The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
will be held on 6-8 February, 2020 in Perth, Western Australia.
READ MORE

Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
Some of the Buddhist Illustrations created by Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
FREE for everyone to use

We would also appreciate your feedback on Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia. Please write feedback here
Here you can read media articles about the Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia which have been published all over the world.

Paypal-logo.jpg
Articles by alphabetic order
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 Ā Ī Ñ Ś Ū Ö Ō
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0


The Flower Adornment Sutra: A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua: Chapter One: Part Five

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Please consider making little donation to help us expand the encyclopedia    Donate Paypal-logo.jpg    Enjoy your readings here and have a wonderful day  


Blre.lotus.jpg
Kuh0043.JPG
Budd4274ha-pc.jpg
Dun t-art.jpg
Imagesgfd.jpg
Asfa45.jpg
000110602.jpg
Kri0019.JPG
Pr24tan.JPG
160h768.jpg
Js28mongolia widew.jpg
Kuh0002.JPG
N-cc-drs2biz.jpg
4188418528-1.jpg
IMG 0235.jpg
Guru-Man010.JPG
17686 n.jpg
Guru 147.jpg
Amida 2.jpg
Mindswff.jpg
Cm 50x50.jpg
Rumenten.jpg
Supe 6gsx3c.jpg
Ima45kges.jpg
04 manjushrimitra.jpg
Img 75.jpg
D monnik.jpg
10000 (29).JPG
Cnn-yogi.jpg
Imjuages.jpg
Honen01478.jpg
Enhaxcv76-46.jpg
3250 edium.jpg
Mountkoya.jpg
Hell.niraya.n8.jpg
Ment1of1.jpg
What plb01.jpg
Yogaimage.jpg
Rr66abvgEc.jpg
DSC 2440.JPG
1318.JPG
Eyes.jpg
Ak h-02.jpg
E0dd9HiRes.JPG
Milarepa statue.jpg
Ratnadakini01.jpg
Con1.jpg
16787828-lg.jpg
89957xsmall1.jpg
Sanchi-stupa01.jpg
Shakdgsni500.jpg
Hhvxv.jpg
Parif7564.jpg
M2.jpg
Nd=136h.jpg
17494.jpg
In-brazil-2006.jpg
Gur7ad.JPG
5u8907.jpg
Url-55.jpg
Qnckxrhp.jpg
Img065.jpg
150f55 n.jpg
Gur -H 02.jpg
Kuh0148.JPG
Yeshetsogyel45.jpg
Kuh0188.JPG
Gallery3.jpg
Kuh0069.JPG
Ien.jpg
Url-456.jpg
Guru purn.jpg
Url-ivolga.jpg
Hamatsa shaman2.jpg
Mggctal.jpg
Bb1ces.JPG
Rainbow2.jpg
Stoc.jpg
Chakrasamvara45.jpg
Alms-bowls.jpg
Shamanism03.jpg
IMG 3045.jpg
Sukhasiddhi-01-full.jpg
BUDDHA hotei02 l.jpg
Buddha4u4ia.jpg
Story 819b.jpg
YPig622.JPG
Mo kes.jpg
Amoghasiddhi tf52.jpg
02 Padm.jpg
Nks protest1.jpg
Kuh0205.JPG
Meditation432.jpg
25gow.jpg
Ophhee.jpg
Lead1.jpg
0054.gif
Guru-naistega.JPG
0f.jpg
Lakvbakara.jpg
Mandjushr-iand-Potala.jpg
Budfg492.jpg
363461.jpg
Artscene.jpg
Mount fuji.jpeg
Guru alas0.jpg
Sukhasiddhi21.jpg
Tibeth.jpg
He First Jhana.jpg
E13.jpg
Lds.jpg
D Bahai.jpg
Kige.jpg
Mooned6efc.JPG
Emony-in-w.jpg
Kri0009.JPG
S-double1.jpg
Kuh0101.JPG
1511.jpg
Kurukulla26.jpg
Nagarjuna.jpg
Tompa shenrab.jpg
Ksitigarbha and Hell.jpg
Nun1cx.JPG
Ies4peace3.jpg
2hjwNcaJ.jpg
Imvbbes.jpg
Kurukulla1452.jpg
Chakra4.jpg
628x471.jpg
Annetused.jpg
70d-800wi.jpg
D76f.jpg
Shaman19212.jpg
10cxc81 n.jpg
Nag4arjuna.jpg
GURU PADMASAM.jpg
Youcx7ow11.jpg
Dsc 0363.jpg
74272ion-1.jpg
Ke bo 738.JPG
20100903-6.jpg
Untgjh4d-1.jpg
4-ele .jpg
Relie.jpg
MG d420.jpg
476565xddhist.jpg
Field glatz big1.JPG
Ordination 32.jpg
Nepal multi3.jpg
Ima25ges.jpg
4689426741.jpg
Ruwanwelisay75.jpg
1st padtul.jpeg
Gseo1 500.jpg
Ignorance.JPG
Stuupa-aiast-vaadatuna.jpg
Pb-12xcog900.jpg
0145es.jpg
Passig away.jpg
3d-x0.jpg
03 Todai-ji.jpg
0ghh.jpg
Vajra5.jpg
8744658.jpg
Vesak in Uttaradit (Thailand) 1.jpg
0609monk01.jpg
Tibetan-buddhist-medi.jpg
Terton Nyima Drakpa.jpg
KailashTanka.JPG
165 and.jpg
Dalas-0.jpg
Buddhist-nuns-debate.jpg
Fire vajra.jpg
Kuanyin-St.jpg
Ering-In-Laos.jpg
D dhyani buddhas.45jpg.jpg
0001tyypassion.jpeg
023 Buda.jpg
15bn7 n.jpg
Flag3.jpg
11c1 8.jpg
Shakyamunibuddha012.jpeg
A-788öös.jpg
Imag123.jpg
Kuh0189.JPG
Padma-41.jpg
F035.jpg
Grea n1.jpg
A-DharmaRatasJaKitsed.jpg
Baevrge.jpg
1247c3 z.jpg
Padmasambhava417.jpg
Buddhaore1.jpg
AvalokitesvaraFace.jpeg
Bhutan.jpg
Akshobya-detail-face-.jpg
Uni 213.jpg
Atta.jpg
Dha-phuket.jpg
2 mple1 400.jpg
6267626.jpg
717 Machik.jpg
E-pray-in-te.jpg
A669f95.jpg
Stup h.jpg
Me1.jpg
Yellowdzambhala l.jpg
Mandjushri-Layer.JPG
Locana-ghj.jpg
Ma45ria.jpg
FKZkt.jpg
Templemonk.jpg
Snowlion01.jpg
RosanjiTeien.jpg
Tonpashenrab.jpg
20czHAILAND.jpg
Tibetan-children.jpg
Monk4132736k.jpg
Optical-illusion.jpg
DSC03376.JPG
440x900.jpg
Photo-manipulath8019.jpg
246731l.jpg
Enlighte.jpg
Vajrasattva l.jpg
Hall-T45ala.jpg
-lent-.jpg
06sd.jpg
-panchami vishnu.jpg
Stiliseeritdud-Guru.jpg
File 0.jpg
Hua-hin 9.jpg
Kri0012.JPG
Tures 1.jpg
Pain4ting21.jpg
BUDDHA hot.jpg
Hotei in Thailand.JPG
USilanxda 04.jpg
10235.jpg
Kri0011.JPG
N julie chao.jpg
8.Drenpa Namkha.jpg
3d- und-3.jpg
Budnnima17.jpg
Ch O .JPG
Samantabhrada 00.jpg
27 lJamgon Kongtrul.jpg
Eam2.jpg
DSC0c0133.JPG
Bildeh.jpg
Earth bodhisattva.jpg
Dha-fan.JPG
Suk dhi 01.jpg
1f914d.jpg
Kri0024.JPG
Hearing00.jpg
Jian Jin 1.jpg
A vvl.jpg
20do1 1280.jpg
Imaadd.jpg
WrathfulShugden04.jpg
Bo pa.jpg
Shri Singha0.jpg
326bba77.jpg
Mo es.jpg
Pemakarpo.JPG
Offeri.jpg
Amitabha-mandala-tume.jpg
Meditate.reflect2.jpg
Vajra4434.jpg
Agic.jpg
Imabhfdhges.jpg
Ratnasambhava21.jpg
Utpala.jpg
Pa1II.jpg
132j1813.jpg
Thanka 171.jpg
DSCN0x055.JPG
Ksitigarbha-es a.jpg
Nagarju1na-43ab5.jpg
BbJk rge.jpg
Manju3-12.jpg
2fc Ksitigarbha.jpg
Mandzhushri-mandala.JPG
Akss1.jpg
Bodhgaya-1.jpg
Shamanism88123.jpg
608 cam.jpg
Buddxate-12.jpg

The Flower Adornment Sutra:
A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Chapter One: The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds
Translated in the Tang Dynasty by the Tripitaka Master Srãmana Siksananda of Khotan



Part Five

Sutra

Medicine-ruling Spirit Candana Forest gained a passage into liberation of using light to gather in all sentient beings, and of causing those who see him not to do so in vain. Medicine-ruling Spirit Radiance of Leaving Dust gained a passage into liberation of using pure expedient means to extinguish all sentient beingsafflictions. Medicine-ruling Spirit Universal Renown gained a passage into liberation of using great renown to expand the ocean of boundless good roots.

