Dharma Flower Sutra

with commentary of

Translated into English by
Bhikshuni Heng Yin
Reviewed by Bhikshuni Heng Chih

      "ALL OF YOU WORK HARD! DO NOT BE LAX." The workers, that is, the cultivators, are told to work hard. "Working hard" refers to the Four Right Efforts: 1) goodness that has not come forth is caused to come forth; 2) goodness that has already come forth is caused to increase; 3) evil which has not come forth is not permitted to come forth; 4) evil which has already come forth is eradicated. One, in every thought, should attentively cultivate these four and not forget them.

      The Four Right Efforts correspond to the first of the Four Additional Practices (explained in detail in the Shurangama Sutra), that of heat. It is like the heat given off by a drill, when drilling to make a fire. In one's cultivation one applies the Four Right Efforts and begins to feel heat. Then, one should increase one's vigor, and DO NOT BE LAX. If you gain some skill, don't be satisfied and quit. The harder you work, the more inconceivable your states become. So the text says, "Work hard! Don't be lax." Work hard and cultivate the Way. Don't be lax. Don't allow yourself to doze off and take naps and so on. It is extremely important that you do not slack off. It is like drilling for the fire. As you drill, the wood becomes warm. But if you stop for even a second, it will cool off and not catch fire. You must increase your vigor.

      BY THIS VENICE HE DRAWS NEAR TO HIS SON. Cultivating the Four Right Efforts, he has already become neighbors with True Suchness. TO WHOM HE LATER SAYS, "HEY!" Wake up, right now!! Don't be so confused! "MY BOY" "Boy" still refers to the Four Right Efforts, cultivated with vigor. It says, "Boy!" but, basically in cultivation there are neither men nor women. Men shouldn't dwell on the fact that they are men, and women shouldn't dwell on the fact that they are women. Do not think in terms of male or female. That's true purity. The Four Right Efforts are associated with the yang aspect of cultivating, that is, with vigor and strength. The Four Bases of Psychic Power are associated with the yin aspects, the receptivity, etc. If one merely cultivates the Four Right Efforts, one won't obtain the truly wonderful advantages of cultivation. The Four Right Efforts must be complemented by the Four Bases of Psychic Power. The Four Right Efforts belong to Wisdom and the Four Bases of Psychic Power belong to Samadhi. Wisdom is "yang." Samadhi is "yin." Samadhi and wisdom aid one another. Wisdom aids samadhi, and samadhi aids wisdom. They help one another and give rise to the wisdom of non-outflows.

      YOU SHOULD STAY HERE AND WORK. Stay here and work, DON'T GO ELSEWHERE. Don't go anywhere else. This phrase represents the second of the Four Additional Practices, Summits. When you get to the summit, you shouldn't move. Stay here and work. You are at the top. Don't run away. This is the highest peak, so where else can you go?

      I WILL INCREASE YOUR WAGES. Don't run away again. There's no place to run to. If you run, you will fall. You will fall into the hells. If you reach the stage of Summits, you should have Patience, the third of the Four Additional Practices. You may not feel very comfortable at this stage, but you must bear it patiently. If you crave comfort, you will fall to a lowly place, either among the animals, into the hells, or in with the hungry ghosts. It may be hard to take, but you must bear with it. The ancients said,

          If the bitter cold strikes not to the bone,

          How can the fragrant plum blossom bloom?

      Without experiencing the bitter cold of winter, the plum would not smell so piercingly sweet. If you want to reach the top, you must have patience. So the text says, "Do not go elsewhere." This means, don't go study with the outside ways. If you run off with them, or run back into the world, or yield to your desires and improper thoughts, you will fall. You should keep proper thoughts and cultivate well. "I will increase your wages." This means, "You will obtain to the stage of no outflows. Originally, you had a body of outflows and nine holes constantly oozing impure substances. If you cultivate the Proper Path, the food of the Proper Path, and the clothing of the Aids of the Proper Path, you can obtain the stage of no-outflows. In other words, you will certainly certify to the fruit and break through the Delusions of Views and the Delusions of Thought. You will obtain the Stage Beyond Study (Fourth stage Arhatship) and be without outflows." So the text says, "I will increase your wages," and you will be without outflows.

