THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
the commentary of
IMMEASURABLE ARE THE HEROES OF THE WORLD;
ALL THE GODS AND THE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD
AND ALL THE CLASSES OF LIVING BEINGS
CANNOT KNOW THE BUDDHAS.
THE BUDDHAS POWERS, FEARLESSNESSES,
LIBERATIONS, AND SAMADHIS,
AND THE OTHER DHARMAS OF THE BUDDHAS
NO ONE IS ABLE TO FATHOM.
FORMERLY, FOLLOWING COUNTLESS BUDDHAS
I'VE PERFECTLY WALKED ALL PATHS
OF THE WONDERFUL DHARMA, SUBTLE AND VERY DEEP,
HARD TO MEET AND HARD TO UNDERSTAND;
DURING LIMITLESS MILLIONS OF AEONS,
I HAVE WALKED DOWN ALL THESE PATHS.
IN THE FIELD OF THE WAY I REALIZED THE FRUIT
AND HAVE FULLY KNOWN AND SEEN IT ALL.
IMMEASURABLE ARE THE HEROES OF THE WORLD/Of the heroes, the Buddhas are the ones of great heroism, great strength, great kindness, and great compassion, "Immeasurable" means that no one can know the states of the Buddhas, the heroes of the world.
ALL THE GODS AND THE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD/All the gods in the heavens and the people in the world AND ALL THE CLASSES OF LIVING BEINGS CANNOT KNOW THE BUDDHAS/There is not a single living creature that can know the states of the Buddhas, that can know the spiritual powers and wonderful function of the Buddhas.
BUDDHAS' POWERS, FEARLESSNESSES/, The Buddhas, have Ten Powers and Four
Fearlessness. If you want to know what the Ten Powers are you can look them up
in the Buddhist Dictionary because it's a very complicated subject and not easy
to explain. I shall
IN THE FIELD OF THE WAY I REALIZED THE FRUIT/Because I cultivated all these Dharmas, in the Bodhimanda I realized the fruit, accomplished the fruit of Buddhahood. AND HAVE FULLY KNOWN AND SEEN IT ALL. I have already fully known and seen everything.
THE GREAT EFFECT AND RETRIBUTION,
VARIOUS NATURES AND MARKS--THESE PRINCIPLES
ARE SUCH THAT I AND THE TEN DIRECTIONS BUDDHAS
ALONE CAN UNDERSTAND THESE MATTERS.
THE GREAT EFFECT AND RETRIBUTION/Such as the Ten Suchnesses. VARIOUS NATURES AND MARKS--THESE PRINCIPLES/ARE SUCH The various kinds of Dharma-doors, the various types of cultivation, the various natures and marks--in other words, the doctrine of the Ten Suchnesses--I completely understand THAT I AND THE TEN DIRECTION BUDDHAS/ALONE CAN UNDERSTAND THESE MATTERS. I and the Buddhas of the ten directions can know about these things. It's difficult for any other living being to understand them.
THIS DHARMA CAN’T BE DEMONSTRATED,
THE MARK OF LANGUAGE BEING STILL AND EXTINCT;
OF ALL THE KINDS OF LIVING BEINGS,
NONE THERE ARE WHO CAN UNDERSTAND IT,
EXCEPT THE HOST OF BODHISATTVAS
FIRM IN THE POWER OF FAITH.
Mention the first of than, which is the Wisdom Power of knowing what aspects of dharmas are right and what ones are wrong. The rest will be lectured when the opportunity presents itself. FEARLESSNESSES/He is not afraid of anything.
LIBERATIONS AND SAMADHIS/There are eight kinds of liberations, as well as samadhis, that is, concentrations.
AND THE OTHER DHARMAS OF THE BUDDHAS/I won't tell you the Eight Kinds of Liberation now, because I have told you a number of times already and none of you ever remember these lists anyway. I'll speak less of them and if you want to know what they are you can go look than up for yourselves. If you don't want to know, then I can save a lot of strength. This is a case of:
I save strength and energy
And you have no afflictions;
This kind of paramita is
The jewel in the wonderful!
If I do tell you and you can't remember than, then when I test you, you will wrack your brains and get afflicted, "Saw could I have forgotten:" You'll flunk and be sorry.
NO ONE IS ABLE TO FATHOM/The many other Dharma-doors which the Buddhas have cultivated cannot be fathomed by anyone; there isn't anyone who can fathom the wonderful Dharmas of the Buddhas.
FORMERLY, FOLLOWING COUNTLESS BUDDHAS/ "Formerly" means in the causal ground, long, long ago, limitless kalpas ago I HAVE PERFECTLY WALKED ALL PATHS/ I have already cultivated all the Dharma-doors and cultivated the Way OF THE WONDERFUL DHARMA, SUBTLE AND VERY DEEP/The extremely deep and fine, subtle Dharma is said to be extremely deep. Ultimately, how deep is it? No one knows. It is the Dharma most subtle, wonderful, HARD TO MEET AND HARD TO UNDERSTAND/This Dharma is difficult to encounter in a hundred thousand, ten thousand aeons. It is difficult to understand. And so the Four Vast Vows run:
Living beings are boundless, I vow to save than.
Afflictions are endless, I vow to sever them.
Dharma-doors are limitless, I vow to master them.
The Buddha Way is unsurpassed, I vow to realize it.
In the causal ground, the Buddha made these Four Vast Vows in every life and cultivated the Way. Therefore, the Dharma, which he realized, is not easy to understand.
DURING LIMITLESS MILLIONS OF AEONS, I Sakyamuni Buddha and all the ten directions Buddhas HAVE WALKED DOWN All THESE PATHS/The Seven Bodhi Shares and the Eight Sagely Way Shares. There are also the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Four Applications of Mindfulness, the Four Right Efforts, and the Four Bases of As-You-Will Fulfillments.
DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHAS WHO'VE
MADE OFFERINGS TO PAST BUDDHAS,
WHOSE OUTFLOWS ALL HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED,
WHO DWELL WITHIN THEIR FINAL BODIES --
THE STRENGTH OF PERSONS SUCH AS THESE
ALSO PROVES INADEQUATE.
AND IF ALL THE WORLD WERE FILLED
WITH THOSE LIKE SHARIPUTRA WHO
TOGETHER SPENT THEIR THOUGHTS TO MEASURE IT
THEY COULD NOT FATHOM THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM.
THIS DHARMA CAN'T BE DEMONSTRATED/You can't just casually speak this wonderful Dharma to people. Why can't you tell people about it? Because, THE MARK OF LANGUAGE BEING STILL AND EXTINCT, this is the ultimate Real Mark Dharma-door where the path of words and language is cut off, has already been severed, and the place where the mind functions has been dispensed with. So,
The mouth wants to speak, but words fail.
The mouth wants to say something, but words vanish, they die, they perish.
The mind wants to conceptualize, but considerations are lost.
The mind wants to climb on conditions and scheme, but the considerations, the thoughts, just aren't there. The thoughts have died as well.
The path of words and language cut off,
The place of the mind's function dispensed with --
The path of words has been cut off, and the place where the mind used to do its thinking has also been extinguished. There's nothing to say. The true, true wonderful Dharma is unspeakable and ineffable; it can't be spoken. It can't be expressed in words because it is something within the self-nature. It is not found outside. In this wonderful Dharma, "the marks of language are still and extinct."
OF ALL THE KINDS OF LIVING BEINGS/All of the different kinds of living creatures NONE THERE ARE WHO CAN UNDERSTAND IT/Not one single kind of living being can understand this Dharma, this wonderful Dharma EXCEPT THE HOST OF. BODHISATTVAS/With the exception of those who have obtained the fruit, position of the Great Vehicle Bodhisattva and who understand the doctrine of the Real Mark, FIRM IN THE POWER OF FAITH/Because they have hearts full of faith, that faith being firm, for example Manjusri Bodhisattva, people like that–they can understand this Dharma, they can believe in it, even though they don't understand it totally.
DISCIPLES OF THE BUDDHAS WHO'VE/All of the disciples of the Buddhas MADE OFFERINGS TO PAST BUDDHAS/Who have in former lives make offering to all the Buddhas WHOSE OUTFLOWS ALL HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED/They have obtained to non-outflows, certified to the attainment of the fruit of Pratyeka Buddhahood, and WHO DWELL WITHIN THEIR FINAL BODIES/They now inhabit their very last retribution body and after this they will undergo no further becoming; they won't take another retribution body. THE STRENGTH OF PERSONS SUCH AS THESE/ People like the Bodhisattvas and the Pratyeka Buddhas prove TO BE INADEQUATE/ They can't understand this Buddha-dharma either.
AND IF ALL THE WORLD WERE FILLED/If the entire world were filled WITH THOSE LIKE SARIPUTRA WHO/If, supposing they all had wisdom as great as that of Sariputra, TOGETHER SPENT THEIR THOUGHTS TO MEASURE IT/If they exhausted their thoughts and the power of their wisdom trying to plumb, to probe it, they couldn't fathom the Buddha's wisdom, the Buddha's state, the Buddha's inconceivable, subtle, and wonderful Dharma THEY COULD NOT FATHOM THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM/They would be unable to fathom the wisdom of the Buddha.
TRULY WERE THE TEN DIRECTIONS
FILLED WITH THOSE LIKE SARIPUTRA
AND IF REMAINING DISCIPLES FILLED
AS WELL THE TEN DIRECTION LANDS
WHO TOGETHER SPENT THEIR THOUGHTS TO MEASURE
THEY ALSO COULD NOT KNOW OF IT.
IF PRATYEKA BUDDHAS OF SHARP WISDOM
WITHOUT OUTFLOWS, DWELLING IN THEIR FINAL BODIES
FILLED, TOO, THE TEN DIRECTION REALMS,
THEIR NUMBER LIKE THE BAMBOO IN THE FOREST,
AND WERE THEY TO COMBINE AS ONE THEIR HEARTS
AND THROUGHOUT MEASURELESS MILLIONS OF AEONS
WISH TO THINK ABOUT THE BUDDHA’S REAL WISDOM
NOT ONE COULD KNOW THE SMALLEST PART.
NEWLY RESOLVED BODHISATTVAS WHO'VE
MADE OFFERINGS TO COUNTLESS BUDDHAS,
WHO COMPREHEND THE PRINCIPLE AND THE PURPORT,
AND ARE WELL ABLE TO SPEAK THE DHARMA
IN NUMBER LIKE RICE, HEMP, BAMBOO, AND REEDS,
FILLING ALL THE TEN DIRECTION LANDS,
WERE, WITH. A SINGLE HEART AND WONDROUS WISDOM,
THROUGH AEONS LIKE THE GANGES SANDS
ALTOGETHER THOUGHT IT OVER
THEY COULDN'T KNOW THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM.
The Buddha has two wisdom, the provisional and the real. Provisional Wisdom is to speak the Dharma in accord with conditions and use expedient devices to take living beings across. Real Wisdom is the Real Mark Wisdom, genuine wisdom. Therefore, the text says, TRULY WERE THE TEN DIRECTIONS/ "Truly" means "Let's just say," that the ten directions were filled ... Previously it said, "If the world," meaning one world: Here it says "the ten directions" meaning all the worlds in the ton directions, which just means in the three thousand great thousand worlds, the limitless, boundless lands therein. FILLED WITH THOSE LIKE SHARIPUTRA/If the living beings of the ten direction worlds were all as intelligent as Sariputra and as wise as he. Although Sariputra is wise, and is called the Greatly Wise Sariputra, his wisdom is only that of the provisional; it is not the Buddha's Real Wisdom.
AND IF REMAINING DISCIPLES FILLED/And all the other disciples of the Buddha AS WELL THE TEN DIRECTION LANDS/ If they completely filled the worlds of the ten directions, such a large area WHO TOGETHER SPENT THEIR THOUGHTS TO MEASURE/If Sariputra and all the other disciples spent their thoughts, exhausted their mental processes, and all together tried to calculate the Buddha's wisdom THEY ALSO COULD NOT KNOW OF IT/They also could not know the Buddha's true Real Wisdom.
