THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA

with commentary by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
translated by Bhikshuni Heng Yin
reviewed by Bhikshuni Heng Ch'ih

SUTRA:

      FOXES, WOLVES, AND YEH KAN.

COMMENTARY:

      This section represents the last two of the Five Dull Servants, greed and doubt.

      Foxes. In China, everyone knows about fox spirits. They specialize in confusing people. How do they do this? They confuse people to the point where they donít know anything at all. So in China they have a fine analogy. They compare the fox to a "bad" woman. Bad women just confuse people till they are senseless. They say, "Sheís a foxy lady..." about improper women. Also, foxes have a lot of doubts. When they walk across the ice, no matter how thick it is, they still walk a step end then cock their heads and listen to see if the ice creaks. If it doesn't, they keep walking, take another step and then stop and listen again.

Wolves. They are sort of like dogs. 'Wolves are terribly cruel. No matter what small animal they kill it, whether they are going to eat it or not. They can drag off a hundred-year-old pig and eat it! They are the most violent of animals. When I was in Naming I was living in K'ung Ch'ing Mountain. I went to Lung-fan and on the way back the sky suddenly grew dark and a whole pack of wolves descended. They have their own language and when one wolf howls all the wolves gather together and they eat whoever is on the road. Rip them apart and split up the meat. That night I met a lot of wolves. It was about eight or nine o'clock at night and they were all around in the trees right next to the road. As I walked along they followed me, protecting me. I thought they were protecting me. Of course, they thought they were getting ready to eat me. I thought they were guarding me. We walked along together 5 or 6 miles, but they didn't eat me. They were my good friends. In fact I gave them the Three Refuges. You see, I have wolves for disciples. After I accepted them in the Three Refuges they didn't think about biting people any more. There were over twenty of them.

Yeh Kan. They are a member of the fox family. They are not actually foxes, but they live way out in the wilds where no one at all lives, in places very dangerous, where no human could reach. Even hawks can't get there. They live way, way up high in caves, very dangerous precipitous places where there are caves or perhaps atop very tall trees. They don't come out during the day, they roam at night. At night they roam in packs, three or five of them together. They howl with a very strange sound at night showing off to make all the other animals afraid to get near them. They are very weird animals, the Yeh Kan.

SUTRA:

NIBBLED AT, TRAMPLED ON, AND DEVOURED CORPSES, SCATTERING THE BONES AND FLESH.

COMMENTARY:

Nibbled means to put it in your mouth and savor the flavor slowly, like eating a piece of candy bit by bit. They ate the corpses slowly, when there were a few of them. When there were lot of corpses, they Trampled on them. They ran all over them, wasting them. When there were a lot they didn't pay-any attention, but just wasted them. However, if you don't save them, when there are a lot, there will soon not be very many. One must be thrifty. At any rate the wolves Devoured the Corpses. "Devoured" means they ripped into their blood and bones with their lips and teeth.

Scattering the bones and flesh. They left the bones and flesh in a mess. Wolves just rip into things and leave them in a shambles.

SUTRA:

THEN PACKS OF DOGS CAME RUNNING TO SEIZE AND GRAB THEM HUNGRY, WEAK, AND TERRIFIED SEEKING FOOD EVERYWHERE.

COMMENTARY:

The packs of dogs once the flesh and bones were scattered about the packs of dogs all Came running to seize and grab them fighting over pieces of the carcasses.

Hungry, weak, and terrified. Hungry...what does it mean to be hungry? If you don't understand the Buddhadharma, you are "hungry." When your Dharma-body is not perfected you are "weak." So, people who haven't heard the Buddhadharma are hungry and weak. "Terrified" means very upset, not serene at all, running hither and thither Seeking food everywhere. The dogs come running to the scene greedy for food. This represents greed, which is also one of the Five Dull Servants. Because they can't get any food, they fight for it.

SUTRA:

FIGHTING AND SHOVING, SNARLING, HOWLING AND BARKING; THE TERRORS IN THAT HOUSE AND SIGHTS WERE SUCH AS THESE.

COMMENTARY:

The dogs were fighting and shoving, snarling fixing their stare and showing their teeth.

