WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA
SARIPUTRA, JUST AS THAT ELDER FIRST HAVING USED THE THREE CARTS TO ENTICE HIS CHILDREN AND THEN LATER GIVING TO THEM A GREAT CART ADORNED WITH JEWELS AND SUPREMELY COMFORTABLE, IS NOT GUILTY OF FALSEHOOD...
The Greatly Wise Sariputra is told that he should know that the Buddha is just like the Great Elder.
Sariputra, just as that elder first having used the three carts to entice his children at the very beginning he used Expedients saying that outside there were three kinds of carts; sheep carts, deer carts, and ox carts. Basically the children were playing in the house and were totally aware of the situation. They were not frightened or afraid at all. When they heard there were such beautiful toy-carts they were enticed out. He "cheated" the children saying there were carts outside the door. The children were just on the verge of being burned in the flaming house so even though there were no carts outside the door, the Elder told them there were. Since the toys he promised were more fun than the ones the children were playing with, they ran outside the door to safety. And then later gave to them a great cart. The elder got them safely out of the house and then, because his own wealth was without limit he could give to the entire country and not diminish his wealth, so everyone got a great cart. Adorned with jewels, decorated with various rare jewels and supremely comfortable the cart was very comfortable. Is not guilty of falsehood you cannot rightfully say that the Elder lied to the children. He is without error.
JUST SO IS THE THUS COME ONE LIKEWISE NOT GUILTY OF FALSEHOOD. IN FIRST SPEAKING OF THE THREE VEHICLES TO ENTICE LIVING BEINGS AND THEN AFTERWARDS DELIVERING THEM ONLY BY MEANS OF THE GREAT VEHICLE.
This is part 2: fitting the analogy proper
The Elder used expedient methods to get the children safely out of the burning house and he said there were carts when there really were none. Later, he gave all of them a great cart and he is not guilty of telling lies and cheating the children. Just so is the Thus Come One. The World Honored One is just like the Elder in that in what he did he was not guilty of falsehood. He did not lie. He used clever expedients to help living beings. In first speaking of the Three Vehicles to entice living beings. He first spoke the Sound Hearer Vehicle. Then he spoke the Conditioned-enlightened One's Vehicle. Then he spoke the Bodhisattva Vehicle-the three vehicles. He did so to entice and lead all living beings. The Sound Hearer Vehicle was taught the Storehouse Teaching. The Conditioned Enlightened Ones were taught the Penetrative Teaching. The Bodhisattvas were taught the Special Teaching. Then, lastly he taught the Great Vehicle, the Dharma Flower Sutra, the wonderful principle of the Real Mark, the perfect, sudden Dharma door, the Great Vehicle's wonderful dharma, to deliver them, all living beings delivering them only by means of the Great Vehicle.
WHAT IS THE REASON? THE THUS COME ONE HAS LIMITLESS WISDOM, POWERS AND FEARLESSNESSES, A STOREHOUSE OF DHARMAS, AND IS ABLE TO GIVE TO ALL LIVING BEINGS THE GREAT VEHICLE DHARMA; BUT NOT ALL LIVING BEINGS ARE ABLE TO ACCEPT IT. SARIPUTRA, THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT THE BUDDHAS, USING THE POWER OF EXPEDIENT DEVICES, IN THE ONE BUDDHA VEHICLE DISCRIMINATE AND SPEAK OF THREE.
What is the reason? Why does the Buddha do this? The Thus Come One Has limitless wisdom the Buddha basically has limitless and boundless wisdom. He has all wisdom, he also has ten wisdom Powers, as well as Four Fearlessnesses—a Storehouse of Dharmas. He has all the dharma doors and is able to, from the start he could give to all living beings the Great Vehicle Dharma. But not all living beings are able to accept it. If you tell them about the Great Vehicle Dharma door right off, since they have never heard such a thing, not all will be able to accept it. For example, the Buddha first spoke the Avatamsaka Sutra, and those of the Small Vehicle. "Had eyes but did not see Rochana Buddha; Had ears but did not hear the Perfect-Sudden Teaching." They looked but did not see, listened but did not hear, they were deaf and dumb and blind. So not only were unable to accept it, they couldn’t even understand it.
A layperson once asked me, "If those of the Two Vehicles couldn’t even understand the Avatamsaka Sutra, how could we, who are not as high as those of the Two Vehicles, possibly understand it?" This is a good question. But right after the Buddha realized Buddhahood, no one at all understood the Buddhadharma. There wasn’t any Buddhadharma. So if you spoke any profound principles, they wouldn’t be able to understand them. Now, we know about the Buddhadharma, and its possible for us to understand it, and to understand its various levels: Great and Small Vehicle, profound and less profound teachings. So although we haven’t certified to the fruit, and can’t compare ourselves with those of the Two Vehicles, still our dispositions towards the Great Vehicle have been firmly planted and we have a chance to hear the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma.
