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The Manifestations of the Thus Come One

Chapter Two


V.B.9. Wisdom Universally Illumining the Dharma Realm Bodhisattva of the Nadir

Sutra:

Then in the assembly’s midst, another Bodhisattva Mahasattva named Wisdom Universally Illumining the Dharma Realm received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke a verse.  

The Thus Come One’s wondrous body
And his inconceivable physical form—
Bring joy to all who perceive them.
Faithful and reverent, those beings enjoy the Dharma.  

Commentary:

Then, after the previous Bodhisattva finished speaking his verse, in the sea-vast assembly’s midst, another Bodhisattva Mahasattva named Wisdom Universally Illumining the Dharma Realm received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke a verse. Bodhisattvas are associated with the Great Vehicle [Mahayana], while Arhats belong to the Theravada.

The first stage of Arhatship is called the Position of Seeing the Way. One must eradicate eighty-eight categories of view delusions before one can realize the first stage of Arhatship. The second and third stages are the Position of Cultivating the Way. The fourth stage of Arhatship is the Position of Realizing the Way, and also the Stage beyond Study. Originally no division existed between Great Vehicle and Ther a vada Buddhism. The Dharma spoken by the Buddha is the One Vehicle, that is, the Buddha Vehicle. When the Buddha spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra, Bodhisattvas came flocking in from the ten directions to hear the Dharma. But the state of the Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions (the Two Vehicles) was not as high as that of the Bodhisattvas.

They had eyes, but could not see Nishyanda.
They had ears, but did not hear the perfect, sudden teaching.

Since they neither saw nor heard, they failed to realize the existence of the teaching. Those of the Ther a vada school work to better themselves, to enlighten themselves. They do not involve themselves in trying to better and enlighten others. Those of the Great Vehicle practice the dharmas of Bodhisattvas, benefiting, enlightening, and liberating themselves as well as others. Bodhisattvas make the resolve to benefit beings, while Arhats only resolve to better themselves. There is basically no boundary between the Great and Ther a vada; it all depends on how you think. If you think about benefiting others, then that is the Great Vehicle. If you are only concerned with bettering yourself and becoming an Arhat, then that’s the Ther a vada. The Flower Adornment Sutra talks about Bodhisattvas of the Great Vehicle, who benefit others. This Bodhisattva’s name is Wisdom Universally Illumining the Dharma Realm. Relying on Shakyamuni Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, he observed the causes and conditions of beings in the ten directions of the Dharma Realm, and then spoke the following verse. 

The Thus Come One’s wondrous body / And his inconceivable physical form. The first line is praising the Buddha’s Dharma body. Not only is his Dharma body wondrous and inconceivable, but his physical body is also wondrous and inconceivable. Beings see them and rejoice. Any being, no matter what kind, is happy to see the Buddha, because the Buddha’s luminous virtue shines everywhere. Faithful and reverent, those beings enjoy the Dharma. In their happiness, beings venerate and make offerings to the Buddha. They have faith in the Buddha, and they delight in the Buddhadharma. Bearing reverence, offerings, and faith, they come to hear the Buddha speak the Dharma, and then they respectfully practice it.  

Sutra:

Every hallmark of the Buddha’s body
Reveals limitless Buddhas,
Who pervade the realms of the ten directions,
Entering every mote of dust.  

In the ten directions’ oceans of lands,
Buddhas beyond count and measure
Display their spiritual powers
In thought after thought.  

Bodhisattvas of great wisdom
Plumb the depths of the Dharma ocean.
Assisted by the Buddhas’ power,
They apprehend these expedients.  

Commentary:

Every hallmark of the Buddha’s body, every one of the Thirty-two Hallmarks of a great person and the Eighty Subsidiary Characteristics that adorn the Buddha’s body, reveals limitless Buddhas. Not only are there innumerable Buddhas in every hallmark, but there are limitlessly many lands in every pore. These innumerable Buddhas, who pervade the Dharma realms of the ten directions, / Entering every mote of dust, propagate the Buddhadharma and teach beings.  

In the ten directions’ oceans of lands are Buddhas beyond count and measure. There is a Buddha in every land, teaching and transforming beings, and displaying spiritual powers / In thought after thought, teaching beings in every Buddhaland. 

Bodhisattvas of great wisdom / Plumb the depths of the Dharma ocean. They can deeply enter the Sutra Treasury, and have wisdom like the sea. Assisted by the Buddhas’ power, / They apprehend these expedients.  

