THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
with the commentary
Translated by Bhikshuni Heng Yin
from issue #73
AND CAUSED THE ASSEMBLY TO REJOICE
LATER, ON THAT VERY DAY
ANNOUNCED TO THE HOST OF GODS AND MEN:
"THE MEANING OF THE REAL MARK OF ALL DHARMAS
HAS ALREADY BEEN SPOKEN FOR ALL OF YOU,
AND NOW AT MIDNIGHT, I
SHALL ENTER INTO NIRVANA.
YOU SHOULD SINGLEMINDEDLY, VIGOROUSLY ADVANCE
AND SEPARATE FROM LAXNESS, FOR
BUDDHAS ARE DIFFICULT INDEED TO MEET,
ENCOUNTERED BUT ONCE IN A MILLION AEONS."
ALL THE SONS OF THE WORLD HONORED ONE,
HEARING OF THE BUDDHA'S ENTRY INTO NIRVANA,
EACH HARBORED GRIEF AND ANGUISH.
"WHY MUST THE BUDDHA TAKE EXTINCTION SO SOON?"
THE SAGELY LORD, THE DHARMA KING,
THEN CONFORTED THE LIMITLESS MULTITUDE:
"AFTER MY PASSAGE INTO EXTINCTION
NONE OF YOU SHOULD WORRY OR FEAR,
FOR THE BODHISATTVA VIRTUE TREASURY,
WITH RESPECT TO THE NON-OUTFLOW MARK OF REALITY,
IN HEART HAS PENETRATED IT TOTALLY;
HE WILL NEXT BECOME A BUDDHA
BY THE NAME OF PURE BODY, AND
WILL ALSO TAKE ACROSS UNCOUNTED MULTITUDES.
THAT NIGHT THE BUDDHA PASSED INTO EXTINCTION
AS A FLAME DIES, ONCE IT'S FUEL HAS BEEN CONSUMED.
THE SHARIRA WERE DIVIDED UP
AND LIMITLESS STUPAS BUILT;
THE BHIKSHUS AND BHIKSHUNIS,
THEIR NUMBER LIKE THE GANGES SANDS,
REDOUBLED THEIR VIGOR IN ADVANCING
IN THEIR QUEST FOR THE UNSURPASSED PATH.
The Bodhisattva Manjusri said, THE BUDDHA, HAVING SPOKEN THE DHARMA FLOWER/After the Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp had spoken The Dharma Flower Sutra AND CAUSED THE ASSEMBLY TO REJOICE/and caused all those assembled in the Dharma Flower gathering to be filled with the bliss of Dharma and gain unbounded happiness, LATER, ON THAT VERY DAY/"Later" means not long after that, very shortly after that, on that very same day. Which day? The day when he finished speaking The Dharma Flower Sutra. ANNOUNCED TO THE HOST OF GODS AND MEN/He told those in the heavens and those among the humans as well as those of the entire eight-fold division of ghosts and spirits, "THE MEANING OF THE REAL MARK OF ALL DHARMAS.” “All Dharmas" means every dharma, all the eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors which the Buddha taught. All dharmas, as I often say, can be interpreted to mean "one single dharma," (in this case "all-dharma's" instead of "all dharmas.") because if there are too many, one can not remember them clearly. It would be better for me to explain it as "one kind of dharma." Then if you remember that one kind of dharma, then one is just the limitless. If you understand the one kind of dharma, then you can "hear one and understand ten," and you will be able to understand the other eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors as well.
Understand one, all are understood--
Clear about one, clear about all.
If you can't understand that one dharma, how are you going to be able to understand a lot of them?
Someone once asked me, "Of the eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors taught by the Buddha, which is the most lofty? Which Dharma-door is number one? Which Dharma-door is the most important?"
You could say this question is problematical; you could also say that it isn't. If you don't understand, it is problematical. If you understand the Dharma, then it is no problem. When he asked, I answered him in terms of his question and said, "Of the eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors, eight four thousand are the most lofty, eighty-four thousand are number one, and eighty-four thousand are the most important." Why did I say that?
Of the eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors, there is not one, which is not for the purpose of curing the eighty-four thousand sicknesses of living beings. You need only apply that one Dharma-door which will effectively cure your particular sickness, and that Dharma-door becomes number one, the most lofty, and the most important. Why? Because it is useful to you. If it was of no use to you, suited for an illness other than the one you had, it would then become unimportant, it would not be number one, and it would not be the most lofty Dharma-door. Now, speaking of the REAL MARK OF ALL DHARMAS: What is the REAL MARK OF ALL DHARMAS? The real mark of all dharmas is the real mark of the number one dharma, the real mark of that most important dharma, and the real mark of that most lofty dharma.
And what is the real mark?
The real mark is no mark; there is no mark. If you have a mark, then it is not the real mark. The real mark is not marked and yet there is nothing unmarked.
All marks are born from the real mark. Although they are born from the real mark, the real mark itself, in its basic substance, is without a mark. Because, in its basic substance, it is unmarked, it is therefore able to give birth to all marks. If it had a mark itself, then it would not be considered the real mark, for it would be empty and false. The Vajra Sutra says, "All with marks is empty and false. If you can see all marks as no marks then you see the Tathagata." (p.46) That is why we say that the real mark is unmarked and yet there is nothing, which is not marked by it. This means that all dharmas are just that dharma. So the word "all" can be considered as an auxiliary particle, not as meaning "many." This way, only one dharma is referred to. Which one? The meaning of the Real Mark, the doctrine of the Real Mark. The Dharma Flower Sutra speaks the Dharma-door of the doctrine of the Real Mark.
"THE MEANING OF THE REAL MARK OF ALL DHARMAS/HAS ALREADY BEEN SPOKEN FOR ALL OF YOU/The Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp said, "Now, I have already spoken to you the doctrine of the Real Mark of all dharmas. I am finished speaking. AND NOW, AT MIDNIGHT, I/"I" says the Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp, referring to himself, "Now, in the middle of the night, SHALL ENTER INTO NIRVANA/I have done what I had to do, and so I should assume the position of permanence, happiness, true self, and purity. I should enter Nirvana."
Why did the Buddha enter Nirvana? There were many reasons. The most important reason was to prevent people from becoming dependent upon him. The Buddha could have postponed his entry into Nirvana indefinitely except for the fact that his disciples followed him, studying the Dharma under him everyday, and some of them might have become jaded. How? They might get lazy, remiss, and think, "It doesn't matter whether I cultivate or not because I can be with the Buddha everyday." They would grow lazy.
For example, I am now lecturing the Sutras to you everyday and you can see your Master here everyday. You think, "When the Master lectures Sutras, I take notes, but I don't have to study them now. I'll wait until I have more time and then read them again." You take notes, but you don't study them. You just put them aside, put them high on the shelf for safekeeping. However, after a time, you forget all about them, until the time comes when...you've completely forgotten.
However, in the human sphere there is "grief and joy, separation and reunion." I, for special reasons, have to leave all of you. When I do, you'll want to listen to the Sutras, but you won't be able to; you'll want to study the Buddhadharma and you will realize how difficult it is. You'll get out your old notes and review them, going over all the doctrines of the Sutras which the Dharma Master had taught you long in the past. If I had never left, you would never have looked at your notes. Sakyamuni Buddha spoke the Dharma for forty-nine years and some of his disciples grew lax. This was not the case for Shakyamuni Buddha alone; every single Buddha, when he sees that some of his disciples have become dependent upon him, will leave them, will enter Nirvana, so that they won't become dependent on him. It is a method for teaching living beings. Therefore, he charged them, saying, "YOU SHOULD SINGLE MINDEDLY, VIGOROUSLY ADVANCE/Just because he was afraid they would get lazy, he exhorted them, saying, "You who cultivate the Way, Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas, should concentrate single-mindedly and be vigorous. Don't be lax and don't be lazy. Cultivate the Way with a single thought. Don't strike up false thinking. Don't have a divided mind. That's what it meant by "single-mindedly, vigorously advance." Be vigorous by day and vigorous by night; day and night, always, always be vigorous. Cultivate and work hard. Hard work is cultivation and cultivation is hard work. Be vigorous and single-minded AND SEPARATE FROM LAXNESS, FOR/you must not be lazy. Little Sramanera? Big Sramanera? Bhiksus and Bhiksunis, DO NOT BE LAX! DO NOT BE LAZY! Do not leave the home life and then fail to cultivate. To leave home and not to cultivate is to neglect to cultivate the Dharma, and if you neglect your cultivation of the Dharma it is just as though you hadn't left home.
The ancients said, "Counting someone else's treasures all day long--not half a cent of it is your own. Not cultivating the Buddhadharma is exactly the same." Bank tellers, for example, handle other people's money all day, counting it up, "one thousand, two thousand, ten thousand, twenty thousand, thirty thousand, fifty thousand, one hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, one million, ten million, one hundred million--too much money!" But none of it belongs to them. They just count it for other people.
So it says, "Counting someone else's treasures all day long--not half a cent of it is your own. Not cultivating the Buddhadharma is exactly the same." If you do not cultivate the Buddhadharma it's just like counting others' treasures.
Those who have left home must cultivate the Way. If you do not cultivate the Way and insist upon being lazy then do not leave home. Now, we are vigorous in the day and night. In the morning people recite Sutras and at night they recite Sutras, such as The Vajra Sutra, This is a very good idea because you should cultivate and you should not be lazy! You sramaneras should think over the doctrine presented here in the Sutra. You should SINGLEMINDEDLY, VIGOROUSLY ADVANCE; AND SEPARATE FROM LAXNESS. Laxness just means being lazy and not cultivating.
BUDDHAS ARE DIFFICULT INDEED TO MEET/The Buddhas, all of them, are extremely difficult to encounter, to meet. ENCOUNTERED BUT ONCE IN A MILLION AEONS/It says a million aeons, but it may be several hundred thousand million aeons before you meet with a Buddha appearing in the world.
ALL THE SONS OF THE WORLD HONORED ONE/The eight sons of the Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp, HEARING OF THE BUDDHA'S ENTRY INTO NIRVANA; When they heard the Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, EACH HARBORED GRIEF AND ANGUISH/Basically, they all had a great deal of samadhi power, but blood is thicker than water and their relationship with the Buddha--that of father and son, master and disciple, caused them all to harbor grief and anguish. Each one of them was grieved, that is, they wept. "Anguish" means that they became afflicted. Harbored means that they did not let their grief and anguish show. They kept it within their hearts the tears fell inside their hearts. Their distress was also in their hearts. They certainly didn't let their grief and anguish show. Why not? Because the word "harbored" proves that they kept it inside and did not let it show. Their tears fell inside, not outside, and no one saw them. It wasn't like people now who cry so that the tears fall and their noses run, but all to no avail. That is why the eight royal sons harbored grief and anguish and they thought, "WHY MUST THE BUDDHA TAKE EXTINCTION SO SOON?" Why must he enter Nirvana so quickly? Ahh...Who are we going to cultivate under now? We assumed that our father, the Buddha, would stay in the world forever and so at times we were lazy and crept off to take it easy. We didn't cultivate vigorously and now, as they say in Taiwan, "What a shame! It may be a shame, but there's nothing we can do about it."
