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Unfathomable is the great rain from the Dharma clouds
Of the multitudes of Guiding Masters in all worlds.
It extinguishes the inexhaustible sea of all sufferings.
Free from Defilement enters this Dharma door.
Unfathomable is the great rain from the Dharma clouds /Of the multitudes of Guiding Masters in all worlds. “Multitudes of Guiding Masters” means the Buddhas. They send out great Dharma Clouds everywhere which pour down great Dharma rain. This kind of state cannot be understood, guessed at, reckoned, or known by ordinary beings.
It extinguishes the inexhaustible sea of all sufferings. The Dharma clouds’ great rain can eradicate the afflictions of living beings—their greed, anger, and stupidity. It can rid them of inexhaustible and unending amounts of afflicitons. In “the sea of all sufferings ,” “all sufferings” refers to every type of suffering whatsoever. The sufferings are limitless and boundless, and so constitute an ocean. Free from Defilement enters this Dharma door. This kind of liberation door is the one understood by the Ocean-Ruling Spirit named Free from Defilement.
Living beings are covered over by afflictions.
They flow and turn in the destinies undergoing all sufferings.
For them he discloses the state of the Thus Come Ones.
The spirit Palace of Universal Waters enters this door.
Living beings are covered over by afflictions. Basically, living beings all have wisdom, and they fundamentally do not differ from the Buddhas. However, because afflictions cover up their wisdom, that light does not shine forth. Just as when clouds block the sun, beings are shrouded by afflictions. They flow and turn in the destinies, undergoing all sufferings. Being coverd by afflictions, they wander in the six paths of rebirth, suddenly in the heavens, suddenly on earth, suddenly hungry ghosts, and suddenly animals. They revolve non-stop in all destinies, undergoing all the multitudes of sufferings. For them he discloses the state of the Thus Come Ones. For the sake of living beings, the Buddha discloses the state of the Thus Come Ones, hoping beings will attain it, that is, become enlightened and achieve Buddhahood. The Spirit Palace of Universal Waters enters this door. The Ocean-Ruling Spirit named Palace of Universal Waters enters this door. The Ocean-Ruling Spirit named Palace of Universal Waters understands this kind of door to liberation.
The Buddha, during seas of inconceivably many kalpas,
Cultivated all the inexhaustibly many practices,
Severing the net of beings’ stupidity forever.
This is what Jeweled Moon can understand and enter.
The Buddha sees living beings always alarmed and afraid,
Flowing and turning in the great sea of birth and death.
He shows them the Thus Come One’s unsurpassed Way.
Dragon Cowl awakens, understands, and rejoices.
The Buddha, during seas of inconceivably many kalpas, cultivated all the inexhaustibly many practices. The Buddha, in the past, cultivated all doors of practice for such a very long time that it is termed “seas of inconceivably many kalpas.” How long are seas of kalpas or eons? The duration of time involved is so lengthy that it is beyond the mind’s ability to imagine. He renounced what was hard to renounce, practiced what was hard to practice, endured the unendurable, and yielded what was hard to yield. In general, the Dharma doors that were hardest to cultivate were the very ones he cultivated. And those hard-to-practice Dharma doors were inexhaustibly many. That resulted in his severing the net of beings’ stupidity forever. He could slash through the net of living beings’ stupidity—not only once, but conclusively. He breaks that net. This is what Jeweled Moon can understand and enter. The Ocean-Ruling Spirit named Jeweled Moon can understand this state, awaken to and enter it.
(While the tape was being changed, the Venerable Master had disciples explain the first line of the next stanza of verse.)
