THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
|translated by Bhikshuni
reviewed by Bhikshuni Heng Ch'ih
edited by Shramanerika Heng Chen
||continued from issue #71|
BEFORE THE LAST BUDDHA LEFT THE HOME LIFE HE HAD EIGHT ROYAL SONS. THE FIRST WAS NAMED INTENTION; THE SECOND, GOOD INTENTION; THE THIRD, LIMITLESS INTENTION; THE FOURTH, PRICELESS INTENTION; THE FIFTH, INCREASING INTENTION; THE SIXTH, INTENTION RID OF DOUBT; THE SEVENTH, RESOUNDING INTENTION; AND THE EIGHTH, DHARMA INTENTION. THE EIGHT PRINCES WERE OF AWESOME VIRTUE AND SELF-MASTERY AND EACH RULED OVER FOUR CONTINENTS.
WHEN THE PRINCES HEARD THAT THEIR FATHER HAD LEFT THE HOME LIFE AND ATTAINED ANUTTARASAMYAKSAMBODHI, THEY ALL RENOUNCED THEIR ROYAL POSITIONS AND LEFT HOME AS WELL. THEY BROUGHT FORTH THE RESOLVE FOR THE GREAT VEHICLE AND CONSTANTLY CULTIVATED BRAHMAN CONDUCT. ALL BECAME DHARMA MASTERS, HAVING ALREADY, IN THE PRESENCE OF TEN MILLION BUDDHAS, PLANTED THE ROOTS OF GOODNESS.
There were two thousand Buddhas by the name of BRIGHTNESS OF SUN-MOON-LAMP. They also had the same surname: BHARADVAJA. The Sanskrit word Bharadvaja may be interpreted as "rapid,"1 because they were able to become Buddhas very quickly.
MAITREYA, IT SHOULD BE KNOWN! Manjusri Bodhisattva says, "Maitreya Bodhisattva, Bodhisattva invincible, you ought to know THAT ALL OF THOSE BUDDHAS, FROM THE FIRST TO THE LAST, from the first Buddha by the name of Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp to the last Buddha by the name of Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp, the last of the twenty thousand Buddhas, all had the same name. AND they WERE COMPLETE WITH THE TEN TITLES. The name Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp is a specific name. The ten titles are common names given to all the Buddhas of the ten directions. They are Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Universal Knowledge, One of Perfect Clarity and Conduct, One Well-gone Who Understands the World, An Unsurpassed Knight, A Hero Who Subdues and Tames, A Teacher of Gods and Men, The Buddha, The World Honored One. Every Buddha has these ten titles, these ten common names.
AND THAT DHARMA WHICH THEY SPOKE WAS GOOD AT ITS BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND END. Right up to the last of those Buddhas, all spoke Dharma, which was good at its beginning, good at its middle, and good at its end. When they first brought forth the Bodhi-heart and began to cultivate, it was good; in the middle, while they were cultivating, it was good; and at the very end, when they became Buddhas, it was also good.
BEFORE THE LAST HAD LEFT THE HOME LIFE/Before the last of the twenty thousand Buddhas had left the home life HE HAD EIGHT ROYAL SONS. Sakyamuni Buddha had one son, Rahula. The last of this series of Buddhas, Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp, had eight sons and each had his own name: THE FIRST WAS NAMED INTENTION. What is meant by "Intention"? It means that he had a great heart for the Way, he had brought forth the intention, the thought, of one with the heart of the Great Vehicle. THE SECOND, GOOD INTENTION/The second son was called Good Intention because he had no bad intentions. He had well brought forth the Bodhi-heart, well brought forth the great heart for the Way, so he was called Good Intention. THE THIRD, LIMITLESS INTENTION/The name of the third son was Limitless Intention. He had brought forth an unlimited, great Bodhi-heart for the Way; this was his intention. THE FOURTH, PRICELESS INTENTION/The name of the fourth son was Priceless Intention. His dearest, cherished intention was to bring forth the Bodhi-heart and his own self-nature's most treasured of intentions, of thoughts, that is: the resolve to strive for Buddhahood. THE FIFTH, INCREASING INTENTION/What intention was increased? The intention to bring forth the Bodhi-heart. THE SIXTH, RID OF DOUBT/In cultivation, only fear that you will have doubts. If you have doubts you may take the wrong path. So it is said,
When doubting thoughts begin to plague you, in your confusion you may lose the right road and enter a dangerous path. So you must be free of doubt. THE SEVENTH, RESOUNDING INTENTION/His cultivation of Great Vehicle Dharma was like an echo in a mountain valley. Now, if you go into the mountains and call down into the valley, "Mr. Chang!", the mountain will echo back, "Mr. Chaanng!" The same applies if you say "Mr. Liii!" That's an echo. When you bring forth the Bodhi-heart, the Way heart, it functions like an echo in the valley. You bring forth the heart and the Buddha knows. THE EIGHTH, DHARMA INTENTION.
