The Womb of the Tathagata #2: Introducing the Brahma's Net Sutra

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Introducing the Brahma's Net Sutra:

AI Summary: 



We just chanted a verse which in English could be called, The Lofty Ancestor Ehe's Verses for Arousing the Bodhisattva Vow. And when you were chanting it, I just felt a lot of joy listening to you chant this. And I thought, what a good deal this is! Like, you know, if you practice confession and repentance, you're gonna get a lot of help. You're gonna get a big reward for confessing and saying you're sorry for your shortcomings. Yeah, it really sounds like a great deal. Yes. about having us study that, like go through it?


I just did. That was the end of it. Thank you. And actually, we study it every time we chant, we study it. We're reciting it and we're almost memorizing it, right? And I often comment on it. But we also have a class to study it. Could be, thank you for the idea. Thank you too. I could give you a long revelation of my understanding of the geology, of the geological process of the Hawaiian Islands. But before I do that, if I ever do it, I just want to mention that I feel like I am sitting on a hotspot, and there's a volcanic activity going on in my body and mind, and it's joyful.


And the hotspot is, I think the hotspot has something to do with the teachings of our true nature. Part of the reason why I mentioned the Hawaiian Islands is because right now there's new volcanic activity going on there on the Big Island. For a long time, that island was made by volcanic activity. And for a long time, there's two peaks on that island. They're both about more than 13,000 feet above the water. And they're 26,000 feet below the water. Those two, they're the tallest mountains in the world. They're 39,000 feet tall.


And one of them used to be, one of them is taller than the one that's, let me just say that the Hawaiian Islands go from southeast to northwest. They're on a line from southeast to northwest. And the row of islands, all the islands in that row used to be volcanoes. And one of them, the big island, still has active volcanoes on it. The other ones all used to be active volcanoes. But they're on a conveyor belt, a volcano building conveyor belt, which is moving the bottom of the ocean is moving over this hotspot, and when it moves over the hotspot, the heat and the lava accumulate and push up 26,000 feet and make islands, which initially are still active volcanoes.


But then they move off the hotspot to the northwest, when they're not on the hotspot anymore, they're not volcanoes. And then the new volcanoes come up. And this has been going on for hundreds of millions of years, I suppose, and will probably go on a little longer. And now, the island has moved so that on the slope of one of the other mountains, the hotspot's coming up in new places, which will become new huge mountains someday. The last island, the most northwest island of Hawaii, I think, I don't know if anybody's ever been there, but I heard that it's basically flat. It used to be a big, it's the top of an old volcano. And it used to come out of the water quite a bit, but over the millions of years, it's got worn down by the water and the wind. So now it's flat.


And if you go then from that flat one back to this one, you go into the mountains gradually grow because they've been out and getting eroded for shorter times. But this island that we're looking at now will someday probably be up in the Northwest and get flashed. And there'll be other islands coming up. So we have this volcanic activity going on, which I talked to you about the last month when I was here. I told you that something like, I heard about this teaching a long time ago, which in Sanskrit is called Tathagatagarbha. And whenever I mention Sanskrit, I'm conscious that you're not, what's the word? You're not real familiar with Sanskrit, so it's hard maybe to listen to a foreign language that you're not familiar with.


But I'll just tell you that I heard about this teaching called Tathagatagarbha, which Tathagati is one of the epithets of Buddha. It means thus come one or thus gone one. So the Buddha is, an awakened one, but a Buddha is also a Tathagata, one who has gone to suchness and returned from suchness. And then Garbha means basically womb, womb or matrix. And this expression expresses the confidence that all living beings fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddhas. That we are the Tathagatagarbha.


All of us together are the womb of the Buddha. and I also, part of the reason, and so I, like quite a few years ago I heard about that and I started to study a text which is called Ratna Gotra Vibhanga Mahayana Uttara Tantra Shastra. And that text, in Tibet they usually call it Uttara Tantra Shastra. But the whole name of the thing is Ratna Gotra Vibhanga Mahayana Uttara or Tantra Shastra.


Ratna Gotra, Ratna it means jewel or jewels. And Gotra means lineage and vibhanga means like a discussion of it. So it's a text which discusses the germ or the seed or the lineage of the jewels. What jewels? Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. The Buddha, Dharma, Sangha is like a reproducing system. It's like, you know, it's like a living reality which has a lineage and it reproduces itself. And so this is a text which is about the seed of the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. The lineage of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. And the next part is, what is it? highest, the great vehicle, highest tantra about this seed of the Buddha Dharma Sangha.


