THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
Continued from issue #66
COMMENTARY BY THE VENERABLE TRIPITAKA MASTER HSUAN-HUA
by Bhiksuni Heng Yin
ALSO SEEN ARE BUDDHA’S SONS
WHO HAVE NOT SLEPT, BUT WALK AT EASE.
WITHIN THE FOREST GROVES; THEY SEEK
WITH DILIGENCE THE BUDDHA WAY.
ALSO SEEN ARE BUDDHA'S SONS/WHO HAVE NOT SLEPT/They don't ever sleep. If they do sleep, they just sit there and sleep for perhaps a second. What are these Bodhisattvas who do not sleep doing? They are cultivating the Pratyutpanna Samadhi, the "Standing Buddha" samadhi. To cultivate skill in this Dharma, one person stays in a single room and walks continually without sitting or reclining for ninety days. They walk for ninety days and do not sleep. They are allowed to eat and go to the toilet, but they are not allowed to sleep, They exclusively do battle with the demon of sleep, walking for ninety days—three months. So they have not slept, BUT WALK AT EASE/WITHIN THE FOREST GROVES; THEY SEEK/In the forests, or perhaps in a room, they walk at ease, stroll back and forth, around and around. Because they seek WITH DILIGENCE THE BUDDHA WAY. They want to find the road to the accomplishment of Buddhahood.
SEEN TOO ARE THOSE WITH PERFECT PRECEPTS
INTACT, WITH AWE-INSPIRING MANNER,
THEIR PURITY LIKE PRECIOUS PEARLS,
WITH WHICH THEY SEEK THE BUDDHA WAY.
SEEN, TOO, ARE THOSE WITH PERFECT PRECEPTS/Also seen are those Bodhisattvas who observe the moral precepts, guarding them as they would hold a precious gem. Perfect precepts refers to the last of ten types of precepts mentioned in the Ta Lun.
1. The first is precepts intact. The Bodhisattva who has precepts intact has not violated the heavy-grade of the ten evils and the five rebellious acts. If those of tenses are committed on the heavy grade it is as if one had lost one's life raft altogether. Without the raft, you cannot get across the sea. This means that, without the precepts, you can't become a Buddha. You will not be able to cross from this shore of birth and death, across the heavy current of afflictions, to the other shore, which is Nirvana. So it is most Important to have precepts intact, which means that of tenses have not been committed on the heavy grade.
2. Unbroken precepts. To break means to smash to ruin. Unbroken means that the offenses of the ten evils and five rebellious acts have not been committed on the middle grade. If they have been committed, it is as if one has torn a hole in the life raft; it is ruined and cannot be used. If you do not observe the precepts, if you break the precepts, then, carrying such of tenses, you will not be able to become a Buddha.
3. Unpunctured precepts. In this case, the life raft is not ripped, but it has a leak, just the size of a pinpoint. With such a small leak, the raft soon becomes useless. Unpunctured morality means that one does not violate the lesser grade of the ten evils and five rebellious acts. To commit of tenses of the lesser grade is a bit lighter, not so serious, and so it is said to be like a hole. With a hole the raft won't float, and if you do not hold the precepts purely you will not be able to become a Buddha.
4. Unscattered precepts. Scattered means that one gives rise to an evil awareness and to evil thoughts. Although pure in body and mouth, the mind is plagued with afflictions. In cultivation, one should practice precepts, which are unscattered; these are also called the samadhi precepts, for with samadhi, precepts can be held on this level.
5. Following the Way precepts. When those who have certified to the first fruit of Sage-hood walk or plant the fields, the bugs of themselves stay four inches away from their feet. In this way the sage avoids squashing them. This is a precept power, which follows upon your cultivation of the Way.
6. Unattached precepts. This refers to Arhats who have eternally severed their greed and attachment to the six objective sense objects in the Triple Realm. Numbers five and six are also called way precepts, or the precepts of the Absolute Truth ( ).
7. Precepts praised by the wise. The person who holds the precepts at this level is well able to "emerge from the false and blend with the common." Although he does not practice the Middle Way, he uses what are basically expedient, provisional dharmas within the common truth, and the false truth. He does not employ the Middle Way. However, although he does not cultivate the Doctrine of the Middle Way, he is well able to use the common truth and the false truth to benefit living beings. Therefore, because he can use provisional dharmas to benefit living beings, he is lauded by those who have wisdom.
