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The Coming into Being of Worlds

Chapter Four



Sutra:

All these distinct and various lands
Exist by virtue of a sea of vows.
Some lands are constantly suspended in space,
With Buddhas filling them like clouds.  

Some hang upside-down in space,
Sometimes present, sometimes gone.
Perhaps there are lands of utmost purity
Lodged in the jeweled crown of a Bodhisattva.  

The great spiritual powers of the Buddhas of the ten directions
Are everywhere seen throughout these lands,
And their voices are everywhere heard.
The power of karma produces such phenomena.  

Commentary:

All these distinct and various lands and the seas of worlds, all having their particular circumstances, exist by virtue of a sea of vows made by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the past. Some lands are constantly suspended in space, / With Buddha s filling up all the space in them like clouds.  

Some worlds hang suspended upside-down in empty space, / Sometimes present, sometimes gone. Sometimes they’re there and sometimes they’re not; there’s nothing fixed about it. There are no fixed dharmas. Perhaps there are lands of utmost purity / Lodged in the jeweled crown of a Bodhisattva.  

The greatspiritual powers of the Buddhas of the ten directions / Are everywhere seen throughout these lands. All Buddhas throughout the ten directions are able to manifest these spiritual powers with their miraculous functioning, enabling all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and beings in these lands to see one another. 

Their voices proclaiming the subtle Dharma are everywhere heard, pervading those lands. The power of beings’ karma and the merit and virtue of all Buddhas produces such phenomena.

Sutra:

Some lands pervade the Dharma Realm,
Arising from the mind in unsullied purity.
Vast beyond bounds, like shadows or illusions,
They are each unique, like the interstices of Indra’s net.  

Displaying myriad adornments,
Some lands are established in space.
These inconceivable states of karma
By the Buddhas’ power are visible to all.  

Commentary:

Perhaps some lands pervadethe entire Dharma Realm, / Arising from the mind in unsullied purity. Some lands are clear and pure, free from all defilement. They arise from the minds of all Buddhas, and also from the minds of all beings. If beings’ minds are pure and undefiled, then the lands they live in will also be pure. These lands are vast beyond bounds, like shadows or illusions, like a reflection or a magical illusion. They are each unique, like the interstices of Indra’s net. Lord Sh akra’s net has interstices that are each distinct and unique.  

Displaying myriad adornments of Dharma, some lands are established in space. They exist in space. These inconceivable states of karma / By the Buddhas’ power are visible to all. The karma of beings is inconceivable, and the states brought about by their karma are also inconceivable. All of these states manifested by the power of the Buddhas are clearly seen by all beings.

Sutra:

Each mote of dust in every land
In thought after thought displays all Buddhalands,
Infinite as the number of beings.
So, too, Universal Worthy’s deeds are always thus.  

Commentary:

Each mote of dust in every land reveals Buddhas turning the Dharma wheel, teaching and transforming beings. Further, each dust mote in thought after thought displays all Buddhalands.You should realize that these lands appear by virtue of spiritual penetrations. The sizes and shapes of the lands are not fixed. They can appear big or small, square or round; they are all created by the Bodhisattvas’ spiritual penetrations. The Buddhalands that are revealed are infinite as the number of beings. There are as many lands as there are beings. The number of beings cannot be known, and so the number of lands is also unknown. So, too, Universal Worthy’s deeds are always thus. All deeds done by the power of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s vows are this way, too.

Sutra:

Wishing to bring sentient beings to maturity,
Buddhas cultivate for oceans of eons.
Vast spiritual transformations everywhere arise,
Pervading the entire Dharma Realm.  

In the lands of the Dharma Realm, in each dust mote,
There exist great seas of ksetras.
The Buddhas’ clouds evenly cover those lands,
Extending throughout all regions.