And in this scripture, in this, it's not really a scripture, it's a commentary on the teaching of Tathagatagarbha. So it's a whole text, a big text. The basic text has, it's 77 pages in English of Sanskrit verses. And then there's a commentary on those verses. And it's basically about this Tathagatagarbha. Tathagatagarbha is very similar to the word Buddha dhatu in Sanskrit, which means literally Buddha element, but usually is translated as Buddha nature. So this text, which I studied quite a while ago, is about the womb of the Tathagata, or the womb in which the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha live,


And it's also about our Buddha nature. The whole text is about that. And it's really beautiful, I felt. But I stopped studying it because I started to feel like this seems to be contradicting Buddhism. Because it teaches that this, that there's something in this Buddha nature is actually the way something very pure, in Sanskrit, nirmala, nirmala, ta ta ta, it's about something that is suchness, the way things are, unmixed with any pollution. The perfect, the fully enlightened Buddha is reality as it is unmixed with pollution.


The Tathagatagarbha or Buddha nature is Samala Tatata. It is reality mixed with pollution. And the Buddha Dharmasangha grow out of suchness, reality, mixed with pollution, and suchness unmixed with pollution, and the qualities of suchness unmixed with pollution, and the activity of suchness unmixed with pollution. But the perfectly awakened Buddha is not enough to give rise to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. It's the fully awakened Buddha who's just the way things are, and sentient beings who are just the way things are mixed with not the way things are.


And those together are what creates the jewels of Buddhism. But this suchness, unmixed with pollution, is talked about in this text and it is self, it is eternal, it is joy, it is purity, it is the opposite of It is actually what are called the upside-down views. Sounds just like the upside-down views, but it's not the upside-down views. What are the upside-down views? The upside-down views of Buddhism are to see in what is not self, a self. To see or believe in what is not joyful, joy. To see in what is not purity, purity. To see in what is not eternal, permanence, that's upside down view. But this isn't, the characteristics of this, of the Buddha, are not to see in the self what is not the self.


It's to see the self where there's a self. And it's to see eternity where there's eternity. And it's to see joy where there's joy. And it's to see purity where there's purity. But anyway, I backed off that teaching because I thought, I'm gonna be polluting myself to start hearing about self, eternity, joy, and purity. Which again, sound like the upside down views, but they're not. The upside down views is to see those four things where they aren't. But they are part of our life. Because our life is. the way things really are mixed with our attachments and confusion. Another thing which encouraged me to start studying this quite a while ago was that I heard that this Tathagatagarbha teaching is very, this Buddha nature teaching dash Tathagatagarbha teaching is very influential in Zen, big part of Zen, which it is.


But I felt nervous about that too, that we have this kind of non-Buddhist thing mixed in with Zen. But as I told you last month, I read the Nirvana Sutra recently, and I got to a part which is called milk medicine. And I told you that story last time, didn't I? And that encouraged me to now start studying Tathagatagarbha again. In early Buddhism, people were addicted, as usual, to seeing self where there is no self, to seeing purity where there is no purity, and so on. They were addicted to these upside-down views. So the Buddha taught them no-self. no permanence, impermanence, no purity, and, you know, not joy, suffering.


He taught them that as a recovery process from this addiction. After hundreds of years of Buddhist practice of reversing these upside-down views into right views, this new movement comes of the great vehicle, and part of it is to say, in the Nirvana Sutra, which is probably put together around 300 CE, in the Nirvana Sutra, it gives us example of the milk medicine. That when people are addicted to milk, and using it addictively as medicine, the Buddha prohibits it. After they're free of using it as medicine addictively, then the Buddha says, sometimes milk is the best medicine. Sometimes this Tathagatagarbha is the best medicine, but it's sometimes not the best medicine.


So I'm bringing it out. And I was thinking, you know, is this an R-rated talk? Is this a PG-13 talk? Is this a PG-46 talk? Is this a PG-55 talk? I think it's not PG-13, 15, 28, 65. It's not, but it is PG. It needs parental guidance. In order to study this teaching, we have to study this teaching. and we have to do this together, otherwise we might misunderstand it. So I feel like I am, I'm not your parent, but I am here to help you, to support you, to not misunderstand this teaching of Buddha nature, and womb of the Tathagata. and to see if maybe now is the time when this is gonna be good medicine for us.


I'm sitting on this hotspot and this is causing me to talk to you about this and to feel joy in now studying this material again, which I'm doing and I'm sharing with you. but that's not the full extent of the volcanic activity. Again, for a long time, well, I don't know, for 30 or 40 years at Zen Center, we have been doing a monthly confession and repentance ceremony in relation with the Bodhisattva precepts.