Fighting represents quarrels about principle--debating about right and wrong. First they say, "right, then they say "wrong. They were Howling and barking. The terrors in that house, the frightening goings on and the sights, in the house of the five heaps, Were such as this. So many weird things in that house of five heaps. Absolutely terrifying. Really scary. From the beginning of the verse to this point, we have been talking about greed, hatred, stupidity, arrogance and doubt: the Five Dull Servants. Below we will be talking about the Five Quick Servants. The Five Dull Servants turn people totally upside down. They may want to wake up a bit, but it's not easy. They are as if tied up by the Five Dull Servants in this house where it is very dangerous. We better quickly find a way to slay the Five Dull Servants. That won't be a case of breaking the precepts, so don't worry about breaking the Bodhisattva Precepts as far as that goes.

SUTRA:

EVERYWHERE THERE WERE

LI MEI AND WANG LIANG,

YAKSHAS AND EVIL GHOSTS

EATING HUMAN FLESH;

Everywhere there were Li Mei and Wang Liang. "Everywhere, speaking in broad terms, means the entire Triple Realm: the realm of desire, the realm of form, and the formless realm. In more specific terms, it refers to our bodies. No matter whether you speak of it in terms of the Triple Realm or the body there are these Li Mei and Wang Liang, Yakshas and evil ghosts. Eating human flesh, just everywhere you look, whether in the five heaps: form, feeling, perception, impulses and consciousness, or the four holy truths: suffering, origination, stopping and the Way. They are everywhere. No matter whereóthere they are.

Li is a kind of ghost that stays very far away from people. Where are they found? They dwell in the mountains. They are weird creatures in the mountains. They are also called mountain essences. Weird creatures that you find in your house are called Mei ghosts. They hang around people's houses and play tricks on them. There are many kinds of Mei(). There are very obvious ones and they can play all kinds of uncanny tricks, doing things which ordinary people cannot even perceive. Wang Liang() ghosts are transformations of stone or wood. Perhaps, after along period of time they become alive; literally come to have an essence, but there must be certain causes and conditions for this strange, essence to come into being. How does a rock come, to have an essence? There are a lot of rocks, and not very many of them do this. For a rock to come alive, it must have been touched with human blood. In fact, anything that is touched with human blood, especially the blood from a fingertip can become alive. By means-of the person's blood and that person's vital (ling) energy it comes alive. Wang Liang ghosts are the largest variety of ghost. They are as big as mountains. So sometimes Chinese people run into these ghosts while they are out walking at night. They try to walk forward, but it's like there's a mountain blocking them and they can't see anything in front of them. I remember one of my brothers met one of these ghosts one night. When this happens no matter what you do you can't walk to any other place. You are stuck right there until dawn when the cock crows and then you can go again.

Li and Mei are very tiny ghosts. They are about three feet High. Wang Liang sometimes are thirty or even three hundred feet high.

Yakshas and evil ghosts. What do these represent? The text says, Everywhere there were Li Mei and Wang Liang Yakshas and evil ghosts eating human flesh. "This represents the Five Quick Servants. Previously we spoke about the Five Dull Servants and now we are speaking about the Five Quick Servants. They have been discussed many times before. They are:

1. View of a body.

2. Extreme Views

3. Views of unprincipled morality.

4. Deviant views.

5. Views of grasping at views.

The Five Dull Servants are called "dull" because they come on slowly. Quick means that they come on very fast and are very sharp. The Five Quick Servants also turn people upside-down. They make them attached. They cause them to do wrong things.

