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Master: This taperecorder [being used to record the Sutra
lecture] is the worst thing there is. The tape makes all of you lazy.
If the lecture weren’t being tape-recorded, then all of you would be
taking your own notes. Now you’re not writing notes, so you don’t keep
your attention on what’s being lectured, but just go to sleep. So
wouldn’t you agree that the taperecorder is the worst thing? Because of
it, your eyes are lazy, so are your hands, and your minds are even
What if we take notes and listen to the tape?
Master: That’s good. But the way it is now, your minds get
lazy and think, “It doesn’t matter if we sleep.”
The Emptiness-Ruling Spirit named
Radiance Free from Filth obtained the liberation door of being able to
make all living beings’ minds pure and free from all coverings.
The next Emptiness-Ruling Spirit is named Radiance Free from Filth. To
be “free from” means not to have. Filth is dirt, and it is also
coverings and impurity. This filth shrouds our mind and nature. It
covers over the clear, bright substance of the purity of our nature so
that it is not clear and bright. This is as when a mirror is coated
with dust, the mirror cannot reflect images. If the dust is removed,
then that function of the mirror is revealed. What is the function of
the mirror? It’s able to reflect images. If there’s a layer of dust,
the mirror won’t reflect anything. The radiance of our mind, our
fundamental wisdom light, our inherent Prajna brightness, is like the
mirror. But it has been covered over by bad habits, and so the radiance
is not apparent. As to radiance free from filth, if you can separate
from dirt, wipe away the dust—which means to be able to cut off your
bad habits from many lives and many eons—then the light will appear. If
you can be free from the filth of greed, filth of anger, and filth of
stupidity, that is to be free from filth. Once you are free from filth,
you will have radiance, and so the doctrine can be deduced from her
This Emptiness-Ruling Spirit is
called Radiance Free from Filth—that is her name. However, this name is
a false name. Why do we say it is false? It’s because she is an
Emptiness-Ruling Spirit, and emptiness means there is nothing
whatsoever. When one thing is empty, everything is empty. Yet within
this absence of anything there is nonetheless a false name, the
appellation Radiance Free from Filth. When there is fundamentally
nothing whatsoever, then what filth can be left behind? And what
radiance could appear? This is talking about how the inherent nature of
each one of us is fundamentally pure. Basically it is neither defiled
nor pure, and in speaking of radiance free from filth, the
Emptiness-Ruling Spirit Radiance Free from Filth, the doctrine can be
deduced from her name. That is, through her name one can understand
The Emptiness-Ruling Spirit under
discussion understood one Dharma-door among the Buddha’s many doors of
Dharma. She didn’t understand them all. Because she is a spirit, she
was only able to comprehend that one portion. It’s similar to when we
people drink water, we can only drink up to our capacity, and then we
have to stop. Each individual just drinks the amount of liquid he or
she is supposed to—we can’t take in more. There isn’t enough space in
our bellies to contain it. As empty as this Emptiness-Ruling Spirit is,
she is unable to penetrate and comprehend the totality of the Buddha’s
Dharma, and so she just knows and understands this one state.
Which state is that? She obtained
the liberation door, the kind of Dharma of being able
to make all living beings’ minds pure and free from all coverings.
“Free from” means all the many obscuring coverings are gone. I believe
we discussed the Five Coverings during the Shurangama Sutra lectures,
but I don’t know if all of you still remember them. Since you’re not
supposed to have any coverings, and want to be free of them, you may
have tossed them aside. But if there is anyone who has not discarded
the coverings, in a little while you can tell us what those coverings
are. Are they the covering of heaven, the covering of earth, the
covering of people, or the covering of the self? Tell us what they are,
and then talk about them. The purity here is achieved because the
coverings are gone, and so the radiance of the mind can appear. When
the mind’s radiance appears, it shines throughout the Dharma Realm, and
so she is called Radiance Free from Filth. The Emptiness-Ruling Spirit
by that name entered that door to liberation.
