The Venerable Purna was skilled in speaking the Dharma. Therefore he became the foremost disciple in speaking Dharma.
Purnamaitreyaniputra is translated as “son of full compassion.” He was named after his parents. It was because of his parents that he got this name.
He took refuge with the Buddha and excelled at explaining the essence of all dharmas in an eloquent and principled way. You should investigate in detail how Purna spoke the Dharma. What a pity that Purna did not taperecord any of his lectures. It would be so wonderful if he had recorded it. His talks were
always leading back to the origin. No matter what he said, there were principles in it.
His speech caused people to have deep faith and to practice the Dharma. He often inspired celestial flowers to fall from the heavens and golden lotuses to well forth from the earth. He always had this auspicious response.
Wishing to spread the Dharma in the frontier regions, he sought the Buddha’s advice. He wanted to propagate the Dharma in frontier regions.
The Buddha asked, “If people scold you, what will you do?”
“I will be patient and treat them as good advisors.”
The Buddha then asked, “If people beat you, what will you do?”
“I will accept it and consider them my good advisors.”
The Buddha asked further, “If people kill you, then what?” All of you Shramaneras should know, in the future if there are those who want to kill you, do not be afraid. Do not answer the phone and start trembling.
“They will be helping me to enter nirvana.”
The Venerable One taught and transformed countless people, leading them to believe in the Triple Jewel. No one knows how many there were. Hence,
the Venerable One suggested that in times of famine, when people are deprived of food and
food is hard to get; even if you use a bowl to beg for food, you can’t get any. What can be done?
One may use seven expedient methods.
The seven methods are:
1. Take food that is stored in the monastery. One may take food that has been stored in one’s own monastery.
2. Take food that has been cooked in the monastery.
3. Cook food for oneself. One may cook food in one’s own monastery and consume it.
4. Take food for oneself to eat rather than receiving it from other people. If there are no people around, one can take the food by oneself and eat it. Originally, adherents of Theravada Buddhism cannot pick up food unless it has been offered to them. They really have to wait until biscuits fall from the sky! One may also follow other people and eat with them.
5. Pick fruits for oneself to eat. Since there is nothing to eat, one can go into the mountains to pick fruits and nuts for food.
6. Take the food from a pond. One may take something, such as lotus roots, from a pond to eat.
7. If there is no layperson serving, remove the seed by oneself and then eat. If there is no layperson available to serve a monastic or offer food, one may remove the seeds by oneself and then eat the fruit.
A verse in praise:
Sparing neither toil nor suffering,
He cultivated and plowed the barren fields.
Skilled in speaking the Dharma,
He inspired followers and continued the lineage.
His eloquence knew no limit,
Yet he avoided discussing occult matters.
He saved countless people,
Moistening them equally with the rain of Dharma.
Sparing neither toil nor suffering, / He cultivated and plowed the barren fields. The Venerable One worked with all-out effort, leaving no stone unturned when he went to the frontier regions to propagate the Buddhadharma. This is likened to cultivating barren fields.
Skilled in speaking the Dharma, he inspired followers and continued the lineage. He developed and educated followers to continue the ancestors’ lineage of the Way.
His eloquence knew no limit, / Yet he avoided discussing occult matters. He had unobstructed eloquence in speech; there was principle in whatever he said. However, he would avoid speaking of mystic and occult things.
He saved countless people, / Moistening them equally with the rain of Dharma. He liberated innumerable people all over the place.
Another verse says:
Speaking vertically, horizontally, and in lands as many as dust motes,
With Dharma he taught and saved Saha’s beings on a vast scale.
Using expedient skill-in-means, he gathered the multitude.
Timely responses nourished the dry and withered.
Taking adversity in stride, he endured insults and
Welcomed slanderers as good advisors.
He taught people according to their potentials, untying their bonds.
Contemplate all as being dreams, bubbles and shadows.
Speaking vertically, horizontally, and in lands as many as dust motes. Speaking like dust motes means speaking in minute detail as fine as grains of sand or dust motes. Speaking like lands means speaking in general. All of this speech is very wonderful.
With Dharma he taught and saved Saha’s beings on a vast scale. He taught and transformed beings everywhere in all corners of earth.
Using expedient skill-in-means, he gathered the multitude. He used expedient, clever dharma doors to gather and lead the multitude of living beings.
Timely responses nourished the dry and withered. He had a kind of timely response that nourishing the withered and dry; those withered pieces of wood and dried up things all flourished and prospered again.
Taking adversity in stride, he endured insults. He cultivated the practice of patience under insult.
And he welcomed slanderers as good advisors. No matter who came to slander him, he would happily accept it and take that person as a good and wise advisor.
He taught people according to their potentials, untying their bonds. He untied everyone’s bonds and attachments.
Contemplate all as being dreams, bubbles and shadows. When he spoke the Dharma, there was basically nothing to be said. He was just doing the Buddha’s work in a dream without any attachment. He thought of everything as being like bubbles and shadows, so his speaking of the Dharma is also without any trace or mark.