Chapters: 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23
24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   Contents   previous   next

The Manifestations of the Thus Come One

Chapter Two

 


Sutra:

Brilliant clouds such as those, as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds, completely filled the air and did not disperse. Having displayed those clouds, the Bodhisattvas bowed to the Buddha and offered them to him. Then, in the lower direction, each Bodhisattva created a lion’s throne from blazing, jeweled lamps and abundant lotuses, and seated himself upon that throne in full lotus posture.  

Commentary:

Brilliant clouds such as those described above, as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds, completely filled the air and did not disperse. Every one of the clouds pervaded space without obstructing the others; they each appeared clearly and distinctly. If these brilliant clouds had been ordinary clouds, they would have scattered and disappeared, but instead they lingered in the air. Having displayed all those brilliant clouds, the Bodhisattvas bowed to the Buddha and offered them to him. Then, in the lower direction, each Bodhisattva among the infinite numbers of great Bodhisattvas created a lion’s throne from blazing, jeweled lamps and abundant lotuses—there were lots of lotuses—and sat upon his Dharma throne in full lotus posture, entering the Vajra Samadhi and waiting for the Buddha to speak Dharma.  

Sutra:

Above this sea of worlds of the Flower Treasury, there was another sea of worlds called Adorned with Dazzling Mani Jewels. Within the seed of those worlds there was a land called Wondrous Radiance Beyond Appearances. The Buddha there was named Radiant King of Unobstructed Merit and Virtue.  

Within the great sea-like assembly of that Thus Come One was a Bodhisattva Mahasattva named Unimpeded Strength of Vigorous Wisdom. He and as many Bodhisattvas as dustmotes in a sea of worlds all came to where the Buddha was.  

Each Bodhisattva displayed ten effulgent clouds made from jewels of boundless colors and forms, which filled all of space and did not disperse. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from a net of mani jewels. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from the adornments in all the magnificent Buddhalands. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from all sublime fragrances. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from all adornments.  

Commentary:

Above this sea of worlds of the Flower Treasury, there was another sea of worlds. Our sea of worlds is called Flower Treasury, and that one was called Adorned with Dazzling Mani Jewels. Mani jewels must have been plentiful in that sea of worlds. They illuminated the world and made it a beautiful and happy place. Within the seed of those worlds there was a land called Wondrous Radiance Beyond Appearances. In that country there was a Buddha teaching and transforming beings. The Buddha there was named Radiant King of Unobstructed Merit and Virtue. That Buddha’s virtue was perfect and unobstructed. It was full to the extreme, and so it appeared radiant.  

Within the great sea-like assembly of that Thus Come One, there were Hearers, those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas waiting to hear the Buddha speak Dharma. Among them was a Bodhisattva Mahasattva, a leader of Bodhisattvas, named Unimpeded Strength of Vigorous Wisdom. He had tremendous power, which was based on courageous and vigorous wisdom. He was so vigorous that no amount of suffering or hardship could daunt him. He and as many Bodhisattvas as dustmotes in a sea of worlds all came to where the Buddha was. By means of their spiritual powers and self-mastery, they all came to the Saha World to gather before Shakyamuni Buddha at the foot of the bodhi tree. Since they used their spiritual powers, they came without coming. With their powers of self-mastery, they went and yet did not go. Although it was an extremely great distance, they were as if face-to-face with the Buddha.  

Each displayed ten effulgent clouds made from jewels of boundless colors and forms, which filled all of space and did not disperse. If this were not a state manifested by the spiritual powers of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the clouds would have vanished after a while. Instead they remained in space while the Buddha was speaking Dharma, and they have not dispersed even up to the present time. If you attain such a state, you should know that it is the state of the Flower Adornment. The state of the Flower Adornment is beyond all conception. And so there is no way to talk about it. Yet even though it is beyond conception, we still try to think about it. Although it is impossible to express, we try to talk about it. We are talking about something that is impossible to talk about or conceptualize. This is “the talking of not talking”—speaking about the unspeakable. So what am I talking about? I’m just babbling nonsense.

