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

Volume 6

CHAPTER 4

The Two Upside-down Causes

F4 He explains certification to the position of dhyana causing him to dwell in complete samadhi and tend straight toward bodhi.
G1 Ananda is grateful for the instruction and asks about the position.


Sutra:

Then Ananda arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha, "Now that we who are stupid and slow, who are fond of erudition but have not sought to cease the outflows of our minds, have received the Buddha's compassionate instructions and have attained the proper means to become infused with cultivation, we experience joy in body and mind and obtain tremendous benefit."

Commentary:


Then Ananda arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha's feet, and said to the Buddha: Now that we who are stupid and slow, that is, those of us in the assembly who still must study and must rely on our memories, who are fond of erudition but have not sought to cease the outflows of our minds: we like to read, to study, and to memorize. We are quite clever at that. But as to the outflows of our thoughts and actions, we have not sought to get rid of them. We have not decided we want to transcend the triple realm. We are not concerned about getting out of the burning house. Now that we have received the Buddha's compassionate instructions and have attained the proper means to become infused with cultivation, we experience joy in body and mind and obtain tremendous benefit. The Buddha has now taught us the genuine dharma-methods that we should cultivate and steep ourselves in. This makes us very happy. It's been of great benefit to us.

Sutra:

"World Honored One, for one who cultivates in this way and is certified as having attained the Buddha's samadhi, but who has not yet reached nirvana, what is meant by the level of 'dry wisdom'? What are the 'forty-four minds'? What is the sequence in which one cultivates till one reaches one's goal? What place must one reach to be said to have 'entered the grounds'? And what is meant by a Bodhisattva of 'equal enlightenment'?"

Commentary:


World Honored One, for one who cultivates in this way and is certified as having attained the Buddha's samadhi, but who has not yet reached nirvana, what is meant by the level of "dry wisdom"? Buddha, we cultivate in this way until we are certified to the fruition and give proof to the Buddha's samadhi-power. But before we reach nirvana, there are many levels to pass through. What is the level of "dry wisdom", for example? What are the "forty-four minds"? What is the sequence in which one cultivates till one reaches one's goal? What place must one reach to be said to have entered the grounds? How do we know when we reach the level of the tenth ground Bodhisattva? And what is meant by a Bodhisattva of "equal enlightenment"? Since all these terms are going to be explained in the subsequent passages, we will not go into them here.

Sutra:

Having said this, he made a full prostration, and then the great assembly single-mindedly awaited the sound of the Buddha's compassionate voice as they gazed up unblinking with respectful admiration.

Commentary:


After Ananda had said this, he made a full prostration. He and everyone in the great assembly placed their five limbs; their head, arms, and legs, on the ground in full obeisance. And then the great assembly single-mindedly awaited the sound of the Buddha's compassionate voice as they gazed up unblinking with respectful admiration. They gazed with such fixed intensity that it was as if they could not see. They waited expectantly for the Buddha to speak. What do you suppose the Buddha is going to say?

G2 The Thus Come One answers with instruction in the arisal of conditions.
H1 The Thus Come One offers to speak and the great assembly waits to hear.


Sutra:

At that time the World Honored One praised Ananda, saying, "Good indeed, good indeed, that you can for the sake of the entire great assembly and those beings in the final age who cultivate samadhi and seek the great vehicle, ask to have explained and revealed the unsurpassed proper path of cultivation that takes one from the level of an ordinary person to final Parinirvana. Listen attentively, and I will speak about it for you." Ananda and everyone in the assembly placed their palms together, cleansed their minds, and silently waited to receive the teaching.

Commentary:

At that time refers to the period when the great assembly was gazing up unblinkingly with respectful admiration. The World Honored One praised Ananda. He perceived how sincere Ananda and the great assembly were, so he praised him saying: Good indeed, good indeed, you are certainly a good person. You can for the sake of the entire great assembly and those beings of the final age. It is excellent that you who still have something left to study can seek for the sake of everyone and not just for yourselves. You are not being selfish or seeking self-benefit in doing this. You are doing it for everyone assembled here and also for beings to come in the future who cultivate samadhi and who want to practice the great vehicle dharmas of benefiting themselves and benefiting others, and so you ask to have explained and revealed the unsurpassed proper path of cultivation that takes one from the level of an ordinary person to final Parinirvana. Nirvana is the fruition where there is neither production nor extinction. You haven't arrived at it yet, but you wish to know about the proper way to get there. Listen attentively, and I will speak about it for you. Pay close attention. I am willing to explain it for you.

Ananda and everyone in the assembly placed their palms together, cleansed their minds, and silently waited to receive the teaching. "Cleansed their minds" means that they cast out their extraneous thoughts, the false thinking of their conscious mind, their mad mind and wild nature. They got rid of the five quick causes,

1. the point of view of a body,
2. prejudiced views,
3. the point of view of unbeneficial precepts,
4. opinionated views, and
5. deviant views,

as well as the five slow causes,

1. greed,
2. hatred,
3. stupidity,
4. pride, and
5. doubt.

Just as one hollows out a log to make a boat, they hollowed out their minds so that they could receive the teaching. At this point no one spoke. They were silent as they waited for Shakyamuni Buddha to begin his explanation.

H2 The true suchness which is relied upon is the source of the dharma.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "Ananda, you should know that the wonderful nature is perfect and bright, apart from all names and appearances. Basically there is no world, nor are there any living beings."

Commentary:

The Buddha said, "Ananda, you should know that the wonderful nature is perfect and bright. The Buddha nature, the self-nature, the bright nature of enlightenment, all refer to this wonderful nature which is apart from all names and appearances." As the Vajra Sutra puts it,

Whatever has an appearance is empty and false. If one sees all appearances as having no appearance, one sees the Thus Come One.

