THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
Continued from issue #42
With the commentary of The Venerable Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Bhiksuni Heng Yin
THEN THE BODHISATTVA MAITREYA HAD THIS THOUGHT: "NOW, THE WORLD HONORED ONE MANIFESTS SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION. WHAT IS THE REASON FOR THESE PORTENTS? THE BUDDHA, THE WORLD HONORED ONE, HAS NOW ENTERED SAMADHI, YET THESE ARE INCONCEIVABLE AND RARE EVENTS. WHO SHOULD I ASK CONCERNING THEM? WHO COULD ANSWER?"
THE FURTHER THOUGHT: "THE DHARMA PRINCE, MANJUSRI HAS IN THE PAST DRAWN NEAR AND MADE OFFERINGS TO LIMITLESS BUDDHAS. HE HAS SURELY SEEN SUCH RARE SIGNS. I SHALL NOW ASK HIM."
In this passage of text, Maitreya Bodhisattva becomes perplexed. What are his doubts? He doesn't understand what the Buddha is about to do. The Buddha has emitted light and the earth has trembled. Six Portents were seen in this world and Six Portents were also seen in other worlds as well, and Maitreya Bodhisattva does not understand what the Portents mean. For this reason, he has some doubts.
...THEN THE BODHISATTVA MAITREYA...Which Bodhisattva is he? He's the very fat one, the Bodhisattva who is always laughing. Translated from Sanskrit his name means, "compassionate clan." His other name is Ajita, also Sanskrit, and means "invincible." I've told you this a number of times.
BODHISATTVAS are those who enlighten those with sentience. Maitreya Bodhisattva is extremely compassionate. Whether you are good or evil, he likes you all the same. He regards all living beings equally with compassion, and does not discriminate between them.
At that time the Bodhisattva Maitreya was puzzled. What were his doubts? He said, "NOW THE WORLD HONORED ONE MANIFESTS SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION...Now the World Honored One has manifested states of spiritual penetrations, transformations and changes. He emitted light from the white hair-mark and there were the Six Types of Earthquakes--all as a result of Sakyamuni Buddha's spiritual penetrations. Maitreya Bodhisattva had never seen such spiritual transformations before, and so he didn't understand their significance.
The Bodhisattva Maitreya is a "Successor-Bodhisattva;" he is known as "The Venerable Buddha Maitreya who is about, to descend"—the Buddha-to-be Maitreya. He's waiting for Sakyamuni Buddha to retire, and then he will realize Buddhahood in the Saha World. Although he is basically very wise, he still didn't know what the Buddha was going to do.
Why didn't he know?
Those at one level do not understand those on a higher level. For example, Bodhisattvas on the first level do not know the state of those on the second. The Bodhisattvas on the tenth level do not know the realm of Equal-Enlightenment Bodhisattvas. It is said, "The common folk don't know the wise." Simple common folk are incapable of understanding the state of wise people. Why? Because, being simple and common, their thoughts are stupid and dull. Either they don't go far enough, or they over do it.
People with scattered thoughts do not understand those with samadhi. People who are continually flustered, and always glancing nervously about, north, east, south, and west, don't know what the person sitting there in samadhi is experiencing. Ordinary people don't understand the Sage. Ordinary people are those who have not certified to the fruits of cultivation. They can't know the state of the worthy Sages.
Sages of lesser wisdom cannot understand the wisdom of "Body-seed," that is, Sariputra, the foremost among the Buddha's disciples in wisdom, because their wisdom is insufficient. Sariputra is known as the "Greatly Wise Sariputra," but he does not understand the Bodhisattvas, because their state is higher than that of Sariputra. Sariputra is counted as one of great wisdom among the Arhats only; compared to that of the Bodhisattvas, his wisdom is small. Bodhisattvas, that is, Bodhisattvas in general, do not know the realm of the Successor Bodhisattvas. Successor-Bodhisattvas do not understand the state of the Ultimately Venerable Ones, the Buddhas, those who are honored to the extreme.
The Bodhisattva Maitreya is a Successor-Bodhisattva and will realize Buddhahood in the future and succeed Sakyamuni. But when Sakyamuni Buddha manifested the state of spiritual transformations, he did not understand them, and so he gave rise to false thinking—even Maitreya Bodhisattva can engage in false thinking—and thought, "THE WORLD HONORED NOW MANIFESTS SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION. Sakyamuni Buddha is now revealing the appearance of spiritual penetrations, transformations and changes. WHAT IS THE REASON FOR THESE PORTENTS? What are the causes and conditions? Why has Sakyamuni Buddha manifested these Six Portents?" He wondered what was going on, what was happening; he wondered why, why the signs? Basically, Bodhisattvas do not indulge in false thinking, but seeing the Buddha his false thoughts arose.