IF PRATYEKA BUDDHAS OF SHARP WISDOM/Previously the Sound Hearers of the Small Vehicle were spoken of. Here, we speak of the Pratyeka Buddhas who are the Middle Vehicle, and whose wisdom is a bit higher than that of the Sound Hearers. WITHOUT OUTFLOWS, DWELLING IN THE FINAL BODIES/They have already attained the state of no-outflows, the Penetration of the Extinction of Outflows, and they inhabit their last retribution bodies. Once one has certified to the fruit of Pratyeka Buddhahood, one does not again receive a retribution body. So this is their very last retribution body.
FILLED, TOO, THE TEN DIRECTION REALMS; Although the Pratyeka Buddhas are the Middle Vehicle, if they too were to fill the realms of the ten directions THEIR NUMBER LIKE THE BAMBOO IN THE FOREST; If they numbered as many as the bamboos in the bamboo groves AND WERE THEY TO COMBINE AS ONE THEIR HEARTS; If all those Pratyeka Buddhas together used a single mind AND THROUGHOUT MEASURELESS MILLIONS OF AEONS/And throughout very, very many limitless great aeons WISH TO THINK ABOUT THE BUDDHA'S REAL WISDOM; If they wanted to investigate and figure out the Buddha's Real Wisdom NOT ONE COULD KNOW THE SLIGHTEST PART; To say nothing of understanding it completely, they couldn't even know the smallest, tiniest most minute portion thereof.
IF NEWLY RESOLVED BODHISATTVAS WHO'VE; This refers to Bodhisattvas who have just brought forth their hearts MADE OFFERINGS TO COUNTLESS BUDDHAS; The Bodhisattvas who have just brought forth their hearts have already made offering to countless Buddhas WHO COMPREHEND THE PRINCIPLE AND THE PURPORT; They have unimpeded comprehension of the Buddhadharma's doctrines. They understand all the principles and all the purports.
AND ARE WELL ABLE TO SPEAK THE DHARMA; Not only have they comprehended the principles and purports of all the dharmas, but they are also able to speak skillfully of them. They are well-qualified speakers of the Law and possess unobstructed eloquence. IN NUMBER LIKE RICE, HELP, BAMBOO, AND REEDS, If there were as many newly resolved Bodhisattvas as there are seedlings of rice, stalks of hemp, bamboo, or reeds FILLING ALL THE TEN DIRECTION LANDS. If they completely filled the lands of the ten directions WITH A SINGLE HEART AND WONDROUS WISDOM, It they combined their hearts as one and used that inconceivably fine and subtle, wondrous wisdom THROUGH AEONS LIKE THE GANGES SANDS. Throughout as many great aeons as the grains of sand in the River Ganges. ALTOGETHER THOUGHT IT OVER; If they all got together to try to calculate the Buddha's wisdom THEY COULDN'T KNOW THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM. They also couldn't know the wisdom of the Buddha.
IF NON-RETREATING BODHISATTVAS
THEIR NUMBER LIKE THE GANGES SANDS
WITH ONE HEART TOGETHER THOUGH TO SEEK IT
THEY ALSO COULD NOT KNOW OF IT.
AND SARIPUTRA, WHAT IS MORE
THAT INCONCEIVABLE, NON-OUTFLOW,
SUBTLE, WONDROUS DHARMA, VERY DEEP,
I HAVE ALREADY PERFECTLY OBTAINED;
AND I ALONE KNOW ITS MARK
ALONG WITH THE TEN DIRECTION BUDDHAS.
SARIPUTRA, YOU SHOULD KNOW
THE WORDS OF THE BUDDHAS DO NOT DIFFER,
AND IN THE DHARMA SPOKEN BY THE BUDDHAS
YOU SHOULD PLACE THE GREAT POWER OF FAITH
FOR, WHEN, THE DHARMA OF THE WORLD HONORED ONE IS IN ITS FINAL STAGE
THE TRUE AND REAL MUST BE SPOKEN.
I ANNOUNCE TO THE HOST OF SOUND HEARERS AND TO THOSE WHO SEEK
THE VEHICLE OF CONDITIONED ENLIGHTENMENT,
TO THOSE WHOM I RELEASED FROM SUFFERINGS' BONDS
AND THOSE WHO'VE ARRIVED AT NIRVANA,
THAT THE BUDDHA USES THE POWER OF EXPEDIENTS
IN DEMONSTRATING THE THREE VEHICLE TEACHING
FOR LIVING BEINGS ATTACHED IN MANY PLACES,
TO GUIDE THEM SO THAT THEY MAY ESCAPE.
IF NON-RETREATING BODHISATTVAS. Above, the newly resolved Bodhisattvas, the Sound Hearers, and the Conditioned Enlightened Ones were mentioned. Sometimes newly resolved Bodhisattvas may retreat and lose their Bodhi-hearts. Sound Hearers are sometimes "fixed Shravakas," fixed at the fruit of the Sound Hearer position. Other Sound Hearers are those who have retreated from the Great Vehicle, they had brought forth the Bodhisattva heart but then they retreat to the Sound Hearer position. Some have brought forth the Bodhisattva heart but do not as yet have any genuine samadhi power. Those are the newly resolved Bodhisattvas, Bodhisattvas who have just brought forth their hearts.
This passage of text mentions non-retreating Bodhisattvas. This means that they will never retreat to the Two Vehicles. They cultivate the Great Vehicle Dharma-doors and will never again go back to the Two Vehicles of the Sound Hearer and Pratyeka Buddha. Sometimes Bodhisattvas who have just brought forth their hearts do retreat.
THEIR NUMBER LIKE THE GANGES SANDS/There were as many non-retreating Bodhisattvas as there are grains of sand in the Ganges.
There are Three Levels of Non-Retreat:
1. Non-retreating position: This means that the Great Vehicle Bodhisattva will never retreat to the position of either of the Two Vehicles.
2. Non-retreating conduct means that, in their cultivation, the Great Vehicle Bodhisattvas are always vigorous and never lax; they advance with heroic vigor.
3. Non-retreating thought. Not only do they not retreat in their position or cultivation, but they don't even have the thought of retreating to the Two Vehicles.
Their number was like the grains of sands in the Ganges River.
WITH ONE HEART, TOGETHER THOUGHT TO SEEK IT/If they got together to investigate the Buddhadharma and the Buddha's wisdom, the Buddha's genuine, Real Wisdom
THEY ALSO COULD NOT KNOW OF IT/Although the non-retreating Bodhisattvas occupy a position from which they do not retreat, they still haven't obtained the true, Real Wisdom. Their wisdom is merely provisional. The Buddha's true Real Wisdom they cannot understand.
AND SARIPUTRA, WHAT IS MORE/The Buddha further addresses Sariputra, THAT INCONCEIVABLE, NON-OUTFLOW/SUBTLE, WONDROUS DHARMA, VERY DEEP/The Real Mark of all Dharmas, the true Real Wisdom, the spiritual penetration of non-outflows, is inconceivable. It can't be thought of with the mind or expressed in words. It is extremely deep, subtle and wonderful. This Dharma is unsurpassed and also extremely deep, at once fine and subtle. It's an extremely fine, inconceivable, wonderful Dharma which I HAVE ALREADY PERFECTLY ATTAINED/I, says Sakyamuni Buddha, speaking of himself, "have already completely attained it. It is perfect, neither lacking nor in excess AND I ALONE KNOW ITS MARK/Only I, Sakyamuni Buddha, can know the true, Real Mark, the Real Wisdom, the wonderful Dharma. ALONG WITH THE TEN-DIRECTION BUDDHAS/All those in the ten directions who have realized Buddhahood also know it and so it said above, "Only the Buddhas and the Buddha can exhaust the Real Mark of all Dharma..." The meaning here is the same.
SARIPUTRA, YOU SHOULD KNOW/Sakyamuni Buddha calls again, "Sariputra, you really ought to know THE WORDS OF THE BUDDHAS DO NOT DIFFER/What all the Buddhas say is true, real, speech, spoken with different mouths and the same sound. The Thus Come One speaks the truth, speaks of what is real, he speaks it as it is, and he does not speak falsely or differently. The path of all the Buddhas is identical; the path of all the ten direction Buddhas is the same. Therefore, the Dharma, which the Buddhas speak, is the same. It is all the same Dharma. The Buddha's true, Real Wisdom can be known and understood only by the Buddhas and the Buddha.
AND IN THE DHARMA SPOKEN BY THE BUDDHAS/With regard to the Dharma, which the Buddha taught YOU SHOULD PLACE THE GREAT POWER OF FAITH/You ought to have great faith. Great faith means no doubts, only faith. The power of faith is extremely great. Shy should one have the power of faith? It is because the Buddhadharma is like the great sea. If you want to enter the great sea of the Buddhadharma you can only do so by means of faith. Only by means of faith can you enter into the Buddhadharma. If you don't have the power of faith, you won't be able to understand the doctrines within the Buddhadharma. So it is said, Faith is the source of the Way, and the mother of virtue. Faith is the basic source of the Way and the mother of virtue. It nourishes all good roots. If you have a heart of faith, you will then be able to nourish your good roots. If you have no faith, your good roots can't grow. Faith is extremely important. If you listen to the Sutras, you must believe them. If you don't believe them, it's just as if you hadn't heard them. We should believe in the Dharma the Buddha spoke. If we don't, it is also just as if we never heard it.
FOR WHEN THE DHARMA OF THE WORLD HONORED ONE IS IN ITS FINAL STATE/ After the World Honored One realized Buddhahood, he first taught the Three Storehouse-Teaching, also called the Pan Tzu or "half-word" teaching, which is the Small Vehicle Teaching aimed at the Sound Hearers. "But now," says the Buddha, "I've spoken the Dharma right up to the very end. The World Honored One's Dharma has reached its final stage and therefore THE TRUE AND REAL MUST BE SPOKEN/I should reveal it all, without reservation, and completely speak the true, real Buddhadharma. I should speak it all to teach the Real Wisdom Bodhisattvas.
It's not like before when I spoke the expedient Dharmas. Now, I am speaking the real truth. Previously, I said that if you have some small faults, it's all right, you can gradually get rid of them. They aren't important. It's okay. But now, you've really, really got to cultivate. You aren't allowed even the slightest fault. You've got to work hard and reliably at your cultivation and bring forth the heart of a Great Vehicle Bodhisattva. You can't be like you were before, stalling around and procrastinating, putting off today's cultivation until tomorrow and tomorrow's until the day after. That's like the Venerable Ananda who thought, "I am Sakyamuni Buddha's cousin and with a Buddha for a cousin. I don't need to cultivate. He can give me samadhi and spiritual powers." That was a mistake, because in cultivation of the Way:
You end your own birth and death;
You eat your own food to fill yourself.
To end birth and death, you must cultivate on your own. No one else can help you. They may say they want to help you, but that is just an expedient device to lead you to resolve to cultivate on your own. If you don't cultivate on you own, you won't end birth and death, just as when someone else eats, you won't get full. You must do it yourself. Put your feet firmly on the ground and walk forward, step by step.
I ANNOUNCE TO THE HOST OF SOUND HEARERS AND TO THOSE TOO SEEK/The Buddha previously taught the Dharma-door of the Four Truths to the Sound Hearers THE VEHICLE OF CONDITIONED ENLIGHTENMENT/The Buddha also taught the Dharma of the Twelve Causes and Conditions for those living beings who sought the Vehicle of Conditioned Enlightenment, the fruit of Pratyeka Buddhahood.
TO THOSE WHOM I'VE RELEASED FROM SUFFERING'S BONDS/With his compassionate heart, the Buddha wanted to cause all living beings to separate from suffering and attain bliss, to end birth and be released from death, and to understand that Impermanence comes quickly. If you don't cultivate and say, "Slowly, slowly," or "wait a minute," you had best be informed that the Ghost of Impermanence is not polite in these matters. When the time comes for him to take you to see King Yama, he won't show you the slightest bit of courtesy. If you try to buy him off, to keep him away for a while and let you live a few more years, you can't do it because the Ghost of Impermanence doesn't take bribes. He's not like worldly people such as greedy officials. With money, you can do what can't be done. If you break the law but have the cash, then you "didn't break the law." But the Ghost of Impermanence has no greed in this regard. He has no greed for money.
