PREFACE COMPOSED BY THE T'ANG DYNASTY
by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Too high it is for gazing, so
Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice
Are dried-up gills and scales before the Dragons' Gate;
Too deep to be surveyed, so
Sound-hearers of superior virtue
Stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly.
How high is the Dragons' Gate? I've never paid a visit to the Dragons' Palace, and so I don't know how high it is, but at the very least it must be twenty feet high. If any carp, whether large or small, can swim up and jump over the gate, then that carp can become a dragon. If the carp leaps and does not make it, then it will tear its gills or have its scales scraped off. Torn gills and scraped-off scales are not so bad, but it also may be dashed to death. Therefore the line between life and death is right at this point. This is just as when someone is about to become enlightened. If you are on the point of becoming enlightened, if you have no more attachments and have gone through all the demonic obstacles, then you become enlightened. However, if right when you're about to become enlightened you become attached, then you will be possessed by a demon, and may even lose your life. Consequently, becoming enlightened is not so easy. It is like a carp's leaping the Dragons' Gate: if it manages to leap it, then it can become a dragon. If it doesn't make it over, it turns into mud, that is, it dries up and goes back to the earth. That explains the phrase "dried-up gills and scales," dried-up meaning dried-out in the sun.
Therefore, it says: Too high is it for gazing/If it were of ordinary height one could see it; but if it is too fantastically high, you "cannot get a glimpse of its summit. In the Annalects someone asks Confucius's disciple Yen Hui what kind of state his teacher, Confucius, has. Yen Hui replies:
The more you gaze at him, the higher he is.
The more you bore into him, the more solid he becomes.
Regarding him from the front, suddenly he is behind.
That is all inconceivable. Now here, instead of saying, as there, "The more you gaze at him, the higher he is," it uses "Too high is it for gazing." So this is referring to something even loftier than Yen Hui's view of Confucius being too high for gazing at altogether.
So Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice/As a Bodhisattva of accumulated practice, you may have been cultivating from limitless kalpas to the present, life after life, for one does not know how long. However, if you do not believe in the Flower Adornment Sutra, and fail to cultivate according to the principles in the Flower Adornment Sutra, then you cannot arrive at the Buddha's enlightenment. If you do believe, then that counts as having leapt in the Dragons' Gate. If you do not believe in the Flower Adornment Sutra, then that's like not having leapt over the Dragons' Gate. You haven't leapt it because it is too high for you to leap over. The Flower Adornment Sutra represents the Dragons' Gate, and Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice are like the carp that have not made it over the Dragons' Gate, and so cannot become dragons. They are "dried-up gills; and scales before the Dragons' Gate."
Too deep to be surveyed/"Deep" means like the water of the ocean, the bottom of which cannot be seen. No matter how much you scan and survey it, you will not be able to see how far it is to the bottom of the sea; so Sound-Hearers of superior virtue/ones who have great virtue, like Sariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Subhuti, Aniruddha, Venerable Kashyapa, all of those Sound Hearers of superior virtue, stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly. What do they stop? They stop up their ears and cover" up their eyes.
They had eyes but did not see Rocana,
Had ears but did not hear the perfect, sudden teaching.
That's what it means when it says that they "stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly." Although they are right beside the Buddha in the Seven Places and the Nine Assemblies, still they do not hear or understand these principles.
(The explanation of National Master Ch'ing Liang's resolutions was added to the previous occurrence)
Seeing and hearing act as seeds:
The Eight Difficulties leap to the echelons of the Ten Grounds.
Understanding and practicing in one's person:
One life perfects the fruit of distant kalpas.