So we practice confession and repentance and we also invoke the presence of the Buddhas, the Tathagatas and the Bodhisattvas And then we express the Bodhisattva vows, and then we go for refuge in the three treasures. We've been doing that ceremony. And I've heard, again, for sort of towards the beginning of that time, for 30 or 40 years, I've heard that in Asia, when they do the ceremony, they often, or usually, They read a scripture as part of the ceremony, which we do not do. We have not done at the San Francisco Zen Center. We've done the confession and repentance ceremony, which I just told you about. But we have not been reading a scripture.


And the scripture that they read is called, in Sanskrit, Brahma's net. No, excuse me. In Sanskrit, it's called Brahmajala Sutra. And there's two Brahmajala Sutras. One is in Pali, and it's about, it's about trance practices, jhana practice. And there's another one in Sanskrit and Chinese, which is totally different scripture, just happens to have the same name in Sanskrit, or Pali. So translated, it's Brahma's net scripture. It's about the Bodhisattva precepts. So it is read during the Bodhisattva precept confession and repentance ceremony. But we haven't been doing it. And part of the reason why we didn't do it, one of the reasons is


We didn't even know about it. We heard about it, but we didn't know what it was. And then, some number of years ago, I found a translation of it. And, yeah. And I read it, and I realized that a lot of the esoteric teachings around bodhisattva precept transmission is from that sutra, which again makes sense that you would read that sutra in these ceremonies. And we also recite these parts from the sutra in other ceremonies that you're not so familiar with. Then quite recently, Jeff Hunter told me that he was looking at that sutra.


And I asked him to send it to me, and he sent it to me. And then I learned, quite recently, that the sutra that I had seen before was just the second part of that sutra. So the sutra has two parts. One part is about, basically the first part in a way is about Tathagatagarbha, about Buddha nature as the context for the Bodhisattva precepts. So in the first part you have this great presentation of various stages of the development of this Buddha nature. And then, in the second part, you have the actual expression of these precepts, which are said to be for all living beings whose original nature is pure.


That's what it says in the second part of that sutra, before giving the Bodhisattva precepts. These precepts are for all sentient beings whose original nature is pure. We have sort of a later development nature too, which is not pure, but our original nature is pure and we are a mixture of our original nature, which is pure, and later developments, which are not. We're a mixture of that. And these precepts are for us. But it doesn't say, in the part I'm quoting from that second part of the sutra, the Brahma Sunyat Sutra, it doesn't say these precepts are for all sentient beings whose nature is impure.


Of course it's for sentient beings whose nature is impure. but it's also these sentient beings who have an impure nature. The news is they have an original pure nature, which is pure. That's what these precepts are for. And these precepts are the precepts which we receive in this tradition. And along with, along with the sutra that Jeff sent me is a commentary, a big commentary. The sutra is not very long. It's only about, maybe, I don't know. I forgot to count the pages. It's not very long. In Chinese, I think the second part of the sutra is like seven pages in the Taisho, which is about like 21 pages.


Because the Taisho has, each page has three panels, so it's like, the second part's like 21 pages. The first part's about 21. So the whole sutra's about I would say only about 50 pages. It's not a big one. But with the commentary, it's really big. Hundreds of pages. And the commentary is by a Korean scholar. And I thought, oh, people cannot deal with this. But I feel like maybe the time has come for you to deal, for you to be open yourself to the Brahma's Net Sutra, which is the place where our precepts come from. That sutra is where our Bodhisattva precepts come from. There are other Bodhisattva precept sutras, but this is the one that almost all East Asian Bodhisattva precept people, that's where they get it, get the precepts.


And if I also just briefly mention that the number of precepts is the total number, I'll just say the number of precepts is 10 grave precepts, Bodhisattva precepts, which are the 10 grave precepts of our tradition, and I brought some cards, Sonia and I brought some cards which have the 10 grade precepts on them and those are in that sutra and then in addition there's 48 minor precepts and if you look and the 48 minor precepts we do not usually transmit in this school but I think it'd be good for you to read them and particularly because they're not for monks and nuns only. They're mostly for lay people, for business people, and parents, and kings, and CEOs, and CFOs. They're for those kinds of people. They're for lay people.


