THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
With the commentary of The Venerable Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
|Translated by Bhiksuni Heng
Reviewed by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
Edited by Bhiksu Heng Kuan
|continued from issue #65|
SEEN, TOO, ARE THOSE WHO'VE LEFT DESIRE,
WHO DWELL IN CONSTANT SOLITUDE,
DEEPLY CULTIVATING DHYANA SAMADHI,
AND ATTAINING FIVE SPIRITUAL PENETRATIONS.
AGAIN ARE BODHISATTVAS SEEN
IN THE PEACE OF DHYANA, WITH PALMS JOINED,
WHO, WITH A THOUSAND, TEN THOUSAND LINES,
SING PRAISES OF THE DHARMA KINGS.
Maitreya Bodhisattva continues, saying, "I also see the Arhats and Bodhisattvas who have left desire." SEEN, TOO, ARE THOSE WHO'VE LEFT DESIRE/ separated from lust and greed. If you separate from lust you can cultivate the Way. Those who cultivate the Way must not have thoughts of greed. They should not be greedy for wealth, beautiful forms, or material possessions. Once rid of all thoughts of greed, one may be said to have "left desire."
WHO DWELL IN CONSTANT SOLITUDE/They like to live in isolated places where few people go, in the wilds. DEEPLY CULTIVATING DHYANA SAMADHI/All day they sit in Dhyana. If you wish to develop your wisdom, it is essential that you cultivate samadhi. Without samadhi you will have no wisdom. So this passage of verse deals with Dhyana samadhi. You should deeply cultivate Dhyana samadhi. This is not to say that you cultivate it today and fail to cultivate it tomorrow. You can't cultivate one day and rest on the next, or rest for a day and then cultivate for half a day, or cultivate one day and rest for ten days. Cultivation and resting are not the same at all. You should cultivate every day without resting, not the other way around. If you rest every day and do not cultivate, you'll not attain deep Dhyana samadhi. If you wish to obtain deep Dhyana samadhi, truly to take the joy of Dhyana as your food, and come to know the true flavor of Dhyana, then you must work hard at your cultivation every single day.
When the time comes to sit in Dhyana, you must go ahead and do so, regardless of how busy you are. You must find time in the midst of all your myriad activities to sit in Dhyana, without missing a single day. Then you can obtain the realm of skill in Dhyana samadhi.
AND ATTAINING FIVE SPIRITUAL PENETRATIONS/Through deep Dhyana samadhi, they attain five kinds of spiritual penetrations.
And what are they?
The Penetration of the Heavenly Eye, the Penetration of the Heavenly Ear, the Penetration of Others' Thoughts, the Penetration of Past Lives, and the Penetration of the Complete Spirit. They have not obtained the Penetration of the Extinction of Outflows because this Penetration is only attained at the level of Equal Enlightenment and Wonderful Enlightenment, which is Arhatship without outflows.
Because these are Bodhisattvas who have just brought forth the resolve to cultivate, they obtain only five of the Six Spiritual Penetrations.
Where do the Five Spiritual Penetrations come from?
They come from the cultivation of Dhyana samadhi, from the recitation of Sutras, and from holding mantras if you can sit in Dhyana meditation every day with single-minded concentration, you too can obtain them. You can also obtain them by reciting Sutras. For example, the Great Master Chih Che recited the Dharma Flower Sutra all day long and he became enlightened. 'When he came to the "Chapter of the Events of Medicine King Bodhisattva" where it says, "This is true vigor; this is called a true Dharma-offering," as he recited those words he entered the Dharma Flower Samadhi, and entered the most lofty of states. He saw the Dharma assembly at Vulture Peak still in progress; it had still not dispersed. He saw that Sakyamuni Buddha was still there speaking the Dharma. So, one can also become enlightened by reciting Sutras. However, you must recite with a sincere heart. Don't recite on the one hand and strike up false thinking on the other. Don't recite on the one hand and climb on conditions on the other, thinking, "So and so has a lot of money. I've got to think of a way to get some money out of him for my own use." You can't become enlightened reciting Sutras that way, because you're not reciting Sutras, you're reciting "money."
Or perhaps you recite mantras. If you do, you also must recite single-mindedly, and then you'll be able to become enlightened.
AGAIN ARE BODHISATTVAS SEEN/IN THE PEACE OF DHYANA WITH PALMS JOINED/ They are sitting in Dhyana with their hands placed together, WHO WITH A THOUSAND, TEN THOUSAND LINES/They make up verse after verse to SING PRAISES OF THE DHARMA KINGS/They praise the Buddhas of the ten directions. They do not simply praise Sakyamuni Buddha, but all the Buddhas of the ten directions, because they have all been revealed in the light of Sakyamuni Buddha's white hair mark. But praising the Buddhas of the ten directions is just to praise Sakyamuni Buddha. Why? Because Sakyamuni Buddha himself is one of the Buddhas of the ten directions!