If you just have a glimpse of the Flower Adornment Sutra or simply hear its name, that can plant the seed of Bodhi within the field of your eighth consciousness. That is why it says. Seeing and hearing act as seeds. Once that kind of vajra seed has been planted, it will, in time, come to maturity. When that seed ripens in the future, that is the ripening of the fruit of Buddhahood. Therefore it says. The Eight Difficulties leap to the echelons of the Ten Grounds. The Eight Difficulties are:
2. Hungry ghosts;
4. Northern Kuru Continent;
5. Heaven of Long Life;
6. Being blind, deaf, or mute;
7. Having worldly knowledge and argumentative intelligence;
8. Being before or after a Buddha.
The Ten Grounds are:
1. Ground of happiness.
2. Ground of leaving filth.
3. Ground of emitting light.
4. Ground of flaming wisdom.
5. Ground of difficult conquest.
6. Ground of manifestation.
7. Ground of far-reaching practice.
8. Ground of unmovingness.
9. Ground of good wisdom.
10. Ground of the Dharma Cloud.
The Eight Difficulties are eight circumstances in which it is very difficult to hear the Buddhadharma or cultivate it, even if you want to. The hells are a difficulty, inasmuch as one does not hear the Buddhadharma in the hells; and it is also not easy for hungry ghosts to hear the Buddhadharma. The same is true of animals. Those three evil paths are fraught with difficulty.
Why is it that they cannot hear the Buddhadharma? Why were the Sound Hearers of superior virtue who stopped seeing and hearing in the fine assembly unable to hear the Buddhadharma although they were present while the Buddha was speaking Dharma? How, when the Buddha was right in front of them, were they for all intents and purposes as if separated from the Buddha by as many as a hundred and eight thousand miles? You should all pay attention to this. The reason is that in previous lives they did not praise the Buddha, they refused to chant. They would say, "Cultivation is cultivation, isn't it? What's the use of chanting that? What's the point of reciting that? It's just so much play-acting. What point is there to it?" They would think, "It's just a lot of ruckus, and it's really meaningless." They called doing the Buddhist ceremonies putting on a play. Even when it came to chanting, "Amitabha's body is the color of gold," they said, "If I had wanted to hear that, wouldn't I have been better off going to hear music? It's just because I didn't want to go hear music that I came and bowed to the Buddha--only to find that even within Buddhism there's still that kind of stuff;" and they refused.
It wasn't just that they themselves refused; they went on to tell other people, "Hey, you don't want to study that. That's really meaningless and phony." When it came right down to it, they didn't know what was true. If you don't understand the false, then how can you study what is true? And even if it is false, are you able to do it? If you don't recognize even a single character.....Therefore it is because on the causal ground they didn't praise the Buddha, the Dharma, or the Sangha that when they arrived at the fruit-position of Sound-Hearers, they did not see the Buddha speaking the Flower Adornment Sutra and did not hear it--all due to having failed to praise the Triple Jewel. Therefore, all of you should be aware of this:
If the causal ground is not true,
The result obtained will be crooked.
If what you do on the causal ground is not true, there will be a lot of trouble in the consequent fruition, lots of twists and turns. It won't be straight. So those of the Two Vehicles did not hear the Flower Adornment Sutra being lectured because they had not praised the Buddha in the past and had been very stuffy before the Buddha.
In the Eight Difficulties, however, one basically does not hear the Buddhadharma. For example, in the Northern Kuru Continent, people have lots of blessings and can live for a thousand years. However, they do not see the Buddha. Not to speak of seeing the Buddha, they do not even hear the Buddhadharma, and they do not see the Sangha. They never see people who have left home: monks, nuns, Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, Shramanas. That is because they have cultivated blessings without cultivating wisdom. They do not hear about the Triple Jewel, so they are not able to make offerings to the Triple Jewel; and so their good roots cannot increase and grow. If your good roots do not increase and grow, after you have lived your thousand years there, either you fall to the hells, or you turn into a hungry ghost or an animal--it's not fixed.
The Fifth Difficulty is to be born in the Heaven of Long Life, also called the Heaven of No Thought. Lifespans are even longer in that Heaven--much longer than the life span in the Northern Kuru Continent. However, one still does not see the Buddha, nor hear the Dharma or encounter the Sangha, and so it is called one of the Difficulties.
