TRANSLATED BY bhikshuni
all the children
went before him
you promised to us, saying
will give you three carts
the time has come
This is b. the verse about the children asking for the carts.
The children had escaped the burning house. Once they had run out, they didn't even toss a look over their shoulders to see how high the flames were raging. The first thing on their minds was to go straight to their father and ask for those carts. Their father had told them that the carts were outside. Once they got outside, they didn't see the carts and so they decided to ask. Then, all the children/knowing their father was sitting at ease/ They saw him just sitting there on his Lion's Throne, upright and proper, and very happy.
When they saw him sitting there like that, they knew it was a good chance to ask for the carts--for the sheep carts and deer carts and ox carts. This represents the time the Dharma Flower Sutra, the Great Vehicle Dharma, was about to be spoken. All living beings had a hope of attaining the Great Vehicle Dharma.
All went before him/ Previously in the text it said, "All, with reverent hearts/ went before the Buddha." They were all very respectful as they went to the Buddha. And addressed him saying, "Please give to us/ the three jeweled carts/ You told us a while ago that you had small, medium, and large carts to give us. Now, we have come out and want them. That you promised to us/" They still had some attachments that they had not broken off. They were attached to the Small and Middle Vehicle Dharma which the Buddha had previously spoken and they had doubts about the Great Vehicle Dharma now being spoken. They clung to the past and had doubts about the present. See? The Buddha had dwelt in the world teaching Dharma for so long and at the very end he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra and all the disciples gave rise to doubts in their hearts. They didn't show them on the outside, of course, but they were there in their minds. In spite of all the Buddha's awesome virtue, they still had doubts. Small wonder, then, that now as I speak this Sutra you don't believe; it's all very muddled for you although you do admit to its having some meaning, and so you listen. Basically, you aren't sure whether the Buddhadharma is true or false, but there's so much to be said about it that you half believe and half-disbelieve. The reason that you don't obtain a response/share of the Dharma is just because of this doubt which prevents you from entering it deeply, from giving rise to genuine faith. Genuine faith means that you have to reform all your previous views about things. If you continue to have deviant knowledge and views, to say nothing of studying for one life, even if you study Buddhism repeatedly through lifetime after lifetime, you still won't understand it. Studying the Buddhadharma means you must bring forth genuine faith.
"If you children come out/ If you run out of the burning house, I will give you three carts/ I will give the Three Vehicle Dharma to living beings, for you to take as you wish. /" The Buddha had said they could choose whatever vehicle they wished according to which fruit they wanted to certify to--Shravaka, Pratyeka Buddha, or Bodhisattva. Now in the Dharma Flower Assembly, the Three-Vehicle Dharma is said to be expedient. That means there must be some other Great Vehicle Dharma to be given to living beings.
"Now the time has come/ please give them to us/ It's just the right time because we want to study the Great Vehicle Dharma; so all of us living beings pray that the Buddha will use the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma to teach and transform us."
The elder, having great wealth
And storehouses containing much
Gold, silver, and lapis lazuli,
Mother-of-pearl, and carnelian,
Used these precious things
To make several great carts.
They were decorated and adorned
surrounded by railings,
Hung with bells on all four sides,
With jeweled cords strung about them,
And gem-studded nets
Spread above them.
There were golden flowered tassels
Hanging from them everywhere,
Various multi-colored ornaments
Encircling them all around.
Soft silk and cotton
Made up the cushions,
And superb, fine coverings
Valued in the thousands of millions,
Pure white and sparkling clean
were spread atop them.
Great white oxen
Plump, strong, and powerful,
Of fine appearance,
Were yoked to the precious carts,
Surrounded by many footmen
Who were attending to them.
Such fine carriages as these
Were given equally to all the
This is part c. giving to all the children a great cart.
The elder, having great wealth/ In all the worlds, the Buddha is the most honored, the most noble, the most "wealthy." He has the ability to be the "son of heaven" (a king), and possesses the wealth of the four seas. He stood to inherit the throne in India. In transcendental terms, he has cultivated and attained self-enlightenment, the enlightenment of others, and the perfection of enlightened practice.
Having perfected the three
kinds of enlightenment,
Replete with the ten thousand virtues,
He is therefore called the Buddha.
And he is said to be wealthy.
And storehouses containing much/ Storehouses are places to put valuable things. The storehouses represent our six sense organs. Within the six sense organs the nature of the Thus Come One's Storehouse is hidden, that is, the Buddha Nature.
