Flower Adornment Sutra
by T’ang Dynasty National Master
into English by Bhiksuni Heng Hsien
Reviewed by Bhiksuni Heng Yin and Heng Tao
Edited by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
THE NINTH, DEPENDING ON THE PERSONS REQUESTING. IF THERE ARE CONSIDERATIONS OF DEEP KINDNESS AND COMPASSION, THERE IS ALSO THAT SPOKEN ON ONE'S OWN WITHOUT REQUEST. IF THERE ARE CONSIDERATIONS OF RESPECT FOR THE DHARMA AND REVERENCE FOR THE PERSON, THERE MUST BE SINCERE REQUEST, AFTER WHICH IT IS SPOKEN. THOSE OF INITIAL RESOLVE, WHOSE KNOWLEDGE IS OBSCURED, INQUIRE AND SEEK PRIOR TO UNDERSTANDING. THOSE OF SUPERIOR WISDOM, OUT OF KINDNESS AND COMPASSION, LET A DOUBT ARISE AND MAKE THEIR REQUEST.
THE NINTH kind of Condition is DEPENDING ON THE PEOPLE REQUESTING. There must be people who request the Dharma, and then the Dharma can be spoken. If no one requests the Dharma, sometimes it is spoken anyway. When? IF THERE ARE CONSIDERATIONS OF DEEP KINDNESS AND COMPASSION, THERE IS ALSO THAT SPOKEN ON ONE'S OWN WITHOUT REQUEST. When it's exactly the right time to speak the Dharma, but none of the people understand that they should request it, if the person to speak the Dharma is endowed with vast, great kindness and compassion, and deep, thick vow power, he win speak on his own without being requested to do so. An example is the Amitabha Sutra. That concise Sutra was spoken by the Buddha on his own, without anyone's request. The Buddha spoke that Dharma out of deep kindness and compassion. IF THERE ARE CONSIDERATIONS OF RESPECT FOR THE DHARMA AND REVERENCE FOR THE PERSON, if it depends upon there being respect for the Buddhadharma and reverence for the person who speaks it the Dharma speaking host, who is also the teaching and transforming host then THERE MUST BE SINCERE REQUEST, AFTER WHICH IT IS SPOKEN. There must be a request made with the utmost reverence and respect, with total sincerity. It's that way here: each day before the Dharma is spoken, people request it, and after the request is made then the Dharma is spoken. THOSE OF INITIAL RESOLVE, WHOSE KNOWLEDGE IS OBSCURED, that is, those who have first resolved their minds and who lack understanding, having little wisdom, INQUIRE AND SEEK PRIOR TO UNDERSTANDING. They ask the person to speak Dharma. THOSE OF SUPERIOR WISDOM, OUT OF KINDNESS AND COMPASSION...Those who have first brought forth the resolve don't understand, but others who do have wisdom bring forth kindness and compassion, LET A DOUBT ARISE AND MAKE THEIR REQUEST, asking for Dharma. For example, in the Vajra Sutra, Subhuti requests the Dharma, while in the Lotus Sutra it's the greatly wise Sariputra. Most of the Sutras spoken by the Buddha were requested by people. Here it speaks of giving rise to a doubt, but it's not for certain the people requesting Dharma do not understand it's principles. They may be kindly and compassionately requesting the Dharma on behalf of others.
THIS IS FURTHER OF TWO KINDS: ONE, ORAL REQUEST; TWO, MENTAL REQUEST. WEATHER OR NOT THEY OCCUR IN ALL OF THE ASSEMBLIES WILL BE EXPLAINED IN THE CHAPTER ON THE MANIFESTATION OF MARKS.
THIS IS FURTHER OF TWO KINDS. The formal request for Dharma may be made in two ways. ONE, ORAL REQUEST, asking for the Dharma through speech. TWO, MENTAL REQUEST, formulating the request in one's mind for when it's the Buddha speaking Dharma, as soon as you move your mind, the Buddha knows. Sages who have certified to the fruit can know this, too. That being the case, one can request the Dharma in thought. For example, when we speak Dharma here, some request with words and others request in thought. The left home people or lay people who go up in front, bow, kneel with their palms together and ask for the Dharma are making an oral request. All the rest of the assembly on the sides put their palms together, too, and at that time they are making a mental request for the Dharma. But, you should get this clear: if you request in words, then I know; but if you request in thought, I don't know. Why not? Because I am not a Sage; I'm the same as the rest of you. So, don't pull that play on me, saying, "Whatever I think the Dharma Master knows." You think it and you know it don't expect the Dharma Master to know. WHETHER OR NOT THEY OCCUR IN ALL OF THE ASSEMBLIES, whether in the Seven Places and Nine Assemblies there is oral request or mental request, or whether there is neither oral nor mental request, but the Buddha speaks the Dharma out of kindness and compassion, WILL BE EXPLAINED IN THE CHAPTER ON THE MANIFESTATION OF MARKS. These formalities will be described in that chapter of the Sutra.
