Intending to save them from being burned.
He warned his children, of the host of catastrophes and troubles,
The evil ghosts, the poisonous insects, and the spreading conflagration,
Hose of sufferings in succession—continuous, without interruption.
Poisonous snakes and vipers and all the Yakshas,
And Kumbhanda Ghosts, Yeh Kan, Foxes, and Dogs
Hawks, Vultures, Kites and Owls, and varieties of Centipedes
Are frantic with hunger and thirst and terrifying to the extreme.
So many sufferings and troubles!
How much the more so with this great fire!
But all the children without knowledge although they heard their father’s warnings
Still clung to their amusements and sported without cease.
This is part two, the verse about the parable of casting aside the table to use the carts. It has two parts of which this passage is the first, a. the verse about the parable to casting aside the table.
Intending to save them/Just at that time, the Elder, the Buddha was preparing to use the Great Vehicle Dharma door to rescue all living beings. He was intending to save them from being burned/ to keep all living beings from being burned by the blaze of the five skandhas. He warned his children/he told them of the host of catastrophes and troubles/He said, "This burning house is fined with many terrifying things. There is no peace in the Triple World. It is like a burning house. Evil ghosts and poisonous insects/ represent the Five Dull Servants and the Five Quick Servants, which are always playing tricks. And the spreading conflagration/The raging blaze of the five skandhas is spreading everywhere. The more it burns the brighter it gets and the more territory is spreads across, burning up the Triple World. A host of sufferings in succession/These troubles are manifold and they arise in succession continuous, without interruption. They arise one after another without stopping. The fire is out of control; it cannot be stopped. Poisonous snakes and vipers/Various snakes and venomous creatures again represent the Five Dull and Five Quick Servants and all the Yakshas/and Kumbhanda Ghosts/ These ghosts are terrifying; Kumbhandas are the ghosts that look like Winter melons. They may sit on you when you are asleep so that you cannot move. Yeh Kan, Foxes, and Dogs/The Yeh Kan make a strange wailing sound that scares the other animals away. There were also foxes and wolves. Hawks, kites and owls /and varieties of centipedes/are frantic with hunger and thirst/They lack food of the Proper Path and the drink of the Aids to the Path, and so they are hungry and thirsty and frightening to the extreme/So many sufferings and troubles/How much the more so with this great fire! So many strange creatures and this big fire; Hurry up and find a way out!
But all the children, without knowledge/ALL OF THE CHILDREN refers to all living beings. WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE means that they don't have any understanding of what is going on, they don't have the disposition or the potential for the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma. Although they heard their father’s warnings/Even though they heard their father tell them of all the dangers, the strange and fearsome creatures and ghosts, they still clung to their amusements/They continued to play, imagining the place to be very amusing. And sported without cease/They jumped around and had a good time, and were not listening to their father at all.
At that time, the elder further had this thought:
"Being like this, my children, add to my worry and distress;
Now, in this house there is not a single thing in which to take pleasure,
And yet all these children are intoxicated by their play.
Not heeding instructions, they will be injured in the fire."
Just then he thought to devise expedients.
This is part b. verse about the parable of using the carts. It has three parts of which this is the first, 1. the verse about thinking to use the three carts.
At that time, the elder, the Buddha, further had this thought/"Being like this, my children/They are not very bright, playing here and they add to my worry and distress/A lot of worries and a lot of afflictions. Why are the Buddha's worries and troubles intensified? Because the Buddha's vows are to save living beings, and when he fails to save living beings, his heart is unhappy. Now, In this house there is not/In this burning house of the triple realm, A single thing to which to take pleasure/There's not a single thing to be happy about and yet all these children/The children act as if drunk and are intoxicated by their play/They are greedy for good times and don't worry about anything at all--oblivious to everything. Bound by ignorance, we people in the triple realm have forgotten everything. We have forgotten to bring forth the Bodhi mind, and forgotten to cultivate the Bodhi Path. Not heeding my instructions/They won't listen to the Buddha's teaching. There are people in the world who don't cultivate the Way at all, and they don't believe in the Buddha, at all. Today one of my disciples told me that his parents came to San Francisco and they were very upset because he had done moxa burns on his arms. They told him he was really confused. Now, look at that. Basically, burning one's arm in this way is an offering to the Buddha and it is a good thing to do, but they were most upset about it. They thought he must have been high on some kind of drug in order to burn himself like that without feeling pain. But I said to him, "Before, when you were really doing bad things, they thought you were okay. Now, your are doing the best kind of things and they think they are the worst. Just what do people base their judgements on? When their son wants' to cultivate the Way, they think it's terrible."