Commentary:

All Buddhas are wishing to bring sentient beings to maturity, to help them become Buddhas, and to cause those without good roots to plant good roots. They cause beings who have already planted good roots to develop them. When beings have good roots that are already well-grown, they cause their good roots to mature. When beings have good roots that have already matured, they lead those beings to liberation. For the sake of teaching and transforming beings, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cultivate for oceans of eons. They have been cultivating from limitless kalpas in the past up to the present time, through great kalpas as boundless as the sea.  

Vast spiritual transformations everywhere arise, / Pervading the entire Dharma Realm. After cultivating such a long time, they develop spiritual penetrations and transformations, all of which flourish and abound, pervading and filling up all places.  

In the lands of the Dharma Realm, in each dust mote…This line is very similar to one that came before, which said, “Each mote of dust in every land.” Since you already understand that line, does it need to be lectured again? Once a disciple was lecturing, and whether he himself truly understood it or not, he said, “I don’t need to lecture this; you all already understand it, so what would be the point of lecturing it?” Well, I don’t understand that kind of “wonderful Dharma”!

There are Buddhalands everywhere to the utmost reaches of space and to the ends of the Dharma Realm. All Buddhalands exist within the minds of beings, and the minds of all beings exist within a single mote of dust. That single mote of dust also contains everything throughout space and the Dharma Realm. How can a single mote of dust, as small as it is, contain the entire Dharma Realm? Not only can it contain the Dharma Realm, it can contain all dharma realms! In order to comprehend this kind of state, you must open the Five Eyes, and then you will know it is true and not false. Those who have not opened their Five Eyes find this unbelievable when they hear it. They say there is no such principle, because they can only think in terms of the empirical knowledge they gain through their five senses.

But everything that is discussed in the Flower Adornment Sutra is a realm beyond ordinary principle. Why? Because it is inconceivable. If it cannot even be conceived, how could it be said to have principle? If it were to express principle, why would it be impossible to conceive ? What is inconceivable has no principle: within this lack of principle is contained ultimate, true principle. And so this line, “ In the lands of the Dharma Realm, in e ach dust mote, / There exist great seas of ksetras ” is an example of such a principle of no-principle. There exist great seas of ksetras refers to all the Buddhalands of the ten directions to the ends of space and the Dharma Realm, which can all dwell within a tiny speck of dust.

All the Buddhas’ clouds of light evenly cover those lands and all beings, extending throughout all regions. Every single dust mote is completely filled with the Buddha’s clouds of light.

Sutra:

The effortless functioning in a single mote of dust
Likewise occurs in every mote of dust.
Vairocana Buddha can fully display
The Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ great spiritual powers.  

All of these ksetras, vast and extensive,
Resemble shadows, illusions, and flames.
One sees not where they arise in the ten directions,
As they are without origin or destination.  

The cycle of decay and extinction, formation and dwelling,
Occurs in the void without the slightest pause.
All lands arise from vows of purity,
Sustained by karma’s tremendous force.  

Commentary:

Universal Worthy Bodhisattva continues speaking in verse: The effortless functioning in a single mote of dust / Likewise occurs in every mote of dust. Within a single mote of dust there is a kind of wonderful functioning that manifests with effortless mastery. This single dust mote can contain the entire universe of a billion worlds, and every dust mote has this wonderful functioning--each can contain all the billion worlds. VairocanaBuddha can fully display / The Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ inconceivable great spiritual powers. By means of these effortless spiritual deeds, he can manifest all kinds of inconceivable states. 

All of these Buddha-ksetras, vast and extensive, shouldn’t be thought of as true and actual. These lands resemble shadows, illusions, and flames. They are only illusory manifestations, not real ity . One sees not where they arise in the ten directions, / As they are without origin or destination. Since they are not produced, they come from nowhere and don’t go anywhere. Although this state doesn’t come from anywhere, it exists nonetheless.