TEN, DEPENDING ON THE ONES WO AID. THE SAGES W NOT CONSTANTLY RESPOND. THEY RESPOND TO ADEQUATE SINCERITY. WHEN ONE'S PROFOUND AND DEEP SINCERITY REACHES THE ULTIMATE POINT, THEN ONE OBTAINS THE AID OF THE BUDDHAS.
TEN, the tenth Condition, is DEPENDING ON THE ONES WHO AID, those who give you protection and assistance, who help you without your knowing it. You may not realize it, but the Buddha helps you speak Dharma. For instance, I'm speaking the Dharma for you now, but actually can I speak the Dharma or not? I'm the most stupid and doltish person in the world, and can't speak Dharma. Before, I remember even when I was around fifteen or sixteen, I didn't like to talk. I was like a rock, and wouldn't say anything. Who would have guessed I'd be in America now speaking the Dharma for a11 of you. But now, can I speak or not? I can't. Then how am I speaking? The Buddhas aid me and the Bodhisattvas come to my assistance. I can't speak, but when I get to the Dharma seat, I can. To start with, I can have forgotten the text of the Prologue, but I sit down and close my eyes and I think of it. So lots of times I don't have to use a text; I can just recite it and explain it. How? Because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas help me.
However, THE SAGES, the Buddhas or other sagely worthies like Bodhisattvas and Arhats, DO NOT CONSTANTLY RESPOND. They don't help you out on every occasion, or fulfill your every wish. THEY RESPOND TO ADEQUATE SINCERITY. If you are able to be truly sincere, then they respond and aid you. WHEN ONE'S PROFOUND AND DEEP SINCERITY REACHES THE ULTIMATE POINT, when not a single thought arises, and that reaches the reaches the utmost degree, THEN ONE OBTAINS THE AID OF THE BUDDHAS.
But you have to be ultimately sincere. You can't be saying, "Hey; I'm really sincere, to the ultimate. So how come I haven't had a response?" If you were sincere to the utmost, how could you still have an "I'm sincere to the ultimate degree." Just having that thought is not having reached the ultimate. If you had reached the utmost degree, you wouldn't think that. You'd never think, "I'm the best. I'm the truest. I use the most effort in my cultivation, so why haven't I had a response?" If you know you use the most effort, you still haven't used effort. If you were really applying your efforts, how could you still be smug and say, "I truly use effort"? Who falsely uses effort anyway? If you retain a "true," it becomes false. You should have no "true": no false and no true. If you don't have a "false," you won't have a "true"; and with no "truth" there won't be "falseness." Then you've reached the ultimate. When you reach the ultimate, there's nothing, nothing at all, so how could you still think, "I've brought forth the firmest resolve, so why no response?" As soon as you bring forth a self satisfied thought like that, you haven't brought forth the resolve.
MOREOVER, IF THE BUDDHA HIMSELF SPEAKS, THEN THERE IS NO WAITING FOR AID, AS IN THE NINTH ASSEMBLY. IF THERE IS SPEAKING BECAUSE OF PEOPLE, THERE MUST BE AVAILING OF SUPERIOR AID. IN THE EIGHTH ASSEMBLY, PRACTICE DEPENDS UPON THE DHARMA FOR CULTIVATION, AND SO IT IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM THE ABOVE. TO GENERALIZE CONCERNING THE NON OCCURRENCE OF AID, IN THE SECOND AND SEVENTH THERE IS NO ENTRY TO SAMAWI, SO THERE IS NO AID. IN ALL THE REST IT OCCURS.
