THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
the commentary of
FOR THIS REASON, ALL THE BUDDHAS, BY MEANS OF THE FORCE OF EXPEDIENT DEVICES, WITHIN THE ONE BUDDHA VEHICLE, MAKE DISCRIMINATIONS AND SPEAK OF THREE.
SARIPUTRA, IF A DISCIPLE OF MINE CALLS HIMSELF AN ARHAT OR PRATYEKA BUDDHA, BUT DOES NOT HEAR OR KNOW OF THE FACT THAT ALL THE BUDDHAS, THE THUS COME ONES, ONLY TEACH AND TRANSFORM THE BODHISATTVAS, HE IS NOT A DISCIPLE OF THE BUDDHA, NOR IS HE AN ARHAT, NOR IS HE A PRATYEKA BUDDHA.
FOR THIS REASON, ALL THE BUDDHAS, BY MEANS OF THE FORCE OF EXPEDIENT DEVICES/The Buddhas use the strength of clever, provisional expedient means WITHIN THE ONE BUDDHA VEHICLE/in the One Buddha Vehicle MAKE DISCRIMINATIONS AND SPEAK OF THREE. Originally, there is only the One Buddha Vehicle; there are no other vehicles. However, if you started right out by telling living beings to become Buddhas, none of then would believe you. Therefore, the Buddhas of the ten directions and Sakyamuni Buddha all first speak the Small Vehicle dharmas to guide living beings from the Small to the Great. The text says, "They make discriminations and speak of three, the three being the Sound Hearer, Pratyeka Buddha, and Bodhisattva Vehicles.
SARIPUTRA, IF A DISCIPLE OF MINE/If one of my disciples CALLS HIMSELF AN ARHAT/he says that he has already attained the fruit of Arhatship OR PRATYEKA BUDDHA that he has already attained the Pratyeka Buddha fruit/BUT DOES NOT HEAR/he does not listen to the true, real, wonderful Dharma of the One Buddha Vehicle OR KNOW OF THE FACT THAT ALL THE BUDDHAS, THE THUS COME ONES, ONLY TEACH AND TRANSFORM THE BODHISATTVAS/ And he doesn't know that all the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones, exclusively teach the Bodhisattvas how to realize the Buddha-fruit. HE IS NOT A DISCIPLE OF THE BUDDHA/he's not a Bodhisattva NOR IS HE AN ARHAT/he's not one of the Sound Hearer Vehicle, either NOR IS HE A PRATYEKA BUDDHA, and he's not a Condition Enlightened One.
Why isn't he a Bodhisattva, an Arhat, or a Pratyeka Buddha? It's because, if he had attained the fruit of Bodhisattvahood, Pratyekabuddhahood, or Arhatship, he would certainly believe this wonderful Dharma which I speak. His basic disposition would form a solid foundation for that faith. If he doesn't believe, then he has not certified to the fruit of Arhatship, he has not certified to the fruit of Pratyekabuddhahood, nor to the Provisional Vehicle Bodhisattvahood. He's nothing but a person of overweening pride.
FURTHER, SARIPUTRA, IT SHOULD BE KNOWN THAT THOSE BHIKSHUS AND BHIKSHUNIS WHO SAY OF THEMSELVES THAT THEY HAVE ALREADY ATTAINED ARHATSHIP AND DWELL IN THEIR FINAL BODIES BEFORE ULTIMATE NIRVANA, BUT WHO DO NOT FURTHER RESOLVE TO SEEK ANUTTARASAMYAKSAMBODHI, ARE ALL PEOPLE OF OVERWEENING PRIDE. WHY IS THIS? IT IS IMPOSSIBLE THAT ANY BHIKSHU WHO HAD ACTUALLY ATTAINED ARHATSHIP SHOULD NOT BELIEVE IN THIS DHARMA, EXCEPT IN THE CASE WHEN THE BUDDHA HAS PASSED INTO EXTINCTION AND NO BUDDHA IS PRESENT. WHY IS THIS? AFTER THE BUDDHA HAS PASSED INTO EXTINCTION, THOSE WHO ACCEPT, UPHOLD, READ, RECITE, AND UNDERSTAND THE MEANINGS OF SUTRAS SUCH AS THIS WILL BE HARD TO FIND.
IF THEY ENCOUNTER OTHER BUDDHAS, THEY WILL THEN OBTAIN THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF THIS DHARMA.
SARIPUTRA, ALL OF YOU SHOULD, WITH ONE HEART, BELIEVE, UNDERSTAND, ACCEPT, AND UPHOLD THE SPEECH OF THE BUDDHA. FOR, IN THE WORDS OF ALL THE BUDDHAS THERE IS NOTHING VAIN OR FALSE. THERE ARE NO OTHER VEHICLES: THERE IS ONLY THE ONE BUDDHA VEHICLE.
FURTHER, SARIPUTRA, continued the Buddha, IT SHOULD BE KNOWN THAT THOSE BHIKSUS AND BHIKSUNIS WHO SAY THAT THEY HAVE ALREADY ATTAINED ARHATSHIP/These Bhiksus and Bhiksunis say that they themselves have already certified to the fruit of Arhatship. THAT THEY DWELL IN THEIR FINAL BODIES/that they are presently inhabiting their very last retribution bodies, and after this will undergo no further becoming BEFORE ULTIMATE NIRVANA/They've already attained the ultimate Nirvana with its four virtues of permanence, bliss, true self, and purity. BUT WHO DO NOT FURTHER RESOLVE TO SEEK ANUTTARASAMYAKSAMBODHI/ But who do not push upward, vowing to seek the position of unsurpassed proper and equal enlightenment ARE ALL PEOPLE OF OVERWEENING PRIDE. They are all so intelligent that they have outsmarted themselves. They are proud, conceited, and self-satisfied; they all have unmitigated arrogance.
WHY IS THIS? What is the reason for this? IT IS IMPOSSIBLE THAT ANY BHIKSHU WHO HAD ACTUALLY ATTAINED ARHATSHIP/If he had truly certified to the fruit SHOULD NOT BELIEVE IN THIS DHARMA/If the Bhiksu who has already certified to the fruit of Arhatship does not believe in THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA such a person simply could not exist. EXCEPT IN THE CASE WHEN THE BUDDHA HAS PASSED INTO EXTINCTION AND NO BUDDHA IS PRESENT WHY IS THIS? AFTER THE BUDDHA HAS PASSED INTO EXTINCTION THOSE WHO ACCEPT, UPHOLD, READ, RECITE, AND UNDERSTAND THE MEANINGS OF SUTRAS SUCH AS THIS WILL BE HARD TO FIND. Those who can accept, uphold, read, and recite and understand the doctrines of such sutras as THE WONDERFUL DHARMA SUTRA. And, since no one understands it, no one will be able to believe it.
