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

Volume 8

H3 General conclusion of what false thinking brings into being.

Sutra:

Ananda, these five skandhas of reception develop with five kinds of false thinking.

Commentary:


Ananda, these five kinds of skandhas of reception, form, feeling, thinking, formations, and consciousness, develop with five kinds of false thinking. So these five kinds of false thinking are also produced.

G2 Answers about the depth of the realms of the skandhas.

Sutra:

You also wanted to know the depth and scope of each realm. Form and emptiness are the boundaries of form. Contact and separation are the boundaries of feeling. Remembering and forgetting are the boundaries of thinking. Destruction and production are the boundaries of formations. Deep purity entering to unite with deep purity belongs to the boundaries of consciousness.

Commentary:


You also wanted to know the depth and scope of each realm. You wanted to know whether the realm of each skandha was shallow or deep. What are they like? Where are their boundaries? I will tell you now. Form and emptiness are the boundaries of form. Form and emptiness are relative to each other, and they are the boundaries of form. Contact with and separation from the objects of touch are the boundaries of feeling. Remembering and forgetting are the boundaries of thinking. Destruction and production are the boundaries of formations. Deep purity entering to unite with deep purity belongs to the boundaries of consciousness. Purity unites with purity, and that forms the realm of the eighth consciousness.

G3 Answers about the suddenness or gradualness of cessation.

Sutra:

At their source, these five skandhas arise in layers. Their arising is due to consciousness, while their cessation begins with the elimination of form.

Commentary:


At their source, these five skandhas arise in layers. The five skandhas are produced in layers. There is a mutual cycle, and they aid one another. Their arising is due to consciousness, while their cessation begins with the elimination of form. How does cessation happen? Once form is gone, then the skandhas will become empty. They arise from consciousness, and their cessation begins when form is eliminated.

Sutra:

You may have a sudden awakening to the principle, at which point they all simultaneously vanish. But in terms of the specifics, they are eliminated not all at once, but in sequence.

Commentary:

You may have a sudden awakening to the principle, at which point they all simultaneously vanish. You understand the principle very clearly. Once you have awakened, the methods of cultivation you have used cease to exist, and the notion of awakening is also gone. If you understand the principle, then even the idea of awakening is gone. But in terms of the specifics, they are eliminated not all at once, but in sequence. On the noumenal level, you have become enlightened. But at the level of phenomena, elimination takes place in sequence. It's like taking off clothing. You have to first take off the first layer, and then the second layer, the third layer, the fourth layer, the fifth layer. In terms of specifics, you have to eliminate them in sequence. Having understood the principle, you still have to cultivate at a practical level. Only through actual cultivation can you break through all five skandhas.

[January 1983]

Earlier one of my disciples commented that five layers of clothing is not a very apt analogy for the five skandhas, because the Heart Sutra says, "He illuminated the five skandhas and saw that they are all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty." If they were like five layers of clothing, then when all the layers were peeled away, the person would be naked. So his comment that this would cause people to have false thoughts is true enough.

Before the five skandhas have been broken through, the person is still covered by the five layers of clothing, and people don't have so many false thoughts. Once the skandhas are broken through and the person is naked, oh no! So the analogy is slightly problematic. No wonder you said it caused you to have false thoughts. What do you think should be done? Can you offer another explanation? The five layers of clothing are visible, while the five skandhas are invisible. The visible and the invisible are different.

The five skandhas are merely a kind of yin energy, and it can also become yang energy. Yin demons can become yang demons; it all depends on whether or not you know how to use them. If you know, then you won't be turned by them, and the state isn't a bad one. But if you are greedy for spiritual powers, advantages, or states, then you've been turned by them.

The five skandhas, also known as the five yin, are five kinds of yin energy. It's because of the yin energy that you come under demonic possession. Yang energy makes a person a Bodhisattva. However, the important thing is not to get attached. When you have no attachments, then:

You wear clothes all day,
and yet you haven't put on a thread.
You eat all day,
and yet you haven't consumed a gain of rice.

You aren't attached to whether you are wearing clothes or not. People who truly cultivate have no attachments to such matters. It's not necessarily a matter of taking off five layers of clothing, because what will you do when you're not wearing anything? This is just a very simple analogy that I gave because I was worried that you might not understand.

In reality, it's just a mass of energy acting up. This energy can be proper or deviant. Deviant energy means yin energy, and proper energy means yang energy. If you don't know how to use it, then it turns into a yin demon. If you do know how to use it, then it becomes a yang demon. At this point you should neither think of good nor think of bad. Don't crave good states, and don't be afraid of bad states. When you encounter a state, just act as if it didn't exist. Don't get attached to it. I know that my disciple doesn't want to take off his five layers of clothing, because he'd feel embarrassed if he did.

Sutra:

I have already shown you the knots tied in the Karpasa cloth. What is it that you do not understand, that causes you to ask about it again?

Commentary:


I have already shown you the knots tied in the Karpasa cloth. I tied six knots in the cloth. What is it that you do not understand, that causes you to ask about it again? Why is it that you still don't understand? why are you asking me about it all over again? You're belaboring the point.

F3 Concluding exhortation to transmit this teaching.

Sutra:

You should gain a thorough understanding of the origin of this false thinking and then transmit your understanding to cultivators in the future Dharma-ending Age. Let them recognize this falseness and naturally give rise to deep disdain for it. Let them know of nirvana so that they will not linger in the triple realm.

Commentary:


Ananda, you should find and gain a thorough understanding of the origin of this false thinking and then transmit your understanding to cultivators in the future Dharma-ending Age. Enable all living beings to thoroughly understand this principle. Transmit this principle to those in the Dharma-ending Age. Let them recognize this falseness and naturally give rise to deep disdain for it. Cause all those cultivators to know that the falseness of false thinking comes from themselves. Let them clearly understand its source and pattern, so that they become disgusted with it. Let them know of nirvana. When living beings know that they are capable of realizing nirvana, they will not want to linger in the triple realm. They will not wish to remain in the burning house of the three realms, the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm.

"There is no peace in the three realms. They are like a house on fire." Great Master Lian Chi ('Lotus Pond') was an eminent Dharma master in China. After he had left the home-life, he was always thinking about going home to see his wife. He did, in fact go back again and again to see her. His wife was a very intelligent person, however, and she thought over the situation. Her husband had left home, but he wasn't cultivating. He still held on to emotional love and could not put it down. He kept coming home, and that really wasn't the way to do it. So she dug a big pit right in front of the door to her house, and covered it with a mat. Inside the pit she built a small fire. The next time Great Master Lian Chi came back home, he stepped into the trap and fell into the burning pit. "What are you doing building a pit of fire right here?" he cried. His wife replied, "If you know it's a pit of fire, why do you keep coming back?"

Hearing that one sentence, he became enlightened and never went home again. That illustrates the saying, "There is no peace in the three realms. They are like a house on fire." The desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm are not pleasant or safe places. Rather, they are like a burning house.

previous * next * contents

return to top