There is a cycle of decay and extinction, formation and dwelling. All worlds have a certain life span. The time of “extinction” is when they have disappeared. “Decay” is the period of their disintegration. Their stable existence is called the period of “dwelling,” and the period of “formation” is when they come into being. Formation , dwelling, decay, and extinction each take their turn in recurring cycles; they follow one after another in a sequence that occurs in the void without the slightest pause. This procession never ceases; it goes on without end: formation, dwelling, decay, extinction.

All lands arise from vows of purity. All of these phenomena result from the pure vows of Vairocana Buddha and are sustained by karma’s tremendous force, which bring s about the cycle of formation, dwelling, decay, and extinction.

II.E.2.c. The forms and appearances of the seas of worlds

Sutra:

At that time, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva further told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha! The seas of worlds all have many different appearances and characteristics. They may be round or square, or neither round nor square. There are limitless variations. They may be shaped like a whirlpool, like the soaring flames of a volcano, like trees or flowers, like a palace or a being, or perhaps like a Buddha. Such variations are as numerous as the motes of dust in a sea of worlds.”  

Then Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate these principles, received the awesome spiritual power of the Buddhas, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke verses.  

Commentary:

At that time,Universal Worthy Bodhisattva further told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha! The seas of worlds all have many different appearances and characteristics. Just as each person has his particular facial features, each of these lands is distinguished by individual variations. In general, they can be divided into ten variations. They may be round or square, or neither round nor square—they may be triangular, or some other shape. In short, there are limitless variations. They may be shaped like whirlpools, like swirling eddies of water, which are relatively flat, or like the soaring flames of a volcano, which are pointed. Or perhaps they are shaped like different varieties of trees or flowers, or like a palace or a being. There may be lands shaped like a human being, or a horse, or any other kind of being. Or perhaps they are shaped like a Buddha in the various poses of walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. Some lands may illustrate one of the Thirty-two Hallmarks or Eighty Subtle Characteristics of the Buddha. Such variations are as numerous as the motes of dust in a sea of worlds.” 

Then Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate these principles and elaborate upon them, received the awesome spiritualpower of the Buddhas, contemplated the appearances of the worldsthroughout the ten directions, and spoke verses.  

Sutra:

A ll of you should contemplate
The variations in the seas of lands:
Their myriad adornments and environments,
Their distinct, beautiful forms in the ten directions.  

They may be round or square,
Triangular or octagonal,
Or shaped like lotuses or wheels of mani.
Karma produces these distinct forms.  

Commentary:

In this country where Buddhism is new, it is very difficult to establish the teaching. First of all, who wants to suffer? Many, if not most, people prefer to take things slow and easy. That tendency is akin to laziness. People who are in the habit of taking it easy and who shy away from work tend to prefer leisure and b e engulfed in inertia. I have been in this country for some years with all of you. If everyone would bring forth their bodhi resolve in the same way that the monks who have gone on bowing pilgrimages have done, they would soon realize their work in the Way.

Before these monks began bowing, they didn’t make much of an impression on people when they spoke Dharma. Now when they speak, what they say has a great deal of principle within it. Even when their talks are short, if you listen carefully, you will find a lot of principle to them. Through genuine practice, one gives rise to samadhi, and from samadhi one obtains the power of wisdom. Wisdom comes from personal experience.

Although a point could be expressed by anyone, when it is spoken by someone who has truly practiced, it carries much more weight and power to move people. If all of my monastic and lay disciples are sincere and willing to suffer for the sake of the Buddhadharma, then Buddhism will blossom, quickly bear fruit, and shine in this country. While cultivat ion is not a quest for the strange and exotic, we should not slight spiritual penetrations or the esoteric and wonderful. If your practice is true and genuine to the utmost degree, then no matter wh at dharma door you cultivate, you will naturally receive a response. This is very important. Mere talk is useless; you have to actually practice.

All of you should contemplate. All of you Bodhisattvas should contemplate and investigate the variations in the seas of lands: / Their myriad adornments and environments. There are so many Buddhalands, and no two are alike! They all have different appearances, adornments, and environments. Perhaps one is situated in space, while others are located on earth, in the water, or in flowers or trees. These environments are manifold and diverse. Observe their distinct, beautiful forms in the ten directions. Their shapes are not the same, but they all provide beneficial qualities for beings. These lands are able to benefit beings.

