with the commentary of

Tripitaka Master Hua

translated by Bhikshuni
Heng Yin

reviewed by Bhikshuni
Heng Ch'ih

Sometimes they become yeh kan/ The yeh kan is a kind of fox. They are even more cowardly than foxes and they have more doubts, too. In past lives, they looked down on those who read, recited, bowed to, and lectured the Dharma Flower Sutra, and so they become yeh kan. And, entering villages/ Sometimes when their karmic obstacle obstruct them, they go into human settlements. Why do they do this? Because they are sick and have nothing to eat. Their bodies covered with scabs and sores/ Their brains get addled and they can't think clearly at all and they go into town. The scabs itch terribly. And also missing an eye/ by young children/ they are beaten and stoned/ When the children see a sick animal coming into town, they beat it with sticks or throw rocks at it. Undergoing all this pain/ When the sticks and rocks hit the scabs and sores, the animal is in even more intense pain. Even to the point of death/ With a large rock they may hit it on the head and kill it. Having died like this/ they are born in the bodies of huge serpents/ their bodies as long/ as five hundred yojanas/ deaf, stupid, and without feet/ they writhe about on their stomachs/ by many small insects/ they are stung and eaten/ On the bodies of these huge snakes are many parasitic insects who devour their flesh and blood so that they are undergoing suffering day and night/ without respite/ The bugs eat them all day and all night too, so that they never get a break from their suffering. Would you say this was severe punishment or not? Why must they undergo it? For having slandered this sutra/ they suffer retribution such as this/for slandering the Dharma Flower Sutra.

If they become, humans/ all their faculties are dim and dull/ If they should perhaps become human beings. "Faculties" refers to the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. It can also refer to the arms and legs. When they become people they can't see or hear clearly, they can't smell and their sense of taste is blunted. Their sense of touch is not precise and their minds are extremely stupid and they lack wisdom. They may also be missing an arm or a leg. All their faculties do not listen to their instructions. They may instruct their eyes to look at something, but it will be five minutes before they get around to looking at something. The same goes for their ears and nose. This is because thy are dim and dull. "Dim" means stupid and lacking wisdom. "Dull" means that they are very slow.

They are squat and ugly, palsied, lame/ "Squat" means they are very short, maybe three feet tall and three feet wide, sort of like kumbhanda ghosts. "Ugly" means hideous. Not only are they very short, but they are horrible in appearance. Instead of two lips, for example, they might have four; Their limbs might be split in the middle, that is. One eye might be as big as a ball and the other as small as a soybean. Really ugly; "Palsied" means that they don't have control of their limbs, for example, they can't stretch out their arms or legs or their back is bent over like a bow ready to shoot an arrow. Blind, deaf, and hunchbacked/ When you see people like this you can know that limitless aeons in the past they slandered the Dharma Flower Sutra. You should be able to recognize them. You don't need the Penetration of Others Thoughts, the Heavenly Eye, or the Knowledge of Past Lives. You just need to remember that it said very clearly in the Dharma Flower Sutra that people like this have slandered the Sutra.

Whatever they may say people will not believe/ No one will ever listen! When they talk, there will be an edge on their voice they may sound something like a dog barking. Their breath ever stinking/ This bad breath comes, number one, because they slandered the Sutra, secondly, because they are always sick and their digestion is poor and whatever they eat will fail to nourish them. Sometimes people may have bad breath when they are sick with a cold or the flu. Some people may have a kind of metallic energy, which smells like bad breath, but which they actually use to subdue heavenly demons and control those of outside Ways. They are cultivators of the Secret School. If you always recite the Lotus Flower Sutra, your breath will smell like a blue lotus flower. This is discussed later in the Sutra.

