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Introduction:  Importance of the Sutra   *   Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma

Chapter 5

Ananda put his palms together, bowed, and said to the Buddha, “Having heard the Buddha’s unbounded, greatly compassionate, pure, everlasting, true and actual expression of dharma, I still have not understood the sequence for releasing the knots such that when the six are untied, the one is gone also. I only hope you will be compassionate, and once again take pity on this assembly and on those of the future, by bestowing the sounds of Dharma on us and wash and rinse away our heavy defilements.” 5:1

Then, upon the lion’s throne, the Thus Come One straightened his “Nirvana robes,” arranged his samghati, took hold of the table made of the seven gems, reached out onto the table with his hand and picked up a flowered cloth given him by the Suyama God. 5:2

Then, as the assembly watched, he tied it into a knot and showed it to Ananda, asking, “What is this called?” 5:3

Ananda and the great assembly answered together, “It’s called a knot.” 5:3

Then the Thus Come One tied another knot in the cloth of layered flowers and asked Ananda again, “What is this called?” 5:3

Ananda and the great assembly once again answered together, “It, too, is called a knot.” 5:3

He continued in this pattern until he had tied six knots in the cloth of layered flowers. As he made each knot, he held it up to Ananda and asked, “What is this called?” 5:3

And each time Ananda and the great assembly answered the Buddha in the same way:”.It is called a knot.” 5:3

The Buddha said to Ananda, “When I first tied the cloth, you called it a knot. Since the cloth of layered flowers is basically a single strip, how can you call the second and third ties knots as well?” 5:4

Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, this cloth of woven layered flowers is just one piece, but as I consider it, when the Thus Come One makes one tie, it is called a knot. If he were to make a hundred ties, they would be called a hundred knots, how much the more so with this cloth, which has exactly six knots, not seven or five. Why does the Thus Come One allow me to call only the first tie a knot and not the second or third ties?” 5:4

The Buddha told Ananda, “You know that this precious cloth of flowers is basically one strip, but when I made six ties in it, you said it had six knots. As you carefully consider this, you will see that the substance of the cloth is the same; it is the knots that make the difference. 5:5

”What do you think? The first knot I tied was called number one. Continuing until I come to the sixth knot, and as I now tie it, is it also number one?” 5:6

”No, World Honored One. If there are six knots, the sixth knot can never be called number one. In all my lives of learning, with all my understanding, how could I now confuse the names of six knots?” 5:6

The Buddha said, “So it is. The six knots are not the same. Consider their origin. They are created from the one cloth. To confuse their order will not do. 5:7

”Your six sense organs are also like this. In the midst or ultimate sameness, conclusive differences arise.” 5:7

The Buddha said to Ananda, “You certainly dislike these six knots and would like there to be just one cloth. But how can that be done?” 5:8

Ananda said, “As long as these knots remain, there will be grounds for argument about what is and what is not. Their very existence will lead to such distinctions as this knot not being that knot and that knot not being this one. But if on this day, the Thus Come One unties them all, so that no knots remain, then there will be no ‘this’ and no ‘that.’ There will not even be something called ‘one.’ How much the less can there be six?” 5:8

The Buddha said, ”’When the six are untied, the one is gone’ is the same meaning. 5:8

”Because from beginningless time your mind and nature have been made wild and rebellious, you have produced false knowledge and views. This falseness continues to arise without respite, and the wearisomeness of these views brings about objective ‘dust.’ 5:9

”It is just like strange flowers appearing when your eyes grow weary of staring. They arise at random without any cause within the tranquil, essential brightness. 5:11

”Everything in the world - the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth, as well as birth, death, and Nirvana - is all just a strange weariness: the upside-down appearance of flowers.” 5:11

Ananda said, “This weariness is the same as the knots. How do we untie them?” 5:12

The Thus Come One took hold of the knotted cloth and pulled on its left end and asked Ananda, “Is this the way to untie it?” 5:12

”No, World Honored One.” 5:12

Then with his hand he pulled on the right end and again asked Ananda, “Is this the way to untie it?” 5:12

