If there are those with keen faculties
And wisdom which clearly comprehends,
With much learning and strong memory,
Who seek the Buddhas' path,
For people such as these you may speak it.
If there are those who, in the past,
Have seen hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhas,
Who have planted wholesome roots,
Who have deep and solid minds,
For people such as these
You may speak it.
If there are those who are vigorous
Ever cultivating minds of compassion
Sot sparing body or life,
For them you may speak it.
This is part two: using the great kindness door, one should speak the Sutra for good people. It has two parts of which this is the first, the five kinds of good people for whom one can speak this Sutra.
The verses previously expounded were warning people not to slander this Sutra. This was a case of the Buddha opening the* door of his great compassion. Fearing that people might slander the Sutra the Buddha warned them that if they did so they would fall into the hells. This is the Sutra for becoming a Buddha. If you slander this Dharma, you are slandering the act of becoming a Buddha. To say nothing of slandering it outright, you should not even have doubts about it in your mind. The Buddha is being extremely compassionate in warning living beings of this fact. If you clearly know that you will fall into the hells, but you insist on slandering it anyway, it must just be that you want to fall into the hells. If you are having trouble getting into the hells, just slander the Sutra and you will go there on an express. But don't think it's a lot of fun and games. When you get to hell you will be crying. It's no daycare center, that's for sure. You'll be crying your eyes out.
The verses just read are the Buddha opening the great kindness door telling people to cultivate in accord with the Dharma. For example, those people who can come to listen to the Lotus Sutra being lectured all have good roots. People with out good roots might come to listen but they will immediately want to run away and they won't come back. They'll fly away like birds. They won't even wait for the translation!
If there are those with keen faculties/People with keen faculties are intelligent; they are not stupid. When you speak principle to them they deeply believe it and have no doubts. With wisdom, which clearly comprehends/ They are wise and they are smart and they believe it as soon as they hear it. With much learning and strong memory/They have read a lot of books and so they understand a great many things and remember them, too. Who seek the Buddha's path/They single-mindedly seek the Buddha Path looking upon everything in human life as being suffering. Even if a person lives to be a hundred, eventually they are going to die; there's no great meaning in all of it. Thus, they diligently seek the Buddha path. For people such as these/You may speak it/You may speak the Dharma Flower Sutra. If there are those who in the past have seen hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhas/Who have planted wholesome roots/many good roots, by making offerings to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. I will tell you: if you want to make offerings to the Triple Jewel, don't make discriminations about it. You should just go ahead and make your offerings single-mindedly. The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are one substance. You shouldn't think, "Ah, I will give money. What will it be used for?" You shouldn't worry about what it will be used for. You decided to give the money as an offering and you shouldn't pay attention to what the recipients do with it. That's being sincere. You shouldn't be like those in a certain country who offer underdeveloped countries foreign aid but only with the condition that that country must sell their goods to them, and only them, and at a cheap price. That's not helping them out at all, it's just finding a method to control them. Making offerings to the Triple Jewel works the same way. You can't make offerings to the Triple Jewel hoping to control them. They can't be controlled by you. If you try then not only do you make no merit for yourself, but you create offenses. This is something everyone must be clear about.
As you plant good roots, just plant them, don't worry about what the harvest is going to be like. Who have deep and solid minds/You should have deep wisdom, profound Prajna, and your mind should be solid, not making a lot of discriminations. For people such as these/you may speak it/for may speak the Dharma Flower Sutra.
If there are those who are vigorous/ever cultivating minds of compassion/If someone cultivates vigor and a mind of compassion...Compassion means that you don't see the faults of others. Even if they make mistakes, you still don't reject them, you just think, "Oh, they are just children and they don't understand what's happening; that's why they are creating offenses. I should teach them untiringly and distract them from their ball games..."Here, don't play with that. I have a nice carriage for you. You can go anywhere you like in it." This is like Sakyamuni Buddha who did a lot of babysitting himself. That's being ever compassionate. Not sapping body or life/Some people do a little something and then feel that it was too, too bitter and they are too tired. They want to rest. But when Bodhisattvas decide to do something they don't care about their bodies or even their very lives. They don't spare their bodies or lives in order to work for living beings. For them you may speak it.
