Flower Adornment Sutra

Prologue by T’ang Dynasty National
Master Ch’ing Liang
With commentary of 
Tripitaka Master Hua

Translated into English by Bhiksuni Heng Hsien
Reviewed by Bhiksunis Heng Yin & Heng Tao
Edited by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih

We were talking about the Four Right Efforts, and now we should discuss the Four Applications of Mindful ness. When the Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, the Venerable Ananda asked the Buddha four questions. He said, "When the Buddha was in the world, we took the Buddha for our Teacher. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, who should be our Teacher?" "While the Buddha was in the world, we dwelt with the Buddha. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, with whom should we dwell?" "What should we say at the beginning of the Sutras spoken by the Buddha to introduce them?" "When the Buddha was in the world, the Buddha was able to subdue the evil-natured Bhiksus. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, how can the evil-natured Bhiksus be subdued?"

Of these four questions, we'll just talk about the one, "While the Buddha was in the world, we dwelt with the Buddha. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, with whom should we dwell?" Ananda requested that the Buddha, tell him, and the Buddha answered the Venerable Ananda, saying, "While the Buddha is in the world, all the people who cultivate the Way, whether left-home people or lay-people, dwell with the Buddha. After I enter Nirvana, you should dwell in the Four Applica­tions of Mindfulness, which are mindfulness of

1) The body,

2) Feelings,

3) Thoughts, and

4) Dharmas

They are also:

1) The station of mindfulness of the body,

2) The station of mindfulness of feelings,

3) The station of mindfulness of thoughts, and,

4) The station of mindfulness of dharmas.

Those Four Applications of Mindfulness are just telling us never to forget—always to have our mind on them. They are also called the Contemplations of the Four Applications of Mindfulness.

The reason you cultivators of the Way have false thinking from morning to night is because you aren't using effort at your cultivation. If you were cultivating hard, how would you have time to strike up false thoughts? You basically wouldn't have the time for false thinking.

The Contemplations of the Four Applications of Mindfulness

1. Contemplate the body as impure.

2. Contemplate feelings as suffering.

3. Contemplate thoughts as impermanent.

4. Contemplate dharmas as without a self.

      1. Contemplate the body as impure. "As, my body really is incredibly dirty. The nine apertures are constantly flowing with impurities." There are people who are saying, "I don't believe that. My body is very clean. I take a bath every day, and often two or three times a day. Then I put on perfume, and it's not only clean, it smells lovely." It may smell nice on the surface, but does it smell lovely in your belly or not? If the stuff in your stomach smelled nice, then that would count. But if you put perfume on the outside and think that's smelling good, you're just cheating people. So you still have to contemplate the body as impure.

      2. Contemplate Feelings as Suffering. When you want something and you get it, then for a while you feel happy. But after a while, feelings change. So one contemplates feelings as suffering. There are three kinds of feelings:

1) Painful feelings,

2) Pleasant feelings, and

3) Feelings that are neither painful nor pleasant.

The reception of painful feelings entails the Three Sufferings:

   1) The Suffering of Suffering,

   2) The Suffering of Decay, and

   3) The Suffering of Process.

The suffering that results from pleasant feel­ings is reckoned by the amount of energy you waste and the amount of trouble that comes from them. Feelings that are neither painful nor pleasant refers to your ordinary state of being. You should contemplate all these feelings as suffering because none is happiness. The fruit reaped from them is very bitter.

3. Contemplate Thoughts as Impermanent. Our thoughts go through the process of infancy, growing up, becoming old, and dying. They torn a flowing current which goes forward ceaselessly changing.

4. Contemplate Dharmas as Without a Self. "Dharmas" refers to variations on the five skandhas:

1) Form,

2) Feelings,

3) Thinking,

4) Activities, and

5) Consciousness.

None of the dharmas of the five skandhas has a self. This is just as the Heart Soviet says:

He Illuminated and viewed the five skandhas all as empty.

When the Bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin was practicing the profound Prajna Paramita, he was able to illumine and view the five skandhas all as empty--which is the contemplation of dharmas as having no self.

That is a very simple explanation of the Four Applications of Mindfulness.

The Four "As-You-Will" Accomplishments

1. Wishing,

2. Vigor,

3. Mindfulness, and

4. Consideration.

1. Wishing. Ordinary people hope to strike it rich, want to hold public office, hope to eat well, want to live in a fine house, wish to wear good clothes. Men want to have good wives and women want to have good husbands. Those are all wishes. Here, "wishing" does not refer to wanting those kind of things, but rather to wishing to accomplish skill in cultivation. It is wishing for the perfection of one's cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way and rapid accomplishment of one's certification to the position of Buddhahood. "Wishing" means always keeping one's mind on these goals until eventually the power of the wishing is accomp1ished--"as-you-wi11."

2. Vigor. If you only wish to become a Buddha, but don't go ahead and cultivate vigorously, then you never will accomplish it. In that case the "wishing" is just a vain hope. It is through vigor that the wish is fulfilled.