So those are 48, so the total is 58. These precepts are for all sentient beings, for monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. They're also for people who are not Buddhist, but we usually don't give them to people unless they want them. But that's what they're for. They're for everybody whose nature is originally pure and developed somehow wonderfully. The plot is thickened. The original nature is thickened with the plot of delusion. If you want to read the scripture, you can buy it.


and you can also receive it on the internet. If you'd like to have it sent to you, you can write to Sonja, Rev Assistant, at, and she'll mail you the sutra, and you can read it. You email. Or you give them the link. She'll give you the link, and then you can receive this sutra, which is, again, the source of the Bodhisattva precepts in East Asia. The Tibetans know about this too, but it's not as influential in Tibet as in China, Korea, and Japan. And by the way, this great Korean scholar, among the many Chinese and Korean scholars, he's the one who's most influential in Japan, which again, I never heard about. but he had a strong influence on Japanese Mahayana Bodhisattva practice.


And I'm not Korean, but I'll say his name, Da'e Shun, Da'e Shun, which the Chinese characters for that are great intelligence or great wisdom. He lived in the 8th century. His his commentary on this sutra was probably written in the first half of the 8th century. And in Japan, hundreds of commentaries have been written on this scripture. It's very influential and I'll just tell you beforehand, it's really pretty far out. Right after, in the sutra, right after it says, right after, and the teacher, the main teacher of the sutra is Vairochana Buddha, Dharmakaya Vairochana Buddha.


And Vairochana Buddha says, these precepts are for all living beings whose original nature is pure. And then he says, now I, Vairochana Buddha, seated on a thousand-petaled lotus flower platform, and on each platform is a Shakyamuni Buddha. So this Vairochana is seated on a thousand-petaled lotus, and on each petal is a Shakyamuni Buddha sitting. And with that Shakyamuni, each Shakyamuni Buddha has, I believe, a trillion other Shakyamuni Buddhas with him. And each Buddha has an inexhaustible Buddha land. And from here, Vairochana goes on to give you a picture of where these precepts are coming from. So if you read it and it's too much, just stop and come back later.


But it is, again, I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say other than it's very influential. It's in the background of our Bodhisattva precept tradition. And it's also coming from this Buddha nature, Tathagatagarbha perspective. So I was talking to the priests at Zen Center about studying the scripture, and as I got into talking to them about it, I thought, maybe it's too much to go through it in a group. I think, so I recommended that they read it, and after they read it, after they've all read it, if they want to study it in detail, we could do that. And then we could even do it with the commentary. So this is a possible thing that might happen with the priests at Green Gulch.


But so far we're not doing it. I just said, why don't you read it? In the meantime, someone said to me, you've never taught the Platform Sutra, which is sometimes called the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Ancestor of Zen, Hui Nung. And it's true, I never did teach it. I read it. a long time ago, like around, yeah, 1970, I started reading it. It was translated in 67, and I read it in 70. And yeah, I still have the book, and I have my notes from 1970. It's lovely. But I never taught it. And I had various reasons for why not to. But when it was brought up, I never taught it. I thought, well, maybe now is the time to do it, because, because, I wanted to study that Bodhisattva Precept Sutra, the Brahman's Net Sutra. I feel like people need to get familiar with it before they study it.


But we have another Precept Sutra, the Platform Sutra, the short version, it says Platform Sutra, but it's actually Bodhisattva Precept Platform Sutra. The platform is a platform that the preceptor, the teacher sits on, giving the Bodhisattva precepts. So I thought, well, let's go look at the Platform Sutra and see how the Zen people deal with these precepts. And it's the same, and so we're studying the Platform Sutra now. And what I'm finding, which I found before, but more comfortably, is that the Bodhisattva precepts in the Platform Sutra are Buddha nature Bodhisattva precepts. And again, in that Platform Sutra of the Zen sixth ancestor, who we call, before


introducing a practice called, I believe, formless refuge, the formless refuges. There's a practice in there, in that Platform Sutra, in that Bodhisattva Precept Platform Sutra, there's a section which is about formless refuge, or receiving the formless refuges. So the sixth ancestor in this scripture supposedly said, now I will give you the formless three treasures, the formless refuges and the three treasures. And again, before he says that, he says, he quotes the Brahma's net sutra. And he tells the people, These precepts are for all sentient beings whose original nature is pure."


And then he says, now recite with me. And then he does this thing, which I'm not yet ready to do with you because I want to check to see if you're ready for it before I do it. Then he goes on to transmit the formless refuges in the three jewels. So, yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if you feel overwhelmed by all that I said. And so I'm gonna pause now before I actually, I thought I actually, I don't wanna talk to you too much more about the Brahma's Net Sutra until you've read, some of you have read it.


but I do feel like maybe I can start talking to you about the Bodhisattva Platform Sutra of the Sixth Ancestor of Zen. Because again, that is, you know, when I look at the Platform Sutra, I see various elements in there that are in our Bodhisattva precept ceremonies. And when I look at the Sutra, I also see various elements that are taken from both of those places. So again, the Platform Sutra I see coming from the Tathagatagarbha teaching and also coming from the Brahman's Net Sutra. And I see our ceremony coming from both. and from all these sutras in the background of those two. So behind the Tathagatagarbha teaching is the Nirvana Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, and so on.


