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Praises at the Summit of Mount Sumeru

Chapter Fourteen




Seeing what is true as true,
Seeing what is not true as not true:
Such ultimate understanding
Is the reason for the name of Buddha.


The Buddhas have attained ultimate enlightenment and are apart from all deluded attachments, discriminations, and false thoughts. Seeing what is true as true. They have achieved the self-mastery of the state of absolute reality. Seeing what is not true as not true. All discriminations, attachments, and deluded thoughts are false, without any real substance. Such ultimate understanding means seeing what is true as true, realizing the state of absolute reality and understanding its principle, and not being deluded.

Buddhas have united with the principle of suchness through the wisdom of suchness, and this is the reason for the name of Buddha, the ultimately enlightened ones.


The Buddhadharma cannot be realized:
Understanding this is called realizing the Dharma.
All Buddhas cultivate in this way.
Not a single dharma exists.  


The Buddha spoke the Dharma to destroy sentient beings’ attachments. When sentient beings have no more attachments, the Buddhadharma is also gone. If we can get rid of attachments and not let a single thought arise, then we have returned to the source and gone back to our hometown. If we have even the slightest bit of attachment, we still need a bit of Dharma. The Buddhadharma cannot be realized. It is simply thus. There is no knowing or not knowing in the original state. Sentient beings are unable to reach this state of unmoving thusness and clear and constant understanding. That’s why they must study and cultivate. But at the ultimate level, there is not a single dharma. All dharmas are empty. Whatever can be spoken or perceived is not it. You can’t use human thinking to perceive it.

To understand this is called realizing the Dharma. If you understand the principle of thusness, the doctrine of absolute reality, then there is neither “realization” nor “nonrealization.” To understand this is to understand the Buddhadharma. All Buddhas cultivate in this way. The Buddhas cultivate the spiritual Path without having cultivated; they attain realization without having realized anything.

The Sutra in Forty-two Sections says:

If you make offerings to a hundred bad people, it’s not as good as making offerings to one good person. If you make offerings to a thousand good people, it’s not as good as making offerings to one person who holds the Five Precepts. If you make offerings to ten thousand people who hold the Five Precepts, it’s not as good as making offerings to a Bhikshu. If you make offerings to a hundred thousand Bhikshus, it’s not as good as making offerings to an Arhat. If you make offerings to one million First Stage Arhats, it’s not as good as making offerings to a Second-Stage Arhat. If you make offerings to a ten million Second Stage Arhats, it’s not as good as making offerings to a Third Stage Arhat... If you make offerings to limitlessly many Bodhisattvas and Arhats, it’s not as good as making offerings to one who is without cultivation or realization.

Does that mean when we make offerings, we should look for an Arhat to make offerings to? No, you won’t be able to find one. Should we look for someone who holds the Five Precepts? You might find one, but you still won’t be getting the point. Why? Because to do things deliberately is false-thinking. If you do things without thought, you may receive a response. If you make offerings to someone without being aware of the fact that he is someone who holds the Five Precepts, then that counts. If you purposefully go looking for someone who holds the Five Precepts, you are being upside-down. That’s why it’s said,

With deliberation, it is false thinking.
Without deliberation, it is a response.

If you think making offerings to monastics is better than making offerings to laypeople so you go everywhere looking for monastics, then you are still greedy for blessings. If you make offerings with a greedy mind, I don’t think the Buddha will accept them. How should you be? Make offerings as if you weren’t doing anything. Although it’s said that making offerings to Arhats has great merit and virtue, you shouldn’t go looking for them. Let it happen as a response. Just make the offerings, and don’t worry about whether the people are Arhats or whether they hold the Five Precepts. Then you have genuine merit and virtue.

“All Buddhas” refers to the Buddhas of the past, present, and future; of the east, south, west, north, northwest, northeast, southeast, southwest, above and below. All the Buddhas have cast out their greed, anger, and delusion. When you hear the sutras and Dharma, you should learn to be without ignorance and anger. To put it more bluntly, we should be without a temper. We ought to approach everything with a happy attitude. Don’t lose your temper. If you lose your temper, you turn into a ghost. If you’re always happy, your appearance is that of a Bodhisattva. Be kind and amiable with everyone. The most important thing for cultivators is not to have a temper. No matter how many years you’ve studied the Buddhadharma, if you haven’t gotten rid of your temper, then you haven’t understood the Buddhadharma. We should all pay attention to this.  

