THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Volume 8

J3 Four upside-down theories.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.

Sutra:

Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate about self and others, he could fall into error with theories of partial impermanence and partial permanence based on four distorted views.

Commentary:


Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. When this good person cultivates and attains solid samadhi, his mind becomes proper, so (external) demons have no chance to obstruct him. However, demons may arise within his own mind. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all twelve categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation that appears in the formations skandha at this stage in his cultivation.

But if he begins to speculate about self and others, he could fall into error with theories of partial impermanence and partial permanence based on four distorted views. Indulging in false thoughts about self and others, he creates demons in his own mind and comes up with four distorted views. He says that things are both permanent and impermanent, both produced and destroyed, both moving and still, both deified and pure, and both alive and dead. He defends both sides of the issue and refuses to make a decision. He says, "This way is right and that way is also right." He says things are impermanent, but he also says things are permanent. That's upside down. His lack of resolution confuses people.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
L1 Speculation regarding self and others.


Sutra:

First, as this person contemplates the wonderfully bright mind pervading the ten directions, he concludes that this state of profound stillness is the ultimate spiritual self. Then he speculates, "My spiritual self, which is settled, bright and unmoving, pervades the ten directions. All living beings are within my mind, and there they are born and die by themselves.

Therefore, my mind is permanent while those who undergo birth and death there are truly impermanent."

Commentary:


What does he say in his first theory? First, as this person who cultivates the Way contemplates the wonderfully bright mind fully pervading the ten directions, he concludes that this state of profound stillness and purity is the ultimate spiritual self. Then he speculates, "My spiritual self, which is settled, bright and unmoving, pervades the ten directions. My mind is in a state of unmoving suchness, replete with samadhi power and wisdom that are perfectly bright and unmoving."

He says, "Since my mind pervades the ten directions, all living beings are contained within my mind, and there they are born and die by themselves, over and over. Therefore, my mind is permanent and not subject to birth and death, while those who undergo birth and death there are truly impermanent. The living beings in my mind are continually undergoing birth and death. Therefore, they must be impermanent in nature. My mind pervades the ten directions, permanent and unchanging. But the beings within it, undergoing birth and death, are impermanent."

L2 Speculation regarding worlds.

Sutra:

Second, instead of contemplating his own mind, this person contemplates in the ten directions worlds as many as the Ganges' sands. He regards as ultimately impermanent those worlds that are in eons of decay, and as ultimately permanent those that are not in eons of decay.

Commentary:

Second, instead of contemplating his own mind, this person contemplates in the ten directions worlds as many as the Ganges' sands. He does not look within his mind, as above when he saw his own mind pervading the ten directions. Rather, he looks outside at the worlds in the ten directions, as numerous as the Ganges' sands.

He regards as ultimately impermanent those worlds that are in eons of decay, and as ultimately permanent those that are not in eons of decay. He sees a certain world that has reached the eon of decay in the cycle of becoming, dwelling, decay and emptiness, and he claims that it is ultimately impermanent in nature. Seeing another world that is not in the eon of decay, he says that it is ultimately permanent. So there are both impermanence and permanence.

L3 Speculation regarding his body and mind.


Sutra:

Third, this person closely examines his own mind and finds it to be subtle and mysterious, like fine motes of dust swirling in the ten directions, unchanging in nature. And yet it can cause his body to be born and then to die. He regards that indestructible nature as his permanent intrinsic nature, and that which undergoes birth and death and flows forth from him as impermanent.

Commentary:

In the third distorted theory, this person closely examines his own mind and finds it to be subtle and mysterious. He scrutinizes his own mind in its most subtle and mysterious aspects. These aspects, which are so elusive that they can hardly be perceived, characterize the formations skandha. These states are like tiny ripples on water, or like fine motes of dust swirling in the ten directions. The continuous flowing movement is unchanging in nature. And yet it can cause his body to be born and then to die. It causes his body to undergo repeated births and deaths. He regards that indestructible nature of the flowing movement as his permanent intrinsic nature. He says, "This is the permanence of my own nature." And that which undergoes birth and death and flows forth from him as impermanent. He says, "All the beings that are born and die, over and over, flowing forth from this permanent nature of mine, are themselves impermanent in nature."

L4 Speculation regarding neither self nor others.


Sutra:

Fourth, knowing that the skandha of thinking has ended and seeing the flowing of the skandha of formations, this person speculates that the continuous flow of the skandha of formations is permanent, and that the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking which have already ended are impermanent.

Commentary:


Fourth, knowing that the skandha of thinking has ended and seeing the subtle flowing, like ripples, of the skandha of formations as he cultivates, this person speculates that the continuous flow of the skandha of formations is permanent. Seeing no change in it, he concludes, "Oh, it must be permanent in nature." And that the skandhas of form, feeling, and thinking which have already ended are impermanent. Since they are gone, he thinks they must be impermanent.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Sutra:

Because of these speculations of impermanence and permanence, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the third external teaching, which postulates partial permanence.

Commentary:


Because of these four wrong theories based on his speculations of impermanence and permanence, he will lose proper and pervasive knowledge, fall into externalism, id become confused about the Bodhi nature. He says, "This part is permanent and that part is impermanent." Because he has these inverted theories and doesn't even understand their implications himself, he adopts the ideas of external teachings and becomes confused about the actual nature of Bodhi. This is the third external teaching, which postulates partial permanence. This third inverted theory advocated by external sects maintains that things are partially permanent and partially impermanent.

J4 Four theories regarding finiteness.
K1 Describes the source and shows the error.


Sutra:

Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate about the making of certain distinctions, he could fall into error with four theories of finiteness.

