PREFACE COMPOSED BY THE T'ANG DYNASTY
by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Hence the Bodhisattva sought the secret in the Dragons' Palace.
Great Worthies had it published in the Eastern Expanse.
Considering that in the Proper Dharma Age
Its pure glory still remained concealed,
How fortunate that in Semblance and Final times
This profound teaching is happened upon!
Moreover, when one meets a sagely ruler,
Obtaining it on Magic Mountain,
Exhaustively reflecting on its esoteric meaning,
How can one but jump for joy?
Hence the Bodhisattva sought the secret in the Dragons' Palace/"The Bodhisattva" is Nagarjuna ("Dragon Tree") Bodhisattva. "The Dragons' Palace" refers to the palace in the sea in which the Dragon King lives. Because this Sutra is a secret Dharma that was not transmitted, it had already disappeared from the human realm, and could not be found. Therefore Dragon Tree Bodhisattva went to the Dragons' Palace in search of the secret Dharma.
Dragon Tree Bodhisattva had already investigated the principles contained in all the literature of people. When there were no more books left to read, he used his spiritual penetrations to go to the Dragons' Palace. Since he was a Bodhisattva who had certified to the proper fruition, when he went into the seas the waters parted to make way for him. When he arrived at the Dragons' Palace, he was very warmly welcomed by the Dragon King who invited him to the library to look around. He discovered the Avatamsaka Sutra, which delighted him most of all. The Sutra was divided into three volumes. The first volume had a massive number of rolls. The second volume also contained a profuse number. The last volume, however, was shorter. He read through the last volume once and committed it all to memory. When he returned to the human realm, he wrote out the entire ten thousand verses, and this became the inconceivable Avatamsaka Sutra.
The Masters Buddhabhadra, Shikshananda and others, who are discussed in The Record of the Lives of High Monks, propagated and translated the Flower Adornment Sutra, and so are said to be Great Worthies who had it published in the Eastern Expanse/"The Eastern Expanse" is China, which is known as "the Country of the Glorious Expanse." Considering that in the Proper Dharma Age/ "When I take into consideration, think it over consider, reflect upon it in this manner; when I thus take thought of it..." This is being said by National Master Ch'ing Liang. "When I think about how in the Proper Dharma Age," that is, when it was the Proper Dharma Age and the Buddha was in the world, its pure glory still remained concealed/They stored away this kind of radiant glory by sending it to the Dragons' Palace--that is how important it was. If it had not been an important Sutra, why would they have stored it in the Dragons' Palace? According to the accounts, the Bodhisattva Manjushri, the great Bodhisattvas, and the Venerable Ananda compiled the sutras at T'ieh Wei Mountain. When they finished, the world was still not ready for the Avatamsaka Sutra, and so they stored it in the Dragons' Palace. Seven hundred years after the Buddha's extinction. Dragon Tree Bodhisattva found it. From that time on, the Avatamsaka Sutra has been among people.
fortunate/"How lucky!" He is saying, "I'm really happy, I'm
really lucky!" That in Semblance and Final times/"Semblance"
means the Dharma Semblance Age. National Master Ch'ing Liang lived at the
very end of the Dharma Semblance Age and the very beginning of the Dharma
Ending Age, so it says, "That in semblance and final times,"
This profound teaching is happened upon!/ That it was happened upon means
that this was most unexpected, as for example a chance encounter when it
had never occurred to you that you would run into a certain person. By
"this profound teaching" he means The Great Means Expansive
Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, giving it that further name.
||Moreover, when one meets a sagely ruler/This was during the T'ang Dynasty when all of the emperors believed in the Buddhadharma, took refuge with the Triple Jewel, and listened to sutra lectures. They would issue personal invitations to Dharma Masters to come to the palace and lecture sutras for them. Obtaining it on magic mountain/This Sutra was transmitted in the city of Rajagriha, located northeast of Magic Vulture Peak in Eastern India. During the Eastern Chin Dynasty, Great Master Hui Yuan sent disciple Chu Fa Ling to Khotan to get the Flower Adornment Sutra and then asked Tripitaka Master Buddhabhadra to translate the Sutra. In the T'ang Dynasty. Empress Wu Ts'ai T'ien sent an official to Kubha (Kashmir) in search of it and commissioned Tripitaka Master Shikshananda to translate it.|
Exhaustively reflecting on its esoteric meaning/National Master Ch'ing Liang says that he exhausts his reflective powers to the utmost and totally uses up his reflection in the investigation of the esoteric meaning of its mysterious doctrines and inconceivable principles, so How can one but jump for joy? This means, how could one do anything but jump for joy? He is so delighted, so terrifically happy, that it is as if he were about to dance and leap for joy. He is saying, "I'm so happy to have encountered this inconceivable Sutra that I could jump for joy!"
The title reads: THE GREAT MEANS EXPANSIVE BUDDHA FLOWER ADORNMENT SUTRA.