Then they knew that their past actions were wrong. THE SAGELY LORD, THE DHARMA KING/The Buddha is called the Sagely Lord. He is also called the Dharma King. THEN COMFORTED THE LIMITLESS MULTITUDE/When the Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp saw his sons weeping within their hearts, and saw that some of the other people were crying outwardly, painfully weeping bitter tears, his compassionate heart couldn't bear it, and so he comforted everyone by saying, "Don't cry, everyone. Don't grieve and don't mourn. Don't be so upset. Although I'm going to enter Nirvana, AFTER MY PASSAGE INTO EXTINCTION, in the future, after I have gone across into extinction, NONE OF YOU SHOULD WORRY OR FEAR. Don't worry, don't fret, or be afraid. Why? THE BODHISATTVA VIRTUE TREASURY/The Bodhisattva Treasury of Virtue WITH RESPECT TO THE NON-OUTFLOW MARK OF REALITY; with respect to the Dharma-door of the non-outflow Real Mark IN HIS HEART HAS PENETRATED IT TOTALLY; His heart has penetrated to the absence of outflow's and understood the Dharma-door of the Real Mark.
What is meant by "no outflows"? It just means not flowing out! It means having no faults. Get rid of all your bad habits, your faults, your greed, hatred, stupidity, pride, and doubt, and break through ignorance. Once you have broken through ignorance, that is no-outflows. If you haven't broken through ignorance, then you still have outflows.
How does one break through ignorance?
How? By studying the Buddhadharma. If you study the Buddhadharma until you understand it, then you will have no more ignorance. Why do you have ignorance? It is just because you don't understand the Buddhadharma. When something happens you lose your temper and you get afflicted. When the state arrives, you can't take it. Why can't you take it? Because you don't understand the Buddhadharma. If you understood the Buddhadharma ignorance would be broken and the Dharma-body would manifest. You would be far removed from all affliction. There would be nothing good and nothing bad, no success and no failure. This is the wind and light of your native land, your own family's treasures. When you have obtained it, you will have no more ignorance. If you have no ignorance, you will have no outflows. If you have no outflows you obtain the Real Mark. You haven't obtained no-outflows? Then you haven't got the Real Mark. You don't understand the Real Mark. The Bodhisattva Virtue Treasury, however, has in heart, penetrated the non-outflow Real Mark. Don't think you are so outstanding. Take a look at the Bodhisattva Virtue Treasury: he has, in heart, already totally penetrated the non-outflow Reality Mark.
HE WILL NEXT BECOME A BUDDHA/After I have passed into extinction and entered Nirvana, he will become a Buddha. BY THE NAME OF PURE BODY, AND HE WILL ALSO TAKE ACROSS UNCOUNTED MULTITUDES/He will also cross over and release an unlimited number of living beings.
THAT NIGHT THE BUDDHA PASSED INTO EXTINCTION/The Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp on that day, at midnight, entered Nirvana. AS A FLAME DIES, ONCE ITS FUEL HAS BEEN CONSUMED/What is the fuel? What is the flame? The fuel, in the Small Vehicle, is said to be the body. The dying of the flame is the attainment of Nirvana With Residue. In the Great Vehicle it is said that living beings are the fuel, the firewood. The dying of the flame means that when the firewood is gone there is no more fire. The living beings are the firewood. And the flame? What is it?
The Buddha observes the potentials of beings in order to dispense the teaching according to their needs. He looks at the potentials of the beings in order to bestow the Buddhadharma and teach and transform living beings. This is called:
Observing the potentials, he dispenses the teaching.
Speaking the Dharma, he accords with each person.
"Observing the potentials,” means that the Buddha speaks that Dharma-door which is necessary to use to teach a particular individual. If someone should be taught by means of the Dharma-door of the Three Storehouses, the Buddha teaches the Dharma of the Three Storehouses. If someone should be saved by means of the Vaipulya Dharma-door, the Buddha speaks the teaching of the Vaipulya teachings. If someone should be taken across by means of the Dharma-door of Prajna, the Buddha speaks the Prajna Teaching. If someone should be taken across by means of the Dharma Flower Nirvana Teachings, the Buddha speaks The Dharma Flower Sutra and The Nirvana Sutra. This is called "observing the potentials and dispensing the teaching." Taking a look at a person's potential and affinities and "speaking the Dharma according to the person."
Here, the potentials are not present. Those living beings, which were to be crossed over, have all been taken across. The flame has died out; the method is no longer of use. AS A FLAME DIES WHEN ITS FUEL HAS BEEN CONSUMED/"As" means that this is an analogy. Don't think it is really talking about a fire going out when the fuel is all used up.
THE SHARIRA WERE DIVIDED UP/After the Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp had passed into extinction, all of that Buddha's relics were divided up AND LIMITLESS STUPAS BUILT/Limitless high and manifest pagodas were raised. "Stupa” is an Indian word meaning "high, manifest place" or "square grave."
THE BHIKSHUS AND BHIKSHUNIS/The Bhiksu Sangha and the Bhiksuni Sangha. Bhiksu has three meanings: mendicant, frightener of Mara, and destroyer of evil. Bhiksuni has the same three meanings.
What is meant by "mendicant?" Bhiksus go out on begging rounds, carrying their bowls.
"What is meant by "frightener of Mara"? When Bhiksus ascend the platform to receive the Bhiksu precepts, they face Three Masters and Seven Certifiers, ten Bhiksus in all who represent the Buddhas of the ten directions in transmitting the precepts to the new-preceptee. At the time they transmit the precepts, they ask, "Are you a great hero?"
The new preceptees say, "I am a great hero."
Then they ask, "Have you brought forth the Bodhi-heart?"
"Yes! I have brought forth the Bodhi-heart!" The moment they say that they have brought forth the Bodhi-heart, the heavenly demons in the Sixth Desire Heaven get the news flash and they shudder with fright. Their hair stands on end and they look at one another, "This is terrible! We've lost a demon-follower and the Buddha's gained a Buddha-follower! This is awful. If it keeps up, what are we going to do?" They are afraid, and that's what is meant by "frightener of Mara."
Bhiksu also means "destroyer of evil." How do they destroy evil? People are all unaware of the evil within themselves and they don't know that they should destroy it. What is meant by "destroying evil"? It means to have no afflictions. When there are no afflictions, then genuine wisdom can come forth. So here in America I have just accepted three new Sramaneras and I have issued a very unfair law specifically to counteract afflictions and ignorance. Since this extremely unjust law has gone into effect, I have questioned them a number of times, and they say that they have had no afflictions and no temper. "Why not?" I ask, and they say, "Oh, I don't know." The law may be unfair, but it's extremely wonderful. It's wonderful because it's unfair. If it were fair, it wouldn't be wonderful.
The same three meanings also apply to the word Bhiksuni.
THEIR NUMBER LIKE THE GANGES SANDS/There were as many of them as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River. REDOUBLED THEIR VIGOR IN ADVANCING/ Seeing the Buddha pass into extinction, the Bhiksus and Bhiksunis cultivated as if their lives depended on it. They cultivated for their very lives. If they starved to death, then they starved to death. So they didn't sleep and they didn't eat. They cultivated all day long. "Redoubled" means they cultivated twice as hard. When the Buddha was in the world they sat for twelve hours a day; now they sat for twenty-four, so vigorous were they IN THEIR QUEST FOR THE UNSURPASSED PATH. Why? They had no one to depend upon. "The Buddha has gone, how can we not cultivate now?" So they forgot about their slackness and they got rid of their laziness. All they had left was vigor in their quest for the Supreme Way.
THE DHARMA MASTER WONDROUS LIGHT
REVERENTLY KEPT THE STORE OF THE BUDDHA'S LAW;
FOR EIGHTY MINOR AEONS HE
WIDELY SPREAD THE SUTRA OF THE DHARMA FLOWER.
ALL OF THE EIGHT ROYAL SONS
TAUGHT AND LED BY WONDROUS LIGHT,
BECAME SOLID IN THE UNSURPASSED PATH
AND MET BUDDHAS BEYOND ALL COUNT.
HAVING PRESENTED THEM OFFERINGS
THEY ACCORDINGLY PRACTICED THE GREAT WAY,
AND, IN SUCCESSION, BECAME BUDDHAS
TRANSMITTING PREDICTIONS TO ONE ANOTHER IN TURN.
THE LAST OF THESE, A GOD AMONG GODS,
WAS A BUDDHA BY THE NAME OF BURNING LAMP,
A GUIDING MASTER OF ALL THE IMMORTALS,
WHO SAVED AND LIBERATED LIMITLESS MULTITUDES.
THE DHARMA MASTER WONDROUS LIGHT
AT THAT TIME HAD A DISCIPLE
WHOSE HEART HARBORED LAXNESS AND WHO
WAS GREEDILY ATTACHED TO FAME AND GAIN.
SEEKING FAME AND GAIN UNTIRINGLY,
OFTEN VISITING THE GREAT CLANS,
HE CAST ASIDE HIS RECITATIONS
NEGLECTED, FORGOT, AND FAILED TO COMPREHEND THEM.
THESE, THEN, WERE THE REASONS WHY
HE WAS GIVEN THE NAME "SEEKER OF FAME."
HE ALSO PRACTICED MANY GOOD DEEDS,
ENABLING HIM TO MEET UNCOUNTED BUDDHAS,
AND MAKE OFFERINGS TO ALL OF THEM.
ACCORDINGLY, HE WALKED THE GREAT PATH,
PREFECTED THE SIX PARAMITAS;
AND NOW HE MEETS THE SHAKYAN LION;
LATER HE WILL BECOME A BUDDHA
BY THE NAME OF MAITREYA,
WHO WILL BROADLY TAKE ALL BEINGS OVER,
THEIR NUMBER FAR BEYOND ALL COUNT.
AFTER THAT BUDDHA HAD PASSED INTO EXTINCTION
THE INDOLENT WAS YOU
AND THE DHARMA MASTER WONDROUS LIGHT
WAS I, MYSELF, NOW PRESENT HERE.
I SAW THE BUDDHA BRIGHTNESS OF LAMP;
HIS LIGHT AND PORTENTS WERE LIKE THESE.
THUS, I KNOW THE PRESENT BUDDHA
WISHES TO SPEAK THE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA.
THE PRESENT MARKS ARE LIKE THE PORTENTS PAST,
EXPEDIENT DEVICES OF THE BUDDHAS.
THE BUDDHA NOW PUTS FORTH BRIGHT LIGHT,
TO HELP REVEAL THE REAL MARK'S MEANING.
ALL OF YOU NOW SHOULD UNDERSTAND, AND
WITH ONE HEART, JOIN YOUR PALMS, AND WAIT;
THE BUDDHA IS ABOUT TO LET FALL THE DHARMA RAIN
TO SATISFY THOSE WHO SEEK THE WAY.
