In cultivation of the Way, at all times you need to keep your thoughts under control,
and not have false thinking or let thoughts of desire arise.
A reminder of the sutra text:
You should contemplate what is practiced by the Buddha.
It is vast like empty space, characterized by stillness.
He has completely regulated and purified the
boundless sea of desires.
Immaculate and adorned, he illumines the ten directions.
All in all worlds delight in seeing him,
But in a sea of countless eons he is only encountered once.
With great compassion he is mindful of beings, not failing to reach any.
This is the door to liberation which Contemplate the World observes.
All in all worlds delight in seeing him. "All in all worlds" means all sentient beings, referring to the world of sentient beings. And it means all the living beings of the worlds of the ten directions. Every single one of them likes to see the Buddha. That's true of every living being. But in a sea of countless eons he is only encountered once. During an ocean-like time of limitless, boundless, and countlessly many great kalpas, sometimes one might meet the Buddha. One can't do so all the time.
With great compassion he is mindful of beings, not failing to reach any. The Buddha uses a mind of great compassion to teach and transform living beings, and be mindful of living beings. He keeps living beings in mind, and so he rescues living beings. His greatly compassionate mind is always on living beings, not failing to reach any. The Buddha keeps living beings of all locations in mind. This is the door to liberation which Contemplate the World observes. This is what the Night-Ruling Spirit named Contemplate the World sees and understands.
This second stanza belongs to the Ground of Emitting Light, and this is the Youth Good Wealth's good friend upon the Ground of Emitting Light. In cultivation, one must have an attitude of vigor which increases every day, and every day have increasing sincerity and be daily more repentant. If with each day you become more lazy, more lax and more sloppy, you will never have any success in your cultivation. As long as you are lax, you will never make progress. In cultivation of the Way, at all times you need to keep your thoughts under control, and not have false thinking or let thoughts of desire arise. To prevent the arising of false thinking and desire, you must start by following the rules. The rules are not just one person's rules. They are the community's rules, the rules which everyone in the group should follow. Why is that? Without a compass and a ruler (i.e. rules), you can't make circles and squares. Consequently, any cultivator who doesn't respect the rules is the worst sort of person. If you lack respect for your teacher and look lightly on the Way, you are like rotten wood which cannot be carved, and like a wall of dung which cannot be painted. No matter how pretty a picture you paint on a wall of dung, it's still excrement, even if it looks attractive. This is especially true if the sloppy and unruly person is a Bhikshu. There is no value at all in being such a Bhikshu. If even the Bhikshus don't follow the rules, the laypeople, who learn the Buddhadhdarma from the Bhikshus, will follow the rules even less. In everything you say and do, you should be acting as a model for others.
The Guiding Master saves and protects all in the world.
Living beings all see him before them.
He enables all destinies to be purified.
That is what Proctecting the World contemplates.
The Guiding Master saves and protects all in the world. The Guiding Master is the master who leads and trains one, and it is the Buddha. The Buddha referred to here is Shakyamuni Buddha, not all the Buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time. However, all the Buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time save and protect all in the world just as Shakyamuni Buddha does. To save is to rescue, and to protect is to guard. He saves and rescues living beings from the sea of suffering, and brings them to accomlishement. He also guards and protects all living beings, all members of the world of sentience. That's why the text says, "The Guiding Master saves and protects all in the world."
Living beings all see him before them. When the Buddha appears in the world, each and every living being sees the Buddha right in front of him, speaking Dharma for that being. What is this like? When the moon shines on all waters, everywhere there is a reflection of the moon in each body of water. Are there that many moons? No, there is just one. However, a single moon is universally reflected in each and every place where there is water, and so the moons in every body of water still have been reflected from that one moon. When the Buddha appears before living beings, living beings are comparable to the bodies of water, and the Buddha is like the moon appearing in the water of the minds of all living beings. There is a saying which goes:
The Buddha is like a clear, cool moon
Always roaming in ultimate emptiness.
If the water of the mind of a living being is pure,
Bodhi is reflected in it.
