DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA
with commentary of
In the mountains, streams
and steep valleys,
IN THE MOUNTAINS, STREAMS, AND DEEP VALLEYS/ The mountains represent the Great Bodhisattvas. The streams represent all the great Disciples. IN DEEP RECESSES, THERE GROW/ GRASSES, TREES, AND HERBS/ The analogy gives the three kinds of grass and two kinds of trees. The three kinds of grass are: the Vehicle of People, the Vehicle of Gods, and the Vehicles of the Sound Hearers and Conditioned-Enlightened Ones. The two kinds of trees are the Bodhisattvas. AND TREES, BOTH GREAT AND SMALL/
THE GRAINS, SHOOTS, AND PLANTS/ The text says literally, "The hundred grains." The word "hundred" represents the ten good deeds, each of which is multiplied by ten, making a hundred good deeds. The shoots and plants are all the living beings. THE SUGAR-CANE AND THE GRAPE-VINE/ Sugar cane grows in stalks which represents both Dhayana samadhi and the spiritual powers derived from it. Grapes grow in clusters, representing the use of one single wisdom door to cut off many, many doubts. ALL ARE NOURISHED BY THE RAIN/ AND NONE FAIL TO BE ENRICHED/ They all grow. They each receive the share of rain that they should receive. THE PARCHED GROUND IS SOAKED/ "Parched ground" refers to living beings who have not planted good roots, who have not heard the Buddhadharma. These living beings are also nourished by the Dharma-rain and gain advantage. THE HERBS AND TREES TOGETHER FLOURISH/ They grow and flourish. ISSUING FROM THAT CLOUD/ WATER OF A SINGLE FLAVOR/ The One Vehicle Buddhadharma MOISTENS GRASSES, TREES, AND FORESTS/ all living beings EACH ACCORDING TO ITS MEASURE/ They receive the benefit they deserve. ALL OF THE TREES/ GREAT, MEDIUM, AND SMALL/ ACCORDING TO THEIR SIZE/ CAN GROW AND DEVELOP/ WHEN REACHED BY THAT SINGLE RAIN/ THE ROOTS, STALKS, BRANCHES, AND LEAVES/ FLOWERS, AND FRUITS WITH LUSTER AND COLOR/ ALL ARE FRESH AND SHINING/ They are fresh, sparkling, and beautiful.
Sutra: T 19c28
to their substance and marks,
ACCORDING TO THEIR SUBSTANCE, MARKS/ The large ones get much moisture, the middle-sized ones get less, and the smaller ones get even less. Each gets what deserves. AND NATURES, EITHER GREAT OR SMALL/ THEY ALIKE RECEIVE MOISTURE/ AND EACH ONE FLOURISHES/ For example, we are now giving lectures on the Sutra. The lecturing could be considered one, big rain-cloud. Of those who come to listen, some will understand one thing, while others will hear one thing and understand ten, or even a hundred! Some people will change some of their small, bad habits and gain small benefit. Some will change their major, bad habits and thereby obtain great benefit. Some will get rid of all their bad habits completely, gaining the greatest benefit.
When you have heard and understood the Dharma, it is like having been moistened by the rain. When you get rid of your bad habits, your wisdom-life and Dharma-body flourish and grow, your wisdom develops and sheds its light. Before when you had all those bad habits, you didn't realize that your body gave off no light at all. Now, for every bit of habit energy that you get rid of, you emit that much more light.
The Buddha, in
HAVING COME INTO THE WORLD/ FOR THE SAKE OF LIVING BEINGS/ HE DISCRIMINATES AND EXPOUNDS/ THE REALITY OF ALL DHARMAS/ When he sees people, he speaks human dharma; when he meets gods, he speaks heavenly dharma, when he meets those of the Two Vehicles, he speaks the dharma of the Two Vehicles. When he encounters those of the Great Vehicle, he expounds that teaching. "Discriminates" does not mean that he uses his discriminating mind to speak the Dharma. It means that he speaks Dharma in accord with living beings' potentials. For the sake of the real, he expounds the provisional. All expedient Dharmas are spoken for the sake of the real teaching.
