Provoked by jealousy, the other king beat up King Xila. Although King Xila had studied martial arts in former days, he had forgotten those skills from lack of use and suffered a woeful defeat. This so infuriated him that he vowed, "I'm going to return to the throne, and then I'm going to make war on you and defeat you." Out of anger, he decided to return to lay life. Before doing so, however, he had to tell his teacher. He said, "I must take revenge on this king who defeated me." His teacher, the Venerable Mahakatyayana, tried to dissuade him, saying, "Forget it. This is just cause and effect. In a past life you probably beat up this king, and that's why he's beaten you up. Just regard it as paying back a debt."
"You muddle-headed teacher," said King Xila. "How can you tell me I have to pay a debt when he's the one who beat me up? The facts are clear. You sure don't know how to teach. You're really confused." That's how he scolded his teacher.
"Fine," said his teacher. "If you want to return to lay life, go ahead. But why don't you stay overnight and go back tomorrow?" Since it was getting late, the disciple reasoned that he might as well leave the next morning. That night, the Venerable Mahakatyayana appeared in his dream to teach him. In his dream, he returned to lay life and mobilized the country's troops for war. He chose several great generals and led several tens of thousands of soldiers to attack the other king's country. He lost every battle. At the end of every battle, his troops fled in defeat. Finally, all the troops and generals were dead, and he was the only one left. He was captured by the enemy king and interrogated, "Why did you invade my country? As a prisoner of war, you must die." He was bound and taken to be executed. Right before his execution, he remembered his teacher and thought in remorse, "Teacher, I scolded you for being muddled. If only I had listened to you, I would not have suffered such utter defeat. Teacher, please be compassionate and save me." Just as he was pleading, the executioner swung the knife and chopped his head off. Right then, he woke up and realized it was all a dream.
The next day he told his teacher, "I'm not going back to lay life. I had this dream and saw that I would be defeated and beheaded. I'd better cultivate the Way instead." That's how the Venerable Mahakatyayana taught and transformed his disciple in a dream. Since his disciple refused to listen to him when awake, he instructed him through a dream, making him come to his senses.
There are many different ways of teaching and transforming living beings. The City-Ruling Spirit Wondrous Jewels understood this state of the Buddha and awakened to and entered this liberation door.
The Thus Come One has long had the ability
To rid all living beings of fear and terror
And to feel constant kindness and compassion for them.
The Spirit Free from Worry had this joyful awakening.
The Thus Come One has long had the ability / To rid all living beings of fear and terror and rescue them from worry, affliction, and frightening situations. He can take living beings away from all delusion and fear. And the Buddha is able to feel constant kindness and compassion for them. Out of pity, the Buddha guides living beings to separate from grief, sorrow, suffering, and vexation. He has a mind of great kindness and compassion. Kindness enables one to bestow happiness, and compassion brings one to alleviate suffering. Sometimes the Buddha uses a visible form of kindness and compassion to relieve living beings' distress and misery. At other times he employs compassion invisibly, without letting them know that he is removing their pain and giving them happiness.
It is hard for living beings to understand this state of the Buddha. However, the City-Ruling Spirit Free from Worry understood this state and had this joyful awakening. He was immensely happy.
The wisdom of the Buddha is vast and boundless,
Like the void, it cannot be measured.
The City Spirit Flower Eyes had this blissful insight
And was able to learn the Thus Come One's wondrous wisdom.
The wisdom of the Buddha is vast and boundless. No person or Sage has wisdom that is greater. The Buddha's wisdom is like the limitless void; it cannot be measured. There is no way to measure how great the void is. The City-Ruling Spirit Flower Eyes saw this state of the Buddha and had this blissful insight. He understood this and experienced joy, and was able to learn the Thus Come One's wondrous wisdom, which is limitlessly vast.
The Thus Come One's forms equal the number of living beings.
According to their inclinations all are caused to see him.
Blazing Banner's Clear Manifestation was able to realize this.
Practicing this expedient makes him happy.
