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The Shurangama Sutra With Commentary by the Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua: Volume 4

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The Shurangama Sutra
With Commentary by the Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Volume 4



CHAPTER 1: The Reason for Continual Arisal

G2 He casts out the subtle delusions by explaining about two aspects of the treasury of the Thus Come One.
H1 Purnamaitreyani retraces the former teaching and brings up two doubts.
I1 He praises the Thus Come Ones wonderful instructions.

Sutra:

Then Purnamaitreyaniputra arose from his seat in the midst of the great assembly, uncovered his right shoulder, knelt on his right knee, put his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, The most virtuous and awe-inspiring World Honored One has for the sake of living beings expounded the primary truth of the Thus Come One with remarkable eloquence.

Commentary:

Then, after Ananda had finished speaking his verse in praise of the Buddha, Purnamaitreyaniputra arose from his seat in the midst of the great assembly. Purnamaitreyaniputra means son of fulfillment and compassion. Fulfillment was his father's name; compassion was his mother's name. He immediately stood up. The Buddha's disciples were especially respectful toward him. When they wanted to ask a question, they stood in reverence. He uncovered his right shoulder. The Chinese sash is styled so that it does not cover the right shoulder, in order to represent this gesture of respect. In India it is never cold, winter or summer, so it was all right to leave the right shoulder completely exposed. One wouldn't get cold. But the climate in China is very cold, and if one's right shoulder were always exposed it would be easy to catch cold. So in China the monks wore clothing under their sashes. This accorded with the climate, the geographical location, and the customs in China.

The sashes in India did not have a clasp like the Chinese sashes do. Now in India, Burma, Ceylon, and Thailand, where the Theravada teachings are practiced, monks still don't have clasps on their sashes. Why do Chinese sashes have a clasp? This too came about because of the climate of China, for if the monks wore clothing inside their sashes, and if there were no clasp to hold the sash in place, it could slip off without their being aware of it. So the patriarchs of China invented the clasp to solve this problem. The sashes of the other countries mentioned above have the same number of pieces, but they lack the clasp, because the climate is so warm that they don't wear clothing under their sashes. If it starts to slip off, they are aware of it since it is next to their skin.

After I left the home-life, I investigated the question of the clasp on the Chinese sash with a lot of elder dharma masters and elder monks. I asked them why the monks from other countries did not have clasps on their sashes; why did the Chinese monks add this thing to their sashes? But they all shook their heads. They didn't know. It's a small matter, but nevertheless, they didn't know. They had never known. In the end, then, who told me? No one told me. I just compared the climate of China to that of the other countries and figured out for myself that the first patriarchs who came to China must have invented the clasp to make it more convenient to wear clothes under the sash. When I brought up my opinion, the elder dharma masters and monks said, Oh, of course, that's how it was. Probably that's how it was. It was a small question, so no one had stopped to think about it, but I know that Americans like to look into things thoroughly, so now I've explained the origin of the clasp on the Chinese-style sashes without waiting to be asked.

Purna uncovered his right shoulder and knelt on his right knee. The monks in present-day Burma and Ceylon have this practice. For instance, if a junior monk sees a senior monk he does not stand to talk but kneels with his right knee on the ground and his palms together.

Purna put his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, The most virtuous and awe-inspiring World Honored One has for the sake of living beings expounded the primary truth of the Thus Come One with remarkable eloquence. He said that the Buddha is one of awesome virtue who can subdue all the living beings in the three realms. His awesomeness has the power to cause all living beings to submit. His virtue moves all living beings, so that when they hear his name they change their faults and become good. The Buddha uses wholesome clever expedient devices to teach and transform living beings. He speaks the dharma for the sake of living beings; he tells them in detail of the primary truth of the Thus Come One, the Tathagata's most wonderful doctrine.

I2 He discloses his own doubtfulness.

Sutra:

The World Honored One often singles me out as the foremost among speakers of dharma. But now when I hear the wonderful and subtle expression of the dharma, I am like a deaf
person who at a distance of more than a hundred paces tries to hear a mosquito, which in fact cannot be seen, let alone heard.

Commentary:

Purna has just bowed to the Buddha and made a request. Why did he do that? Because he had some doubts. Right now Ananda doesn't have any doubts, but Purna, first among those who speak dharma, has given rise to doubts. He is not clear about the dharma that the Buddha has spoken. Therefore he says, The World Honored One often singles me out as the foremost among speakers of dharma. You often choose me as the best among those who lecture the sutras and speak dharma. I, Purna, rank number one. He expresses well the wonderful meaning of all dharmas.

If this sutra were being explained now by Purna, flowers would rain from the heavens and golden lotuses would well up from the ground. It wouldn't be like my dry and bland explanation which puts my listeners to sleep. The dharma Purna spoke was the foremost, most subtle and wonderful of dharmas. He excelled in distinguishing the characteristics of all dharmas. But now when I hear the wonderful and subtle expression of the dharma, I am like a deaf person who at a distance of more than a hundred paces tries to hear a mosquito, which in fact cannot be seen, let alone heard. His meaning is that someone who is truly deaf of course cannot hear such a small sound as the hum of a mosquito if he is more than a hundred paces away from it.

You can't even see a mosquito at that distance. This represents the fact that the dharma the Buddha speaks is most subtle and wonderful, wonderful to the ultimate. Therefore, though Purna hears it because he is in the dharma assembly, he is like a deaf person. He doesn't understand. So if there are people in the present who don't understand the sutra, it's no wonder. You see, even Purna, who was foremost in speaking dharma, had questions and said he didn't understand. In fact he says he's deaf. Whether you understand or not, you all can at least hear the explanation of the sutra. This is a hundred times better than Purna. Don't be so hard on yourself.

When the Buddha spoke the Avatamsaka Sutra, adherents of the two vehicles could not see the thousand-foot Nishyanda body of the Buddha. Instead they saw the Buddha as a venerable six-foot tall bhikshu. When the Buddha spoke the Avatamsaka Sutra, some of his listeners had ears but did not hear the Buddha speaking dharma. Purna is in a similar situation here. He certainly is not scolding the Buddha, nor is he saying that he does not believe the dharma the Buddha speaks. It's not that he doesn't believe it; he hasn't understood it. That's what this analogy represents.

Some people explain this phrase wonderful and subtle expression of the dharma as meaning a very small sound; they say that the Buddha spoke the dharma in a very quiet voice. They say that subtle here means small. But that explanation is not correct. Subtle means rare and esoterically wonderful; it means an extremely clear explanation of the dharma. It certainly does not mean that the Buddha spoke with a soft voice. Some people say, "Why does Purna compare himself to a mosquito?" Because the Buddha spoke the dharma with such a small voice that Purna felt it was like trying to hear a mosquito at a hundred paces. There are a lot of dharma masters who swallow the date whole, so to speak; they don't know the flavor of the text. They explain it like this:

Basically a deaf person can't hear anything; even less can he hear the Buddha speaking dharma when he speaks with as small a voice as the sound of a mosquito. But this rendering of the words of the text is incorrect. Purna is using an analogy. Some people misunderstand, saying, "Oh, is Purna slandering the Buddha by calling him a mosquito?" That is not the case; you should not have that kind of doubt. In his analogy Purna likens himself to a deaf person; it is not that he likens the Buddha to a mosquito.

Sutra:

World Honored One, although Ananda and those like him have become enlightened, they have not yet cast out their habits and outflows.

Commentary:

World Honored One, although Ananda and those like him have become enlightened, they have not yet cast out their habits and outflows. Although they have understood the principle of becoming enlightened, their habits go back many lives, many aeons. And where do outflows come from? They come from habits. Habits aren't created in a day. They are learned from time without beginning, through life after life, in time after time, and from these learned habits come all kinds of outflows. What is meant by outflows? Outflows are afflictions. The afflictions and habits of Ananda and those like him have not been completely done away with. They are called remaining habits the ones left-over from former lives. They are more or less like karma.

The Buddha had a disciple called Pilindavatsa. One day he wanted to cross a river, and since he had been certified as having attained the fruition of arhatship, he had certain powers. Rivers have spirits, and the spirit of this particular river was female. When Pilindavatsa got to the bank of the river he called out, Little Servant, stop the flow! One who is an arhat has the spiritual power to part the waters when he crosses a river. But the one who stops the flow of the river must be the river-spirit. That is why Pilindavatsa called out, Little Servant, stop the flow! The first time he did that, the river-spirit was annoyed, but did not dare say anything because Pilindavatsa was an arhat. But after he'd addressed her as Little Servant a number of times, the river-spirit finally went to the Buddha to state her case.

"When your disciple Pilindavatsa wants to cross the river he always addresses me as Little Servant, she complained. And I'm outraged. Buddha, you should teach your disciples not to be so ill-mannered. How can he call me a name like that and command me the way he does?"

So the Buddha called for Pilindavatsa. "Apologize to the riverspirit," he said, "and don't talk that way any more." So what do you suppose Pilindavatsa did?

He said, "Little Servant, don't hold a grudge." The whole reason that she had become upset was that he had called her "Little Servant" in the first place!

Of course the river-spirit was furious. "See!" she cried. "Your disciple calls me that right in front of you!" Shakyamuni Buddha said, "Do you know why he calls you 'Little Servant'? In five hundred former lives you were his servant. You've worked for him for so long that when he sees you he reverts to his former habits and that name just slips off his tongue. He hasn't been able to change that habit from the past."

After the Buddha explained to the river-spirit, she realized it was a question of cause and effect and there was nothing more to say. The situation was resolved. That is an example of not having cast out their habits and outflows.

Sutra:

We in the assembly have reached the level of no outflows. Yet, although we have no outflows, we still have doubts about the dharma we have now heard the Thus Come One speak.

Commentary:

Purna said, "We in the assembly, the multitude of sages, have reached the level of no outflows. We have received the reward of the spiritual power of having extinguished all outflows. Yet, although we have no outflows, we still have doubts about the dharma we have now heard the Thus Come One speak. We still think up doubts. We still don't understand."

Now if those who had attained the fourth fruition with the extinction of outflows didn't understand, how much the less would Ananda have understood, since he had only been certified as having attained the first fruition. Although he had attained that level of enlightenment, I believe he still wasn't clear about the meaning the Buddha had just expressed.

I3 He expresses two deep doubts.
J1 He wonders about the causes for the continual arisal of the myriad things.

Sutra:

World Honored One, if all the sense organs, sense objects, skandhas, places, and realms in all the world are the treasury of
the Thus Come One, originally pure, why do all conditioned appearances such as the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise?

Commentary:

Purna has doubts about the doctrines the Buddha has been explaining. He doesn't believe them. World Honored One, if all the sense organs; eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind; sense objects; forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and dharmas; skandha, form, feeling, thought, activity, and consciousnesses, if all these dharmas in all the world are the treasury of the Thus Come One, why do all conditioned appearances such as the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise? If they arise from the bright substance and pure nature of the everlasting true mind and are originally pure, then why does there suddenly arise in the purity of the treasury of the Thus Come One so many things which are all conditioned appearances that
suddenly arise? Once finished, they begin again. Done once more, they start over. Ended, they arise once more. When do they ever stop? Never. What's the principle in it?

This is the doubt that Purna asks the World Honored One about.

J2 He wonders about the feasibility of the perfect fusion of the elements.

Sutra:

Moreover, the Thus Come One said that earth, water, fire, and wind are by nature perfectly fused, are all-pervasive in the dharma-realm, and are all tranquil and everlasting.

Commentary:

This is Purnamaitreyaniputra's second doubt. 'What is the principle here?" he asks.

Sutra:

World Honored One, if the nature of earth is pervasive, how can it contain water? If the nature of water is pervasive, then fire does not arise. Further, how do you explain that the natures of fire and water can each pervade empty space with out displacing one another? World Honored One, the nature of earth is solid; the nature of emptiness is penetrating. How can they both pervade the dharma-realm? I don?t know where this
doctrine is leading.

Commentary:

Purna probably was smarter than Ananda. Ananda hadn't even thought of such questions as these. So now Purna, for his part, has some doubts and asks about these principles. He says: World Honored One, if the nature of earth is pervasive, how can it contain water? Earth overcomes water; where there is dry land there is no water. If the nature of earth pervades the dharma-realm, how can there be water there, too? Earth and water are not compatible.

If the nature of water is pervasive, then fire does not arise. Water overcomes fire; where there is water, there is no fire. Water puts fire out. If the nature of water were to pervade the dharmarealm, fire would certainly disappear. This is the same line of argument the Buddha used earlier with Ananda when he said that if there is light there can't be darkness and if there is darkness there can't be light. Now the Buddha's disciple uses the same pattern of questioning on the Buddha. "Water and fire don't mix," Purna points out. "This is a fixed principle.'

Further, how do you explain that the natures of fire and water can each pervade empty space with out displacing one another? How do you come to understand that both fire and water pervade the dharma-realm? I could believe that one or the other was all-pervasive, but if two incompatible things are both all-pervasive, then which one is going to win out? How do you know they can both be all-pervasive and not oppose one another, not harm one another or destroy one another?

World Honored One, the nature of earth is solid; the nature of emptiness is penetrating. How can they both pervade the dharma-realm? Purna imagines that by now he probably has thoroughly confused the Buddha, so he calls out to him, "World Honored One!" Or maybe he was afraid that the Buddha was asleep. "Earth is a solid object," he reasons. "Emptiness is penetrating, vacuous, there isn't anything there at all. So if there is earth, there is no emptiness; if there is emptiness, there is no earth. How can you say both these natures are all-pervasive? I don't know where this doctrine is leading. Buddha, your explanation of dharma has managed to confuse me now. I can't tell what you're getting at. Where is this principle headed? What's its aim? I don't understand."

I4 He hopes for the Buddha's greatly compassionate instruction.

Sutra:

I only hope the Thus Come One will compassionately explain in order to rend the clouds of confusion in me and among the great assembly. After saying this, he made a full prostration and respectfully and expectantly awaited the Thus Come One's unsurpassed compassionate instruction.

Commentary:

In stating these principles, Purna was certainly not trying to debate with the Buddha; he truly had such doubts. "Water and fire are not brothers; they can't dwell in the same household. Earth and emptiness are not compatible either." These questions made him nervous. "How can they all pervade the dharma-realm?' he wondered, and on impulse, heedless of everything, he began to question the Buddha. In his haste, he even forgot about propriety. So, in conclusion, he says: I only hope the Thus Come One will compassionately explain in order to rend the clouds of confusion in me and among the great assembly. World Honored One, please let flow forth your heart of great compassion and explain this matter for us. My failure to understand these doctrines is like a bank of clouds covering me. Not only do I have these doubts, the members of the great assembly do also. After saying this, he probably realized that he had been impertinent and over-exuberant, so he made a full prostration and respectfully and expectantly awaited the Thus Come One's unsurpassed compassionate instruction. He quickly knelt and' bowed to properly make his request of the Buddha. With reverence, he waited as if excessively thirsty for the Thus Come One to nourish him with the water of dharma.

H2 The Thus Come One sequentially casts out the two doubts.
I1 In order to enable them to attain benefit, he promises to explain.

Sutra:

The World Honored One then told Purna and all the arhats in the assembly who had extinguished their outflows and had reached the level of no study, "Today the Thus Come One will explain in depth the true, supreme meaning within the supreme meaning in order to cause all of you in the assembly who are fixed-nature sound-hearers and those arhats who have not realized the two kinds of emptiness, but are dedicated to the superior vehicle, as well as the others, to obtain the place of still extinction, the one vehicle, the true aranya, the proper place of cultivation. Listen attentively and I will explain it for you."

Purna and the others, revering the Buddha?s expression of dharma, listened silently.

Commentary:

The World Honored One then told Purna and all the arhats in the assembly who had extinguished their outflows and had reached the level of no study; those who had been certified as having attained the fourth fruition of arhatship. Today the Thus Come One will explain in depth the true, supreme meaning within the supreme meaning. Here the Buddha is referring to himself when he says, "...the Thus Come One, True, supreme meaning within the supreme meaning" refers to the most superior miraculous doctrine. He explains it in order to cause all of you in the assembly who are fixed-nature sound-hearers, that is, people who gain a little and are satisfied. They hang around in emptiness and stop searching. I'm at a place where there isn't anything at all. It's not bad! they think and become content. They gain a little and that's enough. That's why the Buddha calls them the "fixed-nature, sound-hearer," the arhats, "sterile seeds and withered sprouts" in order to scold them out of their complacency. They don't have the impetus to go on. Having been certified as having attained the first or second fruition, they don't seek to progress. They indulge in passivity. It's fine here, they decide.

The Buddha will also explain for those arhats who have not realized the two kinds of emptiness, but are dedicated to the superior vehicle. This refers to arhats who have not yet understood the emptiness of people and the emptiness of dharmas, but who have turned from the small toward the great. And he will speak as well for all the others in the great assembly.

Shakyamuni Buddha is prepared to express the true superior meaning within the superior meaning, the wonderful within the wonderful, to cause the arhats to obtain no outflows, to obtain the level of no study. To have no outflows means to have gotten rid of all one's individual habits and faults, to have no afflictions, to have no fundamental ignorance. So if one destroys fundamental ignorance, afflictions also disappear. Since afflictions and ignorance are invisible, we don't think of them as being plentiful; but in fact if they took form, they would fill up empty space throughout the dharma-realm.

Now the Buddha wants to cause all living beings, all the arhats, to obtain the place of still extinction, the one vehicle, the true aranya, the proper place of cultivation. The one vehicle is the final meaning of the Middle Way, the principle of the actual appearance. It is the great white-ox cart discussed in the Dharma Flower Sutra. That sutra says that there was a large house in which a great elder lived with his children. One day, when the elder was gone briefly, the children were playing in the house when suddenly it caught on fire. When the elder returned and saw the children in the burning house oblivious of the danger, he said to them, Come to the door quickly! Outside I have sheep carts, and deer carts, and ox carts for you to play with. When the children heard there were carts and things to play with, they came running out. The house burned to the ground, but the children did not perish. Once the children got out of the house, they demanded the carts from the elder. He gave them instead a great white-ox cart magnificent beyond any of their expectations.

The sheep carts and deer carts represent the two vehicles. The ox carts represent the Bodhisattva vehicle. The great white-ox cart represents the one Buddha vehicle. It can transport all living beings across the current of afflictions from this shore of birth and death to the other shore of nirvana.

An "aranya' is a Bodhimanda, a quiet place for cultivation. Why is the aranya described as 'true"? Are there also false aranyas? A true aranya is a place where there is no chaos. No one talks. A lot of people dwell together, but it's as if there weren't anyone there at all. Not even the sound of a mosquito's breathing can be heard. If you want to cultivate the Way, you should learn not to talk so much. When there is too much talking, other people cannot reach samadhi. When it's time to talk, you should talk. But some disciples talk when it's not time to talk, and when it is time to talk, they don't. Would you say they are obedient or disobedient? An obedient disciple talks when it is time to talk, and when it is not time to talk he closes his mouth. If you are a good student, you are a good Buddhist disciple. If you are a good Buddhist disciple, in the future you will become a good Buddha. Are there Buddhas who are not good? Of course not. All Buddhas are good. But if you are not good you cannot become a Buddha. You first have to be good in order for it to count. In a true aranya people keep a tight schedule. Listen attentively and I will explain it for you. This is not simply the Buddha telling Purna and Ananda to listen carefully. Now I am explaining this sutra, and it is me telling you to listen carefully.

Purna and the others, revering the Buddha's expression of dharma, listened silently. "Revering" means that they listened with great respect to the Buddha speaking dharma; they listened with very great regard for him; they listened silently. Not only do I tell you not to talk, Purna and Ananda were also silent. They closed their mouths.

I2 His explanation.
J1 He answers Purna.
K1 First he speaks of the not-empty treasury of the Thus Come One to explain the reason for the continual arisal.
L1 He answers the first question.
M1 He reiterates the question.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "Purna, you have asked why in fundamental purity the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise."

Commentary:

This passage begins an extremely important section of the Shurangama Sutra. It explains why people become people. The Buddha said, "Purna, you have asked why in fundamental purity the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth suddenly arise. You wonder why these things come to be in the originally pure treasury of the Thus Come One." The Buddha reiterates the question Purna has just asked. Now he will answer it.

M2 He investigates the question.

Sutra:

"Have you not often heard the Thus Come One expound upon the wonderful light of the enlightened nature and the bright wonder of the fundamental enlightenment." Purna said, "Yes, World Honored One, I have often heard the Buddha expound upon this subject."

Commentary:

The Buddha said to Purna: Have you not often heard the Thus Come One expound upon the wonderful light of the enlightened nature and the bright wonder of the fundamental enlightenment? Thus Come One is one of the ten titles of a Buddha. It is just another name for Buddha. Some people think there is a certain Buddha named Thus Come One, but that is not the case. Every Buddha in fact is called the Thus Come One.

The enlightened nature refers to each person's truly enlightened self-nature. "Wonderful light" means stillness and constant illumination. The word "wonderful" also represents purity. The enlightened nature is the one true principle the Buddhanature inherent in us all, the primary nature that multiplies to become myriad things. "Bright wonder" refers to illumination and everlasting quietness. Although it is quiet, it has the ability to illumine the entire dharma-realm the three thousand great thousand world system. "Fundamental enlightenment" refers to the natural, primary essence inherent within us, which neither increases nor decreases, is neither produced nor destroyed, is neither defiled nor pure. Fundamental enlightenment is also called initial enlightenment.

Ignorance comes from the arisal of falseness in the primary truth. Based on fundamental enlightenment, there arises a kind of falseness the function of according with conditions. Purna said, "Yes, World Honored One, I have often heard the Buddha expound upon this subject. The Buddha frequently explains this doctrine."

M3 He pinpoints his delusion.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "You speak of the light of enlightenment; is it that the natural light is called enlightenment? Or are you saying that enlightenment is initially without light and that then there is a so-called brightening of the enlightenment?"

Commentary:

The Buddha said, "You speak of the light of enlightenment; is it that the natural light is called enlightenment?" "Light of enlightenment" refers to the "wonderful light of the enlightened nature" and to the bright wonder of the fundamental enlightenment. The Buddha asks Purna, 'Are you saying that the nature of enlightenment is definitively bright? Is that what you refer to when you say "enlightenment"? Or are you saying that enlightenment is initially without light and that then there is a so-called brightening of the enlightenment? Is this what you mean by "bright enlightenment"? he asks Purna.

Sutra:

Purna said, "If the absence of light is called enlightenment, then there is no light whatever."

Commentary:

At this point Purna is as impulsive as Ananda in answering the Buddha. Purna said, "If the absence of light is called enlightenment, then there is no light whatever. If enlightenment can be called enlightenment without bright added to it, then there isn't anything that is bright." His meaning here is that one certainly has to add light to enlightenment. But he is mistaken. Why? Enlightenment is fundamentally bright, and therefore there is no need to add any light to it. The light you add is not genuine light. This can be likened to the mani gem which is fundamentally bright. There is certainly no way to separate the mani pearl from its brightness. It's not that brightness is added to the mani pearl to make it shine. Needing to add brightness would be like needing to turn on the light for it to be bright. But there is no need to turn on enlightenment because its fundamental substance is brightness. So Purna makes a mistake here.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "If there is no bright enlightenment without light added to it, then it is not enlightenment with it; and it is not light without it. The absence of light is not the still, bright nature of enlightenment, either."

Commentary:

The Buddha said, 'If there is no bright enlightenment without light added to it, then it is not enlightenment with it. If you say that unless light is added there is no bright enlightenment, I say it is not enlightenment if you have to add light to it. And it is not light without it. Perhaps you say that there is no need to add light to enlightenment because enlightenment is not bright; however, the absence of light is not the still, bright nature of enlightenment, either." The "absence of light" refers to fundamental ignorance. "Your ignorance is not the still, bright nature of enlightenment" is what the Buddha is saying. The still enlightenment is neither produced nor extinguished, neither defiled nor pure. Enlightenment is said to be "still' because it is as calm and clear as water. Thus it is a mistake to suppose that you have to add light to enlightenment. To add light to enlightenment is to add falseness to truth. If you don't add light to it, there is no false in the true.

Sutra:

The nature of enlightenment is essentially bright. It is false for you to make it bright enlightenment.

Commentary:

The nature of enlightenment refers to the inherent enlightenment of the self-nature. It is essentially bright, Purna. It is false for you to make it bright enlightenment. If you say that light must be added to the nature of enlightenment, you create a falseness. If you falsely add light to enlightenment, it is not genuine enlightenment. It is an enlightenment created from false thinking. It is not the original enlightenment.

M4 He explains continual arisal.
N1 Initially there is sudden arisal.
O1 There is no enlightenment and the three subtle appearances arise.

Sutra:

Enlightenment is not something that needs to be made bright, for once that is done, an object is established because of this light. Once an object is falsely set up, you as a false subject come into being.

Commentary:

Enlightenment is not something that needs to be made bright. The enlightened nature and the basic enlightenment are certainly not something to which light must be added to make them enlightenment. They are bright enlightenment inherently. For once that is done, an object is established because of this light. If you add light to it, you set up an object; something about which there is an enlightenment. "An object" refers to the appearance of karma, the first of the three subtle appearances of delusion. This delusion establishes the object, the appearance of karma. Once an object is falsely set up, you as a false subject come into being. Once there is a falseness, the appearance of karma, you react to the falseness. It is the source of your false thinking. Basically there was no need to add light to enlightenment, but with this false thought the appearance of karma comes into being and from it your false subjectivity is created an unreal process, which is the second appearance of delusion: the appearance of turning.

The general import of this section of text is that basically we are all Buddhas. Well, then, if we originally were Buddhas, how did we become ordinary beings? And why haven't living beings become Buddhas? Where does the problem lie? Originally we were no different from a Buddha. But living beings can be transformed from within the Buddha nature. How are they transformed? The Buddhas have millions of transformation bodies which come out of their light and nature. The Buddha-nature is light; but that refers to the wonderful light of basic enlightenment. Basic enlightenment is the natural inherent enlightenment of us all, and it is also the Buddha's light. And it is from within this light that the beings are transformed. To illustrate this point, I will use an analogy which is not totally apt, but which will suffice to make the principle clear. A transformation body of the Buddha is like a photograph of a person, except that the photograph has no awareness; it's inanimate, where as the Buddha's photographs are transformations. By transformation he produces a person whose nature comes from the Buddha and whose features have a likeness to the Buddha's. It's also like a reflection in a mirror. When we pass by the mirror there is a reflection; once we've gone by it disappears. The Buddha's transformation-bodies are like this, too.

Basic enlightenment is like the mirror. Suddenly in the mirror an image appears; this is likened to the arisal of the first ignorant thought. As soon as that thought arises, living beings come into existence. Now we are talking about bright enlightenment. The basic substance of enlightenment is bright. Purna wants to add brightness to enlightenment. But enlightenment is like a light which is already on. If you flipped the switch, you have added something extra, and in the process you have turned it off. Purna thought that if you turned on the light it would get bright, and that before he flipped the switch there was no light. But it was fundamentally unnecessary. The fundamental substance of enlightenment is bright, without anything more having to be done to it. And that is where the important point lies.

