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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.  

Every land and country
Is born through karma’s power.
All of you should contemplate
The characteristics of its evolution.  

Defiled and turbid beings
Are fettered b y fearsome karma and delusion.
By their thoughts , the oceans of lands
Are completely polluted.

Commentary:

Then Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, to reiterate the meanings stated in the prose, received the Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power and his own wisdom power, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke verses.  

Every land and country of the Buddhas is born through karma’s power. All of you disciples of the Buddha should contemplate / The characteristics of its kalpic evolution.  

Defiled and turbid beings, their minds filled with greed, anger, delusion, pride, and doubt, are fettered by fearsome karma and delusion. They become deluded, create karma, and then receive the retribution. Their retribution is to be caught inextricably in their karma and delusion, frightened and unable to escape. By their thoughts, which produc e delusion and create karma , the oceans of lands / Are completely polluted. The air, the environment, the world, and people’s thoughts are all polluted. Worlds and kalpas are polluted by the defiling dharmas of becoming deluded, creating karma, and undergoing the retribution.

Sutra:

If pure-minded beings
Cultivate deeds of blessings and virtue,
Their thoughts cause the seas of lands
To be partly pure and partly polluted. 

Bodhisattvas of faith and understanding
Born in the midst of those kalpas.
Perceive defilement or purity
Depending on their thoughts.  

When numberless beings
Make the resolve for bodhi,
Their thoughts make the oceans of lands
Abide in eons of constant purity.  

Limitless kotis of Bodhisattvas
Roam the ten directions.
Their adornments, though not different,
Are perceived differently through the kalpas

Each and every mote of dust
Contains Buddhalands in number like motes of dust.
Bodhisattvas gather like clouds,
And all countries become pure.  

Commentary:

If pure-minded beings / Cultivate the bodhi path and deeds of blessings and virtue…All practices of benefiting others are considered cultivation of blessings and virtue. People who cultivate the Way should help themselves internally and help others externally. Internally, they cultivate wisdom to purify the mind. Externally they cultivate blessings by doing whatever benefits others. Deeds that benefit others sometimes involve defiled dharmas.  

Their thoughts cause the seas of lands / To be partly pure and partly polluted. When people place emphasis on cultivating blessings, the sea of worlds is partly defiled and partly pure, not totally one or the other. If you take a close look at people who have blessings, you’ll notice they have lots of attachments to defiled dharmas. Have you noticed that rich people like to go to parties and dances? At those parties, men and women dance together--that’s a mixture of purity and defilement. If you tell people that dancing is wrong, they’ll definitely disagree. “Dancing is great! It’s lots of fun!” they say. It’s being “lots of fun” is what makes it a defiled dharma.

Rich people also like to watch TV. Ordinary people are all hooked on TV. How do I know? Because there are even some left-home people and lay people here who are confused by television. One of my disciples said, “TV is even worse than women.” TV is in first place then. So you women had better smash the TV. If there’s a TV set in the house, your husband will love the TV and forget about you. That’s how seductive it is. Guo Zong, you can send your TV to the monastery, so the monks can watch it and see all the bizarre things of the world. Or you can send it to your parents. They’re old and have enough experience, so it’s nothing special to them. If young people watch it, they get hooked. Even little Guo Fang would rather watch TV than eat candy. This is just defiled dharma.

Sometimes, the TV flashes brightly --when the screen goes blank and there is nothing but light--and that’s pure dharma. But sometimes ghosts and demons, such as models who wear next to nothing, appear on the screen. That’s why cultivators cannot watch TV. “But there’s a TV in your room,” someone says. Yes, but that’s because I confiscated it from downstairs. It’s facing the wall, so only the wall can watch it. I confiscated it because I saw a lot of people turning it on and watching it downstairs, getting caught by its lure. From now on, if you like to watch TV, I’m going to confiscate your TV. This applies to lay people as well as left-home people. The TV’s will be confiscated because they are so addicting.