THOSE WHO SEEK THREE VEHICLES,
SHOULD THEY HAVE DOUBTS OR REGRETS,
THE BUDDHA WILL REMOVE THEM NOW
AND CAUSE THEM ALL TO VANISH WITHOUT A TRACE.
THE DHARMA MASTER WONDROUS LIGHT/ The Dharma Master Wondrous Light reverently kept THE STORE OF THE BUDDHA'S LAW/ He reverently received the Buddha's Dharma-Jewel, holding it, as it were, above his head FOR EIGHTY MINOR AEONS HE/ WIDELY SPREAD THE SUTRA OF THE DHARMA FLOWER/ He used all manner of methods to proclaim The Dharma Flower Sutra, The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. ALL OF THE EIGHT ROYAL SONS/ The eight sons of the Buddha Brightness of the Sun-Moon-Lamp WERE TAUGHT AND LED BY WONDROUS LIGHT/ They bowed to the Dharma master Wondrous Light as their Master and the Dharma Master Wondrous Light taught and transformed the eight sons that they BECAME SOLID IN THE UNSURPASSED PATH. They brought forth the solid resolve to seek the supreme way, the highest Buddha way. AND MET BUDDHAS BEYOND ALL COUNT/ They met a lot of Buddhas, an uncountable number of them AND HAVING PRESENTED THEM OFFERINGS/ They presented offerings to as many Buddhas as they met THEY ACCORDINGLY PRACTICED THE GREAT WAY. They made offerings to the Buddhas and then followed them to cultivate and sought the Buddha way. AND, IN SUCCESSION, BECAME BUDDHAS/ The eight royal sons in successive order became Buddhas. TRANSMITTING PREDICTIONS TO ONE ANOTHER IN TURN/ Not only did they become Buddhas, but they conferred predictions upon each other right down the line, in order. The first one transmitted the prediction to the second, and the second to the third, and so forth to the eighth. THE LAST OF THESE, A GOD AMONG GODS/The last of the Buddhas. The Buddha is called the God among gods, the Sage among sages. WAS A BUDDHA BY THE NAME OF BURNING LAMP/His name was "Burner of the Lamp." A GUIDING MASTER OF IMMORTALS/He was a mighty master and guide of all the gods and immortals. WHO SAVED AND LIBERATED LIMITLESS MULTITUDES/It is not known how many living beings he saved.
FOR KUO LING
By Bhikshuni Heng-yin
From the beginning, not a thing is.
The Buddha nature is clear and pure.
When the mind is quiet, the nature shines.
When the water is still, the moon appears.
What place is there for the dust to defile?
The mind in Samadhi's like a cloudless sky...
Pervading empty space and the Dharma Realm,
With nothing beyond it and nothing inside.
Each living creature will find its own way.
Each does what it has to do.
But if you don't put down the false,
How can you find the true?
THE DHARMA MASTER’S WONDROUS LIGHT/The Dharma Master Wondrous Light. AT THAT TIME HAD A DISCIPLE/He had a disciple WHOSE HEART HARBORED LAXNESS AND WHO/He didn't think to be vigorous. What he thought about all day was being lazy. If he wasn't thinking about sleeping, he was thinking about climbing on conditions, and when he returned from climbing on conditions, he went to sleep. When he was done sleeping, he ran back out to climb on conditions. All day long he WAS GREEDILY ATTACHED TO FAME AND GAIN/He was greedy for fame and profit, too. SEEKING FAME AND GAIN UNTIRINGLY/He had no other task all day but to seek for fame and profit. "What kind of scheme can I cook up to let everyone know my name," he would wonder. And he advertised himself everywhere, saying, "I am so-and-so, do you know me? I've got the most cultivation! Among those who have left home, I cultivate all day long and work harder than anyone else. I recite Sutras and I bow to the Buddha. I get up at three in the morning and at midnight I haven't yet gone to sleep. What am I doing? Cultivating the Way. If I'm not investigating Dhyana then I'm reciting the Buddha's name or bowing to the Buddha." He was always bragging about himself and buying himself billboards, advertising signs, and putting ads in the paper telling about how hard he cultivated and how devoted he was to his work. That's how he cultivated fame.
And what about seeking gain? Fame and gain go together. If you have fame you'll have profit and if you have profit, you'll gain fame. He went around promoting himself, seeking for fame, at raid that people would not know his name. Once they knew, some of the blind ones said, "That monk is a cultivator. Didn't he tell me so himself? We should all go make offerings to him!" and they all made offerings. Having sought fame, he got it and having sought gain, he also got it. He sought them "untiringly." Why untiringly? Because he had an easy time getting what he wanted. He just asked and it was given. He sought, and it was found. However, when he got them he wasn't satisfied. He received, but it was not enough. He was still unsatisfied. The more the better! He was insatiable for profit and reputation. HE OFTEN VISITED THE GREAT CLANS/"Often" means that he went three, four, or five times a day. The first time he'd come back with perhaps five hundred dollars. Then he'd think, "I didn't get very much, I'll go out again."
"I have plans to do such-and-such acts of merit and virtue. Give me a little more," he'd say, and this time they would give him a thousand, twice as much. "Great clans" are wealthy, made up of many wealthy people. When they see a monk coming to beg, they will give him as much as he asks for. If he got five hundred he'd ask for a thousand. When he returned with his thousand he'd think, "I didn't ask for enough. They'd have given me ten thousand if I'd asked for it," and that night he returns saying, "I have completed my acts of merit and virtue, and now I have yet another act of merit and virtue which must be done and it is extremely great. Give me but ten thousand dollars, and I can complete the merit and virtue." The wealthy person hears him say, "complete the merit and virtue," and he takes out ten thousand dollars and gives it to him. He gets his way very easily. He goes out again and again to beg for money and spends his whole life begging, obsessed with begging OFTEN VISITING THE GREAT CLANS. HE CAST ASIDE HIS RECITATIONS/Because he was always out running around climbing on conditions, if you asked him which Sutra he knew, he didn't know a single one. If you asked him, "Well, what about the Sastras? Which one have you studied?" He couldn't remember one of them. "Then what about the Vinaya? Which work have you studied?" He also did not know one of them. "Cast aside,” means that he didn't want it; he put them away. He didn't study anything at all. NEGLECTED THEM, FORGOT, AND FAILED TO COMPREHEND THEM/"Neglected" means that he put them away. There were Sutras around, but he didn't read them. He neglected them, and because he didn't read them he forgot them and failed to comprehend them, that is, he couldn't remember them clearly. THESE, THEN, WERE THE REASONS WHY/Because of these causes and conditions HE WAS GIVEN THE NAME "SEEKER OF FAME. "He got the name "Bodhisattva Seeker of Fame,” fame seeking specialist.
HE ALSO PRACTICED MANY GOOD DEEDS/Although he begged and was forever climbing on conditions; still, he did a lot of good things. Sometimes, when he begged, he didn't keep the money for himself but used it to foster merit and virtue. He fostered merit and virtue, doing all manner of good deeds, thus ENABLING HIM TO MEET UNCOUNTED BUDDHAS/ Because of all the good he did, "borrowing flowers to give the Buddha"--he borrowed other people's flowers to present them to the Buddha--he none-the-less had a bit of merit and virtue himself, too. AND MAKE OFFERINGS TO ALL OF THEM/In the presence of the Buddhas he cultivated by making all manner of offerings.
ACCORDINGLY HE WALKED THE GREAT PATH/He always accorded with living beings and sought the great, unsurpassed way. PERFECTED THE SIX PARAMITAS/ Because he did many good deeds, he perfected the Six Paramitas. Giving: He went out to beg and, when he came back he didn't keep what he had got, he gave it away. Morality: He cultivated the precepts, the regulations. Patience: If someone scolded him, he pretended he hadn't heard it. How did he do that? His face was like rubber, like an automobile tire, that thick. If someone scolded him, he paid no attention. If someone hit him, he pretended it just didn't happen.
He knew how to be patient. With his face like rubber, no matter who treated him impolitely, it was as if nothing happened. He looked like a beggar and he begged for his food. Why do those who have left home take their bowls out to beg for food? They also want to adopt the style of a beggar and have no mark of self. No matter how impolite you are to them, they act as if nothing had happened.
Maitreya Bodhisattva's stomach was like the sea; you could float a boat in it. His heart was the heart of a Buddha, extremely compassionate. He has a short verse, which I explained to you last year during the last Summer Session. It goes:
The Old Fool wears a tattered robe,
Fills his belly with plain food,
And mends the rags to keep his body warm.
He lets the myriad affairs just take their course.
Should someone scold the Old Fool
The Old Fool just says, "Fine."
Should someone strike the Old Fool,
The Old Fool just lies down to sleep.
Spit right in my face,
And I'll let it dry by itself.
That way I have my strength,
And you have no affliction.
This kind of Paramita
Is the jewel in the wonderful.
If you know this news
How can you worry about not attaining the Way?
"I, the Old Fool, am a very stupid old roan who wears ragged clothing. When I eat, I don't use oil and salt. I eat till I'm full and then forget it." That's how he cultivates the practice of patience. He can endure hunger and thirst, heat and cold. So it says, "He fills his belly with plain food." It may be tasteless, but when he eats it, it tastes very fine. When his clothes rip, he patches them to keep out the cold, Whatever happens, happens. It's taken care of according to conditions. They come, they go; they come, they go, according to the way things are, they take their course. "If someone starts scolding me," he says, "fine." You are scolding him? Really good! "I must really thank you! You're a very good scolder, you've scolded me so wonderfully well. I simply love to hear the sound of your scolding me." That's how he handles that. "If someone hits me, if they strike me, I just lie down on the ground. If you hit me again, I'll go to sleep. Go ahead and beat me as you please."
"If someone spits in my face, I don't wipe it off, I just let it dry on my face. I save the energy it takes to wipe the spit away...If you spit on my face and I don't even wipe it off, naturally you're not going to have any way to fight me because I'm just like a wooden statue, without, feeling and without awareness. So I save strength and you have no affliction."
"The perfection of patience," he says, "Is the jewel in the wonderful. If you know this news, how can you not complete the Way?
So although on the one hand it looks as if Maitreya Bodhisattva seeks name and profit, he also truly does the work and is not afraid of bitterness, of bitter practices in his cultivation. What are bitter practices? The more difficult something is, the more you should want to do it. You should do the things others can't do. "The things that other people don't want to do, I do."
For example, wherever Maitreya Bodhisattva goes, he specializes in cleaning the toilets. That's the dirtiest work there is, but he does it exclusively. He gets up early, sneaks into the bathroom and cleans the toilets until they sparkle. He does the most difficult work, the things no one else wants to do. And in doing it, he's not afraid of the suffering. The more he does it, the more he likes to do it. So there he is Maitreya Bodhisattva, with his big belly, always opening his big mouth to laugh. He doesn't fear suffering while he works. He's not like us who type for a while and then feel that our hands ache, or print a few sheets and find it too much trouble. In the beginning, it was very interesting work, but after two and a half, not even three days: "Ugh! Too much trouble. Too much work!"
