The Ten Dharma Realms are not Beyond a Single Thought 

--Continued from issue 35

Gatha and commentary composed by the Venerable Tripitaka Master Hua

Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch¡¦ih.


The Sravaka Sangha both women and men

Consider and practice the Four Holy Truths.

Which hide the real and display the provisional.

At the level of first, fruit, second fruit, third fruit, and fourth fruit Sravakas there are divisions into (a) inclination toward the first fruit, which is the period prior to actual certification, and (b) first fruit; (d) inclination toward the second fruit, and (d) second fruit; and so forth. This refers to movement from the small toward the great.

Sravakas also called Arhats, can fly and transform, and possess spiritual penetrations. The feet of a sage who has certified to the fruit do not touch the ground when he walks, like Dharma Master Fa Hsun whose shoes didn't even get soiled when he parted the waters and walked across the mud. People who have certified to the fruit do not casually disclose that they have become Arhats. How much the less can one who has not certified to the special states of Arhatship openly claim to have obtained the fruit!

The Sravakas of the first fruit cut off deluded views. At the second fruit, deluded thought is cut off. The third and fourth fruits cut off the delusions like dust and sand.

A fourth fruit Sravaka has pierced through almost all ignorance. Only one who completely pierces through ignorance realizes Buddhahood, for even a Bodhisattva at the stage of equal enlightenment still has a bit of ignorance which keeps him from being a Buddha.

The sage of the fourth fruit cultivates the Dharma of the Four Holy Truths: suffering origination, extinction, and Way. Upon his enlightenment, Sakyamuni Buddha first went to the Deer Wilds Park to rescue the five bhiksus: Ajnatakaundinya, Mahanamaulka and the others, relatives of the Buddha who had set out to follow him cultivating the Way. When the Buddha went into the Himalyas to cultivate he ate only one sesame seed and one grain of rice a day until his body was nothing but skin and bones, whereupon "three of his five followers fled in hunger. They couldn't take the suffering. Later, on the eighth day of the 12th lunar month a heavenly maiden brought the Buddha some milk and he drank it. At that point the remaining two of the five followers left, not because they couldn't take the suffering, but because they thought the Buddha couldn't. All five went to the Deer Wilds Park.

When Sakyamuni Buddha realized Buddhahood he first spoke the Avatamsaka Sutra, which very few beings heard, and then he hid the real away and brought forth the provisional, quietly contemplating to see to whom the Agama Sutras should be spoken. He recalled the five fellow-cultivators who had protected his Dharma, and knew that he should take them across first; in the past he had made this vow: "When I realize Buddhahood I will first save the people who have slandered me, killed me, or in any way reviled or scorned me."

The Diamond Sutra mentions the King of Kalinga who maimed the body of Sakyamuni Buddha during a former life when the Buddha was an immortal practicing patience under insult.

One day the King of Kalinga took his court maidens, concubines and various wives to the mountains on a hunting expedition. The women weren't interested in hunting, so they strolled along the mountain said where they suddenly came upon an unrecognizable creature. Its eyebrows were three inches long and its hair hung down a couple of feet. Its face was hidden behind a thick layer of dirt, and the grime on its clothing was caked at least an inch thick. The women screamed in fright, "It's a monster! Let's get out of here!"

The old cultivator said, "Don't go. I'm not a monster. "

"He can talk!" they gasped, and one of the braver ones said, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm cultivating."

"What's that mean?"

"I'm practicing to become a Buddha," he said, and spoke Dharma form them. The women grew friendlier, and expressed their concern; "You work too hard. What do you eat?"

"I eat whatever there is¡Xroots or plants. I don't go down among people to get food."

By this time the concubines fears had vanished, and one reached out to touch his eyebrows, another ventured to rub his hand, and a third patted his face. They treated him like a pet and crowded in closer and closer to him.

In the meantime the king finished hunting and returned to his women. He found them all gathered around something and tried to see what they were up to. He worked his way slowly toward them, not making a sound, and when he got close enough he saw them talking with a strange man. What is more, one was stroking his hand, another patting his cheek, and a third massaging his feet. The king's jealousy was aroused, and he exploded in anger when he heard the strange man talking about cultivation.

"Stop cheating people!" he roared, "what 'Way' could you possibly be cultivating?"

The old cultivator said, "I cultivate patience. No matter how I might be beaten or scolded, I don't get angry."

"You might be able to cheat my women, but I don't buy your line. Is this patience of yours for real?"  

"It is absolutely true."

"True, huh. I'll give it a try." He unsheathed his sword and cut off the cultivator's hand. "Are you angry?"

"No, I'm not angry."

"You're not, huh. Your only talent is lying. You are angry and yet you deny it. Look here, I'm an extremely intelligent man, you can't fool me," and as a further test of his patience he lopped off his other hand. "Angry?"


He then sliced off both legs. "Angry?"

"I'm still not angry. Not only am I not angry, when I realize Buddhahood I will take you across first. And to prove my patience, I vow that if I have become angry, my limbs will not grow back, but if I haven't, then they will, even though you have completely severed them from my body." Whereupon the old cultivator be came whole again. 

With this display of spiritual transformations the king understood his adversary and knelt before the immortal seeking repentance. But then the Dharma protectors of the Eight Divisions got angry and sent a torrent of hailstones down upon the back of the king. The immortal, however, instructed them to relent and said to the king, "If I don't realize Buddhahood, there is, nothing to be said, but if one day I do, then I will save you first." This is why the Buddha first went to the Deer Wilds Park to rescue Ajnatakaundinya who had been the King of Kalinga in a former life.

After hearing this story we should all make vows like Sakyamuni Buddha's, rather than vowing to send all those who are mean to us off to hell.

The Buddha went to the Deer Park and explained the three turnings of the Four Holy Truths for the five bhiksus. First he said:

this is suffering, its nature is pressure;

this is origination, its nature is beckoning feeling;

this is the Way, its nature is that it can be cultivated;

this is extinction, its nature can be verified.

Second he said:

this is suffering, I already know and need not know more;

this is origination, I have already cut it off and need not cut it off again;

this is the Way, I have already cultivated it and need not cultivate more; 

this is extinction, I have already verified and need not verify any more. 

The third turning:

this is suffering, you should know it:

this is origination, you should cut it off;

this is the Way, you should cultivate it;

this is extinction, you should verify it.

After he spoke the Dharma Wheel of the three turnings of the Four Holy Truths he said to Ajnatakaundinya, "You are troubled by guest-dust and have not obtained liberation."

When Ajnatakaundinya heard the words guest ¡Vdust he became enlightened and said, "The guest is not the host, and dust is unclean. My self nature is the host and is clean and pure." Ajnatakaundinya is called "one who understands the basic boundary," and is known as "first to obtain understanding."

The Sravaka Sangha both women and men, considerandpracticetheFourHolyTruthswhich hidetherealanddisplaytheprovisional. Women and men can both certify to the fruit of Arhatship. Kumarajiva's mother, for instance, became a third stage Arhat.

There are great Bodhisattvas who hide the real and appear provisionally as Sravakas. You should not write off all Sravakas as Small Vehicle cultivators and look down on them. Some are certainly great Bodhisattvas who have returned to appear among those of the Small Vehicle to urge them to turn from the small toward the great.               

-To be continued-