The Buddha nature manifests as a precious enlightenment-nature at the gateways of our, six sense organs.
also represent the ten thousand conducts, which comprise a precious
storehouse. You could also say they represented the six perfections. Using
the Dharma of the six perfections one adorns the virtuous fruition of the
ten thousand conducts. Each one of the six perfections contains the ten
thousand conducts. Each one of the ten thousand conducts contains the six
perfections. Therefore, the six perfections and ten thousand conducts are
interrelated. All dharmas contain all conducts and all the conducts
contain all the dharmas. This is the limitlessness of both the dharmas,
and the conducts. Limitless conducts are used to cultivate limitless
dharmas and limitless dharmas are used to realize the limitless conducts.
The six perfections and ten thousand conducts are represented in the line
"and storehouses containing much/"
1. The great perfect mirror wisdom.
2. The equality wisdom.
3. The wonderful observing wisdom.
4. The perfecting wisdom.
These four kinds of gems represent the Four Wisdom’s.
Used these precious things/ to make several great carts/ There are more than just four kinds of precious gems in the world, and likewise among all the Buddha's Dharmas there are not just Four Kinds of Wisdom, there are also Five Roots, Five Powers, Seven Bodhi Shares, Eight Sagely Way Shares, Four Applications of Mindfulness, Four Right Efforts, and Four Bases of Psychic Power--a great many of them. Using these various Dharma doors, he creates a Great Vehicle Dharma. The Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, the Buddha Vehicle, is comprised of all the Dharmas.
They were decorated and adorned/ surrounded by railings/ They were adorned with intertwining decorations, very beautiful. This represents the Buddha's Great Vehicle Dhanna, which illuminates heaven and illuminates earth. It is extremely beautiful in the world. It was also surrounded by railings, another kind of adornment. Hung with bells on all four sides/ The little bells represent the Four Kinds of Unlimited Eloquence. With golden cords strung about them/ and gem-studded nets The jeweled cords were strung about the cart in the form of a net, or macramé. Would you imagine that such netting would be expensive? This represents the Buddha's compassion. The methods of compassion used by the Buddha are as many as the holes in the netting. He has compassion like a network, like the net in the Heaven of the Great Brahma King in which there is a jewel in every hole of the net. Each jewel reflects the light of all the other jewels, as they shine upon each other infinitely. Such light represents wisdom. The Buddha has many methods of using compassion and just as many methods of using wisdom. Thus the lines of text "With golden cords strung about them/ and gem-studded nets/" represents the Buddha's compassion and wisdom.
The line "surrounded by railings/" also represents Dharani. Dharani is a Sanskrit word which means "uniting and holding." In full it is to "unite all Dharmas" and "hold limitless meanings." It holds all the limitless meanings in all the Dharmas. Through the Dharani, one can offer up all good practices and surpress all evil.
"Hung with bells on all four sides/" represents the Four Kinds of Unlimited Eloquence. "With golden cords strung about them/" represents the Four Vast Vows:
I vow to save the boundless number
I vow to cut off the endless
I vow to study the limitless
I vow to realize the supreme
All the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, SoundHearers, and Condition-enlightened Ones are included within these Four Vast Vows. Therefore, it's not enough just to recite them. You have to return the light and reverse the illumination and think it over: the vow says that I will save the boundless number of beings. Have I done so? If I have, it should still be the same as if I had not saved them. Why?
It is said that
"The Thus Come One saves all
living beings and yet not
a single living being has
"Well, if my saving them is the same as not saving them, then is my not saving them the same as saving them?" No. You can say that you save them and yet are not attached to them, not attached, that is to the mark of saving living beings. But you can't not save them and claim to have saved them. It doesn't work that way. You can say that you save them without saving them, because you are not attached to them. But you can't say that you have saved them when you have not saved them.
The Buddha leads all beings into Nirvana and yet not a single being has been led into Nirvana. We have not yet become Buddhas and have not saved living beings, and so it is not all right for us to say that we have done so already.
"Well, then, just what are living beings?" you ask.
Living beings are born from a combination of causal conditions.
"How many causal conditions?" you ask.
Twelve causal conditions lead to the production of a living being. They are:
Ignorance, which conditions activity; activity, which conditions consciousness; consciousness, which conditions name and form; name and form which condition the six sense organs; the six sense organs which condition contact; contact which conditions feeling; feeling, which conditions grasping; grasping, which conditions becoming; becoming, which conditions birth; birth, which conditions old age and death.
is not to say that only people are living beings. Why, even the smallest
of ants are also living beings. The tiniest mosquito, too, is a living
being. Even to all the tiny germs and so forth, are all living beings.
