Having said this, he made a full prostration, and then the great assembly singlemindedly awaited the sound of the Buddha's compassionate voice as they gazed up unblinking with respectful admiration.
After Ananda had said this, he made a full prostration. He and everyone in the five limbs--their head, arms, and legs—on the ground in full obeisance.
And then the great assembly single-mindedly awaited the sound of the Buddha's compassionate voice as they gazed up unblinking with respectful admiration. They gazed with such fixed intensity that it was as if they could not see. They waited expectantly for the Buddha to speak. What do you suppose the Buddha is going to say?
At that time, the World Honored One praised Ananda, saying, "Good indeed, good indeed. You can for the sake of the entire great assem-bly and those beings of the final age, ask to have explained and revealed the unsurpassed proper path of cultivation that takes one from the level of an ordinary person to final Parinirvana. Listen attentively, and I will speak about it for you."
Ananda and everyone in the assembly placed their palms together, cleansed their minds, and silently waited to receive the teaching.
At that time refers to the period when the great assembly was gazing up unblinkingly with respectful admiration.
The World Honored One praised Ananda. He perceived how sincere Ananda and the great assembly were, so he praised him,
saying, "Good indeed, good indeed, you are certainly a good person."
You can for the sake of the entire great assembly and those beings of the final age... It is excellent that you who still have something left to study can seek for the sake of everyone and not just for yourselves. You are not being selfish or seeking self-benefit in doing this. You are doing it for everyone assembled here and also for beings to come in the future who cultivate samadhi and who want to practice the Great Vehicle dharmas of benefitting themselves and benefitting others, and so you
ask to have explained and revealed the unsurpassed proper path of cultivation that takes one from the level of an ordinary person to final Parinirvana. Nirvana is the fruition where there is neither production nor extinction. You haven't arrived at it yet, but you wish to know about the proper way to get there. Listen attentively, and I will speak about it for you. Pay close attention. I am willing to explain it for you."
Ananda and everyone in the assembly placed their palms together, cleansed their minds, and silently waited to receive the teaching. "Cleansed their minds" means that they cast out their extraneous thoughts, the false thinking of their conscious mind--their mad mind and wild nature. They got rid of the five quick causes,
1. the view of a body
2. prejudiced views
3. the view of unbeneficial precepts
4. opinionated views
5. deviant views
Just as one hollows out a log to make a boat, they hollowed out their minds so that they could receive the teaching. At this point no one spoke. They were silent as they waited for Shakyamuni Buddha to begin his explanation.
"Ananda, you should know that the wonderful nature is perfect and bright, apart from all names and appearance. Basically there is no world, nor are there any living beings."
The Buddha said, "Ananda, you should know that the wonderful nature is perfect and bright. The Buddha nature, the self-nature, the bright nature of enlightenment—all refer to this wonderful nature which is
apart from all names and appearance." As the
Vajra Sutra puts it, whatever has an appearance is empty and false. If one sees all appearances as having no appearance, one sees the Thus Come One.
But you can't get rid of appearances. Whatever you see you become attached to. That's why there are appearances. Basically there are no appearances in the wonderful nature. Nor are there any names. Why aren't there any names or appearances?
"Basically there is no world, nor are there any living beings." Only because one gives rise to delusion and creates karma is there a world in which living beings undergo retribution.