The Thus Come One's forms equal the number of living beings. The Thus Come One appears in all places. As long as living beings wish to see him, the Buddha fulfills their wish. The Buddha's physical forms are as numerous as living beings. According to their inclinations all are caused to see him. Whatever living beings want to see, they get to see. The City-Ruling Spirit Blazing Banner's Clear Manifestation was able to realize this state and principle. Studying and practicing this expedient Dharma door makes him happy. He enjoys cultivating this kind of Dharma door.
The Thus Come One cultivated a sea of many blessings,
Pure, vast, great and without boundaries.
Blessings and Virtue Banner Light
Contemplated and understood this door and rejoiced.
Deluded beings in the realms of existence
Are like those born blind in the world who see nothing at all.
In order to benefit them, the Buddha appears in the world.
The Spirit Pure Radiance entered this door.
When the Thus Come One was cultivating blessings and wisdom in the past, he would not neglect to cultivate even blessings as minute as a strand of hair or a speck of dust. In everything he did, he made living beings happy and did not upset them. He cultivated a sea of many blessings, blessings as profuse as an ocean. The Thus Come One's blessings are pure, vast, great and without boundaries. The City-Ruling Spirit Blessings and Virtue Banner Light obtained this state and liberation door. He carefully contemplated this state and understood this door and rejoiced.
Deluded beings in the realms of existence. All living beings are flowing and turning in the Three Realms and twenty-five levels of existence, not knowing how to escape. They are like those born blind in the world who see nothing at all. They can hear sounds, but cannot see any sights. If you ask them what the sun looks like, they might say that it is triangular. If you ask them about the moon, they may say, "I know, the moon is square." If asked to describe people, they might say, "People all have a nose, eyes, a mouth, and ears, but their eyes cannot see." Since they themselves are blind, they assume that everyone else is, too. People who are born blind are in a miserable plight. But not knowing the Buddhadharma, not knowing how to escape the Three Realms and cultivate, is the most miserable. You all understand how to cultivate and have left the home-life. This is not a simple accomplishment. Never say that leaving home is easy to do.
It is only possible due to good roots planted in many past lives.
If you lack good roots, then even if you wish to leave home, you won't be able to. If you do possess good roots, but you do not meet favorable circumstances, you still won't be able to fulfill your wish. Some people say things like, "So-and-so is supposed to leave home, and so he has. I'm not supposed to, and so I haven't." What does "supposed to" mean? It simply means if you do leave home, then you're supposed to. If you don't leave home, then you're not supposed to. If you're supposed to leave home and you don't, then you're actually not supposed to leave home. If you're not supposed to leave home but you do leave home, then you're really supposed to. So, with the Path, it all depends on whether or not you walk it. Take Guo Lian, for example. He was supposed to leave home, but some people wouldn't let him, so he couldn't. Today he was in a car accident. You could say that's a warning for him. He often talked about committing suicide. He should have been killed in the car accident, but he survived. On the other hand, he was supposed to leave home, but he didn't. Therefore, nothing is definite. As the Sutras say, "There are no fixed dharmas." If a person is supposed to die, but he cultivates, then he won't die. If someone is not supposed to die, but he doesn't cultivate, then he might meet his death.
This reminds me of when I was in Manchuria, and I went with the Abbot of my temple to a village called Erdaogou (Double Trench) to solicit offerings. There was a boy named Sheng, whose father was named Wang. The boy was eleven or twelve years old—I don't remember exactly because it was so long ago. He suffered from chronic stomach aches, and all the doctors' treatments were to no avail. When we went to his house, the father knelt down, blocking the doorway, so we couldn't go inside. Some people thought he didn't want to give us offerings and was trying to make us leave. When we asked him why he was kneeling, he said, "My son, Sheng, has been ill for a long time. Now that the Elder Good One is here, he can save him." Buddhists called the Abbot "Elder Abbot," whereas those who did not understand the Buddhadharma addressed him as "Elder Good One," "Old Cultivator," or "Filial Son Wang." He had many names. This man begged the Abbot to save his son's life and cure him.
To be continued