IF THEY ENCOUNTER BUDDHAS/Should they meet with Bi. Buddhas in other worlds THEY WILL THEN OBTAIN THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF THIS DHARMA. They will be able to understand it and they will certainly comprehend the wonderful Dharma, the doctrine which opens the provisional and reveals the real.
SARIPUTRA, ALL OF YOU SHOULD, WITH ONE HEART, BELIEVE, UNDERSTAND, ACCEPT, AND UPHOLD THE SPEECH OF THE BUDDHA. Sariputra, all of you in the assembly, the Sound Hearers and Bodhisattvas, should with one--not two just one heart--turn your hearts to one and believe and understand, accept and uphold this Sutra and the Dharma spoken by the Buddha. FOR, IN THE WORDS OF THE BUDDHA THERE IS NOTHING VAIN OR FALSE. It was still to be feared that people wouldn't believe, and so he added, "Nothing the Buddha says is false; it is all true, real, and not false." THERE ARE NO OTHER VEHICLES: THERE IS ONLY THE ONE BUDDHA VEHICLE. There aren't any other vehicles, such as the three-vehicle dharma. There is only the one, single Buddha Vehicle, so you shouldn't have any doubts.
#80 is for January 1977
THOSE BHIKSUS AND BHIKSUNIS WHO
HARBOR OVERWEENING PRIDE,
THE ARROGANT UPASAKAS,
UPASIKAS WHO DON’T BELIEVE,
IN THE FOUR-FOLD HOST, SUCH ONES AS THESE,
NUMBERING FIVE THOUSAND STRONG...
When the Buddha agreed to Sariputra's request and said, "I will speak The Dharma Flower Sutra for you," THOSE BHIKSUS AND BHIKSUNIS WHO/Those men who had left home and those women who had left home HARBOR OVERWEENING PRIDE/ they were haughty and full of price and so, when the Buddha was about to speak The Lotus Sutra, the most complete, subtle and wonderful Sutra, they all left.
Why did they leave?
They left because they were too proud, too self-satisfied. Noe, think it over: Some people come here and listen to one lecture and never return. Such people have overweening pride. Or they may listen to Sutras for a time and find it uninteresting and leave.
THE ARROGANT UPASAKAS. These are laymen who are conceited and proud. UPASIKAS WHO DON'T BELIEVE/are laywomen who don't believe this wonderful Dharma. IN THE FOUR FOLD HOST SUCH ONES AS THESE/Such ones in the assembly of Bhiksus and Bhiksunis, Upasakas and Upasikas, NUMBERING FIVE THOUSAND STRONG/ There were five thousand of them present at that Dharma meeting.
WHO DO NOT SEE THEIR OWN MISTAKES'
DEFICIENT IN MORALITY,
GUARDING IMPERFECTIONS, THOSE OF
PALTRY WISDOM HAVE ALREADY GONE,
THE CHAFF WITHIN THE MULTITUDE HAS LEFT,
THANKS TO THE BUDDHA'S AWESOME VIRTUE.
Five thousand of those present at the Dharma meeting got up and left. WHO DID NOT SEE THEIR OWN MISTAKES/They did not see their own faults. DEFICIENT IN MORALITY/Their practice of morality had shortcomings. GUARDING IMPERFECTIONS, THOSE OF PALTRY WISDOM HAVE ALREADY GONE;/THE CHAFF WITHIN THE MULTITUDE HAS LEFT/They were like the chaff which blows away when the grain is winnowed. They were so full of their own pride that they did not know that they had faults themselves. They saw the faults of others, but not their own. They were like the blackbird who criticizes a pig for being black; the blackbird can see that the pib is black, but he doesn't realize that he is, too. People of great pride will see the mistakes of others, but not their own. And when it came to morality, they had outflows; they did not hold the precepts completely and fully as one should hold them.
Those who have taken the Bodhisattva precepts should keep them; those who have taken the eight precepts should keep them; those who have taken the Sramanera precepts should keep them. If you do not keep the precepts, then it is as if you had sprung a leak, like a bottle with a hole in the bottom--everything you pour in it runs right out. If you hold and maintain the precepts, it is like filling that bottle with precious gems. You should always take care to keep the precepts, accept and maintain them; do not regard them lightly.
GUARDING THEIR IMPERFECTIONS/They held their faults dear. The word for fault in the Chinese hsia literally means "a flaw in a piece of jade." Perhaps one side of the jade is a bit darker than the other, or contains some other flaw. A piece of jade with a flaw is not worth very much. If we do a lot of incorrect things, it is as if we had such a flaw in our character. Breaking the precepts is like having a flaw in a piece of jade. Therefore, those who have taken the precepts must keep them. PALTRY WISDOM HAVE ALREADY GOND; THE CHAFF WITHIN THE MULTITUDE HAS LEFT. These people are like the chaff, the outside husk on a grain. They are also like the dregs, you might say, like the grain the distiller has left over when he makes Kao Liang wine. Kao Liang wine is simply wonderful; people who drink it think of nothing else but Kao Liang. What's left over are the dregs. Those who walked out of the Dharma Flower Assembly were like chaff or dregs--not much use. THANKS TO THE BUDDHA'S AWESOME VIRTUE. They've already gone; they won't come near the Buddhadharma.
All those who come here to hear the Buddhadharma have good roots but some of them have good roots which have ripened and others have good roots which have not yet ripened. Those whose good roots have ripened, hear the Buddhadharma once and never want to leave, while those whose good roots have not ripened hear it once and then wander off for a few days and then they think, "I think I'll go listen some more." This is because their good roots have not yet fully matured. There were five thousand such ones in The Lotus Sutra assembly.
THESE PEOPLE, LACKING BLESSINGS AND VIRTUE,
ARE UNWORTHY OF RECEIVING THIS DHARMA.
THE ASSEMBLY IS FREE OF TWIGS AND BRANCHES,
THE TRUNKS AND FRUIT ALONE REMAIN.
SHARIPUTRA, LISTEN WELL:
THE DHARMA OBTAINED BY ALL THE BUDDHAS,
THROUGH THE FORCE OF LIMITLESS EXPEDIENTS,
IS SPOKEN FOR LIVING BEINGS.
THE THOUGHTS WITHIN THE HEARTS OF BEINGS,
THE VARIOUS PATHWAYS WHICH THEY PRACTICE,
THEIR VARIOUS DESIRE NATURES,
THEIR KARMA GOOD OR ILL, FROM FORMER LIVES--
THE BUDDHA KNOWS THEM ALL COMPLETELY.
THROUGH THE USE OF CONDITIONS, ANALOGIES,
EXPRESSIONS, AND THE FORCE OF EXPEDIENTS
I CAUSE THEM ALL TO REJOICE.
