The Crop-Ruling Spirit named Wonderfully Adorned Circular Cowl obtained the liberation door of universally causing flowers of pure faith to blossom in living beings. The Crop-Ruling Spirit named Moistening Pure Flowers obtained the liberation door of rescuing all beings out of great compassionate mercy, increasing their ocean of blessings and virtue. The Crop-Ruling Spirit named Accomplishing Wonderful Fragrance obtained the liberation door of vastly explaining all methods of practice.
The Crop-Ruling Spirit named Wonderfully Adorned Circular Cowl is adorned with merit and virtue. What merit and virtue? Subtle, wonderful, inconceivable merit and virtue. The circle represents infinity. The cowl symbolizes the appearance of adornment with merit and virtue. That's a rather shallow explanation. If we were to go into detail, we could discuss this for endless eons without finishing. This Crop-Ruling Spirit understood a little bit of the Buddha's state and obtained the liberation door of universally causing flowers of pure faith to blossom in living beings. "Universally" means that these flowers of pure faith bloom in all beings. Their blossoming means that previously they did not exist, but now they do. Living beings formerly had a lot of defilement, false thinking, and selfish desires, and it was impossible for their flowers of pure faith to bloom. But now they have bloomed. So, beings who had not brought forth good resolves now do so; beings who had not planted good roots before now plant them. This is all included in the meaning of "blossom."
For example, when seeds are planted in the ground and all the conditions of heat, moisture, soil, and so forth are present, they germinate, grow, and eventually bear fruit. Once the flowers of pure faith have bloomed, they must bear the fruit of pure faith. It cannot be that there are flowers, but no fruit. Such flowers are barren. If there is fruit but no flower, then that is like the fig [which in Chinese is literally the "flowerless fruit".] Pure faith is accomplished through merit and virtue. Such flowers are a manifestation of the realization of the Bodhi Way. They are flowers that bear the fruit of perfect enlightenment. Flowers of pure faith are the cause; the fruit of perfect enlightenment is the result.
The next Crop-Ruling Spirit is named Moistening Pure Flowers. Flowers of pure faith need moisture. To nurture flowers of pure faith, one must do all kinds of merit and virtue. If you have merit and virtue, your flowers of pure faith will flourish. So the name of this Crop-Ruling Spirit is "Moistening Pure Flowers." He obtained the liberation door of rescuing all beings out of great compassionate mercy. Compassion can gather living beings in. Mercy means taking pity on all beings and bestowing love and protection upon them. It is said that,
One wishes that those whom one loves will live,
And hopes that those whom one hates will die.
With compassionate mercy, which is a teaching of Confucianism, one regards all beings as if they were one's own children. This Spirit's compassion and loving protection is that of "loving all children as one would love one's own sons and daughters." That's a Confucian doctrine. Buddhism also teaches that we should love all children equally, with impartial great kindness. "Rescuing all beings": What is meant by rescuing? Suppose someone falls into the water and is about to drown.
He's in the middle of the water, far from either shore, and he's close to drowning. You can toss him a lifesaving ring or rope, and pull him to shore. Imagine another scenario in which a boat breaks down in the middle of a river or sea. You can go out in another boat and take the passengers to shore.
In ancient China, there was the story of "burning of boats at the Ji River." I can't remember which dynasty it happened in; it was probably during the Era of Warring States. There was a general who led a large army to invade another state. After the troops had crossed the river, he burned all the boats. He was letting his men know that they had to fight well, for there was no way to go back. They had to forget about whether they lived or died; only then would there be hope of going home. Cultivation is the same way. Once you reach the other shore, don't think about going back. Once we arrive at the further shore of Nirvana, we should burn the boat we used to come over. Don't think about going back.
Once you've severed it, it's severed forever.
Once you're saved, you're saved forever.
Once you're done toiling, you'll enjoy leisure forever.