Before you have ended birth and death, you may not watch television. If you do, it’s easy to break the precepts. The novice precepts include one that says you can’t play music, sing, dance, or deliberately watch or listen to such performances. There was no television in those days, so the precepts don’t specifically mention it. But watching or listening to such performances also refers to watching such shows on TV. Most of the entertainment on TV is defiling, not pure. We must hold the Buddha’s precepts and not be deluded by these worldly things. This is very important.  

“Then their thoughts cause the seas of lands / To be partly pure and partly polluted.” If even the seas of lands can be defiled, how much the more can other things! We should recognize this clearly and not be confused by material things--things with shape and appearance. “I can watch these things without getting defiled by them,” you might say. “My state is such that: ‘The eyes see forms, but inside there is nothing; the ears hear sounds, but the mind does not know.’ I can look at things without seeing them.” Then wouldn’t it be better not to look at them in the first place? All of you should pay attention to this.

Bodhisattvas of faith and understanding / Born in the midst of those kalpas / Perceive defilement or purity / Depending on their thoughts. When one’s thoughts are pure or defiled, one accordingly sees the world as pure or defiled. When numberless beings / Make the resolve for bodhi, / Their thoughts make the oceans of lands / Abide in eons of constant purity . When they bring forth the bodhi resolve—an enlightened mind—they can change defilement into purity, confusion into enlightenment. They can turn kalpas of the five turbidities into kalpas of purity. 

Limitless kotis of Bodhisattvas / Roam to bodhimandas in the ten directions. / Their adornments , though not different, all the same, are perceived differently through the kalpas. Since beings have different karma, they perceive things differently. Each and every mote of dust / Contains Buddhalands in number like motes of dust. / Bodhisattvas gather like clouds, / And all countries become pure. They become purified.

Sutra:

When the World Honored Ones enter n irvana,
The adornments disappear from their lands.
When beings lack a vessel for Dharma,
The world becomes a mass of pollution.  

If a Buddha appears in the world,
Everything becomes splendid and fine,
As beings’ thoughts are purified,
All adornments come to be.  

The Buddhas’ spiritual powers
Manifest inconceivable states.
At that time the oceans of lands
Become totally pure and clean.

Commentary:

During the time when a Buddha appears in the world, the beings all have blessings. When the World Honored Ones enter nirvana, / The adornments disappear from their lands. One way to explain this is that the lands are no longer adorned. Another is that the adornments become still and quiescent. They don’t cease to exist, but they can’t be seen. When the Buddha enters nirvana, the adornments enter a state of quiescence. From the point of view of beings, they are destroyed. But from the perspective of the Buddhas, the adornments are neither destroyed nor undestroyed. When beings fail to cultivate the Way, they lack a vessel for Dharma. Those who cultivate and attain the Way are called vessels of the Dharma. They can carry the Dharma. People who develop their skill, who cultivate ascetic practices, who do not crave money, and who get rid of their greed, anger, and delusion are Dharma vessels.

For example, there are two monks from Gold Mountain Monastery who have undertaken a pilgrimage starting in San Francisco. They bow once every three steps. Their bowing has inspired police officers to act as their Dharma-protectors. Other people have also joined them in bowing. One person joined midway on the pilgrimage, and after he got back he asked my permission. Why did he ask only after he returned? There’s a Bhikshuni who also wanted to follow the monks, but I told her, “That would really make the headlines: two monks bowing in front, followed by a nun!” The most important thing is that the two monks don’t take money. It’s inconceivable.

At the beginning of the trip, I asked them how much they needed. They calculated for a time as long as the sands of the Ganges River, and then said, “Three hundred and fifty’s enough.” I said, “Fine, you can take that much.” So they took $350, but later they sent it back. They didn’t want any of it, not even $3.50. “What are you going to do?” I asked. They said, “We’ll manage. We won’t starve.” And indeed, without my $350, they didn’t starve. Then I said, “If you don’t want my $350 because you want to be filial to your teacher, that makes me happy. But how about taking $350 from the temple funds?” They didn’t want that either. They thought my money stank, and the temple’s money didn’t smell good either.