I MAY SPEAK THE SUTRAS,
GATHAS, OR PAST EVENTS,
FORMER LIVES' OR THE UNPRECEDENTED,
AND ALSO CAUSES AND CONDITIONS,
THE ANALOGIES' AND THE GEYAS
OR THE UPADESAH TEXTS.
TO DULL-ROOTED ONES WHO DELIGHT IN LESSER DHARMAS,
WHO ARE GREEDILY ATTACHED TO BIRTH AND DEATH,
WHO, UNDER LIMITLESS BUDDHAS,
HAVE NOT WALKED THE DEEP AND WONDROUS PATH,
AND ARE TORMENTED BY SCORES OF SUFFERINGS,
—FOR THEIR SAKES I PREACH NIRVANA.
I'VE SET UP THESE EXPEDIENTS,
TO CAUSE THEM TO ENTER THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM;
BUT NEVER DID I SAY' "YOU ALL
SHALL ATTAIN THE BUDDHA WAY."
THE REASON WHY I DID NOT SAY SO WAS
BECAUSE THE TIME TO SPEAK HAD NOT YET COME;
BUT NOW THE TIME'S EXACTLY RIGHT
AND I'LL CERTAINLY SPEAK THE GREAT VEHICLE.
THE NINE DIVISIONS OF MY DHARMA
WERE SPOKEN TO ACCORD WITH LIVING BEINGS
BASICALLY TO CAUSE THEM TO ENTER THE GREAT VEHICLE,
AND THAT IS WHY I SPEAK THIS SUTRA TEXT.
TO BUDDHA'S SONS WHOSE HEARTS ARE PURE,
WHO ARE COMPLIANT AND WHOSE ROOTS ARE KEEN,
AND WHO IN THE PRESENCE OF UNCOUNTED BUDDHAS
HAVE WALKED THE DEEP AND WONDROUS PATH,
FOR THESE SONS OF THE BUDDHA
DO I SPEAK THIS GREAT VEHICLE SUTRA.
I PREDICT THAT PEOPLE SUCH AS THESE,
IN FUTURE LIVES SHALL ACCOMPLISH THE BUDDHA PATH;
BECAUSE, WITH PROFOUND HEARTS' THEY RECOLLECT THE BUDDHA,
AND CULTIVATE AND UPHOLD PURE MORALITY.
WHEN THEY HEAR THAT THEY SHALL BECOME BUDDHAS
THEY SHALL BE FILLED WITH GREAT JOY;
THE BUDDHA KNOWS THEIR THOUGHTS AND CONDUCT,
AND SO HE SPEAKS THE GREAT VEHICLE FOR THEM.
IF SOUND HEARERS OF BODHISATTVAS,
HEAR THE DHARMA WHICH I SPEAK,
BE IT BUT A SINGLE VERSE,
THEY WILL ALL, WITHOUT A DOUBT, BECOME BUDDHAS.
THESE PEOPLE, LACKING BLESSINGS AND VIRTUE/"These people" refers to the five hundred who walked out. These people had no blessings and no virtuous practice. They, in other words, had no good roots.
ARE UNWORTHY OF RECEIVING THIS DHARMA/They cannot accept the wonderful Dharma of the Great Vehicle. Why not? Because their good roots are not big enough. THE ASSEMBLY IS FREE OF TWIGS AND BRANCHES/Among those now left in the assembly, the Bodhisattvas and Arhats, there are no twigs or branches, no miscellaneous brush, but THE TRUNKS AND FRUIT ALONE REMAIN. Only the trunks, the solid foundation, the Great Vehicle people with virtuous practice, those with the disposition for Bodhisattvahood. None of the Small Vehicle people are left, so SARIPUTRA, LISTEN WELL. Sariputra, listen attentively to what I'm going to say.
THE DHARMA OBTAINED BY ALL THE BUDDHAS/The unsurpassed, extremely profound, subtle and wonderful Dharma which the ten direction Buddhas have obtained. THROUGH THE FORCE OF LIMITLESS EXPEDIENTS/The power of the limitless, boundless expedients leads living beings to set aside the small and head towards the great, to bring forth the Bodhi-heart and realize the position of the Buddha. IS SPOKEN FOR LIVING BEINGS. So, I use clever expedient devices. Basically there are not Three Vehicles, but I teach the Three Vehicles as a forceful expedient. I speak expedient devices for living beings.
THE THOUGHTS WITHIN THE HEARTS OF BEINGS/The things which living beings are thinking AND THE VARIOUS PATHWAYS WHICH THEY PRACTICE/All the different modes of practice which they cultivate. THEIR VARIOUS DESIRE-NATURES/Each living being has his own desire-nature. And where does this desire nature come from? THE KARMA, GOOD OR ILL, OF FORMER LIVES/If they are replete with good karma, the burden of desire thoughts will be a bit lighter. If the majority of their karma is evil, they will be heavy laden with thoughts of desire. So, we can all figure this out for ourselves. Take stock of yourself by asking yourself, "Are my thoughts of desire heavy or light? If my thoughts of desire are light, then my good roots are deep and thick. If they are heavy, then my good roots are scanty and thin."
What are "desire-thoughts?" They are just your afflictions. They are also just that ignorance, ignorance and affliction, those things, which you can't see through, which you can't break through, and which you can't give up or let go of. Those are our greatest desires.
THE BUDDHA KNOWS THEM ALL COMPLETELY/Using his Buddha eye to observe them, the Buddha understands these various principles completely; he knows all of the desires and all of the thoughts of living beings.
THROUGH THE USE OF CONDITIONS AND ANALOGIES/The Buddha, therefore, uses various kinds of causes and conditions and analogies. EXPRESSIONS AND THE FORCE OF EXPEDIENTS/He uses phrases to speak the Dharma as well as good and clever expedient devices. HE CAUSES THEM ALL TO REJOICE/When they hear the Buddhadharma, they all are filled with joy.
I MAY SPEAK THE SUTRAS/Perhaps Sutras are spoken. Sutra, a Sanskrit word, means a "tallying text." Above, it tallies with the principles of all the Buddhas and below it tallies with the living beings to be taught. So it's called a tallying text. Above, it is one with the Buddha and true and below it is one with the causes and conditions of the living beings to be taught. Sutra; of tallying text, is one of the twelve divisions of Sutra Texts.
GATHAS OR PAST EVENTS/Gatha is a Sanskrit word, which means an "interjection". They are verses, which arise independently and do not repeat the principles of the proceeding prose lines. An example would be the verse in The Vajra Sutra:
All conditioned Dharmas
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows,
Like dewdrops and a lightning flash
You should contemplate them thus.
These metaphors were not mentioned previously in the prose text, nor are they mentioned later; they arose independently, as interjections.
Another example would be another verse in The Vajra Sutra:
If one sees me in forms
If one seeks me in sounds,
He practices a deviant way,
And cannot see the Tathagata.
Gathas don't bear any great relationship to the doctrines, which proceed or follow them and they speak very special principles.