Difficulty is being blind, deaf, or mute. All the blind, deaf, and mute in
limitless kalpas past slandered the Triple Jewel. They said the Buddha was
not right, the Dharma was not right, and the Sangha was not right, which
is slandering the Triple Jewel. If you slander the Triple Jewel, you fall
into the hells. After falling to the hells, then you turn into a hungry
ghost. After having been a hungry ghost, you turn into an animal; and
after having spent one-does-not-know-how-long a time as an animal, you
afterwards become a person. But, although you are a person, you are
either blind, deaf, mute or crippled. People like that have all slandered
the Triple Jewel, and they are within the Eight Difficulties.
|In the past, America had very few people who had left home. There were some who wanted to leave home, but they had not actually received the Sramanera precepts. They all looked real but were not. They resembled left-home people, but actually they weren't. One such American who had, "left-home" in Japan by taking the five lay precepts--which they call the Shramanera precepts and consider "leaving home"--eventually realized he had not received the full precepts in Japan and wanted me to transmit the Bhikshu precepts to him. On that occasion I said to him, "The Chinese precepts, unlike the Japanese precepts, cannot be received so simply and casually. When the precepts are transmitted in China, you need fifty-three days, or thirty days. The very minimum is eighteen days, and it requires Three Masters and Seven Certifiers to transmit the precepts.||
They cannot be transmitted by a
single individual. It turned out that he did not have time, and was
unable to receive the complete precepts, and not long afterwards he died
in Singapore. Now in America there are Bhikshus and there are Bhikshunis,
and they have all gone through the complementary study and cultivation of
the precepts and the manner of someone who has left the home
life-- Shramanas. This is actually to have the Triple Jewel: the Buddha,
the Dharma, and the Sangha. But in this country, very few people are aware
of this, because to start with this country lacked the Buddhadharma, so
that now that it has it, few people actually recognize it. Without
recognizing it, they are unable to cultivate.
When not a single dharma is established,
The ten thousand dharmas all are empty.
There are some people on the outside who slander us and say, "That place follows this kind of teaching," or, "That place follows that kind of teaching." For example, someone described us to one of my disciples as transmitting the White Lotus Teaching. That was how they described it, but others might say it was the Red Lotus Teaching, the Yellow Lotus Teaching, the Blue Lotus Teaching, or the Purple Lotus Teaching--that many teachings--when in fact we here establish not one dharma, and the ten thousand dharmas all are empty. If you don't believe it, try it out and see. Right now we are not within the Eight Difficulties, and so we are able to investigate the Buddhadharma. This Buddhadharma of ours should not be described as either false or true. Basically it does not exist. Basically, there is nothing whatsoever. Not one dharma is established. There is no knowing, no attaining. There is no wisdom, and nothing is obtained.
The Seventh Difficulty is having worldly knowledge and argumentative intelligence. Such a person considers his wisdom very great, but this is really deviant knowledge and deviant views. His philosophy is: both no head and no tail, both no beginning and no end, both no above and no below, both no ancient and no modern. The philosopher talks that way. If you say he's dead, then he's alive. If you say he's alive, then he's dead. However, its said, it's right. That's philosophy: having worldly knowledge and argumentative intelligence. Wisdom of a worldly sort means the ability to argue and the possession of a certain amount of intelligence. However, worldly wisdom is not wisdom that transcends the world, and it is also one of the Eight Difficulties.
The Eighth Difficulty is that of being born before or after a Buddha. That puts all of us now within one of the Eight Difficulties. Being born before a Buddha is a Difficulty, and being born after a Buddha is also a Difficulty. When the Buddha appeared in the world, we didn't make it, and so we are in one of the Eight Difficulties. Don't figure you are so terrific. What's so terrific about you? You're within one of the Eight Difficulties. Within those eight kinds of Difficulties, it is not easy to study the Buddhadharma.