If you wish to see the Dharma body of the Buddha, then contemplate the mountains, rivers, and the great earth; they are all the Dharma body of the Thus Come One. This is where the body of the Thus Come One exists, not any other place. Every mote of dust contains a billion world-systems. How inconceivably wonderful this principle is! Ordinary people can not understand this state.

They --these lands--may be round or square, / Triangular or octagonal. In general, the shapes of these worlds are not at all the same as our world. Or there may be some worlds that are shaped like jeweled lotuses or like jeweled wheels of mani. / Karma produces these distinct forms. The reason that there are all these peculiar shapes and forms is that these worlds are created from the power of sentient beings’ karma. The wholesome karma cultivated by the Buddhas and the mixed karma created by beings together produce these worlds with their varied appearances. 

Sutra:

Perhaps their adornments are blazing and pure,
Interlaced with pure gold of the finest quality.
Doors large and small are thrown wide open.

All these result from the vast karma of unmixed intention.  

The boundless sea of ksetras, with myriad differentiations,
Resembles a bank of clouds drifting in space.
Jeweled wheels cover their ground in wondrous adornment
Under the dazzling light of the Buddhas’ radiance.  

Commentary:

Perhaps there are lands where their adornments are blazing and pure, such as lands shaped like whirlpools or blazing mountains. There may be worlds interlaced with pure gold of the finest quality, / Doors large and small doors are thrown wide open, like an open-air pavilion where the air is very fresh. All these result from the vast karma of unmixed intention. These worlds are created from the karma of beings. Some are made from pure and wholesome karma, while others are made from a mixture of good and evil karma.

The boundless sea of ksetras, with myriad differentiations of which no two are alike, resembles a bank of clouds drifting in space. They are like clouds in the sky, all shaped differently. Jeweled wheels cover their ground in wondrous adornment, beautiful to behold, under the dazzling light of all the Buddhas’ eternal radiance of wisdom.

Sutra:

Mere discriminations of the mind,
All lands appear in shining light.
Manifesting within the seas of ksetras,
Each and every Buddha displays his spiritual powers.  

Some lands are defiled, others pure.
The joy and misery of each being
Differs because of the inconceivable sea of karma.
The cyclic flow of dharmas is eternally thus.  

A single pore contains inconceivable lands
As numerous as motes of dust, in diverse environments.
Each land has an All-Shining Honored One
Proclaiming wondrous Dharma for the assembled multitudes.  

Commentary:

All lands are mere discriminations of the mind, only products of the discriminating consciousness. If there were no one making discriminations, all lands would become emptiness. All lands appear in shining light. / Manifesting within the seas of ksetras, / Each and every Buddha displays his spiritual powers. Within all the different countries that are discriminated by the minds of beings, Buddhas manifest different kinds of spiritual penetrations. 

Some lands are defiled , like the Saha World which is made of the five turbidities , and others are pure, like the Eastern Pure Vaidurya World, which has adornments of purity, and the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, whose inhabitants experience no suffering but only b liss, because the three evil paths do not exist there. And so it says: The joy and misery of each being / Differs because of the inconceivable sea of karma. In the Saha World, which is filled with myriad evils, beings undergo all kinds of suffering. Worlds are dissimilar; they are products of the Buddhas’ wholesome deeds as well as beings’ good and bad karma, all of which is inconceivable. The cyclic flow of dharmas, this recurrent cycle, is eternally thus. The flowing and turning of worlds never stops. 

A single pore contains inconceivable lands / As numerous as motes of dust, in diverse environments. In each pore there are more Buddhalands than can be enumerated or thought about. Each has a Buddha, an All-Shining Honored One / Proclaiming wondrous Dharma for the assembled multitudes which resemble a great sea.

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