THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Volumes: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * previous * next * Exhortation * Contents

Volume 6

Unalterable Instruction on Purity

J2 He brings up the three studies in general.

One Must Cut Off Lust

Sutra:

The Buddha told Ananda, "You constantly hear me explain in the vinaya that there are three unalterable aspects to cultivation. That is, collecting one's thoughts constitutes the precepts; from the precepts comes samadhi; and out of samadhi arises wisdom. Samadhi arises from precepts, and wisdom is revealed out of samadhi. These are called the 'Three Non- Outflow Studies.' "

Commentary:


When everyone in the assembly had agreed to uphold the teaching, the Buddha told Ananda: You constantly hear me explain in the vinaya that there are three unalterable aspects to cultivation. The vinaya includes the rules for both the greater and lesser vehicles. It discusses the precepts. These three fixed aspects are unalterable. That is, collecting one's thoughts constitutes the precepts. These three are precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. You collect and maintain your thoughts, just as a magnet collects iron filings. This refers especially to our thoughts that "climb on conditions", that take advantage of situations. When these thoughts take control, one is always paying attention to other people. One is continually thinking up ways to draw near to wealthy people or people in positions of authority. Such thoughts go on and on all day long.

That's called "climbing on conditions;" it means that one has not collected one's thoughts. Collect those thoughts. Don't let them take advantage of situations. Don't let them run out at random. But our mind is such that it runs away with us, even if we don't want it to. We may forbid it to have false thinking, but in the next moment another false thought comes up. One ceases and the next one begins. The first thought dissolves, but the next one is already on its way. And before that one is completely gone, the next one has arisen. The mind that climbs on conditions never ceases. What you must do is to collect and maintain your thoughts. Bring your mind back to one point. The whole reason we can't become Buddhas, can't become enlightened, can't awaken to the Way, is that we do not have control of our mind. If you get your thoughts together, there is nothing you cannot do. You'll be successful at everything. The precepts, then, are designed to collect your thoughts. Precepts put a stop to evil and prevent further transgressions.

Samadhi arises from precepts. Holding precepts is like holding a bottle of muddy water still, until the silt settles and the water becomes clear. Samadhi means "not moving." And wisdom is revealed out of samadhi. As Manjushri Bodhisattva's verse said:

When stillness is ultimate,
the light penetrates.

You become enlightened. Within samadhi, your own genuine wisdom arises. These are called the "Three Non-outflow Studies." Guard the precepts, and from the precepts will come samadhi. Out of samadhi will arise wisdom.

J3 He specifically lists the three studies.
K1 He lists the importance of the precepts first.
L1 He teaches him to hold precepts.
M1 He gathers in first and then gives evidence.
N1 One must cut off lust.
O1 Distinguishes the characteristic harm and benefit.
P1 First he explains the benefit or harm of holding or violating.
Q1 Holding it, then one certainly can get out of birth and death.


Sutra:

Ananda, why do I call collecting one’s thoughts the precepts? If living beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of lust, they would not have to follow a continual succession of births and deaths.

Commentary:

Ananda, why do I call collecting one's thoughts the precepts? Now I will tell you. If living beings in the six paths of any mundane world had no thoughts of lust: the six paths include gods, humans, asuras, animals, hungry ghosts, and beings in the hells. If they were free of thoughts of sexual desire, they would not have to follow a continual succession of births and deaths. They could cut off birth and death.

Q2 Violating it, one certainly will fall into demonic paths.

Sutra:

Your basic purpose in cultivating is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But if you don't renounce your lustful thoughts, you will not be able to get out of the dust.

Commentary:


The Buddha is speaking to Ananda here when he says: Your basic purpose in cultivating is to transcend the wearisome defilements. You want to get out of birth and death. But if you don't renounce your lustful thoughts, you will not be able to get out of the dust. If you do not cut off sexual desire, it will be impossible to get out of the mundane defilements of the world. That's because thoughts of sexual desire are themselves defiling. They themselves are the wearisome dust. Not to speak of engaging in lustful practices, even the presence of such thoughts is unclean. If you don't renounce sexual desire, it's entirely unreasonable to hope to become enlightened and accomplish Buddhahood. To hold on to sexual desire on the one hand and expect to become enlightened on the other is the stupidest kind of thinking. People who think that way are impossible to teach. Even if Shakyamuni Buddha himself appeared in the world right now, he would have no way to bring such people to attainment of fruition. Such people are the most dull-witted of all.

Sutra:

Even though one may have some wisdom and the manifestation of Chan samadhi, one is certain to enter demonic paths if one does not cut off lust. At best, one will be a demon king; on the average, one will be in the retinue of demons; at the lowest level, one will be a female demon.

Commentary:


Even though one may have some wisdom and the manifestation of Chan samadhi, one is certain to enter demonic paths if one does not cut off lust. You may be wise, and when you sit down to meditate you may experience light ease and feel extremely comfortable, that is, you can enter Chan samadhi. You think you're wise, then? If you don't put a stop to lust, you'll end up a demon! At best, one will be a demon king in the sixth desire heaven. On the average, one will be in the retinue of demons. One will become an ordinary demon. At the lowest level, one will be a female demon. They are beautiful, but extremely coarse. People with wisdom should be careful. Smart people should take careful note of this passage. Don't let your intelligence go back on you so that you make a mistake in the end. Don't have the attitude: "You don't understand, but I do. You're not clear, but I am." That's petty intelligence, petty wisdom. Don't let a promising future go to ruin.