THE EIGHT PRINCES WERE OF AWESOME VIRTUE AND SELF-MASTERY. Each of the sons was very solemn, dignified, and accomplished in virtuous conduct, AWESOME VIRTU AND SELF-MASTERY. AND EACH RULED OVER FOUR CONTINENTS. The term "four continents" refers to a system of one sun, one moon, one Mount Sumeru, and one set of four continents.
WHEN THE PRINCES HEARD THAT THEIR FATHER HAD LEFT THE HOME LIFE/When they heard that their father had already become a monk, a bhiksu, and, on top of that, a Buddha, AND ATTAINED ANNUTARASAMYAKSAMBODHI, the utmost equal and proper enlightenment, all eight of them ALL RENOUNCED THEIR ROYAL POSITIONS/ They didn't become emperors. They gave up their beautiful consorts and concubines. They didn't want them. They gave up their kingdoms, cities, wives, and children. They renounced their kingdoms, gave away their cities, gave away their wives and children AND LEFT HOME AS WELL. They followed the last of the Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddhas and left home.
THEY BROUGHT FORTH THE RESOLVE FOR THE GREAT VEHICLE/They became determined to seek the Great Vehicle. AND CONSTANTLY CULTIVATED BRAHMAN CONDUCT. They always cultivated pure Brahman conduct. They cultivated without resting; they were always vigorous. ALL BECAME DHARMA MASTERS, the eight sons of the Buddha all became Dharma Masters. They went about everywhere explaining the Sutras and teaching the Dharma, HAVING ALREADY, IN THE PRESENCE OF TEN MILLION BUDDHAS, PLANTED THE ROOTS OF GOODNESS, doing all kinds of good deeds: making offerings to the Triple Jewel, paying reverence to the Triple Jewel. The eight royal sons cultivated the giving of offerings and practiced the Bodhisattva conduct, cultivating the Buddha Way. They brought forth Great Bodhi-hearts.
AT THAT TIME, THE BUDDHA SUN-MOON-LAMP BRIGHTNESS SPOKE A GREAT VEHICLE SUTRA NAMED THE LIMITLESS PRINCIPLES, A DHARMA FOR INSTRUCTING BODHISATTVAS OF WHICH THE BUDDHA IS PROTECTIVE AND MINDFUL. WHEN HE HAD FINISHED SPEAKING THAT SUTRA, HE THEN, IN THE MIDST OF THE ASSEMBLY, SAT IN FULL LOTUS AND ENTERED THE SAMADHI OF THE STATION OF LIMITLESS PRINCIPLES; HIS BODY AND MIND WERE UNMOVING. THEN FROM THE HEAVENS THERE FELL A RAIN OF MANDARAVA FLOWERS, MAHAMANDARAVA FLOWERS, MANJUSAKA FLOWERS, AND MAHAMANJUSAKA FLOWERS, WHICH WERE SCATTERED UPON THE BUDDHA AND THE ENTIRE GREAT ASSEMBLY. ALL THE BUDDHA UNIVERSES QUAKED IN SIX WAYS. AT THAT TIME THE ENTIRE GREAT ASSEMBLY OF BHIKSHUS, BHIKSHUNIS, UPASAKAS, UPASIKAS, GODS, DRAGONS, YAKSHAS, GANDHARVAS, ASURAS, GARUDAS, KINNARAS, MAHORAGAS, BEINGS HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN AS WELL AS THE MINOR KINGS AND THE WHEEL-TURNING SAGE KINGS, AND SO FORTH, ALL ATTAINED WHAT THEY HAD NEVER HAD BEFORE. THEY REJOICED AND JOINED THEIR PALMS AND, WITH ONE HEART, GAZED UPON THE BUDDHA. THEN THE THUS COME ONE EMITTED FROM BETWEEN HIS BROWS A WHITE HAIR-MARK LIGHT WHICH ILLUMINED EIGHTEEN THOUSAND BUDDHA WORLDS TO THE EAST, OMITTING NONE OF THEM. THEY WERE JUST LIKE ALL THE BUDDHA LANDS NOW SEEN.