So the text tells us that living beings are unable to accept the Great Vehicle Dharma and so Sariputra, this is why you should know that because living beings can’t completely accept the Great Vehicle’s wonderful principles, The Buddhas, using the Power of expedient devices, all Buddhas throughout the ten directions, including myself, Sakyamuni Buddha, all apply the expedient clever devices as dharma methods and in the One Buddha Vehicle Dharma, discriminate and speak of Three Vehicles: Sound-hearers, Conditioned-enlightened Ones, and Bodhisattvas. Originally there aren't three vehicles. There is just the Buddha Vehicle, but because living beings have dispositions, which are such that they cannot accept it completely, the Buddha speaks of the Three Vehicles. But the Three Vehicles are taught for the sake of the One Buddha Vehicle. The ultimate aim is for all living beings to become Buddhas through the cultivation of the Buddha Vehicle.
BUDDHA, WISHING TO RESTATE HIS MEANING, SPOKE VERSES,
SUPPOSE THERE WAS AN ELDER
WHO HAD A LARGE HOUSE
WHICH WAS VERY OLD
AND SO WAS COLLAPSING.
THE HALLS WERE HIGH AND PRECARIOUS
THE PILLARS ROTTING AT THEIR BASES
THE BEAMS AND RIDGEPOLES ASLANT,
THE FOUNDATIONS AND STAIRWAYS DISINTEGRATING.
This begins the verse section. The first part of which the parable is set up. This has two parts, the first of which is to set up the parable generally which also divides into four parts, the first of which is setting up the parable about the elder and then setting up the parable about the house.
The Buddha, having finished speaking the prose section, and wishing to restate his meaning because, he was filled with compassion and afraid that living beings still hadn't understood his principles, was not afraid of taking the trouble to speak verses to restate his meaning. He spoke verses to state his principles in even greater detail.
Some verses are four characters long, others five, or six or seven. They reiterate the things said in the previous prose passages or they elaborate on them. Sometimes they may speak them in a capsule form. The point is that they repeat them so that people who missed them the first time can pick them up.
Suppose there was an Elder; Suppose, for example, there was an elder. An Elder has ten kinds of virtuous practices which were mentioned before which you no doubt remember very clearly. If you don't remember clearly, you can check back to that passage. Who had a large house. The large house is the Triple Realm: the desire, form and formless realms. That's the large house of the Triple Realm. Which was very old, It's said there's no peace in the triple realm; It's like a burning house. And so was collapsing; It was just about to topple over, to fall apart. Why? Because it was so old.
We can also use the old house as an analogy for the human body. There is a poem, which goes:
Our bodies are like a house. Our eyes, the windows', like a door, the mouth. Our four limbs are like the pillars and our hair like the thatch on top. Keep it always in good repair. Don't wait till it's falling apart and then panic.
"Our bodies are like a house." "Our eyes, the window; like a door the mouth." The mouth is like a door and the two eyes are like windows. Windows let light in the room, and our eyes allow us to see things. Your seeing things is like looking through a window. "Our hair is like the thatch on top." They don't have such houses in America, but in China, some of the houses have grass thatch on the top, and it looks like the hair growing on our heads. "Keep it always in good repair." Keep up with repairs, as they are necessary. "Don't wait until it's falling apart and then panic." When you are young, then your house is in "good repair." Once you are old, then the "house" is about ready to fall over, that is, you are about to die and you won't be able to live in the "house" anymore. You'll have to move. You may think to repair your house then, but it's too late by that time. The machine has been overworked, it's no good anymore. That's how people's bodies work, too. They have to be kept in good repair when one is young. "Good repair" means to cultivate the Way. You should sit in Dhyana meditation, bow to the Buddha and to the Sutras, or recite Sutras or recite mantras. Today I taught you your first Chinese class and the Lesson was a very good foundation for all of you:
"I got up today at four o'clock." The morning is the best time to get up. It is said,
The plans for one's life are made when young and strong.
The plans for a year are made in the spring.
The plans for a day are made in the morning.
During one's life one must be vigorous. The most important time of the year is the springtime, when the ten thousand things are blooming. As for the day, the most important time is early in the morning. It's best to get up early and take a walk in the garden, breathe some clean, fresh morning air. That will give you energy. So you get up at four and then wash your face, brush your teeth. Then since there's nothing much to do, sit in meditation. Ahh... at this time there is nothing moving at all. It's the best time, the most precious time, to work hard. While you are sitting it is very easy to get a response with the Way. Then, after a while when you legs start to hurt, or even if you have gotten past the pain, you may wish to get up and do some exercise. How? Bow to the Buddha. Bow and rise, and your circulation improves throughout your entire body. It's even better than doing yoga: When you have finished bowing to the Buddha, and you feel wide awake, then you can recite Sutras to regulate your breath and then secretly recite mantras. When you recite mantras you don't recite them out loud, we recite mantras here out loud, but that is for the public ceremonies. In real cultivation you recite them in your mind; this is called Vajra Mantra Recitation. After that you can go to work. When you get off work at five o'clock you come to Buddhist Lecture Hall to study Chinese and hear the Sutra Lectures and you don't even eat dinner. The last sentence of the Chinese Lesson says, "Are you hungry?" We will have to wait until tomorrow to answer that question.
