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All stupidity of views forms a covering of darkness.
Living beings, confused and deluded, constantly flow and turn.
The Buddha for their sake reveals doors of wondrous Dharma
Which the Spirit Illumining Directions awakens to and enters.
All stupidity of views forms a covering of darkness. "All views" indicates all sorts of deviant views. Deviant views are due to deviant knowledge. If your outlook and understanding are deviant, you will be stupid. If your outlook and understanding are proper, you will have wisdom. Therefore, when it says "all views," if you have deviant views, you will be stupid, and stupidity is ignorance, hence darkness. And it is a kind of covering. It covers over the light of your wisdom, hence is termed a covering of darkness. Living beings, confused and deluded, constantly flow and turn. Because we living beings have deviant knowledge and deviant views, as a result, from limitless eons up to now we have still not escaped from the revolving wheel of the six paths. All that is due to deviant knowledge and deviant views. Deviant knowledge and deviant views confuse and delude people. Confused and deluded, they are unable to end birth and death, to get out of the wheel of rebirth in the six paths. Instead, beings flow and turn in the cycle of rebirths in those paths: suddenly in the heavens, suddenly on earth, suddenly among hungry ghosts, suddenly becoming animals, suddenly being people, suddenly turning into asuras. That kind of lack of clarity, the obstruction of darkness of stupidity, blocks beings from transcending the six-path wheel. Beings turn round and round in that cycle, and so are said to "constantly flow and turn." The Buddha for their sake reveals doors of wondrous Dharma. The Buddha, for the sake of stupid living beings, reveals the doors of most subtle, wonderful and inconceivable Dharma. He tells people to recite the Buddha's name and be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. He instructs them on holding mantras and in this very body accomplishing Buddhahood. He encourages living beings to cultivate all kinds of doors of practice, and so the text says: The Buddha for their sake reveals doors of wondrous Dharma. "Doors of wondrous Dharma" can enable beings to end birth and death and transcend the cycle of rebirth, which the Spirit Illumining Directions awakens to and enters. The Fire-Ruling Spirit named Light Illumining the Ten Directions can understand this kind of state and enter this type of door to liberation.
His doors of vows are vast and great and inconceivable.
The Powers and Paramitas have been cultivated to purity.
According to his previous vows, all is now appearing.
This is what the Spirit Crashing Sound understands.
His doors of vows are vast and great and inconceivable. There are doors of vows, doors of faith and doors of practice. Faith, vows and practice are the Three Requisites. If you wish to become a Buddha, to cultivate, to put an end to birth and death, then you must start by having faith. However, it’s not sufficient simply to believe; you also neeed to make vows. For example, if you want to reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, you must make the vow to attain rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Should you wish to be reborn in the Eastern Pure Vaidurya World, you must vow to be reborn in the Eastern Pure Vaidurya World. Therefore, the doors of vows are vast and great and inconceivable.
The Powers and Paramitas have been cultivated to purity. The Powers are the Ten Powers, and Paramitas refers to the Ten Paramitas. The Ten Powers and Ten Paramitas of a Buddha have been cultivated to perfection, and so are said to have reached the point of purity. The fundamental pure substance has been attained. According to his previous vows, all is now appearing. Purity has already been achieved. In accordance with the vows that were made, what was cultivated life after life and time after time for limitlessly many aeons, “all is now appearing.” It’s something like watching a movie unfold, frame after frame manifesting on the screen; or like listening to an audio tape which is heard phrase after phrase. Hence, the text says: “According to his previous vows, all is now appearing.” It is being revealed. This is what the Spirit Crashing Sound understands. The Fire-Ruling Spirit named Sound of Crashing Thunder understands this and enters this door to liberation.
Futhermore, the Water-Ruling Spirit named Universally Raised Cloud Banner obtained the liberation door of kindness of equally bestowing benefits on all living beings.