3. Mindfulness. Vigor can't be hit-and-miss. You can't work a day and rest a day, or work for several months and then stop and apply for unemployment insurance. That's not how it's done. You have to work every single day with vigor. That is mindfulness.

4. Consideration. Mindfulness must be constant and so consideration is needed so mindfulness is not forgotten. As long as you are considering it, you won't forget to be vigorous, you won't lose your mindfulness, and you won't lose track of what you wish for. This is but a simple definition of the "As-you-will" Accomplishments.

The Seven Bodhi Shares or Limbs of Enlightenment

1. Selecting a Dharma,

2. Vigor,

3. Joy,

4. Casting out,

5. Renunciation,

6. Samadhi, and

7. Mindfulness.

      The Seven Bodhi Shares are something that people who cultivate the way should recognize. Otherwise, you won't be able to cultivate the Eight Proper Paths, nor will you be able to perfect the Four Applications of Mindfulness, the Four Right Efforts, and the Four "As-you-Will" Accomplishments.

1. Selecting a Dharma. Pick out a dharma most suitable for you to cultivate. When you go to the dining room, the grains and vegetables are all set out and you yourself pick what you are going to eat. In the same way, you need to select what dharma you want to cultivate. That's called having the Dharma Selecting Eye. If you don't have the Dharma Selecting Eye, you won't clearly recognize what are dharmas and what are non-dharmas, which are good dharmas and what are bad dharmas. You also won't be able to recognize Good Knowing Advisors, nor will you be able to tell whether you have spoken Dharma correctly or not. Therefore, you need to have the Dharma Selecting Eye. In selecting a dharma, you choose one to use to become enlightened by. You are able to select and determine the quality of dharmas. For example if someone tells you to go kill people, you think, "Oh, killing people isn't right. I can't do that." Then you have selected. "I want to rescue people. I know that so-and-so plans to kill such-and-such a person, so now I'll think of some way to rescue that person." That's selecting. "I see that a lot of people do improper things, they have deviant knowledge and deviant views. Right now I want to select proper knowledge and proper views." That too is selecting. Don't be like those ascetics who observe the morality of cattle and dogs, or who practice the asceticism of sleeping on beds of nails. Think it over: can you become enlightened by sleeping on nails? What advantage will one have from cultivating this kind of suffering? Don't choose to cultivate unbeneficial bitter practices. That kind of asceticism has no ad­vantages to it. You need wisdom to make your selection and wisdom is just enlightenment--Bodhi. So you need the Bodhi Share of selecting a dharmas. Without the wisdom to select dharmas, you will cultivate blindly and won't recognize Good Knowing Advisors. You will allow yourself to be lead by the blind.

2. Vigor. If you select your dharma but don't cultivate it, that is useless. Therefore, you need vigor.

3. Joy. If you are vigorous to the point of having some attainment, you feel joy.

4. Casting Out. If you feel joy, then you have an attachment to dharmas, so you should cast out that feeling of joy. You should put it down. If you say, "I take the flavor of Ch'an as food and am filled with Dharma joy. I don't have to eat and I'm not hungry. This is really wonderful!" that is producing an attachment to dharmas. If you have an attachment to dharmas, you will have an attachment to self. An example is saying, "Do you know, now I have some skill. I've gone to the Heaven of the Thirty-three, looked all around and even seen Lord Sakra. The heavenly lotuses are truly exquisite: green colored of green light, yellow colored of yellow light, red colored of red light, and white colored of white light. There's no place like that among people!" If you produce that kind of attachment to dharmas, you must in turn cast it out and renounce it.

5. Renunciation. After you have cast out and renounced attach­ments to self and dharmas, then you can gain

6. Samadhi. With samadhi power you will have wisdom. Once you have wisdom, you should constantly nurture it until it is perfected. Don't forget about your samadhi power and your wisdom and that is the last limb:

7. Mindfulness. The Eight Sagely Way Shares, also called the Eight Proper Ways, are: 1) Proper Views, 2) Proper Thought, 3) Proper Speech, 4) Proper Actions, 5) Proper Livelihood, 6) Proper Vigor, 7) Proper Mindfulness, and 8) Proper Samadhi.

THE UNOBSTRUCTED UNDERSTANDINGS refers to the Four Unobstructed Eloquences: 1) of Phrasing, 2) of Dharmas, 3) of Meanings, and 4) of Delight in Speech. Unobstructed Eloquence of Phrasing means that in speaking, one uses phrases that contain profound meaning and are beautifully expressed—not the coarse phrases some people use when they talk. What one says is not only very beautiful, but also inconceivably wonderful, and makes anyone who hears want to hear more. Even if they don't want to listen, they can't help themselves. They may want to stop but can't. When Sutras are lectured in this way, the Dharma is spoken so wonderfully that you never had any idea it could be like that. This is what is called inconceivable.