Who told you to do it in the first place? Huh? When you started out, you didn't find it troublesome, but after a while it gets wearisome. That's simply too stupid! Would you say it wasn't stupid? When you do merit and virtue, you should undergo some bitterness. You can't just do it for one or two days. No matter what people do—haven't I told you before? They should be solid, sincere, and persevering? You should have these three qualities. Your resolve must be solid. No matter what kind of work you are doing, you must be firm. Sincere: This doesn't mean that you do it today and detest it tomorrow. You should think, "In the beginning, I liked it, and I will continue to like it." That's sincerity. Then, you must persevere. Anyone can, work for two and a half, not yet three days. What's hard about that? It's no problem at all. The several decades we lived as human beings, is not a very long time. Think about all the great aeons Maitreya Bodhisattva cultivated the practice of patience, cultivated giving, cultivated morality, cultivated vigor, and cultivated Dhyana Samadhi. All those great aeons were to him just like a single day. And we work for two and a half days and are fed up. Didn't you know when you began, if you work, of course its going to be troublesome. If you don't want to be troubled, the best thing to do would be to go to sleep. That's no trouble at all. Or go out and beg, climb on conditions. That's no trouble either. When you get there say, "I am a monk. You should make offerings to me. I now need five thousand. Hand it over." And they'll give it to you. It will take no effort on your part at all. However, things that take no effort have no real worth or value, and they create no merit or virtue to speak of, because it Is merit and virtue which you told other people to do. You didn't do it yourself.
Therefore, you should be like Maitreya Bodhisattva. You should have his patience and vigor. It shouldn't be the case that someone makes a remark and you can't let go of it and start to cry, or that someone treats you a bit unkind and you lose your temper. When you listen to the Sutras, you must actually put into practice what you hear. If you don't actually practice, what's the use of listening to them? Every night you listen to Sutras for two hours and when you're done listening, it's just like the wind had been blowing past your ears; it goes in one ear and out the other. What's the use of that? It's utterly useless. You must truly, actually cultivate, do the work. If you have genuine wisdom, true wisdom, you should just not do such stupid things. Genuine wisdom is gained in exchange for suffering. It is not obtained without the least bit of effort or the slightest bit of cultivation, nor by being afraid of bitterness, hardship, or poverty. How can you get any wisdom that way? Then, if you are not afraid of those things, and you cultivate for a long period of time, you can have some accomplishment.
Maitreya Bodhisattva cultivated the Six Paramitas perfectly. "Perfectly" means that he possessed all six of the Paramitas.
NOW HE MEETS THE SHAKYAN LION/The Sakyan Lion is Sakyamuni Buddha. LATER HE WILL BECOME A BUDDHA/After Shakyamuni Buddha; Maitreya Bodhisattva will succeed the Buddha-position. He is waiting to become a Buddha in the future. BY THE NAME OF MAITREYA/He is known as The Venerable Maitreya Buddha who will descend in the future." WHO WILL BROADLY TAKE ALL BEINGS OVER/He will save all living beings, a great, great many of them. THEIR NUMBER FAR BEYOND ALL COUNT/An uncountable number of them.
AFTER THAT BUDDHA HAD PASSED INTO EXTINCTION/Who would you say "that Buddha" was? It was the Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp. THE INDOLENT ONE WAS YOU/The lazy Bodhisattva was you, you Maitreya Bodhisattva, AND THE DHARMA MASTER WONDROUS LIGHT/Who was he? He WAS I, MYSELF, NOW PRESENT HERE/ Now, presently, I myself, Manjusri Bodhisattva, was the Dharma Master Wondrous Light.
I SAW THE BUDDHA BRIGHTNESS OF LAMP/ In the past I saw the Buddha Brightness of Sun-Moon-Lamp HIS LIGHT AND PORTENTS WERE LIKE THESE/His bright portents then were like the ones now manifest by Shakyamuni Buddha. THUS, I KNOW THE PRESENT BUDDHA; Because I saw in the past, I know that now Shakyamuni Buddha WISHES TO SPEAK THE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA/He wants to speak The Dharma Flower Sutra THE PRESENT MARKS ARE LIKE THE PORTENTS PAST/Right now, the portents revealed by Sakyamuni Buddha's white hair-mark light are like the ones previously seen at the time of Sun-Moon-Lamp Brightness Buddha. EXPEDIENT DEVICES OF THE BUDDHAS/They are dharmas of expediency employed by all the Buddhas. THE BUDDHA NOW PUTS FORTH BRIGHT LIGHT/The Buddha Sakyamuni Buddha emits the white hair-mark light from between his brows TO HELP REVEAL THE REAL MARK'S MEANING/He wants to speak the Real Mark doctrine of the Great Vehicle's Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. ALL OF YOU NOW SHOULD UNDERSTAND, AND/All of you, you should know, be aware WITH A SINGLE MIND, JOIN YOUR PALMS AND WAIT/Put your palms together, focus your attention, concentrate, and wait for the Buddha to speak the supreme wonderful Dharma. THE BUDDHA IS ABOUT TO LET FALL THE DHARMA RAIN/Sakyamuni Buddha is going to send down the rain of the Dharma, to let fall the great Dharma rain. TO SATISFY THOSE WHO SEEK THE WAY/The rain reaches those of all three dispositions: those of superior, average, and inferior dispositions, that is, the intelligent, ordinary, and unintelligent. And it takes in both the intelligent and the dull. Like the flowers, grasses, and trees, each receives the measure of rain that it requires. Now, Sakyamuni Buddha speaks the Dharma, and those of the Great Vehicle disposition receive the Great Vehicle Dharma. Those disposed to the Small Vehicle understand the Small Vehicle Dharma. Common people understand the doctrines of common people. The rain of Dharma satisfies all those who seek the Way.
THOSE WHO SEEK THREE VEHICLES/Now, allot the Bodhisattvas, Sound-hearers, and Condition-enlightened Ones, the people of the three vehicles, SHOULD THEY HAVE DOUBTS OR REGRETS/If you have any doubts or questions THE BUDDHA WILL REMOVE THEM NOW/The Buddha will now answer your questions AND CAUSE THEM ALL TO VANISH WITHOUT A TRACE. He will cause you not to have the slightest bit of doubt. He will resolve all of your doubts--they will vanish without a trace.
When people cultivate the Way, they must cultivate it. If they don't cultivate it, there is no Way. Only if you cultivate, can there be a Way. Therefore, speaking in terms of cultivation, if you don't cultivate, there are no problems at all, but as soon as you begin to cultivate, the problems come.
Why do they come? It's because in former lives your actions resulted from a conflux of different causes and conditions. Amidst all these various different causes and conditions, there were a lot of "books" which you did not keep accurately. And because the books weren't clear, in your present life, as soon as you begin to cultivate the Way, the demon king wants to do battle with you, to liquidate you. He causes you to feel that if the afflictions aren't coming from one direction, then they are coming from another. Afflictions come from the east, west, south, and north, the four points in between and from above and below—all ten directions. If you aren't afflicted about people, you get afflicted about things. Hah! If you aren't afflicted over things, then you're afflicted towards animals. If you are not afflicted towards animals, you are afflicted towards ghosts. If you aren't afflicted towards ghosts, then you are afflicted towards the spirits. Ahh...even to the point that you get afflicted at the Bodhisattvas and get angry at the Buddha. You even get angry at yourself!
Why does this happen?
It's because in the distant past you were too muddled!
You did things too unclearly and now you run into all kinds of afflictions. Some
people cultivate and make a vow not to become afflicted. Before they made the
vow, there really wasn't any affliction, but as soon as they make the vow, the
affliction arrives, quite promptly. Before they made a vow to eat only one meal
a day, they didn't feel particularly hungry, but as soon as the vow was made and
they finished eating, they're hungry, so hungry they can't stand it. "I'm
so hungry! I'm completely exhausted. I can't even stand up and I can't sit
comfortably either." It's very strange, very strange.
CHAPTER TWO: EXPEDIENT DEVICES
AT THAT TIME THE WORLD HONORED ONE AROSE SERENELY FROM SAMADHI AND TOLD SHARIPUTRA, "THE WISDOM OF ALL THE BUDDHAS IS EXTREMELY PROFOUND AND UNLIMITED. THE GATE WAY TO THIS WISDOM IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND AND DIFFICULT TO ENTER. IT CANNOT BE KNOWN BY ANY OF THE SOUND HEARERS OR PRATYEKA BUDDHAS.
"WHAT IS THE REASON? THE BUDDHAS HAVE IN THE PAST DRAWN NEAR TO COUNTLESS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF BUDDHAS, EXHAUSTIVELY PRACTICING THE UNLIMITED DHARMAS OF THE WAY OF THOSE BUDDHAS THEY ARE HEROICALLY VIGOROUS AND THEIR NAMES ARE KNOWN EVERYWHERE.
The previous prose and verse sections were an introduction to The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, introducing the Sutra's causes and conditions. Now that the causes and conditions have been clearly related we will proceed to explain the second chapter, which is called CHAPTER, TWO: EXPEDIENT DEVICES.
A device means a method and expedient means convenient. This type of method is a provisional dharma, not an actual dharma. It is a "provisional, clever, expedient device." A provisional dharma is not a permanent dharma; it is for temporary use. Actual means that it is forever unchanging, forever usable. However, if you begin by speaking the unchanging actual dharma, no one can understand it. That is why the Buddhas of the ten directions artfully set down expedient Dharma-doors and "bestow the provisional for the sake of the actual." Later, they "open the provisional to reveal the actual."
"Bestowing the provisional for the sake of the actual,” means that, for the sake of realizing Buddhahood, the Sravaka and Pratyeka Buddha Vehicles are taught. After that, the Bodhisattva Vehicle is taught, but the ultimate destination is the Buddha Vehicle. The Buddha Vehicle is actual. The Sravaka and Pratyeka Buddha Vehicles are provisional. For the sake of realizing Buddhahood, the Small Vehicle Dharma is spoken. Later, living beings are led to return to the Great Vehicle, the Buddha-fruit. That is what is meant by "bestowing the provisional for the sake of the actual."
"Opening the provisional to reveal the actual:" At the very beginning, when the Buddha taught the Three Storehouse Teaching to teach and transform the Sound Hearers and Pratyeka Buddhas, he said, "This Dharma-door is the very best. It is the incomparable Dharma. Nothing can compare with it." The Small Vehicle people cultivated in accord and certified to the first, second, third, and fourth fruit of Sage-hood and they were satisfied with just a little. They thought that was what the Buddhadharma was all about. They did not go forward or seek to advance. They stopped at Transformation City. This will be discussed later when we come to the seventh chapter, "The Analogy of the Transformation City." Those of the Two Vehicles felt that they had expended a great deal of energy in their cultivation, cultivating all kinds of ascetic practices in order to certify to the attainment of the Sagely fruit. They didn't know that there was still the Buddha Way to be realized. Above, they did not seek the Buddha Way and, below, they did not teach and transform living beings. They were "independent Arhats." Having realized the Way themselves, they paid no attention to whether or not other living beings realized it.