PAST EVENTS refers to (itivrttaka) stories of the events in the previous lives of disciples or Bodhisattvas.
PAST LIVES OR THE UNPRECEDENTED/Past Lives (jatakam) refers to the events of the past lives of the Buddha. THE UNPRECEDENTED (adbhutadharmah) are Dharmas not previously spoken.
AND ALSO CAUSES AND CONDITIONS/Many dharmas of causes and conditions (nidana) THE ANALOGIES AND THE GEYAS/Geyas are verses which repeat the meanings given in proceeding verse lines, such as the verses being discussed right now. OR THE UPADESAH TEXTS. The Sanskrit word Upadesah means a commentary, a discussion of the meaning.
TO DULL ROOTED ONES WHO DELIGHT IN LESSER DHARMAS/The Small Vehicle people are the dull rooted ones; they like the lesser Dharmas and do not like the great dharma, the Great Vehicle Dharma. WHO ARE GREEDILY ATTACHED TO BIRTH AND DEATH/They are still greedily attached, clinging to the revolving wheel of birth and death and don't want to part with birth and death. WHO, UNDER LIMITLESS BUDDHAS. In the presence of the limitless Buddhas of the past HAVE NOT WALKED THE DEEP AND WONDROUS PATH/They did not cultivate the Way, The Dharma which is extremely profound, subtle, and miraculous. AND ARE TORMENTED BY SCORES OF SUFFERINGS/The scores of sufferings are the eight sufferings: birth, old age, sickness, death, being separated from what you love, meeting with what you hate, not getting what you seek, and the raging blaze of the five skandhas. There are also the three sufferings: the suffering within suffering, the suffering of decay, and the suffering of process. The three sufferings, the eight sufferings, and all the limitless suffering--FOR THEIR SAKES I PREACH NIRVANA/For these living beings I speak the doctrine of Nirvana.
I'VE SET UP THESE EXPEDIENTS/I have cleverly devised these expedient device Dharma-doors, TO LEAD THEM INTO THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM, To cause all those people who like the Small Vehicle to obtain the Buddha's wisdom. BUT NEVER DID I SAY "YOU ALL/However, at that time I did not say, "All of you SHALL ATTAIN THE BUDDHA WAY/I never said that the Small Vehicle people could also become Buddhas. Now, I am speaking the fine and wondrous Great Vehicle Dharma. Everyone can become a Buddha. THE REASON WHY I DID NOT SAY SO WAS/Why did I not speak this Dharma? BECAUSE TIME TO SPEAK HAD NOT YET COME/Because the time hadn't come. When the Buddha speaks the Dharma, he first observes the causes and conditions to see whether or not the time has arrived to do so. Because the time hadn't arrived, he did not speak The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. BUT NOW THE TIME'S EXACTLY. RIGHT/Right now it is precisely the right time to speak The Great Vehicle Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. AND I'LL CERTAINLY SPEAK THE GREAT VEHICLE, I have definitely decided to speak the Great Vehicle Dharma door. THE NINE DIVISIONS OF MY DHARMA/The nine division dharma-doors mentioned above WERE SPOKEN TO ACCORD WITH LIVING BEINGS/According to the living beings, the Dharmas of the Great Vehicle are expounded. But it was BASICALLY TO CAUSE THEM TO ENTER THE GREAT VEHICLE/Although I first spoke the Small Vehicle Dharmas, my final aim was to lead the Small Vehicle people to enter into the Great Vehicle; that was my primary aim and for this reason. AND THAT IS WHY I SPEAK THIS SUTRA TEXT. That is why I speak The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
TO BUDDHA'S SONS WHOSE HEARTS ARE PURE/To those disciples of the Buddha who have clear and pure hearts WHO ARE COMPLIANT AND WHOSE ROOTS ARE KEEN/ They are gentle-tempered and intelligent and wise. They have the seeds, the basic make-up, of the Great Vehicle. AND WHO IN THE PRESENCE OF UNCOUNTED BUDDHAS/Why are they compliant and keen rooted? It's because these sons of the Buddha, in the past in the presence of limitless Buddhas HAVE WALKED THE DEEP AND WONDROUS PATH/They have practiced the profound, subtle, wonderful Dharma-doors.
FOR THESE SONS OF THE BUDDHAS/For the sake of all these disciples of the Buddhas DO I SPEAK THIS GREAT VEHICLE SUTRA/I speak The Great Vehicle Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. I PREDICT THAT PEOPLE SUCH AS THESE/I now confer predictions upon these disciples. IN FUTURE LIVES THEY SHALL ACCOMPLISH THE BUDDHA PATH/In a future life they shall realize the Buddha path.
BECAUSE, WITH PROFOUND HEARTS, THEY RECOLLECT THE BUDDHA; AND CULTIVATE AND UPHOLD PURE MORALITY. With profound hearts, that is, with Great Vehicle hearts, they cultivate and uphold the Buddhadharma and they observe the pure precepts. WHEN THEY HEAR THAT THEY SHALL BECOME BUDDHAS/When living beings such as these hear that they shall attain Buddhahood. THEY SHALL BE FILLED WITH GREAT JOY/Their joy will permeate their entire bodies. THE BUDDHA KNOWS THEIR THOUGHTS AND CONDUCT/The Buddha knows the thoughts in the minds of these beings and also what they cultivate. AND SO HE SPEAKS THE GREAT VEHICLE FOR THEM/And so he speaks the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma to them. IF SOUND HEARERS OR BODHISATTVAS/HEAR THE DHARMA WHICH I SPEAK/BE IT ONLY A SINGLE VERSE/Whether they belong to the Sound Hearer Vehicle or to the Bodhisattva Vehicle, if they hear me speak this Dharma, even a single verse THEY WILL ALL, WITHOUT DOUBT, BECOME BUDDHAS. They can all realize Buddhahood, of this there's not the slightest doubt.
IN THE TEN DIRECTION BUDDHA LANDS
THERE IS ONLY THE ONE VEHICLE DHARMA;
THERE ARE NOT TWO OR THREE, EXCEPT
THOSE THE BUDDHAS SPEAK EXPEDIENTLY,
AND THOSE ARE BUT FALSE APPELLATIONS USED
TO INDUCE LIVING BEINGS SO THAT HE
MAY TEACH THEM THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM.
ALL BUDDHAS APPEAR WITHIN THE WORLD
ONLY FOR THE SAKE OF THIS ONE REAL MATTER;
THE OTHER TWO ARE NOT THE TRUE, AND
IN THE END THEY WOULD NOT USE THE SMALL VEHICLE
TO RESCUE LIVING BEINGS.
THE BUDDHA HIMSELF DWELLS IN THE GREAT VEHICLE,
AND IN ACCORD WITH THE DHARMA HE'S ATTAINED,
ADORNED WITH THE POWERS' SAMADHIS, AND WISDOM,
HE USES THESE TO SAVE LIVING BEINGS.
