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The Coming into Being of Worlds

Chapter Four



Sutra:

Beings are vexed and defiled by afflictions.
Their desires and aspirations are not identical.
Following their impulses, they create unthinkable karma.
Thus do the seas of lands come to exist.  

Disciples of the Buddha!
Some seas of lands are a treasury of adornment--
Immaculate, radiant, made of jewels.
Arising from vast faith and understanding,
They are thus throughout the ten directions.

Commentary:

Beings are vexed and defiled by afflictions. Beings are troubled and polluted by afflictions. If they had no afflictions, they would be the same as the Buddhas. It is when they get caught up in ignorance and afflictions that they become murky and polluted. Their desires and aspirations are not identical. Beings’ cravings are not all the same. The things they seek, the pleasures they pursue, are of myriad kinds.  

Following their impulses, they create unthinkable karma. / Thus do the seas of lands come to exist. It’s incredible! Beings do whatever they feel like doing. They follow their desire s and create all kinds of karma , which results in all kinds of retribution. Seas of lands are created in just this way. All the worlds of the ten directions, oceanic in extent, are created by the force of karma.

Universal Worthy Bodhisattva calls out, “Disciples of the Buddha! Whenever you see the characters fo zi (佛子), you should translate them as “disciples of the Buddha,” not as “sons of the Buddha.” The Buddha is someone who has transcended the world, and he only has disciples, not sons. Some seas of Buddhalands are a treasury of adornment-- / Immaculate, radiant, made of jewels. Being immaculate, they are removed from defiled dharmas and thus radiant with light. They are also adorned with and made of myriad jewels.These adornments’ a rising comes from vast faith and understanding. The jeweled adornments result from developing resolute faith and understanding at the level of planting causes. From this cause comes the result of Buddhalands being adorned by the seven precious things. They are thus throughout the ten directions. Buddhas dwell everywhere in the ten directions to the furthest reaches of space and the Dharma Realm, and all the Buddhalands in which they dwell are this way.

Sutra:

Bodhisattvas who cultivate Universal Worthy’s conduct
Roam the Dharma Realm, traveling paths as numerous as dust motes.
Within each dust mote appear limitless ksetras
As immaculate and extensive as space.  

Manifesting spiritual penetrations equal to space,
They visit all Buddhas in their bodhimandas.
Seated upon lotus daises, they display the myriad hallmarks.
The body of each one encompasses all ksetras.  

In a single thought, they manifest in all three periods of time,
As all the seas of worlds come into being.
The Buddha enter s them expediently.
Vairocana Buddha adorns and purifies them.  

Commentary:

Bodhisattvas who cultivate Universal Worthy’s conduct / Roam the Dharma Realm, traveling paths as numerous as dust motes. Bodhisattvas who can cultivate Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s practices are most excellent! Free and independent, they pervasively travel to every dust mote throughout space and the Dharma Realm. Within every tiny dust mote, they turn the Dharma wheel, teach and transform beings, and display great spiritual penetrations. 

Within each dust mote appear limitless , innumerable seas ofksetras / As immaculate and ex ten sive as space. Within each dust mote it is as pure, adorned, and as expansive as space. 

Manifesting spiritual penetrations equal to space, / They visit all Buddhas in their bodhimandas. Those who practice the conduct of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva will be able to pervasively enter all dust motes to turn the Dharma wheel. The spiritual penetrations at their command are as vast as space. They can go to all the bodhimandas within all the dust motes, and make offerings to all Buddhas who are there teaching and transforming beings. Seated upon lotus daises, they display the myriad hallmarks, / The body of each one encompasses all ksetras. Bodhisattvas seated up on the lotus dais es of their lion thrones display the Thirty-two Hall marks and Eighty Subtle Characteristics of a Buddha.  

In a single thought, they manifest in all three periods of time —past, present, and future—as all the seas of worlds come into being. This is how they come to exist. The Buddha enter s them expediently . / Vairocana Buddha adorns and purifies them. These ksetras are brought into being and adorned by the vows of Vairocana Buddha.

II.E.2.b. Conditions forming t he basis for existence of the seas of worlds

Sutra:

At that time,Universal Worthy Bodhisattva further told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha! The circumstances upon which the existence of the seas of worlds is based are as numerous as dust motes in the seas of worlds. Perhaps their existence is based upon all adornments; perhaps their existence it based upon space; perhaps their existence is based upon the light of all gems; perhaps their existence is based upon the light of all Buddhas; perhaps their existence is based upon jewel-hued rays of light; perhaps their existence is based upon all Buddhas’ voices; perhaps their existence is based upon the vajra hand of a powerful asura born from illusory karma; perhaps their existence is based upon the bodies of all world rulers; perhaps their existence is based upon the bodies of all Bodhisattvas; or perhaps their existence is based upon the different seas of adornments produced by Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s vows.  

