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

Volume 7

The Ten Transferences

J6 The ten positions of the ten transferences.
K1 Transference apart from appearances.

Sutra:

Ananda, when these good people replete with spiritual penetrations, have done the Buddhas' work, are totally pure and absolutely true, and remain distant from obstacles and calamities, then they take living beings across while casting aside the appearance of taking them across. They transform the unconditioned mind and go toward the path of nirvana. This is called the Transference of Saving and Protecting Living Beings, While Apart from the Appearance of Living Beings.

Commentary:


Ananda, when these good people, these people who have cultivated the ten conducts, develop genuine wisdom to the point that their practice is said to be true and real, then they are replete with spiritual penetrations, and have done the Buddhas' work. Throughout the ten directions they perform a tremendous number of deeds on behalf of the Buddhas. And yet:

The myriad practices they cultivate are but flowers in space.
The Bodhimandas they sit in are like the moon in water,
And subduing the demonic armies mere reflections in a mirror.
They do great deeds of the Buddhas while in the midst of a dream.

That represents their non-attachment. Everything is like an illusion, a transformation; nothing really exists. So don't be attached to anything. See through it all, put it down, and you can obtain selfmastery.

They are totally pure and absolutely true; they have accomplished that state, and they remain distant from obstacles and calamities. They are not hindered in any way. Then they take living beings across while casting aside the appearance of taking them across. They rescue those whom they should rescue without having any thought of having rescued them. The Vajra Sutra explains this as well; Shakyamuni Buddha says there: "I should take all beings across to extinction, and yet when all beings are thus taken across, there should not be any beings taken across to extinction."

Again, this means one must not be attached and think, "I did this, I did that." One builds a temple and then cannot get the thought out of one's mind that one was the builder and has accrued so much merit. That is to still have an appearance left.

They take living beings across while casting aside the appearance of taking them across. You don't look upon the deed as something you did, but rather as something you should have done. It was your responsibility in the first place; why would you need to let anyone know it had been done? If you brag about what you've done, it implies that it was something you didn't have to do. Conversely, some people say, "I didn't steal anything or kill anyone in this life. I've never done anything bad, so why aren't things better for me?" This implies that they were originally destined to steal and kill, but that they refrained from doing so and should be rewarded for that. This is a mistaken point of view.

They transform the unconditioned mind and go toward the path of nirvana. They turn the unconditioned mind of the small vehicle toward nirvana. This is called the Transference of Saving and Protecting Living Beings, While Apart from the Appearance of Living Beings. They see it as their responsibility to rescue living beings, and so they are apart from the appearance of having rescued them. They do not ponder the amount of merit and virtue involved in rescuing living beings. "It's my job. That's what I should be doing," should be how you think of it.

"But," you ask, "Isn't there merit and virtue involved in rescuing living beings?" Yes, there is. But don't dwell on it. What's past is past. What you've done, you've done. Don't hold on to the idea of having rescued living beings. This is not to say that you should not rescue beings; it's to say that you shouldn't harbor the appearance of having taken them across.

K2 Transference of indestructibility.


Sutra:

To destroy what should be destroyed and to remain far removed from what should be left behind is called the Transference of Indestructibility.

Commentary:

To destroy what should be destroyed means to get rid of the things that one should not keep. What are they? No matter how much we talk it always comes back to the same things: karmic obstacles, ignorance, and afflictions. Get rid of these. Destroy them.

To remain far removed from what should be left behind means to get rid of your faults. For instance, people who cultivate the Way should not have any greed, anger, or stupidity. You should destroy them. All good dharmas should be embraced. All bad dharmas should be rejected. Get them far behind you. This is called the Transference of Indestructibility. What is indestructible? Your inherent good roots are indestructible. Your originally existent enlightened nature is indestructible. With the transference of indestructibility you have to destroy what should be destroyed and keep what is indestructible.

K3 Transference of sameness with all Buddhas.

Sutra:

Fundamental enlightenment is profound indeed, an enlightenment equal to the Buddhas' enlightenment. This is called the Transference of Sameness with All Buddhas.

