THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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A Commentary by the Venerable Master
Hsuan Hua

The Ten Grounds

Chapter Twenty-Six

Commentary:  

The Flower Adornment Sutra has 81 rolls and 39 chapters, of which this is Chapter 26, the Ten Grounds. Why are these ten called “grounds?” All things that exist are born from the ground, grow because of the ground, come to maturity by means of the ground, and obtain liberation due the ground.

Within the ground are found a variety of treasuries like gold mines, diamond mines, silver mines, copper, iron, and various other kinds of mines which people excavate. The Ten Grounds contain the mines of Buddhas, the mines of Bodhisattavas, the mines of Hearers and those Enlightened to Conditions, the mines of gods and people, and the mines of animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings. In all the Ten Dharma Realms there are mines. If we knew how to excavate them, then we could obtain a variety of treasures.

The Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds contain all Dharma doors; there is an interconnection between them. If we want to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, it will come about through cultivation of the Grounds. If we want to develop the Bodhisattva Path, we will do it through development of the Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds. If we want to bring cultivation of the Bodhisattva path to maturity, we will do it through maturation of the Ten Grounds. If we want to obtain liberation by means of the Bodhisattva Path, we even more must rely on the Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds in our cultivation in order to gain that liberation.

The Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds make up the 26 chapter in the Flower Adornment Sutra, and this is part one of the chapter.

Sutra:  

At that time, the World-honored One was in the royal palace in the heaven of the comfort from others’ transformations, in the hall of treasuries of mani jewels, together with a gathering of great Bodhisattvas. All these Bodhisattvas, who were irreversible from anuttarasamyaksambohi, had assembled from the worlds of the other directions. They dwelt in the states of wisdom in which all Bodhisattvas dwell, had entered the place of wisdom which all Thus Come One enter, and diligently practiced without rest. They were well able to manifest all kinds of spiritual penetrations, and all that they did to teach, transform, tame, and subdue living beings was done at the right time. In order to accomplish all Bodhisattvas’ great vows, in all worlds, in all kalpas, in all lands, they diligently cultivated all practices, without slacking even momentarily They were replete with a Bodhisattva’s blessing and wisdom, the aids to the way, by which they universally benefited living beings without shirking. They had arrived at the ultimate shore of a Bodhisattva’s wisdom and expedients.  

Commentary:

After Vajra Banner Bodhisattva had finished speaking the Ten transferences Chapter, and before he’d begun to explain the Ten Grounds Chapter, at that time, the World-honeored One, Sahkyamuni Buddha, was in the royal palace in the Heaven of the Comfort from Others’ Transformations. In this heaven, others’ bliss is easily transformed into one’s own. The Buddha was in the hall of treasuries of mini jewels, together with a gathering of great Bodhisattvas, a limitless number of them, who were Bodhisattvas of long-standing, with the Way-Virtue, wisdom, and cultivation requisite for them to be irreversible form anuttarasamyaksambodhi. These Bodhisattvas did not retreat from the Unsurpassed, Right and Equal, Proper Enlightenment in either thought, conduct, or position. They had attained these Three Kinds of Irreversibility.

The Unsurpassed, Right and Equal, Proper Enlightenment is the culmination of Three Levels of Enlightenment. Those of the Two Vehicles—the Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions—obtain Proper Enlightenment. They are enlightened themselves, but they have not obtained Right an Equal Enlightenment, and so they cannot enlighten others. The Bodhisattvas’ enlightenment is described as Right and Equal because they enlighten themselves, enlighten others, and cultivate Dharma-doors equal to the Buddhas’ Dharma doors. “Surpassed Lords” is the title given to Bodhisattvas because the Buddhas are above them. Their enlightenment is not unsurpassed.

Each level of enlightenment is delineated. People cannot be something just because they claim to be. They must be recognized as such by others for it to count. The Buddhas can enlighten themselves and others and have perfected their enlightenment and practice. So they attain Unsurpassed, Right and Equal, Proper Enlightenment, that is, Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. The great Bodhisattvas spoken of here, although they are not yet totally unsurpassed, still are irreversible, and in the future they are certain to become Buddhas.

They had all assembled from the worlds of the other directions. Not all of those great Bodhisattvas come from the Saha world; they came from worlds as many as fine motes of dust. They dwelt in the states of wisdom in which all Bodhisattvas dwell. They had entered in the place of wisdom which all Bodhisattvas dwell. They had entered the place of wisdom which all Thus Come Ones enter. Not only did they have the wisdom of Bodhisattvas, they also had the wisdom of a Buddha, though not quite so profound. And they diligently practiced without rest. They were courageously vigorous and diligently cultivated the Bodhisattva Path without resting.