AND THOSE WHO’VE ARRIVED AT NIRVANA/Living beings who have reached the position of Nirvana, THAT THE BUDDHA USES THE POWER OF EXPEDIENTS; The Dharmas of the Sound Hearers, the Conditioned Enlightened Ones, and the Bodhisattvas, were all the Buddha using expedient de vices, Dharma-doors to teach and transform living beings.
IN DEMONSTRATING THE THREE-VEHICLE TEACHING/He opens the three for the sake of the one. For the sake of the One Buddha Vehicle, the Buddha instructs beings in the Three Vehicles: the Vehicle of the Sound Hearers, the Vehicle of the Condition-Enlightened Ones, and the Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas. The Three Vehicles all have the Buddha Vehicle as their ultimate goal. So, at the very end, I want to speak the Dharma of the Buddha Vehicle, the Dharma-door of Real Wisdom.
FOR LIVING BEINGS ATTACHED IN MANY PLACES/TO GUIDE THEM SO THAT THEY MAY ESCAPE/Living beings, wherever they happen to be, get attached in just that place. They get attached to whatever position they happen to be in. Fathers are attached: "I am a father," they think, "and you are my sons." And thus they become attached. Older brothers try to control their younger brothers. Why? Because they are attached. "I am the older brother and you are the younger brother. You should listen to my orders." Husbands stand on a "husband platform;" wives stand on a "wife platform." Monks even stand on a "monk platform," and shramaneras stand on "shramanera platforms: "Look at me! I've left home and you haven't." That's an attachment.
People with learning are attached to learning. "I am a professor and you are students. I should be your teacher." That's also an attachment.
Students have student attachments. "I am a student and if I don't know something, it's no problem. However, since you are my teacher, if I ask you a question you had better be able to answer it." However, in American universities if a student asks a question and the professor can't answer it, he just lets it go by—he hasn't broken any laws.
In general, you have an attachment to whatever you do. In the hells there are hellish attachments. Among the animals there are beastly attachments. Among humans there are human attachments, and among hungry ghosts there are hungry ghostly attachments. That is why the text says, "attached in many places." No matter where you are, no matter what role you occupy, you will have precisely that attachment. In a family, the five relationships, the older and younger siblings, and the father and mother, and grandparents—all have their attachments. In the country government—"I am the mayor and I have to manage the county officials. You have to listen to my orders. If you don't, I'm going to make it hard for you. I'll get in your way, and give you trouble and affliction." These are all attachments, and so it says, "for living beings attached in many places,
GUIDING THEM SO THAT THEY MAY ESCAPE/The Dharma of the Buddha was spoken just in order to break the attachments of living beings. Once their attachments have been destroyed--if you have no attachments--then the Buddhadharma is also ended, it no longer exists. Why does the Buddhadharma exist? It is just because you are attached. Without attachments, there is no Buddhadharma. The Buddhadharma is for people with attachments. When living beings no longer have attachments, the Buddhadharma is no longer of use. Looking at it that way, it would be best if living beings had a few more attachments. That way the Buddhadharma would be of some use. Otherwise, the Buddhadharma would retire.
"Guiding them so that they may escape." All living beings are led to escape from their attachments, to become unattached. Without attachments, everyone would be happy and blissful.
AT THAT TIME IN THE GREAT ASSEMBLY THERE WERE SOUND HEARERS, ARHATS WITH OUTFLOWS EXHAUSTED, AJNATA KAUNDINYA AND OTHERS, TWELVE HUNDRED PERSONS, AS WELL AS BHIKSUS, BHIKSUNIS, UPASAKAS AND UPASIKAS WHO HAD BROUGHT FOTH THE RESOLVE TO BECOME SOUND HEARERS AND PRATYEKA-BUDDHAS, WHO ALL HAD THE FOLLOWING THOUGHT:
"WHY, NOW, DOES THE WORLD HONORED ONE REPEATEDLY PRAISE THE EXPEDIENT DEVICES, SAYING, 'THE DHARMA OBTAINED BY THE BUDDHA IS SO EXTREMELY PROFOUND AND DIFFICULT TO KNOW THAT THE SOUND HEARERS AND PRATYEKABUDDHAS CANNOT ARRIVE AT IT.' THE BUDDHA HAS SPOKEN OF BUT ONE PRINCIPLE OF LIBERATION, AND WE HAVE ALREADY OBTAINED THIS DHARMA AND ARRIVED AT NIRVANA. NOW, WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND HIS INTENTION."
AT THAT TIME IN THE GREAT ASSEMBLY means when Sakyamuni Buddha had finished speaking the verses. This passage of text was added when the Sutra was compiled, in other words, it was spoken by the Venerable Ananda when he compiled the Sutra. Ananda said, "At that time, in the assembly, THERE WERE SOUND HEARERS, a vast number of those who had cultivated the Four Truths and had awakened to the Way; they awoke to the Way upon hearing the Buddha's voice, and so their Vehicle is called that of Sound Hearers. ARHATS WITH OUTFLOWS EXHAUSTED/Their outflows had been exhausted. The exhaustion of outflows is called the Penetration of the Exhaustion of Outflows. Obtaining this penetration is the state of non-outflow, which means the absence of ignorance and affliction, as well as the absence of all-bad habits and faults.
The presence of outflows may be likened to a bottle with a hole in it. You can keep pouring water in it, but it all runs out. People's bodies have many outflows. But now, the outflows have been exhausted; all outflows have been ended, and the Penetration of the Exhaustion of Outflows has been attained.
"Arhat" is a Sanskrit word which means "worthy of offerings," "without birth," and "slayer of thieves."
At that time, among the Arhats, there was an elder by the name of AJNATA KAUNDINYA, also Sanskrit, which means "understanding the basic limit," or "the first to understand." After Sakyamuni Buddha realized Buddhahood he first went to the Deer Park to take Ajnata Kaundinya across. In a former life, Ajnata Kaundinya was the King of Kalinga mentioned in the vajra Sutra. At that time, while he was in the causal ground, Sakyamuni Buddha made a vow that when he became a Buddha the first person he would take across would be the one who had cut him limb from limb. Therefore, after he became a Buddha, he first went to the Deer Park to take the five Bhiksus across. That's why Ajnata Kaundinya means "the first to understand," because he was the first to certify to the fruit of Arhatship. "Understanding the original limit," means that he understood his fundamental nature.
AND OTHERS, TWELVE HUNDRED PERSONS/Ajnata Kaundinya had twelve hundred people with him.
AS WELL AS BHIKSUS, BHIKSUNIS, UPASAKAS, AND UPASIKAS WHO HAD BROUGHT FORTH THE RESOLVE TO BECOME SOUND HEARERS AND PRATYEKABUDDHAS. There was another group that had resolved to seek the Vehicle of the Sravakas and Condition-Enlightened Ones. As has been related many times before, the word Bhiksu has three meanings: "mendicant," "frightener of Mara," and "destroyer of evil." A Bhiksuni is a woman who has left home, and the same three meanings apply. An Upasaka is a man "close in affairs," and an Upasika is a woman "close in affairs," meaning that they are lay people who draw near to the Triple Jewel. WHO ALL HAD THE FOLLOWING THOUGHT: Each of them had this thought. What did they think?
WHY, NOW, at present, DOES THE WORLD HONORED ONE, Sakyamuni, the World Honored One, REPEATEDLY PRAISE THE EXPEDIENT DEVICES/"Repeatedly" means that he speaks out again and again, happy to speak and happy to say what he does over and over again. Usually the term (which is rendered) "repeatedly" means "not lazy," but here the Buddha is not lazy about speaking the Sutra since he speaks it once and yet again, and praises at once and yet again. First he praises it in prose and then he repeats his praise in verse, and when he speaks the doctrines he takes them very Seriously. He is not the least bit sloppy, because it is very important, and it is to be feared that people won't pay attention unless he very seriously praises the expedient devices and does so repeatedly, praising and extolling them, saying that the Dharma-door of expedient devices is most wonderful.
SAYING, 'THE DHARMA OBTAINED BY THE BUDDHA/The Dharma obtained by me) Sakyamuni Buddha, IS SO EXTREMELY PROFOUND AND DIFFICULT TO FATHOM; No one knows how deep it is; thus, it is extremely profound. No one can understand it: thus, it is hard to understand. AND THE PURPORT OF HIS SPEECH IS SO DIFFICULT TO KNOW/THAT THE SOUND HEARERS AND PRATYEKA BUDDHAS CANNOT ARRIVE AT IT.' All those of the Sound Hearer Vehicle and the Condition Enlightened Vehicle can't understand this doctrine. THE BUDDHA HAS SPOKEN OF BUT ONE PRINCIPLE OF LIBERATION; Previously, the Buddha taught the first level of liberation, that doctrine, AND WE HAVE ALREADY OBTAINED THIS DHARMA AND ARRIVED AT NIRVANA. We of the Sravaka Vehicle have completely attained the doctrine of the principle of liberation and rely on it to cultivate. We have already obtained the wonderful fruit of Nirvana, the joyous fruit of Nirvana. NOW, WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND HIS INTENTION." Now, the Buddha says that what he said previously was not ultimate, not final. Previously, the Dharma he spoke was provisional Dharma, not real Dharma, provisional wisdom, and not real wisdom. It was not real and true. You have lectured us all into a daze, and we don't know what this means. Ultimately, what is the principle? What is the Buddha's intention? We already have doubts. If the Dharma the Buddha spoke previously was incorrect, then is what he is now saying correct? Even though these dharmas were incorrect, they still conferred advantages on us: the first, second, third, and fourth fruit of Arhatship. Now, if they are incorrect, then most likely the fruits we certified to are false as well.
Everyone had doubts.
AT THAT TIME SHARIPUTRA, KNOWING OF THE DOUBTS IN THE MINDS OF THE FOUR-FOLD ASSEMBLY AND HIMSELF NOT HAVING YET UNDERSTOOD, SPOKE TO THE BUDDHA, SAYING, "FOR WHAT REASON HAS THE WORLD HONORED ONE REPEATEDLY PRAISED THE FOREMOST EXPEDIENT DEVICES OF THE BUDDHAS AND THE EXTREMELY PROFOUND, MIRACULOUS DHARMA WHICH IS HARD TO UNDERSTAND? FROM THE PAST ONWARD I HAVE NEVER HEARD THE BUDDHA SPEAK IN SUCH A WAY. PRESENTLY, THE FOUR-FOLD ASSEMBLY ALL HAS DOUBTS. I ONLY PRAY THAT THE WORLD HONORED ONE WILL EXPOUND UPON THIS SUBJECT. WHY HAS THE WORLD HONORED ONE REPEATEDLY PRAISED THE DHARMA WHICH IS EXTREMELY PROFOUND, MIRACULOUS, AND SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?
AT THAT TIME, WISHING TO RESTATE THIS MEANING, SARIPUTRA SPOKE VERSES SAYING,
AT THAT TIME, when the four-fold assembly started to have doubts the wisest of the Sound Hearers, SARIPUTRA, KNOWING THE DOUBTS IN THE HEARTS OF THE FOUR FOLD ASSEMBLY...He knew that everyone of the disciples has doubts and that their hearts were confused and muddled.
But although he was so intelligent and wise, he didn't understand the state the Buddha had manifested either. So the text says, AND HIMSELF NOT HAVING YET UNDERSTOOD. Sariputra SPOKE TO THE BUDDHA SAYING, "FOR WHAT REASON HAS THE WORLD HONORED ONE REPEATEDLY PRAISED THE FOREMOST EXPEDIENT DEVICES OF THE BUDDHAS in such a way repeatedly extolling and lauding them, praising the foremost expedient devices—the Dharma-doors of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future? AND THE EXTREMELY PROFOUND, MIRACULOUS DHARMA WHICH IS HARD TO UNDERSTAND?" It is so deep, and so fine and subtle, so difficult to understand—this wonderful Dharma of Real Wisdom.
FROM THE PAST ONWARDS I, Sariputra, have been following Sakyamuni Buddha now for over forty years. It took eight years to speak The Dharma Flower Sutra and one day and one night to speak The Nirvana Sutra. If you spread palm leaves which The Dharma Flower Sutra was written on out, they would stretch across eight li. I, Sariputra have already been with the Buddha for over forty years.