     WHATEVER YOU NEED, the food of the Proper Path and the clothing of the Aids to the Path, you shall have. BE IT POTS, UTENSILS, RICE, FLOUR.. ."Pots and vessels" represent the Four Dhyanas. "Rice" represents the emptiness of beings (people), while "flour" represents the emptiness of dharmas. The wisdom of the emptiness of beings (people) is a coarse wisdom, while the wisdom of the emptiness of dharmas is a subtle wisdom.

      Why is it we can't put anything down? Because we haven't seen through to the emptiness of people. Why can't we let go of anything? Because we haven't realized the emptiness of dharmas. Thus, we can't put anything down, and we can't pick anything up. People and dharmas must be realized as empty; it's not good enough just to speak of them as empty.

      Long ago, when Shakyamuni Buddha was still in the world, a layperson asked him to come to his home for offerings. All the Bodhisattvas, great Bhikshus, and the Buddha went there, leaving a young novice at the temple to watch the door. While he was watching the door, another layperson came and asked the Sangha to receive offerings at his house. Since there was no one at the temple but the young novice, off they went. The layperson fed him a delicious, rich lunch, and he ate his fill. However, it's not okay to eat and run. If you receive offerings of food, you must make an offering of the Dharma in return. The lay-person gives wealth, and the left-home person gives Dharma. After lunch the Sangha always lectures on the Dharma, but the young novice did not know how to speak the Dharma! He knew how to eat lunch, for sure, but he had no idea how to speak the Dharma. The layperson was unaware of this, and he knelt very respectfully and asked the young novice to teach him the Dharma. According to the Indian custom, the layperson bows and listens to the Dharma in that position. As he was kneeling there, not raising his head, the young novice employed his great spiritual powers. He got up from his seat, snuck out, ran back to the temple, and locked himself in his room. The layperson had been kneeling for some time, waiting for the Dharma, without hearing any words of wisdom. After about half an hour he raised his head and the young novice was nowhere to be seen! People and dharmas both were empty! What do you think happened? He got enlightened on the spot, understanding the principle of the emptiness of both people and dharmas! He certified to the First Fruit of Arhatship. He ran to the temple to thank the novice whom he found locked in his room. When he knocked on the door, the young novice was terrified to think he had been followed. In his extreme agitation, he also got enlightened and certified to the First Fruit! That's how it was when the Buddha was in the world. The lay-person and the novice both certified to the Fruit and understood the emptiness of people and dharmas. Now, however, it is the Dharma Ending Age, and very few people can understand the emptiness of people and dharmas.

      "Rice" and "flour" also represent the Proper Path. SALT represents impermanence. One should cultivate the contemplation of impermanence. VINEGAR represents the contemplation of suffering. "Salt" and vinegar" represent the Aids to the Path. Rice and flour represent the food of the Proper Path. Without salt and vinegar, rice and flour are difficult to eat just plain. Likewise, although the Proper Path should be cultivated, it is not easy without the Aids to the Path.

      What are the Aids to the Path? The Thirty-Seven Wings of Enlightenment, that is: the Four Applications of Mindfulness, the Four Bases of Psychic Power, the Four Right Efforts, the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Seven Bodhi Shares and the Eight-fold Path.

      The Four Bases of Psychic Power are:

            1. Zeal;

            2. Vigor;

            3. Mindfulness;

            4. Thought.

      Zeal means that you should be zealous in your cultivation. You should enjoy cultivating. Then you should be vigorous. You should be constantly vigorous in the six periods of the day and night. With vigor you will then be mindful. The last is "thought," which just refers to Dhyana. You think about your topic, "Who is mindful of the Buddha?" or "Before my parents gave birth to me, what was my original face?" By means of the contemplation of the Four Bases of Psychic Power, one can give rise to various types of samadhis.

      The four Bases of Psychic Power complement the Four Right Efforts. The Four Right Efforts alone will not enable one to gain the state of non-outflows. The combined cultivation of the Four Right Efforts and the Four Bases of Psychic Power and the Four Applications of Mindfulness bring forth the wisdom of non-outflows. So the text says, "Salt or vinegar or other such things," and this includes the other Dharmas such as the Five Roots, the Five Powers, and so on.

      DON'T TROUBLE YOURSELF ABOUT IT. You should not doubt yourself. You should deeply believe in these dharmas and have no doubts. 