Commentary:


Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person's mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be disturbed by demons. This refers to any good person who cultivates the samadhi of directing the hearing inward to listen to his own nature, thus attaining perfect penetration of the ear organ. When he has broken through the three skandhas of form, feeling and thinking, he has solid samadhi and his mind is proper. Thus, the demons of the heavens and those of external sects cannot affect him in any way. When the two skandhas of form and feeling still existed, the demons from the heavens were able to disturb his mind directly. When he reached the thinking skandha, the demons could no longer do so; they had to possess another person in order to disrupt his samadhi. Now, at the stage of the formations skandha, the demons cannot disturb his samadhi even if they possess another person. That's what is meant by a "firm, unmoving, and proper" mind. The demons can not get at him.

He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all twelve categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. He contemplates this most concealed, ephemeral nature of living beings, within the subtle movement of the formations skandha. But if he begins to speculate about the making of certain distinctions. He ponders and reflects, and makes four kinds of distinctions, which will be discussed below. He could then fall into error with four theories of finiteness. Once he gets to thinking, he comes up with four theories of finiteness which belong to external teachings.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.
L1 Speculation regarding the three periods of time.


Sutra:

First, this person speculates that the origin of life flows and functions ceaselessly. He judges that the past and the future are finite and that the continuity of the mind is infinite.

Commentary:


The first of the four distinctions regards the three periods of time, the past, the present, and the future. It's said, "You may search for the mind in the three periods of time, but the mind is not there." The mind of the past cannot be obtained, the mind of the present cannot be obtained, and the mind of the future cannot be obtained. Why not? Let's consider the past. What is the past? The past has already gone by, so the mind of the past cannot be obtained. As for the present it never stops. Right now, you say this is the present, but it has already become the past. If you then say this is the present it too has passed. The present never stays fixed, so where is your present mind? What about the future mind? The future has not come yet. Since it hasn't arrived, it doesn't exist, either. Therefore,

You may search for the mind in the three periods of time,
but it is not there.
Where there is no mind, false conditions do not exist.

Since even the mind is gone, where could there be any false thoughts? If you can understand this principle, you will find that there actually aren't any! In the treasury of the Tathagata, there is nothing at all.

This cultivator, however, has developed an attachment. What is he attached to? The ideas of finite and infinite. He says things are either finite or infinite, setting up so-called "theories" of what is finite and infinite. First, this person speculates that the origin of life flows and functions ceaselessly. In the state of the formations skandha, he conjectures that the origin of the twelve categories of living beings flows and functions without interruption. This ceaseless flowing and functioning is a manifestation of the formations skandha.

At that time, he judges that the past and the future are finite. He says that the past and the future are both bounded, but that's nonsense. How could the past and the future be finite? Based on his false speculations and attachments, he says that they are finite, but in fact, they are infinite. In the course of cultivation, his mind has become muddled, and he has no wisdom. Having broken through the thinking skandha, he gets confused and strays off the proper path in the formations skandha. That's why he makes conjectures of the finite and the infinite. And he reckons that the continuity of the mind is infinite. He says, "This present mind continues without interruption in the present. It has no limit or boundary, and is infinite."

L2 Speculation regarding what he hears and sees.

Sutra:

Second, as this person contemplates an interval of eighty thousand eons, he can see living beings; but earlier than eighty thousand eons is a time of stillness in which he cannot hear or see anything. He regards as infinite that time in which nothing is heard or seen, and as finite that interval in which living beings are seen to exist.

Commentary:


What is the second distinction? It is the distinction of what he can see and hear and what he cannot see and hear. He takes what he can see and hear as one side, and what he cannot see and hear as the other side, so he falls into duality again. Neither side is the Middle Way.

Second, as this person contemplates an interval of eighty thousand eons, he can see living beings. When he sits in meditation, his samadhi allows him to contemplate an interval as long as eighty thousand great eons, and he can perceive all the twelve categories of beings within that time. But earlier than eighty thousand eons is a time of stillness in which he cannot hear or see anything. He can see with extreme clarity the events within the interval of eighty thousand eons. He can see beings undergoing endless rounds of birth and death. But he cannot see or hear what is happening outside of that interval.

He regards as infinite and unbounded that time in which nothing is heard or seen, and as finite and bounded that interval in which living beings are seen to exist. He falls into duality again, becoming attached to existence and nonexistence. Attaching to nonexistence means clinging to emptiness. Attaching to existence means clinging to forms. Neither accords with the Middle Way. Therefore the Buddha criticizes such a person for following an external sect.

L3 Speculation regarding self and others.

Sutra:

Third, this person speculates that his own pervasive knowledge is infinite and that all other people appear within his awareness. And yet, since he himself has never perceived the nature of their awareness, he says they have not obtained an infinite mind, but have only a finite one.

Commentary:


Third, this person speculates that his own pervasive knowledge is infinite. The third distinction is the distinction between self and others. "Others" refers to living beings, and "self" refers to the cultivator himself. He makes yet another false speculation and becomes attached to it. He says, 'I feel that I possess the wisdom of pervasive knowledge." What is meant by pervasive knowledge? Pervasive knowledge means there is nothing that is not known; therefore, it has the quality of being infinite. And he says that all other people, all living beings, appear within his awareness. They are all contained within his wisdom. And yet, since he himself has never perceived the nature of their awareness, he says they have not obtained an infinite mind, but have only a finite one. Living beings have not obtained a boundless mind, but he himself has. Because he does not know the nature of their knowledge, he says that they have not obtained a boundless mind and do not have boundless wisdom, but have only a bounded wisdom. That is the distinction of self and others.

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