From the last issue: The Medicine-Ruling Spirit named Banner that Outshines the Sunlight obtained the liberation door of acting as a good advisor for all living beings, causing all those who see him to develop good roots.
The good advisor being referred to in the text is a great good advisor. He is capable of causing all those who see him to develop good roots. Living beings who see this Medicine-Ruling Spirit or encounter the Buddha speaking Dharma are led to produce thoughts of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving, and these qualities in turn lead to the planting of good roots.
Just as there are good advisors for living beings, there are also people who act as evil advisors for living beings. What are evil advisors? They encourage living beings to harbor deviant views and knowledge. They lead living beings astray, taking them into heterodox sects and cults. Such people are evil advisors. They cause living beings who were not jealous to become jealous. They make living beings who were not greedy become greedy. They make living beings who were not angry give rise to anger. As for undeluded living beings, they find a way to make them engage in deluded fantasies.
For example, I encountered a heterodox sect when I was in Manchuria. This heterodox sect claimed that it could make people into emperors. The leader said, "If you join my sect, you can become a king in the future. However, if you don't join, you may not even get to be an ordinary citizen." Such talk provokes greed in people. Such a person was an evil advisor. Therefore, in cultivation, we must have Dharma-selecting vision and be able to distinguish between proper and deviant, right and wrong. When it is the Way, we should advance upon it. When it is not the Way, we should retreat from it.
The Medicine-Ruling Spirit named Banner that Outshines the Sunlight is able to serve as a good advisor who inspires people to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi so that in the future they can become Buddhas. That is the liberation door he attained.
The Medicine-Ruling Spirit named Clear Vision of the Ten Directions obtained the liberation door of a treasury of pure, great compassion, by which he can expediently inspire faith and understanding in living beings.
The next Medicine-Ruling Spirit is named Clear Vision of the Ten Directions. There must be clarity in order for vision to be possible. At the same time, vision must take place before there can be clarity. Clear Vision refers to possessing the light of great wisdom, which enables this medicine-ruling spirit to understand the dispositions of living beings throughout the ten directions, hence his name. If we were to discuss the name of the medicine-ruling spirit in detail, we would find that it involves infinite meanings and principles. We can only give a simple explanation right now. This medicine-ruling spirit
obtained the liberation door of a treasury of pure, great compassion. "Pure" means without defilement, that is, devoid of the defilement of love and views. "Treasury" has the connotation of containing and encompassing. It contains great compassion. Compassion is able to eradicate suffering. Why is this said to be a "Treasury of pure, great compassion"? Because it is devoid of a defiled kind of love. The love that most living beings understand is a defiled love which is impure. Pure loving-kindness is not tainted by defiled thoughts.
The difference between this loving-kindness and worldly defiled love is very slight. Since the difference is so slight, one thought may be pure, and the very next thought may be defiled. The pure thought and the defiled thought are not really two different thoughts. They are actually a single thought. If this thought is not defiled, then it is pure. If it is not pure, then it is defiled. Compassionate love has the power to rescue all living beings. It is a kind of virtue. He has the virtue of compassionately loving living beings,
by which he can expediently inspire faith and understanding in living beings. He employs various kinds of expedient methods to cause living beings to produce faith and understanding. He inspires faith in those living beings who lack faith, and causes faithful living beings to deepen their understanding. That is the liberation door he has attained.
The Medicine-Ruling Spirit named Everywhere Emitting Majestic Radiance obtained the liberation door of expediently causing living beings to recollect the Buddhas, thereby eradicating all their sicknesses.
The Medicine-Ruling Spirit named Everywhere Emitting Majestic Radiance has an awesome presence, and living beings who see his magnificent light become cured of their illnesses. He has
obtained the liberation door of expediently causing living beings to recollect the Buddhas, thereby eradicating all their sicknesses. Through expedient Dharma doors, he leads living beings to have faith in reciting the Buddha's name, make vows to recite the Buddha's name, and cultivate by reciting the Buddha's name. He employs various kinds of expedient methods, not only one. In general, he gives living beings whatever they like and then instructs them to recite the Buddha's name.
For example, right now we are holding a session for reciting the Buddha's name. This is an expedient Dharma door. "Reciting the Buddha's name is not an expedient Dharma door," you say. Actually, any Dharma door within the Buddhadharma can be considered an expedient Dharma door, or it can be considered not to be an expedient. That's because the Buddhadharma is flexible and dynamic, not rigid and static. If you insist that it is a certain way that becomes an attachment. You ought to not have any attachments. Be totally unattached.