They were well able to manifest all kinds of spiritual penetrations. They all had various kinds of wisdom and manifested all kinds of spiritual penetrations, and all that they did to teach, transform, tame, and subdue living beings was done at the right time. The vocation of a Bodhisattva is to teach and transform living beings, tame and subdue living beings, and cause all living beings quickly to accomplish Buddhahood, all at the right time. Sometimes if one speaks inappropriately, and teaches living beings before their roots have ripened or the time is right by blasting Dharma at them, they cannot receive it. They get scared, have doubts, and they never want to listen to the Buddhadharma again. Bodhisattvas teach and transform living beings at the most appropriate moment. It is just like planting seeds: if planted at the wrong time, they will not come up, and the planting will have been done in vain. If one plants the seeds at the exact time they should be planted, they will grow. Right at the time the seeds of Bodhi should be planted, Bodhisattvas break open the mind-ground of living beings, teach them to bring forth the thought for Bodhi, and plant the seeds which gradually grow, ripen, and yield a harvest of liberation. That is the meaning of “at the right time.”

In order to accomplish all Bodhisattvas’ great vows, in all worlds, in all kalpas, in all lands, within the kshetra lands of all Buddhas, they diligently cultivated all practices. They were heroically vigorous and diligently cultivated all the doors of conduct that all Bodhisattvas cultivate, without slacking even momentarily. Not even for an instant were they lazy, but they were ever vigorous.

They were replete with a Bodhisattva’s blessing and wisdom, the aids to the way, by which they universally benefitted living beings without shirking. They not only cultivated for themselves, but for all living beings as well. They never stopped, never got tired, and were never lazy. They would never say, “I’ve had it! I’m going to guit cultivating the Bodhisattva Way and stop benefitting living beings.” They weren’t like that. They always wanted to benefit living beings. They had arrived at the ultimate shore of a Bodhisattvas’s wisdom and expedients. They had reached the ultimate shore of wisdom and skill-in-means of all Bodhisattvas—the highest position –and had obtained the purity of Nirvana that consists in permanence, bliss, true self, and purity.

Sutra:

They manifested entry into birth and death as identical with Nirvana, yet they did not renounce the cultivation of Bodhisattva practices. They were skilled at entering all Bodhisattvas’ dhyanas, liberations, samadhis, samapattis, spiritual penetrations, and clear knowledges. In all they did they obtained comfort. They acquired all Bodhisattvas’ comfortable spiritual powers, and in an instant, without movement or exertion, they could go to the assemblies of all Thus Come Ones’ Bodhimandas, act as leaders of the assembly, and request the Buddha to speak Dharma.

They protected and upheld the Buddhas’ proper dharma wheel. They used a vast, great mind to make offerings to and serve all Buddhas. They always diligently practiced the deeds which all Bodhisattvas practice. Their Bodies universally appeared in all worlds. Their voices reached throughout the Dharma Realms of the ten directions. Their minds’ wisdom was unobstructed. They universally saw the merit and virtue of all Bodhisattvas of the three periods of time. They had already cultivated and obtained perfection. In ineffably many kalpas, they could not completely be described.  

Commentary:  

They manifested entry into birth and death as identical with Nirvana. Bodhisattvas who cultivate the Bodhisattvas Way have freedom over birth and death and, for them, samsara is just Nirvana, and afflictions are just Bodhis. Everything about them is a manifestation. They manifest all sorts of births and manifest various kinds of deaths. They appear as various kinds of living beings from gods, humans, and asuras, to the animals, hungry ghosts, and hell-beings, within every destiny, Bodhisattvas appear to go through birth and death. They are born in various ways and influenced those around them to bring forth the thought for Bodhi. They die in various ways in order to cause living beings to understand the pain of samsara.

Therefore, they manifest entry into birth and death as identical with Nirvana: how one is born, how one dies, and how birth and death become Nirvana. Yet they did not renounce the cultivation of Bodhisattva practices. Although Bodhisattvas manifest all those births and deaths and sufferings in order to teach and transform living beings, and then cultivate ascetic practices and enter Nirvana, still they return to continue cultivating the Bodhisattva Way among living beings. Wherever they are, they do not renounce that cultivation. They cultivate the Bodhisattva Path to help living beings and cause them to resolve themselves upon Bodhi.