Sutra:

These demons have their groups of disciples. Each says of himself that he has accomplished the Unsurpassed Way.

Commentary:

These people with a little wisdom who do not cut off their lust are always talking about love and desire. "I love you, you love me," and they love back and forth until they become demonic. Then what happens? These demons have their groups of disciples. Each says of himself that he has accomplished the Unsurpassed Way. They, too, will have disciples and protectors. Totally without shame, they will loudly pronounce that they have achieved the highest path. "I'm a Buddha! We are all supreme and unsurpassed!" Basically such people are demons, but they don't admit to it; they profess instead to be Buddhas. You see, there are even phony Buddhas. But they don't see themselves as phony; they think they are for real. They believe:

In heaven above, on earth below
I alone am honored.

One Must Cut Off Lust 13
P2 He discusses the behavior of demons within Buddhism.
Q1 Greed for lust turns the world.

Sutra:

After my extinction, in the Dharma-ending Age, these hordes of demons will abound, spreading like wildfire as they openly practice greed and lust. Claiming to be good knowing advisors, they will cause living beings to fall into the pit of love and views and lose the way to Bodhi.

Commentary:


Shakyamuni Buddha said, "While I'm in the world, such demons will not dare to show themselves, but after my extinction, in the Dharma-ending Age, these hordes of demons will abound." It is just our present age that is being referred to here, when the dharma is about to die out. There are simply too many of these demons around, going about everywhere discussing sexual desire. And they themselves revel in lust, be they men or women. At the same time, they think that they are enlightened and have become Buddhas.

How is it that I recognize such people as these, such as the one who says he's a Buddha. We won't mention any names. He said he was a Buddha, and I said he was a demon.

"Who's a demon!?" he said.

"You are," I replied. How did I know? He's just like what's described here. He's always talking about emotion and love. "Love, love. I love everybody!" It's really shameless. What right do you have to be in love with everyone? These demons abound, spreading like wildfire as they openly practice greed and lust. They'll be all the rage in the world. Ignorant people will be taken in by them, thinking what they have to say makes sense. It will especially agree with young people's way of thinking. As the saying goes, "Persons of similar (atrocious) tastes get together." They praise one another as they go down this road. If they didn't agree with each other's ideas, they wouldn't do that. If people's paths are not in agreement, they won't collaborate with one another. But if their thinking is the same, then the blind can lead the blind. How pitiful! I'm not scolding people here, but

If one who is dazed
transmits the delusion to another,
When all is said and done,
neither one understands.
The teacher falls into the hells,
And the disciples burrow in after him.

The teacher winds up in the hells, and when his disciples show up there as well, he is surprised. "How did you get here? This is a terrible place!"

"You came first, and you're our teacher, so of course we would follow you," they reply.

Claiming to be good knowing advisors. They boast, "I give lectures all over the place to lots of people." Ridiculous! They will cause living beings to fall into the pit of love and views and lose the Way to Bodhi. They cause all they come in contact with to fall into the pit of sexual desire. They forfeit Bodhi and end up in the hells.

Q2 Teaching people to cut off lust is the Buddha's instruction.

Sutra:

When you teach people in the world to cultivate samadhi, they must first of all sever the mind of lust. This is the first clear and unalterable instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones and the Buddhas of the past, World Honored Ones.

Commentary:


Demon kings advocate love. The difference between that and the teaching of a Bodhisattva is ever so slight, like the flip of a hand. In what way is it different? Bodhisattvas also love people, but their love is a compassionate and protective kind, devoid of sexual desire. But there is a current of lust that runs through everything a demon king says. He openly advocates it, to the point that he says that the heavier one's sexual desire, the higher the level of enlightenment one can reach. This kind of deviant doctrine harms people. Bodhisattvas have no lust; they do not make distinctions between living beings and themselves. Demons have motives; they are greedy for things. Bodhisattvas have no ulterior motives and are not greedy. In regard to this, the Buddha's teaching explains the twelve links of conditioned causation.

When you teach people in the world to cultivate samadhi, they must first of all sever the mind of lust. Teach them to cut off their thoughts of sexual desire. This is the first clear and unalterable instruction on purity given by the Thus Come Ones and the Buddhas of the Past, World Honored Ones. This is the method of teaching used by the Thus Come Ones. It is the resolution of all the Buddhas of the past. This is clear instruction that teaches people how to be pure. One must cut off lust. This is a fixed principle. It is not the least bit flexible. It's not to say that one can have lust or not have it. One must get rid of it. If you want to be enlightened and also hold on to your thoughts of lust, then you certainly will join the retinue of demons.

P3 Decides if the bodhimanda can be accomplished.
Q1 An analogy shows that if one doesn't cut off lust, Bodhi can't be obtained.

