THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 7

The Ten Positions of the Ten Grounds

J8 The ten positions of the ten grounds.
K1 Ground of happiness.


Sutra:

Ananda, these good men have successfully penetrated through to great Bodhi. Their enlightenment is entirely like the Thus Come One's. They have fathomed the state of Buddhahood. This is called the Ground of Happiness.

Commentary:


Ananda, these good men have successfully penetrated through to great Bodhi. The "good men" are the Bodhisattvas who have obtained the "level of being first in the world". Although the text says he has successfully penetrated through to great Bodhi, there really isn't anything that's been penetrated through to. Their enlightenment is entirely like the Thus Come One's. Their enlightenment is the Thus Come One; the Thus Come One is enlightenment. They have become enlightened to that which the Thus Come One has become enlightened to. They can be called a Thus Come One when they have enlightened to that zero. And yet the zero isn't anything at all, so don't get attached to it! They have fathomed the state of Buddhahood. True emptiness is the state of being nothing at all. But when they fathom the state of a Buddha, then within true emptiness arises wonderful existence. That wonderful existence is happiness. "Oh, so originally it's just that way!" That's the arising of happiness. "I didn't understand before, but now I do." They are inexpressibly happy. This is called the Ground of Happiness. It's the first ground.

K2 Ground of leaving filth.

Sutra:

The differences enter into identity; the identity is destroyed. This is called the Ground of Leaving Filth.

Commentary:


On the previous ground there was still happiness, and so an identity still existed, too. Although there were no designations, there was still an identity. That was when the differences enter into identity and become one. That is, although the phenomena and the noumenon are united, the noumenon still remains. Now when they reach the second ground, the identity is destroyed. The second ground is called the "ground of leaving filth," which means that they separate from ignorance. Basically there isn't much ignorance left by this time, for their enlightened natures are already like that of a Buddha. A slight bit of attachment, a little defilement remains for them. Now "identity is destroyed"; their likeness to the Buddha ceases to be. That's to return to the source, to go back to the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is a great storehouse of light. It has no name or appearance. This is called the Ground of Leaving Filth. Happiness is still a kind of defilement. If there is something you like, then you still have emotional reactions. At the second ground, all the defilements are left behind. Subtle ignorance is also lessened. But at this level the ignorance is still not completely cut off.

K3 Ground of emitting light.

Sutra:

At the point of ultimate purity, brightness comes forth. This is called the Ground of Emitting Light.

Commentary:


A Bodhisattva on the first ground does not know the state of a Bodhisattva on the second ground. A Bodhisattva on the second ground doesn't know the state of a Bodhisattva on the third ground. At the point of ultimate purity, brightness comes forth. The previous ground was that of leaving filth. But as long as there is a necessity to "leave" it, there must still be defilement. Only when one has completely left the filth is one clean. Let's take sweeping as an example. We sweep in order to clean up the floor. We put the broom aside when the floor is clean. As long as we are still sweeping, it isn't clean yet.

When he reaches the ultimate purity, light comes forth. There is brightness. So the third ground is called the Ground of Emitting Light.

K4 Ground of blazing wisdom.

Sutra:

When the brightness becomes ultimate, enlightenment is full. This is called the Ground of Blazing Wisdom.

Commentary:

When the brightness becomes ultimate, enlightenment is full. The light reaches its maximum and the enlightened nature is perfected. This is called the Ground of Blazing Wisdom. "Blazing" is descriptive of the wisdom that is bright like a torch.

K5 Ground of invincibility.

Sutra:

No identity or difference can be attained. This is called the Ground of Invincibility.

Commentary:

No identity or difference can be attained. Not only are things that are the same identical at this stage; all things are identical. The Bodhisattva cannot come to any distinction between sameness and difference. There is no way to represent them because basically there is no identity or difference. This is called the Ground of Invincibility. There isn't anything that can overcome this level of understanding. It transcends all the other previous grounds. This is the name given to the fifth level of these stages of the Bodhisattvas' development.

Is it the case that one Bodhisattva reaches the Ground of Invincibility? Yes, it is the case that one Bodhisattva does. And yet this one Bodhisattva is not just a single Bodhisattva. There is only one, and yet there is not. Here is where the Buddhadharma is to be found. One Bodhisattva comes up to this level. But millions of billions of other Bodhisattvas also come up to this level. For instance, when someone earns a Ph.D. degree, is that one person alone in earning it? Certainly that one person has earned it, but someone else can also earn one. Everyone who has one has earned it. And so how many earn one? Millions. Not just one. The same principle applies here. Probably more Bodhisattvas than there are sand grains in the Ganges River are certified as having attained each of these grounds.

