His vows are wholesome because he made them for all living beings. He didn't vow, "When I become a Buddha, I'll enjoy my blessings and forget about other living beings."The Buddha isn't like that. Having attained the greatest happiness, the Buddha doesn't want to enjoy it alone. He wants to share it with all beings. He perfected his wholesome karma by practicing the Bodhisattva path in life after life. He made a great Bodhi resolve to benefit, enlighten, and rescue himself and all beings. Forgetting themselves and thinking only of living beings, Bodhisattvas make wholesome vows, accomplish wholesome karma, and reap the wholesome result of Buddhahood. When they become Buddhas, they are not arrogant. The Buddha is just the same as living beings, except that he has more wisdom. He has truly left confusion behind and returned to enlightenment, and is free from all false thinking.
We living beings create karma in our every word and deed, and almost all of it is bad. We might have an occasional good thought, but it's too weak to overcome our bad thoughts. If we were to tally up all our karma on the computer, we would find more bad karma than good. That's why our lives get worse and worse. In each life, we meet hard times and end up lost and alone. Why? Because of the impure karma we have created. We didn't do a good job. Unlike the Buddha, we haven't always made wholesome vows, cultivated wholesome karma, and reaped wholesome results. Since the evil in our minds outweighs the goodness, we fall lower and lower in each successive life. When we try to make wholesome vows, our selfishness gets in the way—we only want to help ourselves and never think about helping others. Occasionally we'll do something to help others, but our real motive is just to present a good image and make others believe in us. Thus, the karma we create is never wholly good. Since the bad karma is heavier than the good karma, we reap a bad retribution. The Buddha made good vows and did good deeds, so he reaped a good fruit. We living beings want to make good vows, but we get muddled and our selfishness takes over, and our karma becomes a mixture of good and bad. Thus people experience a little happiness and a little suffering, but on the whole there is more suffering than happiness.
Our happiness is not real. It is not the genuine happiness that arises from the virtues of "permanence, bliss, true self, and purity"of our inherent natures. The things we find happiness in are not genuine or lasting. We don't know the true, pure happiness characterized by those four virtues. When we go dancing, drink wine, or go to the theater, we are not experiencing real happiness. Actually, we are "turning our backs on enlightenment and uniting with the dust,"deluding ourselves into thinking that we are happy.
"Dharma Master, is there no happiness in the world then?" you ask. Think it over. All forms of worldly happiness are indirect causes of suffering. Take clothing, food, and shelter, for instance. People like to dress up in style. But when you put on fancy and expensive clothes, they turn into a yoke around your neck. You can't move around freely, or stand naturally, or sit or lie down comfortably either. Why not? Because you want to protect your fancy, expensive outfit. Ha! Just think about it: A human being, the highest of all creatures, becomes a slave to his clothes!
People like to eat good food, but even the most delicious food decomposes once it is ingested. If you asked people to regurgitate their food and eat it again, no one would do it.
As for shelter, there's a saying:
One may have ten thousand mansions,
But one doesn't need more than eight feet of space
to sleep in at night.
One may have ten thousand acres of fertile fields,
But one can only eat three meals a day.
Why should you work so frantically all day long, without a moment's rest, for the sake of clothing, food, and shelter? When death arrives, you say to the Ghost of Impermanence, "Wait, I haven't finished taking care of my affairs. Can't you let me have a little more time?" The Ghost of Impermanence shakes his head and says, "Sorry, I can't let you live even a minute longer." And so off you go to die. What's the point of it all? Failing to see things the way they really are, we spend our lives madly pursuing fame and profit. This is where we differ from the Buddhas.
The Buddha has a clear view of everything. He has seen through everything and put it down, and so he has attained comfort and ease. When he saw through everything, he vowed to benefit living beings and practice the Bodhisattva Way. And so Medicine Master Buddha made great vows. In his sixth great vow, he said, “I vow that in a future life...” Some people don't believe in future lives. If there were no future lives, then you could commit murder and do whatever you wanted. But since there are future lives, and consequences for everything you do, you cannot dismiss the rules and do as you please.
“Why don't I know anything about my past or future lives?” you ask. Well, when you sleep, do you know about the things that happen when you're awake? No. In the same way, in this life you have forgotten about the events of your past lives. That's why the Buddha said, "If you want to know what you did in previous lives, take a look at what you're undergoing now. If you want to know what your future lives will be like, take a look at what you're doing now." The karma you create in this life will certainly come to fruition in the future.
Because the Buddha was aware of this, he vowed, “In a future life when I attain Bodhi, when I attain the Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment, if there are sentient beings whose bodies are inferior, whose features are distorted...” Perhaps their eyes, ears, and nose are squeezed close together, or their mouth grows where the ears should be.
“I've never seen anyone who looked like that,” you say. No? Well, you shouldn't think of trying to become like that, either. There are many people who are born looking like dogs, cats, mice, bears, horses, deer, and so on. They're a frightful sight. That’s what’s meant by “inferior bodies.”
And whose faculties are imperfect. They may have only one eye, one ear, or one nostril, or half of their lips.Or maybe their hands or feet don't work properly. Maybe their eyes, ears, nose, tongue, the rest of their bodies, and their minds don't work together, but all go on strike—that's also an instance of faculties being imperfect. You look at me and I look at you, and everyone stops working. That's a deficiency of the faculties. Although these people have eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies, and minds, they don't serve any use. Even though they exist, they may be mutilated or deformed.
The text elaborates on those "whose bodies are inferior and whose faculties are imperfect,"describing them as those who are ugly, not good-looking, or dull, not intelligent. They're very slow. If you try to teach them that two plus two is four, they say, "What? One plus two is three. How did you get four?"
to be continued