Sutra:

Therefore, Ananda, if cultivators of Chan samadhi do not cut off lust, they will be like someone who cooks sand in the hope of getting rice. After hundreds of thousands of aeons, it will still be just hot sand. Why? It wasn't rice to begin with; it was only sand.

Commentary:

You see, now he brings up an analogy. He tells Ananda, "You don't believe it, so I'll explain the principle for you. Therefore, Ananda, if cultivators of Chan samadhi do not cut off lust, they will be like someone who cooks sand in the hope of getting rice." If one does not sever sexual desire and yet cultivates and meditates every day, then one will cultivate on the one hand, and have outflows on the other. Everything one gains will be dissipated. Whatever one gains in cultivation will be lost tenfold in outflows; if one cultivates ten times as much, one will lose a hundred times as much in outflows. Unable to renounce sexual desire, one still sits in meditation with the hope of getting enlightened, with the aim of getting a little upside-down bliss. This is just like cooking sand in the hope of getting rice. After hundreds of thousands of aeons, it will still be just hot sand. It's useless. Why? It wasn't rice to begin with; it was only sand. You expect to become enlightened without giving up sexual desire? It's the same as expecting to get rice from sand.

There's something else to be said here. If you can sever sexual desire, then even if you are together with the opposite sex all day long, there will be no problem. There won't be any sexual desire, any appearance of male or female, any appearance of people, of self, of living beings, or of a lifespan. Some people know no shame and say, "That's the way I am." To just say you're that way isn't enough. There's no proof. How do you know you're that way? If you were that way, you basically wouldn't recognize that you were. You couldn't have the idea that you didn't have any sexual desire. If you don't, you simply don't. You wouldn't go around advertising it. That just shows that you really aren't that way. If you really don't have any sexual desire, then

The eyes see forms appear,
but inside there is nothing.
The ears hear defiling sounds,
but the mind does not know of them.

No matter how pleasing a sound the ear picks up, your mind is unaware of it. Then you've got a little going for you. And then if you can reach the point that you can walk, sit, and lie down together with someone of the opposite sex without there being any incident, any arisal of thoughts of sexual desire, and really have there be none, that will count. It's not to say that your mind still races but you grit your teeth and say firmly, "I can take it." That doesn't count. It has to be that not one thought arises, the mind does not move, that there basically is no trace of lust in your heart. That's genuine. If you occasionally are still aware of what women are all about, then you've failed the test.

Once there was someone who got enlightened and went to seek certification from his teacher. "What enlightenment have you opened?" his teacher asked.

His reply was, "Oh, before I never realized it, but now I know that bhikshunis are women." His teacher checked him out with the Buddha eye and saw that indeed he was enlightened. "You're all right," he said in certification.

"Who doesn't know that?" you say.

If you weren't enlightened, you wouldn't even say that much. It was because he had awakened that he voiced that observation. This is not something you can cheat people with, especially since his teacher had the Buddha eye open. He looked at him and knew that he had realized the first fruition of arhatship.

Sutra:

If you seek the Buddha's wonderful fruition and still have physical lust, then even if you attain a wonderful awakening, it will be based in lust. With lust at the source, you will revolve in the three paths and not be able to get out. Which road will you take to cultivate and be certified to the Thus Come One's nirvana?

Commentary:

The Buddha said to Ananda, "Your fondness for Matangi's daughter not only involved thoughts of lust; you still had physical lust, as well. If you see the Buddha's wonderful fruition and still have physical lust, then even if you attain a wonderful awakening, it will be based in lust. Although you may attain the subtle principles at the heart of it, you still have not gotten rid of the roots of lust. With lust at the source, you will revolve in the three paths and not be able to get out. In the future you will certainly fall into the hells." The "three paths" are those of animals, hungry ghosts, and beings in the hells. And you will just revolve in these three and be unable to leave them. Which road will you take to cultivate and be certified to the Thus Come One's nirvana? Which of these paths will lead you to that fruition?

Q2 Diligently and profoundly cutting off lust can bring accomplishment.

Sutra:

You must cut off the lust which is intrinsic in both body and mind. Then get rid of even the aspect of cutting it off. At that point you have some hope of attaining the Buddha's Bodhi.

Commentary:

You must cut off the lust which is intrinsic in both body and mind. You definitely must get rid of the most subtle and fine, the most infinitesimal single thought of lust. That just means that ignorance itself must go. It must be done both physically and mentally. Then get rid of even the aspect of cutting it off. You cannot even be aware of having cut it off. At that point you have some hope of attaining the Buddha's Bodhi.

O2 He speaks of the divisions of deviant and proper.

Sutra:

What I have said here is the Buddha's teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan.

Commentary:

What I have said here is the Buddha's teaching. This is the way the Buddhas explain the dharma. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan, methods taught by a demon king. "Papiyan" is a Sanskrit term that means "evil one" and refers to Mara, the demon king.

People who come to listen to the sutras must certainly be able to see. The blind cannot come to hear the sutras, nor can the deaf or dumb. The more the people come to hear, the smarter they get. Everyone should open his eye of genuine wisdom and truly turn the organ of the ear back to the self-nature. Do not seek outside.

previous * next * contents

return to top