Sutra:

In the midst of what is neither the same nor different, difference blazes forth. And what is different from that difference becomes sameness, because of the difference. Once sameness and difference are created then due to them what is neither the same nor different is further established.

Commentary:

The false setting up of the appearance of karma produces the appearance of turning. Once the appearance of turning arises then in the midst of what is neither the same nor different, difference blazes forth. In the original emptiness where there is nothing that is the same and nothing that is not the same, difference comes into being, hot and bright as a fire. Originally there wasn't any sameness or difference in emptiness, but suddenly these two come into being to create the world. And what is different from that difference becomes sameness, because of the difference. Next there comes into being what is not the same as the difference that has blazed forth in emptiness. After the appearance of turning arises the appearance of manifestation; thus in emptiness the world manifests.

Purna asked why in the treasury of the Thus Come One there suddenly arise the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth; the Buddha is now answering that question. Once sameness and difference are created then due to them what is neither the same nor different is further established. Emptiness originally has no appearance, but now the world manifests appearances. "What is neither the same nor different" refers to living beings. They are said to be "not the same" because each living being has a different appearance. They are said to be "not different" because all living beings share the quality of sentience. The appearance of karma, the appearance of turning, and the appearance of manifestation are all created from ignorance. This section has discussed the appearance of manifestation. One unenlightened thought creates The three subtle appearances. What is experienced from them becomes the conditions For the growth of the six coarse appearances. These three delusions are primary and not easy to discern.

O2 The external environment becomes the conditions and extends into six coarse appearances.

Sutra:

This turmoil eventually brings about weariness. Prolonged weariness produces defilement. The combination of these in a murky turbidity creates affliction with respect to wearisome defilement.

Commentary:

Now the six coarse appearances will be discussed. This section explains the first five coarse appearances.

The six coarse appearances are:

1. The appearance of knowledge.
'This represents an inherent attachment to dharmas. The knowledge here is not ultimate wisdom; it is an appearance of awareness and is endowed with the ability to discriminate.

2. The appearance of continuation.
This represents a discriminating attachment to dharmas.

3. The appearance of grasping.
This represents the inherent attachment to self.

4. The appearance of reckoning names.
This represents the discriminating attachment to self.

5. The appearance of the arisal of karma.

6. The appearance of suffering bound to karma.

Because one is attached to karma, the appearance of this suffering follows.

The first time you hear these you probably won't understand much about them, but after you investigate them over a period of time you will come to understand. For now, let it pass into your ears, and in your eighth consciousness there will be an impression. If you investigate the Buddhadharma for a long time, it is certain that you will come to a point where things connect and you suddenly understand.

This turmoil: in the midst of what is not the same and not different spoken about above, and the world and emptiness, difference blazes forth, and a turmoil is created, lacking any order. This turmoil eventually brings about weariness. In this sameness and difference which is suddenly created, a weariness eventually arises. The weariness is the first of the six coarse appearances: the appearance of knowledge. Prolonged weariness produces defilement. Prolonged weariness is the second coarse appearance: the appearance of continuation. Defilement is the third coarse appearance: the appearance of grasping. The combination of these in a murky turbidity. They get mixed up together and appearance: the appearance of reckoning names. This turbidity creates affliction with respect to wearisome defilement. Wearisome defilement is affliction; affliction is simply wearisome defilement. The 84,000 kinds of wearisome defilement are simply the 84,000 kinds of afflictions. From the various conditions just discussed, afflictions arise, and with afflictions come the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and everything else. This is the fifth coarse appearance: the appearance of the arisal of karma.

Sutra:

Arisal is the world; stillness is emptiness. Emptiness is sameness; the world is difference. What is neither sameness nor difference is the actual conditioned dharmas.

Commentary:

This section explains the sixth coarse appearance: the appearance of the suffering bound to karma. Arisal is the world. Arisal is coming forth movement. Stillness is emptiness. Stillness is quiet unmoving. Emptiness is sameness; the world is difference. What is emptiness the same as? Originally emptiness is the same as everything. It is not different from anything because in emptiness there are no distinctions. It is just because there are no distinctions that it is called emptiness. But with the arisal of the world there is difference. The world is different from emptiness in that it has form, shape, and appearance. The arisal of the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth produce the world. This will be explained in detail later in the text.

What is neither sameness nor difference is the actual conditioned dharmas. Originally there isn't anything in emptiness that can be said to be the same or different, with the arisal of:

1. the appearance of karma,
2. the appearance of turning, and
3. the appearance of manifestation

as well as

1. the appearance of knowledge,
2. the appearance of continuation,
3. the appearance of grasping,
4. the appearance of reckoning names,
5. the appearance of the arisal of karma, and
6. the appearance of suffering bound to karma.

We use the terms sameness and difference to describe what takes place.

N2 Afterwards there is continuation.
O1 The continuation of the world.
P1 The birth of the subjective realm becomes four elements.

Sutra:

The interaction of bright enlightenment and dark emptiness sets them in a perpetual rotation; thus there is the pervasiveness of wind which supports the world.

Commentary:

The world has four elements: earth, water, fire, and wind. First we will discuss the pervasiveness of wind. When light is added to the genuine fundamental bright enlightenment, ignorance arises and the light is bound in duality with darkness. Dark emptiness: emptiness is some times murky and obscure. When the darkness of emptiness and the light of enlightenment interact, the interaction sets them in a perpetual rotation. Emptiness and the substance of bright enlightenment that is ignorance which has resulted from adding bright to enlightenment are set in opposition and eventually there is movement. As soon as there is movement, there is the pervasiveness of wind. With that movement, wind arises. Beneath the earth there is a pervasive wind which supports the world. Nowadays we talk about space where there is no atmosphere, but out beyond space there are other places where there is wind. "Pervasiveness" here is lun in the Chinese text; lun means "wheel," but such a literal translation is not necessary here, as the connotation is "pervasiveness." The wind has a power which supports the world. This will be discussed in detail later in the text.

Sutra:

Because emptiness produces movement, hardened light sets up a solidity which is the store of metal. Bright enlightenment makes this hardness; thus there is the pervasiveness of metal which secures the lands.

Commentary:

Because emptiness produces movement, hardened light sets up a solidity which is the store of metal. The combination of light which has been added to enlightenment and the darkness of emptiness creates a movement which becomes wind. The hardness of this false light creates an obstructiveness which becomes metal. Metal is the hard quality of the element earth. Bright enlightenment makes this hardness. Because the light of metal is added to enlightenment, a solid quality arises; thus there is the pervasiveness of metal which secures the lands. Within earth, water, fire, and wind, metal plays a part of supporting the world.

Sutra:

Obstinate attachment to unenlightened awareness results in the formation of metals, while the vibration of illusory awareness causes wind to rise up. The wind and metal rub together; thus there is the light of fire which is changeable by nature.

Commentary:

Obstinate attachment to unenlightened awareness results in the formation of metals. Metal is hard and so is earth. This hardness collects in a store, while the vibration of illusory awareness causes wind to rise up. The metal creates a state of movement, and from that wind arises. In this situation the wind and the metal come in contact. The wind and metal rub together; thus there is the light of fire which is changeable by nature.

Sutra:

The brightness of the metal produces moisture, and from the light of fire steam arises; thus there is the pervasiveness of water which encompasses realms in the ten directions.

Commentary:

The brightness of the metal produces moisture. When metal is heated it will sweat; water drops will appear in its glossy surface. Because of the fire, a moisture is eventually produced on the metal. This moisture is one aspect of water. And from the light of fire steam arises. From the moisture of the metal a moist vapor is produced. When the light of fire from below rises, it creates steam as it passes over the metal. Thus there is the pervasiveness of water which encompasses realms in the ten directions. Because of the phenomenon of condensation and evaporation when the metal meets fire, there is the water cycle which encompasses the lands of the ten directions.

P2 The arisal of the objective realm becomes four habitats.

Sutra:

Fire rises and water falls, and the combination sets up a solidity. What is wet becomes the oceans and seas; what is dry becomes the continents and islands.

Commentary:

After explaining the pervasiveness of water, the Buddha tells how the seas and mountains come into being. Fire rises and water falls. Fire leaps high; water flows down. The previous passage says that the metal sweats and the fire rises so the moisture evaporates thus creating the water cycle. So the fire rises and the water falls, and and the combination sets up a solidity. This produces the solid earth. What is wet " the water that descends and collects becomes the oceans and seas; what is dry becomes the continents and islands" the dry land.

Sutra:

Because of this, fire often rises up in the oceans, and on the continents the streams and rivers ever flow.

Commentary:

Because of this, because the fire rises and the water falls, what is wet becomes the seas and what is dry becomes the land, fire often rises up in the oceans. Volcanoes and the like arise. Although it is the sea, there often arises the light of fire. And on the continents the streams and rivers ever flow. The rivers and streams flow on ceaselessly.

Sutra:

When the power of water is less than that of fire, high mountains result. So it is that mountain rocks give off sparks when struck, and become liquid when melted.

Commentary:

Water and fire battle with one another and when the power of water is less than that of fire, high mountains result. When the fire overpowers the water, high mountains are formed. So it is that mountain rocks give off sparks when struck, and become liquid when melted. When you pound the rock, sparks form out of it. When you heat rocks to a certain point, they melt like in a volcanic eruption. How can volcanoes spew forth fire? It is because of the battle for power between water and fire.

Sutra:

When the power of earth is less than that of water, the outcome is grasses and trees. So it is that groves and meadows turn to ashes when burned and ooze water when twisted.

Commentary:

When the power of earth is less than that of water, the outcome is grasses and trees. When the strength of the earth is not as great as the strength of water the conditions of water and earth produce the grasses and trees. So it is that groves and meadows turn to ashes when burned and ooze water when twisted. Ashes are simply earth. If you twist the blades of grass or parts of the tree, liquid will flow out.

P3 The result becomes the seed for continuation.

Sutra:

A falseness is produced with interaction as the seeds, and from these causes and conditions comes the continuity of the world.

Commentary:

A falseness is produced with interaction as the seeds. A false thought arises and fire and water become the seeds of mountains by mutual interaction. From these causes and conditions comes the continuity of the world. From this interaction which forms the seeds, the world ends and then begins again. It is destroyed and then arises once more. Once it arises it is again destroyed. From production, dwelling, decay, and emptiness, and various circumstances, the continuity of the world is perpetuated, which goes on without cease.

O2 The continuation of living beings.
P1 The six kinds of falseness come into being.

Sutra:

Moreover, Purna, the false brightness is none other than the mistake of adding light to enlightenment.

Commentary:

Moreover, Purna, I will explain further. The false brightness is none other than the mistake of adding light to enlightenment. It's not something else playing tricks on you; it's simply that you wanted to add light to enlightenment. That's how the problem arose. Adding light to enlightenment is just like putting a head on top of a head.

Sutra:

After the falseness of an object is established, the faculty of understanding cannot transcend it. Due to this cause and condition, hearing does not go beyond sound, and seeing does not surpass form.

Commentary:

After the falseness of an object is established, the faculty of understanding cannot transcend it. The "falseness of an object" refers to the appearance of karma and corresponds to the earlier passage: Once an object is falsely set up. The word "faculty" here refers to a false ability, the appearance of turning and corresponds to the earlier passage: "Your false subject arises." "Understanding" here refers to ignorance, which is not flexible and cannot transcend the falseness of an object. Due to this cause and condition, hearing does not go beyond sound, and seeing does not surpass form. Because of the appearance of karma and the condition of the appearance of turning, we don't hear anything beyond sound when we listen, and we don't see anything beyond form and appearance when we look.

Sutra:

Forms, smells, tastes, and objects of touch ; six falsenesses are realized. Because of them there is division into seeing, sensation, hearing, and knowing.

Commentary:

Because seeing does not surpass form, there arise forms, smells, tastes, and objects of touch. This list of forms implies sounds and dharmas as well, the state of the six defiling objects. Thus six falsenesses are realized. The six organs and six objects together create the six consciousnesses. Because of them there is division into seeing, sensation, hearing, and knowing, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, sensation, and knowing, the six consciousnesses. The six consciousnesses are originally the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. So it is said:

One pure brightness in its origin,
It divides into six interacting aspects.

The one pure brightness is the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. The six interacting aspects are the eyes, which see form; the ears, which hear sounds; the nose, which smells scents; the tongue, which tastes flavors; the body, which is aware of sensation; and the mind, which knows dharmas. They are said to be six but in reality they are one. They are a function of the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One.

P2 Four kinds of birth happen in response.

Sutra:

Similar karma binds together: union and separation bring about transformation.

Commentary:

Similar karma refers to the karma one creates and to one's father and mother, these causes and conditions are similar. "Similar karma" also refers to the mutual arisal of thoughts of love which binds together. Similar karma produces emotional love and prevents separation. Men and women become stuck together like glue. This binding together creates birth by womb and eggs.

Sutra:

One sees that a bright spot is generated. At the sight of the bright spot conception comes into being. Differing views produce hatred; similar views create love. The flow of love becomes a seed, and the conception is drawn into the womb. Intercourse happens with a mutual attraction of similar karma. And so there are the causes and conditions that create the kalala, the arbuda, and the rest.

Commentary:

One sees that a bright spot is generated. How do people become people? When a person comes into being, consciousness which arrives first, and when a person dies, the eighth consciousness is the last to leave. So it is said:

Last to go;
First to come.
Thus it is the host.

Before the eighth consciousness leaves, the body will remain warm. Once the eighth consciousness goes, the body gets cold. Once it goes it becomes the intermediate yin-body. If one was a person, then one's intermediate yin-body has the appearance of a person. If one was an animal, the intermediate existence body has the appearance of an animal. It's just as if it was cast from a mold. No matter how far away from its potential father and mother it may be, it will find them if it has conditions with them. To the intermediateexistence body, everything is pitch black. We have lamplight and sunlight and moonlight, but the intermediate-existence body can't see them. What it sees is black as ink. So when the potential father and mother have intercourse, it will see a pinpoint of light at that place, because it has connections with them. At the sight of the bright spot conception comes into being. What is conceived? Thoughts. Differing views produce hatred. When people's opinions are not the same as yours, you come to hate them. Similar views create love. When someone has false thoughts identical with your own, you grow to love them.

If the intermediate-existence body is male, it will love the mother and hate the father. It will want to strike its father and steal its mother. It wants to have intercourse with its mother. So the origin of people is very bad. When it loves its mother and hates its father, with that one thought of ignorance it enters the womb; the flow of love becomes a seed, and the conception is drawn into the womb. If the intermediate-existence body is female, it will love the father and be jealous of the mother. That is how conception takes place.

Those who like to talk about love can't end birth and death. Love is the root of birth and death. Those who like to talk about love can very quickly end birth and death. How can I contradict myself this way and say that these opposite statements are both true? It's just here that the wonder lies. You advocate emotional love, but emotional love takes one down the road of birth and death. Why? People are born from love and desire and they die from love and desire. This is the ordinary occurrence. Everyone walks this road of birth and death.

So how can I say that if you think love is so important you can very quickly end birth and death? If you think love is so important, if you are so intent upon it, you should see through it and be done with it.

The sea of suffering is boundless
A turn of the head is the other shore.

If you see through it, you can end birth and death. People are like cabbage-worms, which are born in a cabbage and die in the cabbage. People are born in love and desire and die in love and desire.

The flow of love becomes a seed: men and women profess their love and keep expressing it until there is tangible evidence of it. Once the love becomes tangible, a seed can be produced. 'Conception" here refers to the eighth consciousness the intermediate yin-body, also called the intermediate existence body or the intermediate-skandha body.

And so there are the causes and conditions that create the kalala, the arbuda, and the rest. Kalala is a Sanskrit word that refers to the first week of embryonic development, the "slippery coagulation." The second week of development is called the arbuda, the globule. The third week is called peshi, or soft flesh. The fourth week is called ghana, or solid flesh. The fifth week is called prashakha, or rudimentary embryo.

Let us look at this from the point of view of the twelve links of conditioned causation. The reason men and women fall in love, just that thought of love is ignorance, that one thought of ignorance.

"Ignorance conditions activity." The activity is intercourse. "Activity conditions consciousness." This is the eighth consciousness referred to above in the line "conception is received into the womb." The consciousness is the intermediate-skandha body entering the womb.

"Consciousness conditions name and form." "Name" refers to the first through fourth weeks of embryonic development. "Form" refers to the fifth and later weeks of embryonic development. "Name and form condition the six entrances." By the seventh week of embryonic development, the organs are fully formed. The embryo has by now developed eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.

"Six entrances condition contact." Once the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind are formed, there is an awareness of contact. The embryo in the mother's womb experiences the sensation of contact.

"Contact conditions feeling." The embryo is receptive to the contact. "Feeling conditions love." When it receives the contact, it gives rise to love. This is the real beginning of love. And so to answer the question why men and women come to love one another: it is because even at the fetal stage the cause has been planted already there are thoughts of love.

"Love conditions grasping." Once there are thoughts of love, one wants to have the object of love for one's own, one wants to become that thing. "Grasping conditions becoming, becoming conditions birth." Once you've got it, you're born.

"Birth conditions old age and death." Once there is birth there is death. So arhats contemplate the twelve links of conditioned causation and know that the seed, the causes and conditions, are impure. The father?s semen and the mother's blood are unclean things.

If you want to end birth and death, the first thing you must do is not give rise to ignorance. How do you do that? Don't have thoughts of emotional desire! Without ignorance there is no activity. Men and women get involved all because of that first thought of ignorance. And what is ignorance? It is "I don't know..." For instance when a man sees a woman she may be beautiful, but ultimately, why does his mind move? It is just when one's mind moves that one gives rise to ignorance. And when women have an emotional reaction to men, it is the same thing. Ignorance, therefore, is the root of birth and death. And it is the place that it all starts.

If you understand the twelve links of conditioned causation and are not turned around by them, then,

When ignorance is extinguished,
Activity is extinguished.
When activity is extinguished,
Consciousness is extinguished.
When consciousness is extinguished,
Name and form are extinguished.
When name and form are extinguished,
The six sense organs are extinguished.
When the six sense organs are extinguished,
Contact is extinguished.
When contact is extinguished,
Feeling is extinguished.
When feeling is extinguished,
Love is extinguished.
When love is extinguished,
Grasping is extinguished.
When grasping is extinguished,
Becoming is extinguished.
When becoming is extinguished,
Birth is extinguished.
When birth is extinguished,
Old age and death are extinguished.

This is the method of returning to extinction. If you take the road of arising in succession, you become a person. If you return to extinction, you can become a Buddha. So arhats contemplate the twelve links of conditioned causation and think, "How do people come into being? Ah, their coming is extremely unclean. The combination of the father's semen and the mother's blood to make an embryo is impure." So they sever ignorance and end birth and death.

During the reign of the Emperor Wu of Liang, the Buddhadharma flourished. Whenever there was a wedding reception dharma masters were invited to recite sutras. On children's birthdays, dharma masters were invited to recite sutras. In short, no matter what the occasion, dharma masters were invited to recite sutras and give their blessing. They would give a short speech about the auspiciousness of the event what a lucky occasion it was. At that time there was a wealthy man who was celebrating the marriage of his son. He invited Chan Master Zhi Gong to recite sutras and give the blessing. When Chan Master Zhi Gong arrived and looked around, he said:

How strange! How bizarre!
The grandson marries the grandmother.
The daughter eats the mother's flesh.
The drum the son beats is stretched
with the father's skin.
Pigs and sheep are on the seat.
The six close kin cook in the brazier.
People gather to celebrate.
I see all this as a form of suffering.

Why was the grandson marrying his grandmother? It was because when the grandson was two years old, his grandmother died. As she was dying, she grabbed her grandson's hand and said, "I'm at the point where I can let go of everyone else, but I can't forget about my grandson. Who will take care of him in the future?" And she died clutching her grandson's hand. After her death she went before King Yama and he said, "Oh, you love your grandson so much? Fine. Go back and be your grandson's wife." So she was reborn as a woman and when she came of age, her grandson chose her as his wife. How did Chan Master Zhi Gong know this? Because he had the ability to know
others' thoughts and the ability to perceive past lives, he had the Buddha eye.

When he looked in front of the house he said, "The daughter eats the mother's flesh," because he saw a little girl chewing on a chunk of pork. Her mother had died and been reborn as a pig. The pig had been slaughtered and cooked, and she was actually eating the flesh of her own mother!

When he inspected the musicians in the band by the entrance way, he said, "The drum the son beats is stretched with the father's skin." The drummer was hitting a drum stretched with deer-hide. His father had died and been reborn as a deer. The deer had been slaughtered and its hide tanned and the drummer was actually beating his own father!

Then Chan Master Zhi Gong noticed that "Pigs and sheep are on the seat." He saw pigs and sheep sitting like guests on the kang, the high brick beds in the house. They were people now, but in their former lives they had been pigs and sheep. In their former lives they themselves had been eaten, so now they were reborn as people who in turn ate pigs and sheep to even up the debt.

When the Chan master took a look at the cooking pots, he exclaimed, "Six close kin cook in the brazier." The six kinds of close kin refer to relatives on the father's side and the mother's side, kin of the brother and sisters, and so forth. They had been close relatives of these people but now had been reborn as pigs and sheep, had been slaughtered, and were being cooked in the brazier. Chan Master Zhi Gong summarized, "People gather to celebrate." Everyone who came was saying, "Congratulations!" and "Best wishes!" But the master notes, "I see all this as a form of suffering." What I see is actually suffering.

Sutra:

The womb-born, egg-born, moisture-born, and transformation- born come about in response: the egg-born come from thought, the womb-born are due to emotion, the moisture-born arise from union, and transformations occur through separation.

Commentary:

The womb-born, egg-born, moisture-born, and transformation- born: these are four kinds of birth. The "womb-born" are mammals. The 'egg-born' are feathered vertebrates' birds and the like. The "moisture-born" are creatures born out of water. The 'transformation-born" are beings that change form, they seem to be there and then disappear. They seem not to be there and then appear.

They come about in response. In every kind of birth there is a stimulus and a response. For instance, the egg-born come from thought. There must be four conditions present for birth from eggs to occur:

1. the condition of a father,
2. the condition of a mother,
3. the condition of individual karma, and
4. the condition of warmth.

With them, the egg-born come from thought. For example, a mother hen sits on her eggs all day long; she gets unbearably hot, but she won't get up. Once a day she leaves long enough to defecate and eat a little, and then she goes right back to sitting and thinking, 'Come out, little chicks. Hatch, little ones." That's why it says that the eggborn come from thought.

The womb-born are due to emotion, the moisture-born arise from union. Moisture-born beings can come about from two conditions:

1. the condition of sunlight, and
2. the condition of moisture.

Transformations occur through separation. These beings are created from karma alone and are changeable. They appear and disappear; disappear and appear. Transformation is attributable to a strong desire for the new and a dislike for the old, hence it occurs through separation.

P3 The results become continuation.

Sutra:

Emotion, thought, union, and separation go through further changes, and from all the karma received one either rises or sinks. From these causes and conditions comes the continuity of living beings.

Commentary:

Emotion, thought, union, and separation go through further changes. There is a combined interaction involving change, over and over again. And from all the karma received one either rises or sinks. From the retribution undergone, beings vary from birds in the air to fish in the sea. From these causes and conditions comes the continuity of living beings. Living beings are those receiving twelve kinds of rebirth:

1. those born from wombs,
2. those born from eggs,
3. those born from moisture,
4. those born by transformation,
5. those born with form,
6. those born without form,
7. those born with thought,
8. those born without thought,
9. those born not totally with form,
10. those born not totally without form,
11. those born not totally with thought, and
12. those born not totally without thought.

This is the ceaseless continuation of living beings. First we discussed the continuity of the world. Next we have discussed the continuity of living beings.

O3 The continuation of karmic retribution.
P1 The source of karmic retribution is pointed out.

Sutra:

Purna, thought and love become bound together so that people love each other and cannot bear to be apart. As a result, the world has seen an endless succession of births of parents, children, and grandchildren. And the basis for all of this is desire and greed.

Commentary:

Purna, all the living beings in the world have thought and love that become bound together. False thinking and desirous love link up so that people love each other and cannot bear to be apart. They get attached to their feelings of love and cannot renounce them. This karmic response is such that they become stuck together like glue. As a result, the world has seen an endless succession of births of parents, children, and grandchildren. And the basis for all of this is desire and greed. These kinds of living beings base themselves in emotional desire.

Sutra:

Greed and love feed on one another until greed becomes insatiable. As a result, in the world all the sentient beings born of eggs, wombs, moisture, and by transformation tend to devour one another for the nourishment of their bodies to the extent that their strength permits. And the basis for all of this is killing and greed.

Commentary:

Greed and love feed on one another until greed becomes insatiable. Every creature wants to nourish its own body. The greed cannot be stopped. As a result, in the world all the sentient beings born of eggs, wombs, moisture, and by transformation tend to devour one another for the nourishment of their bodies to the extent that their strength permits. Depending on how strong they are, they eat one another. You eat me and I eat you. Big worms eat little worms. Big fish eat little fish. Big beasts eat smaller creatures. For instance, if a tiger finds a being smaller than itself it will eat it. The weak become the food for the strong. Snakes feed on mice. But that's in the summer. In the winter, snakes are incapacitated by the cold. So then, the mice eat the snakes. You eat me; I eat you.

The great golden-winged Peng bird used to eat dragons from the ocean the way people eat noodles. The wingspan of the Peng bird is 330 yojanas. One small yojana is 40 li. (A li is about 1/3 of a mile.) A middle-sized yojana is 60 li. And a large yojana is 80 li. One flap of the Peng bird's wings would wash away all the water of the ocean and reveal the dry bed at the bottom. His method for eating dragons was to flap his wings over the ocean, which would part the waters and reveal the dragons on the bottom; then he would help himself to a meal. So the dragons kept getting taken by surprise. With nowhere to hide and no time to disappear and no way to escape, their numbers were dwindling rapidly. Finally some dragons went to the Buddha to protest.

Buddha, you are one of great compassion, the greatly enlightened World Honored One. The great Peng bird is eating our children and grandchildren and soon our whole species will become extinct. What can be done?

The Buddha replied, "Don't worry. I'll think of a way to help you." Next time the Peng bird came to see the Buddha, the World Honored One told him, "Don't eat dragons anymore. The dragons are becoming extinct because you eat so many of them." The Peng bird argued, "But if I don't eat dragons, I'll starve. I won't have anything to eat!"

"Don't worry," said the Buddha. "From now on every time my disciples eat, they will serve you a little food." So in Buddhism, at the noon meal, a little food is taken outside during the high meal offering. It is given to the great golden-winged Peng bird to eat. This story is another example of the competition for survival. And the basis for all of this is killing and greed. These kinds of living beings kill one another off. The fundamental characteristics of their karmic offenses come from greedy desire and a fondness for killing.

Sutra:

A person eats a sheep. The sheep dies and becomes a person. The person dies and becomes a sheep, and it goes on that way through ten births and more. Through death after death and birth after birth, they come back to eat one another. The evil karma becomes innate and exhausts the bounds of the future. And the basis for all of this is stealing and greed.