They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from a precious net of mani jewels. Don’t think this is true. It’s all false. Why? Even if it were true, if you don’t cultivate, it becomes false. If you cultivate according to the sutra, then it’s true. If you don’t, then it’s false. No matter what sutra it is, if you study and recite the sutra but don’t actually cultivate according to it, then the sutra is false for you. In that case not a single sutra is true. If they are true, why can’t you practice them? If you don’t cultivate, then no matter how well you lecture on the sutras, it’s of no use. If you cultivate, then even if you don’t know how to lecture, you’ll still gain some benefit.

They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from the adornments of all the magnificent Buddhalands. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from all sublime fragrances. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from all adornments —the adornments of Buddhalands as well as those of the lands of beings.

When I said earlier that all sutras are false, someone disagreed. “All the sutras are true,” he insisted. If they are true but you can’t apply them, of what use are they? If they are false but you can use them, then they become true. If they are true but no one uses them, they become false. Consider the analogy of food. If you eat it, it can cure your hunger. If you don’t, then the food is food and you are you—the food doesn’t do you any good. Therefore, once you understand the principles, you have to diligently cultivate. Don’t be casual. Don’t say, “I know.” What do you know? You have nothing to say.  

Sutra:

They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from the transformations of all Buddhas. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from the flowers of myriad beautiful trees. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from all kinds of vajra. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from mani jewels that expounded boundless Bodhisattva practices. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from lamps of pearl.  

Effulgent clouds such as those, as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds, completely filled the air and did not disperse. Having displayed those clouds, the Bodhisattvas bowed to the Buddha and offered them to him. Then, in the upper direction, each Bodhisattva created a lion’s throne from a profusion of lotuses, which issued the sounds and light of the Buddhas, and seated himself upon that throne in full lotus posture.  

In this way, in seas of worlds as numerous as the dustmotes in a billion Buddhalands, there were Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas as numerous as the dustmotes in a billion Buddhalands, each surrounded by a gathering of Bodhisattvas as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds.  

Commentary:

They further displayed ten …Actually it wasn’t just ten, but limitlessly many, as numberless as the grains of sand in the Ganges. Generally speaking, ten are mentioned to represent infinitely many layers of effulgent clouds made from the transformations of all Buddhas. These effulgent clouds were magically created by the Buddhas. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from the flowers of myriad beautiful trees. There were many varieties of bodhi trees, trees of mani jewels, and chandana trees. All of these wonderful trees were adorned with flowers and fruits. Since they were blossoming trees, they also bore fruit. 

They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from all kinds of vajra. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from mani jewels that expounded boundless Bodhisattva practices. The practices cultivated by all Bodhisattvas are aimed at benefitting, enlightening, and liberating themselves as well as others. Bodhisattvas cultivate the Six Perfections and myriad practices. The perfections are used to benefit, teach, and enlighten beings, and to lead them to make the resolve for bodhi. Bodhisattvas cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, aiming to take all beings to Buddhahood before they themselves become Buddhas. They further displayed ten effulgent clouds made from lamps of pearl. Lamps represent the esteemed quality of wisdom.  

Effulgent clouds such as those, as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds, completely filled the air and did not disperse. From the point of view of an ordinary person, you might say, “If one cloud fills all of space, how could the other clouds fill space as well?” Each and every cloud pervaded space without obstructing the others. They certainly didn’t interfere with or destroy one another. They all remained intact. Ordinary people find this state hard to understand.

Let’s not talk about so many kinds of effulgent clouds. Let’s just consider light. Lights can blend together and shine upon one another. For example, the electric lamps in this Buddha hall each illuminate the entire hall, yet there is no conflict among them. The lamps don’t fight and say, “Keep your light away from me. Don’t shine over here, and I won’t shine over there.” The lights all shine together. One light doesn’t obliterate another one. They enhance their brightness with each others’ light. These effulgent clouds are the same way. They all pervade the Dharma Realm, and yet remain distinct from one another.