Since this is the case, we should not look outwardly in our search to save
living beings. Right within our self-nature can be found living beings,
limitless in number, for us to save. Right inside our own bodies there are
limitless beings. Recent progress in the science of medicine gives proof
to the fact that we human beings are all like big bugs and within our
bodies live countless smaller bugs. How many? No scientific methods
can be found to count them because they are countless. Who knows how many
living beings are inside our blood, our flesh, and our internal organs.
|Why are there so many living beings? Some people even eat living beings. They eat the flesh of pigs, cows, sheep, fish, chicken, and ducks. When you eat the flesh of living beings, inside that flesh are hidden the "germs" particular to that living being. When you eat it, that kind of being's organisms go into you. Whichever kind of meat you eat the most of, you have a majority of that kind of living being's "germs." That makes it very easy to become a member of the family of that kind of living being; you turn into one of his clansmen, because you have causal conditions with him that are just too deep and you can't get away from him. If you eat mostly pig meat, you have an opportunity to turn into a pig; if you mostly eat beef; then you may turn into a cow.|
"I eat rice," you say. "Will I turn into a plant?"
No, because rice is not generally considered "sentient," whereas living beings are. If you eat sentient beings, you can turn into that kind of being. If you eat insentient beings, you will not turn into plants or grass or any kind of vegetation, but will be truly helping the wisdom-life of your Dharma-body. So don't worry about turning into a rice plant if you eat rice.
Sentient beings have blood and breath, and when you eat them, their blood and breath mixes with yours. If you eat a lot of them, you turn into that kind of being. You could even say that by not eating a particular kind of living being you are saving that being. If you do not eat beef, you are saving cows. If you don't eat sheep, you are saving sheep. By not eating pigs, you are saving pigs.
What is meant by "save"? It means stopping the revolution of the wheel of birth and death by taking a being across the sea of suffering to the other shore which is Nirvana.
You say, "Dharma Master, I really don't believe this. How can it be that by not eating something I am saving it? If I don't eat it, someone else will. So how can you consider it saved?"
you should just look after yourself. The other people don't
understand the principle, but you do. Those who don't understand will do
confused things; those who do understand should not do confused things.
You shouldn't look after other people
One pig said, "When he was alive he ate a pound of my flesh."
A sheep said, "He ate two pounds of me."
A cow said, "He ate three pounds of me."
A chicken said, "He didn't just eat a few pounds of me, he ate my whole body; now I want to eat him."
The meat-eater tried to "reason" with King Yama by saying, "I didn't really want to eat their meat, you know, but it was for sale in a store and I figured if they were selling it, I could buy it and eat it. The offense should be with the person who sold it. It shouldn't he my offense for just eating it."
Then King Yama brought the meat-seller before him and said, "You sell meat? That's an offense, you know."
The meat-seller objected, saying, "Yes, I sell meat, but only because people want to buy it. If no one wanted it, how could I sell it? The reason I sell meat is because people want to buy it."
The meat-eater piped in saying, "But if he didn't sell it, how could I buy it?"
The meat-seller said, "Then it's not your fault and it's not my fault. I sell it because you buy it and you buy it because I sell it, but neither one of us killed the pig. The offense lies with the butcher who killed the animal."
Then the one who killed the pig was called in. "Are you the one who kills pigs?" King Yama asked him, "That's a grave offense."
The pig-killer said, "Right, I killed those pigs. But if he didn't eat them, why would I kill them?"
So in the final analysis, who do you blame?
If the person didn't eat the pig, the pig-killer would not have killed it. And if the seller didn't sell the meat, the buyer would not have bought it. The pig-eater said, "I bought it because you sold it."
The pig-killer said, "I killed it; because you wanted to eat it."
The pig-eater said, "If you hadn't killed it, I wouldn't have eaten it."
What a confusing case! There was no way King Yama could render a judgement.
They each presented their testimony quite well, but they had all committed offenses. King Yama finally said, "All right, if you ate a pound of pig's flesh, you have to be reborn as a pig to repay that pound of meat. Since you ate two pounds of sheep flesh, you can then be reborn as a sheep to repay that two pounds of meat. You ate three pounds of beef, so you shall be reborn as a cow and pay that three pounds back. Since you ate a whole chicken, you can then become a chicken and give your entire chicken-body to repay that debt. When they thought it over, that was the only fair way to decide the case, so it was settled.
You can see then, that you establish affinities with whatever type of living being you eat.
There's a verse that goes:
There's two people in
the word for meat.
The one inside pushes
the other one out.
Living beings return
to eat being's flesh.
Think it over: Isn't that
just people eating people?
In the Shurangama Sutra we read, "Sheep return to become people." So can pigs and cows. But before you have gained use of the heavenly eye, you can't see it clearly and so you think that sheep are just sheep and cows are just cows. In a short time, some changes take place, and like a magical transformation, your life principle moves on. Hah! From the body of a person, it may move to the body of a pig or from the body of a pig it may move to the body of a cow. One moves around over and over without knowing where one will ultimately end up. Would you say that this was dangerous or not? If you expect to save living beings, you must put an end to such an eaten relationship. Whatever type of being you do not eat, you can consider yourself as having saved.