THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA

                                  with commentary by
                  The Venerable Tripitaka Master Hsuan-Hua
                                    Translated by Bhiksuni Heng Yin
                  Reviewed by Bhiksuni Heng Chíih
                  Edited by Shramanerika Heng Chen

Continued from issue #65

enlightenment, to lead living beings to clear understanding, to awakening, to awaken to the fact that all involvement with the dust of worldly affairs is a form of suffering.

SEEN ARE BODHISATTVAS WHO/CONTEMPLATE ALL DHARMAS' NATURE/They look at the nature of all dharmas as LACKING THE MARK OF DUALITY; Not only are they not marked by duality, they don't even have one mark. It's not to say that they lack two marks and therefore have one mark. They don't even have one mark. If they don't even have one mark, ultimately what are they like? THEY ARE LIKE EMPTY SPACE. Take a look at empty space. What is contained in it? There's nothing in it at all, no forms and no appearances. But all the forms and appearances are not separate from empty space. All the forms and appearances are enclosed within empty space.

Would you say there was no empty space in the earth? Dig a foot of earth out of the ground and you'll have one foot of empty space. If you dig out ten feet, you'll have ten feet of empty space. Before you dug the hole, was the space not there? No. The space was there all the time. So, although forms and shapes are found in empty space, they cannot envelop empty space: empty space envelops them. Even where there are material forms, empty space is still there. Empty space is also present in places where there are no material shapes.

Well, if it's present, then grab some and take a look at it. Oh? There's nothing there! You can't see it! If you try to taste empty space, it has no flavor, no taste.

      What color would you say empty space has? Empty space has no color. The Real Mark of all dharmas is also that way. It is just like space. So, if you understand the principle of empty space, you will understand the principle of the self-nature. Therefore, it is said,

The self-nature is like empty space.

It contains both the true and the falser.

Awaken, fathom the basic substance.

In one understanding, understand all.

The self-nature is just like empty space. It contains both the true and the false. Within the self-nature both True Emptiness and Wonderful Existence are found. True Emptiness is just Wonderful Existence and Wonderful Existence is just True Emptiness. It is most certainly not the case that Wonderful Existence is to be found apart from True Emptiness. Nor is it the case that True Emptiness is to be found apart from Wonderful Existence. The very True Emptiness itself is Wonderful Existence and Wonderful Existence itself is True Emptiness.

When the truth is not postulated,

The false is basically empty,

When existence and non-existence are both cast out,

What is not empty has been emptied.

The Truth is also non-existent. What is the Truth? To speak about the Truth is just to cheat people. What is the Truth?

Well, then, what about the false?

The false is also non-existent. If you talk about the false you are also cheating people. It's merely the case that within their hearts, living as common worldly creatures, beings hold to a true and a false. When you arrive at the self-nature, however, it is like empty space.

Empty space would never say, "I am empty space." It has no ego, no self. If it said, "I am empty space," then it wouldn't be empty space. It would turn into an existing entity, so how could it remain empty space? Emptiness has no "self" at all. Our own self-natures are also like that.

"Oh," you say, "If there's nothing at all, that's really a shame.  Nothing whatever?"

Don't be afraid. When you have nothing at all, then you truly "have."  All the mountains, rivers, and the great, earth, the forests and trees and the myriad objects within the world system of three thousand great thousand Worldsónone of them is not yours. They are all yours. But you must truly, truly have nothing at all. If you have even a hairs breadth of obstruction, then none of it counts as yours.

Because you have that one little bit of obstruction, you cannot enjoy the possession of all those things. You have attachments and impediments. If you have no attachments or impediments, then you truly have wealth and honor.  Your wealth and honor extends to the ultimate point. All of empty space and the entire Dharma-realm is included within your self-nature.

Enlightened, fathom the basic substance: If you understand the basic substance of your self-nature, then in one understanding you understand all. When you are clear about one thing then you're clear about everything. There is nothing you do not comprehend, nothing you do not understand. You penetrate the Three Bodies, the Four Wisdoms, the Five Eyes, and the Six Spiritual Penetrations. You don't have to look for them outside. They are the jewels within your own household. Hearing this, if you don't become greatly enlightened, you should at least have a minor enlightenment. Don't waste your time. Though I might speak for half a day, it's as if I hadn't spoken. If you don't listen, that's even more wonderful. I haven't spoken and you haven't heard. That's the genuine, miraculous Prajna wisdom!

ALSO SEEN ARE BUDDHAS' SONS/Maitreya Bodhisattva continues, saying, "I see sons of the Dharma King WHOSE HEARTS HAVE NO ATTACHMENTS; Their hearts are unattached. How's that? Everything's quite all right; everything's okay.

This kind of non-attachment, however, is not easy to achieve. You must truly understand the Way, obtaining the bright light of the self-nature and wisdom in order to be unattached.

"But how does one obtain wisdom?" you ask.

