A reminder of the Sutra text:
The Direction-Ruling Spirit named Adorned with Luminous Practice obtained the
liberation door of great light which demolishes all obstacles of darkness and
brings forth bliss.
Venerable Master: The meaning is about the same in Chinese. It's
pronounced heng when that sounds better in the context. For exam-
ple, in the line, "while practicing the profound Prajna Paramita," the
character is pronounced xing, not heng. However, some people pro-
nounce it heng even so. The meaning is not very different. If the
character is pronounced heng, one should add a circle to indicate it's
in the "entering" tone-, but if it's pronounced xing, there is no need
to draw a circle. That's the distinction in Chinese. In English you
need to consider the context. For example, there is the Chinese ex-
pression "cultivating ascetic practice," where the pronunciation is
heng, not xing. Then it would be "adorned with ascetic practice,"
that is using ascetic practice to adorn the Dharma-body. Here it is
"adorned with luminous practice," which is why I pronounced the
character heng instead of xing. That's because the speed of light is
very fast. When light is emitted, it arrives immediately, without trav-
elling. [note: "Travelling is another possible translation of the same
Chinese character when it is pronounced xing.] It reaches any place
Light travels faster than sound. So it's read guang heng. In En-
glish heng is a noun, isn't it?
Heng Ching: Yes.
Venerable Master: It's a noun in Chinese, too. Do you think I'm
wrong or right to pronounce it heng?
Heng Ching: Either pronunciation—I don't think this is a very big
problem here. Either heng or xing will work. Probably it should be
pronounced heng. In this passage, if I hadn't heard it before, but had
to translate it, I would translate it as heng. Sometimes it can be a
problem, but sometimes not.
Venerable Master: No, this isn't a problem. Just use whichever
translation you think works best. Use whichever one fits the overall
context and is most appropriate and meaningful. Don't use one
which doesn't make sense. You asked about heng—is there anyone
asking about non-heng, who doesn't want heng?
Heng Ch'ih: What did living beings do to become spirits?
Venerable Master: What are spirits? Spirits are living beings. How
could living beings change into spirits? Since spirits are living beings
all along, why would living beings have turned into spirits? In that
case, what do you think spirits are, and what do you think living be-
Heng Ch'ih: There are many kinds of living beings.
For example, people are living beings, and so are gods.
There's one kind which is spirits. What did they do to
Venerable Master: What did they do to become spir-
its? What did you do to become an American? Tell me
that. What did I do to become Chinese? Tell me that.
Let's say you're a spirit and I'm a living being—what
about that? Or maybe I'm a spirit and you're a living
being. Don't apply effort here. How do you become a
spirit? "To be wise and upright is to be spiritual." If
you are keen-witted, upright, and straightforward in
your speech, then you are spiritual. The spiritual is not
something weird or mysterious. As to heavenly spirits,
they are in the heavens, aren't they? What do they, in
the heavens, have to do with us on earth? Let the heavenly spirits go
their own celestial way. We're talking about people, about those living
beings. To tell you more, "Ghosts comply with yin, while spirits com-
ply with yang." If you have light, then you are spiritual; but if you
have darkness, you are ghostly. How does one become a spirit? It's
from having Prajna wisdom. If you have the light of Prajna, you are
spiritual. You don't need to search for this outwardly—if you yourself
have wisdom, then you are spiritual. But if you yourself are stupid,
then you are ghostly—you're a living being, a stupid living being. If
you are controlled by greed, anger and stupidity, then you are a stupid,
ghostly living being. But if you are governed by precepts, samadhi,
and wisdom, then you are a wise and spiritual living being. Don't look
for this anywhere else.
The spirits I have been discussing are the spirits which are you, me,
and other people. However, the Direction-Ruling Spirits are not iden- tical with us. Rather, they are Bodhisattvas, Great Knights of the
dharma-body from the past, who appear as Direction-Ruling Spirits
to teach and transform living beings. Fundamentally, they are living
beings, so why do you ask how living beings become spirits? How do
living beings become Buddhas? Tell me, how does a living being be-
come a Buddha? Before I wanted to ask about non-xing—this is non-kind. I don't know which kind of spirit you were asking about. There
are mountain spirits, water spirits, earth spirits, ground spirits, plant
and tree spirits, medicinal herb spirits, tree and forest spirits—spirits
of water, fire, wind and earth-, spirits of the heavens and spirits of the earth. There are too many spirits! It's not all "communism" among
spirits—that is, not all of them are alike. And yet, there may be
groups of "communist" spirits who are all the same. The spirit dis-
cussed by Lao Zi the nurtured spirit; whereas when the Confucian
School speaks of spirits, it means heavenly spirits. Lao Zi said, "The nurtured spirit which does not die is called the mysteriously profound.