One of my disciples has recently had the experience of seeing everything as moving. This is true. Everything, is, in fact, moving, just like the dust motes. When the sunlight streams in the window, you can see the motes of dust dancing in the air. Why can he see everything in motion? The light of his wisdom is unfolding and so he can see that everything is alive, even the tables, chairs, the whole room is in motion, moving in frames. This is like seeing the dust motes in the sunlight.
This experience happens to people just before they are about to open their five eyes. Not only may one have this experience, but it may happen that you can't see anything at all. You may be as if totally blind. Just before the opening of the five eyes, a special "chemical" or biological transformation takes place. When this transformation takes place if you get attached to marks, and become happy or unhappy or wish to attain the five eyes or wish not to attain them, it is easy to become possessed by a demon. Once they have opened, it's not for sure they will always remain open. You must still continue to be good and keep control of yourself. If you fail to do a good job at your cultivation, you can lose the vision in your five eyes. When the five eyes open, they can shut again as well, especially if you start looking at things you shouldn't be looking at, unprincipled things, things that are none of your business. If you start looking at unprincipled things, you can lose those eyes again. If you do wrong things, you can lose them. So this state is one in which you must put your feet firmly on the ground and go forward. Don't start minding other people's business taking a look at this and that. You can't do that. If you open the five eyes that doesn't mean you can look into other people's business, peeping in to see what our neighbors are doing and so on. It's easy to lose those eyes if you do that. Sometimes people open their five eyes, and in the beginning they can see very clearly with them; later on they can't see so well with them, or they can't see anything at all with them. I have seen this happen many times. So take special care. If you have this experience the most important thing is to maintain your samadhi power. If you have samadhi power and it becomes perfected then you can give rise to wisdom power. Then you can have genuine wisdom and that really counts for something.
"They will be injured in the fire/In the future I am afraid they will all be burned in the great fire. Just then he thought/The Thus Come One had a thought. What did he think? To devise expedients/To think of a way that they could cultivate expedient Dharma-doors.
He said to the children,
"I have all kinds of precious playthings: fine carriages, wonderfully bejeweled—sheep carts, and deer carts,
And great ox carts, now, right outside the door.
So come out, all of you, for I have, just for you
Had these carts made, and just as you wish
You can play with them."
This is part two: praising the three carts as rare.
These twelve lines of verse represent the Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel of the Four Holy Truths. The first four lines, He said to the children/"I have all kinds/ of precious playthings: fine carriages, wonderfully bejeweled/represent the Exhortation Turning. The next three lines, sheep carts, and deer carts/and great ox carts/now, right outside the door/represent the Demonstration Turning. The following line so come out, all of you/is again the Exhortation Turning. The last four lines are the Certification Turning, for I have, just for you/had these carts made/and just as you wish/you can play with them." "For I have, just for you/had these carts made/points to the fact that the Buddha has already certified to the fruition of Buddhahood. Thus, we have the Three Turnings of, the Dharma Wheel of the Four Holy Truths.
The Buddha told all living beings, all the children, "You are having So much fun now, but I have some toys that are a lot more fun than the ones you are playing with now. Hurry up and come out. They are the finest toys. What are they? They are the finest of carts. Some are drawn by sheep and others are drawn by deer. Isn't that great? You've really never seen such neat toys. There's even great ox carts and they are outside the door right now! So hurry up and come out. Don't hang around in that house. It's not that much fun anyway, there. I've got the best toys. I've got the carts! I had the carts made just for you, all these carts, so that you can play with them just as you like. They are so much fun. You can sit in them and go wherever you want!"
When the children heard this, they came scrambling out of the house.
When the children heard him speak of carriages such as these
Immediately they raced out in a scramble
To a cleaning, where they were safe from harm.
This is part three, the verse of granting the kids their wish.