HAVING CERTIFIED TO THE UNSURPASSED PATH MYSELF,
THE GREAT VEHICLE'S DHARMA OF EQUALITY,
WERE I TO TEACH BY MEANS OF THE SMALL VEHICLE,
EVEN A SINGLE HUMAN BEING,
I'D BE GUILTY OF STINGY GREEDY;
BUT SUCH A THING COULD NEVER BE.
IN THE TEN DIRECTION BUDDHA LANDS, In the Buddha lands throughout the ten directions THERE IS ONLY THE ONE VEHICLE DHARMA/There is only one kind of teaching Dharma. And what is this one teaching Dharma? It is the Great Vehicle teaching Dharma. THERE ARE NOT TWO OR THREE, EXCEPT/The Two Vehicles are the Sound Hearers and Condition-Enlightened Ones. The Three Vehicles are the Sound Hearers, Condition Enlightened Ones, and the Bodhisattvas. Sometimes the Two Vehicles are explained as the Great Vehicle and the Small Vehicle.
The One Vehicle Dharma is the Buddha Vehicle. THOSE THE BUDDHAS SPEAK EXPEDIENTLY/ However, although it is said that there is only the Buddha Vehicle, and the Two Vehicles and Three Vehicles do not exist, still, because he wishes to teach and transform living beings, he sets up various expedient device Dharma-doors. So he speaks of the Small Vehicle and the Great Vehicle, he speaks the Vehicle of the Sound Hearers, and that of the Condition-Enlightened Ones and the Bodhisattvas. AND THOSE ARE BUT FALSE APPELLATIONS/ They are just false names, they correspond to nothing in reality. TO INDUCE LIVING BEINGS SO THAT HE/To teach and transform living beings and cause them to first cultivate the easy and afterwards seek the great Vehicle, the Buddha Vehicle. MAY TEACH THEM OF THE BUDDHA'S WISDOM. Because he leads and guides living beings, they may attain the Buddha's wisdom.
ALL BUDDHA'S APPEAR WITHIN THE WORLD/All of the Buddhas of the ten directions manifest in the world, ONLY FOR THE SAKE OF THIS ONE REAL MATTER/ It’s always for the same matter, this one most true and real. THE OTHER TWO ARE NOT THE TRUE AND/The others, the Two Vehicles and the Three Vehicles are not real; they are provisional, clever expedient device Dharma-doors. IN THE END THEY WOULD NOT USE THE SMALL VEHICLE/All the Buddhas would never ever use the teaching doctrines of the Small Vehicle TO RESCUE LIVING BEINGS. To teach and transform living beings, deliver living beings.
THE BUDDHA HIMSELF DWELLS IN THE GREAT VEHICLE/The Buddha himself abides within the Great Vehicle Dharma, that is, in the Buddha Vehicle. AND IN ACCORD WITH THE DHARMA HE'S ATTAINED; The Dharma he attained in the Bodhimanda is true, real, and is not a provisional, clever expedient device. ADORNED WITH THE POWERS, SAMADHIS, AND WISDOM; He adorns himself through the cultivation of the powers of samadhi and wisdom.
Speaking of the powers of wisdom and samadhi: The Buddha has Ten Powers. Previously, when I lectured the prose passage, I should have mentioned them, but I deliberately did not so that those of you who like to study the Buddhadharma could wait nervously for a while until the verse section to have them explained.
The Buddha has Ten Powers, ten kinds of wisdom powers. These Ten Kinds of Wisdom Powers are:
1. The wisdom power of knowing points of enlightenment and non-enlightenment. He is aware, enlightened, to the points of what is enlightenment, and what is not. The "point" means that which is or is not in accord with principle.
2. The wisdom power knowing the karmic retribution of the three periods of time. He knows the operations of karmic retributions as they work in the past, present, and future.
3. The wisdom power of knowing all the Dhyanas, liberations, and samadhis. There are Four Dhyanas and Eight Samadhis. The Four Dhyanas are the first, second, third, and fourth dhyanas. Add the Station of Limitless Space, the Station of Limitless Consciousness, The Station of Nothing Whatever, and the Station of Neither Perception nor Non-perception and you have the Eight Samadhis.
Liberations: There are Eight Liberations, also called the "Eight Casting off the Backs," that is, getting rid or it.
What are the Eight Liberations?
1. The liberation in which inside there is the mark of form; outward form is contemplated. Inside, within your mind, there is the mark of form, and you contemplate outward forms.
2. The liberation in which inside there is no mark of form; outwardly form is contemplated.
3. The liberation of the complete perfect dwelling of the pure liberation body. Pure liberation has been obtained.
4. The liberation of the Station of Limitless Space.
5. The liberation of the Station of Limitless Consciousness.
6. The liberation of the Station of Nothing Whatsoever.
7. The liberation of the Station of Neither Perception nor Non-perception.
8. The liberation of the samadhi of the extinction of reception and perception.
There are also Eight Victorious Places. When one renounces greed and desire one attains a place of victory. They are:
1. The victorious place in which inwardly there is the mark of form while outwardly a small amount of form is contemplated.
2. The victorious place in which inwardly there is the mark of form while outwardly a large amount of form is contemplated.
3. The victorious place in which inwardly there is no mark of form while outwardly a small amount of form is contemplated.
4. The victorious place in which inwardly there is no mark of form while outwardly a large amount of form is contemplated.
5. The victorious place of blue color.
6. The victorious place of yellow color.
7. The victorious place of red color.
8. The victorious place of white color.
These are the Eight Victorious Places. This means that in cultivating these eight kinds of dharmas you can renounce, turn your back on, thoughts of desire and attain a victorious and liberated wisdom.
In the first of the Eight Victorious Places it is said that inwardly one has the mark of form, and contemplates a small amount of outward form. At this stage one's samadhi power is not yet complete, and it is to be feared that if a large amount of form were contemplated, one's samadhi power might become scattered. Therefore, a small amount of form is contemplated, for example, one, single corpse, not a lot of them. You watch one corpse go through its stages of decay---swelling, turning green, and so forth. In the second of the Eight Victorious Places you contemplate not one, but maybe a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand corpses; corpses, corpses everywhere. They all go through changes—swell, rot, burst open, are eaten by worms. Actually there are Nine Stages of a Rotting corpse, known as the Nine-mark Contemplation.
To the Eight Victorious Places you add Emptiness and Consciousness to form the Ten All-Places. These three Dharmas—the Eight Liberations, Eight Victorious Places, and Ten All-Places--should be known to all cultivators of the Dhyana School. So the third of the Buddha's wisdom powers is the Knowledge of the Dhyanas, liberations, and samadhis.