Commentary

The next Medicine-ruling Spirit is named Candana Forest. Candana is a type of incense. When one piece of it is lit, it‘s said that the fragrance can be smelled for forty li [about thirteen miles] around.

Medicine [[[Wikipedia:Chinese|Chinese]] herbal medicine) can be classified as cold, hot, warm, and neutral in nature. People who are running a fever (a “hot illness”) should take medicine of a cooling nature. Those with “cold” illnesses should take medicine of a hot nature to counteract the coldness. Warm means neither cold nor hot. Some illnesses should be treated with warm and gentle medicines. Neutral medicines are medicines that are not very strong or intense. An example is licorice root, which goes well with all other medicines and can neutralize any kind of poison because of its moderate and harmonious nature. Therefore, it is known as the Minister of State [among Chinese medicines]. The medicine chuanjun has the function of breaking through barriers and locks like a valiant general. For example, if a sick person is constipated, and he eats some chuanjun, he will quickly have a bowel movement. Thus it is considered a general. The medicine xijiao (rhinoceros horn) relieves heat in the heart. Since there are numerous kinds of medicine, people must not be careless or casual about them. That’s why there is a spirit in charge of medicine. Each type of medicine cures specific ailments.

This Medicine-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of using light to gather in all sentient beings. She understood the state of the Buddha in which the Buddha uses light to gather in and transform beings, causing those who see it not to do so in vain. Every sentient being who sees the light will benefit and gain advantages. In other words, they will all be gathered in and transformed. That’s the passage into liberation that this particular Medicine-ruling Spirit attained.

The next Medicine-ruling Spirit is named Radiance of Leaving Dust. Leaving the dust, she attains purity and thus has a radiance about her, hence her name. She gained a passage into liberation of using pure expedient means, expedient Dharma doors of purity, to extinguish all sentient beingsobstacles of afflictions. She breaks through their ignorance and affliction, causing them to gain purity and light. She attained such a passage into liberation.

The next Medicine-ruling Spirit is named Universal Renown. Beings everywhere have heard of her. She is the most famous of all the Medicine-ruling Spirits, and her name is known everywhere. Her medicines are so efficacious that they can cure every sentient being’s ailments and generate all kinds of good roots. She gained a passage into liberation, a state of the Buddha, of using his great renown.Upon hearing her name, sentient beings make the resolve for bodhi. Having made the bodhi resolve, they expand the ocean of boundless good roots. That’s the passage into liberation that this Medicine-ruling Spirit attained.

We are now holding a Buddha Recitation Session. For seven days, we gather together to recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha.” This is a rare opportunity. Those who believe in the Buddha should take time out of their busy schedule to join the recitation. When you recite the Buddha’s name on your own, sometimes you have to pause and can’t keep reciting continuously. When everyone recites together, the recitation can continue without interruption. There is a verse that goes,

If you recite the Buddha’s name, reciting without cease,
The mouth recites “Amita” and makes things of a piece.
Scattered thoughts do not arise; samadhi you attain.
For rebirth in the Pure Land, your hope is not in vain.
If all day you detest the suffering Saha’s pain,
Cut off the red dust thoughts within your mind.
Make rebirth in Ultimate Bliss your mind’s essential aim.
Put down impure reflections, and pure thoughts you will find.

Your mouth recites “Namo Amitabha Buddha” and you enter the Buddha Recitation Samadhi. Your hope of being reborn in the Pure Land will certainly be fulfilled. If all day long you feel that the Saha world is full of suffering and vexation, you will let go of everything in this mundane “red dust” world. You make a vow to seek rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, and to you this is most important. When you cast aside defiled thoughts, pure mindfulness is then perfected.

During these seven days, we must be determined to attain the Buddha Recitation Samadhi, for then we will not have wasted our efforts. The more suffering it is, the more you must recite. The more difficult it is, the more you have to recite. Don’t be afraid of suffering or difficulty. Don’t think so highly of your stinking skinbag. You sit for awhile, and your back starts to ache. You walk a little, and your feet hurt. After reciting for a long time, your throat gets dry and your voice grows hoarse. You decide you can’t take it anymore. Who is it who can’t take it? Why do you place so much importance on your stinking skinbag? We should forget our bodies for the Dharma! For the sake of the Buddhadharma, we should disregard our false shell of a body. You may cherish and pamper your body right now, taking care not to let it get sick, get cold, get hungry, or get thirsty. You help it and protect it and lavish lots of attention upon it. But after you have done this for a long time, it will no longer help you out. Bit by bit, it will quit on you. The eyes will quit on you, and then you won‘t be able to see clearly. The ears will quit and grow deaf, saying, “You’ve used us for such a long time; now it’s time to give us our freedom.” Your arms and legs will become feeble and unable to move, also resigning their jobs. At that time, no matter how dearly you cherish your body, it won’t take orders from you anymore.

Now when you are still healthy, it’s the perfect time to recite the Buddha‘s name. You can still “borrow what’s false to cultivate what’s true.” Each of you should pay attention to this. You should not say, “Last year I attended the recitation but didn‘t get anything out of it, so I don’t feel like attending this year.” That‘s the wrong attitude. If you didn’t gain any advantages last year, you should work even harder this year and be determined to gain some benefit. You should vigorously advance in your practice instead of retreating. It shouldn‘t be that:

When you have studied Buddhism for one year, the Buddha is right in front of you. When you studied Buddhism for ten years, the Buddha is far away on the horizon.”

You ought to be more vigorous and sincere with each passing day. Then you will accomplish something.

I have another piece of good news to tell everyone. We have two Bhikshus who are doing a “three steps one bowpilgrimage to Seattle in order to pray for world peace. Now there will not be any major disasters in the world. There might be some minor mishaps, but nothing to worry about. These two Bhikshus have reversed the tides of destiny, making it so that there are much fewer people dying in the world than there would have been. Everyone at Gold Mountain Monastery should be aware of this, especially since two weeks ago, we all made a vow that wherever the bowing monks were, it could rain there either the day before or the day after they were there, but not rain while they were there. Or, it could rain at night, but not during the daytime, for the rain would make it very miserable for them. These conditions have already been fulfilled. After we made that vow, there was no more rain, but only a little fog. Fog is not much of a problem, but it would be better if the fog vanished as well. That would make it easier for them to carry out their vow.

All of you should think it over: Despite all the suffering that they have to go through, they still go ahead and apply effort in cultivation. How does our recitation of the Buddha‘s name indoors compare to that? It can’t be considered suffering by any means. Therefore, we ought to recite diligently so we can attain the Buddha Recitation Samadhi.

After the lecture is over, we will do the Great Transference of Merit. Each one of you should transfer the merit with a true, sincere, and resolute heart. Don‘t let the time pass by in vain.

Sutra

Medicine-ruling Spirit Shining Pores gained a passage into liberation of hoisting a great compassion banner that quickly alleviates all states of illness.

Commentary

The next Medicine-ruling Spirit is named Shining Pores. She can emit light from her pores and is skilled at curing the illnesses of sentient beings. She gained a passage into liberation of hoisting a great compassion banner that quickly alleviates all states of illness. The banner of great compassion is a banner of kindness and compassion. Kindness brings joy, and compassion alleviates suffering. Kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are the Four Unlimited Aspects of Mind of a Bodhisattva.

All good roots grow from these Four Unlimited Aspects of Mind, especially from the aspect of kindness. Thus the Flower Adornment Sutra Prologue has these lines:

By the power of the good roots of kindness,
The light of Moon Love and so forth is emitted.
The diseases of both body and mind
Are extinguished at once by mindfulness.