They will be possessed by ghosts/ They will be possessed by ghosts and by mei. (yen mei.) such as kumbhanda ghosts, who will cause them to be afraid. Poor and lowly/ the servants of others/ always sick and emancipated/ with no one to rely upon/ Not only will they have an the above mentioned problems, but they will also always be poor and have no money. Lowly means they will always do the lowliest type of work. They will be used as servants of others, doing their bidding. They will continually be sick and therefore extremely thin. With no one to rely upon/ No one will take care of them at all. If they die, even, their corpse will just lay there in the street for the dogs to eat. No one will pay any attention to it.

Although they draw near to others/ others will never think of them/ They have no one to rely upon, so they may look for someone. They may draw near to someone being very flattering and buttering them up, but no matter how sweet they are to them, the person win pay no attention to them at all. If they gain something/ they will immediately forget and lose it/ If they study the Buddhadharma, and recite a Sutra, as soon as they recite it working very hard until they remember it, they forget it. When they quit reciting, right away they forget it. If they study the ways of medicine/ If they learn to be doctors... In Chinese medicine one speaks about the "four energies," chill (); heat for fever() warmth(), and coolness(). There are also balanced or neutral
() drugs that do not incline towards warmth or coolness.

Chinese medicine also speaks of 1) looking() 2) hearing or smelling() 3) asking() and 4) pulse(). Those who truly understand the science of medicine do not, need to diagnose, they just take a good look at the color of the patient's face to know where the sicknesses lie. It is said, "To be able to tell just by looking is called 'the spiritual’ (method). Hearing and knowing is called 'the sagely' (method)." Perhaps they will listen to the sound of the patient's voice or smell the patient's breath. (In Chinese the word for hearing is also the word for smelling(). This is the way a sage does it. "Asking and knowing is called 'work.'" They may ask the patient for symptoms such as, "Do you have a headache?"

"No," the patient replies, "my stomach hurts." Then they would know.

"Feeling the pulse and knowing is called 'using craft.'" By feeling the pulse they can tell on which meridian the sickness is located. This is called craft. These are very important principles in the study of medicine.

As to the pulse, it may be 1) floating(), 2) sinking() 3) slow(), 4) fast(), 5) slippery(), 6} still() 7) hollow().  I have studied all these books.

I have studied all these medicine books, but I was afraid of "curing people to death" so I didn't become a doctor.


      One day King Yama got sick and wanted to find a doctor to cure him. He sent one of his ghosts to find a doctor for him. "Which doctor shall I get?" said the ghost.

King Yama said, "Well, you are a ghost, so you can see ghosts. Take a look at the doctors' doors and whichever one has the fewest ghosts; ask that doctor to come. He is probably the best doctor because he has cured the fewest people to death."

The ghost went off, and pounded the street At the door of every doctor were many hateful ghosts shouting out things like, "You gave me the wrong prescription and cured me to death" There were a lot of them. Finally he reached one doctor's door and saw only two ghosts there. He invited the doctor to go cure King Yama.

King Yama asked him, "How long have you been a doctor?"

"I just started today," he said.

King Yama said, "Oh, you started today and you already have two ghosts at your door; Good grief, I can't use you for my doctor; I'd better find someone else."

      This goes to show you that in China doctors who use herbal medicines can cure non fatal illnesses. If they are inept, then even if the patient was to get well, they would "cure them to death." If one uses the wrong medicine, it is very easy to take a person's life. This is especially true of Chinese herbal medicines. So the text says, Should they study the ways of medicine, following the prescription to cure illness/ they will only make others’ illnesses worse/ even to the point of death. If they follow the methods of prescription fixed by the doctors, to cure someone's illness, they will cure one illness but another one would take its place or other illnesses, will arise even before they have cured the first one until, perhaps, finally the patient dies.

      If they get sick themselves/ no one shall try to save or cure them/ although they take good medicine/ it will only increase their pains/ If they get sick, no one will try to cure them. If they give themselves some kind of prescription, the sickness will get much worse.