Explain the line: The Buddha sees living beings always alarmed and afraid. Who is afraid of whom, and who is not afraid of whom? [Two disciples explain.] Why did I tell the two of you to explain this? That’s because it’s very easy to misinterpret this line. It says: “The Buddha sees living beings always alarmed and afraid,” and one might get the mistaken idea, “Oh, the Buddha is afraid of living beings. As soon as he sees them, he’s scared. The Buddha fears living beings more than anything.” If you miss the point, you might explain it that way, because on the surface it seems to be saying that when the Buddha sees living beings, he is always alarmed and afraid. But that’s not the meaning. It means that the Buddha observes how living beings themselves are always becoming fearful and scared. What are they afraid of? They are afraid because the problem of birth and death has not been solved. It’s not [as one disciple had explained] that they’re afraid of how hard it is to cultivate the doors of the Dharma, because living beings don’t yet know what the Dharma is or what doors are. They are undergoing repeated deaths and rebirths, and not even trying to get out. They have no intention of exiting from the Three Realms.
Therefore, the next line says they are flowing and turning in the great sea of birth and death. What is the most terrifying aspect of this? It’s that flowing and turning in the great sea of birth and death. Within the immense ocean of death and rebirth, they are born and then die, die and then are reborn, over and over again. Human beings’ living for a number of decades and then dying is really like the mayflies’ being born in the morning and dying by the evening. The few decades of our lives seem, to the gods, like the brief life spans of mayflies that are born at daybreak and die at dusk. Fifty years in the human realm are just a day and a night in the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings. Comparatively speaking, isn’t that like being born at dawn and dying by nightfall? From the perspective of the Trayastrimsha Heaven, a hundred years among humans equals one day and one night in that heaven, the “Heaven of the Thirty-three.” The few brief decades of our lives do not even amount to a day and a night in the eyes of those gods. We die before that, like mayflies. The gods look upon people the way people look upon mayflies, as being born in the AM and dying by the PM. We experience the several decades as being a long time, but the mayfly also feels the time it passes through in that one day is quite lengthy, like hundreds of years. Perhaps for it one second is like a year of time for us, and so it lives to be over a hundred “years” of age, or at least many decades.
Consequently, repeatedly dying and being reborn in the great ocean of birth and death is extremely terrifying for living beings. On the other hand, you could say the Buddha is afraid for living beings, that he constantly stands in for living beings and is fearful for their sakes, since they have not ended birth and death. Hence, he shows them the Thus Come One’s unsurpassed Way. He points out the unsurpassed Path to Buddhahood.
Dragon Cowl awakens, understands, and rejoices. The Ocean-Ruling Spirit named Dragon Cowl understands this kind of state and is delighted in mind, filled with joy.
Disciple: There is a discrepancy between the name given Ocean-Ruling Spirit number four in the prose and in the verses.
Venerable Master: It amounts to the same thing. There is not much difference between the two. There’s no need to expend too much effort at this point—you won’t get enlightened from doing so. The Spirits’ names are all false. If you try to find out their names, it will be a lot of trouble. Kuo Ning can also be called “Heng Ching” and “Steve.” The three are one and the one is three. The Spirit called “Ever-Dwelling in Waves” is later called “Palace of Universal Waters,” isn’t that right? He can have a palace in the water. People see it as a wave, but he sees it as a palace. The eyes of ordinary people see things differently from the way Spirits view them, the very same things. For example, this bowing bench contains the Dharma Realms of the ten directions, but we ordinary beings just see it as a bowing bench.
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Venerable Master: Homage to the eternally dwelling Buddhas of the ten directions. Homage to the eternally dwelling Dharma of the ten directions. Homage to the eternally dwelling Sangha of the ten directions. Homage to the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. Homage to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the sea-vast Flower Adornment Assembly.
I remember that, not long after I came to America, there was a confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States over Cuba which was about to lead to war. At that time I had the thought, “I have just arrived in this country, and have not been of any help to its citizens. If war were to start in Cuba between this country and the Soviet Union, it would result in a great loss of human life and property.” Since at the time I didn’t understand English and was also not able to go out, all I could do was to make a vow in the Buddha hall to not eat for five weeks, praying that there would be no war. Regardless of whether or not it was a response to my sincerity, war in fact did not break out in Cuba. At the time, President Kennedy was very adamant with Khrushchev, and scared Khrushchev into backing down. Khrushchev was sufficiently frightened to withdraw the missiles, and there was no war.
To be continued