This represents spiritual powers which can act as extra hands and arms for one. It's an inconceivable state. They can save you a lot of work. Why does it say, "old and worn out?" Because these spiritual powers are extremely weak, soft, as if old, and falling apart. WHOM YOU CAM HAVE IF YOU NEED HIM. If you need the spiritual powers, you can have them. All you have to do is cultivate the Four Bases of Psychic Power. SO PUT YOUR MIND AT REST. This refers to the Third of the Four Additional Practices, that of Patience. At this stage one must stand securely in Patience, rest securely in Patience. One must not indulge in false thinking.

      I AM LIKE YOUR FATHER. The Buddha says that he is like our father. At this point the Elder has not said right out, "I am your father." He has merely indicated that he is like a father. The poor son, that is, those of the Two Vehicles, do not know that they really are "sons" of the Buddha and that in the future they will become Buddhas.

      SO HAVE NO MORE WORRIES. WHY? Don't worry, and don't go somewhere else, because I AM VERY OLD. The Buddha has reached the end of the Path and has perfected both the virtue of wisdom and the virtue of cutting off. AND YOU ARE YOUNG AND STRONG. "You" refers to those of the Two Vehicles. They dwell at the beginning of the Way. They have not perfected either the virtue of wisdom or the virtue of cutting off. They lack these two virtues entirely, as a matter of fact. They are, therefore, said to be young.

      WHENEVER YOU ARE WORKING, YOU ARE NEVER DECEITFUL, REMISS, ANGRY, HATEFUL, OR GRUMBLING. "Whenever you work" refers to the Five Roots: faith, vigor, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Because he has the root of faith, he is not deceitful. Because he has the root of vigor, he is not remiss or lazy. Because he has the root of mindfulness, he is free from anger, and because he has the root of concentration, he has no hatred. Because he has the root of wisdom, he speaks no words of resentment.

      I HAVE NEVER SEEN YOU COMMIT SUCH EVILS AS I HAVE THE OTHER WORKERS. Since he has the Five Roots, he gives rise to the Five Powers. He does not commit such evils. Cultivating the Four Applications of Mindfulness, the Four Right Efforts, the Four Bases of Psychic Power, the Five Roots, and Five Powers, all these Dharma-doors, keeps you free from deceit, laziness, hatred, anger, and grumbling-- evils others often commit.

      FROM NOW ON, from today forward, YOU SHALL BE LIKE MY OWN SON. JUST THEN THE ELDER GAVE HIM A NAME, CALLING HIM HIS SON. This refers to the Fourth of the Four Additional Practices, that of Supreme Mundane Dharmas.

      THE POOR SON, ALTHOUGH DELIGHTED AT THIS HAPPENING, STILL REFERRED TO HIMSELF AS A LOWLY WORKER FROM OUTSIDE. He referred to himself as an outsider. Although he had met up with the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, he still thought of himself as belonging to the Small Vehicle. He didn't think he was really of the disposition of the Great Vehicle; he didn't think he was really the Elder's son.

      FOR THIS REASON, FOR TWENTY YEARS HE WAS CONSTANTLY KEPT AT WORK SWEEPING AWAY DUNG. For twenty years, he worked at sweeping out the dung of the delusions of views and thought. Twenty years can also represent the principle of unobstruction and the principle of liberation.


      After this, they trusted one another, and he came and went without difficulty. However, he still stayed in the same place as before.


      AFTER THIS, means after he had been clearing away dung for some time, getting rid of the delusions of views and thought completely, THEY TRUSTED ONE ANOTHER, AND HE CAME AND WENT WITHOUT DIFFICULTY. Those of the Two Vehicles had gained some attainment in their cultivation of the Way, and they believed in the Great Vehicle Dharma. After this, they didn't feel that it was all that difficult to cultivate the Great Vehicle Dharma. HOWEVER, HE STILL STAYED IN THE SAME PLACE AS BEFORE. Although the Two Vehicles knew that they had a share in Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, still they remained in the Small Vehicle and were unable to give up the Small Vehicle teaching. Thus, they remained at the level of the Small Vehicle, finding it difficult to change their thinking. People's habits are hard to change. The Buddha taught living beings, hoping that they would turn away from the Small and go towards the Great, that is, to cultivate the Great Vehicle Dharma, but living beings don't want to change. When The Lotus Sutra was lectured, at the very beginning there were five thousand who retreated, that is, got up and left the assembly. It's definitely not easy to hear the Buddhadharma or to cultivate it. The Buddha most compassionately taught living beings, hoping that they would all become Buddhas, but living beings just want to slide down. The Buddha tries to raise them up, teach, and save them, but they always want to retreat, saying that they can't become Buddhas. They "stay in the same place," they remain in the Two Vehicles.


