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At that time, the Water-Ruling Spirit named Universally Raising Cloud Banner received the Buddha’s awesome might, universally contemplated all the multitudes of Water-Ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.
At that time, when Ananda had finished speaking the previous section of prose, he then used verses to restate what had been said in prose. The first Water-Ruling Spirit is named Universally Raising Cloud Banner. That particular Water-Ruling Spirit received the Buddha’s great awesome spiritual might, just as all the other Water-Ruling Spirits did. He universally contemplated the dispositions and conditioning factors of all the multitudes of Water-Ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse, restating the prose section in verse.
Pure doors of kindness, many as kshetras' motes of dust.
Are all produced on a single wondrous hallmark of the
Thus Come One.
Each and every hallmark of the Thus Come One is this way,
Therefore, those who look upon him are never satiated.
The Water-Ruling Spirit named Universally Raised Cloud Banner obtained the liberation door of kindness of equally bestowing benefits on all living beings. Now the meaning of the prose passage is being restated, and so it says: Pure doors of kindness. These gates of kindness are pure, without any defiling dharmas. No defiling dharmas means no thoughts of desire. What is the function of these doors of kindness and compassion? They benefit living beings, bringing equal benefit to all. The kindness and compassion are the same towards all beings in aiding them. How many of these doors are there? They are as many as kshetras’ motes of dust. How did so many pure doors of kindness come into being? They are all produced on a single wondrous hallmark of the Thus Come One. The tip of a single hair of the Tathagata is replete with all those many doors of pure kindness and compassion. The tips of hair of the Thus Come One are quite numerous to begin with, and the tip of every hair holds an amount like dustmotes in kshetras. Every single hairpore contains limitless and boundlessly many pure doors of kindness and compassion, and so it says: Each and every hallmark is this way. Within each of the Tathagata's hallmarks are found such vast and great, such boundlessly many pure doors of kindness to benefit all living beings. How many doors of kindness would you say there were in all? The reason it says without exception is that every hallmark is like that too. Therefore, those who look upon him are never satiated. Because each hallmark of the Tathagata is replete with limitless and boundlessly many doors of kindness and compassion, and all his hallmarks are the same way, consequently, the living beings who see the Buddha are all delighted to see him and to hear the Dharma. They gaze at the Buddha, their eyes never leaving him for an instant. It is as if their eyes have entered samadhi the way they look at the Buddha with unwavering gaze. Why is that? It’s because they can never get enough. Living beings are attached to marks, and so when they see the radiance of the Buddha’s fine marks and characteristics, they never want to leave him. They would like to gaze up at the Buddha forever.
The World Honored One, when cultivating in the past,
Went everywhere to where all Thus Come Ones were.
He practiced in all types of ways and was never lax.
Such are the expedients which Cloud Sound enters.
This is the Water-Ruling Spirit discussed previously, named Sea-Tide Cloud Sound, who obtained the liberation door of boundless adornment with Dharma. That he “obtained” it means he achieved that kind of state and understood how diligently the Buddha cultivated when he was on the casual ground. That’s why he says in the verse: The World One, when cultivating in the past. The World Honored One is honored in the world and beyond it. He is honored by people in the world and by those who have transcended the world. This is one of the Ten Titles of a Buddha. “In the past” means previously, referring to when the Buddha was on the causal ground. Now that the Buddha has achieved Buddhahood, it is the ground of the fruition. When he was practicing at the time of planting causes, how did he cultivate? He went everywhere to where all Thus Come One were. That he went everywhere indicates universal pervasion to all places. What places were those? He went to all locations where there were Buddhas. Which Buddhas? All those who had already become Buddhas before him. Shakyamuni Buddha had still not become a Buddha. Because he wasn’t a Buddha yet, he drew near to all Buddhas, meaning all previous Buddhas. He went to be near all Buddhas of the past, made offerings to them and revered them. He practiced in all types of ways and was never lax. “In all types of ways” describes how he employed whatever Dharma doors he was capable of in order to make offerings to the Buddhas, to worship and respect all Buddhas, and to draw near all Buddhas. He forgot himself for the sake of the Dharma. In order to seek the Dharma he forgot about his own body. In his pursuit of the Dharma he went without sleep and food, and even if sick paid no heed, but still sought the Dharma.