1. The view of a body. The view of a body means that one is always attached to one's body. From morning to night one Works on its behalf, buying it a little candy, or a little perfume to sprinkle on it. Giving it some nice clothes and something good to eat and finding it a good place to live. That's called being attached to the body and thinking, "My body is just me!" Actually that is wrong. How is it wrong? The body can only be said to belong to you. You can say, "It is mine." But you can't rightfully say, "It is me." Why not? The body is like a house. When you are living in a house you can't tell people "my house is me." You can just say, "It's mine." Ultimately, you are not your body. Don't mistake the real owner. So if you are attached to the body as yourself, you are wrong. I always say, if you look from the tip of the head to the bottom of your feet, your head is called your head, your eyes are called your eyes, your ears are called ears, your hair is called hair, your nose is called a nose, the mouth is called a mouth, the skin is called the skin, the hands are called the hands, the feet are called the feet, everything has its name. Which one of them is called "me"? You can look all over your entire body and you won't find a "me." Which part of the body is "me." Why can't you find that "me"? Because the body is "mine" it is not "me". It is not you, it belongs to you, that's all. If you calculate on it's behalf all the time, then as Poet T'ao Yuan Ming said in his poem "The Return," your mind is acting as your body's slave. Your mind is your true self, the real owner in charge. The body is just like a house. The owner lives in the body. Here we are talking about the eternally dwelling real mind, the bright substance of the pure nature. That is really you, really me. It is also called the treasury of the Thus Come One. It is also called the Buddha nature. So don't mistakenly think that the body is you. It's yours; it is not you. The real you is not produced and not destroyed, not defiled and not pure, not increasing and not decreasing. That's the real you. But instead of recognizing that real you, you recognize the false self and think that superficial thing, the body, is really you. If it is really you, when the body dies, will you disappear, too? If you disappear that's really meaningless. That's just a view of annihilation, which brings us to the second of the Five Quick Servants.

2. The view of taking sides. There are two sides "eternalism" and "annihilationism." In fact, when people die, it is like their house has broken down and they have to move to a new one, they move to a new body. Where do you move to? It depends on what kind of: karma you create: now. If you create good karma, you move to a nice place. If you create evil karma; you will move to an evil place. Death, then, is definitely not annihilation. We should see through the view of a body and put it down. Don't be attached to the view of a body.

To be attached either to eternalism or to annihilationism are the two kinds of attachments of non-Buddhist religions. The view of annihilationism states "When one dies it is like when a lamp goes out. It's all over. If you do good, there is no retribution incurred. There is no retribution, either, for doing evil. If you do good deeds, when you die, it's all over. If you do evil, again, it is over when you die. There is no rebirth. So, don't believe in cause and effect. You don't have to, because there is no cause and no effect." These people deny cause and effect. They don't say that if you do good deeds you can become a Buddha, or if you do evil things you can become a ghost. They don't believe in ghosts arid they don't believe in the Buddha. In fact, they don't even believe in people. They think of people like grass or trees that get born and then die, and that's it. When one dies, another is born; but there is no rebirth, of any specific living thing. One dies and another takes its place, that's all. What dies is forever dead and what is born is born anew. They don't believe in the revolution of the law of cause and effect and they deny the existence of the six paths of rebirth.

      On the other side of the coin, all those who hold to the extreme view of eternalism say that once you become a person it doesn't matter whether you do good or evil because you will always be a person. If you are a ghost, you are always going to be a ghost. Buddhas are always Buddhas. There is no change. God is eternal, they say, and he will always be god. Horses and cows will always be horses and cows. They say one never changes. Why not? Because you have that seed. People have the seed of people. Animals have the seed of animals. Ghosts have the seed of ghosts. If you fall into the hells you will always be there because you have the hell-seed in you. Everything is fixed and absolute. In reality there is nothing that is fixed; there are no fixed dharmas, but they say that everything is fixed for sure. There are no transformations. It's all ironclad. God is the only god. No one else can be god. Thatís the view of eternalism. Eternalism and annihilationism are the two views held by non-Buddhist religions. No matter how good you are youíll never be, God because the whole show is fixed. They say you must believe in God. If you believe in God, even if you do evil, you will go to heaven. See? If you donít believe in God, no matter how many good things you do, you are going to fall into hell. God! There's no true principle here at all. God even takes bribes. You can bribe him by believing in him! God likes people to believe in him and, serve him, so he lets those, who believe in him, do evil and still be born in heaven. If you don't believe in him, no matter what good deeds you do, you are headed for you know where. That's called a view of eternalism.

