathing like a cow. Although he was certified to the fruition of arhatship, the Buddha was afraid that people would slander him in turn, and say that he, too, was like a cow, and that such people would then have to bear the retribution of being cows. For this reason, the Buddha instructed Gavampati to live in the heavens and receive the offerings of the gods. Since gods all possess the ability to discern past lives, they would not dare to slight him.
In the text, Gavampati goes on to explain: The way I created mouth-karma was that I slighted a shramana. He teased the monk. "Shramana" is a Sanskrit word which means "diligent and putting to rest" (qin xi). A shramana diligently cultivates precepts, samadhi, and wisdom and puts to rest greed, hatred, and stupidity. In life after life I've had this cow-cud sickness. That's my retribution.
The Thus Come One taught me the mind-ground dharmadoor of the purity of a single flavor. My thought was extinguished, I entered samadhi, and contemplated the awareness of flavor as not having a substance and not being a thing. As a result, my mind transcended all worldly outflows.
The Thus Come One taught me the mind-ground dharmadoor of the purity of a single flavor, which means the purity of the one mind. When the tongue does not discriminate tastes, when there is no conscious mind, then all flavors return to purity. This, then, is cultivating a samadhi of non-discrimination. My thought was extinguished, his conscious mind was quieted, that is, I entered samadhi, he obtained a proper concentration and proper reception, and he contemplated the awareness of flavor as not having a substance and not being a thing. The awareness of tastes does not come from the substance of the nose, nor does it come from external objects. As a result, my mind transcended all worldly outflows. Just in purifying that one thought, I got out of the outflows of the world.
Internally I was freed of body and mind, and externally I abandoned the world. I left the three existences far behind, just like a bird released from its cage. I separated from filth and wiped out defilements, and so my dharma eye became pure, and I accomplished arhatship. The Thus Come One certified me in person as having ascended to the path beyond learning.
Internally I was freed of body and mind. Body and mind were gone, I left them. Externally I abandoned the world. I forgot about the world, as well. I left the three existences far behind. This refers to existence in the realm of desire, in the realm of form, and in the formless realm. At that time: I was just like a bird released from its cage. I separated from filth and wiped out defilements, and so my dharma eye became pure. This means his dharma eye opened, and he accomplished arhatship. The Thus Come One certified me in person as having ascended to the path beyond learning.
The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, returning flavor and turning awareness around is the superior method.
"Returning flavors" means not making discriminations about them. It is to return the light to illumine within. "Turning awareness around" refers to reversing the mind's discriminations of flavors. "This is the foremost method. This is the best dharma-door."