For this reason, the Buddha began to "open" up the provisional Dharma. He said, "The doctrines I explained to you before were not the utmost Dharma-door. Although you have certified to the Sagely fruit, it's not the ultimate position. You still have to turn from the small and go towards the great. You must turn away from the Small Vehicle and return to Great Vehicle Buddhism. You ought to walk the Bodhisattva path and cultivate the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Conducts, the dharmas of the Great Vehicle. Thus, the Buddha destroyed the provisional dharmas; made them obsolete and he revealed the genuine doctrine. That is what is known as Expedient Devices.
AT THAT TIME, when this chapter was spoken, THE WORLD HONORED ONE, the one honored by gods and humans, both in and beyond the world, AROSE SERENELY FROM SAMADHI. Sakyamuni Buddha had entered the Samadhi of the Station of Limitless Principles. Now he emerges from that right concentration, and he does so serenely. "Serenely" means peacefully and with a great deal of self-mastery. He wasn't like those who, when they have finished meditation, immediately stretch their painful legs and backs, roll their necks or stretch their shoulders. That's not being "serene" and it shows a lack of good manners, besides. "Serene" means very calm, feeling one's entire body to be very comfortable without a single place that is in discomfort; it means one does not feel pain in the legs and does not feel pain in the back. The Buddha arose from samadhi and he was just the same as before he had entered it. He didn't notice that his legs were uncomfortable. This is what is meant by "serenely".
AND TOLD SARIPUTRA. He arose and, since no one asked him, the Buddha spoke without being requested. He spoke to Sariputra. Why did he speak to Sariputra? Because, among the assembly of Sound Hearers, Sariputra was the foremost in wisdom. He was the most intelligent. Within the space of a week, Sariputra completely penetrated the entire storehouse of Dharma. While still inside his mother's belly, Sariputra won debates with his uncle. Sariputra's uncle was a great debater. He was an excellent speaker who possessed unobstructed eloquence however, when Sariputra's mother was pregnant with Sariputra, she borrowed Sariputra's wisdom and used it to defeat her older brother. Because he had such wisdom, Sakyamuni Buddha spoke to him. Manjusri Bodhisattva, who spoke previously, is foremost in actual wisdom, the wisdom of the Great Vehicle, whereas. Sariputra is foremost in the wisdom of the provisional teaching, provisional wisdom, the wisdom of the Small Vehicle.
Sakyamuni Buddha now tells Sariputra, "THE WISDOM OF ALL THE BUDDHAS IS EXTREMELY PROFOUND AND UNLIMITED. It is extremely deep; it's bottomless and so you can't know how deep it is. It is unlimited because it cannot be reckoned. It is at once profound and unlimited. It's a kind of wisdom, which is so high, and so deep that it cannot be fathomed nor known by reckoning or through analogy. That's what the wisdom of all the Buddhas is like.
THE GATEWAY TO THIS WISDOM IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND AND DIFFICULT TO ENTER. Since the Buddha's wisdom is extremely profound and has no limit, how can one enter into it? How can one enter the wisdom of the Buddhas? The wisdom gate of the Buddhas is hard to understand and hard to enter, extremely difficult to understand and not at all easy to be clear about. It's hard to enter; it is also difficult to certify to its attainment.
IT CANNOT BE KNOWN BY ANY OF THE SOUND HEARERS OR PRATYEKA BUDDHAS. The assembly of Sound Hearers and Pratyeka Buddhas, Conditionally Enlightened Ones, cannot understand it,
What are Conditionally Enlightened Ones? They are born when a Buddha is in the world and they cultivate the Twelve Causes and Conditions and awaken to the Way. When no Buddha is in the world, they cultivate on their own, and are called Pratyeka Buddhas,
In the spring they watch the white flowers bloom;
In the autumn they see the yellow leaves fall.
They understand the doctrine of impermanence, that everything in heaven and earth undergoes production upon production and extinction upon extinction, and they awaken to the Way through the cultivation of the Twelve Causes and Conditions.
Sound Hearers cultivate the Dharma of the Four Truths and certify to the fruit: the Truth of Suffering, the Truth of Origination, the Truth of Extinction, the Truth of the Way.
Those who cultivate the Twelve Causes and Condition and awaken to the Way are called Conditionally Enlightened Ones and those who cultivate the Four Truths and awaken to the Way are called Sound Hearers. The Sound Hearers and the Conditionally Enlightened Ones (Pratyeka Buddhas) are the two sages of the Small Vehicle. However, these two kinds of sages, although they have certified to the fruit, cannot know, cannot apprehend the Buddha's wisdom; they don't understand it.
WHAT IS THE REASON? Why can't they know it?
THE BUDDHAS HAVE, IN THE PAST, DRAWN NEAR TO COUNTLESS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF BUDDHAS. The reason the Buddhas became Buddhas was because, in the past, they drew near all the Buddhas--a hundred thousand, ten thousand million of them. They presented them with offerings and paid them honor. EXHAUSTIVELY PRACTICING THE UNLIMITED DHARMAS OF THE WAY OF THOSE BUDDHAS. They cultivated the Way, studying the limitless Dharmas of the Way of all those hundreds of thousands of tens of thousands of millions of Buddhas. They cultivated according to the Buddhadharma and it is not known how many Dharma-doors they cultivated--a limitless, boundless number of them. So we now study a little bit of Dharma and think that we understand it. That is truly the view of one sitting in a well and looking up at the sky. Or perhaps you read a few books about Buddhism and claim to understand the Buddhadharma. That is simply too shameless. It is to take the Buddhadharma too lightly, as too simple. There are even those who have never studied the Buddhadharma at all and nonetheless lecture on the Sutras. That's just to insult the audience. They are unable to benefit themselves and even less able to benefit others. They lecture coming and going, but they lecture the Sutras in such a muddled fashion, lecturing on and on with no understanding, that the more they speak the more muddled things get. Some of them explain donkeys as horses and others explain ghosts as people. They can't explain the word ghost correctly and they can't even read the word "person." Still, they go around lecturing. You ask them a question, and they will say, "I never read that book so I don't know about that doctrine." They may strike up repartee with you, perhaps using the questions of the Ch'an (Zen) School. They say that they understand, but they don't, and so they end up telling you to go figure it out for yourself. Because in the end, all they can do is talk about it.
You may wonder, "If those of the Two Vehicles did not understand the Great Vehicle Dharma, then how can common people understand it now?"
Those of the Two Vehicles went up step by step. Although a common person, if you understand the doctrines of the Great Vehicle, you can immediately certify to the attainment of the Great Vehicle Fruit. It's like studying. Some people begin in elementary school and work their way up grade by grade through the university to get a Ph.D. Others may not have been to school, but they associate with those in elementary school and high school, and find their studies very simple. They understand them as soon as they hear them, and so they can go directly to the university to study. Although you are common people, your potential affinities have ripened and so you hear the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma in the beginning. Those of the two vehicles did not have the potential affinities to hear the Great Vehicle Dharma. It was not until the very end, in the Dharma Flower Assembly, that the Sound Hearers turned from the small to the great, and studied the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma. Now, we have an excellent opportunity. The Buddha has already clearly spoken the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma and we can directly and quickly understand the Great Vehicle Dharma.
THEY ARE HEROICALLY VIGOROUS AND THEIR NAMES ARE HEARD EVERYWHERE. Heroic means that they were not afraid of life or death. No matter how tired they were, they continued to go forward with vigor. Vigor means that they did not rest. Because they were heroically vigorous in their cultivation of the Way, their names were heard everywhere. They were not like the Seeker of Fame Bodhisattva mentioned yesterday who went around seeking fame everywhere. When these Buddhas were vigorously cultivating the Way, because they did not seek fame, fame came of itself. That is why their names were heard everywhere.
"THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THE EXTREMELY PROFOUND DHARMA WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN BEFORE, AND SPEAK OF IT ACCORDING TO WHAT IS APPROPRIATE, ITS PURPORT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND."
THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THE EXTREMELY PROFOUND DHARMA, WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN BEFORE. They have realized the supreme, extremely deep Dharma which has never been before; no one had ever obtained it before AND SPEAK OF IT ACCORDING TO WHAT IS APPROPRIATE. They speak the Dharma according to the potentials of the beings. They bestow the teachings in accord with the people being taught, speaking Dharma according to the needs of individuals, like prescribing medicine for a specific illness.
ITS PROPORT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND. Although they speak the Dharma in accord with what is appropriate, still the wisdom of the Buddhas is extremely deep and unlimited and its purport is not easy to understand Sariputra.
"SARIPUTRA, FROM THE TIME I REALIZED BUDDHAHOOD, I HAVE, BY MEANS OF VARIOUS CAUSES AND CONDITIONS AND VARIOUS ANALOGIES, EXTENSIVELY PROCLAIMED THE VERBAL TEACHING. WITH COUNTLESS EXPEDIENT DEVICES\I HAVE GUIDED LIVING BEINGS, LEADING THEM TO SEPARATE FROM ALL ATTACHMENTS.
"WHY IS THIS? THE THUS COME ONE HAS ALREADY PERFECTED HIS EXPEDIENT DEVICES AND THE PARAMITA OF HIS KNOWLEDGE AND VISION.
"SARIPUTRA, THE KNOWLEDGE AND VISION OF THE THUS COME ONE IS VAST, GREAT, PROFOUND, AND FAR-REACHING. HE HAS PROFOUNDLY ENTERED, WITHOUT BOUNDARY, THE UNLIMITED, THE UNOBSTRUCTED, THE POWERS, FEARLESSNESSES, DHYANA CONCENTRATIONS, AND SAMADHIS OF LIBERATION, ACCOMPLISHING ALL THOSE DHARMAS NEVER HAD BEFORE.
Yesterday the line "its purport difficult to understand," was explained. In the Dharma, which the Buddha spoke, the wise see wisdom and the humane see humaneness. The profound see profundity and the superficial see superficiality. It is said, "The Dharma is proclaimed with a single sound and each gains understanding according to one’s kind." Although the Buddha spoke Dharma with a single sound, all living beings understood it. The ghosts understood it, and the Bodhisattvas, Sound Hearers, and Conditioned Enlightened Ones also understood it. Although they understood it, each understood the doctrine in their own terms and couldn’t understand it completely. That is why its "purport is difficult to understand."
Some of them may have understood one aspect of its two aspects of its meaning, but not three. The Buddha spoke a single doctrine, but it included all of existence and so it is said that "its purport is difficult to understand."