THE GREAT SAGE, THE WORLD HONORED ONE/ The Buddha is the great Sage. IN THE MIDST OF THE MULTITUDES/ OF GODS AND HUMANS/ PROCLAIMS THESE WORDS, SAYING/ "I AM THE THUS COME ONE/ THE DOUBLY COMPLETE AND HONORED ONE/ "Doubly complete" means that he is complete with both blessings and wisdom. In the cause ground, he did many good deeds, so his blessings are complete. It's not enough just to have blessings and to have no wisdom. The Buddha is also complete in wisdom. As the saying goes:
One who cultivates
and not wisdom, is like
Those who cultivate blessings without cultivating wisdom do not listen to the Sutras; they merely practice good deeds. They may pile up many blessings, but they have no wisdom. This makes them like a big, dumb elephant. Elephants aren't really as stupid as they are awkward. They are so big with such big legs! They are too big to fly. In fact, they can't get off the ground. Now, picture an elephant wearing a necklace. The person who adorns himself with blessings is like that--useless.
If you only listen to the Sutras and Dharma and fail to do good deeds and help others, you are like an Arhat with an empty bowl. In the future when you become an Arhat, you will travel all over with an empty bowl; no one will make offerings to you. Why not? Because you never practiced good deeds. What do you think of that! Here you are, a certified Arhat and hungry all day long! You go from day to day with an empty stomach. Why? Because you only listened to Dharma and did not do good deeds.
The Buddha is doubly, complete in wisdom and blessings. I APPEAR WITHIN THE WORLD/ LIKE A GREAT CLOUD/ MOISTENING ALL/ THE DRIED OUT LIVING BEINGS/ living beings who have not heard the Buddhadharma. Once living beings have heard the Buddhadharma, they are no longer dried-out, they are "moist." SO THEY ALL LEAVE SUFFERING/ and attain bliss--AND GAIN PEACE AND BLISS/ WORLDLY JOY/ AND THE JOYS OF NIRVANA/ both transcendental and worldly happiness. ALL GODS AND HUMANS ASSEMBLED HERE/ LISTEN SINGLEMINDEDLY AND WELL/ to the Buddhadharma. YOU SHOULD ALL COME HERE/ TO BEHOLD THE UNSURPASSED HONORED ONE/ draw near to and reverently worship the Buddha.
I AM THE WORLD HONORED ONE/ Honored both in and beyond the world. THE ONE BEYOND COMPARE/ No one is as high as the Buddha.
In the heavens and below, there is no one like the Buddha.
In the ten direction worlds, he is beyond compare.
I've seen everything in the world there is to see,
And in it nothing can compare to the Buddha.
TO BRING PEACE AND EASE TO LIVING BEINGS/ I MANIFEST WITHIN THE WORLD/ AND, FOR THE SAKE OF THE ASSEMBLY, SPEAK/ THE SWEET DEW OF PURE DHARMA/--the wonderful Dharma, which is like sweet dew.
THE DHARMA OF A SINGLE FLAVOR/ THAT OF LIBERATION AND NIRVANA/ USING A SINGLE, WONDROUS SOUND/ I PROCLAIM THIS PRINCIPLE/ This is the Dharma of the One Buddha Vehicle. The Buddha proclaims it in The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. CONSTANTLY, FOR MAKING THE CAUSAL CONDITIONS/ OF THE GREAT VEHICLE/ The Buddha employs a11 manner of causes and conditions to teach the Great Vehicle Dharma.
I CONTEMPLATE ALL/ EVERYWHERE AS EQUAL/ This line shows us the great compassion of the Buddha. The Buddha never says, "I am the highest. I created a11 things, and they are a11 mine." The Buddha says that he "teaches" the ten thousand things. He instructs them to leave the deviant and return to enlightenment. He doesn't say, "I alone am enlightened. You are all confused."
He is not like the Lord who created all things who says, "I created all of you." If you created all this, why did you make such a mess of it? Why didn't you do a better job? Why did you create evil? Why did you create evil people who harm the good people? That's being even worse than a common thief!
The Buddha does not claim to have created all things. He rescues all things. Those who do not understand the Buddhadharma, he leads to understand it. Those who have not yet awakened, he leads to awakening. He doesn't say, "I made all of you." The Buddha saves all living beings, and having done so, there are no living beings whom he has saved. He saves all living beings but does not claim to have done so. That means he is truly egalitarian.
I CONTEMPLATE ALL/ EVERYWHERE AS EQUAL/WITHOUT "THIS" OR "THAT"/ AND WITHOUT THOUGHTS OF LOVE OR HATE/ Without discriminations between this and that, there is no hate or love When one discriminates between this and that, then love and hate exist. "I love this person, and I hate that person. I love what pleases me and what does not please me, I hate." If you can not love the things that please you and not hate the things you dislike and not discriminate between this and that, then you are equal in your views without the concepts of this and that. You have knocked down that Mount Sumeru.
