THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 6

CHAPTER 2

Establishing the Bodhimanda

G2 At second request he explains in detail.
H1 At second request he describes the bodhimanda.
I1 Ananda asks again.

Sutra:

Ananda said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, enveloped in the Thus Come One's unsurpassed, compassionate instruction, my mind has already become enlightened, and I know how to cultivate and be certified to the path beyond learning. But for those who cultivate in the final age and want to establish a bodhimanda: how do they secure the boundaries in accord with the rules of purity of the Buddha, the World Honored One?"

Commentary:


After Ananda heard what the Buddha had said, he thought to ask about how to secure the boundaries and establish the bodhimanda. Ananda said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, enveloped in the Thus Come One's unsurpassed, compassionate instruction, my mind has already become enlightened, and I know how to cultivate and be certified to the path beyond learning. I can accomplish the karma in the path of fourth-stage arhatship and beyond. I am capable of this, but for those who cultivate in the final age and want to establish a bodhimanda: how do they secure the boundaries in accord with the rules of purity of the Buddha, the World Honored One? In the future, in the Dharma-ending Age, there will be people who want to set up this kind of bodhimanda. How do they secure the boundaries? How do they accord with your pure rules in doing it, Buddha?"

I2 The world honored one answers again.
J1 Establishing the bodhimanda.
K1 The platform.


Sutra:

The Buddha said to Ananda, "If there are people in the Dharma-ending Age who wish to establish a bodhimanda, they should first find a powerful white ox in snowy mountains, one which eats the lush and fertile sweet-smelling grasses of the mountain. Since such an ox also drinks only the pure water of the snowy mountains, its excrement will be very fine. They can take that excrement, mix it with chandana, and plaster the ground with it.

Commentary:


Shakyamuni Buddha, having heard Ananda ask about the method for securing the boundaries in accord with the Buddha's rules, said to Ananda, "If there are people in the Dharma ending Age who wish to establish a bodhimanda, they should first find a powerful white ox in snowy mountains, one which eats the lush and fertile sweet-smelling grasses of the mountain. Since such an ox also drinks only the pure water of the snowy mountains, its excrement will be very fine. They can take that excrement, mix it with chandana, and plaster the ground with it." The grasses eaten by the ox are fragrant and so its excrement can be mixed with powdered chandana incense for smearing on the ground.

Sutra:

If it is not in the snowy mountains, the ox's excrement will stink and cannot be used to smear on the ground. In that case, select a level place, dig down five feet or so, and use that yellow earth.

Commentary:


If it is not in the snowy mountains, the ox's excrement will stink. If the ox does not reside in snowy mountains, it will smell bad and be impure and so its excrement cannot be used to smear on the ground. In that case, select a level place, dig down five feet or so, and use that yellow earth. In that case, you should select a flat place, dig down about five feet, and take the yellow earth at that level.

Sutra:

Mix it with chandana incense, sinking-in water incense, jasmine incense, continuously permeating incense, burnished gold incense, white paste incense, green wood incense, fragrant mound incense, sweet pine incense, and chicken-tongue incense. Grind these ten ingredients to a fine powder, make a paste, and smear it on the ground of the platform. The area should be sixteen feet wide and octagonal in shape.

Commentary:


Mix it with chandana incense, sinking-in-water incense (agaru), jasmine incense (sumana), continuously permeating incense, burnished gold incense (kunkuma), white paste incense, green wood incense, fragrant mound incense (kunduruka), sweet pine incense, and chicken-tongue incense. You mix the yellow earth with these ten kinds of incense. Grind these ten ingredients to a fine powder, make a paste, and smear it on the ground of the platform. The area should be sixteen feet wide and octagonal in shape.

K2 The adornments.

Sutra:

In the center of the platform, place a lotus flower made of gold, silver, copper, or wood. In the middle of the flower set a bowl in which dew that has collected in the eighth lunar month has been poured. Let an abundance of flower petals float on the water. Arrange eight circular mirrors in each direction around the flower and the bowl. Outside the mirrors place sixteen lotus flowers and sixteen censers, so that the incense-burners are adorned and arranged between the flowers. Burn only sinking-in- water incense, and do not let the fire be 'seen.'

Commentary:


In the center of the platform, place a lotus flower made of gold, silver, copper, or wood. In the middle of the flower set a bowl in which dew that has collected in the eighth lunar month has been poured. Let an abundance of flower petals float on the water. Arrange eight circular mirrors in each direction around the flower and the bowl. Prepare eight circular mirrors and set them around the bowl of flowers so that they correspond to the eight directions, since it is an octagonal platform. Outside the mirrors place sixteen lotus flowers and sixteen censers, so that the incense-burners are adorned and arranged between the flowers. The sixteen flowers and the sixteen censers are placed alternately around the platform. The incense-burners should be adorned so they are pleasing to look at. Burn only sinking-inwater incense, and do not let the fire be "seen." In the censers burn this one kind of incense only. "Do not let the fire be 'seen' " means that the mirror and the flowers should not "see" the fire. In other words, the incense should be lit inside the censer such that the flame is not "visible" in the mirrors or to the flowers.

