Cultivating diligently through successive eons without growing lax,
Unstained by worldly dharmas, like empty space,
He used various skillful means to transform the flocks of beings.
The one named Jeweled Topknot enlightened to this Dharma door.
Cultivating diligently from beginningless time until now,
through an unknown number of
successive great eons, without growing lax, the Buddha was never lazy. He was courageously vigorous, never casually letting even a second pass in vain. He cherished every second as if it were worth more than gold.
Our Chan sessions and Buddha recitation sessions are examples of diligent cultivation. During the Buddha recitation sessions, we rise at four in the morning and recite the Buddha's name, putting effort in cultivation all day long and not resting until ten o'clock at night. This is diligent cultivation. We diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, and put to rest greed, anger, and stupidity and in our cultivation we do not grow lax or lazy. We cultivate that way during Buddha recitation sessions. During Chan sessions, we are even more vigorous, starting at 2:45 in the morning and retiring at midnight. We sleep only two hours or so each night. That's another case of diligent cultivation. But we cultivate this way only for a limited time. Our Buddha recitation sessions are one week long, and our Chan sessions are two weeks long. The Buddha isn't as lazy as we are. He doesn't have any fixed sessions. He is diligent day after day, month after month, year after year. In general, he is diligent at all times.
Since he never slacks off, he is unstained by worldly dharmas, such as reputation, profit, wealth, beauty, fame, food, and sleep. These are things that worldly people like. They like to eat good food. One kind is not enough; they demand a variety of dishes. And the better the food, the more their appetite grows. Thus, food is a worldly dharma, as is clothing. People enjoy wearing fine clothes. The more well-dressed they are, the more they want to acquire even finer apparel. Wanting a fine house is also a worldly dharma. So is wanting to sleep longer hours. When one is defiled by worldly dharmas, one cannot achieve transcendental Dharma. When worldly dharmas prevail, transcendental Dharma seems insignificant. When transcendental Dharma takes precedence, worldly dharmas fade into the background.
The Buddha concentrated only on transcendental Dharmas. so he was unstained by worldly dharmas,
like empty space. He was like clean and unpolluted air. Having cultivated the Unsurpassed Way and achieved Buddhahood,
he used various skillful means, not just one,
to transform the flocks of beings. He had to use many different expedient means to teach and transform the many different kinds of living beings.
The one named Jeweled Topknot enlightened to this Dharma door. The mountain-ruling spirit who awakened to this Dharma door was called Immaculate Jeweled Topknot. This is the kind of state he understood.
Living beings, blind and in the dark, enter dangerous paths.
Out of pity, the Buddha releases light to illumine them,
Universally causing all in the world to awaken from slumber.
Upon realizing this, Awesome Light was jubilant.
Living beings refers to people and all other beings endowed with blood and breath.
Blind refers to the lack of eyesight,
and in the dark means not being
able to see the light. Living beings are extremely foolish.
They wish to walk a good path, but because they have no
eyes, they enter dangerous paths—paths filled with pits, puddles, jackals, wolves, tigers, leopards, rakshasa ghosts, or other ghosts and spirits.
Living beings in the world start out wanting to find a good method of practice, but in their foolishness they fail to recognize a good path and instead walk straight into deviant cults and heterodox sects. They go a stray without even realizing it; they think they are on the right path. Even when they fall into the hells after death, they still don't realize they are in a dangerous and evil path. This is very dangerous.
Out of pity for living beings who mistake right for wrong and wrong for right, who confuse black with white and white with black, who are so upside down that they mistake a thief for their son,
the Buddha re- leases light to illumine them, / Universally causing all in the world to bring forth great wisdom,
awaken from slumber, and attain enlightenment.
Upon realizing this, Awesome Light was jubilant. The Mountain- Ruling Spirit named Light Shining through the Ten Directions, also known as Universally Shining Awesome Light, understood this liberation door and had insight into this principle, and this made him tremendously happy.
He cultivated extensively in all existences,
Making offerings to Buddhas as countless as dust motes in lands.
Upon seeing him, living beings bring forth great vows.
Great Strength understood and entered this ground.