Right now we are doing a Buddha recitation session. In the past in China, once a Buddha recitation session began, many people would attain the single-minded concentration of the Buddha recitation samadhi. Now we are promoting the Pure Land Dharma door in the West, and people are interested in reciting the Buddha's name. However, it is not enough to simply recite. One must maintain mindfulness in thought after thought, without letting the mind get distracted and wander off. One must recite to the point that the wind cannot blow in and the rain cannot seep in to disturb one's mindfulness. One should be able to turn all the states one encounters into the state of Buddha recitation. For example, a child is making noise right now. If you have truly attained the Buddha recitation samadhi, his noise will sound like "Namo Amitabha Buddha" to you. Or perhaps it will sound like music to you, music to help you recite the Buddha's name. Then you will not be annoyed by his noise.
In the Dharma door of Buddha recitation, it is said that one* recitation of the Buddha's name can eradicate the heavy offenses accumulated during eighty million eons of births and deaths. Thus, the merit and virtue of reciting the Buddha's name is inconceivable, provided that you recite with a true and sincere heart.
Buddhism is just beginning in the West. We must produce some great Bodhisattvas, great Patriarchs, and great Sages. Where are these great Bodhisattvas, great Patriarchs, and great Sages to be found? I can tell you: They are right here at Gold Mountain Monastery. Anyone who is able to apply his or her effort to the utmost point, cultivating with a sincere heart, without fearing suffering or difficulty, without being the least bit casual or letting a single second pass in vain, and without slacking off, will certainly come to achievement. You may sit in Chan meditation, recite the Buddha's name, recite Sutras, or bow repentances. No matter which Dharma door you cultivate, if you cultivate with concentration and utmost sincerity, you will be successful. Why are you unsuccessful? Because you have not worked as hard as the great Bodhisattvas, great Patriarchs, great Good Advisors, and great cultivators. There is an idiom, "To do less work and use inferior materials." If you don't understand what that means, it's like the dharma of waiting around for nails. Probably most of you have attained this samadhi. Hearing about this dharma, everyone smiles, just as Venerable Mahakashyapa did when he saw the Buddha twirl a flower. But this is merely the dharma of waiting for nails. If you attain the dharma of hitting nails, then you'll be set. If you hit nails instead of waiting for them, then you are not "doing less work." Doing less work means that when you are supposed to do a day's work, you do only half a day's work but take the pay for a full day. An example of using inferior materials is, if you are supposed to use an ounce of gold, you use only eight-tenths of an ounce. You are basically stealing the gold. Our work in cultivation is worth more than diamonds. If you try to get by doing less work and using shoddy materials, you are only cheating yourself. This is the principle that, "If the husband cultivates, the husband gets enlightened. If the wife cultivates, the wife gets enlightened. If you don't cultivate, you don't attain anything."
Reciting the Buddha's name can eradicate any illnesses that living beings might have. "No way, Dharma Master, you're cheating people! Before I recited the Buddha's name, I was fine. Now that I'm reciting the Buddha's name, I've also gotten sick. How can you say that reciting the Buddha's name cures all illnesses? That's an outright lie!" Actually, getting sick is also eradicating sickness. If you didn't get sick, how could your sickness be eradicated? Think it over. If you get sick and then your sickness disappears, that's the eradication of sickness. This should wake you up like a bop on the head, making you realize that not only will you get sick, you will also die. Did you know that? If you don't hurry up and cultivate, then when impermanence arrives, you won't be able to do anything about it, and it will be miserable. Sickness is an omen warning you that you should quickly work hard on your cultivation and quickly wake up from your deluded dream. Don't be unable to relinquish this and let go of that. When you die, you'll have to let go of everything, whether you want to or not. I often recite this verse for you, and I'll recite it again in case you have forgotten:
When I exhort you to do good, you say you have no money, even if you do.
When disaster strikes, you spend hundreds of thousands, even when you don't have it.
When you are involved in some sort of accident, you manage to come up with millions of dollars, even if that money isn't yours.
If I invite you to a discussion on wholesome matters, you say you like to go, but you're too busy. You say, "It's not that I don't want to go, but unfortunately, I'm too busy to attend the Sutra lecture."
But the day your life ends and you go to the Yellow Spring, you may be busy, but you still have to go! No matter how busy you are, King Yama is there waiting for you, saying, I'm inviting you for a drink. Come right away! I won't take no for an answer." You go and drink his intoxicating liquor, and then forget about everything you did before. You don't have any idea of what will happen in the future either. This is very dangerous. This Medicine-Ruling Spirit named Everywhere Emitting Majestic Radiance has entered this liberation door of being able to eradicate all illnesses.
To be continued