They were skilled at entering all Bodhisattvas’ dhyanas, liberations, samadhis. They were good at realizing the dhyana-samadhis, the liberations, and the proper concentration and proper receptiveness that Bodhisattvas cultivate, and samapattis,

spiritual penetrations and clear knowledges.“Samapatti” is a Sanskrit word which translates as “arrival at equanimity,” which refers to the state reached when one is free of torpor and agitation. They also had attained the wonderful functioning of various kinds of spiritual penetrations: the Three Clarities and the Six Penetrations. The Three Clarities are:

The clarity of the heavenly eye.
The clarity of the heavenly ear.
The clarity concerning former lives.

Another rendering of this list is:

The clarity of the heavenly eye.
The clarity concerning former lives.
The clarity of the extinction of outflows.

The Six Penetrations are:

The penetration of the heavenly eye.
The penetration of the heavenly ear.
The penetration of others’ thoughts.
The penetration of former lives.
The penetration of the extinction of outflows.
The penetration of spiritual fulfillments.

In all they did they obtained comfort. In all of their activities, they were independent and sovereign.

They acquired all Bodhisattvas’ comfortable spiritual powers. They could manifest birth and death, Nirvana, and the cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way in all places. At all times they were at ease with the power of wonderful functioning of their spiritual penetrations, just as all Bodhisattvas are; and in an instant, without movement or exertion, they could go to the assemblies of all Thus Come Ones’ Bodhimandas.

You see the Bodhisattva as just walking along, but he can go anywhere in the ten directions within the space of a single instant, with no need to move or act. You see him eating, but his spiritual powers have already taken him in the assemblies of the Bodhimandas of all Thus Come Ones. You see the Bodhissattva as asleep, but he has already transformed Bodies and gone to other Buddhalands. You see the Bodhisattva as doing something, or as doing nothing, but he can be transforming bodies and going to limitless and boundlessly many other worlds to teach and transform living beings. He has that kind of wonderful ability.

So the Bodhisattvas at all times and in all places go to see all Buddhas of the ten directions, draw near and pay their respects, and make offerings to them. Don’t think they’re just asleep. If it’s just an ordinary person who’s asleep, of course it’s not very interesting. They may be having nightmares about wanting to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge or the Empire State Building. In the dream they may even fall from the skyscraper and die, but when they wake up, they are still in their beds. They may dream of being the 555th person to jump from the Golden Gate Bridge only to find themselves on the couch upon awakening. That is an ordinary person’s dream-state.

The state of a Bodhisattva also resembles dreaming, but the Bodhisattva goes off to rescue living beings and to teach and transform them. Wherever he sees being experiencing disaster, he manifests a body and goes to save them. Bodhisattvas also act as leaders of the assembly and request the Buddha to speak Dharma. Someone must request the Dharma or the Buddha does not speak it. Someone circumambulates three times, bows, kneels, and requests that the Buddha speak the Dharma and turn the Dharma wheel.

They protected and upheld the Buddhas’ Proper Dharma wheel. Bodhisattvas go everywhere to protect and support the assemblies of the Bodhimandas of all Buddhas, just as here where we daily turn the Proper Dharma wheel, yet no one realizes it and this country’s disciples treat it as a very ordinary event then, in fact, it is an earth-shaking, heaven-startling matter. They used a vast, great mind to make offerings to and serve all Buddhas. They always diligently practiced the deeds which all Bodhisattvas practice. Their bodies universally appeared in all worlds. Bodies of theirs went everywhere in all worlds of the ten directions.

Their voices reached throughout the Dharma Realms of the ten directions. In all the deeds the Bodhisattvas cultivated, their bodies manifested in all worlds, and the sound of their voices also manifested in the Dharma Realms of the ten directions. Their minds’ wisdom was unobstructed. Their minds and their wisdom were perfectly fused without obstruction. They universally saw the merit and virtue of all Bodhisattvas of the three periods of time. They could see all the merit and virtue of all Bodhisattvas of the past, present, and future. They had already cultivated and obtained perfection. They had cultivated to perfection the merit and virtue of all Bodhisattvas. In ineffably many kalpas they could not completely be described. In kalpas so long, one still could not portray them.

