"Subhuti, if a good man or good woman were to pulverize three thousand great thousand world systems into motes of fine dust, what do you think, would that mass of fine dust be large?" Subhuti said, "Large, World Honored One, and why? If that mass of fine dust motes actually existed, the Buddha would not speak of it as a mass of fine dust motes, and why? The mass of fine dust motes is spoken of by the Buddha as no mass of fine dust motes, therefore it is called a mass of fine dust motes. World Honored One, the three thousand great thousand world systems are spoken of by the Tathagata as no world systems, therefore they are called world system, and why? If world systems actually existed, then there would be a totality of marks. The totality of marks is spoken of by the Tathagata as no totality of marks. Therefore it is called a totality of marks." "Subhuti, the totality of marks cannot be spoken of, but people of the common sort greedily attach to such things."
If we travelled by rocket for a great length of time, we would only cover a short distance compared to the extent of three thousand great thousand world systems. Although those world systems are big, they are created from motes of fine dust. The largest things are created from the smallest. Although one mote of dust is small, many of them together become a great thousand world system. In the same way, the merit and virtue we do comes from small deeds.
By doing many good deeds we become adorned with ten thousand virtues. You should not think you need not bother doing small good deeds or that you can get away with doing small bad ones. Many seemingly inconsequential good deeds will accumulate into great goodness. Although you may only do minor bad deeds, many will accumulate into great evil. In just the same way, a whole world comes from a collection of small dust motes.
In the Yao Ch'in period, Dhyana Master Bhadra said to Dharma Master Tao Sheng, "Form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Whatever is form, that is emptiness; whatever is emptiness, that is form. Ultimately what is form and emptiness?"
Dharma Master Tao Sheng said, "The totality of a mass of fine dust motes is called form. The mass of fine dust motes, devoid of self-nature, is called emptiness." He said that an accumulation of fine dust had no self-nature, and that the absence of any substantial nature in the accumulation of fine dust was emptiness.
Dhyana Master Bhadra then asked, "When a mass of fine dust motes is not collected together, what is that called?"
Dharma Master Tao Sheng was speechless. He did not know what to call it. Dhyana Master Bhadra then said, "You only know the result of form and emptiness, you do not know the cause of form and emptiness."
Dharma Master Tao Sheng could only nod his head. Although he could speak so powerfully that even rocks nodded their heads, he had nothing to say to this person. With no other alternative he humbly asked, "Superior Seated One, may I ask what a mass of fine dust motes is called when it is not collected together?"
Dhyana Master Bhadra replied, "Because one fine dust mote is empty, the mass of fine dust motes is empty." He said that one fine dust mote is empty and so all dust motes are empty. Why? Because many dust motes are created from a single mote of dust.
Dhyana Master Bhadra continued, "Because the mass of fine dust motes is empty, each mote of fine dust is also empty." The masses of dust motes are empty, so certainly one single dust mote must also be empty.
"In the emptiness of one fine mote of dust," he continued, "there is no mass of fine dust motes.
In the emptiness of a mass of fine dust motes, there is not one single fine mote of dust." So there is no emptiness and no form. Upon hearing that, Dharma Master Tao Sheng knew that the doctrine Dhyana Master Bhadra had spoken was deeper than the one he himself had expressed, so he bowed to him. Dhyana Master Bhadra spoke and Dharma Master Tao Sheng nodded his head.