The Collected Lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua on
The Sixth Patriarch's Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra

Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society



Lecture 28 continued


      Seeing the scholars and common people of Canton, Shao Kuan and the four directions assembled on the mountain to hear the Dharma, the Great Master took his seat and spoke to the assembly saying:

"Come, each of you Good Knowing Advisors! This work must begin within your self-nature. At all times, in every thought, purify your own mind, cultivate your own conduct, see your own Dharma body and the Buddha of your own mind. Take yourself "across", discipline yourself, only then will you not have come here in vain. You have come from afar to attend this gathering because we have karmic conditions in common. Now all of you kneel and I will first transmit to you the five-fold Dharma body refuge of the self-nature, and then the markless repentance and reform."


Shao Kuan is the present day Ch'u Chiang. Students and common people from the four directions went to Nan Hua Temple on Pao Lin Mountain to hear the Great Master explain the Dharma.

The Master said, "The work of sitting in Dhyana meditation, the mind ground Dharma door, must arise from within your self-nature. Every thought must be correct, not deviant, because proper thoughts purify the mind, while improper thoughts defile it. You personally must cultivate this Dharma door; no one else can do it for you. Your own Dharma body is simply your self-nature, and the Buddha is within your own mind. If you take yourself "across" by receiving and keeping the moral precepts, you will not have wasted your life. We meet here because karmic conditions from former lives have ripened.  Now, put your right knee on the ground and I will transmit to you the five-fold Dharma body refuge and the markless repentance and reform."


The assembly knelt and the Master said. "The first is the morality, refuge which is just your own mind free from error, evil, jealousy, greed, hatred, and hostility."


Pay attention! The morality refuge is just to have no thoughts of right and wrong, good and evil. In order to keep the precepts you must absolutely not be jealous, nor should you be aggressive, like a bandit.


      The second is the concentration refuge which is just your own mind which does not become confused when seeing the marks of all good and evil conditions.”


      If the mind remains unperturbed in all states, good or bad, that is the concentration refuge.


      The third is the wisdom refuge which is just your own mind, unobstructed and constantly using wisdom to contemplate and illuminate the self-nature, doing no evil, doing good without becoming attached, and being respectful of superiors, considerate of inferiors, and sympathetic toward orphans and widows.”

On one occasion the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua related: “A medical student came today and I said to him, ‘No matter how great a doctor you may be, you won’t be able to cure your own fatal illness.’ He said that his mother said this was merely an experience in human life. I then asked, ‘After you experience this, what then?’”


Do not obstruct yourself with feelings of inferiority, but use wisdom to destroy ignorance so that you may view the self—nature. Refrain from evil and practice good but do not become attached to the idea of merit. Emperor Wu of Liang built temples, gave sanction to Bhiksus for the Sangha, and gave vegetarian luncheons, but he was attached to his merit, and so Bodhidharma said, "You have no merit at all!"

If you do good, forget about it. Don't run up to the Heaven of the Thirty-three (Devas) and shout, "I gave $500.00! I gave $1,000.00! My merit is higher than the heavens!" This is to be stupid like Emperor Wu and is not wisdom.

Respect your father, mother, teacher, and elders and never speak of their faults. Do not be like the boy who testified against his own father.  The police asked the father if he had stolen a sheep:

"No", said the father.

"What do you mean 'no'?" cried the boy. "I saw you kill that sheep, eat it, and sell the wool. How can-you deny that you stole it?"

This is wrong. If you know that your father is guilty, when the police come you should run! Refuse to testify! This is called "respecting your superiors."

Be considerate to those beneath you. Don't be mean to little children and unsympathetic to widows. Mencius said, "A child without a father is an orphan and an old woman without a husband is a widow." Orphans and widows deserve pity and support.


"The fourth is the liberation refuge which is just your own mind which is not dependent on conditions, does not think of good or evil, but is free and unobstructed."


Is this clear? The absence of a self-seeking mind is liberation! If you are self-seeking, you can't put it down and so continually scheme and plot. To be liberated, do not grasp at good or evil.


