THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 5

N4 Pilindavatsa: the body organ.

Sutra:

Pilindavatsa arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha:

Commentary:


Pilindavatsa's name means "left-over habits" (yu xi). This name represents the fact that he still carried with him many habits from aeons of former lives. He was an arhat who had been certified to the fruition, and so when he wanted to cross a river, he could stop the flow of the water at will. In the case of one river, the river-spirit was a female, and when he reached the bank, he called out, "Little Servant, stop the flow!" The spirit did as she was told, but she was very put out, though she didn't show it. She did, however, go and complain to the Buddha.

"I was watching over the flow of the river, and he came and said to me, 'L'ittle Servant, stop the flow.' He's an arhat. He shouldn't call me that."

The Buddha told Pilindavatsa to apologize to the river-spirit. Pilindavatsa put his palms together and said to her, "I'm sorry, Little Servant." At that, the whole assembly of arhats burst into laughter.

Now, why did Pilindavatsa call the river-spirit "Little Servant?" It was because in past lives the spirit had in fact been his servant. He was in the habit of addressing her that way, so that now, even though she was a river-spirit, he still called her that. The whole reason he had to apologize was because it upset her when he called her "Little Servant," but his habit was so deep that he even called her that when apologizing.

Sutra:

When I first left home to follow the Buddha and enter the Way, I often heard the Thus Come One explain that there is nothing in this world that brings happiness. Once, when I was begging in the city, I was reflecting on this dharma-door and did not notice a poisonous thorn on the road until it had pricked my foot. My entire body experienced physical pain, but my mind also had an awareness: though it was aware of strong pain and recognized the feeling of pain, I knew that in my pure heart, there was neither pain nor awareness of pain.

Commentary:


When I first left home to follow the Buddha and enter the Way, I often heard the Thus Come One explain that there is nothing in this world that brings happiness. Many times I listened to the Buddha explain how the things of this world are all suffering, empty, impermanent, and without self. Once, when I was begging in the city, I was reflecting on this dharma-door and did not notice a poisonous thorn on the road until it had pricked my foot. I was thinking with such intensity about the dharma-door the Thus Come One had taught us, that I wasn't paying attention to the road, and I stepped on a splinter of wood which wounded my foot. My entire body experienced physical pain; my whole body hurt from it. But my mind also had an awareness: though it was aware of strong pain and recognized the feeling of pain, I knew that in my pure heart, there was neither pain nor awareness of pain. In my pure, original enlightened mind there was no pain or any awareness of pain. When I realized that, everything was empty, and my body and mind became pure. Therefore, I didn't know who was aware of the pain.

Sutra:

I also thought, 'Is it possible for one body to have two awarenesses?' Having reflected on this for a while, my body and mind were suddenly empty. After twenty-one days, my outflows disappeared. I accomplished arhatship and received certification in person and a confirmation that I had realized the level beyond learning.

Commentary:


I also thought, "Is it possible for one body to have two awarenesses?" Can I have two simultaneous awarenesses? Can I feel pain on the one hand and on the other hand not be aware of it? No. Having reflected on this for a while, I looked into this for a short time, my body and mind were suddenly empty. After twenty-one days, my outflows disappeared. Within three weeks, all my various outflows turned out to be empty. They were all gone. I accomplished arhatship and received certification in person and a confirmation that I had realized the level beyond learning. The Buddha himself sealed and certified me and gave me confirmation. I realized the fourth fruition of arhatship.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, purifying the awareness and forgetting the body is the superior method.

Commentary:

The Buddha is asking each of us disciples about the path we took that brought about our initial enlightenment. What I, Philindavatsa did was to remain intent upon the enlightened mind until it was total and pure, and I forgot about my body. This is my dharmadoor of cultivation.

N5 "Born Into Emptiness": the mind organ.

Sutra:

Subhuti arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "From distant kalpas until now, my mind has been unobstructed. I remember as many of my past lives as there are sands in the Ganges River. From the beginning, in my mother's womb, I knew emptiness and tranquility, to the extent that the ten directions became empty and I caused living beings to be certified to the nature of emptiness."

Commentary:


Subhuti's name means "born into emptiness" (kong sheng), because at his birth all the treasuries in his household were suddenly empty. Not a single gem remained. Seven days after his birth, the treasures all reappeared. So he was also called "good appearance" (shan xian). His father and mother went to have his fortune told; it read: "both good and lucky" (ji shan qie ji), so they also named him "good luck" (shan ji). He arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "From distant kalpas until now, my mind has been unobstructed. My mind and nature attained freedom from hindrance. I remember as many of my past lives as there are sands in the Ganges River. From the beginning, in my mother's womb, I knew emptiness and tranquility, I recognized the nature of emptiness, to the extent that the ten directions became empty. All the worlds in the ten directions were empty. And I caused living beings to be certified to the nature of emptiness. I enabled living beings to be simultaneously certified to the principles of the nature of emptiness."

Sutra:

Having received the Thus Come One's revelation that the enlightened nature is true emptiness, that the nature of emptiness is perfect and bright, I attained arhatship and suddenly entered into the Thus Come One,s sea of magnificent, bright emptiness. With knowledge and views identical with the Buddha, I was certified as being beyond learning. In the liberation of the nature of emptiness, I am unsurpassed.

Commentary:


Having received the Thus Come One's revelation that the enlightened nature is true emptiness, that the nature of emptiness is perfect and bright: the nature is the same as emptiness. The treasury of the Thus Come One, the enlightenment to true emptiness, is perfect and bright. The emptiness and the treasury of the Thus Come One are both perfect and bright. I attained arhatship. Because I understood the basic substance of the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, I attained the level of arhatship, and suddenly entered into the Thus Come One's sea of magnificent, bright emptiness. The magnificent brightness is once again the treasury of the Thus Come One. It is like a great sea of emptiness. With knowledge and views identical with the Buddha, I was certified as being beyond learning. The Buddha sealed and certified me as being at the level of no further learning. In the liberation of the nature of emptiness, I am unsurpassed.