The text says, I HAVE NO GREED OR ATTACHMENT? How can the Buddha say this? How can the Buddha be without greed or attachment? It's simply because he has no thought of love or hate. Don't you agree that if you have love and hate, you will have greed and attachment? You will be greedy for things you desire and try to avoid the things you dislike.
AND NO LIMITATIONS OR OBSTACLES/ If you love or hate something, those emotions form your limitations concerning them. That makes for an obstruction.
CONSTANTLY, FOR EVERYONE/ I SPEAK THE DHARMA, EQUALLY/ SPEAKING FOR A SINGLE PERSON/ AS I WOULD FOR THE MULTITUDES. When you practice lecturing, don't think, "Not as many people come to hear my lectures as they do to hear his! Gees! They don't want to listen to me. This is too humiliating. Really! They don't want to hear me!!" Here, you give rise to all kinds of love and hate and so on... The Buddha always speaks the Dharma for everyone. One person is many; many people are one person. One is many; many is one. Speaking the Dharma equally means that you do not notice whether there are many or just a few in the audience. Neither many nor few, nothing far and nothing near. I am speaking the Dharma here right now, and they may even be listening to me in Hong Kong! "Oh! Our Teacher is in America lecturing The Dharma Flower Sutra. Let's get some tapes and listen." So, I lecture for Hong Kong as I would for America, and I lecture for America as I would for Hong Kong. That's called "not discriminating between near and far," speaking Dharma equally for those both near and far.
What are you laughing at? I am speaking true, real principle. There's nothing in it to laugh at! And there's nothing in it not to laugh at, either.
I CONSTANTLY EXPOUND AND PROCLAIM THE DHARMA/Haven't I told you before that as long as I have breath left, I will speak the Dharma. If I quit speaking the Dharma, my breath will also cease. So none of you can retire or retreat from speaking the Dharma. If you do, it's very inauspicious. AND HAVE NO OTHER WORK/We who study the Buddhadharma, must speak the Buddhadharma. There are several of you now who are headed to Taiwan to take the precepts, so I am speaking the precept-taking Dharma to you. When you have received the precepts, there may be as many as fifty, or five hundred, or five thousand people in America who will follow you to take precepts as well. People will see that you are not even afraid of starving to death. They don't ask for offerings either. They are really practicing the Buddhadharma. Those who come after you will want to imitate you in not fearing starving to death. They will want to imitate your temperaments, because you are happy all day long and never get angry. They will want to keep the precepts as purely as the two bhikshunis who don't eat after noon. That's really wonderful!
On the other hand, if you come back from taking precepts and sleep all day, eat fine food and wear fine clothes, no one will believe in you, and the Buddhadharma will become extinct. To say nothing of five, there won't be even one cultivator in America! The responsibility for the flowering of American Buddhism rests with the five of you. I'm not trying to frighten you, but, in fact, you are the pioneers of Western Buddhism. There have never been so many people from the West to go to take the precepts of the Great Vehicle. This is a new page in history.
If they ask you who your teacher is, however, just say, "Shakyamuni Buddha." Don't say it's anyone else. Shakyamuni Buddha is your original teacher. If they ask who you study under, say you study with the Pratimoksha, the moral code. Say that you take the precepts as your teacher. The Buddha, in truth, instructed his disciples after his Nirvana to take the precepts as their teacher. I don't want you to mention my name, because I have no cultivation and no Way virtue. I am not fit to be anyone's teacher. Also, I don't want to be anyone's teacher. There are a lot of fine gods in the heavens, but I don't want to go there. How much the less do I want to hang out in the human realm!
AND HAVE NO OTHER WORK/I just speak the Dharma. COMING, GOING, SITTING, AND STANDING/ This means walking, standing, sitting, reclining. FILLING THE ENTIRE WORLD/LIKE THE MOISTURE OF THE UNIVERSAL RAIN/Standing, walking, sitting, and reclining, I am at all times speaking the Dharma. I am never lazy. I speak the Dharma white I am standing. I speak the Dharma while I am sitting. I even speak the Dharma while I am steeping! How do I do that? In my dreams I teach and transform all the dreaming living beings.