8. Precepts of self-mastery. This Is the self-mastery of the Bodhisattva Who Contemplates Self-mastery, (Avalokitesvara). This means being able to use spiritual penetrations to freely roam at play among human beings, and manifest both in opposition and accord. Opposition means what goes against the heart and accord means what goes along with the heart. Although one may appear to do evil deeds, one breaks neither the precept-nature nor the precept covering. To keep the precept-nature means that one does not even bring forth the thought to break the precept. To have the thought to break a precept is to violate the nature of the precept; this has no outward appearance. The precept covering is a visible form. When one breaks the precept covering that means one has committed an act of precept violation, which has an outward appearance. At the level now discussed, neither the precept-nature nor the precept covering is violated. It may appear that one is committing evil acts, but one has not broken the precepts. One may even commit murder. Would you say that broke a precept?
The Surangama Sutra mentions the Dharma protectors' smashing of a demon's head to bits. Someone asked me if that wasn't a case of violating the precepts. I said it was not. That's a case of non-violation in a state of opposition.
Another example is Dhyana Master Pao-chih of the Liang Dynasty, about the time when Bodhidharma went to China. He was a meat-eater, not a vegetarian. Everyday, he ate two pigeons. In fact, he ate two pigeons at every meal. The cook gave him two pigeons and he ate every last bit--bones and all. The cook thought, "They are probably pretty tasty," and one-day he snuck one of the wings to take a taste, thinking it wouldn't matter, that Dhyana Master Chih Kung would never know. But the moment Dhyana Master Chih Kung saw them he said, "Why did you steal a taste of my pigeons?"
"I didn't eat them," said the cook.
"You didn't?" said Master Chih Kung. "Well, watch this." and he ate both of the pigeons. Then he opened his mouth and the two pigeons flew out, one of them flew off, but the other was missing a wing. "Well, where is that pigeon's wing," he said, "if you didn't eat it?"
"I cleaned and cooked these two birds myself," said the cook. "How could he spit them back up alive and well?" From this, he knew that Master Chih Kung was no ordinary person; he truly dwelt in the state of a great Bodhisattva. This was a manifestation of a state in opposition to the precepts. Basically, eating meat is not correct, but he could swallow pigeons and spit them out again whole. A while ago a visiting layman asked me if one could eat meat and still become enlightened. I said, "If you can swallow a cow in one gulp and then spit back a cow like Patriarch Chih Kung and the pigeons, you can. If not, you will surely fall into the hells; and you will be obliged to pay your debts. If you eat their meat, In the future they will eat yours. There's not the slightest bit of courtesy involved."
So, the eighth is the precept of self-mastery. This means that Whatever you want to do, you can do and it's all right.
You say, "I'd like to try it out."
you have spiritual penetrations, you can give it a try. If you don't have
them, you won't be able to pull it off. Numbers seven and eight are also
called Common Truth Precepts
9. Precepts in accord with samadhi. Whenever you do something, it is as if you were in samadhi. At all times and in all places it is just like being in samadhi.
10. Perfect precepts. In what respect are they perfect? With regard to the perfection of morality, everything one does is in accord with it. One maintains the precepts in all one's actions.
Although it may look to you as if such people had violated a precept, they exist in the realm of the Bodhisattvas, and so we cannot compare them to ordinary people. That is the perfection of precepts (morality). Numbers nine and ten are also called Precepts of the Absolute Truth of the Middle Way. So the text says, "...those with perfect precepts."
INTACT, WITH AWE-INSPIRING MANNER/Their precepts are not the slightest bit deficient.
THEIR PURITY LIKE PRECIOUS PEARLS/Their clear and lofty purity is as priceless as a jewel WITH WHICH THEY SEEK THE BUDDHA WAY.
ALSO SEEN ARE THE BUDDHAS’ SONS
ABIDING IN THE STRENGTH OF PATIENCE;
THOUGH MEN OF OVERWEENING PRIDE
MALICIOUSLY REBUKE AND BEAT THEM,
THEY ARE ABLE TO ENDURE IT ALL,
SEEKING FOR THE BUDDHA WAY.
This section of verse deals with the cultivation of the perfection of patience. Maitreya Bodhisattva again says to Manjusri: Bodhisattva, ALSO SEEN ARE THE BUDDHAS' SONS/true sons of the Buddha, ABIDING IN THE STRENGTH OF PATIENCE/They cultivate the perfection of patience. Patience, as I mentioned earlier, requires no thought. Arriving at the level of no thought is just patience with production, patience with dharmas, and also patience with the non-production of dharmas. These Bodhisattvas, these sons of the Buddhas, exclusively cultivate the practice of patience.
