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When we don’t get any immediate results from reciting the Buddha’s name, we give up. The people in the Land of Ultimate Bliss don’t give up. Their resolve for
bodhi is forever, and it grows bigger day by day, taller day by day, until they become Buddhas.
Just now we explained “Amita Buddha” as meaning “Limitless Life” and “Limitless Light.” Limitless life is just limitless blessings and virtue, which makes his life span limitless. Limitless light is limitless wisdom, which causes his radiance to be limitless. Amitabha Buddha is number one among all the Buddhas of the ten directions. Thus the verse says, “Among the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time…” The ten directions refer to above, below, east, west, south, north, southeast, southwest, northeast, and northwest. That is, the four cardinal directions, the four intermediate directions, plus above and below, comprise the ten directions. There are Buddhas in worlds throughout the ten directions. How many Buddhas are there? They are infinite and limitless, as numerous as the motes of dust in worlds. As I told you before, there are as many Buddhas as there are people. There are as many Buddhas as there are living beings. However, the Buddhas exist in a different realm which we ordinary beings cannot see with our physical eyes. However, if you were to open the Five Spiritual Eyes, you would see Buddhas everywhere and all the time. In a single dust mote, there are infinitely many Buddhas speaking the Dharma. In such a tiny space of a single dust mote, infinitely many Buddhas can be turning the Dharma wheel to teach and transform living beings. How many worlds are there? Worlds are also as numerous as dust motes. This Saha world of ours is not the only world. This world is just like a fishnet. Every world has its own orbit and its own place in an orderly fashion—it’s not chaotic. There are many worlds, and also many Buddhas, so we talk about the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time.
The three periods of time are the past, present, and future. There are Buddhas in all three periods of time. The Buddhas of the past have already become Buddhas, the Buddhas of the present are becoming Buddhas now, and the Buddhas of the future will become Buddhas later. Future Buddhas include, you, me, and all living beings. We who cultivate the Path should regard all beings as having been our parents in many past lives, and as Buddhas of the future. With this outlook, we will respect all beings, and cherish and protect them. Why should we respect them? They will be future Buddhas. Why should we cherish and protect them? They have been our parents in life after life. With this kind of attitude, we will have affinities with everyone and will not resent anyone. To make this contemplation is to have genuine faith in the Buddha.
The verse says, “Among the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time, Amitabha is number one.” Amitabha Buddha is foremost. He teaches beings about the “nine grades of lotuses” and transform them. I explained the nine grades last night. Whether you remember them is your business. If you aren’t clear, you can ask about them. They are pretty easy to understand.
“With nine grades, he saves living beings.” Amitabha Buddha uses nine grades of lotuses, each of which is further subdivided into nine grades, making a total of eighty-one grades, all of which are for saving living beings. When beings are born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, they may have an upper superior rebirth, or a lower inferior rebirth. In general, there are eighty-one grades. “His majestic virtue knows no limit.” Amitabha Buddha’s awe-inspiring virtue is inexhaustible.
“I now take the great refuges”. I now recite Amitabha Buddha’s name and take refuge in Amitabha Buddha with my body, mind, nature, and life. “I repent of the three kinds of karmic offenses.” When we recite the Buddha’s name and bow to the Buddha, we should reflect that we must have created many karmic obstacles in our past lives.
“All the bad karma created in the past…” Why did we create bad karma? It was “based on beginningless greed, anger, and delusion.” We committed offenses since eons without beginning, based on thoughts of greed, anger, and delusion, “born of body, mouth, and mind.” These offenses arose from the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind. “I now repent of them all.” We must repent of all the karmic offenses created by the body, the mouth, and the mind. When the three types of karma are pure, our good roots will grow.
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I came to the Cihang (Boat of Kindness) Monastery sixteen or seventeen years ago. At that time I came in haste and did not get to take a close look at it. I didn’t even step inside the main Buddha hall. Later, I went to the United States. Now I’d like to tell you about the situation in the United States. During the ten years or so that I was in Hong Kong, I used the name Du Lun. Du Lun was as fierce as a ghost. Many people would get a headache just from hearing the name, without even seeing my face. And so I decided, after I arrived in the United States, to not use the name Du Lun. What name did I use? I called myself “The Monk in the Grave.” I was a monk who was already in the grave. What did this mean? It meant that I wasn’t willing to compete with anyone for fame or benefit. I refused to contend with the world. I used this name for six years. Many universities invited me to lecture, and when they asked my name, they were told it was “The Monk in the Grave.” That’s basically how it was during my first six years in the United States.
Actually I am not that fierce. I cannot say that I am fierce, because I am just telling the truth. Whether or not you have a problem, I will agitate you. Because I agitated others, they also agitated me. When you agitate people, they will agitate you back. If you don’t agitate others, no one will agitate you. After I came to the United States, I changed my name because I didn’t want people to hear “Du Lun” and get a headache. So I changed my name to “The Monk in the Grave.” Since I didn’t have anything to do, I sat in a grave and it was fine. Finally, some people asked me to lecture on the
To be continued