To continue the list of the Buddha's Ten Powers,
The Wisdom Power of knowing the superiority or baseness of the roots of
5. The Wisdom Power of knowing the various understandings.
6. The Wisdom Power of knowing the various realms.
7. The Wisdom Power of knowing where all paths lead.
8. The Wisdom Power of the knowledge of the unobstructed Heavenly Eye.
The Wisdom Power, without outflows, of knowing former lives. Knowing the causes and
10. The Wisdom Power of eternally severing all habitual energies.
The Buddha has these Ten Powers, and so the Sutra text says, "And adorned with the powers, samadhis, and wisdom."
HE USES THESE TO SAVE LIVING BEINGS; He uses his powers to teach, transform, and save living beings.
HAVING CERTIFIED TO THE UNSURPASSED PATH MYSELF/He has himself certified to the attainment of the supreme, great way THE GREAT VEHICLE'S DHARMA OF EQUALITY/WERE I TO TEACH BY MEANS OF THE SMALL VEHICLE/If I didn't teach and transform beings by means of the Great Vehicle, but instead used the Small Vehicle doctrines EVEN A SINGLE HUMAN BEING/If I crossed over even one person by using the Small Vehicle Dharmas I'D BE GUILTY OF STINGY GREED/ The Buddha speaks of himself saying, "If I used the Small Vehicle Dharmas to teach and transform even one single person I would fall into a stingy greed, a miserly attitude; I'd be stingy with the Dharma, because I wouldn't be able to cart with the Great Vehicle Dharma. BUT SUCH A THING COULD NEVER BE. This Is not permissible; it could simply never, ever come to be.
I didn't use a book just now when I explained the Ten Powers and Eight Liberations, and I didn't prepare them ahead of time. I just remembered them.
SHOULD PEOPLE RELY IN FAITH UPON THE BUDDHA,
THE THUS COME ONE WILL NOT DECEIVE THEM:
HE HAS NO THOUGHTS OF ENVY OR GREED,
AND HAS CUT OFF ALL EVIL IN THE DHARMAS.
THEREFORE, THROUGHOUT THE TEN DIRECTIONS,
ONLY THE BUDDHA HAS NO FEAR.
I, WITH THE MARKS ADORNING MY BODY,
BRILLIANTLY ILLUMINE THE WORLD;
REVERED BY COUNTLESS MULTITUDES,
I SPEAK FOR THEM THE REAL-MARK-SEAL.
SARIPUTRA, YOU SHOULD KNOW,
THAT IN THE PAST I MADE A VOW
WISHING TO LEAD THE MULTITUDES
TO BE EQUAL AND IDENTICAL WITH ME.
ACCORDINGLY THAT VOW, MADE LONG AGO,
HAS NOW BEEN PERFECTLY FULFILLED;
I HAVE TRANSFORMED ALL LIVING BEINGS,
LEADING THEM ALL TO ENTER THE BUDDHA PATH.
SHOULD PEOPLE RELY IN FAITH UPON THE BUDDHA, The Buddha spoke to Sariputra, saying, "If someone believes in the Buddhadharma and takes refuge in the Buddha Way, in the Triple Jewel, THE THUS COME ONE WILL NOT DECEIVE THEM/The World Honored One, the Thus Come One, speaks the truth, speaks of what is real; he does not speak falsely and he would never cheat the people of the world. HE HAS NO THOUGHTS OF ENVY OR GREED/He would never have thoughts of covetousness or jealousy. AND HE HAS CUT OFF ALL EVIL WITHIN THE DKARMAS. All students of the Buddhadharma should genuinely understand its principles and genuinely understand cause and effect. It's not enough just to listen without practicing. You must put into practice what you hear. For example, everyone is basically greedy. Once you understand that greed is wrong, you should, little by little, get rid of it. Basically, we all have thoughts of hate. Once you have heard the Buddhadharma and understand that hate is wrongs you should, bit by bit, reform your hateful heart.
The same is true for thoughts of stupidity and jealousy as well. If you have thoughts of jealousy, greed, hatred, and stupidity, these are what is called the evil within the Dharmas. They are evil habits, which should be cut off, severed. The Buddha says that he has cut off all the evil within the Dharmas, but actually the Buddha has already certified to the fruit position of great perfect enlightenment, so how could there still remain evil within the Dharmas? Why does he say this? Because he wants to instruct everyone else to sever the evil within the Dharmas--that is, jealousy, contrariness, ignorance, and affliction.
For example, why are you so stupid? It is because, in former lives, you were jealous of those who had wisdom. When you saw that someone was wise, you grew envious, and so in your present life you are stupid. Why, in your present life, are you very intelligent? The same principle applies. It is just because in former lives you were not jealous of intelligent people, you liked for other people to be intelligent, even to the point that as people studied the Buddhadharma, the more clear they became about it, the more you rejoiced with them and praised them for it.
If someone studies and learns quickly, you should rejoice and praise that person; you shouldn't get jealous. Don't be afraid that others will surpass you. "If everyone else is better than me, everyone else will become a Buddha and then, afterwards, I can become a Buddha." That is the resolve of the Bodhisattva. Take a look at Earth Store Bodhisattva: he vowed to cross over all the hungry ghosts in hell to Buddhahood. Ghosts are the epitome of evil, but he didn't dislike them; he went to cross them over.
Someone wanted to know if it would be possible to save all the beings on the five paths of existence at the same time, on the same day, in the same month, in the same year. The five paths are: the path of humans, asuras, hell beings, hungry ghosts, and animals. Could you vow to cause them all to become Buddhas at the same time? This can't be done. Why not? In order to become a Buddha it is absolutely necessary that one first be born in the human realm in order to cultivate the Buddha Way. So you couldn't keep a vow to cause all the beings of the five paths to become Buddhas at the same time, on the same day, in the same month, in the same year.
Earth Store Bodhisattva saves the most evil beings. The Buddha has vowed to save all living beings so that they will become Buddhas, but he would certainly never be jealous and think, "Now, I've become a Buddha, and I don't like the idea of your becoming a Buddha. Why not? Because if you become a Buddha, then nobody will light incense to me. So, how about if I alone become a Buddha and you guys don't!" He's not jealous like that. He wants everyone to become a Buddha and be just like him. In fact, he feels it would even be nice if everyone else became a Buddha before he did.
So, as you listen to the sutras, whatever you do, don't be jealous. If you're jealous—I'm telling you in advance--with jealous, greedy, hateful, and stupid thoughts, in the future if you don't fall into the hells, then you'll turn into a hungry ghost, or else become an animal. Would you say that was dangerous or not? If you're not afraid of becoming an animal, turning into a hungry ghost, or falling into hell, then go right ahead and hold on to your greed, hate, stupidity, jealousy, and contrariness. Go ahead and keep them.