See? When the Buddha is in the world, some of the disciples who studied the Buddhadharma under him had doubts. Some truly and genuinely believed. However, they all wanted to study the Buddhadharma, and listened to the Buddha speak on the Sutras and they cultivated under him. They never left the Buddha. That is why the twelve hundred and fifty disciples are called the "constant retinue." They always followed the Buddha wherever he went to speak and they participated In the Dharma assemblies. So, in every Dharma gathering, Sakyamuni Buddha always had at the very least twelve hundred and fifty as an audience. Even if they didn't understand the doctrines the Buddha was explaining, they still investigated the Buddhadharma and came to listen. So the text says, "From the past onwards." The word "past" tells us that Sariputra had been with Shakyamuni Buddha and never left him. He listened to the Buddhadharma everyday and 'studied it everyday.
HAVE NEVER HEARD THE BUDDHA SPEAK IN SUCH A WAY Sakyamuni Buddha, when you spoke Dharma before, you never said such important things, praising and praising, extolling and extolling, repeatedly speaking the Dharma like that.
PRESENTLY, right now, Sakyamuni Buddha, your praise is one thing, but THE FOUR FOLD ASSEMBLY ALL HAS DOUBTS. The entire four-fold assembly of disciples has given rise to doubts and confusion. They don't know where it came from and they don't know where it's going; they don't know where to begin, which Dharma-door to cultivate. This is a very grave problem and so I ONLY PRAY THAT THE WORLD HONORED ONE I request that the World Honored One WILL EXPOUND UPON THIS SUBJECT, that he will elucidate this matter and proclaim it in fine detail so that the doubts of those present in the four-fold assembly may be resolved. Please don't leave us, as it were, standing at the fork in the road not knowing which way to turn.
WHY HAS THE WORLD HONORED ONE REPEATEDLY PRAISED THE DHARMA WHICH IS EXTREMELY PROFOUND, MIRACULOUS, AND SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND? Why? We don't understand and so we ask the Buddha to be compassionate and instruct us. We respectfully await the holy instruction.
AT THAT TIME, then, Sariputra wanted to reiterate, to state his meaning in even more detail WISHING TO RESTATE THIS MEANING, SPOKE VERSES SAYING, he used verse to ask the World Honored One, Sakyamuni Buddha:
0 SUN WISDOM, GREAT HONORED SAGE,
LONG HAVE YOU WAITED TO SPEAK THIS DHARMA...
What is meant by the SUN OF WISDOM? In this world, the Buddha's wisdom light is lide the light of the sun.
GREAT HONORED SAGE: The Buddha is the God among the gods, the Sage among the sages. Thus, he is called the Great Honored Sage. Before the Buddha appeared in the world, the world was without the Buddhadharma and a world without the Buddhadharma is like a world without a sun. Without the sun, we are in the midst of night, a state of darkness. When the Buddha appeared in the world, it was as if the sun had ascended into space, dispersing all darkness with its illumination.
What does this mean?
Before the Buddha appeared in the world, the world was without True Principle. It wasn't that the True Principle didn't exist, but rather that no one understood it. True Principle neither comes nor goes. However, if no one points it out, people who have been sunk in confusion for so long will not see it.
What is the confusion that people are sunk in?
The five desires.
What are the five desires?
Forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects. These are the five sense objects, also called the five desires.
Form: No one is able to see through and break their attachment to form. People are attached to forms. Anything with shape and appearance is considered form, but among such shapes and appearances, people select the good ones. People don't like the bad ones; they pick the beautiful forms. Because they feel that beautiful forms are very good, they sink, drunk with objects of form.
Sounds: People like to listen to music, to singing, and perhaps even the chirping of birds or the sound of other people talking in sonorous tones. This is to be sunk and drunk with the defiling objects of sound, sunk in the confusion of the defiling objects of sound.
Smells: People also desire smells. You eat one kind of food and you may feel that it is not as fragrant as another kind. After you eat one kind of food for a while, you want to eat some other kind of food. After eating the other kind for a while, you'll also get sick of it and want to go on to something else. In general, one also sinks in the stupor of the defiling objects of smell and fails to awaken. It's like being drunk on wine, sunk in the confusion of the defiling objects of smell.
Tastes: Today you may want to eat fish, tomorrow, chicken, and the day after, duck or beef. But when you are eating beef, you think that it's not as tasty as lamb. Whatever is hardest to come by is just what you think would be the very best. Things you've eaten, you tire of. This comes through the arisal of greed and desire. To be caught up in the desire for food and sink into the stupor created by objects of taste is like being caught in quicksand. You just get one leg out and the other sinks in deeper. You pull the other leg out, and the first leg sinks in deeper, and you never get out of the quicksand. So it is with the objects of taste.
Tangible objects. Touch; contact. People like to come in contact with all manner of smooth surfaces. They like to wear silk and satin, fabrics which not only protect the skin, but are soft and warm as well. And men and women become attached to each other as objects of touch and so sink in the stupor caused by defiling tangible objects as if they were stuck in quicksand and unable to get their legs out. As soon as they get one leg free the other sinks right in.
Thus, people are unable to extricate themselves from the realms of the five desires.
Those of outside ways use the five desires in their teachings, and they don't lead living-things to separate from attachments. Therefore, they live in a dark night, sunk in confusion, in a stupor, in a state of dream-like confusion, and the entire world is pitch dark. When the Buddha appeared in the world, it was as though the sun had dispersed all darkness and people were taught not to be attached to the five desires, the defiling objects of sense. So the text says, "Oh Sun of Wisdom, Great Honored Sage...
LONG HAVE YOU WAITED TO SPEAK THIS DHARMA/"Long" means that he never spoke it before. Sakyamuni Buddha had been speaking the Dharma for a long, long time, but the Dharma, which he spoke, was always the provisional Dharma; it was provisional wisdom. He has never spoken the Real Wisdom. Now, at the very end, the genuine Real Wisdom is being spoken for everyone to hear.
SPEAKING OF YOUR OWN ATTAINMENTS OF SUCH
POWERS, FEARLESSNESSES, SAMADHIS
DHYANA CONCENTRATIONS, LIBERATIONS, AND OTHER
CONCERNING THE DHARMA OBTAINED IN THE FIELD OF THE
WAY/NOT ONE OF US CAN RAISE A QUESTION;
I FIND ITS MEANING HARD TO FATHOM
AND AM ALSO UNABLE TO ASK ABOUT IT.
YOU HAVE SPOKEN IT WITHOUT REQUEST,
PRAISING THE PATH THAT YOU HAVE WALKED,
THAT WISDOM VERY FINE AND WONDROUS
WHICH HAS BEEN OBTAINED BY ALL THE BUDDHAS.
ALL THE ARHATS, WHO ARE WITHOUT OUTFLOWS,
AND THOSE WHO SEEK NIRVANA
HAVE NOW FALLEN INTO A NET OF DOUBTS.
WHY HAS THE BUDDHA SAID THESE THINGS?
THOSE WHO SEEK CONDITIONED ENLIGHTENMENT,
THE BHIKSUS AND BHIKSUNIS,
ALL THE GODS, DRAGONS, GHOSTS, AND SPIRITS,
AS WELL AS THE GANDHARVAS AND OTHERS
GLANCE ATONE ANOTHER, PERPLEXED,
AND GAZE AT THE DOUBLY COMPLETE HONORED ONE.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS MATTER?
WE PRAY THAT THE BUDDHA WILL EXPLAIN.
Sakyamuni Buddha spoke the Dharma for forty-nine years in over three hundred Dharma assemblies, and from the very beginning right through to the end, he never spoke the Real; he only spoke the Provisional. Here, in the Lotus Assembly, he finally speaks the Real Wisdom. SPEAKING OF YOUR OWN ATTAINMENTS OF SUCH/POWERS, FEARLESSNESSES, SAMADHIS/There are Ten Powers and Four Fearlessness’, as well as the samadhis, or concentrations. DHYANA CONCENTRATIONS, LIBERATIONS AND OTHER/He has attained all kinds of Dhyana concentrations and liberations.
There are Eight Liberations, but it would probably be best if I didn't lecture them for you. If I did, no one would take note of them or remember them, so the lists are better left unsaid. But there are eight kinds. If you want to know what they are, you can look them up in the Buddhist Dictionary. They are given there in great detail. When you've read them, copy them out, and if you still don't understand them, I'll explain them. If you want to investigate the Buddhadharma, that's the way you should do it. If you don't want to, you won't remember if I tell you them now. They are also called the "Eight Renunciations off the Back," as well as the "Eight Victorious Levels."
INCONCEIVABLE DHARMAS/These Dharmas can't be thought of with the mind or expressed in words.
CONCERNING THE DHARMA OBTAINED IN THE FIELD OF THE WAY/The fine and subtle Dharma the Buddha obtained as he realized Buddhahood and sat in the Field of the Way NOT ONE OF US CAN RAISE A QUESTION/Because it is Real Wisdom, not provisional wisdom, the Sound Hearers, those Enlightened to Conditions, as well as the Bodhisattvas of the Provisional Vehicle, don't understand it, and so there isn't even anyone who can ask about it. I FIND ITS MEANING HARD TO FATHOM/No one can know the Buddha's subtle, wonderful, inconceivable meaning, AND AM ALSO UNABLE TO ASK ABOUT IT. Because no one can understand, none of us can ask about it.
YOU HAVE SPOKEN IT WITHOUT REQUEST/No one asked you, World Honored One, and so you spoke it on your own, PRAISING THE PATH THAT YOU HAVE WALKED/ Praising and extolling the Way the Buddha practiced. THAT WISDOM VERY FINE AND WONDROUS; The true, real wisdom, the Real Wisdom extremely profound, fine, and wondrous WHICH HAS BEEN OBTAINED BY ALL THE BUDDHAS OF THE TEN DIRECTIONS and by Shakyamuni Buddha. ALL THE ARHATS, WHO ARE WITHOUT OUTFLOWS; Although they have obtained the exhaustion of outflows and are Sound Hearers, Arhats, AND THOSE WHO SEEK NIRVANA; Or they are the Bodhisattvas of the Provisional Vehicle who seek Nirvana, or perhaps Pratyeka Buddhas, HAVE ALL FALLEN INTO A NET OF DOUBTS. Now, on hearing the Buddha speak of the true Real Wisdom, which is extremely profound, subtle, and wonderful, rare and foremost, everyone has doubts; they have fallen into a net of doubt. If one has doubts, one can't cultivate the Way. As I have often said,
Cultivators of the Way, take care not to doubt.
Don't be suspicious. Once doubt arises, it's easy to get lost. If you have doubts, you will lose your way. So now, the Sound Hearers, the Condition-Enlightened Ones, and the Provisional Teaching Bodhisattvas—every last one of them--has fallen into the net of doubts.
WHY HAS THE BUDDHA SAID THESE THINGS? Why has the Buddha spoken such a frightening Dharma? It causes everyone to have fox-like doubts and to disbelieve, to be frightened and alarmed. THOSE WHO SEEK CONDITIONED ENLIGHTENMENT; Those people who seek the fruit of Conditioned Enlightenment, THE BHIKSHUS AND BHIKSUNIS; ALL THE GODS, DRAGONS, AND SPIRITS/ All the gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits, AS WELL AS THE GANDHARVAS AND OTHERS/The music-making spirits and all the rest of the troupe of the eight-fold division. GLANCE AT ONE ANOTHER, PERPLEXED/Everyone stares at everyone else. You look at me, and I look at you, and nobody understands what's going on. "Perplexed" means that they have doubts, which have not been resolved. In their hearts, they don't know what would be best. Should they go south or should they go north or should they go east or west? They've gotten to the intersection, but they don't know which road to take. There they stand in the middle of the street, not knowing which way to go. They are perplexed. AND GAZE AT THE DOUBLY COMPLETE HONORED ONE/They stare fixedly at the Buddha, not turning their gaze away for a moment. They stare up at him, for he is sitting high upon the Dharma-seat so that all the Sound Hearers, Condition-Enlightened Ones, and the Bodhisattvas all must tilt their heads back to gaze upon him.
What is meant by the "Doubly-complete Honored One?"