Unobstructed Eloquence of Dharmas refers to explaining the 84,000 Dharma doors of the Buddha-dharma. Actually there are not just 84,000, but as many as there are dust-motes in kshetras. With this kind of eloquence, you discuss the dharmas in their most distant profundity, and you can speak of them in their nearest superficiality so they are very clear and understandable, making both the shallow and the deep aspects understood. As it is said: One enters the depths and emerges from the shallows. The principle may be very profound, but you can use shallow principles to describe it, without falling into coarseness. It's not mundane, yet it is similar to the mundane. It reaches through the mundane without itself being mundane. That is wonderful, the unobstructed eloquence of dharmas. When one speaks Dharma: Whatever road one takes is the Way; to left and right one meets the source. You are unhindered in your speech and so: Coarse words and subtle speech both return to truth in the primary sense.

Unobstructed Eloquence of Meanings enables you to expound, as many principles as there are dharmas. The meanings you discuss are multi-leveled and infinite, unending and many-layered. When you have finished discussing one level of meaning here is yet another level, inexhaustibly and end­lessly. The meanings and principles are like waves. When the wave in front has gone by, the wave behind it surges up. It is like row after row of breakers on the ocean. In lecturing Sutras and speaking Dharma, the sound of your voice and your inflection should include: 1) lowering, 2) raising, 3) sudden pauses, and 4) reiteration. Your expression of the meaning should have 1) an introduction, 2) a fitting together, 3) elaboration, and 4) a conclusion. Depending on what you are saying, your voice should sometimes be loud and sometimes soft. For example, when you lecture a hidden and secret dharma, you should talk in almost a whisper so people can barely hear. Yet you shouldn't speak so low they can't hear you at all, or they won't know what you are talking about. That's what's meant by "lowering."

You can also send the sound right into their ears, so that they have to listen. When you've been talking in such a low voice, people may be lulled to the point of entering the sleeping samadhi. Right then you adopt a loud volume and say, "THUS I HAVE HEARD!" and they think, "Oh! It's telling me to hear! I'd better listen fast." By raising your voice you startle them awake so they can't fall asleep. You can also use sudden pauses. When you're coming to the most important point and everyone is listening intently thinking, "What's he going to say next? I've got to hear it," suddenly you stop talking. You pause right there. That makes them really anxious and they think, "How come he isn't talking?" and they wait. Then once your point is made, you can reiterate it, going back and forth over the same material, to say it this way and that.

The sound you use in speaking should be such that, without even hearing the Dharma you speak, just from the sound of your voice the listener can get enlightened. In that case it is the sounds themselves that speak the Dharma. If you have the first three kinds of unobstructed eloquence, you still have to want to speak the Dharma. You can't say, "I already know this Dharma myself, and I don't care if others understand it or not. I'll be a self-ending Arhat and not have any problems. I'm not bringing forth the resolve of a Bodhisattva. I want to benefit myself." That's useless. You absolutely must have Unobstructed Eloquence of Delight in Speech. That doesn't mean to say you have the attitude, "I'm going to talk whether people listen to me or not. I'll talk whether people respect the Dharma or not." That's not the way to be. There have to be listeners who can give rise to faith and be reverent and respectful. When people request the Dharma then you may speak it. Let it flow like a waterfall—but don't smash people to death. Don't kill people with your words. You want to speak living Dharma.

NON-STRIFE AND SO FORTH. "Non-Strife" refers to the Samadhi of Non-Contention. "Strife" means arguing with people, arguing your principle even when you basically have no principle.

In the Sixth Patriarch’s Sutra it is said that arguing entails thoughts of victory and defeat. When you think in terms of winning and losing, you have ideas like this: "I have to be better than you. I have to outdo you. I have to conquer you. As long as I am in this world, I have to be number one!" For some beings this competitive drive reaches such extremes that even when they have fallen into the evil destinies they must claim: "I am foremost in the hells," or "I'm the number one hungry ghost," or "I'm the best animal." You tell me, ultimately, what use is there in being number one, anyway? None, really. It's an attachment in the minds of people that makes them fight and strive to be number one in every situation. That's why it is said:

Contention—thoughts of victory and defeat--

Stand in opposition to the May.

That's not the way people who cultivate the Way are, right? Those who cultivate the Way take what others reject. Their attitude is, "I'll eat what other people won't eat. I'll endure what others won't endure. I'll bear what others can't bear. I'll yield what others don't yield. I'll do what others don't do." They keep a low profile. If you stand on top of Mount Sumeru and look for the Way, you will never see it. But if you remain at the foot of Mount Sumeru, then you can have the Way.

Some people misconstrue the meaning and say, "Things other people haven't eaten yet, I will eat before they get a chance. That's eating what others can't eat." That's a mistaken view. The idea is, "I'll eat the things other people aren't willing to eat. I'll do the work other people don't want to do." It's not to say, "I'll do the easy work and let others do the hard work, not letting them do the easy work I'm doing." That's not the Way. The Way is the other way around. It's yielding what you really feel you can't yield. If you yield at that point, then you've done what you thought was impossible. Or if you feel you can't endure something but you somehow endure it, then you've shown it can be borne. If you don't go ahead and stand it, then of course you can't stand it.

