THE COLLECTED LECTURES OF
TRIPITAKA MASTER TU LUN
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus
by Disciple Bhiksu Heng Ch’ien
the Buddhist Text Translation Society
(Continued from issue 38)
If all eighty thousand Bodhisattvas were listed by name, the Sutra would
be far toe long, so eighteen of the leading Bodhisattvas are listed to
represent the entire assembly.
Manjusri is named first because he is the
leader of all the Bodhisattvas, and because he resolves the doubts of the
great assembly, as he has done for twenty thousand previous Buddhas. When
later in this chapter the Buddha emits a light, which illumines eighteen
thousand worlds, the great assembly is startled and full of doubt. The
Bodhisattva Maitreya voices the doubts of the assembly and Manjusri
"wonderful virtue" or "wonderfully auspicious," is so
named for his lofty vows and practice, and his unsurpassed wisdom. He is
first among The Four Great Bodhisattvas: Manjusri, Avalokitesvara,
Samantabhadra, and Ksitigarbha. In the past he was the Buddha Supremely
Honored Dragon King, but he put Buddhahood aside to manifest as a
Bodhisattva, supporting the assemblies of ail the Buddhas in teaching
Bodhisattva Manjusri's bobdimandala is located on Mount Wu T'ai in the
Province of Shansi, China. During the Ch'ing Dynasty the Venerable Master
Hsu Yun made a pilgrimage to Mount Wu T'ai to pay homage to the
Bodhisattva Manjusri. He started from P'u-t'ou Mountain in the South China
Sea, two thousand miles from Mount Wu T'ai, and every three steps he
prostrated himself to the Bodhisattva, seeking his help, so that he too
could have great wisdom. When he reached the Yellow River it was winter
and a heavy snow began to fall. Near the edge of the river he took shelter
from the blizzard in a small hut, but after several days the snow had not
let up, and he was about to die from the extreme cold and hunger. At that
time he was discovered by a tramp who melted snow in a pan and made some
yellow rice soup for him. After the Venerable Master had eaten the soup he
felt much better and asked the man what his name was.
Chi," the man replied. "Where are you from?"
come from P'u-t'ou Mountain in the South China Sea."
you have this in the South China Sea?" questioned Wen Chi, picking up
a handful of snow and holding it in front of the Master.
replied Master Hsu Yun.
are you eating then?"
Hsu Yun was unable to answer. The tramp Wen Chi accompanied the Master
from the Yellow River to a spot near Mount Wu T'ai, carrying his baggage
for him while he prostrated himself every three steps. Without the burden
of his baggage, the Master was able to prostrate himself much more easily,
and travel was faster. He asked Wen Chi, "Where are you from?"
from Mount Wu T'ai. All the bhiksus there know me quite well; they are all
my good friends."
the remainder of the journey the Master and Wen Chi often stayed at
monasteries along the way, but many of the monks at those monasteries
maligned Wen Chi and berated the tester, saying, "Hahh! You couldn't
do it by yourself. You had to enlist a tramp to help you." Often they
would not even allow Wen Chi to sleep within the confines of the
monastery, but Wen Chi never showed any sign of anger. When they were near
Mount Wu T'ai, he told the Master that a government official with a
horse-cart would be up ahead and would carry the Master's baggage, and
then he left. Just as Wen Chi had said, the Master was met by the
official, and soon reached the mountain. He asked all of the bhiksus
there if they knew a tramp named Wen Chi, but they ail claimed to have
never heard of such a person. Finally, one bhiksu asked the Master,
"What was his name?"
Chi," replied the Master.
That's Manjusri! Wen means Wen-shu-shih-li (the Chinese transliteration of
Manjusri), and Chi is auspicious, the Bodhisattva Wonderfully
Auspicious." Venerable Master Hsu Yun had made a long and difficult
pilgrimage to Mount Wu T'ai to pay homage to the Bodhisattva Manjusri, not
knowing that the man carrying his baggage was just Manjusri who had
appeared as a tramp to help him. Manjusri could easily have revealed
himself in the form of a wealthy elder, complete with horse and cart to
carry the Master's baggage, but he chose instead to accompany the Master
on foot, sharing his hardships.
Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World's Sounds (Skt. Avalokitesvara). In
the past, immeasurable aeons ago, there was a Buddha in the world named
Treasury of Jewels. A great, sagely King named Limitless Purity was
encouraged by one of his chief ministers. Jeweled Sea, to make offerings
to that Buddha and his disciples. The King made not just one, but many
offerings to that Buddha and his countless sound-hearer disciples.
Moreover, he heard that Buddha proclaim the wonderful Dharma, conducted
himself in accord with the teaching, and fixed his resolve on the utmost,
right, and equal enlightenment. He finally vowed before that Buddha, that
upon his accomplishment of Buddhahood his land would be free of all
impurity and the suffering of the realms of the hells, hungry ghosts, and
animals. The Buddha Treasury of Jewels conferred a prediction of
Buddhahood upon him, giving him the name Amitabha, and said that his vow
to have a pure Buddha-land would be fulfilled; it is the present Land of
Ultimate Bliss described in The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra.
The minister Jeweled Sea made vows to save
innumerable living beings from the suffering of the realms of rebirth. The
Buddha Treasury of Jewels conferred a prediction on him also, saying,
"Good man, you contemplate men, gods, and the living beings in The
Three Evil Ways and give rise to compassion, desiring to remove their
sufferings and afflictions and cause them to dwell in peaceful bliss. Good
man, I therefore name you Contemplator of the World's Sounds. The
Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World's Sounds is successor to the Buddha
Amitabha. When the Buddha Amitabha enters parinirvana, the name of his
Buddha-land will change to The World Wrought From Gems, and the
Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World's Sounds will sit beneath a Bodhi
tree and in a single thought realize Buddhahood, with the name The King of
Mountainous Virtue and Universal Light.
Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World's Sounds responds to the suffering
cries of living beings throughout the ten directions, revealing himself in
myriad forms in order to deliver them from their anguish. Because of this
he is called the Greatly Compassionate Contemplator of the Worlds Sounds.
He has a thousand eyes with which he contemplates the countless world
systems, and, seeing beings struggling to free themselves from the sea of
suffering, he reaches down with a thousand hands and pulls them to safety.
The twenty-fourth chapter of this Sutra is
devoted to this Bodhisattva, and at that time his limitless qualities will
be discussed in greater detail.
Bodhisattva Colossal Might (Skt. Mahasthamaprapta). Whenever this
Bodhisattva walks, with every step he shakes the entire world system of
one billion worlds and the palaces of the demons, so he is called Obtainer
of Great Might. He vowed that his world would be the same as that of the
Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World's Sounds; both of them now support
the Dharma of Amitabha Buddha in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss and
will succeed him there as the Dharma Host, first Contemplator of the
World's Sounds and then Obtainer of Great Might.
Bodhisattva Constant Vigor (Skt. Nityodyukta). For the sake of even a
single living being this Bodhisattva will pass through immeasurable aeons,
following and trying to teach him. If that being will not accept the
teaching, the Bodhisattva Constant Vigor does not once think to forsake
him but perseveres tirelessly in the effort to enlighten him.
Bodhisattva Unresting (Ski. Aniksiptadhura). The Bodhisattva Unresting has
diligently cultivated all of the pure conducts in assemblies of Buddhas as
numerous as the sands of the Ganges, not resting for a single moment.
Bodhisattva Jeweled Palm (Ski. Ratnapani). On the causal ground this
Bodhisattva cultivated the Dharma of The Forty-two Mudras and Eyes of the
Bodhisattva Thousand-handed, Thousand-eyes Contemplator of the World's
Sounds, and from this practice obtained many Dharma Jewels, such as the
As-you-will Pearl Mudra which enables him to do anything he wishes. The
Dharma jewels, which he obtained, embrace all other Dharma jewels, and he
is therefore called Jeweled Palm.