K6 Ground of manifestation.

Sutra:

With unconditioned true suchness, the nature is spotless, and brightness is revealed. This is called the Ground of Manifestation.

Commentary:

With unconditioned true suchness, the nature is spotless, and brightness is revealed. It is unconditioned, and yet there is nothing which is not conditioned. True suchness refers to the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. It is the one true dharmarealm. With unconditioned true suchness everything is in a state of suchness, everything is true. There is nothing which is not true, nothing which is not in a state of suchness. The nature is extremely pure, and light shines forth. This is the sixth ground, called the Ground of Manifestation. That's because the Bodhisattva's nature reveals itself.

K7 Ground of traveling far.

Sutra:

Coming to the farthest limits of true suchness is called the Ground of Traveling Far.

Commentary:


True suchness has no limits and no farthest point, so how can this be? Again, it is descriptive. There really isn't any end to true suchness, because it really doesn't have any limits, so that's why the sutra says it this way: Coming to the farthest limits of true suchness. It's just like when we say that empty space is obliterated. But since empty space isn?t even a substance to begin with, how can it be obliterated? This is the same kind of attempt to describe what is basically beyond comprehension.

True suchness doesn't have any limits. It includes the ten dharma-realms with all their beings. How could it have a boundary? What's beyond the ten dharma-realms? Nothing. And so it says "Coming to the farthest limits of true suchness." That is to travel far indeed! How far? Who knows? All we can say is that it's called the Ground of Traveling Far. Ordinary people could never get there. Only a Bodhisattva at the seventh ground can go that far.

K8 Ground of immovability.

Sutra:

The single mind of true suchness is called the Ground of Immovability.

Commentary:

The single mind of true suchness is the one true dharmarealm. It was said above that the mind is the Buddha and the Buddha is the mind. Now true suchness is the mind and the mind is the Buddha. There is no distinction between true suchness and the mind. Since true suchness has no limits, the Bodhisattva's mind has no limits. When his mind has no limits, where does he go? He doesn't go anywhere. Therefore, it is called the Ground of Immovability. Unmoving in the Bodhimanda, he pervades the dharma-realm. This is the eighth ground.

K9 Ground of good wisdom.

Sutra:

Bringing forth the function of true suchness is called the Ground of Good Wisdom.

Commentary:


At the eighth ground, true suchness and the mind become one, and this was called the ground of not moving. But to simply be unmoving and to never make a move would be useless. However, within true suchness, the function now comes forth. What is the function of true suchness? The function of true suchness is gigantic. If it were small, it would have only a single function. But this gigantic function can be used however one wishes. According with conditions, one is unmoving; unmoving, one accords with conditions. One constantly accords with conditions and yet is constantly unmoving; one is constantly unmoving and yet constantly accords with conditions. Such a functioning must be connected with wisdom. Therefore, bringing forth the function of true suchness is called the Ground of Good Wisdom. This is the ninth ground. This wisdom is totally true and real.

Sutra:

Ananda, all Bodhisattvas at this point and beyond have reached the effortless way in their cultivation. Their merit and virtue are perfected, and so all the previous positions are also called the Level of Cultivation.

Commentary:


Ananda, you should understand that all Bodhisattvas at this point and beyond have reached the effortless way in their cultivation. From the beginning, the level of dry wisdom, also known as the initial vajra mind, to the culmination of the ninth ground, there are a total of fifty-four positions. When the Bodhisattvas have passed through to this point, they've reached the effortless way. They have graduated. Their merit and virtue are perfected. In their study leading toward Buddhahood, they are just about to earn this degree; they're about to become Buddhas. And so all the previous positions are also called the Level of Cultivation.

K10 Ground of the dharma cloud.

Sutra:

Then with a wonderful cloud of compassionate protection one covers the sea of nirvana. This is called the Ground of the Dharma Cloud.

Commentary:

"Wonder" and "compassion" are dharmas. "Protection" and "covering" belong to the analogy of the cloud and represent asheltering influence. Then with a wonderful cloud of compassionate protection one covers the sea of nirvana. One shelters all living beings. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas emerge from the sea of nirvana, and so the tenth ground is called the Ground of the Dharma Cloud. At this level one shelters and protects all living beings.

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