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Praises at the Summit of Mount Sumeru

Chapter Fourteen




Not seeing anything, is just to see—
To be able to discern all dharmas.
Yet if one sees any dharma,
Then that is not true seeing.


Not seeing anything, is just to see. “Not seeing” means not viewing things the way ordinary people do. “To see” means having the vision of a sage. Ordinary people view things with distinctions. Sages use their inherent wisdom to see things and do not make distinctions. Distinction-making belongs to consciousness. Not making distinctions belongs to wisdom.

Not seeing things with the distinction-making mind-consciousness of ordinary people, is itself the sage’s seeing with all wisdom. Using consciousness to make discriminations is a conditioned dharma. Wisdom that does not make distinctions is an unconditioned dharma.

The inherent wisdom of sages allows one to be able to discern all worldly and transcendental dharmas. One understands all conditioned and unconditioned dharmas. “Seeing” means “understanding.” Because one is not attached to dharmas, one can see all dharmas. If you are attached to dharmas, you can only see a little bit, not the whole picture. Seeing all dharmas means understanding the reality of all dharmas, deeply entering the Sutra Treasury and having wisdom like the sea.  

Yet if one sees any dharma, / Then that is not true seeing. If one still has an ordinary person’s distinction-making understanding and views, there will never be a time when one can deeply enter the Sutra Treasury and have wisdom like the sea. One will never understand the fundamental nature of all dharmas, because one hasn’t destroyed the attachment to dharmas. When one breaks through the attachment to dharmas, one discovers the scenery of one’s native land, one’s family treasuries, one’s original face. One returns to the origin, which is neither increasing nor decreasing, neither pure nor defiled, neither produced nor destroyed—the fundamental nature of all dharmas.


The underlying nature of all dharmas
Neither comes to be nor ceases to exist.
Amazing is the lofty guiding teacher,
Who enlightens both himself and others.


The underlying nature of all dharmas, the essence of all dharmas, is still and unmoving; it neither comes to be nor ceases to exist. / Amazing is the lofty guiding teacher. The Buddha is very special among sentient beings. In what way? He is someone who enlightens both himself and enlightens others. He rescues himself and rescues others. He understands himself, and he can enable others to understand as well. The Buddha perfects his own enlightenment; helps others perfect enlightenment; and is complete in enlightenment and practice. He is complete in the three kinds of enlightenment and endowed with the myriad virtues. Thus he is called the Buddha.


Superior Wisdom has already spoken of
The Dharma awakened to by the Thus Come One.
Now that we have heard from him,
We understand the Buddhas’ true nature.


Superior Wisdom has already spoken / The Dharma awakened to by the Thus Come One. Meritorious Wisdom Bodhisattva says, “I derived much benefit from hearing the verses that Superior Wisdom Bodhisattva spoke. My wisdom opened up, and I understood the Dharma to which the Buddha was enlightened, namely:

Sweep away all dharmas,
Separate from all appearances.
Do away with all attachments.

Now that we have heard from him, / We understand the Buddhas’ true nature. Hearing the wonderful Dharma from Superior Wisdom Bodhisattva, all of us other Bodhisattvas can understand the Buddhas’ inherent nature of True Suchness. We are able to understand the Buddhas’ realm of being.

All things in the world are impermanent. We should have no attachments to dharmas or to self.

III. The Bodhisattvas speak verses in praise.

E. Vigorous Wisdom Bodhisattva of the Northeast


Then Vigorous Wisdom Bodhisattva, relying on the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the ten directions and spoke in verse.


When Superior Wisdom Bodhisattva had finished his verses, then at that time Vigorous Wisdom Bodhisattva rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, knelt with his right knee on the ground, placed his palms together respectfully, and spoke verses to the Buddha. What’s meant by “Vigorous Wisdom”? When Vigorous Wisdom Bodhisattva was cultivating in his past lives, he was never lax. He sought after wisdom with constant vigor. By the very virtue of not being lax, he was vigorous. If you are lax, you cannot be vigorous. Vigor cures laxness.

There is vigor of the body and vigor of the mind. Vigor of the body means day and night one bows to the Buddha, or recites the Buddha’s name, or recites a sutra, or holds a mantra. In other words, one is always making vigorous progress in the Buddhadharma. One doesn’t want to take it easy. Taking it easy means not wanting to get tired out. For example, one sits in meditation for a little while and then quits because one’s legs and back ache. Or one dozes off while reciting a mantra. Another example of lack of vigor would be bowing to the Buddha for awhile and then quitting because one feels tired. Another case of not being vigorous is having false thinking while listening to the sutra lecture, or even worse, not coming to the lectures at all. In general, if one cultivates any Dharma for awhile and then gives up, one is not vigorous. Lazy people always fall behind, while vigorous ones are always in front. They are first to become Buddhas.