You say, "But others treat me badly. They try to make trouble for me." Well, why do you want people do be good to you anyway? If you want people to treat you well, then that's still a selfish attitude, right? Your attitude should be, "If people are rotten to me, they are my Good Knowing Advisors." Who was it who brought the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch to accomplishment? Do you know? It was Shen Hsiu who helped him accomplish his work in the Way. When Shen Hsiu's followers set out to murder the Sixth Patriarch, they actually spurred him on in his cultivation. "If you don't cultivate the Way, you're going to get killed" was the idea. He had no choice but to cultivate. If it hadn't been for the threat of Shen Hsiu's followers, why would he ever have stayed among the hunters for sixteen years? He'd have come out long before that and announced, "I want to propagate the Buddhadharma. I am the disciple to whom the Great Master, the Fifth Patriarch, transmitted his Mind Seal." If he had come out too early, he would never have brought his skill to accomplishment. Instead, he investigated Ch'an for sixteen years.

Contention—thoughts of victory and defeat-­

Stand in opposition to the Way.

If you give rise to the four-mark mind,

How can samadhi be attained?

The "four-mark mind" refers to:

1. The Mark of Self,

2. The Mark of Others,

3. The Mark of Living Beings, and

4. The Mark of Lifespans.

With the arisal of the mark of self, you have a selfish attitude. When you give rise to the mark of others, you have an attitude of wanting to harm others. As soon as you have a mark of living beings, you start wanting everyone to benefit you. With the arisal of the mark of lifespans, you want to find a way to protect your own life. When you give rise to that four-mark mind, how can samadhi be attained? Specifically, the Samadhi of No Contention is being referred to here. If you can't accomplish samadhi, you can't achieve the Hay. If you can't achieve the Way, you can't come to the end of the Way. If you can't come to the end of the Way, you can't achieve the fruit of the Way. So you should be without strife, have no fighting or contention.

'THE MEANINGS' ARE SPEAKING ACCORDING TO SECRET MEANINGS AND SO FORTH. "Meanings" is the same as in the Unobstructed Eloquence of Meanings, but here the meanings are being able to give rise to the Way and cutting off doubts and delusions. "Speaking according to secret meanings and so forth," means that one should accord with what living beings require and speak that kind of wonderful Dharma to them. That is:

Contemplating the potentials and dispensing the teaching,

One speaks the Dharma in accordance with the person, like

Prescribing the medicine according to the illness,

This is something like learning to be a doctor. You give a person the medicine specific for the kind of illness he or she has in order to cure their ailment. But even this analogy falls short of the power of the Dharma, because as I said to a young medical student today, "No matter how good you get at curing people's sicknesses, when the time comes for you to die, you won't be able to cure your own fatal illness." Someone may say, "Death is an experience every person must go through." Well, after you go through it, then what?




This is still talking about the Sutra Store, and two Shastras are being cited as certification. In those Shastras "Text" is also discussed under the name "Sutra." The two Shastras are THE YOGA, the Yogacarabhumi Shastra, in chapter TWENTY-FIVE, AND THE SETTING FORTH the Sagely Teaching Shastra, part TWENTY. They ARE LARGELY SIMILAR TO THIS DISCUSSION. In general, they say the same thing as this—they use "Sutra." THE REMAINING MEANINGS, the rest of the principles, WILL BE EXPLAINED UPON REACHING THE TWELVE DIVISIONS. When we come to the Twelve Divisions of Sutra Texts, they will be made clear. In other words, this section of Prologue says that the Yogacarabhumi Shastra and the Setting Forth the Sagely Teaching Shastra also use the transliteration "Sutra."




THE SECOND IS THE VINAYA STORE. "Vinaya," in Chinese sometimes abbreviated, is also called "Shila" or "Pratimoksha," and the Vinaya Store is the Treasury of Precepts. This is the second of the Three Stores introduced before. FIRST of all THE NAME will be brought up--it's called the Vinaya Store. AND AFTERWARDS THE CHARACTERISTICS of the Store, its appearance, shape, and marks. WITHIN THE FORMER, the discussion of the name, the former item in the last phrase, IT IS ALSO CALLED BY AN ABBREVIATION FOR THE SANSKRIT WORD "VINAYA." One name used in China was a shortened form of the Sanskrit word "Vinaya," which had exactly the same meaning. Both were transliterations of the Sanskrit sounds, but one abbreviated "Vinaya," WHICH TRANSLATES AS "TAMING AND SUBDUING." THAT IS, TAMING AND TRAINING THE THREE KARMAS--one's body, mouth, and mind—those three karmic vehicles. To start with they are not at all subdued, but you find a way to tame and subdue them, so they are reliable and don't act up. When tamed and subdued, they obey, they offer up their conduct in accord with the teachings. In the case of master and disciple, the master tames and subdues the disciple, so the disciple is very obedient, and follows instructions without opposing his teacher.