If there are those who are reverent/to the Triple Jewel Without any other thoughts/They don't have "two hearts." Do you see how detailed the Buddha got in this line? There are some people who seem to be reverent on the outside but they don't have one mind. They have another mind that is thinking, "Is this right or not? The Dharma says things are this way, but are they really? Probably not. Hey, that Dharma Master speaks the Dharma, but he is just like all of us. Nothing special about him. I better take a good look into it myself. I'm not going to let that Dharma Master cheat me." I will tell you now: people with wisdom can't be cheated, even if people try to cheat them. People without wisdom always end up getting cheated whether they are afraid of being cheated or not. Whether or not you get cheated depends on whether you have genuine wisdom or not.
So the text says, "Without any other thoughts." They have only one thought: to cultivate the Way with their teacher. They don't want to run away. If you say you want to run away that means that you are thinking about it, and you are not of one mind.
have left the common, stupid folk/Having left behind the knowledge and
views of the common, stupid people. And dwell alone in the mountains or
marshes/up in the hills or near the water, For people such as these/You
may speak it.
If you see disciples of the Buddha/Holding precepts purely as/Pure bright jewels/like brilliant pearls Seeking the Great Vehicle Sutras/For people such as these/You may speak it/for people like this you can speak the Dharma Flower Sutra.
If there are those without hatred/Straightforward and gentle/If you meet lip with a person who has no hateful thoughts. Hate is one of the three poisons. The three poisons are greed, hatred, and stupidity. One without hatred is also without greed or stupidity. Their disposition is very straightforward; such people are incapable of being devious. Their minds are straight. Gentle means that they are compliant towards living beings and not irascible.
Ever pitying all beings/always taking pity on living beings. And reverent towards all Buddhas/Most people don't know how to be reverent of the Buddhas. When one sees the Buddhas one should respectfully bow to them. Not to bow is to be irreverent. Why should we bow to the Buddhas? Because the Buddha is the father of all living beings in the world and so we must be most respectful to our father. When we see the Buddha, we should bow; when we see the Buddha images, we should bow; when we see members of the Sangha who uphold the Buddhadharma, we should bow. We must revere the Triple Jewel. The phrase "to be reverent towards the Buddha" includes being reverent towards the Dharma and the Sangha as well. For people such as these/You may speak it/ The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
Moreover, If there are Buddha's disciples/Who, in the great Assembly/ With minds clear and pure/and undefiled using various causal conditions/ Parables and phrases/They might say, "No killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no false speech and no taking intoxicants. If you keep the five precepts you can be born in the heavens. If you plant a good cause, you will reap a good fruit; if you plant a bad cause, you will reap a bad fruit. Whatever kind of cause you plant, you will reap the corresponding fruit. So be very careful with respect to cause and effect." Speak Dharma without obstruction/ For people such as these/ You may speak it.
If there are Bhiksus/those who have left home. The Sanskrit word Bhiksu has three meanings: 1. mendicant. Above they beg for the Dharma from all the Buddhas and below they beg for food from living beings. 2. Frightener of Mara. Bhiksus cultivate according to the Dharma and so the demon kings are afraid. 3. Destroyer of evil. They destroy all the evils of affliction. Because it has so many meanings, the word Bhiksu is not translated.
For the sake of all wisdom/Bhiksus seek all wisdom Seek Dharma in the Four Directions/They visit Good Knowing Advisors in all directions, seeking the Dharma. With palms together, receiving it atop their crows/They seek the Dharma, reverently putting their hands together Who delight only in receiving and maintaining/The Canon of the Great Vehicle Sutras/The Lotus Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, or the Surangama Sutra in general they seek the Great Vehicle Sutras everywhere Refusing to accept so much/As a single verse from another Sutra/They seek a Great Vehicle Sutra, and having found it they keep it exclusively and don't study other Sutras. For people such as these/You may speak it. For people who are intent on their study, you can speak the Sutra to them.
