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

Volume 8

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Sutra:

Because of these speculations that deny both existence and nonexistence after death, the future is murky to him and he cannot say anything about it. Therefore, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the eighth external teaching, which postulates confused theories that deny both existence and nonexistence after death in the realm of the five skandhas.

Commentary:


Because of these various speculations which he made above that deny both existence and nonexistence after death, the future is murky to him and he cannot say anything about it. He says that after death there is both existence and nonexistence. He cannot perceive the future end of the formations skandha. Since he cannot know it, there is nothing he can discuss, nothing he can say. Therefore, he will fall into externalism by following an external teaching, and he will become confused about the fundamental Bodhi nature. This is the eighth external teaching, which postulates confused theories that deny both existence and nonexistence after death in the realm of the five skandhas. He says that after one dies, there is existence and yet no existence in the realm of the five skandhas. Because his mind is utterly confused, he arrives at this kind of theory.

J9 Seven theories on the cessation of existence.
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 that there is no existence after death, he could fall into error with seven theories of the cessation of existence.

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. The good person who cultivates samadhi has developed solid samadhi power and a proper mind, so the demons have no way to bother him.

He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all twelve categories of living beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. He contemplates their hidden, light, and ephemeral nature. At this point, there are subtle fluctuations in the formations skandha. But if, since he cannot perceive any state beyond the formations skandha, he begins to speculate that there is no existence after death, he could fall into error with seven theories of the cessation of existence. This person could come to believe in seven kinds of cessation.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.

Sutra:

He may speculate that the body will cease to exist or that when desire has ended, there is cessation of existence; or that after suffering has ended, there is cessation of existence; or that when bliss reaches an ultimate point, there is cessation of existence; or that when renunciation reaches an ultimate point there is cessation of existence.

Commentary:

He may speculate that the body will cease to exist. He contemplates that in all places where living beings have bodies, their bodies will eventually perish. These places are the four great continents, Jambudvipa in the south, Purvavideha in the east, Aparagodaniya in the west and Uttarakuru in the north, and also the six desire heavens.

Or he may surmise that when desire has ended, beyond the desire realm, in the heavens of the first dhyana (of the four dhyanas), known as the Ground of the Happiness of Leaving Birth, there is cessation of existence. In the first dhyana, you separate from the defilements of living beings and experience joy. Or that after suffering has ended, in the heavens of the second dhyana, known as the Ground of the Joy of Developing Samadhi, there is cessation of existence. At this point, you feel joy because you have attained samadhi.

Or that when bliss reaches an ultimate point, there is cessation of existence. He may speculate that the state of ultimate bliss in the heavens of the third dhyana will also come to an end. The third dhyana is called the Ground of the Wonderful Bliss of Leaving Joy, because one transcends happiness and experiences a subtle bliss. He surmises that the third dhyana heavens will also cease to be. Or he judges that when renunciation reaches an ultimate point, in the heavens of the fourth dhyana, known as the Ground of the Purity of Renouncing Thought, there is cessation of existence. He surmises that the heavens of the four stations of emptiness, in which there is no hindrance of form, will also cease to be.

The time passes by very quickly. Without our realizing it, the summer is already over. In China, Confucius compared life to a ceaselessly flowing stream. Time that has gone by can never return. Someone also said, "An inch of time is worth an ounce of gold, but an ounce of gold can hardly buy back an inch of time." An inch of time is as valuable as an ounce of gold. If you lose gold, it's possible to recover it. Once time has gone by, however, there is no way to get it back. Therefore, time is even more valuable than gold. Thus, in Buddhism we say, "An inch of time is an inch of life." When time grows short, one's life is also shorter. We must certainly cherish our time and not casually let it go by in vain.

During this summer, we have begun our days at six o'clock in the morning, either meditating or studying the sutras. From early in the morning until nine o'clock at night every person has applied himself or herself diligently to cultivation. I believe that this period has been more precious than gold, more valuable than diamonds. Everyone has been together, being permeated and influenced by what we have heard and cultivated. This is a most precious and valuable time in our lives. It's a pity that the time has passed by in the twinkling of an eye. Although it is nearly over, the Buddhadharma that each of us has learned has planted a precious Vajra seed in our mind, in the field of our eighth consciousness. In the future it will certainly bear the indestructible fruit of Vajra, which is also the Buddha-fruit, we will become Buddhas.

When will we become Buddhas? It depends on our how diligently we till and irrigate the fields. The seed has been planted in the ground, but just as in farming, we have to water it, pull the weeds, and till the soil, making it soft so that the seed can sprout. How do we pull the weeds out? Weeding means that at all times, we must guard against the arising of very subtle thoughts and get rid of all false thoughts.

