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November 16, l973 (evening )
Sutra text from last issue:
The Buddha in a hairpore proclaims with wondrous sound.
His sound extends throught the world, going everywhere,
Bringing fear and suffering of all types to an end.
The Spirit Pervasive Howling has this understanding.
The states of the Tathagata have no bounds.
He makes himself visible expediently in all locations,
Yet he is still and has no characteristics.
This is the Spirit Manifold Palaces' door to liberation.
The states of the Tathagata have no bounds. He makes himself visible expediently in all locations. The Tathagata means the Buddha. There are no bounds to the Buddha's states. According to conditions he does not change, yet without changing he accords with conditions. The one is infinitely many, and infinitely many are the one. Therefore, the Buddha's states are limitless and boundless—inconceivably inconceivably many. Hence it says that the states of the Tathagata have no bounds, and that he makes himself visible expediently in all locations. In all locations refers to each and every place whatsoever, and so “all locations” indicates the Dharma-Realms of the ten directions. In every single place to the exhaustion of empty space and throughout the Dharma-Realm, the Buddha uses expedient skill-in-means, Dharma-doors of unob-structed inter-penetrations, to make himself visible. He enables all living beings to see the Buddha's Form Body, to see the Buddha's Dharma Body, to see the transformations of the Buddha. Beings simultaneously view the Buddha's Dharma Body, the Buddha's Reward Body, and the Buddha's Transformations Body. All living beings can see this, depending on the individual causes and conditions of each living being.
Even though living beings see the Buddha's Three Bodies (Dharma, Reward and Transformation), yet he is still and does not have characteristics. As to the Buddha's fundamental body, the Buddha's body basically does not have any appearance at all. Why not? It's because he is basically empty, fundamentally still. However, even though he is empty, that emptiness is not empty, since it can bring forth wonderful existence. But that wonderful existence absolutely does not exist. Hence there is the saying: “Wonderful existence does not exist, since it does not obstruct true emptiness. And true emptiness is not empty, because it does not obstruct wonderful existence.” This refers to the non-duality of emptiness and existence. Emptiness itself is existence, and existence itself is emptiness. Emptiness and existence are non-dual. This is the ultimate meaning of the Middle Way. Therefore, the Buddha's fundamental body is still and quiet, and has no characteristics--no marks or appearances whatsoever. Nonetheless, although it has no characteristics, it is still not apart from all characteristics. This is the Spirit Manifold Palaces’ door to liberation. This is what the Wind-Ruling Spirit named Manifold Palaces awakens to. This is what he understands, the kind of door to liberation which he attains.
The Tathagata for seas of kalpas cultivated all conducts,
And totally perfected all the powers.
He accords with worldly dharmas to respond to living beings.
This what the Spirit Universally Shining sees.
The Tathagata for seas of kalpas cultivated all conducts. During limitlessly many seas of eons in the past, the Tathagata cultivated each and every door of practice, and all the doors of practice which he cultivated were perfected. He would never fail to do a good deed just because it was small, nor would he go ahead and commit a slightly evil deed deeming it insignificant. An evil act might be tiny, but he still wouldn't do it. Even though a good deed was minuscule, he would definitely want to do it. Therefore, in his cultivation of all doors of practice, he never rejected any of those dharmas. Rather, he cultivated all expedient Dharma-doors, and totally perfected all the powers. “All powers” means the power of great kindness, the power of great compassion, the power of great joy, the power of great renunciation, the power of great vows, the power of great practices, the power of great faith, the power of great non-obstruction, the power of great fearlessness, and the power of great courage. That's what totally perfecting all the powers refers to. The cultivation of each and every one is brought to successful and complete perfection.
He accords with worldly dharmas. In his teaching and transforming of living beings, he complies with them. In other words. right within worldly dharmas he speaks world-transcending dharmas. The world-transcending dharmas are not apart from mundane dharmas, nor are the mundane dharmas separate from world-transcending dharmas. Right within worldly dharmas one cultivates dharmas which transcend the world. 1t is definitely not the case that one cultivates world-transcending dharmas apart from worldly dharmas. Hence he accords with worldly dharmas to respond to living beings. According to their potentials, he responds to and teaches all beings. He observes each living being's disposition and speaks Dharma suited to that living being. He employs all Dharma-doors of expedients to treat and transform all living beings. That is what the Spirit Universally Shining sees. That is the type of door to liberation which the Wind-Ruling Spirit named Great Light Universally Shining understands.