Having displayed those clouds, the Bodhisattvas bowed respectfully to the Buddha and offered them to him. Then, in the upper direction, above the Flower Treasury sea of worlds, each Bodhisattva created a lion’s throne from a profusion of lotuses, which issued the sounds and light of the Buddhas, and seated himself upon that throne in full lotus posture and cultivated his own samadhi. 

In this way, in seas of worlds as numerous as the dustmotes in a billion Buddhalands as described above, there were Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas as numerous as the dustmotes in a billion Buddhalands, each surrounded by a gathering of Bodhisattvas as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds. If you asked me how many Bodhisattvas there were, I wouldn’t know. They all came to the great Dharma assembly where Shakyamuni Buddha was expounding the Great Flower Adornment Sutra after his enlightenment under the bodhi tree.

Sutra:

Each of those Bodhisattvas displayed clouds of offerings of all kinds of adornments, as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds, which completely filled the air and did not disperse. Having displayed those clouds, they bowed to the Buddha and offered them to him. Then, in the direction from which he had come, each Bodhisattva created a lion’s throne adorned with all kinds of jewels, and seated himself upon that throne in full lotus posture.  

Commentary:

This passage describes the state of the Flower Adornment, in which Bodhisattvas manifest various lights, and each light manifests infinite numbers of Bodhisattvas. These limitless Bodhisattvas then universally enter into innumerable motes of dust. Each mote of dust in turn displays an infinite number of vast Buddhalands. In each land, a Buddha is speaking Dharma and Bodhisattvas make offerings to the Buddha and assist him in propagating the Dharma and benefiting beings. That’s the essential meaning of this passage of text.  

Each of those great Bodhisattvas displayed clouds of offerings of all kinds of supremely fine adornments, as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds, which completely filled the air and did not disperse. Having displayed those various clouds of offerings, they reverently bowedto the Buddha and offered them to him. Then, in the direction from which he had come, in whichever of the ten directions they came from, each Bodhisattva created a lion’s throne adorned with all kinds of jewels, and seated himself upon that throne in full lotus posture. Full lotus is the best posture for meditation.

III. Those summoned gather like clouds
B. Manifesting the functions of their self-mastery

Sutra:

Having seated themselves, all of the Bodhisattvas, from each and every pore on their bodies, displayed lights of various colors from all jewels, as numerous as the dustmotes in ten seas of worlds. Within each light appeared Bodhisattvas as numerous as the dustmotes in ten seas of worlds, all seated upon lion thrones made from a profusion of lotuses.  

All of those Bodhisattvas were able to pervasively enter into all the dustmotes in the oceans of arrangements of Dharma realms. Each dustmote contained vast lands as numerous as the dustmotes in ten Buddha worlds. In each land there dwelt the Buddhas, World Honored Ones, of the three periods of time. Those Bodhisattvas were all able to draw near to these Buddhas and make offerings to them.  

Commentary:

Having seated themselves in full lotus, all of the Bodhisattvas displayed their spiritual powers. From each and every pore on their bodies, they displayed lights of various colors from all jewels, as numerous as the dustmotes in ten seas of worlds. Innumerable jewels emitted multi-colored rays of light. Within each light appeared Bodhisattvas as numerous as the dustmotes in ten seas of worlds, all seated upon lion thrones made from a profusion of lotuses.  

All of those Bodhisattvas mentioned earlier were great Bodhisattvas with inconceivable spiritual powers and transformations. Their wisdom is even more inconceivable. And so they were able to pervasively enter into all the dustmotes in the oceans of all arrangements—referring to how the Dharma realms were created and formed—of Dharma realms. Each dustmote contained vast Buddhalands as numerous as the dustmotes in ten Buddha worlds of infinite proportions. In each land there dwelt the Buddhas, World Honored Ones, of the three periods of time. In each Buddhaland, the Buddhas of the past, present, and future were speaking Dharma and turning the great Dharma wheel. Although there were innumerably many Buddhalands, those great Bodhisattvas were all able to create as many division bodies to draw near to these Buddhas and make offerings to them.  