Before the Buddha achieved Buddhahood, he was the same as all of us living beings. But
he brought forth a great resolve and
cultivated extensively in all existences, within the Three Realms and Twenty- five Planes of Existence. How did he cultivate? By
making offerings to Buddhas as countless as dust motes in lands. Why did he make offerings to Buddhas? Because Buddhas are the most virtuous, most cultivated, and most wise people both in and beyond the world. Buddhas are Doubly Complete Honored Ones of Perfect Enlighten- ment. Their blessings and wisdom are both complete, and they have achieved the fruition of Perfect Great Enlightenment. Thus, we ought to make offerings to Buddhas.
"Well, if I make offerings to Buddhas, can I also make offerings to living beings?" Sure. If you feed your pet dog, you are making offer- ings to it. If you raise a horse or a pig, you are also making offerings to it. However, such offerings accrue no merit or virtue. You are keeping them alive, but they cannot help you increase your blessings.
The Sutra in Forty-two Sections says that making offerings to a hundred evil people is not as good as making offerings to a good person. That is, the merit and virtue are not as great. Making offerings to a thousand good people does not accrue as much merit as making offerings to one Upasaka or Upasika who has received and upholds the five precepts. The merit of making offerings to ten thousand Upasa- kas and Upasikas who uphold the five precepts is not as great as that of making offerings to a Bhikshu or Bhikshuni who has left the home- life. Making offerings to a million Bhikshus and Bhikshunis is not as meritorious as making offerings to a First Stage Arhat. And so lay- people like to invite a thousand monks to a vegetarian meal, thinking that there will certainly be one Arhat among so many monks. Since it is impossible for one to be acquainted with so many monks, the Arhat can slip in among them without fear of being recognized.
Making offerings to ten million First Stage Arhats (Srotaapannas) is not as good as making offerings to one Second Stage Arhat (Sakridagamin). Making offerings to a hundred million Second Stage Arhats is not as good as making offerings to one Third Stage Arhat (Anagamin). Making offerings to ten billion Third Stage Arhats is not as good as making offerings to one Fourth Stage Arhat. There are that many distinctions in offerings made to Sages. Making offerings to limitlessly many Fourth Stage Arhats is not as good as making offerings to "one who is without cultivation and without realization"—a Buddha. A Buddha need not engage in further cultivation or realization. He has already finished his cultivation and need not undergo further existence. He has perfected the three kinds of enlightenment and is endowed with the myriad virtues. Therefore, one should make offerings to the Buddha.
When Shakyamuni Buddha was cultivating on the causal ground, he also made offerings to Buddhas—not to just one Buddha, but to Buddhas as many as motes of dust in lands. Having made offerings to limitlessly many Buddhas, he increased his good roots and become endowed with the special marks and characteristics.
Upon seeing him, the Buddha,
living beings bring forth great vows. All those who have left the home life to become novices at Gold Mountain Monastery should make great vows to achieve a great fruition. If you don't make great vows, you won't realize any fruition. Those who have left home at Gold Mountain Monastery should become Fourth Stage Arhats at the very least. Then we will not let down the donors of the Ten Directions who have made offerings to us. Therefore, we must make great vows.
The Mountain-Ruling Spirit named Light of Great Strength understood and entered this ground. He understood and awakened to this Dharma door, this state and liberation door.
Witnessing the misery of living beings as they flow and turn,
Constantly entangled and covered by all karmic hindrances,
With wisdom's radiance he extinguishes their woes.
This is the liberation of the Spirit Universally Victorious.
Witnessing the misery of living beings as they flow and turn. The Buddha sees living beings going round and round without end in the six paths of rebirth, suffering piteously. Why do they flow and turn in birth and death? Because they are
constantly entangled and covered by all karmic hindrances. These karmic hindrances come about when they become deluded, create karma, and then undergo retribution. With such karmic hindrances, they cannot cultivate. They are perpetually tied up and covered over by their karmic hindrances.
With wisdom's radiance he extinguishes their woes. The Buddha uses his wisdom to dispel living beings' ignorance and dark obstacles of stupidity.
This is the liberation of the Mountain-Ruling
Spirit Universally Victorious. He understood this door to liberation.
To be continued