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Venerable Master: Does anyone have any opinion to bring up today?
Visitor: (in English) When sitting, what points of concentration does he expound? Where does he think the best way of looking should start?
What should he keep his mind on?
Venerable Master: Not on any fixed place. He should produce that thought which is nowhere supported, which does not dwell in any particular location. It should be without dwelling, not thinking of good and not thinking of evil. You should use effort at that point. Pay attention here. Thinking in terms of good and of not good are both attachments, and in cultivation you should not have attachments. You must rid yourself of all attachments whatsoever, even forgetting about your own body. If you don't have a body, then what attachment is left?
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November 16, 1973 (Friday evening)
Except for "Who?", don't think of anything else at all. "Who is mindful of the Buddha?" is asking "which one?" “Look for: Who? Whenever you find out Who?”is the time you become enlightened. Before you've found it, for one day, two days, ten days, a hundred days, a thousand days, ten thousand days, one year, two years, ten years, a hundred years, a thousand years, ten thousand years, you keep looking for it. Only when you find it does it count. You can't decide to rush things, like taking opium and getting a fix. There's no such thing, and those are simply fraudulent attempts.
When you cultivate genuine doors of Dharma, you have to do the work yourself, applying your own effort. You can't “aid the sprouts to grow,” trying to make them grow up faster. That's a mistake.
“Who is mindful of the Buddha? will cut off all false thoughts. All thoughts of desire will be severed. You could say that is cutting down the ten great demonic hordes which I talked about a few days ago. In “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” with that “Who?” alone, everything is gone. If you aren't mindful, of course you won't investigate “Who?” and false thoughts will arise. But as soon as you have that “Who?” it's like the Vajra King's jeweled sword which cuts everything off clean so there is nothing at all. We're definitely not talking about attachment to some particular place. “Everything is false and empty. If you see all marks as no marks, then you see the One Come Thus.” If you have attachment, that's the mind of a person. But having no attachment is the mind of the Way.
It's not all that easy to lecture Sutras. Don't consider it a very simple thing to do. Once you start lecturing you'll know it's not easy, especially if you haven't heard the Sutra lectured before, so that you don't know which interpretation is right. Also, you may be unaware of misprints in the Sutra text. That's why it's not easy to lecture on Sutras.
Not only can I make mistakes when lecturing, very few Dharma Masters can avoid doing so. If the explanation is wrong, don't listen wrong. When you are translating the Sutras, don't translate wrong. Don't deliberately fault-find and say,“Our Teacher made a mistake when lecturing.” If you know your Teacher made a mistake, you ought to correct it. Who's forcing you to accept the error? Who stops you from correcting it in your translation? Why do people say I make mistakes when lecturing? It's my retribution. Previously I didn't fear falling into the hells, and I criticized other people as lecturing wrong. If you find fault, then in the future when you lecture Sutras, your disciples and grand disciples will criticize you., That's because you will have that retribution coming to you. You think it's a lot of fun now, but later on you will know, just as I now know I'm undergoing retribution.
An extra day of Chinese class is being added. All of you are so vigorous I feel remorseful I've been so lazy, particularly since Kuo Yu has written a letter saying that every day while bowing he thinks about our study of the Buddha-Dharma here at Gold Mountain, and how important it is. Right now while he can't hear the Buddha-Dharma, he feels very pained at heart. But he is happy that all of you can studythe Buddha-Dharma. Isn't that the gist of his letter?
Think about it, Gold Mountain Monastery has produced those two Bodhisattva Sages who bow every third step praying for world peace. Yet we are lazy and don't do anything at all. How can we face the two of them? They are walking the Bodhisattva Path in the wind and the rain, cultivating for the sake of the world. What should we be cultivating in order to help them. Shouldn't be we doing our utmost to help the Buddha-Dharma spread far and wide?
They are doing three-steps-one-bow on the road, and reporters interview them. Their influence on Buddhism is very great right now. Their success will be a success for us all. Let us vow that they succeed in their practice. That will be important to this country.
We should think,“They are cultivating that kind of door of practice, so should we be cultivating the doors of practice of sleeping, of being lazy, or being selfish? Should we only be cultivating the doors of practice of jealousy, of greed, anger and stupidity? We ought to look into ourselves. That's why I've decided to add another Sutra lecture for you and an extra Chinese class on Saturdays. I'll transfer that merit and virtue to the two of them, and there are other things I'm doing which I transfer to them as well. I don't need to tell you what those other thing.
To be continued