Once we reach the other shore, we don't want to come back. If we come back, we still have to undergo birth and death. "Rescuing all beings": We don't want to go to the other shore alone; we want to rescue all beings and bring them to the other shore. What for? For the purpose of increasing their ocean of blessings and virtue, so that, for example, they may go to the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, where they can cultivate to become Buddhas. When the amount of blessings and virtue becomes very great, they are like an ocean, limitless and boundless. It is difficult to measure the ocean's breadth and depth; the same holds true for the ocean of blessings and virtue. That's the door to liberation that this Crop-Ruling Spirit obtained.
The next Crop-Ruling Spirit is named Accomplishing Wonderful Fragrance. Crop-Ruling Spirits also rule over all flowers, so this Crop-Ruling Spirit is able to accomplish all kinds of wondrous fragrances. When beings smell these wondrous fragrances, they change their evil ways, become good, and bring forth the Bodhi resolve. Wonderful fragrance is the fragrance of precepts, the fragrance of samadhi, the fragrance of wisdom, the fragrance of liberation, and the fragrance of liberation from knowledge and views. This Crop-Ruling Spirit obtained a portion of the Buddha's state, namely, the liberation door of vastly explaining all methods of practice. "Vastly" means his explanations are endless. He instructs living beings in all Dharma doors of cultivation—the limitless and boundless Dharma doors cultivated by all past Buddhas, the limitless and boundless Dharma doors cultivated by all present Buddhas, and the limitless and boundless Dharma doors cultivated by all future Buddhas. We living beings should not be intimidated by all these Dharma doors. We should not "gaze at the ocean and sigh in despair." We should not say, "The Buddhadharma is as vast as the great ocean. When am I going to finish cultivating so many Dharma doors?" It's like a person standing beside the ocean and saying, "The ocean is so huge. How could I possibly drink up all the water in it? How could I ever cross it?" He heaves a sigh and concludes, "I'll never be able to drink the ocean dry. I'll never get to the other side."
What should we do? We must truly and honestly get down to cultivation. Then, in a fingersnap, we can perfect the cultivation of 80,000 Dharma doors. Why? Because when we penetrate and master one Dharma door, we have penetrated and mastered them all. With such unobstructed penetration, "in a kshana the three asamkhyeyas of kalpas are done." In the briefest instant, we perfect the cultivation of three great asamkhyeyas (an uncountable number) of eons. So, there's no reason to feel that the Buddhadharma is too difficult to practice. The Crop-Ruling Spirit named Accomplishing Wonderful Fragrance obtained this kind of liberation door.
Today I have a question for you. Instead of asking you for questions, I will ask you my question. I would like to know: "Among the 84,000 Dharma doors, which Dharma door is number one?" If you know the answer, please tell me.
Disciple: Of the Dharma doors of cultivation, there isn't one that is number one. They are all number one.
Venerable Master: They are all number one? Why?
[Answer is inaudible.] Which one is your Dharma door?
Venerable Master: Oh? Do you really know how to sleep?
Venerable Master: If you don't know how to sleep, then how can you consider that your Dharma door? If you master the Dharma door of sleeping and attain the sleeping samadhi, then being asleep would be the same as being awake, and being awake would be the same as sleeping. Wakefulness and sleep would be one and the same. There would be no difference between them. That's the attainment of the "sleeping samadhi"; it's also the attainment of the "no sleep samadhi." Sleeping and waking, waking and sleeping-it's all the same. So, what about your Dharma door? Tell me what your state is.
Venerable Master: So false-thinking is also a Dharma door. Why do you say none of them are number one? You have to have a reason. You can't just make baseless claims. What are your grounds? The Vajra Sutra says very clearly, "The Dharma is all the same, with no high or low. There is no number one and no number two." If you don't believe it, you can look into it. If your Dharma door works for you, then your Dharma door is number one for you--sleeping. If my Dharma door works for me, then it's number one for me--eating. If his Dharma door works for him, then it's number one for him--wearing clothes. Eating, wearing clothes, and sleeping--that's all there is. Now, quickly go to bow the repentance ceremony. After bowing, quickly go to sleep. After you wake up, put on your clothes. After putting on clothes, at eleven o'clock you can eat your meal. You don't have to do anything else. There's one other matter. Guo Yi has a slight illness. During the repentance, everyone should dedicate some merit to her so that she will get well soon.
To be continued