Annihilationism and eternalism are both extreme views. They are not in accord with the Middle Way. For example, if someone has extreme, prejudiced views about another person, then that other person can do terrible things, but they will overlook it and still say they are a good person. There's a person here, in fact, who thinks that way about himself. He makes up principles on the spot to suit his motives, and he thinks he is right. He says the most unprincipled things, but makes them sound very logical because his views are extreme. This is sophistry. He thinks that his opinions are correct. He thinks, in fact, that he is better than everyone else. In China we say such a person is holding on to a turd and if you offered him a doughnut, he wouldn't trade you. He's got a big turd in his hand but if you offer him a cookie or a nice piece of pastry, he won't let go of that turd to accept your gift. No way. That's just being "extreme!" Hah! Extreme views, extreme indeed. Extreme views are very difficult to reform and they arise very quickly. They are also entirely unprincipled, and that is why they are called "extreme" views.

Now, people all have within them the cause of realizing Buddhahood. However, you have to go and do it. Even though you have the causal conditions for realizing Buddhahood, if you don't do the work, you won't arrive at the position. If you do the work, you will naturally arrive at your goal. For example, before studying the Buddhadharma, people may do a lot of confused things. In this country a lot of young people take drugs, and turn into "stoned" people. That's one thing when you haven't studied the Buddhadharma, because you have no true understanding of what it means to be human. But after you have studied the Buddhadharma, you have to change. You can't continue using drugs. If you do, you are deliberately doing what is wrong, and that, too, is an extreme view, just like the person I just talked about who is holding on to his turd and won't accept a doughnut. I have brought up this analogy hoping that everyone will quickly wake up. If you have never taken drugs, that's even better...If you are still taking them, put that turd down right now! Don't be a dung beetle, because if you live in the shit too long you will turn into a shit-bug for sure. If you get out of there fast, you still have a chance to find out what it's like to be human, and have a share in the human race. In fact, you can even set up the causes for--becoming a Buddha.

The third of the Five Quick Servants is,

3. Views of unprincipled morality. This refers to non-Buddhist religions who practice unprincipled morality. They "grasp" at morality saying that what is not a cause is a cause, and what is not an effect is an effect.

What is meant by taking what isnít a cause as a cause? They cultivate unbeneficial ascetic practices. They say that in doing this they can attain Nirvana and attain the fruit of highest bliss. Their asceticism is a side-trip as far as cultivation goes. Because they do cultivate asceticism, some of them en their Heavenly Eyes and gain that penetration. Then, having gained it, they may see CJWS or dogs, pigs or chickens who have been born in the heavens. Seeing this, they decide to imitate the cows and dogs, pigs; and chickens. They eat grass along with the cows instead of eating regular food-because they think it will get them to heaven with the-cows. They think that the reason the cow was born in heaven is because it eats grass! They think that eating grass is a very "pure" precept, purer than just not eating meat. It's the optimal vegetarian diet! They, think that just eating vegetables is not really being a vegetarian. Real cultivation to them is eating grass. I mean, otherwise, how, could those cows have gotten into heaven? This is called keeping "cow precepts."

Others imitate dogs. Dogs live outside in doghouses and they watch the door for people. They think that this gives the dogs merit and that their ascetic practices are real cultivation. They imitate the dogs and live-in doghouses! They act like dogs too. Dogs eat excrement and so do they. They eat what dogs eat. They also imitate chickens and pigs. These are the-ascetic practices cultivated by non-Buddhist religions. Because of "their asceticism, sometimes they are born in the heavens. Within the framework of their unprincipled precepts, they do cultivate the ten good acts. They are attached, though. They are attached to ďtaking what is not a cause as a cause, and what is not an effect as an effect." Basically, their thinking does not make sense.

Some non-Buddhist religions practice sleeping on the ground like pigs. They roll in ashes and put ashes on their faces until you can't recognize them at all. Others pound nails in a board and sleep on the nails. Sometimes the nails stick them and they bleed. They claim, "I am really an outstanding ascetic. You all couldn't do this because you are afraid of pain. I sleep right on the nails and Iím not afraid they are going to poke me."

Others say, "You all sleep lying down. Well, watch this!" and they tie two ropes around their feet and sleep hanging upside-down! It's hard to sleep that way, all right, but they think it is real good cultivation because nobody else can do it. Others don't eat. They don't eat food, that is. Everybody else eats food, but not them. When they are hungry they eat dirt. They say that this is the true, natural, organic way of life. There's so much dirt on the earth, might as well live on it. They don't have to eat very much of it either. A little bit goes a long way. These are all examples of unprincipled morality, unbeneficial bitter practices. What good are they? None. Still, they like to do them.