"SARIPUTRA! Sakyamuni Buddha calls out again, "Body Seed, Sariputra! FROM THE TIME I REALIZED BUDDHAHOOD. What time was that? It was when, sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree one night he saw a bright star and awakened to the Way. From that time until the present I HAVE, BY MEANS OF VARIOUS CAUSES AND CONDITIONS, I have used various kinds of causes and conditions, not just one variety, but many different causes and conditions, AND CARIOUS ANALOGIES. I have also used a limitless, countless number of analogies to explain the Buddhadharma EXTENSIVELY PROCLAIMED THE VERBAL TEACHING. Extensively means broadly; proclaimed means expounded, elaborated upon. The verbal teaching means that the Buddha went everywhere lecturing on the Sutras and speaking the Dharma, proclaiming the Buddhist doctrine. WITH COUNTLESS EXPEDIENT DEVICES. It is not known, it cannot be counted, how many expedient devices were used as Dharma doors, to teach and transform living beings. It is said,
With good and clever expedient devices
One saves living beings,
Cleverly turning the wearisome dust
Into the Buddha’s work.
What is meant by "with good and clever expedient devices one saves living beings"? It means to use very suitable ingenious expedient devices to take all living beings across. "Cleverly turning the wearisome dust into the Buddha's work." The wearisome dust refers to all worldly dharmas. But although they are wearisome dust, you can turn them into the Buddha's work and cause all living beings, while in the dust, to transcend the dust. Although they are in this world, they transcend this world. Understanding all of the Dharma the Buddha spoke, you can cleverly turn the wearisome dust into the Buddha's work.
I HAVE GUIDED LIVING BEINGS, LEADING THEM TO SEPARATE FROM ALL ATTACHMENTS. I have used various kinds of good, clever, expedient devices as Dharma-doors to guide living beings. "Guide" means to induce. In Confucianism they say, "In an orderly fashion, one well-induces. This means that according to a systematic method one leads living beings. If you want to be a teacher, you must have a method to teach your students. If you have no method with which to teach them, the students will run away from you; they'll be afraid of you. If you have a method, then this student will want to study with you and so will that one--all of them will like to study under you. If you have no teaching plan, you'll teach them right into running away. They'll sign up for your course today and dropout tomorrow.
Teachers who know how to teach can bring in student from long distances and have over a hundred people signed up for their classes. Other teachers, who don't know how to teach, may start out with a hundred and the following day, eighty will be left. The next day sixty will remain and on the fourth day, forty. On the fifth day, twenty will be left, on the sixth day there will be ten and on the seventh day only five. On the eighth day, he will be totally alone! He may want to teach,' but no one wants to learn from him. Why not? Because he doesn't know how to teach and he is unable "in an orderly fashion, to well-induce..." If he was able, he would say, "When you study, work hard. I'm going to test you and so you better pay special attention. If you are not lazy every time I test you, then when the time comes to graduate I will pass you whether your grades are good or not. I may give you a B or an A, but no one will get a C. If you don't study well, however, you won't even get a D. Hearing this, the students think, "He'll certainly give me a B or an A," and they work hard. That's what competent teaches are like.
The Buddhadharma works the same way. The Buddha is skilled in teaching beings and he uses all manners of Dharma-doors, saying, "Study the Four Truths. If you study them you can certify to the Sagely fruit, to the first fruit, that of the Shrotaapanna, the second fruit, that of Sakrhdagamin, the third fruit, that of Anagamin, or the fourth fruit, that of the Arhat. If you cultivate the dharma of the Twelve Causes and Conditions, you can certify to the fruit position of a Conditionally Enlightened One."
After that, he turns them from the small towards the great and speaks about the dharmas for teaching Bodhisattvas of which the Buddhas are protective and mindful. He says, "In the future you can all become Buddhas, but first you've got to practice the Bodhisattva Way; you must first cultivate the Six Crossings Over and the Ten Thousand Conducts."
When those of the Second Vehicle hear it, they think, "So there was the Bodhisattva Vehicle all the time!" and they put down the Small Vehicle Dharma to practice the Great Vehicle Dharma.
If the Buddha has started out saying, "You should cultivate the Great Vehicle Dharma," and not first taught them the Small Vehicle, they would have thought, "In the Great. Vehicle you've got to give. How can I give my things away? That's just a big burn, and I'm not going to do it." If someone has just begun to study the Dharma and has not yet obtained the slightest advantage you can't tell them they have to give the minute they walk in the door. For example, if someone comes to listen to a Sutra lecture and you start talking to them before they've even crossed the threshold, saying, "You want to listen to the Sutra? Give me a hundred dollars!" they are going to think, "Oh? What's this all about? A hundred dollars?" and off they will run. They don't get to hear the Sutra lecture, they don't give a hundred dollars, and you don't get any offerings!
But after they've heard the Sutra lectures for a while, they will come to understand that in order to practice the Bodhisattva Way it is necessary to give, and they may give a thousand or even ten thousand dollars--a lot more than the original hundred. When they understand, they will give; if you tell them to give before they understand the principle, it would be harder for them than cutting off a piece of their own flesh. Even if it is very obvious that they should give, you can't just tell them to give when they don't understand the Buddhadharma.
Since the Buddha understood this Dharma-door, he first told them to study the Small Vehicle Dharma saying, "Just do your own cultivation. There is suffering, origination, extinction, and the Way. Know suffering, sever origination, long for extinction, and cultivate the Way. Cultivate that and certify to the fruit."
They think about it, "Hmm...I don't have to do anything but cultivate and gain accomplishment on my own," and so they cultivate according to that Dharma-door.
Once they have cultivated and certified to the fruit of Arhatship, then the Buddha "opens the provisional to reveal the actual." He does away with the provisional dharma in favor of the cultivation of the Great Vehicle, practicing the Bodhisattva Way, cultivating the Six Crossings Over and the Ten Thousand Conducts. At that time, even though they may not want to cultivate it, they've got a taste of the Dharma and so they put the Small Vehicle down and cultivate the Great Vehicle. When they cultivate the Great Vehicle they have to give, and hold the precepts and regulations.
As to maintaining the precepts: Those who wish to maintain the precepts should do so themselves. They should keep them themselves and not pester other people about them saying things like, "Since you don't understand, I'll explain to you how to keep this precept here..."
You should keep them yourself and not go about telling other people how to do so. Keep your own precepts. Don't fail to keep them yourself and yet exhort others to keep them. That's just like having filthy clothes yourself and yet helping others wash their clothes. This is called "neglecting your own fields and weeding other people's fields." You don't plough your own land, but you go help others plant their fields while your own go to ruin and you reap no harvest. In keeping the precepts, you must keep them yourself.
And you must also be patient and vigorous, cultivate Dhyana samadhi, and cultivate the paramita of Prajna as well. You must cultivate all these various Dharma-doors.
So why didn't the Buddha speak the Great Vehicle Dharma to begin with? It was because he feared that those of the Small Vehicle wouldn't have it in their hearts to benefit others but would only care to benefit themselves. That is why he spoke the Small Vehicle Dharma first, so that they could benefit themselves. Then later, when they had realized their self-benefit and had enlightened themselves, they could enlighten others. Thus, the Buddha used all manner of methods, of expedient devices, to teach and transform living beings.
"Guiding" living beings, then, means "in an orderly fashion, to well-induce..." To induce them.
"Leading them to separate from all attachments..." He causes all living beings to separate from all attachments, to separate from all those things they couldn't put down. They had to part with all their attachments.
At this point in the Sutra, everyone should return the light and reverse the illumination. Ask yourself, "Have I now separated from my attachments."
If you have separated from your attachments, you should separate from them a bit further. If you haven't separated from your attachments, hurry up and leave them. Don't be attached. We should definitely believe in the Dharma which the Thus Come One has spoken and should not merely listen without actually practicing. The separation from attachments is most important.
WHY IS THIS? Why should one separate from attachments?
THE THUS COME ONE HAS ALREADY PERFECTED HIS EXPEDIENT DEVICES AND THE PARAMITA OF HIS KNOWLEDGE AND VISION, the expedient Dharma-doors which he taught, and his knowledge and vision which has gone to the other shore have already been perfected.
SARIPUTRA, THE KNOWLEDGE AND VISION OF THE THUS COME ONE IS BROAD, GREAT, PROFOUND, AND FAR-REACHING. What is meant by the knowledge of the Thus Come One? Knowledge refers to having plumbed the very bottom of the source of the Dharma. He knows the very rock-bottom source of all the Dharmas. That's the Thus Come One's wisdom.
Vision: The Thus Come One knows that all Dharmas are basically empty and this is what is meant by the vision of the Thus Come One. The Thus Come One's knowledge and vision is broad; there is nothing broader than it, nothing greater. It can't be spoken of in terms of numbers, and it is so great that there is nothing higher. It is so big that there is nothing beyond it, and so small that there is nothing inside it. It is so great that you couldn't find anything greater and so profound its depth cannot be known; it is extremely deep. Ultimately how deep is it? No one knows. Far-reaching: it is extremely recondite.
HE HAS PROFOUNDLY ENTERED, WITHOUT BOUNDARY, THE UNLIMITED. Unlimited means it can't be counted. THE UNOBSTRUCTED. Unobstructed means unimpeded. The Dharma obtained by the Thus Come One has no obstacles. THE POWERS refers to the Thus Come One's Ten Powers, ten kinds of strength. He has Four FEARLESSNESSES. DHYANA CONCENTRATIONS. Concentration means samadhi. Dhyana is a Sanskrit word, which is interpreted as "thought cultivation."1 It is also called "stilling thought."2 One causes all false thinking to disappear so that concentration is attained.
No matter what one does, one should be concentrated. You can obtain concentration in anything you do. Chopping firewood or drawing water, serving guests or entertaining visitors—you can cultivate concentration in all these situations.
Dhyana Master Yung Ming Shou recited the Buddha's name 100,000 times a day, reciting, "Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha..." and yet he did not shirk any of his duties. He did all kinds of work, but while he was working he was in the Buddha-recitation Samadhi. His state was such that when he recited the Buddha's name once, "Namo Amitabha Buddha," as he recited it, a transformation Buddha came out of his mouth. Who saw them? The people at that time who had the Buddha-eye could see them. Ordinary people couldn't see them. Every time he recited "Namo Amitabha Buddha," a transformation Buddha appeared and then went off to rebirth. So everyone said that Dhyana Master Yung Ming Shou was a transformation body of Amitabha Buddha. He was always within the Buddha-recitation Samadhi.
So no matter what kind of work you are involved In, all you have to do is have a persevering and unchanging heart and you can obtain concentration-power, you can attain samadhi.
The SAMADHIS OF LIBERATION. These states of samadhi were so high and so deep that they could not be fathomed. The Thus Come One has profoundly entered them, without bound. There is no limit to them.
ACCOMPLISHING ALL THOSE DHARMAS NEVER HAD BEFORE. He is able to accomplish those Dharmas, which have never been before, all those samadhis, which had never been before.
SARIPUTRA, THE THUS COME ONE IS ABLE TO MAKE VARIOUS DISCRIMINATIONS, CLEVERLY SPEAKING ALL DHARMAS. HIS SPEECH IS GENTLE AND DELIGHTS THE HEARTS OF THE MULTITUDES.
