--Gatha and commentary written by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua

                   --Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih.

If there are men who wish to know

All Buddhas of the three realms of time,

They ought to regard the nature of the Dharma-realm;

Tathagatas are made from mind alone.

Neither great nor small, neither come nor gone;

In numberless world systems

Are interillumining lotus thrones.

Enlightened beings leap out of the dust,

Their six perfections and myriad practices

Continually nurtured and strengthened.

The holy sage who understands conditions

Dozes alone on a lonely mountain peak;

Springtime's flowers wither in the fall,

Consecutive conditions through twelve connecting links.

The Sravaka Sangha both women and men

Consider and practice the Four Holy Truths,

Which hide the real and display the provisional.

The Six Desire Heavens, the Brahmas,

Come from the Five Precepts, the Ten Good Acts.

Planting causes which have outflows

The revolving wheel is hard to stop.

Furious asuras fight by nature,

Rich with blessings but lacking power,

Viciously hostile and fond of warfare,

They float and drown in karma's tow.

The path of men is harmonious

Their merits and errors are interspersed.

By your virtuous deeds you rise; with offenses, fall.

It has nothing to do with anyone else at all.

Animals eagerly feed on greed

Never repulsed by too much.

Since they recognize black as white

They're unable to tell what's wrong from what's right.

Ghosts delight in hate

Deluded about effect and confused about cause

Perversions and ignorance grow each day

Deeper month by month.

Hell is gloom and suffering,

With no door one bores right in,

When delusion arises, deeds are done

Retribution's borne in due accord.

All these ten realms and every mind within,

Don’t go beyond the present thought you’re thinking

Enlightenment to this single current thought

Is just the moment you reach the other shore.



      If there are men who wish to know

      All Buddhas of the three realms of time

      They ought to regard the nature of the Dharma-realm

      Tathagatas are made from mind alone.


The second line can also read "ail persons of the three realms of time." People can be said to be Buddhas because people can become Buddhas; Buddhas are people who have realized Buddhahood. If you talk about "Buddhas" no one really understands, but everyone knows what a "person" is.  So we talk in terms of people and it becomes easier to understand. Who's the person we are discussing? The Buddha.

"Am I a Buddha?" you ask.

You are.

"Are others Buddhas?"

Yes, they are too. You are as yet unrealized Buddhas--false Buddhas. After realization you will be true Buddhas. False Buddhas can become true ones, and true ones, false.

They must regard the nature, of the Dharma-realm. Each living being of the Dharma-realm has its own nature. Your temper is bigger than mine; my anger is deeper than yours. Pigs have the nature of pigs; horses, the nature of horses. Men have the nature of men; women, the nature of women. Those who like to eat sweet things have a sweet nature; those who like sour a sour nature. Those who like hot have a hot nature and those who like to eat bitter things refers to all who practice "bitter" ascetic practices. Trees have the nature of trees; flowers, the nature of flowers; grass, the nature of grass; each thing has its own nature. It is the nature of living beings within the Dharma-realm, which is referred to here.

Tathagatas are made from mind alone. Originally this read "everything is made from mind alone," but just as "Buddha" can be changed to "person," so can "everything" become "Tathagatas." If your mind inclines toward study of Buddhadharma, you will realize the Buddha Way. If you are inclined to study the work of Bodhisattvas, you will cultivate the Bodhisattva path, and so forth to the point that if your mind dwells on hell you are bound to fall.