It doesn't mean, as some translations from the Chinese would have it, the "two-legged." The Chinese word
-tsu, while it does mean a foot, here means "complete."
Complete in what way?
Complete in blessings and complete in wisdom. The Buddha is doubly complete, complete in blessings and wisdom. This is because Sakyamuni Buddha cultivated blessings and wisdom for three asankhyeya aeons and perfected the fine marks for a hundred aeons. There are eighty fine marks, of minor characteristics. If you want to know what they are you can look them up in the Buddhist Dictionary because there are so many of them. If I told you, no one would remember them anyway. If you want to be clear about them, you can go look them up. If you'd rather just be muddled, then forget it.
What is meant by asankhyeya?
It means "an incalculable number." Then how long is three asankhyeya kalpas? It can't be reckoned. How can you count the uncountable? During all that time, the Buddha cultivated blessings. One cultivates blessings by making offerings to the Triple Jewel, by drawing near to all the Buddhas, by making offerings to the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, and to the Bodhisattvas, to the Pratyeka Buddhas and Arhats. During all of that time, the Buddha vastly cultivated the practice of making offerings. "Vastly cultivating" means that he didn't make offerings to just one Buddha, but to very, very many of them.
One cultivates wisdom first by holding the precepts. Why? Through holding the precepts, one gives rise to samadhi, and from samadhi, comes wisdom. If you have samadhi power you will be able to have wisdom power.
What is samadhi power?
Samadhi power means not being turned by any external states. Neither good nor bad can move your mind. Whether the situation that arises is favorable or contrary, your mind does not move. If you can have an unmoving mind, you will have samadhi power, and once you have samadhi power, you may then have wisdom power.
Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated blessings and cultivated wisdom. One cultivates wisdom by studying the Sutras; the study of the Sutras augments one's wisdom. If you do not study the Sutras you can't increase your wisdom, and if your wisdom is not increasing, it's decreasing. Therefore, you must study all of the Sutras, all of the Sastras, and the Vinaya. The Three Storehouses--the Sutras, Sastras, and Vinaya--cause one to give rise to wisdom. Study the Sutras, Sastras, and Vinaya diligently. That's the cultivation of wisdom. If you only cultivate blessings and do not cultivate wisdom, what kind of fruit will you reap?
One who cultivates blessings and not wisdom,
Is like an elephant wearing a string of beads.
In the future you'll be a big elephant, tall and big and strong, wearing a fine necklace around your elephant neck. But you won't have any wisdom. You'll look striking enough, but you won't have any wisdom or intelligence.
One who cultivates wisdom and not blessings
Is like an Arhat with an empty begging bowl.
If you just study the Sutras but do not do good deeds or plant good roots...
But how does one plant good roots?
Just by doing good deeds.
Not doing any evil, and
Doing many good deeds--
this is to plant and tend your good roots. If you merely study Sutras and never do good deeds or help other people, you'll be like the Arhat with an empty begging bowl. You may certify to the fruit of Arhatship, but when you go out to beg no one will make offerings to you. "So you've certified to the fruit?" they'll say, "So what?" No one will make offerings to you because you did not cultivate blessings on the causal ground and so you do not have blessings now.
I often tell you these two sentences:
To endure suffering is to end suffering:
To enjoy blessings is to destroy blessings.
You suffer? Why must you suffer? It's because in previous lives you did not cultivate blessings, and so you must endure bitterness now. If you can endure your present suffering, it will pass. If you don't undergo that suffering which you deserve, it will remain latent. If you take what you are supposed to take, it will disappear.
If you have a bit of blessed retribution but you just spend your days enjoying yourself, living in a nice house, eating good food, buying nice furnishings or the latest model car or even buying a plane so that you can fly around as you please—bu! Bu! Bu!—and not being able to take even the least bit of suffering, you use up your blessings, you destroy them. Once they've been used up, you won't have any more. Once you've enjoyed all your happiness, you will have to undergo suffering. Do you know how much happiness you have coming to you? If you enjoy it all, you'll end up suffering again.
Sakyamuni Buddha cultivated both blessings and wisdom, and so he is called the Doubly Complete Honored One, complete in blessings and wisdom.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS MATTER? They stare unblinking at the World Honored One, the Thus Come One, and In their hearts they hope that the Buddha will explain in detail the intent of his meaning for his praising the wonderful Dharma. WE PRAY THAT THE BUDDHA WILL EXPLAIN/All of us ask that the Buddha will tell us in detail the principles involved here, the meaning behind this.
IN THE HOST OF SOUND HEARERS,
THE BUDDHA HAS DECLARED ME FOREMOST,
AND YET NOW WITH MY OWN WISDOM
I CANNOT RESOLVE MY DOUBTS.
IS THIS DHARMA ULTIMATE,
OR IS IT THE PATH TO BE WALKED?
THE SONS BORN FROM THE BUDDHA'S MOUTH
WITH JOINED PALMS WAIT EXPECTANTLY.
PRAY PUT FORTH THE WONDROUS SOUND
FOR IT'S TIME TO TELL IT AS IT REALLY IS
THE GODS, DRAGONS, SPIRITS, AND OTHERS
THEIR NUMBER LIKE THE GANGES SANDS;
THE BODHISATTVAS SEEKING BUDDHAHOOD
NUMBERING A FULL EIGHTY THOUSAND,
AND ALSO, FROM TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF LANDS
SAGELY WHEEL-TURNING KINGS HAVE COME,
WITH JOINED PALMS AND REVERENT HEARTS
THEY WISH TO HEAR OF THE PERFECT WAY.
OF THE HOST OF SOUND HEARERS/In the assembly of Sravakas THE BUDDHA -HAS DECLARED ME FOREMOST/The World Honored One has said that I, Sariputra, am number one in wisdom. He says that I'm the smartest: AND YET NOW WITH MY OWN WISDOM/ However, presently, I myself, thinking it over with my number one wisdom I CANNOT RESOLVE MY DOUBTS/I'm confused, muddled. Although I'm number one in wisdom, I'm not living up to my position. I've turned into a non-number one. Why? Because I don't understand and I've also given rise to doubts, and so as number one, I'm all washed up.
IS THIS DHARMA ULTIMATE/Is this the ultimate, subtle and wonderful, extremely deep Dharma obtained by the Thus Come One OR IS IT THE PATH TO BE WALKED? Or is it the perfect, subtle, and wonderful great Way of Bodhi which the Thus Come One cultivated?
THE SONS BORN FROM THE BUDDHA'S MOUTH/All of the Bodhisattvas, as Sons of the Dharma King, are the Buddha's true sons. They are
Born from the Buddha's mouth
Transformed from the Dharma.
That's why the text says, "Sons born of the Buddha's mouth." They are the genuine sons born from the Buddha's mouth.
WITH JOINED PALMS WAIT EXPECTANTLY/We place our palms together and gaze at the Buddha steadily, waiting for the Buddha to speak this extremely deep, wonderful Dharma, the Real Wisdom.
PRAY PUT FORTH THE WONDROUS SOUND/We all want the World Honored One to put forth the subtle, wonderful sound of the Dharma FOR IT'S TIME TO TELL IT AS IT REALLY IS/Explain the true, real doctrine to all of us here in the great assembly.
THE GODS, DRAGONS, SPIRITS, AND OTHERS/All the gods in the heavens, and the dragons, and so on, and the entire eight-fold division THEIR NUMBER LIKE THE GANGES SANDS/So many of them. The are like the sand grains in the Ganges.
AND THE BODHISATTVAS SEEKING BUDDHAHOOD/The entire assembly of Bodhisattvas who are seeking to accomplish the Buddha Way. NUMBERING A FULL EIGHTY THOUSAND; As an estimate, there were eighty thousand of them. AND ALSO, FROM TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF LANDS/SAGELY WHEEL TURNING KINGS HAVE COME/There are Gold Wheel Turning Kings, Silver Wheel Turning Kings, Copper Wheel Turning Kings, and Iron Wheel Turning Kings—all four categories of Wheel Turning Kings came. WITH JOINED PALMS AND REVERENT HEARTS/They have placed their palms together most respectfully because THEY WISH TO HEAR OF THE PERFECT WAY. They all want to hear about that wonderful Dharma-door, which the World Honored One cultivated, and that perfect, complete, great Bodhi Way he obtained.
AT THAT TIME THE BUDDHA TOLD SARIPUTRA, "STOP, STOP. THERE IS NO NEED TO SPEAK FURTHER. IF THIS MATTER WERE SPOKEN OF, THE GODS AND MEN IN ALL THE WORLDS WOULD BE FRIGHTENED AND CAUSED TO DOUBT.
SARIPUTRA AGAIN ADDRESSED THE BUDDHA, SAYING, "WORLD HONORED ONE, I ONLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL SPEAK IT. I ONLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL SPEAK IT. WHAT IS THE REASON? IN THIS ASSEMBLY ARE COUNTLESS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF ASANKHYEYAS OF LIVING BEINGS TOO HAVE IN THE PAST SEEN THE BUDDHAS. THEIR ROOTS ARE KEEN, AND THEIR WISDOM BRIGHT. HEARING WHAT THE BUDDHA SAYS, THEY WILL BE ABLE TO REVERENTLY BELIEVE IT."
AT THAT TIME, when Sariputra had requested the Buddha to speak the Dharma THE BUDDHA TOLD SARIPUTRA, "STOP. It can't be spoken; it should not be spoken. It is ineffable, ineffable. STOP; Stop.' He said it twice. "Don't talk about this Dharma." Why not?
THERE IS NO NEED TO SPEAK FURTHER. Say, let's not talk about this Dharma. Just forget it. IF THIS MATTER WERE SPOKEN OF/that is, were I to speak the Dharma of the truth of reality, the Real Wisdom Dharma, the ultimate Dharma THE GODS AND HUMANS IN ALL THE WORLDS/all the gods in the heavens and the humans on earth WOULD BECOME FRIGHTENED AND CAUSED TO DOUBT. Why? If you speak the expedient devices, the clever provisional dharmas to them, they can accept them, but if you tell them the Real Dharma, they won't believe it. They will not believe it. People all have this quirk: When you lie to them, they usually believe you, but when you tell them the truth, the real truth, true principles, they don't believe you. If you tell them, "You shouldn't have desire. You should not have thoughts of sexual desire," they don't know if that's really the case or not. "What's the point of having no sexual desire? That's the doubt they give rise to. They think that such behavior is extremely blissful. "What do you mean that if you cultivate the Way you can't indulge in such activities?" they think.
And so, some people who call themselves Buddhists do not teach people to cut off their thoughts of sexual desire. A layman who came here said that the entire great Vehicle Buddhadharma rested with such self-styled "Buddhists." If it rests with them, then the Buddhadharma has truly become extinct—non-existent. It's really pathetic. If you tell them the truth, they are afraid and don't believe it. Not only do they disbelieve, but they slander you as well. "Hah; He doesn't understand the Buddhadharma. He just speaks confusedly."
SHARIPUTRA AGAIN ADDRESSED THE BUDDHA, SAYING, Sakyamuni Buddha was not going to speak the Dharma; he was not going to expound THE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA, but Sariputra vehemently begged the Buddha to speak.
Basically, requesting Dharma should be done before the Sutras are explained. But in a country where there is no Buddhadharma, you really can't wait around for someone to ask. I waited for five or six years and no one asked me. The chance didn't come until last summer when all of these Americans came to study the Buddhadharma. At that time I quit waiting and spoke the Dharma. But now Sakyamuni Buddha won't speak. He says, "Stop, I'm not going to speak. Stop. I am not going to talk." On the other hand, I say, "Don't stop; I'm going to speak, I'm going to speak every day." Recently I said to a Tibetan who visited, "The students of Dharma here have obtained a taste of the Dharma's sweetness and so they don't want to quit, I, myself, find it very bitter. Why? I have to lecture every day, and on top of that, I make no money off it. This makes it even more bitter. If people paid me to lecture, at least I'd be getting something out of it." In China when people lecture on the Sutras, say on THE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA, even once, they make a whole lot of money.
WORLD HONORED ONE, I ONLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL SPEAK IT. He calls out, "World Honored One." We only pray that you will speak it. Please, World Honored One, won't you speak it? I ONLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL SPEAK IT. This shows his extreme sincerity and earnestness, so he asks three times. He has already asked once again. "I only pray that you will speak it," he asks for the third time.