The period when the Buddha was appearing in the world, the Proper Dharma Age, was a time of solidity in liberation. The five hundred years that followed were a period of solidity in dhyana-samadhi. The next five hundred years after that were a period of solidity in erudition, when everyone was able to read and recite Great Vehicle Sutras, and could recite several of them by heart. They read lots of books, but there was no actual liberation. By liberation is meant certification to the fruit, the attainment of the First Fruit, the Second Fruit, the Third Fruit and the Fourth Fruit. Liberation means to have no restraints or ties, no hang-ups or obstructions, no troubles or afflictions. During the period of solidity in dhyana-samadhi, everyone liked to sit in meditation with single-minded concentration, any of you now who like to sit in meditation are solid in dhyana-samadhi. Whoever manages to certify to the fruit is solid in liberation. Whoever can recite by heart the Surangama Sutra or the Dharma Flower Sutra is solid in erudition. After the period of solidity in erudition was the Dharma Semblance Age, a five-hundred year period of solidity in building temples: building temples here, building temples there, building a whole lot of temples, all of which were very big. After that period comes our present period of solidity in fighting. At present there is fighting between countries, fighting between families, fighting between people. You usurp what is mine, and I usurp what is yours, and we fight with each other. We have a need to fight. Someone asks how long the fighting lasts--for five hundred years, of course, during all of which there is fighting. The Dharma Ending Age is like that.We now are within the Dharma Ending Age, are we not? So you shouldn't keep on slandering the Triple Jewel, should you? In this world there are very, very few people who truly cultivate the Way. Everyone wants to fight, so now left-home people even fight with left-home people. They all fight. You say I'm not right, and I say you're not good, and we fight with each other. "I simply must outdo you! Your temple can lodge five hundred people? I'll build a temple that will lodge a thousand people! I must surpass you! If yours can lodge a thousand people, I'll build a temple that will hold ten thousand, which will certainly be better than yours!" All of that is fighting. Those are the Eight Difficulties. Nonetheless, although in the Eight Difficulties one cannot hear the Buddhadharma, still, if one has causal connections, upon hearing the name of the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, one can, as a result, from within the hells and the realms of the hungry ghosts and the animals, certify to the Bodhisattvas' Ten Grounds. "The Eight Difficulties leap to the echelons of the Ten Grounds" means that they all certify to that fruition--"echelons" meaning positions or stages.
Understanding and practicing in one's person/To understand is to be clear, in this case to be clear about the principles of this Sutra. To practice is to cultivate. "In one's person" means oneself. When you understand, you yourself understand, and cultivation is something that you do yourself as well. If you both understand and practice, then what? One life perfects the fruit of distant kalpas/ Then, right within your single lifetime, you can perfect distant, i.e., limitless kalpas. For many, many kalpas one may seek the perfect accomplishment of Buddhahood. For example, the Buddha:
For three asamkhyeyas cultivated blessings and wisdom;
For a hundred kalpas perfected the marks and characteristics.
However, if you understand and cultivate according to the Flower Adornment Sutra, then right within this lifetime you can certify to the fruit of distant kalpas and become a Buddha.' Although it took so long a time for Sakyamuni Buddha to become a Buddha, we can attain Buddhahood in this very lifetime.
The lion sprints: the ocean-wide assembly suddenly certifies in the grove,
elephant king turns round: six thousand realize the Way as the words fall.
The lion sprints/This is an analogy, that of the Lion's Sprint Samadhi. This kind of samadhi is one of extremely courageous vigor, resembling a lion's majesty and prowess. The lion's sprint is fast, and it is also strong. The ocean-wide assembly is the sea-like multitudes, i.e., a lot of people. Suddenly certifies/It very quickly attains to certification in the grove/grove is the Jeta Grove, and it also means that all the Great Bodhisattvas assembled "together in one place are like a forest.