When the children heard him speak/"Children" just means all living beings. "Heard" represents the wisdom of hearing. Of carriages such as these/ Good dharmas. Children like to play. If you give them fun toys, they won't cry. Immediately they raced/They started running right away to go get the carts. "Raced" represents the two wisdoms of Thought Wisdom and Cultivation Wisdom. Thus we have the three types of wisdom: Hearing, Thought, and Cultivation. Out in a scramble/This shows their vigor in cultivating the methods of the Three Types of Wisdom. To a clearing, where/The clearing represents the Position Beyond Study, that is Fourth Stage Arhatship. They were then safe from harm/At the Position Beyond Study one has ended birth and death, that is, ended Share Section Birth and Death. Change Birth and Death remains, however. Once they arrived at the clearing, they were safe from sufferings and difficulties and this represents certification to the Position Beyond Study, the Fourth Fruit of Arhatship. This ends the section concerning the casting aside of the table to use the carts.
The elder, seeing that his children had escaped the burning house
And were standing at the crossroads, sat on his lion’s throne
And rejoiced to himself, saying, "Now, I am happy!
All of these children were very hard to bring into the world and raise;
Stupid, young, and without knowledge, they went into his dangerous house,
Swarming with poisonous insects and fearful li mei ghosts,
Ablaze with a great fire, raging on all sides.
But all these children still clung to their amusements.
Now I have rescued them, and saved them from disaster.
Therefore, of all people, I am the happiest!"
This is part three, the verse about the parable of giving a great cart. It has four parts of which this is the first (a) the verse about the father seeing the children escape the fire and rejoicing.
The elder, seeing that his children/The Elder, the Buddha, when he saw all his kids had escaped the burning house/had gotten out of the three realms, and were standing at the crossroads/Having gotten out of the burning house, they were at the crossroads. Sat on his Lion's throne/Sakyamuni Buddha sat down on his Lion's Throne and rejoiced to himself, saying/ he congratulated himself. "Now I am happy!/very happy indeed for all of these children/all living beings were very hard to bring into the world and raise/very difficult, a lot of trouble. Stupid, young, and without knowledge/they went into this dangerous house swarming with poisonous insects/and fearful li mei ghosts/strange, uncanny, terrifying creatures. Ablaze with a great fire/raging on all sides/burning on all four sides. But all these children/still clung to their amusements/they were having so much fun playing that they forgot everything. Now I have rescued them! I have saved them. And saved them from disaster/from suffering and difficulty. Therefore, of all people,/I am the happiest/This is a simple explanation of the text. Now to lecture it in more detail.
"The elder, seeing that his children"/The elder is the Buddha. He has ten kinds of virtuous Conduct. When he saw all living beings "had escaped the burning house"/had run out of the burning house of the three realms "and were standing at the crossroads"/What do the crossroads represent? The Four Holy Truths. Now, the living beings in the five paths and the thirty sons and five hundred people had escaped the burning house of the Triple Realm and so had arrived at the Stage Beyond Study. They clearly understand the Dharma of the Four Holy Truths: suffering, origination, stopping, and the path. "Sat on his lion's throne"/The Elder had been standing outside the door, not sitting. Now, he sits on his Lion's Throne. Why was he standing outside the door? Because living beings had not yet been saved. He was worried about them, concerned for them, afraid for them. Afraid of what? Afraid that living beings would be burned in the house. He was concerned because he can't put living beings down. He couldn't not try to save them, because the Buddha is like a greatly compassionate father and all living beings are like his children. So he can't not save living beings; he can't let them go. He is afraid. He fears that unless he saves them, they will fall. Now, seeing that all the children had escaped disaster and gotten out of the burning house, he no longer worries, he has no more concern, he is no longer afraid and so he can sit down on the Lion's Throne. In the previous chapter the text said, "Now I am happy and without fears." Now I am really happy. I have nothing to fear. I can sit down, in other words.
There is another meaning. Before, the Buddha had not encountered beings disposed to the Great Vehicle and so he was standing. Now, he has finished teaching and transforming living beings of the Small Vehicle. He has finished his work in that regard. He is just about to save Great Vehicle living beings and so the Buddha can sit down on his Lion's Throne.
