From last issue: Daofeng Mountain in Hong Kong
Who else has an opinion? Anyone who didn’t think of an opinion at the beginning but who has now thought of one may still speak and not have to miss the chance. [More opinions are expressed.] The principles which you all expressed just now are part of the principles in the Sutra, and all could be said to be correct. Why is that? All the principles are right from the point of view of each person’s wisdom, outlook, and understanding. Lecturing on the Sutras is the same. Each person has his or her own outlook and innate wisdom from which the principles stem. However, the principles of this Sutra are such that each word, each sentence, and each paragraph is replete with the nature of the Dharma Realm. And so if you tried to reveal the meanings completely, not to speak of trying to do so within the two hours of the Sunday afternoon lecture period, even to the boundaries of the future you would not be able to express them all.
The next Direction-Ruling Spirit is named Cowl Eyes Unconfused. Just the word “cowl” contains infinitely many principles. There are hair cowls, flesh cowls, and jewelled cowls. A hair cowl is a top-knot made of coiled hair. A flesh cowl is the invisible crown characteristic of the Thus Come One, hence the quote:
Just try to describe the thousand-petalled rare lotus emerging from the flesh cowl. Since on every lotus petal there sits a Dharma-body of Shakyamuni Buddha, and each Dharma-body has the thirty-two hallmarks and eighty subsidiary characteristics, how could one ever completely describe them? A jewelled cowl is a cowl composed of and adorned with the seven types of gems, which would also have infinite and unending explanations. The cowl now under discussion could be interpreted as a hair cowl or as a flesh cowl. If considered a hair cowl, to explain this a bit more esoterically, the tip of every hair is adorned with the infinite and unending Dharma Realms of the ten directions. All of the ten directions’ Dharma Realms are contained as adornments on the tip of a single hair. As it is said: “On the tip of a single hair of a hairpore appear kshetras of the Jewelled Kings.” Now we are talking about kshetras of Jewelled Kings appearing on individual strands of hair on the head.
Also, on each and every hair of the head there are infinitely many Dharma eyes. Did you ever hear about this before? On a single strand of hair on the head grow 84,000 eyes of Dharma. Yet even though each strand of head-hair has 84,000 Dharma eyes, they are still very distinct and organized, and not the least bit mixed up. Each eye observes what it is supposed to observe and does not observe randomly or chaotically. One eye doesn’t look at what another eye is seeing. The eyes don’t see things unclearly, nor are they muddled about them. Everything is sharp and distinct, and they are clear about what they see—hence unconfused.
Although there are that many eyes on all those many hairs of the head, nonetheless they do not get mixed up. They still discern things very clearly. What do they discern? Doesn’t it tell you in what follows when it says that he obtained the liberation door of non-differentiating sovereign power to make appear the karma of all living beings? The karma is discerned, but through non-differentiating sovereign power. Since he has so many eyes, he doesn’t have to make discriminations concerning the karma, or differentiate it. However, within that non-differentiation, the retributions are not off in the least. Each being receives the retribution that being is supposed to undergo. Actually: “If one understands, then obstructions from karma are fundamentally empty. But so long as one does not understand, one still has to repay one’s previous debts.” If you have thorough understanding, then karmic obstacles are empty—the nature of karma is fundamentally empty. It basically does not exist. Karma has no form or shape. If it did, there would not be enough room for it in all of empty space and the entire Dharma Realm. That’s because each individual person’s karma could fill up empty space. However, since karma has no shape or form, we don’t need to store it on the moon or in the sun. The reason is that karma: “If rolled up can be stored away in secret, but if unraveled it extends to fill the universe.” Hence his cowl eye(s) being unconfused refers to all the 84,000 eyes, Dharma eyes, which are on each and every strand of hair on his head.
Someone may say, “I don’t believe this. What’s the use of having so many eyes on hairs of the head?’ Well, haven’t you seen all the knobs on the control panel of an airplane, or in a submarine equipped to launch nuclear warheads? There are several hundreds of them. If you go take a look in the cockpit of an airplane, you will see how very many there are. Well, those are all eyes. But that is just an analogy. This is not referring to buttons on airplane or submarine control panels. As science progresses, there come to be such strange developments, so wouldn’t that be even more the case if you have spiritual penetrations? Eighty-four thousand eyes are not all that many. And wouldn’t that be called spiritual penetrations to have 84,000 eyes on each strand of hair of the head? Nonetheless, they are not confused. The hairs are not in disorder, nor are the eyes. The hairs of the head are very neatly arranged, not a strand out of place. And what about the eyes? Proper vision appears before them, and they do not regard haphazardly.
“The Dharma eye only contemplates the mundane.” It observes mundane truth, and so it knows the karma of all living beings—living beings’ karma being mundane truth. Moreover, this is not just cowl eyes being unconfused—he also has a type of functioning. What does he do? He makes appear the karma of all living beings. “To make” indicates that something which doesn’t exist now will be brought into existence in the future. It gives advance notice saying, “I’m telling you now that in the future it will be such-and-such a way. The karma of living beings will entail the undergoing of retributions.” “To appear” refers to something which did not exist in the past now coming into existence, that is, manifesting. What manifests is the karma of living beings.
The karmic deeds of living beings are not the same. Each has his or her own individual karma. However, the retributions are the same, in that there is good retribution for good deeds, and bad retribution for bad deeds. Even though the retributions are not identical, there still are no distinctions. In what sense are there no distinctions? For whatever karma one creates, one undergoes the corresponding retribution, without any error. This happens very naturally and automatically. No one else wields this power and controls you. Your own karmic obstacles control you. But to describe this even more accurately, the nature of karma is fundamentally empty. Inasmuch as evil karma is empty, wholesome karma also does not remain. That’s why the text speaks of non-differentiating sovereign power. Oh! I don’t know what I’ve been saying myself! And I don’t know if you will be able to translate this or not.
(Translator’s note: National Master Ching Liang’s commentary on this passage says: “Karma being identical and empty by nature, yet the retributions not being lost constitutes non-differentiation. The nature and characteristics being unobstructed is sovereign power. When it speaks of being able to influence the retribution, it means evil karma can be dispelled. And when it speaks of the nature of karma being empty, it means wholesome karma also disappears.”)