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A General Explanation of
The Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra

By Ven. Master Hsuan Hua

(continued from last issue)

10

THE ADORNMENT OF PURE LANDS

THE BUDDHA SAID TO SUBHUTI, "WHAT DO YOU THINK?

WAS THERE ANY DHARMA WHICH TATHAGATA OBTAINED WHILE WITH BURNING LAMP BUDDHA?"

"NO, WORLD HONORED ONE, THERE WAS ACTUALLY NO DHARMA WHICH THE TATHAGATA OBTAINED WHILE WITH BURNING LAMP BUDDHA."

"SUBHUTI, WHAT DO YOU THINK, DOES A BODHISATTVA ADORN BUDDHALANDS?"

"NO, WORLD HONORED. AND WHY? THE ADORNMENT OF BUDDHALANDS IS NO ADORNMENT, THEREFORE IT IS CALLED ADORNMENT."

"THEREFORE, SUBHUTI, THE BODHISATTVA, MAHASATTVA, SHOULD THUS PRODUCE A PURE HEART. HE SHOULD PRODUCE THAT HEART WITHOUT DWELLING IN FORMS. HE SHOULD PRODUCE THAT HEART WITHOUT DWELLING IN SOUNDS, SMELLS, TASTES, TANGIBLE OBJECTS, OR DHARMAS. HE SHOULD PRODUCE THAT HEART WITHOUT DWELLING ANYWHERE."

"SUBHUTI, SUPPOSE A PERSON HAD A BODY LIKE SUMERU, KING OF MOUNTAINS. WHAT DO YOU THINK, WOULD THAT BODY BE BIG?"

"SUBHUTI SAID, "VERY BIG, WORLD HONORED ONE. AND WHY? IT IS SAID BY THE BUDDHA TO BE NO BODY. THEREFORE IT IS CALLED A BIG BODY."

Having shown, by example of the previously mentioned fruits of the Small Vehicle, that there is no attachment to anything, the Buddha next used himself as an example. He anticipated people who should think that a Buddha or Bodhisattva is different from sages of the Small Vehicle.

WAS THERE ANY DHARMA WHICH THE TAGHATA OBTAINED WHILE WITH BURNING LAMP BUDDHA?" Sakyamuni Buddha referred to himself at that point. Burning Lamp Buddha had bestowed a prediction of Buddhahood on Sakyamuni Buddha, which means he gave him a name, saying, "In the future you will become Buddha, named Sakyamuni."

Burning Lamp Buddha gave Sakyamuni Buddha the prediction of the Buddhahood at a time when both of them were bhiksus. The bhiksu who would become Sakyamuni Buddha had not yet realized Buddhahood, but Burning Lamp Buddha had done so. On that occasion, Sakyamuni Buddha was walking on the road and saw in the distance the bhiksu Burning Lamp Buddha walking toward him. Sakyamuni Buddha also saw that on the road between them was large puddle of muddy water. Because he cultivated as a Bodhisattva and dedicated himself to helping everyone, he realized that the bhiksu coming toward him would be hampered by the puddle, and lay down in the muddy water to serve as a bridge for the bhiksu. But the puddle was large and his body did not entirely span it. Therefore he unwrapped his hair, which he kept long in accord with the ascetic practices he cultivated, and spread it over the remainder of the puddle. When the bhiksu who was Burning Lamp Buddha reached the spot, Sakyamuni Buddha asked him to walk across his body. Burning Lamp Buddha complied. When he had crossed he said to the bhiksu, "You are thus. I also am thus." He meant, "Your heart is like this, and my heart is also like this. You forget yourself for the sake of the Dharma, and I also forget myself for the sake of the Dharma. Thus we are both cultivating the Bodhisattva Way." He then rubbed the top of the bhiksu’s head and said, "In the future you will become a Buddha named Sakyamuni." After Dipankara Buddha had given Sakyamuni that prediction, the two bhiksus separated and each continued to practice the Way.

So then Sakyamuni Buddha asked Subhuti, "When I received my prediction, did I obtain any Dharma?"

Subhuti, replied, "No."

Again Sakyamuni Buddha asked for Subhuti’s opinion. "DOES A BODHISATTVA ADORN BUDDHALANDS?" "Does a Bodhisattva use the merit and virtue of cultivating the six paramitas and the ten thousand practices to adorn Buddhalands?"

Again Subhuti answered, "No. He does not adorn Buddhalands. If he had one thought of adorning Buddhalands, then he would have a mark of self, of others, of living beings, and of a life; he would have an attachment." The principle is the same as it was for the first, second, third, and fourth fruits of Arhatship. Although they adorn Buddhalands, there is no adornment. Why? If they had the thought "I adorn Buddhalands" they would not have realized the emptiness of people and dharmas. When dharmas are not empty there is attachment to Dharma. When people are not empty there is attachment to self. A Bodhisattva who adorns Buddhalands does not think that he is adorning Buddhalands. The adornment of Buddhalands is merely a name and nothing more. It has no real substance. Therefore a Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, should produce a pure heart. A PURE HEART is free of attachment. That means you do not broadcast your good deeds to insure that whatever merit and virtue may have accrued be properly credited. Such a heart is impure. It is dirty. If you have the thought of self and others when you do virtuous acts to adorn Buddhalands, then there are no virtuous acts and there is no adornment. A Bodhisattva’s heart should be pure, without self or others, and without right or wrong. Thoughts which delineate self, others, living beings, and a life are not pure. A heart which is attached to the six dusts is not pure, and is devoid of true and proper merit and virtue.

HE SHOULD PRODUCE THAT HEART WITHOUT DWELLING ANYWHERE. He should, without having any attachment, produce that heart. He should have no thought. If you can have no thought, you are not attached anywhere. If you can no thought, you can produce that heart without dwelling anywhere. The Buddha used another example. "SUPPOSE A PERSON HAD A BODY LIKE SUMERU, KING OF MOUNTAINS...WOULD THAT BODY BE BIG?"

Subhuti said, "very big," but afterwards added, "IT IS SAID BY THE BUDDHA TO BE NO BODY, THEREFORE IT IS CALLED A BIG BODY." Mt. Sumeru, although big, nonetheless has a measure. If you have Mt. Sumeru you still have a measure. If you manage to have no body, nothing can compare to it, and so it is called a big body. If there is a measure for it, then the body is not really big. No body, a body without measure, is truly a big body.

***

(to be continued)

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