A reminder of the Sutra text:
The Tathagata's state cannot be measured.
Though silent, he can speak throughout the ten directions.
Universally causing beings' minds to be purified,
The Night Spirit Shri heard this and rejoiced.
I don't know if the principles which I have spoken for all of you Good Knowing Advisors today are correct or not. I have simply been talking with you in a very relaxed manner. If any of you feel the principles were incomplete, you can use the wisdom of your own nature to illumine them, and then bring this up for all of us to investigate together. We must discover the Buddha's mind, the Buddha's intent, what the Buddha originally hoped for when he first spoke this Sutra. We shouldn't use our own personal opinions, but should instead employ the Buddha's viewpoint. We ought to take the Buddha's mind as our own mind and the Buddha's intent as our own intent. We need to understand what the Buddha's original intention was when he spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra. Each one of us should deeply understand the meaning of the Sutra text.
If there are errors in what I have said, please do not be polite--tell me about them. But if I haven't lectured incorrectly, there's no need to be hypercritical and deliberately find fault, which would also be a mistake. We should investigate in accord with the Middle Way. Tonight we also include Dharma Master Ren Jun, who has just arrived. If I have made errors in lecturing, please do not begrudge your pearls of wisdom, but point out my mistakes to me.
The Buddha, among beings who lack blessings,
Is adorned with great blessings and
most majestically illuminates,
Showing them Dharma of still quiescence
and freedom from dust.
The Spirit Universally Making Flowers Blossom
awakened to this Way.
The next verse describes the Buddha among beings who lack blessings, suffering and troubled living beings such as you and I right now. We are examples of beings who lack blessings. If we had blessings, we wouldn't have been born after the time of the Buddha. However, since we don't have the reward of blessings, we live in the post-Buddha era, which is one of the Eight Difficulties.
The Buddha, among such beings, is adorned with great blessings and most majestically illuminates. We are born as beings without blessings, but the Buddha is adorned with the hundred blessings and replete with the myriad virtues. That's why the text describes him as being adorned with great blessings, and says he most majestically illuminates. That is, he has exceptionally majestic virtue and illuminates stupid living beings such as us, so we can turn our stupidity into wisdom, showing them Dharma of still quiescence and freedom from dust. "Them" refers to the beings who lack blessings. "Freedom from dust" means beings free from all defiled attachment. "Dust" stands for defilement, for impurity, and refers to the Evil World of the Five Turbidities. Also, the Chinese character for "dust"（塵）, pronounced chenˊ, sounds exactly like the Chinese character for "sinking"（沉）, also pronounced chenˊ, as in "bobbing and sinking"（浮沉）. Therefore this could be further interpreted in that sense. How can that be? If there is a lot of dust, it sinks, so that is sinking. To where does one sink? One sinks into the three evil paths, those of hell-beings, hungry ghosts and animals. Although particles of dust look small when taken separately, and some even border on emptiness, when a lot of dust particles collect together, their weight is not light. Here it speaks of freedom from dust, which means separating oneself from all burdens. That "dust" refers to burdens. What are burdens? They are one's karmic obstructions, so this refers to freeing oneself from karmic obstacles. Then what does one attain? One achieves the Dharma of still quiescence.
The Spirit Universally Making Flowers Blossom awakened to this Way. The Night-Ruling Spirit named Universally Blossoming Tree Flowers understood the principle just discussed. She understood that kind of state and entered that door to liberation. The four-line stanza which came before this one was spoken by the Night-Ruling Spirit who is the youth Good Wealth's Good Knowing Advisor on the Sixth Ground, the Ground of Appearing Before One. This four-line stanza is spoken by the Good Knowing Advisor on the Ground of Traveling Far, and the four-line stanza to come is about the Good Knowing Advisor on the Ground of Not Moving.
He universally displays great spiritual penetrations in the ten directions,
And all living beings are tamed and subdued,
As various physical characteristics are made to be seen.
This is what the Spirit Guarding and Nurturing contemplates.