That is the general name for inexhaustible sutras.
THE WORLD-RULERS' WONDERFUL ADORNMENTS, CHAPTER NUMBER ONE,
Is a specific heading for one of many sections.
The title/is the descriptive title reads:/ means that it is called THE GREAT MEANS EXPANSIVE BUDDHA FLOWER ADORNMENT SUTRA/"The" is the definite article particularizing that it is this very Sutra. That is a general name for inexhaustible sutras/"That" refers back to the previous words of the title. "Inexhaustible" means never used up, hence infinite, and describes this Sutra. When it says "a general name for inexhaustible sutras," it means that all sutras are included within it, and so are described as inexhaustible, never used up. Those seven words "Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra" include within them the names and principles of all sutras whatsoever. Therefore, if those seven words were discussed in detail, since they are multi-layered and inexhaustible, there would be no way to finish discussing them. They form the title, which, because it generalizes, is called "a general name."
This Preface, which forms the introduction to The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra may be analyzed in general into ten topics:
1. Presentation of the Substance of the Doctrine (from Going and returning...to...be the Dharma Realm!)
2. Specific Praise of That Which Illustrates (from Opening and disclosing...to...must be THE GREAT MEANS EXPANSIVE BUDDHA FLOWER ADORNMENT SUTRA!)
3. The Teaching Host's Inconceivability (from Therefore my World Honored One...to...without the finest dust.)
4. The Spoken Meanings' Universal Pervasion (from The pellucid waves... to...yet in unison proclaim.)
5. The Expression's Inclusion of the Roots and the Extremities (from Although emptiness is emptied...to...its retinue.)
6. The Profound Subtlety of the Doctrine's Intent (from This is its intent...to...yet it is forever still.)
7. The Accomplishment of Benefit of Sudden Transcendence (from Truth and falseness interlink...to...in every dust-mote practice is fulfilled.)
8. Concluding Praise of its Vast Scope (from It may truly be called... to...peaks' high altitudes.)
9. Grateful Rejoicing at the Encounter (from Hence the Bodhisattva... to...but jump for joy?)
10. General Explanation of the Title (from The title reads...to... Therefore it is called THE GREAT MEANS EXPANSIVE BUDDHA FLOWER ADORNMENT SUTRA, THE WORLD RULERS' WONDERFUL ADORNMENTS, CHAPTER NUMBER ONE.)
"The World-Rulers" are the rulers of the world and of what transcends the world. All kings in the world are worldly rulers, while the Buddha is the Ruler of what transcends the world. The "wonderful adornments" are those of Dharma doors. Dependent retribution and proper retribution are both wonderful adornments, being subtle, wonderful and adorning. This particular chapter is arranged as the first among the thirty-nine chapters which comprise this Sutra, so it says it is a specific heading for one of many sections/It is the name of a particular section among the numerous chapter divisions of the Flower Adornment Sutra.
GREAT is extensive union with no boundaries.
MEANS are proper dharmas personally maintained.
EXPANSIVE says it fits the substance exactly.
BUDDHA is awakened to this mysterious wonder.
FLOWER stands for virtues from the myriad conducts.
ADORNMENT’S decorative dharmas on the accomplished person.
SUTRA is the flow without end of a bubbling spring,
String deep cry crystallizations of wonderful meanings,
Attracting the boundless, sea-wide assembly,
It acts for late and ancient as a constant rule.
The Buddha and all kings are called THE WORLD RULERS.
Dharma doors dependent and proper are both styled WONDERFUL ADORNMENTS.
In dividing meaning-units and assigning CHAPTER names,
What caps the other sections is called NUMBER ONE.
This passage is the General Explanation of the Title. "General" means summary and "Explanation" means elucidation. "The Title" is the Sutra's descriptive title, its name. The seven words "Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra" combine into six pairs, and each word can further be divided into ten meanings, each of those meanings including within it limitless and boundlessly many principles. The six pairs are:
1. Teaching and Meaning.
2. General and Particular.
3. Subject and Object.
4. Person and Dharma.
5. Substance and Function.
6. Nature and Appearance.
The single word "Sutra," taken by itself, belongs to Teaching. The six words that precede it, i.e., "Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment," belong to Meaning. That is the pair of Teaching and Meaning. The second pair is that of "Adornment," which belongs to General, and the preceding five words "Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower," which belong to Particular. That is the pair of General and Particular. The third: "Flower," is the Subject, and "Great Means Expansive Buddha" is the Object. That is the pair of Subject and Object. The fourth: "Buddha," is the Person who becomes accomplished, while the preceding three words "Great Means Expansive" are the Dharmas, which adorn. That is the pair of Person and Dharma. The fifth: "Expansive" is a Function, and the two preceding words "Great Means" are substance. That is the pair of substance and Function. Sixth: the word "Means" is an Appearance, while the word "Great" belongs to nature. That is the pair of Nature and Appearances. All together there are six pairs. If the seven words "Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra" are discussed in detail, there are very many meanings, and the principles are even deeper and more wonderful than those of the Dharma Flower Sutra.