The elephant king turns round/This refers to the time when Shariputra was leading six thousand Bhikshus, all of whom wished to see Manjusri Bodhisattva. Thereupon Manjusri
Bodhisattva manifested a body for those six thousand people to see, and spoke Dharma for them, causing all of them to cultivate the Dharmas of Great Compassion, bring forth and increase the greatly compassionate thought of Enlightenment, obtain the substance of Great Compassion, and cultivate the vows of Great Compassion. Therefore, at that time, the six thousand Bhikshus all certified to the Fruits of Arhatship, and obtained the purity of the Dharma Eye. In "The elephant king turns round," the image is that of a whole troop of elephants, lead by an elephant king at the head of the procession. The elephant king turns its head around and takes a look at the rest of the elephants, its retinue. Sariputra resembles a king of elephants as he leads the other Bhikshus, the six thousand who are to attain to the purity of the Dharma Eye and certify to the Fruit. The states represented by the Flower Adornment Sutra are inconceivable. On that occasion, all of a sudden, they all certify to the Fruit and attain Irreversibility of Position, Irreversibility of Thought and Irreversibility of Conduct--those Three Fruits of Irreversibility.
Note: corrected text and transliteration of the Sanskrit Lesson for issue #100 should read:
Dawn of understanding at the chaitya in the East;
Full wisdom does not differ from first thought.
Sojourning in positions while seeking in the South;
Perfected causes do not exceed a hair-pore.
Dawn of understanding at the chaitya in the East/This will be discussed in the text proper. It refers to the Youth Sudhana, "Good Wealth," going to a large temple outside City of Blessings, certifying to the Fruit, and opening wisdom. When that wisdom is full, it does not differ from first thought/Upon first bringing forth the thought, he certifies to Proper, Equal, Right Enlightenment, very swiftly, so it is the same as the first thought, at the time of first bringing forth the thought--which means it is very swift. Full wisdom does not differ from first thought. "Full wisdom" means that the Fruit of enlightened wisdom is perfected and full; "does not differ from first thought" means that upon first bringing forth the thought, there is certification to Proper, Equal, Right Enlightenment, very fast--unlike the Buddha who passed through three great asamkhyeya kalpas before achieving Buddhahood. In other words, this passage speaks of attaining to the fruit position very quickly.
Sojourning in positions while seeking in the South/This passage refers to the Youth Sudhana's going South in search of a teacher, a clear-sighted, good and wise advisor, to visit. Perfected causes/When the fruit of his causes and conditions has been perfected, the causes perfected and the fruit perfected, they do not exceed a hair-pore/The meaning of this is that he was fast.
When the Youth Sudhana visited his first teacher, Manjusri, he was stationed at the position of the Ten Faiths. From his visit to Bhikshu Virtue Cloud through his visit with Shakyakanya Gopa, he passed from the Three Holy through the Ten Sagely positions (see issue #102 for explanation). From Mayadevi on he dwelt at the position of Equal Enlightenment. And then after his visit with Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, the causes were perfected and the results were fulfilled, thus the descriptive phrase "do not exceed a hair-pore."
Opening fine dust-motes' sutra scrolls;
Then in every thought the fruit is won.
Exhausting sentient beings' vow doors;
Then In every dust-mote practice is fulfilled.
Opening fine dust-motes' sutra scrolls/To open, as before, means to disclose, in this case revealing the sutra scrolls as many as fine motes of dust. One could also explain it as opening and showing forth the rolls of sutras that are within fine motes of dust. Fine motes of dust are most minute. However, within fine motes of dust there is the Dharma Realm; and there are limitless and boundless rolls of sutras as well, which one opens and discloses, and then in every thought the fruit is won/If you open and reveal sutra-scrolls as fine motes of dust, then in thought after thought one accomplishes the fruit of Buddhahood. One may also explain this as the Dharma door of opening up the verses and chapters within the Flower Adornment Sutra which are as many as fine motes of dust, and then within every single thought accomplishing the fruit of Buddhahood.