      World Honored One: At that time, the elder grew sick and knew he would die before long. He said to the poor son, "I and my granaries and storehouses are filled to over- flowing. You should know in detail their quantities and the amounts to be received and given. Such are my thoughts, and you should understand what I mean. What is the reason? You and I are now no different. You should be even more careful that nothing be lost."


      WORLD HONORED ONE, AT THAT TIME, THE ELDER GREW SICK AND KNEW THAT HE WOULD DIE BEFORE LONG, The Buddha knew that he was about finished teaching and transforming living beings; he was about to enter into Nirvana. HE SAID TO THE POOR SON, "I NOW POSSESS MUCH GOLD, SILVER, AND JEWELS. I have many Dharma jewels--the Dhyanas and the liberations and so on. They are limitless. AND MY GRANARIES AND STOREHOUSES ARE FILLED TO OVERFLOWING. YOU SHOULD KNOW IN DETAIL THEIR QUANTITIES AND THE AMOUNTS TO BE RECEIVED AND GIVEN. SUCH ARE MY THOUGHTS, AND YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN. I have already transmitted my Dharmas to you; you should cultivate accordingly. You should know the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma. Such are my thoughts that I turn over all my Great Vehicle Dharma treasures to you. And you really ought to figure out what I mean. WHAT IS THE REASON? The Buddha says, "Why is this?" YOU AND I ARE NOW NO DIFFERENT. YOU SHOULD BE EVEN MORE CAREFUL THAT NOTHING BE LOST. You are all disciples of the Buddha. We are not different. You are just like my own son. YOU SHOULD BE EVEN MORE CAREFUL. Pay close attention THAT NOTHING BE LOST. Don't let the Dharma be cut off. In every thought propagate the Buddha-dharma, and do not allow it to become extinct!"


      At that time, the poor son, having received these instructions, took charge of all the goods, the gold, silver, and precious gems, as well as the granaries and storehouses, and yet he did not long for so much as a single meal. He continued to stay in the same place, still unable to let go of his lowly thoughts.


      AT THAT TIME, after he had been commanded not to lose anything, that is, not to lose the Great Vehicle doctrine or the Bodhisattva Path, THE POOR SON, those of the Two Vehicles, HAVING RECEIVED THESE INSTRUCTIONS, the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, the Buddha's command, TOOK CHARGE OF ALL THE GOODS, THE GOLD, SILVER, AND PRECIOUS GEMS, AS WELL AS THE GRANARIES AND STOREHOUSES...The gold represents the doctrine of the middle way. Silver represents the Real Truth. The precious gems represent the Buddha's merit, virtue, and wisdom. The granaries and storehouses represent the Dhyanas, the liberations, and the samadhis. AND YET HE DID NOT LONG FOR SO MUCH AS A SINGLE MEAL. He was not like he had been before. He wasn't just concerned with attaining the low wages of a dung-shoveler. He wasn't living from hand to mouth; he was no longer content with a small portion. He had started "thinking big." He wasn't cultivating just for the Small Vehicle; he was not cultivating the Great Vehicle Dharma. HE CONTINUED TO STAY, he lived IN THE SAME PLACE, in the state of the Two Vehicles. He still thought that he wasn't cut out to be a Great Vehicle Bodhisattva. In the Vaipulya Teaching, the Buddha had told them of their one-sidedness and scolded the Small Vehicle and told them the good points of the Great Vehicle, praising the Perfect Teaching. The Buddha had said that those of the Small Vehicle who had certified to the one-sided doctrine were wrong. He scolded those of the Small Vehicle, calling them withered sprouts and sterile seeds. He praised the Great Vehicle and commended the Perfect Teaching, saying that the Perfect Teaching was the most wonderful of the Great Vehicle Dharma-doors. Although those of the Two Vehicles previously had heard the Buddha speak of the various Dharma-doors, praising the Great Vehicle, they still felt that they belonged to the Small Vehicle, and so the text says, "He continued to stay in the same place."

