Each of the nine grades further subdivides into nine grades, making eighty-one grades in all. Whoever recites Amitabha Buddha's name causes a lotus flower to bloom in the water of eight meritorious virtues in the pools of the seven jewels in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The more you recite, the larger your lotus blossom grows. If you recite just a little, your lotus will be small. If your lotus is big, you will rapidly become a Buddha. If your lotus is small, it will take a little longer. If you recite for a while and then quit, your lotus will wither and die. If you want to have a high grade of lotus, you should recite more. Recite sincerely. If you don't care whether or not you have a low grade, then you can be lazy and not recite—but your lotus will vanish.
His awesome virtue is infinite.
The power of Amitabha's great awesome virtue is incomparable. No other Buddha can compare with him.
If anyone's got anything to ask, you should ask it now, because in a day or so we're going back to Gold Mountain Monastery.
Disciple: Sometimes children have invisible playmates. I was wondering if they are real human beings. I had a friend whose child played with a whole bunch of them, but when he misbehaved, he blamed the invisible playmates for his mistakes, and they all disappeared.
Venerable Master: Who knew about this?
Disciple: His mother.
Venerable Master: Could she see them?
Disciple: No, but he played with them for hours and hours.
Venerable Master: They may have been ghosts or immortals. But because he didn't recognize them as ghosts or immortals, he treated them as playmates. Some children can see such beings. When children cultivate the Way, they can very easily succeed. I've often said that for boys under the age of sixteen and girls not yet fourteen, it is very easy to become enlightened, provided they sit in meditation, work hard at their cultivation, and meet with a teacher of genuine wisdom. It's easy for them to accomplish the fruits of the Way. This is because they don't discriminate all the true and false things going on in the world. They don't deal with all those "you cheat me and I cheat you" affairs that go on. As soon as they go to school and learn how to use a "cheat-sheet," then it's no longer as easy for them to realize the Way.
Sunday, August 24, 1975 (afternoon)
Venerable Master: Questions?
Disciple: I was wondering if living beings come into existence at a given point in time or if their existence is beginningless. If the latter is the case, then is there a fixed number of living beings? If they do have a beginning, an origin, what is it?
Venerable Master: Their origin is the zero: O. As for the zero, where does it begin and where does it end? That's the "beginningless and the endless." When you break open the zero: O, it becomes the number one:—. In English it stands up on end like this: 1. When this happens there is a beginning. When there is the one, then "two" comes into being. With two, comes three, with three comes four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and on up to infinity. So how many living beings are there?
Disciple: If you twist the zero, it turns into the sign for infinity: ∞.
Venerable Master: That's just the yin-yang symbol. Westerners just draw it differently.
In cultivating the Way you must cultivate to attain the one, and then turn the one back into the zero. That's called "returning to the root and going back to the source." Does that answer your question?
Disciple: Yes. It's a question of cultivating the Way.
Venerable Master: When you cultivate, you return to the root and go back to the source; you cultivate the one to return to the zero. Everyone has forgotten about the one, to say nothing of the zero. They don't even know what the one is all about.
When the heaven attains the one, it s clear.
When the earth attains the one, it's serene.
When people attain the one, they become sages.
When heaven attains the one, the sky is clear. For ten thousand miles, there's not a cloud. When the earth attains the one, there are no earthquakes. People who attain the one are sages. If you can then cultivate and get back to zero, that's Buddhahood.
To be continued