Sutra:

Those already well established
In Universal Worthy’s conduct and vows,
Will see all lands and countries
And all Buddhas’ spiritual powers.  

People of faith and understanding,
Who have made great vows
And whose wisdom is profound
Will thoroughly know all dharmas.  

If they observe the Buddhas’ body,
Contemplating each and every aspect,
Undistracted by form and sound,
They will understand all states of mind.  

Commentary:

Those beings who have made the resolve for bodhi, and who are already well established / In Universal Worthy’s conduct and vows, in the great vows cultivated by that Bodhisattva, will see all lands and countries / And all Buddhas’ spiritual powers.  

People of faith and understanding, / Who have made great vows. In cultivation, the most important thing is to have faith. Once you have faith, you must make vows, and then carry out those vows. And if they are people whose wisdom, great prajna-wisdom, is profound, they will thoroughly know all dharmas.  

If they observe the Buddhas’ Dharma body, / Contemplating each and every aspect, they can discover how and why the Buddhas became Buddhas. If they are undistracted by form and sound, / They will understand all Buddhas’ states of mind.  

Sutra:

Bodhisattvas can emulate all Buddhas,
By abiding in their wisdom and practice.
They soon enter the Thus Come One’s position
And guide all beings in the Dharma Realm.  

Bodhisattvas, in a single thought,
Can make appear in every mote of dust
Lands to the number
Of dustmotes in Buddhalands.  

In a single land, they can manifest
All lands and countries,
As well as feats of spiritual powers.
Such are the Bodhisattvas’ powers.  

Commentary:

Bodhisattvas can emulate all Buddhas, / By abiding in their wisdom and practice. Having obtained the Buddhas’ wisdom and cultivation, they cause all beings to soon enter the Thus Come One’s position and realize Buddhahood. And they guide and teach all beingsin the Dharma Realm, leading them to Buddhahood. 

Bodhisattvas, in a single thought, / Can make appear in every mote of dust / Lands to the number / Of dustmotes in Buddhalands. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can, in the space of a thought, make all Buddhalands appear in every dustmote, and all the Buddhalands in each dustmote appear in every Buddhaland. 

In a single Buddhaland, they can manifest / All Buddhas’ lands and countries, / As well as all Buddhas’ feats of spiritual powers and wonderful functionings—these inconceivable states. Such are the Bodhisattvas’ powers. Who can do this? All Bodhisattvas, receiving the aid of the Buddhas, can accomplish this.  

V.B.10. Vigorous Power and Unimpeded Wisdom Bodhisattva of the Zenith

Sutra:

Then in the assembly’s midst, another Bodhisattva Mahasattva named Vigorous Power and Unimpeded Wisdom received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke a verse.  

The Buddha broadcasts a single wondrous sound,
Heard throughout the lands of the ten directions.
Carrying the myriad sounds,
The rain of Dharma falls everywhere.  

Commentary:

Then , after the previous verse was finished, in the sea-vast assembly’s midst at the bodhimanda, another Bodhisattva Mahasattva, a leader of Bodhisattvas, named Vigorous Power and Unimpeded Wisdom received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke a verse. Vigor refers to diligently cultivating precepts, samadhi, and wisdom; and eliminating greed, anger, and delusion. One advances in cultivation and grows more vigorous day by day. With such vigorous power, one does not retreat, but develops unimpeded wisdom. With unimpeded wisdom, one can understand all dharmas, cultivate all dharmas, and realize the substance of all dharmas.

Relying on Shakyamuni Buddha’s awesome virtue, spiritual powers, transformations, and wisdom, this Bodhisattva contemplated the ten directions. His contemplation was not sloppy and casual. He contemplated very attentively and in detail, not only in one direction, but in all ten directions of the Dharma Realm. He didn’t contemplate just the Dharma Realm itself, but the beings within it. He wanted to ascertain the causes and conditions, so he could decide what Dharma to speak. Then he spoke the following verse. 

The Buddha broadcasts a single wondrous sound. This refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, but it also refers to the Buddhas of the three periods of times and in the ten directions. Each Buddha is:

Perfect in the three kinds of enlightenment, and
Replete with the ten thousand virtues.

