AVATAMSAKA SUTRA: THE TEN GROUNDS

      With the Commentary of the Venerable Master Hua, Abbot of Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco, and translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society.

SUTRA:

AND WHY? IT IS BECAUSE THESE BODHISATTVAS ARE FREE FROM THE THOUGHT OF SELF. THEY DO NOT EVEN CHERISH THEIR OWN BODIES, HOW MUCH THE LESS WEALTH AND POSSESSIONS. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF NOT LIVING. THEY DO NOT SEEK OFFERINGS FROM OTHERS, BUT ONLY GIVE TO OTHER LIVING BEINGS. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF A BAD REPUTATION. THEY HAVE LEFT THE VIEW OF SELF-FAR BEHIND, AND HAVE NO THOUGHT OF SELF. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF DEATH. THEY THEMSELVES KNOW THAT AFTER DEATH THEY CERTAINLY WILL NOT BE APART FROM THE BUDDHAS AND BODHISATTVAS. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF THE EVIL DESTINIES. MY INTENT AND INCLINATIONS IN ALL WORLDS ARE UNEQUALLED, HOW MUCH THE LESS SURPASSED. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF THE AWESOME VIRTUE OF THE GREAT ASSEMBLY. BODHISATTVAS IN THAT WAY LEAVE ALL ALARMING, HAIR-RAISING EXPERIENCES FAR BEHIND.

DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA, THESE BODHISATTVAS TAKE GREAT COMPASSION AS FOREMOST; HAVE VAST, GREAT INTENT AND INCLINATIONS WHICH CANNOT BE DESTROYED. THEY INTENSELY AND DILIGENTLY CULTIVATE ALL GOOD ROOTS, WHICH BECOME ACCOMPLISHED.

Commentary:

Why do Bodhisattvas have no fear of not living, no fear of a bad reputation, no fear of death, no fear of the evil destinies, and no fear of the awesome virtue of the Great Assembly? It is because they have left all alarming, hair-raising experiences far behind. AND WHY? Why is it like that? IT IS BECAUSE THESE BODHISATTVAS, these Bodhisattvas who cultivate, bring forth the thought for Bodhi, practice the Bodhisattva Way, and certify to the Ground of Happiness, ARE FREE FROM THE THOUGHT OF SELF. They have no self. Not only that, but they do not even think thoughts of self, never think about whether they have a self or not. THEY DO NOT EVEN CHERISH THEIR OWN BODIES. Their attitude towards their bodies is that they have already given them away to living beings, and they use their bodies to serve living beings, and work for them. Therefore they are not selfish about their own bodies nor do they seek benefits for them, HOW MUCH THE LESS WEALTH AND POSSESSIONS. Since they do not even cherish their own bodies, how much the less do they cherish things external to the body? They even less cherish gold, silver, jewels, countries, cities, wives and children. They have completely seen through them, put them all down, and attained real freedom. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF NOT LIVING. Due to that, they do not scheme for themselves. They are not afraid of their own lives being in jeopardy. They are not afraid of starving to death. Consequently they don't have the fear that they won't live.

THEY DO NOT SEEK OFFERINGS FROM OTHERS, BUT ONLY GIVE TO OTHER LIVING BEINGS. Bodhisattvas don't want to benefit themselves and aren't selfish, and so they seek nothing.

As it is said:

When you reach the point of seeking nothing,

Then you have no worries.

When you reach the point where you don't seek for anything, then you don't have any worries. The reason you have worries is because you have greed and longing for something. Bodhisattvas don't seek anything. They don't seek fame or fortune, sex, sleep or food. These Bodhisattvas have already seen the five objects of desireŚwealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep--as flavorless, and so they are not greedy for good offerings. They don't say, "Who will be good to me and give me some good food, some nice clothes, some things that are useful or good to look at?" They concentrate on giving to other living beings. They specialize in the practice of giving. Whatever they have they give away to other living beings. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF A BAD REPUTATION. They are not greedy for anything, nor do they fear taking a loss or not getting a bargain for themselves, and so it is not important to them if they have a good name or not. They are incapable of being greedy for a false name or an empty title, nor do they constantly put up a false front so that people will praise them. Bodhisattvas are not like that. Because Bodhisattvas have gone beyond good and bad, if you say they're good they aren't pleased, and if you call them by a bad name they don't get upset. That is what it means to have no fear of a bad name.

