Dharma Flower Sutra
With commentary of Tripitaka Master Hua
World Honored One if that Elder had not given them even so much as a single small cart, he still would not have been speaking falsely. Why? Because the Elder previously had this thought, "I shall use expedients to lead my children out." For this reason he is not guilty of falsehood. He is even less guilty since, knowing his own wealth to be limitless and wishing to benefit all his children, he gives to them equally a great cart.
Even if that Elder had not given them even so much as a single cart/a little sheep cart, he still would not have been speaking falsely. Why? Because the Elder previously had this thought, ‘I shall use expedients to lead my children out.'/I will use a clever expedient device to cause all the children to leave the burning house. For this reason he is not guilty of falsehood/Why not? He had formed the intention of using expedient devices, and they are only provisional, used to save the children. By saving them alone he was not guilty of lying.
He is even less guilty since, knowing his own wealth to be limitless and wishing to benefit all his children, he gives to them equally a great cart. I He wanted to benefit all the children. This passage of text points out that the Buddha, in order to save living beings, doesn't use the Small Vehicle Dharma. Thus he has already lived up to his word, to say nothing of his now giving all beings the Great Vehicle Dharma. Since he saves all beings with the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, he can't be considered a liar.
The Buddha told Sariputra, "Good indeed, Good indeed! It is just as you say."
The Buddha heard Sariputra's answer and then he told him. "You are exactly right, Sariputra. It is just as you say./
Shariputra, the Thus Come One
is also like this in that he is a
father to all in the
Each has his own method by means of which he accomplishes his karma of the Way. Take Sariputra, for example. He opened the knowledge and vision of the Buddha through the door of wisdom. Mahamaudgalyayana did so through the door of spiritual powers. Each one has original practice and work. By taking one more step forward in that direction, they were able to open up to the Buddha's knowledge and vision.
Powers/the Ten Powers, and fearlessness/the Four Fearlessnesses.
He has great spiritual might and the power of wisdom/With his great spiritual powers, the Buddha saves living beings, taking them from suffering to bliss. The Buddha's great wisdom is of four kinds:
1. The wonderful observing wisdom. Why does the Buddha know everything? Because he has the wonderful observing wisdom.
2. The equality wisdom. The Buddha is equal towards all living beings. He makes no discriminations among them.
3. The perfecting wisdom. He succeeds in whatever he does because he has the perfecting wisdom.
4. The great perfect mirror wisdom. The Buddha's wisdom is like a big mirror. When something comes along, it reflects it; when it goes, the image is gone. It illumines all dharmas as empty marks; it is perfectly fused without obstruction.
He has perfected the paramitas of expedients and wisdom/The Buddha uses whatever method is necessary in order to save any living being. There are no fixed dharmas. He also has the paramita of wisdom, which goes all the way to the other shore. He is greatly kind and compassionate/Kindness bestows happiness. The Buddha grants their wishes and makes them happy. Compassion relieves living beings of their sufferings.
Never tiring, he ever seeks the good, benefiting all. He never grows weary, lax, or tired. He never gets sick of working or takes a break because he's tired. No matter how tough the job is, the Buddha doesn't rest. He is not lazy.
What kind of work does the Buddha do? He teaches and transforms living beings leading them all to Buddhahood. So the Venerable Ananda made this vow:
"If a single living being hasn't become a Buddha,
I will not enter into Nirvana."
That's a great vow. Why doesn't the Buddha ever rest? Because he sees living beings in this world are too miserable. In pursuit of the false, they forget the truth and they have no thought to escape the burning house. The Buddha is very busy, thinking of ways to pluck his sons and daughters out of the sea of suffering. He uses the power of his great compassion and wisdom, his spiritual powers, and various provisional expedients to save living beings. If one single being hasn't been saved, he's uneasy. Saving living beings is his job. He has no time to rest, no time to look for happiness for himself. He doesn't need to benefit himself, because he has already become a Buddha. He just wants to benefit living beings.
And thus he is born in the three realms, which are like a burning house. Like a burning house/The desire, form and formless realms are like a burning house. The house is already falling apart. It's rotten and very dangerous. Why does the Buddha enter the burning house? To save all the little children. The children are so caught up in their play that they are oblivious to everything. Therefore, the Buddha comes to the three realms to teach and transform living beings so that they can quickly wake up.
...in order to save living beings from the fires of birth, old age, sickness, death, grief, misery, stupidity, dullness, and the three poisons. He teaches and transforms them, leading them to the attainment of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.
Why did the Buddha come into the flaming house of the three realms? He came to liberate all living beings. This is because living beings in the burning house don't know enough to be afraid. They don't wake up to the fact that there is no peace in the three realms.