Those who have heard the sutras explained know the meaning of the word Buddha. Others, who have not heard the sutras explained before, say they believe in the Buddha, but they do not know what the word means. The Buddha possesses three kinds of enlightenment:

1. Enlightenment of self
2. Enlightenment of others
3. Perfection of enlightenment and practices

Ordinary, deluded beings are unenlightened. Followers of the Two Vehicles (of the Theravada) enlighten themselves. They understand how to cultivate the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths (suffering, accumulation, cessation, and the Way) and the Twelve Links of Conditioned Causation, and so they become enlightened themselves. However, their goal is not to enlighten others. Having gained understanding themselves, their attitude is:

Mahasattvas, don’t look after others;
Amitabha Buddha takes care of himself.

They don’t bring forth the resolve of a Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas of the Great Vehicle enlighten themselves, and they also enlighten others. Having enlightened themselves, they don’t wish to enjoy the benefits alone. They want to help all beings to become enlightened and share the same benefits. In wishing to enlighten others, they differ from those of the Two Vehicles, who are concerned about their own practice. Bodhisattvas want to help everyone realize Buddhahood together.

When the Buddha first began teaching, he did not dare to say that all beings could become Buddhas. He was afraid that if he spoke such Dharma, he would scare everyone away. Beings are not aware of their own potential for Buddhahood. If you tell them, they will run off in disbelief.

When the Buddha spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra, ordinary people did not hear it. He then spoke the agama sutras, what now constitute the Theravada teachings, followed by the vaipulya sutras, and then the prajna sutras. During this time, he never mentioned that everyone had the potential for Buddhahood. It was only at the very end, when he spoke the Lotus Sutra, setting aside expedient dharmas to speak the true Dharma, that he told all beings that they could become Buddhas. He said, “Not only can I become a Buddha, all people can become Buddhas. Not only can all people become Buddhas, but all beings can, too.” When he said this, five thousand Bhikshus left the assembly. They thought, “Buddha, you never said before that everyone could become a Buddha. This is what you’re saying now, but which is right?” Take a look. When Shakyamuni Buddha was speaking the Dharma, five thousand Bhikshus disbelieved him. The inconceivably wonderful Great Vehicle Dharma was simply too difficult for those people to believe.

Even in the Buddha’s time, there were five thousand Bhikshus who got up and left. Nowadays, it is inevitable that there are some people who don’t believe in the Great Vehicle Dharma. For example, in Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and other Buddhist countries, the practice of Buddhism is not bad, but they restrict themselves and refuse to study Great Vehicle (Mahayana) Buddhism. We could say that the Theravada is too conservative, and the Great Vehicle is too liberal. It would be good if the adherents of the Theravada and the Great Vehicle could learn from each other and renounce their attachments.

The Buddha proclaimed with a single wondrous sound, and beings understood it according to their kinds. Every being, whatever the kind, understood the Dharma the Buddha spoke.  

The Buddha’s sound is heard throughout the lands of the ten directions. The Buddha’s sound is transmitted into the ears of all the beings in the ten directions of the Dharma Realm. And every being, upon hearing the perfect sound of Buddhadharma, understands it in his or her own way. Carrying the myriad sounds, / The rain of Dharma falls everywhere in the Dharma Realm. Every being is nourished by the Buddha’s Dharma rain and filled with the joy of Dharma.

Sutra:

With oceans of words and phrases,
Sounds that communicate to every species,
In every land of Buddhas,
He turns the pristine Dharma wheel.  

All beings in every land,
Behold the Buddha’s spiritual transformations
And hear the Buddha speaking Dharma.
Having heard it, they aspire towards bodhi.  

Commentary:

With oceans words and phrases, / Sounds that communicate to every species. People communicate in human language, birds communicate in bird language, and beasts communicate in their own languages. Human languages include Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, Japanese, and so on. There are so many languages in the world that no one could learn them all in one lifetime. Just when you have learned them all, it’s time to visit King Yama again. No one can completely master the ocean of the world’s languages. Yet the Buddha, with a single sound, can communicate with all the different kinds of beings so that they all understand him.  

In every land of Buddhas, / He turns the pristine Dharma wheel. In every Buddhaland, the Buddha is speaking wonderful Dharma to teach beings. 

All beings in every land in the ten directions can behold the Buddha’s spiritual powers and transformations / And hear the Buddha speaking wondrous Dharma. Having heard it, they resolve their minds on enlightenment and aspire towards the path to bodhi.  

Sutra:

Throughout the lands of the Dharma Realm,
In every single mote of dust,
The Thus Come One, by his power of liberation,
Universally manifests his body.  

The Dharma body is the same as space,
Unhindered and lacking differentation.
The physical body resembles a reflection,
Assuming various images and forms.  