He gave rise to three doubts:
1. First, he thought about the Buddha's spiritual transformations, wondering, "What is the reason for these portents? THE BUDDHA, THE WORLD HONORED ONE, HAS NOW ENTERED SAMADHI. THESE ARE INCONCEIVABLE AND RARE EVENTS, which cannot be thought of with the mind or expressed in words. No one knows what they mean. What am I going to do? Such occurrences have simply never been before."
2. Secondly, he wondered who he should ask. "WHO SHOULD I ASK CONCERNING THEM? Which Bodhisattva? WHO COULD ANSWER? Which Bodhisattva can answer my question?"
3. Thirdly, he thought to ask Manjusri Bodhisattva about them. "Who should I ask? Oh! Manjusri Bodhisattva. THE DHARMA PRINCE MANJUSRI. He can answer me!"
Everyone no doubt remembers Manjusri Bodhisattva. His name means "wonderfully auspicious," or "wonderful virtue." Maitreya thought, "The Senior Bodhisattva Manjusri, the Dharma Prince, the True Son of the Dharma King, HAS IN THE PAST DRAWN NEAR AND MADE OFFERINGS TO LIMITLESS BUDDHAS. Since he has had this experience, HE HAS SURELY SEEN SUCH RARE SIGNS. He will probably understand them. I SHALL NOW ASK HIM." The third thought cancelled out the second thought. He had found someone to ask.
THEREUPON THE BHIKSUS, BHIKSUNIS, UPASAKAS, AND UPASIKAS, AS WELL AS THE GODS, DRAGONS, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND OTHERS, ALL HAD THIS THOUGHT, "WHO SHOULD NOW BE ASKED CONCERNING THE BUDDHA'S BRIGHT LIGHT AND SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL PENETRATIONS?"
This passage expresses the doubts of the assembly. Not only did the Bodhisattva Maitreya become uncertain, but so did everyone in the four-fold Dharma Assembly. They wondered what Sakyamuni Buddha was going to do. So it says, THEREUPON...at the same time Maitreya Bodhisattva gave rise to his doubts, so did the rest of THE BHIKSUS, BHIKSUNIS, UPASAKAS, AND UPASIKAS—the four-fold assembly of disciples-AS WELL AS THE GODS, DRAGONS, GHOSTS, AND SPIRITS AND OTHERS...The gods and the dragons and all the ghosts and spirits also did not understand. They ALL, everyone of than, HAD THIS THOUGHT:
"WHO SHOULD NOW BE ASKED CONCERNING THE BUDDHA'S BRIGHT LIGHT AND SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL PENETRATIONS? From the white hair-mark light, Sakyamuni Buddha now emits bright light and manifests spiritual penetrations. Who should we ask about them?" These are the two doubts held by the great assembly:
1. They wondered about the Six Portents.
2. They wondered who to ask concerning them.
Now, was Maitreya Bodhisattva really perplexed by all of this? Did he really have doubts?
I don't believe so.
Because, in the past, Maitreya Bodhisattva had also drawn near and made offerings to limitless Buddhas. By all rights, he should have had this experience himself. But he pretended to be flustered and deliberately acted as if he did not know so that he could request the Dharma for the sake of the assembly. The doubts of the assembly, however, were real, and this passage expresses their confusion.
AT THAT TIME, THE BODHISATTVA MAITREYA, WISHING TO RESOLVE HIS OWN DOUBTS, AND FURTHER REGARDING THE THOUGHTS OF THE FOUR-FOLD ASSEMBLY OF BHIKSUS, BHIKSUNIS, UPSSAKAS, AND UPASIKAS, AS WELL AS THE THOUGHTS OF THE ASSEMBLED GODS, DRAGONS, GHOSTS, AND SPIRITS AND OTHERS, QUESTIONED MANJUSRI AS FOLLOWS, "WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR THESE PORTENTS, THESE SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL PENETRATIONS, FOR THE EMANATION OF GREAT LIGHT WHICH ILLUMINES EIGHTEEN THOUSAND LANDS TO THE EAST SO THAT THE ADORNMENTS IN ALL THOSE BUDDHA WORLDS ARE FULLY SEEN?"
THEREUPON, THE BODHISATTVA MAITREYA, WISHING TO RESTATE HIS MEANING, SPOKE VERSES, ASKING:
We have talked about ghosts many times, but what are ghosts?
"I know," you say, "there are hungry ghosts and full ghosts!"
Well, what are hungry ghosts and what are full ghosts?