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Venerable Master: What are the
coverings? Doesn’t anyone know? Are you all without coverings?
Heng Yin: Greed,
anger, stupidity, and sleep.
Heng Shou: There
is also agitation.
Heng Yin: Master,
this was discussed in the Dharma Flower Sutra.
Oh, then it was the Dharma Flower Sutra. What were they?
Heng Yin: I
remember the English translation.
What was the first one? We’ll discuss them one by one.
Single-mindedly casting out
the covering of greed.
Being apart from stupid followers removes
the covering of anger.
Drawing near to those with wisdom removes
the covering of stupidity.
Collecting one’s thoughts in mountain forests removes
the covering of
Being apart from all frivolity removes
the covering of agitation.
[verse by Great Master Ou Yi]
Venerable Master: People
are speaking English and I don’t understand. Translate into Chinese for
me. I don’t know if what you are saying is correct or not. We can
decide this tomorrow. Tell me tomorrow. Look this up and get it
straight. Ask your teacher, the dictionary. Okay?
Venerable Master: Do
you know what they are, Guo Pu?
Heng Hsien: I
think I remember four of the five coverings which the Master iscussed
during the Shurangama Sutra lectures.
It doesn’t matter what Sutra it was. Wherever you heard it was where
you heard it. I said the Shurangama Sutra, but it could have been the
Dharma Flower Sutra or the Vajra Sutra. Wherever it was, I’ve discussed
this before. And I may not remember clearly myself where I lectured it.
Don’t believe what I say. You should believe yourselves and have faith
in your dictionary.
Master, the first is lack of faith (=doubt). I don’t remember the
second. the third is a form of sleepiness. The fourth is something like
manic depression. The fifth is confusion. But I don’t know the exact
Chinese terms for these. The fourth refers to constantly switching from
extremes of depression and irritation to excitement and elation.
Venerable Master: What
is the meaning of the term “covering” just by itself? We don’t need to
talk about how many there are. What is meant by “covering”?
Heng Hsien: The
Sanskrit for it is avarana. [Note: Actually avarana is the term for
“obstruction,” and nivarana is the Sanskrit term used for the Five
Venerable Master: Avarana?
Heng Hsien: The
covering covers over purity. It’s the way the Master explains it.
Venerable Master: She
talked about the Sanskrit. What do those of you who were speaking
English have to say? What is the meaning of “covering"? We don’t have
to discuss all that much—just investigate the meaning of the one term
“covering.” Once we understand that single concept of covering, then no
matter how many coverings there are, we’ll be able to understand them
all. First we’ll understand one covering. One covering is all
coverings, and all coverings are one covering. Then we’ll see which one
covers you, and which one covers me. Your covering may be different
Guo You: Master,
I think “covering” is something like obstruction. However, a covering
prevents you from seeing your own nature—like an umbrella. If your own
nature has something over it, you are unable to see. That’s the meaning
Venerable Master: So
you can’t see ghosts?
Guo You: No, not
that. Maybe a ghost would be a covering. And ignorance is a covering.
Venerable Master: The
English for this is “cover,” right? Then it’s just this (the Venerable
Master picks up the lid of the teacup on the table), isn’t it?
Venerable Master: Then
there’s nothing to say. It’s just this! (The Venerable Master drops the
lid loudly on the cup.) If you understand this, then you’ll understand
that. And if you understand that, then you’ll understand this. Isn’t
And yet it isn’t this. This is just an analogy. The light of our wisdom
originally overflows heaven and earth, and shines throughout the Dharma
Realm. But the problem is there is a black barrel which has no light at
all inside, because it is covered by a lid, like this teacup now. There
are a lot of errors in what I said to you while lecturing, so whoever
knows what the right way is should tell me afterwards, because I don’t
know whether I’ve spoken correctly or not. You are all Good-knowing
Advisors. You can tell me tomorrow night. Tell me to my face, don’t
talk behind my back. Okay?
To be continued