||GREAT is extensive union with no boundaries/The meaning of "Great is that of large extension without any boundaries. MEANS are proper dharmas personally maintained/ "Means" are methods. There are proper and improper methods. Here it means to cultivate and maintain oneself by means of proper dharmas or methods—to use orthodox rules to guide oneself. EXPANSIVE says It fits the substance exactly/However great the substance be, this Sutra's principles are just that great, not more and not less, not greater and not smaller—just right: a perfect match. Like empty space, it contains all appearances.|
| It reaches to the place of
neither form nor formlessness. BUDDHA is awakened to this mysterious
wonder/The Buddha has awakened to the mysterious wonder of the principles
of the Flower Adornment Sutra. Awakening to the Function is to understand
mundane truth. Awakening to the substance is to understand absolute truth.
Awakening to the appearances is to understand the Middle Way. When those
three truths fuse, the three understandings are unobstructed; that is
Wonderful Enlightenment, FLOWER stands for virtues from the myriad
conducts/Flowers are a comparison for the perfection of the meritorious
virtues of the ten thousand conducts, which are like blossoming flowers.
The lotus flower is used to represent the Buddha's teaching because
although the lotus flower grows out of the mud, its blossom is pure and
undefiled. Also, the flower and fruit appear together, representing the
perfection of the Buddha's causes and fruition. ADORNMENT’S decorative
dharmas on the accomplished person/
The adornment decorates and ornaments the Buddha's ten bodies. SUTRA is the flow without end of a bubbling spring/This is as when, from within the earth, there bubbles forth an eternal spring whose flow never ceases and which is never used up. The flow of water can be used in ten thousand places and yet never be cut off. It is continuous without interruption and so is like a bubbling spring. Stringing deep crystallizations of wonderful meanings/To string is to thread and string these most mysterious and wonderful solidifications of meanings, these inconceivable principles. Attracting the boundless, sea-wide assembly/This Sutra is able to attract the boundless, sea-wide assembly the number of people who come being like the great sea—in the same way a magnet attracts iron filings. It acts for late and ancient as a constant rule/This Sutra is used "for late and ancient," that is, in the past and in the present, as a guiding rule.
The Buddha and all kings are called THE WORLD RULERS/The Buddha and all of the worldly wheel-turning sage kings, namely the gold wheel-turning sage king, the silver wheel-turning sage king, the bronze wheel-turning sage king, and the iron wheel-turning sage king, are called "World-rulers." The Buddha is the Dharma Ruler, while all those kings are worldly rulers. The Buddha may also be described as the Ruler of the world and of what transcends the world, and is therefore called the World Ruler. Dharma doors dependent and proper are both styled WONDERFUL ADORNMENT/"Dharma doors" are the doors of the Buddhadharma. "Dependent" is dependent retribution, and "proper" is proper retribution. Dependent retribution is the world of things, and proper retribution is our bodies. Proper retribution must rely upon dependent retribution to exist, hence the name. Mountains, rivers, the earth, the stars and all the planets are examples of dependent retribution, as are buildings, porches, rooms, and houses and the like. The two retributions, dependent and proper are both called "wonderful adornment." Those subtle and wonderful flowers are used as adornment. The World Rulers belong to the worlds, there being Three Worlds:
1. The World of Proper Enlightenment.
2. The World of Utensils.
3. The World of Living Beings.
Of the Three Worlds, the Buddha is the Ruler of the World of Proper Enlightenment. All the kings are the rulers of the World of Utensils. The lords of gods, lords of dragons, lords of yakshas, and so forth are the rulers of the World of Living Beings. The World of Utensils coincides with dependent retribution, where we dwell:
Mountains, rivers, the great earth,
Houses, verandahs, porches and sheds.
All living beings are called proper retribution. Those states, the two retributions, are both "styled," both known as, wonderful adornment.
In dividing meaning-units and assigning CHAPTER names/In making a division into meaningful chapter-units and assigning the names of the descriptive titles of the chapters, What caps the other sections/This chapter comes before all of the other chapters, and so it is said to "cap" them, that is, to come before them. "To cap" is to put a hat on someone, and this chapter, coming before the others, is as it were worn like a hat. "What caps the other sections is called NUMBER ONE/It is designated as the first chapter.
The Seven Kinds of Greatness may also be, employed to describe the meaning of the seven words "Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra":
Word of Title
Greatness of Substance
Greatness of Appearance
Greatness of Function
Greatness of Fruit
Greatness of Cause
Greatness of Knowledge
Greatness of Teaching
If you were to discuss the name of this Sutra in detail, you would not finish discussing it to the exhaustion of the boundaries of the future. Not to speak of five years, in fifty years it would not be spoken to the end. However, we are not going to discuss it that way, but will just speak it very simply; for whatever way you lecture the title of this Sutra is in accord with Dharma. Therefore it is said:
Discussed in horizontal terms,
Discussed on the vertical plane,
Discussed in terms of dust motes,
Discussed on the scale of kshetras,
Any way it is discussed it has infinite and inexhaustibly many principles. "Dust motes" means subtle and minute particles, and "kshetras" means large-scale lands or countries. Whatever way it is discussed it has principle, and so this Sutra is truly one of no fixed Dharma.
has thirty-nine chapters.