Kindness is the mother-substance of good roots. Without kindness, it would be impossible for good roots to grow. In order for your good roots to grow, you must cultivate the Samadhi of Kindness. Then you can radiate the light of the Moon Love Samadhi and so forth. It could be said that kindness makes possible the accomplishments of all the Hearers, Condition-Enlightened Ones, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas. A kind heart generates all good roots. After all good roots are formed, the fruition of Buddhahood may be realized. Therefore, kindness and compassion are the most important requisite virtues for cultivators. If you use a kind heart to practice giving, such giving reaps boundless merit and virtue. If you hold precepts with a kind heart, your precepts carry boundless merit and virtue. If you cultivate patience with a kind heart, that patience has boundless merit and virtue. If you apply kindness and compassion to the practice of vigor, the merit and virtue of your vigor is boundless. If you cultivate dhyana concentration with a kind and compassionate heart, the merit and virtue of your concentration will soon be realized. If you cultivate the perfection of prajna wisdom with a kind and compassionate heart, prajna will constantly manifest its light. Therefore, it is essential for cultivators to have a kind and compassionate heart. They should also practice joy and equanimity. These are the Four Unlimited Aspects of Mind of a Bodhisattva. People who practice the Bodhisattva Path must possess kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. With these Four Unlimited Aspects of Mind as a foundation, all good roots will come forth. All good dharmas, and all the miraculous functionings of spiritual penetrations also come forth. Kindness is just the Buddha; the Buddha is simply kindness. Kindness is the Mahayana Teaching. The Mahayana Dharma does not go beyond kindness. If you have kindness, you are cultivating the Bodhi Path, for the Bodhi Path is just kindness. Kindness is the Thus Come One. Thus, kindness is extremely crucial.

Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated the Samadhi of Kindness and used it to subdue a drunken elephant. Devadatta was terribly jealous of the Buddha and wanted to kill him so that he could become the new Buddha. He collaborated with King Ajatashatru, whose name means “grudge before birth,” because he carried a grudge even before he was born. As the King, he had both position and power, and a word from him could decide whether a person would live or die. He was that powerful. He committed the worst evil deeds, including killing his father, killing his mother, killing an Arhat, breaking up the harmony of the Sangha, and shedding the Buddha’s blood. Although he committed those terrible offenses, because he still had some good roots, he was saved by the Buddha in the end.

Devadatta told King Ajatashatru [who at that time was still the Prince] to release the drunken elephant upon the Buddha, hoping that it would crush the Buddha to death under its feet. Being intoxicated, the elephant was intent upon running over and crushing anyone in its path, not caring whether that person was a Buddha or a Bodhisattva. Yet even in its intoxicated state, the elephant was still afraid of lions. The Buddha entered the Samadhi of Kindness, and then extended one hand out for the elephant to see. What do you suppose the elephant saw? It must have been truly drunk! It saw the Buddha’s fingers turn into five lions. The five lions started walking toward the elephant, scaring it right out of its drunken stupor. No longer drunk, the elephant was tamed by the Buddha. The five lions conjured up by the Buddha had subdued the drunken elephant. The Buddha told his disciples, “My fingers did not really turn into lions. They manifested as lions due to the strength of the good roots of kindness I cultivated.” The Buddha’s heart of great compassion subdued the drunken elephant.

What is meant by “the light of Moon Love and so forth”? It refers to the Moon Love Samadhi. When Shakyamuni Buddha was at the Grove of Twin Sala Trees, he observed that King Ajatashatru was gravely ill and on the brink of death. He was barely breathing. Contemplating the causes and conditions and seeing that it was time to save him, the Buddha entered the Moon Love Samadhi and emitted bright light. The light was not hot like that of fire; rather, it was as cool and refreshing as moonlight. One of the Forty-two Hands is the Moon Essence Mani Hand, which dispels fever and illnesses of heat. The Buddha sent forth a cool radiance that shone upon King Ajatashatru’s body, at which point the King recovered, his anxieties vanished, and he felt peaceful and refreshed. The King then asked Jiva, “The Buddha used the Moon Love Samadhi to cure me, but what exactly is the Moon Love Samadhi? Can you tell me?” Being a learned man, Jiva understood the principle behind the Moon Love Samadhi and explained its six meanings to the King.

1. Just as the moonlight causes all utpala blossoms to be fresh and beautiful, the Moon Love Samadhi causes sentient beingswholesome thoughts to blossom vigorously and their bodhi resolve to be long-lasting.

2. The moonlight delights all travelers, but it upsets thieves. However, the moon shines for the sake of travelers, not for thieves. Travelers like the moonlight, but thieves are afraid of it. The Moon Love Samadhi delights those who cultivate the path to nirvana. It brings happiness to anyone who cultivates the Buddhadharma.

3. Between the first and the fifteenth of the lunar month, the moon grows brighter and fuller day by day. Likewise, the Moon Love Samadhi causes the good roots of all sentient beings to grow day by day.

4. From the sixteenth to the twenty-third of the lunar month, the moon gradually wanes day by day. Similarly, the Moon Light Samadhi diminishes sentient beingsafflictions day by day.

5. Just as moonlight can dispel heated and pent-up energies, which make one uncomfortable, the Moon Love Samadhi can rid all sentient beings of the heat of greed and affliction.

6. The moon, which is like a king among stars, gives off a light that everyone loves, like sweet dew. Likewise, the Moon Love Samadhi is the king of all goodness, and is like sweet dew in that all sentient beings love it. That’s why it’s called “Moon Love Samadhi.”

The last two lines of verse say,

The diseases of both body and mind
Are extinguished at once by mindfulness.

What are the diseases of body and mind? We will look into this a little later. Medicine-ruling Spirit Shining Pores attained a great compassion banner that quickly reaches all states of illness. Why does she want to quickly reach all states of illness? Does she want to become ill herself and die along with the patient? Not at all. She wants to go quickly to help those who are sick get better, to cure both their physical and mental diseases, so that their bodies and minds are free from illness. She gained a passage into liberation of quickly reaching all states of illness.

What are the illnesses of the body? The three evils of killing, stealing, and lust. These evils are diseases. The illnesses of the mind are greed, anger, and delusion. If you want to force an interpretation, you can explain it any way you like, but killing, stealing, lust, greed, anger, and delusion are a little easier to understand.

“Are extinguished at once by mindfulness.” As soon as you are mindful of kindness and of the Moon Love Samadhi, both mental and physical illnesses disappear and you feel cool and refreshed.

Sutra

Medicine-ruling Spirit Pure Destroyer of Darkness gained a passage into liberation of curing all blind and dull beings and purifying their wisdom eye.

Commentary

[To a disciple:] Do you know how to explain this passage? Come and explain! Start from the sixth section in the Prologue, where it says:

Section 6. Confused about principle and confused about retribution. With two kinds of ignorance, blind and dull beings become deluded, create karma, and undergo the myriad sufferings.

Continue explaining from there. I don’t have the text with me, but you do.

[ Disciple explains.]

What is meant by the sentence, “It is not existent like empty space. It is not nonexistent like a hare with horns.” Is this referring to the absolute truth, the mundane truth, or the truth of the Middle Way?

Which finger represents the Middle Way? (Answer: The third.) Which one is the mundane truth? (Answer: The first.) Which one is the absolute truth? (Answer: The second.) How do you know? [Answer is inaudible.] Your wisdom is not bad.

In Roll Eight of the Parinirvana Sutra, the Bodhisattva Kashyapa addresses the Buddha, saying, “Why is it said that the Buddha nature is profound and difficult to perceive and enter?”

The Buddha answered, “Suppose there are a hundred blind men who go to a good doctor hoping to regain their sight. The doctor uses a miniature knife and cuts off the film over one man’s eyes. Then he puts up one finger and asks, ‘Do you see anything?’ The man says no.” The first finger represents the mundane truth, and so the man cannot see it. Even Bodhisattvas cannot see the Buddha nature. As for the second and third fingers, the man says he can see them slightly. The eye refers to the wisdom eye. Once your wisdom unfolds, you can understand true principle.

The Prologue text says, “Confused about principle and confused about retribution.” Such people understand neither true principle nor retribution, so they are comparable to blind men. Dull means not understanding anything. Confusion about principle: When one makes discriminations based on confusion about the principle, that is delusion of thoughts. Confusion about retribution could be considered delusion of views, so these are the two delusions of views and thoughts. They could also be called two kinds of ignorance. According to the commentary, the hundred blind men are Bodhisattvas of the Ten Grounds. At each Ground, the Ten Perfections are cultivated, so that makes a hundred blind men. The meaning is that even Bodhisattvas on the Ten Grounds do not see the Buddha nature or understand it. When the Buddha instructs them, they think it very peculiar. They say that all along in their cultivation, they have been confused by the concept of nonself, and thus have not understood the Buddha nature.

The hundred blind people represent people who do not understand and have not seen the Buddha nature, those who have not understood their own minds or seen their own natures. Even Bodhisattvas on the Ten Grounds have such a hard time perceiving the Buddha nature; how much harder it is for Hearers and Condition-Enlightened Ones to see it!