"The fifth is the liberation of knowledge and views refuge which is just your own mind not dependent on good or evil conditions, not dwelling in emptiness or holding onto stillness. You should then study this in detail, listen a lot, recognize your original mind, and penetrate the true principle of all the Buddhas. You should be in harmony with (lit. unite-the-light) and welcome living creatures; lacking the idea of self or others, arrive directly at Bodhi, the unchanging true nature."


      In the Chinese text, the word "sink" is a misprint, which should read "dwell on". If you say, "I will sit here and not study anything. I am empty!"  Your state is useless and dull like the emptiness inside a rubber ball. Such emptiness is not the emptiness of the void. These people sit all day thinking of nothing and doing nothing. At mealtime they eat, and at bedtime they sleep and do not even dream. This is a pitiful waste of time.

You should study this in detail and listen to Sutra lectures. Those who dwell in emptiness and hold to stillness claim to study Buddhism. They do not listen to lectures or study Dharma, but if you ask them they say they know it all.

You should be in harmony (lit. unite-the-light) and welcome living creatures. What does this mean? All lamps give off light, but have you ever known lamplight to fight with lamplight? Has a lamplight ever said, "You are brighter than I am! This is no good. I am going to put out your light!" and then hit the other lamplight? Or the other lamp says, "Your light is too small. Either make it bigger or move out!" There is none of this between lights. Do you understand? This applies to everyone in the world. You practice your way and I will practice mine, "without chafing or hindering each other." You cannot decide that someone's reputation is too dazzling and try to ruin him so that your own name will shine.

It is permissible for others to be jealous of me, but I am not jealous of anyone. The better you are, the better I like it. The more success you have the happier I am. Not being jealous is being in harmony.

You might say, "I am in harmony with him, but he is not in harmony with me." If you were truly in harmony with him, you wouldn't know that he wasn't in harmony with you. Do you understand? If you are in harmony with him, how can you know that he is not in harmony with you? He won't harmonize? That's no problem. Just continue to be in harmony with him.

Welcome living creatures: if you like Great Vehicle Buddhism, I will explain the Great Vehicle; if you like the Small Vehicle, I will explain the Four Noble Truths; if you like the Bodhisattva Way, I will explain the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Conducts; if you like the Arhat dharmas, I will explain the Twelve Conditioned Causes. This is called harmonizing and welcoming living creatures, responding to the individual needs of men. Heng Ching looked in the dictionary and found that "welcoming living creatures,” means to help other people. However it is not just to help them, it is to induce them to leave suffering and obtain bliss.

...Lacking the idea of "self or other", arrive directly at Bodhi, the unchanging true nature. Having helped one person you cannot say, "I have taken a Bhiksu across!" I have now crossed over three bhiksus and two bhiksunis and they have left home. How great is my merit? If you think like this you don't have a dust-mote of merit. Once you have done something the affair should be forgotten. If you lead people to Buddhahood you should not be attached to the merit gained from having taken living beings "across".  Therefore the Diamond Sutra says, "I must take all beings "across" to Nirvana...and yet not a single living beings has been taken across to Nirvana.”

You recite the Diamond Sutra from morning to night, and do not understand its meaning in the least. "Look at ME!" you say. There is still "me", and "me" comes before everything else. What Diamond Sutra do you recite anyway? The Diamond Sutra speaks of having no mark of self, other living beings, or a life because all dharmas are empty marks. Is there anything more wonderful? If you truly understand, you arrive directly at Bodhi, the unchanging true nature. This is called the liberation of knowledge and views refuge. You have been liberated from knowledge, views, and attachments.

With no self or others,
            With no emptiness or form,
                         View the One Come Thus.

Being without the mark of self is just Contemplate-Independence Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara). Not falling into emptiness or existence, you can see the Buddha.


"Good Knowing Advisors, these refuges are within each of you. Do not seek outside. I will now transmit the markless repentance of the three periods of time and to purify the three karmas.”


Repentance is regret and turning away from past misdeeds, and reform is refraining from error in the future. If you receive it with a sincere mind, this repentance and reform can wipe away the offenses of the past, present, and future. Purify your mind, and receive my transmission, which will purify the karma of your body, mouth, and mind.


"Good Knowing Advisors, repeat after me: May this disciple be, in past, present, and future thought, that is, in every thought, unstained by stupidity and confusion. I now completely repent and reform of all bad karma done in the past out of delusion and confusion. May it be wiped away at once and never arise again."


