The Vajra Sutra says,“There is no dharma that is fixed. This is called Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.” That is to say, there is no one certain method for becoming a Buddha. For that reason, the Buddha spoke 84,000 Dharma-doors, each of which leads ultimately to Buddhahood. But you must earnestly and actually practice those methods. It's not enough just to know that they exist. Nor is talking about them sufficient. You must truly put them into practice.
Although it's said that this dragon maiden “realized Buddhahood in a female body,” one can be sure that she had been planting good roots for infinite eons. Dragons are basically animals, and she was born a female animal. Her retribution was that she had to be the daughter of a dragon. But Manjushri Bodhisattva knew how to contemplate the opportunities and bestow the teaching; he knew how to speak the right dharma at the right time. He saw that in the dragon palace lived a dragon maiden whose conditions were ripe. That's why he went to the dragon palace to explain the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. The dragon maiden was both wise and intelligent due to her sharp faculties, and so she could deeply enter the secret treasury the Buddha spoke. She was able to enter profoundly into the sea of Dharma, and she attained all samadhis. She was not attached to anything, and so she was able to attain liberation. The dragon maiden was only eight years old at the time. As soon as she heard the Dharma, she brought forth the resolve for Bodhi; but in her case, bringing forth the Bodhi mind brought her immediately to Buddhahood.
At that time the stupa of Many Jewels Buddha was there. That's because Many Jewels Thus Come One made a vow that whenever a Buddha wanted to speak the Dharma Flower Sutra, he would definitely well up from the earth in the Stupa of Many Jewels Buddha to act as certifier. And so it was that he came to that Dharma Flower Assembly to act as certifier, bringing his attendant, Bodhisattva Accumulated Wisdom, with him.
Well, because the dragon maiden, in a female body, realized Buddhahood, the Bodhisattva Accumulated Wisdom began to doubt the Buddhadharma. He said that basically she was female; she shouldn's be able to become a Buddha! Why not? It's because as a female, she was suppoed to have five obstacles. The Five Obstacles are :
1. she could not be a Brahma Heaven King;
2. she could not be a demon king;
3. she could not be a Lord Shakra;
4. she could not be a wheel-turning sage king;
5. she could not be a Buddha.
Now, because she had suddenly become a Buddha, he had doubts. He said, “Throughout the three thousand great thousand world systems there isn't even a tiny mote of dust that hasn't been a place where Shakyamuni Buddha sacrificed his body. What is a dragon maiden doing becoming a Buddha so fast?”
Venerable Shariputra also said, “The Buddha cultivated blessings and wisdom for three asamkhyeyas. It's said, 'He cultivated blessings and wisdom for three asamkhycyas and perfected the hallmarks and subtle characteristics for a hundred eons.’ Only after that did he, upon seeing a star at night, realize Proper Enlightenment. How can this dragon maiden-a female-become a Buddha?”
After he said that, the dragon maiden appeared and offered her precious pearl to the Buddha. After the Buddha accepted it, she asked those in the Dharma assembly, “You just saw me offer up my pearl to the Buddha. Did that happen fast or not?” People replied that she had done it very fast. Then the dragon maiden instantly turned into a male and went to the southern region to become a Buddha there. Although she became a Buddha, she did it by first becoming a male and then realizing Buddhahood.
The praise says :
Giving what was hard to give,
Doing what was hard to do,
Yielding what was hard to yield,
She accomplished what was hard to accomplish.
Saving those hard to save,
Cultivating what is hard to cultivate,
Proving what is hard to prove,
She attained what was hard to attain.
This praise says: Giving what was hard to give. A dragon's pearl is the thing that would be hardest for her to give up, but she gave it. Doing what is hard to do. She was able to do what others cannot do. Yielding what is hard to yield. She could give away things that others could not bear to part with. She accomplished what was hard to accomplish. Women cannot become Buddhas, but she became one.
Saving those hard to save, she could rescue stubborn beings who were difficult to rescue. Cultivating what is hard to cultivate, she did the difficult practices. And so she proved what is hard to prove; certifying to the most difficult level, she attained what was hard to attain.
That one sincere thought to give away the thing that was hardest for her to give made it possible for her to become a Buddha very quickly. Why can't we become Buddhas that fast? It's because we waver and are indecisive. We'd like to give, but then we don't. Although we can't give, we'd like to be able to. We'd like to do something, but then we don't go do it; we don't do it, but we wish we had. We vacillate and procrastinate, frittering away the time. The dragon maiden was able to see through everything and put it all down. That's why she attained freedom and ease.
Another verse says :
The dragon maiden offered her pearl and quickly became a Buddha.
Transcending asamkhyeyas, her Dharma body came to life.
She set aside every last affinity, having recognized the origin.
Not the least bit defiled, she awakened to Prajna-paramita.
In the Dharma Flower Assembly, a miracle was revealed.
In the Undefiled world she proclaims the Mahayana.
The time and conditions were just right to bring about this event.
“So it is! So it is! Ineffable!”
The Dragon maiden offered her pearl and quickly became a Buddha. She was able to give up the thing she found hardest to give up and so transcending asamkhyeyas, her Dharma body came to life. She was able to leap beyond asamkhyeya eons. Her Dharma body took on life. She set aside every last affinity, having recognized the origin. She let go of the myriad conditions and so she came to know her inherent Buddha nature, her own Dharma body. Not the least bit defiled, she awakened to Prajna-paramita. She was untainted by anything in the mundane world and so she awakened to the Dharma door of Prajna-paramita.
In the Dharma Flower Assembly, a miracle was revealed. In the Dharma Flower Assembly she instantly attained Buddhahood. In the Undefiled World she proclaims the Mahayana. She went to world called Undefiled where she explains the principles of the Great Mahayana Teaching. The time and conditions were just right to bring about this event. This was a case of the time and affinities being exactly right.“So it is! So it is! Ineffable!” There wasn't anything strange about there being these conditions which brought her to Buddhahood so fast.
If we can renounce what's difficult to renounce and let go of what's hard to let go of, then we, too, can become Buddhas very quickly. If we can cast aside emotions and love, then our Dharma body will immediately come to life. What a shame! Most people put their efforts into developing relationships based on emotions and love. And because of that they cover over the brightness and wisdom of their own natures so that it cannot come forth. One knows not how long we've been in this world and up to now we still have not become Buddhas. Do you want to become a Buddha? Well, all you have to do is let go of the myriad conditions and not let yourself be defiled by anything in this mundane world.