MOREOVER, IF THE BUDDHA HIMSELF SPEAKS, if the Buddha speaks the Dharma on his own, THEN THERE IS NO WAITING FOR AID from other Buddhas. An example of that is AS IN THE NINTH ASSEMBLY. IF THERE IS SPEAKING BECAUSE OF PEOPLE, if the Dharma is spoken because other people request it. THERE MUST BE AVAILING OF SUPERIOR AID. In that case there must be availing oneself of the aid of a11 Buddhas. IN THE EIGHTH ASSEMBLY, when it takes place, PRACTICE DEPENDS UPON THE DHARMA FOR CULTIVATION, doors of practice are cultivated through reliance upon the Dharma, AND SO IT IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM THE ABOVE. It amounts to the same situation as was just discussed. TO GENERALIZE CONCERNING THE NON OCCURRENCE OF AID, giving a sweeping picture of when no other Buddhas aid, IN THE SECOND AND SEVENTH THERE IS NO ENTRY TO SAMADHI. When the Buddha speaks the Flower Adornment Sutra, in the Second and Seventh Assemblies he doesn't enter samadhi to speak it, SO THERE IS NO AID. There is no need for aid from other Buddhas, since he doesn't enter samadhi. IN ALL THE REST IT OCCURS. In the rest of the assemblies, there is aid from other Buddhas.
THE REASONS FOR AID; TO DEMONSTRATE THROUGH THE IDENTICAL AID OF ALL BUDDHAS THAT THEIR SPEAKING IS IDENTICAL, FOR SPEAKING ON THE PART OF ONE IS SPEAKING ON THE PART OF ALL. ALSO, TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE SEA OF THE FRUIT IS WITHOUT WORDS, FOR IT IS ON THE CAUSE WITH ITS MARKS THAT THERE CAN BE SPEECH.
THE REASONS FOR AID: Why does there have to be aid from the Buddhas? TO DEMON STRAIGHT THROUGH THE IDENTICAL AID OF ALL BUDDHAS THAT THEIR SPEAKING IS IDENTICAL. Having all the Buddhas of the ten directions simultaneously aid the person speaking Dharma shows that it is the same as all the Buddhas of the ten directions simultaneously speaking Dharma, FOR SPEAKING ON THE PART OF ONE IS SPEAKING ON THE PART OF ALL. Although it is one Buddha who does the speaking, it is speaking by all Buddhas. When a single Bodhisattva speaks the Dharma, it is equivalent to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas speaking. It ALSO is TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE SEA OF THE FRUIT on the ground of the result IS WITHOUT WORDS. "Fruit" means the position of the result; and "sea" represents its greatness, which is comparable to the sea. When one reaches the position of the fruit, nothing can be said, FOR IT IS ON THE CAUSE WITH ITS MARKS THAT THERE CAN BE SPEECH. It's when one is on the causal ground, which has marks that speaking can take place; on the result ground of the fruit, there can be no speech.
The perfectly complete fruit of enlightenment,
Returns to where nothing is obtained.
Therefore, in the sea of the fruit, nothing can be said.
IN AS MUCH AS IT IS THAT WAY, THE ASAMKHYEYAS AND THE MINOR CHARACTERISTICS SHOULD NOT BE ALL, TO REPRESENT THAT IT IS FINE AND SUBTLE, DIFFICULT TO KNOW, SINCE IT TRANSCENDS THE CAUSE AND FRUIT. MOREOVER, THE BESTOWALS AND ESTABLISHMENTS ARE NOT THE SAME, SO ONE SHOULD NOT EMPLOY A SINGLE STANDARD.
THE AID OF THE TOO KINDS: ONE, APPARENT AID, WHICH COVERS THE THREE KARMAS; TOO, HIDDEN AID, LIMITED TO GIVING WISDOM THAT ENABLES ONE TO SPEAK.
IN AS MUCH AS IT IS THAT WAY, as just described, therefore THE ASAMKYHEYAS AND THE MINOR CHARACTERISTICS, minor characteristics that number in the asamkhyeyas, or you could say this means the Asamkhyeyas Chapter and the Minor Characteristics in either case it means a lot, multi layered in inexhaustibility, infinite and unending in its countless numbers. The asamkhyeyas and minor characteristics, many as they are SHOULD NOT BE A, so they are not really many. If they aren't, then why are they described that way? It is in order TO REPRESENT THAT IT IS FINE AND SUBTLE, DIFFICULT TO KNOW. It's symbolic of how the Dharma is extremely fine and subtle, very difficult to know and understand, SINCE IT TRANSCENDS THE CAUSE AND FRUIT. It goes beyond the number of causes and effects, being more. Even though that is the case, MOREOVER, THE BESTOWALS AND ESTABLISHMENTS ARE NOT THE SAME. Each Teaching differs from the next. There are the Small, Initial, Final, Sudden, and Perfect. The ways the Teachings are set up have such differences as those between the Sudden Teaching and the Perfect Teaching, SO ONE SHOULD NOT EMPLOY A SINGLE STANDARD. You shouldn't try to explain this in just one way, using a single principle to represent it.
