AT THAT TIME THE WIND-RULING SPIRIT NAMED UNBSTRUCTED LIGHT .
The Dharma of all Buddhas is deep and profound.
Their unobstructed skill-in-means can enter every where.
In all worlds whatsoever they constantly appear,
Yet are markless, without form and without shape.
This four-line gatha is spoken by the Wind-Ruling Spirit named Unobstructed Light. He says: The Dharma of the Buddhas is deep and profound. The Dharma of all Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time is deeply profound, subtle and wonderful.Within that Buddha-Dharma more Buddha-Dharmas are produced, and further Buddha-Dharmas are stored within those Buddha-Dharmas. Therefore, the Dharma of all Buddhas is inconceivable. Their unobstructed skill-in-means can enter everywhere. The Buddhas have a kind of unimpeded cleverness with expedients to pervasively go to all places, universally entering kshetras as many as particles of dust--so all have that kind of Dharma of unobstructed skill-in-means. In all worlds whatsoever they constantly appear. The Buddhas are always manifesting in the world of sentient beings, in order to teach and transform living beings, yet are markless, without form and without shadow. Although they are constantly appearing, they don't have any characteristics. And since they have no form or shape, they don't even have the shadow of a reflection. In as much as they are markless, and formless, how could they have a shadow? Of course they don't. Buddhas don't do things in the attached way we people do. We retain such attachments of mind as, I've done such-and-such; I'm so good, never thinking of the places where we are wrong. That turns into having appearances and forms, and also shadows, images and reflections. The Buddhas sweep away all dharmas and are free from all appearances. They may speak Dharma every day, yet they haven't uttered a single sentence. They take their daily meal, but they haven't eaten a single grain of rice. Each day they put on clothes, but they haven't worn a single thread. The Buddhas do things as if they were not doing them. Such a state cannot be understood by ordinary people.
Observe how the Tathagata in the past.
In one thought worshipped boundlessly many Buddhas.
Such courageous practices for Bodhi.
Are what the spirit named Universally Manifesting awakens to.
The line observe how the Tathagata in the past is being spoken by the Wind-Ruling Spirit named Universally Manifesting. He says, Take a look. Regard what the Tathagata did before. See the kinds of doors of practice which the Buddha cultivated previously when he was on the causal ground. They were too inconceivable! See how he in one thought worshipped boundlessly many Buddhas. In a single instant of thought he was able to make offerings universally to limitless and boundlessly many Buddhas. Such courageous practices for Bodhi, such heroic deeds of vigor in at all times cultivating the Bodhi conduct, are what the spirit named Universally Manifesting awakens to. The Wind-Ruling Spirit named Universally Manifesting understands this kind of door to liberation.
The Tathagata's rescuing of the world is inconceivable. None of his expedients is employed in vain. He frees all beings entirely from all sufferings. This is the spirit named Cloud Banner's liberation.
The Tathagata--namely the Buddha, since Tathagata means the Buddha--saves the world of sentient beings. In other worlds, he rescues all living beings. It's impossible to fathom that kind of strength of patience and compliance, and so the text says: The Tathagata's rescuing of the world is inconceivable. Living beings could never imagine it. None of his expedients is employed in vain. All expedient Dharma-doors he uses are effective. Not one of them fails, the Buddha uses the type of Dharma-door suited to each particular type of living being--hence no Dharma-door is employed in vain. He frees all beings entirely from all sufferings. All living beings whatsoever are freed from the worlds obstructions of afflictions, obstructions of what is known, and obstructions of karma with its obstructing retribution. Beings leave all those various kinds of suffering behind. Since all sufferings are gone, the text says:He frees all beings entirely from all sufferings. This is the spirit named Cloud Banner's liberation. The Wind-Ruling Spirit named Cloud Banner understands this sort of door to liberation.
Living beings, lacking blessings, undergo the many sufferings,
Even shrouded and confused by weighty coverings and dense obstructions.
But he leads them all to achieve liberation.
The Spirit named Pure Light has this understanding.
