Don't be afraid of the Flower Adornment Sutra. When the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua lectured the Flower Adornment Sutra at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, he said, "You should know that, although the Flower Adornment Sutra is the highest doctrine of Buddhism and explains the truths of the universe, it is at the same time a psychology handbook that you can-not do without in daily life. The day you can use the Flower Adornment Sutra to deal with your daily problems, you will attain an incomparable liberation. The Flower Adornment Sutra can resolve all your vexations, explain all your problems. It is an indispensable mirror of wisdom. You should clearly recognize this Great Means Expansive Flower Adornment Sutra for what it is."
We should certainly listen to the Master's earnest exhortation. Well, what does the Flower Adornment Sutra talk about? It talks about everything. All the truths of the universe and the Dharma Realm are contained within it. If you have had a science-based education, the Flower Adornment Sutra is the first Sutra you should read. Don't worry that you won't understand it. But what does the Flower Adornment Sutra have to do with our topic, the "Science of Our Own Natures"? All of Buddhism goes back to the study of the mind. If we wish to understand our minds, we have already taken the first step on the path that the Buddha walked when he went to cultivate for six years in the Himalayas. We may have asked the questions: "What is the mind? Yesterday I was afflicted, but today I'm on top of the world. The day before yesterday I felt like committing suicide, but maybe tomorrow I'll be happy again. I don't understand who I am, or what I've come to this world for, and what I should be doing to make my life meaningful."
By asking these questions, we have already started on the path that the Buddha walked. The Buddha asked these same questions, and then he resolved to seek enlightenment. He vowed to understand the truth. It all started with a thought. Science likewise begins with questions in its investigation of the world.
Buddhism asks: "Who am I? What is my mind?" It investigates the immaterial aspect of life. Science investigates the material aspect-that which has form, color, volume, weight, and other measurable properties. Though the questions they ask are different, they are both the systematic study of the human mind.
Many people may be surprised to hear that Buddhism uses the scientific method to study the mind. The Buddha could be considered the perfect scientist.
Science uses a methodology to investigate why water is wet, why light creates shadows, why air can transmit light and sound, and then records the results of its experiments. If the experiments can be duplicated, then there is "intersubjective testability." That is to say, if a second, third, and fourth person can get the same results, then they become scientific facts. Scientific experiments must be recorded and repeatable. The Buddha investigated his own thoughts, emotions, body, and life. He also used methods-dharmas. Shakyamuni Buddha did not have the teachings of a previous Buddha to follow. He followed the teachings of unorthodox schools and realized that they led to extremes, not the Middle Way. Then he meditated and used morality, concentration, and wisdom-those were his scientific methods. And when his experiment succeeded, the results were recorded in the Sutras. The Buddha's Sutras are records of his investigation of his own mind.
Open the Sutras and take a look. They say, "If you transfer merit, you can lessen your sense of self. Among all gifts, the gift of Dharma is supreme. Transfering merit is a form of giving Dharma, and this method can help you advance on the Bodhisattva path." Who said this? Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. His tenth great vow is to universally transfer all merit and virtue. The Buddha praised that method. He said that if you want to walk the Bodhisattva path, you should cultivate the Six Paramitas—those are also methods. Thus, the Buddha's Sutras are records of his research on his own physical and mental being.
The path that the Buddha left behind was like an experiment that has since been repeated by people in India, China, Korea, Japan, the Theravadan countries, and now the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe. Throughout the world, I believe that people with good roots who decide to repeat the Buddha's experiment and follow his path will ultimately succeed and attain liberation. This is just like a scientific experiment. However, the laboratory is our own body and mind.
To be continued