The gateway of the mysteriously profound is the root of heaven and
earth." What would you say that is talking about? It's the root of
heaven and earth. The Confucian School says, "Completeness
is beauty." That is to be a beautiful person. "Completeness which has
radiance is greatness." That's to be a great person. "Greatness which
can transform is Sageliness." That's what it means to be a Sage.
"Sageliness which cannot be known is the spiritual." That's what
makes for a spiritual person. What would you say that was? There are
too many distinctions to this, just as there are too many distinctions
among living beings. Do you really want to know how each spirit
became a spirit? Don't pay attention to them. Just work hard at your
cultivation and become a Buddha, and then you will know and under-
stand everything. Then you will have proper and pervasive knowl-
edge, not deviant and partial knowledge. Your knowledge will extend
for limitlessly many eons into the past and for limitlessly many eons
into the future. You will know about everything, not just spirits. So
why should you now look for something to do when there is nothing
to do'? You want to know about spirits: do you want to become a
"Completeness which has radiance" means one has light, radiant
light. "Completeness which has radiance is greatness." "Greatness
which call transform," which has changes and transformations, "is
Sageliness." That is what makes one a Sage. A Sage is great to the
utmost and is also capable of changes and transformations. He is also
not great, not big. It's not that once he is great to the utmost, he be-
comes arrogant and says, "Look at how high I am! See how much
greater my wisdom is than yours! Look at how much more Chinese I
understand than you do! See how much better I translate than any of
you!" That's arrogance. Sages can also perform transformations.
From being great they can change and become small. Therefore, the
The Direction-Ruling Spirit named Travelling Everywhere with-
out Obstruction obtained the liberation door of universally man-
festing in all places without the effort being in vain.
Today we will find someone to lecture for me. If you lecture correctly,
then it's what you said. But if you speak incorrectly, it's what I've
said. See who among you will speak. You should volunteer yourselves,
and not have to be called on.
There are two kinds of people who can speak. One kind is those
who act in accordance with the teaching, and the other kind is those
who do not act in accordance with the teaching. Those of you who can
act in accordance with the teaching may speak, and those capable of
not acting in accordance with the teaching have even more permission
to speak. Those are the two sorts of people.
People who do not act in accordance with the teaching should stand
with those who do. But people who do act in accordance with the
teaching should not stand with those who do not. You need to be clear
about where you stand. However, whether people act in accordance
with the teaching or not, they are all my good and knowing advisors.
I'm a teacher who is utterly unafraid of being opposed. Anyone who
opposes what I say is very good. What about someone who doesn't
oppose me? That's also not bad. The two kinds are "six of one and half
a dozen of the other." Don't let the time pass in vain. It's best if you
don't wait for your name to be called.
Heng Hsien: I'm neither someone who does act in accordance with
the teaching, nor someone who doesn't. Why is that? I would like to
act in accordance with the teaching, but my body, mouth, and mind
don't help me do so. Tonight's passage of Sutra text talks about the
Direction-Ruling Spirit named Travelling Everywhere without
Obstruction.M "Travelling Everywhere without Obstruction" is the
Direction-Ruling Spirit's name. "Travelling Everywhere" indicates
this Spirit goes throughout the Dharma Realm, to the utmost reaches
of empty space and everywhere in the Dharma Realm. He does this
"without Obstruction," without encountering any hindrances. He ap
pears before beings everywhere in the world. What is the name of the
liberation door which this Direction-Ruling Spirit obtained? He ob
tained the liberation door of universally manifesting in all places
without (the) effort (being in vain). This Spirit understood the Bud
dha's state, and how the Buddha appears before every single living
being in each and every location throughout the Dharma. Realm. But
the Buddha does that effortlessly. If we want to go somewhere, it's a
lot of trouble, not easy at all. However, it's very easy for the Buddha.
This Spirit understood that state of the Buddha, and entered this type
of door to liberation.
(Translator's note: National Master Ching Liang's commentary on this pas-
sage of Sutra text says: "When he universally appears and speaks the
Dharma those who hear it are sure to have their delusions dispelled, and so
the effort is not in vain.“)
→To be continued