Another interpretation of the three fingers is that they represent the three great asamkhyeyas of eons. National Master Qingliang chooses the interpretation of the three fingers as representing the Three Truths, which is more reasonable.

Medicine-ruling Spirit Pure Destroyer of Darkness gained a passage into liberation of curing all blind and dull beings. “Curing all blind and dull beings” means destroying all their ignorance and purifying their wisdom eye. All sentient beings have the wisdom eye. Why did I tell you to explain this passage of the sutra? I wanted to see whether or not you have opened your wisdom eye. If you have opened your wisdom eye, you can see that the five skandhas are all empty and thoroughly understand the true appearance of all dharmas. You can also deeply enter the sutra treasury and have wisdom like the sea. People who have wisdom like the sea can explain a text without having studied it before. They are able to lecture on all the sutras without having studied them. Their ability to lecture is different from that of people who have studied it from others. If you have the wisdom eye, then the words just flow forth from your own nature. The wisdom eye destroys ignorance. Ignorant people are as if blind and dull. Dull, obstinate beings don’t listen to others and don’t want anyone telling them what to do. They don’t follow rules. Han Yu wrote an essay on “Sacrifice to an Alligator,” saying, “If you continue to be stubborn, I will lead an army of mounted soldiers here and have them shoot and kill you with poisoned arrows.” After that burst of temper, the alligator went away. Alligators are not dull and obtuse; they can understand. Here, “dull beings” refers to those who don‘t follow rules or listen to instructions. There is no way to teach them.

According to Confucian philosophy, such people cannot lead others; they don‘t have leadership ability. However, they won’t take orders either. They won‘t be bossed around by others. People who can’t lead others, and who won‘t be led by others, are useless, dead things.

If people are blind in the eyes, that’s not a big deal; it just means they cannot see things. If their hearts are blind, that’s serious, because then they don’t understand true principle. They are confused about principle. The text says, “purifying their wisdom eye.” When the wisdom eye is opened, you can understand any principle whatsoever. Some people are able to see ghosts and spirits, but they don’t see them with their physical eyes. Some people do have the ability to see these beings with their physical eyes; they have that kind of spiritual penetration as a reward for past cultivation.

Cultivators also have five other eyes, which are the Buddha eye, the Dharma eye, the wisdom eye, the heavenly eye, and the flesh eye. The flesh eye which is among the Five Eyes is not the same as the two physical eyes that we ordinary people have. There is another eye called the flesh eye, which can see things with shape and form and material substance. This flesh eye is different from the two physical eyes. There is only one flesh eye, one heavenly eye, one Dharma eye, one wisdom eye, and one Buddha eye. They come singly, not in pairs. Those who have attained the Five Eyes will understand this kind of state. Those who haven’t attained them only know what the sutras say, but can‘t make heads or tails of it. As it’s said, “The twelve-foot Vajra spirit can’t touch his own head.” Where exactly is your flesh eye? Your heavenly eye? Your wisdom eye? Your Dharma eye, and your Buddha eye? They are not apart from your mind. They are inherent in your own mind. However, because you are enveloped in ignorance, it’s as if you’ve lost the Five Eyes, although you haven’t really. Although you haven’t lost them, you still don’t know how to use them. And since you can’t use them, it’s just as if you’d lost them.

Suppose you cultivate the Way. Say you cultivate the contemplation of Sanskrit syllables. I‘ve explained how you can contemplate the Sanskrit syllables of the Six-Syllable Bright Mantra: om ma ni ba mi hong. [Actually the last syllable is hong, but a person once mistook it for niu, which means “ox”.] When your contemplation is perfected, then you can attain the Five Eyes and Six Spiritual Penetrations. Also, if you contemplate the Sanskrit syllables of the Mantra Heart at the end of the Shurangama Mantra “Da Zhi Tuo Nan E Na Li...” you can also attain the Five Eyes and Six Penetrations. There is also the Avatamsaka Syllabary. A praise says, “Forty-two syllables of the wondrous dharani, each syllable has many meanings...” That can also help you open your Five Eyes and gain the Six Penetrations. If you successfully contemplate every syllable, you will know the realm of the Five Eyes and Six Penetrations.

Dharma Master, what about you?” someone asks.

I’m just the same as you. I’m not any different. I’ve been talking so much that I forgot about the time. I won’t ramble on any longer. Once you open the Five Eyes, there are a lot of hassles. When it happens, you‘ll know what I’m talking about. You‘ll be able see into the heavens and the hells; you’ll see people, and you‘ll also see ghosts. I will tell you this: Seeing so many things, if you can’t concentrate and don’t have enough samadhi, it’s easy to get possessed by a demon. Whether or not you open your Eyes is not important. You shouldn’t think there are great advantages to opening the Eyes. With your Eyes open, you get to spend more time watching movies, watching the radar screen, watching television. If you haven‘t opened your Eyes, you can be a country bumpkin, which is not bad! If you open your Eyes, it’s like going to the big city and seeing all the shows, movies, and casinos--seeing too many things. City dwellers and country dwellers lead different lifestyles, but some of them still manage to keep their minds free from affliction. Once you open the Five Eyes, it’s like you have five more radars that you have to monitor o see if a jet is flying by or an atomic bomb is coming your way. Wouldn’t you say it’s a lot of trouble? Without those radars, you wouldn’t know what was coming, and nothing would come anyway, so it’s pretty relaxing.

Sutra

Medicine-ruling Spirit Universally Roaring gained a passage into liberation of proclaiming the Buddha’s sound and expounding the different meanings of all dharmas.

Commentary

Medicine-ruling Spirit Universally Roaring makes a sound that pervades the Dharma Realm, waking beings throughout the Dharma Realm up from their muddled dreams. She shouts, “Wake up now! Don’t sleep anymore! Those who work should go to work. Those who cultivate should cultivate. Those who eat should eat. Those who sleep should wait until nighttime to sleep.” Hearing her shout, people rub their eyes, chasing away the sleeping bugs, and go to Morning Recitation. Ding-ding-dong! The wooden fish goes Bo-bo-bo! After that, they sit in meditation, then recite the Buddha’s name. Why can they do this? It’s because the Medicine-ruling Spirit Universally Roaring woke us all up. When we hit the boards in the morning, they are speaking on behalf of that Medicine-ruling Spirit. I’m not joking with you. That’s just how insentient things speak the Dharma.

She gained a passage into liberation of proclaiming the Buddha’s sound. The true teaching substance in this region lies in the purity of sound. What is the Buddha‘s sound? What would you say is not the Buddha’s sound? Every sound in the world is the Buddha’s sound, is the appearance of the Buddha’s vast and long tongue. If you say a sound is not the Buddha’s sound, what sound would you call it?

“Well, people have the sound of people; horses have the sound of horses; oxen have the sound of oxen.”

True, each being has its own sound. But these are all transformations created through the wondrous functioning of the Thus Come Ones’ spiritual penetrations.

In the Land of Ultimate Bliss, there are:

...white cranes, peacocks, parrots and egrets, kalavinkas, and two-headed birds. In the six periods of the day and night, the flocks of birds sing forth harmonious and elegant sounds. Their clear and joyful sounds proclaim the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Seven Bodhi Shares, the Eight Sagely Way Shares...

The Land of Ultimate Bliss is like that, and so is our Saha World, if you know how to listen. If you know how to listen, then all sounds are Buddha sounds. If you don‘t know how, then all sounds are ghost sounds. If you understand, it’s the Buddha mind. If you don’t, it‘s still the Buddha mind.

This spirit went about expounding the different meanings of all dharmas. What is meant by “all dharmas”?

“I know,” you say, “there are eleven form dharmas, eight mind dharmas, fifty-one dharmas interactive with the mind, twenty-four dharmas not interactive with the mind, and six unconditioned dharmas, making a total of hundred dharmas in all.”

Yes, the hundred dharmas are among “all dharmas.” “All dharmas” actually refers to just one dharma, not many dharmas. But the one dharma has a different meaning here.

A single source divides into a myriad things. The myriad things all return to the single source.

One can become limitless; limitless can become one. The characters for “different” should be pronounced chi bie. Some people say that my pronunciation is wrong, that chi should be cha. [When pronounced cha, the word means “to err, to mistake.”] It’s not known who is mistaken here. Am I mistaken? Or are you? Since I don’t want to be mistaken, I read it as chi. Chi bie means distinction or difference. When one becomes limitless, all dharmas refer to many dharmas. When the limitless become one, it refers to one dharma.