Every day we must apply effort in our cultivation in this way, just as farmers tend and irrigate their fields. Give it some water and pull out the weeds, day by day, and the Vajra seed you have planted in the ground will produce a Bodhi sprout. After your Bodhi sprout comes up and grows into a Bodhi tree, it will bear the Bodhi fruit. But you have to protect that Bodhi sprout. If you neglect to water it and tend to it, then it will wither away. What is meant by watering? if you study the Buddhadharma every day, you are irrigating your Bodhi sprout with the water of the dharma, and in time, your Vajra fruit will ripen. If you don't continue to care for this Vajra seed after the session is over, then it will not be easy for to sprout. You must protect your Vajra seed well. Don't go back to doing the things you used to like doing. Follow the rules and behave yourselves. Don't be as wild and reckless as you used to be. If you follow the rules, then you are in accord with the Buddhadharma. If you don't then you are not. We should certainly abide by the rules and regulations. Don't be so lax and unrestrained. This is my hope for each one of you.

During this summer session of lectures on the Shurangama Sutra, it has surely been the case that, "Once it enters your ears, it is forever a seed of the Way." As soon as the principles of this sutra pass through your ears, they remain forever in the field of your eight consciousness as seeds of Bodhi.

Sutra:

Considering back and forth in this way, he exhaustively investigates the limits of the seven states and sees that they have already ceased to be and will not exist again.

Commentary:


Considering back and forth in this way, he exhaustively investigates the limits of the seven states mentioned above and sees that they have already ceased to be and will not exist again. They don't seem to exist at present and since they are already gone, they will not come into being again. These are the seven kinds of cessation of existence.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Sutra:

Because of these speculations that existence ceases after death, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the ninth external teaching, which postulates confused theories of the cessation of existence after death in the realm of the five skandhas.

Commentary:

Because of these speculations that existence ceases after death, in whit he maintains that there is nothing what-so-ever after death, that everything is annihilated, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature, about the nature of proper enlightenment. This is the ninth external teaching, which postulates confused theories of the cessation of existence after death in the realm of the five skandhas. In his confused mind, he thinks that existence ceases after death in the realm of form, feeling, thinking, and formations.

J10 Five kinds of immediate nirvana.
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 on existence after death, he could fall into error with five theories of nirvana.

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. Since he has solid samadhi power and a pure and proper mind, the demon kings cannot affect him in any way. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all twelve categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. He examines their mind, which is hidden, light, and clear and in which there is a subtle fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on existence after death, he could fall into error with five theories of nirvana. Beyond the formations skandha, he perceives existence again. Based on the constant, ceaseless fluctuations in the formations skandha, he makes false conjectures of existence and comes to believe in five theories regarding nirvana.

K2 Detailed explanation of their appearance.

Sutra:

He may consider the heavens of the desire realm a true refuge, because he contemplates their extensive brightness and longs for it; or he may take refuge in the first dhyana, because there his nature is free from worry; or he may take refuge in the second dhyana, because there his mind is free from suffering; or he may take refuge in the third dhyana, because he delights in its extreme joy; or he may take refuge in the fourth dhyana, reasoning that suffering and bliss are both ended there and that he will no longer undergo transmigration.

Commentary:


He may consider the heavens of the desire realm a true refuge. That's where he will go. He considers the heavens of the desire realm to be his refuge. Why? Because he contemplates their extensive brightness and longs for it. The heavens of the desire realm appear to be perfect and brilliant, so he gets attached to them and yearns to go there. He takes them as his haven, as the state of nirvana. He thinks the desire realm is a place of true happiness.

Or he may take refuge in the first dhyana, because there his nature is free from worry. He may think that the beings in the heavens of the first dhyana, the Ground of the Joy of Leaving Birth, have left behind the worries and afflictions of living beings and experience a sense of joy. Thus he wishes to be born there. Or he may take refuge in the second dhyana, because there his mind is free from suffering. In his cultivation, he may reach the heavens of the second dhyana, where his mind no longer suffers, because he has developed samadhi. These heavens are known as the Ground of the Joy of Developing Samadhi.

Or he may take refuge in the third dhyana, because he delights in its extreme bliss. He may believe that the bliss of the third dhyana is extremely fine. He thinks he will get whatever he wishes for there, so he considers those heavens to be a state of nirvana. Or he may take refuge in the fourth dhyana, reasoning that suffering and bliss are both ended there and that he will no longer undergo transmigration. He may say that in the fourth dhyana, the Ground of the Purity of Renouncing Thought, suffering and bliss are both gone and so there is no further rebirth in the three realms. Since it is extremely pure, he considers it a state of nirvana and wants to take refuge there.