”No, World Honored One.” 5:12

The Buddha said to Ananda, “Now I have pulled it to the left and right with my hand and still have not been able to undo them. What method do you propose for untying them?” 5:13

Ananda said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, you must untie the knots from their center. Then they will come undone.” 5:13

The Buddha said to Ananda, “So it is, so it is, if you want to get them undone, you have to untie them from the center. 5:14

”Ananda, the Buddhadharma I explain arises from causes and conditions. But that is not to grasp at the mixing and uniting of coarse appearances in the world. The Thus Come One understands all worldly and world-transcending dharmas and knows their fundamental causes and what conditions bring them into being. 5:14

”This is so to the extent that I know how many drops of rain fall in as many worlds away from here as there are dust motes in the Ganges. The same is true for all the things you can see: why the pine is straight, why the brambles are twisted, why the goose is white, why the crow is black - I understand the reasons. 5:15

”Therefore, Ananda, you can select whichever one of the six sense-organs you wish. If the knots of the sense-organs are removed, then the defiling appearances disappear of themselves. All falseness ceases to be. If that is not the true, what do you expect in addition to it? 5:15

”Ananda, I now ask you, can the six knots in the cloth of layered flowers be untied simultaneously and released all at once?” 5:17

”No, World Honored One. The knots were originally made one at a time, now they must be untied one at a time. The substance of the six knots is the same, but they were not made simultaneously, and so now when it is time to release them, how can they be untied simultaneously?” 5:17

The Buddha said, “Releasing the six sense-organs is the same way. When the sense-organ begins to be released, one realizes the emptiness of people first. When the nature of that emptiness is fully understood, then one is released from dharmas. Once one is freed from dharmas, neither kind of emptiness will arise. 5:17

”This is called the Patience with Non-Production attained by the Bodhisattvas by means of samadhi.” 5:18

Upon receiving the Buddha’s instruction, Ananda and the great assembly gained wisdom and awareness that was perfectly penetrating and free of doubt and delusion. 5:19

All at the same time, they placed their palms together, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and he said to the Buddha, “Today our bodies and minds are illumined, and we are happily free from obstruction. 5:19

”We have understood the meaning of the ending of the six and the one. Still, we have not yet gone through to fundamental, perfect penetration. 5:20

”World Honored One, we who have floated and floundered our way through aeon after aeon, homeless and orphaned, had no idea, we never imagined that we could meet with the Buddha in such a close relationship. We are like lost infants who have suddenly found their compassionate mother. 5:20

”Because of this, we accomplished the way in this assembly. Yet, the secret words which we received are the same as our basic enlightenment, and so it is the same as if we hadn’t even heard them. 5:21

”We only wish the greatly compassionate one will bestow upon us the profound secret as the Thus Come One’s final instruction.” After saying this he prostrated himself, withdrew, and held himself ready for the secret opportunity as he awaited the Buddha’s hidden transmission. 5:21

Then the World Honored One told all those in the assembly who were great Bodhisattvas and great Arhats, their outflows extinguished – “All of you Bodhisattvas and Arhats who are born from within my dharma and have attained the stage beyond learning, I now ask you: When you first brought forth your resolve and became enlightened to the eighteen realms, which one of these brought perfect penetration? Through which expedient did you enter samadhi?. 5:22

Kaundinya, with the others of the five Bhikshus, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “When I was in the Deer Park and the Pheasant Garden, I observed the Thus Come One immediately after his accomplishment of the Way. Upon hearing the Buddha’s voice, I understood the Four Truths. 5:24

”The Buddha asks us Bhikshus to speak. I was the first to understand, and the Thus Come One certified me and named me Ajnata. His wonderful sound was both secret and all-pervasive. It was through sound that I became an Arhat. 5:26

”The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, sound is the superior means.” 5:27

Upanishad arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I also saw the Buddha when he first accomplished the way. I learned to contemplate the appearance of impurity until I grew to loathe it and came to understand that the nature of all form is unclean. Bare bones and subtle dust all return to emptiness, and so both emptiness and form are done away with. With this realization, I accomplished the Path Beyond Learning. 5:27