Living beings, lacking blessings, undergo the many sufferings. Living beings--literally the multitude born are born from a multitude of conditions coming together, and die from a multitude of assembled factors. Living beings lack blessings. Why do they lack them? It's because they never planted blessings. What prevented them from doing so? The reason is: they never saw the Buddha, they never saw the Dharma, and they never saw the Sangha. Never having seen the Buddha, heard the Dharma, or encountered the Sangha, they had no place to plant blessings. Bereft of a locus for the fostering of blessings, they have no blessings. For example, in an area where there is no Buddha, no Dharma, and no Sangha, living beings reward of blessings has come to an end. They can no longer make their blessings grow, being in a region where blessings can't be planted. Because they lack blessings, they have to undergo the many sufferings. Many sufferingsndicates there are a great many of them. There are the Three Sufferings, the Eight Sufferings, and all the limitlessly many sufferings. The Three Sufferings are: the Suffering of Suffering, the Suffering of Decay, and the Suffering of Process. What is the Suffering of Suffering? It's suffering within suffering, woe added to woe. What does that mean? It refers to the situation of a poor person. To start with he is impoverished, which is suffering in itself. But another suffering is added to that. For instance, he might have a wooden shack in a poor refugee camp. Houses in America are made of wood, but they are painted very clean inside; and the outside paint is also very glossy and well-finished. Such houses are pleasant to live in, But in Brazil and Hong Kong, the shanties are of unfinished wood. They are very crude. The shacks are just nailed together, and neither the interior nor the exterior is painted. Rats live together with the people. The rats dwell in tiny houses, and the people live in big houses. They are crowded together, so rodents and humans are neighbors and friends. Actually, that's not so bad--at least they have another friend. The human has a rodent pal, and the rodent has a human buddy, which is still pretty good. But what happens next? A typhoon hits, and blows down the wooden shanty. The rat ignores the human, and the human doesn't need the rat. The rat looks for a new place to live on his own, but the human has to wait for resettlement, for the government to reassign him housing. Wouldn't you call that suffering on top of suffering? To begin with, he had a wooden shack to live in and could get by. But when one typhoon hits, his wooden shanty is blown apart. Or perhaps there is heavy rainfall and the wooden shack is washed away. That's suffering added to suffering.
What is meant by the Suffering of Decay? In this case, the person is not poor. He has money, a lot of money--a very happy state of affairs. But that happiness cannot last forever. Good fortune is only temporary. There may be a man-made disaster or perhaps an accident. He may be kidnapped and held for ransom by bandits, or some other calamity may strike. All kinds of unexpected events destroy his wealth and honor. That's the Suffering of Decay.
What is the Suffering of Process? It's when one has neither the tribulations of poverty nor the pain of loss of wealth and status. That might seem okay; there's nothing exceptional. And yet from being young, one matures; and once mature, one grows old. The process goes on and on non-stop. After being old, one dies. That life-process is called the Suffering of Process.
Everyone is subject to those three sufferings. That communality doesn't mean each person has all three. Some people may or may not experience all of them. However, if free from the trials of poverty, they have the pain of loss of wealth and honor. Or if they avoid decay of fame and fortune, they still face the suffering of the life-process. Hence those sufferings are said to be everybody's lot--if you don't have one, you have another.
There are also the Eight Sufferings, as follows. The Suffering of Birth refers to how, when a person is born, it’s as painful as for a live tortoise to have its shell ripped off-the agony is that excruciating. When a human being is born, the pain is just that great. After being born, the person grows old. The old person’s hearing fails. His eyesight becomes dim. His teeth can’t chew things, and his legs don’t help him walk. He hobbles along, with chicken-like skin and crane-white hair. That’s the Suffering of Old Age. There is also the Suffering of Sickness. Before you’re sick you don’t know about the suffering of illness. But once you fall ill, the sufferings are indescribable. For no apparent reason, your head starts to ache. You don’t know why, but your feet hurt, your legs hurt, your back aches. When you’re sick, even though you are hungry, you can’t get food down, or even drink water. That still doesn’t count as so terrible. The greatest suffering of all is the Suffering of Death. The pain of dying is like that experienced by a cow being flayed alive. Just image how painful that is. Those are the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death.
A further suffering is that of Being Separated from What One Loves. The more you love the person, the more that person wants to get away from you. Or there may be unusual circumstances or reasons why you have to be apart. However much you may want to be together, you have to separate. That's the Suffering of Being Separated from What One Loves. There is also the Suffering of Being Together with What One Hates. You can't stand someone. You detest the sight of him and would like to get away from him. But when you go somewhere else, you meet the same kind of person, approximately. That's the Suffering of Being Together with What One Hates. Another Suffering is that of Not Obtaining What One Seeks. In this case you have a lot of greed. You seek for wealth and honor, but you can't obtain them. You pursue glory, only to have it escape your grasp. You want to have a son but you can't have a son, or you want a daughter but you have no female offspring. You try to find a boyfriend, but you never get one. Or you may want to find a girlfriend but there is none to be had. That's known as the Suffering of Not Obtaining What One Seeks. In general, whenever you cannot get what you want, that is the Suffering of Not Obtaining What One Seeks. There is also the Suffering of the Raging Blaze of the Five Skandhas. The Five Skandhas are: Form, Feeling, Thinking, Formations, and Consciousness. Those Five Skandhas are like a huge bonfire which cannot be put out, which is called the Suffering of the Raging Blaze of the Five Skandhas.
To be continued