      STILL UNABLE TO LET GO OF HIS LOWLY THOUGHTS. "Lowly thoughts" means being content with small attainment, the attainment of nirvana with residue. They couldn't put down their Small Vehicle thoughts to seek diligently the Great Vehicle. They had not yet brought forth their hearts to do so.


      After a short while, the father knew that his son had grown more relaxed, that he
had accomplished the great resolve and despised his former state of mind. Knowing that his own end was near, he ordered his son to gather together all the relatives, kings, great ministers, kshatriyas, and laypeople. When they had all assembled, he spoke to them saying, "All of you
gentlemen should know that this is my son, begotten by me. In a certain city, he left me and ran away to suffer desolation, poverty, and hardship for over fifty years. His original name was such and such, and my name was such. Long ago, in my native city, I anxiously sought him. Suddenly, here, I have found him again! This is really my son. I am really his father. All of my wealth now belongs to my son, and all that has been paid out and taken in is known by him."


      AFTER A SHORT WHILE refers to the period of teaching directly following the Prajna Teaching. During the Prajna Period, the Buddha was preparing to turn the Teaching toward the Great Vehicle and to pass on his wealth, his inheritance, to his disciples. He hadn't actually done so. It was not until the Dharma Flower Assembly that he passed his wealth on. 

      THE FATHER KNEW THAT HIS SON HAD GROWN MORE RELAXED. He was no longer afraid. When he first heard the Buddha speak the Great Vehicle Dharma, he thought the Buddha was a demon! Now, after some time, his mind understood the principles of cultivating the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, THAT HE HAD ACCOMPLISHED THE GREAT RESOLVE. He had a mind to cultivate the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma and seek the Buddha Way. AND DESPISED HIS FORMER STATE OF MIND. He knew that his Small Vehicle state was not of much value, too pitiful. Now, three times he requested the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma.

      KNOWING THAT HIS OWN END WAS NEAR. ..The Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, because he had saved the living beings he was supposed to save and had transformed those with whom he had affinities. Since there was no one left to be saved, he was going to enter Nirvana. HE ORDERED HIS SON, those of the Two Vehicles, TO GATHER TOGETHER ALL THE RELATIVES, KINGS, GREAT MINISTERS, KSHATRIYAS, ANY LAYPEOPLE... "Relatives" refers to the Bodhisattvas from other directions who came to the Dharma Assembly to act as an influential assembly. "Kings" refers to the Twelve Divisions of the Canon, that is, to all the Sutras the Buddha spoke. Each Sutra, you might say, is like a country, and each country has its king. Now, The Dharma Flower Sutra Assembly penetrates the principles of all the Sutras, and so the "kings" are all gathered together.

      The "ministers" are the Equal Enlightenment Bodhisattvas. The "kshatriyas" are the Bodhisattvas on the Ten Grounds. The Bodhisattvas of the thirty minds are the "lay-people."

      WHEN THEY HAD ALL ASSEMBLED, HE SPOKE TO THEM, SAYING, "ALL OF YOU GENTLEMEN SHOULD KNOW THAT THIS IS MY SON, BEGOTTEN BY ME." When they had all gathered, the Buddha said to the Bodhisattvas, "These people of the Two Vehicles are also my own begotten sons. I started teaching them the Buddhadharma long ago during the time of the Buddha Great Penetration and Supreme Wisdom. Since I caused them to understand the Buddhadharma, it is as if I gave birth to them myself. IN A CERTAIN CITY, HE LEFT ME AND RAN AWAY. They rejected the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma and ran off to study the Small Vehicle Buddhadharma. TO SUFFER DESOLATION, POVERTY, AND HARDSHIP FOR OVER FIFTY YEARS. He didn't have any belongings. He was very much alone. "Fifty years" represents the Five Paths of rebirth and also the over fifty positions one passes through on the way to Buddhahood. HIS ORIGINAL NAME WAS SUCH AND SUCH, AND MY NAME WAS SUCH AND SUCH. LONG AGO, IN MY NATIVE CITY, I ANXIOUSLY SOUGHT HIM. Those of the Two Vehicles ran off, choosing not to study the Great Vehicle. This caused the Buddha to worry. Since they refused to believe, he had to search for some other expedient device. SUDDENLY, HERE, I HAVE FOUND HIM AGAIN! The Buddha meets up with those of the Two Vehicles once again and prepares to set up a clever expedient to teach and transform them.