SARIPUTRA, ESSENTIALLY SPEAKING, THE BUDDHA HAS FULLY ACCOMPLISHED ALL OF THOSE UNLIMITED, BOUNDLESS DHARMAS, WHICH HAVE NEVER BEEN BEFORE.
Sakyamuni Buddha calls out once again, "SARIPUTRA, THE THUS COME ONE IS ABLE TO MAKE VARIOUS DISCRIMINATIONS. The Thus Come One, the World Honored One, is able to make all kinds of discriminations with regard to the dharmas. He is well able to discriminate the Real Mark of all dharmas. CLEVERLY SPEAKING ALL DHARMAS.
What is meant by "dharma"?
The dharma is a method. If you speak the method in an ingenious way, you can lead the person to whom you are speaking to happily receive your doctrines. That is what is meant by "cleverly speaking." If you don't speak cleverly, you speak clumsily. "Clumsily speaking" is just not speaking clearly, speaking very awkwardly and stupidly. If, basically, it was something they enjoyed doing, by the time you're done talking to them about it, they no longer want to do it. That's just speaking too stupidly, being too dumb. If it was something that they basically didn't want to do, but after you talked to them they changed their minds and want to do it, that would be a clever speaking of all dharmas.
For example, the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch, couldn't read, but he was able to speak cleverly all dharmas. Once there were two people who were arguing. One of them said that the wind was moving and the other said the flag was moving. They argued ceaselessly back and forth, but the Sixth Patriarch said, "The wind isn't moving and the flag isn't moving: the minds of the humane ones are moving. If your heart moves, then they move; if your heart doesn't move, then nothing moves." That's the clever speaking of all dharmas.
If you understand how to cultivate the Way, you can do so in all your activities and you will always be in samadhi. How did the Great Master Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch become enlightened? He was a firewood gatherer in the mountains who did nothing else all day long. Then he took his bundles of wood to town to sell them and used the money to support his old mother, because he was very filial. He did not sit in meditation and investigate Dhyana. When he went to the monastery of the Fifth Patriarch, what do you think the Fifth Patriarch told him to do? Pound rice. All day he pounded rice and had no time to meditate or study the Buddhadharma. He didn't recite a single sentence of mantra or sit once in meditation. But he became enlightened.
How did he become enlightened?
"Cleverly speaking, all dharmas..." HIS SPEECH IS GENTLE. The Buddha speaks the Dharma with gentle words. He doesn't use his authority to pressure people, saying things like, "Hey! Do this! If you don't do it, you're in trouble!" He's not like me, this teacher, who has set down a very unfair law. Still, even though the law is unfair, I didn't do it for selfish reasons. It's a kind of ingenious method to prevent people from getting angry. If you don't understand this dharma you may find it unfair, but if you understand it , you'll know that it is most wonderful, indeed.
AND DELIGHTS THE HEARTS OF THE MULTITUDES. The words the Buddha speaks are extremely gentle and harmonious. Everyone who hears them feels extremely happy to hear them and his speech seams to be extremely in accord with their own way of seeing things. Thus, their hearts are delighted; they are all happy.
"SHARIPUTRA." says the Buddha yet again, "ESSENTIALLY SPEAKING, to speak of the essential points, THE BUDDHA HAS FULLY ACCOMPLISHED ALL OF THOSE UNLIMITED, BOUNDLESS DHARMAS WHICH HAVE NEVER BEEN BEFORE. There are unlimited and boundless dharmas which have never been before and the Buddha has accomplished every one of them. However, accomplishing is accomplishing and now he says, "Stop! I'm not going to speak."
"Stop, stop! It can't be spoken, for my Dharma is wonderful and difficult to conceive."
Today we will stop at the word STOP. If the buddha himself says
"stop" how can I not stop? So I won't speak either. Tomorrow
night though, we are going to speak the most important part of the Dharma
Flower Sutra, the Ten Suchnesses: that is to say, all dharmas the suchness
of the marks, the suchness of the nature, the suchness of the substance,
the suchness of the powers, the suchness of the functions, the suchness of
the causes, the suchness of the effects, the suchness of retributions, and
the suchness of the ultimate equality of the beginning and end.
STOP! SARIPUTRA, THERE IS NO NEED TO SPEAK FURTHER. WHY IS THIS? AS TO THAT FOREMOST, RARE, AND HARD-TO-UNDERSTAND DHARMA ACCOMPLISHED BY THE BUDDHA—ONLY THE BUDDHAS AND THE BUDDHA CAN EXHAUST THE REAL MARK OF ALL DHARMAS. THAT IS TO SAY, WITH REGARD TO ALL DHARMAS: THE SUCHNESS OF THE MARKS, THE SUCHNESS OF THE NATURE, THE SUCHNESS OF THE SUBSTANCES, THE SUCHNESS OF THE POWER, THE SUCHNESS OF THE FUNCTIONS, THE SUCHNESS OF THE CAUSES, THE SUCHNESS OF THE EFFECTS, THE SUCHNESS OF THE RETRIBUTIONS, AND THE SUCHNESS OF THE ULTIMATE EQUALITY FROM BEGINNING TO END.
AT THAT TIME, THE WORLD HONORED ONE, WISHING TO RESTATE THIS MEANING, SPOKE VERSES SAYING.
"STOP!" says Shakyamuni Buddha. "Cease!" This means that the Buddha did not want to speak the Dharma Flower Sutra.
It was to be feared that, if he spoke it, people wouldn't believe it and what is more they might slander it and thereby create limitless karma. So the Buddha thought not to speak it. He said, "I'm not going to speak it, Sariputra. THERE IS NO NEED TO SPEAK FURTHER. I don't want to continue speaking the Dharma Flower Sutra...
"WHY IS THIS? What is the reason for not speaking it? It is because AS TO THAT FOREMOST, RARE, AND HARD-TO-UNDERSTAND DHARMA ACCOMPLISHED BY THE BUDDHA." the "foremost," number one dharma which the Buddha accomplished is the non-dual Dharma-door, and so it is called "number one." The non-dual Dharma-door is "not two." It transcends the relative and is therefore solitary, singular, and non-dual. It transcends opposites and so it is foremost, number one. "Rare" means that it has appeared very, very rarely. Why is it "hard-to-understand"? Because it is extremely profound. Because its purport is extremely profound, it is extremely hard-to-understand. This "dharma" is foremost, rare, and hard-to-understand. As to this dharma; ONLY THE BUDDHAS AND THE BUDDHA, that is only the Buddhas of the ten directions and Sakyamuni Buddha CAN EXHAUST, can truly understand and be clear about, THE REAL MARK OF ALL DHARMAS, the doctrine of the Real Mark of all dharmas. The Real Mark is unmarked and yet there is nothing not marked. THAT IS TO SAY, WITH REGARD TO ALL DHARMAS: In general all dharmas do not got beyond the Ten Suchnesses. To speak in terms of the Ten Dharma Realms: there are Four Sagely Dharma Realms: the Dharma Realm of the Buddhas, of the Bodhisattvas, of the Conditionally Enlightened Ones, of the Sound Hearers. There are Six Common Dharma Realms: the Dharma Realm of gods, humans, asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals. Together they make Ten Dharma Realms. Within every Realm there are Ten Suchnesses. There are Ten Suchnesses in the Buddha Realm, there are Ten Suchnesses in the Bodhisattva Realm, in the Conditionally Enlightened Realm, in the Sound Hearer Realm. There are Ten Suchnesses in the realm of the gods, and humans, and the asuras also have to take the Ten Suchnesses into account, and so do those in the hells, those who are hungry ghosts, and those who become animals. Every realm contains all ten of the Ten Suchnesses.
Since there are Ten Suchnesses in each of the Ten Realms, that makes One Hundred, and this is called the Hundred Realms. In every one of the Hundred Realms there are also Ten Suchnesses, which makes what is called the Thousand Suchnesses. They are known, then, as the Hundred Realms and the Thousand Suchnesses. I'm explaining this very generally now, because this is the first time you've heard it, and so you won't be able to understand it very well. But if you hear it once, then the second and third times you hear it, you will be able to understand it completely. Why don't you understand it now? Because it's the first time you've heard the Sutra and you" hear all these "Suchness, suchness—so many of them...several hundred Suchnesses turning into a thousand Suchnesses..." and you can't completely understand it. However, the essential meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra is right here in the Ten Suchnesses. So, although you can't totally understand it, you should pay special attention to it.
Now, I'll explain the Ten Suchnesses. The word suchness is composed of two Chinese characters , "thus" and , "it is." Suchness: "thus it is." "Thus" is a word, which points to the Dharma. It means that we are speaking of these dharmas: THE SUCHNESS OF THE MARKS.
What is a mark?
It's very simple, very easy to understand. It is an appearance. But an appearance may be true or false. What is a true appearance? That is also very easy to understand. It is permanent and unchanging. The permanent is the true appearance. It is as it says in the Surangama Sutra, our "permanent true heart, the bright substance of our pure nature." Permanent means it is unchanging and yet able to accord with conditions, able to accord with conditions and yet unchanging. Therefore, it is permanent. Permanent means it is not produced, not destroyed, not defiled, not pure, not increased, and not decreased. If I say too much, it's of no use. I'm just explaining it in terms that are readily understandable. It is just the Real Mark of True Suchness, also called the permanent.
The Real Mark of True Suchness is not something everyone can understand and so the text says, "Only the Buddhas and the Buddha can exhaust the Real Mark of all dharmas." This refers to the Suchness of the Marks, the True Mark. The true mark? I think you can probably understand it somewhat.
There is also the false mark. This is something that you are also very familiar with, too. You all know your old friend. Who is it?
Ignorance. Do you recognize it? Do you understand the term ignorance? It's nothing new. I've been lecturing the Sutras for a long time and I constantly bring up ignorance. Ignorance is an important character, like the leading character in a play. So, everyone no doubt is very familiar with it.
Ignorance is just a false mark; it is not true and so it is subject to production, extinction, increase, and decrease, defilement, and purity. Ignorance's appearance is empty and false. It has no real substance. It is only a name and has nothing substantial, which can be grasped, gotten hold of, or seen. It is an empty, false mark. As the Sutra says, "Seeing all living beings' birth, old age, sickness, death." Their birth, old age, sickness, death, worry, grief, and misery is burning them, they are being burned by this fire, boiled in this water. It's like being boiled in water or burned in a raging fire—that difficult to undergo. The Thus Come One, the World Honored One, Sakyamuni Buddha, had genuine wisdom and he knew about these problems. In what he taught all living beings he cannot possibly have been mistaken. Not being mistaken is just true and actual, in accord with principle, it is the true, real doctrine, and it is most reasonable, and so it is termed the Suchness of the Marks. The suchness of the marks has the two aspects of true and false. Because the Buddha taught them, we are able to hear this wonderful Dharma. Didn't the verse earlier say, "The meaning of the Real Mark of all dharmas/has already been spoken to all of you." I have already told you. This is the general meaning of the Suchness of the Marks.