Sutra:

In every thought, by using the method of manifesting freely in dreams, they enlightened beings as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds. In every thought, by using the method of manifesting the death and birth of all gods, they enlightened beings as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds.  

Commentary:

What are Bodhisattvas? They are enlightened beings who enlighten other sentient beings. Having themselves become enlightened, they teach other beings to become enlightened based upon the principle of their own enlightenment.  

In every thought, in thought after thought without interruption, by using the method of manifesting freely and spontaneously in dreams, theyenlightened beings as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds. What is meant by “manifesting spontaneously in dreams”? Some beings will not believe the Dharma you speak for them. Wishing to teach those beings, Bodhisattvas appear in their dreams and use all kinds of expedient methods to speak Dharma for them. Beings may be very stubborn and skeptical when they are awake, but often they will believe the Dharma when they hear it in their dream. And so Bodhisattvas use dreams to teach beings.

Our entire life is itself a dream. There is a verse that says:

Life is but a dream;
Death, a dream as well.
Dreaming, we enjoy wealth and glory;
Upon awakening, we’re back in poverty.
Every day we dream on, unaware that
The dream passes in less time than a simple meal.
If we don’t wake up from this one,
We’ve dreamt it all in vain.

We don’t know how we got here, and we don’t know how we will leave. That’s why we say life is just a dream. In the dream, we may strike it rich, become a high official, and enjoy wealth and honor. Our life may be really fine, and we become attached to the dream. We can’t renounce our family, our country, or ourselves. But when we wake up from the dream, we’re still our old selves, with nothing at all. There’s nothing much to say. Yet we keep on dreaming and never wake up.

If you tell people that life is just a dream, they won’t believe you. Since they haven’t woken up, they don’t realize that they are dreaming. In their dream, they might make a fortune, become a government official, or even become an emperor and get to enjoy all the concubines, nobility, wealth, and power of that position. Suppose you say to them, “You think you’re a powerful emperor, but it’s not for real. You’re just having a dream.” They will say, “I don’t believe you. This is all real. How can you say it’s a dream?” When they wake up, without having to be told they will know, “Oh, I had such a good dream last night. I dreamed I was an emperor. But it was only a dream.”

Life is also like a dream. Before a person is enlightened, if you tell him that life is just like a dream, he won’t believe it. But after he becomes enlightened, he will realize, “Ah, everything that happened in the past was just like a dream. There’s nothing worth clinging to or hankering after.” Bodhisattvas use all sorts of expedient means to teach beings; sometimes they appear in beings’ dreams. They manifest freely in dreams to teach beings who are not free, to help beings as countless as dustmotes in a sea of worlds to understand the truth and become enlightened.

In every thought, by using the method of manifesting the death and birth of all gods, they enlightened beings as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds. In their every thought, Bodhisattvas never calculate on their own behalf, thinking, “I will teach beings only if I can obtain such and such benefits from doing so.” They are public-spirited and unselfish, fair and unbiased. They will even forsake their own lives in order to teach beings. In every thought—in the thoughts of the past, present, and future—there is not a single thought in which they are not teaching beings. They “manifest” the death and birth of all gods, which means it’s not for real; it’s a creation of the spiritual powers of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. They show how gods are born in the heavens, and how they pass away from the heavens.

How can one be born in the heavens? One must perform the ten good deeds. And how do they pass away? Their death is preceded by the Five Signs of Decay.

The Five Signs of Decay

1. Their floral crowns wilt. The gods wear crowns made of beautiful flowers on their heads, and they look very magnificent. But when the Five Signs of Decay occur, the flowers wilt.