Commentary:

Fundamental enlightenment refers to the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One inherent in us all. It is profound indeed, and pure. It is an enlightenment equal to the Buddhas' enlightenment. The enlightenment of our minds is the same as the enlightenment of the Buddhas. This is called the Transference of Sameness with All Buddhas.

K4 Transference of reaching all places.

Sutra:

When absolute truth is discovered, one's level is the same as the level of all Buddhas. This is called the Transference of Reaching All Places.

Commentary:

When the absolute truth of the previous transference is discovered, one's level is the same as the level of all Buddhas. This is a level which is a prelude to the Buddha's position. This is called the Transference of Reaching All Places.

K5 Transference of the treasury of inexhaustible merit and virtue.

Sutra:

Worlds and Thus Come Ones include one another without any obstruction. This is called the Transference of a Treasury of Inexhaustible Merit and Virtue.

Commentary:


Worlds and Thus Come Ones include one another without any obstruction. Worlds are the very body of the Thus Come One; the very body of the Thus Come One is itself the worlds. The wonderful function of spiritual penetrations enables them to contain one another. Nor is there any hindrance for either, nor anything contrived about it. This is called the Transference of a Treasury of Inexhaustible Merit and Virtue.

The Emperor Wu of Liang is a case in point of someone who was attached to the idea of creating merit. When he encountered the Patriarch Bodhidharma, he asked him, "I have built many grand temples. I have commissioned a tremendous number of people to enter the Sangha. I have made extensive vegetarian offerings. I've built bridges, improved highways, and much more. Tell me, how much merit have I accrued?"

Who would have guessed that the patriarch would scowl and retort, "None whatsoever."

The emperor was duly affronted and refused to have anything more to do with the patriarch. Actually, Patriarch Bodhidharma was intent upon saving the emperor. But because the emperor's karmic obstructions were so heavy he missed his chance, even though he was face to face with the first patriarch of China. It was like the saying, "Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva was right before him and he didn't even recognize him." The "Mind from the West" was right before the Emperor Wu of Liang and he failed to see him.

Why did he need rescuing by Patriarch Bodhidharma? It's because the patriarch knew that the emperor had a disaster in store for him. He was hoping to wake him up so he would either leave the home life and cultivate or at least yield the throne to someone else, thereby avoiding having to starve to death. Basically the emperor was a devout believer in Buddhism, and during his reign Buddhism flourished because he used his imperial position to spread the Buddhadharma, building temples all about the land. The majority of the population was Buddhist during that reign period. But he had created some heavy karma in past lives. In a former life the emperor was a bhikshu who cultivated in the mountains. At one point he began to be visited every day by a monkey who stole the fruits and vegetables he had planted. Pretty soon there wasn't much left for him to eat. Because of that, he trapped the monkey in a cave and sealed the opening with a boulder. He had originally intended to leave it there for a few days to teach it a lesson and then let it go. The trouble was that he forgot about it, and the monkey starved to death in the cave.

In his life as an emperor, then, the monkey was reborn as a monkey-spirit who led an army and attacked Nan Jing. After conquering Nan Jing, the monkey-spirit locked the emperor in a tower, removed all food, and left him to starve. The bhikshu's retribution for having starved a monkey to death was that the monkey returned in a later life when the bhikshu was an emperor and starved him to death.

Patriarch Bodhidharma saw that the emperor had amassed a lot of merit and virtue, and he thought that the emperor might make use of the merit to lessen the offense. But in order for that to happen, the causes and conditions had to be right as well. That's why Patriarch Bodhidharma was so severe with him. But the emperor thought himself a mighty monarch to whom a penniless monk had no right to talk in such a way, so he shunned the patriarch. Although Patriarch Bodhidharma wanted to save him, there was nothing he could do but leave, since the emperor would have nothing to do with him and did not seek to be saved. In the end, the emperor starved to death at the hands of the monkey-spirit.

K6 Transference of the identity of all good roots.


Sutra:

Since they are identical with the Buddha-ground, they create causes which are pure at each and every level. Brilliance emanates from them as they rely on these causes, and they go straight down the path to nirvana. This is called the Transference of Following in Accord with the Identity of All Good Roots.