Now, to explain THE SUCHNESS OF THE NATURE. The nature has the aspect of good and evil. There is good and evil karma, which is the manifestation of the good or evil of the nature. However, karma does not arise by itself. It is unable to produce itself. Then how does it come into existence? It is produced from the nature; it arises from the nature. The nature is the heart/nature of each of us and within it there, is both the good nature and the evil nature. In China there is a short work called The Three Character Classic. When children start school, it is the first thing they must learn to recite. It begins, "When people are born, their nature is basically good." When we are born, our natures are good to begin with. That original good nature is the Buddha-nature. However, "the nature is near, but habits draw it afar." The nature is basically very near the Buddha-nature, but corrupted by evil customs, it grows far away from the Buddha-nature. This means that within our hearts there are two natures: one is good and one is evil.
How do the good nature and the evil nature manifest?
At a given time causes and conditions of differing varieties will produce a good or an evil nature. For example, bamboo or wood both have the nature of fire within them, but if you just let them be there, the fire-nature will not come forth. You have to add a condition, in this case maybe using a drill and stick to get a fire going. In China in prehistoric times people used to drink blood like cats. They ate beasts raw. They'd grab an animal and chomp on it, and when they were finished eating its flesh, they would drink its blood. Why did they do that? They had no fire and so they had to eat all their food raw. Later, they learned how to drill into wood and get fire and they could cook their food.
Wood and bamboo both contain the fire-nature, but if no one drills them or sets them on fire, they won't start burning. So, although bamboo and wood have the fire-nature, without the necessary causes and conditions, the fire won't come forth. In the same way, the good and evil karma that we create relies upon the nature to come forth. The coming forth of the nature may be for the sake of goodness, in which case it is called "wisdom-light." When you do good deeds you have wisdom-light. Wisdom-light accomplishes all kinds of wholesome acts. The coming forth of the nature for the sake of evil is not wisdom-light, but "poisonous fire," and accomplishments by means of it are what is meant by "going astray." Arising for the sake of good, it is called "wisdom-light" and good acts are accomplished. Arising for the sake of evil it is called "poisonous fire" and this is called going astray.
Our natures basically are empty and still, basically non-existent, like the nature of fire present in the bamboo and wood. Before it has been drilled or otherwise set on fire, it won't burn. Our basic natures are basically empty and although good and evil exist within them, they manifest only when conditions arise. In the Surangama Sutra where it discusses the fire-nature it says, "The nature of fire has no self, it depends on conditions." The fire-nature has no self; the fire-nature arises only when the causes and conditions come together. That's the doctrine of the Suchness of the Nature.
THE SUCHNESS OF THE SUBSTANCE. The substance is our bodies and all substantial material objects. There are three categories of substances. The first is the substances of the ordinary person and the sage. Originally these are completely equal; the substance is devoid of "ordinary" or "sagely." They are one in the same, completely equal. This is to take the principle as the substance. Taking the principle as the substance is to take the nature as the substance, that nature being the inherent Buddha-nature.
The second is when people cultivate from the position of an ordinary person and accomplish their Way-karma. This is the non-outflow substance, which those who have certified to the fruit possess.
The third is that ordinary people have the illusory shell of the five skandhas. The five skandhas--form, feeling, thought, activity, and consciousness—unite with the four elements--earth, air, fire, and water—to form the body, and it is a body, a substance, which has outflows.
THE SUCHNESS OF THE POWERS. Power here refers to karma-power. Do you remember? I told you before that I had a left-home brother who had studied the doctrines of lecturing on the Sutras and speaking the Dharma and he was always giving lectures on the Sutras. What is more, he liked to lecture on the eight consciousnesses--the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind-consciousnesses; the seventh consciousness, the mano-vijnana; and the eighth consciousness, the alaya-vijnana. He liked to talk about them. According to the Chinese custom, to celebrate the new year, the Chinese write characters on red paper and put them up on the wall for good fortune, the idea being that the letters written with the brush will keep the ghosts and demons away. In the temple, the custom was observed, too, and I wrote some characters which said, "Wisdom like the sea," as in the sentence, "I take refuge with the Dharma, vowing that living beings will deeply enter the Sutra-store and have wisdom like the sea."
My Dharma brother watched me write the characters. I wrote them very quickly in cursive style and he liked them. He started saying, "Wisdom like the sea, wisdom like the sea, wisdom like the sea," over and over again. I said, "It looks to me like your karma-power is like the sea."
He was outraged, beside himself with anger. "Hah!" he stormed, "what do you mean my karma-power is like the sea? Here it is new years and you're insulting me."
I said, "Now, don't get mad. I guarantee you're going to like it; you'll be happy."
"You tell me that my karma-power is like the sea and I'm supposed to like it?"
I said, "As to karma-power: there is good karma and evil karma. If I were to say that your good karma were like the sea, how would that strike you?"
He stared at me. "What can I say!" he said, and he grasped my hand. He didn't get angry either. So it only took the addition of one word, saying "good" karma like the sea. Before I added that one word, he was angry. After I added it, his anger disappeared. One knows not where it went, but it was gone at once. Would you say that was wonderful or not? One word was all it took. Therefore, one word can be unspeakable wonderful. But you must know how to use it. If you know how to use it, it's wonderful; if you don't know how to use it, you'll run into trouble.
Therefore, "power" here refers to the power of karma. Karma has a substance and from that substance is derived a power, a force which operates in the Ten Dharma Realms creating the Dependent and Orthodox Retributions. What is Dependent Retribution? It's the mountains, rivers, the earth, houses, corridors, rooms, and cottages, the vegetation and the myriad appearances. The Orthodox Retribution is all living beings.
Where do the two Retributions, Dependent and Orthodox, come from? They are both created from karma-power. So it says, the Suchness of the Power.
THE SUCHNESS OF THE FUNCTIONS. "Function" means to create, to make. To make what? To make karma. Making karma, one may create good karma or evil karma. Creating karma, one must undergo retribution. If you plant a good cause, you will reap a good fruit. If you plant an evil cause you will reap an evil fruit. If you do good deeds you receive good retribution. If you do evil acts, you receive an evil retribution. Therefore, it's all what you make of it:
Good and evil are two different roads.
You can cultivate or you can commit (offenses)
"Cultivate" means to cultivate the good and "Commit" means to do evil. The Suchness of the Function refers to doing good and receiving blessings or to doing evil and receiving misfortune.
THE SUCHNESS OF THE CAUSES. A cause refers to the hearts of all living beings. The heart is not simply a heart, it is a "heart-ground" for it may be likened to a piece of earth. All good and evil are manifest only from the heart. They manifest from your heart and so previously we have spoken of the cause as a seed. The seed is planted in your heart and so it is called the "heart-ground." All the grasses and trees are born from the earth and all good and evil comes from the heart. All the seeds of good and evil planted in your heart are the causes
THE SUCHNESS OF THE CONDITIONS. There are two factors, which go into making up the conditions. The first is the factor of time and the second the factor of the situation. The condition itself is basically devoid of good or evil, but must be present for a particular appearance to manifest. This may be compared to something which is withered and dry, and which ignites at the first spark. The spark is the aiding condition. It may also be likened to ice which melts when the sun shines on it. The colder it gets the harder the ice freezes. The sun and the cold are aiding conditions, because they aid the causes, the seeds. The two are called "causes and conditions."
When you plant a seed in the earth, if the conditions are not right, it won't come up. If you plant it in the ice, it won't grow. If you plant it in the fire, it won't grow either. You have to plant it in the earth and then make sure that the sun shines on it with the force of its warmth, and that the earth provides it with nourishment, and that the rain moistens it. These are all conditions which must come together to help the seed grow. This is called the Suchness of the Conditions.
THE SUCHNESS OF THE EFFECT. To start out on a course of action is called a cause. If you do something, at the very beginning it is a cause. When the matter has been successfully completed, that is the effect. The effect is also spoken of in terms of good and evil. Good and evil effects come from good and evil causes. So it said, "Carrying the cause, one realizes the effect."
THE SUCHNESS OF THE RETRIBUTION. Retribution is the retributive effects incurred as a result of the karma you have created. According to the type of karma you create, you undergo just that kind of retribution.
You may ask, "What is the difference, then, between the effect and the retribution?"
The effect takes place before the retribution is undergone. It's the immediate consequence. One undergoes retribution when the effect has been reached and one receives recompense. If you planted an evil cause, as you reap the effect, you have not yet suffered the retribution. When the effect has taken place, you then later receive the retribution.
What is meant by the effect? Now, if we create all kinds of evil karma and fall into hell, that is the attainment of the effect of hell. In hell there are many kinds of punishments and tortures. You may fall into the hell of boiling oil. Before you've fallen into the pot, that is the effect. Once you're in the pot, you're undergoing retribution. Receiving that torment is the retribution. If you enlighten to the principle of retribution you can certify to the positions of the Four Sagely Realms, the Buddha, Bodhisattva, Conditionally Enlightened One, and Sound Hearer. If you awaken, you have hope of obtaining the Four Sagely Positions. If you are confused, deluded, you will bring the retribution of the Common Realms down upon yourself. The Six Common Realms are the realms of gods, humans, asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals.
THE SUCHNESS OF THE ULTIMATE EQUALITY FROM BEGINNING TO END. In the above-mentioned Suchnesses there are the two paths of confusion and enlightenment. There is the path of confusion and the path of enlightenment. Whether you are confused or enlightened, from the beginning to the very end, the first through the ninth, when discussed in terms of cause and effect, are non-dual and ultimately equal.
The Ten Suchnesses are present in the Buddha Dharma Realm, but the Ten Suchnesses there are very superior, fine states--special. In the hells, there are also Ten Suchnesses, but these states are nothing at all like the Buddha states; they are very bad; they are not superior and fine; they are terrible states. So in the Buddha Dharma Realm, the Bodhisattva Dharma Realm, the Sravaka Dharma Realm, the Conditionally Enlightened Dharma Realm, the Dharma Realm of the gods, the Dharma Realm of the humans, the Dharma Realm of the asuras, the Dharma Realm of the hell-beings, the Dharma Realm of the hungry ghosts, the Dharma Realm of the animals, each of them contains the Ten Suchnesses. The Ten Realms times the Ten Suchnesses makes a Hundred Realms and each of the Hundred Realms has Ten Suchnesses as well making a Thousand Suchnesses. This is known as the Hundred Realms and the Thousand Suchnesses.
The Hundred Realms and the Thousand Suchnesses include all of the various situations in the Ten Dharma Realms. The Dharma Flower Sutra lists the Ten Suchnesses and although I have explained them, I believe you probably don't understand them fully. If you truly wish to understand them, you will have to work harder in your investigation of the Buddhadharma. After you have investigated for a long time, you will naturally be able to comprehend this doctrine.AT THAT TIME, then, THE WORLD HONORED ONE, Sakyamuni Buddha, WISHING TO RESTATE THIS MEANING, he wanted to speak the doctrines even more clearly, speak them once again to cause all who had heard them already to hear them once again, and those who had not heard them to have a chance to hear this Buddhadharma. He SPOKE VERSUS SAYING.