Sutra:  

Their names were: Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva, Jeweled Treasury Bodhisattva, Lotus Treasury Bodhisattva, Virtue Treasury Bodhisattva, Treasury of Lotus Virtues Bodhisattva, Sun Treasury Bodhisattva, Treasury of Surya Bodhisattva, Treasury of Undefiled Moons Bodhisattva, Treasury of Adornments Universally Manifesting in all Countries Bodhisattva. Treasury of Vairocana Wisdom Bodhisattva, Treasury of Wonderful Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Chandana Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Flower Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Kusuma Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Utpala Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Heavenly Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Blessings and Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Unobstructed Pure Wisdom’s Virtue Bodhisattva, Treasury of Merit and Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Narayana Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Non-defilement Bodhisattva, Treasury of Freedom From Filth Bodhisattva, Treasury of Versatile Eloquence Adornments Bodhisattva, Treasury of Great Bright-Light Nets Bodhisattva, Treasury of Pure, Awesome Virtues’ Light King Bodhisattva, Treasury of Gold Adornments and The Light of Great Merit and Virtues King Bodhisattva, Treasury of Adornments of All Marks’ Pure Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Vajra Blazing Virtues and Adorning Marks Bodhisattva, Treasury of Blazing Light Bodhisattva, Treasury of Light Illumination Constellation King Bodhisattva, Treasury of Empty Space and Unobstructed Wisdom Bodhisattva, Treasury of Unobstructed Wondrous Sounds Bodhisattva, Treasury of Dharani Merit and Virtues to Maintain the Vows of Living Beings Bodhisattva, Treasury of Sea Adornments Bodhisattva, Treasury of Sumeru Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Purity of Merit and Virtues Bodhisattva, The Thus Come One’s Treasury Bodhisattva, Treasury of the Buddhas’ Virtues Bodhisattva, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva and all the other numberless, limitless, boundless, incomparable, uncountable, indescribable, inconceivable, illimitable, and ineffable multitudes of Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, with Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva as their leader.  

Commentary:  

Their names were as follows. There was one Bodhisattva called Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva. Another Bodhisattvawas called Jeweled Treasury Bodhisattva.

There was another Bodhisattva called Lotus Treasury Bodhisattva. There was another Bodhisattva called Virtue Treasury Bodhisattva. There was another Bodhisattva called Treasury of Lotus Virtues Bodhisattva. Another Bodhisattva was called Sun Treasury Bodhisattva. There was another Bodhisattva called Treasury of Surya Bodhisattva, that is to say, “Store of Suns” Bodhisattva. There was another Bodhisattva called Treasury of Undefiled Moons Bodhisattva. Another Bodhisattva was called Treasury of Adornments Universally Manifesting in all Countries Bodhisattva. That Bodhisattva, a store of adornments, manifested in all worlds. There was another Bodhisattva was called Treasury of Vairocana Wisdom Bodhisattva. Another Bodhisattva was called Treasury of Wonderful Virtues Bodhisattva. There were another Bodhisattvas called Treasury of Chandana Virtues Bodhisattva,

Treasury of Flower Virtues Bodhisattva, Treasury of Kusuma Virtues Bodhisattva.

“Kusuma” means “large flowers.” Another Bodhisattva was named Treasury of Utpala Virtues Bodhisattva. “Utpala” means “Azure Flowers.” Another Bodhisattva was called Treasury of Heavenly Virtues Bodhisattva. There was another Bodhisattva named Treasury of Blessings and Virtues Bodhisattva. Another Bodhisattva was named Treasury of Unobstructed Pure Wisdom’s Virtue Bodhisattva. Another Bodhisattva went by the name of Treasury of Merit and Virtues Bodhisattva. Yet Another Bodhisattva was called Treasury of Narayana Virtues Bodhisattva. One was named Treasury of Non-defilement Bodhisattva. Another Bodhisattva was called Treasury of Freedom From Filth Bodhisattva. There was yet another Bodhisattva who was known as Treasury of Versatile Eloquence Adornments Bodhisattva. Treasury of Great Bright-Light Nets Bodhisattva was one Bodhisattva’s name, while another one Bodhisattva’s name was Treasury of Pure, Awesome Virtues’ Light King Bodhisattva.