The number of chapters in the Flower Adornment Sutra is thirty-nine. Originally there were forty-five chapters, but six chapters were not translated from the original Indian language into Chinese. Nonetheless, the Sutra has all of the requisite divisions:
1. Prefatory Division.
2. Division of the Text Proper.
3. Division of Transmission.
Therefore, it may be considered an entire Sutra, and so it says This Sutra, that is, the present Flower Adornment Sutra, has thirty-nine chapters/All together there are eighty rolls, eighty-one if one counts The Chapter of the Conduct and Vows of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. This Chapter comes first/ "This Chapter" is The World-Rulers' Wonderful Adornments Chapter. "Comes first" means that it was put in the front, at the very beginning. Therefore, it is called THE GREAT MEANS EXPANSIVE BUDDHA FLOWER ADORNMENT SUTRA, THE WORLD-RULERS' WONDERFUL ADORNMENTS, CHAPTER NUMBER ONE/
The Flower Adornment Sutra is the greatest among all the successive teachings spoken by the Buddha. Previously, in the T'ang Dynasty, the emperor T'ang T'ai Tsung (whose Reign Period was Chen Kuan) asked Dharma Master Hsuan Chuang, "Which is the biggest of all the sutras spoken by the Buddha?" Dharma Master Hsuan Chuang replied, "The Flower Adornment Sutra is the biggest." T'ang T'ai Tsung wanted to recite a sutra, but he wanted to recite a big sutra, not a small one, which is why he asked that question. "The Flower Adornment Sutra?" he asked incredulously. At that time they were still using the Chin Dynasty translation of the Flower Adornment Sutra in sixty rolls. Afterwards, Dharma Master Shikshananda translated it, adding twenty rolls; but at that time it only had sixty. "You say that the Flower Adornment Sutra is the biggest, but the Great Prajna Sutra has six hundred rolls, while it has only sixty. How can the Flower Adornment Sutra be the biggest?" Dharma Master Hsuan Chuang then told him, "The Flower Adornment Sutra is such that one single door can open limitless doors, in multi-layered inexhaustibility. This Dharma is inconceivable, whereas the Great Prajna Sutra is just a single door within the Flower Adornment Sutra." Thereupon T'ang T'ai Tsung exclusively recited the Flower Adornment Sutra.
The state of the Flower Adornment Sutra is not something that you can conceptualize. You cannot conceive of it. In the Chin Dynasty, there was a Dharma Master who made the first translation of the Flower Adornment Sutra, working in Bodhimanda Monastery. Every day, right at the time when he was translating the Sutra, from the pool of water in front of the hall there would appear two youths, bounding and leaping, each one holding fresh flowers in his hands. They would approach, light incense, and make offerings to that Dharma Master. On those occasions it was not just the Dharma Master who was aware of what was going on. Within the Dharma Assembly there were many who knew of and saw those events—but not everyone saw them. Why was that? It was because at that time there were people with deep, thick good roots, all of whom had opened the Dharma Eye which enabled them to see this. The reason the two youths came to make offerings to the Dharma Assembly was that the Sutra had been stored in the Dragons' Palace for several hundred years. Dragon Tree Bodhisattva appeared in this world seven hundred years after the Buddha's entry to Nirvana. During that seven hundred year period, no one knew about the Flower Adornment Sutra, which was stored away in the Dragons' Palace. Dragon Tree Bodhisattva went to the Dragon Palace, read the Sutra once, remembered it, and transmitted it to the world. The Dragon King was also very happy to have the Flower Adornment Sutra circulate in the world. He didn't selfishly say, "My Sutra in the Dragon Palace is an untransmitted secret, a hidden Dharma which people are not permitted to know." He was not like that, but instead was delighted that the Great Vehicle Dharma was being transmitted in the world. He commissioned the dragon sons and grandsons to appear by transformation as a pair of youths and make offerings to that Dharma Assembly. The Dharma Assembly at that time was one in which the Sutra was being translated, not one in which it was being lectured. Right when people were translating, the two youths would appear and light incense before the Buddhas and make offerings of flowers. This is known as the Portent of the Appearance of the Pair of Youths, and is an event about which most Buddhists know.