Commentary:

A person eats a sheep. People like to eat lamb and mutton. Although only the sheep is mentioned in the text, all the other animals are implied. Pigs, cows, chickens, and the like are all included. So the person eats the flesh of the sheep. The sheep dies and becomes a person. I just recited Chan Master Zhi Gong's poem for you, and now the text verifies it. The person dies and becomes a sheep. "I don't believe it," you say. 'There's no such principle. How can a person become a sheep and a sheep become a person?" If you don't believe it, there's nothing left but for you to try it out. Go ahead and give it a try! When you die and go off to rebirth and wind up on the womb of a sheep, you'll think, "The dharma that dharma master was explaining was true after all." But then it will be too late. If you want to cultivate the Way then, it won't be easy to do so in the belly of a sheep.

And it goes on that way through ten births and more. "Ten births" can be explained as ten of the list of the twelve kinds of rebirth mentioned. It can also mean one life, two lives, three lives, four, five, six, and so forth. So it is said:

Once you lose a human body,
You may not get it back in ten thousand rebirths.

If you lose the body of a human being and turn into an animal, it's not at all easy to get back into the human realm. It might take one life, two lives, three lives, up to ten lives, and even then it's not certain you will be able to get back to the human realm. And so it's also said:

A human life is hard to get.
The Buddhadharma is difficult to encounter.

At present, all of us have human bodies. Regardless of what nationality or race we are, we are all human. So now that we have the good fortune of a human life, we should quickly cultivate. Let us just look at America, with its millions of people. The number who are truly studying the Buddhadharma and hearing it explained every day amount to us dozen or so here in San Francisco. There may be other places, but none of them study and practice as intensely as we do. And how many people in the United States can explain the entire Shurangama Sutra? Not more than two or three, and it might be pushing it to say two. So wouldn't you say the Buddhadharma is difficult to get to hear?

Through death after death and birth after birth, they come back to eat one another. The sheep dies and becomes a person. The person dies and becomes a sheep. You eat me and I eat you. You fill my belly and I fill your belly. We keep changing places; you eat my flesh, I eat your flesh. So the sheep gets plump and the person gets paunchy, until it becomes a contest to see who can outeat the other. Not only do they eat like this for one life, it goes on for ten lives and more. So, people, don't get too obese. Don't compete with the sheep to see who can get fatter. That's no way to even the score.

The evil karma becomes innate and exhausts the bounds of the future. The battle goes on: you take a bite of me in this life, next life I'll take two bites of you. You eat two bites of me, I'll help myself to four bites of you. The interest rate keeps multiplying. And this process never stops; it reaches to the bounds of the future. What are the "bounds of the future"? That means tomorrow. And tomorrow. Tomorrow and tomorrow. How many tomorrows are there? They exhaust the bounds of the future. They never cease. Now what about that? Dangerous or not? If you want to try it out, take my advice and don't. It's too dangerous to play around with. And the basis for all of this is stealing and greed. Stealing is taking what is not given. For instance, when you eat the flesh of a sheep, the sheep certainly did not give it to you. It's not like the case of the deer of the Deer Wilds Park who offered one deer to the king every day. They chose to do that, and perhaps there wouldn't even be a retribution to repay in that case. But if you capture and kill a sheep for no reason but to eat its flesh, you have stolen. You eat his flesh and thereby take what is not given, and so he gains rebirth as a person and you become a sheep in your next life and in this way you keep stealing from each other. You stole his flesh so now he steals your flesh. A sheep dies and becomes a person and his rebirth is a case of causal reward, though you may not realize it.

So the whole situation is extremely dangerous. I hope my disciples won't flirt with danger and try things out, only to end up as sheep or pigs, because I don't want my disciples to fall. I want them all to become Buddhas a little sooner. So today I urge you, don't try out that dangerous path!

P2 Karmic debts must be repaid.

Sutra:

"You owe me a life; I have to repay my debt to you." From these causes and conditions we pass through hundreds of thousands of aeons, in a sustained cycle of birth and death.

Commentary:

You owe me a life; I have to repay my debt to you. If you take my life, you must repay me for it; if I take your life I also have to return it to you in kind. If you borrow from me you must repay the debt; if I borrow from you I must also pay you back. From these causes and conditions we pass through hundreds of thousands of aeons, in a sustained cycle of birth and death. Even after millions of aeons we are still caught in the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

Sutra:

"You love my mind; I adore your form." From these causes and conditions we pass through hundreds of thousands of aeons, in a sustained mutual entanglement.

Commentary:

As soon as this passage of text is read you should feel total fear. Look at what it says: You love my mind; I adore your form. The arisal of love is the birth of ignorance. "Adore your form" means there is activity. "From ignorance arises activity." This is again the topic of men and women. In fact, in this world, apart from the question of men and women, there's really nothing to say. Thus if the Buddha's sutras don't talk about it from one angle, they refer to it from another angle. But it's not the case that the Buddha advocated love when he said, "You love me and I love you.' He wasn't promoting free love which ignores all the rules. From these causes and conditions we pass through hundreds of thousands of aeons, in a sustained mutual entanglement. It is just as if you were glued together and can't get apart despite yourselves. You get really sticky. And you think the whole thing is just what you always wanted. But actually since you're stuck there, you can't get to the position of Buddhahood. And you still think it's not bad? Love, love, love, what?

P3 The result becomes continuation.

Sutra:

Killing, stealing, and lust are themselves the basic roots. From these causes and conditions comes the continuity of karmic retribution.

Commentary:

Where does karmic retribution come from? It is produced from killing, stealing, and lust. If you kill, you create the karma of killing. If you steal, you create the karma of stealing. If you lust, you create the karma of deviant sex. These three kinds of karma are also called the three evils of the body. They are themselves the basic roots. From these causes and conditions comes the continuity of karmic retribution.

The continuity of karmic retribution supports the continuity of living beings and the continuity of living beings supports the continuity of the world. The continuity of the world in turn supports the continuity of karmic retribution, and so the cycle completes itself and is endless. It ends and begins again, ends and begins again. That's the way this world is. If you think this world is really fine, exciting and beautiful, then go ahead and enjoy yourself. If you think it is not so good, you can come back home. Where's home? It's at the position of Buddhahood.

M5 He concludes his answer by showing the relationship among them.

Sutra:

Therefore, Purna, the three kinds of upside down continuity come from the light which is added to enlightenment. With this false enlightening of the knowing-nature, subjective awareness gives rise to objective appearances. Both are born of false views, and from this falseness the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned appearances unfold themselves in a succession that recurs in endless cycles.

Commentary:

After the Buddha finished explaining the continuity of the world, the continuity of living beings, and the continuity of karmic retribution, he called to Purna again. Therefore, Purna, the three kinds of upside down continuity come from the light which is added to enlightenment. The continuity of the world is the arisal, dwelling, change, and extinction of the world, which goes on perpetually. Living beings go through a similar process of birth, dwelling, change, and extinction, ceaselessly without end. Karmic retribution also occurs with production, dwelling, change, and extinction, forever and ever. These three kinds of continuity arise from ignorance.

The world is established because of ignorance. So there is the ignorance of the world, the ignorance of living beings, and the ignorance of karmic retribution. Every conditioned dharma arises from ignorance. Ignorance is the mother of all conditioned existence. Thus if people can smash ignorance, they can see the dharma-nature. Until you have smashed ignorance, you cannot see your dharma-nature.

Why is this world sustained by the three kinds of up side-down continuity? Adding light to fundamental enlightenment turns it into ignorance. With this false enlightening of the knowing-nature, subjective awareness gives rise to objective appearances. With the birth of ignorance, an empty and false knowing-nature comes into being and because of it, the objective realm is perceived. Both are born of false views, and from this falseness the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned appearances unfold themselves in a succession that recurs in endless cycles. Despite the vastness of the plains, forests, and all the myriad appearances, there is a definite sequence to it all, and never any randomness or disarray. Once this empty falseness arises, it goes on and on. It finishes and then begins again, ends and then starts over. For instance, people die and then are reborn, and once born they die again, and after death they are born again. They keep turning around. Yet people never wake up and wonder, "Why do I get born and then die, die and then get born?" They don't look into this question. They never figure out why they get born and why they die. So when they're born they don't understand what's going on and when they die they're even more confused. So the saying:

When you come you are disoriented.
When you go you are confused.

Since they are so unclear about their coming and going, you can imagine that their lives as people pass in a daze as well. And it's just in this lack of clarity that the process continues. They are born and die, die and are born. Pitiful? What ultimate meaning is there in all of this?

The ultimate meaning of being in this world is making a little money and eating a little food. You don't have any money so you have to go to work. You make money in order to buy food and clothes. Really, if all there is to this life is eating, wearing clothes, and living in a nice house, it's really meaningless! It would be better to die right this minute! Think about it: you have to go to work and when you come home you have to eat. You have to keep trying to fill that bottomless pit. You fill it up today, and by tomorrow it all has flowed out again. You fill it one day and the next day it's empty again, even to the point that you fill it in the morning and it's hungry by noon. Again you fill the hole, and by evening you're hungry yet again. You have to move out the old to make room for the new. Going through such a lot of trouble every day seems totally meaningless. There's a poem that goes:

From of old until today, few people have lived past seventy.
First subtract the early years and then the years of age:
Between the two there is not much time that is left at all.
And of that, remember, sleep takes up the better half!

From ancient times until the present day, the number of people who have lived past seventy are very few. And in the early years, before one is fifteen years old, one can't really do anything. Americans become of age at eighteen, but Chinese children still rely on their parents at twenty-five! So first you must subtract the early years. Someone says, "My kid carries papers and makes money." Sure, but he can't make much. You can't really count that as carrying on a business.

From the end of the lifespan you also have to subtract fifteen years, the years of old age. In the last fifteen years you are physically unable to do very much. Your eyes go bad, your ears get deaf, your teeth fall out, and your hands shake. You can't even get your legs to work right. Your four limbs are of no use any more. So if one lives to be seventy, and we take off fifteen years at the beginning and fifteen years at the end, there isn't much time left in between. There are forty years left. But that is not forty years of productiveness. Half of it is taken up in sleep. And then if you take into account going to the bathroom, putting on and taking off clothes, you'll have to subtract some more time. So at the very most a human lifespan has about twenty productive years to it. So what's so great about it?

That reminds me of three old men who got together to celebrate New Year's. One was sixty years old, one was seventy, and one was eighty. These three old cronies went out dutch to ring out the old and ring in the new, and the sixty-year-old said:

"This year we celebrate with wine and cheer. I wonder next year who won't be here."

The seventy-year-old said, "You're thinking too far in the future."

"Oh?" said the sixty-year-old. "What do you say about it?"

The seventy-year-old said:
"Tonight when I take off my shoes and socks, will I put them on again tomorrow or not?"

The eighty-year-old said, "You're looking too far ahead yourself."

"Well, what do you say about it?" asked the seventy year-old.

The eighty-year-old said:
"I let out this breath of air, and then I'm not sure if I'll ever breath in again."

These three old-timers were looking into the question of birth and death. In the end, could they end birth and death? If they had met a good knowing advisor, a bright-eyed teacher, they'd still have had a chance. If they didn't encounter a bright-eyed teacher, I believe they couldn't have ended birth and death.

There's another incident that had bearing on this topic. Once there was a man who died and went before King Yama. So a soon as he saw King Yama, he started to argue his case. He said, "You are really inhumane. If you wanted me to come see you, you should have written me a letter. If you had informed me clearly in advance, I could have prepared. But you didn't write a letter or make a phone call or send a telegram to let me know.

You just captured me without warning, and I find that totally unreasonable." King Yama said to him, "I sent you a lot of letters." You just didn't realize it.

"I never got any letters from you," the man protested. Yama said, "The first letter I gave you was when your neighbor had a child that died at birth. You were already quite old, and if a newborn child could die, weren't you even more vulnerable? You should have wakened up at that point and started to cultivate. "And then didn't there come the time when your eyes went bad and you could no longer see clearly? That was the second letter. In time your ears went deaf, right? That was the third letter. Wasn't there a point when your teeth fell out? That was the fourth letter."

'"I didn't recognize the words of your letters, Yama. What was the last one you sent?"

"Didn't you notice that your hair was getting white? That was the last letter. Now I see how much pork you have eaten, so you can go to rebirth as a pig."

So the man turned into a pig. When would he get to be a person again? Nobody knows.

Now that the continuity of karmic retribution has been explained, everyone should return the light and look within and figure out what he or she is going to do. Someone says, "I know. I'm going to leave the home-life."

You want to leave the home-life? That's fine if you really do it. Someone else says, "Hearing this, I think human life is really meaningless and I'd like to just lay down and die."

That's all right, too, but it's not for sure that you won't get sent off to be a pig like that old man was. Pigs are really doltish. So people who are dull-witted become pigs in the future. And the whole reason for studying the Shurangama Sutra is to learn how not to be a dolt. It is to help you open your wisdom. If you have wisdom, the three kinds of continuity won't have anything to do with you.

So you wonder, "Wouldn't it be anarchy if the world and living beings and karmic retribution didn't have anything to do with me?" No, because at that point you have a connection with the Buddhas. You are a relative of the Bodhisattvas, and a brother or sister of the arhats. So you certainly won't be an anarchist.

L2 The explanation brings up another question.
M1 Purna attaches to causes and doubts effects.

Sutra:

Purna said, "If this wonderful enlightenment, this basic miraculous enlightened brightness which is neither greater than nor less than the mind of the Thus Come One, abruptly brings forth the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth, and all conditioned appearances, then now that the Thus Come One has attained the wonderful empty bright enlightenment, will the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned habitual outflows arise again?"

Commentary:

Having heard Shakyamuni Buddha's explanation of the three kinds of upside-down continuities, Purna had something else to say. If this wonderful enlightenment, this basic miraculous enlightened brightness which is neither greater than nor less than the mind of the Thus Come One: this refers to the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. On the part of a Buddha, the treasury of the Thus Come One does not increase, and on the part of living beings it does not decrease. Living beings are replete with the basic miraculous enlightened brightness, just as the Buddha is. Yet it abruptly brings forth the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth, and all conditioned appearances. Since that's the way it is, why for no reason do the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all the other conditioned appearances suddenly arise?

You say that they arise from the treasury of the Thus Come One. Why does that happen? There doesn't seem to be any reason for it. This section of text voices the doubt that Purna has now. He wonders if living beings' "causal mind' that is, their Buddhanature, has a beginning, and he wonders if the fruition of Buddhahood has an end. He's asking if there will be a time when the Buddha will no longer be a Buddha and will become a living being again. He says, 'Then now that the Thus Come One has attained the wonderful empty bright enlightenment, will the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and all conditioned habitual outflows arise again? Buddha, you don't have any leftover habits, and you have extinguished your outflows. Would it be possible for you to give rise to conditioned outflows and habits in the future? You have already become a Buddha; can you give rise to ignorance again? Living beings arise from ignorance, you're a Buddha now, but in the future could you become a living being again?' This is what Purna was asking.

His reasoning was this: the mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and everything else arise from ignorance. Before they came into being there was fundamental enlightenment, the wonderful brightness of the enlightened nature, the fundamental enlightenment's bright wonder. Ignorance arose from true enlightenment. Therefore, now that the Buddha has become a Buddha when will he again give rise to ignorance?

After one accomplishes Buddhahood there is no more ignorance. A Bodhisattva at the level of equal enlightenment still has ignorance, but it is slight. In fact, it would be hard to compare it to anything in order to show how little there is of it. Living beings have 84,000 afflictions, which arise from ignorance. But a Bodhisattva of equal enlightenment is comparable to a Buddha, except that he has not actually reached wonderful enlightenment, that is, Buddhahood. Bodhisattvas of equal enlightenment still have one particle of ignorance which produces appearances that they have not destroyed. And this one particle is comparable to a mote of dust bordering on emptiness.

M2 The Thus Come One explains by analogy which distinguishes true and false.
N1 The false does not reoccur.
O1 Ignorance is basically empty.

Sutra:

The Buddha said to Purna, "Consider for example a person who has become confused in a village, mistaking south for north. Is this confusion the result of confusion or of awareness?

Purna said, "This person's confusion is the result neither of confusion nor of awareness. Why? Confusion is fundamentally baseless, so how could it arise because of confusion? Awareness does not produce confusion, so how could it arise because of awareness?"

Commentary:

The Buddha said to Purna, responding to his question, "Consider for example a person who has become confused in a village, mistaking south for north." What was this person's situation? He got turned around. He'd lost his direction. Now in his confusion, when he mistakes south for north, does he in actuality lose south or north? No. South is still south, and north is still north. It's just that the man has lost his sense of direction. "Is this confusion the result of confusion or of awareness?" the Buddha asks.

Purna said, "This person's confusion is the result neither of confusion nor of awareness. It's not because of confusion that he gets confused, nor is it because of awareness that he gets confused. Why? Confusion is fundamentally baseless, so how could it arise because of confusion?" Confusion doesn't even exist. How could confusion arise from confusion, when there basically isn't any confusion to begin with? In the same way, basically people have no ignorance, so ignorance is not produced from ignorance.

Ignorance is like a shadow. Light represents wisdom, darkness represents stupidity. The ignorance is like a shadow. Our shadow is certainly not our body, but because there is a body, a shadow exists. When people turn their back on enlightenment and unite with defilement, there is ignorance. When they turn their back on defilement and unite with enlightenment, there isn't any more ignorance.

Ignorance is also like a reflection in a mirror. There aren't any reflections in the mirror to begin with, so when a reflection appears, it is obviously not there just because the mirror exists. It appears when there is an appearance external to it. So ignorance does not arise in true enlightenment. The falseness arises relying on the true. Confusion is fundamentally baseless; it has no root. How, then, can it produce confusion? A plant must have a seed in order to reproduce itself, but confusion has no seed and no root, so confusion can't be born from confusion.

Nor does it arise from awareness. Why? Awareness does not produce confusion, so how could it arise because of awareness? "Awareness" here refers to enlightenment, and since enlightenment is the opposite of confusion, how could awareness give rise to confusion?

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "If a person who is aware points out the way to the person who is in the midst of confusion, and makes him aware, then do you suppose, Purna, that once the person is over his confusion he could lose his sense of direction again in that village?"

"No, World Honored One."

Commentary:

The village in this analogy represents the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. The confused person represents living beings who have given rise to mistaken perception to false thinking. South and north represent the false and the true, confusion and enlightenment. The confusion of the person in the village represents the arisal of ignorance on the part of living beings. Now the Buddha says to Purna: If a person who is aware points out the way to the person who is in the midst of confusion, and makes him aware. The confused person can't tell south from north; he thinks confusion is enlightenment. He's just like people who always think they are right. They see someone and decide he's against them, so they get angry at him. If they think someone else is good to them, they welcome him with open arms. And they think they are right in their opinions. Actually they are upside down. But they don't know that they are upside-down; they don't know that they have mistaken south for north. In that state of confusion, suppose they encounter someone who makes them aware. The person who is aware represents the Buddha or a good and wise advisor, who says to him, "You're confused and should turn from confusion and return to enlightenment. You think that way is south, but you are mistaken; it is north." He straightens him out about confusion and enlightenment. Then do you suppose, Purna, that once the person is over his confusion he could lose his sense of direction again in that village? After someone has told him the right directions, would he get even more confused? "No, World Honored One. That is not possible," Purna says. "Once he has been clearly told, he wouldn't get confused again." When we are confused, we are just dreaming. But we won't admit we are dreaming. I tell you that you are dreaming right now, but you say, "I'm not asleep and I'm not dreaming. Why do you say I am?" Suppose a person is having a dream that he is emperor or president or that he's as wealthy as a Rockefeller or a Kennedy. And there he is in the dream with everything he ever wanted wealth, riches, status, pleasures, luxuries. He's rich and he's a high official as well and all his relatives are either Ph.D.'s or full professors or members of the upper class. Then someone comes along and say: "You're dreaming." Do you think he'll believe that? Will he admit he's dreaming? No. The person who is dreaming of such wealth and status won't believe he's dreaming. When he wakes up from the dream, though, then he'll know he was just having a good dream, and will regret having awakened so soon. He'll long for the dream to continue.

This is just like people in the world who are busy all day long, running here today and there tomorrow, wondering what the future holds in store for them.

What you haven't got yet,
you want to get.
What you've already got,
you are afraid of losing.

So you get all attached and bound up. When you get enlightened, you wonder how you could have ever been so upside down. However, a person who has become enlightened won't long for his former state of being. That's the difference.

Sutra:

"Purna, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are the same way. Confusion is groundless and ultimately empty in nature. There had basically been no confusion: it merely seemed as if there were confusion and enlightenment. When the delusion about confusion and enlightenment is ended, enlightenment does not give rise to confusion.

Commentary:

The Buddha now says: Purna, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions are the same way. They are like the man in the village who, in the Buddha's analogy, will not become confused again once he is made aware of the right road. Confusion is groundless and ultimately empty in nature. He won't get confused again, because confusion has no root, so it can't produce new confusion. Basically there is no confusion, so it doesn't have a nature; and without a nature it is ultimately empty. There had basically been no confusion: it merely seemed as if there were confusion and enlightenment. To seem to be is to not really exist; it is to be empty and false, just as in the case of the person who gets confused about directions: the directions themselves aren't lost; it's just that he doesn't recognize them. When the delusion about confusion and enlightenment is ended, enlightenment does not give rise to confusion. You had a mistaken impression, but once you awaken and recognize the confusion, it ceases to be. As I often say to you:

Don't fear the arisal of your thoughts;
Just fear your enlightenment will be slow in coming.

Everyone has false thoughts, a profusion of them. When this one goes, that one comes. But don't be scared of the arisal of these false thoughts. Just fear that you will be slow in becoming enlightened. Get enlightened quickly: don't be slow about it. When a false thought comes up, you want to pursue it to its origin. Ask who the mother of that false thought is. Where did this false thought arise from? If you find the mother of that false thought, you can tell her to look after her child. Actually, though, that false thought doesn't have a mother, and so there's no one looking after it. When you find out it doesn't have a mother, it won't be naughty any more because it won't even exist. Without a mother, how could it be? When the confusion about enlightenment and confusion is ended, there will be no more confusion. After you become enlightened you won't be able to get confused again. Once you're enlightened, the confusion disappears, and so there can't be any more confusion to arise. Therefore, the Buddha, having already accomplished Buddhahood and cut off ignorance, won't give rise to confusion again.

O2 The manifestation of the myriad dharmas is not real.
P1 He brings up an analogy.

Sutra:

"It is also like a person with an eye-ailment who sees flowers in space. If he gets rid of his eye-ailment, the flowers in space will disappear. If he were so stupid as to quickly return to the spot where the flowers disappeared and wait for them to reappear, would you consider that person to be stupid or smart?

Commentary:

The confused person is also like a person with an eye-ailment who sees flowers in space. The flowers were beautiful, but they were only there because of the eye-ailment. If he gets rid of his eye-ailment, the flowers in space will disappear. Let me ask you now: do you think there were any flowers in space after all? If you say there weren't any, why did he see flowers? Oh; it was because he had an eye ailment. When his eyes got better, the flowers disappeared. But did they really disappear? If he were so stupid as to quickly return to the spot where the flowers disappeared and wait for them to reappear, would you consider that person to be stupid or smart? If that confused person were to find the place in space where the flowers were last seen and wait there for them to reappear, would you call him stupid or smart, Purna?

P2 The discussion.

Sutra:

Purna said, "Originally there weren't any flowers in space. It was through a falseness in the seeing that they were produced and extinguished. To see the disappearance of the flowers in space is already upside down. To wait for them to reappear is sheer madness. Why bother to determine further if such a person is stupid or smart?"

Commentary:

The Buddha said, "You are like the person waiting for the flowers to reappear in space. Would you consider that person to be stupid or smart?"

Purna said, "Originally there weren't any flowers in space. It was through a falseness in the seeing that they were produced and extinguished." Since no flowers arose, there were no flowers extinguished. For him to wait for the flowers to arise again is a mistake. They were only there in the first place because the eyes were sick. To see the disappearance of the flowers in space is already upside down. To wait for them to reappear is sheer madness. Why bother to determine further if such a person is stupid or smart? You say he waits for them to come out again? That is just as if I were to plant a flower and then wait for it to come up, just wait there without sleeping or eating. If we were as sincere in our study of the Buddhadharma as he was about waiting for those flowers, we'd probably be successful. But the person waiting for the flowers was sincere about the wrong thing. He was in fact incomparably stupid.

So Purna says, "The man is totally insane. He's out of his mind. That person isn't even up to being called stupid.

P3 Correlates analogy with dharma.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "Since you explain it that way, why do you ask if the wonderful enlightened bright emptiness can once again give rise to the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth?"

Commentary:

So Purna determines that the person waiting for the flowers is insane. The word kuang (insanity) is composed of two characters in Chinese, kuang and dian). Kuang results from excessive yang, and dian from excessive yin. These are the definitions assigned in Chinese medicine. Yang, the fire or temper of a person, results in madness when extreme. Yin, the lack of fire, results in another kind of insanity when extreme. To be obsessed with fame is a case of excessive yang, and to be obsessed with profit is a case of excessive yin. In the whole world there are only two people: one intent upon fame and one intent upon profit. If someone praises the first person and says something like,"'You're so good: intelligent and wise. Everything about you is wonderful," to him those words of praise are as sweet as candy. The other one, the one seeking profit, thinks of ways to cheat people out of their money. He thinks of every way possible. He's totally dishonest. For instance, when he sells rice, he adds a little water to it to make it heavier. And if he adds a little water to the beans, they swell, and he has to put fewer in the bag to fill it. So in China there was a rice seller who was struck down by lightning. And on his back they found four characters which no one could decipher until someone added one long stroke down the middle completing the four characters, which read:

Shurangama4p4 clip image002.gif

When the world gets filled with too many evil people, one gets struck down by lightning to serve as an example for the others. The Buddha said, 'Since you explain it that way, why do you ask if the wonderful enlightened bright emptiness can once again give rise to the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth?" Once the Thus Come One has obtained the fruition of the wonderful enlightened bright emptiness, can he again have the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth arise? Why would you ask that?

The Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, are like the confused person whom someone has set straight so that he is no longer confused. So to wonder whether one can again become ignorant once one has been certified as having attained the fruition of Buddhahood, is to be like the person who stands waiting for the flowers to reappear in space. Once one has reached the fruition of Buddhahood, one could not turn around in the treasury of the Thus Come One, one could not turn around and give rise to ignorance again.

N2 The truth does not change. O1 He mentions two other analogies.

Sutra:

It is like a piece of ore containing gold and a mixture of other metals. Once the pure gold is extracted, it will not become an ore again. It is like wood that has been burned to ashes; it will not become wood again.

Commentary:

Another analogy is given to show that after one becomes a Buddha one does not turn into an ordinary living being again. It is like a piece of ore containing gold and a mixture of other metals. The streaks of pure gold are mixed with other substances. With some amount of labor, you can extricate the gold from the ore. Once the pure gold is extracted, it will not become an ore again. The pure gold won't become mixed with sand, silt, or earth again. Also, it is like wood that has been burned to ashes; it will not become wood again. Once the wood is burned, it can't turn back into wood again. The wood can become ashes, but the ashes can't turn directly back into wood.

Sutra:

The Bodhi and Nirvana of all Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, are the same way.