Commentary:


After the Bodhisattvas have reached the accomplishment of the previous transference of a treasury of inexhaustible merit and virtue, then, since they are identical with the Buddha-ground, they create causes which are pure at each and every level. At each level along the way they give rise to causes which are clear and pure and undefiled. Brilliance emanates from them as they rely on these causes, and they go straight down the path to nirvana. They hold to the Way which is neither produced nor destroyed. This is called the Transference of Following in Accord with the Identity of All Good Roots.

K7 Transference of contemplating all living beings equally.


Sutra:

When the true roots are set down, then all living beings in the ten directions are my own nature. Not a single being is lost as this nature is successfully perfected. This is called the Transference of Contemplating All Living Beings Equally.

Commentary:


When the true roots are set down, then all living beings in the ten directions are my own nature. They are one and the same as the Bodhisattvas. That is why Bodhisattvas want to rescue living beings without there being an appearance of living beings. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas see all living beings as their own substance. They are one with them. Therefore, for them to save living beings is not really to save other living beings; it's just to save themselves. Not a single being is lost, as this nature is successfully perfected. Since they are one with all beings, no being is neglected. This is called the Transference of Contemplating All Living Beings Equally.

To say that all beings are their own nature is to speak of living beings who exist outside themselves. But we can also speak of internal beings, because there are boundlessly many beings within the body of each of us. Science describes the white corpuscles and the red corpuscles and verifies that our bodies contain innumerable microscopic organisms. If you were to open your Buddha eye and look into people's bodies, you would see an unknown number of beings there, uncountably many tiny forms of life, even to the point that when you exhale, you send a lot of beings out in your breath. At that point they are incarnated again as beings. By the same token, you ingest innumerable beings when you inhale. So it's pretty hard to draw a clear line between being a carnivore and not being one, if you get down to the subtler aspects of it. Here you are taking life with every breath, and that, too, is a form of killing if you do it with a murderous intent. Of course, we're getting down to details here.

The beings in your body are just ordinary creatures if you don't cultivate. If you do cultivate, they become the Buddha-nature. They can all return to the source. You return to the origin and they go right along with you, all those tiny forms of life that you harbor. If you cultivate to the point where you have some skill, then the beings external to you and the beings within you all become one with you. But as of right now, there are basically too many living beings.

K8 Transference of the appearance of true suchness.

Sutra:

All dharmas are themselves apart from all appearances, and yet there is no attachment either to their existence or to separation from them. This is called the Transference of the Appearance of True Suchness.

Commentary:


All dharmas are themselves apart from all appearances. Right within dharmas one must be apart from all appearances. In the appearance of dharmas one must separate from the appearance of dharmas. And yet there is no attachment either to their existence or to separation from them. This is called the Transference of the Appearance of True Suchness.

K9 Transference of liberation.

Sutra:

That which is thus is truly obtained, and there is no obstruction throughout the ten directions. This is called the Transference of Unfettered Liberation.

Commentary:

One definition of true suchness is that which is thus being truly obtained. It is also described as "wisdom which is thus giving rise to principle which is thus." When that is obtained, there is no obstruction throughout the ten directions. You can roam throughout the Buddha realms of the ten directions without any hindrances. This is called the Transference of Unfettered Liberation. Nothing is tying you up. You are free.

K10 Transference of the limitlessness of the dharma realm.

Sutra:

When the virtue of the nature is perfectly accomplished, the boundaries of the dharma-realm are destroyed. This is called the Transference of the Limitlessness of the dharmarealm.

Commentary:


Before the virtue of the nature is perfectly accomplished, before you have become one with the dharma-realm, you do not even know the boundaries of the dharma-realm. When the virtue of the nature has been perfectly accomplished and you become one with the dharma-realm, then you know the boundaries of the dharmarealm.

But since it still has a boundary, you have not yet reached the ultimate accomplishment. Now, when the virtue of the nature is perfectly accomplished, the boundaries of the dharma-realm are destroyed. Even the dharma-realm is empty. This is called the Transference of the Limitlessness of the dharma-realm.

previous * next * contents

return to top