He universally displays great spiritual penetrations in the ten directions. All of you know what the ten directions are. He makes great spiritual penetrations appear everywhere throughout the ten directions, and all living beings are tamed and subdued, including all beings with blood and breath, and both sentient and insentient beings. It's not easy to tame and subdue us living beings. As the Earth Store Sutra says, "The living beings of the Southern Continent, Jambudvipa, are difficult to tame, difficult to subdue." In Buddhism we are the beings most notorious for being hard to subdue and regulate. The text continues: As various physical characteristics are made to be seen. The Buddha makes all kinds of Dharma bodies appear, with all sorts of physical attributes. This could be described as making whatever body appear that is required to cross over each particular living being, and speaking Dharma for that being. This is what the Spirit Guarding and Nurturing contemplates. The Night-Ruling Spirit named Guarding and Nurturing contemplates this state and enters this door to liberation.
The Tathagata, in the past, in every thought
Completely purified a sea of expedients and compassion.
To save and protect the world there is no place he fails to go.
This is the liberation of the Spirit Blessings and Joy.
The Tathagata, the Buddha, throughout limitlessly many eons in the past, in every thought without exception was intent upon saving and rescuing living beings. For that reason the text says he completely purified a sea of expedients and compassion. "Purified" means "cultivated." He cultivated expedient Dharma-doors, and practiced the power of compassion. He used kindness and compassion to assist expedients, and employed expedients to augment kindness and compassion. The text describes this as "purifying," that is, "cultivating, regulating, and governing," which contains the further idea of setting in order the skillful expedient dharmas, kindness, and compassion, and making them right. The kindness and compassion are so immense that they are like a great ocean.
To save and protect the world of sentient beings, there is no place he fails to go. There is no location where his body fails to appear. The Buddha is most magnanimous. He doesn't abandon a single living being. Even if the being has committed all kinds of evil karma, shut off the source of his mind, and is completely unreceptive, the Buddha still accepts that living being. He practices teaching the unteachable and universally saving the unsavable. The text says "there is no place he fails to go" because he has such a magnanimous spirit, such magnanimous vows, and such magnanimous kindness and compassion. This is the liberation of the Spirit Blessings and Joy. The Night-Ruling Spirit named Joy of Playful Roaming attains this kind of door to liberation.
The Night-Ruling Spirit Joy of Playful Roaming has already entered this door to liberation. Now do we want to enter it or not? If we want to, we can; but if we don't want to, we won't be able to. Why is that? It's because everything is made from the mind alone. Once you make up your mind to do something, it's as good as done. If you have made up your mind to become a Buddha, you will become a Buddha. And if you are determined to become a Bodhisattva, you will be a Bodhisattva. It all depends on what you take as your goal. Consequently, it's not the case that living beings have no chance to enter this liberation door. Anyone can enter it. Otherwise, why would the Buddha have talked about it? The Buddha speaks the Dharma so that living beings will cultivate according to that Dharma. Unless you could cultivate according to the Dharma, the Dharma fundamentally would have no use, and there would be no reason to speak it. Hence the Buddha, speaking within non-speaking, spoke this door to liberation, and you and I all have a chance. All you need to do is bring forth a resolve to be vigorous, go energetically forward and do not turn back. Then there is hope.
Living beings are stupid, always scattered and murky.
Their minds have tough toxins, and are greatly to be feared.
The Tathagata out of pity appears for their sake.
The Spirit Quelling Enmity awakens to this and rejoices.
I'll give a very simple explanation of these four lines of verse. I may remember the lines wrong, so if I recite them incorrectly, please tell me. Don't be polite; let me know, because you are all Good Knowing Advisors with higher wisdom, more experience, and greater intelligence than I have.
Living beings are stupid, always scattered and murky. Living beings are the Buddha, and the Buddha is living beings. Don't search for the Buddha apart from living beings or try to find living beings apart from the Buddha. It is said, "The ten Dharma Realms are not apart from a single thought of the mind, and a single thought of the mind is replete with the ten Dharma Realms." That being the case, the mind, the Buddha, and living beings are not three different things. Note that the Chinese character 差 referred to should be pronounced chi, not cha, in this context where it means not differing. That explains "living beings."
They are stupid. Stupidity is wisdom, and wisdom is stupidity. It's like your hand: one side is the palm, and the other side is the back of the hand. All you have to do is turn your hand over; they aren't different things. If you can turn it over, it's wisdom. If you can't turn it around, it's stupidity. Therefore, you shouldn't stack a head on top of the head you already have, and seek wisdom apart from stupidity, or look for stupidity separate from wisdom. They are also one. The mind, the Buddha, and living beings are not three different things.