Body, mouth, and mind are all tamed. When the body is tamed, it doesn't create the three evils of killing, stealing, or engaging in sexual misconduct. That is, it follows the rules and upholds the precepts. When the mouth is subdued it does not indulge in the four evils of loose speech, lying, harsh speech, and double-tongued speech. An example of loose speech is incessant talk about women (or men). It is vulgar, coarse speech. Often such talk is so lewd that it dirties the ears of anyone who listens, so they can't even be washed clean, and even if the skin were scraped off with a knife, they would still be filthy.

Lying means telling falsehoods, inventing fabrications that may sound very reasonable. For example, perhaps someone works at a job and his boss comes to have great trust in him, so he gives him $5,000 to deposit in the bank. On the way there he thinks to himself, "If I put this in my pocket and didn't take it to the bank, I'd have enough money to keep me for a while and I wouldn't have to work. I could invest it. But the boss would never let me get away with that...Oh, I know! I'll rip open the deposit bag and say that thieves beat me up and stole the money, probably the boss won't be able to do anything about it." His mind leads him on, and he carries out the plan, giving himself a good crack on the headfirst to it's bleeding—because what's a little pain when one stands to make five grand? Then he returns and tells his boss, "Wow! This world is really a rotten place. I was walking down the street with the money and about two or three blocks from the bank I ran into some thieves who slashed open my bag, and when I realized it, they cracked me on the head and ran off. Then I blacked out and don't know what happened, but when I came to the thieves were gone. What can we do?" The boss sees his bag is slashed—only very clever police could ever detect that he had done it by his own hand—and concludes that his tale must be true. That's a fabrication, which netted $5,000. Why do people tell such lies? They do it when it will bring them personal benefit. They don't tell tall tales when it won't be to their advantage. If you tell them to fabricate something, they'll protest, "I couldn't do that: it would be against the precepts." Actually they're not willing to take risks unless there's something in it for them.

Harsh speech means vehemently cursing and railing at people, saying for example, "You're going to die in a car wreck. If you take a boat, it will sink and you'll certainly die at sea! If you take a bus, it is sure to fall over a cliff and be totaled and your skull and every bone in your body will be smashed to smithereens!" That's all harsh speech, cursing people. It's saying, "You'd better watch out. If you don't do things right, when you take the plane, it will crash from 10,000 feet up and you'll die." No such thing is going to happen, but when one indulges in harsh speech one makes these rash predictions. Harsh speech also means intimidating people, saying to them, "You had better do such and such or you'll be in big trouble." Lots of teachers make their disciples cringe that way. They say, "You won't obey me? If you don't obey, tomorrow you will die." The person figures, "I don't want to die, so I'd better obey." That's not right. If I saw you were going to die tomorrow, I wouldn't tell you. Why not? If you changed because I told you and you were scared, it would not be true. If you change of your own accord, not because you are intimidated, then

Disasters turn into lucky events

Misfortunes turn to good fortune.

Then that's true. Maybe, for example, a teacher tricks the disciple into leaving home saying to him, "You ought to leave home, you know, because if you don't, something terrible is going to happen to you." The disciple thinks, "Wow, I'd better hurry up and leave home!" That is also not right. I know some teachers have that fault of controlling their disciples through fear, so I don't use those kinds of methods to teach people. I don't force people in anything I do. If you want to do it, you do it, and if you don't want to do it, I don't make you do it. I would definitely not terrorize you into it by saying, "That won't work. If you don't do this, in the future your father is going to die, you'll lose your mother, and your brothers and sisters will be finished too." That panics the disciple who thinks, "The Master said it, so it must be true," for lots of people really believe in their teacher—but when their teacher tells them something true, they don't believe it. Yet if the teacher tells them some such deviant dharma, something not proper or correct, they believe it. Don't worry, though: I would never use those kinds of methods. I'd never terrorize any one of you by saying, "Such and such horrible thing is going to happen to you," which would be harsh speech.

Double-tongued speech refers to being a two-headed snake. It means telling person X that person Y has been saying such and such bad about him. When person X hears that he explodes, "How can he say that about me!!? I can never forgive him. I'm going to beat him up for sure!" Then the two-headed snake says to person Y, "Do you know, person X is really rotten. He's been saying the most awful stuff about you: that your character is no good, that there's nothing good about you at all." As soon as person Y hears that, he says, "He really is vile. I'm going to kill him for sure." That creates a big problem between person X and person Y, all due to talking with a double-tongue—repeating equally bad things about X to Y and about Y to X. The Vinaya can subdue these four kinds of mouth karma. Although one used to use loose speech, one stops doing it—tames and subdues it and just praises people. One used to tell lies, but now one tames and subdues that, and doesn't lie but speaks what is true, actual, and not false. With harsh speech, one used to like to tell people off and say harsh things to them, but now one never does, but just says good things about people like, "So and so is truly a good person, he cultivates the Way not badly at all, and really applies himself." Instead of saying bad things one says good things, and is not jealous of others. The double-tongue, too, becomes a kind and compassionate tongue, a vast, long tongue. When one sees people one says good things and praises them. This does not mean falsely flattering people, like saying to someone, who doesn't cultivate, "You really work hard at your cultivation. You bow to the Buddha and to Sutras and recite the Buddha's name," so the person says, "What are you talking about? I don't understand this at all. How can you say that kind of thing to me?" That's also wrong. It's being phony and devious.