In our brief life of only a few decades, the big test is whether we are truly vigorous and sincere in seeking the Buddhadharma. Those who truly seek the Buddhadharma can endure any kind of suffering and hardship. They can bear the unbearable in their wish to be vigorous. One must be vigorous at all times. That’s vigor of the body.

Vigor of the mind means in thought after thought, one is so devoted to the Dharma that one has no regard for one’s very life. One’s only wish is to cultivate and learn the Dharma. One has no other thoughts. That is vigor of the mind. One is always thinking of the Dharma and has no other false thoughts. Let me put it more clearly: not being jealous is vigor; not obstructing others’ cultivation is vigor. Rejoicing in seeing others cultivate is also being vigorous. Praising others for cultivation is vigor. Praising others, one must also cultivate oneself and seek to advance day by day.

One should listen to the instructions of wise teachers, and not willfully follow one’s own stupid impulses. These are ways of being vigorous. Not being selfish and not wanting personal advantages: this is also a form of vigor. We must be vigorous all the time and everywhere. Not being vigorous means being lazy, liking to sleep and eat. Such a person is vigorous when it comes to sleeping and eating and wearing fine clothes. He is vigorous in having random thoughts, in having desires that increase day by day. With this kind of vigor, one is headed for the hells. Vigorous Wisdom Bodhisattva is vigorous in traveling along the path to wisdom, hence his name.

Relying on the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, aided by the Buddhas of the ten directions, this Bodhisattva’s wisdom opened up. Using the wonderful contemplative wisdom, he universally contemplated causes and conditions and natural dispositions of sentient beings throughout the ten directions and spoke in verse.


To dwell upon discriminating thoughts
Is detrimental to our pure, clear eye.
Delusions grow, wrong views increase,
And one will never see the Buddhas.


To dwell upon discriminating thoughts / Is detrimental to our pure, clear eye. That which discriminates is consciousness; that which is devoid of discriminations is wisdom. If one is attached to the discriminations of consciousness, one cannot obtain the pure Dharma Eye. Only when one no longer makes distinctions can one attain the pure Dharma Eye. The pure Dharma Eye is not attained from outside. It is simply that one no longer makes distinctions. The knowledge one gains through discrimination is a false knowledge. If you can know all things without discriminating, then that is truly knowledge. With your discriminating mind, you discriminate right and wrong, self and others, good and evil.

“If I don’t discriminate, won’t I be an idiot?” you ask. If you could really not discriminate, you wouldn’t be ignorant. Why don’t you have genuine wisdom? It is because you have discriminating thoughts. If you can be without discriminating thoughts, then not only will you not be ignorant, you will have true wisdom—the great wisdom inherent within you, which can completely understand all worldly and transcendental dharmas. If you can be free from discriminations, you will always be able to see Buddhas. If you discriminate, then you won’t see the Buddhas even when they are right in front of you.

The same applies to good teachers. If you don’t discriminate, you will encounter good teachers. But if your discriminations are heavy, so you think, “So-and-so is good to me; so-and-so is mean to me,” then you won’t recognize a good teacher even when he’s right in front of you. You may face the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas but you won’t recognize them. Why? It is because what you do is detrimental to your pure Dharma Eye.

Delusions grow, wrong views increase. Each day you become more deluded and indulge in more false thinking. Your delusion and wrong views are so bad that the Buddhas cannot save you, the Bodhisattvas cannot save you, and good teachers cannot save you either. Day after day, your thinking will cause you to fall into the hells, to become friends with the hungry ghosts, or to try out being an animal. Just by being stupid, one is an animal. Having wrong views, one is a hungry ghost. Facing the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, you don’t recognize them. Since you don’t recognize the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, they don’t recognize you either. Although they are right before you, it’s as if they are 108,000 miles away. Everything you say is based on wrong knowledge and views, and even good teachers cannot save you. 

And one will never see the Buddhas. Being thus deluded and harboring deviant views, not only do you not support the monastery, you find ways to destroy it. All day long you talk about people’s faults and criticize this and that. If you had wisdom, you wouldn’t always be seeing other people’s faults or thinking they were bad. The Buddhas see all sentient beings as Buddhas. Ghosts and animals see sentient beings as being the same as themselves. Everything is made from the mind alone. This is very important. No matter who you are, if you have faults, you should change them and renew yourself. If you don’t admit your faults, then the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and good teachers have no way to save you.

The Sixth Patriarch said, “If you believe in me, then even if you are 108,000 miles away it’s as if you are right in front of me. If you don’t believe in me or listen to my instructions, then even though you’re right in front of me, it’s as if you are 108,000 miles away.” This explains this verse very well. If your delusion and wrong views keep increasing, you will never see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or meet a good teacher. Even if you met good teachers, Bodhisattvas, or Buddhas, you would miss them because you wouldn’t recognize them.


If we can recognize wrong dharmas,
We will not be confused regarding truth.
Aware that falseness comes from truth,
We see the Buddhas pure and clear.


