The Collected Lectures of
Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua on
The Buddha Speaks
(from issue 37)
translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Yin
Translated by Disciple Upasaka I Kuo Jung
Disciple Upasika Tun Kuo Hsun
The Five-Fold Profound Meanings
The five are: 1)
Explaining the name, 2) Showing the substance, 3) Clarifying the
principle, 4) Discussing the function, and 5) Determining the teaching
Explaining the name: Once one knows the Sutra's name, one can begin to
understand its principles. Just like people, each Sutra has its own
particular name. According to the Seven Classifications of Sutra Titles
explained previously, this Sutra belongs to the first category, Sutras
whose titles are established only by reference to people.
Showing the substance: Once one knows a person's name, one can recognize
him on sight. "Is he fat or thin, tall or short?" One doesn't
necessarily have to see his face, but can recognize him by his form.
"Oh, it's him!"
Sutra is a Mahayana Dharma spoken without request and takes the Real Mark
as its substance. The Real Mark is no mark. There is no mark, nothing at
all, and yet there is nothing not marked. Unmarked, it is true emptiness
and with nothing unmarked, it is wonderful existence.
All marks are the real mark:
The real mark is unmarked
With nothing unmarked.
It is without marks and also
Without any non-marks;
It is neither without marks
Nor is it marked by no-marks.
the midst of marks one should not attach to marks. True Suchness, the one
true Dharma Realm, the Tathagata-store nature, are all different names for
the Real Mark.
Clarifying the principle: Unless one understands the Sutra's doctrine and
objective, he will not understand its principles. Knowing a person's name
and appearance, one next discovers his occupation.
principles of this Sutra are Faith, vows, and holding the Buddha's name,
the prerequisites for accomplishing the practice of the Pure Land Dharma
Door. One who wishes to go on a journey takes along food and a little
money. One who wishes to go to the Land of Ultimate Bliss needs faith,
vows and the practice of holding the Buddha's name.
the first prerequisite, for without it one will not make the vow to be
born in Amitabha's Land of Ultimate Bliss. You must have faith in
yourself, the Land of Ultimate Bliss, cause and effect, and noumena and
phenomena. What does it mean to believe in oneself? It is to believe that
you certainly have the status to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
You should not take yourself lightly and say, "I have committed so
many offenses, I can't be born there." If you have heavy offense
karma, you now have a good opportunity to take it along to rebirth in the
Land of Ultimate Bliss.
of the offenses you have committed in the past, if you change your mind
and reform your conduct, you may be born there, offenses and all.
your karma to the Pure Land refers to past karma, however, not to future
karma. Having understood the Buddhadharma, creation of offenses should
cease. If you continue to offend, you will absolutely not be reborn in the
Land of Ultimate Bliss. You may recite the Buddha's name and bow to the
Buddha, but you will only be making investments in future Buddhahood. You
will not, in this life, be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss because you
clearly understood and yet deliberately violated the Dharma.
taking refuge with the Triple Jewel, doing things, which are not in accord
with the Dharma, can be excused, but to continue such behavior after
taking refuge increases the gravity of one's offenses. Knowing one's
error, one must truly believe, change one's faults, and say, "I most
certainly can be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss."
you must have faith in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, which is
hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddha-lands from here. Before he
realized Buddhahood, Amitabha Buddha, as the Bhiksu Dharma Treasury, vowed
to create a land where living beings who recited his name could be born.
There's no need to do anything else; it's easy, simple, and convenient. It
doesn't cost a thing, and yet this Dharma door is the highest and most
supreme, for if you just recite, "Namo Amitabha Buddha" you will
be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
also necessary to believe in cause and effect, to believe that in the past
you have planted good roots, which have caused you to encounter this
Dharma door of Faith, Vows, and Holding the Buddha's Name. Without good
roots, no one can encounter this, or any other, Dharma door. But, just as
in planting the fields, unless you continue to nourish and irrigate your
good roots, you won't reap the fruit of Buddhahood. So believe that in the
past the causes of Bodhi were planted which in the future will bear the
say, "You tell me to believe in cause and effect and to believe that
I have good roots, but frankly, I don't think I do."
you tell whether or not you have good roots? People often ask me to tell
them whether or not they have good roots, but I tell them to tell me if I
have good roots. They say, "I don't know if you do," and I
answer them, "Then how should I know about you?" But I do have a
method to teach you how to find out. You have met the Buddhadharma because
you have good roots, without them you would not have had this opportunity.