K3 The offerings.

Sutra:

Place the milk of a white ox in sixteen vessels, along with cakes made with the milk, rock-candy, oil-cakes, porridge, turushka, honeyed ginger, clarified butter, and filtered honey. These sixteen are set around the outside of the sixteen flowers as an offering to the Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas.

Commentary:


Place the milk of a white ox in sixteen vessels, along with cakes made with the milk. Some of the milk is mixed with flour and made into cakes. Also placed in the vessels are rock-candy, oil-cakes, porridge, a gruel made with milk and rice, turushka incense, honeyed ginger, clarified butter, and filtered honey. These sixteen are set around the outside of the sixteen flowers. Place one of the vessels in front of each flower, so that each has one, making sixteen in all. These are an offering to the Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas.

Sutra:

At every mealtime and at midnight, prepare a half-pint of honey and three tenths of a pint of clarified butter. Set up a small incense burner in front of the platform. Decoct the fragrant liquid from the turushka incense and use it to cleanse the coals. Light them so that a blaze bursts forth, and toss the clarified butter and honey into the flaming censer. Let it burn until the smoke disappears, and present it to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Commentary:

At every mealtime and at midnight, it should be done during the day at mealtimes and also at midnight, prepare a half-pint of honey and three tenths of a pint of clarified butter. Set up a small incense burner in front of the Platform. This is yet another burner, apart from the ones on the platform. It is placed in front of the platform. Decoct the fragrant liquid from turushka incense and use it to cleanse the coals. All the charcoal used in the burner should first be washed with the fragrant liquid obtained from turushka, a very fragrant incense. Light them so that a blaze bursts forth. Light the burner so that the fire is strong and hot. Toss the clarified butter and honey into the flaming censer. Let it burn until the smoke disappears, and present it to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Take the end-product and offer it to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

There are a lot of things like this in the Secret school. They often burn combinations of honey and butter and offer them to the Buddhas. They burn not only that, but anything else of value, such as gold, jewels, and other valuable materials. They first burn them and then offer them to the Buddhas.

Sutra:

About the four outside walls one should suspend flags and flowers, and within the room where the platform is located, one should arrange on the four walls images of the Thus Come Ones and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions.

Commentary:

About the four outside walls one should suspend flags and flowers. This refers to the four outer walls of the room in which the platform is located. And within the room where the platform is located, one should arrange on the four walls images of the Thus Come Ones and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions.

Sutra:

In the most prominent place, display images of Vairocana Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Maitreya Bodhisattva, Akshobhya Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, and all the magnificent transformations of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. To the left and right, place the Vajra-Treasury Bodhisattvas. Beside them display the lords Shakra and Brahma, Ucchushma, and the Blue Dirgha, as well as Kundalin and Bhrukuti and all four heavenly kings, with Vinayaka to the left and right of the door.

Commentary:


In the most prominent place, display images of Vairocana Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Maitreya Bodhisattva, Akshobhya Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, and all the magnificent transformations of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. Vairocana means "pervading all places." Maitreya Bodhisattva is the next Buddha, the Buddha-to-be. He is the plump Bodhisattva. Akshobhya Buddha is in the east; he is also known as Medicine Master Buddha. Akshobhya means "unmoving." The east is usually associated with movement, but the Buddha of the east is unmoving. Amitabha means "limitless light" and "limitless life." As to the magnificent transformations of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, we have heard about them already in this sutra, in the passage that said the Bodhisattva may have one head, three heads, five heads, seven heads, nine heads, eleven heads, or one hundred and eight heads. It said he may have one hand, three hands, five hands, seven hands, nine hands, as many as one hundred and eight hands, a thousand hands, ten thousand hands, or eighty-four thousand hands.

To the left and right, place the Vajra Treasury Bodhisattvas, the dharma protectors. They have stern countenances, often terrifying to behold. Beside them display the lords Shakra and Brahma. Shakra is the lord of the Heaven of the Thirty-three. He is known as God Almighty, or the Heavenly Lord. Brahma is lord of the Great Brahma Heaven. Also display Ucchushma and the Blue Dirgha as well as Kundalin and Bhrukuti. Ucchushma is "Firehead Vajra." Blue Dirgha has a blue face and is a dharma protector.

Kundalin means "releasing the knots of resentment"; it is another name for a vajra spirit. Bhrukuti is also a dharma protector. Display as well images of all four heavenly kings, with Vinayaka to the left and right of the door. Vinayaka is another dharma protector who is particularly ugly and frightening. The Chinese description is of two beings, dharma protector Pin Na, who has a human body and a boar's head, and dharma protector Ye Jia who has a human body and an elephant's head and a long trunk. The Indian depictions show Vinayaka, identified with the god Ganesha (Ganapati), as one being possessing a human body with an elephant head. Vinayaka also appears as two standing beings with human bodies and elephant heads; the transformation into such bizarre appearances is intentional in order to instill fear in people so they will behave themselves. At the door of the bodhimanda, then, these images are placed on both sides for protection.

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