The reflection, without a location,
Is insubstantial, like the void.
Only one of tremendous wisdom
Can fathom its impartial nature.  

The Buddha’s body cannot be apprehended.
Unborn and uncreated,
It appears in response to all beings,
Yet remains impartial like the void.  

All the Buddhas of the ten directions
Completely enter a single pore
And display spiritual powers.
The wisdom eye thus perceives.  

Commentary:

Throughout the Buddhalands of the ten directions of the Dharma Realm, / In every single mote of dust, / The Thus Come One, by his inconceivable power of liberation / Universally manifests his body. In each dustmote, he can make appear limitless lands with Buddhas speaking Dharma in them. 

The Buddha’s Dharma body is the same as space, formless and invisible, unhindered and lacking differentiation. / The physical body resembles a reflection or shadow constantly following the body wherever it goes, assuming various images and forms.  

The reflection, without a location, / Is insubstantial, like the void. The reflection has no fixed place. It appears in the minds of those beings that have affinities. The Buddha’s Dharma body is like space, with no form or substance of its own. Only one of tremendous wisdom / Can fathom its impartial nature. Only a Bodhisattva can understand the principle of level equality.  

The Buddha’s body cannot be apprehended. /Unborn and uncreated. The Buddha’s body cannot be grasped, nor can it be renounced. It neither comes nor goes. It is not born, and does not die. It cannot be said to be new or old, and so it is uncreated. You can’t say, “Before there was an old one, and now we’re making a new one.” It appears in response to all beings. The Buddha manifests a body and teaches beings according to their type and their dispositions, yet remains impartial like the void. He treats all beings equally. 

All the Buddhas of the ten directions / Completely enter a single pore of the Buddha, and display spiritual powers— / The wisdom eye thus perceives. Only a Bodhisattva with the wisdom eye can observe this kind of state.

Sutra:

Vairochana Buddha’s vows
Pervade the Dharma Realm.
Perpetually, in all lands
He turns the unsurpassed wheel.  

A single pore displays spiritual transformations
And all Buddhas speaking in unison.
Even passing through limitless eons,
None of this will reach its end.  

Commentary:

Vairochana Buddha’s vows . Vairochana is the pure Dharma body Buddha. His name means “Pervading All Places.” His vows pervade the Dharma Realm. Vairochana Buddha has the greatest vow power. There is not one place in the Dharma Realm that was not brought into being by the power of Vairochana Buddha’s vows. Beings with whom he has affinities will definitely be saved. Perpetually, in all lands in the ten directions of the Dharma Realm, he turns the unsurpassed Dharma wheel. He constantly speaks Dharma to teach beings.  

A single pore displays spiritual power s and transformations. Although a pore is tiny, it can contain the entire Dharma Realm, and all Buddhas speaking in unison. All the Buddhas in the ten directions of the Dharma Realm are there, speaking Dharma at the same time. Even passing through limitless eons / None of this will reach its end. Even going through an immeasurable length of time, one could not know when they would finish speaking the Dharma.

VI. Concluding with the universal and infinite nature

Sutra:

In the bodhimanda of this world of four continents, by the Buddha’s spiritual power, Bodhisattvas as numerous as the dustmotes in a hundred million seas of worlds came to gather from each of the ten directions. You should know that it was the same way in the bodhimandas in every world of four continents in all the seas of worlds.  

Commentary:

In the bodhimanda of this world of four continents, by the Buddha’s spiritual power, Bodhisattvas as numerous as the dustmotes in a hundred million seas of worlds came to gather from each of the ten directions. One world of four continents contains one sun, one moon, and one Mount Sumeru. On the four sides of Mount Sumeru are four continents, hence the term “world of four continents.” A bodhimanda is a place for cultivating the Way.

The ten directions are the upper and lower directions; the four cardinal directions—north, south, east, west; and the four intermediate directions—northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest.

All those Bodhisattvas, as numerous as the dustmotes in a hundred million seas of worlds, came to assemble at the bodhimanda of Shakyamuni Buddha. They all came to the Saha World to draw near Shakyamuni Buddha under the bodhi tree.

You should know that it was the same way in the bodhimandas in every world of four continents in all the seas of worlds. There are a hundred million seas of worlds in each of the ten directions, and each sea of worlds contains many, many worlds of four continents. In all the bodhimandas in every one of those worlds, Bodhisattvas as numerous as dustmotes went to gather.

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