If you think you'd certainly find the taste of the three evil paths hard to take, then you should cast out your greed, hatred, stupidity, jealousy, and contrariness. Why? Because these thoughts are the evil within, the Dharmas. Within the Buddhadharma, they are the evil elements. If you don't cut off the evil within the Dharmas, you're going to fall into the three evil paths. If you cut off the evil in the Dharmas, you'll be born in the three wholesome paths; at the very least, you'll be born in the heavens. But those who study the Buddhadharma shouldn't seek to be reborn in the heavens. If you do, you still can fall into the lower realms. THEREFORE, THROUGHOUT THE TEN DIRECTIONS/Throughout the worlds in the ten directions ONLY THE BUDDHA HAS NO FEAR/He's not afraid. People say, "I'm really scared!" Some people are afraid of the dark. During the day, they are afraid of thieves.
What can be done? If there are a lot of people around at night, they get upset. "I was doing quite well living here," they think, "until all you guys came to pester me." During the day when there are a lot of people around, they find it too noisy. What can be done? When alone, they are afraid of the dark at night and afraid of thieves by day. If there are other people around they can't get along with them. Perhaps at work they feel that they carry more of the load, and a lot of vexations arise.
Just what can be done?
This all results from having "evil in the Dharmas." So you're afraid of this and afraid of that; afraid of too many people and afraid of too few; afraid of having people around and afraid of being alone. Afraid at night, and afraid during the day. If something happens, it scares you; if nothing is happening, it scares you even more. Fear: afraid of the wolves ahead of you, and scared of the tigers behind. You feel like there are wolves up ahead and tigers on your heels. See how you are? You can't stand still and you can't sit in one place because you're so nervous and excited. At night you have nothing but bad dreams. Why? I'll tell you: You're afraid because you have evil within the Dharmas.
Why is the Buddha fearless? In the worlds of the ten directions, he fears nothing at all; he's fearless. He is not afraid to speak the Dharma. He's not afraid to teach and transform living beings. He's not afraid that living beings will be hard to subdue, hard to tame. He's not afraid of anything at all; he's utterly fearless. Therefore he alone is fearless, without fear.
It is said, if you are afraid you won't attain your aim. In studying, for example, when you take tests you should not be afraid. Today, Kuo Chang said something very reasonable. He said that when he took his test he just wrote right off the top of his head, but he knew his professor's mind, he knew what he liked. And what was that? Drunken talk. So he scribbled his test at random and it was exactly to his teacher's taste exactly, just right. And he got a very high mark. Other people take tests on tiptoe, as it were, as if standing at the edge of a deep abyss or walking on thin ice--scared to death, and they wind up getting very low marks. There's a very logical principle behind all of this. It wasn't actually because he knew his professor's mind, but rather because he was not afraid. Kuo Chang also gives lectures fearlessly. Even when his teacher is standing right beside him he dares to speak, and when his teacher leaves, he continues right on speaking. In general, he just keeps right on talking. He speaks not badly at all, too.
Others are not afraid either. When they hear their teacher say that they should lecture on the Sutras they refuse to be afraid and go ahead, but when they talk it sounds like they are beating people to a pulp with a wooden club; it hurts a lot. They may not be afraid, but their listeners are! They talk everyone into being afraid to listen. This, too, is a problem. In everything you do you should seek the Middle Way. The Middle Way means that you don't lean off to the left or to the right, you don't go too far and you don't stop short. That's the Middle Way. If you don't unite with the Middle Way then it's the unwonderful Way. So, the Buddha is not afraid and he doesn't make others afraid either. His fearlessness doesn't mean that the Buddha is so fearless that when living beings see him they are afraid of him. No. When living beings see the Buddha, they are not afraid. The more they listen to the Buddha speak the Dharma, the more they like to listen. The more they like to listen, the more they listen, so that they listen to the Dharma for several decades without growing tired. The more they listen, the more they like it, the more they listen, the happier they get. That's the way he speaks the Dharma.
"Well," you say, "then how was it that when The Dharma Flower Sutra was lectured, five thousand got up and walked out?" If it is the case that the more they listened the more they liked to listen, how come they ran off? How come they didn't want to listen?"
That's really a good question. In fact five thousand did walk out; they ran away and didn't stay to listen. Actually it wasn't that they didn't want to listen, but rather that they did not have the virtuous conduct to listen. So they were driven out by their karmic obstacles. As soon as the Buddha announced his intention to speak the wonderful Dharma, their karmic obstacles showed up and they couldn't sit still. They left on their own. It wasn't a matter of being afraid or not being afraid, of liking or not liking to listen. It was a question of their offense karma being too heavy. They may have wished to listen to the Buddhadharma, but their karmic obstacles revealed themselves and they had to run away. They became possessed by demons; the demon-power overtook them. If the ones with offenses hadn't gone, they would have influenced the ones without offenses so that they wouldn't have wanted to listen either. For example, right when the Buddha was lecturing they might have jumped up, or yelled wildly, or gone insane. So it was really better that they left. That was the question involved. So don't ask questions about things that poses no questions.
I, WITH THE MARKS ADORNING MY BODY/I, Sakyamuni Buddha says, adorn my body with the characteristic marks of the hundred blessings BRILLIANTLY ILLUMINE THE WORLD/The great bright light shines throughout the world REVERED BY COUNTLESS MULTITUDES/I SPEAK FOR THEM THE REAL-MARK SEAL/I speak the Real Mark Dharma door, genuine wisdom, The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
And what is the Real-Mark Seal? It is just The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is the Real-Mark-Seal. If you understand The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra you will understand the Real-Mark-Seal; if you don't understand The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra then you can't get sealed; there will be no way to give you the seal.
SARIPUTRA, YOU SHOULD KNOW/THAT IN THE PAST I MADE A VOW/Previously, I swore an oath WISHING THE MULTITUDES/TO BE EQUAL AND IDENTICAL WITH ME/I made a vow to cause all living beings to be the same, non-dual and non-different from me and from all the Buddhas of the ten directions. So, whoever is more talented than you, whoever is more intelligent, whatever you do, don't be jealous of them. If someone can do a good job of lecturing on the Sutras and speaking: the Dharma don't be envious. You should rejoice and praise them, saying, "They lecture so well, and I just love to listen to them." But, no matter whether they speak well or poorly, don't become annoyed with them or get upset. If you get upset, it won't get through even if they speak well. If you don't get upset, no matter who speaks the Dharma you'll recognize their good qualities and if you but listen carefully, you'll understand the doctrines and obtain the benefits of listening to the Dharma.
So, ACCORDINGLY, THAT VOW MADE LONG AGO/In accord with the vow I made previously HAS NOW BEEN PERFECTLY FULFILLED/I have now already accomplished Buddhahood, I have already fulfilled my vow. Those living beings I wanted to save, I have saved; some have certified to the fruit and others have brought forth the Bodhisattva resolve. I HAVE TRANSFORMED ALL LIVING BEINGS/I now taught and saved all living beings AND LED THEM ALL TO ENTER THE BUDDHA-PATH. I now have lead all beings to obtain the fruit position of Buddhahood.