”The Thus Come One certified me and named me Upanishad. The object of form came to an end, and wonderful form was both secret and all-pervasive. Thus, it was through the appearance of form that I became an Arhat. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, form is the superior means.” 5:29

The Pure Youth, Adorned with Fragrance, arose from his seat, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “I heard the Thus Come One teach me to contemplate attentively all conditioned appearances. 5:30

”After I heard the Buddha’s instruction, I sat in repose in the quiet of a pure dwelling. When I saw the bhikshus light sinking incense, the fragrant scent quietly entered my nostrils. I contemplated this fragrance: it did not come from the wood; it did not come from emptiness; it did not come from the smoke, and it did not come from the fire. There was no place it came from and no place it went to. Because of this, my discriminating mind was dispelled, and I attained the absence of outflows. 5:30

”The Thus Come One certified me and called me ‘Adorned with Fragrance.’ Defiling scent suddenly vanished, and wonderful fragrance was both secret and all pervasive. It was through the adornment of fragrance that I became an Arhat. 5:31

”The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, the adornment of fragrance is the superior means.” 5:32

The two Dharma-Princes, Physician King and Superior Physician, and five hundred Brahma gods in the assembly arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha, “From beginningless kalpas until now, we have been good doctors for the world. In our mouths we have tasted many herbs, wood, metals, and stones of the Saha world, a hundred and eight thousand flavors. We know in detail the bitter, sour, salty, bland, sweet, and pungent flavors, and the like, in all their combinations and inherent changes. We have a thorough knowledge of whether they be cooling or warming, poisonous or non-poisonous. 5:32

”While serving the Thus Come One we came to know that the nature of flavors is not empty and is not existent, nor is it the body or mind, nor is it apart from body and mind. We became enlightened by discriminating among flavors. 5:34

””The Thus Come One sealed and certified us brothers and named us as Bodhisattvas Physician King and Superior Physician. Now in the assembly we are Dharma Princes who have ascended to the Bodhisattva level because we became enlightened by means of flavors. 5:35

”The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As we have been certified to it, the cause of flavors is the superior means.” 5:35

Bhadrapala and sixteen awakened lords who were his companions, arose from their seats and bowed at the Buddha’s feet. He said to the Buddha: 5:36

”We first heard the dharma and left the home-life under King of Awesome Sound Buddha. Once, when it was time for the Sangha to bathe, I followed the custom and entered the bathhouse. Suddenly I awakened to the fact that water does not wash away the dust, nor does it cleanse the body. At that point, between the two, I became peaceful, and I attained the state of there being nothing at all. 5:36

”To this day, I have never forgotten that past experience. Having left home with the Buddha, I have gone beyond learning. That Buddha named me Bhadrapala. Wonderful touch was revealed, and I accomplished the position of the Buddha’s disciple. 5:37

”The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, touch is the superior means.” 5:38

Mahakashyapa, Purple-golden Light Bhikshuni, and others arose from their seats, bowed at the Buddha’s feet, and said to the Buddha: 5:38

”In a past kalpa in this region, I drew near to the Buddha named Sun-Moon-Lamp, who was then in the world. I heard dharma from him and cultivated and studied with him. After that Buddha’s extinction, I made offerings to his sharira and lit lamps to continue his light. Purple-Golden Light gilded the Buddha’s image. From that time on, in life after life, my body has always been perfect and has shone with a purple-golden light. The Bhikshuni, Purple- Golden Light, and others make up my retinue, and we all brought forth the resolve for Bodhi at the same time. 5:40

”I contemplated that the world’s six sense-objects change and decay; they are but empty stillness. Based on this, I cultivated extinction. Now my body and mind can pass through hundreds of thousands of kalpas as though they were a finger-snap. 5:41

”Based on the emptiness of Dharmas, I accomplished Arhatship. The World Honored One says that I am foremost in Dhuta practices. Wonderful dharma brought me awakening and understanding, and I extinguished all outflows. The Buddha asks about perfect penetration. As I have been certified to it, dharmas are the superior means.” 5:42

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