WHAT IS THE REASON? Why do I ask the Buddha to explain this Dharma? IN THIS ASSEMBLY ARE COUNTLESS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF ASANKHYEYAS OF LIVING BEINGS/Limitless, uncountable numbers of living beings WHO HAVE IN THE PAST SEEN THE BUDDHAS. In the past they saw the Buddhas, and in the present they see the World Honored One. THEIR ROOTS ARE KEEN/“Keen” means that they are very intelligent. “Roots” refers to their good roots, which make them so intelligent. AND THEIR WISDOM BRIGHT. They have a great deal of wisdom. HEARING WHAT THE BUDDHA SAYS, THEY WILL BE ABLE REVERENTLY TO BELIEVE IT. When they hear Sakyamuni Buddha say it, they will be able to believe it respectfully. Please, Buddha, be compassionate and expound this extremely deep, subtle, and wonderful Dharma.
AT THAT TIME, SARIPUTRA, WISHING TO RESTATE THIS MEANING, SPOKE VERSES SAYING,
"DHARMA KING, SUPREMELY HONORED ONE,
DO BUT SPEAK: PRAY HAVE NO WORRIES,
FOR WITHIN THE LIMITLESS MULTITUDES
ARE THOSE WHO CAN REVERENTLY BELIEVE IT."
THE BUDDHA STOPPED SHARIPUTRA AGAIN, "IF THIS MATTER
WERE SPOKEN OF, THE GODS, HUMANS, AND ASURAS IN ALL THE WORLDS WOULD BE
FRIGHTENED AND LED TO DOUBT. THOSE BHIKSUS OF OVERWEENING PRIDE WOULD FALL INTO
A BIG PIT."
"STOP, STOP. IT MUST NOT BE SPOKEN:
MY DHARMA IS WONDERFUL BEYOND CONCEPTION,
AND THOSE OF OVERSEENING PRIDE,
HEARING IT WOULD SURELY NOT REVERE OR BELIEVE IT.
AT THAT TIME, SARIPUTRA, WISHING TO RESTATE THIS MEANING, SPOKE VERSES SAYING. Sakyamuni Buddha had said; "Stop, stop. There is no need to say anymore because to do so would alarm the gods and people." But Sariputra asked yet again that the Buddha speak forth the true, Real Wisdom, the Wonderful Dharma. Thus, he repeated what he had just said in prose, in verse.
He said DHARMA KING, SUPREMELY HONORED ONE/In the world and beyond the world, there is no one higher than you. I again ask you to speak this wonderful Dharma. DO BUT SPEAK; PRAY HAVE NO WORRIES/Don't have any second thoughts or concerns that people might not believe what you say. FOR WITHIN THE LIMITLESS MULTITUDES/ARE SURELY THOSE WHO CAN REVERENTLY BELIEVE IT. There will most certainly be people who will respect and have faith in this Dharma and who will not become doubtful.
THE BUDDHA STOPPED SHARIPUTRA AGAIN. The Buddha had already said, "Stop," two different times and this makes his third refusal. He said, "There's no need to speak about it. You shouldn't speak about it. Why not? IF THIS MATTER WERE SPOKEN, THE GODS, HUMANS AND ASURAS IN ALL THE WORLDS WOULD BE FRIGHTENED AND LED TO DOUBT. They will all be afraid and full of doubts. THOSE BHIKSUS OF OVERWEENING PRIDE WILL FALL INTO A BIG PIT. The Bhiksus are arrogant and self-satisfied. Why? Because they have attachments, that's why. They are attached to the opinion that no one is equal to them, and so they are going to fall into a great trap. They think they are very clever and that their intelligence and conduct far surpass everyone else's.
Once people become slightly intelligent, not greatly wise by any means, they tend to expose it wherever they go. They shine their light outwardly to show off that they are number one and they are unable to contain their light within them. If you have a lot of light that means that you are intelligent but you don't display your intelligence, you keep it covered and hidden away.
Well, isn't that just being greedy?
No. It's wanting to avoid becoming arrogant and proud.
Arrogance is the attitude that "I am better than everyone else." For example, "I am an oriental. Orientals are the very best and the yellow race is the most superior in the world," someone might think. That is arrogance. Or, someone might think, "I am a Caucasian and the white race is the best, the world's most superior and most intelligent race." That is also arrogance.
One may be a Negro who thinks that the white and yellow races are decadent and the black people are the most superior. That, too, is arrogance. Regardless of whether you are green, white, yellow, black, or red, no matter when race you are or what kind of person you are, you should not hold the view of arrogance, feeling that you are superior to others. That is merely to be self-satisfied.
Arrogance is an obstacle to your learning. It is because of arrogance that you keep hitting your head against the wall and are unable to study and learn from others. You can't learn if your mind is filled with self-pride, because you think that you already know everything. "What have I got to learn?" you feel.
Those who study the Buddhadharma should not master one tiny bit of it and then think, "I understand so much Buddhadharma!"
What do you understand? And those who have not studied the Buddhadharma have less business being arrogant. It's really pathetic: they don't understand anything at all, but they become arrogant.
Arrogant people have a kind of power. They can read and remember Sutras at a fast rate. Whatever they do, they do very perfectly because they are smarter and quicker than others. Because of this they may become arrogant. They can do things better and faster than others, they can study the Sutras fast, study the Dharma fast, cultivate and become Buddhas fast, and enter samadhi and produce wisdom first. But take care not to become attached to a view of self and say that you are better than others. Do not become self-satisfied, arrogant, putting yourself on a pedestal, and feeling that you are better than others.
"Those Bhiksus of overweening pride will fall into a big pit." They figure that they know everything so when you speak the true Real Dharma they won't be able to believe it. Because they will be unable to believe it, they are going to fall into a great trap. They are going to fall to a very low place. The "big pit" here refers to the hells, the realm of hungry ghosts, or the animal pit. The three evil paths are considered the "big pit."
AT THAT TIME THE WORLD HONORED ONE RESTATED HIS MEANING IN VERSE SAYING, "STOP, STOP. IT MUST NOT BE SPOKEN." Why not? Why doesn't the Buddha wish to speak this Dharma?
MY DHARMA IS WONDERFUL BEYOND CONCEPTION/Because this Dharma is miraculous, difficult to conceive of. It is extremely wonderful. Wonderful to what extreme? Wonderful to the point that there is absolutely nothing more wonderful. That is why it is not easy to think about, not easy to believe. If the Buddha were to speak the true Real Dharma, THOSE OF OVERWEENING PRIDE/the arrogant Bhiksus HEARING IT WOULD SURELY NOT REVERE OR BELIEVE IT.
AT THAT TIME SARIPUTRA FURTHER ADDRESSED THE BUDDHA, SAYING, "WORLD HONORED ONE, I ONLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL SPEAK IT; I ONLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL SPEAK IT. PRESENTLY, WITHIN THIS ASSEMBLY ARE THOSE WHO ARE MY EQUAL, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF THEM, WHO, FOR SUCCESSIVE LIFETIMES FOLLOWED THE BUDDHA AND RECEIVED HIS INSTRUCTION. PEOPLE SUCH AS THESE WILL SURELY BE ABLE REVERENTLY TO BELIEVE YOU AND THROUGH THE LONG NIGHT GAIN SECURITY AND GREAT BENEFIT.
AT THAT TIME, SHARIPUTRA, WISHING TO RESTATE HIS MEANING SPOKE VERSES, SAYING,
SUPREME, TWO-FOLD HONORED ONE,
PRAY SPEAK THE FOREMOST DHARMA.
I, THE BUDDHA'S ELDEST SON,
WISH YOU WILL BUT SPEAK OF IT, EXPLICITLY.
THE LIMITLESS MULTITUDES IN THIS ASSEMBLY,
CAN REVERENTLY BELIEVE THIS DHARMA,
FOR THE BUDDHA HAS ALREADY THROUGH SUCCESSIVE LIVES,
TAUGHT AND TRANSFORMED SUCH ONES AS THESE.
WITH ONE HEART AND PALMS JOINED
ALL WISH TO HEAR AND RECEIVE THE BUDDHA'S WORDS.
TWELVE HUNDREDS OF US THERE ARE,
ALONG WITH OTHERS SEEKING BUDDHAHOOD.
WE PRAY THAT FOR THE ASSEMBLY YOU
WILL BUT SPEAK OF IT EXPLICITY,
FOR HAVING HEARD THIS DHARMA, THEN
GREAT WILL OUR REJOICING BE.
AT THAT TIME, after Sariputra had heard the Buddha speak the previous verse, SARIPUTRA FURTHER ADDRESSED THE BUDDHA, SAYING with earnest faith, I ONLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL SPEAK IT: I ONLY PRAY THAT YOU WILL SPEAK IT, speak the true Real wonderful Dharma. With my firm faith I know that PRESENTLY, WITHIN THIS ASSEMBLY ARE THOSE WHO ARE MY EQUAL, like me, their faith is also firm and they earnestly wish the Buddha will speak this extremely deep and wonderful Dharma. "Those who are my equal" refers to those of the same rank, the Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF THEM WHO HAVE, FOR SUCCESSIVE LIFETIMES FOLLOWED THE BUDDHA. For a long time these people have received the Buddha's instruction and teaching. Those who haven't received the teaching of the Buddha in the past will not believe the Buddhadharma when they hear it. If they have already received the teaching in the past, formally lives, then they will believe it right when they hear it and feel sure that it is something they can have faith in. The Buddha has many disciples because for life after life he has taught and transformed sentient beings. The sentient beings also vowed, life after life, to follow the Buddha and study the Buddhadharma. When the Buddha was a Bhiksu, these people all took refuge with the Triple Jewel. When the Buddha achieved the first stage of Arhatship, they left home to become Bhiksus. When the Buddha became a second stage Arhat, they followed him to cultivate the Way. Sakyamuni Buddha used the great compassion heart and many expedient devices to teach and transform his disciples. When Sakyamuni Buddha accomplished the fruit of Buddhahood, they all became Arhats because through successive lives they had received the Buddha's teaching just as Sariputra has said.
In this life, since Sakyamuni Buddha has already become a Buddha, we are becoming Bhiksus. Such causal affinities develop as, life after life, we receive the merciful and compassionate instruction of the Buddha.
PEOPLE SUCH AS THESE WILL SURELY BE ABLE REVERENTLY TO BELIEVE YOU. No matter what doctrines the Buddha speaks, they will believe him. AND, THROUGH THE LONG NIGHT of time, we are dreaming and in our sleep know nothing. Sakyamuni Buddha, you should speak this wonderful Dharma. Have pity on us, forgive us, that we may GAIN SECURITY AND GREAT BENEFIT.
When I was in Manchuria and Hong Kong my disciples had great faith in me. No matter what I said, they believed it, and they had no doubts whatsoever. Even when I deliberately said something contrary to the doctrine, they still believed it. Those who had taken refuge for the first time did not have such a strong firm faith; those who had taken refuge for two, three, four, or five lives don't have such deep faith--but those who had been disciples for many lives, did. So, Sakyamuni Buddha had taught and transformed these people throughout many lives.
Sariputra has asked the Buddha to speak the wonderful doctrine and said that everyone would certainly be able to believe it. Even though he said that, still, later on, five thousand Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas got up and walked out. Sakyamuni Buddha is just about to speak the wonderful Dharma and he says that he will explain it in great detail, and, just as he says that, five thousand people walk out. This can be compared to threshing rice. You toss the rice high into the air and the wind blows the chaff away and the rice grains fall down. The five thousand who left are like the chaff.
AT THAT TIME, SARIPUTRA, WISHING TO RESTATE THIS MEANING, he wanted to speak it a little clearer, to request the Buddha to speak the wonderful Dharma and so he SPOKE VERSES, SAYING.