I have met the Buddhadharma, " you ask, "but is it possible that
I have no good roots?"
lack them, plant them. If you don't plant them you will never have any!
Whether or not you have good roots is no great problem. The question is
whether or not you will plant and nourish them by cultivating according to
example, the Buddhadharma teaches you not to drink, but you would risk
your life to do it. Drunk, with your head confused and your eyes blurry,
your brain feels like it is going to split open. This is to walk down the
road of stupidity.
Buddhadharma teaches you not to steal, but if your life were at stake, you
would steal. One who truly cultivates according to Dharma even in the most
extreme circumstances will not lie, drink, steal, kill, or commit sexual
misconduct. Obey the Buddha and refrain from evil. Do not think that minor
faults are unimportant, for it's just the minor faults that drag one into
the hells or into the paths of hungry ghosts or animals. Believe, then,
that you have good roots and that in the future you will reap the fruit of
one must have faith in phenomena and noumena of the Amitabha Sutra. The
specific phenomenon is this: Amitabha Buddha has a great affinity with us
and will certainly guide us to Buddhahood. The nominal principle is this;
we know this great affinity exists because without it we could not have
met the Pure Land Dharma door. Amitabha Buddha is all living beings and
all living beings are Amitabha Buddha. Amitabha Buddha became Amitabha
Buddha by reciting the Buddha's name, and if we recite the Buddha's name,
we, too, can become Amitabha Buddha.
should cultivate according to the noumenon and the phenomenon. The
Avatamsaka Sutra speaks of four Dharma Realms:
Dharma Realm of Unobstructed Phenomena,
Dharma Realm of Unobstructed Noumena,
Dharma Realm of Noumena and Phenomena unobstructed, and
Dharma Realm of All Phenomena Unobstructed.
these four Dharma Realms, and speaking from the standpoint of our
self-nature, we and Amitabha Buddha are united in one, and therefore we
have the status to realize Buddhahood.
phenomenon has a mark and a manifestation. It is conditioned. The noumenon
is the doctrine underlying any phenomenal event. For example, in
principle, a tree has the potential to be made into a house. Before the
house is built, it has that nominal aspect. Once built, the house itself
is the phenomenon. The phenomenon appears because of the noumenon. In
principle, we can all realize Buddhahood, but we have not phenomenally
done so yet. If we have Faith, Vows, and Hold the Buddha's Name, we will
arrive at the phenomenon of Buddhahood, just as the tree can be made into
Buddha is contained within the hearts of living beings and living beings
are contained within Amitabha's heart. This is the phenomenon and the
noumenon. You must believe in this doctrine and energetically practice it
by reciting the Buddha's name more every day.
recites "Namo Amitabha Buddha," in the Western Land of Ultimate
Bliss, in one of the pools of the seven jewels filled with the eight-fold
waters of merit and virtue, a lotus flower grows. The more one recites,
the bigger it grows, but it won't bloom until the end of life, when one's
self-nature goes to be reborn within it. If you wish to know whether you
will be born in a superior, middle, or inferior grade of lotus, you should
ask yourself how often you recite the Buddha's name. The more you recite
the bigger the lotus; the less you recite, the smaller. If one does not
recite it at all, the lotus withers and dies.
reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, you must personally give proof to
the result with deep faith, firm vows, and the actual practice of
recitation. It won’t work to think, “I’ll sleep today and cultivate
tomorrow.” If, however, you hold fast to the name and cultivate
vigorously, success is certain.
(To be continued)