THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
Continued from issue #67
COMMENTARY BY THE VENERABLE TRIPITAKA MASTER
by Bhiksuni Heng Yin
AGAIN ARE BODHISATTVAS SEEN,
APART FROM ALL FRIVOLITY,
AND FROM STUPID FOLLOWERS,
DRAWING NEAR TO THOSE WITH WISDOM,
SINGLE-MINDEDLY CASTING OUT CONFUSION,
COLLECTING THEIR THOUGHTS IN THE MOUNTAIN FORESTS,
FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS,
IN QUEST OF THE WAY OF THE BUDDHA.
AGAIN ARE BODHISATTVAS SEEN/APART FROM ALL FRIVOLITY/I've explained the word "all" many times. You can explain it as meaning "a lot”, that is, removing oneself from all, every bit of, frivolity. You can also explain it as "one”, that is, from every single type of frivolity. Frivolity means playing around and laughing. Bodhisattvas who cultivate the Way must not laugh all the time. They also should not play around all the time. In everything they do they must be upright and proper. This is not to say that you may never laugh. But laugh when laughter is appropriate. When it is not appropriate, don't laugh.
To be apart from all frivolity is to have removed one of the Five Coverings. The Five Coverings cover, occlude, as when you put a lid on your tea cup and cover it to protect the tea from the cold and keep it hot a bit longer. The Five Coverings cover the self-nature. To separate from all frivolity is to remove the covering of inconstancy. When an inconstant person undertakes an affair he does it in a haphazard manner, with nothing definite about it. He thinks of doing it one way and then does it another way. Then he changes his mind back again. He can't make a firm decision and keeps changing his methods of operation back and forth. So, inconstancy is the first of the five coverings.
Apart from all frivolity...Cultivators of the Way—Little Sramanera did you hear that?--You can't do as you please and laugh when you feel like it. When it's time to laugh, you can laugh. At other times, don't laugh. You can't just "ha, ha, ha" all day long.
AND FROM STUPID FOLLOWERS/Stupid means dumb. Stupid, dumb, followers. Who are the stupidest people? They are those who do not study the Buddhadharma. Because they do not study the Buddhadharma, they get stupider day by day. They get stupider and stupider until, when their stupidity reaches the extreme they run off to become animals. So) you should leave stupid followers. This sentence of verse implies the removing of the covering of anger. Anger means hatred. Hatred covers your self-nature. If you have no genuine wisdom) you are covered by inconstancy, as mentioned above. When you separate from stupid followers, you separate from the covering of anger.
Why do people get angry? Where does anger come from?
It comes from ignorance.
What is ignorance?
Ignorance is just stupidity. So you don't understand? If that's not stupidity, what is it? So, by separating from stupid followers one removes the covering of anger.
Why do you hate? Why do you lose your temper?
It's because you are just plain stupid. So remember this. No matter how intelligent people are, once they get angry their intelligence vanishes, covered by their anger. They can't do anything. Nothing works out; everything goes wrong. Separating from stupid followers removes the covering of anger.
DRAWING NEAR TO THOSE WITH WISDOM/Having separated from stupid followers they draw near to those who have wisdom. This removes the covering of stupidity. If you draw near to those who have wisdom you will gradually lose your stupidity. Why?
Those who get near the rouge turn red; those who get near the ink turn black. Those with wisdom like to draw near to those with wisdom. Those without wisdom, if they draw near to the wise, will come to have wisdom. So you should draw near to those with wisdom, those with learning, those with Way virtue, those with intelligence. If you draw near those with wisdom, you won't do stupid things. Take a look at those who are wise. They don't get angry all day long. If you get near to them, you may wish to lose your temper, but you won't find any occasion to lose it. You may be just on the verge of getting angry, but then you think, "That person doesn't get angry. I won't either." So, there's a common saying,
The good flock together;
The evil form their groups:
People seek out their own kind.
Now, in this Lecture Hall, everyone wishes to study the Buddhadharma. This is drawing near to those with wisdom. In America there are very few places where the genuine Buddhadharma is lectured. Take a look. What other Buddhist organization has lectures on the Buddhadharma everyday? Only the Buddhist Lecture Hall. Attending the daily lectures on Buddhadharma is just drawing near to those with wisdom.
Not just anyone can come to the Buddhist Lecture Hall. Some people come, sit for just a minute, and then run off. They can't sit comfortably and they can't stand comfortably. The moment they get here, their hearts start racing and they get nervous. Why? Because their karmic obstacles are too heavy.