Even though this is a small matter, the fact that they’re able to suffer and not depend on their teacher or the temple shows that they have guts. They aren’t wishy-washy. They are clear about the causes and effects involved. Now they have fulfilled their vow of making the pilgrimage, and as a result they have grown in wisdom and become serious about cultivation. [To a disciple: How many days have you not eaten?” They haven’t eaten for eleven days now. “Are you going to give up after eleven days?” [ The d isciple says no.] Fine, you can fight to the end. If you can stick it out for eighteen or twenty-one days, you can continue to cultivate this Dharma. If you can only do it for six or seven days, in the future you may not use this Dharma of mine without my permission. Since you didn’t finish the fast the first time, I don’t believe you can do it on the second time either. With this Dharma, if you’re off by a hairsbreadth in the beginning, you’ll miss by a thousand miles in the end. If you miss by the slightest bit, you won’t make it. It’s this way with every Dharma.

So whether you are Big Ju or Little Yo [Bhikshus Heng Ju and Heng Yo], if you don’t cultivate this dharma to perfection, in the future you’ll have to obtain my permission before you can practice it again. If you do it without my permission and you get into trouble or have an accident, I cannot be responsible. I f you ask for my permission, then I will contemplate the causes and conditions to see if you can do it. If you can, you can be a vessel of the Dharma. Otherwise, you’ll be a non-Dharma vessel. To be a vessel of the Dharma is to cultivate according to the Dharma and to carry on the work of the Thus Come One.  

Since there are no vessels of Dharma among beings, the world becomes a mass of pollution, a defiled world. If a Buddha appears in the world, / E verything becomes extremely splendid and fine. / As beings’ thoughts are purified, / All adornments come to be. When beings’ minds are pure, all adornments can appear. 

The Buddhas’ spiritual powers / Manifests inconceivable states . / At that time the oceans of lands / Become totally cleanand pure.

II.E.2.j. The ways in which the seas of worlds are undifferentiated

Sutra:

At that time, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha, you should know that the ways in which the seas of worlds are undifferentiated are as numerous as motes of dust in the seas of worlds.  

“Specifically, within each and every sea of worlds, there are worlds as numerous as dust motes in the seas of worlds, and they are undifferentiated. Within each and every sea of worlds, the awesome power of all Buddhas’ appearances is undifferentiated. Within each and every sea of worlds, all the bodhimandas that pervade the dharma realms of the ten directions are undifferentiated. Within each and every sea of worlds, the assemblies of all Thus Come Ones’ bodhimandas are undifferentiated. Within each and every sea of worlds, the light of all Buddhas that pervades the Dharma Realm is undifferentiated. Within each and every sea of worlds, all Buddhas’ transformations and titles are undifferentiated. 

Commentary:

At that time Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, the Buddha’s eldest disciple, told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha, you should know that the ways in which the seas of worlds are undifferentiated are as numerous as motes of dust in the seas of worlds. There isn’t much differentiation among the seas of worlds. They’re all the same.  

“Specifically, within each and every sea of worlds, there are worlds as numerous as dust motes in the seas of worlds, and they are undifferentiated. They are all the same. They all have beings--creatures that fly in the air, swim in water, and walk or crawl on land; as well as plants and vegetation.

All the worlds as many as motes of dust in the seas of worlds are undifferentiated in their natures, yet the ir appearances differ. Just as all people have the human nature, which is undifferentiated, each person’s appearance is unique. The appearances of the worlds are also undifferentiated to some extent. They are all generally the same, with minor distinctions.

Within each and every sea of worlds, the awesome power of all Buddhas’ appearances is undifferentiated. When Buddhas appear in worlds, their awesome spiritual power is always the same. Since the Way of all Buddhas is the same, their awesome power is undifferentiated. Within each and every sea of worlds, all the Buddhas’ bodhimandas that pervade the dharma realms of the ten directions are undifferentiated in their natures. Within each and every sea of worlds, the assemblies of all Thus Come Ones’ bodhimandas are undifferentiated, sharing the same nature. Within each and every sea of worlds, the light of all Buddhas that pervades the Dharma Realm to the ends of space is undifferentiated in nature. Within each and every sea of worlds, all Buddhas’ spiritual penetrations and transformations and titles are undifferentiated . All Buddhas started out with ten thousand titles. Later they were reduced to one thousand, then to one hundred, and finally to ten titles. All the Buddhas have these ten titles. 

