The Ten Grounds (Flower Garland Sutra, Chapter 26)

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Cino, Jan 26, 2020.

  1. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,380
    Likes Received:
    621
    On with the text. We are here:
    • PDF version: p.701 as printed in the pdf; a pdf reader will take you there if you tell it to go to page 748.
    • On the 10000 Buddhas web page, search for "At that time, within the platform of light")
    From within the fireworks display of illuminated clouds, a voice commands Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva to explain the Ten Grounds in detail. V.T. Bodhisattva then lectures the assembly on how subtle, hard to speak of, hard to understand, hard to attain these teachings and practices are. Check your credentials, make sure you did your homework, this is advanced material, seems to be the message. He finishes off this particular passage (in verse) by re-stating his authorization to teach. The message here seems to one-up the previous warnings: don't even think of teaching this without proper authorization.

    He continues in prose, enumerating all the required qualities, for example "well-developed roots of goodness", having attended the Buddhas well, having a solid practice, having spiritual friends, having thought through the whole thing, and so on. He dwells a bit on how the intention to follow through with this training should be grounded in compassion.

    Then he finally starts to expound on the first ground: The Ground of Happiness/Joy. The qualities of Joy, Happiness, Calm, and freedom from anger are mentioned. This joy can be accessed by thinking of the Buddhas and other enlightened beings, the majesty of the teachings.

    We are at the end of PDF p.704. Next up: more on the Ground of Happiness.
     
    Beautiful likes this.
  2. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    21
    Not sure which translation is being used - Cleary or BTTS. The latter is better as coming from the Hua Yan tradition. Even better than the BTTS root text translation is this one that incorporates the commentary of Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua.

    http://www.cttbusa.org/fas26/fas26.asp

    Here is how Master Hua begins his commentary:

    "The Flower Adornment Sutra has 81 rolls and 39 chapters, of which this is Chapter 26, the Ten Grounds. Why are these ten called grounds? All things that exist are born from the ground, grow because of the ground, come to maturity by means of the ground, and obtain liberation due the ground.

    Within the ground are found a variety of treasuries like gold mines, diamond mines, silver mines, copper, iron, and various other kinds of mines which people excavate. The Ten Grounds contain the mines of Buddhas, the mines of Bodhisattavas, the mines of Hearers and those Enlightened to Conditions, the mines of gods and people, and the mines of animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings. In all the Ten Dharma Realms there are mines. If we knew how to excavate them, then we could obtain a variety of treasures.

    The Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds contain all Dharma doors; there is an interconnection between them. If we want to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, it will come about through cultivation of the Grounds. If we want to develop the Bodhisattva Path, we will do it through development of the Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds. If we want to bring cultivation of the Bodhisattva path to maturity, we will do it through maturation of the Ten Grounds. If we want to obtain liberation by means of the Bodhisattva Path, we even more must rely on the Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds in our cultivation in order to gain that liberation.

    The Dharma doors of the Ten Grounds make up the 26 chapter in the Flower Adornment Sutra, and this is part one of the chapter."

    However only the first four grounds are covered online. This translation is slowly proceeding beyond the fourth ground, but may be a few more years before a print or online version appears.

    The Kalavinka translations that I mentioned before were done by a close disciple of Master Hua, Bhikshu Dharmamitra. So when you want to go beyond the Fourth Ground go to that Dharma Jewel link (post #17) within Kalavinka Press to read onward. But go down and pick the second version by Master Śikṣānanda
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
    Beautiful likes this.
  3. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,380
    Likes Received:
    621
    I was going by Cleary, which is that PDF I keep mentioning.
     
  4. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,380
    Likes Received:
    621
    To recap, here are some resources for the text we are covering here, thanks @Nicholas Weeks for the useful links:

    I'm planning to read through and discuss the next passage soon, but am currently busy away from the keyboard, so it might take a few days for this to materialize here in the forum.
     
  5. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    21
    Treading the altruistic path of a real bodhisattva is more difficult than some folks think. The fundamental attitude needed takes more than one lifetime, for the basic qualities are so unfamiliar, even repulsive to most humans.