To draw near to those with wisdom is to remove the covering of stupidity.
SINGLEMINDEDLY CASTING OUT CONFUSION/This removes the covering of greed. Why? If you have no greed, you mind will not become confused. If you have thoughts of greed, your mind will be confused, unclear. When your mind is not clear you will do muddled things.
Greed: Greed for what?
First of all, there is greed for wealth. At this point, we should each return the light and reverse the illumination.
What is meant by "return the light and reverse the illumination?"
Each of you ask yourselves: Do I have thoughts of greed? Am I covered by greed? Am I greedy for other people's money? Because of greed for money, would I lie? Because of greed for money, would I kill? Because of greed for money, would I steal? Because of greed for money, would I do such evil things? Would I do things, which I clearly know are wrong simply out of greed?
Am I greedy for money even in my dreams? "So and so has a lot of money. How can I get my hands on it?" Obsessed. You recite the Buddha's name sincerely, but your greed for money is even more sincere. You recite the Buddha's name in the morning, "Namo Amitabha Buddha" a few times, and then forget all about it. I've done quite enough recitation. Nobody's as good as me. Nobody recites the Buddha's name as much as I do." But what about your avarice? You never forget it, never. "No matter what. I'm going to get my hands on the person's money." You exert all your influence, you exhaust your shrewd intellect to cheat other people out of their money.
As you scheme for money, your hearts grow confused. Your brains reel with scramble thoughts, "What, oh what method can I use to...Will that one work? No. Well, then, what about this one? That one? I've got to have a plan. They'll never know what happened." All their schemes, all their plans confuse them.
Now, to cast out confusion is to cast off the covering of greed. Greed occludes your basic wisdom, your self-nature's bright light. If you can get rid of your greed, remove the covering of greed, your self-nature's bright light will manifest.
COLLECTING THEIR THOUGHTS IN THE MOUNTAIN FORESTS/"Collect" means to gather in. "Thought" refers to the thoughts present in our minds. People have great spiritual penetrations when it comes to thought. In one thought they can run as far as eighteen thousand li. In a single thought. Shakyamuni Buddha emitted the white hair-mark light, which illumined eighteen thousand worlds to the east. In a single thought we can think ourselves eighteen thousand worlds to the east.
However, there is much difference between our thoughts and Shakyamuni Buddha's light. The Buddha's can emit light that reaches that far, but we can only daydream; we can't send forth light. But our thoughts do have this much strength:
In one thought, we're in heaven.
In one thought, we're in hell.
In one thought, we are people.
It all happens in a thought: the heavens, the hells, are created in a single thought. Even the realization of Buddhahood is accomplished in a single thought. If you become a Bodhisattva, it's also in a thought. If you become an Arhat, it's also in a thought. When the thought matures, you can actualize your spiritual penetrations and transformations.
Now, the thoughts are collected. They are not allowed to roam. They are all gathered back in. Back where? Back to our original self-nature. It's like using a magnet on your thoughts, so that they can't run off.
This method is one of using poison to fight poison. When people take poison, another kind of poison may be used to counteract the poison they have taken. Your "collecting" of thoughts is also a kind of poison. The very best thing would be, as I said yesterday, to have no thought at all. If you have no thought, you have no production. If you have no thought, you have no extinction. No thought is the most wonderful of all. If you can be without thought as you dwell there in the mountains and forests, your inherent greatly enlightened Buddha-nature will naturally be perfected and will naturally manifest. But now, one is unable to be without thought, and so the thoughts are gathered together. This collecting together also removes a covering, the covering of sleep.
Keeping away from all frivolity removes the covering of inconstancy. Separating from stupid followers removes the covering of anger. Drawing near to those with wisdom removes the covering of stupidity. Single-mindedly casting out confusion removes the covering of greed. Collecting one's thoughts in the mountain forests removes the covering of the sleep demon.
The sleep demon: When you cultivate, the sleep demon can be very fierce. If you tend to be lazy, the sleep demon loves to encourage you. He says, "It's all right. Rest a bit. Sleep some more," and he tells you to sleep, and you'll think, "Sleep is not bad. Sleep is really fine. There's nothing better than sleep! It's the most comfortable state there is because you don't know anything at all, so you don't have false thinking."