Sutra:

“Within each and every sea of worlds, the voices of all Buddhas, which pervade the seas of worlds for boundless eons, are undifferentiated . Within each and every sea of worlds, the expedients of the Dharma w heel are undifferentiated. Within each and every sea of worlds, the ability for all seas of worlds to enter a single dust mote is undifferentiated. Within each and every sea of worlds, the manifestation in every single mote of dust of the vast realm of all Buddhas, World Honored Ones, of the three periods of time is undifferentiated.  

“Disciples of the Buddha, this is a general explanation of the ways in which the seas of worlds are undifferentiated. If one were to extensively speak about them, the ways in which they are undifferentiated are as numerous as motes of dust in the seas of worlds.”  

Commentary:

Within each and every sea of worlds how many seas of worlds are there? Probably just one. “Is that really the case?” you may ask. If you have wisdom, then don’t ask me. If you lack the wisdom to know, then I don’t know either. Within each sea of worlds, one hears the voices of all Buddhas, which pervade the seas of worlds. All Buddhas’ voices are also just a single Buddha’s voice, because all Buddhas are many single Buddhas collected together. So you can say it’s just one Buddha. That’s because the state of the Flower Adornment Sutra is such that it makes sense to speak of many, and it also makes sense to speak of few, and it makes even more sense not to speak at all. “If not speaking makes more sense, then why are you speaking?” you ask. You can pretend that I’ m not.

“Dharma Master, when you speak Dharma you just speak sophistries.” If I spoke the real Dharma, who would listen? “I would,” you say. If you still have an “I,” then you don’t know how to listen. If you knew how to listen, you wouldn’t have an “I.”

If you understand this principle, then whether I lecture correctly or not, there’s no problem. If you don’t understand, then even if I lecture correctly, you think it’s incorrect. If you understand, then even if I don’t explain perfectly, you will get it. “Yes, that’s the way it is,” you will conclude.

All Buddhas’ voices are just one Buddha’s voice. If it weren’t that way, how could the voices pervade the seas of worlds? Every world has the Buddha ’s voice. Although the voice is the same, it belongs to all Buddhas. All Buddhas have the same voice. That one voice is all Buddhas’ voices. These voices, which universally pervade seas of worlds for boundless eons, are undifferentiated. They are fundamentally undifferentiated in their nature.  

Within each and every sea of worlds, the expedients of the Dharma w heel are undifferentiated. In every sea of worlds, the great Dharma w heel is turned using expedient skill-in-means. Since they are provisional and clever methods, they are not actual Dharma. But they can’t be defined as “false” either. They work because they are expedients, and because they work, people believe in them. Most people accept expedients first, before they come to believe in the actual Dharma.

If you want to cause people to enter the Buddha’s wisdom,
First bait the hook with something they like.

If you want people to obtain the Buddha’s wisdom, you first have to benefit them . For example, if you want a child to bow, you can give him some candy. When the child bows, he’s not bowing to the person, but to the candy. If you give people something they like and they get a taste of the sweetness, then they’ll want to study the Buddhadharma.

Within each and every sea of worlds, the ability f or all seas of worlds to appear to enter a single dust mote is undifferentiated. All appearances are just a single appearance; a single appearance is just no appearances; and no appearances are a state of nondifferentiation. Within each and every sea of worlds, the manifestation in every single mote of dust of the vast realm of all Buddhas, World Honored Ones , of the three periods of time is undifferentiated. The state of all Buddhas appears in every mote of dust, yet there is no differentiation in the nature. 

“Disciples of the Buddha, this is a general explanation of the ways in which the seas of worlds are undifferentiated. If one were to extensively speak about them in detail, the ways in which they are undifferentiated are as numerous as motes of dust in the seas of worlds.”

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