IF, WHEN I MET WITH LIVING BEINGS,
I TAUGHT THEM JUST THE BUDDHA PATH.
THOSE WITHOUT WISDOM WOULD MISUNDERSTAND, AND
CONFUSED AND DELUDE, WOULD NOT ACCEPT THE TEACHING.
IF, WHEN I MET WITH LIVING BEINGS/Previously it said "and led them all to enter the Buddha Path/" that is, leading all living beings to open, demonstrate, awaken to, and enter the Buddha’s knowledge and vision. If, when I met a living being. The “I” here is the Buddha speaking to himself. The Buddha has rightly certified to the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self?
And what are the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self?
1. One body can manifest limitless bodies. One Buddha can turn into countless numbers of Buddhas.
2. One body the size of a dust mote can completely fill the great thousand world systems. Why? Because it is free.
3. The Buddha-body can lightly float to distant places. For example, it can lightly fly, just like a balloon, right up into space. The balloon can fly a long ways to distant places. The balloon, however, is just an analogy. Actually, this is just the free and wonderful functioning of the Buddha's spiritual penetrations, which enable him to rise lightly in the air and travel to very far off regions.
4. One manifests limitless kinds of living beings which dwell together in one land.
5. All the organs are used interchangeably. I explained this when I lectured The Surangama Sutra. The eyes can eat and the ears can talk. The six sense organs--eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind—all function with the functions of the other five. Each organ functions in six ways. The eyes can see and they can hear, they can also eat. Using only one organ, you can function with all the other five functions. Each organ has six functionings because all of them are used interchangeably. Would you say this was wonderful or not?
6. The obtaining of the suchness of all dharmas without the thought of dharmas. He obtains the suchness of all dharmas but does not have the thought of all dharmas. Dharmas are empty; this is the sixth kind of freedom.
7. This is even more wonderful: The meaning of one verse may be explained throughout limitless aeons. The doctrines of a single verse may be explained for limitless, boundless great ages, and still the meaning will not have been spoken to the end.
8. The body pervades all places, like space. Although it fills all places, it is just like empty space In The Surangama Sutra, when I explained the word "Buddha" I said that the Buddha was nowhere present and nowhere not present. If you say he is in a certain place, he's in every place. If you say he is not in a certain place, he's nowhere at all. So, you could say he was like space.
Like space: Take a look at empty space. What form has it? It is shapeless and formless. The Buddha's body fills all places just like space does. We are all living in the substance of the Buddha's spirit. The Buddha is like a big person who fills up the space between heaven and earth, and we live on the Buddha's body just like small bugs live on ours. Sometimes when you don't bathe for a long period of time, you get lice. In northern China they have tiny lice and fleas. But the lice and fleas don't know what the people they live on are like. They can't see the people even though they live right on their bodies. We dwell within the Buddha's Dharma body in the same way and so we cannot see the Dharma body. Why can't we see the Buddha's Dharma body? Because we are right within it. In China there's a saying, 'Why can't you see the face of Lu Mountain? It's just because you're standing on Lu Mountain.' Lu Mountain in Chiang-hsi is one of China's most famous scenic spots. It has a lovely view, verdant forests, and breathtaking waters. Why can't you see Lu Mountain? Because you're standing right on it. If you backed away from it, you'd be able to see it. And why can't we see the Buddha's Dharma body? Because we are contained within it. If we got outside of it, we'd be able to see it. But there basically just isn't any place that is outside the Buddha's Dharma body. And that is why there is no way we can get outside the Buddha's Dharma body.
Then how can we see the Buddha's Dharma body? We must apply effort in cultivating the Way; then, when we accomplish Buddhahood and are one, non-dual, and non-different with the Buddha, we will know what the realm of the Buddha's Dharma body is. That is the eighth of the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self.
Because the Buddha has obtained the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self, according to his intent, as-you-will, he teaches and transforms living beings and however he speaks the Dharma, it is correct. I TAUGHT THEM JUST THE BUDDHA PATH/So the Buddha uses the miraculous functioning of spiritual penetrations--the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self. THOSE WITHOUT WISDOM WOULD MISUNDERSTAND/Although the Buddha is compassionate in teaching and transforming living beings, those without wisdom, the stupid people, no matter what you tell them, they waver between faith and doubt. Why do they waver? CONFUSED AND DELUDED, WOULD NOT ACCEPT THE TEACHING. They are too deeply submerged in their confusion and so when you speak the Buddhadharma to them they are unable to accept it.
Everyone can know the events of their past lives, they can know what they did previously. How can they know? Take stock of yourself; take a look at yourself. If you have a great deal of compassion, then in former lives you did not kill many living beings, you did not violate the precept against taking life. Having a compassionate heart just means you do not have a temper, and you look upon everyone the way you would your own blood relatives, loving others as oneself, being as compassionate towards everyone as you would be toward yourself. If you can have that kind of a compassionate heart, it means that in former lives you never killed. If you don't have a heart of compassionate affection for living beings then in past lives you did kill. It's like taking a look at yourself in the mirror, to see what you look like. If you are extremely hateful, then in past lives you have killed. Those who like to kill, have big tempers and a great deal of fire energy. From these two points you can figure out your own former causes and latter effects. By looking at what kind of person you are now, in this present life, you can know what deeds you did in previous lives. So a few days ago some soldiers came to visit as guests and they asked, "Do you believe people can become animals?"
I said, "If you do the deeds of an animal, you are an animal; if you do the deeds of a person, you are a person. You don't have to talk about whether or not you'll turn into one in the future. If, in this present life you do the things that animals do, then you are an animal. If you do the deeds people do, then you are a person. If you do the deeds of a Bodhisattva, you are a Bodhisattva. If you observe the Bodhisattva precepts and practice the Bodhisattva way, then you are a Bodhisattva. However, you're just a beginner--Bodhisattva, one who's newly brought forth the Bodhisattva resolve. If you do the acts of a Buddha, you are a Buddha; if you act like a ghost, then you are a ghost. Take a look at what you do; everything is made from the mind alone--that's the principle at work here.
Why have those people who have come here to listen to the Buddhadharma been able to do so? It's because in former lives we believed in Buddhism and so in our present lives we like to hear the Sutras lectured. Those without good roots would hear the Sutra lectures and think, "What a lot of nonsense; how boring," and run off. So, everyone can have the Penetration of the Knowledge of Past Lives, the spiritual power of knowing about their former lives.
THE SRAMANERA VINAYA AND RULES OF DEPORTMENT, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The Buddha instructed his disciples to take the Vinaya (the moral code) for their Master once he himself had entered Nirvana. Those who seek to end birth and death and to save all living beings from suffering must base their practice on proper morality. 112 pages, $3.95.