People who are greedy for food often dream about eating. In their dream, they stuff their bellies full eating their favorite food, and then they wake up with the taste still in their mouth. "What was I eating that was so sweet and delicious?" they wonder. "I wish I could have that dream again." Would you call that a useful dream? I'd say it's a most useful dream—you get full without having eaten anything! You eat your fill in your dream, and then you're not hungry. You should always have this kind of dream. Then you don't need to eat. Other dreams are pretty much the same.
When people feel hot, they dream of fire. Those who are cold have dreams about ice or water. For example, if you get chilled as you sleep because your blanket falls away, you might dream that someone poured cold water over you. If you like to meditate, then in your dream you might sit very still and motionless in meditation, sitting even better than when you are awake. If you like to recite the Buddha's name, you might do that in your dreams. If you enjoy bowing in repentance, you may find yourself bowing in your dreams. If you like to hold the precepts, you won't break the precepts even in your dreams. These are good dreams, because they help you cultivate. If your dreams are not beneficial to your cultivation, then you should not attach much significance to them. Tomorrow's Sutra text talks about dreams, so we won't say too much today.
As for these Dharma doors, you can cultivate all of them or just one. Whether you cultivate all of them or concentrate on just one, you can be successful. The purpose of cultivating a Dharma door is to help us get rid of false thinking and renounce all attachments. Once you are free of attachments and false thinking, you will be able to gain a response in whatever Dharma door you cultivate. If you become attached to the Dharma, creating a concept of "Dharma" in addition to the Dharma itself, you will not succeed at any Dharma you cultivate.
The Way-place Spirit named Thunder-Sound and Banner-like Characteristics obtained the liberation door of according with what living beings like and enabling them to see the Buddhas speak Dharma for them in their dreams.
The next Way-place Spirit is named Thunder-Sound and Banner-like Characteristics. He obtained the state of the Buddha, the liberation door of according with what living beings like, what makes their hearts happy, and enabling them to see the Buddhas speak Dharma for them in their dreams. All living beings get to see the Buddhas in their dreams, and the Buddhas speak Dharma for them. People have all kinds of dreams. The states they see and encounter during the day sometimes appear in their dreams. These are dreams of recollection. Sometimes events that have not yet happened appear in dreams. These are dreams involving psychic knowledge of the future. All these various dreams involving the past, the present, or the future are impure. Pure dreams are dreams in which you see Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or Arhats speak Dharma for you, enabling you to develop great wisdom.
Dreams are basically unreal. Occasionally, however, they may manifest something real. There are different kinds of dreams. Therefore, the very best thing is to awaken as you are dreaming. If you see the Buddha and he speaks Dharma for you, your dream is a good one.
This Way-place Spirit named Thunder-Sound and Banner-like Characteristics obtained this liberation door.
The Way-place Spirit named Raining Down Flowers Wondrous Eyes obtained the liberation door of being able to rain down all kinds of adornments made of a myriad treasures that are hard to give up.
The next Way-place Spirit is named Raining Down Flowers Wondrous Eyes. He obtained the liberation door of being able to rain down all kinds of adornments made of a myriad treasures that are hard to give up. He made offerings of a myriad treasures in such profusion that they resembled rain. These treasures were the rarest of precious things, so rare that they could not be obtained at any price. Therefore, once one possesses them, one holds them very dear and cannot bear to give them up. In this state of the Buddha, he could give away these cherished treasures which most people cannot bear to give. He gave away all kinds of adorned articles made of these precious things.
The Way-place Spirit Raining Down Flowers Wondrous Eyes understood the Buddha's state of being able to renounce that which is difficult to renounce. For example, he was able to give away external things such as his country, cities, wife, and children. He was also able to give away his internal wealth—his body, mind, and life, including his head, eyes, brain, and marrow. This Way-place spirit obtained such a door to liberation.
The Way-place Spirit named Pure Blazing Form obtained the liberation door of being able to display marvelously adorned Way-places for the sake of extensively transforming living beings and bringing them to maturity. The Way-place Spirit named Strands of Flowers Draped from the Cowl obtained the liberation door of speaking Dharma according to beings' faculties so that they produce proper thoughts. The Way-place Spirit named Raining Down Jeweled Adornments obtained the liberation door of being able to everywhere rain down boundless dharmas of happiness by means of eloquence.