If there be those who/With mind intent/Seek the Buddha's Sarira/They sincerely want the Buddhas relics Or who likewise seek the Sutras/And having attained them, receive them atop their heads/ Having attained them, they reverently accept them and make offerings Such people will not again resolve to seek other Sutras/they won't run off to the east or west looking for other Sutras Nor ever have the thought/To seek the writings of other religions/ externalist religions For people such as these/You may speak it.
In the above passage of text are enumerated ten kinds of good people for whom the Sutra may be spoken. They divide into five pairs: The first line "If there are those with keen faculties..." to the line "For people such as these, you may speak it," represents people in the present who have cultivated. The following "If there are those who, in the past..." to "you may speak it," represents people who have cultivated in the past and this is the first of the five pairs, the pair of the present and the past.
The following "If there are those who are vigorous..." to For them you may speak it," represents those who have cultivated blessings. "If there are those who are reverent..." to "you may speak it," represents people who have cultivated wisdom, and this forms the second pair, that of the cultivation of blessings and wisdom.
The line, "And, further, Sariputra..." to "you may speak it," represents an external search, and the quality of reforming one's behavior. The line, "If you see disciples of the Buddha..." to "you may speak it," represents protecting one's internal cultivation, through morality, and is the quality of repentance. This forms the pair of reform and repentance.
The line "If there are those without hatred..." to "you may speak it," is cultivation of oneself. The line "Moreover, if there are Buddha's disciples..." to "you may speak it," represents helping others in their cultivation and this forms the pair of self and others.
The line "If there are Bhiksus..." to "you may speak it," represents the beginning of seeking benefits. "If there are those who..." to "you may speak it" represents the attaining of the Dharma and receiving it respectfully on the crown and cultivating it exclusively and is the final result of that search. Thus this represents the pair of beginning and end.
I tell you Sariputra/Were I to speak of the characteristics/of the ten kinds of good people for whom the Dharma may be spoken. Of those mho seek the Buddha's path/were I to speak of them in great detail Exhausting an aeon, I would not finish. Now, in general, I have just mentioned the ten above. People such as these/these, ten Can believe and understand the Dharma Flower Sutra. And for their sakes you should speak/The wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
Some people who study the Buddhadharma have doubts about this passage of text. They recollect that in the Avatamsaka Sutra it is said that if one claims that 3nly one Sutra is correct and the others are wrong, that is the activity of a demon. Here, the Sutra seems to be telling us to cultivate one particular Sutra and not to study the other Sutras. Isn't this a contradiction? In reality, to maintain one Sutra is to maintain all of them. The one gives rise to the many and the other Sutras are all included in the one Sutra. The Lotus text does not explicitly tell you to cultivate only one Sutra. It's just that if you really exhaust all your efforts, you can only maintain one. If you are capable of maintaining more, that is fine. The more the better. So don't get attached and say that the Lotus Sutra tells you only to maintain one Sutra. Don't listen to the Sutras and get attached to them. You must be flexible.
And saw the
World Honored One,
The third chapter of the Lotus Sutra ends here, but the editors wish to rectify earlier omissions of this chapter as it appeared in Vajra Bodhi Sea. The reader is asked to note that VBS #90 marks the end of Chapter Two: Expedients, but issue #92 begins with commentary that is found well into Chapter Three. Thus we now wish to present for the reader A Parable from its beginning.
that time Sariputra danced for joy,
said to the Buddha,
heart dances for joy,
is the reason?
This is the third chapter, called A Parable.