The one does not obstruct the many; the many do not obstruct the one. A single dharma is simply all dharmas. All dharmas are but a single dharma. Speaking from the point of view of the Buddhadharma, there are 84,000 Dharma doors, which is also “all dharmas.” Eighty-four thousand Dharma doors do not go beyond a single thought. Being inseparable from a single thought, they are a single dharma. The 84,000 Dharma doors represent “all dharmas.” If we were to differentiate all those dharmas, we could take eons of time and still not finish. At present, we don’t want to tax our brains and engage in so much idle thinking. As Great Master Yongjia says in the Song of Enlightenment:

Distinguishing among names and terms,
not knowing how to stop,
Is like counting the grains of sand in the ocean,
exhausting oneself in vain.

Don’t bind yourself up. Instead, set yourself free. It’s better to cultivate the Dharma door of stilling thoughts. Once you succeed in stilling your thoughts, you will understand all dharmas. As another line of the Song of Enlightenment says:

Only get the root; Have no concern for the branchtips.

Once you attain the root, you won’t worry about the branchtips. What is the root? It is the one dharma.

When the one is attained, all things are done.

If you attain the one, then you have completed everything. What does it mean to attain the one? Actually, attaining the one is not sufficient. “How is it insufficient?” you ask. “It is said, ‘When Heaven attains the one, it is clear. When Earth attains the one, it is peaceful. When people attain the one, they are Sages.’ If you attain the one, you are a Sage. How is that insufficient?”

Attaining the one is not enough. You must turn the one into zero. If you can understand the zero, you will have attained the root.

Sutra

Medicine-ruling Spirit Banner of Light Eclipsing the Sun gained a passage into liberation of acting as a good advisor for all sentient beings, causing all beholders to develop good roots.

Commentary

The next Medicine-ruling Spirit isnamed Banner of Light Eclipsing the Sun. To “eclipse” can also mean to “cover” or “block.” There are two interpretations to this spirit’s name. First, it can mean that she can cover up the sun, the way clouds do, so that its light cannot be seen. Secondly, it can mean that her banner outshines the sun, thus causing the sun and moon to appear dim. Hence, her name is “Medicine-ruling Spirit Banner of Light Eclipsing the Sun.” The principles of this sutra are profuse, and each individual has his or her own understanding. Wise people perceive wisdom; humane people see humaneness. Those of profound understanding see what is profound; those of shallow understanding grasp only what is superficial. Now, since my understanding is shallow, I cannot see the profundities of the sutra. I am just an ordinary person, not necessarily humane, and so my views are like those of average people. Even less could I make a claim to wisdom. I am not just being modest or polite; people should know themselves, and I am no exception.

This Medicine-ruling Spirit is able to understand a part of the Buddha’s state. That is, she has gained a passage into liberation of acting as a good advisor for all sentient beings. This is the state of a great Bodhisattva. If one is not a great Bodhisattva, one would not be a good advisor for all sentient beings. “All sentient beings” includes beings that fly, those that swim, those that move on land, plants, and beings born from wombs, eggs, moisture, and transformation. She is able to assume different forms in accord with different kinds of sentient beings and serve as their good advisor. There are great good advisors, average good advisors, and petty good advisors. Great good advisors adjust their teaching according to the situation and speak Dharma that is geared to each person’s needs. Average good advisors speak Dharma according to sentient beingsdesires, enabling them to change their defiled thoughts. Petty good advisors are only capable of getting sentient beings to get rid of their minor bad habits and faults. The good advisor being referred to in the text is a great good advisor. She is capable of causing all beholders to develop good roots. Sentient beings who see this Medicine-ruling Spirit or encounter the Buddha speaking Dharma are led to produce thoughts of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving, and these qualities in turn lead to the planting of good roots.

Just as there are good advisors for sentient beings, there are also people who act as evil advisors for sentient beings. What are evil advisors? They encourage sentient beings to have wrong views and ideas. They lead sentient beings astray, taking them into heterodox sects and cults. Such people are evil advisors. They incite jealousy in sentient beings who were not jealous to start with. They encourage sentient beings who were not greedy to become greedy. They make sentient beings who were not angry give rise to anger. And they arouse deluded thoughts in sentient beings who originally had no delusions.

For example, I encountered a heterodox sect when I was in Manchuria. This heterodox sect claimed that it could make people into emperors. The leader said, “If you join my sect, you can become a king in the future. However, if you don’t join, you may not even get to be an ordinary citizen.” Such talk provokes greed in people. Such a person was an evil advisor. Therefore, in cultivation, we must have Dharma-selecting vision and be able to distinguish between proper and deviant, right and wrong. When it is the Way, we should advance upon it. When it is not the Way, we should retreat from it.

Medicine-ruling Spirit Banner of Light Eclipsing the Sun serves as a good advisor who inspires people to make the resolve for bodhi so that in the future they can become Buddhas. That is her passage into liberation.

Sutra

Medicine-ruling Spirit Clear Vision of the Ten Directions gained a passage into liberation of using a treasury of pure, great compassion to expediently inspire faith and understanding in sentient beings. Medicine-ruling Spirit Universally Shining Majestic Radiance gained a passage into liberation of expediently causing sentient beings to recollect the Buddhas, thereby eradicating all their sicknesses.

At that time, Medicine-ruling Spirit Auspicious received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Medicine-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary

The next Medicine-ruling Spirit is named Clear Vision of the Ten Directions. There must be clarity in order for vision to be possible. At the same time, vision must take place before there can be clarity. Clear Vision refers to possessing the light of great wisdom, which enables this Medicine-ruling Spirit to understand the dispositions of sentient beings throughout the ten directions, hence her name. If we were to discuss the name of the Medicine-ruling Spirit in detail, we would find that it contains infinite meanings and principles. We can only give a simple explanation right now. This Medicine-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of using a treasury of pure, great compassion.

Pure” means without defilement, that is, devoid of the defilement of love and views. “Treasury” has the connotation of containing and encompassing. It contains great compassion. Compassion is used to eradicate suffering. Why is this said to be a “treasury of pure, great compassion”? Because it is devoid of a defiled kind of love. The love that most sentient beings understand is a defiled love which is not pure. Pure loving-kindness is not tainted by defiled thoughts. The difference between this loving-kindness and worldly defiled love is very slight. Since the difference is so slight, one thought may be pure, and the very next thought may be defiled. The pure thought and the defiled thought are not really two different thoughts. They are actually a single thought. If this thought is not defiled, then it is pure. If it is not pure, then it is defiled. Compassionate love has the power to rescue all sentient beings. It is a kind of virtue. She has the virtue of compassionately loving sentient beings, enabling her to expediently inspire faith and understanding in sentient beings. She employs various kinds of expedient methods to help sentient beings develop faith and understanding. She inspires faith in the faithless, while helping faithful beings to deepen their understanding. That is her passage into liberation.

Medicine-ruling Spirit Universally Shining Majestic Radiance has an awesome presence, and sentient beings who see her magnificent light are cured of their illnesses. She has gained a passage into liberation of expediently causing sentient beings to recollect the Buddhas, thereby eradicating all their sicknesses. Through expedient Dharma doors, she leads sentient beings to have faith in reciting the Buddha’s name, make vows to recite the Buddha’s name, and cultivate by reciting the Buddha’s name. She employs various kinds of expedient methods, not only one. In general, she gives sentient beings whatever they like and then instructs them to recite the Buddha’s name.

For example, right now we are holding a session for reciting the Buddha’s name. This is an expedient Dharma door. “Reciting the Buddha’s name is not an expedient Dharma door,” you say. Actually, any Dharma door within the Buddhadharma can be considered an expedient Dharma door, or it can be considered not to be an expedient. That’s because the Buddhadharma is flexible and dynamic, not rigid and static. If you insist that it is a certain way, that becomes an attachment. You ought to not have any attachments. Be totally unattached.

Right now we are doing a Buddha recitation session. In China in the past, once a Buddha recitation session began, many people would attain the single-minded concentration of the Buddha recitation samadhi. Now we are promoting the Pure Land Dharma door in the West, and people are interested in reciting the Buddha’s name. However, it is not enough to simply recite. One must maintain continuous mindfulness in thought after thought, without letting the mind get distracted and wander off. One must recite to the point that the wind cannot blow in and the rain cannot seep in to disturb one’s mindfulness. One should be able to turn all the states one encounters into the state of Buddha recitation. For example, a child is making noise right now. If you have truly attained the Buddha recitation samadhi, his noise will sound like “Namo Amitabha Buddha” to you. Or perhaps it will sound like music to you--music to help you recite the Buddha’s name. Then you will not be annoyed by his noise.

In the Dharma door of Buddha recitation, it is said that one recitation of the Buddha’s name can eradicate the heavy offenses accumulated during eighty million eons of births and deaths. Thus, the merit and virtue of reciting the Buddha’s name is inconceivable, provided that you recite with a true and sincere heart.