      THIS IS REALLY MY SON. Those of the Two Vehicles are really the Buddha's sons. It's not like it was before in the Agama Period, or the Vaipulya Period, or the Prajna Period where it was never said that they were the Buddha's sons. I AM REALLY HIS FATHER. The Buddha is for sure the father of those of the Two Vehicles. ALL OF MY WEALTH, all of the Buddha's wealth of Dharma, the wealth of his merit and virtue and wisdom, NOW BELONGS TO MY SON. It all belongs to those of the Two Vehicles, and in the future they shall become Buddhas. AND ALL THAT HAS BEEN PAID OUT AND TAKEN IN IS KNOWN BY HIM. The Dharma I taught, from the Avatamsaka Period, through the Agama, Vaipulya, and Prajna Periods, right up to the Lotus-Nirvana Period--all my Dharma-- my sons of the Two Vehicles know it all. They understand it completely now.


      World Honored One, when the poor son heard what his father had said, he rejoiced greatly having obtained what he had never had, and he thought, "Originally, I had no thought to seek anything, and now this treasury has come to me of itself."


      WORLD HONORED ONE, WHEN THE POOR SON HEARD WHAT HIS FATHER HAD SAID... The Four Great Disciples, including Mahakashyapa spoke to the Buddha saying, "When those of the Two Vehicles heard the Buddha bestow a prediction upon them of their future Buddhahood. HE REJOICED GREATLY, HAVING OBTAINED WHAT HE HAD NEVER HAD. They had never been so happy. They congratulated themselves on their good fortune.

      "ORIGINALLY, I HAD NO THOUGHT TO SEEK ANYTHING. Originally, I hadn't hoped to become a Great Vehicle Bodhisattva or to be a real son of the Buddha. It never occurred to me. AND NOW, THIS TREASURY HAS COME TO ME OF ITSELF. All of the Buddha's wisdom, merit and virtue, Dharma wealth and treasure, has come to me. I didn't expend the slightest bit of effort to attain it. I'm really lucky!"


      World Honored One, the great and wealthy elder is the Thus Come One. We are all like
the Buddha's son.


     WORLD HONORED ONE, THE GREAT AND WEALTHY ELDER, whom in this analogy we have just presented, IS THE THUS COME ONE, the Buddha. WE ARE ALL LIKE THE BUDDHA'S SONS. All of us Sound Hearers now know that we are the Buddha's sons. Originally, one could just say, "We are the Buddha's sons. But the text says, "We are all like the Buddha's sons." They aren't his sons in the truest sense of the word. The Bodhisattvas are the Buddha's real, true sons. Sound Hearers are like the Buddha's sons. The Sound Hearers don't yet realize that they are, in fact, walking the Bodhisattva Path, and so they say they are like the Buddha's sons.


      The Thus Come One always says that we are his son.


      THE THUS COME ONE, the World Honored One, in the Avatamsaka, Agama, Vaipulya, and Prajna Periods continually said, "All living beings are the Buddha's sons."


      World Honored One, because of the three kinds of suffering, we have suffered much  torment in the midst of births and deaths. Deluded and ignorant, we clung to petty dharmas.


      WORLD HONORED ONE, BECAUSE OF THE THREE KINDS OF suffering, that is, 1) the suffering within suffering, which refers to all the misery we must undergo as a result of having a physical body. As the body gradually decays one undergoes, 2) the suffering of decay. As this process continues, thought after thought, without interruption, one undergoes, 3) the suffering of process. Because of these three sufferings, IN THE MIDST OF BIRTHS AND DEATHS, life after life, death after death, WE HAVE SUFFERED MUCH TORMENT, In the burning house of the Triple World, we are burned by the blaze of the Five Skandhas.

      DELUDED ANY IGNORANT, WE CLUNG TO PETTY DHARMAS. We have taken a thief as our own son, turned our backs on enlightenment to join with the defilement of the mundane world. We are stupid and lacking wisdom, because we are deeply deluded by our ignorance and our afflictions. Not only that, we preferred the lesser dharmas, the Small Vehicle, failing to understand the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma.


      Today, the World Honored One has caused us to think about getting rid of the dung of frivolous discussions of the Dharma. We increased our vigor to earn one day's wage of Nirvana. Having attained this, our hearts rejoiced greatly, and we were content, saying to ourselves that, through our diligence and vigor, what we had gained in the Buddhadharma was plentiful.