Defiled by delusion, turned by stupidity, you soon become stupid. It is most important, in every thought, not to go down the road of stupidity but give rise to wisdom instead.

Bad karma is created out of ignorance. Completely repent and reform of all offenses: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, greed, hatred, stupidity, filthy language, lying, harsh speech, and slander, and in a ksana they will be wiped away. Do not again give rise to offenses of stupidity and confusion.


"May this disciple, in past, present, and future thought, that is, in every thought, be unstained by arrogance and deceit. I now completely repent and reform of all bad actions done in the past out of arrogance and deceit and other such offenses. May they be wiped away at once and never arise again."



Only knowing there is you;

Unaware that there are others.

Arrogance is looking down on everything: "In the heavens and below, I alone am honored." Deceit is lying; it is also mad pride, thinking that you are indispensable, number one in the entire world. "I am the highest; the Chairman, the King, and even the President cannot compare with me." Unstained by arrogance, unturned by deceit, you will not become an arrogant and deceitful person.


"May this disciple, in past, present, and future thought, that is, in every thought, be unstained by jealousy. I now completely repent and reform of all bad karma done in the past out of jealousy and other such of tenses. May they be wiped away at once and never arise again."


Jealousy is the very worst thing! Cultivators see someone who is more intelligent than they are and become jealous; they see someone who learns faster and become jealous; they see someone sitting "thus, thus unmoving" and become jealous; they see someone eating more food and become jealous; they see someone drinking more tea and become jealous; they see someone sleeping more and become jealous, even to the point that when someone has been sick for a long time they think, "Why can't I get sick, too?" Don't be defiled by jealousy and you will not become a jealous person.


      "Good Knowing Advisors, what I have spoken is the markless repentance and reform. What is repentance and what is reform? Repentance is to repent of past errors, to repent so completely of all bad karma done in the past out of delusion, confusion, arrogance, deceit, jealousy, and other such of tenses, that they never arise again. Reform is to restrain from such transgressions in the future. Awakening and cutting off such offenses completely and never committing them again is called repentance and reform.

"Common men, stupid and confused, only know how to repent former errors and do not know how to reform and refrain from transgressions in the future.  Because they do not reform, their former errors are not wiped away and thus will arise again in the future. Since former errors are not wiped away and transgressions are again committed, how can this be called repentance and reform?

                Good Knowing Advisors, as you have repented and reformed, I will now teach you to make the four vast vows. Pay attention and listen well.

      I vow to take “across” the limitless living beings of my own mind.

      I vow to cut off the inexhaustible afflictions of my own mind.

      I vow to study the immeasurable Dharma doors of my own nature.

      I vow to realize the supreme Buddha Way of my own nature.”

                                                --To be continued—


      You must vow to take across the beings within your own heart, to cut off the afflictions, and to study the Dharma doors. There is nothing higher than Buddhahood. Vow to realize it.


A new translation sponsored by The Buddhist Text Translation Society

Essential for a true understanding of the Buddhadharma, this Sutra explains filial conduct, the principles of cause and effect, expedient devices, and methods of cultivation. All the subtle meanings are made remarkably clear by the Elder Dharma Master Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua Who explains and interprets this Sutra with authority as only one who has mastered its doctrines can.

The Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra with the Master's commentary has been translated by Dharma Master Heng Ching, who is Director of Translations for the Vajra Bodhi Sea Publication Society. Dharma Master Ching's qualifications as a translator of Buddhist Texts are exceptional. A graduate of the University of Washington where he studied with the eminent Buddhist scholar Professor Edward Conze, Dharma Master Ching has made Buddhist studies his central concern for over eight years. He is fluent in both classical and modern Chinese, French, and has studied Sanskrit. Most important, for several years he has been an outstanding disciple seated, below the platform of the Elder Dharma Master Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua, and has investigated many important Sutras there. He personally attended upon the Master at the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra Assembly, and has fashioned his translation following the Master's instructions.

This is a rare opportunity. Lucid and authoritative translations on Mahayana Buddhist Scriptures in Western languages are scarce. This first will begin in issue twenty-six of Vajra Bodhi Sea. Don't miss it.