THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 5

N6 Mahamaudgalyayana: the mind consciousness.

Sutra:

Great Maudgalyayana arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "Once when I was out on the road begging for food, I met the three Kashyapa brothers 'Uruvilva, Gaya, and Nadi' who proclaimed for me the Thus Come One's profound principle of causes and conditions. I immediately brought forth resolve and obtained a great understanding."

Commentary:


Great Maudgalyayana arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, Maudgalyayana's name means "descended from bean gatherers." He said, "Once when I was out on the road begging for food, I met the three Kashyapa brothers, Uruvilva, Gaya, and Nadi." Uruvilva's name means "papaya grove," and he got the name because he had a growth on his body that was shaped like a papaya. Gaya was named after a mountain. Nadi was named after a river. The three brothers proclaimed for me the Thus Come One's profound principle of causes and conditions. They discussed the Buddha's dharma, specifically the doctrine of causes and conditions. That is, "I say that the dharmas which arise from conditions are all empty; that they are also given the name falseness; and that they are known as the meaning of the Middle Way." When they elaborated on this meaning, I immediately brought forth resolve and obtained a great understanding.

Earlier, Shariputra had heard the above verse, had become enlightened, and had been certified to the first stage of arhatship. He returned to his living quarters and told Maudgalyayana, "I encountered some bhikshus today who are disciples of the Buddha. They spoke a verse for me." When Shariputra repeated the verse for Mahamaudgalyayana, he, too, became enlightened. The two of them then went together to take refuge with the Buddha and bow to him as their teacher. Some say that Shariputra encountered the bhikshu Ashvajit who spoke this verse for him.

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

They say that this verse brought about Shariputra's awakening. In general, he heard the disciples talking about the dharma of causes and conditions and became enlightened, as did Maudgalyayana. The "profound principle" refers to dharmas used to teach Bodhisattvas. Dharma used for arhats would be shallow principles. The profound principles, then, are the state of the great vehicle.

Sutra:

The Thus Come One accepted me, and the kashaya was on my body and my hair fell out by itself. I roamed in the ten directions, having no impeding obstructions. I discovered my spiritual penetrations, which are esteemed as unsurpassed, and I accomplished arhatship.

Commentary:


The Thus Come One accepted me, and the kashaya was on my body. When I arrived at the Buddha's place, he said, "It's good you've come, bhikshu. Let your hair fall by itself, and the kashaya clothe you." By the power of the Buddha's spiritual penetrations, Maudgalyayana's hair and beard fell away at those words. In those times, when someone decided to leave home, they did so immediately. They didn't stop to think it over. They were not like people of today who can never make up their minds. When Maudgalyayana's hair and beard fell out, he assumed the appearance of a bhikshu. He relates: I roamed in the ten directions, having no impeding obstructions. Maudgalyayana was foremost in spiritual penetrations. After he left the home life, he obtained spiritual powers that allowed him to go to all the worlds of the ten directions and perform changes and transformations at will. His spiritual penetrations were unhindered. I discovered my spiritual penetrations, which are esteemed as unsurpassed, and I accomplished arhatship.

Sutra:

Not only the World Honored One, but the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions praise my spiritual powers as perfectly clear and pure, masterful, and fearless.

Commentary:


Not only the World Honored One, but the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions praise my spiritual powers. It's not just the World Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha, who praises me. The Thus Come Ones of the ten directions acclaim my spiritual penetrations and wonderful functioning. They commend them as perfectly clear and pure, masterful, and fearless.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. By means of a spiral-like attention to the profound, the light of my mind was revealed, just as muddy water clears. Eventually it became pure and dazzling. This is the foremost method.

Commentary:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. Now the Buddha is questioning his disciples, each person who cultivates the Way, as to what particular skill they developed that brought about their enlightenment. By means of a spiral-like attention to the profound. I worked my way back to profound purity, until the light of my mind was revealed. My mind emitted light, just as muddy water clears. It was just like letting turbid water settle until it becomes pure. Eventually it became pure and dazzling. When it had settled long enough, it was naturally clear and sparkling. This is the foremost method. I cultivated the skill of spiraling back to the profundity of the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. This is the best way.

The Seven Elements

M4 Perfect penetration through the seven elements.
N1 Ucchushma : the fire element.


Sutra:

Ucchushma came before the Buddha, put his palms together, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I can still remember how many kalpas ago I was filled with excessive greed and desire. There was a Buddha in the world named King of Emptiness. He said that people with too much desire turn into a raging mass of fire. He taught me to contemplate the coolness and warmth throughout my entire body."

Commentary:


Ucchushma is a powerful Vajra lord. He is one of those whom this sutra refers to as Vajra Secret Traces, that is, dharma protectors. The history of these dharma protectors was as follows: limitless kalpas ago, there was a wheel-turning king whose first wife gave birth to a thousand sons. The wheel-turning king understood the Buddhadharma. He had his thousand sons draw lots; they would become Buddhas in the order of the numbers they drew. The thousand Buddhas of this kalpa, the Worthy kalpa, are the sons of that wheel-turning king. Kanakamuni Buddha became the first Buddha, and Shakyamuni Buddha was the fourth Buddha of the Auspicious kalpa, so called because it is a time when worthies and sages appear in the world. Another of the wheel-turning king's wives had two sons. The elder son vowed that when each of his thousand brothers became a Buddha, he would go to that place and make offerings to them. The younger brother made a vow that when each of his brothers became a Buddha, he would go and protect him, he would be a Vajra-powerful lord.

