I would disagree with the previous speaker's definition of cultivation, as "not being moved by any states." I think cultivation is being moved--being "moved" by every state. How do I mean that? My way of looking at it doesn't really contradict the principle expressed by the Dharma Master who just spoke. Rather, it’s a different slant. So why do I say that "cultivation is just being moved by states"? Because the Ven. Master's teaching is vast and great. The scale of the Buddhadharma is so all-encompassing. I have never encountered anything that can come up to it.
Cultivating this Buddhadharma means being moved to the point that "there is no inside and no outside." Being one with everyone, with everything, this is cultivation's goal. Cultivation doesn't mean pulling back from states, or that you are self-contained, and never moved. Rather it means that we never forget who we really are. Who we are is our Buddha-nature. That Buddha-nature is limitless and boundless; its dimensions reach everywhere; it includes all of us.
All of us are potential Buddhas, and all states are included within our nature. Once we understand this, then we should want to teach school and be "moved" by children, to learn how it is that children think and feel and learn. Responding to potentials is "being moved." And it’s because we've been "moved" by children, by their inherent Buddha-nature, that we respond. We look at them and see that children are future Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The thought occurs, "If I don't nurture those children’s Buddha-natures, who will? How will their Buddhahood come forth if I do not protect and nurture it in them?"
If we think this way: "I'm an old cultivator; I won't be moved by states like children," then we have already pulled away from and rejected living beings. If we reject living beings, we reject our own nature and cut off our own path to Bodhi. If we feel that way, and still try to realize the fruit of cultivation, then the fruit of the harvest will be a dried-up fruit, not much bigger than a raisin. Didn’t the Buddha call the small resolve for one’s own enlightenment something like, "the dried sprouts and seeds within the Dharma"?
There are passages from the Flower Adornment Sutra that exhort us to expand the measure of the mind. They tell us to get rid of selfish desires and subdue our passions. But the way the Sutra tells us to do it is not by beating yourself in self-mortification and biting your lips in repression until they are blue. No, the Sutra inspires us to expand the measure of our mind until we are able to identify and embrace all living beings as our own self. In fact, it says the Bodhisattva sees no difference between himself and all worlds, the entire universe. With that outlook, how could one abuse one’s own body, or anyone else's? With that vision, how can one get so caught up and concerned with differences between women and men, young and old, Chinese and American, self and others? The better you cultivate others, the better you learn to deal with yourself. It’s said, the Bodhisattva has "no mark of self or others, no mark of life or living beings." This, to me, is talking about total compassionate oneness, not self-isolated indifference.
The Flower Adornment (Avatamsaka) Sutra describes the Bodhisattva’s attitude like a giant tree, a king of trees, growing in the desert wilderness of birth and death. The tree is deeply rooted in the dirt, and yet the tree’s flowers and fruits mature and ripen because of that dirt. The roots nurture the flowers and fruits by bringing them water and minerals. This analogy describes the relationship between Bodhisattvas and living beings. The tree’s fruits and flowers represent the enlightenment of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. How could the tree luxuriate in flowers and fruits without absorbing the nutriments of the roots? The roots represent living beings, who pass on the nurturing of the earth to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The water is Great Compassion. Great Compassion connects the roots to the flowers and fruits. Thus the tree is a whole, an unbroken oneness--all parts mutually interdependent and interfused.
So are all living beings and all worlds. If there were no living beings, there would also be no Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, nor any of us seeking Ultimate Enlightenment. How could the Buddhas forget about living beings? By definition, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are all living beings! That’s how I understand the Avatamsaka teaching. So, isn’t the youth Good Wealth told by Manjushri, his teacher, that by serving and giving to all living beings he is in fact serving and giving to all Buddhas? Manjushri says every Buddha takes this all-encompassing compassion--being one with everyone--as his very body!
I recall the Ven. Master said to us, "Do you think that Guanyin Bodhisattva is finished with cultivation and sitting around in retirement? No way! Guanyin works harder than anybody else. Look at the job he does! He has vowed to wait until every living being has crossed over to Bodhi, and only then can Guanyin retire. Guanyin’s Dharma-door is just constantly saving and helping living beings. The Bodhisattva liberates himself just by liberating others--it’s the same thing, and non-dual." So for Guanyin, teaching school for twenty years is nothing, just the blink of an eye. The Avatamsaka and the Ven. Master are always there pushing us on ahead to another state.
→To be continued