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The Coming into Being of Worlds

Chapter Four



Sutra:

Then Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, received the Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke verses.

A single dust mote holds many seas of ksetras,
Each splendid, pure, and distinctly placed.
Thus the measureless enter the one,
Yet the separate entities do not mix.  

In each and every dust mote, inconceivable Buddhas
Manifest everywhere according to beings’ thoughts.
Their presence pervades all seas of ksetras:
Such expedient means are undifferentiated.  

In each and every mote of dust are Kings of Trees,
Draped with myriad adornments.
The lands of the ten directions simultaneously appear,
Yet there is no differentiation among them.  

Commentary:

Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, the Buddha’s eldest disciple, sits astride his six-tusked white elephant and rides it wherever he goes. He enjoys doing that. Then Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning in simpler terms that are easier to understand, received the Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power, contemplated the causes and conditions of all beings in the ten directions, and spoke verses.  

The principle cannot be explained clearly. If it could, there would be nothing left to explain. You can only explain half of it, or a small part of it. The principles of the world are such that to explain a single principle, you can bring up tens of thousands of principles. The thing is that we don’t have that much time. Our life spans aren’t that long. So in lecturing the sutras and speaking Dharma, we just express our own views and leave it at that. If you insist on judging who speaks well and who doesn’t, what are your criteria?

Even though the Second Patriarch, Dharma Master Shenguang, spoke so eloquently that flowers fell from the heavens and golden lotuses spr a ng from the earth, he still hadn’t ended birth and death. He had to kneel before Patriarch Bodhidharma for nine years before he understood the supreme Dharma. Lecturing on s utras and speaking Dharma is just something that monastics do when they have no other work to do. Since monks and nuns don’t farm, weave cloth, or do business, they speak a little Dharma to earn their two daily meals. Here we take just one meal a day. That’s all it amounts to. Why take it so seriously? Why be so attached? When you die, nothing is left.

If a person doesn’t want to die,
He should live with detachment, as if dead.

When I’m still alive, I just act as if I were dead. I have to think that I ’m just dreaming. Whether I lecture the s utras or not, it’s all just a dream. While dreaming, I lecture on the sutra of not dreaming. Pretty good, huh?

I believe that all of you good advisors already understand the principles being lectured. But I still want to lecture, because there may be some who don’t understand. Maybe all the people understand, but there are ghosts who don’t understand. “Ghosts are pretty intelligent,” you say. “They understand it even before you explain it.” There are dumb ghosts too. Intelligent ghosts might understand, but the dumb ones don’t. Even if they do , there are other beings, such as the gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division and Dharma-protecting spirits who want to hear more. That’s why, even if all the people understand, I will still go ahead and lecture.

A single mote of dust holds many seas of ksetras. A mote of dust represents the smallest world, but it encompasses limitless worlds. One world can contain infinite worlds, and infinite worlds can also contain that one world. Within a mote of dust, there is a great world. The Shurangama Sutra says, “On a single hair-tip, one manifests the lands of jeweled kings. Sitting in a mote of dust, one turns the great Dharma wheel.” How many motes of dust are there in this Buddha Hall? The Dharma wheel is being turned in every single one of them. Someone thinks, “That’s just what you say, but it’s all false and intangible.” What isn’t false and intangible? “A person isn’t,” you say. When the person dies, what is left of him? He turns into emptiness.

And yet it is the case that our nature is not empty. Actually our nature and its appearance are nondual. The nature is just the appearance, and the appearance is just the nature. One and many are nondual. One dust mote is just limitless dust motes, and limitless dust motes come from a single dust mote. Many seas of ksetras start out being a single sea of ksetras. One and many are unobstructed. One and many mutually encompass each other.  

Each ksetra is splendid, pure, and distinctly placed. Worlds may be located in different places, such as Southern Jambudvipa, or Western Aparagodaniya, or Northern Uttarakuru, or Eastern Pervavideha, but they are all adorned and pure. Thus, with the gathering in of the one and many; and the nonobstruction of the one and many, of nature and appearance, of specifics and principle, of principle and specifics, and of specifics and specifics, the measureless enter the one, / Yet the separate entities do not mix. Is it the case that they become mixed up and indistinct? No, each mote of dust and each world retains its own separate identity. There isn’t the slightest bit of disorder.

In each and every dust mote, limitless and inconceivable Buddhas / Manifest everywhere before the beings of the ten directions according to beings’ thoughts. / Their presence pervades and fills up all seas of Buddha-ksetras: / Such expedient means are undifferentiated. Sometimes I make mistakes when I lecture. There’s no way to give a totally correct lecture. If you think things are wrong, then everything seems wrong to you. If you think things are right, then you see that side of things. Okay?

In each and every mote of dust are bodhi trees, the Kings of Trees, / Draped with myriad adornments, not just one kind. Bodhi trees are adorned with the seven precious things. That’s why they are described as having various kinds of adornments hanging down from them. The lands of the ten directions simultaneously appear within a single mote of dust. Each mote of dust contains not only bodhi trees, but all the lands of the ten directions. Yet there is no differentiation among them, among all these lands.

Sutra:

In every dust mote are multitudes in dust motes
Surrounding the Lord of Humans.
He transcends everything and pervade s all worlds
Without cramming or disarray.  