Why does it say that he came before the Buddha, instead of saying that he arose from his seat? This is because Vajra-powerful lords are spirits, and spirits cannot sit in the presence of the Buddha. They stand. There is no seat available to them in the Buddha's assemblies. As for ghosts, they are not only forbidden to sit down; they aren't even given a place to stand. They must kneel. The dharma protectors must kneel to hear the dharma. In this very assembly now there are many ghosts kneeling to listen to the sutra. If you can't see them yourself, you don't have to take my word for it. You can ask my disciple who has his five eyes open. He will tell you.

Ucchushma came before the Buddha, put his palms together, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I can still remember how many kalpas ago I was filled with excessive greed and desire." This person had a tremendous amount of desire. He was obsessed with women. He probably inherited it from his father, who, as a wheel-turning king, also had a lot of desire and lust. "At that time, there was a Buddha in the world named King of Emptiness. He spoke dharma for me; He said that people with too much desire turn into a raging mass of fire. In the future they will fall into the hells and be seared by a furious fire. The Thus Come One, King of Emptiness taught me to contemplate the coolness and warmth throughout my entire body." Why do people have excessive desire? It comes from a "fire of desire" in the body. So the Buddha, King of Emptiness, had him return the light and look within at the fire in his own body. He observed the fire of his desire.

Sutra:

A spiritual light coalesced inside and transformed my thoughts of excessive lust into the fire of wisdom. After that, when any of the Buddhas summoned me, they used the name "Fire-head."

Commentary:

"I contemplated the fire in my body, and after a long time I came to abhor it and to be alarmed about it. Once I became alarmed, I no longer liked the thoughts of desire, and I gradually did away with them. Once they were gone, a spiritual light coalesced inside." He produced his own light, and transformed my thoughts of excessive lust into the fire of wisdom. A change took place in his obsessive thoughts of desire: they turned into fiery wisdom. After that, when any of the Buddhas summoned me, they used the name "Fire-head." They called him "Fire-head Vajra" ( huo tou jin gang).

Sutra:

From the strength of the fire-light samadhi, I accomplished arhatship. I made a great vow that when each of the Buddhas accomplishes the Way, I will be a powerful knight and in person subdue the demons' hatred.

Commentary:


From the strength of the fire-light samadhi, I accomplished arhatship. I then made a great vow that when each of the Buddhas accomplishes the Way, I will be a powerful knight and in person subdue the demons' hatred. When each of the thousand Buddhas of the Worthy aeon accomplishes the Way, I will be a powerful and great Vajra lord, a big dharma protector, and tame all the demons and enemies.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. I used attentive contemplation of the effects of heat in my body and mind, until it became unobstructed and penetrating and all my outflows were consumed. I produced a blazing brilliance and ascended to enlightenment. This is the foremost method.

Commentary:


The Buddha asks each of his disciples about perfect penetration. I used attentive contemplation of the effects of heat in my body and mind, until it became unobstructed and penetrating and all my outflows were consumed. The effects of heat were turned into the fire of wisdom, and my inherent nature within was unhindered and flowed freely. It burned away all my outflows, and I produced a blazing brilliance and ascended to enlightenment. This is the foremost method, the best dharma door.

N2 Maintaining the Ground Bodhisattva: the earth element.

Sutra:

The Bodhisattva, "Maintaining the Ground," arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I remember when Universal Light Thus Come One appeared in the world in the past. I was a bhikshu who continually worked on making level the major roads, ferry-landings, and the dangerous spots in the ground, where the disrepair might hinder or harm carriages or horses. I did everything from building bridges to hauling sand."

Commentary:


The Bodhisattva, "Maintaining the Ground," arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "I remember when Universal Light Thus Come One appeared in the world in the past. I was a bhikshu who continually worked on making level the major roads and ferry-landings. When Universal Light Thus Come One was in the world, I left the home life and was a bhikshu who repaired highways." "Ferry landings" here includes a reference to fords, to places where small streams crossed the path. He would place a piece of wood across to make it easy for people to pass by. He also repaired dangerous spots in the ground. Sometimes the earth would be rutted or bumpy, not flat and broad. These were cases of disrepair, which means the path was impassable. The disrepair might hinder or harm carriages or horses. "I worked on making these kinds of roadways level. If there were ruts and potholes, I filled them. If there were bumps I smoothed them out. I made the roads even. I did everything from building bridges to hauling sand."

Sutra:

I was diligent in this hard labor throughout the appearance of limitless Buddhas in the world. If there were beings at the walls and gates of the cities who needed someone to carry their goods, I would carry them all the way to their destination, set the things down, and leave without taking any recompense.