    Anyway, the bodhisattva Nagarjuna wrote a large Treatise on just the First Stage or Ground, with a little more on the Second Stage. Most of that book is online now: http://kalavinka.org/Jewels/jewels_toc.htm
     
    StevePame likes this.
  6. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    21
    Here is how Nagarjuna begins his Treatise:

    I bow down in reverence to all buddhas,
    to their unsurpassable great path,
    to those in the bodhisattva sangha
    who, equipped with solid resolve, abide on the ten grounds,
    to the śrāvaka disciples, to the pratyekabuddhas,
    and to those free of a self and anything belonging to a self.
     
  7. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2019
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    45
    Thanks for May 9ths post @Cino. I enjoy reading your summary of these scenes in the text.


    V.T. Bodhisattva then lectures the assembly on how subtle, hard to speak of, hard to understand, hard to attain these teachings and practices are. Check your credentials, make sure you did your homework, this is advanced material, seems to be the message.

    "well-developed roots of goodness"

    The Ground of Happiness/Joy. The qualities of Joy, Happiness, Calm, and freedom from anger are mentioned. This joy can be accessed by thinking of the Buddhas and other enlightened beings, the majesty of the teachings.

    You know me I love this stuff, but as an atheist, do words and sentences like this in the text resonate with you, Cino? :)
     
  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,380
    Likes Received:
    621
    Oh yes, they do. I love catalogs of the human mind, and I like exploring the states of consciousness they describe.

    I think the state of calm joy alluded to in this passage is familiar to most people, and I also think there are many different individual means of attaining it, and that contemplating the Buddha and Buddhist doctrine may not work for everyone (Me, I like to contemplate the universe and such natural laws as we understand, and the ensuing sense of wonder is my entrance to something like this state of mind.)

    I appreciate the roots of goodness in anyone, and work on developing them in myself.

    My lack of any gods is no hindrance to approaching this teaching.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
    Beautiful likes this.
  9. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    21
    Here is the Kalavinka translator of Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Ten Grounds giving a brief outline of the contents of the 35 chapters:

    This text consists of 35 chapters in 17 fascicles that
    describe in great detail the principles and practices involved in
    entering the bodhisattva path and in perfecting in correct sequence
    the practices of the first and second grounds, “The Ground of
    Joyfulness,” and “The Ground of Stainlessness.”

    Chapter 1, “The Introduction,” discusses the author’s motivations
    and aims in composing this treatise. Chapter 2 through 27
    explain the first ground’s practices. Chapter 28 through 35 explain
    the second ground’s practices.

    Chapter 2, “Entering the First Ground” through Chapter 17,
    “On Entering the Temple,” focus on the practice methods of the lay
    bodhisattva. Chapter 18, “The Jointly Shared Practices,” through
    Chapter 27, “Summarizing the Practice [of the First Ground],”
    focus more on the bodhisattva practices that are common to both
    the lay bodhisattva and the monastic bodhisattva. Chapter 28,
    “Distinctions in Courses of Karmic Action on the Second Ground,”
    through Chapter 35,” focus somewhat more strongly on the practices
    of the monastic bodhisattva or very advanced lay practitioner.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
  10. Beautiful

    Beautiful Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2019
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    45
    Great reply @Cino :) You worded it very well, it makes total sense. Now I see that I didnt mean "since youre an atheist" I rather meant "Since youre skeptik." But youve answered that too; you bennefit from this since you see it as a catalogue of the mind (psychology, say), which indeed it is.

    I love what you said about contemplating the universe and natural laws as a stream entry into the sense of wonder--which is the seed of spirituality, is it not?

    I identify with this very much, and had never heard it being said back to me--even though I bet thats how it goes for most of us! I'm talking about that sense of wonder...that doorway into the imperceptable; those stars & galaxies in the sky which our always beyond our grasp. They are saying something with their silence...

    Thats how it started for me. I went from a pretty lowly person, self centered and self absorbed, disconected & unaware, into something much grander, more peaceful, by becoming absorbed in Stevie Wonder's music, Paul Auster's literature, history books which cemented in my mind the whole history of mankind and particularly the history of warfare; cosmology, physics, Richard Feyman's lectures on quantum physics, etc.

    That was my entry. That sense of wonder.