But you can't get rid of appearances. Whatever you see you become attached to. That's why there are appearances. Basically there are no appearances in the wonderful nature. Nor are there any names. Why aren't there any names or appearances? Basically there is no world, nor are there any living beings. Only because one gives rise to delusion and creates karma is there a world in which living beings undergo retribution.

Sutra:

Because of falseness, there is production. Because of production, there is extinction. The names 'production' and 'extinction' are false.

Commentary:

Because of falseness, there is production. Because of production, there is extinction. If there were no production, there would be no extinction. The names "production" and "extinction" are false. Production after production, extinction after extinction are all created from falseness; there is no reality to them.

Sutra:

When the false is extinguished, there is truth, which is called the Thus Come One's Unsurpassed Bodhi and Great Nirvana: those are names for two kinds of turning around.

Commentary:


When the false is extinguished, there is truth. When your truth reaches the true suchness of the self-nature, you have reached the Buddha-nature, which is called the Thus Come One's Unsurpassed Bodhi and Great Nirvana: those are names for two kinds of turning around. One turns afflictions into Bodhi; one turns birth and death into nirvana.

H3 Defiled conditions arise and become the turning wheel.
I1 He exhorts Ananda to recognize two causes for being upside down.


Sutra:

Ananda, you now wish to cultivate true samadhi and arrive directly at the Thus Come One's Parinirvana. First, you should recognize the two upside-down causes of living beings and the world. If these upside-down states are not produced, then there is the Thus Come One's true samadhi.

Commentary:


Ananda, you now wish to cultivate true samadhi and arrive directly at the Thus Come One's Parinirvana. You want to cultivate the great Bodhisattva's dharma and obtain genuine samadhi-power. You want to go right to the Buddha's position and obtain the four virtues of nirvana: permanence, bliss, true self, and purity. First, you should recognize the two upside-down causes of living beings and the world. If these upside-down states are not produced, then there is the Thus Come One's true samadhi. To be able to recognize these inversions and to avoid giving rise to them, is the true samadhi of the Buddha.

I2 He clarified the two causes for being upside down, in detail.
J1 He makes it clear that living beings are upside down.
K1 From the true they give rise to the false.


Sutra:

Ananda, what is meant by the upside-down state of living beings? Ananda, the reason that the nature of the mind is bright is that the nature itself is the perfection of brightness. By adding brightness, another nature arises, and from that false nature, views are produced, so that from absolute nothingness comes ultimate existence.

Commentary:


Ananda, what is meant by the upside-down state of living beings? Ananda, the reason that the nature of the mind is bright is that the nature itself is the perfection of brightness. The basic nature is perfectly bright and illumines all appearances. But by adding brightness, another nature arises. By adding brightness to the inherent brightness of the self nature, another nature comes into being, that of karmic obstructions. This is because from the true the false arises. Based in the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, one gives rise to ignorance. Another way of putting it is that one tries to add brightness to enlightenment when all along the nature of enlightenment is brightness itself. In that one movement of the false thought to add light to brightness, the appearance of karma is created, the first of the three subtle appearances.

And from that false nature, views are produced. This is the appearance of turning. Originally there was the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, but now ignorance has arisen. Ignorance is a kind of delusion, and once there is delusion, a lack of clarity, then karma arises. The nature of that karma is false, and from it views arise. Birth and death come into being.

From a single unenlightened thought
the three subtle appearances arise.
Then external states become the conditions
for the arising of the six coarse appearances.

This concept was also discussed earlier in the sutra. When falseness arises from within the truth, then the appearance of karma is produced. With the appearance of karma, there comes the appearance of turning. First one gives rise to delusion, but then one creates karma and after that must undergo a retribution. So the last is the appearance of manifestation. These are the three subtle appearances:

1. the appearance of karma;
2. the appearance of turning;
3. the appearance of manifestation.

From this process, a great deal of confusion arises, which extends itself into the six coarse appearances:

1. the appearance of knowing, which refers to worldly knowledge;
2. the appearance of continuation, in which things go on and on without cease;
3. the appearance of attaching and grasping;
4. the appearance of reckoning names;
5. the appearance of the arising of karma;
6. the appearance of the suffering of being bound by karma.

So that from absolute nothingness comes ultimate existence. That is the third subtle appearance, that of manifestation. Because of the falseness, existence comes into being.

Sutra:

All that exists comes from this; every cause in fact has no cause. Subjective reliance on objective appearances is basically groundless. Thus, upon what is fundamentally unreliable, one sets up the world and living beings.

Commentary:


All that exists comes from this. "This" refers to ignorance, because:

From a single unenlightened thought
the three subtle appearances arise.
Then external states become the conditions
for the arising of the six coarse appearances.

"All that exists," then, refers to these appearances. Yet, every cause in fact has no cause. "Cause" here refers to a place of reliance. Why is there said to be no cause? It is because, although the three subtle appearances are said to arise from ignorance, ignorance is not really dependable. It is not a true place of reliance. Ignorance itself is a false creation, an empty appearance. Therefore, although it seems to be that the three subtle appearances arise out of ignorance, it doesn't really happen that way, because ignorance itself doesn't even exist! Since ignorance doesn't have any substance of itself, how can the three subtle appearances arise from it? Subjective reliance on objective appearances is basically groundless. Living beings are the subjective aspect that relies on ignorance, the objective aspect. But basically there is no foundation in this. There is really no source. Thus, upon what is fundamentally unreliable, one sets up the world and living beings.

Basically there is nothing to be depended on, but it is on this unreliable ignorance that the world is established. Out of what is empty, false, and unreal the world is set up, and with it all living beings. Their very existence is empty and false; there is nothing real about it.

previous * next * contents

return to top