It's just by being unattached. The non-attachment in itself is wisdom.   If you have a single bit of attachment, you won't have that wisdom.

What wisdom?

Doesn't it say right here in the text: WHO USE THIS WONDROUS WISDOM, THEN/SEEKING FOR THE UTMOST WAY. This wondrous wisdom comes simply from your non-attachment. If you have attachments, you will not be able to have this subtle, wondrous wisdom. This subtle, wonderful wisdom is produced from your non-attachment. So, you're attached? Attached, you're stupid; unattached you're wise. No attachment, attach to nothing. You shouldn't think, "I can't put this down, I can't give that up." If you can't put it down or set it aside, then you won't have this wondrous wisdom. If you can put it down, give it up, the wonderful wisdom and wonderful intelligence will manifest.

Now I'll tell you something that happened to me. The first year I was in Hong Kong I had no money and I did not beg for any. Later, a layman took me to Fu Jung Mountain to live in Kuan Yin Cave. Kuan Yin Cave was extremely damp. In the cave, to say nothing of teacups there was nothing at allóno tables, no chairs nothing at all; it was totally empty. I sat on a flat rock, which jutted out from the wall for several days, and what do you think happened to my legs? They refused to help me out; they wouldn't move. I sat until my legs wouldn't move. They were numb and had no feeling in them at all.

At that point I had an idle thought. It was, "I don't want to sit here; I think I'll leave." But then I thought, "Someone took me here to cultivate and if I just stay for three days and leave, how could I possibly face anyone? How could I explain my actions? I'd have no way to do so. I don't care if I die here, I'm not going to leave the cave." I sat and sat for over a half a month until my legs regained their feeling and I could once more use them. They no longer refused to cooperate.

Then everyday I went down the mountain, carrying a bowl, to beg for food at Chu Lin Temple and brought it back to eat. But my obstacles loomed large. After a year, because of the dampness inside the cave, I built a tiny hut right outside it to live in. As soon as it was built, the obstacle arose.  The neighboring Dharma Master grew jealous of me and t-old the Ju Lin Monastery, "Don't make offerings to him. He's got money. If he's got the money to build a hut, how could he not have money for food? Don't make offerings to him."

The Supervisor believed him and refused to give me food. At that time I was without offerings altogether. No one made offerings, but I thought, "I have a few scraps of food here. I'll eat them and then meditate." I did not tell anyone that I had no food to eat. I did not go out and no one came to see me. "If I starve to death, I starve to death, so what! To starve to death is even better, even more glorious! To sacrifice one's life for the Buddhadharma--there could be nothing more wonderful, nothing more grand, nothing more glorious," I thought.

I sat for several days. There was a layman in the city below, a man in his fifties or sixties who had been bitten on the leg by a dog. Two or three months had gone by and the wound still hadn't healed. He had gone to both Chinese and Western doctors, but none had been able to cure him. One night he had a dream. In his dream, Wei T'o Bodhisattva appeared and told him, "If you want your leg to heal, you should go make offerings to a Dharma Master in Kuan Yin Cave on the' far side of Fu Jung Mountain. Go make offerings to him and the dog bite on your leg will heal; it will be no problem." He had that dream several times in one night, Wei T'o Bodhisattva had also told him what the Dharma Master looked like and he saw how I looked in his dream. When he awoke he believed the dreams and took over seventy Hong Kong dollars as well as 30 chin of rice, which he carried on his back, up to Kuan Yin Cave.

When the neighboring Dharma Master saw the food-donor, a Dharma protector, coming, he ran right out to welcome him and see what he was carrying. The donor asked, "Does a Dharma Master live here?"

The Dharma Master said, "I am the supervisor here. Whatever you wish to give, you should give it to me. Don't go looking for any Dharma Master. Don't bother looking."

The layman continued, "In a dream I saw a Dharma Master and he didn't look anything like you. Wei T'o Bodhisattva told me about the Dharma Master and he was not like you at all. I want to give these things to him."

Hah! The Dharma Master's temper blazed. "What are you talking about,  'he wasn't like me'? What kind of talk is that? I am the supervisor here. He most certainly is not. Any offerings you wish to give you should give to me," He started to wrangle with the layman.

I was in the cave and could hear them. When my name came up in the conversation, I went out to take a look at what was going on and when the layman saw me he exclaimed, "That's him! That's the Dharma Master! I have come to make offerings to him!"

The other Dharma Master was furious. I asked the layman what had happened and he said that Wei T'o Bodhisattva had appeared to him in a dream and told him to make offerings. I said, "Good, make your offerings. Making offerings to other people is just the same as making offerings to me. You wish to make offerings to me and this Dharma Master is my neighbor. Although we eat separately, we divide up everything. You should divide the rice and the money in half and give half to me and half to him." The Dharma Master was sputtering with rage and he wanted to argue, but he couldn't think of anything to say. The offerings were divided up, and he said to the layman, "After this, if you want to give something, you must first give it to me!"