The Buddha came in order to save living beings from the fires of birth/ When we are born, it is great suffering. It is as painful as ripping the shell from a live tortoise. Old age/is even more painful. You are not free in any respect. Your four limbs, your internal organs, your eyes and ears all refuse to help you out. It's really rough. While you are young, you feel strong and healthy. But when you get old, you aren't in control. When you are old, if you then get sick, it's even worse. You have to lay in bed all day as the sickness/wears on and grows more painful. Then, there is death/which is as painful as flaying the skin from a live cow. There is all this grief, misery, stupidity, and dullness, and the three poisons/greed, hatred, and stupidity. He teaches and transforms them, leading them to the attainment of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi/He leads living beings to enlightenment. The Buddha came into the world to teach living beings. Because we living beings have no idea how compassionate the Buddha is, we don't think to escape the three realms. The Buddha exhausts himself waiting, waiting, waiting for us, and getting nervous on top of it all. We should strike up our spirits to hurry and get out of the three realms. Don't hang around in the burning house!
He sees all living beings are scorched by birth, old age, sickness, death, grief, and misery. They undergo various sufferings because of the five desires, wealth, and profit. Further, because of their clinging and grasping, they presently undergo a mass of suffering and in the future will undergo suffering in the hells, among the animals, or hungry ghosts. If born in the heavens or among human beings, they will suffer poverty and distress, the suffering of beings separated from what one loves, the suffering of being joined together with what one hates, and all the various sufferings such as these. However, living beings sunk in this morass, joyfully sport, unaware, unknowing, unalarmed and unafraid. They do not grow satiated nor do they seek liberation. In the burning house of the three realms they run about from east to west. Although they encounter tremendous suffering, they are not concerned.
Sariputra, having seen this, the Buddha further thinks, "I am the father of living beings. I should rescue them from this suffering and difficulty, and give them the limitless, boundless joy of the Buddha-wisdom to play with."
He sees all living beings scorched by birth, old age, sickness, death, grief, and misery/These sufferings are like a great fire in which living beings burn. They are like hot water in which they boil. They undergo various sufferings because of the five desires/wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep. The five desires are also explained as forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects. They turn people upside-down. Why do people do evil deeds? It's because they are turned by the five desires. Why do people do good deeds? It's because they look upon the five desires with indifference. They have seen them for what they are and have broken their attachment to them. "So that's what they are all about," they think. "No matter how much money I get, I can't take it with me. No matter how lovely the partner, when I die, it's all over. No matter how good the food, once it hits the stomach it changes. Once it has turned to excrement, no matter how fine it was to begin with, no one would want to eat it. If you put even the tiniest speck of excrement on a plate of exquisite food, no one would go near it. Once it goes through the machine, it's completely different. So food can't be all that important. Now, sleep...the more you sleep the more you want to sleep. All day long you are in a daze. Regardless how good a reputation you may have, when it's time to die, it just evaporates!" You should see through the five desires. Then you can do good deeds and foster merit and virtue. The Surangama Sutra tells us that if you become a Buddha it is through the use of your six senses. If you commit offenses and fall into the hells, it is also because of the six senses. The five desires work in the same way. If you don't understand, you are attached to the five desires, you lust after them and can't put them down. People with understanding put them down and they use the strength they have to do good deeds. The five desires work that way. Wealth and profit/Because of their greedy pursuit of the five desires, wealth and self-benefit, they use many tricks to get them and when the fail, they suffer in many ways.
Further, because of their clinging and grasping, they presently undergo a mass of suffering/Because they are greedy for the five desires in this life they suffer a lot. They suffer from the frustration of their ambitions. They create much offense karma so in the future will undergo suffering in the hells, among the animals, or hungry ghosts. If born in the heavens or among human beings, they will suffer poverty and distress/They will be poor and utterly wretched. Poor people find it hard to give. Even if they want to do meritorious and virtuous deeds, they don't get a chance. They just keep getting poorer and poorer. Pretty soon they have no home, no land, nothing at all. Cultivators who practice giving keep increasing their wealth. Why? Because they give it away! The more they give, the more good roots they have and so the more wealth they acquire. Because of this, while we have the strength, we must nourish our good roots. If you wait until the last minute, you won't be able to even if you want to.
The suffering of beings from what one loves, the suffering of being joined. together. with what one. haters I Hatred means there is no affinity between people. If you have an affinity with someone, you won't mind it even if they scold you or beat you. You'll still feel good about them. If you have no affinity with a person, no matter how you praise them and respect them, there are still no good feelings between you. You may praise them but they will say that you are ridiculing them. You may be speaking well of them, but they will say you are being sarcastic. Lots of misunderstandings occur. No matter how good you are to them, they continue to despise you. There is not a darn thing you can do about it! That's the suffering of being joined together with what you hate. If you hate them, you may even move somewhere else to get away from them, but as soon as you get there you run into someone exactly like them. They bring you much grief. This is because you did not create an affinity with them in former lives. You set up antipathy instead.
