Sutra text from last issue: The Buddha told the Bhikshus, “In the future if a good man or good woman hears the Devadatta Chapter of The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra and with a pure mind believes and reveres it, having no doubts, he will not fall into the hells, into the realm of hungry ghosts, or into the animal realm. He will be born in the presence of the Buddhas of the ten directions, always hearing this Sutra wherever he may be born. Should he be reborn among humans and gods, he will receive supreme and subtle bliss. If born in the presence of a Buddha, he will be born by transformation from a lotus flower.”
Let’s take the example of a bell. Why does a bell ring? Because someone hits it with a mallet; when the bell is struck, it rings. If it isn’t struck, it won’t make a sound. Don’t you agree? It’s because it rings that people go on hitting it. If it didn’t ring, no one would hit it.
Pure gold has to be refined in the fire. Only when all the other minerals have been smelted out, can you call it “pure” gold. If it doesn’t go through the fire, its quality is not so fine.
The plum that blossoms in the cold of winter is especially fragrant. Its fragrant aroma carries far and wide. Why is it so fragrant? Because it has endured the cold of winter. We say,
If it hadn’t endured the cold that pierces to the bone,
How could the plum blossom be so fragrant?
Therefore, if you can look upon the other person as your Good and Wise Advisor, then you have genuine reverence.
Let’s look at another analogy. When a baby is drinking its mother’s milk, it would never think of its mother as having any faults. No matter how terribly ugly the child’s mother might be, the child would never think of her as ugly. The child simply drinks her milk. It won’t say, “You are so ugly, I’m not going to drink any more milk!” It’s also like someone who goes to the mountains to pick fruit. He would never say, “You are such a twisted and gnarled fruit tree, I am not going to pick your fruit!” It doesn’t matter how the tree looks, how messy its branches are, he still picks the fruit. If you can have this kind of attitude, then as the text says, that is “having no doubts.” Your not having doubts about this Sutra is like the child who doesn’t complain that his mother is ugly, or the man who goes into the mountains and picks fruit from the fruit trees regardless of how twisted and disfigured the trees might be.
Although Devadatta did very evil things, if you do not discriminate about it in this way, then you have no doubts about it. If you can be without doubts, then you are a real cultivator and have genuine wisdom of listening, genuine wisdom of thinking, and genuine wisdom of cultivating. Because you truly possess the wisdom from cultivation, the wisdom from reflection, and the wisdom from listening, you will not fall into the Three Evil Paths. If you can avoid the Three Evil Paths, then you will be in a position to serve the Buddhas and make offerings to the Buddhas. If you can constantly draw near to the Buddhas, you will quite naturally get to hear the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Once you listen to this Sutra, you can be born by transformation from a lotus.
According to the Sutra, if you have no doubts, you will not fall into the hells, which is where the most evil of people undergo punishment for their offenses. Nor will you fall into the realm of hungry ghosts. Hungry ghosts are alwways under a lot of pressure. Why? They’re always hungry, but they can’t get any food! They may get hold of some food, but it turns into fire in their mouths and they have no way to swallow it. Nor will you fall into the animal realm. Animals are of various kinds—horses, oxen, sheep, chicken, dogs, pigs, and so forth. Now, if you can believe the “Devadatta Chapter” without holding any doubts, you can avoid punishment in the hells, and you won’t become a hungry ghost or animal either. He will be born in the presence of the Buddhas of the ten directions, always hearing this Sutra wherever he may be born.
It’s not easy to hear The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Take a look at the people who come here. They want to study, but they often run off. Perhaps they don’t have sufficient good roots, or perhaps they have personal problems or have a run-in with someone here, or perhaps it’s just too much work; they may think up various other reasons, but in general, it has something to do with their good roots. If one has sufficient good roots, one will never run away from a chance to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra.Should he be reborn among humans and gods, he will receive supreme and subtle bliss. If born in the presence of a Buddha, he will be born by transformation from a lotus flower. Having heard The Dharma Flower Sutra, we get to be born from lotuses. We will take the nine grades of lotuses as our parents, and won’t be born as a result of lustful contact. Our pure intrinsic nature will appear in a lotus bud. When the lotus flower opens, we are born and manifest our own Dharma body.
to be continued