SUPREME TWO-FOLD HONORED ONE/"Supreme" means there is no one higher, and "Two-fold Honored One" means that the Buddha is complete in both blessings and wisdom. PRAY SPEAK THE FOREMOST DHARMA/We wish you to speak the true, wonderful, non-false Dharma-door, which is number one, without a number two. I, THE BUDDHA'S ELDEST SON/ I, Sariputra, am the Buddha's eldest son WISH YOU WILL BUT SPEAK OF IT EXPLICITLY I hope that the Buddha will be compassionate and speak the Dharma to me. THE LIMITLESS MULTITUDES IN THIS ASSEMBLY; CAN REVERENTLY BELIEVE THIS DHARMA/Why are they able to believe it? Because, World Honored, THE BUDDHA HAS ALREADY THROUGH SUCCESSIVE LIVES/ TAUGHT AND TRANSFORMED SUCH ONES AS THESE/Since they have received the compassionate teaching of the Buddha and the nourishment of the milk of the Buddhadharma. They reverently believe it. WITH ONE HEART AND PALMS JOINED/ALL WISH TO HEAR AND RECEIVE THE BUDDHA'S WORDS. TWELVE HUNDREDS OF US THERE ARE/ ALONG WITH OTHERS SEEKING BUDDHAHOOD. The Pratyeka Buddhas and Provisional Teaching Bodhisattvas WE PRAY THAT FOR THE ASSEMBLY YOU/WILL BUT SPEAK OF IT EXPLICITLY/Please be compassionate and speak to us. FOR HAVING HEARD THIS DHARMA, THEN/GREAT WILL OUR REJOICING BE. We will certainly rejoice and be greatly delighted.
THEREUPON THE WORLD HONORED ONE TOLD SARIPUTRA, "SINCE YOU HAVE EARNESTLY REQUESTED THREE TIMES, HOW COULD I NOT SPEAK? YOU SHOULD NOW LISTEN ATTENTIVELY, THINK UPON IT WELL, AND BE MINDFUL OF IT, AND I WILL NOW EXPLAIN IT IN DETAIL FOR YOUR SAKE."
AS HE SAID THESE WORDS, FIVE THOUSAND BHIKSUS, BHIKSUNIS, UPASAKAS, AND, UPASIKAS IN THE ASSEMBLY ROSE FROM THEIR SEATS, MADE OBEISANCE TO THE BUDDHA AND LEFT. WHAT WAS THE REASON? THE ROOTS OF THEIR OFFENSES WERE DEEP AND GRAVE AND THEY WERE OF SUCH OVER EENING PRIDE THAT THEY CLAIMED TO HAVE OBTAINED WHAT THEY HAD NOT YET OBTAINED AND TO HAVE CERTIFIED TO THAT TO WHICH THEY HAD NOT YET CERTIFIED. WITH FAULTS SUCH AS THESE, THEY COULD NOT STAY. THE WORLD HONORED ONE REMAINED SILENT AND DID NOT THEM.
THE BUDDHA THEN TOLD SARIPUTRA, "MY ASSEMBLY HAS NOW BEEN CLEARED OF ITS BRANCHES AND LEAVES AND ONLY THE TRUNKS REMAIN. SARIPUTRA, IT IS EXCELLENT THAT THOSE OF OVERWEENING PRIDE HAVE LEFT. YOU SHOULD LISTEN WELL, AND I SHALL SPEAK IT FOR YOU."
SARIPUTRA SAID, "SO BE IT, WORLD HONORED ONE. I WISH JOYFULLY TO HEAR IT."
THEREUPON THE WORLD HONORED ONE TOLD SARIPUTRA, "SINCE YOU HAVE EARNESTLY REQUESTED THREE TIMES, HOW COULD I NOT SPEAK?" You have repeated your request three times; how could I not speak this Dharma to you? YOU SHOULD NOW LISTEN ATTENTIVELY, pay close attention, listen well. You should not pay attention to the Dharma, which I speak. THINK UPON IT WELL, AND BE MINDFUL OF IT ALL. I SHALL EXPLAIN IT IN DETAIL FOR YOUR SAKE. I will now very clearly and in detail speak the true and actual, the not-false wonderful Dharma.
After Sakyamuni Buddha said this, what do you think happened?
AS HE SAID THESE WORDS, FIVE THOUSAND BHIKSUS, BHIKSUNIS, UPASAKAS, AND UPASIKAS IN THE ASSEMBLY ROSE FROM THEIR SEATS, just as the Buddha was about to speak the Dharma, they MADE OBEISANCE, AND LEFT. Although they were very arrogant, they still bowed to the Buddha before they left. WHAT WAS THE REASON? THE ROOTS OF THEIR OFFENSES WERE DEEP AND GRAVE AND THEY WERE OF SUCH OVERWEENING PRIDE THAT THEY CLAIMED TO HAVE OBTAINED WHAT THEY HAD NOT YET ATTAINED, AND TO HAVE CERTIFIED TO 1HAT TO WHICH THEY HAD NOT YET CERTIFIED. They could not hear this wonderful Dharma. Such proud people had not attained the wonderful Dharma or certified to the first, second, third, or fourth stages of Arhatship, but they still claimed that they had done so. Although they had not yet become Buddhas, they said that they had done so. What they had not attained, they said that they had attained. They claimed to have wisdom, which they did not possess. They said that they themselves were not bad at all, that they were better than everyone else. These were the strange things they said, and consequently they lost the chance to hear The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. WITH FAULTS SUCH AS THESE THEY COULD NOT STAY.
THE WORLD HONORED ONE REMAINED SILENT AND DID NOT RETAIN THEM. He didn't tell them not to go; he didn't stop them.
THE BUDDHA THEN TOLD SARIPUTRA, "MY ASSEMBLY HAS NOW BEEN CLEARED OF ITS TWIGS AND LEAVES AND ONLY THE TRUNKS REMAIN. Here the analogy of the chaff and the grain may be applied. That the assembly has no twigs and leaves is like the grain being separated from the chaff. Only the pure, real substance, the true material remains. There are no more leaves or branches. All the extraneous matter is gone and only the solid, real body remains. Those people with of tenses all have left; they are like the chaff, the twigs, and the leaves. Those people who remain all have blessings. They are the trunk, the basic, true substance. They are the disciples who have faith. Those without faith are like the twigs and branches; they are insincere.
For example, one disciple here took the precepts and now he has run away. He is like the 5,000 who left. He studied the Buddhadharma for several months and figured that he and his brother had both become enlightened. He's just cheating the world.
SARIPUTRA, IT IS EXCELLENT THAT THOSE OF OVERWEENING PRIDE HAVE LEFT, because now they won't be able to exert their bad influence on others. YOU SHOULD NOW LISTEN WELL AND I WILL SPEAK IT FOR YOU." Don't run away! I am now going to speak the Dharma to those of you who sincerely believe.
SARIPUTRA SAID, “SO BE IT, WORLD HONORED ONE. I WISH JOYFULLY TO HEAR IT.” We all wish happily and joyfully to hear the Buddha speak the Dharma, to hear him speak the true, Real, Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
THE BUDDHA TOLD SARIPUTRA, "A WONDERFUL DHARMA SUCH AS THIS IS SPOKEN ONLY OCCASIONALLY BY THE BUDDHAS, THE THUS COME ONES, JUST AS THE UDUMBARA FLOWER APPEARS BUT ONCE IN A GREAT WHILE.
SARIPUTRA, YOU SHOULD ALL BELIEVE THAT WHICH THE BUDDHA SAYS, FOR HIS WORDS ARE NOT VAIN OR FALSE. SARIPUTRA, ALL THE BUDDHAS SPEAK THE DHARMA IN ACCORD WITH WHAT IS APPROPRIATE, BUT ITS PURPORT IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND. WHAT IS THE REASON? I, BY MEANS OF COUNTLESS EXPEDIENT DEVICES, VARIOUS CAUSES AND CONDITIONS, ANALOGIES AND EXPRESSIONS, PROCLAIM ALL DHARMAS. THIS DHARMA CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD THROUGH DELIBERATION OR DISCRIMINATION. ONLY THE BUDDHAS ALONE CAN KNOW IT. WHY IS THIS? ALL THE BUDDDHAS, THE WORLD HONORED ONES, APPEAR IN THE WORLD ONLY BECAUSE OF THE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS OF THE ONE GREAT MATTER.
Yesterday, Shakyamuni Buddha told Sariputra, "I am now definitely going to speak The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for you. Why? Because you have repeated your request three times. You asked for the Dharma three times. You asked for the Dharma once, then once again, and then a third time. Because you requested the Dharma three times on behalf of the entire Dharma assembly, it’s clear that you are especially sincere and earnest, I will therefore certainly speak it for you."
And Sariputra said, "We all wish joyfully to hear it."
Now, THE BUDDHA TOLD SARIPUTRA, Sakyamuni Buddha spoke to Sariputra saying, "A WONDERFUL DHARMA SUCH AS THIS. "Such as this" is a phrase, which points to the Dharma, the wonderful Dharma. The wonderful Dharma is "such" or "thus"; "Thus," or "such" is the wonderful Dharma. Were it not the wonderful Dharma it would not be "such." Were it not "such" it would not be the wonderful Dharma. So the wonderful Dharma such as this, is just like that. It's just the wonderful Dharma.
It's just like what?
Not like anything. Were it like something it would turn into something,
which is marked. Not like anything, it is the unmarked Real Mark. The unmarked
Real Mark is the genuine, real wonderful Dharma.
It is spoken only occasionally. When the affinities mature in the world then the wonderful Dharma is spoken.
There is an analogy used to represent the wonderful Dharma: JUST AS THE UDUMBARA FLOWER APPEARS BUT ONCE IN A GREAT WHILE. The Udumbara flower is not always seen. This kind of flower blooms very briefly and it is therefore most valuable and rare. The wonderful Dharma is like this flower.
SARIPUTRA, YOU SHOULD ALL BELIEVE THAT WHICH THE BUDDHA SAYS, FOR HIS WORDS ARE NOT VAIN OR FALSE. All of you Sound Hearers, Conditioned Enlightened Ones and others, ought to believe the speech of the Buddha. What the Buddha says contains nothing false, nothing vain; it is all true, real, and not false. Take care not to become doubtful.
SARIPUTRA, ALL THE BUDDHAS SPEAK THE DHARMA IN ACCORD WITH WHAT IS APPROPRIATE. Although the Dharma is the wonderful Dharma, the Dharma which "opens the provisional to reveal the Real," still, the Buddha "manifests the provisional for the sake of the Real." For the sake of the true, Real Dharma he employs clever expedient devices and speaks the Dharma in accord with what is appropriate. He takes a look at the potential and then dispenses the teaching, speaking the Dharma suited to the person being taught.
BUT ITS PURPORT IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND. In the Dharma the Buddha speaks, one meaning is complete with limitless meanings, one word is complete with the wonderful principles of limitless words. So, one meaning, encompasses limitless meanings, limitless meanings revert to one doctrine. Therefore, its purport is difficult to understand. The doctrines are not easy to understand.
WHAT IS THE REASON? Why can't they be understood? I, BY MEANS OF COUNTLESS EXPEDIENT DEVICES, Sakyamuni Buddha says, "From the time I realized Buddhahood, I have used a countless number of expedient-device Dharma-doors, 'for the sake of the Real manifesting the provisional.'" VARIOUS CAUSES AND CONDITIONS. I have also used all kinds of causes and conditions to teach and transform living beings. ANALOGIES AND EXPRESSIONS PROCLAIM ALL DHARMAS. I expound upon all of the dharmas.
THIS DHARMA CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD THROUGH DELIBERATION OR DISCRIMINATION. Although various causes and conditions, various analogies, and various expressions are used to expound all the dharmas, the Dharma itself is not easy to understand. You can't use your conscious mind, your mental consciousness, to understand it through discrimination or deliberation. Don’t use your sixth (mind) consciousness, the discriminating consciousness, or the seventh consciousness, the deliberating consciousness, to try to figure out the doctrines of the Buddha.
FOR ONLY THE BUDDHAS ALONE CAN KNOW IT. It is only, merely, the Buddhas and the Buddha who can know this Dharma.
WHY IS THIS? What is the principle at work here? What is the reason?
ALL THE BUDDHAS, THE WORLD HONORED ONES, all the Buddhas, the World Honored Ones throughout the ten directions APPEAR IN THE WORLD ONLY BECAUSE OF THE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS OF THE ONE GREAT MATTER. Because of the causes and conditions of a great matter, they appear in the world.