Buddhism is just beginning in the West. We must produce some great Bodhisattvas, great Patriarchs, and great Sages. Where are these great Bodhisattvas, great Patriarchs, and great Sages to be found? I can tell you: They are right here at Gold Mountain Monastery. Anyone who is able to apply his or her effort to the utmost point, cultivating with a sincere heart, undaunted by suffering or difficulty, without being the least bit casual or letting a single second pass in vain, and without slacking off, will certainly come to achievement. You may sit in Chan meditation, recite the Buddha’s name, recite sutras, or bow repentances. No matter which Dharma door you cultivate, if you cultivate with concentration and utmost sincerity, you will be successful. Why are you unsuccessful? It’s because you have not worked as hard as the great Bodhisattvas, great Patriarchs, great wise teachers, and great cultivators.

There is an idiom, “To do less work and use inferior materials.” If you don’t understand what that means, it’s like the dharma of waiting around for nails. Probably most of you have attained this samadhi. Hearing about this dharma, everyone smiles, just as Venerable Mahakashyapa did when he saw the Buddha twirl a flower. But this is merely the dharma of waiting for nails. If you attain the dharma of hitting nails, then you’ll be set. If you hit nails instead of waiting for them, then you are not “doing less work.” Doing less work means that when you are supposed to do a day’s work, you do only half a day’s work but take the pay for a full day. An example of using inferior materials is, if you are supposed to use an ounce of gold, you use only eight-tenths of an ounce. You are basically stealing the gold. Our work in cultivation is worth more than diamonds. If you try to get by doing less work and using shoddy materials, you are only cheating yourself. This is the principle that, “If the husband cultivates, the husband gets enlightened. If the wife cultivates, the wife gets enlightened. If you don’t cultivate, you don’t attain anything.”

Reciting the Buddha’s name can eradicate any illnesses that sentient beings might have. “No way, Dharma Master, you’re cheating people! Before I recited the Buddha’s name, I was fine. Now that I’m reciting the Buddha’s name, I’ve also gotten sick. How can you say that reciting the Buddha’s name cures all illnesses? That’s an outright lie!” Actually, getting sick is also eradicating sickness. If you didn’t get sick, how could your sickness be eradicated? Think it over. If you get sick and then your sickness disappears, that’s the eradication of sickness. This should wake you up like a bop on the head, making you realize that not only will you get sick, you will also die. Did you know that? If you don’t hurry up and cultivate, then when impermanence arrives, you won’t be able to do anything about it, and what happens then will be miserable. Sickness is an omen warning you that you should quickly work hard on your cultivation and quickly wake up from your deluded dream. Don’t be unable to relinquish this and let go of that. When you die, you’ll have to let go of everything, whether you want to or not. I often recite this verse for you, and I’ll recite it again in case you have forgotten:

When I exhort you to do good,
you say you have no money, even if you do.
When disaster strikes,
you spend hundreds of thousands, even when you don’t have it.

When you are involved in some sort of accident, you manage to come up with millions of dollars, even if that money isn’t yours. If I invite you to a discussion on wholesome matters, you say you’d like to go, but you’re too busy.

You say, “It’s not that I don’t want to go, but unfortunately, I’m too busy to attend the sutra lecture.”

But the day your life ends and you go to the Yellow Spring*, you may be busy, but you still have to go! (*a reference to the underworld).

No matter how busy you are, King Yama is there waiting for you, saying, “I’m inviting you for a drink. Come right away! I won’t take no for an answer.” You go and drink his intoxicating liquor, and then forget about everything you did before. You don’t have any idea of what will happen in the future either. This is very dangerous.

Medicine-ruling Spirit Universally Shining Majestic Radiance has entered this passage into liberation of being able to eradicate all illnesses.

At that time, during the Dharma Assembly, Medicine-ruling Spirit Auspicious received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Medicine-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Sutra

The Thus Come One’s wisdom is inconceivable.
He completely understands the minds of all sentient beings.
He can employ all sorts of expedient powers,
Extinguishing the measureless woes of the confused multitudes.

Commentary

This is a verse in praise of the Buddha spoken by Medicine-ruling Spirit Auspicious. She says: The Thus Come One’s full, perfect wisdom is inconceivable. We sentient beings also have something which is inconceivable—our ignorance. What is ignorance? It is the inability to distinguish between right and wrong, proper and deviant. We do not know what is proper and what is deviant. We do not differentiate between black and white. We say that what is black is white, and what is white is black. Basically, the terms “black” and “white” are not absolute. If we had named the black color “white” in the beginning, it would be known as “white.” And the term “white” might be used to refer to black things. If we decide to call white things “black,” then white becomes black.

Although these terms are not absolute, most sentient beings identify black as black and white as white, because these names have been fixed by convention. In the beginning, if the names “black” and “white” had been used to name the opposite color, that would be one thing. But since sentient beings are already used to the conventional way of defining these terms, the terms are in effect fixed. Nevertheless, that still doesn’t distinguish the difference between black and white. Wouldn’t you say that’s inconceivable? Thus, the ignorance of sentient beings is inconceivable. Alas! They take what is bad to be good, and what is good to be bad. Transcendental dharmas ought to be cultivated, but they consider them to be completely wrong. Worldly dharmas ought to be renounced, but they insist on clinging to them. Since they cannot renounce worldly dharmas, it is difficult for them to successfully cultivate transcendental dharmas. Wouldn’t you say sentient beings are inconceivable?

Well, is it the case that sentient beings lack the wisdom of the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones? No. The sunlight is there for everyone, but sometimes it gets blocked by clouds. Dark clouds represent ignorance, while sunlight represents wisdom. When your dark clouds block out the sunlight, the day is dark and gloomy. Where do these clouds come from? They are produced from greed, anger, and delusion. Where does wisdom (sunlight) come from? It is produced from precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. If we sentient beings wish to recover our original wisdom, it is essential that we cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.

Precepts stop evil and prevent wrongdoing. They can be summed up as follows: Do no evil, and practice all good. If you can do that, then from observing precepts, you will acquire samadhi (concentration). If you practice good deeds, you will have merit and virtue, which in turn produces samadhi. Samadhi is a result of external merit and inner fruition. You must externally cultivate the Six Paramitas. Once you have a foundation in the Six Paramitas, you will have samadhi. Therefore, the first four paramitas--giving, holding precepts, patience, vigor—are aids to Chan samadhi.

You can establish merit by giving. There is also merit in holding precepts, being patient, and being vigorous. The merit of the four paramitas helps you to attain samadhi, and when that samadhi is full and complete, wisdom arises. If you lack merit and virtue, however, it is very easy to go astray. Merit and virtue help you to achieve samadhi more quickly. Therefore, in cultivation, take care not to be stingy and unable to give things away. You have to give, before you can get. Thus, it is essential to first practice giving, holding precepts, patience, and vigor, to help you gain samadhi. Once you have samadhi, wisdom can develop. When your skill in samadhi is deep, you will have wisdom. This is similar to studying. When you have studied a great deal, your character will become refined. There is a saying:

When one’s erudition is profound, one’s manner is calm.

People who are educated are naturally refined. Refinement refers to a lack of greed, anger, delusion, and ignorance. It is not easy to get rid of ignorance. However, you can gradually reduce it day by day. What do you use to lessen ignorance? Prajna wisdom. With prajna wisdom, you can destroy the darkness of ignorance.

An inconceivable state basically cannot be described in words. It is beyond conception and impossible to talk about. Nevertheless, I have “added a head on top of a head” in trying to say a few things about it. You should not follow my example and add yet another head on top of that, for then there would be three heads! Two heads is already a lot. If another head is added, then you would have three heads and six arms. You see that Guanyin Bodhisattva has more than three heads and six arms, and Junti Bodhisattva also has many hands and eyes. Guanyin Bodhisattva has a thousand hands and a thousand eyes, and he really has three heads. But the heads that you add on are dead.