Commentary:


I was diligent in this hard labor throughout the appearance of limitless Buddhas in the world. "This hard labor" refers to such tasks as hauling sand and building bridges. He continued to do this kind of work during life after life. If there were beings at the walls and gates of the cities who needed someone to carry their goods, I would carry them all the way to their destination. If there were peddlers along the walls and gates of the cities who sold goods that needed to be hauled, I would haul them, either balancing the load on my head or back, or carrying it in my arms. When I got where they wanted to go, I would set the things down, and leave. I would unload the materials they bought and go on my way without taking any recompense. That means that he would not only not ask for or expect money, but he would refuse it if it was offered. This is the kind of ascetic practice that Maintaining the Ground Bodhisattva practices.

Sutra:

When the Buddha Vipashyin appeared in the world, there was a world-wide famine. I would carry people on my back, and no matter how far the distance, I would only accept one small coin. If there was an ox-cart stuck in the mud, I would use my spiritual strength to push the wheels and get it out of difficulty.

Commentary:


When the Buddha Vipashyin appeared in the world, there was a world-wide famine. No one had anything to eat. "Vipashyin" means "pervading everywhere with ease" ( bian yi qie zi zai). As the famine spread, people would evacuate areas en masse, trying to get out of the stricken places. Some people in the exodus could not walk, and so Maintaining the Earth Bodhisattva would carry them. I would carry people on my back, and no matter how far the distance, I would only accept one small coin. Whether it was a short trip, or a long journey, he always took the same amount of money, one small coin. "I didn't want any more. If there was an ox-cart stuck in the mud, I would use my spiritual strength to push the wheels and get it out of difficulty." When it rained a lot, the water would stand in the roads and the mud would become so thick it was not easy for people to walk. When a cart tried to pass, it would get bogged down. Maintaining the Ground Bodhisattva said that he had great strength, a spiritual force, and so he would push the wheels and pull the cart out of its predicament.

Sutra:

Once a king asked the Buddha to accept a vegetarian feast. At that time, I served the Buddha by leveling the road as he went. Vipashyin Thus Come One rubbed my crown and said, "You should level your mind-ground, then everything else in the world would be level."

Commentary:


Once a king asked the Buddha to accept a vegetarian feast. The king of the country was a faithful follower of the Buddha, and he invited the Buddha to accept a vegetarian offering. At that time, I served the Buddha by leveling the road as he went. On the road the Buddha traveled, I smoothed out all the uneven places as he went along. Vipashyin Thus Come One rubbed my crown and said, "You should level your mind-ground, then everything else in the world would be level." When the mind-ground is even, all the other ground in the world will be even quite naturally. Maintaining the Ground Bodhisattva had worked for such a long time at leveling the earth, which was fundamentally level to begin with. But he had been leveling things physically, while the ground of his own nature was not yet level. Vipashyin Thus Come One told him to level the ground of his own mind, for once he had done that, all other ground would be level as well. The mind-ground just means the ground of one's own nature.

Sutra:

Immediately my mind opened up and I saw that the particles of earth composing my own body were no different from all the particles of earth that made up the world. The nature of those particles of dust was such that they did not connect with one another nor could they be touched by the blade of a sword.

Commentary:


When I heard Vipashyin explain this dharma door, immediately my mind opened up. I became enlightened, and I saw that the particles of earth composing my own body were no different from all the particles of earth that made up the world. My body was made of particles of dust, nothing more, and they were the same as the particles of dust that composed everything else in the world. The nature of those particles of dust was such that they did not connect with one another. They did not come in contact with one another. Nor could they be touched by the blade of a sword. Even the stroke of a sword could not disrupt them, and so could not harm my body, because my body was the same as
emptiness. I had no appearance of self.

Sutra:

Within the dharma-nature I awakened to the patience with the non-production of dharmas and accomplished arhatship. I brought my mind back, to the extent that I have now entered the ranks of the Bodhisattvas. Hearing the Thus Come One proclaim the Wonderful Lotus Flower, the level of the Buddha's knowledge and vision, I have already been certified as having understood and am a leader in the assembly.

Commentary:


Within the dharma-nature I awakened to the patience with the non-production of dharmas and accomplished arhatship. I brought my mind back. I turned from the small and returned to the great, to the extent that I have now entered the ranks of the Bodhisattvas. Hearing the Thus Come One proclaim the Wonderful Lotus Flower, that is, the great Shurangama Samadhi, that subtle, wonderful dharma, the level of the Buddha's knowledge and vision, I have already been certified as having understood and am a leader in the assembly. I can testify to this
dharma-door.

Sutra:

The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. Upon attentive contemplation of the body and the environment, I saw that these two dusts are exactly the same, that, fundamentally, everything is the treasury of the Thus Come One, but that an empty falseness arises and creates the dust. When the dust is eliminated, wisdom is perfected, and one accomplishes the Unsurpassed Way. This is the foremost method.

Commentary:


The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. Upon attentive contemplation of the body and the environment, I saw that these two dusts are exactly the same. There is no difference between the body and mind and the world. I saw that, fundamentally, everything is the treasury of the Thus Come One, but that an empty falseness arises and creates the dust. Within the illusory falseness, defilement grows. When the dust is eliminated, wisdom is perfected, and one accomplishes the Unsurpassed Way. This is the foremost method.

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