Bodhisattva Medicine King (Skt. Bhaisajyaraja). When the Sagely
Wheel-turning King Limitless Purity vowed to attain Buddhahood and dwell
in a land free of suffering, his thousand sons also vowed to become
Buddhas. That King became the Buddha Amitabha and his sons became The
Thousand Buddhas of the Auspicious Aeon, in which we now dwell, Sakyamuni
was the fourth of these thousand Buddhas. The King had two other sons by a
different wife. The elder of these vowed that as each of his brothers
attained Buddhahood he would serve as a Dharma protector. The other vowed
to be the first to make an offering to each of them upon their
accomplishment of the Way, and to continue to make offerings as long as
they taught the Dharma in the world. He further vowed that after
each Buddha entered parinirvana, during the Dharma-ending Age, when the
calamity of plague swept the world, he would cure the illnesses of living
beings, both physical and mental, so that they would be able to cultivate
the Dharma. He became Medicine King.
Bodhisattva Brave Donor (Skt. Pradanasura). The Six Paramitas are the
basis of The Ten Thousand Practices, and giving is the first of The Six
Paramitas. To give takes courage; with courage immeasurable merit can be
obtained through giving, without it giving is difficult. You may intend to
make gifts to other living beings but then you hesitate, "If I give
this away I will have none for myself." Thinking of your own well
being you lack the courage to give to others. The Bodhisattva Brave Donor
gives all he has to those who are in need, without a thought for his own
well-being. If he thought of himself he could not be called Brave Donor.
Bodhisattva Jeweled Moon, the Bodhisattva Moonlight, the Bodhisattva Full
Moon (Skt. Ratncandra, Ratnaprabha, and Purnacandra). Because these three
Bodhisattvas purely cultivate the paramita of morality, their bodies and
mouths are radiant like the full moon. Their awesome manner in the
observance of morality serves as a model for all beings in The Three
Bodhisattva Great Strength, the Bodhisattva immeasurable Strength,
Bodhisattva Surpasser of The Three Realms (Skt. Mahavikramin,
Anantavikramin, and Trailokyavikramin). These three Bodhisattvas obtained
their names from the cultivation of the paramita of vigor. Through
matchless vigor they obtain their strength and transcend the desire realm,
the form realm, and the formless realm.
Bodhisattva Bhadrapala. Bhadrapala can be interpreted to mean holy
protector, or holy chief. This Bodhisattva protects the assemblies of the
Buddhas through his practice of the paramita of dhyana samadhi; hence he
is called holy protector. He is one of the foremost Bodhisattvas, a chief
among sages, hence he is called holy chief.
Bodhisattva Maitreya. Maitreya means kindness. He is so named because by
means of kindness he cultivates the paramita of patience, and because when
a living being sees him that being obtains the Samadhi of Kindness.
Maitreya is also known as the Bodhisattva Ajita "invincible,"
for there are no heavenly demons or externalists who can defeat him. The
Bodhisattva Maitreya teaches the Dharma in the inner courtyard of the
Tusita Heaven, preparing to enter the world and inherit Sakyamuni Buddha's
position as teaching host.
confused externalists say that he has already entered the world, but the
time when Maitreya will appear was clearly determined by Sakyamuni Buddha.
Each aeon has a period of increase and a period of decrease, which is to
say that the average lifespans and heights of human beings increase and
decrease. The present aeon is in its period of decrease, every hundred
years man’s lifespan decreases one year, and his height one inch.
Presently, the average lifespan is approximately sixty-five years. When it
reaches ten years, the period of increase will begin, continuing until the
lifespan is eighty-four thousand years, at which time it will once again
begin to decrease. When it has reached eighty thousand years, the
Bodhisattva Maitreya will appear in the world, accomplish Buddhahood, and
teach the Way to enlightenment in the Dragon Flower Dharma Assembly. Those
people who say that he has already appeared in the world are jumping the
gun by several million years.
Bodhisattva Mass of Jewels (Skt. Ratnakara). This Bodhisattva has
immeasurable merit. Since merit is precious, it is comparable to jewels,
so he is called Mass of Jewels.
Bodhisattva Guiding Master (Skt. Susarthavaha). Just as travel guides lead
people about on holidays, this Bodhisattva leads people from the hells
onto the road to enlightenment, causing them to fix their thoughts on
(To be continued)