They are not afraid of people slandering them. That is why I regularly tell you that, although I am not a Bodhisattva, still I am not afraid of people slandering me. They slander you so that no one will believe in you but will believe in them instead. They are afraid they won't have anything to eat, and so they talk about what's wrong with other people. If they weren't afraid of not having anything to eat, why would they talk about what was wrong with others? Their talking about others' faults is designed to show what is right about themselves. People discuss others' bad points in order to show off their own good points. That is why I'm always telling you that if people can get food to eat by slandering me, then I am indirectly, not directly, giving it to them. If they can get people to give them food to eat or gain some other advantage by slandering me a little, then I have indirectly given it to them. When I say this, most people believe they cannot be like that. You should all pay attention to this point. That is why I am not afraid of people slandering me. As long as it is to their benefit, let them slander even more. If it keeps them alive, they can slander me to their hearts' content. If it fills them with food, then it's no problem. Therefore if people slander me, they are my Good Knowing Advisors.

THEY HAVE LEFT THE VIEW OF SELF-FAR BEHIND, AND HAVE NO VIEW OF SELF. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF DEATH. Bodhisattvas have no self, no ego, and so they have no view of self. Without even a view, they also have no thought of self, and are not looking out for themselves, thinking, "What's in it for me?" Therefore they do not fear death. If they have no self, then who dies? That is why they do not fear death, because THEY THEMSELVES KNOW THAT AFTER DEATH THEY CERTAINLY WILL NOT BE APART FROM THE BUDDHAS AND BODHISATTVAS. They know that after they die, they will not be separated from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and they know they won't fall into the hells or turn into hungry ghosts or become animals. Because all they've done is practice the Bodhisattva Way, they certainly will not be separated from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but are sure to be with them. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF THE EVIL DESTINIES. Because they know they won't fall into the three evil destinies, they have no fear of the three evil destinies, those of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals.

MY INTENT AND INCLINATIONS, the vows and what these Bodhisattvas like, IN ALL WORLDS ARE UNEQUALLED. There is nothing in the world, which equals them. What they like, what they wish, and the vows that they have made are not equaled by anything in all worlds, HOW MUCH THE LESS SURPASSED. Since there is nothing in the world that surpasses this resolve of mine, nothing in the world goes beyond this resolve. THEREFORE THEY HAVE NO FEAR OF THE AWESOME VIRTUE OF THE GREAT ASSEMBLY. They have no fear and are not scared of the Great Assembly's awesome virtue, because these Bodhisattvas know that they surpass the Great Assembly. You may ask, "If they think that way, then aren't Bodhisattvas very arrogant, thinking that no one in the world can compare with them?" The Bodhisattvas aren't thinking this. It's Store of Vajra Bodhisattva speaking the Flower Adornment Sutra and explaining the kinds of states certified to by Bodhisattvas on the Ten Grounds. The Bodhisattvas don't say it of themselves. Store of Vajra Bodhisattva is describing the kind of resultant position held by Bodhisattvas on the Ground of Happiness who actually accomplish this kind of state. It is definitely not that the Bodhisattvas arrogantly consider no one in the world can compare to them. Therefore they are not afraid of the awesome virtue of the Great Assembly. When they speak Dharma and explain Sutras within the Great Assembly, they are very much at ease and unafraid.

BODHISATTVAS IN THAT WAY LEAVE ALL ALARMING, HAIRRAISING EXPERIENCES FAR BEHIND. That is how Bodhisattvas leave behind the five fearsome matters:

1. Fear of not living.

2. Fear of a bad reputation.

3. Fear of death.

4. Fear of the four evil destinies.

5. Fear of the awesome virtue of the Great Assembly.

Those are all experiences, which are frightening and make one's hair stand on end. DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHA/ Store of Vajra Bodhisattva calls out again, "All of you disciples of the Buddha, THESE BODHISATTVAS TAKE GREAT COMPASSION AS FOREMOST."

Compassion can pluck out suffering. They all make having an attitude of great compassion their most important duty. They HAVE VAST, GREAT INTENT AND INCLINATIONS. They also have vast, great intent and inclinations, WHICH CANNOT BE DESTROYED. No Heavenly demons or those of externalist ways could destroy, obstruct or ruin them. THEY INTENSELY AND DILIGENTLY CULTIVATE, cultivating more diligently every day, and every day working harder at ALL GOOD ROOTS, WHICH BECOME ACCOMPLISHED. They are able to perfect and bring to accomplishment all good roots, the roots of Bodhi. That is why these Bodhisattvas have none of the five types of fears.

All of you should use your own wisdom to contemplate the principles I have spoken. If they are in accord with principle, cultivate according to them. If they are not in accord with principle, you can forget them. That is:

Select the good and repeat it.

If something is good, then you should rely on it to cultivate. If it's not right, then change it. Don't follow blindly thinking that whatever I say has to be right. In that way you yourself will discover your own inherent wisdom and the true principles that are yours to start with. Therefore people who cultivate absolutely cannot follow blindly. If something is not right, it doesn't matter who said it, you cannot believe it. If something is right, then no matter who said it, we should believe it.