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The Ten Dharma Realms are not Beyond a Single Thought

The Dharma Realm of Buddhas


Neither great nor small,
Neither gone nor come,
In worlds as many as motes of dust,
They shine upon each other from their lotus thrones.

The first Dharma Realm is that of Buddhas. I once gave a lecture in Redwood City (California) in which I explained the word "Buddha." Because I'm quite dull and a bit deaf, when I first heard the word Buddha" in English, I heard it as bu da, which means "not big" in Chinese. What is "not big"? The Buddha. One professor liked my explanation so much that when I finished my lecture, he put his palms together and said to me, "Bu da."

"Not big" means not arrogant. The Buddha is not arrogant or haughty. An arrogant person is someone who is always saying, "I! I! I!" The Buddha doesn't have an "I," an ego. "Me, me, me"—everything is "me." Everything to the right, left, in front, back, above, below, and throughout the four directions is "me." There are too many "me's," and so the self becomes big. The Buddha, being selfless, is "not big." Then is he little? No. If he were little, he wouldn't be a Buddha. He is neither great nor small.

Neither gone nor come. The Buddha has "come and yet not come, gone and yet not gone." Since the Buddha's Dharma-body fills all of space and pervades the Dharma Realm, it is neither absent nor present. You may speak of the Buddha as going, but to where does he go? You might say he comes, but from where does he come? Nor does his Dharma-body merely pervade our world; the Dharma Realm includes as many worlds as there are motes of dust—limitlessly, boundlessly many worlds—all of which are the Buddha's Dharma-body.

In worlds as many as motes of dust. They shine upon each other from their lotus thrones. The Buddha in this Dharma Realm shines his light upon the Buddha of another Dharma Realm, and the light of the Buddha in that Dharma Realm illumines this Dharma Realm. Sitting on lotus thrones, the Buddhas simultaneously move the earth and emit light from their ears, eyes, noses, tongues, and teeth. Not only do their six organs put forth light and move the earth, their every pore emits light and moves the earth. And in every pore, worlds as numerous as motes of dust appear, each containing incalculable numbers of Buddhas who emit light in the same way.

Yet all these lights, like those of many lamps, do not contend. One lamp doesn't say to another, "You can't give off so much light, because my light has nowhere to go." The lights don't clash with one another; they fuse together. In Buddhism, we unite our lights. Just as lights do not conflict with one another, so too should people not clash. We should allow our lights to shine on one another like the lights interpenetrating at the interstices of the infinitely-layered circular net canopy of the Great Brahma Heaven King. That's the Dharma Realm of Buddhas.

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