The Buddha’s wisdom is such that he completely understands the minds of all sentient beings. How numerous are the thoughts of all sentient beings? We don’t know. The Buddha knows, though. As the Vajra Sutra says, “The Thus Come One completely sees and knows the various thoughts of all sentient beings.” However many sentient beings there are, there are equally many thoughts. How does the Thus Come One know about sentient beingsthoughts? Strange! Doesn’t that mean that the Buddha knows everything that sentient beings are up to? That’s right. The Buddha knows everything that sentient beings do, and even knows the things they have not yet done. Just as the Thus Come One completely sees and knows the various thoughts of all sentient beings, he also completely sees and knows the various affairs of all sentient beings. The Thus Come One also completely sees and knows the various actions of all sentient beings. “How can the Thus Come One know about sentient beingsthoughts?” I cannot explain the principle, but I can offer an example from science. This analogy is not quite apt, but I cannot find a better one. This faulty analogy is the only one I can give. What is it? It is that of a radar screen. No matter how many radio waves there are, the radar will detect them. It is also like a wireless set. As long as the correct number is dialed, the wireless set can receive news from all the various countries.

he Buddha is a great scientist. Not only does he have radar, his radar is invisible. It has no physical form, and comes into being spontaneously. Every sentient being’s nature has the Buddha nature, and the Buddha’s radar detects the Buddha nature. You shouldn’t be under the impression that this is a physical radar, because it is without shape or form. Nevertheless, the Buddha can read this radar. That’s why he is said to be a great scientist. The Buddha’s radar is just his wisdom eye. You may be thinking, “This analogy is completely off the mark. It is not at all apt.” Well, give me an analogy that is apt, and in the future I can use it when I explain sutras. Since I haven’t found any correct way of describing this state, I can only resort to this erroneous explanation.

In any case, that is how the Thus Come One knows the thoughts of sentient beings. What’s the use of knowing their thoughts? Is it so the Thus Come One can watch over sentient beings? For example, he might see them stealing things and think, “Oh, so this sentient being is stealing crackers to eat. That one is stealing peanuts.” Actually, the Buddha doesn’t watch over such trivial matters. “Probably the Buddha makes a note of it when a sentient being commits murder.” The Buddha doesn’t use his knowledge of sentient beingsthoughts expressly for the purpose of recording their offenses and their merit. Offenses and merit do not exist in the Buddha’s record-book. Those are items that ordinary sentient beings make a record of. They keep daily journals of the events that happen. “Then why does the Buddha want to know sentient beingsthoughts?”

Doesn’t the text say it clearly? He can employ all sorts of expedient powers. The Buddha wants to know sentient beingsthoughts so he can teach and transform them. He wants to help sentient beings leave suffering and attain bliss, end birth and death, and attain Buddhahood soon. That’s his purpose. It is like opening a lock. Sentient beingsminds are locked, and the door into wisdom cannot be opened. The Buddha uses the key of wisdom to open sentient beings’ door into wisdom and close the door to ignorance. Thus, he employs all sorts of expedient powers, extinguishing the measureless woes of the confused multitudes. Who are the confused multitudes? “They are,” you say. Are you part of them? Am I? The “confused multitudes” refers to you, me, and all sentient beings. Anyone who has not attained sagehood and transcended the Triple Realm is confused. Don’t think you’re so extraordinary, so great and lofty, an exceptional individual among humankind. Don’t think you’re that capable. What special ability do you have? Before you have destroyed your confusion, what ability do you have?

The Buddha is aware of the immense suffering of confused sentient beings, and he wishes to extinguish it. What is suffering? It is a lack of understanding of true principle. If you understand the truth, your suffering comes to an end. How can you come to understand truth? By studying the Buddhadharma. How can you study the Buddhadharma? By making a steadfast resolve. Vow to study the Buddhadharma to the ends of time. “In life after life, I will leave home to become a Bhikshu or Bhikshuni. Or, if I don’t leave home, then I will become a Upasaka or Upasika. In any case, I will study the Buddhadharma. In every life, I will immerse myself in the Buddhadharma and never be apart from it. Once I understand the Buddhadharma, I will explain it to others and propagate it.”

If you don’t have vows, it’s like not having a boat when you want to cross the river. Without a boat, you will certainly be drowned. Since I don’t wish my disciples to drown, I’m telling you to make vows. It doesn’t matter how great or small your vows are. If your vow is as small as a particle of dust, you still have a dust-particle-sized boat and you won’t fall into the sea of suffering, especially the sea of measureless woes being discussed in the sutra. If you make vows, you can “extinguish the measureless woes of the confused multitudes.” Your vows should be made in stone, not in a pile of ashes or sand. They shouldn’t be soft and weak, with no foundation. Your vows should be based on solid ground and reach up to the sky, as firm and hard as rock. Only then do they count. “If you want me to die, fine; but if you want me to give up studying the Buddhadharma, I won’t.” Your vows should be that strong. “If you want me to die, fine; but if you want me to eat meat, I won’t. I’ll die before I eat a bite of meat.”

Every year, on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, the day of the Buddha’s Enlightenment, we should all make vows. We should bring forth the bodhi resolve to catch up to Shakyamuni Buddha and quickly realize Buddhahood ourselves. Before we catch up, we cannot stop. We must keep on chasing after him until we reach the fruition of Buddhahood. We can’t yield to our teacher. Our Original Teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, has already become a Buddha. What are we waiting for, lingering in the back? We ought to get ahead of our teacher. At the very least, we should catch up to him.

Sutra

The Great Hero’s skillful expedients are hard to fathom.
Nothing that he does is ever in vain.
He is determined to rid sentient beings of all suffering.
Candana Forest spirit awakens thus.

Commentary

The Great Hero’s skillful expedients are hard to fathom. The Buddha is a great hero, a great man, and a great teacher. He is worthy of all these titles. We sentient beings call ourselves heroes, great men, and teachers, but we lack the true qualifications. The Buddha alone is deserving of these names. What is meant by Great Hero? It does not refer to one who draws his sword and is ready to fight. Great heroes are not aggressive and belligerent bullies who get others to obey orders by force. Great heroes can cultivate practices that others cannot cultivate, endure adversities that others cannot endure, and undergo suffering that others cannot undergo. Shakyamuni Buddha is an example of someone who cultivated practices that others cannot cultivate.

He cultivated blessings and wisdom for three asamkhyeyas of eons And created the causes for the special marks and characteristics for a hundred kalpas.

During that incredibly long period of time, he was consistently vigorous and never lax. Thus, he cultivated what others could not. The Buddha also endured adversities that others would find unbearable. For instance, his limbs were severed from his body by King Kali. Most people would not have been able to endure that, but the Buddha did. Not only did he bear it, he vowed, “When I become a Buddha, you will be the first one I will take across to Buddhahood. Why? Because you are a genuine good advisor of mine. You are a true helper and protector. Out of concern for me, you have helped me succeed and develop my resolve for bodhi and reach the fruition of the Way. Therefore, I am determined to save you first.” Take a look. King Kali sliced off the Buddha’s flesh and his four limbs, yet the Buddha still vowed to save the king. Isn’t that a prime example of enduring adversities that others cannot endure?

He also underwent suffering that others cannot undergo. We of the present time are quite shameless. We eat one meal a day, and think we have some skill in cultivation. We think, “In the heavens and on earth, I alone am honored.” Observe how Shakyamuni Buddha endured the cold of the Snow Mountains. From the nameSnow Mountains,” it’s obvious that it was cold. The snow on those mountains was so thick that it didn’t melt even in summertime. Even though it was bitterly cold, the Buddha ate only one sesame seed and one grain of wheat each day. We, in comparison, drink milk and eat oatmeal, butter, bread, delicious white rice, and yellow ginger with purple sprouts. If we want seasonings such as chili, pepper, soy sauce, or salt, they are all available. When the Buddha was in the Snow Mountains, I doubt he had any of these seasonings. Why? Because the Buddha wasn’t as pathetic as we are. He wasn’t constantly wondering, “What are we going to have for lunch today? Will there be tofu? How about marshmallows?” Such are the idle thoughts we have. As we attend the Buddha recitation session, our thoughts take us right into the kitchen. Our minds wander into the kitchen to see what’s for lunch. It’s not a Buddha recitation session we’re holding; it’s a food session!

We ought to reflect on the kind of suffering our teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, went through—suffering that most people cannot take. He was truly a great hero, an outstanding human being, a great teacher of gods and humans. He is truly worthy of being our teacher. With such a great hero for a teacher, we should certainly be disciples who are great heroes, not disciples who are as ignorant as country bumpkins--literally bags stuffed with straw, or cotton for that matter. We should put forth some effort for the sake of Shakyamuni Buddha, thinking, “Our teacher went through such bitter hardship in his time; why shouldn’t I be able to endure that kind of suffering? Why am I so willing to be a wine-bag, a rice-sack, and a clothes-hanger?” That’s what we ought to ask ourselves. That way, we won’t need to feel ashamed being disciples of a great hero.