Furthermore indicates that the principles described before have not yet been completely presented and are continued here. Next comes the Water-Ruling Spirit named Universally Raised Cloud Banner. This Water-Ruling Spirit resembles a banner of clouds in his ability to flourish everywhere like banners of clouds universally raised. He is one of the guardian spirits of water. We have seen how space has guardian spirits, and so does earth. There are spirits watching over fire, and spirits control in control of wind. Both fire and water have spirits who preside over them. Water-Ruling Spirits are in charge of water. We human beings think we can use water as we please, and are unaware that there are spirits in control of it. Actually, everything in the world is watched by spirits. If there were no spirits in control of water, floods would spread out far and wide, inundating the entire world, and every place would be water. However, because there are spirits in control, the areas where water travels are clearly defined. Water flows downwards, although sometimes it flows upwards, which is very rare.
I remember that one time when I was in Manchuria, in the village of Eastern Well, I encountered a king of water-demons who came there with the express intention of using water to drown the group of five of us who were there. At that time, the water in the wells rose upwards, overflowing the mouths of the wells by twenty or thirty feet. There was extremely heavy rainfall from the sky, as if water were being poured down by the barrel. Eight hundred homes were washed away, and more than thirty people died. People were drowned while standing on their brick-beds. (In contrast with the South, Northerners have fire-heated brick beds.) The water was that deep. The house where I was staying was in the lowest hollow, surrounded by a wattle-fence of wood which left a lot of openings through which water could enter. On that occasion, the water was more than ten feet high outside the fence, but inside the yard it was only one or two feet deep. Hence no water reached the brick-beds where I was staying.
Consequently, water can benefit people, but it can also harm them. In excessive amounts it can be harmful, but in small quantities it is beneficial to people. Therefore Lao Zi said: “People of superior goodness,” people who are supremely good, “are like water. Water well benefits the myriad things but does not contend.” It doesn’t declare, “You living beings are lucky to have me to keep you alive. I am very beneficial to you!” It doesn’t contend. “It dwells in places people do not like.” The places where water stays are the very places people don’t want to stay in, because they are the lowest spots. No one wants to live in the most inferior locations, but water is willing to take the very lowest positions. That’s the meaning of: “It dwells in places people do not like, hence it accords with the Way.” For that reason, it is in harmony with the Way, and people of superior goodness are that way too.
This particular Water-Ruling Spirit obtained the liberation door of kindness of equally bestowing benefits on all living beings, kindness and compassion to aid all living beings whatsoever. He attained that kind of door to liberation.
The Water-Ruling Spirit named Sea-Tide Cloud Sound obtained the liberation door of boundless adornment with Dharma.
The next Water-Ruling Spirit is named Sea-Tide Cloud Sound. This Water-Ruling Spirit has a kind of power like that of the clouds and the sound of the ocean tide. He obtained the liberation door of boundless adornment with Dharma, of all Dharma-doors whatsoever adorning the Path to Buddhahood. That is the kind of door to liberation which he attained.
The Water-Ruling Spirit named Wheel-like Cowl of Wondrous Colors obtained the liberation door of contemplating those to be taught and universally gathering them in with skill-in-means.
The next Water-Ruling Spirit is named Wheel-like Cowl of Colors . He obtained the liberation door of contemplating the potentials of all those living beings suited to be taught by him first, and universally gathering them in with skill-in-means. He adopts a great variety of expedient Dharma-doors to gather in and receive those living beings, enabling them to achieve a sort of enlightenment. That’s the door to liberation which he attained.
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Tomorrow is a holiday (Thanksgiving Day). From now on, whenever there is a holiday, we will add an extra Sutra lecture after lunch, because on holidays everyone can attend. Tomorrow (Thursday) the lecture will be at the usual (weekend) time: 12:30-2:30 p.m. We will have this supplementary lecture on each holday, because the Flower Adornment Sutra is so long: if we don’t add some lectures, it’s not known how many years it will take to complete the lecture series. That’s why Dharma Master Ren Jun was nervous for us and said, “Each lecture you just explain one gatha of four lines. At that rate, how many years will it take you to finish?” For that reason, and since we are in the scientific age, I’m going to speed up a bit. Tonight we’ve already discussed three Water-Ruling Spirits, and tomorrow we can discuss three more, and bit by bit we can finish. If I make mistakes while lecturing, you can investigate the commentaries. The commentaries will tell you very clearly; certainly they have greater wisdom than my commentary. Hence you “Commentary Dharma Masters” must be careful not to stray from your commentaries!
To be continued