A parable is used because the doctrine is very profound; if it were spoken outright, no one would understand it. So other things are brought up as analogies so that the doctrines may be understood by means of them. So, this Chapter is called A Parable. Because the principles are too deep, one must draw analogies so that they can be understood.
that time, right then after the Expedient Devices Chapter had been spoken
in which the entire great assembly had received predictions of future
Buddhahood, Sariputra, the one of great wisdom, danced for joy. Dancing
for joy shows that he rejoiced in all three karmas: body, mouth, and mind.
His body rejoiced; his mouth rejoiced; his mind, rejoiced. Sariputra,
pure in karma of body, mouth; and mind, rejoiced at heart and Rose from
his seat in the great assembly. He stood up and joined his palms, gazed at
the Honored One's countenance...He gazed upon the Buddha's honored face
And said to the Buddha, "Now having heard this Dharma's sound from
the World Honored One... Now, in the presence of the World Honored One I
have heard the Wonderful Dharma of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower
Sutra, and My heart dances with joy...My body, heart, and mind are
gladdened And I have obtained what I never had before...Previously, in the
Vaipulya and Prajna Assemblies I never heard a wonderful Dharma as
subtle and miraculous as this. What is the reason? Why? In the
heard a Dharma such as this from the Buddha...Before, I heard a dharma
like this. I heard the Buddha speaking this kind of wonderful dharma And
saw the Bodhisattvas...I saw all the great Bodhisattvas receive
predictions of Buddhahood. The Buddha conferred upon them predictions of
their future Buddhahood. But we had no part in this matter. Although the
Bodhisattvas received a prediction of Buddhahood, we, the Small Vehicle
Sound Hearers, did not leave the status to take part in this supreme
affair, to obtain a prediction from the Buddha; we didn't have the
standing. I was deeply hurt...then, I myself was extremely pained,
profoundly upset. I was hurt that I had lost the limitless knowledge and
vision of the Thus Came One, was hurt because I had not obtained a
prediction from the Thus Come One, I had not been favored with the
Buddha's compassion, and thought I had lost the limitless knowledge and
wisdom, the limitless good roots.
World Honored One, When I used to dwell alone in forests and at the foot of trees...World Honored One, when I think about the past, I used to live alone in the mountains, the groves, and beneath trees. What is a forest: lin? Many trees, mu make a forest. One tree, mu, is a tree, shu. Sariputra used to cultivate alone in the woods because such places are very clean and are appropriate for applying effort at cultivation. Whether sitting or walking...I may have been sitting in meditation sitting for several days at stretch without moving. Then, when I got tired, I would get up and take exercise by walking I may have walked around the tree, or I may have just wandered through the glen, but I continually had this thought: I repeatedly, over and over, thought 'We all identically enter into the Dharma-nature...We, the Sound Hearers and the Bodhisattvas identically obtain the Buddha's Dharma-nature. Together we obtain the Dharma the Buddha has spoken, the nourishing moisture of the Dharma-nature. Why has the Thus Come One shown us deliverance by means of the Small Vehicle Dharma? "Why didn't the Thus Come One teach us the Great Vehicle Dharma? Why did he use the dharma of the Small Vehicle to deliver us, to save us?" He thought that way to himself. 'Was the Thus Come One prejudiced? Did the Buddha not care for the Small Vehicle people? Was he not compassionate?" Those were his false thoughts. 'It is our fault.' He false thought back and forth, around and around, until he finally returned the light and reversed the illumination. "It's our fault. We, the Small Vehicle people, have dispositions, which are shallow and thin. Our wisdom is non-existent: we're quite stupid, actually. So if the Buddha had spoken the Great Vehicle Dharma to us, we would have been unable to accept it. It's our own fault. 'Not the World Honored One's.' It has nothing to do with the World Honored One. It's not a question of his being prejudiced "or not being compassionate. And it's not that he doesn't care for us. Our own base, lowly dispositions, our own bad, faulty natures, were such that although the Buddha may nave wished to speak the Great Vehicle Dharma, we could not have accepted it.
-Continued next issue