If they meet rebellions/ If they encounter a time of rebellion, a time of social confusion and war their goods will be taken/ as they are plundered and robbed/ People with such offenses/ will perversely be involved in such misfortunes/ All these calamities will befall them. Offenders such as these/ will never see the Buddha/ the king among the sagely hosts/ speaking the Dharma/ teaching and transforming/ The Buddha is the King among an the Sages, and he speaks all dharmas to teach living beings. Offenders such as these/ will always be born in difficult circumstances/ They will be born among the eight difficulties where they will not see the Buddha, hear the Dharma or encounter the Sangha. Insane, deaf, with minds confused/ They are always plagued with insanity, they can't hear, and they are continually subject to mental disorders. They will never hear the Dharma/the Buddhadharma.

Throughout aeons as countless/ as the Ganges River’s sands/ The one who slanders the Dharma Flower Sutra will have no opportunity to hear the Dharma spoken. Even if he does get to hear it, his mind won't be reliable. For example, people may come here to hear the Sutra and they hear three or five sentences, three or five, ten, twenty minutes and then they run away. Why do they run away? Because their karmic obstacles are too weighty. Their offense karma is too deep so if you tell them to study something good, to investigate the Buddhadharma, their Karmic obstacles will immediately arise and they will run off. Some people don't even understand Chinese, and, right after the Chinese, they run off without even sitting for the English translation! Now would you say this was if you don't even understand Chinese and you don't wait to listen to the translation, then obviously you don't get a thing out of it. You have seen many of these people. They run away because they don't have sufficient good roots and their of tense karma is too heavy.

There is a verse, which says:

If exhorted to do good,
He says he has no money,
He has it, but not for that,
In an emergency,
If he must put out a hundred thousand,
Though he doesn't have it, he comes
up with it.
If you try to get him to do good,
He'd like to,
But he's too busy.
When his life is over and he's buried
in the Yellow Springs
As busy as he is,
He still has to go.

Perhaps there is a bank robbery and this person relative is kidnapped. The ransom is set at five hundred thousand dollars. Then even though "he has no money" he'll come up with it.

If you try to get him to do something good, if for example you say, "Let's go listen to a Sutra lecture," what do you think he will say?

"Ah: I'd really like to, but I'm just too busy." He doesn't have time. But when the time comes to die, and one is called before King Yama, no matter how busy one is, one has to go. Hah!

So it's not that easy to listen to Sutra lectures. You must have planted good roots throughout limitless aeons. That you are able to come and listen now, to the Dharma Flower Sutra means that you have conditions with the Dharma Flower Assembly. Didn't the Great Master Huai Tzu say that he was with Great Master Chih Che on Vulture Peak listening together to the Dharma Flower Sutra? So they met together in China. Now, we, too. We are together in the Vulture Peak Assembly listening to the Dharma Flower Sutra. Since you have now forgotten, I am lecturing it over again for you.

Throughout countless aeons as numerous as Ganges River's sand, when born they will be deaf and dumb/ If they get born as people they will be born dumb, unable to speak, or deaf.

      With all their faculties incomplete/ They may be missing an eye, or an ear, or missing their nose, or their lips won't look anything like lips.

They often dwell in the hells/ there roaming as if in pleasure gardens/ They are as happy in hell as one would be in a park. We like to go to the  park to play and feel very happy and free. Well, these people will feel very comfortable in the hells. They like being there.

Or among the other evil paths/ which they take as their house and home/ They take them as their own home. Among camels, asses, pigs, and dogs/ these are the places they will walk/ They win behave like camels, asses, pigs, and dogs, and they will like being around them. In India there are those who imitate the behavior of cows and dogs. In the past they slandered the Lotus  Sutra and now as people they still like to act like animals. Because of slandering this sutra/ they undergo retribution such as this/

If they become, humans/ they will be deaf, blind, and dumb/ If they get out of the hells or the animal realms, they will be deaf, blind, and dumb, impoverished and decrepit/ Why are people poor? Because in former lives they slandered the Lotus Sutra, and they slandered the Triple Jewel, they didn't believe in the Triple Jewel or make offerings to it. Even though they had money, they offered none of it to the Triple Jewel. If one doesn't seek blessings and plant blessings by making offerings to the Triple Jewel, one will forever be poor. "Decrepit" means that nothing goes right for one. This is like Chang T'ai Kung. He was "jinxed" because his fate was no good. Chang T'ai Kung, King Wen of Chou's Prime Minister, was unlucky.