Not a single dharma exists. If you truly understand the Buddhadharma and reach the Buddha’s position, then not a single dharma exists; all dharmas are empty. That’s the essence of the ultimate truth.


Know that the one brings about the many,
And the many brings about the one.
Dharmas are not based upon anything,
But arise from a combination of factors.  


Know that the one brings about the many.

One root divides into ten thousand branches.
Ten thousand branches return to one root.

One is limitless; limitless is one. The limitless exists because of the one, and the one exists because of the limitless. As soon as the one comes into being, many troubles are produced: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,...Limitless numbers come into being. If the one is gone, then the many is also empty.

When the one is empty, all are empty;
When all are empty, there is not even one.
If there is not a single mote of dust,
Then all dust motes are gone.
If all dust motes are empty,
Then each mote of dust is gone.

Dharmas are not based upon anything, / But arise from a combination of factors. All dharmas have no nature of their own; they have nothing to rely upon. Expedient dharmas arise from false compounding. If you take one kind of thing and put many of them together, it becomes a bunch. Yet that bunch of things is really a lot of individual entities.

We mentioned the zero before. The zero transcends all numbers.

Zero transcends the Three Realms
And is beyond the Five Elements.

The Three Realms are the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm. The Five Elements are metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. All people are characterized by the Five Elements. Each person’s physiognomy has the Five Elements within it. Tall, slender people belong to wood. Those with pointed heads and rather triangular faces (narrow at the top and broad on the bottom) belong to fire. A squarish face and yellow complexion indicate the dominance of earth. A whitish complexion indicates the dominance of metal. A person with a dark complexion who is rather plump belongs to the water element. Some people may be a combination of elements, such as wood-fire-earth, or wood-fire-metal. Some people may have wood and metal, which indicates internal conflict because these two elements are in mutual opposition. A combination of water and fire also indicates the person has frequent internal conflict. If wood and earth are together, there will also be conflict, because they mutually overcome one another. But the zero is beyond these characterizations of fate.

Most people consider fate to be fixed. This is true for ordinary people, but cultivators are not bound by fate. Fate cannot control them. There’s no need to consult the Book of Changes. Although divinations done by the Book of Changes can be accurate, people who cultivate the spiritual Path don’t need to use it. The Book of Changes is for ordinary people. Cultivators don’t need anything like that. If they can really end birth and death, how much the more will they transcend all predictions of fate. It’s not necessary for them to believe in such things. Why am I bringing up the Five Elements then? Simply so you can understand the principle. If you cultivate single-mindedly, you will come to understand all principles.

The zero is the most important. If you put effort on looking into the zero, you will definitely succeed. The zero is beyond numbers. The beginning of numbers is one. The zero is before even the one.

* * * * * * * *

Question: Among the Four Noble Truths of suffering, origination, cessation, and the Path, origination is said to have the quality of “attracting or summoning”. Does this mean that our inherent nature summons something from within, or is something from outside summoned into the inherent nature?

Venerable Master: It refers to external things being summoned or attracted to you. For example, if you see a person and greet him, and that person gives you a scolding, wouldn’t you say that you attracted this to yourself. If you had not greeted him and said “hello”, he would not have scolded you. You brought it upon yourself. You summoned him, and he responded.

Question: How do we cut off afflictions?

Venerable Master: To cut off afflictions, you have to be without a single thought. Everything is made from the mind. If you don’t let thoughts arise, everything disappears. For me, “everything’s okay,” because I don’t have any thought. All day long I have no thought. I don’t think about good or bad, failure or success. I just go ahead and do things. I regard failure and success as the same. Good and bad are also the same. “But isn’t that mixing up good and bad?” No. Originally, there isn’t any “good” or “bad” so how can they not be the same? Good exists because of bad, and vice versa. If there is no good, there’s no bad. If there’s no bad, there’s no good. If a very evil person reforms, he becomes a very good person. If a very good person falls, he becomes very evil.

Question: The Master’s explanation of the sutra reminds me of the principles in the Prajna-Paramita Sutra, such as that of non-knowing and non-attainment. The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra is the King of Kings among the Great Vehicle sutras. If one masters the principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra, will one be attaining the same level as understanding the Prajna-Paramita Sutra? That is, is understanding the Flower Adornment Sutra the same as understanding all sutras?

Venerable Master: Not only is it the same as understanding all sutras; it surpasses the state of understanding all sutras. The Flower Adornment Sutra includes the principles of all sutras, not just the Prajna-Paramita Sutra.