In Chinese the world for ghost is pronounced "gwei() and it is defined with another word with the same pronunciation, "gwei"(), which means, "to return." This means that when people die and become ghosts, they return.
Where, then, did the people come from?
They came from the Buddha. Now, having become ghosts, they return to the hells, or to the path of hungry ghosts.
Why must they return there?
Because they took the wrong road. They took for their own territory that which was not their own territory. They took the wrong road and so they "return" as ghosts.
So after this, whenever the word "ghost" comes up, you should remember that they are called ghosts because they took the wrong road. They still must come back, return.
Return to what place?
To the fruit position of Buddhahood. This is the meaning of ghosts.
The Bodhisattva Maitreya had his doubts and so did the assembly. When he saw the assembly give rise to doubts, AT THAT TIME, THE BODHISATTVA MAITREYA, WISHING TO RESOLVE HIS OWN DOUBTS AND FURTHER REGARDING THE THOUGHTS OF THE FOUR-FOLD ASSEMBLY OF BHIKSUS, BHIKSUNIS, UPASAKAS, UPASIKAS, AS WELL AS THE THOUGHTS OF THE ASSEMBLED GODS, the gods in the heavens, AND the DRAGONS. GHOSTS, AND SPIRITS AND OTHERS, represented the assembly and QUESTIONED MANJUSRI AS FOLLOWS:
In Chinese ghosts are called "gwei," and in English the word is "ghosts." You could say, "Go! Ghosts go."
They go, go off to hell- to hell! They go to hell! In English, then, a "ghost," could be said to be one who "goes." Although I can't speak English, I can explain this English word.
SPIRITS are those with "natural hearts." Natural, here means spontaneous. They have spiritual penetrations and evoke spontaneous responses.
AND OTHERS...not only these few just mentioned, but a great many members of the eight-fold division had assembled there.
What question did Maitreya have for the Bodhisattva Manjusri?
"Great Bodhisattva! Son of the Dharma King! Please be compassionate and tell me, WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR THESE PORTENTS? What are the causes and conditions? What is the principle involved? Why has Sakyamuni Buddha now emitted light, which is so bright that it ILLUMINES EIGHTEEN THOUSAND LANDS TO THE EAST? THESE SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL PENETRATIONS are truly rare. I have never seen the likes of them before. What is the reason for THE EMANATION OF GREAT LIGHT. It doesn't just shine nearby. It shines across eighteen thousand lands.
We think that going to the moon is so remarkable and a historical first, yet Sakyamuni Buddha put forth light which shone across eighteen thousand worlds, to say nothing of one moon or star. That's father than even eighteen thousand worlds or stars.
SO THAT THE ADORNMENTS IN ALL THOSE BUDDHA WORLDS ARE FULLY SEEN?" Not just a little bit was seen. They were seen in their entirety. How big the country was, how it was superbly adorned and elegant—all this was seen.
THEREUPON, THE BODHISATTVA MAITREYA, WISHING TO RESTATE HIS MEANING...He wanted to speak the doctrine one more time.
Why did he want to go to the trouble of saying it over again?
It was because he feared that you and I, the living beings of the present, wouldn't understand. And you, besides being ungrateful, have the nerve to think of it as "trouble." Don't have such thoughts!
He SPOKE VERSES, ASKING: Maitreya Bodhisattva spoke verses to question the Bodhisattva Manjusri.
WHAT IS THE REASON,
MANJUSRI...Wonderfully Auspicious, Wonderfully Virtuous, WHAT IS THE REASON/ FOR THE GUIDING MASTER'S EMANATION/
What is a guiding master? "Guide" means to lead forth, off of the road of darkness onto the road full of bright light.
Who is the Guiding Master?
Sakyamuni Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha is called the Great Guiding Master who leads us living beings out of the hells back to our original home. Now, we should return to our genuine home, to the place where Sakyamuni Buddha lives, the Pure Land of Eternal Still Light. That's our true home.
What is the reason for the Guiding Master's emanation? Why has the World Honored One emitted light FROM THE WHITE HAIR BETWEEN HIS BROWS, from the white hair-mark? This GREAT LIGHT WHICH SHINES EVERYWHERE illumines the entire three thousand great thousand worlds.
Previously, in the prose text, the light was described as shining across eighteen thousand world to the east. Here it says, "shining everywhere," and so I explained it saying that the light shines not only to the east, but to the south, north, and west, the four intermediate points, and up and down as well. It shines in all possible directions, so the verse says, "shining everywhere."
