Why did the Thus Come One Many Jewels make such a strange vow to manifest his jeweled stupa when the Dharma Flower Sutra is being spoken?
It's because this Sutra is so important. It teaches how to become a Buddha.
A reminder of the sutra text from last issue:
This Buddha entered Nirvana / Countless aeons ago, and yet,
In place after place, he listens to the Dharma,
because it is difficult to encounter.
In the past this Buddha made a vow, / "After my passing into Nirvana,
I will go everywhere / In order to hear the Dharma."
Why, countless hundreds of millions of aeons after the Thus Come One Many Jewels had already entered Nirvana, did he come to join the Dharma assembly and certify the Buddha's speaking of the Dharma Flower Sutra? Because in the past, this Buddha made a vow. What vow did he make? He said, "The Dharma Flower Sutra is very difficult to encounter. When I become a Buddha, it’s for sure that I am going to protect the Bodhimanda in which the Buddha is speaking the Dharma Flower Sutra. I will certainly go there and certify it." That's his vow.
Why did he make such a strange vow to manifest his jeweled stupa when the Dharma Flower Sutra is being spoken? It was because this Sutra is so very important. It teaches one how to become a Buddha. So he said, "After my passing into Nirvana, I will go everywhere, in order to hear the Dharma. Therefore, the Buddha Many Jewels vowed that in any land where the Dharma Flower Sutra was being spoken, or where the Buddha was speaking the Dharma, he would always go and listen. He wasn't like us now. We haven't even become Buddhas, and we neglect to listen to the Dharma! When do we ever expect to become Buddhas? Probably nobody could figure out when.
Having heard me say that people don't come to the lectures even when they have the time, someone is thinking, "Well, I've come!" Fine, but you don’t listen. Someone else is thinking, "But I listen! I listen to every word you say. But it’s in Chinese and I don’t understand it! The English translation is not always reliable, so I get about half." Someone else says, "I know the Chinese and English! So it’s for sure I hear it. I hear it, but I don’t really believe it could be that wonderful."
So I say, some hear it and don’t believe it. Who would have guessed this very stupid teacher would catch these trains of thought? Someone else says, "I believe it totally. I know it is an inconceivable state." So I say, you might believe it, but you don’t practice it! You don’t cultivate according to it. Another disciple objects, "I hear it and then I practice it!" Really? Perhaps for two and a half days. By the time the third day rolls around, you’ve forgotten it entirely.
Another very sincere disciple says, "From the time I started hearing the Dharma until now, I have put every principle into practice, unless I forgot about it. My memory isn’t so good, so even though I might want to practice, I sometimes forget."
So you see, those who want to practice, forget, and those who remember don’t want to practice. So I just remarked that some of you hear it, but don't believe. Some believe, but don't practice. And some practice, but they can't keep it up. They practice for two and a half days and then forget all about it on the third day. Wouldn’t you say it's difficult for people to accept the Dharma? You could also say that living beings are just living beings, and they are extremely difficult to teach and transform. They are hard to teach, but I don’t care. The harder they are to teach, the more I want to teach them. That’s why I go right ahead and lecture on the Dharma Flower Sutra, despite the language barrier. If you listen, fine. If you don’t listen, I will lecture to the tables and chairs. If the tables and chairs don't listen, then I will listen to myself.
"Hmm!! Listen to that. I’m lecturing on The Dharma Flower Sutra. Doing a great job, too! Wonderful!!!"
See? Whether you listen or not, I don’t get angry. I wouldn’t say, "You'd better listen to my lectures, or else I’m going to give you a hard time." Not me.
To be continued