Why does the Buddha speak the Dharma? Because living beings are too dried out. If they didn't receive the moisture of the Buddha-dharma, they would wither up and die. Once they are dead, if you speak Dharma to them, it won't bring them back to fife. So, he gives them the Dharma rain to refresh them and help them grow. The rain moistens all the three grasses and two kinds of trees--all the vegetation.
For the noble,
the lowly, the superior and inferior,
FOR the NOBLE, LOWLY, SUPERIOR, AND INFERIOR/For those of noble birth, for the lower classes, for the officials, and the common folk, THOSE WHO KEEP PRECEPTS AND THOSE WHO BREAK THEM/Perhaps there are left-home people who sternly maintain the moral code, or perhaps they break those precepts. THOSE WITH PERFECT AWESOME MANNER/AND THOSE NOT PERFECT/Keeping precepts is maintaining Vinaya. Breaking the precepts means violating that code. There are three thousand aspects to the awesome manner. There is a proper way to walk, to sit, to stand, and to recline. In all four comportments, there is a proper, awesome comportment. Some have not perfected it. They do not stand, sit, walk or recline properly. THOSE WITH RIGHT VIEWS AND THOSE WITH DEVIANT VIEWS/Right views means that, when improper matters are being discussed, you do not listen.
If it's not proper, don't look
That's right views. If you
listen, speak and do things which
are not in
THE SHARP ROOTED, THE DULL ROOTED/Sharp means intelligent. They hear the Dharma and gain enlightenment. Dull means stupid. Stupid people may listen to Sutras for a long time and still have no idea what the Buddha-dharma is. They won't cultivate giving, morality, patience, vigor, samadhi, or wisdom. Dull-rooted people can't accept the Buddha-dharma.
However, all these different types of living beings are not discriminated by the Buddha, who says, I SEND DOWN EQUALLY THE DHARMA RAIN/Equally, he rains the Dharma rain on all living beings. The Buddha is like a great rain cloud filled with Dharma rain which all living beings receive.
AND NEVER GROW WEARY/The Buddha is never lazy in speaking the Dharma to living beings. He never gets tired. To propagate the Buddha-dharma, he forgets his body, mind, nature, and life. The Buddha never gets tired of teaching the Dharma.
All living beings
ALL LIVING BEINGS/ includes all the flying, swimming, and crawling creatures and also the vegetation. It also includes those born from wombs, those born from eggs, those born from moisture, and those born from transformation. All kinds of living beings WHO HEAR MY DHARMA/ RECEIVE IT ACCORDING TO THEIR POWER/AND DWELL ON VARIOUS LEVELS/They are each in a different place.
THEY MAY DWELL AMONG HUMANS OR GODS/OR WHEEL TURNING SAGE KINGS/There are four kinds of Wheel Turning Sage Kings: Gold, silver, bronze, and iron. The Wheel Turning Sage Kings have seven as-you-will treasures which undergo infinite changes. The inhabitants of the countries that they rule all keep the five precepts and practice the ten goods. The Gold Wheel Turning Kings watch over all four continents. The Silver Wheel Turning Kings watch over three: Purva-videha in the east, Jambudvipa in the south, Apara-godaniya in the west. They do not watch over the northern continent of Uttarakuru. The Bronze Wheel Turning Kings watch over two continents, Jambudvipa and Purvavideha. The Iron Wheel Turning King watches over only Jambudvipa. We are in Jambudvipa. If all the countries got together and picked a leader, he could be called an Iron Wheel Turning King. If the Wheel Turning Kings cultivate, their next step is Buddhahood. Shakyamuni Buddha, if he had not cultivated, would have been a Gold Wheel Turning King.
SHAKRA OR BRAHMA KINGS/THESE ARE THE SMALL HERBS/Such humans, gods, or other kings are called small herbs.
THOSE WHO KNOW THE NON-OUTFLOW
DHARMA/ AND WHO CAN ATTAIN NIRVANA/GIVING RISE TO SIX
of the Heavenly Eye, the Heavenly Ear,
the Penetration of Other's
Thoughts, the Knowledge
of Past Lives, the Penetration of the Complete
and the Extinction of Outflows,
AND ATTAINING THE THREE CLARITIES/--the
of the Heavenly Eye, the Clarity
of the Extinction of Outflows,
of Past Lives. DWELLING ALONE IN MOUNTAIN GROVES/They
in the mountains and have practically no communication with people
in the world. They always
samadhi. The heavenly beings are always
Ch'an samadhi are, for all
purposes, in the heavens, as well.
-to be continued