The halls were high and precarious. The Elder is the Buddha. His great house is the Triple World, in which all living beings live. To the point that the 5,000 great thousand worlds are included in it. The Triple World had no beginning, it is very old. It was not created in the present and so it is considered very old. And so was collapsing. This means it was about ready to fall apart; it was already useless. This is speaking externally. If you use one's own body as an analogy you see that the house of the human body eventually falls apart.
The halls were high and precarious. Halls represent the desire realm and the form realm. These halls are said to be "high" and "precarious" because in the Triple Realm it is very easy to fall and to lose this human body. Sometimes one falls from the heavens, they are so high. A high place is very dangerous because when you fall you lose your life. This means that in the form and desire realms one doesn't know if one will fall into the hells, become an animal or turn into a hungry ghost. One doesn't know what path one will fall into and so it is extremely dangerous.
The pillars rotting at their bases. You could say our legs are like the pillars. Our feet are the bases. They are rotting. This is talking about the changes of birth, old age, sickness and death. From birth one grows to adulthood, grows old, gets sick and then dies.
The beams and ridgepoles aslant. Beams and ridgepoles are like our backs, it is falling apart. Useless.
The foundations and stairways disintegrating, Rotting. Foundations refers to, in the analogy of the body, the place where we "sit down." It also represents all our karmic obstacles.
THE WALLS AND PARTITIONS CRACKED AND RUINED,
THE PLASTER FLAKING AND FALLING OFF,
THE THATCH FALLING EVERY WHICH WAY
THE RAFTERS AND EAVE POLES COMING LOOSE.
The walls and partitions cracked and ruined.The walls represent the skin and flesh on our bodies. When we get old our skin gets cracked and wrinkled. The plaster flaking and falling off, The thatch falling every which way-The plaster refers to our complexions. The thatch atop the house is falling off. The rafters and eave poles coming loose.
THE PARTIONS ON ALL SIDE BENT AND MISSHAPEN
AND FILLED WITH ALL KINDS OF FILTH.
The partitions on all sides bent and misshapen ruined, twisted out of shape. And filled with all kinds of filth filled with unclean things. The plaster refers to our skins going bad. The thatch falling off is like our hair falling out. And the rafters and eave poles means our four limbs all falling apart. The partitions on all sides bent and misshapen-Our back all bent over arid waists are ruined. Filled with all kinds of refuse means the things in our digestive system, the urine and excrement inside us. We are entirely filled with these things.
Each one of us has a "house." It is our own body. The body "walls" are the four elements and the four applications of mindfulness. When the walls fall apart, that is like when the four elements disperse, and earth, water, fire and air all return to their origin. They disperse and the body dies.
As to the problem of human life, everyone should see it clearly. Don't let the mind become the body's slave, busy serving it all day long, with no time of waking up.
From of old, few have lived to seventy years of age.
When you take off years for youth and then later for old age,
It really doesn't amount to much--the time in between.
And what is more, half of that, then, is spent asleep:
There have never been very many people who have lived to age seventy. Most people die in their fifties or sixties, or even in their twenties or thirties—some even younger. Few folks live to be seventy, but let's pretend that someone does. The first ten years of his life are pretty meaningless, because he doesn't understand what's going on around him. The last ten years he can't do anything either. Then take off for sleep: that leaves just twenty-five years. There's also time to be taken off for eating, changing your clothes, going to the toilet, drinking tea and coffee, and chatting about this and that. How much time is left? You have to take off at the very least another five years for that, leaving twenty years. Is that really so long? So what great meaning does life have?
Yesterday, in Chinese class, I asked you, "Are you hungry?" Today in your lesson you learned, "I don't feel hungry." I asked you, "Why don't you feel hungry?" You said, "Because I get to listen to the Buddhadharma and understand the true principles of human life." What I have just talked about are the true principles of human life, which can make you genuinely happy. When you are genuinely happy, you forget about being hungry. Do you see how wonderful this is? It may just look like a Chinese class, but it has a great deal of principle, if you look into it deeply. Your study of the Buddhadharma has brought you true peace of mind and real happiness, and so you forget all about eating. Don't forget your Chinese lessons. People who study Buddhism should pay particular attention to them. You are learning your Chinese and the principles of the Buddhadharma at the same time. That’s really great! That’s why I told our guest today that I charge a thousand dollars an hour for my Chinese lessons. That’s not too much. If you get to end birth and death, that’s simply priceless.
ONE HUNDREDTH ISSUE
This September issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea will be the hundredth. Thanks to the support of donors, subscribers, and contributors, the magazine will be able to significantly change its format, content, and layout and design beginning with issue one hundred.
Chinese-English in content, the new format will be larger and allow for more art and photography as well as new features and articles. News from Buddhist groups around the world will be printed and articles from contributors are welcome for consideration in this anniversary and subsequent issues. Book reviews, poetry, translations, feature stories, in Chinese and/or English will be reviewed by the Editorial Board for publication. Deadline for the September issue is June 15th. Address mail to:
Bodhi Sea Editorial Board