AT THAT TIME, right then, when the eight princes left home, the last of the Buddhas named SUN-MOON-LAMP BRIGHTNESS SPOKE A GREAT VEHICLE SUTRA, NAMED the Sutra of THE LIMITLESS PRINCIPLES. This Sutra is A DHARMA door FOR INSTRUCTING all the BODHISATTVAS OF WHICH THE BUDDHA IS PROTECTIVE AND MINDFUL. All the Buddhas are protective and mindful of it.
WHEN HE HAD FINISHED SPEAKING THAT SUTRA, when the Buddha Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness was through speaking THE SUTRA OF LIMITLESS PRINCIPLES, HE THEN, IN THE MIDST OF THE GREAT ASSEMBLY, he was right in the assembly of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats, SAT IN FULL LOTUS, drew both of his legs into the full lotus position AND ENTERED THE SAMADHI, the concentration, OF THE STATION OF LIMITLESS PRINCIPLES; HIS BODY AND MIND WERE UNMOVING. This passage has already been explained in detail and we can merely read through it here without discussing it further.
When the Buddha entered the Samadhi of the Station of Limitless Principles, his body did not move and his mind did not move. His unmoving state of body and mind is an indication that he had attained concentration.
THEN FROM THE HEAVENS THERE FELL A RAIN/It looked like rain, but it wasn't water. What was it? It was a rain OF MANDARAVA FLOWERS, little white flowers, and MAHAMANDARAVA FLOWERS, big white flowers. The white flowers, large and small, fell together in profusion, filling the air with a delectable fragrance. The ground was completely carpeted with flowers. It also rained MANJUSAKA FLOWERS, small red flowers, and MAHAMANJUSAKA FLOWERS, big red flowers. These four kinds of flowers represent the four sets of positions: the Ten Abodes, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, and the Ten Grounds, these fruit positions. WHICH WERE SCATTERED UPON THE BUDDHA AND everyone present in THE ENTIRE GREAT Dharma ASSEMBLY.
ALL THE BUDDHA UNIVERSES, as many great trichiliocosms as the grains of sand in the Ganges, QUAKED IN SIX WAYS: banging, roaring, cracking, shaking, rising, and surging.
THE ENTIRE GREAT ASSEMBLY OF BHIKSHUS, BHIKSHUNIS, UPASAKAS, UPASIKAS, the fourfold assembly of disciples; GODS, DRAGONS, YAKSHAS, that is, ghosts! GANDHARVAS, the music spirits in the court of the Jade Emperor, ASURAS... Today in the lecture on the VAJRA SUTRA it was explained that the word asura means "ugly," and "without wine." GARUDAS are the great golden-winged P'eng birds. KINNARAS are also music spirits in the court of the Jade Emperor. MAHORAGAS are big snakes, big pythons. AS WELL AS THE MINOR KINGS, kings of small countries, AND THE WHEEL-TURNING SAGE KINGS AND SO FORTH, And so forth means that there are a lot more than the above-mentioned names, but not all of them have been listed separately. Everyone present ATTAINED WHAT THEY HAD NEVER HAD BEFORE. They had never seen or heard anything like it before. They saw what they had never seen and heard what they had never heard. Now, seeing and hearing, THEY REJOICED AND JOINED THEIR PALMS. Seeing the Buddha Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness display such spiritual penetrations, everyone was happy. They put their palms together AND, WITH ONE HEART, GAZED UPON THE BUDDHA. They were single-minded as they looked at the Buddha.