    I found these things extremley profound, cosmic, deep, unfathomable, and orderly.

    Whereas before, I had been deeply indoctrinated into materialism & I was an atheist (but in the strict sense of the word, not like you @Cino. you are a unique case. I was banal, whereas you have much more depth in your inquiries, its evident.)

    I thought there was nothing. We're just animals living here and you just live your life as a human and one day you die and thats it.

    But certain knowledge makes those beliefs (belief that theres nothing going on here, we're just humans carying out our lives and thats it) impossible once faced with concrete evidence. For example, once you have a vision, the notion that supernatural phenomena doesnt exist, simply stops being valid. Cause youve actually whitnessed the height of a supernatural phenomena. Extradimensional beings or gods or dead relatives, have given you gifts and you open the gifts and...whats inside is so deep, so profound, so to the core of the meaning of existence...that you know that its REAL. Its more real than real life. It has a stamp of authenticity; you cant make this stuff up! Its congruent with everything we know about physics; for example, in visions everything is about waves. This is congruent with physics, where the study of waves, particals, and matter, is the deepest knowledge physicist like Feynman have come upon.
     
    Cino likes this.
  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,380
    Likes Received:
    621
    Here we go with the next installment. We are at the last paragraph on p.704 (as the printed numbering goes) in the Cleary PDF, and on the "City of 10,000 Buddhas" web page at http://cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka26_1.asp you can start conveniently at the top of that page.

    Reading on, we find a list of great vows which a Bodhisattva makes, once they are able to attain what is termed "Securely Dwelling" or "being well established" in the Ground of Happiness.

    Here are the vows in summary:
    1. to pay homage to each and every Buddha in the whole cosmos
    2. to receive the dispensations, attain the enlightenment, maintain the teachings, and practice the discipline of each Buddha
    3. to be born in each time and place where a Buddha appears and take on a leading role in their dispensation
    4. to teach the Bodhisattva practices correctly and unceasingly throughout the ages
    5. to teach all beings
    6. to comprehend all the worlds
    7. to show the perfection of the Buddha-realms
    8. to collaborate with all other Bodhisattvas in the common cause
    9. to cultivate the Bodhisattva practices path in thought, word, and deed
    10. to awaken in all worlds, showing the path
    (It seems that these are a more elaborate form of the familiar 4-vow formula of contemporary Mayahana Buddhism: 1. to save all creatures 2. to break greed hate, delusion, 3. to learn all Dharma Gates, and 4. to accomplishe the Buddha's path)

    The speaker then goes on to reflect on these vows, how they interact with the mind states of someone who has taken them, how they instill reverence for the extremely lofty aspirations, and how to generate motivation (faith, trust) in one's ability to fulfill these vows.

    The speaker's reflections lead him to reiterate (a shortened version of ) the links of "dependent origination", one of the backbones of Buddhist doctrine, starting with "name and form", through to suffering, and points out how this contemplation of how suffering arises will awaken compassion in a Bodhisattva.

    (we are up to the top of p.708 in the Cleary PDF, or up to the phrase "bright wisdom of great kindness" in the web page)

    To those reading along, who may know Mahayana Buddhism better than me or even be practicing Buddhists (@seattlegal ?): Are you familiar with this list of ten vows? Is my understanding that the 4-vow formula commonly taught is a summary of these ten vows, a valid one?
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  12. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    21
    Cino, there are many ten vow lists in Mahayana, particularly in the Avatamsaka Sutra. No, the four great vows are not a summary of this particular list of ten. See this thread on their origin from Dharma Wheel site:

    https://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=16456

    Have not compared this new translation by a disciple of Master Hua, with the BTTS one, but it is more accurate than Cleary's. Go to page 50 for the ten vows.

    http://kalavinka.org/Jewels/book_excerpts/10GSIK-EO_excerpts/10GSIK-EO_Pt 1 xexcerpt.pdf
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  13. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    1,380
    Likes Received:
    621
    Excellent, thank you, @Nicholas Weeks. In the next installment, I'll look into this translation as well.
     
  14. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    21
    If you are seriously interested, also study Nagarjuna's commentary on chapter 26, which I mentioned in post #25.
     

Share This Page