AGAIN ARE BODHISATTVAS SEEN,
OF PROFOUND WISDOM AND SOLID WILL,
ABLE TO QUESTION THE BUDDHAS AND
ACCEPT AND HOLD ALL THEY HAVE HEARD.
FURTHER SEEN ARE BUDDHA'S SONS
WITH PERFECT WISDOM AND SAMADHI,
WHO, WITH LIMITLESS ANALOGIES,
PREACH DHARMA TO THE MULTITUDES.
JOYFULLY THEY PREACH THE DHARMA,
TRANSFORMING ALL THE BODHISATTVAS,
DEFEATING THUS THE TROOPS OF MARA,
AND BEATING UPON THE DHARMA DRUM.
Maitreya Bodhisattva says to Manjusri Bodhisattva, "AGAIN ARE BODHISATTVAS SEEN/I also see Bodhisattvas OF PROFOUND WISDOM AND SOLID WILL/ Their wisdom is extremely profound and their determination is firm and solid. ABLE TO QUESTION THE BUDDHAS AND/ACCEPT AND HOLD ALL THEY HAVE HEARD/They are skilled at questioning the Buddhas concerning their doubts. They are well able to ask about the Dharma and, having received their answers, they can put what they have heard into actual practice in accord with Dharma, accepting, upholding, and cultivating in accord with Dharma.
FURTHER SEEN ARE BUDDHA'S SONS/Sons of the Dharma King. WITH PERFECT WISDOM AND SAMADHI/Their samadhi-power is perfect and so is their wisdom power. WHO, WITH LIMITLESS ANALOGIES/They use an uncountable number of parables, analogies, and doctrines in order to PREACH DHARMA TO THE MULTITUDES; They expound the Buddhadharma for the sake of living beings. JOYFULLY THEY PREACH THE DHARMA/The more they speak, the more they like to speak. This is known as "unobstructed eloquence." The Dharma, which they speak, is extremely profound, subtle, and wonderful. TRANSFORMING ALL THE BODHISATTVAS/They teach and convert all of the Bodhisattvas. DEFEATING THUS THE TROOPS OF MARA/They smash through the hordes of the demon kings. AND BEATING UPON THE DHARMA DRUM/They loudly beat the drum of the Law. Their Dharma preaching sounds like the beating of a Dharma drum.
The section of text just explained, from "Again are Bodhisattvas seen/ of profound wisdom and solid will" to "and beating upon the drum of Dharma..." deals with the perfection of Prajna wisdom, Prajna-paramita.
ALSO SEEN ARE BODHISATTVAS
IN SILENCE AND TRANQUILITY;
THOUGH WORSHIPPED BY THE GODS AND DRAGONS
THEY DO NOT FIND IT CAUSE FOR JOY.
ALSO SEEN ARE BODHISATTVAS
DWELLING IN FORESTS, PUTTING FORTH LIGHT,
TO RELIEVE THOSE SUFFERING IN THE HELLS
AND LEAD THEM TO THE BUDDHA WAY.
ALSO SEEN ARE BODHISATTVAS/ IN SILENCE AND TRANQUILITY/They are silent; they do not speak. "Tranquil" means that they sit in full lotus, meditating. As they meditate, because they have skill in Dhyana samadhi, THOUGH WORSHIPPED BY THE GODS AND DRAGONS/Gods and dragons come to worship them and bow to them but THEY DO NOT FIND IT CAUSE FOR JOY/They don't think that it is of any consequence. Why not? Because they have skill in Dhyana samadhi. Their thoughts do not stir.
In cultivation it is most important to be without thought. Do not have thought. Do not have what thought? Do not have false thought.
False thought: If you can be without false thought, just that is no-production. If you have no false thought, just that is no-extinction. If you have no false thought, just that is no-impurity. If you have false thought, that is impurity. If you have no false thought, just that is no increasing. If you have no false thought, just that is no decreasing. If you have no false thought, there will be no "right," no "wrong," no "good," and no "bad." Why? Because, if you have no thoughts at all, that is purity, the purity of the self-nature, the wonderful nature of True Suchness. However, being without thought isn't just a matter of saying, "I don't have any thought. "If you have the "not-having-of-thought," that means that you still have thought. If you can be without thought, just that is to subdue your mind and to defeat the troops of Mara. So, the absence of thought is most wonderful.
Why do they take no delight when the gods and dragons worship them? It is because they have no thought. It is also because they have patience, "patience with production." If people make offerings to you and revere you, if you have reached the level of no-thought, you will not become arrogant and think, "I'm really an accomplished cultivator. Look at all the people making offerings to me." If you have no-thought, then if people rebuke you, beat you, defame you, or try to ruin you, you, you will be able to endure it. This is no thought. No thought is something, which everyone who studies the Buddhadharma should learn. If you are without thought, then you have no affliction. With no affliction, that is Bodhi. Bodhi is just affliction; affliction is just Bodhi. If you know how to use it, it's Bodhi; if you don't know how to use it, it's still just affliction.