There's these huge Mahayana masterpieces behind these Bodhisattva precept ceremonies. And I maybe want to say that I think I'm sitting on this hotspot and I'm going northwest slowly. I'm going to be on this hotspot for a while and I will share with you the lava. I will share with you the, ignore the, it's more like the, what is it called, the magma? It's called magma? It's coming up and I'm very joyful to have this coming up and I feel like maybe I can share it with you. And you can sit on the same spot. There's plenty of room on the top of this volcano. So I,


I'm pausing. I'm pausing and I'm joyful and I want to be careful not to say too much. We could do that. So we can put the link. I will, we can put the link on the board. And if somehow that doesn't work, you could email. Yes, Charlie. We could put the link on the Dharma Talks page right next to this talk. We could put the link on the Dharma Talks page.


Also. Okay, so we can put it on the, please, I'll show it to Charlie, he can put it on the Dharma Talks page, and somebody, I don't know who, will write the link on the bulletin board. Maybe you will. Yeah. Yeah, go ahead. in the Brahma's Net Sutra, in the second part, the 58 bodhisattva precepts are presented and discussed. Could you give us a sample of the ones we don't know about? Yeah, not eating meat. That's not explicitly said in the first ten, but it is in the latter 48, not eating meat.


Also, actually, in the first ten, precept number five, actually in the text, you will see if you read it, it's actually the precept of not selling intoxicants. But I think in the early days of Zen Center, Suzuki Roshi felt, well, probably we should say not just, because not everybody is a drug dealer, but a lot of people use drugs. So Zen Center didn't make a policy not to sell drugs in the Zendo, but not take drugs in the Zendo. because people were taking drugs. Actually, I think maybe the first, almost the first of the 48 is not to take drugs, not to take in intoxicants.


And number five in the first 10 is not to sell them. So that's one of the 48 that's in the R10, because we felt like we should mention at least that one of the 48 for people, because most people don't think of themselves. Well, I'm not going to sell sake. Yeah, right. Yes. Two questions. First, I thought at some point when you were talking about the sutras, did you mention that they were intended for sentient beings of pure origin? Well, whose original nature is pure. Are there sentient beings whose original nature is not pure? In this sutra says, these precepts are for all sentient beings whose nature is pure.


This Buddha is saying, Tathagatagarbha teaching is saying all sentient beings' original nature is Tathagatagarbha. And there's a debate. Some Yogatara, some of the Mahayana philosophers think that there's some people who these precepts are not for, who are incurably polluted. There is that opinion floating around. But Zen, generally speaking, seems to go with the Nirvana Sutra which says, as it's teaching about, you know, the milk medicine, and the Nirvana Sutra says, all sentient beings without exception, have the Buddha nature, or another translation could be, the way Dogen interprets it, all sentient beings, whole being, is Buddha nature.


But Buddha nature is not just the pure, it's the pure mingled with the impure. We all have this mixture, and we also all have this original nature. Just like our so-called, our unconscious process has the seeds for nirvana and the seeds for samsara. Our body and mind have the seeds for nirvana and the seeds for samsara. And the seeds for nirvana are coming from the unmixed suchness, unmixed reality in our body. unmixed, perfectly pure, that's in us, but also we have the impure, and those two together is where the Tathagata is born. The perfectly pure grows up with all sentient beings, and that's what that Ratna, Gotra, Vibhanga, Mahayana, Uttara, Tantra, Shastra is about, is to discuss this


And like the two correlated precepts where you mentioned about intoxicants, wouldn't the precept of not eating meat come from the great precept of not killing? Yeah. Well, it also teaches that all these precepts come from each of all the others. They're all mutually included. That's another part of the teaching there, is that, you know, not selling intoxicants goes with not killing, not taking what's not given, and so on. All the other, each of the ten include the other nine, but also each of the 58 include the other 57. That's, again, part of the teaching of Buddha nature, from the Avatamsaka Sutra, we all fully possess the wisdom and virtues of the Buddha.


We all include each other and are included in each other. That's our nature. And that nature is originally pure. But also, it is possible that we have attachments and misconceptions, so that interferes with our enjoyment of our true nature, which is what we're here for is to learn how to deal with those attachments and misunderstandings in a way to awaken to our true nature. So again, in the Platform Sutra for Bodhisattva Precepts, over and over again it is said, see your original nature and become Buddha. but also see that your original nature is Buddha. Your original nature is Buddha. Your original nature is Buddha. See that. And seeing nature is again called Kensho, which is in Zen often equated with enlightenment.