Furthermore, there was a Bodhisattva called Treasury of Gold Adornments and the Light of Great Merit and Virtues King Bodhisattva. Present was also Treasury of Adornments of All Marks’ Pure Virtues Bodhisattva, as well as a Bodhisattvas called Treasury of Vajra Blazing Virtues and Adorning Marks Bodhisattva. Treasury of Blazing Light Bodhisattva was there, along with Treasury of Light Illumination Constellation King Bodhisattva, Treasury of Empty Space and Unobstructed Wisdom Bodhisattva, and Treasury of Unobstructed Wondrous Sounds Bodhisattva. There was, further, a Bodhisattva who had the name Treasury of Dharani Merit and Virtues to Maintain the Vows of Living Beings Bodhisattva. Treasury of Sea Adornments Bodhisattva was in the assembly, and so, too, was a Bodhisattvas called Treasury of Sumeru Virtues Bodhisattva. There was another named Treasury of Purity of Merit and Virtues Bodhisattva. Another was called The Thus Come One’s Treasury Bodhisattva. Yet, another Bodhisattvas went by the appelation Treasury of the Buddhas’ Virtues Bodhisattva. Another Bodhisattva was named Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva. ThatBodhisattva and all the other numberless, limitless, boundless, incomparable, uncountable, indescribable, inconceivable, illimitable, and ineffable multitudes of Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas.

There were so many that you could not measure them, ascertain their bounds, compare them to anything, count them up, define them, or conceptualize them if you tried. The Great Bodhisattvas were there with Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva as their leader.

Sutra:  

At that time Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva received the Buddhas’ spiritual power and entered “The Bodhisattvas’ Great Wisdom Light Samadhi.” After he entered that Samadhi, in each of the ten directions were worlds beyond the number of fine motes of dust in ten million Buddhalands, each of which contained Buddhas to the number of fine motes of dust in ten million Buddhalands, all bearing the same name, “Vajra Treasury.”

Commentary:

At that time Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva received the Buddhas’ spiritual power and entered “The Bodhisattvas’ Great Wisdom Light Samadhi.” Because he was receiving the awesome spiritual power of Shakyamuni Buddha and of all the Buddhas of the ten directions, he entered the proper concentration and proper reception that great Bodhisattvas enter. After he entered that Samadhi, then something wonderful occurred. In each of the ten directions were worlds beyond the number of fine motes of dust in ten million Buddhalands, each of which contained Buddhas to the number of fine motes of dust in ten million Buddhalands. Each of the worlds to the number of fine motes of dust in ten million Buddhalands had in it Buddhas to the number of fine motes of dust in ten million Buddhalands, all bearing the same name, “Vajra Treasury.” They were all called Vajra Treasury Buddha, Vajra Treasury Thus Come One.

Sutra:

All those Buddhas appeared before him and said, “good indeed, good indeed, Vajra Treasury, that you are able to enter this Bodhisattvas’ Great Wisdom Light Samadhi. Good man, this is due to the combined aid of Buddhas throughout the ten directions to the number of fine motes of dust in ten million Buddhalands. It is also due to the power of the basic vows and the awesome spiritual might of Vairocana, Thus Come One, Arhat, of right and equal enlightenment. And it is due to the power of your supreme wisdom. They wish to cause u to have the light to speak all inconceivable Buddhadharmas for all Bodhisattvas, that is, to bring about entry into the ground of wisdom; the gathering in of good roots; the skillful selection of Buddhadharmas.

Commentary:

All those Buddhas appeared before him, they manifested before Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva in Samadhi, and said, “good indeed, good indeed, Vajra Treasury, that you are able to enter this Bodhisattvas’ Great Wisdom Light Samadhi.” They praised him, saying, “You are really good, you are really fine, Vajra Treasury, that you can gain access into this right concentration and right reception of the great Bodhisattvas’ light of wisdom.” Good man, this is due to the combined aid of Buddhas throughout the ten directions to the number of fine motes of dust in ten millons in Buddhalands. They are all helping you enter this Samadhi,” they explained. “It is also due to the power u Arhat, of right and equal enlightenment. It is due to the Unsurpased One of Right and u vows and his awesome spiritual might aid you to enter this proper concentration. And it is due to the power of your supreme wisdom. The power of supreme wisdom that you obtained from cultivating Bodhisattva practices enables you to enter this right Samadhi.”

They wish to cause u to have the light to speak all inconceivable Buddhadharmas for all Bodhisattvas. Another reason you are able to enter this Great Wisdom Light Samadhi is because the Buddhas of the ten directions want you to have the light of wisdom to speak all the inconceivable Dharmas expressed by all Buddhas for the sake of all Bodhisattvas. That is, to bring about entry into the ground of wisdom. Then you will be able to cause all beings to enter the ground of wisdom. It is to bring about the gathering in of good roots. It is so you can collect together all the good roots of living beings amassed in cultivation that you are enabled to enter this Samadhi. It is to effect the skillful selection of Buddhadharmas. In order to make use of the Selective Dharma Eye so as to understand all Dharmas spoken by all Buddhas, you are able to enter this Great Wisdom Light Samadhi.”

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