The next Way-place Spirit is named Pure Blazing Form. He obtained the state of the Buddha, the liberation door of being able to everywhere display marvelously adorned Way-places for the sake of extensively transforming all living beings and bringing them to maturity, that is, helping them quickly attain the Buddha Way. He obtained this liberation door.
The Way-place Spirit named Strands of Flowers Draped from the Cowl obtained the liberation door of speaking Dharma according to beings' faculties and dispositions. For those with great faculties and wisdom, the Buddha speaks the Dharma of the Great Vehicle, which is superior. For people of average faculties and wisdom, the Buddha speaks the Dharma of the Middle Vehicle. For people of inferior faculties and wisdom, the Buddha speaks the Dharma of the Small Vehicle. The Buddha speaks Dharma according to living beings' faculties, so that they produce proper thoughts, renouncing the deviant and returning to the proper. What are deviant thoughts? They are thoughts of attachment to greed, anger, and stupidity. Proper thoughts involve diligent cultivation of precepts, concentration, and wisdom. So, the Buddha causes all living beings to extinguish greed, anger, and stupidity; and diligently cultivate precepts, concentration, and wisdom. This Way-place spirit attained such a door to liberation.
The Way-place Spirit named Raining Down Jeweled Adornments, similar to one of the previous Way-place spirits, rains down myriads of wondrous treasures to adorn every Way-place. He obtained the liberation door of being able to everywhere rain down and sprinkle boundless dharmas of happiness by means of his unobstructed eloquence, making all living beings happy and joyful. This spirit speaks this kind of Dharma and attained this door to liberation.
The Way-place Spirit named Courageous Fragrance Eyes obtained the liberation door of extensively praising the merit and virtue of the Buddhas.
The Way-place Spirit named Courageous Fragrance Eyes understood the state of the Buddha and obtained the liberation door of extensively praising the merit and virtue of the Buddhas.
"Extensively praising" means extolling and praising the Buddhas' merit and virtue not only in one place, but in all Buddhalands throughout the ten directions, to the ends of empty space and the Dharma Realm.
When some people hear this explanation, they interpret it in a worldly way, thinking, "Oh, so the Buddhas like to be praised, too! Liking to be praised is a quality of sentient, emotional beings. This proves that the Buddhas also have emotions." There is a type of pseudo-Buddhism that says, "Buddhas are sentient beings, and sentient beings are Buddhas." But is this the case? No. Buddhas do not really enjoy being praised by living beings. You may praise them, but they won't be delighted. You may slander them, but they won't be upset. Praise and slander cannot affect them. Whether the situation is favorable or adverse, they remain in a state of unmoving suchness because they thoroughly understand the reality behind all phenomena.
The Buddhas are those of great understanding in the world. They understand all principles. Therefore, they are tranquil and unmoving, enlightened and always clear. They are not like living beings. If you give them a little praise, they are as happy as if they had candy to eat. If you say one bad thing about them, they feel the comment is more bitter than huanglian [the most bitter of Chinese herbs] and more pungent than hot pepper. That's how living beings take things.
"Well, why should we praise the Buddhas, then?" you ask. When living beings praise the Buddhas, we grow in merit and virtue. In praising the Buddhas, we are actually praising ourselves. Self-praise is also praise of the Buddhas.
"In that case, I'll just praise myself all the time," you say. "I will say: 'In the heavens and below, I alone am honored. I am the most intelligent and wise person in the world.'" If you really are, then it's alright to say that. If you aren't and you hope to create a false reputation by praising yourself, it won't work. You must have genuine gongfu. Then you will be victorious in every battle, no matter who your opponent is. If you lack gongfu, you may claim to be a hero and a martial arts champion, but as soon as someone challenges you, you will be defeated. You will lose every battle. And so, such false claims are useless.
How did the Buddha get to be a Buddha? He extensively praised the merit and virtue of all Buddhas, and so, later on, he himself realized Buddhahood. The Way-place Spirit Courageous Fragrance Eyes obtained this door to liberation.
To be continued