In the "Manifestation Chapter" is says:
It is as if there were a sutra equal in size to the great trichiliocosm found in a single mote of dust, and every mote of dust was such, and as if there were a bright person with vision who could clearly see, who broke open the motes of dust and brought forth the sutra-scroll for the benefit of all beings. The Buddha's wisdom is also thus. It pervades living beings' minds which are bound by false thoughts so they are unaware and unknowing.
"Is this big sutra hypothetical and not really existent?"
"The sutra referred to is the true wordless sutra."
"How big do you suppose it is?"
"It pervades the three thousand great thousand worlds."
"How can it be so big?"
"Because there are so many motes of dust. If there weren't so many motes of dust the sutra would be small."
"Where is this big sutra?"
"In every mote of dust, and how many dust motes do you suppose there are in the world? It's not that the sutra is big, it's that the dust motes are big. And yet dust motes aren't big, it's just that the worlds they pervade are big dust is big and the sutra is big."
"Where is this sutra?"
"It's up to you. It is wherever you say it is. A smart person who has opened his five eyes and has the six penetrations sees that in every mote of dust there is a big sutra. He opens up every mote of dust and takes out the sutra and recites it to cross over living beings. The Buddha's wisdom is also like this. It pervades living beings' minds. But living beings are covered with false thinking, which binds up the Buddha's wisdom, so they don't know the Buddha's wisdom exists in their own self-nature. All Buddhas of the ten directions bring forth great compassion and help living beings get rid of their false thinking and benefit all Bodhisattvas.
"This big sutra is wordless. But it also has boundlessly many words. It's just that we don't understand them and we don't know how to read them. Each person, in fact, is a sutra; each is his own chapter. Everything a person says and does composes his sutra. By understanding one such sutra you can understand others in turn. Great Vehicle sutras, Small Vehicle sutras, Buddha Vehicle, Bodhisattva Vehicle, Sound-Hearer Vehicle, Condition-Enlightened Vehicle--in every realm there are sutras.
"And the true wordless sutra is just the mind-sutra."
"What is the sutra of the mind?"
"It is the embodiment of the tenet that everything is made from mind alone."
Exhausting living beings' vow doors/No matter what vows you make, the vows made by you as a living being constitute limitless and boundlessly many doors. However, it can completely fulfill all of the doors of practice represented by the vows that living beings have made, and then in every dust-mote practice is fulfilled/ In each fine particle of dust, the power of practice of your cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way is accomplished. This represents your having cultivated limitless and boundlessly many doors of practice. If you rely upon the Flower Adornment Sutra in your cultivation of those kinds of doors of practice, then they can be perfected and your work will be accomplished. Therefore the Flower Adornment Sutra is the most subtle and wonderful of sutras.
It may truly be called:
Wonderful speech of constant duration,
Vast model of universal scope, Ultimate expression congruent with the
Main track of the single vehicle.
It may truly be called/ National Master Ch'ing Liang is praising the Flower Adornment Sutra by saying that it may truly be called wonderful speech of constant duration/This kind of Dharma is constant and unchanging. It is the most subtle, wonderful, and inconceivable vast model of universal scope/ On the one hand you can say of it that it is of universal scope, that is, that everyone can use this kind of method, this vast model and great guideline. This kind of method is not restricted to a given area, but works anywhere and everywhere, being of universal scope. It may also be called the ultimate expression congruent with the nature/That means that the expression of virtue is identical with, not separate from, other than, or different from the nature. The nature is the Buddha-nature, from which it flows forth in congruence. That is, these most wonderful, lofty and profound principles are proclaimed from the Buddha's Dharma body, from the Buddha's self-nature, and so are described as the "ultimate expression," meaning that the principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are spoken in the most ultimate and inconceivable way.
Main track of the single vehicle/This means the primary path of the most supreme Buddha Vehicle.
There is just the Buddha Vehicle,
And no further Vehicle besides.
"Main" means the most important, and "track" means a rail. This main track is the guiding rail along which every single individual should go in cultivation. Therefore the principles of the Sutra are most important. The great Dharma within the Flower Adornment Sutra is difficult to encounter and difficult to meet. It is not easy to hear it. You figure it out: Dragon Tree Bodhisattva went to the Dragons' Palace and memorized it, and so we are able to hear it. How lucky we are!