“Does a Buddha still get sick?” you may ask. Well, that was before the Buddha accomplished Buddhahood. And even after he became a Buddha, he would sometimes have headaches. He underwent the retributions of the metal spear and horsefeed. What was that retribution? Before the Buddha was a Buddha, he was a young lad. At that time, some people had dragged a fish to the shore. The boy saw the fish as a lot of fun, and took a staff and hit the fish on the head a few times. As a result, after he was a Buddha, he still had to have headaches sometimes—the reason being that he had hit the fish. This kind of cause and effect isn’t off by a hair. In general, when the Buddha was cultivating on the causal ground, he wasn’t lazy, lax or remiss.
According to the precepts, if a Dharma Master is delivering a Sutra lecture or speaking Dharma within a radius of 40 (Chinese) miles [between 14 and 15 English miles], you are supposed to go listen to the Dharma. If, instead of going to listen to the Dharma, you sleep or take it easy where you are, you break the precept. In the past when the Buddha was seeking the Dharma and cultivating, he practiced at all times and was never lax or lazy. Such are the expedients which Cloud Sound enters. All of the various kinds of expedient Dharma doors which were just described constitute the type of door to liberation which the Water-Ruling Spirit named Sea-Tide Cloud Sound is able to enter.
The Buddha, within all the ten directions,
Still and unmoving neither comes nor goes,
Yet responds and teaches living beings, causing all to see him.
This is what is known by Wheel-like Cowl.
The Buddha is described as being in all the ten directions. Our world-system has ten directions, and so do other world-systems; and so there is not just one set of ten directions, but rather a great many world-systems of ten directions. Thus it says: The Buddha, within all the ten directions, still and unmoving neither comes nor goes. The Buddha is still and quiet, without movement. Because he is still and does not move, he neither comes nor goes, hence the quotation: “The Thus Come One does not come from everywhere, nor does he go anywhere.” He doesn’t come or go, yet responds and teaches living beings, causing all to see him. The Buddha uses great powers of spiritual penetrations to enable all the living beings who have affinities with the Buddha, to see the Buddha. This is what is known by Wheel-like Cowl. This kind of state is the type of door to liberation which is understood by the Water-Ruling Spirit named Wheel-Like Cowl of Wondrous Colors.
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[What follows is from Bhikshuni Heng Hsien’s notes. As it is interesting in connection with Water-Ruling Spirits, it is included here.]
Ven. Master: Would the people who just arrived from Oregon like to say a few words? How was your trip?
Man: It was a good trip down. No problems.
Ven. Master: No rain?
Man: Wednesday night it rained a lot, and was very bad driving. But Thursday was the best weather in three weeks.
Ven. Master: When you wrote earlier you said you feared flooding.
Man: After we started, there was no rain.
Ven. Master: This is a response from your sincerity, because of your whole attitude about the possibility of a flood and rain the first day, and in spite of that coming anyway. It was a response. It was just a test. How are the two children?
Man: Fine. They were better on this trip than on any other we’ve made.
Ven. Master: Your coming from such a long distance not fearing water and so sincere all this way to take refuge makes me very happy. Therefore, whether people come by plane or drive by car, if everyone could be like this it would be very good.
[Historical note: This is announcing, in November, 1973, the publication of the first volume of English translation of the Lotus Sutra, translated by Bhikshu Heng Ch’ien.]
Ven. Master: The Dharma Flower Sutra is the Sutra of the most wonderful and most interpenetrating principles in Buddhism; and it is the Sutra on how everyone can become a Buddha. Only when someone who investigates the Buddhadharma has understood this Sutra can he or she be said to understand Buddhism. Therefore, if you truly wish to study Buddhism, or if you want to become a Buddha in the future, you must have this Sutra. When you aren’t reading it yourself, you can give it to your friends or relatives. It makes a most valuable gift. This is an opportunity no one should miss.
To be continued