See your nature. You've got your nature, see it. But you can't see your nature unless you look at your not-nature. You can't see your original pure nature unless you observe your impure nature with eyes of compassion. So, two months ago I was stressing, or more, Zen practice is to observe the cries of the world. The cries of the world are the cries of deluded beings, or they're the cries of delusion. They're the cries of fear and arrogance. and self-righteousness, and confusion, and attachment, and hatred, all this stuff's calling for compassion. All these are like not really our original nature. But if you observe them with eyes of compassion, they all turn into Dharma doors, and you see your original nature in everything. because all these pollutions are intimately cohabiting in your Buddha nature.


And as we know, it's really a challenging work to moment by moment be listening to all the cries of the world. So one of our regular members, Catherine Virpo has had the kind of stroke where you have bleeding in the brain, and so she's, yeah, so she's still recovering, or she's still in the process of dealing with this, and it's affected her vision, and maybe at, At the work circle, Eileen and Catherine could tell you more about her situation. So this afternoon, we'll do a well-being ceremony for her, and she also wants us to do a well-being ceremony for her sisters. And also, if you want other people to be included in the well-being ceremony, may I ask you to tell Sonja their names.


And we'll have a well-being ceremony for Catherine, who you'll learn more about, if you wish, at Work Circle, her sisters, and I told Catherine, oh, three sisters. There's three beautiful mountains in Oregon called the Three Sisters. So that's, she remembers, they're remembering that, that there are three beautiful mountains that are calling for compassion, so we will chant the ten-verse listening to the cries of the world scripture, which reminds us to constantly, moment by moment, listen to the cries of the world. This is our basic, you know, the pedal point, the basic practice of Bodhisattvas is to observe all sentient beings with eyes of compassion. and then we can see, we can wake up to the original nature of all sentient beings.


Yes? Something is ringing a bell from history that I've heard. Isn't Buddha nature controversial at some point where it's sort of pushed out of the thing that there's not supposed to be any either existing Buddha nature or separate or... Yeah, well, in a way, this thing about the self, as I said before, the self was pushed out in early Buddhism. I thought this was later that they said, like more like... You have to keep pushing the self out. When people see a self where there isn't a self, then you teach them no self. So it's an ongoing, it's a perennial problem that we see a self where there isn't a self. So it's kind of going back and forth a little in the teachings?


You could say it goes back and forth. For some people, it's appropriate to teach no self or not self, because they're addicted to seeing a self where there isn't one. Once they've recovered, it still may be fine for them, it's still fine not to see a self where there isn't a self. That will be an ongoing good thing to be into. Don't see a self where there isn't. But at some point in the evolution, it may be good for you to see a self where there is. So, the Platform Sutra is saying over and over, see your self nature and become Buddha. So part of what it takes to make a Buddha is to see that sometimes, like it says in the Nirvana Sutra, there's reasons why the Tathagata teaches no self.


And there's reasons why the Tathagata teaches self. I do not teach that there is no self. But I do teach no self. And he doesn't teach that there is no self, he teaches no self. He teaches that's not a self. That's just an illusion, that thing you're looking at. So there's reasons why the Buddha teaches not self, and he teaches not self to people who are addicted to their ideas of self. to the affliction. They're addicted to their ideas of self, so they experience the four afflictions of self. Delusion, confusion, self-view, self-pride, and I would say self-power, or, you know, trying to control things. That's what happens when you see a self where there isn't one. So Buddha teaches no-self to them. When they're recovered, in order to become Buddha, you need to also see that all sentient beings' original nature is pure, that their self-nature is pure.


That's a teaching which came out, supposedly, at the time of the sixth ancestor, and continues to be. Well, like I said, when I looked at it, I said, whoa, it looks like you're making this thing there. But the Buddha nature is mixed with making a thing there. So part of our nature, our superficial nature, is to make things out of our life, to make our life into a thing. That's sort of our basic pollution, is we make our life into a constricted, graspable version of our life, and we believe it and attach to it. That's part of what we're doing. Also, we're not doing that. We're not really doing that. We never really do that. We just think we do it. And thinking we do it? We suffer. And denying that we think we're doing it? We suffer. Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah.