      When the mind is subdued, three more evils are tamed, those of greed, hatred, and stupidity. We people from beginning less time to the present within the turning wheel of the six paths have been being born, dying, and then being reborn. This life we're people, then next life ghosts, or else asuras, gods, people, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, or animals. Within the six-path wheel we revolve non-stop, all because of greed, hatred, and stupidity—the three poisons. These three are so toxic they poison people so they are confused and do not wake up, as if they were drunk on wine or had taken hallucinogens. The reason people want to take drugs these days is that the greed, hatred, and stupidity within them control them and keep them all upside-down. They mistake what isn't for what is, mistake evil for good, and consider poison to be good medicine. The more they take such things, the stupider they become. However, they don't realize it, but keep on wanting to take that wisdomless poison, and don't feel that the three poisons of greed, hatred, and stupidity are harmful to people. Why from limitless kalpas up to now haven't we become Buddhas? It's because these three poisons confuse us so we don't become enlightened.

Greed is insatiable. Fame, profit, wealth, and honor cause people to become greedy for possessions of all sorts, such as fine clothes, fine homes, fine cars, fine food. The greedier they are, the more greedy they want to be; and the more they want to be greedy, the greedier they are. They never feel they have enough. They want to get what they don't yet have and once they get it, they fear losing it. That's the way greed works. Hatred arises when they don't get what they are greedy for, and anger follows upon that hatred. Huge fire and great ignorance flare up, and then they do all kinds of muddled things. Basically they shouldn't kill people, but they kill them. Although they shouldn't steal, they steal things. They're not supposed to engage in sexual misconduct, but they are preoccupied with sexual misconduct from morning to night. To start with they weren't supposed to lie, but they decide lying is a good thing to do. They shouldn't drink wine, but they want to. When hatred appears it obstructs your wisdom.

When a single thought of hatred arises,

Ten thousand doors of obstruction fly open.

Stupidity comes from not knowing how to be content. From greed comes hatred, and when hateful and angry, one becomes stupid—and then would do anything at all, however bad. Due to that stupidity one no longer can tell what is wrong and what is right, and does things whether they are wrong or right. It's very hard to teach someone who is that stupid, for you can teach them over and over again, but they won't understand. In their false thinking stupid people cling to impossible hopes. They like beautiful flowers so they think about how they would like the flowers to be just as fresh every day and never fade.

How good it would be if the flowers daily bloomed!

They want the blossoms to be in full bloom every day, and never wilted or shed their petals. Do you think that could possibly happen?

Some people like the moon best when it is full and say, "I wish the moon would be full every single night, so I could stroll in the moonlight and enjoy the moon." So those people say:

Why shouldn't the bright moon be ful1 every night?

"Moonlight, how come you don't stay full every night?" Young couples may think that way, but the burglar's attitude is, "Moon, I really can't stand you. You're so bright I don't have any way to steal things from people. How am I going to manage in all that light? You really are a nuisance." Thieves dislike the moonlight. Electric lights can be just as bright night after night, but the moon can't be full all the time. If you wish it were, that's a stupid way of thinking.

People who like to drink alcoholic beverages have this kind of stupid thought: "When I want to drink wine, I have to go out and buy it; and if I don't have any money, I can't buy any wine. That's a lot of trouble. If all the pools of water would turn into pools of wine, when I wanted a drink, I could just go there. I wouldn't heed money to buy it-­how convenient that would be!"

If only the waters on earth would all turn to wine!

The greediest people think, "This world is really a bad deal. You have to work to get money. You work hard every day for just a few dollars, and once you've spent it, it's gone.

How great if the trees were all made of money!

If all the trees grew money on them, then when I wanted to use money, I'd just go there and pick some—not copper coins but gold ones. There would be gold coins on every tree—how wonderful! If the world were that way, I'd want to be in it forever, and would never leave it. If I died, I'd come back again and again. It would be about the same as the Land of Ultimate Bliss, so what need would there be to be reborn in the Pure Land?" Those are all cases of stupidity running rampant, leading to those kinds of thoughts.

REGULATING means disciplining, AND SUBDUING means bringing to submission. It means using the kung fu of discipline and submission to tame and subdue DEFENSES and ERRORS. "Offenses" means not holding the precepts--"errors" are also just that. You've received the precepts and taken refuge, knelt before your teacher and said you would offer up your conduct in accord with the teachings. Who told you to say that? Who told you to take refuge? You wanted to. Why can't you remember what you yourself said? That's a case of not being able to regulate your offenses and subdue your errors. Do you think it's a lot of fun to take the precepts and then not keep them? You should think, "Since I am a Buddhist disciple, I should be different from other people in what I do," and keep the precepts.