“Disciples of the Buddha! Such are the circumstances, numerous as dust motes in the seas of worlds, upon which the existence of the seas of worlds is based.”  

At that time Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, received the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke verses.  

Commentary:

Then Universal Worthy Bodhisattva addressed the great oceanwide assembly again, saying, “Disciples of the Buddha! The circumstances upon which the existence of the seas of worlds is based are as numerous as dust motes in the seas of worlds. For example, perhaps their existence is based upon all adornments; perhaps they their existence is based upon space. These are inconceivable states. Perhaps there are worlds such that their existence is based upon the light of all gems; perhaps their existence is based upon the light of all Buddhas; perhaps their existence is based upon jeweled-hued rays of light; perhaps their existence is based upon all Buddhas’ voices proclaiming the Dharma; perhaps their existence is based upon the vajra hand of a powerful asura born from illusory karma. There may be seas of worlds that rely on illusory karma—the karma of playfully roaming with spiritual penetrations. It is just like putting on a play.  

Perhaps their existence is based upon the bodies of all world rulers , Buddhas; perhaps their existence is based upon the bodies of all Bodhisattvas. World rulers refer to Buddhas; Bodhisattvas are the Buddhas’ disciples. Or perhaps their existence is based upon the different seas of adornments produced by Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s vows.  

Disciples of the Buddha! Such are the circumstances, numerous as dust motes in the seas of worlds, upon which the existence of the seas of worlds is based.” The seas of worlds exist under as many kinds of circumstances as there are motes of dust within all those seas of worlds. 

At that time Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning spoken of in the preceding prose section, received the aid of the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha, contemplated the beings of the ten directions to see whose potentials were mature and for whom the teaching would be timely, and spoke verses.

Question: What is meant by “playfully roaming with spiritual penetrations”? Is that a kind of kungfu, or a kind of samadhi?

Answer: “Playfully roaming with spiritual penetrations” means using spiritual penetrations to go everywhere to play. In the “samadhi of playful roaming,” even though one roams and plays, one is still within samadhi. This is just not being attached. Everything one does is to teach and transform beings, without any attachment at all.

Sutra:

Throughout the ten directions of space,
All lands and countries are spread.
By the aid of the Thus Come Ones’ spiritual power,
They a ppear and become visible to all.  

Perhaps there are various lands and countries
Composed of immaculate jewels.
Made of pristine mani, wondrous and sublime,
They appear in an ocean of dazzling light.  

Commentary:

The states of the Flower Adornment Sutra are all inconceivable. All that is discussed in the prose and the verses is inconceivable. If you use cognitive thinking to try to understand them, you will never reach the true meaning. Ordinary people think, “How can it be that within a tiny dust mote, the states of all the lands of the ten directions and the three periods of time can be contained? The regions of the ten directions to the ends of empty space and the Dharma Realm are so very great, and a dust mote is so very small, and yet all these worlds are contained within the tiny particle. How can something so little contain so very many very huge things?” Ordinary people find it hard to believe, but these states are absolutely true. You might think, “Well, if that’s so, why I haven’t I seen them?” It’s because you use your ordinary flesh eyes to look at things. You haven’t opened your five eyes and haven’t obtained the six spiritual penetrations, and so you are unable to perceive these states. One must use the Buddha eye, the Dharma eye, the wisdom eye, the heavenly eye, and the flesh eye to observe the states of the Flower Adornment Sutra. They are miraculous and inconceivable.  

Throughout the ten directions of space , / All lands and countries are spread. / By the aid of the Thus Come Ones’ spiritual power, / They a ppear and become visible to all. The lands of all Buddhas completely fill space and exhaust the boundaries of the ten directions. 

Perhaps there are various lands and countries --round, cubical, or pyramidal in shape. Although they are different, they are composed of immaculate jewels. They are all devoid of defiled dharmas and unclean things. These lands are made up of precious substances. Made of pristine mani, wondrous and sublime, / They appear in an ocean of dazzling light. Pure mani is the best kind of gem--the most rare, wonderful, and beautiful. All of these lands blaze with brilliant light that is as boundless as the sea.

Sutra:

Perhaps there are ksetras of pure radiance
Situated in empty space.
Perhaps within the sea of jeweled mani,
Other land s reside in a treasury of light.  

In the sea-vast assembly, the Thus Come One
Proclaims the magical wonder of the Dharma wheel.
Vast and boundless, the states of Buddhas
Delight the hearts of sentient beings who see them.

Commentary:

Perhaps there are ksetras of pure radiance / Situated in empty space; / Perhaps within the sea of jeweled mani, / Other land s reside in a treasury of light. Some ksetras dwell in a glorious blaze of light. 