In the T'ang Dynasty, when Dharma Master Shikshananda had finished translating the Flower Adornment Sutra, National Master Hsien Shou preceded to lecture it. The translation was begun in the first year of the Cheng Sheng Reign Period, the eleventh day of the third month, and took until the second year of the Sheng Li Reign Period, the eighth day of the tenth month, to complete. Right after the translation of the Sutra had begun, the empress Wu Tsai T'ien, who was probably not far removed in time from the Sixth Patriarch, had a dream. In the dream, in heaven and on earth throughout the entire universe there fell sweet dew, no place being without it. This made her very happy, and so she encouraged Dharma Master Shikshananda to translate this Sutra. He translated the present Sutra in eighty rolls, eighty-one rolls if one counts The Chapter of the Conduct and Vows of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, in thirty-nine chapters. After the translation of the Sutra had begun, as it turned out, rain fell and all the rain was sweet. That was an auspicious portent.
After the Sutra had been translated, National Master Hsien Shou began to lecture it at Buddha's Bestowal of Predictions Monastery. The lecture series began on the fifteenth day of the tenth month. On the evening of the twelfth day of the twelfth month, the Sutra had been lectured as far as the seas of world-systems of the Flower Treasury, to where the earth quakes. Right then, there was an earthquake! At that exact time the monastery all of a sudden experienced an earthquake, and everything shook. On that occasion there were several thousand people, both left-home and lay persons, who had assembled there to listen to the lecture, all of whom felt the earth quake. There had never been anything like that before, but it happened, and so they called it "obtaining what had never before existed." Thereupon, Dharma Master Shikshananda, along with a Vinaya Master of the time named Ming Ch'uan and another Dharma Master named Te Wei, composed an account of the earthquake and sent it to Wu Tsai T'ien. When Wu Ts'ai T'ien, in her own hand, penned her remarks she said, "Before you even wrote your account, I had already seen it. For at the time of lecturing the Sutra, when this secret, hidden Dharma was being propagated, in a dream I had already seen the sweet-dew portent, the omen of the heavens universally raining down sweet dew. And now that the lecturing of the Sutra has begun, for the earth to quake in six ways is truly an inconceivable kind of state! This event should be broadcast throughout the world, and everyone in the world should be informed about this auspicious occurrence."
Now while we are lecturing the Flower Adornment Sutra, the earth may quake in six different ways, or various other kinds of things could happen. I'm telling you in advance so that if the earth quakes you won't be afraid. That is because when The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra is lectured, the earth trembles and quakes in six ways. They can only be minor, not severe, earthquakes, because the good Dharma-protecting spirits are protecting the Dharma Assembly. Even then, there are also demon kings who come to trouble the Dharma Assembly; and so when, as regularly happens, people come and pound on the door, you should not move your minds. The Flower Adornment Sutra should be lectured with one's mind in samadhi, which is how Shakyamuni Buddha spoke it; and all the Bodhisattvas listened to the Sutra with their minds in samadhi. It was in samadhi that the Dharma was spoken, so if something unusual should happen, none of you should be afraid. There may be nothing—it's not fixed. There is no fixed Dharma.
people are bringing up a further problem, saying, "It is impossible
for the place where this Sutra is being lectured to have an earthquake,
because for a good many years now, Dharma Master, you have been telling us
that San Francisco cannot have an earthquake—that as long as you are in
San Francisco there will be no earthquakes; or if there are any, they will
be very slight. If there is an earthquake this year, won't that be a case
of contradiction between what was said before and afterwards?" Not
bad: it would be very contradictory. However, telling it not to quake when
it's time for it to quake, and telling it to quake when it's not time for
it to quake is a case of there being no fixed Dharma. As it happens, one
of my disciples called me on the phone a few days ago and questioned me
that evening saying, "Everyone says there's going to be an earthquake
in New York tomorrow. If there's certain to be an earthquake, then I'll
come back sooner. If there's not going to be an earthquake, then I'll wait
until the fifth or sixth of next month." When I first replied to her
I said, "I don't know, because right now I'm not in New York and I
don't know what's happening in Mew York." After we had talked a
couple of minutes more, she asked again and said, "What about
it?" I said, "It's not serious. Don't be afraid. If the earth
quakes, it quakes. What are you doing paying attention to that?" Now
I read in the papers that there was no earthquake in New York, so this
matter has passed...Now, if we have an earthquake in San Francisco, it's
not serious, so don't be afraid. While we are lecturing The Great Means
Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, perhaps some kind of
inconceivable state may manifest.
Sought the emperor's permission to leave home himself. The emperor granted his request, and after he had left home, he devoted himself to reading and reciting the Flower Adornment Sutra. He was particularly sincere, and was vigorous day and night, seeking some kind of response. After he had cultivated for a certain time, his beard began to grow. Basically, eunuchs do not have beards, but as he cultivated his beard started to grow and he had all the masculine characteristics which eunuchs lack. After that he opened enlightenment and went on to write the Flower Adornment Treatise. Upon completing it, he died with no illness.