Yes? How does the Sandhukai teaching differ from this teaching? How does it differ? or how is it similar or different? How does the Sandokai teaching, how is it similar to this teaching? Or different? One way that the Sandokai teaching is different is I think right from the beginning, it puts more emphasis on face-to-face transmission. But this teaching is what is face-to-face transmission. So that doesn't hold up, that's the same too. So I failed to find a difference. Where it's the same is there, which I thought was a difference, but now I see it's not. And it's also the same where it says, right in light there is darkness, right in darkness there is light. And also I think it says, right in darkness


there is light, but don't try to see it as light. Right in light, there is darkness, but something? Don't take it as darkness. Huh? Don't take it as darkness. Yeah. So, right in delusion, right in impurity, there's purity. But when you're looking at the impurity, don't try to like peel the impurity back to try to see the impurity underneath it. Don't try to peel the impurity away so you can see the purity, even though right in the impurity is purity. And also when you're looking at purity, when you see the light, don't try to hold on to the light. It's like they're side by side. Yeah, that's the Tathagatagarbha. Purity is mingled with impurity. Dark is mingled with light. The spiritual source shines in darkness.


That's in the precious merasamadhi. The spiritual source is shining in darkness. The branching streams, which are light, are flowing in darkness. So that's the same. That's talking about, I would say, Buddha nature. But it's also saying don't tamper with either the light or the dark. Don't tamper with pollution and delusion and confusion. Observe all that and the cries that come with it with eyes of compassion and you will see the light will be revealed in the darkness. But also observe the light the same way. with eyes of compassion, and you won't grab the light and make it dark. So, Sandokaino, Hokyo Zangmai, are unfolding the same teaching, I would say, but also giving you instructions about how to watch, how to observe in the proper way, so that there can be revelation of, again, you will be able to see your true nature and become Buddha.


Yes. The word that came to my mind was the fear, and the thought of the fear, and the thought of the existence of fear, of delusion and no delusion. So we've got fear, thought of fear. Delusion and no delusion. Delusion. Okay, so we've got all that? Yes. So, all that stuff, all that is pollution, what you just told me about. Those are pollutions. They're the pollutions. And the thought that there is there is such a thing as no pollution. That's another pollution. That's another pollution, exactly. And all the pollutions are welcome here. Okay, so as long as we are in this circle of words and thoughts and pollution, there is no way


to see what is other than what is. Yeah. And what you just said is another pollution. But I agree with it. I agree with that pollution. I mean, no, I disagree with that pollution. So I have another pollution for you. In this circle, which is called consciousness, I call consciousness, also called self-consciousness, in this circle where there's pollution, if we observe all the pollution with eyes of compassion, we will see that we don't have to get out of this polluted consciousness, because this polluted consciousness is totally pervaded by completely pure, original nature. So we live in pollution And if we really observe the pollution with eyes of compassion, an ocean of blessing will come to open the doors on our true nature.


Without getting out of this polluted consciousness, and not staying there either, just Observe it. You don't have to be there, even. You have to be here to observe it. You don't have to go anyplace, and that's where stillness comes in. You don't have to move. You just need to be a bodhisattva and observe all this with eyes of compassion, and there will be revelation of true nature, which is not any place other than this pollution. The unpolluted is mingled intimately with the polluted. The unpolluted suchness, the unpolluted reality is mixed with polluted reality, or, yeah, reality that has pollution with it. But you can't see, you can see the pollution, but you can't see the unpollution.


Our eyes are not adequate for it. But wisdom is adequate to see it, and the doors of wisdom open when we are compassionate towards what we can see and what we can hear, which we can basically see and hear, basically, our own polluted consciousness. Yes? It's not a sutra. It's a shastra. It's a commentary. It's a work of Mahayana literature based on the sutras, based on the Avatamsaka Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra, and there's a Tathagatagarbha Sutra. But the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, I haven't seen much impact of that sutra. And there's other sutras also which are in the background of this Ratanagotra Vimanga. It's a commentary. It's a commentary by Maitreya, who might be, you know, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, but anyway, the author of this commentary on these Mahayana teachings is called Maitreya.


And it was written down by the great teacher Asanga. So I heard that the word Mahayana Tantra Shastra... Uttara. Mahayana Uttara Tantra. Uttara. So I was wondering what Tantra has to do with this whole thing. I think at that time Tantra didn't mean what it means to us now. It probably meant just fabric. Like the ultimate fabric. So one etymology of tantra is fabric or cloth or weave. So the ultimate weave, the ultimate, like we say at the beginning of the Book of Serenity, the Buddha gets up and sits, the suchness unpolluted with various comments,


just perfectly unadulterated perfect Buddhahood sitting there and nobody knows what to do with it. So then Manjushri pollutes it. He goes, clearly observe the teaching of the sovereign teacher of Dharma is thus. Or clearly observe the teaching of the sovereign of Dharma. The teaching of the sovereign of Dharma is thus. So Manjushri pollutes it so we can realize that some teaching has occurred even though we didn't hear anything or see anything, and then the Buddha gets down. And then the verse celebrates it by saying, the unique breeze of reality, can you see it? Creation, constantly working her loom and shuttle, incorporating the patterns of spring into the ancient brocade, but I say that because into the ancient tantra.