Commentary:

All Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions; here two titles of the Buddha have been used together for the sake of literary style. The Bodhi and Nirvana are the same way. "Bodhi" is the fruition of enlightenment, and "Nirvana" has four wonderful virtues. They are just like the pure gold in the mine. When one is still a living being, one is like the unrefined gold in the mine. When one has already become a Buddha, one has turned into pure gold. And pure gold won't get mixed with impurities any more. One who has become a Buddha is also like the ashes, while living beings are like the wood. Wood can turn into ashes, but ashes can't turn back into wood. The Bodhi and Nirvana of the Buddhas of the ten directions, the fruition of Buddhahood, is like these examples. It cannot change back to what it was before. </poem>

CHAPTER 2: The Reason for Perfect Penetration

K2 Then the Buddha speaks of the empty-not-empty treasury of the Thus Come One
to explain the reason for perfect penetration.
L1 He answers and then asks a question.
Ml He reiterates the doubt about the elements.
N1 He restates Purna's doubt.

Sutra:

Purna, you also asked whether the natures of water and fire would not destroy each other if the natures of earth, water, fire, and wind were all perfectly fused and pervaded the dharma-realm, and whether subtle emptiness and the great earth would not be incompatible if both pervaded the dharmarealm.

Commentary:

Purna, you also asked whether the natures of water and fire would not destroy each other if the natures of earth, water, fire, and wind were all perfectly fused and pervaded the dharmarealm. You say, "Where there's water, there can't be fire, and where there's fire there can't be water. The natures of water and fire are not compatible.'"

You should know that water, fire, and every other thing has a nature, although it may not be capable of thought. Put you can't see this nature with the ordinary flesh eyes. When it's already become fire, we can see it, but before it becomes fire there is still a nature there. The same is true of water. This nature is contained within the dharma-realm. It pervades the dharma-realm. By use of the sun you can obtain fire, and by use of the moon you can obtain water, because the nature of those elements exists in emptiness. You see emptiness as empty, but it is actually replete with all appearances. And emptiness is just the dharma-realm. Purna doubts, however, that the nature of both fire and water can pervade the dharma-realm. "Purna, you also wonder whether subtle emptiness and the great earth would not be incompatible if both pervaded the dharma-realm. 'Emptiness is emptiness,' you reason, 'and if there is emptiness, there shouldn't be earth. The earth is a solid object, so there shouldn't be any emptiness where it is. If emptiness pervades the dharma-realm, earth shouldn't. If earth pervades the dharmarealm, then emptiness shouldn't' " the Buddha reiterates Purna's doubt.

N2 An analogy clarifies the appearance of the nature.

Sutra:

For example, Purna, the substance of emptiness is not the myriad things, and yet it does not prevent the inclusion of all appearances within it.

Commentary:

There is an analogy to explain this principle, Purna. For example, Purna, the substance of emptiness is not the myriad things, and yet it does not prevent the inclusion of all appearances within it. It is basically empty of anything, but though its own substance has no appearance whatever, it does not oppose the natural arising of all things.

Sutra:

Do you know the reason why? Purna, the empty space is bright on a sunny day, and dark when the sky is cloudy. It moves when the wind rises up, it is fresh when the sky clears. It is turbid and hazy when the weather is foul, it is obscure when a dust-storm breaks out. It casts a bright reflection on a pool of clear water.

Commentary:

Do you know the reason why? Purna, the empty space is bright on a sunny day, and dark when the sky is cloudy. It moves when the wind rises up, it is fresh when the sky clears. This refers to the time right after a rain when everything is sparkling clean. It is turbid and hazy when the weather is foul, it is obscure when a dust-storm breaks out. It casts a bright reflection on a pool of clear water. So in the great void, there are no appearances, but the appearances are allowed to appear at will, with no resistance on the part of emptiness. The same thing occurs
in the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is also basically devoid of appearances. And yet the seven elements, the five skandhas, the six sense organs, the twelve places, and the eighteen realms are all in the treasury of the Thus Come One, and it does not resist the arising of those appearances.

N3 He questions and explains about the falseness of appearances.

Sutra:

What do you think of these conditions which come into existence at different places? Are they created from these conditions themselves or do they find their origin in emptiness? If they arise from those conditions, Purna, then on a sunny day since the sun is bright, all the worlds of the ten directions should take the form of the sun. Then how does it happen that on a sunny day one still sees the round sun in the sky? If emptiness is bright, emptiness itself should shine. How does it happen that when there is a covering of clouds and fog there is no light in evidence?

Commentary:

Purna, what is your opinion about this? What do you think of these conditions which come into existence at different places? Are they created from these conditions themselves or do they find their origin in emptiness? If they arise from those conditions, Purna, if the seven appearances arise of themselves, then let's take the sun as an example. On a sunny day since the sun is bright, all the worlds of the ten directions should take the form of the sun. All the lands and countries should look like the sun and have the ability to shine. Then how does it happen that on a sunny day one still sees the round sun in the sky? Moreover, if emptiness is bright, emptiness itself should shine. If the light is not produced from the sun, but from emptiness, then emptiness
should be innately bright. How does it happen that when there is a covering of clouds and fog there is no light in evidence? Emptiness doesn't give off light or have the ability to shine.

Sutra:

You should know that brightness is not the sun, is not emptiness, and is not other than the emptiness and the sun.

Commentary:

You should know Purna, that the function of brightness is not the sun, it doesn't necessarily come from the sun. Nor does it necessarily come from emptiness. But it's also the case that it doesn't necessarily not come from emptiness and the sun. It is not other than they. Ultimately where does it come from? It comes from the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One.

N4 He correlates the analogy with the dharma.

Sutra:

The truly wonderful enlightened brightness is the same way. If your karma finds expression in emptiness, then emptiness will appear. If your karma finds expression in one or another of earth, water, fire, or wind, that one will appear. If your karma finds expression in them all, they will all appear.

Commentary:

The truly wonderful enlightened brightness, the pure nature and bright substance of the everlasting true mind, is the same way. If your karma finds expression in emptiness, then emptiness will appear. If your karma finds expression in one or another of earth, water, fire, or wind, that one will appear. If you have created the causes to bring about one or another of the elements of earth, water, fire, or wind, then the element you have created will appear. If your karma finds expression in them all, they will all appear. If you create them simultaneously, then they simultaneously appear. For instance, a person might obtain fire from the sun and water from a pearl at the same time.

Sutra:

How can they all appear? Suppose, Purna, the sun's reflection appears in a single body of water, and two people gaze at it, both at the same time. Then one person walks east and the other walks west. Each person, still looking in the water, will see a sun go along with him, one to the east, one to the west, seemingly without there being any fixed direction for the movement of the sun?s reflection.

Commentary:

How can they all appear? Suppose, Purna, the sun?s reflection appears in a single body of water, and two people gaze at it, both at the same time. If the water is clear, the sun's reflection can appear in it. The people see a single reflection of the sun in the water. Then one person walks east and the other walks west. Each person, still looking in the water, will see a sun go along with him, one to the east, one to the west. When the two stood together, they saw one sun. When they parted, there were two suns, one accompanying each of them, seemingly without there being any fixed direction for the movement of the sun's reflection. Which is true then? Which is false? These two suns appear unexpectedly. No one anticipated there would be more than one.

Sutra:

"You shouldn't belabor the question and say, 'If there is one sun, how can it follow both people? Since the sun is double, why does only one appear in the sky?' This is just to revolve in falseness, because it cannot be proved."

Commentary:

You shouldn't start arguing the point and belabor the question and say, "If there is one sun, how can it follow both people? Since the sun is double, why does only one appear in the sky?" To get caught up like this is just to revolve in falseness, because it cannot be proved. There's no foundation in fact. You may say it's one, but how can it follow both people? You may want to say it's two, but basically there isn't even one. How could there be two? Even the one is empty and false. So the whole argument is baseless.

N5 He explains the meaning to resolve his doubt.

Sutra:

Contemplate the fundamental falseness of appearances. They are just like flowers that are conjured up in space and produce empty fruit. Why, then, investigate the meaning of their formation and disappearance?

Commentary:

When you look at appearances, contemplate their fundamental falseness. It's all like the sun's reflection in water, just mentioned. There was an appearance, but it was illusory. The one sun became two. How did the change take place? When did it divide? You can't see it clearly. One person sees only one sun, but it follows him. The same thing happens to the other person. And you can't point out and explain clearly exactly how those appearances come into being. They are just like flowers that are conjured up in space and produce empty fruit. Why, then, investigate the meaning of their formation and disappearance? How can you determine that earth, water, fire, and wind overcome one another? How can you ask about their mutual destruction?

Sutra:

Contemplate the fundamental truth of the nature. It is solely the wonderful enlightened brightness, the wonderful enlightened bright mind. Originally, it is neither water nor fire. Why, then, ask about incompatibility?

Commentary:

Contemplate the fundamental truth of the nature. It is solely the wonderful enlightened brightness, the wonderful enlightened bright mind. These two phrases refer to the same thing, the second is just added for the sake of literary style. So the wonderful enlightened mind, originally, it is neither water nor fire. Although it is not either of these, it contains them both. The treasury of the Thus Come One is replete with that kind of functioning, but it doesn't originally manifest as water and fire. It is just the nature of water and fire. Why, then, ask about incompatibility?

You still don't understand the principle of contemplating the nature, so you ask about the mutual destruction of the appearances of water and fire. You don't know that the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One is complete with all the myriad dharmas and their functionings. You only know how to see the physical aspect of things, which, although it exists, is basically false. It is just like the one reflection of the sun which split in two and followed each person. Was it real? No. And that's the way all appearances are.

M2 He completes his discussion of the three aspects of the Treasury of the Thus Come One and exhorts him to cultivate.
N1 Ultimate disclosure of the perfect fusion.
O1 The mind in confusion and enlightenment is faced with the arising of conditions.
P1 Based on the arising of defiled conditions there is obstructive existence.

Sutra:

Purna, you think that form and emptiness overcome and destroy one another in the treasury of the Thus Come One. Thus the treasury of the Thus Come One accordingly appears to you as form and emptiness throughout the dharma-realm.

Commentary:

Purna, you think that form and emptiness overcome and destroy one another in the treasury of the Thus Come One. "You" here does not just refer to Purna. It refers to you and me and everyone here investigating the Shurangama Sutra. You think that form and emptiness are incompatible and that they battle with one another and destroy one another in the treasury of the Thus Come One. Thus the treasury of the Thus Come One accordingly appears to you as form and emptiness throughout the dharmarealm. Since that's what you think, that's what happens throughout the dharma-realm.

Sutra:

And so, within it the wind moves, emptiness is still, the sun is bright, and the clouds are dark. The reason for this lies in the delusion of living beings who have turned their backs on enlightenment and joined with the "dust." Thus, the wearisome defilements come into being and mundane appearances exist.

Commentary:

And so, since form and emptiness continually overcome one another in the treasury of the Thus Come One, there arises the function of according with conditions. Because of this, form and emptiness come into being, and their appearance and functioning pervade the dharma-realm. Within it, within the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the wind moves, emptiness is still, the sun is bright, and the clouds are dark. The reason for this lies in the delusion of living beings. In the midst of so many appearances, living beings become muddled and unclear. They don't understand the principle of true emptiness, and so they are muddled. Therefore, in the true emptiness of the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, they give rise to the three subtle
delusions and the six coarse delusions. One unenlightened thought produces the three subtle appearances; States become the conditions for the growth of the six coarse appearances.

As I explained above, the three subtle appearances are the appearance of karma, the appearance of turning, and the appearance of manifestation. The six coarse appearances are the appearance of knowing, the appearance of continuity, the appearance of grasping, the appearance of reckoning names, the appearance of the arisal of karma, and the appearance of suffering bound to karma. When living beings give rise to these appearances, they are confused. Once confused, they turned their backs on enlightenment and joined with the "dust." They turn away from the true nature and get involved with the experiences of the six sense-objects. And this is all because they think that in the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One there is mutual incompatibility. Since they turn their backs on enlightenment and get mixed up with defilements, the wearisome defilements come into being and mundane appearances exist. The mountains, the rivers, the great earth, and the continuity of the world come into being.

P2 Based on the arising of pure conditions, there is unobstructed fusion.

Sutra:

With the wonderful brightness that is not extinguished and not produced, I unite with the treasury of the Thus Come One. Thus the treasury of the Thus Come One is the unique and wonderful enlightened brightness which completely illumines the dharma-realm.

Commentary:

"With the wonderful brightness, the wonderfully enlightened bright mind, that is not extinguished and not produced." Here the Buddha is referring to himself, unite with the treasury of the Thus Come One. Thus the treasury of the Thus Come One is the unique and wonderful enlightened brightness, there is only the wonderfully enlightened bright mind which completely illumines the dharma-realm, shining on absolutely every place.

Sutra:

That is why, within it, the one is limitless; the limitless is one. In the small appears the great; in the great appears the small.

Commentary:

In the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the one is limitless; the limitless is one. One is all and all is one. In the small appears the great; in the great appears the small. Great and small are unobstructed; one and many are unhindered. You can also say that the one represents the treasury of the Thus Come One, which can manifest the myriad dharmas. And the myriad dharmas all return to the treasury of the Thus Come One. "The one" can also refer to the one mind, in that the myriad dharmas are all from the mind. The mind contains the myriad dharmas. The true mind is the treasury of the Thus Come One, the treasury of the Thus Come One is the true mind. You can't use the limited knowledge of ordinary people to reflect upon the subtle, wonderful, enlightened bright mind, with its inconceivable transformations. You'll never totally understand it that way.

Sutra:

Unmoving in the Bodhimanda, yet pervading the ten directions, my body contains the ten directions and endless emptiness. On the tip of a single hair appear the lands of the Jeweled Kings. Sitting in a mote of dust, I turn the great dharma wheel, destroy the defilements, and unite with enlightenment, so, true suchness, the wonderful enlightened bright nature, comes into being.

Commentary:

Unmoving in the Bodhimanda, yet pervading the ten directions. This phrase refers to the Buddha's dharma body in the Bodhimanda which does not move but goes to all countries in the ten directions. My body contains the ten directions and endless emptiness. Not only does it pervade all Buddhalands, it even fills up empty space.

Well, if empty space is filled up, does it then cease to be empty? Does it wipe out empty space? Does it obliterate emptiness? No. What pervades the ten directions and endless emptiness is the dharma body, which has no appearance. On the tip of a single hair appear the lands of the Jeweled Kings. This is truly an inexpressibly wonderful state. All the Buddhas' lands appear in a single hair. This is the dependent appearing in the proper. The body is the proper retribution. The Buddhalands are the dependent retribution. So, in the smallest division of the proper retribution a single hair appears the largest division of the dependent retribution the Buddhalands. In the small appears the great.

Sitting in a mote of dust, I turn the great dharma wheel. Here the mote of dust refers to a mote of dust bordering on emptiness, which is one seventh of the smallest division of the dependent retribution. In it appears the great the Buddha's body, as he turns the dharma wheel to teach and transform living beings. Thus, in the small appears the great, and in the great appears the small. Ultimately how can it be like this? It is the wonderful functioning of the Buddhadharma, a glimpse of the Buddha-nature. Another example of the great appearing in the small is when we hold up a mirror to reflect miles and miles of scenery. In order to know about this state, you have to understand the principle of the unobstructedness and perfect fusion of noumena and phenomena. It's just what is meant by the one being limitless and the limitless one, which was discussed above. It also pertains to the meaning of dharani, which is to gather in all dharmas and hold all meanings. And, where does this gathering occur? In the Buddha-nature. After you hear more sutras, you will naturally come to understand this principle. This doctrine is so inexpressibly wonderful that I'm not going to say any more about it now.

The Buddha says that, sitting in a mote of dust, he turns the great dharma wheel. Someone with virtue in the Way can turn the dharma wheel to teach and transform living beings in all three realms the realm of desire, the realm of form, and the realm of formlessness. When you don't see him, he may sometimes be in the heavens teaching living beings by lecturing the sutras and speaking dharma. Sometimes he may be in the hells, lecturing sutras and speaking dharma to teach living beings. Sometimes he goes into a mote of dust to turn the dharma wheel in order to teach and transform living beings. Although a mote of dust is small, the living beings within it are no fewer than the number of living beings in this world. This state is inconceivable and inexpressible. To describe it in words is just to reveal its superficial aspects. Why do living beings have to be living beings? Because they are plagued with the wearisomeness of defilement. They turn their backs on enlightenment and unite with defilement. The Buddhas have been able to destroy the defilements, and unite with enlightenment, so, true suchness, the wonderful enlightened bright nature, comes into being. Our true mind is the treasury of the Thus Come One are different names for the same thing.

O2 The inherent mind is faced with the perfect nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One.
P1 In the perfection of the empty treasury, everything is non-existent.

Sutra:

The treasury of the Thus Come One is the fundamental, wonderful, perfect mind.

Commentary:

It's also called the treasury of the Thus Come One and the fundamental, wonderful, perfect mind. Basically wonderful, perfect, and pure, it pervades the dharma-realm. It is so great that there is nothing beyond it and so small that there is nothing within it. This fundamental, wonderful, perfect mind is different from any dharma. In what way?

Sutra:

It is not the mind, nor emptiness, nor earth, nor water, nor wind, nor fire; it is not the eyes, nor the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, or the mind. It is not form, nor sound, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas. It is not the realm of eyeconsciousness, nor any other, up to and including the realm of mind-consciousness.

Commentary:

It is not the mind, not your conscious mind, nor emptiness, nor earth, nor water, nor wind, nor fire. It's not any of the four elements; they are all empty. This is called "making all conditioned dharmas empty." It is not the eyes, nor the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, or the mind. It is not the five skandhas or the six sense-organs. It is not form, nor sound, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas. The six sense-objects also are done away with. This is similar to the passage in the Heart Sutra which says, There are no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind; no forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas; no realm of eyeconsciousness, up to and including no realm of mind-consciousness; and no ignorance or ending of ignorance, up to and including no old age and death or ending of old age and death. There is no suffering, no accumulating, no extinction, no Way, and no understanding and no attaining. The difference is that the Heart Sutra says "there is no," and the passage here in the Shurangama Sutra says "it is not." "It is not" implies that it might be something else; here it says, "it is not," but later it says, "it is."

It is not the realm of eye-consciousness, nor any other, up to and including the realm of mind-consciousness. It is not the consciousness of the eyes, or of the ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind. Our fundamental, wonderful, perfect mind is none of these. The Buddha has already discussed all of them; the six entrances, the five skandhas, the twelve places, the eighteen realms, and he said that they were the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. Now he says they are not. He has explained them to the point that everyone is confused, and no one knows what to think. He says they are, and he says they are not. Ultimately, are they or aren't they? There isn't any "is" or "is not." Don't worry. They neither are nor are not. That's Buddhadharma. There is no "is" and no "is not."

Sutra:

It is not understanding, nor ignorance, nor the ending of understanding or ignorance, nor any other, up to and including old age and death and the ending of old age and death.

Commentary:

The Buddha swept away the dharma, as he spoke it. When the Buddha was about to enter nirvana, someone asked him, "Buddha, how are we to propagate the dharma you have spoken?" What do you suppose the Buddha replied? He said, "I haven't spoken any dharma." Now you shouldn't think from his answer that the Buddha had become slightly eccentric as he neared his death. That's not the case. He said, "Whoever says that I spoke a single word slanders the Buddha. I never said a single word." So he spoke dharma for forty-nine years and held over three hundred assemblies but didn't speak a single word! How can that be? Basically, the Buddha spoke all dharmas, but after he finished speaking them, they disappeared. That's what's called,

Sweep away all dharmas,
And separate from all appearances.

It was to teach people not to be attached to dharma. It was to keep people from saying, "I should affix myself to the dharmas the Buddha spoke.' If people did that, they could not obtain the emptiness of dharmas. You want it to be that people are empty and dharmas are empty. So now, in this passage, the Buddha negates everything he has said.

You say, "I've obtained the emptiness of people and dharmas, and so all I do from morning to night is sleep. I don't study anything at all. People are empty, after all, so I just go to sleep." But, then you've still got "sleep." When even sleep is gone, that really is emptiness. If there's still sleep, it's not emptiness. You want to make the attachments to self and dharmas totally empty. The Vajra Sutra says that the dharma the Thus Come One spoke is like a raft. Imagine how tired you would get if you were to hoist the raft on your back and carry it with you once it has taken you across the river. The raft simply serves to get you across the water. You have to relinquish it once you are across. In the same way, the dharma's purpose is to extinguish our afflictions. Once the afflictions are gone, we don't need any dharmas. Before your afflictions are gone, you can't do without the dharma. If you reject the dharma at that stage, your afflictions will just increase.

Afflictions are endless;
I vow to cut them off.
Dharma-doors are limitless;
I vow to study them all.

We study the dharma-doors in order to cut off afflictions. Now let me tell you some true Buddhadharma. You have to cut off your afflictions. If you study the dharma for thousands of years and don't cut off your afflictions, it is the same as if you had not studied. "How do I cut off my afflictions?" you wonder. Just don't be turned around by the situations and states of mind that come your way. If you are not influenced by situations and states of mind, you have some samadhi-power. That's Buddhadharma! Why do you say that the Buddhadharma has no "is" or "is not"?

The Sixth Patriarch told us:

Basically there is nothing at all.
Where can the dust alight?

And so these dharmas are negated. If you can understand that the Buddhadharma has no "is" or "is not," you can become enlightened. The Sixth Patriarch asked Hui Ming, "When there is no thought of good and no thought of evil, what is the senior-seated Ming's original face?" "No thought of good" is the case of there being no "is" "No thought of evil" is the case of there being no "is not." Apply your effort to the point where there is no "is" and no "is not" no "right" and no "wrong" and try to figure out what kind of state that is. The absence of "is" and "is not" of "right" and "wrong" is itself the inherent Buddha-nature, the fundamental, wonderful, perfect mind. If you obtain that, then you have everything, and you also don't have anything; but, it isn't like your present attachment to that state. When you have everything, what do you have? You have all the dharma-gems in the treasury of the Thus Come One. You don't have anything at all; this means you don't have any affliction. There are as many afflictions as there are dharma-gems in the treasury of the Thus Come One. Why haven't you obtained those dharma-gems? Because you have too much affliction, and there is no place in your stomach for so many things. Thus, if you have a lot of affliction, you have only a little dharma-water small dharma-nature. If your afflictions change, they themselves are the dharmawater; they are your dharma-nature.

Don't fear that you have too big a temper. The bigger your temper, the greater your dharma-nature. But, don't keep letting it turn into temper, because if you do that, you counteract your own intelligence. You start out smart and end up stupid if you do that. The Buddhadharma teaches you to cut off your afflictions, and the the afflictions become Bodhi, just as ice melts into water. When water freezes, the ice is your afflictions; when it melts, it becomes Bodhi. There's nothing so terribly difficult about it. All you have to do is change and you can be successful.

It is not understanding " it's not enlightenment" nor ignorance, not the falseness that arises from the one truth, nor the ending of understanding or ignorance, nor any other, up to and including old age and death and the ending of old age and death. The dharmas of the twelve links of conditioned causation are also made empty.

The dharma now being explained is the empty treasury of the Thus Come One. Next, the treasury of the Thus Come One which is empty and yet not empty will be explained. So you see, the treasury of the Thus Come One is not just one simple thing; it has these several distinctions. You can't just know a single term in the Buddhadharma and assume that you understand it all. You may know only about the treasury of the Thus Come One, but you must also make empty the treasury of the Thus Come One, and know the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty, and then you have to realize the treasury of the Thus Come One which is empty and yet not empty. A lot of trouble?

Sutra:

It is not suffering, nor accumulation, nor extinction, nor the way. It is neither knowing nor attaining.

Commentary:

In this world there are many kinds of suffering. First, there are three sufferings; there are also eight sufferings. The three sufferings are the suffering within suffering, the suffering of decay, and the suffering of process. Suffering within suffering is experienced by poor people. For example, poverty itself is a kind of suffering, and it becomes suffering within suffering when someone who is poor gets sick and has no money to see a doctor. Or, perhaps a poor person lives in a broken-down hut, and suddenly the rainy season hits. Living in the hut was suffering enough, but with the rain leaking in everywhere, there isn't much difference between being inside the hut and outside.

When I was in Hong Kong, I lived in a room that leaked when it rained. Above my bed alone were six holes where the rain poured in. Wouldn't you say that was suffering? Although it was suffering, I did not repair the leaks in my own roof. When I had a little money, I wanted to use it to help other people. That's the kind of stupid person I was. During that time, I gave $1,500 to help sponsor the carving of Buddha-images for a temple that was being established. I could have repaired my roof for about $200, but I couldn't bear to use the money to fix my own roof. I wanted to help make the Buddha-images for that other temple. And people think, "That person doesn't know how to keep books. He can't separate his own business from other people's."

Suffering within suffering occurs when someone has to endure poverty, and then in addition to being penniless, he can't even get any clothing or food. Or, someone who has no money suddenly learns of the death of his father and can't afford to buy him a coffin. I had that experience also. When my mother died, I was at her side, but I didn't have a cent in my pocket. The coffin had to be purchased, but what was I to do? When I talked it over with my brothers, we all looked at one another; no one was able to do it. I said, "Well, if you can't manage it, I will go ask a friend to help." Fortunately, I had some friends whom I investigated the Buddhadharma with, and among those friends was one who sold coffins.

When I told him my mother had died, he immediately said, "No problem. You select any kind of casket you want. I don't need any money now. You can pay me when you get it. Not only that, I'll give you $5,000 on loan for you to use now." Because I ordinarily liked to help people, there were people who wanted to help me when something of mine came up. But, that experience was another example of suffering within suffering.

From the moment my mother was buried, I really put everything down. I paid no attention to the fact that I was in debt. I just stayed by the grave to practice filial piety.

The suffering of decay happens to wealthy people. Originally they are wealthy, and then somehow or other their wealth is destroyed. Suppose, for example, some people make a lot of money and hide the bills in their house instead of putting the money in the bank. Then, their house catches on fire, and the whole wad burns up. Or, maybe their gold is stolen by thieves. Or, maybe you're so attached to your money that you carry it everywhere with you, never able to part with it, until one day you're not careful and you lose it all.

Then there is the suffering of the life-process. Although you don't undergo the suffering within suffering as those who are poor do, and you don't undergo the suffering of decay as those who are wealthy do, you still have the suffering of passing from childhood to adolescence to middle age to old age to death. This process flows on continually without cease, and it is also suffering. Those are the three sufferings.

The first of the eight sufferings is birth. When a child comes into the world, the only thing it can do is cry. The child can't express itself clearly yet, but its crying indicates suffering. The pain of birth is like the pain a live tortoise would feel if its shell were ripped away. When the infant first comes in contact with the air, its pain is extreme.

The second of the eight sufferings is old age. When people get old, they lose the use of their eyes, ears, hands, and legs. They can't get around, and their food is tasteless. When old age comes, the whole physical mechanism starts to break down. That's why old people get cranky and cross. They are just about like children, so you can't blame them for their behavior.

The third is the suffering of sickness. The things of this world may seem unjust, but sickness is very fair toward all. No matter whether one is rich or poor, of honorable or lowly birth, one will feel the discomfort of sickness when it strikes. The fourth suffering is death, which is also just, in regard to everyone. The time will come when everyone must die, no matter who it is.