TAMING AND SUBDUING ARE COMMON TO STOPPING AND DOING. Taming and training are in common with stopping evil and with doing good—that is, with stopping and with doing. They are also the same as holding to stopping and practicing holding. Holding to stopping is not doing any evil. Practicing holding is offering up all good conduct. Holding to stopping and practicing holding both require taming and training. Not doing any evil is stopping evil, while offering up all good conduct is practicing holding. If you can tame and train stopping and holding, tame and subdue doing and holding, you cause your three karmas of body, mouth, and mind not to commit offenses.

REGULATING AND SUBDUING ONLY MEAN STOPPING EVIL. When you're not supposed to do any evil, why do you insist on breaking the rules and refuse to follow them? If you don't follow the rules, you will certainly fall into the hells, there's not the least question about it. I'm not trying to scare you, but you yourself want to take that road and I don't have any way to save you. Whether you are a man or a woman, anyone who doesn't follow the rules will in the future have a chance to fall into the hells. Whoever does follow the rules will have a part in becoming a Buddha. Didn't I say before:

Good and evil are two separate roads;

On one you cultivate,

The other you commit.

If you want to cultivate, then cultivate; if you want to commit evil, then commit evil. That's what I say: do whichever you want. I have an expedient Dharma and this is it.

IF ONE FOLLOWS THE INSTRUCTED CONDUCT TO ILLUSTRATE ITS NAME, THEN IT IS THE STORE OF TAMING AND SUBDUING. Before I said that taming and subduing were common to both stopping and doing, while regulating and subduing only meant stopping evil. If one follows the instructed conduct to illustrate it, if you go along with the doors of conduct in cultivation which are explained by it to make known its name, then it is called "The Store of Taming and Subduing." OR IT MAY BE THE STORE OF WHAT CAN INSTRUCT, SINCE IT POSSESSES THE ABILITY TO TAME AND SUBDUE. It has the capacity of taming and subduing the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind, WHICH IS TO EXPLAIN IT BY THE WEALTH IT HOLDS. This is to explain it according to the Dharma-wealth contained within it. WITHIN THE STORE OF TALLYING TEXTS THERE IS ALIKE THIS EXPLANATION. In the Store of Tallying Texts these kinds of principles are similarly employed to explain that Treasury.




VINAYA, in Chinese often transliterated in abbreviated form for simplification, MAY ALSO TRANSLATE AS EXTINCTION. Some people translate it that way, in addition to the previous translation as "taming and training, regulating and subduing." "Extinction" means getting rid of something. In this case it refers to eradicating all evil of offenses. Therefore EXTINCTION HAS THREE MEANINGS. ONE, the first meaning, is the EXTINCTION OF KARMIC ERRORS. Extinguishing karmic errors is just extinguishing erroneous actions, incorrect and improper behavior—evil karma. It eradicates your bad karma, thereby dispelling your karmic obstacles. TWO, the second meaning, is the EXTINCTION OF AFFLICTIONS. What people find really hard to separate from is afflictions. One of the Four Great Vows is:

Afflictions are unending, I vow to cut them off.

Afflictions are the basis for committing offenses. If you have afflictions, you will create bad karma, but without afflictions you won't create that evil karma. Because they are the root of the creation of bad karma, they should be eradicated. There are 84,000 kinds of afflictions. Taken in general, they arise from ignorance. That's why in cultivating the Way one wants to break through ignorance so that the Dharma-nature will manifest.

Some people say, "I've studied the Buddha-dharma for so many years, and I don't feel I have gained any advantage from it." If you want to obtain some advantages, it's very easy. All you have to do is break through ignorance, and then advantages will appear. If you don't break through your ignorance, but keep on getting upset and afflicted, fighting and quarrelling, being touchy and looking for trouble, then how can you obtain advantages? Someone says one thing to you, and you can't let it go by. If you get a slightly raw deal, you let it gnaw away at you. If people are the least bit impolite to you, you can't sleep for days or get any food down. How can you obtain advantages when you're like that? To obtain advantages you have to smash through ignorance so your afflictions turn into Bodhi, into wisdom.

Other people say, "The Dharma Master taught us a Dharma and that if we cultivate according to it, we could become enlightened and obtain the five eyes and six penetrations. I've been maintaining it for years now and I haven't obtained a single eye or penetrated a single penetration. Is this Dharma Master cheating people? Do those kinds of results exist or not?" If you think such results exist, then they exist; if you say there are no such results, then there are no such results. Why is that? It's because everything is made from the mind alone. If your mind is not true, then how can there be results? You say, "But I make sure to cultivate it every day. I make sure to do it." You may be sure to do it, but when doing it, do you strike up false thinking or not? On the one hand you cultivate, and on the other you strike up false thinking like "Today while I'm cultivating this Dharma will I get enlightened? Will I obtain the five eyes and six penetrations?" The reason you haven't yet obtained them is just that your false thoughts scare your attainments away. They say, "That won't do. He keeps having false thinking about us. Me can't go there." It's that way. In the Surangama Sutra it says:

His manner was stern and proper as he honored with propriety the method of obtaining food...he was a vast model for the three realms.