THOUGH MEN OF OVERWEENING PRIDE/What does patience cure? It counteracts hatred. If, In any situation you encounter, you are able to endure it, without getting angry, that's patience.
Cultivation is something you must do yourself. It is not a matter of instructing others to cultivate. Last summer, during the study and cultivation session, one disciple asked, "If someone is cultivating patience, is it all right if I test him? Can I try his patience?"
You should not. Don't test other people; test yourself; "No matter what happens can I bear it? Can I remain unmoved? Do my thoughts remain unmoved? Whether it is in accord or in opposition, do I remain at peace just as if nothing had happened? Can I refrain from getting the least bit perturbed?
Take care not to test other people. Cultivators of the Way should test themselves, not others. If you test others, you'll be going the long way around. For example, if you wanted to go to New York, and went directly, you could get there by train, bus, or car in just a few days. If you didn't go directly, but first took off to the south and then to the north, took a lot of different roads, you'd waste a lot of time. The meaning here is if you don't test others but cultivate directly, you can realize Buddhahood very quickly. But if you test others you'll neglect and waste your own skill. You may have been destined for Buddhahood, say, in three great asankheya kalpas, but if you start testing people it might then take you nine. This happens because you forget your own skill when you start testing others.
When can you test others? When you have reached the level where you have spiritual penetrations and can actually manifest the eighteen transformations in empty space, putting forth water from the top of your body and fire from the lower part or emitting fire from the top of your body and water from below. When fire and water do not obstruct each other, when you have arrived at that state, then you may test others. If you do not have such spiritual penetrations then I recommend you refrain from testing others.
So the text says, "Though men of overweening, pride..." What are such men like? They are arrogant. They look down on everyone they see. They feel that they themselves are number one. "I am number one in intelligence and number one in wisdom and learning. I am number one in everything!"
They don't mention that they are number one in stupidity. The don't feel that they are number one in stupidity, when in fact, those of overweening pride are arrogant, and only stupid people are arrogant. Unless one was stupid, one would not be arrogant and look down on others.
Why? Take a look at Sakyamuni Buddha. Is he wise or stupid? Obviously Sakyamuni Buddha is wise. He is the Greatly Enlightened One. He sees that all living beings can become Buddhas. He sees all living beings as his parents from former lives and as the Buddhas of the future. Therefore, he does not dare to slight living beings.
Now, Sakyamuni Buddha is the Greatly Wise, Greatly Enlightened One and he is not arrogant. We petty little common people—what do we have to be arrogant about? What do we have to be self-satisfied about? Arrogant people of overweening pride are actually number one in stupidity. Men of overweening pride are arrogant towards everyone.
MALICIOUSLY REBUKE AND BEAT THEM/In cultivating patience, if someone scolds you, you must bear it; if someone beats you, you must bear it. Why? THEY ARE ABLE TO ENDURE IT ALL/How can they endure the abuse of others? How can they bear the beatings? SEEKING FOR THE BUDDHA WAY. It is because they seek the Buddha Way. If you wish to seek the Buddha Way, you can't have a temper, you can't get angry. You have to cultivate patience.
By Venerable Master Hua, Avatamsaka Sutra, April 10, 1975
People take what is suffering to be bliss; what they think is not bad is actually being truly upside-down. They take suffering as bliss and bliss as suffering. For example, if one leaves home to cultivate, in the future one may obtain the ultimate happiness, obtain genuine happiness, but some don't want to find this genuine happiness. They look for temporary "pleasures within Suffering." They think that the pleasure they find in suffering is enjoyable but they do not know that there is yet a "Happiness within happiness."
Some people say, "Leaving home is of no benefit to my parents or my brothers and sisters." But this kind of thinking is a mistake. If you leave home and cultivate, that is genuine filiality, truly helping out your father and mother, truly being filial to your father and mother because your parents are waiting for you to accomplish the Way and then they, too, will be able to separate from suffering and attain bliss. There is an old adage:
One child attains the Way and
Nine generations ascend to the heavens.
Nine generations of relatives can rise up to the heavenly realms; they won't undergo suffering in the hells. If one child becomes a Buddha, his fathers and mothers throughout past kalpas, limitless in number, all escape the Triple Realm, all leave suffering and attain bliss. Therefore, if you can genuinely cultivate the Way, that is truly being filial to your parents. Not only is this being filial to your parents of one lifetime, but it is being filial to fathers and mothers you have had throughout past lives for limitless kalpas. Those who cultivate the Way are the most perfect and upright of people in the world. They should recognize that what they do and what they practice is truly an awesome work done for their parents and for all beings of the world.