The fifth is the suffering of being apart from those you love. Everyone knows what love is, but people don't realize that there is suffering in love, the suffering of being apart from those you love. No matter how much you may love a person, the time may come when you have to leave him. Some circumstances will arise that make parting necessary, and that is suffering.

The sixth is the suffering of being together with those you hate. You really dislike a certain type of person, but you meet up with just that kind of person no matter where you go.

The seventh is the suffering of not getting what you seek. You want something, and you can't get it; that is also suffering.

The last is the suffering of the blaze of the five skandhas. Forms, feelings, thoughts, activities, and consciousness are a raging blaze.

In this passage, the Buddha says that the treasury of the Thus Come One is none of the four truths, neither suffering, nor accumulation, nor extinction, nor the Way. Accumulation refers to affliction, and extinction refers to the principle of certification to nirvana. Nor is it the Way. It is neither knowing nor attaining. Even wisdom becomes empty. It is not the attaining to some level of fruition. This is the emptiness of the treasury of the Thus Come One; there is nothing in it at all.

Sweep away all dharmas,
And separate from all appearances.

Speaking of "extinction," I recall something that happened when Shakyamuni Buddha was practicing the Bodhisattva Way. When Shakyamuni Buddha was on the causal ground, that is, when he was cultivating the Way, before he became a Buddha, he met a rakshasa ghost who said:

All activities are impermanent
characterized by production and extinction.

He said just this one sentence, these two phrases, and did not say any more. Shakyamuni Buddha recognized it as Buddhadharma and said, "Brother ghost, you were just reciting a verse that was Buddhadharma, but you spoke only two lines of it. There must be two more lines. Can you tell me what they are?"

The ghost said, "You want to hear poetry, but I'm hungry right now. I haven't eaten in ever so long. I'd like to recite the verse for you, but I haven't the strength."

Shakyamuni Buddha asked him, "What do you want to eat? I can prepare something for you."

The ghost said, "You can't prepare what I eat."

"Why not?"

"Because I eat human flesh, and there isn't anyone else around here now. Even if there were, you wouldn't have the right to offer him to me to eat."

Shakyamuni Buddha said, "Ah, so that's how it is. Well, finish speaking that dharma for me, and I'11 offer you myself to eat. You can eat me."

"Can you really give up your life?" the ghost asked.

"For the sake of the dharma, I forget my own life. Of course, I can give it up," said the Buddha. "So speak up. And, when you've finished, you can eat."

"Are you cheating me?" said the ghost, eyeing him closely. "After I speak the dharma, will you change your mind and be unable to relinquish your own life to make my meal?"

"Absolutely not," the Buddha said. "Don't worry. After you speak the dharma, and once I remember it clearly, I will let you eat me."

So the rakshasa ghost said the last two lines of the verse:

When production and extinction are extinguished,
That still extinction is bliss.

Then the rakshasa ghost said, "All right, I've spoken the dharma. Let me eat you."

Shakyamuni Buddha said, "Wait a minute. Don't eat me yet."

"See?" said the ghost. "I knew you'd back out. But, it won't work. I'll have to become impolite with you."

"I'm not backing out," said the Buddha. "Wait until I write the four lines of verse down, and then you can eat me. Then, even though I will be gone, I'll have preserved this dharma so that others who come after me can rely on it in their cultivation. So, wait a minute."

"Fine," said the ghost. "Start writing"

The Buddha carved the verse into the bark of a tree. As soon as the ghost saw he had finished, he said, "Now I can eat you, right?"

"Wait a bit longer," said the Buddha.

"You've carved it in the tree, and people who come along can read it. What more do you want? What are we waiting for now?"

The Buddha said, "I don't think that the carving in the tree will last long. Wait a bit while I carve the verse in a rock. Then it will last forever. Then you can eat me."

"Sure," said the ghost. "You've got a lot of excuses. You're just procrastinating. But, do as you like."

Shakyamuni Buddha found a way to carve the verse in a stone. Then he said invitingly to the ghost, "I'm finished. I've done what I needed to do. You can eat me now."

The rakshasa ghost said, "Really? You can really let me eat you?" So he opened his mouth as if to take a bite, but he suddenly ascended into empty space and went to the heavens. He was actually a god who had come to test Shakyamuni Buddha to see just how sincere he really was about the dharma. And Shakyamuni Buddha proved himself. He was able to forget his own life for the sake of the dharma. He could sacrifice his life in order to preserve the Buddhadharma. In the past, the Buddha renounced his life for half a verse.

Look at us now. We listen to the sutras and hear dharma, but we don't understand it very well, so we think it better to rest. See how lazy we are! Why did Shakyamuni Buddha become a Buddha? It was because he could forget about himself for the sake of the dharma. He would disregard everything else for the sake of the dharma; he didn't want anything. If you are really sincere about the dharma, you will seek it so sincerely that you will be able to drop everything, even things you thought it impossible to do without. A few days ago, a disciple of mine called me four or five times long-distance from New York. He is very unusual. He always wants to see me. He was about thirteen when he took refuge with me. Before that, he had had some strange experiences. Although he was young, he had heart disease. The doctors prescribed five years of complete bed-rest. He was not to get up at all; he wasn't supposed to walk even a few feet. It was during that period that he saw a photograph of me. While his relatives and friends recited "Namo Amitabha Buddha," he would recite one of my names: "Namo Dharma Master To Lun." "Namo" means to offer up one's life in reverence. He'd recite sitting in full lotus on his bed. His sincerity was unusual for such a small child, and he kept up that recitation for more than seventy days. Then he saw the photograph turn into a live person who stretched out his hand and rubbed the boy on the crown of his head. After that, his heart disease and all the symptoms of his illness disappeared. At that time he'd never even met me. This may sound like a tall tale, but it was his own personal experience. After he was cured, he came to my temple to meet me. He took refuge, and then sat in meditation. I didn't usually teach meditation when I was in Hong Kong. If someone wanted to investigate Chan, they did it on their own. So he did. He went to school, and during recess or breaks from classes he would go off into the hills to meditate, or even into the bathroom wherever he could find a place. After about a year, he opened his Buddha eye, and he then understood extremely clearly all manner of things that were going on.

Another strange thing happened with this same disciple. He was always very short, probably because of his earlier illness. But, his English was good, and when Americans came to visit me, I would have him translate for me. Despite his fluent English, though, Americans didn't take him seriously because they saw he was such a small child. So, one day I said to him, "Hurry up and grow up! You're so short that everyone thinks of you as just a kid, and no matter how eloquent you are, they don't take you seriously." He was very obedient. He went home, and in one week grew three inches. Now he's taller than I am.

A few days ago he called me and wanted me to come to New York to see him. But, because I was lecturing the sutra for all of you, I told him I couldn't come, even though he wanted to see me very badly. "I'm lecturing the sutras now," I said, "and I can't abandon a whole group of people just because one person wants to see me. If you really want to see me, come to San Francisco." He decided to come to San Francisco, but then found that he didn't have enough time. So yesterday he called to tell me he was leaving. If it weren't for lecturing the Shurangama Sutra, if it weren't for the sake of the Dharma, I would really like to see that disciple of mine. He has a lot of faith in me and really knows a lot of Buddhadharma.

When I was in Hong Kong, he used to translate my lectures into Cantonese. And he was so in tune with me that if I said just one sentence, he could pick up on it and explain the entire meaning. People objected and said, "The Abbot didn't say all that; what's he doing talking so much?" Actually I had told him to explain all that he was explaining. Because he had the Buddha eye, he knew that I was telling him to explain the principles in detail. What he would say is the same as what I would have said, and so I was a little lazy and let him do the talking.

Sutra:

It is not dana, nor shila, nor virya, nor kshanti, nor dhyana, nor prajna, nor paramita.

Commentary:

In the empty treasury of the Thus Come One, the six perfections are also emptied. In the previous passage, the four truths were said to be empty. Immediately after his enlightenment, the Buddha explained the four truths and their three turnings. The emptying of the four truths and twelve links of conditioned causation makes the dharmas of the sound-hearers and the condition-enlightened ones empty. Now the emptying of the six perfections makes the dharmas of the Bodhisattvas empty.

The first of the six perfections is dana, Sanskrit for giving. There are three kinds of giving: giving of wealth, giving of dharma, and giving of fearlessness. In giving wealth, one gives material objects to people in order to help them out. Lecturing sutras and speaking dharma is an example of giving dharma. Giving of fearlessness ocurs when someone is afraid of something and you think of a way to comfort him so that he isn't frightened any more. The next is shila, Sanskrit for "precepts." There are the five precepts, the eight precepts, the ten precepts, the two hundred and fifty precepts for bhikshus, and the three hundred and forty-eight precepts for bhikshunis. There are also the ten major and fortyeight minor Bodhisattva precepts.

Kshanti is Sanskrit for "patience." We say we study Buddhadharma, and it's not that difficult to learn the concepts. What is difficult is to put the concepts into practice. The way some people study patience is to tell others to be patient with them, so that they will have no need to be patient with others. So they say to other people who are not patient with them, "You have studied so much of the Buddhadharma, you should have more patience. Why do you get so upset when I say just one thing to you?" They blame others for not being patient, but they can't be patient themselves. And how do they rationalize it? "I understand the Buddhadharma: I am supposed to be without a self. So I don't have any patience. I don't have the view that there's a self, so when it's time to be patient, it's you who should be patient, not me."

But, when it's time to eat, they remember they are not supposed to have any view that there are people, so they think they don't have to give anyone else anything to eat. When there's work to be done, or when they're in a difficult spot, they remember that they are not supposed to have the view that there is a self, so they say they don't have to take care of such things. And, if they kill someone, they say, "It doesn't matter, because there aren't any living beings to begin with. So I haven't really killed anything." Or they hit someone for no reason at all, and when asked why they did it, they say, "There aren't any living beings, and you belong in that category, so I haven't really hit anything at all!" That's deviant knowledge and deviant views for you. When they eat meat they say, "It doesn't matter, living beings aren't supposed to have the characteristic of a lifespan anyway. Since you don't have the characteristic of a lifespan, you can die at any time, so I can go ahead and eat you. Besides, once you're dead, your flesh will just get rancid if I don't eat it. That's what adherents of externalist religions say. They say that domestic animals are put here just for human beings to eat, and if they aren't eaten, they will overpopulate the world. If people didn't eat cows, sheep, and pigs, they would multiply until they filled up the world. But think about it; people don't eat cats, but the world has yet to be overridden with cats. In fact, when people don't eat animals, not so much killing-karma is created, and the animals don't multiply so quickly. So some people misinterpret the principles, such as the principle of patience, and say that other people should be patient with them, but that they themselves don't have to be patient with others.

Virya is Sanskrit for "vigor." There is physical vigor and mental vigor. When your mind is vigorous, you are seeking Buddhadharma at all times. When your body is vigorous, you practice the Buddhadharma at all times.

Dhyana is also a Sanskrit word; it means "quiet consideration." There are many kinds of dhyana; but now the Buddha says that there isn't any dhyana, either.

Prajna, another Sanskrit word, means "wisdom." There are three kinds of prajna: literary prajna, contemplative prajna, and actual-appearance prajna. Thus, the six perfections, or paramitas, are all empty.

Paramita, also Sanskrit, means to reach the other shore. It refers to the successful completion of anything. We cultivate and become Buddhas; having progressed from the state of an ordinary beings to the state of Buddha is a case of paramita. For an ordinary person to become a Bodhisattva is another kind of paramita. Going from San Francisco to Oakland is also a kind of paramita. Now all these dharmas in the treasury of the Thus Come One are said to not exist. They are all emptied. Previously, when we said that empty space does not exclude any appearances, we were talking about the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty. Here we are discussing the empty treasury of the Thus Come One. In describing the empty treasury of the Thus Come One, the word "not" is used, but it does not signify total negation. What still exists is the basically wonderful, perfect mind. But that mind is not called by these names, so here the empty treasury of the Thus Come One is being described.

Sutra:

Nor any other: it is not the Tathagata, nor the arhats, nor samyaksambodhi, nor parinirvana, nor eternity, nor bliss, nor true self, nor purity.

Commentary:

Nor any other means that all the levels of enlightenment, from the six paramitas through the ten dwellings, the ten faiths, the ten practices, the ten transferences, and the ten grounds, up to and including the fruition of Buddhahood, are included in the emptying. Progressing from the level of Bodhisattvahood to the fruition of Buddhahood takes a long time, and there are many dharmas along the way, but none of them exists; they are all empty, and the fruition of Buddhahood is also empty. It is not the Tathagata which is Sanskrit for the Thus Come One. Even the title of Thus Come One is empty. Nor the arhats, those worthy of the offerings of people and gods. Nor is it samyaksambodhi. The title "One of Proper and Universal Knowledge" is also empty. "Proper knowledge" is the mind being the myriad dharmas. "Universal knowledge" is the myriad dharmas being the mind. One of proper and universal knowledge realizes that,

The mind is the myriad dharmas;
The myriad dharmas are the mind.

Nor is it parinirvana. The Sanskrit word "nirvana" is interpreted as meaning "not produced and not extinguished." Even the concept of non-production and non-extinction is non existent. Nor is it eternity, nor bliss, nor true self, nor purity.

"Eternity" means unmoving. "Bliss" means being filled with the joy of dharma. "True self" is the comfort of having attained the genuine self. "Purity" is what is obtained from the dharma of nirvana. These names are also non-existent. They are also empty. You may ask, then, what there is in the treasury of the Thus Come One. I've told you before that everything is there. You ask what is not there; there isn't anything there at all. Everything is made from the mind alone. The treasury of the Thus Come One is empty, is not empty, and is both empty and not empty, and so the mystery in it is endless. You can say that things exist, you can say that they are empty, and you can say that they do not exist and are not empty. After you have studied the Buddhadharma for a long time, you will understand this.

P2 In the non-empty treasury everything exists.

Sutra:

Therefore, it is neither mundane nor transcendental, since the treasury of the Thus Come One is the fundamental brightness of the wonderful mind.

Commentary:

What has been discussed above is the empty treasury of the Thus Come One. Therefore, it follows from these principles that it is neither mundane nor transcendental. The treasury of the Thus Come One is empty. There aren't any dharmas. This is called,

Sweep away all dharmas,
And separate from all appearances.

The total absence of any dharmas is true emptiness. True emptiness can bring about wonderful existence.

'Mundane" refers to the six ordinary dharma-realms. "Transcendental" refers to the four holy dharma-realms. The treasury of the Thus Come One is the fundamental brightness of the wonderful mind. On the other hand, the mundane and transcendental dharmas are just the treasury of the Thus Come One, fundamentally bright and illumining. They are the wonderful mind which is still and constantly illumining, illumining and constantly still. The text here says the treasury of the Thus Come One "is not," and the text that follows says that absolutely everything "is" the treasury of the Thus Come One, the fundamental brightness of the wonderful mind.

Sutra:

It is the mind, it is emptiness, it is earth, it is water, it is wind, it is fire, it is the eyes, it is the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind. It is form, it is sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas. It is the realm of eye-consciousness, and so forth up, to and including the realm of mindconsciousness.

Commentary:

It is the mind, the discriminating, conscious mind, it is emptiness, it is earth, it is water, it is wind, it is fire, it is the eyes, it is the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind. It is form, it is sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas. It is the realm of eye-consciousness, and so forth, up to and including the realm of mind-consciousness. So, the empty treasury of the Thus Come One is also the existent treasury of the Thus Come One, the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty. Thus, in the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is empty and yet not empty, there is the fundamental brightness of the wonderful mind. It is the five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, and the eighteen realms.

Sutra:

It is understanding and ignorance and the ending of understanding and ignorance, and so forth up to and including old age and death and the ending of old age and death. It is suffering, it is accumulation, it is extinction, and it is the way. It is knowing and attaining. It is dana, it is shila, it is virya, it is kshanti, it is dhyana, it is prajna, and it is paramita, and so forth, up to and including the Tathagata, the arhats, samyaksambodhi, parinirvana, eternity, bliss, true self, and purity.

Commentary:

This section of text describes the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty. Previously, the empty treasury of the Thus Come One was described. Now it is said to be not empty. If it's empty, why is it now said not to be empty? After it's empty, it can be not empty. If it were empty and if that's all there were to it, it wouldn't be wonderful. It's because true emptiness is what gives rise to wonderful existence. And wonderful existence produces true emptiness. So now the treasury of the Thus Come One which is not empty is giving rise to wonderful existence. Therefore, the five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, the eighteen realms, the four truths, and the twelve links of conditioned causation, and so forth, none of them is empty. They can be empty or not empty because there are no fixed dharmas. That's why the Vajra Sutra says,

Even dharmas should be relinquished,
Not to speak of no dharmas.

You should not be attached to the existence of dharmas, because if you are, you have an attachment to dharmas. If you have an attachment to dharmas, it is the same as if you had not understood the dharma. Originally you have an attachment to self, but then when you encounter the dharma you give rise to attachment to dharmas. In Buddhism, then, you can't have any attachments. If there are no attachments, existence is just non-existence. If you have attachments, then non-existence exists.

P3 In the empty-not-empty treasury is perfect fusion.

Sutra:

It is both mundane and transcendental, since the treasury of the Thus Come One is the wonderful brightness of the fundamental mind.

Commentary:

In the previous passage, it is said that it is the five skandhas, the six entrances, the twelve places, the eighteen realms, the four truths, the twelve links of conditioned causation, the six paramitas, and so forth, including the titles of the Thus Come One. It is all these things. Further, it is both mundane and transcendental, since the treasury of the Thus Come One is the wonderful brightness of the fundamental mind, the basic mind that is still and always illumining.

Sutra:

It is apart from 'is' and 'is not.' It is identical with 'is' and 'is not'

Commentary:

It is apart from "is," from existence, and "is not," nonexistence. It's not that is does exist, and it is not that it doesn't exist. That's true emptiness and wonderful existence. So, the principle of the treasury of the Thus Come One which is empty and yet not empty is that it is apart from emptiness and existence and yet not apart from emptiness and existence. And, in light of this principle, the Buddha spoke what follows.

N2 He upbraids them for conceptualizing and verbalizing.

Sutra:

How can living beings in the three realms of existence on the level of worldliness and the sound-hearers and those enlightened to conditions on the level of transcendence make suppositions about the supreme Bodhi of the Thus Come One with the minds that they know of, or enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha through the medium of worldly language and expressions?

Commentary:

How can living beings in the three realms of existence on the level of worldliness,in the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm, in the six common dharma-realms, the sound-hearers and those enlightened to conditions on the level of transcendence, the arhats of the two vehicles, how can they make suppositions about the supreme Bodhi of the Thus Come One with the minds that they know of? At that time, Purna had already been certified as having attained the fourth fruition of arhatship, so the Buddha says, "The minds you know of" the mind of an ordinary person and the mind of an arhat, "How can you investigate the Buddha's enlightenment which no one surpasses? Or enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha through the medium of worldly language and expressions? You want to know the Buddha's knowledge and vision, you want to get into the same state as the Buddha; but how can that be?" Worldly language is the knowledge and vision of ordinary people. And even you who have transcended the mundane and are at the fourth stage of arhatship still cannot imagine the state of the Buddha. You can't use language and consideration to make suppositions about it, to guess at it. "Make suppositions" means you don't really know, but you assume something about it. For example, a child likes to eat candy, so it supposes that everyone likes to eat candy. It doesn't know that some grown-ups don't like candy.

By the same token, ordinary people, and even arhats who are still in the state of the small vehicle, don't have total comprehension, and so they don't know the state of the Buddha.

N3 Conclusion: an analogy for the seeming loss.

Sutra:

For example, lutes, flutes, and guitars can make wonderful sounds, but if there are no skilled fingers to play them, their music will never come forth.

Commentary:

Although the treasury of the Thus Come One is empty, it is nonetheless replete with all dharmas. For example, lutes, flutes, and guitars can make wonderful sounds. Various instruments can make subtle, wonderful sounds. But if there are no skilled fingers to play them, their music will never come forth. No matter how fine the instrument is, there is no way it can play itself. There must be clever fingers to play it. Although the text speaks of "skilled fingers," there must also be a skilled mind. The mind cannot control the fingers if it is not skilled. The skill in the fingers comes from a skilled mind, which is what brings forth the exquisite sounds.

Sutra:

You and all living beings are the same way. The precious, enlightened mind is perfect in everyone. Thus, I press my finger upon it and the ocean-impression emits light; you move your mind, and the wearisome defilements spring up.

Commentary:

The musical instrument that needs a musician before it can make music; the instrument may be fine, but what comes out may not sound so good if one is not a musician, is an analogy for the treasury of the Thus Come One. The Buddha tells Purna, "You and all living beings are the same way. With your ordinary thought you try to make suppositions about the state of the Thus Come One, and so you fit the analogy. The precious, enlightened mind is perfect in everyone. Every person is complete with it. Thus, I press my finger upon it and the ocean-impression emits light." Here the Thus Come One refers to himself. "All I need do is press my finger and the ocean-impression emits light." What is the 'ocean-impression'?

It is a kind of samadhi which the Buddha has where the myriad things are all known to the mind as if they had been imprinted on it like a seal. When the ocean is completely smooth, it can reflect the myriad things; it is what is meant by the "ocean-impression emits light." You move your mind, and the wearisome defilements spring up. As soon as a thought comes to your mind, the tiresome dust arises. The false-thinking mind manifests itself. The Buddha presses his finger and the ocean-impression emits light, which shows how subtle and miraculous the state of the Buddha is. Purna and other living beings don't have such a subtle state. They exist in a state of wearisome defilements.

L2 Again the explanation brings up a question.
M1 Purna asks about the cause for falseness and decides to vigorously cultivate.

Sutra:

It is all because you do not diligently seek the unsurpassed enlightened Way, but are fond of the lesser vehicle and are satisfied with little attainment.

Commentary:

Here the Buddha scolds Purna even more severely. "Why haven't you cut off your wearisome defilements? Why do you move your mind and let the tiresome dust spring up? It is all because you do not diligently seek the unsurpassed enlightened Way. You aren't attentive at all times to the unsurpassed path to enlightenment, but are fond of the lesser vehicle and are satisfied with little attainment. You are greedy for the dharmas of the small vehicle and are content with having attained a slight state." This section of text is very important. Everyone should take a look at himself. Ask yourself whether you are actually diligently seeking unsurpassed Bodhi. Are you genuinely seeking the Buddhadharma? If you really want to understand the Buddhadharma, you should diligently seek unsurpassed Bodhi. Ask yourself what you are doing here every day. "Is it the case that I just follow the crowd? If people laugh, do I laugh? If people talk, do I talk?" If you just follow the crowd, you are not really developing your own skill. If you are really working on yourself, then you aren't even aware of it when someone beside you speaks. You don't even hear them. If someone walks past you, you don't even see them. "I'm not deaf, I'm not blind," you say. "Why wouldn't I see them? Why wouldn't I hear someone speak?" If you are able not to see and not to hear, even though you are not blind or deaf: that is the wonderful. Then you've really got something. You are not blind or deaf, but,

Your eyes see forms,
but inside there is nothing.
Your ears hear mundane sounds,
but the mind does not know.

If you can be like that, then I know that you are diligently seeking unsurpassed Bodhi. If you are not like that, you should be courageous, truly set your mind on the Way, and seek the Unsurpassed Path.

One day someone said to me, "There's not a single place here that's quiet." If you yourself are quiet, then every place is quiet. If you yourself are not quiet, then no place will be quiet. If you are not quiet within and are turned around by external states, there will be external states wherever you go. No matter where you go, to the mountains, to the rivers, on the great earth, in the houses and cottages, on the porches and verandas, no matter where you go it will not be quiet. It is because you can't even get along with yourself. You get angry with yourself. And why is that? Because you can't control your environment. You are influenced by it. When someone passes by a person who diligently seeks for Bodhi, he doesn't notice the person passing; if someone says something nearby him, he doesn't even hear it.

"You are always urging the impossible," you protest. "It can't be done."

If you can find a way to do the impossible, then it counts. All of these things are insignificant states if you have the Way. If you can turn the noisy city into a mountain grove, you've got some skill. So, ask yourself whether you are diligently seeking the unsurpassed Bodhi. Or have you come here just to find fault with people instead? "So-and-so is all right, but so-and-so is always wrong." Do you just keep pointing the camera outward to take pictures of others and never of yourself? You should return the light and look within. Have you really been studying during the time you have been studying the Buddhadharma? If not, then you've wasted your time. If you have been seriously studying, ask yourself what advantages you have gained. If you haven't gained any, you should work even harder. Take for example your ability to recite the Shurangama Mantra. How are you doing? Can you recite it from memory? After all, the Shurangama Sutra was spoken on behalf of the Shurangama Mantra. Without the Shurangama Mantra, there wouldn't even be a Shurangama Sutra. So, even if you don't understand the text of the Shurangama Sutra, you pass if you can recite the Shurangama Mantra from memory. But don't worry about it too much. You should still eat when it's time to eat and sleep when it's time to sleep. Don't get so concerned about not being able to recite the Shurangama Mantra from memory that when it's time to eat you can't get the food down, and when it's time to sleep you have insomnia. If you get all bothered about it, you'll be even less able to learn the Mantra.

I said you should look and yet not see, listen and yet not hear. But people are turned around by situations and cannot control them. You pay a lot of attention to something when you first see it. But after a while you forget about it, and it ceases to exist for you. Take a clock as an example. The old ones used to go "tick, tock" and then chime. If you had such a clock, you might notice its ticking at first, but after you got used to it, you wouldn't even hear it anymore. If you listen for it, it's still ticking, but if you pay no mind to it, it's as if it isn't there at all. This proves that if your mind is not attached to something, it doesn't exist. And that's what's meant by

The eyes see forms,
but inside there is nothing.
The ears hear sounds,
but the mind does not know.

So you join everyone here in meditation, but then complain that a certain person wiggles. The person beside you keeps moving; but don't put the blame on him. It's just that you don't have enough samadhi-power. If you did, then no matter how much the person next to you moved, you wouldn't even know it. How do you know that person is moving? Because you are moving. Your mind is moving.

That's a state. There are little states and big states, good states and bad states. All you have to do is know how to use the Buddhadharma and none of them is any problem.

"But I can't use it now," you protest. If you can't use it, you have to think of a way to do so. You have to keep heading in that direction. As your skill deepens, you will quite naturally not be moved by states. Once you have enough samadhi, no state will move your mind. In China there's a saying:

When you have studied in depth,
You won't have a temper.

People fly off the handle when they lack sufficient education. If your samadhi is sufficient, then even if something is really bad, you can influence it for the better. For example, I've said that as long as I am in San Francisco the earth will not quake. People who don't understand the Buddhadharma think that this is impossible. But if you understand the Buddhadharma and you practice until you have some samadhi, then wherever you are, the earth stays put. It's absolutely certain that there won't be a problem. So now we are all studying samadhi-power, and when you really have samadhipower, it will be peaceful wherever you go. If you don't have any samadhi, then even peaceful places won't be peaceful, because your mind is moving. With samadhi-power you can transform your environment. This is most important.