THEN THE THUS COME ONE, the Buddha Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness, also EMITTED FROM BETWEEN HIS BROWS A WHITE HAIR-MARK LIGHT WHICH ILLUMINED EIGHTEEN THOUSAND BUDDHA WORLDS TO THE EAST, from that Buddha world across Buddha worlds eighteen thousand in number. The Buddha worlds here represent the eighteen realms. The quakings mentioned earlier represent the six sense organs quaking. The six sense organs plus the six sense realms plus the six consciousnesses make eighteen realms. So, the Buddha emitted light shining across eighteen thousand Buddha worlds, which represent the eighteen realms. OMITTING NONE OF THEM. There was no place in which there was a Buddha where the light did not reach; it reached them all.
JUST LIKE ALL THE BUDDHA LANDS NOW SEEN. It is just like the portent of light, which Shakyamuni Buddha now emits from the white hair mark illumining all the Buddha lands.
MAITREYA, IT SHOULD BE KNOWN THAT THERE WERE AT THAT TIME IN THE ASSEMBLY TWENTY MILLION BODHISATTVAS WHO TOOK DELIGHT IN LISTENING TO THE DHARMA. UPON SEEING THIS BRIGHT LIGHT ILLUMINE ALL THE BUDDHA LANDS, ALL THE BODHISATTVAS OBTAINED WHAT THEY HAD NEVER HAD AND WISHED TO KNOW THE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS FOR THIS LIGHT.
THERE WAS AT THAT TIME A BODHISATTVA BY THE NAME OF WONDROUS LIGHT WHO HAD EIGHT HUNDRED DISCIPLES. THE BUDDHA BRIGHTNESS OF SUN-MOON-LAMP THEN AROSE FROM SAMADHI AND, FOR THE SAKE OF THE BODHISATTVA WONDROUS LIGHT, SPOKE A GREAT VEHICLE SUTRA CALLED THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER, A DHARMA FOR INSTRUCTING BODHISATTVAS OF WHICH THE BUDDHA IS PROTECTIVE AND MINDFUL.
Once again, Manjushri Bodhisattva speaks to Maitreya Bodhisattva, saying, MAITREYA, Humane One, IT SHOULD BE KNOWN, you should know, THAT THERE WERE AT THAT TIME IN THE ASSEMBLY, in the Dharma assembly of Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness Buddha, TWENTY MILLION BODHISATTVAS WHO TOOK DELIGHT IN LISTENING TO THE DHARMA. They all liked to hear the Buddha speak the Dharma. UPON SEEING THIS BRIGHT LIGHT emitted by the Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp ILLUMINE ALL THE BUDDHA LANDS, ALL THE BODHISATTVAS gave rise to doubts: they didn't understand.
Seeing the Buddha emit the white hair-mark light from between his brows, which illumined eighteen thousand Buddhalands to the east, they also OBTAINED WHAT THEY HAD NEVER HAD/They had never seen anything like it before. AND WISHED TO KNOW THE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS FOR THIS LIGHT. The twenty million Bodhisattvas also wanted to know the reason for the light. Why did the Buddha emit the light? What was the reason?
THERE WAS AT THAT TIME A BODHISATTVA, in the Dharma assembly, BY THE NAME OF WONDROUS LIGHT WHO HAD EIGHT HUNDRED DISCIPLES. THE BUDDHA BRIGHTNESS OF SUN-MOON-LAMP THEN AROSE FROM SAMADHI, he came out of concentration, the samadhi of the Station of Limitless Principles AND, FOR THE SAKE OF THE BODHISATTVA WONDROUS LIGHT, SPOKE A GREAT VEHICLE SUTRA. It was CALLED THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER Sutra. It was A DHARMA door FOR INSTRUCTING BODHISATTVAS OF WHICH THE BUDDHA IS PROTECTIVE AND MINDFUL.
FOR SIXTY SMALL AEONS HE DID NOT RISE FROM HIS SEAT. THOSE ASSEMBLED LISTENING ALSO SAT IN ONE PLACE FOR SIXTY SMALL AEONS WITH BODY AND MINDS UNMOVING, LISTENING TO WHAT THE BUDDHA SAID AS IF IT WERE BUT THE SPACE OF A MEAL. AT THAT TIME, IN THE ASSEMBLY, THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE PERSON WHO GREW WEARY, EITHER PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY.
When the Buddha Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness spoke the DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA, how long did it take him? SIXTY SMALL AEONS. If you're talking about a long time, sixty small aeons isn't really too long; if you're talking about a short period of time, it isn't exactly short. One aeon is 139,600 years. One thousand of those aeons makes one small aeon. So count it up: How long would sixty small aeons be?