During the Chou Dynasty he was an official and later he quit and took up selling salt instead. Then his salt got infested with bugs. Basically salt can't get infested with bugs, but his did, and so no one would buy it. He sold flour, took it out on the streets to sell it. All day and no one bought any. That evening, one person came to buy a penny's worth. There was no inflation in those days and so one could probably buy a lot of flour for a penny. Just as Chang T'ai Kung was measuring out the flour, the general and his cavalry galloped by on their horses and the general's horse kicked over his container of flour and it went all over the street. They didn't have concrete in those days and the flour got all mixed up with the dirt. He picked up what he could of the flour but people were even less interested in buying it then. About eight or nine o'clock that night he went home and called to his wife but she didn't hear him. So he was going to knock on the door but just as he knocked on the door a bee flew between his hand and the door and stung him. He drew his hand back suddenly and slammed the back of it into a nail. Gosh! How unlucky can you get. Why did this happen? Because in a former life he was a bear and this bear saw an old cultivator called Yu Hsu Kung and he knew that he was a high cultivator who had attained the Way and so he knelt outside his door seeking the May. He knelt there for five hundred years. During that five hundred years he dropped his bear body, the flesh rotted away and the bones turned to dust. He was born as a person with a lot of merit, but in the more remote past he had slandered the Triple Jewel. So, he had so much bad luck. He had bad luck because his wife was not a good person, and he received her influence. He couldn't sell flour or anything else. Nothing went right; he was very unlucky. This is what is meant by the line in the text "Impoverished and decrepit." Nothing is lucky for them; they have a lot of bad luck.

And adorning themselves therewith/ They decorated themselves with their poverty and misfortune.

      Swollen with water or else dried out/ Their bodies are always swollen up or else they are alt dried out like a piece of kindling. With scabs and boils/ and other such illnesses/ they clothe themselves/ Their scabs itch an the time and although the itching is on the skin, their minds find it unbearable. Boils are big sores some as big as a teacup or a wineglass, or a rice bowl. They hurt unbearably. Don't be afraid of sores, which are large, red, and swollen or "raised." Just be afraid of black or purple boils, which sink into the skin. If they are black or purple and sink into the skin, then they cannot be cured. The person will certainly die. It's even fiercer than cancer. They will have these sicknesses everyday, like one wears clothes everyday. Their bodies will always stink/ of filth and impunity/ and their bodies will constantly stink from the scabs and sores on them.

Deeply attached to the view of self/ their hatred shall only increase/ They have terrible tempers that grow worse everyday. Everyday they have more afflictions.

Ablaze with sexual desire/ no different from bids on beasts/ Thoughts of sexual desire are constantly on their minds, and they have to be doing it all the time. This is like the great general of the Ch'ing dynasty Mien Kung Yao who had to have twelve women to sleep with every night, and even sent out for cows, horses, donkeys...

      For slandering this Sutra/ they suffer retribution such as this/ Because they slandered the Dharma Flower Sutra, they are punished in this way.


I tell you, Shariputra,

Those who slander this Sutra,

Were I to speak of their offenses

I wouldn't finish to the end of an aeon.

For these reasons, then,

I expressly tell you

Among those who have no wisdom,

Do not speak this Sutra.