The ancient transcendent tantra is how we're all working together, how we're all doing face-to-face transmission all the time with each other in perfect harmony. But we still take the new pattern and incorporate it into the brocade, the new cry, the new suffering, the new confusion, and incorporate that in to the ancient brocade. Yes? When we say the impure is mixed with the pure, then it sounds like the impure must be something other than the pure to be mixed with it. It does sound like that, yeah. But that's part of the teaching is, the impure is itself the pure. Strictly speaking, maybe we say they can't exactly be mixed. It's more like the pure expresses itself.


How about mingle? How about being intimately hang out together? How about you don't have one without the other? How about the pure expresses itself as the impure? No, I don't go sign that one. But although I don't sign it, maybe later I will. I don't want to be rigid or anything. Manifests? I would say, Ta ta ta. So the Buddha is called, one of the epithets of Buddha is ta ta agata. Ta ta ta agata. Suchness come.


Or suchness goes. Ta ta ta agata. Ta ta ta agata. Do you understand? So you have suchness, ta ta ta, that either agatas or gatas. Agata means ta-ta-ta, coming. Ta-ta-ta gata means suchness, going. And you can't tell which because it's ta-ta-ta, long A. And you can't tell whether it's thus gone or thus come. I would say it's both. And East Asian Buddhism, some people would say, certain schools of East Asian Buddhism, like Pure Land, emphasize ta-ta-ta, Agata, ta ta ta, not gone. And other schools would emphasize ta ta ta, gata, ta ta ta, gone. Anyway, ta ta ta, near mala, ta ta ta, without pollution, doesn't express itself.


It ta-ta-ta expresses itself as associated with delusion and associated with purity. So suchness can be with purity or without. But suchness doesn't really manifest as impurity. It just is with impurity or not with impurity. And with impurity and not impurity, and the with impurity, with impurity, sa, mala, ta-ta-ta, suchness, reality with impurity is sentient beings. Near mala, tatata, suchness without impurity, is the Buddha. And those two are inseparable. But it isn't that tatata mingles with impurity or with purity. It just, it associates with them. The nature of the impurity is actually purity. No, the nature of the impurity is tatata. Isn't that purity? No, ta-ta-ta isn't purity or impurity.


It's just that there's ta-ta-ta without pollution. It says, nirmala, so there's ta-ta-ta with no pollution, and sort of, excuse me for saying so, but suchness without pollution, the Buddha takes the rap for that. So there's the perfectly enlightened one who is suchness without impurity. But the suchness isn't the impurity or the purity. Suchness is better than either one. But in fact, there can be suchness without impurity and there can be suchness with purity. And those two hang out together because the Buddha, which is suchness without impurity, impurity is inseparable from suchness with purity, namely us. And the suchness not associated with impurity, not associated with pollution, that suchness sends the Dharma to the suchness with the impurity.


So that Buddha, Tathagata, not associated with impurity, conveys these Bodhisattva precepts to us sentient beings who hang out with impurity. We hang out with it. We are suchness hanging out with it. And Buddha is suchness not hanging out with it, but transmitting the precepts for us. Is impurity just a reification? Impurity is just... Well, purity kind of is reifying too. I think you can reify not associated with impurity and you can reify associated with impurity. But the fact that that reification doesn't really exist is ta-ta-ta. Yeah, that's our original true nature, which you can also add pure to that, and that's called the Dharma body of the Buddha.


And again, I, you know, I'm just, we're just warming up to this teaching, and I think it's calling for a lot more compassion, a lot more listening, and a lot more conversation. This is a last month and this month are warming up to this potentially controversial teaching. but one which, I'm sorry to say, you can't get away from it in the Platform Sutra and the first few generations after the Sixth Ancestor, particularly on the side of the lineage over by Matsu. Matsu's full of this Buddha nature stuff, and Bajong, and the Buddha nature all over the place. It's hard to get away from it, I'm sorry. So maybe it's time to, like, meet it and converse with it.


And as I said, these Bodhisattva precepts seem to be Buddha nature, Bodhisattva precepts. So is that enough for this morning? I mean for this afternoon, for this early afternoon? I hope nobody got burned by the lava. Yeah, turning away and touching this lava flow are not recommended, but stay close.