However, one thought is ten thousand years and ten thousand years is but a single thought. You could also say that one thought is ten thousand aeons and ten thousand aeons is but a single thought. In the Heaven of the Four Kings a single day and night is equivalent to fifty years here in the world of human beings. In the Heaven of the Thirty-three, a day and night is one hundred years among humans. One day and a night seems like a very short space of time to them.
When people sit in meditation, if they don't strike up false thinking they can sit for an entire day and feel as if it were just a second. If you strike up false thinking, it can seem as if a single second lasted, oh, who knows how many years? You sit there, and you can't sit still. You want to quit sitting and so
One thought is ten thousand aeons;
Ten thousand aeons is but a thought.
When the Buddha Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness was speaking the Dharma FOR SIXTY SMALL AEONS HE DID NOT RISE FROM HIS SEAT. He spoke The Dharma Flower Sutra for sixty small aeons. Why did it take so long? It was because everyone had entered the "Delight in Listening Samadhi" and so that although the Buddha spoke the Dharma, he did it from within samadhi and didn't rise for sixty small aeons. THOSE ASSEMBLED LISTENING ALSO SAT IN ONE PLACE FOR SIXTY SMALL AEONS, WITH BODIES AND MINDS UNMOVING. The Dharma assembly of twenty million Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits and all the Arhats, bhikshus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas, and so forth and so on...sat there listening to the Dharma for sixty small aeons.
For example, we are now listening to Sutras. If you pay close attention and listen single-mindedly, when the lecture is over you will feel as if a very short space of time had passed. If you don't pay attention, what is it like? On the one hand you listen to Sutras and on the other hand you strike up false thinking, "Oh, it's still not over. How much time have we got left? Take a look, would you?"
This is like a student who said that when she sat in meditation she did not meditate, but rather waited for the bell so she could get up and be "liberated."
If you do that, how can you work at your meditation? If you do that, then when you sit it will seem like a long time to you, your legs will start to hurt and your back will ache, but if you don't pay attention to it, there's no leg or back pain; it's no problem. "Well, who hurts? Who aches?" Just ask, and it disappears. They sat for sixty small aeons and did not move in body or mind. Their bodies didn't wiggle around or lean this way and that and their minds also did not move.
LISTENING TO WHAT THE BUDDHA SAID/They listened to the Buddha Sun-Moon Lamp Brightness speak the Dharma AS IF IT WERE BUT THE SPACE OF A MEAL. It was just like the time it takes to eat a bowl of rice. AT THAT TIME, IN THE ASSEMBLY, THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE PERSON/There wasn't a single person in the Dharma assembly WHO GREW WEARY, EITHER PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY. In the Dharma assembly there wasn't a single person who grew tired, and wanted to rest, to take a nap. Nobody wanted to rest or sleep.
If you were one who truly listened to Sutra lectures, you wouldn't feel that it was tiresome to sit there. You would sit there and the more you listened, the more delighted you would become. "Ah, the Dharma is really wonderful, inconceivably wonderful!" If you don't truly listen, you sit there and your legs wiggle and your hands fidget and even though there's no wind, it looks like you're being blown back and forth, leaning all over the place. Or, perhaps you get up and pace the floor, or you look around every which way. This is because your heart is not truly in it; you aren't truly listening to the Sutras, and you aren't tasting their true flavor. If you tasted the true flavor of the Sutras, I'm telling you, nothing would be so important that it could interfere with your attendance at the lectures. You would certainly come to listen. "Every day that I miss a lecture, I won't eat!" you'd say. If you pushed yourself like that, you wouldn't dare not come to listen. Say to yourself, "If you don't go to listen, you won't get anything to eat!" That's a wonderful dharma. Try it out, if you dare. "So you don't want to listen to the Sutras? All right, you get no food today. "If you go hungry for a day then next week you will think, "I'm going to the Sutra lecture. Otherwise I'll go hungry!" Besides, not eating is really just not receiving the food of Dharma. In listening to the Sutras one receives the nourishment of Dharma.
Go too fast and you'll trip;
Dally and you'll fall behind.
Never rush and never dally
And you'll get there right on time.