My understanding comes from the principle of the nature of emptiness. I am foremost in understanding emptiness.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, all appearances enter into nothingness; nothingness and what becomes nothingness both disappear. Turning dharmas back to the void is the foremost method.

Commentary:


The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. Now the Buddha is asking all the disciples, the Bodhisattvas, about how they were certified to and obtained the principle of perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, all appearances enter into nothingness; nothingness and what becomes nothingness both disappear. That which brings about emptiness and that which is made empty are both gone. That means that there isn't even any emptiness. In Taoism, this is called, "That which is empty also disappears" (suo kong ji wu). In Buddhism it is called, "Nothingness and what becomes nothingness both disappear" (fei suo fei jin). Turning dharmas back to the void is the foremost method. Turning the nature of dharmas back into the void is the best way. Understanding emptiness is the number one dharma-door.

The Six Consciousnesses

M3 Perfect penetration through the six consciousnesses.
N1 Shariputra: the eye consciousness.

Sutra:

Shariputra arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "From distant kalpas until the present, my mind and views have been pure. In this way I have undergone as many births as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. As to the various transformations and changes of both the mundane and the transcendental, I am able to understand them at one glance and obtain non-obstruction."

Commentary:


Shariputra's mother's name was Shari, and his name means "son of Shari" ( qiu zi). He was foremost in wisdom. "Shari" means "pelican." When Shariputra was in his mother's womb, she would debate with her brother Kaushthila, and always defeat him. His uncle then knew that his sister was carrying a wise child. Shariputra arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "From distant kalpas until the present, my mind and views have been pure. In this way I have undergone as many births as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. As to the various transformations and changes of both the mundane and the transcendental, I am able to understand them at one glance and obtain non-obstruction. I can tell at a glance what things are about, whether on the ordinary level, or the sagely level, and toward them I?ve obtained non-obstruction."

Sutra:

Once I met the Kashyapas on the road, and I walked along with the brothers. They spoke about causes and conditions, and I awakened to the boundlessness of my mind.

Commentary:


Once I met the Kashyapas on the road, and I walked along with the brothers. As the Kashyapas walked along, they spoke about causes and conditions. Upon hearing this dharma of causes and conditions, I became enlightened and awakened to the boundlessness of my mind.

Before Shariputra left the home-life, he met Ashvajit (ma sheng), while walking on the road. Ashvajit was one of the five bhikshus the Buddha first crossed over in the Deer Wilds Park. Shariputra saw Ashvajit walking in a most awesome and correct manner, with magnificent deportment.

His eyes did not glance at things,
His ears did not eavesdrop.

He didn't slip sidelong looks at people, and he didn't listen to what was going on around him.

His eyes watched his nose,
His nose regarded his mouth,
His mouth heeded his heart.

Before this, Shariputra had had an externalist teacher who was called the Brahman Sha Ran ( sha ran fan zhi). After his teacher died, he had no one to study with. It was then that while walking on the road he met Ashvajit and admired him so much. He asked him, "You have fine comportment. Who's your teacher?"

Ashvajit replied with a verse:

All dharmas arise from conditions,
All dharmas cease because of conditions,
The Buddha, the Great Shramana,
Often spoke of this.

When Shariputra heard that verse, he immediately became enlightened and was certified to the first fruition of arhatship. He went back to his living quarters and repeated the verse to Maudgalyayana.

When Maudgalyayana heard it, he also became enlightened. Then, taking his two hundred disciples with him, he went to take refuge with the Buddha. They left the home life and became part of the assembly that always accompanied the Buddha. That's how the account is sometimes told. Here the sutra says that he met the Kashyapa brothers. Since some times the sutras say that Shariputra met the Kashyapas, and sometimes they say he met Ashvajit, I think they were probably all walking together at the time. The Kashyapas and Ashvajit were on the road together. Notice that the text says, "and walked along with the brothers." "Brothers" means not just the Kashyapa brothers, but also bhikshu Ashvajit, who was a dharma brother. They were talking about causes and conditions, and one said:

The dharmas that arise from causes and conditions:
I say that they are empty.
They are false names, as well;
They are also called the meaning of the Middle Way.

Probably when Shariputra heard that verse, he came up to ask, "What are you talking about? Who's your teacher?" And it was then that Ashvajit spoke his verse. Upon hearing it, Shariputra became enlightened. Afterward he returned to tell Maudgalyayana, and then they all went to take refuge with the Buddha.

Sutra:

I followed the Buddha and left the home life. My seeingawareness became bright and perfect, I obtained fearlessness and became an arhat. As one of the Buddha's elder disciples, I am born from the Buddha's mouth, transformationally born from the dharma.

Commentary:


I followed the Buddha and left the home life. My seeingawareness became bright and perfect. His seeing became the basic substance of enlightenment and was perfected. I obtained fearlessness and became an arhat. As one of the Buddha's elder disciples, I am born from the Buddha's mouth, transformationally born from the dharma. Among the Buddha's disciples, Shariputra was an elder.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, for the mind and the seeing to emit light and for the light to reach throughout knowing and seeing is the foremost method.

Commentary:


The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I, Shariputra, have been certified to it, for the mind and the seeing to emit light and for the light to reach throughout knowing and seeing is the foremost method. When the light is ultimate, then the knowing and seeing are empty. This dharma door is number one for me.

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