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宣化上人講 Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
國際譯經學院記錄 Translated by the International Translation Institut











Crows have always been black. They are black to begin with; they don’t have to be dyed that color. And swans have always been white. They are white from birth. Humans and gods have always stood upright. Humans and celestial beings all walk erect. And animals have always walked on four legs. Animals walk horizontally, with their four legs on the ground. This is all fixed. Their whiteness does not come from being washed, and their blackness does not come from being dyed. For example, crows are black, but they weren’t dyed black. Also, swans did not have to be washed to become white. And there have never been nor will there be any changes for eighty thousand eons.

He says: “As I now examine to the end of this life, I find the same holds true. In fact, I have never seen Bodhi, so how can there be such a thing as the attainment of Bodhi? You should now realize that there is no cause for the existence of any phenomena.”

This person is able to see the events that occur within eighty thousand great eons, so he says, “As I now examine to the end of this life, the life of this physical body, I find the same holds true.” Just like the living beings that he perceives within eighty thousand great eons, his body also has no source from which it comes. He says, “In fact, I have never seen Bodhi. I have yet to see what Bodhi looks like, so how can there be such a thing as the attainment of Bodhi? I’ve looked throughout the eighty thousand great eons and haven’t even caught a glimpse of Bodhi, so why should I believe that it is possible to attain Bodhi? You should now realize that there is no cause for the existence of any phenomena; for no reason whatsoever, they come into being.” Actually, he can only see within the range of eighty thousand great eons, and he has no idea of what occurs beyond that period of time.

When the Buddha was in the world, an old man came to the monastery wishing to leave the home-life. The Buddha was away on the road and not at the monastery. The Arhats there all took a look at the old man, who was probably over eighty years old, with wrinkled skin, white hair, and an unsteady gait. Whenever a person requested to leave the home-life, the Arhats would look into his past causes and future effects. Now they contemplated the old man’s causes and found that in the past eighty thousand eons he had not planted a single good root; he had not done any good deeds.

The great Arhats said, “Since you didn’t plant good roots, you cannot leave the home-life.”

You shouldn’t think leaving home is so easy. To leave home, you have to plant good roots for Bodhi in life after life. So the Arhats told the old man, “Although you wish to leave the home-life now, since you don’t have any good roots, we can’t allow you to leave home.You’d better go.”

When the old man heard that, he began to cry. He began to weep as he thought about his unlucky fate. At such an advanced age, he had wished to leave the home-life and had been rejected by the Buddha’s disciples. As he walked along crying, he thought, “I might as well commit suicide. I could hang myself or throw myself into the river. I don’t want to live anymore.” However, his one thought of sincerity evoked a response. The Buddha came back and asked him, “What are you crying for?”

He said, “I wanted to leave the home-life, but the Buddha wasn’t at the monastery and the Buddha’s disciples wouldn’t allow me to leave home. They said that I hadn’t planted any good roots or done any good deeds in the last eighty thousand great eons. That’s why I think I’d be better off dead. There’s no point in living.”

The Buddha said, “Don’t cry anymore. I will help you. I will let you leave the home-life. Come with me to the monastery.” Thus the old man returned to the monastery and left the home-life under the Buddha. All of the Buddha’s disciples were perplexed.

“Strange! The Buddha accepts only those who have good roots. Why did the Buddha accept that old man, who didn’t have any good roots?” the disciples wondered.

To be continued


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