4. Deviant views. Deviant means improper. For example, cultivators of the Way should be filial to their parents, but people with deviant views say it is not necessary. What good is it? Don't bother. They give birth to children, and that is their job. But you don't have to be filial to them.

Killing is wrong, but they say, "The more you kill, the better." The first of the five precepts prohibits killing, but they instruct people to kill. Would you call that deviant or not? Stealing is also not right, but they use all kinds of methods to teach people how to steal. If someone doesn't know how to steal, they teach them how.

Sexual misconduct is wrong, too, but they teach people to engage in it. One shouldn't lie, either, but they teach people to lie. They say, "Don't listen to that stuff about not lying. Everybody lies. Some people just cheat arid get away with it. Don't believe in that." That's a deviant view. Taking intoxicants is against the precepts, but they say it doesn't matter. Some people like to smoke and claim that in the five precepts, the precept against taking intoxicants doesn't include tobacco. "Smoking isn't breaking precepts!" they say, but that is a deviant view. Other people say, "You are a vegetarian and don't eat meat? But all the cows and sheep and pigs were made to be eaten. If you donít-eat them, what use are they?Ē They have their reasoning, but their views are deviant. In general, what is right they say is wrong-and they think up ways to say things that will make you go along with their deviant understanding and deviant views.

5. There is yet another called a view of grasping. When they see things, they want to take them and make them their own. No matter what kind of finagling they have to go through they find ways to help themselves out. They are showing their selfishness.

These-Five Quick Servants block your genuine wisdom like five servants surrounding you, so you can't do anything freely, controlling you so you have to listen to them, locking you up, managing you.

Students of the Buddhadharma, now that you know about these Five Quick Servants, you should pickup your wisdom sword and slay them all. After you have done so, then you can transcend the Triple Realm.

This has been a general discussion of the Five Quick Servants. If one were to explain them in detail, one wouldn't finish to the end of an aeon.

Someone asks, "You say that cows and dogs, pigs and chickens were born in the heavens? Well, how did that come about? If they didn't-cultivate, how could they be born in the heavens? If it is that easy, it's no wonder the non-Buddhists tried to imitate them. Everyone could do it and be born in the heavens."

That's a good question. The non-Buddhists had the penetration of the heavenly eye and they could see these animals had been born in the heavens. What they couldn't see was the reason why they were born in the heavens. The cows, for example, had been born there because they had worked in the fields of a monastery, pulling carts, plowing fields, and things like that. They established a lot of merit for themselves by working for the Buddhadharma and, with that merit and virtue they were able to be born in the heavens. The dogs had saved peoples lives. One dog really loved his master and one-day when his master fell asleep in a thicket. Actually, he had passed out from having too much to drink. Anyway, he was asleep in the grass there and the grass caught on fire. The dog started barking madly, but since the man was so drunk, he didn't hear it. So the dog ran to the river and jumped in, got himself all wet, and filled his mouth up with Water. Then he ran and rolled "over and over in the fire and spit out the water and put out the fire. Since he gained merit and virtue from saving his master this way, he was reborn in the heavens. It was because, of merit he gained by saving his master that he was born in the heavens. It wasn't because he watched the door or ate excrement. And it wasn't because the colt ate grass that he was "born in the heavens. The pigs and the chickens were sent to a temple by people who decided to give them away instead of killing them for food. While they lived at the temple they heard people recite Sutras in the mornings and in the evenings they heard people recite the Buddha's name and they started reciting sutras and the Buddha's name in their hearts along with the people. Because of the merit and virtue they gained by hearing the Sutras and the Dharma, they were born in the heavens. But those of the non-Buddhist religions with their Heavenly Eyes only saw them up there in the heavens and didn't know the real reason why they were born there. They simply slavishly imitated their behavior, hoping to be born in the heavens too. They never asked why they were born there. They just copied them and expected to get results. But we have to know the reasons behind things. How do beings get born in the heavens? What makes them fall into the hells? We should understand these things. It is not right just to cultivate in a haphazard manner. You need genuine wisdom. You should look into things' deeply and gain a true understanding of them.

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