It is like a sunrise glorious in the sky
Dimming multitudes of luminaries; splendor,
Like Sumeru, which spreads across the seas
Lowering retinues of peaks' high altitudes.
National Master Ch'ing Liang, bringing up another example to act as an analogy for the Flower Adornment Sutra, goes on to say, examine its profound purport/If you investigate this mysterious and wonderful sutra, and examine its mysterious and wonderful purport, and then look into other sutras/If, after having read the Flower Adornment Sutra, you then go on to read other sutras, or recite them, it is like a sunrise glorious in the sky/It resembles the time when the sun, upon first arising, makes the light of the stars all disappear, thereby dimming multitudes of luminaries' splendor/The "multitudes of luminaries" are all the other stars and the moon, the "splendor," that is, the light of which the sun absorbs, to the point of virtually extinguishing them--since it makes all their light disappear. Even though in the evening there are so many stars and the moon is so bright, they are still not as bright as the sun. The Flower Adornment Sutra is like the light of the sun, which dims the light of all the stars and the moon, covering them up so that they are no more. That is to say, within the Flower Adornment Sutra are exhaustively discussed all of the principles found in all the other sutras, and so it is described as dimming all their splendor, all their light.
It is also like Sumeru which spreads across the seas/Mount Sumeru is "Wonderfully High" Mountain, which, in the midst of seas of fragrant water, spreads out across the seas, lowering retinues of peaks' high altitudes/None of the other mountains is as high as Mount Sumeru. They seem to fall away when compared to its height, so it is said they are "lowered". Now, the Flower Adornment Sutra is higher than any other sutra, in the same way that Mount Sumeru, King of Mountains, is higher than any other mountain, and so it says, "Like Sumeru, which spreads across the seas, lowering retinues of peaks' high altitudes."
Mount Sumeru extends 42,000 yojanas above the surface of the seas and 42,000 yojanas below the surface as well. (A yojana is an Indian standard of measure. A small yojana equals 40 miles, a middle yojana equals 60 miles, and a great yojana equals 80 miles.) Mount Sumeru is shaped like" a triangle and half way up its sides is the Heaven of the Four Kings. The Trayastrimsha Heaven is located on the peak of Mount Sumeru. Mt. Sumeru is in the middle of the world surrounded by seven fragrant seas. The waters of each of these seas surrounds the "Wonderfully High" Mountain. The four great continents are located in those seas. One set of the four continents, one Mount Sumeru, and one sun and moon make up one world. A thousand worlds makes a small thousand world. A thousand small-thousand worlds makes one middle-thousand world. A thousand middle-thousand worlds makes one great thousand world. Because of the progression of small, middle, and large, it is called a three thousand great-thousand world system. The subtle and esoteric principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are as lofty as Mount Sumeru. Other sutras are like the lesser peaks, which cannot compare to Mount Sumeru in height. Therefore, the Flower Adornment Sutra is rightly known as the King Among Sutras.
Peaceful New Year
On December 10, 1978, the Winter Sessions begin at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and Gold Mountain Monastery. The first two weeks of the total five-week intensive cultivation period will be devoted to mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of Limitless Light and Life. The name of Amitabha Buddha will be chanted throughout the day both aloud and silently during walking and sitting meditation. The Amitabha Sutra, as well as mantras, praises, and the Great Transference of Merit will be recited daily. On Amitabha Buddha's birthday, December 16, special ceremonies will be held.
December 24, 1978, begins the three-week Ch'an session. Silent sitting and walking meditation from 2:45 am to 12 midnight with intervals for meals and formal instruction provide maximum opportunity for investigation of the mind ground. Interested persons, beginners and experienced practitioners, should contact Gold Mountain at 415-626-5202 or the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas at 707-462-0939 for registration information.