2. Their clothes become dirty. Unlike human beings, who have to do laundry at least once every two weeks or so, the gods’ clothes remain clean all the time. But when the Five Signs of Decay occur, their clothes start to get dirty.

3. Their armpits start to sweat. The gods never perspire no matter how hot it is; instead, they emit fragrance. But when the Five Signs of Decay occur, their armpits start to sweat.

4. Their bodies start to stink. The gods’ bodies always give off a fragrance. When the Five Signs of Decay occur, not only are their bodies not fragrant, they start to smell.

5. They cannot sit still. The gods are in a constant state of concentration. They always meditate and cultivate dhyana-samadhi. But when the Five Signs of Decay occur, they become restless and cannot sit still. They stand up, then sit down, then stand up again, never at ease. They are just like frolicking monkeys that pick up one thing and then drop it and pick up something else.

When the Five Signs of Decay appear, with a single thought of ignorance, they fall from the heavens. When they were born in the heavens, they enjoyed comfort and ease. When they die, if their wholesome karma ripens, they may become asuras or human beings. If their evil karma ripens, it’s not certain whether they will fall into the hells, become hungry ghosts, or turn into animals.

The Bodhisattvas show beings how the gods are born into the heavens and how they die, so that when they see these states, they will wake up and realize, “Oh, the heavens are also characterized by suffering, emptiness, and impermanence, and have no independent existence. We don’t want to be reborn in the heavens. Let’s study the Buddhadharma and seek rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss instead.” Those Bodhisattvas manifest this Dharma and enlighten beings as numerous as dustmotes in countless worlds, leading them to make the resolve for bodhi and to seek the unsurpassed Way, so that they will eventually attain bodhi.

Sutra:

In every thought, by using the method of expounding the practices of Bodhisattvas, they enlightened beings as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds.  

In every thought, by using the method of universally quaking all lands in order to praise the meritorious virtues and spiritual transformations of the Buddhas, they enlightened beings as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds.  

Commentary:  

In every thought, by using the method of expounding the practices of all Bodhisattvas, they enlightened beings as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds. When Bodhisattvas practice the Bodhisattva Path, in every thought they expound the practices cultivated by Bodhisattvas. What are these practices?

1. Giving. They constantly give and are not stingy. They don’t say, “I won’t give you my money, but you should give me yours.” Rather, they give away all their inner and outer wealth. They give away what other people cannot give away and do what others cannot do, practicing the dharma door of giving.

2. Holding precepts. Bodhisattvas refrain from all evil and practice all good deeds. If they have faults, they change them. If they have no faults, they strive to be ever more vigorous.

3. Patience. This isn’t something you just talk about. You really have to practice it. For example, if you’re cultivating patience, then you feel happy when people scold you, and you don’t get angry when they hit you. Even when someone wants to kill you, you patiently allow yourself to be killed. This is what Bodhisattvas cultivate.

4. Vigor. Bodhisattvas should be vigorous at all times, and never retreat.

5. Dhyana concentration. Bodhisattvas should at all times concentrate their minds and watch over their thoughts, so as not to let them get scattered.

6. Prajna. Bodhisattvas always cultivate prajna-paramita, the perfection of wisdom. Once they have cultivated the first five perfections, they will have wisdom and be able to advance with vigor.

Bodhisattvas cultivate the above Six Perfections, and they also cultivate many, many other practices, which would take a long time to describe in full. They cannot be spoken in a sentence. They cultivate these practices in order to enlighten beings as numerous as dustmotes in a sea of worlds.

In every thought, including this thought, the last thought, and the next thought, by using the method of universally quaking all seas of lands in order to praise the meritorious virtues and spiritual transformations of the Buddhas, they enlightened beings as numerous as the dustmotes in a sea of worlds. Although they made all the seas of lands quake, there was no danger. The Bodhisattvas did this as a way of praising the Buddhas’ merit and virtue, spiritual powers, and transformations.

previous   next   Contents

Chapter 2 pages:   1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10    11    12    13    14

return to top