      TODAY, THE WORLD HONORED ONE, now in the Dhanna Flower Assembly, HAS CAUSED US TO THINK ABOUT GETTING RID OF THE DUNG OF FRIVOLOUS D1SCUSSIONS OF THE DHARMA. The petty, small vehicle dharmas we studied before are but frivolous assertions about the Dharma. This refers to the afflictions involved with views and thought. WE INCREASED OUR VIGOR. We Sound Hearers increased our vigor, cultivating the small vehicle, fearing birth and death and suffering and impermanence. We worked real hard at our cultivation. TO EARN ONE DAY'S WAGE OF NIRVANA. We gained one-sided nirvana with residue. HAVING ATTA1NED THIS, OUR HEARTS REJOICED GREATLY, AND WE WERE CONTENT, SAYING TO OURSELVES THAT THROUGH OUR DILIGENCE AND VIGOR, WHAT WE HAVE GAINED IN THE BUDDHADHARMA IS PLENTIFUL. Attaining this one-sided nirvana, we are very happy and content with this little portion, something we have never had before. That's it; we've made it!
       So we see that in cultivating Dhyana, if one obtains some small state, one should not
be satisfied. One should increase one's vigor and make further progress. They said, "THROUGH OUR DILIGENCE AND VIGOR, working industriously as we have, WHAT WE HAVE GAINED IN THE BUDDHADHARMA IS PLENTIFUL. We've got just too much!" Really, they had obtained one small speck of the Buddhadharma, not a lot.


      However, the World Honored One, knowing all along that our minds were attached to lowly desires and took delight in petty dharmas, let us go our own way and did not specify to us saying, "You are all to have a share in the treasury of the Thus Come One's knowledge and vision."


      HOWEVER, THE WORLD HONORED ONE, even though we ran, the Buddha KNOWING ALL ALONG THAT
OUR MINDS...He knew it all the time, knew that our minds WERE ATTACHED TO LOWLY DESIRES, base cravings: 1) wealth, 2) sex, 3) fame, 4) food, and 5) sleep. AND TOOK DELIGHT IN PETTY DHARMAS. They were attached to the Small Vehicle Dharma. LET US GO OUR WAY. And so the
Buddha just let them go; he did not speak of the Great Vehicle. AND DID NOT SPECIFY TO US, SAYING how with the Great Vehicle one can become a Buddha, practice the Bodhisattva Way, teach and transform living beings, and purify the Buddhalands. He didn't speak of the state of the Great Vehicle.

      "YOU ARE ALL TO HAVE A SHARE IN THE TREASURY OF THE THUS COME ONE'S KNOWLEDGE AND VISION. In the future, you will have the Thus Come One's wisdom, his knowledge, and vision, and the treasuries of the Buddha. He knew that they liked the Small Vehicle, and so formerly he never told them they were the genuine sons of the Buddha.


      The World Honored One, using the power of expedient devices, has spoken of the Thus Come One's wisdom. Having gained from the Buddha the one day's Wage of Nirvana, we took it to be a great attainment; we had no ambition to seek the Great Vehicle. Besides, the wisdom of the Thus Come One had been set forth for the sake of the Bodhisattvas, and so he held no expectations regarding it. What is the reason? The Buddha knew that our minds took delight in petty dharmas. He used the power of expedients to teach us in the appropriate manner, and we did not know that we were truly the Buddha's sons.


      The World Honored One did not tell the Small Vehicle people of the Great Vehicle directly. He used expedients to teach them of the Buddha's wisdom. "THE WORLD HONORED ONE, USING THE POWER OF EXPEDIENT DEVICES, HAS SPOKEN OF THE THUS COME ONE'S WISDOM. All of us Sound Hearers who studied the Dharma under the Buddha, HAVING GAINED FROM THE BUDDHA THE ONE DAY'S WAGE OF NIRVANA, attaining the one-sided nirvana with residue, like laborers who get paid by the day, TOOK IT TO BE A GREAT ATTAINMENT, a big thing. WE HAD NO AMBITION TO SEEK THE GREAT VEHICLE. We had no inclination to seek the wonderful doctrine of the Great Vehicle.