And all the various sufferings such as these. However, living beings sunk in this morass, joyfully sport, unaware, unknowing, unalarmed and unafraid/ Sunk in this suffering, they don't realize they are suffering. They play happily thinking it is great fun. Like the thirty children in the burning house, they aren't afraid of dying, they aren't scared in the least.
They do not glow satiated nor do they seek liberation. Because they don't know suffering leads to affliction, they don't grow satiated. Because they don't seek the Way to certify to extinction, they do not seek liberation. In the burning home of the three realms they run about from east to west. Although they encounter tremendous suffering, they are not concerned/Everything in this world is a form of suffering. They don't worry, however, because they take suffering as bliss.
Sariputra, Having seen this, the Buddha further thinks, "I am the father of living beings/I am the guide of the three realms, the compassionate father to all beings in the four classes of birth and I should rescue them from this suffering and difficulty/help them escape it, and give them the limitless, boundless joy of the Buddha-wisdom to play with. I should save them from their troubles--that's the Buddha's great compassionate heart. Giving them the joy of the Buddha's wisdom--that's the heart of great kindness. In this way all living beings can play safely and happily in the great kindness and compassion of the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma.
We were just talking about the suffering of poverty. You may wonder, "What about people who are wealthy?" That, too, is a form of suffering. It is the suffering of happiness.
"But how can happiness be suffering?"
When happiness reaches its extreme, it turns into its opposite. Although it is said that it is hard to give when one is poor, it is also true that it is hard to cultivate the Way when one is rich. Was Sakyamuni Buddha wealthy? He was extremely wealthy. But he was able to cultivate the Way.
When the Buddha was in the world, the following incident took place: At that time, they used to burn oil lamps as a kind of offering to the Buddha. The person in charge of the lamps put them out during the day and lit them at night. One day a very poor man came to the temple with a gift of about a gallon of oil as an offering to use in the lamps. The person in charge of the lamps found that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't put out the lamp that the poor man had lit. All the Bhiksus came and tried to blow it out, like candles on a birthday cake, but they just could not do it. Even Mahamaudgalyayana, foremost in spiritual powers, couldn't blow it out. He used his spiritual powers to create a wind, but that didn't work either. Then he rounded up the biggest wind around, and even that did not work. So he went and asked the Buddha, "How come the lamp is playing such tricks today? No one can blow it out."
The Buddha said, "You don't know, but that person who came today with the oil is a poor beggar. The oil he bought took his entire life savings. His lamp will never go out."
And it never did.
Because he gave everything he had, the light just never went out, no matter what spiritual powers were used. If you are poor but can still give, then that is genuine giving, genuine merit and virtue. The less you have the more your gift counts.
"If you have a lot and give, then does that not count?"
It's still giving, but those who are wealthy find it hard to cultivate. Those who are poor, if they can give, that's real giving. When rich people give, it's not that special.
Sariputra, the Thus Come One further thinks, "If I merely use spiritual power and the power of wisdom, and cast aside expedients, praising for all living beings the power of the Thus Come One’s knowledge and vision, powers and fearlessnesses, living beings will not be able to be saved in this way. Why is this? All of these living beings have not yet escaped birth, old age, sickness, death, grief and misery. They are being scorched in the burning house of the three realms. How could they understand the wisdom of the Buddha?"
The Buddha calls out again, Sariputra, the Thus Come One further thinks, “If I merely use spiritual power and the power of wisdom/all wisdom, wisdom of the Way, and the wisdom of all modes, and cast aside expedients, praising for all living beings of power of the Thus Come One’s knowledge and vision, powers and fearlessnesses/the Buddha’s Ten Powers and Four Fearlessnesses, living beings will not be able to be saved/Living beings can’t, by means of these causes and conditions, gain salvation.
"Why is this? All of these living beings have not yet escaped birth, old age, sickness, death, grief, and misery. They are being scorched in the burning house of the three realms/They are like children who have not understood the principles of human life. Therefore in the flames of the Three Realms they are being burned.
How could they understand the wisdom of the Buddha? They never knew about the Buddhadharma, so if you tell them about the Buddha's wisdom, they couldn't understand it. For example, in the West, many people have never heard the word "Buddha." Because of their unfamiliarity, many people are afraid of Buddhism, like the student who came today. I asked him, "Why have you stayed away so long?"
He said, "I was afraid."