There was also the Elder Li who cultivated the Flower Adornment Sutra, reading and reciting it. At one point he set out in search of a good place to cultivate. As he was walking down the road, he met a tiger. The tiger acted very friendly towards him. Basically, tigers harm people, but when this one saw the Elder Li, it acted as if it were an old friend of his. The Elder Li said to the tiger, "Right now I'm looking for a place to cultivate and do my work. Can you help me find such a place?" The tiger seemed to nod its head, "Yes," and so he piled all his gear upon the tiger's back for the tiger to carry. After they had traveled some thirty miles, they came to a mountain cave. The tiger stopped outside the cave and went no further. The Elder Li looked inside and found the cave not bad at all; and so he stayed there to cultivate. The only trouble was that the place had no water. However, that very evening a great wind blew up, which uprooted an ancient pine-tree, from the roots of which water flowed forth. So he used that water and cultivated there, and wrote a treatise on the Flower Adornment Sutra. There are very many states of that sort, all proving that the Flower Adornment Sutra is inconceivable.
I return my life to the ten directions' and the three times' utmost reach,
To dust-mote kshetras' Taming Masters of perfect clarity,
To the Dharma Realm's Great Compassion
Cloud of merit and virtue,
To Vairochana, the Great wisdom Sea;
To the dwelling place most deep, the true Dharma Nature,
To what flows forth whole and perfect as the Sutra;
In each assembly of the Buddhas in each dust-mote,
To Universal Worthy, Manjusri, and all Great Lords.
I now wish with my one hair's breadth of wisdom,
To fathom the boundless Dharma Realm's vast void.
May I receive the Triple Jewel's Compassion of Identity in Substance,
Each phrase profoundly meshing with all Buddhas' intent.
May I cause the Dharma Eye forever not to fail,
Exhausting realms of living beings like Universal Worthy.
I transfer this supreme good equally to all that live:
May they, soon accomplish Bodhi's fruit of never-ending bliss!
National Master Ch'ing Liang divides the discussion of this Sutra into four sections. What was previously discussed was the General Preface and Meaning of the Title. The passage of text now under consideration consists of a sixteen-line gatha which National Master Ch'ing Liang expresses before writing the Prologue and Commentary to the Flower adornment Sutra.
I return my life/means, 'I take refuge and return my life, giving it to the ten directions' and the three times' utmost reach/" The three times are the past, the present and the future. This represents taking refuge with all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time. To dust-most kshetras' Taming Masters/"Dust-mote kshetras" are kshetra-lands many as fine particles of dust. "Taming Master" is one of the ten titles of the Buddha. Of perfect clarity/The wisdom of the Taming and Regulating Masters is perfect, and so is their merit and virtue. They tame and regulate the living beings of the Three Realms—the Desire Realm, the Form Realm, and the Formless Realm—enabling them all to leave suffering and attain bliss. They think up all sorts of methods of regulation to bring them into harmony and tame them.
To the Dharma Realm's Great Compassion Cloud of merit and virtue/To the exhaustion of empty space and of the Dharma Realm, in the ten directions and the three periods of time, extends the infinitely Great Compassion Cloud of merit and virtue, that is, the Buddha. To Vairochana, the Great Wisdom Sea/ "Vairochana" is translated as "Perfect," as "One of Great and Perfect Enlightenment." The Great Sea of Enlightenment is the Great Wisdom Sea and the Great Sea of Wisdom is the Great Sea of Enlightenment. These four lines praise and take refuge with the Buddha Jewel. The next two lines constitute taking refuge with the Dharma Jewel: To the dwelling place most deep, the true Dharma Nature/This says there is nothing deeper than the true and actual Dharma Nature, which is dwelt in. To what flows forth whole and perfect as the Sutra/The Flower Adornment Sutra.
The next two phrases represent taking refuge with the Sangha Jewel, and so they say: In each assembly of the Buddhas in each dust-mote/In each and every one of the countries many as fine motes of dust, in all places throughout the ten directions, all the Buddhas' Dharma Assemblies where all Buddhas are speaking Dharma, To Universal Worthy, Manjusri, and all Great Lords/Universal Worthy Bodhisattva is an important Bodhisattva in the Flower Adornment Sutra. There are also Manjusri— "Wonderfully Lucky"— Bodhisattva, "and all Great Lords"—many other very great Bodhisattvas besides.
National Master Ch'ing Liang now says, I now wish with my one hair's breadth of wisdom/He means his wisdom is too small To fathom the boundless Dharma Realm's vast void/How can one use as little as a hair's breadth of wisdom, which is so very small, to fathom entirely the principle of true emptiness so large as that of the Dharma Realm? It cannot be fathomed to the and, and so National Master Ch'ing Liang goes on to say: May I receive the Triple Jewel's Compassion or Identity in Substance/"I hope for the fair and equal kindness and Compassion of Identity in Substance of the Triple Jewel of the ten directions and the three periods of time. May Each phrase of this Commentary which I am writing to the Flower Adornment Sutra be in accord with the intent of all Buddhas, profoundly meshing with all Buddhas' intent/May it, in a deep way, be in harmony and tally with the thought in the mind of all Buddhas."
