Sutra text from last issue: When the World Honored One, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata, was practicing the Bodhisattva path in the past, he made twelve great vows that enable all sentient beings to obtain what they seek.
The first great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life, when I attain Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, my body will shine with dazzling light that will illumine measureless, countless, boundless worlds. My body will be adorned with the thirty-two heroic features and the eighty subsidiary characteristics, and I will enable all beings to become as I am.’
Every Buddha and Bodhisattva, before achieving Buddhahood, makes infinitely many great vows to benefit and help living beings. When he becomes a Buddha, his vows come true, and, like a magnet, they attract living beings from the ten directions. If his vows are great, then the power of the magnet is great, and no matter how many living beings there are and how heavy their karmic obstacles are, his vows can draw them in. Living beings, despite their ignorance, can sense that he wishes to help them, and so they feel especially close to him. Deep down in their souls they intuitively sense this affinity. In the past, Medicine King Bodhisattva burned his body and gave up his life as an offering to the Buddhas. We, in contrast, can’t even bear to burn a finger, let alone our whole bodies.
The first great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life, when I attain Anuttarasamyaksambodhi--the Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment--my body will shine with dazzling light that will illumine measureless, countless, boundless worlds.’ This is the very first great vow that Medicine Master Tathagata made. ‘My body will be adorned with the thirty-two heroic features and the eighty subsidiary characteristics of a Buddha, and I will enable all beings to become as I am. I will benefit all sentient beings, causing them to have bodies just like mine, with light that shines on infinitely many worlds. I don’t want to be the only one who becomes a Buddha and illuminates living beings; I want all the living beings illuminated by me to have bodies just like mine.’ Because Medicine Master Buddha made such a vow, all of us who are listening to the Sutra have the opportunity to attain bodies like his. You shouldn’t look down on yourself, saying, “I wouldn’t want to shine with dazzling light. What good is it?” Well, what’s so good about not having such dazzling light?
The second great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, my body will be as bright and transparent as Vaidurya, flawlessly pure, vastly radiant, majestic with merit and virtue, abiding at ease, adorned with blazing nets brighter than the sun and the moon. Beings dwelling in darkness will be illuminated and will succeed in all their endeavors.’
The second great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, my body will be as bright and transparent as Vaidurya, flawlessly pure, vastly radiant, majestic with merit and virtue, abiding at ease, adorned with blazing nets brighter than the sun and the moon. When I become a Buddha, my body will be as clear as crystal, free of blemishes and defilements. Its light will be indescribably brilliant. It will have a commanding appearance, and its merits and virtues will be so numerous that one cannot see them all at once. My body will be comfortable and free of sickness, and will be surrounded by fiery nets of light that outshine the sun and moon. Beings dwelling in darkness will be illuminated by its light, and will succeed in all their endeavors. They will accomplish whatever task or calling they undertake.’ See how considerate the Buddha is! In benefiting beings, he doesn’t forget a single detail. In fact, no one cares for us more than the Buddha. He is our closest friend and relative.
The third great vow: ‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I will, by means of limitless, unbounded wisdom and skill-in-means, enable all sentient beings to obtain an inexhaustible supply of material necessities so they are without the slightest want.’
The third great vow. Medicine Master Buddha made this vow in his past lives when he was still cultivating as a Bhikshu; he was no different from you, me, and other living beings then. But because he made great vows, he was able to achieve Buddhahood very quickly. We still haven't become Buddhas, because we are too selfish, greedy, and quarrelsome, and we don't want to make great vows.
‘I vow that in a future life when I attain Bodhi, I will, by means of limitless, unbounded wisdom and skill-in-means.’ Medicine Master Buddha uses wise expedients, not stupid ones, to teach and transform living beings. While wise expedients may not necessarily benefit oneself, they benefit others. Wise expedients are wholesome and in accord with Dharma. Stupid expedients are unwholesome and go against the Dharma.
What are unwholesome expedients? Doing wrong things and then rationalizing them as “expedient.” For example, someone may rationalize the killing of a mosquito as an expedient, saying that it doesn't violate the precept against killing. Someone else might justify stealing something that doesn’t belong to him, saying, “I’m just being expedient! What difference does it make whether he uses it or I use it? We’re all the same.” However, stealing is not in accord with Dharma; it’s an evil deed. As for sexual misconduct, a man may know very well that his extra-marital affair will upset his wife, but he thinks, “Why should I worry about her? I’m just being expedient, that’s all!” He thinks sexual misconduct is an “expedient dharma.” All people know how to defend their infidelity. They know it’s wrong, yet they still say it doesn’t matter. Do they really know that? People rationalize lying and taking intoxicants as well.
“I think I’ll have a little wine, just for the fun of it. What’s wrong with that? I’m not getting drunk or anything!”
“Why should I be worried about telling a little lie? It’s not like I’m committing a murder. What's the big deal?”
Expedients can be wise or stupid. Stupid expedients are wrong deeds that people rationalize as “expedient.” Medicine Master
Vaidurya Light Tathagata uses wise expedients.
To be continued