At that time, the Medicine-Ruling Spirit Auspicious received the Buddha's awesome might, universally contemplated all the multitudes of medicine-ruling spirits, and spoke the following verse.
At that time, during the Dharma Assembly, the Medicine-Ruling Spirit named
Auspicious received the Buddha's awesome might, universally contemplated all the multitudes of medicine-ruling spirits, and spoke the following verse.
The Thus Come One's wisdom is inconceivable.
He completely understands the hearts of all living beings.
He can employ all sorts of expedient powers
To extinguish the immeasurable suffering of the confused multitudes.
This is a verse in praise of the Buddha, spoken by the Medicine-Ruling Spirit named Auspicious. He says:
The Thus Come One's full, perfect
wisdom is inconceivable. We living beings also have something which is inconceivable— our stupidity. What is stupidity? It is the inability to distinguish between right and wrong, proper and deviant. We do not know what is proper and what is deviant. We do not differentiate between black and white. We say that what is black is white, and what is white is black. Basically, the terms "black" and "white" are not absolute. If we had named the black color "white" in the beginning, it would be known as "white." "White" would be used to refer to black things. If we decide to call white things "black," then white becomes black. Although these terms are not absolute, most living beings identify black as black and white as white, because these names have been fixed by convention. In the beginning, if the names "black" and "white" had been used to name the opposite color, that would be one thing. But since living beings are already used to the conventional way of defining these terms, the terms are in effect fixed. Nevertheless, they still don't know the difference between black and white. Wouldn't you say that's inconceivable? Thus, the stupidity of living beings is inconceivable. Alas! They take what is bad to be good, and what is good to be bad. Transcendental dharmas ought to be cultivated, but they consider them to be completely wrong. Worldly dharmas ought to be renounced, but they insist on clinging to them. Since they cannot renounce worldly dharmas, it is difficult for them to successfully cultivate transcendental dharmas. Wouldn't you say living beings are inconceivable? Well, is it the case that living beings lack the wisdom of the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones? No. The sunlight is there for everyone, but sometimes it gets blocked by clouds. Those dark clouds represent stupidity, while sunlight represents wisdom. When your dark clouds block out the sunlight, the day is dark and gloomy. Where do these clouds come from? They are produced by greed, hatred, and stupidity. Where does wisdom (sunlight) come from? It is produced through precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. If we living beings wish to recover our original wisdom, it is essential that we cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.
Precepts serve to stop evil and prevent wrongdoing. They are summarized as follows: Do no evil, and practice all good. If you can do this, then through observing precepts, you will acquire samadhi (concentration). If you practice good deeds, you will have merit and virtue, which in turn produces samadhi. Samadhi is a result of external merit and inner fruition. You must externally cultivate the Six Paramitas. Once you have a foundation in the Six Paramitas, you will have samadhi. Therefore, the first four Paramitas— giving, holding precepts, patience, vigor— are aids to Chan samadhi. You can establish merit by giving. There is also merit in holding precepts, being patient, and being vigorous. The merit of the four Paramitas helps you to attain samadhi, and when that samadhi is full and complete, wisdom arises. If you lack merit and virtue, however, it is very easy to go astray. Merit and virtue help you to achieve samadhi more quickly. Therefore, in cultivation, take care not to be stingy and unable to give things away. You have to give before you can receive. Thus, it is essential to first practice giving, holding precepts, patience, and vigor, in order to gain samadhi. Once you have samadhi, wisdom can develop. When your skill in samadhi is deep, you will have wisdom. This is similar to studying. When you have studied a great deal, your character will become refined. There is a saying:
When one's erudition is profound, one's manner is calm.
People who are educated are naturally refined. Refinement refers to a lack of greed, hatred, stupidity, and ignorance. It is not easy to get rid of ignorance. However, you can gradually reduce it day by day. What do you use to lessen ignorance? Prajna wisdom. With Prajna wisdom, you can destroy the darkness of ignorance.
An inconceivable state basically cannot be described in words. It is beyond conception and impossible to talk about. Nevertheless, I have "added a head on top of a head" in trying to say a few things about it. You should not follow my example and add yet another head on top of that, for then there would be three heads! Two heads is already a lot. If another head is added, then you would have three heads and six arms. You see that Guanyin Bodhisattva has more than three heads and six arms, and Junti Bodhisattva also has many hands and eyes. Guanyin Bodhisattva has a thousand hands and a thousand eyes, and he really has three heads. But the heads that you would add on are dead.