What are the causes and conditions of the great matter? Each of us should think it over. What matter is our "great matter"? Sakyamuni Buddha manifested in the world for the sake of the causes and conditions of the one great matter. What great matter is it?
What great matter is it? I will tell you: The great matter is not a small matter. Were it a small matter it wouldn't be called a great matter. Do you understand? That's a very simple explanation.
There is still another very profound explanation but you will have to think it over and discover it for yourselves. It's extremely wonderful. Wonderful to what extent? Wonderful to the extent that it can't be thought about. It's just inconceivable. Previously, it was already explained that it cannot be understood through deliberation or discrimination and so now in thinking about it we are completely wrong. We are discriminating and that is also a mistake. Not discriminating, not deliberating— that is just the wonderful Dharma. I asked you to answer the question, but the question does not need to be answered.
Then why did you ask it?
Why shouldn't I have asked it?
If you can answer me as to why I shouldn't have asked it, then--I won't ask it!
Why is there no answer? Because Sakyamuni Buddha has now entered Nirvana and really only Sakyamuni Buddha can judge the answer to that question. I judge it now, but I'm not really qualified to do so. So, the best thing to do for now would be for all of us to forget the question altogether, don't think about it.
However, although the best thing to do would be to forget it, I believe that you all couldn't possibly forget it. Why couldn't you forget this question? Because it deals with the causes and conditions of the GREAT matter. If it were the causes and conditions of some small matter, you'd be able to forget it. But how could you forget the causes and conditions of the GREAT MATTER! What possible method could you use to forget it? You can't forget it.
If you can't forget it, then what's to be done? We should understand it. Although I talk about it back and forth, I still haven't told you what the causes and conditions of the great matter are. I won't stall around and keep you in suspense any longer. I'll...It's like--here! I hold up my closed fist and ask you: What do I have in my hand? Take a look. What is it?
It's the causes and conditions of the one great matter. If you know, it's the causes and conditions of the great matter. Well, tell me, what is it?
You don't know? That, too, is the causes and conditions of the one great matter. See? What's in it? I open it: nothing at all! The causes and conditions of the one great matter are also just like that.
The causes and conditions of the one great matter are simply no matter at all. No matter, no affair. So Sakyamuni Buddha had to find some matter to occupy himself with. So, it was just for the sake of speaking The Dharma Flower Sutra, the speaking of The Dharma Flower Sutra is the causes and conditions of the great matter.
And what is said in The Dharma Flower Sutra? It speaks of the wonderful Dharma. The Dharma Flower Sutra speaks of the wonderful Dharma and this wonderful Dharma--what is it? Do not think of it! Once you think, it's no longer wonderful. In asking about it, it becomes unwonderful. It can no longer be considered wonderful.
"Then what are we listening to the Sutras for?" you ask. "Wouldn't it be more wonderful not to listen to them?"
Who told you to listen in the first place? You can not listen if you don't want to. Go ahead. No one has ordered you to listen to them. You may want to quit listening, but you can't.
You say, "I can, too. I've thought of a plan. I'm going to take some drugs and get so loaded that I don't know anything at all. Then I won't be able to come and listen."
That, too, is wonderful Dharma.
"What kind of dope shall I take?" you ask.
Any kind you want. Or you can get drunk if you like, too. You can get so drunk you're senseless, too. Ah...there's another great matter, which we should not forget. I just told you to forget it and you couldn't, but this is something, which you should not forget. Since I have now encountered the causes and conditions of this one great matter, I can't refrain from telling you. It is the great matter of everyone's birth and death. Everyone is born and everyone dies. The problem of birth and death—do you understand it or not? Do you know how it was you were born?
You do not know.
Do you know how it is that you will die?
You do not know.
Such extremely intelligent people, and yet they do not understand the question of birth and death. You should figure this matter of life and death quite clearly. Then you will have finished the great work, the great matter. If you are not clear about the question of birth and death then you haven't completed your great work, great matter.
There is the causes and conditions of the great matter and there also remain a lot of little problems. If we want to understand the causes and conditions of the great matter, we must first understand the causes and conditions of the small matters. If you don't understand the causes arid conditions of the small matters you won't be able to understand the causes and conditions of the great matter. The causes and conditions of the small matters arise from ignorance. Ignorance is the causes and conditions of the small matters. Birth and death is the causes and conditions of the great matter. Why is there birth and death? Because people have ignorance.
Once there is ignorance, then greed, hate, and stupidity arise in the heart. Greed, hatred, stupidity, pride, and doubt all pop out! If there is no ignorance, all these little problems do not exist. If there is ignorance, there are problems. If there are problems, there is birth and death. Therefore, now we should first become clear about the causes and conditions of the small matters. Once you are clear about them, clear about the small, then you will be clear about the great. Why? Because the great comes from the small. The children are small and grow up to be adults. The adults get old, and die. If you don't understand the causes and conditions of the small underlying matters, you won't be able to resolve the causes and conditions of the great matter. So, now first you must break through ignorance. When you have broken through ignorance, the causes and conditions of the great matter will automatically be ended. Therefore, if you want to understand the causes and conditions of the great matter, you must begin by understanding the causes and conditions of the small matters
SARIPUTRA, THIS IS ALL DONE SO THAT THEY MAY ATTAIN THE ONE BUDDHA VEHICLE AND THE WISDOM OF ALL MODES.
SARIPUTRA, IN THE WORLDS OF THE TEN DIRECTIONS THERE ARE NOT EVEN TWO VEHICLES, HOW MUCH THE LESS THREE.
SARIPUTRA, ALL BUDDHAS APPEAR IN THE WORLD OF THE FIVE EVIL TURBIDITIES, THAT IS, THE KALPA TURBIDITY, THE AFFLICTION TURBIDITY, THE LIVING BEINGS TURBIDITY, THE VIEW TURBIDITY, AND THE LIFE TURBIDITY.
THUS IT IS, SARIPUTRA, THAT IN THE TIME OF THE CONFUSION OF THE KALPA TURBIDITY LIVING BEINGS ARE HEAVY-LADEN WITH IMPURITIES; THEY ARE STINGY, GREEDY, ENVIOUS AND JEALOUS, AND DEVELOP UNWHOLESOME ROOTS.
SARIPUTRA, says Sakyamuni Buddha, THIS IS ALL DONE SO THAT THEY MAY ATTAIN THE ONE BUDDHA VEHICLE. The Buddhas of the past, present, and future spoke the Dharma for the same reason; it was so that the One Buddha Vehicle might be attained AND THE WISDOM OF ALL MODES, All Wisdom, the Wisdom in the Way, and the Wisdom of All Modes.
SARIPUTRA, IN THE WORLDS OF THE TEN DIRECTIONS THERE ARE NOT EVEN TWO VEHICLES, HOW MUCH THE LESS THREE. Throughout the Buddha-worlds in the ten directions there are not even Two Vehicles, the provisional dharmas. The Two Vehicles, you could say, were the Great and Small Vehicles. You could also say that they were the two vehicles of the Storehouse Teaching and the Pervasive Teaching. How much the less are there three! Three would refer to the addition of the Special Teaching. The AVATAMSAKA SUTRA speaks of the Sudden Teaching, a Dharma for teaching Bodhisattvas; however, it also contains the "non-sudden" teachings. Thus, the AVATAMSAKA Period was a Dharma for teaching Bodhisattvas. The Storehouse and Pervasive Teachings were teachings for the Arhats and Pratyeka Buddhas. The Special Teaching was for those Sound Hearers and Pratyeka Buddhas who were about to return from the Small and go towards the Great, to return to the Perfect Teaching.
"How much the less three?" The three, you could say, referred to the Sound Hearers, the Pratyeka Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas. You could also say it was the Storehouse, Pervasive, and Special Teachings because THE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA is "purely perfect" and "solitarily wonderful." "Purely perfect" means that it is only the Perfect Teaching. "Solitarily wonderful" means that only THE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA is completely wonderful. It is the teaching doctrine that is "purely perfect" and "solitarily wonderful." The remaining teachings, the Storehouse, Pervasive, and Special, can't compare to it. The One Buddha Vehicle is just speaking of the Perfect Teaching. The Sound Hearers, Pratyeka Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas--these three vehicles are all Provisional Teachings.
SARIPUTRA, ALL THE BUDDHAS APPEAR IN THE WORLD OF THE FIVE EVIL TURBIDITIES/The Buddhas of the ten direction appear in the world to save all living beings. They appear in the world, which is evil and turbid in five ways. The five evil turbidities THAT IS, THE KALPA TURBIDITY/What is a kalpa? It is a measure of time, Basically, there is no such thing as time, but because living beings discriminate, because of their thoughts of discrimination, there is time: the past, the present, and the future. "Kalpa" is a Sanskrit word which means "division of time." How is the kalpa, the time division, turbid? The evil offenses of living beings fill up time and make it turbid.
THE AFFLICTION TURBIDITY/Living beings have all different kinds of good and evil causes and conditions and good and evil retributions. Everyone has his own special evil karma. So, living beings are also turbid.
THE VIEW TURBIDITY/The Five Sharp Servants belong here. They are the view of a body, the view of extremes, the view of prohibitive morality, deviant views, and the view of grasping at views. They are also turbid.
THE LIFE TURBIDITY/Living beings are allotted a certain amount of time in a given retribution-body. This is called a "lifespan" and it is also turbid. These are the Five Evil Turbidities. Turbid means it's like dirt thrown into the water and stirred up; it's murky and not clear. Our world is made impure by the turbidity of these five, and so it is called the world of the five evil turbidities.
THUS IT IS, SARIPUTRA, THAT IN THE TIME OF THE CONFUSION OF THE KALPA TURBIDITY, LIVING BEINGS ARE HEAVY-LADEN WITH IMPURITIES, the filth of their offenses is extremely heavy. STINGY, miserly, means that they have money but can't part with it. They hold onto a single penny so tightly that it turns into water. They can't even let go of a single cent. That's being stingy, unable to give. GREEDY: One who is stingy is unable to give, but one who is greedy is not only unable to give, he covets other's goods. Greed is insatiable. People who are stingy and greedy in the future receive the retribution of being extremely poor. Because they were stingy and never gave, they have no blessings, no blessed retribution. Greedy people not only refuse to give, but they are greedy for other people's wealth. Such greedy hearts!
There's a little story, which illustrates what can happen to people who are just too greedy. Once there was a very greedy person who died and went to King Yama. King Yama asked him, "You are very intelligent. In your lifetime you never took any losses to speak of. Next life, as a person, would you rather eat other people's food or your own food?"
He thought it over: "If I eat my own food, that's not as economical as eating other people's food and saving on mine." He said to King Yama, "I'd like to eat other people's food. I don't want to eat my own food."
"Fine," said King Yama. "You can go be a pig. Pigs eat nothing but things that other people give them. They don't have any food of their own." The person with the greedy heart realized then that it was wrong to eat other people’s food. However, King Yama would not alter his sentence and he had to go off to be a pig, and eat other people's food all day long. That's what happens when you're greedy.
ENVIOUS: Envy is to envy the worthy. It means that if you see anyone who surpasses you, you are displeased. Jealousy is to be jealous of the talented. If someone is more talented than you, you're jealous. Together they are: envy and jealousy, begrudging the worthy and spiteful towards the talented. Jealousy includes covetousness, for example being covetous of attractive members of the opposite sex. Jealous people eventually fall. If you are jealous of others you may be reborn as an animal. Most of the animals you see were once jealous people. AND DEVELOP UNWHOLESOME ROOTS/Because they were greedy, stingy, and jealous, the things they accomplished were all no good and they grew unwholesome roots; unwholesome roots are evil roots.
on Lao-tzu’s Tao-te Ching
When heaven gains the One, it's clear and clean;
When earth gains the One she's so serene.
When people gain the One, they're truly free.
When all things gain the One, they come into being.
The Way gave birth to one and the one gave rise to two.
Two gave rise to three and all things came to be.
If all of heaven's mysteries, you would like to know.
First you must learn how to make the Magic Circle close.
Return the many to the One, the rivers to the sea.
Then you turn the one around until it's round as it can be.
Where there is no obstacle, there can be no fear.
So sit inside your Magic Circle, now, and disappear.