In the sea-vast assembly, the Thus Come One. In all lands, the Buddha sits in the Way-place beneath the bodhi tree, teaching and transforming as he skillfully proclaims the magical wonder of the Dharma wheel. The techniques he uses are ingenious and wonderful, exactly matching the potentials of beings. Vast and boundless, the states of Buddhas could never be spoken of in their entirety. They delight the hearts of sentient beings who see them. They experience great joy when they see the Buddha turning the Dharma wheel and proclaiming the Dharma. They believe and accept the teachings and practice accordingly.

Sutra:

There are lands ornamented with mani,
Shaped like flower- lamps, spread out everywhere.
Clouds of blazing, fragrant light
Provide a radiant, netlike cover of exquisite jewels.  

And there are lands without boundaries,
Dwelling in a vast, deep sea of lotus-blossoms,
Expansive and pure, unique in the world
Adorned with the wondrous goodness of all Buddhas.  

Some seas of lands revolve like wheels.
Established by means of the Buddhas’ awesome spirit,
They are filled with multitudes of Bodhisattvas,
Who constantly see endless expanses of jewels.  

Worlds may exist upon a vajra hand
Or perhaps in the body of a heavenly lord.
Vairocana, the unsurpassed Honored One,
Always turns the Dharma wheel in those places.  

Some worlds dwell balanced on jeweled trees;
Others, amid dazzling clouds of incense.
Some are submersed in great bodies of waters,
While others float up on a vajra ocean.

Commentary:

There are lands ornamented with mani jewels, / Shaped like flower- lamps, spread out everywhere in profusion. Clouds of blazing, fragrant light / Provide a radiant, netlike cover for these lands of subtly exquisite jewels. And there are Buddhalands without boundaries, / Dwelling in a vast, deep sea of lotus-blossoms. They are expansive, vast, and pure, unique in the world. They differ from ordinary worlds in their purity and brightness. They are adorned with the spiritual penetrations and wondrous goodness of all Buddhas--the adornment of their good roots.

There are also some seas of lands that revolve like wheels. These revolving wheel-like worlds are established by means of the Buddhas’ awesome spirit so that although they revolve, they remain peaceful. They arefilled with uncountable multitudes of Bodhisattvas, / Who constantly see endless expanses of jewels, inexpressibly many of them. Worlds may exist upon an asura’svajra hand / Or perhaps in the body of a heavenly lord. / Vairocana, the unsurpassed World Honored One, / Always turns the great Dharmawheel in those places to teach and transform beings. Some worlds dwell balanced on huge, jeweled trees, / Others, amid dazzling clouds of incense . / Some are submersed in great bodies of water, / While others float up on a vajra ocean.

Are there any questions? [ Question inaudible ]

Answer: Rahula was the Buddha’s son, but one that the Buddha had before he left the home-life. In the Flower Adornment Sutra, the phrase “zhu fo zi” should be translated simply as “disciples of the Buddha.” There’s no need to translate it as “true disciples,” “inner disciples,” or “outer disciples.”

Sutra:

Some are located upon a vajra banner,
While others dwell amid an ocean of flowers.
Such vast, all-pervasive spiritual transformations,
Are manifested solely by Vairocana Buddha.  

Worlds may be long or short; there is limitless variety.
Like turning wheels, their appearances are not the same.
Rare in the world, t his wondrous treasury of adornments
Is perceived through pure cultivation alone.  

Commentary:

Venerable Master: Who will volunteer to help me explain these eight lines of verse today? The character xiu ( 修 ) here means “long,” not “cultivation.” You should be able to tell from the context, because the line also has the word “short.”  

[Editor’s note: The next two paragraphs are lectured by disciples.]

Some worlds are located upon a vajra banner.Vajra is an indestructible substance. While others dwell amid an ocean of flowers. / Such vast , all-pervasive spiritual transformations, / Are manifested solely by Vairocana Buddha. There is no place that these spiritual transformations do not reach. This wonderful substance is manifested through the miraculous power of Vairocana Buddha. He is the speaking host of the Flower Adornment Sutra; his name means “Bright Light Pervading Everywhere.” He is able to manifest these states.  

Worlds may be long or short; there is limitless variety. These worlds are not of just one shape or form. They may be dwarfed or elongated, wide or narrow, any shape at all. L ike turning wheels, their appearances are not the same. They all have their own distinctive characteristics and features, which are cyclical and always changing. Rare in the world, this wondrous treasury of adornments is different from ordinary, worldly adornments. It is perceived through pure cultivation a lone. It is only through pure cultivation of wholesome dharmas and through discipline that one can perceive the adornments of these worlds.

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