Sutra:

These heavens are subject to outflows, but in his confusion he thinks that they are unconditioned; and he takes these five states of tranquility to be refuges of supreme purity. Considering back and forth in this way, he decides that these five states are ultimate.

Commentary:

These heavens are subject to outflows, but in his confusion he "mistakes a thief for his own son" and thinks that they are unconditioned; and he takes these five states of tranquility to be refuges of supreme purity. He feels that these five states are peaceful and secure, and that they are especially supreme and pure places of refuge. Considering back and forth in this way, going round and round, he decides that these five states are ultimate. He reckons they are all ultimate states where he can attain nirvana. He does not realize that these heavens are still subject to outflows.

K3 Concludes that it is an externalist teaching.

Sutra:

Because of these speculations about five kinds of immediate nirvana, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. This is the tenth external teaching, which postulates confused theories of five kinds of immediate nirvana in the realm of the five skandhas.

Commentary:

Because of these five speculations described above about five kinds of immediate nirvana, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. He loses sight of the enlightened nature of Bodhi. This is the tenth external teaching, which postulates confused theories of five kinds of immediate nirvana in the realm of the five skandhas. His theories are incorrect and upside-down.

I3 Conclusion on the harm, and command to offer protection.
J1 Showing how this happens due to interaction.


Sutra:

Ananda, all ten of these crazy explanations may occur in dhyana as one's mental effort interacts with the formations skandha. That is why these 'insights' appear.

Commentary:


Ananda, all ten of these crazy, erroneous explanations discussed above may occur in dhyana, the "stilling of thought," as one's mental effort interacts with the formations skandha. What is the problem here? Before you have broken through the formations skandha, your cultivation of samadhi interacts and battles with the formations skandha. If your own proper knowledge and proper views are victorious, you can leap over this hurdle. If the formations skandha wins, then you become possessed by a demon. That is why these crazy "insights" and crazy explanations appear.

J2 Confusion will bring harm.

Sutra:

Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Encountering such situations, they mistake their confusion for understanding and say that they have become sages, thereby uttering a great lie. They will fall into the Relentless Hells.

Commentary:


Dull and confused living beings do not evaluate themselves. Living beings are stubborn, muddled, and unaware. They fail to reflect on who they are and what kind of disposition they have. Encountering such situations, when such states arise, they are confused, but because they don't have the guidance of a wise teacher who has clear vision, they mistake their confusion for understanding and say that they have become sages. They claim they have become enlightened and become Buddhas, thereby uttering a great lie. Because they tell such an outrageous lie, they will definitely fall into the Relentless Hells.

J3 Command to offer protection.

Sutra:

After my nirvana, all of you should pass on the Tathagata's teachings, transmitting and revealing them to those in the Dharma-ending Age, so that living beings everywhere can awaken to these truths. Do not let demons arise in their minds and cause them to commit grave offenses. Offer protection so that wrong views will be eradicated.

Commentary:


After my nirvana in the future, Ananda and all of you in the great assembly should pass on the Tathagata's teachings, the words I have spoken, transmitting and revealing them to those living beings in the Dharma-ending Age, so that living beings everywhere can awaken to these truths. You should cause all living beings to understand these principles. Do not let demons arise in their minds and cause them to commit grave offenses. Don't let people create their own bad karma in this way. Offer protection so that wrong views will be eradicated. Maintain and support the Buddhadharma, and put an end to wrong views.

Sutra:

Teach them to awaken to true principles in body and mind, so that they do not stray off the Unsurpassed Path. Do not let them aspire to and be content with small attainments. You should become kings of great enlightenment and serve as guides of purity.

Commentary:

Teach them to awaken to true principles in body and mind. Help living beings in the Dharma-ending Age to understand the real and ultimate doctrine in body and mind, so that they do not stray off the Unsurpassed Path. Don't let them chase after superficial dharmas and fail to seek the fundamental dharma. When living beings meet a fork in the road, they will not know which branch to take. Do not let them aspire to and be content with small attainments. Don't allow those who aspire to the unsurpassed path of enlightenment to become complacent and satisfied with attaining a little. You should become kings of great enlightenment and serve as guides of purity. Be pure models and pure leaders. Do not be content with small attainments. Instead you should increase your efforts and advance.

previous * next * contents

return to top