In each and every dust mote, infinite light
Pervades the lands of the ten directions.
It reveal s the Buddhas’ practices for bodhi ,
Undifferentiated throughout all seas of lands.  

In each and every dust mote are infinite bodies
With cloudlike transformations pervading everywhere,
Using the Buddhas’ spiritual penetrations to guide beings.
It is no different in the lands of the ten directions.  

Myriad dharmas are pronounced in every mote of dust.
Such dharmas are pure, like revolving wheels.
Various free and easy expedient methods
Are expressed without differentiation.  

In a single mote of dust all Buddhas’ sounds are proclaimed,
Filling up beings, who are vessels for the Dharma.
Pervading oceans of lands for countless eons
Such sounds are also undifferentiated.  

Commentary:

In every dust mote are multitudes in dust motes. Everyone should look into this. One mote of dust contains many other dust motes from within the limitless Buddhalands of the ten directions. So within one mote of dust are multitudes of dust motes.

The multitudes of motes of dust represent beings. A single dust mote contains beings as numerous as dust motes. These beings are surrounding the Lord of Humans. They surround the Buddha, as if extremely hungry or thirsty, waiting to drink Dharma water and eat Dharma food. The majority of these beings are greedily thinking, “I’ll eat some more,” and the remaining minority are the “influential assembly.”

The Lord of Humans refers to the Buddha speaking Dharma in every mote of dust. He transcends everything and pervade s all worlds. You may think a mote of dust is tiny, y et it contains all the worlds and pervades the worlds of the ten directions.  

This happens without cramming or disarray. Even though it’s very small inside a mote of dust, there’s no crowding. You don’t bump into me, and I don’t bump into you, so there’s no conflict. It’s very comfortable. Everyone has a place to sit. There’s definitely enough room. And it’s all in order. Every world and every being retains its own identity. It’s not that everything gets squashed and all the beings get flattened and squeezed to death in that mote of dust.

“But when the worlds of the ten directions are squeezed into a single dust mote, won’t the beings in those worlds all die?”

No, it won’t happen. The Buddhadharma is just that inconceivable. Why is this talked about? It’s to make people confront the inconceivable, to break our attachments. You see that all those worlds can fit in a single mote of dust. Well, you can do that, too, if you have spiritual penetrations. You can also be like this:

On the tip of a hair, you manifest the lands of jeweled kings;
Sitting in a mote of dust, you turn the great Dharma wheel.  

The text has spoken of many ways in which worlds are undifferentiated. The next four-line verse talks about undifferentiated light. In each and every dust mote, infinite, immeasurable light, / Pervades the lands of the ten directions. / It reveal s the Buddhas’ practices for bodhi. The light completely reveals the methods of practice that all Buddhas cultivated in the past. This kind of light is undifferentiated throughout all seas of lands, all worlds. 

In each and every dust mote are infinite bodies of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Hearers, and Sages Enlightened by Conditions, as well as innumerable bodies of gods, people, and other beings with cloudlike transformationspervading everywhere, filling the skies, using the Buddhas’ spiritual penetrations to guide beings. / It is no different in the lands of the ten directions. It is like this everywhere. 

Myriad dharmas are pronounced in every mote of dust. The true appearance of all dharmas is proclaimed in every mote of dust. Such dharma s are pure, like revolving wheels. The dharmas that are spoken are pure, and so are the Dharma wheels that are turned. The pure Dharma wheel expresses pure Dharma, and pure Dharma is spoken to turn the pure Dharma wheel. At that point, everything accords with one’s wish es . Various free and easy expedient Dharma methods / Are expressed without differentiation. There is no differentiation among the Dharmas spoken. 

In a single mote of dust all Buddhas’ sounds are proclaimed, / Filling up beings, who are vessels for the Dharma. These Dharma sounds fill the hearts of all beings who are vessels for the Dharma. Pervading oceans of lands for countless eons, / Such sounds are also undifferentiated. The proclamation of the Buddhas’ sounds is also undifferentiated.  

Sutra:

The infinite, wondrous adornments of oceans of lands
Enter into every single mote of dust.
Such spiritual powers of the Buddhas
A rise from the nature of karma.  

In every dust mote, the Buddhas of the three periods of time
Manifest all the sights that delight beings.
Neither arriving nor departing in essence,
They pervade all worlds by the power of their vows.  

Commentary:

There are many repeated words in the sutra text, and the meaning is pretty much the same. But on the other hand, if you investigate it more deeply, you’ll find that every instance has its unique connotation. The next line says: The infinite, wondrous adornments of oceans of lands. The word “measureless” modifies “wondrous adornments”, not “oceans of lands.” There are inexhaustibly many wondrous adornments, and they enter into every single mote of dust. They appear in every dust mote, but they remain distinctly clear; there is no confusion. Why is this? It is due to such vast, inconceivable spiritual powers of the Buddhas /Arise from the nature of karma. In addition to the Buddhas’ spiritual penetrations, it is produced from the nature of beings’ karma.  

In every mote of dust, the Buddhas of the three periods of time turn the Dharma wheel to teach and transform beings. They manifest all the sights that delight beings. / Neither arriving nor departing in essence, / They pervade and manifest in all worlds by the power of their vast vows.

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