But when you sleep, you sometimes dream. You may dream a very common dream, which will cause you not to cultivate. What dream is that? Hah! Strange indeed. When men who cultivate the Way sleep, they very often dream about women. When women who cultivate the Way sleep, they very often dream about men. Why? Because, although you say, "I keep the precepts. I cultivate. I cultivate. I don't want to break the precepts," the demon king wants you to break them. When you sleep he comes and transforms into all kinds of shapes to disturb your samadhi power. When you are awake, you may have samadhi power, but when you are asleep, it fails you.
You are moved by the state. You have no precept power and your samadhi power runs off. You have no idea at all where your wisdom power went. You can't find any of them. The three powers of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom are non-existent. Your support topples over and you are turned by the demonic state. This is the covering of sleep. So, sleep can also cover the self-nature's light.
If you cultivate, you can gradually remove the five coverings. Collecting one's thoughts in the mountain forests FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS/Life after life, Bodhisattvas like to stay in the mountain groves to cultivate. "If, in this life I don't become enlightened," they resolve, "then in my next life I will continue to dwell here on the mountain and cultivate here for trillions of years." IN QUEST OF THE WAY OF THE BUDDHAS/"Why do I wish to dwell in the mountains? Why do I wish to be pure? Because I seek the Buddha Way."
BODHISATTVAS ARE THERE SEEN
WHO, WITH FINE FOOD AND DRINK AND WITH
A HUNDRED KINDS OF BROTHS AND HERBS
MAKE OFFERINGS TO THE BUDDHA AND THE SANGHA
BODHISATTVAS ARE THERE SEEN/WHO WITH FINE FOOD AND DRINK AND
WITH/with fine vegetarian delicacies, A HUNDRED KINDS OF BROTHS
AND HERBS/MAKE OFFERINGS TO THE BUDDHA AND THE SANGHA.
WHO, WITH FINE ROBES AND SUPERIOR GARMENTS,
OF VALUE IN THE MILLIONS,
OR WITH INVALUABLE ROBES
MAKE OFFERINGS TO THE BUDDHA AND THE SANGHA.
The fine food and drink and the broths and herbs make up two offerings to the Triple Jewel, those of food and drink. You may make offerings to the Triple Jewel of food and drink or of broths and herbs, making some fine medicines so that when those who have left home get sick, they can use them to cure their illness. There are four kinds of offerings: food and drink, clothing, bedding and medicine. The clothing given here is not ordinary clothing. They are FINE ROBES AND SUPERIOR GARMENTS/Very expensive clothing. OF VALUE IN THE MILLIONS/OR WITH INVALUABLE ROBES/These clothes are absolutely priceless. MAKE OFFERINGS TO THE BUDDHA AND THE SANGHA/They are given to the Buddha and to the Sangha.
WHO WITH A MILLION DIFFERENT KINDS
OF DWELLINGS OF PRECIOUS SANDALWOOD
AND WITH MUCH FINE BEDDING
MAKE OFFERINGS TO THE BUDDHA AND THE SANGHA
AND WITH A MILLION DIFFERENT KINDS/Not one kind, but with a hundred, thousand, ten thousand varieties OF DWELLINGS OF PRECIOUS SANDALWOOD/They make dwellings out of sandalwood AND WITH MUCH FINE BEDDING/blankets and so forth, MAKE OFFERINGS TO THE BUDDHA AND THE SANGHA/They make offerings to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
WHO WITH GARDENS AND GROVES, CLEAR AND PURE,
WITH FLOWERS AND FRUITS IN ABUNDANCE
WITH FLOWING SPRINGS AND BATHING POOLS,
MAKE OFFERINGS TO THE BUDDHA AND THE SANGHA
WITH GARDENS AND GROVES, CLEAR AND PURE/With the purest gardens and groves WITH FLOWERS AND FRUITS IN ABUNDANCE/With all kinds of flowers and all kinds of fruits/WITH FLOWING SPRINGS AND BATHING POOLS/They also MAKE OFFERINGS TO THE BUDDHA AND THE SANGHA, the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
OFFERINGS SUCH AS THESE
OF MANY KINDS, EXTREMELY FINE
DO THEY GIVE WITH JOY UNTIRING
SEEKING FOR THE UTMOST WAY.
OFFERINGS SUCH AS THESE/Offerings such as food and drink, clothing, bedding and medicines OF MANY KINDS, EXTREMELY FINE/They are all the very best. DO THEY GIVE WITH JOY UNTIRING/They give them gladly. SEEKING FOR THE UTMOST WAY. They utmost Way is the Buddha Way, the realization of Buddhahood.