The Buddha's wisdom is such that he completely understands the hearts of all living beings. How many are the thoughts of all living beings? We don't know. The Buddha knows, though. As the
Vajra Sutra says, "The Thus Come One completely sees and knows the various thoughts of all living beings." However many living beings there are, there are equally many thoughts. How does the Thus Come One know about living beings' thoughts? Strange! Doesn't that mean that the Buddha knows everything that living beings are up to? That's right. The Buddha knows everything that living beings do, and even knows the things they have not yet done. Just as the Thus Come One completely sees and knows the various thoughts of all living beings, he also completely sees and knows the various affairs of all living beings. The Thus Come One also completely sees and knows the various actions of all living beings. "How can the Thus Come One know about living beings' thoughts?" I cannot explain the principle, but I can offer an example from science. This analogy is not quite correct, but I cannot find a better one. This wrong analogy is the only one I can give. What is it? It is that of radars. No matter how many radio waves there are, the radar will detect them. It is also like a wireless set. As long as the correct number is dialed, the wireless set can receive news from all the various stations of different countries.
The Buddha is a great scientist. Not only does he have a radar, but his radar is invisible. It has no physical form, and comes into being spontaneously. Every living being's nature has the Buddha nature, and the Buddha's radar detects the Buddha nature. You shouldn't be under the impression that this is a physical radar, because it is without shape or form. Nevertheless, the Buddha can read this radar. That's why he is said to be a great scientist. The Buddha's radar is just his wisdom eye. You may be thinking, "This analogy is completely off the mark. It is totally wrong." Well, you can tell me an analogy that is right, and in the future I can use it when I explain Sutras.
Since I haven't found any correct way of describing this state, I can only resort to this incorrect explanation.
Guo Hu, what do you think? Do you have a correct explanation? [Guo Hu says something inaudible.] So you approve of my explanation? You certify it? Are you really that daring?
In any case, that is how the Thus Come One knows the thoughts of living beings. What's the use of knowing their thoughts? Is it so the Thus Come One can watch over living beings? For example, he might see them stealing things and think, "Oh, so this living being is stealing crackers to eat. That one is stealing peanuts." Actually, the Buddha doesn't watch over such trivial matters. "Probably the Buddha makes a note of it when a living being commits murder." The Buddha doesn't use his knowledge of living beings' thoughts expressly for the purpose of recording their offenses and their merit. Offenses and merit do not exist in the Buddha's record book. Those are items that ordinary living beings make a record of. They keep daily journals of the events that happen. "Then why does the Buddha want to know living beings' thoughts?"
Doesn't the text say it clearly? He can employ all sorts of expedient powers. The Buddha knows living beings' thoughts, so he can teach and transform them. He wants to help living beings leave suffering and attain bliss, end birth and death, and attain Buddhahood soon. That's his purpose. It is like opening a lock. Living beings' minds are locked, and the door of wisdom cannot be opened. The Buddha uses the key of wisdom to open living beings' door to wisdom and close the door to stupidity. Thus, he employs all sorts of expedient powers
to extinguish the immeasurable suffering of the confused multitudes. Who are the confused multitudes? "They are," you say. Are you one of them? Am I? The "confused multitudes" refers to you, me, and all living beings. Anyone who has not attained sagehood and transcended the Triple Realm is confused. Don't think you're so extraordinary, so great and lofty— you're nothing but a human freak. Don't think you're that capable. What special ability do you have? Before you have destroyed your confusion, what ability do you have?
The Buddha is aware of the immense suffering of confused living beings, and he wishes to extinguish it. What is suffering? It is a lack of understanding of true principle. If you understand the truth, your suffering comes to an end. How can you come to understand truth? By studying the Buddhadharma. How can you study the Buddhadharma? By making a steadfast resolve. Vow to study the Buddhadharma till the ends of time. "In life after life, I will leave home to become a Bhikshu or Bhikshuni. Or, if I don't leave home, then I will become an Upasaka or Upasika. In any case, I will study the Buddhadharma. In every life, I will immerse myself in the Buddhadharma and never be apart from it. Once I understand the Buddhadharma, I will explain it to others and propagate it."
To be continued