"And rejoiced to himself saying"/Why did he rejoice? Because he has encountered the beings with Great Vehicle potential the beings he is to teach, to save. Since they have now been saved, he rejoices. So he is very happy. Living beings have ripened for the Great Vehicle. "All of these children/were very hard to bring into the world and raise"/It's hard for the Buddha to teach and transform living beings. Here, we study the Buddhadharma and I lecture the sutras to you every day so that you can understand them, immersing you in them, as it were. This work is by no means easy. In the beginning, you didn't understand any Buddhadharma at all. Now, soon it will have been a year that I have been "raising" you in the Dharma, and you understand it somewhat. Even so, you still waver between faith and doubt. See how difficult it is?
During the time of the twenty thousand million Buddhas mentioned previously, Sakyamuni Buddha taught living beings with the Great Vehicle Dharma. That is represented in the text by the phrase "bring into the world." These children, with the Great Vehicle disposition, had sent down their seeds during the time of the twenty thousand million Buddhas and they have grown.
Would you say this was hard or not? During the time of twenty thousand million Buddhas, how much heart's blood was spent to teach living beings? You shouldn't think that lecturing on the sutras and teaching Dharma is an easy thing to do. If you lecture on a Sutra incorrectly, you car fall into the hells. You can't think that you can say whatever you please. You can't be casual about it for if you make a mistake speaking the Dharma, you are responsible for it and you will have to take on the burden of the cause and effect involved. If you lecture incorrectly on the sutras you are in effect "blinding the eyes of people and gods." If you lecture unclearly, you put people on the wrong track. People may start out intending to become a Buddha, but you lecture them right into the hells! Not only that, but the people who wind up there can drag you there as well. Once they get there. King Yama will ask them what they have come for and they will say, "I listened to the sutras and was told that I didn't need to cultivate. I was told all I had to do was take certain drugs and in this way I could attain to emptiness. So I didn't cultivate. Now, I know I was wrong. But the mistake was his, not mine and you should really get him down here, too." When Yama hears this, he can't help but agree and sends for the lecturer as well, and drags him into hell. It's not at all easy to lecture on the sutras. However, during the time of twenty thousand million Buddhas, Sakyamuni Buddha taught living beings with the Great Vehicle nature and over such a long, long time, brought them to maturity. This is represented in the text by the phrase "and raise." How much time do you think it took to teach these living beings? A long, long time indeed. In all this time, Sakyamuni Buddha expended so much energy, so much toil to nurture those seeds of the Great Vehicle, those with the disposition and potential for the Great Vehicle. It wasn't easy. It was a lot of hard work. It's like planting a tree, carefully placing the soil around its roots, watering and fertilizing it. It's like planting a flower. It's a lot of hard work to take care of it. In today's Chinese lesson we learned the sentence, "Red lotuses fill the pond." Do you know how much work it takes to cultivate all those lotuses in the pond? We can imagine how much work the Buddha has to do to teach and transform living beings so that they can separate from suffering and attain bliss. Really hard!
"Stupid, young, and without knowledge"/Stupid means that they aren't very bright. Young means that they are quite immature. This represents those whose good roots are weak and not very deep. Their virtue is thin and their blessings are few. They don't have much virtue and so they are stupid and young. Without knowledge means that they are covered by false delusions, improper confusion covers them. Because these false illusions cover them they are without knowledge. Because they have no wisdom, the five turbidities arise. Once the five turbidities arise, they must undergo retribution. Their undergoing retribution is what is meant by the line of text "they went into this dangerous house"/They went into the dangerous house to suffer retribution. "Swarming with poisonous insects/and fearful 1i mei ghosts"/is a repetition of the Three Realms as marked by the Five Quick Servants and the Five Dull Servants. The Three Realms are very dangerous, filled with such toxic substances. "Ablaze with a great fire/raging on all sides"/The great fire rages. This is an analogy for the eight sufferings and the four inversions, which are in the burning house of the Three Realms. "But all these children"/all living beings "still cling to their amusements"/Some of them give rise to view delusions, others give rise to love's delusions and they can't get free of them. They have no way to separate from the delusions of love and views because they are so attached to them. They clung to their amusements "but now I have rescued them/and saved them from disaster"/All living beings in the Three Realms, attached to love and views as they are, still I have saved them. I have rescued them from their suffering and difficulty. This is certainly a cause for joy and so "therefore, of all people/I am the happiest"/The Elder says that he is the happiest person there is.
--Continued next issue