The first eight lines of this sixteen-line gatha express taking refuge with the inexhaustibly infinite permanently dwelling Triple Jewel of the ten directions. The following six lines request the permanently dwelling Triple Jewel of the ten directions to come to National Master Ching Liang's aid, be protective and mindful of him, and open his wisdom so that each phrase of the commentary which he is writing will be in accord with the Buddha's meaning; as it is said:
Below, tallying with living beings' potentials.
In the final two
lines, he transfers the merit and virtue of the entire Commentary to the
Flower Adornment Sutra as a gift to the living beings of the Dharma Realm.
||May I cause the Dharma Eye forever not to fail/The "Dharma Eye" in this instance is The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. To cause it "forever not to fail" mean's to prevent it from ever being deficient, to keep this Dharma from ever declining or disappearing. Therefore, he says, "May I cause the Dharma Eye forever not to fail. Exhausting realms of living beings like Universal Worthy/" In the Flower Adornment Sutra, Universal Worthy—Samantabhadra—Bodhisattva is the host who requests Dharma on behalf of all beings who have appropriate potential. Universal Worthy Bodhisattva of Great Conduct is inconceivable. He is in the mind of each and every living being, and the bodies and minds of all living beings are also within the minds of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. Therefore, National Master Ch'ing Liang says, "Exhausting realms of living beings like Universal Worthy." All living beings can become transformation bodies of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. All of them can practice to gain the great power of this conduct.|
I transfer this supreme good equally to all that live/This phrase transfers all the merit and virtue from his commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra as a gift to all living being of all the Dharma Realms of the ten directions. "Supreme good" means the merit and virtue of this commentary is exceptionally good, the very best. "Equally" means the merit and virtue of this commentary are given to all living beings everywhere. Consequently, among those of old, some resolved to read and recite the Flower Adornment Sutra, some to write it out, some to make offerings to it, and some to receive and maintain it. The Flower Adornment Sutra is such a large Sutra, with eighty-one rolls and a hundred thousand gathas. Some resolved to use the blood from their own bodies to write out the Flower Adornment Sutra character by character. That is their way of repaying the Buddha's kindness, for the Buddha's compassion towards living brings is so great.
In his transference, National Master Ch'ing Liang is not retaining any of the merit and virtue for himself. He is not saying, "It's my merit and virtue. I want all of the merit from writing this commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra to stuff into my pocket and hang onto." He's not that way. He wants to transfer it as a gift to all living beings of the Dharma Realm everywhere. In what way? In a way that makes all living beings of the Dharma Realm rapidly certify to the attainment of this great, perfect enlightenment, to the wonderful fruit of the Four Virtues of Nirvana—Permanence, Bliss, True Self and Purity—to such constant bliss and such fruit of enlightenment.
Therefore, you see that when a Bodhisattva makes a vow, it absolutely is not for his own sake. Consequently, when he makes a commentary to a sutra, he then wishes to transfer the merit and virtue to all the living beings of the Dharma Realm. He has not the slightest selfishness, never saying, "I made this commentary, and I want all the merit and virtue myself." Never. Instead, he bestows it upon the living beings of the Dharma Realm. You and I at present all form part of those living beings and National Master Ch'ing Liang is bestowing the merit and virtue from his Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra upon us, the living beings of the present. Therefore, we should all now thank National Master Ch'ing Liang for that kind of compassion which enables us to see this Commentary and rely upon it to study and cultivate the Buddhadharma, We should repeatedly bow to National Master Ch'ing Liang.
Before you have understood the Buddhadharma, when you hear these kinds of principles, they may seem very ordinary to you, and you may not recognize that they are inconceivable states. After you have understood these wonderful Dharma doors, then you will know that National Master Ch'ing Liang's compassion and concern for all of us living beings leaves no subtlety unreached. He enables us to conceptualize and make the finest of discernments. If you at present, who are able to hear wonderful Dharma of this sort, did not have great good roots, you fundamentally would have no way to hear this kind of Dharma. No matter what kind of person you are— whether you cultivate or not, whether you have brought forth the thought for Bodhi or not—for someone to be able to hear this kind of Dharma truly is like panning gold from sand. If one has never seen gold before, one may not recognize it as a precious substance. If you've never seen a diamond, you may mistake it for glass and wonder why it costs so much. We are how in a similar position With regard to the Flower Adornment Sutra. Those of you who do not understand the Dharma may feel there's nothing much to it when you hear it. Those who do understand know this Dharma is incomparable. It is the highest, unsurpassed, most profound, subtle and wonderful Dharma there is.
