The time passes by very quickly. Without our realizing it, the summer is already over. In China, Confucius compared life to a ceaselessly flowing stream. Time that has gone by can never return. Someone also said, "An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, but even if one has an inch of gold, one can hardly buy back an inch of time." An inch of time is as valuable as an inch of gold. If you lose gold, it's possible to recover it. Once time has gone by, however, there is no way to get it back. Therefore, time is even more valuable than gold. Thus, in Buddhism we say, "An inch of time is an inch of life." When time grows short, one's life is also shorter. We must value our time and not casually let it go by in vain.
During this summer, we have begun our days at six o'clock in the morning, either meditating or studying Buddhist Sutras. From early in the morning until nine o'clock at night, every person applies himself diligently to cultivation. I believe that this period has been more precious than gold, more valuable than diamonds. Everyone has been together, being permeated and influenced by what we have heard and cultivated. This period of time could be considered a most precious and valuable time in each of our lives. It's a pity that this time is not that long; it has passed by in the twinkling of an eye. Although it is over, the Buddhadharma that each of us has learned has planted a precious Vajra seed in our brain and in the field of our eighth consciousness. This seed has been planted, and in the future it will certainly bear the indestructible fruit of Vajra. The indestructible Vajra fruit is also the Buddha-fruit—we will become Buddhas.
When will we become Buddhas? It depends on our own efforts at tilling and irrigating the fields. The seed has been planted in the ground, but, just as in farming, you have to water it, pull the weeds, and turn the soil by tilling it, making it soft so that the seed can sprout. How do you pull the weeds out? What does it mean to weed the ground? It means that at all times, each one of us must guard against what is subtle and stop what is gradually going to happen. That is, we must guard against the arising of very subtle thoughts. We must put a stop to all false thoughts, get rid of false thoughts. Every day we must apply effort in this way. Each day we must cultivate in this way, tending and irrigating the fields. It's just like farming. You give it some water and pull out all the weeds, day by day, and the Vajra seed you have planted in the ground will produce a Bodhi sprout. After your Bodhi tree has produced shoots, that is, after your Bodhi sprout has come up, it will eventually bear the Bodhi fruit. But you have to protect that Bodhi sprout and Bodhi fruit. Don't neglect it. If you neglect to water it and tend to it, then it will wither away and dry up.
What is meant by watering? If you study the Buddhadharma every day and use the Dharma water of the Buddhadharma to irrigate your Bodhi sprout, then over the course of time, your Vajra fruit will come to maturity. If you don't continue to care for this Vajra seed after this period is over, then even though it was planted, it won't be easy for it to sprout. You must protect your Vajra seed well. Don't go back to doing the things you used to enjoy. Follow the rules and behave. Don't be as rowdy as you used to be. Don't do the heedless things that you used to do. If you follow the rules, then you are in accord with the Buddhadharma. If you don't follow the rules, then you are not in accord with the Buddhadharma. We should certainly be people who abide by the rules and work according to the regulations. Don't be too lax or too romantic. This is my hope for each one of you.
During this summer session of lectures on the
Shurangama Sutra, it has surely been the case that, "Once it enters your ears, it is forever a seed of the Way." As soon as the principles of this Sutra pass through your ears, they remain forever in the field of your eight consciousness as seeds of Bodhi. When the summer is over, the Buddhist Lecture Hall will take a two-week break, but those two weeks will go by very quickly. The sixth of next month, which is a Sunday, also happens to be the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month on the Chinese calendar. Since fifteenth of the eighth month is the day on which the moon is at its fullest, I will begin lecturing on "Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's Universal Door Chapter" again on that day. Before this summer, I had already been lecturing on "Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's Universal Door Chapter" for three months. During those three months, I didn't even finish explaining the title, but this time when we begin on the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month, which is the sixth of the next month, I believe we will very quickly get to the text proper in the lecture.
Guanshiyin Bodhisattva holds a very important position in Buddhism. Some people say Guanshiyin Bodhisattva is Chinese, while others say he is another nationality. Some people say this Bodhisattva is a man, while others say the Bodhisattva is a woman. Now I will tell all of you: Guanshiyin Bodhisattva is neither Chinese nor any other nationality. Where is he from then? Exhausting empty space and pervading the Dharma Realm, he can be found everywhere, and yet there is no place where he is. He manifests in response to different kinds of beings, appearing in whatever form is most appropriate to speak Dharma for living beings. Therefore, his appearance is not fixed. Guanshiyin Bodhisattva appears in the body of a Buddha to cross over all the living beings who are meant to become Buddhas. He also appears in the body of a Bodhisattva in order to cross over all the living beings who are meant to become Bodhisattvas. He also manifests the body of a heavenly king to cross over all living beings. In general, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva appears in whatever form a living being needs to see in order to be crossed over, and comes to speak Dharma for that kind of living being.
In Buddhism, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva goes everywhere to teach and transform living beings. He wants to cross over all living beings and cause them to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi. He first contemplates to see what a living being likes and then caters to his likings. When he caters to that person's likings, the person feels happy and is glad to listen to whatever Dharma he speaks. Thus he successfully crosses over that living being. So I said Guanshiyin Bodhisattva is not necessarily male or female; he is both male and female, but that's just his transformation. In his fundamental identity, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva is thus and unmoving, just like the Buddhas. What is more, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva became a Buddha a long time ago by the name of Light of Proper Dharma Tathagata. Now he is manifesting as a Bodhisattva to come teach and transform living beings.
He appears as a Bodhisattva in Buddhism, but he also appears in other religions as personages of those religions. There is a white-robed figure known in Christianity as Saint Mary. Who was the Saint Mary in fact? She was just Guanshiyin Bodhisattva coming to teach and transform that class of living beings. He appeared as a person in white robes and the Christians all said that was the Holy Mother, but in fact it was Guanshiyin Bodhisattva appearing to inspire those living beings to bring forth resolves. Sooner and later, they would come to understand the Buddhadharma, and after they understood the Buddhadharma, they would bring forth the Bodhi resolve. That's the inconceivable state of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's inexhaustible, wonderful functioning.
To be continued