I asked him what he was afraid of and he couldn't tell me. I said, "This person is afraid of becoming a Buddha, afraid of getting enlightened, afraid of gaining understanding." Once you understand, you can't continue to do confused things. Some people clearly know something is wrong, but want to do it anyway. They are quite clear that it is wrong to break precepts, but they are determined to do so. They know that taking drugs is wrong, but they do it anyway. Before you have studied the Buddhadharma, if you made mistakes, it's not important now. But once you understand the Buddhadharma, if you continue to make mistakes this is called "Clearly knowing and deliberately violating the rules." If you do this, your offenses are tripled. Say originally you didn't know about the law, broke it, and got five years in jail. If you get out and then break it again, you'll get twenty years for the second offense. Those of you have made mistakes had better hurry and change. Those who haven't made mistakes should be even more vigorous in their cultivation. Don't deliberately violate the rules. That's just a mistake on top of a mistake, confusion atop confusion, suffering in suffering. It's very dangerous, dangerous within the dangerous. You're bound to be drawing very close to the hells, the realm of the animals, and the realm of the hungry ghosts.
When people make mistakes, on the first offense, if they really repent, then there's still hope. When they commit it the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth time, their offense karma increases to astronomical proportions. They more you do it, the lower you are bound to fall. If you can return from the road of confusion, hurry and get back on the right track, then
Although the sea of suffering is boundless,
A turn of the head is the other shore.
The sea of pain has no limit whatsoever, but once you change, you have made it across. People who have made mistakes must change. Those who have not should work even harder to do better. Confucius said, "If you have committed offenses, don't be afraid to reform." If you are afraid to reform, then your offenses will always be with you. But if you can reform, those offenses disappear.
Sariputra, just as that Elder, although he had a powerful body and arms, did not use them, but merely applied expedients with diligence to save all the children from disaster in the burning house, and afterwards gave to each of them a great cart adorned with precious jewels, in the same way, the Thus Come One, although he has powers and fearlessnesses, does not use them.
The Thus Come One's wisdom is hard to understand and hard to comprehend. That is why the Buddha bestows the provisional for the sake of the real. He sets forth-expedient dharma-doors for the sake of real wisdom.
Sariputra/The Buddha calls out again. Sariputra is foremost among the Sound Hearer Disciples in wisdom. However, when you talk about the wisdom of the Bodhisattvas, he certainly doesn't rank first there. Manjusri is the first among Bodhisattvas in wisdom.
Just as that Elder/previously mentioned although he had a powerful body and arms/This refers to the Buddha's spiritual powers, inexhaustible in their wonderful function, did not use them/The Buddha has both spiritual powers and real wisdom. He could use his spiritual powers to teach living beings, but he doesn't. He could teach living beings with real wisdom, but he doesn't. What does he keep them back for? Is the Buddha too stingy to use them? Is he afraid he will use them up? No.
But merely applied expedients with diligence/He is very busy and does not rest. He bestows the provisional for the sake of the real. He teaches the Three Vehicles for the sake of the One Buddha Vehicle.
To save all the children from disaster in the Burning house/He uses clever, expedient dharma-doors to save living beings. He rescues all the thirty sons, that is, those of the Three Vehicles. He saves the five hundred people, that is, the beings in the five destinies. The thirty children are the true sons of the Buddha. The five hundred people represent living beings in general. The Buddha rescues them all from disaster in the burning house, from the Three Realms in which no peace can be found. The burning house is very dangerous and if you don't find a way to get out, you are going to burn to death.
Burned by what fire? By the fire of the three poisons; greed, hatred, and stupidity. In the Three Realms, one is burned by the three poisons. It is incredibly dangerous.
And afterwards gave to each of them a great cart adorned with precious jewels/The Buddha used the sheep carts, deer carts, and ox carts, saying they were outside the door. In this way, he "cheated" the children into running out of the house. Then he gave them all a great white-ox cart adorned with the Six Perfections and the Ten Thousand Conducts. The great white-ox cart is just the Great Vehicle, the Buddha Vehicle, not the Bodhisattva Vehicle.
There is only one vehicle;
There are no other
|Then why didn't Shakyamuni Buddha employ the great white-ox cart before? Why did he say there were three carts? It was because if he had talked about the great white-ox cart, the children wouldn't have been able to formulate any conception of what it was like. Little children like little things. If he had talked about a great cart, they might have gotten scared and not dared to think of wanting it. Likewise, if you don't mention the Three Vehicles, but start right out talking about the Buddha Vehicle, people will be afraid. "How could that be? How could we become Buddhas?" they think. And then, not only do they fail to go forward, they retreat.|
That is why the Buddha
used clever expedients to baby-sit the kids. A babysitter has to know how to
speak the child's language. Otherwise he can't do a good job. The Buddha knows
that living beings haven't such great wisdom and that is why he speaks of the
Three Vehicles. He waited until the Dharma Flower Assembly to let it all out
in the open, to proclaim the entire substance of the Buddhadharma to all living
beings. When he told them they could become Buddhas, that was like the gift of
the great jeweled cart.
-Continued next issue