Therefore, you must first study the Shurangama Mantra, and then you must study the Shurangama Samadhi. With the Shurangama Samadhi, you are not afraid of anything; you are really solid. So now I am telling the earth here in San Francisco to remain solid, and even if an atom bomb fell, it wouldn't matter, it wouldn't go off. You should all have faith and not be afraid. With the Shurangama Mantra, and with the fact that we are explaining the Shurangama Sutra, there is nothing to be afraid of. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are certainly protecting us as we study the Buddhadharma here, so none of you should worry.

Sutra:

Purna said, "I am non-dual and complete with the Thus Come One's perfect brightness of the precious enlightenment, the true wonder of the pure mind. But long ago I was victimized by false thoughts that have no beginning and I have long endured the turning wheel of rebirth. Now I have attained the sagely vehicle, but it is not yet ultimate. The World Honored One has completely extinguished all falseness and obtained wonderful true eternity."

Commentary:

Having heard the Buddha say that Purna did not diligently seek unsurpassed Bodhi, was greedy for the dharmas of the lesser vehicle, and was satisfied with a little, Purna responded: I am nondual and complete with the Thus Come One's perfect brightness of the precious enlightenment. He said that he and the Buddha were both replete with the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the true wonder of the pure mind. There is no division into two, and it is not that there is more or less of anything. But, although the Buddha's true, wonderful, pure mind and mine each has the precious enlightenment and is perfectly bright, long ago I was victimized by false thoughts that have no beginning and I have long endured the turning wheel of rebirth. In the past I got caught up in beginningless false thoughts, and for ever so long I have been turning over and over again in the six paths of rebirth. Now I have attained the sagely vehicle. Now I have been certified as having attained the fourth fruition of arhatship. But it is not yet ultimate. But I haven't yet gotten completely rid of my left-over
habits of false thinking. My true mind has not yet revealed itself. The World Honored One has completely extinguished all falseness and obtained wonderful true eternity. For the World Honored One, the false is gone and only the true remains. His state is particularly subtle, wonderful, and truly eternal. It will never change.

Sutra:

I venture to ask the Thus Come One why all living beings exist in falseness and conceal their own wonderful brightness, so that they keep drowning in this deluge?

Commentary:

"I venture to ask the Thus Come One, I dare to question the Buddha, why all living beings exist in falseness. Why do they suddenly give rise to falseness?" This is like Purna's earlier question: "If the fundamental purity pervades the dharma-realm, why do there suddenly arise the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth?" Living beings' self-nature is basically pure and devoid of falseness. Why then does the falseness arise?

And why do they conceal their own wonderful brightness, so that they keep drowning in this deluge? They cover over their wonderfully bright true mind, and they go on in this world, turning through the paths of rebirth, until they are submerged in this world, just like being drowned. They keep sinking into the mire of the wheel of birth and death.

M2 The Thus Come One uses an analogy to show there is no cause and instructs him to immediately stop.
N1 The analogy to explain that there is no cause.

Sutra:

The Buddha said to Purna, "Although you have cast off doubts, you still have not ended residual delusions. I will now employ a worldly event in questioning you."

Commentary:

Purna wanted to know why false thinking should arise in the fundamental purity which pervades the dharma-realm, false thinking which covers over the wonderful bright mind of everyone. In reply, the Buddha said to Purna, "Although you have cast off doubts, you still have not ended residual delusions. When I explained the continuity of the world, the continuity of living beings, and the continuity of karmic retribution to you, you got rid of your doubts, but you still haven't completely realized the principle and are not yet totally clear. You still have a few questions. I will now employ a worldly event in questioning you. It will be easy for you to understand an ordinary event, a worldly
phenomenon, so I will employ one in asking you some questions."

N2 He correlates the dharma and the analogy.

Sutra:

"Have you not heard of Yajnadatta in Shravasti who on impulse one morning held a mirror to his face and fell in love with the head in the mirror? He gazed at the eyes and eyebrows but got angry because he could not see his own face. He decided he must be a li mei ghost. Having lost all his bearings, he ran madly out. What do you think? Why did this person set out on a mad chase for no reason?"

Purna said, "That person was insane. There's no other reason."

Commentary:

"Purna, haven't you heard this story? Have you not heard of Yajnadatta in Shravasti who on impulse one morning held a mirror to his face? Didn't you hear the news about Yajnadatta in the City of Flourishing Virtue?" At that time there were no newspapers; word just got around. Yajnadatta's name means "arrived in a temple," (ci jie) because once his mother went to a god's temple to pray and gave birth to her son while she was there.

One morning Yajnadatta got up and impulsively, with out any forethought, picked up a mirror and held it to his face. His own face was reflected in the mirror, and he loved what he saw. He was delighted with how handsome the head in the mirror was. He fell in love with the head in the mirror. He gazed at the eyes and eyebrows. He scrutinized the features and decided the head was superb, but got angry because he could not see his own face. Then, suddenly he flew into a rage. "Why don't I have a head?" he demanded. "Imagine how fine it would be if I had a head like that!" He got exasperated because he couldn't see his own face and thought he didn't have a head. "I can see the head in the mirror perfectly well. Why can't I see my own face and eyes?" He decided he must be a li mei ghost. At this point he made a mistake. He thought he was a ghost or a weird creature of some kind. Li mei ghosts dwell in the mountains, and they have a kind of bewitching power. Li mei and wang liang are two kind of ghosts. There?s a verse in Chinese about them:

Shurangama4p8 clip image002.gif

Lutes, flutes, ballon guitars:
Eight great kings, every king on top.
Li mei, wang liang:
Four small ghosts, each ghost to the side.

Once he had decided he was a ghost, he lost all his bearings, he ran madly out. He was trying to shake the ghost. He ran up and down the streets of the city. There wasn't any other reason for his behavior except that he had become possessed with the idea that he was a ghost.

What do you think? Purna, what's your idea about this? Why did this person set out on a mad chase for no reason? What was actually behind the unreasonable behavior that led him to run madly about?

Purna said, "That person was insane. There's no other reason." Yajnadatta went crazy; he had no sane motive. He didn't understand, and therefore, he said he must be a weird creature, because he couldn't see his own head. Now, is it true that he didn't have a head? I believe that all of you are more intelligent than Yajnadatta, and that none of you would conclude that you didn't have a head just because you saw a head in a mirror. Basically, he hadn't lost his head, but he thought he had.

Purna had asked Shakyamuni Buddha why living beings give rise to falseness for no reason. Shakyamuni Buddha then brought up Yajnadatta and asked why he had decided on impulse that he didn't have a head. Purna replied that Yajnadatta's mind had gone mad. Why do living beings give rise to falseness? It's just because they give rise to falseness in the true mind. It's certainly not that fundamentally there is a root of falseness there which can produce the falseness. The principle is the same as with the case of Yajnadatta.

Sutra:

The Buddha said, "What reason can you give for calling false the wonderful enlightened bright perfection, the fundamentally perfect bright wonder? If there is a reason, then how can you say it is false?"

Commentary:

The Buddha said to Purna, "What reason can you give for calling false the wonderful enlightened bright perfection, the fundamentally perfect bright wonder?" The Buddha is referring to the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is still and yet constantly illumining, illumining and yet constantly still. It is subtle, wonderful, and inconceivable. "What reason," the Buddha asks Purna, "can you have for saying that the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One is empty and false? If there is a reason, if there's some basis for it, if it is a critical judgement, if there's some good reason behind your doing so, how can you say it is false? If you can pass a critical judgment about something, it must exist. It would be true, not false, and you wouldn't be able to say it was empty and false."

Sutra:

All your own false thinking becomes in turn the cause for more. From confusion you accumulate confusion through kalpa after kalpa; although the Buddha is aware of it, he cannot counteract it.

Commentary:

All your own false thinking, although it is false, gives rise to a lot more falseness. False thoughts are like ants in a short amount of time a few can produce many. Or like bacteria. How does this happen? It's as I've said before:

The good get together,
The bad gang up:
People find their own kind.

In the same way, false thoughts arise, accumulate, and becomes in turn the cause for more. Suddenly there's a lot of false thinking. In fact, that is what keeps people from be coming enlightened. If it isn't one false thought coming in, it's another one arriving; they flock in and out like guests at an open house. I asked one of you what you thought about in meditation, and the answer was, "Sometimes I think about good things to eat, sometimes about wearing nice clothes, or about living in a fine house, or buying a new car. Sometimes I even plan how I'm going to buy a helicopter when I get the money." When you sit in meditation, all these thoughts arise. One goes by and the next one arrives, coming and going, all your own false thinking.

From confusion you accumulate confusion. One instance of confusion breeds a lot more, through kalpa after kalpa. Because your false thinking is so great, you can't put a stop to it, and so you keep your self-nature busy from morning to night. Basically, the self-nature is fundamentally pure and pervades the dharma-realm, but when it entertains too much false thinking, it can't rest. It entertains false thinking for kalpa after kalpa and is never finished. Today this false thought invited me over, and tomorrow I've been asked by that false thought to go to a play. The day after tomorrow I've got a date with another false thought to go dancing, and then there are meetings and social gatherings. In general, there are a lot of things happening. And so for kalpa after kalpa, from time without beginning until today, you still haven't finished having meetings.

Although the Buddha is aware of it, he cannot counteract it. The Buddha sees all this going on, but he can't counteract it. He can't get you to turn around and face the other way. You are still friends with the false thoughts and can't renounce them.

If you can't renounce death,
you can't change life.
If you can't reject the false,
you won't succeed with the true.

"Does 'renouncing death' mean that I die now, and does 'changing life' mean I go off to a new rebirth?" you ask. No. It means that while you are still alive, you look upon yourself as a living dead person. If you do that, then you won't flare up if someone criticizes you or gloat if someone compliments you. Just pretend you are dead. Don't be so worried about your reputation, and don't put a lot of energy into this thin shell of physical existence. "Renounce death," in that way, and then after such a "big death' you can have a "big life."

If you can't reject the false,
you won't succeed with the true.

Why haven't you attained to your precious, perfectly enlightened nature? It's because you have too much false thinking and can't renounce it. And every day your mind that seeks advantage from situations grows. Once you start seeking advantage from situations, there?s no point in hoping to accomplish the Way.

Most people put their energy into lifeless things. People who cultivate the Way should apply their skill to living things. "Lifeless things" means your physical body, which keeps you hopping on its behalf. In the future, your body will certainly die. The "living thing" is our self-nature which never dies. When your physical body dies, your self-nature does not die. It just moves to a new house.

Sutra:

From such confused causes, the cause of confusion perpetuates itself. When one realizes that confusion has no cause, the falseness becomes baseless. Since it never arose, why would you hope for its extinction? One who obtains Bodhi is like a person who awakens to realize the events of a dream; even though his mind is awake and clear, he cannot get hold of the things in the dream and physically display them.

Commentary:

From such confused causes, the cause of confusion perpetuates itself. You encounter confusion and it seems to really exist. The false thinking appears to be real enough, but actually it is phony. You seem to have false thinking, but actually the confusion doesn't have a substantial nature. Thus, you can't say that confusion gives rise to confusion, because confusion doesn't have any substance of its own. When one realizes that confusion has no cause, that there is nothing for confusion to rely on; that it has no seed, no root, the falseness becomes baseless. Once you realize that confusion hasn't any substance, how can the false remain? Since it never arose: It has no way to come into being. The person who said he didn't have a head thought he didn't have one, but it was really growing right there on his shoulders. Confusion is a temporary lack of clarity. It's not that your confusion completely obliterates your enlightened nature. Why would you hope for its extinction? If it doesn't arise, how can you say it is destroyed?

One who obtains Bodhi is like a person who awakens to realize the events of a dream. When he was asleep he was the emperor, had a whole passel of advisors, ate fine foods, and was richly dressed, and everything he did reaped immeasurable blessings. Even though his mind is awake and clear, he cannot get hold of the things in the dream and physically display them. Could he bring out the events in the dream and show them to people? No. Who is the person whose mind is "awake and clear?" It's the Buddha. The Buddha can speak dharma to point out that you experience all kinds of states in a dream, but he can't take the states from the dream and display them for you in actuality. Although the Buddha speaks dharma to destroy confusion and falseness, nevertheless he can"t physically get hold of false thoughts and confusion and show them to you. All he can do is use analogies to instruct you. Don't expect him to pull out the actual things as proof. So, he's like the person who awakens from a dream and can talk about all the things that happened, but he can't pull out the actual things of the dream and show them to you.

Sutra:

How much the more is that the case with some thing which is without a cause and basically non-existent, such as Yajnadatta's situation that day in the city? Was there any reason why he became fearful for his head and went running about? If his madness were suddenly to cease, it would not be that he had obtained his head from someplace outside; and so before his madness ceases, how can his head have been lost?

Commentary:

How much the more is that the case with some thing which is without a cause? Since you can't display the things you saw in a dream to prove to others that you saw them, how much the more impossible would it be to prove the existence of something that has no source, no root, and no cause, and that is basically nonexistent? Confusion certainly has no substance or appearance.

There isn't any "thing" there at all. It is like Yajnadatta's situation that day in the city. Was there any reason why he became fearful for his head and went running about? Was there really any reason why he got frightened and began to question the existence of his own head? His doubt was this: He said he couldn't see his own head and concluded that he didn't have a head. He saw a head in the mirror but didn't realize that it was his own. He thought it existed independent of him there in the mirror. So, he scolded himself for not having a head and called himself a headless freak. And that's why he began running around. If his madness were suddenly to cease, it would not be that he had obtained his head from someplace outside. His craziness might stop, but it isn't that his head has returned from somewhere else. This represents the fact that although we have given rise to confusion, confusion has no nature of its own; it has no substance or appearance. Although the true suchness of the self-nature may become confused, it is never lost. And, when there is no confusion, it isn't the case that one has obtained the true suchness of the selfnature.

In the same way, one's head is one's own all along. It's not the case that one can obtain a head or lose a head. And so before his madness ceases, how can his head have been lost? When Yajnadatta lost his head, where did it go? That's the topic for today. If you know where it went, then you understand a certain amount of this sutra. If you don't know where it went, you should listen attentively to the sutra right now, and you will understand. Even before his madness ceases, then, has he in fact lost his head, or hasn't he? Is it really gone?

Sutra:

Purna, falseness is the same way. How can it exist?

Commentary:

The head didn't actually go anywhere. It wasn't lost. The only reason he thought he didn't have a head is that he got confused. Purna, falseness is the same way. How can it exist? Where is the root of falseness? It doesn't have any support or any foundation. Without a root, then, where do you suppose confusion and falseness really are? You can't find them.

N3 He explains that he should immediately stop.

Sutra:

All you need do is not follow discriminations, because none of the three causes arises when the three conditions of the three continuities of the world, living beings, and karmic retribution are cut off.

Commentary:

All you need to do you don't have to use any other method, is not follow the discriminations of your false thinking, because none of the three causes arises when the three conditions of the three continuities of the world, living beings, and karmic retribution are cut off. If you don't give rise to discriminations, then there is no world, there are no living beings, and there is no karmic retribution; the three conditions are cut off. These three continuities existed in the first place because of your false consciousness and discriminating mind. When the conditions are cut off, the causes do not arise.

Sutra:

Then the madness of the Yajnadatta in your mind will cease of itself, and just that ceasing is Bodhi. The supreme, pure, bright mind originally pervades the dharma-realm. It is not something obtained from anyone else. Why, then, labor and toil with marrow and joint to cultivate and be certified?

Commentary:

Then the madness of the Yajnadatta in your mind, your mad mind, will cease of itself. Your confusion will quiet itself, and just that ceasing is Bodhi. It's not the case that once it ceases it can start up again. The ceasing itself is Bodhi. Simply getting rid of the confusion is the true. It's not that after the confusion is gone, there is the true. Rather, once you understand in the midst of your confusion, the truth reveals itself. They are not two things. Your understanding is true, and your lack of understanding is confusion. The confusion basically has no foundation, and if you can stop it, that ceasing is itself Bodhi, the enlightened nature.

The supreme, pure, bright mind, which is incomparable and undefiled, with a light that shines everywhere, originally pervades the dharma-realm. It is not something obtained from anyone else; that is, it doesn't come from someplace external. It is something inherent in every person. The true mind, the supreme, pure, bright mind, is not greater in the Buddha's case, even by a little bit, nor is it even a little bit smaller in the case of living beings, although it is in the midst of confusion. The supreme, pure, bright mind is innate in everyone; no one lacks it. It is not something borrowed from someone else or obtained from some external place. Why, then, labor and toil with marrow and joint to cultivate and be certified? An example of labor and toil is that of parents for their children. They nourish the baby, change its diapers, and do everything in their power to display their kindness and concern for it. By the same token, you don't need to treat your self-nature like a baby and labor and toil on its behalf because the self-nature is inherent in you. You don't have to care for it with the toil "of marrow and joint."

The butcher, Pan Ding, in Zhuang Ze's Yang Shen Zhu, was so powerful that he could decapitate a cow without exerting his "marrow and joints." He could cut through with a single swipe. The meaning of "marrow and joints" here in the text is that you don't have to calculate and formulate a plan for how you are going to cultivate and become certified. There is no cultivation of this dharma and no certification to it. One cultivates as if not cultivating and is certified as if there is no certification. This is the effortless Way. And the fine points of it are perfectly fused and unobstructed. You don't have to cultivate and be certified. Didn't Ananda say earlier, 'So that I needn't pass through countless aeons to attain the dharma body?" He doesn't have to go through three great asamkhyeya kalpas to attain the dharma body. The wonderful dharma of the Shurangama Sutra is just in this: It is not necessary to labor and toil in marrow and joint to cultivate and be certified.

N4 He concludes with an analogy to show it is not lost.

Sutra:

This is to be like the person who has a wish fulfilling pearl sewn in his clothing without-realizing it. Thus he roams abroad in a state of poverty, begging for food and always on the move. Although he is indeed destitute, the pearl is never lost.

Commentary:

If the Yajnadatta within you, your mad mind, ceases, if your false thinking, your perpetual state of confusion and lack of enlightenment disappears, then Bodhi appears. But, the appearance of Bodhi is not something that is obtained from outside, nor is there any need to nourish it in yourself. It is something we have all along. The Buddha now gives Purna another example: This is to be like the person who has a wish-fulfilling pearl sewn in his clothing without realizing it. The wish-fulfilling pearl makes whatever wish you might have come true. The first "hand and eye" in the great compassion dharma is the "hand and eye of the wish-fulfilling pearl" If you want gold, you can have gold; if you want silver, you can have silver; anything at all can manifest from the wish fulfilling pearl. Someone who has a wish-fulfilling pearl is the wealthiest person on earth, because it can never be used up. You can have whatever wealth and riches come to your mind.

The person in the Buddha's example has a wish-fulfilling pearl sewn in his clothing without realizing it. Maybe he once knew, but with the passage of time, he has forgotten about it. He is probably a very forgetful person and doesn't even remember such an important matter as this. Thus he roams abroad in a state of poverty. He is penniless: so destitute that he has hardly any clothes to wear. Perhaps he doesn't have a house and has to sleep along the road. By this I don't mean that he is like people who get together and go camping out in the open. They do that for fun. This person is so poor that he has no choice. He must beg for food and he is always on the move. He ends up a beggar. Although he is indeed destitute, the pearl is never lost. Although the fact of his poverty is very real, he has still not lost his wish-fulfilling pearl. This shows that although we people are in a state of confusion, our self-nature is not lost.

One may be confused, lack understanding, and not study the Buddhadharma, still, the self-nature is not lost. Those greedy for worldly riches and honor, for entertainment and pleasure, don't realize that these mundane attainments are not genuine riches and honor. The poorest people are those who do not recognize genuine principle; they are those who do not understand the Buddhadharma. Since you don't understand the Buddhadharma, you don't realize that your self nature is like the hidden wish-fulfilling pearl. But, even when you don't understand your self-nature, still the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, the supreme, pure, bright mind, is certainly not lost. It is still inherently yours.

Those who cultivate and believe in the Buddhadharma understand that their self-nature is inherent within them, and they come to discover their innate wealth. That is genuine riches and honor.

Sutra:

Suddenly, a wise person shows him the pearl: all his wishes are fulfilled, he obtains great wealth, and he realizes that the pearl did not come from somewhere outside.

Commentary:

Suddenly, a wise person shows him the pearl. The wise person is analogous to the Buddha. Showing him the pearl in his clothing represents pointing out to him his inherent Buddha-nature. All his wishes are fulfilled, when he obtains the wish-fulfilling pearl. He can have whatever he wants, and he obtains great wealth. He be comes an elder with great blessings. He has so much money that he can't count it all, even with the help of accountants. The "great wealth" represents one's understanding of one's inherent self-nature and one's being certified as having attained the enlightened fruition of Bodhi. He realizes that the pearl did not come from somewhere outside. He understands that the "spiritual pearl," the wish-fulfilling pearl, is not obtained from outside. This means that he knows that his inherent Buddha-nature is not obtained from outside himself. When you can accomplish Buddhahood, you will know, and you'll say, "Oh, so that's what it's all about." When you become enlightened, you will know that basically you were an enlightened person all along. You'll think, "If I'd realized this earlier, I wouldn't have had put forth so much effort. I wouldn't have had to go outside begging for food. I wouldn't have had to endure such poverty." But you haven't had a wise person to instruct you, and you yourself have already forgotten. So, as we listen to instruction on the Shurangama Sutra, each of us should discover the wish-fulfilling pearl in his or her clothing. If you uncover your wish-fulfilling pearl, you will become the most wealthy person in the world. Another definition of genuine wealth is this:

The mind's stopping and thoughts' ceasing:
That is true wealth and honor.
Selfish desires cut off completely:
That is the true field of blessings.

If your false-thinking mind stops, if your crazy thoughts disappear, then you have attained genuine wealth and honor. So, when you obtain the wish-fulfilling pearl, you won't have any more greed, because you will already have everything. Everything will be yours, and if you have no selfishness, no thoughts of desire, then you are a person who is a genuine field of blessings.

CHAPTER 3:Ananda Attaches to Causes and Conditions

J2 He also instructs Ananda.
K1 Ananda traces the Buddha's words and attaches to causes a conditions.

Sutra:

Ananda then bowed at the Buddha's feet, arose in the great assembly, and said to the Buddha, "The World Honored One now explains that when the three conditions of the karma of killing, stealing, and lust are cut off, the three causes for them do not arise. Then the madness of Yajnadatta in the mind ceases of itself, and just that ceasing is Bodhi. It is not something obtained from anyone else. These clearly are causes and conditions; why, then, does the Thus Come One abruptly reject causes and conditions?"

Commentary:

Ananda then bowed at the Buddha's feet, he prostrated himself and grasped the Buddha's feet, then arose in the great assembly, and said to the Buddha, "The World Honored One now explains that when the three conditions of the karma of killing, stealing, and lust are cut off" the Buddha has discussed how the greed of killing, the greed of stealing, and the greed of lust, these three kinds of karma, bring about the continuity of the world, the continuity of living beings, and the continuity of karmic retribution. When these three conditions are cut off, the three causes for them do not arise. Then the madness of Yajnadatta in the mind, that confusion in the mind, ceases of itself, and just that ceasing is Bodhi. It is not something obtained from anyone else. It does not come from somewhere outside. That's what the Buddha said. These clearly are causes and conditions. This principle is quite obviously the dharma of causes and conditions. Why, then, does the Thus Come One abruptly reject causes and conditions? Why does the World Honored One reject causes and conditions, spontaneity, and mixing and uniting? What you are talking about right now is the dharma of causes and conditions.

Sutra:

It was through causes and conditions that my mind became enlightened, World Honored One, and that is not only true of us who are young in years, of us sound-hearers who still have to study. Mahamaudgalyayana, Shariputra, and Subhuti, who are now in this assembly and who followed the elder brahmans, became enlightened and obtained the state of no outflows upon hearing the Buddha expound upon causes and conditions.

Commentary:

Ananda said, "It was through the principle of causes and conditions that my mind became enlightened, World Honored One, and that is not only true of us who are young in years, of us bhikshus, of us sound-hearers who still have to study." The level of fourth-stage arhatship is called the position of "having nothing left to study." Those at the level of the first, second, and third fruition still have to study. "Sound-hearers" are the arhats who awakened to the Way upon hearing the Buddha speak dharma. Mahamaudgalyayana, of the "big bean clan," Shariputra, "son of the egret," and Subhuti, "born into emptiness," who are now in this assembly and who followed the elder brahmans, the brahmans who expounded the theory of spontaneity became enlightened and obtained the state of no outflows upon hearing the Buddha expound upon causes and conditions. They heard
the doctrine of the twelve links of conditioned causation as expressed by the Buddha and became enlightened. They became arhats with no outflows. They had no more ignorance, and so:

All their outflows were ended;
They had done what had to be done,
And would undergo no further becoming.

When all their outflows were ended, they became fourth-stage arhats, they obtained the penetration of the extinction of outflows. They had done what had to be done and would not have to undergo further rebirth.

Sutra:

Now you say that Bodhi does not come from causes and conditions. So the spontaneity that Maskari Goshaliputra and others advocated in Rajagriha then becomes the primary meaning! I only hope you will let fall great compassion and break through my confusion.

Commentary:

World Honored One, you previously spoke the dharma of causes and conditions and the arhats opened enlightenment and were certified as having attained the fruition. Now you say that Bodhi does not come from causes and conditions. Now you've done away with causes and conditions. The spontaneity that Maskari Goshaliputra and others advocated in Rajagriha then becomes the primary meaning!

Maskari Goshaliputra was a leader of an externalist path that propounded spontaneity. His name means one who has not seen the Way, ( bu jian dao). By using causes and conditions, the Buddha destroyed the theory of spontaneity. Now that the Buddha has renounced causes and conditions, Ananda says, spontaneity must reign supreme. I only hope you will let fall great compassion and break through my confusion. Buddha, I hope that with your mind of great kindness and compassion you will bring us out of our confusion. Instruct those of us who don't recognize true principle, those of us with too much false thinking.

K2 The Thus Come One expels his deep emotion and upbraids him for attaching so tightly.
L1 He uses an analogy to expel his emotion and put forth his meaning.

Sutra:

The Buddha said to Ananda, "Let us take the case of Yajnadatta in the city: if the causes and conditions of his madness cease, the nature that is not mad will spontaneously come forth. The entire principle of spontaneity and causes and conditions is nothing more than that.

Commentary:

The Buddha said to Ananda, "Let us take the case of Yajnadatta in the city: if the causes and conditions of his madness cease. Can you explain the causes and conditions of his madness? If his madness ceases, the nature that is not mad will spontaneously come forth. The entire principle of spontaneity and causes and conditions is nothing more than that. Tell me, what aspect of his situation arose from causes and conditions, and what aspect of it was spontaneous? That's all there is to say about these two principles: it's just a matter of what I have explained here."

Sutra:

Ananda, Yajnadatta's head was spontaneously there, it was a spontaneous part of him. There was never a time when it was not. Why, then, did he suddenly fear that he had no head and start running about madly?