National Master Ch'ing Liang, prior to writing the Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra, beseeched the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the sea-wide Flower Adornment Assembly to come to his assistance and bestow some kind of miraculous portent. He went before the Buddhas and bowed to them, seeking with the utmost sincerity of mind. He kept seeking, and then one day he had a dream in which he saw a golden Buddha--image, from which was emitted great light that universally illumined the Dharma Realm. Thereupon he took the light into both his hands and swallowed it. He ate all that light. After that, he wrote the Flower Adornment Sutra without pause. It flowed from his pen nonstop and required no revision. Because he had opened great wisdom, all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas came to his aid and told him what to write. That state is called the Omen of Universally Illuminating Light, and indicated that the light of the Flower Adornment Sutra pervades the Dharma Realm.
When he was actually into the writing of the Commentary, another state occurred. He dreamed he turned into a dragon whose head extended to the southern peak of Wu T'ai ("Five Peak") Mountain, and whose tail stretched to the northern peak. Shortly afterwards, he changed into quintillions of dragons which flew off into space and then disappeared. As he thought about it later, he realized, "Oh! The Flower Adornment Sutra will disseminate to the exhaustion of space, and everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm there will be the Flower Adornment Sutra." Those of you who succeed in opening your five eyes will see the Flower Adornment Sutra present to the exhaustion of empty space and everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm. The Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra written by National Master Ch'ing Liang is also everywhere. You can see them as soon as you enter samadhi.
We have just finished discussing the Preface and concluding Gatha to that Commentary, which is the first section of the Prologue. The remainder of the Prologue will take at least a year to lecture, being longer than The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. The Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken by the Buddha while in samadhi, using the mind in samadhi to speak the Dharma of samadhi, in order to cross over the Bodhisattvas whose minds were in samadhi. There is the Flower Adornment Sutra to the exhaustion of empty space and of the Dharma Realm. If you do not believe it, there is no way I can convince you. If you look into it, gradually you will come to believe. This kind of state is utterly inconceivable, and will be even more so when we discuss the actual text of the Sutra. There is fundamentally no way for you to understand this kind of state and know what it is like. If you try to use the thought of an ordinary person, you basically will not be able to conceptualize these principles—if you do not understand the Buddhadharma. That is why it needs to be lectured, which will be done rather superficially, discussing its principles in terms of what you do know. Then, little by little, you will understand it.
There is probably no other place in the entire world where the Flower Adornment Sutra is being lectured. At the very least, this Dharma Assembly will take five years for the Sutra to be completely lectured. During that time, all of you young people will get oil, and maybe the old people will die, and having died exchange their bodies and come back to hear the Sutra some more. There may be a lot of transformations within that five-year period—a lot of changes of face. People who did not previously believe in the Buddha, upon hearing, will believe. Those who previously believed, after hearing it, will proceed to cultivate. Therefore, with this Flower Adornment Assembly about to begin in America, all of you are the most sincere of those who study the Buddhadharma in the entire world. Consequently, this is an opportunity difficult to meet.
-Continued next issue.
ESSENTIALS OF THE SRAMANERA VINAYA. This work sets forth the basic guidelines for Buddhist monastic discipline and pure conduct, essential for lasting and substantial progress towards enlightenment. Commentary by Master Hua. Paperbound pages. #3.95
RECORDS OF THE LIFE OF THE VENERABLE MASTER HUA, PART I. The remarkable story of the early life of the Venerable Master recording such events as: the demon of sickness, a twenty-three day dream, miracles beside the grave, taming a shrew, a white fox seeks refuge, a heavenly demon takes refuge with the Triple Jewel, and more. Paperbound, with photographs, 96 pages.
THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA, VOL. 1 & 11 Sakyamuni Buddha appeared in the world, we are told in THE LOTUS SUTRA, for the sake of the One Great Matter the birth and death of all living beings. And in this sutra, the final, highest teaching of the Buddha, we are given the answer to that question, or rather given the means, the tools, with which we may, through our own diligent cultivation, discover that answer within ourselves by realizing our own, inherent Buddha-nature. In his commentary to this Sutra, the Venerable Master Hua brings the Lotus teachings fully to life with many lively stories, anecdotes, and analogies. He presents the Buddha's teachings in such a wag that their application to us in the present age is immediately apparent. Paperbound, Vol. 1. 85 pages, $3.95. Vol.11 324 pages, $7.95.
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LISTEN TO YOURSELF; THINK EVERYTHING OVER. Instruction given by Venerable Master Hua at the first Kuan Yin Recitation Session held at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in June 1970. Ch'an instruction given at the two-week Winter Session in 1973-74 and a week's Summer Session in 1973. Informative and illustrated with numerous stories and analogies. Paperbound, 153 pages. $7.00.
SIXTH PATRIARCH'S DHARMA JEWEL PLATFORM SUTRA, second edition. This
edition contains the first commentary ever to express the essence of the
Sixth Patriarch's heart. Since the time the Great Master spoke this Sutra,
no other commentary has revealed his basic principles, the Dharma of his
heart. Tripitaka Master Hsuan hub's commentary unfolds the Heart Dharma,
the Mind-seal, before the reader. Paperbound and hard cover, 376 pages.