Some people can recite this very smoothly, but when it comes time to apply it, they can't. They don't know what being "a vast model for the three realms" means, or how to "honor with propriety the method of obtaining food." They don't even know how to be "stern and proper." Don't have doubts about our eating in the formal dining hall manner. That formal procedure for taking vegetarian food has limitless and boundless merit and virtue. When we eat in that way, it is honoring with propriety the method of obtaining food. It's not all sloppy and casual, but rather eating vegetarian food in a very proper manner, making transference to donors. To extinguish afflictions, then, you need to break through ignorance in everything you do. Once ignorance is smashed, afflictions turn into wisdom, into Bodhi.

      THREE, the third meaning, is OBTAINING THE FRUIT OF EXTINCTION. Some people say, "Oh, I don't want thus fruit: if it's extinction, then there is no fruit! Why would anyone want a fruit like that?" This fruit of extinction is the wonderful fruition of Nirvana; it's the fruit of crossing over to extinction. It says in the Vajra Sutra:

I must cause all living beings...to enter Nirvana without residue and be taken across to extinction.

It's that fruit of extinction, which is an unsurpassed fruit—there's nothing higher. And it's the fruit of Buddhahood, obtaining the fruit of Nirvana. How do you obtain it? If you honor with propriety the method of obtaining food by maintaining a stern and proper manner, you can obtain it. If you can't do that, then how are you any different from an ordinary, common person? If you can't be distinguished from a layperson, then you can't obtain the fruit of extinction. If you want to obtain that fruition, you must rely upon the Buddhadharma and cultivate—which is to have a manner stern and proper, to strictly respect the Vinaya, and honor with propriety the method of obtaining food. Then you can be a vast model for the three realms.




OR ELSE IT IS CALLED SHILA. Vinaya might also be translated by another Sanskrit word, Shila, IN CHINESE TRANSLITERATED BRIEFLY OR IN FULL. Again the Sanskrit word, when pronounced in Chinese, was most often abbreviated, but there was also the full version WHICH MEANS "CLEAR COOLNESS." When translated, Shila means "Clear Coolness." Why was it called that? It was SINCE WITH LEAVING HEATED AFFLICTIONS AS THE CAUSE, ONE OBTAINS THE FRUIT OF CLEAR COOLNESS. Afflictions are like heat. When people give rise to ignorance, it's fiery. But if they get free of heated afflictions, they can reach the fruition of clarity and coolness, the fruit of enlightenment. The fruit which is clear coolness is contrasted with heated afflictions—one no longer gets hot and bothered and so is clear and cool.




IT IS ALSO CALLED PRATIMOKSHA, another name for the precepts, WHICH MEANS "SEPARATE LIBERATION." THIS TAKES ITS NAME FROM THE CAUSE. The name "Separate Liberation" is spoken based upon the cause. IT NONETHELESS HAS TWO MEANINGS. ONE, IT IS CALLED "SEPARATE" AS DISTINCT FROM SAMADHI AND THE WAY. That name distinguishes it from Liberation of Samadhi and Liberation of the Way. That is, "Separate Liberation" is not Liberation of Samadhi or Liberation of the Way. What is it then? It is becoming free from conditioning factors of restrictive karma, which are like fetters that bind one up. One separates one­self from the conditions that keep one from being free, and so it is called "Separate" Liberation.

      TWO, IT IS CALLED "SEPARATE" SINCE EACH OF THE THREE KARMAS AND THE SEVEN MEMBERS GUARDS AGAINST ERRORS. The second meaning is that every single one of the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind, and the seven members-the three evils of the body, the four evils of the mouth, and the three evils of the mind that were talked about before—guards against errors. The body doesn't violate by killing, stealing, or committing sexual misconduct, and the mouth doesn't err by lying, uttering loose speech, harsh speech, or double-tongued speech. That's called the seven members guarding against errors. Since they are not the same, it is called "Separate" in the sense of "individual" Liberation, for each separately and individually becomes liberated. IT IS ALSO TRANSLATED AS "ACCORDING LIBERATION " by other people instead of "Separate Liberation." THIS BEING ESTABLISHED UPON THE FRUIT. There is a difference between this and the previous name, for that one was based upon the cause, while this name, "According Liberation," is founded on the fruit of the result, SINCE IT ACCORDS WITH THE FRUIT OF THE TWO KINDS OF LIBERATIONS, CONDITIONED AND UNCONDITIONED. It accords with the conditioned fruit and the unconditioned fruit. It is liberation with regard to conditioned dharmas and liberation with regard to unconditioned dharmas—the two types of fruit, which are the two kinds of Liberation, Conditioned Liberation and Unconditioned Liberations. For that reason it is called "According Liberation."                                 

-Continued next issue