Question: I received a letter from my father saying that his spiritual teacher is dying. I don’t know what to do now that I’ve gotten this letter. Should I give him a call?

Venerable Master: If you could save your father’s spiritual teacher by calling him, then go ahead. If you don’t possess that kind of spiritual power, then what’s the value of calling? It would be of no use. Right now you are worrying about him; when it comes time for you to die, who is going to worry about you? Who will call you? You had better first take care of your own affairs and not waste time meddling in other people’s affairs. Your time right now is more precious than gold. You ought to meditate and cultivate every day. Then you will be a good son of your father and an outstanding hero. If you meddle in other people’s business all day long, writing a letter here, making a phone call there, rushing over to another place to see what’s going on, you are simply wasting your time.


There is no creator or creation.
Things arise from thought and karma.
How do we know this to be true?
There is no other explanation.


There is no creator or creation. Most religions say there is a creator who created the myriad things in the universe. However, in reality there is no one who controls the myriad things. Thus, there is no creator and no act of creation. What happens then? Things arise from thought and karma. Everything that happens is part of the process of giving rise to delusion, creating karma, and receiving retribution. Where does karma come from? From our false thoughts. The initial lack of enlightenment is ignorance. Ignorance leads to delusion. If there were no ignorance, there would be no delusion. Once delusion occurs, false thoughts arise. With false thoughts, all manner of karma is created.

If you plant good causes, you receive a good karmic reward.
If you plant bad causes, you receive a bad karmic retribution.
If you plant causes which are neither good nor bad,
you receive a retribution which is neither good nor bad.

All the things that happen to us are consequences of what we have done. No one made us do those things. Thus, we are born and die over and over in the realm of rebirth, according to our karmic retributions. 

How do we know this to be true? / There is no other explanation. If we don’t accept this principle, there is no other principle that holds. For example, most religions say people are controlled by some God or deity. If we are controlled by God, then it doesn’t matter whether we do good or evil. In reality, however, when the time comes we still have to undergo our own retributions. Thus that doctrine is not logical. That’s why we say our existence comes from our karma. For example, if one person orders another person to commit murder and he carries out the order, although the murderer is guilty, the first person also shares half the offense. Now, if God controlled our actions, then God should share half our offenses. Otherwise, God would take all the merit and we would take all the offenses for the things we do. That’s not reasonable. If we create our own karma, then it has nothing to do with anyone else. If we do good deeds, we receive a good reward. If we do evil deeds, we suffer a bad retribution. This is reasonable. Therefore, our actions are not controlled by God or any deity.

If God really controlled our actions, he wouldn’t make us do evil. He would instead make us do good. That’s the only logical conclusion since God doesn't wish people to do evil.

If people were controlled by a god, then all sentient beings ought to be controlled by that god. If a god controls them, he ought to make them do good deeds, not bad deeds. Why would the god create a cat and a mouse? Why do cats catch mice, and why do mice steal things to eat? It’s clear that this is a kind of retribution they are receiving for the karma they created.

Take a look at the fish in the water. They can swim freely wherever they please. Fish live in the water without being aware of the water, because their whole world is water. People live surrounded by air, but the air is just part of their environment and they don’t notice it. Whether it’s fish or people, this is their retribution resulting from the karma they have created. It’s not the case that there is a god controlling you or a Buddha watching over you. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas don’t meddle in such affairs, and gods and spirits have even less control. We should all take note of this.

If people wish to understand
The Buddhas of the three periods of time,
They should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm:
Everything is made from the mind alone.
All states of being are created from our own minds.


All dharmas dwell nowhere
And have no fixed location.
The Buddhas dwell within this state,
Ultimately steadfast and unmoving.  


All dharmas dwell nowhere. The 84,000 dharma doors spoken by the Buddha are expedient dharmas to counteract sentient beings’ greed, hatred, and delusion. Fundamentally, the substance of the Dharma is without dwelling. It dwells neither in existence nor in emptiness (nonexistence). And dharmas have no fixed location, because they have no real substance. They are born from conditions, and are thus empty. Being empty, where could they dwell? They don’t dwell in any fixed place. 

The Buddhas dwell within this state, within the state of neither emptiness nor existence, which is the substance of the Middle Way. When neither nonexistence nor existence are postulated, that is the Middle Way. Because the Dharma body has no form and is present everywhere and yet nowhere, it is thus and ultimately steadfast and unmoving.

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