At any rate, I didn't starve to death. The layman got the name Pen Ti Dharma Master, "Homegrown," because he liked to speak the Buddhadharma. He was "Homegrown," not an imported Dharma Master. He wasn't really a Dharma Master, of course--he was a layman--but they kidded him gently by using that nickname. Everywhere he went he said, "Oh, it's really strange. In Kuan Yin Cave there is a Dharma Master. In a dream, Wei T'o Bodhisattva told me I should go make offerings, to him and my leg would heal. I thought, 'Okay,' and sure enough, as soon as I returned from making offerings to him my leg healed all by itself, without the aid of a doctor." He thought it was very strange.

After that "strange" incident, which was really nothing in itself, I did not starve to death. Although no one had made offerings to me, the lay people in Hong Kong started coming from long distances and they all made offerings. No matter who gave offerings, I divided them all in half between myself and the neighboring Dharma Master. Although they were offerings made to me, I gave him half of all of them. But he still was not satisfied. Later, he used all kinds of methods to try to ruin me.  Finally, I had to leave. I couldn't live there. I went to build Hsi Le Yuan Temple.

When I was staying at Kuan Yin Cave, in front of it there had been two pools of water from the mountain, which provided enough water for the daily use of ten or twenty people. What do you think happened after I moved out? The water stopped flowing down the mountain--no water. When I built Hsi Le Yuan, there had been no water there, but then water came. All the monks who lived at Fu Jung Mountain said I took the water with me to Hsi Le Yuan. I didn't starve to death after all, although I came close to it. If you are not afraid of starving to death, then don't worry, there will certainly be offerings. If you are afraid of starving to death, no one will make them. If you are not afraid of starving to death, everything will work out fine. You need only have no fear and then, spontaneously, your Way karma will increase, so don't worry that you'll get no offerings. Besides, when it gets right down to the point of having no offerings at all, they will appear of themselves, if you have cultivation and if you evoke a response.

Those who have left home should worry about whether or not they have accomplished their Way karma. They should not worry about whether or not there are offerings. If you receive offerings but do not become enlightened or realize your Way karma, then you are still just a common person. If you have accomplished your Way karma, you are still a sage even if there are no offerings. Do you worry about your Way karma? Do you consider it a problem? Or do you worry that, as you cultivate the Dharma and recite Sutras, you are not yet perfect in your recitations, that you don't remember them clearly? In the West, this is a beginning, and we all must be pioneering patriarchs. Just what gives you the right to be patriarchs? What merit and virtue, what accomplishment, do you have? Which Sutra do you really understand, can you truly explain? As far as your spiritual skill goes, can you sit for one, two, three, four, five hours and so forth until we come to one day, two days, one month, two months without moving your legs? If you genuinely cultivate the Way, you won't know whether people have made offerings or not. Why? Because your heart will not be caught up in food and drink. It is said,

The Superior Man yearns for the Way,

He doesn't yearn for food.

When the Superior Man seeks the Way, he does not seek food. So, if someone makes offerings to me. I'm still the way I am; if no one makes offerings to me, I am still that way. I would rather die cultivating the Way--that would have worth--than get away with loafing and ask for pity in order to live. Your determination should be so strong that you stand with the top of your head in the heavens and your feet planted firmly on the ground. My head can burst its way right through the heavens, right to the Heaven of the Thirty-three, right up to the highest heaven, the Heaven of Neither Perception nor Non-perception. I can burst through them all with the top of my head. Such is my resolve!

It shouldn't be that you go for a day or two without; eating and think,  "I can't stand it." Don't be like that; that's being entirely too spineless, and I don't wish to take any spineless disciples. So, you should stand firm on your resolve. People in the world all like money. You should not want money; you should pay no attention to money. Cultivate the Way with a true heart and everything will be okay. If you cultivate the Way without a true heart, your cultivation will be muddled, and you will create even more serious offense-karma.

So today I have taken the lecture period to explain a bit of genuine principle. I have something further to say. Those who are at home should protect the Dharma of those who have left home. If you let the people who have left home starve to death, then, when you want to do acts of merit and virtue, you'll have nowhere to go to do it. Why? The Triple Jewel will have starved to death! Even if you wanted to foster merit and virtue, you wouldnít be able to do it.


      So, those who have left the home life should know what they are supposed to do and those who are at home should also know what they are supposed to do. Don't wait until the Triple Jewel has starved to death. If you try to make offerings to them then, you won't be able because there won't be any Triple Jewel to make offerings to. So, everyone should do his job and carry out his responsibilities. Those who have left home have the responsibility of cultivating the Way and those who are at home have the responsibility of making offerings. If those who have left home donít cultivate the Way, then those at home will not make offerings. If those at home do not make offerings, then those who have left home will not be able to cultivate the Way. Those who have left home should cultivate the Way and those who are at home should make offerings. Thatís mutual cooperation, working together.