Commentary:

Ananda, do you realize that Yajnadatta's head was spontaneously there? He never lost it, and he never got it back. It was a spontaneous part of him. That's just the way he was: he had a head. There was never a time when it was not. It wasn't that originally he didn't have a head. Why, then, did he suddenly fear that he had no head and start running about madly? His head was there; it was never lost. You tell me, then, why he got scared and said that he was afraid he didn't have a head. He frightened himself into losing his head and started running around like a mad man. What were the causes and conditions here? Where was the spontaneity?

Sutra:

If he naturally had a head and went mad due to causes and conditions, would it not be just as natural for him to lose his head due to causes and conditions?

Commentary:

Why didn't he really lose his head?

Sutra:

Basically his head was not lost. The madness and fear arose from falseness. There was never any change that took place. Why, then, labor the point about causes and conditions?

Commentary:

Basically his head was not lost. The madness and fear arose from falseness. He picked up a mirror one morning and said that he could see the eyes and eyebrows of the head very clearly in the mirror, but fretted that he could not see his own eyes and face. Madness and fear arose, and he went running crazily about. His madness and fear arose from falseness. There was never any change that took place. Although he went mad and began running about in fear that he had no head, there really hadn't been any change at all. So why, then, labor the point about causes and conditions? What causes and conditions are you going to make out of this? What spontaneity was involved?

Sutra:

If the madness were spontaneous, the madness and fear would be fundamental. Before he went mad, then, where was his madness hidden?

Commentary:

If the madness were spontaneous, if you want to argue the point and say that in fact his madness arose spontaneously of itself, the madness and fear would be fundamental, the madness and fear would have been there all the time. Before he went mad, then, where was his madness hidden? Show me the place that the madness was hiding. You can't find it.

Sutra:

If the madness were not spontaneous, and his head were in fact not lost, why did he run about in a state of madness?

Commentary:

If the madness were not spontaneous, were we to say his natural state he was not mad, and his head were in fact not lost, there was nothing false about his head; it was not a phony head in the first place, why did he run about in a state of madness? Why did he go mad and run about?

Sutra:

If you realize that you have a head and recognize the madness of your pursuit, then both spontaneity and causes and conditions become idle theories. That is why I say that the three conditions' ceasing to be is itself the Bodhi mind.

Commentary:

Ananda, if you realize that you have a head, if you understand clearly about your own head, and recognize the madness of your pursuit: you see that it is you who are running madly about. When you know that you have not lost your head and realize that there is no reason for you to be running crazily about, then both spontaneity and causes and conditions become idle theories. Talk about causes and conditions and spontaneity just becomes a joke. That is why I say that the three conditions, ceasing to be is itself the Bodhi mind. When there is no more greed of killing, greed of stealing, or greed of lust in you, when you have cut off these three causes and conditions, you have attained the Bodhi mind.

L2 Tells him repeatedly to expel absolutely all emotion.

Sutra:

The Bodhi mind's being produced and the mind subject to production and extinction's being extinguished is simply production and extinction.

Commentary:

We refer to the Bodhi mind as being produced and the mind of production and extinction as being extinguished, but in reality they have no actual substance or nature.

Sutra:

The ending of both production and extinction is the effortless Way. If there is spontaneity, then clearly it must be that the thought of spontaneity arises and the mind subject to production and extinction ceases: that, then, is still prouction and extinction.

Commentary:

The ending of both production and extinction is the effortless Way. It is the great Shurangama Samadhi. If there is spontaneity, then clearly it must be that the thought of spontaneity arises. You should understand that if there is spontaneity, then the thought of spontaneity arises, and the mind subject to production and extinction ceases. You should realize that. That, then, is still production and extinction. If your understanding is that the mind subject to production and extinction is extinguished, then you are proposing a case of production and extinction, not a case of spontaneity.

Sutra:

To call the lack of production and extinction spontaneity is the same as to say that the single substance formed by the combination of all mundane appearances is a mixed and united essence, and that whatever is not mixed and united is basically spontaneous in nature.

Commentary:

To call the lack of production and extinction spontaneity is the same as to say that the single substance formed by the combination of all mundane appearances is a mixed and united essence. Saying that spontaneity is the opposite of production and extinction is just like saying that spontaneity is the opposite of a lot of appearances in the world coming together and forming a mixed and united substance. It is like saying that a lack of mixing and uniting is spontaneity. Spontaneity in those terms is still in the realm of duality.

Sutra:

When spontaneity is devoid of spontaneity, and mixing and uniting are devoid of their unifying quality, so that spontaneity and unity alike are abandoned, and both the abandonment of them and their existence cease to be that is no idle theory.

Commentary:

When spontaneity is devoid of spontaneity, and mixing and uniting are devoid of their unifying quality. The phrase, "mixing and uniting" refers to causes and conditions. When spontaneity isn't spontaneity and mixing and uniting don't have the causes and conditions of mixing and uniting, so that spontaneity and unity alike are abandoned. The two doctrines of spontaneity and of the uniting aspect of causes and conditions are each abandoned. And both the abandonment of them and their existence cease to be. When one separates from causes and conditions and spontaneity, both are gone. There is no spontaneity and no causes and conditions; both dharmas are abandoned. That is no idle theory. There aren't any causes and conditions and there isn't any spontaneity. Such an explanation as that is no idle theory, it's not just talking in riddles.

L3 He directly scolds him for his excessive attachment to idle theories.

Sutra:

Bodhi and Nirvana are still so far away that you must undoubtedly pass through kalpas of bitterness and diligence before you cultivate them and are certified.

Commentary:

Bodhi and Nirvana, those fruitions, are still so far away that you must undoubtedly pass through kalpas of bitterness and diligence before you cultivate them and are certified. If we look at where you are now, Ananda, Bodhi and Nirvana are very far away, indeed. You will certainly have to pass through very many kalpas, enduring a lot of suffering and toiling at great length, before you can finish cultivating and reach certification and attainment to Bodhi and Nirvana.

Sutra:

You can hold in memory the twelve divisions of the sutras spoken by the Buddhas of the ten directions and their pure, wonderful principles as many as the sands of the River Ganges, but it only aids your idle theorizing.

Commentary:

You can hold in memory, you can remember very clearly and never leave anything out, the twelve divisions of the sutras spoken by the Buddhas of the ten directions. I explained the twelve divisions of the canon at the beginning of this sutra. I wonder if anyone still remembers them. And their pure, wonderful principles as many as the sands of the River Ganges. In the twelve divisions of the canon the doctrines are pure and inconceivable and as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, but it only aids your idle theorizing. Although you can remember so many sutras, it does nothing but help you concoct idle theories. It's not real.

L4 He proves to him that idle theories have no merit.

Sutra:

You can discuss causes and conditions and spontaneity and understand them perfectly clearly, and people in the world refer to you as the one foremost in learning. You have spent aeons upon aeons saturating yourself with learning, yet you could not avoid the difficulty of Matangi.

Commentary:

I will list the twelve divisions of the canon again for you:

1. Prose;
2. Repetitive verses;
3. Bestowal of predictions;
4. Interjected passages;
5. Analogies;
6. Former events;
7. Present lives;
8. Universalities;
9. Previously non-existent dharma;
10. Unrequested dharma;
11. Unconnected dharma;
12. Discussions.

When I listed them, I didn't look at any note's or refer to any commentary. I remembered them. In the same way, those of you who are following this explanation of the sutra should remember what you read. When you study, you should aim at remembering it. It's a lot of bother when you don't remember clearly what you've studied, so that you have to look things up before you can explain them. You should work to remember the essential parts of the sutra. You can discuss causes and conditions and spontaneity and understand them perfectly clearly. You can remember the principles very clearly and explain them precisely. And people in the world refer to you as the one foremost in learning. You have spent aeons upon aeons saturating yourself with learning.

You've developed your intelligence and memory-power. Oh, now I get it. Now I know why none of you remember the things I explain. I figured it out when I reached this passage of text in the sutra. It never occurred to me before. You've seen that Ananda was able to remember so many sutras but that it didn't do him any good, so you have decided not to commit a single sentence to memory. You don't want to be like Ananda, who depended on erudition and neglected samadhi. That's probably it, isn't it?

He became infused with study and learning, like the incense saturates the air here in the hall. In fact, those of you who come to hear the sutras every day may not remember what you've heard, but just think how helpful it is in ridding yourself of bad habits and faults. At the very least, when you are studying the sutras you won't be smoking cigarettes or doing other things that are bad for you Every day that you study you get better. Some people say that when they study they advance a little and then retreat a little, but in the final analysis, retreating from having studied is a lot better than not having studied at all. If you never take a single step forward, how could we even speak of retreat?

"Yet you could not avoid the difficulty of Matangi. Although you remember so many things, you still couldn't keep out of trouble with Matangi. In other words, as soon as you see a woman, you get confused. Tell me, what use are you? No matter how many books you've read, no matter how much Buddhadharma you remember, what use is it all if you forget everything as soon as you see a woman? Why are you like that?" the Buddha asks Ananda. Ananda, no doubt, was red in the face at this point. Although he had been certified to the first fruition of arhatship, he must have blushed when Shakyamuni Buddha asked him that question.

Sutra:

Why did you have to wait for me to use the spiritual mantra of the Buddha's summit? The fire of lust in Matangi's daughter's heart died instantly, and she attained the position of an Anagamin. Now she is one of a vigorous group in my dharma assembly. The river of love dried up in her, and she was able to set you free.

Commentary:

The Buddha said, "You've studied so much Buddhadharma, but you go berserk as soon as you see a woman. You lost your head, and you followed that woman right into her house, and once you got in there you were on the verge of doing some unmentionable things. What were you up to, anyway?" At this point the Buddha was like a judge cross-examining Ananda. Why did you have to wait for me to use the spiritual mantra of the Buddha's summit and tell Manjushri Bodhisattva to go save you? You yourself remember so much of the twelve divisions of the canon; why didn't you recite them for her? Why did you lose control? You see a woman and forget everything. The way you look at it, the only thing that exists in the whole world is women.

The fire of lust in Matangi's daughter's heart died instantly. Her sexual desire, her ignorance, instantly died, and she attained the position of an Anagamin, the third fruition of arhatship. Matangi's daughter had loved Ananda. He became more important to her than her own life. She went home and told her mother that she absolutely had to trap Ananda. Her mother recited the "former Brahma Heaven mantra," and Ananda became confused. Actually, we say the mantra confused him, but basically the deviant cannot overcome the proper. If Ananda hadn't had the least bit of interest in Matangi's daughter, then the recitation of the mantra would have had no effect. It's certain that Matangi's daughter caught Ananda's eye. He stole several glances at her. "What a pretty girl!" Determined not to look again, he turned his head away but gave in again and took another look. After looking her over a few times this way, the thought of the beauty of Matangi's daughter had planted itself in his mind. So when her mother recited the mantra, Ananda followed her in a daze. If this hadn't been the case, he never would have gone along.

The Buddha realized that Ananda was on the verge of destroying the precept-substance, and so he immediately spoke the Shurangama Mantra. He commanded Manjushri Bodhisattva to take the mantra and go provide protection so that Ananda could be saved. When he got there and recited the Shurangama Mantra, Ananda's mind cleared. "How did I get here?" he wondered, and he headed directly back to the Jeta Grove in the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary. He had been right at the point of intercourse with Matangi's daughter, and when Manjushri Bodhisattva arrived with the Shurangama Mantra, Ananda no doubt jumped up, threw on his clothes, and ran out. When Matangi's daughter realized he was leaving, she pursued him. "Why are you leaving at the most important moment?" she cried. So Ananda ran back to the Jeta Grove with Mantangi's daughter chasing along behind. When she arrived, the Buddha asked her, "What are you doing here?"

"I love Ananda,' she replied.

"What do you love about Ananda?" the Buddha asked.

She said, "I love Ananda's nose."

"We'll cut off his nose and give it to you," was the Buddha's immediate reply.

"I love Ananda's eyes," she continued.

"We'll gouge them out and you can have them," the Buddha interrupted.

"I love Ananda's whole face," she summed up.

"That's easy," said the Buddha, "We'll just slice it off and you can take it back with you."

"If you slice it off, it won't be attractive," she protested.

"If it wouldn't be attractive then, what do you find so attractive about it now when it's still intact?"

And in the moment she took to think that over, she suddenly became enlightened and was certified to the third fruition of arhatship. Because her love for Ananda was so extreme, she instantaneously accomplished to the fruition when the Buddha spoke that dharma for her.

Now she is one of a vigorous group in my dharma assembly. The word translated as "group" here is literally "forest" in the Chinese text; it represents a gathering of people who are courageously vigorous. Let me say to all of you now that you don't have to fear sexual attraction between men and women; all you have to do is wake up to it and realize what it's really all about. Then there will be some hope for you. It's just to be feared that you won't wake up, but will be totally confused and keep going back to it, thinking it is a source of happiness. In actuality, it is really agonizing. If you really understood, you'd never do it again. But you don't, so you think about it when you're awake and dream about it when you are asleep and can't leave it alone.

The river of love dried up in her. Love is like a torrential river which flows on ceaselessly, swirling around you on all sides. But when Matangi's daughter heard the Buddha speak dharma, for her the river' of love disappeared. The fire of love and desire was transformed into an indestructible body of vajra. And she was able to set you free. Because Matangi's daughter was certified to the third fruition of arhatship, she didn't try to hold onto you, and so now you've been set free.

At this point, Ananda was still a first stage arhat. Hadn't even obtained the second fruition, but Matangi's daughter went right past him and was certified to the third fruition.

In five hundred former lives, Ananda and Matangi's daughter had been married to each other. So when she saw Ananda, it was love at first sight, she had met her husband from former lives. Her love for him was unavoidable. In fact, they probably had vows from former lives. Last life she had probably said to Ananda, "In the future, let's always get married to each other. Let us never part." That's why the love between them was so strong that they fell in love as soon as they laid eyes on each other.

L5 He urges him to diligently cultivate no outflows.

Sutra:

Therefore, Ananda, your ability to keep in mind the Thus Come One's wonderful secret teachings of aeon after aeon is not as good as a single day of no-outflow cultivation that is intent upon getting far away from the two worldly sufferings of love and hate.

Commentary:

Therefore, Ananda, your ability to keep in mind the Thus Come One's wonderful secret teachings of aeon after aeon, you can remember and recite the Buddha's teachings. "Secret" means what cannot be expressed in words or conceived of in thought, that is, what is inconceivable and ineffable. "Secret" also refers to knowledge which is not shared between two people. For instance, I am unaware of a dharma being spoken for you; and you do not realize that a dharma is being spoken for me. It may be the same dharma, but when one person hears it, it is one principle, whereas another person hears in it a different meaning. One explanation of a single principle is viewed differently by different people. That's what is meant by "secret"; each person received his own benefit. "Teachings" is literally "adornments" in the text, indicating that the doctrines that the Buddha explains are extremely lofty and valuable.

But your ability to remember so many sutras is not as good as a single day of no-outflow cultivation. It's not as good as cultivating dharma-doors with no afflictions, dharma-doors with no false thinking. At the level of fourth stage arhatship there are "no outflows." Bodhisattvas also have no outflows. To have no outflows means you have cut off all your habits and faults, your ignorance and afflictions, your greed, hatred, and stupidity. The Buddha speaks of non-outflow cultivation that is intent upon getting far away from the two worldly sufferings of love and hate. People think that love is a wonderful thing, and so there is love between men and women, love between fathers and sons. But in fact love is suffering. "I know, of course, that being apart from those you love is suffering," you say. But even if you aren't away from them, it's still suffering. It's still suffering.

When love reaches the ultimate point, it turns into its opposite, hate. Why does hate arise? Because there is love. Why does love arise? Because there is hate. And what goes on between couples and parents and children is a matter of past causes reaping effects in this present life. Some couples are as "polite as guests" to each other. They mutually respect each other. The expression in China is "She places things above her eyebrows" when she serves her husband. This refers to a wife of old who used to lift the plates of food above her eyebrows in a gesture of respect before serving them to her husband. Her husband also was particularly respectful of her; they were like close friends. There was no sticky emotion between them. So if couples have affinities from former lives, in this life they will be compatible. The husband must be careful not to do anything to offend his wife and the wife must not do anything to hurt her husband. When a couple has affinities, each helps the other out in every situation. If the wife gets sick, the husband quickly finds a doctor to treat her illness. If the husband is tired, the wife thinks of ways to make her husband comfortable.

Some couples come together because of mutual antagonism. Again, because of resentment and animosity built up from former lives, they come together in this life, and no matter what the husband says, the wife disagrees. No matter what the wife thinks, the husband disapproves. The household becomes one of complete antagonism and there is bickering and quarreling from morning to night. The husband beats his wife, and she retaliates by cracking his head open or drawing blood wherever she can, so that he's embarrassed to be seen in public. Wouldn't you say that this is suffering? It started out as love and turned into hate. That's why it's said that they are one and the same suffering.

All day long people talk about love, love, love. What love? You love day in and day out, you love until you die. But tell me, who are you going to love then? If you understand the principle, the two sufferings of love and hate don't exist. If you don't understand this principle, then both sufferings are agony. Therefore, we cultivate to be come enlightened, to understand, so that we will not be turned around by these states. So don't love and don't hate. That is the Middle Way.

L6 He reminds him of the baseness of his experience and severely scolds him.

Sutra:

In Matangi's daughter, a former prostitute, love and desire were dispelled by the spiritual power of the mantra. Now her name in dharma is Bhikshuni "Nature."

Commentary:

In Matangi's daughter, a former prostitute, love and desire were dispelled by the spiritual power of the mantra. In former lives she had been a woman of the streets, with a great amount of sexual desire. Even so, the strength of the Shurangama Mantra obliterated her emotional love. So now we know that the function of the Shurangama Mantra is to obliterate each person's love and desire. "Then I don't want to recite it any more," you retort. "I don't want my love and desire to disappear. I want to keep them around." Keep them around? Well, that's up to you. If that's what you want, no one will force you to do otherwise. But you should also know that the Shurangama Mantra not only gets rid of emotional love and desire, it can increase your spiritual powers and your wisdom. Its power is inconceivable.

Emotional love is suffering. As was just mentioned, love and hate are both suffering. Take unrequited love, for instance. People in love think of nothing else but the object of their desire to the point that they can't sleep and they lose their appetite. They keep dreaming up methods of pursuit, but in the end they never get what they want. Wouldn't you say that ceaseless thinking is suffering? Now her name in dharma is Bhikshuni "Nature." Her name represents her understanding of the self-nature. As soon as the Buddha spoke dharma for her, she was immediately certified to the third fruition of arhatship without going in sequence through the first two stages. She was certified to all three fruitions at once. It was because she saw through it, saw that love and desire are basically empty. Ananda was still stuck at the first stage while his wife of five hundred former lives went right past him.

Sutra:

She and Rahula's mother, Yashodhara both became aware of their past causes and knew that for many kalpas they had endured the suffering of greed and love. Because they singlemindedly became permeated with the cultivation of the goodness of no outflows, they were both freed from their bonds and received predictions. Why, then, do you cheat yourself and still remain caught up in looking and listening?

Commentary:

She and Rahula's mother, Yashodhara. Rahula was the Buddha's son, but he was not conceived through sexual intercourse. Shakyamuni Buddha was married at seventeen years old and left the home-life at nineteen. Although he married, it was not a sexual relationship. Before the Buddha left home, Yashodhara wanted to have a son by him. So the Buddha pointed to her belly and she conceived. This may sound like a myth, but this is how it is actually recorded in the Buddhist sutras. You may want to figure out how she could get pregnant just by having him point at her, but you'll find it's an inconceivable and ineffable state of affairs.

Rahula's name means "obstacle." Rahula lived in his mother's womb for six years. This is another case of cause and effect. In a former life, Rahula had plugged up a mouse-hole, and it took six days for the mouse to gnaw out another passageway. As a result, Rahula had to undergo the retribution of dwelling six years in his mother's womb.

Yashodhara, Rahula's mother's name, means "renowned," indicating that she had a good reputation. People considered her an especially fine woman.

Matangi's daughter and bhikshuni Yashodhara both became enlightened, and both became aware of their past causes and knew that for many kalpas they had endured the suffering of greed and love. They obtained the knowledge of past lives and thus were not only aware of their former lives but knew the causes and effects of life after life from limitless kalpas past. They knew that the reason why they had not awakened for life after life was that they suffered from greed and emotional love. Matangi's daughter had been a prostitute in former lives and Yashodhara's sexual desire was not small either. However, they single-mindedly became permeated with the cultivation of the goodness of no outflows, they turned the light around and became infused with cultivation. They decided they did not want to go down the path to birth and death any longer. They wanted to turn around and cultivate the goodness of no outflows, the ultimate wholesomeness, and because of that they were both freed from their bonds and received predictions. The bonds are those of greed and desire, which tie one up so one cannot get free. And those of you now who read the phrase "freed from their bonds," if you have good roots, should become enlightened, and you should wonder, "Oh, why am I still bound up in this?" And they received predictions in which the Buddha told them what time they would become Buddhas. Why, then, do you cheat yourself and still remain caught up in looking and listening? You are still attached to sounds and forms. Why are you attached to appearances? Why haven't you renounced them?

H3 The great assembly is led to enlightenment and praises his goodness, and expresses gratitude for the benefit they have received.

Sutra:

When Ananda and the great assembly heard the Buddha's instruction, their doubts and delusion were dispelled. Their minds awakened to the actual appearance, they experienced "light ease" both physically and mentally, and they obtained what they had never had before.

Commentary:

When Ananda and the great assembly heard the Buddha's instruction, that subtle and wonderful dharma-door, their doubts and delusion were dispelled. Before this, Purna and Ananda had both had doubts and questions, as did the members of the great assembly. Now the Buddha's instruction had quelled their doubts. Their minds awakened to the actual appearance. They understood the doctrine of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is empty and yet not empty, the substance and principle of the actual appearance. They experienced "light ease" both physically and mentally. It's not easy to describe the experience of "light ease." In the same way, only one who drinks a glass of water knows whether the water is cold or warm. The experience of light ease is the initial expedient of Chan meditation. It occurs when one has a little bit of success; one has an extremely blissful feeling. The mind experiences great joy and the body feels very relaxed and at ease. You sit there and your legs don't hurt and your back doesn't ache and there are no false thoughts in your head; you don't know where the pain and false thoughts have gone to. And now, as Ananda and Purna and the members of the great assembly listen to the Buddha's explanation of wonderful dharma, the Buddha used the Buddha-light to aid them all. Everyone then felt a most pleasing and peaceful sensation. Sometimes when you listen to the sutras, you, too, may have this experience. The more you listen, the happier you get; the more you hear, the more you like it. "The Buddhadharma is so wonderful," you think. "Too bad I didn't hear it sooner," and you experience boundless and limitless bliss. The Buddha used his samadhi to fill them with bliss, and they obtained what they had never had before.

Sutra:

Once again he wept, bowed at the Buddha's feet, knelt on both knees, placed his palms together, and said to the Buddha, "The unsurpassed, great, compassionate, pure and precious king has instructed me well, so that, by means of these various causes and conditions, expedients, and encouragements, all of us who were immersed in the sea of suffering have escaped it."

Commentary:

My guess is that Ananda didn't have any other talent except crying, except, of course, his erudition, his talent in hand, but crying runs a close second. Up to this point, Ananda has cried five times. Again he cried, with a flood of tears streaming down his face. Once again he wept and bowed at the Buddha's feet. He sobbed like a baby, bowing on the one hand and crying on the other. He knelt on both knees, placed his palms together, and said to the Buddha, "The unsurpassed, great, compassionate, pure and precious king, there is no one loftier than you, no one with a more compassionate mind." "Pure and precious king" refers to the Buddha.

The Buddha has instructed me well. You've used good and clever expedients to teach me, so that, by means of these various causes and conditions, expedients, and encouragements, you've used all kinds of expedient devices, all kinds of analogies, and very clever skill-in-means. "Expedient" dharmas are basically not true. For instance, at the beginning of his teaching, the Buddha discussed causes and conditions to destroy the theory of spontaneity propounded by adherents of externalist paths. Now he is rejecting the idea of causes and conditions, because it is really an expedient device which is, by definition, not ultimate dharma. "Encouragements" occur, for example, when a teacher might say to a disciple, "You write characters very well; you've made a lot of progress. You'll become very accomplished in your study of Chinese." Or, he might say, "You are sitting in Chan meditation a lot better these days. You used to have a lot of false thoughts, but they have subsided significantly. You're showing a little samadhi from your cultivation."

All of us who were immersed in the sea of suffering have escaped it. All of us were really dull-witted and couldn't figure out what to do. But now we've gotten out of the sea of suffering, that is, out of emotional love and desire. Don't make the mistake of thinking those things are a garden of pleasure; they are the sea of suffering. Now that Ananda has escaped it, he's feeling a lot more relaxed, not as harried as he used to be. He is so grateful for the Buddha's compassion that he is moved to tears. It was all right for Ananda to cry then, but we here shouldn't be crying so much now. Why? Ananda cried for the sake of the dharma, but I notice that most of the tears I see here are evidence of emotional desire. Some can't see their boyfriends, so they cry. Some can't see their girlfriends, so they cry. This crying is going on because you haven't escaped the sea of suffering, whereas when Ananda cried this time it was because he had escaped. By whose power? Shakyamuni Buddha pulled him out. So now, when we hear the sutra, we should turn the light inward and take a good look at what we find reflected there. In what way do we differ from Ananda?

F3 He explains the method of Shamatha and causes him to deeply enter through the ear organ.
G1 He selects the organ for direct entry.
H1 Ananda expresses an analogy of seeking the door so he can enter.
I1 He tells what he has experienced from the Buddha's instruction.

Sutra:

World Honored One, having heard the sound of dharma like this, I know that the treasury of the Thus Come One, the wonderful, enlightened, bright mind, pervades the ten directions and includes the Thus Come One, the lands of the ten directions, and the pure, precious adornments of the land of the wonderfully enlightened King. Yet, the Thus Come One once again admonishes that erudition is of no merit and is not as good as cultivation.

Commentary:

Ananda says: World Honored One, having heard the sound of dharma like this, through the Buddha's guidance and instruction, I know that the treasury of the Thus Come One, the wonderful, enlightened, bright mind, pervades the ten directions and includes the Thus Come One, the lands of the ten directions, and the pure, precious adornments of the land of the wonderfully enlightened King, the Buddha's land. Now we know that the doctrine that the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One pervades the dharma-realm is really true. Yet, the Thus Come One once again admonishes that erudition is of no merit and is not as good as cultivation. The Buddha scolds me, saying that no matter how strong my memory is, it is useless if I don't reach the state of no outflows. I'll never be able to get to the essence of cultivation and develop any skill.

I1 He gives an analogy of searching for a door in a house.

Sutra:

So now I am like a wanderer who suddenly encounters a reigning king who bestows upon him an elegant house. He has obtained a mansion, but there needs to be a door in order for him to enter it.

Commentary:

Ananda said: So now I am like a wanderer who suddenly encounters a reigning king. A wanderer is someone who roams along the dry land (lu) or waterways (bo), a traveler. He's someone who goes from place to place and stops at inns. He doesn't have a house of his own. Then, suddenly he meets someone who perhaps is the king of a country, or even an emperor, who bestows upon him an elegant house. The ruling king represents the Buddha. The Buddha obviously can't be compared to a mere king, but Ananda is just using an analogy here. The elegant house is the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. He has obtained a mansion, but there needs to be a door in order for him to enter it. The house is as large as a palace, but if he doesn't even get through the door, he won't see all the beauty within. He's got the house, but there must be a door before he can get inside. This represents the fact that one may understand the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, but there has to be a method of cultivation before one can enter the nature.