I tell you, Shariputra/ Shakyamuni Buddha, speaking of the retribution incurred by those who slander the Dharma Flower Sutra says, "I'm telling you, Shariputra, Those who slander this Sutra/ the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, were I to speak of their offenses/ If I were to speak in great detail of their offenses I wouldn't finish to the end of an aeon/ I could speak for several great aeons but wouldn't finish. For these reasons, then/ I expressly tell you/ I am telling you, among those who have no wisdom/ For people without wisdom do not speak this Sutra/ Speak this Sutra only to those who have wisdom. You should not speak a Sutra like this to those who have no wisdom for it will only cause them to slander it and create offenses for which they must suffer retribution. So now the people here in the Buddhist Lecture Hall are listening to the Sutra being spoken because you all have a bit of wisdom. If you were stupid, I wouldn't even speak it, and even if I did, you would run far away. Like one person who said that listening to the Sutras was boring, and went off to find a Good Knowing Advisor. Now I believe that in this world, if you don't listen to the Sutras or study the Buddhadharma, you can travel the entire world around but you won't find a Good Knowing Advisor. Why not? Because a Good Knowing Advisor will start out by teaching the doctrines in the Sutras. Then he will teach you to cultivate and to investigate Dhyana and sit in meditation. There are various preparatory steps to learning to sit in meditation. You can't just sit in meditation and not have the slightest idea what you are doing. If you do, you may enter a demonic state. You may claim to have certified to that which you have not certified to and say that you have attained what you have not yet attained. To say you have certified to the fruit of Arhatship when you have not is telling a monstrous lie; one who does this will fall into the hells. Such a person might claim, "I am enlightened. I am a Patriarch. I am an Arhat. I am a Bodhisattva. I am a Buddha," claiming to have attained the genuine Buddhadharma when they have not. What kind of "Buddha" are they?

Someone says, "The Buddha really knows how to hurt people. If he hadn't spoken the Lotus Sutra, then how could people have fallen into hell? He spoke that Sutra and as a consequence a lot of people have fallen into the hells. Why? Because they slander the Sutra. Now, if the Buddha never spoke it, for sure no one would have slandered it. If no one slandered it, then no one would have fallen into the hells. So it amounts to Shakyamuni Buddha more or less sending people to the hells!"

Do you think this person is speaking reasonably? Let's figure it out. This person is arguing his case in favor of living beings and against Shakyamuni Buddha, but the Buddha's side must be presented as well. So, I'll dare to do it:

You say that if Shakyamuni Buddha hadn't spoken the Lotus Sutra no one would have fallen into the hells, but on the other hand, if Shakyamuni Buddha hadn't spoken the Lotus Sutra no one would have become a Buddha! If people have fallen into the hells, you can't blame it on Shakyamuni Buddha, because he very, very c1early warned us that to slander the Sutra is to commit a serious of tense. Since you know already that it is an offense, you should not slander it. If you don't slander the Sutra, you will not fall into the hells. The Buddha said a slanderer would fall into the hells, so if you insist on going ahead and slandering it even more, just to spite him, you will then fall even deeper. There's not the slightest doubt about it. He warned us that one who slanders the Sutra would fall into the hells, or turn into a hungry ghost, or else become an animal for boundless aeons. So why do you still want to slander the Dharma Flower Sutra? If you do, you are just deliberately pitting yourself against the Buddha. If nobody slanders it nobody is going to fall into the hells. Ah...so you can't say that people fall into the hells because Shakyamuni Buddha spoke the Lotus Sutra. By speaking the Sutra, just think how many people were caused to bring forth the Bodhi heart, and in the future will become Buddhas. More will become Buddhas than will fall into the hells. Those who fall into the hells are the stupidest ones; they don't believe in anything at all. They know very well that Shakyamuni Buddha said it was an offense to slander the Sutra, but they insist on doing it. Now, who can save living beings like this? Well, there is someone. It's Earth Store Bodhisattva. When they have fallen into the hells and suffered enough to learn their lessons, Earth Store Bodhisattva goes there to speak Dharma for them and wipe away their offense karma so that they can be born in the heavens or among human beings. Don't worry about the people who slander the Sutra and fall into the hells. Just pick out a good future for yourself and go forward and make progress. Don't fret about the offenders and get upset about those in hell.