It compares the Buddha to a clear, cool moon, which is always travelling in utmost emptiness. If the water in the mind of a living beings is pure, then Enlightenment appears within the water of the mind.
Therefore the text goes on to say: He enables all destinies to be purified. He can help all living beings within all the five evil paths, the evil destinies, to achieve purity. Their offenses are eradicated and blessings are created. Their karma is ended, and they are empty of emotion. Since their offenses are eradicated, they are pure. Because they are empty of emotion, they are even purer. As a result, all destinies are purified. That is what Proctecting the World contemplates. The Night-Ruling Spirit named Protecting the World's Essence and Energy can understand that kind of state, that type of door to liberation.
The third stanza is that of the Youth Good Wealth's good friend on the Ground of Blazing Wisdom. She and Good Wealth are good friends. They encourage each other to cultivate the Way, to polish and perfect themselves in their investigation of the Buddhadharma, so that they go forward and make progress together.
In the past the Buddha cultivated and regulated a sea of happiness
Which was vast, great, boundless and infathomable.
Therefore those who see him are all happy.
That is what Still Sound understands.
In the past the Buddha cultivated and regulated a sea of happiness. The Buddha is Shakyamuni Buddha, and the past refers to limitlessly many kalpas in the past up to now. Cultivation means practice, and regulation means discipline. Cultivation is quite natural, whereas there is some forcing involved in regulation. As it is said: Things are forced in the beginning, but in time come naturally. It's hard when you first start. He cultivated a sea of happiness, the conduct of happiness. As it's said: From of old the Spiritual Immortals had no other method, but to be happy on a vast scale, and not become worried. Holy immortals, who have not yet ended birth and death, all cultivate the door of practice of happiness, so how much the more so does the Buddha cultivate it.
The door of practice of happiness means no matter how badly anyone treats you, you are happy with them. The practice of happiness is not cultivated to perfection in just one day, two days, three, five, ten or twenty days. For limitlessly many eons, life after life, you must cultivate that door of practice. It means not getting angry with people, not becoming afflicted with people, and just making progress without retreating. You just go forward in your cultivation, and never turn back. You add vigor to vigor, and courage to courage, in your cultivation of the practice of happiness. No matter who treats you badly, you are happy and don't get afflicted. You have no temper. That is the door of practice which our Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated in the past. We, as disciples of the Buddha, should also cultivate by basing ourselves on the doors of practice cultivated by our fundamental teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha.
The work called Vegetable-Root Discussions puts it very well:
When there are gentle breezes and an unclouded moon, the plants and trees are joyful;
But when there is fierce rain and a gusty wind, then the birds cry out.
Therefore heaven and earth cannot for one day lack an atmosphere of harmony;
And people's minds cannot at any time lack the spirit of happiness.
What is this describing? When there are gentle breezes, there isn't any wind. "An unclouded moon" means the moon appears, shines very brightly, and looks very good. The plants and trees are so joyful they laugh. As the saying goes: "When trees are joyful, they flourish." The trees are all happy in the springtime when the weather is mild and the days are warm. The plants and trees become happy. But when there is fierce rain like someone getting angry, and a big, strong wind, the birds are miserable and make sounds as if they were crying. You can see how on a day when it's going to rain, the birds cry out. They know it's going to rain and they won't find things to eat, so they cry out.
For that reason, therefore, heaven and earth cannot for one day lack an atmosphere of harmony, in which there is no storm, or dark clouds covering the sun. And people's minds cannot at any time lack the spirit of happiness. People always need to retain a spirit of joy in their hearts. Don't have the spirit of the brink of death. When a person is about to die, there will appear a kind of spirit, which is very inauspicious. The spirit of joy is auspicious. Consequently, cultivators of the Way should always be happy. Don't have it be that the more you study, the greater your temper is. That's useless. You should at all times be good to everyone. But this is not the emotion-based goodness shown by people in the world. This means treating people well in a pure way. You should have a good feeling towards everyone which is pure and not defiled.
To be continued