      "BESIDES, THE WISDOM OF THE THUS COME ONE HAD BEEN SET FORTH FOR THE SAKE OF THE BODHISATTVAS, AND SO WE HELP NO EXPECTATIONS REGARDING IT." The Buddha had assisted Shariputra and Subhuti in the teaching of Prajna. Shariputra and Subhuti thought it wasn't their own power. They thought it was the Buddha's power that enabled them to speak Prajna, and so they had neither hope for the Great Vehicle nor ambition to practice the Bodhisattva Path themselves. "WHAT IS THE REASON? THE BUDDHA KNEW THAT OUR MINDS TOOK DELIGHT IN PETTY DHARMAS. The Buddha knew that we of the Small Vehicle were quite attached to our Small Vehicle. HE USED THE POWER OF EXPEDIENTS TO TEACH US IN THE APPROPRIATE MANNER. He taught us the Dharma according to our dispositions. AND WE DID NOT KNOW THAT WE WERE TRULY THE BUDDHA'S SONS. We of the Two Vehicles didn't know that, all the time, we were the Buddha's sons; we didn't understand the doctrine of the Great Vehicle. We, too, are the Buddha's sons!"


      Now we know that the World Honored One is by no means ungenerous with the Buddha's wisdom. Why? From of old, we truly have been the Buddha's sons, and yet we delighted only in petty dharmas. If we had thought to delight in the great, the Buddha would then have spoken for us the Great Vehicle Dharma. This Sutra speaks of only One Vehicle. In the past, in the presence of the Bodhisattvas, the Buddha had belittled the Sound Hearers who delight in lesser dharmas, but he was actually employing the Great Vehicle in teaching and transforming them.


      "We didn't know before that those of the Small Vehicle were also the Buddha's sons, but NOW WE KNOW, here in the Dharma Flower Assembly, THAT THE WORLD HONORED ONE IS BY NO MEANS UNGENEROUS WITH THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM, It was not that the Buddha didn't want to teach those of the Two Vehicles. WHY? FROM OF OLD, WE TRULY HAVE BEEN THE BUDDHA'S SONS, and limitless aeons ago we had already been taught and transformed by the Buddha, and the seeds of the Great Vehicle had been planted in us. We were the Buddha's real sons all the time, but we were like the poor son who ran away from home and failed to recognize his father. But now we know we didn't study the Great Vehicle Dharma because WE DELIGHTED IN PETTY DHARMAS, in the Small Vehicle Dharma. IF WE HAD THOUGHT TO DELIGHT IN THE GREAT, if we had delighted in the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma, THE BUDDHA WOULD THEN HAVE SPOKEN FOR US THE GREAT VEHICLE DHARMA. The Buddha would have placed before them the entire Great Vehicle's wonderful doctrine. NOW, THIS SUTRA, The Dharma Flower Sutra, SPEAKS OF ONLY ONE VEHICLE, the Buddha Vehicle. It says there is only the Buddha Vehicle; there is no other vehicle. IN THE PAST, IN THE PRESENCE OF THE BODHISATTVAS, in the Vaipulya and Prajna Assemblies, THE BUDDHA HAD BELITTLED THE SOUND HEARERS WHO DELIGHT IN LESSER DHARMAS, he scolded those of the Small Vehicle and praised the Great Vehicle and the Perfect Teaching. He scolded those of the Two Vehicles, saying 'You Sound Hearers are gutless. You have no future at all and no light, either. You are like withered sprouts and sterile seeds. You are stuck to your small dharmas.' BUT HE WAS ACTUALLY EMPLOYING THE GREAT VEHICLE IN TEACHING AND TRANSFORMING THEM. He was bestowing the Provisional for the sake of the Real. The small vehicle dharmas were set forth for the sake of the Real. Now, in the Dharma Flower Assembly, the Provisional Teaching of the Small Vehicle is dispensed with, and the real Dharma is revealed, the real, wondrous doctrine."


      Known as the king of kings amongst Buddhist scriptures because of its great length (81 rolls of over 700,000 Chinese characters), and its extreme profundity, containing the most complete explanation of the Buddha's state and the spiritual path to enlightenment. When completed the entire Sutra-text with commentary is estimated to be about 100 volumes. The following are those volumes which are available now:


      Contains the First Ground, that of Happiness, and discusses the Bodhisattva's practice of giving and clarifies the quality of being unmoving. Bi-lingual, English-Chinese edition. 234 p., $7.00.