If we can recognize wrong dharmas / We will not be confused regarding truth. If we understand deviant dharmas, and we will know what is proper Dharma. Why do we fail to recognize wrong dharmas? It is because of our ignorance, greed, and desires. We don’t understand the difference between deviant and proper. If we can break through ignorance and get rid of greed and selfish desires, we will be able to recognize deviant dharmas.

Originally, we are the same as the Buddhas. Our bright inherent natures illuminated the entire trichiliocosm. But because we gave rise to a single thought of ignorance, we came to the Saha world or some other world to be born as people. Since our fundamental nature is the same as the Buddha nature, it’s still possible for us to become Buddhas. We simply have to go back to the origin, to our inherent wisdom which is free of distinction-making. Then we will understand everything.

People also have billions of transformation bodies, but their transformations are all sorts of sentient beings. Not to mention those with spiritual powers, even ordinary people can create transformation bodies when they breathe. In your breath, there are great numbers of microorganisms, which go out and transform into mosquitoes, ants, bees and the like. These various transformation bodies are divisions of your soul. Our bodies are divisions of the Buddha’s spirit. The Buddha’s transformation bodies are people, and people’s transformation bodies are all sorts of sentient beings. For instance, why do people and all other sentient beings have the Buddha nature? It is because people are transformations of the Buddha’s spirit. Transformation bodies are like photographs. When you take a picture, you create a transformation body.

The process of transformation can also be likened to making bread. You put some leavening into the dough to make it rise. The Buddha nature can be compared to the leavening. When it is transformed into people and those people cultivate, they can become Buddhas. Although the Path of all Buddhas is the same and you are realizing your original Buddhahood, you actually become another Buddha. If you don’t cultivate, you can turn into a ghost, an animal, or a hell-being.

Good and evil are two different paths:
You can cultivate the one or commit the other.

You can cultivate blessings and wisdom, or you can commit offenses. You have to realize Buddhahood yourself; no one can do it for you.

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.

The natures of all beings in the Dharma Realm are created from the mind.

“If we can recognize wrong dharmas,” we will understand proper Dharma. If we understand proper Dharma, “we will not be confused regarding truth.” We will understand the principle of ultimate truth and will not do upside-down things. Upside down means you do the things you’re not supposed to do, and you don’t do what you’re supposed to do. If you do what you should and don’t do what you shouldn’t, you are not upside down.  

To be aware that falseness comes from truth means we should know that falseness comes from ultimate truth and that the false is originally true. When the falseness ends, the truth manifests. That is, when our distinction-making consciousness is gone, our inherent wisdom appears. We see the Buddhas pure and clear. Our inherent wisdom appears, and we see the Buddha with the pure Dharma Eye. 

Disciple: Where do people’s habits and faults come from? How can we deal with them?

Venerable Master: Our habits come from defilement. Originally they did not exist, but we pick them up bit by bit. The Chinese word for “habit” includes the word “to learn”. For example, originally a person was not that bad, but then he goes somewhere and comes back having picked something up. For example, one person did not used to lie, but by the time he came back from Taiwan, he had acquired this ability. That’s what habits are. Do you understand? If you want to get rid of a habit, you have to stop using it and let it go.

Earlier I compared transformation bodies to photographs, and the Buddha nature to leavening. These are just some minor analogies; they aren’t actually describing reality. If you took my words literally, it wouldn’t make any sense. The analogies only have that little bit of meaning, and I mentioned them to help people understand the principles of the Buddhadharma a little better. Why do I want to clarify that they are not to be taken literally? Well, leavening is an inanimate, edible substance, whereas the Buddha nature is animate and sentient. This is just a minor point for you to consider, to make a comparison with. You must not go around saying, “My teacher says that the Buddha nature is like yeast.” Then you would be misusing the analogy, because that’s not how it is.


Ordinary seeing is defiled,
For it is not to truly see.
To stay detached from any view,
One can then perceive the Buddhas.


Ordinary seeing is defiled. Having the seeing of ordinary people, we discriminate and that creates defilements. The seeing of ordinary people is not the seeing of sages. Ordinary people discriminate what they see, while sages do not. They have no thought or consideration.

No mind is the Path.
No mind and no thought brings boundless blessings.
Desires and scattered thoughts create offenses. 

Ordinary seeing is defiled, for it is not to truly see. It is not genuine seeing devoid of distinction-making.

To stay detached from any view or discrimination, one can then perceive the Buddhas. If you wish to see the Buddha, that’s a false thought. If you have no false thoughts, no wish to see or not see, then you always see the Buddha. You are constantly together with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas because you are without discriminations. But if you start discriminating, then you are no longer with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. So you should separate from all views—all false thoughts and discriminations—and return to the origin, to your original Buddha nature which is free and at ease. Then you will be dwelling in the same house as the Buddhas.

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