AND FOR THE RAIN OF MANDARAVAS/AND OF MANJUSAKA FLOWERS/It rains not water, but Mandarava Flowers, the "white flowers," the "flowers which are just as you would wish them to be." They are as beautiful as you could possibly imagine, and when you see them, your heart is overjoyed. "Oh: These flowers are truly beautiful. I have never ever seen such beautiful flowers." They cause you to be extremely happy and so are called "the flowers, which go along with your wish."
Manjusaka flowers, the "red flowers" are not only beautiful but soft as well, they can't be crushed. If you want a big blossom, they are big; if you want a small blossom, they are small. They are especially beautiful.
THE FRAGRANT BREEZE OF CANDANA/The flowers are fragrant, and now the breeze of Canada incense, which unlike the incense that is now burning in the burner here, can be smelled a distance of forty miles. It's especially fragrant. The flowers, although not candana, also carried the fragrance of candana and
DELIGHTS THE HEARTS OF THOSE ASSEMBLED/Seeing the flowers, their hearts rejoice. They have never been so happy before. Not just one of them was happy, but the entire assembly was happy.
THROUGH THESE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS/THE EARTH IS ALL ADORNED AND PURE/ Because the flowers have cleansed and purified and adorned the earth, no one needed to sweep it; it was already sparkling clean.
AND, WITHIN THIS WORLD, THE EARTH/that is, our world here, TREMBLES IN SIX DIFFERENT WAYS. The Six Types of Earthquakes have already been discussed. They represent the six sense organs, the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and, mind. Those who don't work hard won't know about this, but if you use effort you may sometimes find that your eyes blink very fast, like an electric fan, open and shut, open and shut, open and shut, and if you haven't had any practical experience, you may think, "Has a ghost come? Why are my eyes blinking uncontrollably?"
It's not a ghost! It's a result of your hard work. Sometimes your ears may act up and you may hear birds warbling or the sounds of cows or horses. You needn't be afraid. It's just the occurrence of one of the Six Types of Earthquakes: Shaking, Surging, Rising, Crashing Roaring, and Banging. Today I saw that the Little Sramanera had looked them up in the Buddhist dictionary and written them down. The word for "Rising," is sometimes replaced with the word "explode," and sometimes, the word "to awaken," is also used. Shaking refers to movement in one place. "Universal Shaking" refers to shaking throughout Four Great Continents, but you should not think that it is a particularly large earthquake. For there is yet the shaking of the entire three thousand great thousand worlds which is called a "Cosmic Shaking. "
So there is Shaking, Universal Shaking, and Cosmic Shaking. These represent the eye organ, the object, and the eye-consciousness, and also apply to the other five sense fields. The six sense organs, the six sense objects, and the six sense consciousnesses make of the eighteen realms of sense. Each of the Six Types of Earthquakes has three divisions making eighteen in all, which represent the eighteen realms of sense. The light illumining eighteen thousand worlds to the east also represents the eighteen realms of sense.
Crashing occurs in one world. Universal Crashing occurs in Four Continents and Cosmic Crashing occurs throughout the three thousand great thousand worlds. Each of the Six Types of Earthquakes has three divisions to correspond to the eighteen realms of sense.
To be continued
CALENDAR OF BUDDHIST HOLIDAYS
The holidays listed below have been transposed from the Chinese lunar calendar to the solar calendar. It should be noted that the dates are good only for the year 1975 since the lunar New Year falls on a different day on the solar calendar each year.
Holidays, which fall on a Saturday or a Sunday, will be celebrated at 9:30 A.M. on that day unless a meditation session is in progress. If the holiday falls on a weekday (Monday through Friday) it will be celebrated on the preceding Sunday at 9:30. A special high meal offering to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma Protectors will be held on the 1st and 15th of each lunar month at 10:00 A.M. Celebration of holidays on these days will begin at 9:00 A.M. The public is invited to all holidays.
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9/5 Earth Store Bodhisattva's Birthday
The Great Master Hsu Yun's Birthday
9/8 The Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch's Birthday
9/27 Dipankara Buddha's Birthday
10/19 Anniversary of the day the Great Master Ch'ang
Jen left the home life.
10/20 Anniversary of the day the Venerable Master
Hua left the home life
10/21 Anniversary of the Great Master Ch'ang Chih's Enlightenment
10/23 Anniversary of the day Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva left the home life
11/2 Medicine Master Buddha's Birthday
11/7 Patriarch Bodhidharma's Birthday
12/19 Amitabha Buddha's Birthday
1/8/76 Anniversary of the day Sakyamuni Buddha accomplished the Way
1/29/76 Avatamsaka Bodhisattva's Birthday
1/31/76 Maitreya Bodhisattva's Birthday—Chinese Lunar New Year