Sutra:

"I only hope the Thus Come One will not withhold his great compassion in instructing those of us in the assembly who are covered over by darkness, so that we may renounce the small vehicle and attain at last the Thus Come One's nirvana without residue, the fundamental path of resolve, and that he will enable those who still must study to know now how to subdue the age-old seeking of advantage from conditions, to obtain dharani, and to enter into the knowledge and vision of the Buddha."

Having said this, he made a full prostration, and together with the members of the assembly, he single-mindedly awaited the Buddha's compassionate instruction.

Commentary:

"I only hope the Thus Come One" I, Ananda, wish that you, the World Honored One, will not fail to display your compassion in instructing those of us in the assembly who are covered over by darknes, those who are stupid, lack understanding, and are confused. He is referring to all in the assembly who had not been certified to the fruition and become enlightened. So that we may renounce the small vehicle. There is the great vehicle and the small vehicle in Buddhism. The people of present-day Burma, Sri Lanka, and Thailand still revere the dharmas of the small vehicle in their cultivation. The Buddha spoke the dharmas of the small vehicle in the beginning. After some disciples had studied these teachings, they went away to other places to propagate the Buddhadharma. Later, when the Buddha spoke the dharmas of the great vehicle, they were not there to see or hear. As a result, they said that the Buddha had not spoken the great vehicle dharma. The great vehicle was inauthentic, they claimed, something created later by others. They would not recognize it. But, here in the Shurangama Sutra Ananda himself beseeches the Buddha to explain to them a method whereby they can renounce the small vehicle.

In order to explain this, I'll tell you of a comparable situation: When I was in Manchuria, I rarely spoke and seldom conversed with any of my disciples. For one thing, it was my home town, and so everyone knew me and my origins. They knew me as "Filial Son Bai," because before I left the home-life I had practiced filial piety. When I sat by my mother's grave for three years, people looked upon me with high regard, as a model among people. Gradually I developed a bit of a reputation which extended beyond those who knew me. That was in part because I did another strange thing in those days. In the winter I did not wear cotton-padded clothing; I wore two or three single layers of cloth the year-round, the same pieces for years on end. I didn,t wear socks with my open arhat shoes, and I could also walk bare foot in the snow without difficulty. So, when people laid eyes on me, they wanted to take refuge. Through whatever places I passed, there would be several dozen, at least, who would take refuge, until every village within a hundred mile radius of my temple housed my disciples. For this reason, I rarely spoke; I just conducted myself well. When they took refuge, they were taking refuge with my manner of conduct. Wherever I went, I meditated. In Manchuria, then, although I was able to explain the sutras, I rarely did so; I hardly ever spoke at all. When I got to Hong Kong, I lectured the sutras and spoke dharma and rarely taught people how to meditate. Nor did I teach them the dharmas of the thousand hands and eyes.

Now in America I have transmitted these essential dharmas to every "room-entering" disciple. If someone from Hong Kong came and you told them that you study such-and such a dharma with me, they would say, "No, the master doesn't know the dharmas of great compassion. How can he transmit them?" They would be like those adherents to the small vehicle who would not acknowledge that the Buddha spoke the dharmas of the great vehicle. It's the same principle.

Some people hold that the dharmas of the small vehicle are wrong; some contend that the dharmas of the great vehicle are wrong. Actually, there is no right or wrong in the Buddhadharma. All you have to do is be single-minded in your cultivation, and you can accomplish Buddhahood with any dharma. But it must be said that the dharmas of the small vehicle are predominately expedient dharma; the great vehicle dharma called the dharma-door of actual appearance has perfectly fused and unobstructed doctrines. It is not something that adherents of the small vehicle can understand. And attain at last the Thus Come One's nirvana without residue: the arhat experiences nirvana with residue. At the level of Buddhahood there is nirvana without residue. There is no dwelling at all; The two kinds of death are forever gone.

In nirvana without residue one attains the state of no production and no extinction. The fundamental path of resolve, refers to the fact that the path of our cultivation upon initial resolve for enlightenment is also the Way of ultimate Bodhi which we obtain. Thus, it can be explained as both the initial path and the ultimate result. Ananda asks the Buddha for instruction in nirvana without residue, the fundamental path of resolve, the skill needed to begin the dharma-door of cultivation that will bring about entry into the door of the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. He asks that the Buddha will enable those who still must study, the arhats of the first, second, and third fruitions, to know now how to subdue the age-old seeking of advantage from conditions. Teach us how to subdue our ignorance and affliction, how to subdue our age-old attitude of seeking advantage from conditions. Teach us how to obtain dharani. "Dharani" is a Sanskrit word that means "uniting and holding" and to enter into the knowledge and vision of the Buddha.

Having said this, he made a full prostration, and together with the members of the assembly, he single-mindedly awaited the Buddha's compassionate instruction.

CHAPTER 4: The Two Decisive Doctrines

H2 The Thus Come One teaches him to deeply enter one door.
I1 He distinguishes the door by means of two decisive doctrines.
J1 He shows the wonderful path of cultivation.

Sutra:

The World Honored One then took pity on the soundhearers and the condition-enlightened ones in the assembly, all those who were not yet at ease with the Bodhi mind, and on all living beings to come after the Buddha's extinction during the Dharma-ending Age. He revealed the wonderful path of cultivation of the unsurpassed vehicle.

Commentary:

The World Honored One then took pity on the soundhearers and the condition-enlightened ones in the assembly, all those who were not yet at ease with the Bodhi mind, they were not yet enlightened, and on all living beings to come after the Buddha's extinction during the Dharma-ending Age. He explained this dharma-door not only for the members of that dharma assembly, but for living beings in the Dharma-ending Age, which refers to us living beings right now. Don't suppose that the Buddha didn't speak this sutra directly for us. When the Buddha was still in the world, he knew already that living beings of the Dharma-ending Age would be difficult to tame and difficult to subdue; therefore, he reveals here the wonderful path of cultivation of the unsurpassed vehicle: the great white-ox cart, which the Buddha discussed in the Dharma Flower Sutra. The Buddha revealed this dharma so that those of us who cultivate during the present age will be able to reach accomplishment more easily.

The period when the Buddha was in the world is called the Proper Dharma Age. This period lasted for a thousand years, and during it people were strong in Chan samadhi. After the Buddha had entered extinction and the thousand years of the Proper Dharma Age had passed, the Dharma Semblance Age began. It, too, lasted for a thousand years. During this period, people were strong in the building of temples and stupas. They didn't cultivate Chan samadhi, but sought the reward of blessings. When the Buddha was in the world, people sought wisdom, but during the Dharma Semblance Age they renounced the roots and grasped at the branches. After the Dharma Semblance Age, came the Dharma Ending Age, when people are neither strong in Chan samadhi nor strong in the building of temples and stupas. They are strong in fighting. Wherever you go in the present age, people quarrel with people, families fight with families, and countries war against countries. In every space and corner of the world there is contention and unrest. So now, when we sit in meditation and lecture on and study the sutras, it is nothing other than the appearance of the Proper Dharma Age within the Dharma-ending Age. But we have to really do it, really practice what the sutras teach, without being the least bit sloppy about it. If we step forward firmly and practice it intensely, then there will be a response.

Now I'm not encouraging you, according to the method I discussed earlier, as when the Bodhisattva Manjushri encouraged Ananda and Matangi's daughter, because, in fact, your enlightenment is your own; it's not something you do for me. All I'm doing is pointing out the way to you.

J2 He explains the two decisive doctrines.
K1 A general statement.

Sutra:

He proclaimed to Ananda and to the great assembly, "If you want to have decisive resolve for Bodhi and not grow weary of the wonderful samadhi of the Buddha, the Thus Come One, you must first understand the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment. What are the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment?"

Commentary:

He proclaimed to Ananda and to the great assembly; the Buddha instructed Ananda and Purna and all the great Bodhisattvas and arhats, if you want to have decisive resolve for Bodhi, for enlightenment, and not grow weary of the wonderful samadhi of the Buddha, the Thus Come One. The word "samadhi" is transliterated from Sanskrit into Chinese in various ways, but they all represent the same word. "Wonderful samadhi" refers to the inconceivable Shurangama Samadhi. Don't grow weary. Don't become lazy and get hung up in sleeping all day long, so that you never work at developing your skill. If you keep your spirits up and apply yourself with vigor every day, then you won't become weary. You must first understand the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment. You have to be clear about the initial resolve for Bodhi. There are two resolutions regarding this. What are the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment? What is this two-fold process of selection that should be made so that you will be able to know which doctrines are correct and which are incorrect?

Purification of the Turbidities

K2 Categorizing the two doctrines.
L1 The decisive doctrine that the cause is identified with the result,
the purification of the turbidities is entry into nirvana.
M1 He causes him to look into cause and effect.

Sutra:

Ananda, the first resolution is this: if you wish to renounce the position of sound-hearer and cultivate the Bodhisattva Vehicle, and to enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha, you must carefully consider whether the resolve on the cause ground and the enlightenment on the ground of fruition are the same or different.

Commentary:

Ananda, the first resolution is this: if you wish to renounce the position of sound-hearer, if you sound-hearers and conditionenlightened ones want to relinquish the small vehicle, the two lesser vehicles, and cultivate the Bodhisattva Vehicle, the most supreme vehicle, and to enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha, you must carefully consider whether the resolve on the cause ground and the enlightenment on the ground of fruition are the same or different. You should investigate in minute detail what the mind is which brings forth the initial resolve at the time of planting causes. The "ground of fruition" is the state of a Bodhisattva. Is the mind on the cause-ground and the enlightenment on the ground of fruition the same?

Sutra:

Ananda, it is impossible while on the cause-ground to use the mind subject to production and extinction as the basis for cultivating in quest of the Buddha vehicle, which is neither produced nor extinguished.

Commentary:

Ananda, it is impossible while on the cause-ground, at the time you have first brought forth the resolve for enlightenment, to use the mind subject to production and extinction, your sixth mind-consciousness, as the basis for cultivating in quest of the Buddha vehicle, which is neither produced nor extinguished. If you try using the mind subject to production and extinction as the foundation of your cultivation of the Way and expect to accomplish Buddhahood and attain nirvana with its four virtues of permanence, bliss, true self, and purity, you will find that it is impossible. It can?t be done.

Sutra:

For this reason, you should realize that all existing dharmas in the material world will decay and disappear. Ananda, contemplate the world: what thing is there that will not waste away?

Commentary:

For this reason, based on the above reasoning that you can't seek the Buddha-Way with a mind subject to production and extinction, you should realize that all existing dharmas in the material world will decay and disappear. Use your wisdom to look into this: The material world is the world of dependent retribution, composed of the mountains, the rivers, the earth, and the various buildings. All of these existing dharmas will change and become extinct.

Ananda, contemplate the world: what thing is there that will not waste away? Is there any one among all the conditioned dharmas which create form and appearance that will not spoil? Which among them will not be destroyed?

Sutra:

But, has anyone ever heard of the disintegration of the void? Why not? It is because the void does not exist, and so it can never be destroyed.

Commentary:

But, has anyone ever heard of the disintegration of the void? You've never heard of the obliteration of empty space. Why not? It is because the void does not exist, and so it can never be destroyed. The void is not something created or man-made. The void is fundamentally devoid of anything at all; that's why it is called emptiness. Anything that can be made is not the void. And, since it basically isn't anything at all, it can't be destroyed. The void is always there.

M2 He describes the five turbidities.
N1 He explains the substance of the turbidities.

Sutra:

While you are in your body, what is solid is of earth, what is moist is of water, what is warm is of fire, and what moves is of wind. Because of these four bonds, your tranquil and perfect, wonderfully enlightened bright mind divides into seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition. From beginning to end there are the five layers of turbidity.

Commentary:

The Buddha now discusses the four elements. While you are in your body, what is solid is of earth. The skin, flesh, muscles, and bones are the solid parts of the body. What is moist is of water. Saliva, tears, blood, and secretions belong to the element water. What is warm is of fire. Body heat and temperature belong to the element fire. This functions so that the body always maintains a fairly constant temperature. What moves is of wind. Circulation and respiration belong to the element wind. Because of these four bonds: the four elements combine. They intermingle. This one gets connected with that one, and they form an independent company. Before you know it, the four elements have linked up together and formed a party called the 'body bloc." Then there is no way for your inherent Buddha-nature to appear. And so relying on truth, falseness arises. Your tranquil and perfect, wonderfully enlightened bright mind: the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, which is tranquil, the true nature of Bodhi, divides. Your wonderful enlightened bright mind separates; some of it goes to the eyes, into seeing. Some of it goes to the ears as hearing.

Thus it is said:

The original, single pure brightness,
Divides into six different aspects.

It goes to the body and becomes sensation. And when it goes to the mind it is called cognition. From beginning to end there are the five layers of turbidity. The four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind bring about the five layers of turbidity, the evil world of the five turbidities.

N2 A general analogy for the appearance of the turbidities.

Sutra:

"What is meant by 'turbidity?' Ananda, pure water, for instance, is fundamentally clear and clean, whereas dust, dirt, ashes, silt, and the like, are basically solid substances. Such are the properties of the two; their natures are not compatible. Suppose, then, that an ordinary person takes some dirt and tosses it into the pure water. The dirt loses its solid quality and the water is deprived of its transparency. The cloudiness which results is called 'turbidity.' Your five layers of turbidity are similar to it."

Commentary:

What is meant by "turbidity?" In discussing the five turbidities, I will first explain the word "turbid" for you. Ananda, pure water, for instance, is fundamentally clear and clean, there is not the least bit of murkiness about it, whereas dust, dirt, ashes, silt, and the like, are basically solid substances. They are not transparent. Such are the properties of the two. These are properties of water and earth; when they are not mixed together, water is clear and dirt is solid. Their natures are not compatible. Water won't go along with the dirt, and the dirt won't comply with the water.

Suppose, then, that an ordinary person takes some dirt and tosses it into the pure water. The ordinary person mentioned here is of the common, vulgar sort, a stupid worldly person who does not cultivate the Way. He doesn't have anything to do, so he goes looking for something to do. He makes a little work for himself. He takes some dirt and puts it in the water. How much dirt? Maybe a little, maybe a lot. If he has a jar of water, then he probably takes a handful of dirt. If it is a bucketful of water, he probably takes a shovelful of dirt. If he finds a whole pool of water, he will have to use a ton of earth. There's nothing fixed about it. The point is that the water and the dirt get mixed up together. It can be a little or a lot, big or small.

There's no big, no small, no inside, no outside.
One cultivates oneself, understands by oneself,
And makes one's own arrangements.

The same principle applies here. He arranges it himself. He uses whatever amount he uses. What do you suppose happens when he throws the dirt into the water? There is a chemical reaction. The dirt loses its solid quality and the water is deprived of its transparency. When the dirt hits the water it dissolves, losing its solidity. And the water which was originally clean and clear turns murky. The result is a mixture that is neither water nor dirt. This is how the science of chemistry was discovered; you should not think it is such a simple matter. The cloudiness which results is called "turbidity." Your five layers of turbidity are similar to it. Your four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind bring about the five turbidities by the same process.

N3 He explains in detail the names of the turbidities.

Sutra:

Ananda, you see that emptiness pervades the ten directions. There is no division between emptiness and seeing. However, although emptiness has no substance and your seeing has no awareness, the two become entangled in a falseness. This is the first layer, called the turbidity of time.

Commentary:

Ananda, you see that emptiness pervades the ten directions. There is no division between emptiness and seeing. Can you distinguish which is your seeing and which is emptiness? Is there a line drawn between your seeing and empty space? The meaning is that the nature of seeing and emptiness are one and the same. You can see, but basically there is not any "thing" that sees. There is no substance in evidence. The seeing is simply emptiness, and the emptiness is the seeing. However, although emptiness has no substance, "Its substance is just emptiness," someone argues. Well, get hold of that substance and let me see it. You can't grasp it. There isn't anything there after all. The seeing is just within emptiness. Yet there could never be any contention between the seeing and emptiness. Though it is present, the seeing would never demand the evacuation of emptiness. There is no clash between them. Although this is the Dharma-ending Age, strong in fighting, seeing and emptiness are not at odds.

And your seeing has no awareness. The seeing it self is devoid of awareness; the awareness lies with you yourself, not with your seeing per se. In this situation, where the emptiness has no substance and the seeing no awareness, the two become entangled in a falseness. This is the first layer, called the turbidity of time. That's how time, the kalpa, comes into being. Ignorant worldly people with nothing in particular to do toss some dirt into clean water; and now you have gotten your seeing mixed up with emptiness in much the same way. The result is the turbidity of time. "Time" here is the word "kalpa," a Sanskrit word which is interpreted as meaning a division of time.

Sutra:

Your body appears in full, with the four elements composing its substance, and from this, seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition become firmly defined. Water, fire, wind, and earth fluctuate between sensation and cognition and become entangled in a falseness. This is the second layer, called the turbidity of views.

Commentary:

Your body appears in full, with the four elements composing its substance. You cannot become liberated, and the four elements combine into your body. With this combination come the awarenesses, such as seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition. The four elements cause these awarenesses to become firmly defined. Water, fire, wind, and earth fluctuate between sensation and cognition. They go back and forth, back and forth, and a false awareness and comprehension arise. When that happens, they become entangled in a falseness. This is the second layer, called the turbidity of views. The false comprehension and awareness combine yet again to form another falseness, the turbidity of views.

The explanation of the five turbities I gave earlier is entirely different from this one. That explanation was in terms of the world. This explanation is in terms of your own body. In fact, the external turbidities exist because of the five internal turbidities. By the same token, if you can get rid of your five corporeal turbidities, the five external turbidities will subside as well.

Sutra:

Further, the functions of memory, discrimination, and verbal comprehension in your mind bring into being knowledge and views. From out of them appear the six defiling objects. Apart from the defiling objects there are no appearances. Apart from cognition they have no nature. But they become entangled in a falseness. This is the third layer, called the turbidity of afflictions.

Commentary:

Further, the functions of memory, discrimination, and verbal comprehension in your mind bring into being knowledge and views. "Verbal comprehension" refers to study of either Buddhist texts or secular books. From out of them appear the six defiling objects. These functions bring into being knowledg, the realization of things you originally didn't know " and views" the understanding of things you originally didn't understand. But the knowledge gained from books is worldly; it is not the ultimate, genuine revelations of the self-nature. Once you have knowledge, the six defiling objects "forms, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and dharmas" appear. Apart from the defiling objects there are no appearances. If you separate from the wearisome dust, there are no substances or appearances. Apart from cognition they have no nature. But they become entangled in a falseness. If they didn't get together, there wouldn't be any falseness. Once there's a true, there's a false. Without the true there is no false. When there is the false, then there is the true. "True" and "false" are relative concepts. It's as Lao Zi said:

Once the great Way is gone, humaneness appears.
Once the wise appear, then comes great deceptiveness.
Once close relatives are at odds, then comes the filial child.
Once the country is in turmoil, then come the loyal ministers.

Only when the great Way is gone do we talk about humaneness. When the great Way is still in evidence, there is no need for a concept like humaneness. When everyone is cultivating the Way, everyone knows enough not to cause others to give rise to affliction. All know enough to respect themselves and respect others, so there's no need to speak of humaneness. When people are all of fairly average intelligence, there is not much possibility of them cheating one another. It's only when someone intelligent appears and notices how stupid the others are by comparison that he decides he can play a trick and cheat them without their ever realizing it. So when the wise ones appear, there is great deception. If they all practiced the five-fold method of kindness between:

1) prince and minister;
2) father and son;
3) husband and wife;
4) brothers; and
5) friends,

no one would put on airs about being a kind father or a filial son. But, if the father is not kind, the child must compensate; this is when filiality arises. Or if the child is not filial, the father must compensate with kindness. Thus, "Once the close relatives are not in harmony, then comes the filial child."

How do you tell who the loyal officials are in times of peace? Who are the traitors? When the country is at peace, the loyal ministers don't wear placards which read, "LOYAL," nor does anyone brand the heads of the traitors. But when there is unrest in the country, the ministers' loyalty will reveal itself. Why is it that to this day people speak so highly of Yao Fei? It is because when the country was in turmoil he was able to combat the enemy.

The principle here in the sutra text is the same that Lao Zi was expressing. If there were only one element involved, things would not become turbid. The one true dharma-realm, or the treasury of the Thus Come One, or empty space, that would not give rise to turbidity. But because they get together and form a bloc, a falseness arises. This proves that there is truth and falseness in everything. So, even in the treasury of the Thus Come One, falseness comes forth from truth. In just the same way, we people have bodies which are tangible, solid objects, but in addition each of us also has a shadow. In the analogy the shadow stands for the false which arises from the true; it represents our ignorance. It is from ignorance that all our various problems arise. And here, the falseness which arises is the third layer, called the turbidity of afflictions.

Sutra:

And then day and night there is endless production and extinction as your knowledge and views continually wish to remain in the world, while your karmic patterns constantly move you to various places. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fourth layer, called the turbidity of living beings.

Commentary:

And then day and night there is endless production and extinction. Again and again your thoughts arise and cease, all day long without stopping, as your knowledge and views continually wish to remain in the world. "Knowledge and views" here refer to your intention, which is to remain in the world. You want to be immortal. You want to stay in this world forever and never die, while your karmic patterns constantly move you to various places. Your retribution body moves from one country to the next, from one land to another. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fourth layer, called the turbidity of living beings. Because the thoughts in your mind are continually born and continually die, they are like living beings who are continually born and continually die. It is, therefore, referred to as the turbidity of living beings.

Sutra:

Originally, your seeing and hearing were not different natures, but a multitude of defiling objects has divided them until suddenly they became different. Their natures have a mutual awareness, but their functions are in opposition. Sameness and difference arise and they lose their identity. This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fifth layer, called the turbidity of a lifespan.

Commentary:

Ananda, and all of you people who have not attained the state of being without outflows, originally, your seeing and hearing were not different natures. They weren't of two sorts to begin with. They were one and the same. But a multitude of defiling objects has divided them until suddenly they became different. Their natures have a mutual awareness, but their functions are in opposition. Seeing and hearing share a common knowledge. The meaning is this:

The original single pure brightness,
Divides into six different aspects.

So the pure, bright nature has a common awareness, but the functions of the six aspects differ. The division into six aspects calls up different functions which are in mutual opposition. Eyes can see but cannot hear. Ears can hear but they cannot see. The nose smells scents. It cannot see or hear. The tongue senses tastes and cannot smell or see or hear. Sameness and difference arise and they lose their identity. They have no fixed definition. Since the six sense organs have lost their mutual identity, their functions lose their accuracy. They are not the same and not different, but with regard to both aspects, there is a lack of clear definition. Hence, it says, "Sameness and difference arise and they lose their identity." This entanglement becomes a falseness, which is the fifth layer, called the turbidity of a lifespan.

M3 He makes clear what he must subdue.
N1 He should decide on what to accept and what to reject.

Sutra:

Ananda, you now want to cause your seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition to return to and tally with the permanence, bliss, true self, and purity of the Thus Come One.

Commentary:

Ananda, you now want to cause your seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition " smelling and tasting are included here as well" to return to and tally with the permanence, bliss, true self, and purity of the Thus Come One. Seeing, hearing, sensation, and cognition originally arose from false conditions. Now you want to cause them to return to and tally with the treasury of the Thus Come One and the four virtues of nirvana: permanence, bliss, true self, and purity.

Sutra:

You should first decide what the basis of birth and death is by relying on the perfect, tranquil nature which is neither produced nor extinguished.

Commentary:

You want to tally with the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One. You should first decide what the basis of birth and death is by relying on the perfect, tranquil nature which is neither produced nor extinguished. Use the perfectly fused, pure, and tranquil nature; then you can unite with the treasury of the Thus Come One.

N2 The subduing and severing described in terms of dharma and by analogy.
O1 First he speaks of the dharma.

Sutra:

By means of this tranquility, turn the empty and false production and extinction so that they are subdued and return to the source of enlightenment. The attainment of this source of bright enlightenment, which is neither produced nor extinguished, is the mind on the cause-ground.

Commentary:

By means of this tranquility, turn the empty and false production and extinction. Use the tranquility of the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One to cause your empty, false nature to come back and be false no longer, so that they are subdued and return to the source of enlightenment. Subdue your afflictions and return to your fundamental enlightenment, which is neither produced nor extinguished. This is the mind on the causeground of cultivation. This is the mind you use in initial cultivation. Don't use the mind subject to production and extinction; use the perfect, tranquil nature which is neither produced nor extinguished.

Sutra:

Then you can completely accomplish the cultivation of and certification to the ground of fruition.

Commentary:

If on the cause-ground you use the mind which is neither produced nor extinguished, then you can completely accomplish the cultivation of and certification to the ground of fruition. The "ground of fruition" refers to the accomplishment of Bodhisattvahood or Buddhahood. If you apply your effort in cultivation and understand genuine principle, then you can quite naturally and very quickly cultivate and be certified to the fruition.

O2 He explains by analogy.

Sutra:

It is like purifying muddy water by placing it in a quiet vessel which is kept completely still and unmoving. The sand and silt settle, and the pure water appears. This is called the initial subduing of the guest-dust affliction.

Commentary:

There is an analogy for cultivation and certification of the mind on the cause-ground. It is like purifying muddy water. As we just discussed, when someone throws dirt into clean water, the water turns muddy. The dirt loses its solidity, and the water loses its clarity. This represents living beings who are originally in the nature of the treasury of the Thus Come One, but who then get mixed up with the four elements and the five turbidities and give rise to ignorance and affliction. From the one truth arises the false. This falseness is not true; the truth is not false. It's as I explained earlier. The true can be represented by our bodies and the false by our shadows. Is the shadow true? No. It only exists when there is a light shining on the body. The shadow then represents ignorance, be cause ignorance is also basically unreal; it is something false which arises from the true. But, because this one falseness arises, every kind of falseness arises. This can be illustrated by the analogy here of dirt being thrown into water, causing both the dirt and the water to lose their fundamental qualities and become mixed together.

Now the mind on the cause-ground cultivates to return to purity; this is like putting the muddy water in a quiet vessel which is kept completely still and unmoving. What is this quiet vessel? This represents you who sit in Chan. When we sit in meditation and investigate Chan, we are purifying the muddy water by sitting there unmoving. When we have developed samadhi-power, we pour the pure water of samadhi into our self-nature. Then your body is like the quiet vessel. But you must be completely unmoving. It's not the case that you can move your legs at the first sign of pain, or that you can lean back and relax when your back hurts. Those of you who stretch out your legs at the slightest inclination or stack pillows behind you in a nest have not yet learned how to conserve your blessings. You are always looking for ways to get comfortable. In America, people are forever concerned about comfort, and even in the poorest households there is a television set. We can't say this is being "completely still and unmoving." One who is still and unmoving is not afraid of anything. A little leg pain is no big deal. The sand and silt settle, and the pure