THE AID IS OF TWO KINDS. The Buddhas assist in two ways. ONE, the first, is APPARENT AID, helping you in an obvious and clear fashion that you can understand, WHICH COVERS THE THREE KARMAS. This is assisting your three karmic vehicles of body, mouth, and mind, making them keen and sharp. TOO, HIDDEN AID. The second is secretly helping you, which is LIMITED TO G1VING WISDOM THAT ENABLES ONE TO SPEAK. The Buddhas aid you and cause your wisdom to open so you can speak the Dharma.
THE UNIVERSAL LIGHT AND THE DHARMA REALM HAVE NO APPARENT AID BUT DO HAVE HIDDEN AID. ALL THE REST HAVE BOTH; FOR IF THERE IS APPARENT AID, THERE MUST ALSO BE HIDDEN AID. THE REST WILL BE EXPLAINED WHEN THEY ARE REACHED BELOW. THIS ENDS THE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS FOR THE ARISAL OF THE TEACHING.
THE UNIVERSAL LIGHT Chapter AMP THE DHARMA REALM Chapter HAVE NO APPARENT AID BUT DO HAVE HIDDEN AID. They don't have any apparent aid, only secret aid in which the Buddhas assist a given Bodhisattva or Good Knowing Advisor to open wisdom and speak wonderful Dharma. ALL THE REST HAVE BOTH. The other chapters all have both apparent and obscure aid, FOR IF THERE IS APPARENT AID, THERE MUST ALSO BE HIDDEN AID. When the assistance is secret, it's not necessarily apparent, too; but when the help is apparent, hidden aid must be taking place at the same time. THE REST WILL BE EXPLAINED WHEN THEY ARE REACHED BELOW. In the Sutra itself are quite a few examples of apparent and hidden aid, which will be understood when we come to them in the text.
THIS ENDS THE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS FOR THE ARISAL OF THE TEACHING. This is the end of the section discussing the Causes and Conditions for the Arisal of the Teaching.
To receive either apparent or hidden aid, you have to be sincere. Otherwise, you won't obtain any kind of aid at all. It said before, "The Sages do not constantly respond. They respond to adequate sincerity." There can't always be an intertwining of response and the Way taking place. It happens when you are sincere to the ultimate degree. "Adequate sincerity" is a quote from the Book of History, which says:
The citizens do not cherish everyone; they cherish those who have virtue.
The ghosts and spirits do not accept everything; they accept when there is adequate sincerity.
It says the minds of the citizenry are inconstant, fickle. For example, if you are the emperor with virtuous conduct, they will protect and support you. If you lack virtuous practice, they'll forget a11 about you. They don't always feel like remembering and cherishing you. They cherish those who have virtue. If you are someone with virtue in the Way, they will always cherish, remember, protect, support, and think of you. The ghosts and spirits won't always come and accept the offerings and libations you make to them. You may make an offering of food, or pour out tea for the ghosts and spirits, but they won't come each time. How does it work then? They accept when there is adequate sincerity. The times when you are very sincere they will come and eat the food if you give it to them, or drink the tea, because you offered it sincerely. If you aren't sincere, they won't have anything to do with you or accept your libations and sacrifices.
This is as when you make offerings to your teacher. Just because you make the offering doesn't mean your teacher wants it. For example, when I was in Hong Kong, somebody gave me $200, and I threw it out in the street, didn't want it. You've got to offer with sincerity for it to be accepted. If you don't offer something with a sincere heart, it may not be thrown out in the street, but it may be tossed on the floor. If not actually tossed on the floor, no attention will be paid to it, which amounts to the same thing. But if you can be sincere, it will be accepted.
END OF THE FIRST
DOOR: THE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS FOR THE ARISAL OF THE TEACHING.
Cultivation is like
Going up is hard,
If, when you reach
Then you’re free
to roam in all the ten
By Venerable Master Hua