Before Patriarch Bodhidharma went to China, he sent two of his disciples, Fo T'o and Ye She to China. The two Indian disciples went to teach the doctrines of the Dhyana School, which is not based on language and by which one sees the nature and becomes a Buddha.
At that time in China there was another Indian monk named Bodhiruci. The two monks taught the Dhyana School, whereas Bodhiruci taught the San Lun (Three-Treatise) School, Small Vehicle Dharmas. The Dhyana School was Great Vehicle Dharma. Bodhiruci persuaded the Chinese Dharma Masters to run Bodhidharma's two disciples right out of the country. They were driven out of Ch'ang-an, the western capital, to Lu Mountain. At Lu Mountain, the Venerable Master Yuan, seeing the two Indian monks, asked them, "Why did they expel you? Ultimately, what Dharma-door do you transmit?"
Fo T'o and Ye She said, "We teach the doctrines of the Dhyana School. The Chinese Dharma Masters and Dharma Master Bodhiruci on one hand are jealous of us, and on the other they do not understand the Buddhadharma. Since we were outnumbered, they threw us out. As to the Dharma-door we teach, we will now illustrate it with an analogy:"
They stuck their hands up into the air and opened and closed their fists several times, rapidly. "Was that fast or not?" they asked.
"Very fast," replied the Venerable Yuan.
"Bodhi and affliction," they replied, "are just that fast." With one turn, affliction becomes Bodhi. Change again and Bodhi becomes affliction. It's like when you open your hand you have a palm and when you close it you have a fist just that easy. The fist and the palm are both the same identical hand undergoing changes. The Dhyana School teaches that the very mind is the Buddha. Understand the mind and see the nature. It is not the case that Bodhi is to be found apart from affliction nor is there any affliction apart from Bodhi. Affliction is just Bodhi; Bodhi is just affliction. Birth and death is just Nirvana; Nirvana is just birth and death. If you have no-thought, that is Nirvana. If you have thought, that is birth and death. So, the Dharma-door of no-thought is the foremost, the most wonderful. If you can not produce a single thought, that is no thought. Without thought, your inherent Buddha nature will manifest. If you have not arrived at the level of no thought, then you have not ended birth and death. If you arrive at the state of no thought, then the ghosts and spirits have no way to disturb you. So the text says, "Though gods and dragons worship them/they do not find it cause for joy. Why do they not rejoice? Because they have entered deep Dhyana samadhi and arrived at the state of no thought. At the state of no-thought, they have returned everything to the root. They have gone back to the source. They have returned to their original face, to the wind and light of their original home. Everything belongs to them; it's all theirs, and so when the gods and dragons pay them reverence, it's just the way things are. It's no cause to rejoice. The Bodhisattvas employ the skill of Dhyana samadhi. This section of verse praises the paramita of Dhyana.
ALSO SEEN ARE BODHISATTVAS/DWELLING IN FORESTS, PUTTING FORTH LIGHT/ They cultivate self-benefit and they benefit others. They dwell in the forest groves where they cultivate the Way. They cultivate Dhyana meditation and after a while they emit great light. Why? TO RELIEVE THOSE SUFFERING IN THE HELLS/They use their light to illumine the dark recesses of the hells and cause the denizens of hell and the hungry ghosts to separate from suffering and attain bliss.
Bodhisattvas benefit themselves and benefit others. They themselves meditate, benefiting themselves. Then they emit light to relieve those suffering in the hells, thus benefiting others.
AND LEAD THEM TO THE BUDDHA WAY/They give the hell-beings and the hungry ghosts the opportunity to seek the Buddha Way.
to be continued
Available in February, 1976:
Records of the Life of Venerable Ch'an Master Hua, Volume II.
This is a book about a man who has gone far, far beyond the realm of the sage, who ants nothing, fears nothing, seeks nothing, asks for nothing, lacks nothing, and wishes for nothing; has never relied on anything beyond himself, and has never asked for another's help, and who, from this inconceivable state, has benefited thousands upon countless thousands of living creatures who only know that somehow, miraculously, suffering, difficulty, and danger have disappeared.
I have had the rare good fortune to be under the influence of the Venerable Master for nearly ten years, during seven of which I have cultivated daily at his feet, and have observed, in my limited way, the workings of his awesome and all pervading compassion as he aids all beings without ever admitting a single thought of himself. Tirelessly, day and night without cease, he works only to enable others to transform their suffering into bliss.
This book tells a small part of the miraculous events of which we know. How countless are his works on behalf of all living creatures!
By Bhiksu Heng Kuan
Gold Mountain Monastery