“The Great Hero’s skillful expedients are hard to fathom.” Skillful, expedient methods are used to teach and transform sentient beings in a way that the teaching is adapted to the needs of the situation and the Dharma is taught on an individual basis, just as medicine is prescribed according to the patient’s illness. “Hard to fathom” indicates that the expedient methods employed by the Buddha are intrinsically different from the methods used by sentient beings. When we try to use expedient methods, people aren’t very receptive. The Buddha uses those same expedient methods, and sentient beings are receptive to his teaching. What’s the principle here? It’s not simply a matter of dharma, it’s also a matter of affinity. Since the Buddha has established affinities with sentient beings, they are receptive to his teaching. We, however, have not created such affinities, so sentient beings take no delight in listening to our exhortations. Therefore, we need to create affinities with sentient beings. What is more, the Buddha cultivated blessings and wisdom for three asamkhyeyas of eons, and created the causes for the special marks and characteristics for a hundred kalpas. With his merit and virtue perfected, he is able to influence others through his virtue instead of forcing them to submit. When people are oppressed by authority, they submit, but unwillingly. When people are inspired by virtue, they truly submit in their hearts. The Confucian school also teaches this:

When people are forced to submit, they do so unwillingly since they are powerless to do otherwise. When people influenced by virtue, they submit willingly and with heartfelt sincerity.

Therefore, we ought to cultivate blessings and wisdom. By doing our best to benefit others, we cultivate blessings. We benefit ourselves when we cultivate wisdom. To be of benefit to others, we have to help them out. To be of benefit to ourselves, we should help ourselves. To help ourselves takes prajna. Helping others requires that we have the Four Unlimited Aspects of Mind of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving.

Hard to fathom”: Ultimately, what kind of expedient method should we use? Which one is most suitable for the occasion? Only the Buddha knows. We sentient beings often think a certain method is right, but it turns out to be wrong. We think another method is wrong, but it is actually right. Therefore the line says that the Buddha’s expedient means are hard to fathom; they are not easy to understand.

Nothing that he does is ever in vain. The Buddha never engages in futile or useless endeavors. Everything the Buddha does and says brings benefit to sentient beings. We sentient beings, however, lack such understanding, and so we often do things wrong without realizing it.

He is determined to rid sentient beings of all suffering. The Buddha’s sole purpose, his only wish, is to completely eradicate the misery of sentient beings. The previous verse said,

The Thus Come One’s wisdom is inconceivable.
He completely understands the hearts of all sentient beings.
He can employ all sorts of expedient powers,
Extinguishing the measureless woes of the confused multitudes.

Extinguishing their measureless woes is easy to talk about, but not easy to do. In his every thought, the Buddha wishes to extinguish sentient beings’ woes. He has been doing this all the way to the present moment, and what happens is, each time he eradicates one sentient being’s woes, another sentient being’s woes begins. When he has put an end to that sentient being’s woes, yet another sentient being starts to suffer. Their sufferings are like endless waves coming one after another in the ocean. Like the woes of sentient beings, these waves are hard to stop. Nonetheless, the Buddha “is determined to rid sentient beings of all suffering.” So it’s impossible to extinguish their woes? Well, he’s determined to do it. Knowing full well that it cannot be done, he still insists on doing it against all odds. Aware of the difficulty of eradicating sentient beings’ woes, the Buddha is nonetheless willing to take on the tough work of teaching and transforming sentient beings.

This can be compared to when people make a resolve to save the world. How can the world be saved? One person alone cannot do it. It takes the effort of many people to save the world. However, if everyone just looks at one another and does nothing, the world will soon come to an end. You ought to bring forth the bodhi resolve to save sentient beings, not caring whether other people are doing this work. You should think, “I see that this is a job I ought to do, and so I’m just going to go ahead and do it.”

The work of saving the world is everyone’s responsibility. Since it’s everyone’s responsibility, I ought to do my share and not wait for others. That way, there’s a real possibility for the world to be saved.

Candana Forest spirit awakens thus. The Spirit Candana Forest understands the various principles and states discussed and enters this passage into liberation.

[In answer to a question about Venerable Master Hsu Yun) If he were comfortable and at ease, you still wouldn’t do what he does. If he were totally at ease and free of sickness, you would be even more inclined to think, “He’s an eighth ground Bodhisattva, whereas I’m a sixth ground Bodhisattva, so I can’t do the things he does.” Wouldn’t you reason in that way, thinking, “Since he’s an eighth ground Bodhisattva, the things he does are beyond my ability.”

According to your view, he is an eighth ground Bodhisattva who is totally at ease in the wonderful functioning of spiritual powers, so he ought not to get sick, right? In my opinion, as an eighth ground Bodhisattva, he shouldn’t even come to such a defiled world. He shouldn’t come into this Evil World of the Five Turbidities. Since he came, it means that he was looking for something to do when there was nothing to do. Being idle and unoccupied, he wanted to come and be in the play. Having joined the play—this is your samadhi — he wanted to try everything out. Having come to the world, he acted the same as other sentient beings--eating, sleeping, wearing clothes, getting sick, and dying. He wasn’t any different from others. People have to come to realization on their own. His every move was speaking the Dharma for sentient beings. He manifested the conduct of being sick and in pain and suffering. Basically, what was his Three Steps One Bow pilgrimage for? Ostensibly, it was a pilgrimage to Wutai Mountain to pay respect to Manjushri Bodhisattva. Was Manjushri Bodhisattva really at Wutai Mountain? If Manjushri Bodhisattva were only at Wutai Mountain, then the sentient beings in the United States could never hope to see him. Therefore, all of this is speaking Dharma for us.

Even our two Bhikshus, who are doing a Three Steps One Bow Pilgrimage—what are they bowing for? They say they are bowing to all Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time, to the Avatamsaka Assembly of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as Vast as the Sea. Why do they need to do “three steps one bow” to pay homage to the Avatamsaka Assembly? The Avatamsaka Assembly’s Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are right here. The monks are just manifesting this practice as a way of speaking Dharma for sentient beings. There are many different ways of speaking Dharma. Even getting sick and dying are ways of speaking Dharma.

If you understand, then the person is speaking Dharma for you. If you don’t understand, then he is just doing something to keep from being idle. His work is superfluous and unnecessary. He thinks this world is a lot of fun, so he has come to play. The Bodhisattvas of the eighth, ninth, and tenth grounds have all come here to play. That’s called the playful samadhi. Therefore, why get attached to the matter of whether or not he gets sick? If you want to think along those lines, you ought to ask why an eighth ground Bodhisattva is not free from death. Why did he die? That’s the biggest question. Sickness is a minor matter in comparison.

The two “Three Steps One Bowmonks could be said to be great heroes. If they weren’t great heroes, they wouldn’t be able to do what they’re doing. In the future, all of you should become great heroes. We’ll become a hundred billion great heroes—heirs of Shakyamuni Buddha endowed with great might and great compassion.

Sutra

Contemplate how the Dharma of all Buddhas is this way.
Having cultivated diligently in measureless eons past,
They are detached from all that exists.
Radiance of Leaving Dust enters this passage.

Commentary

All sentient beings should contemplate how the Dharma of all Buddhas throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time—the past, present, and future—is this way. That’s just the way the Dharma is. What way? We could go into great detail talking about this, but for now we will only speak in general. There are the Three Bodies, the Four Wisdoms, the Five Eyes, and the Six Spiritual Powers. There are all the spiritual transformations, and the 84,000 Dharma doors. They are all like this. Like what?

The path of language is cut off.
The place of the mind’s activity is gone.
The mouth wants to speak, but words are gone.
The mind wants to think, but there are no thoughts.

There is nothing to say. That’s just how it is. The Dharma of all Buddhas is that way. How can one attain this Dharma? How can one attain unmoving thusness and constant, clear understanding? The next line says very clearly:

Having cultivated diligently in measureless eons past . How did he attain this Dharma? He attained it because for limitless eons, he diligently cultivated precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, and extinguished greed, anger, and delusion. Throughout these limitless eons until now, he has diligently cultivated all dharmas. Having cultivated the Dharma and the Way which is thus, he now realizes the Buddha fruition which is thus. Diligent cultivation is the primary cause for the realization of Buddhahood.

When the Buddha cultivated the Way, he was vigorous in the six periods of the day and night. For the sake of seeking the Buddhadharma and attaining the Buddha Way, the Buddha renounced both internal and external wealth. External wealth refers to one’s country, cities, wife, and children. Internal wealth refers to one’s body, mind, life, and parts of the body, such as the head, eyes, brains, and marrow. The Buddha was able to give all of those away. He truly practiced the teachings and honestly applied himself to cultivation.

They are detached from all that exists. All that exists encompasses everything within the Three Realms—the Desire Realm, the Form Realm, and the Formless Realm. What is it that exists in these Three Realms? Outflows, birth and death, ignorance, afflictions, and bad habits. Yet the Buddha was not attached to existence. He destroyed all attachments. Only when you have no attachments can you attain liberation. If you are still attached, you cannot be liberated. If you have the attachment to self and the attachment to dharmas, you cannot attain liberation. You have to get rid of all attachments whatsoever.

Radiance of Leaving Dust enters this passage. Medicine-ruling Spirit Radiance of Leaving Dust enters and understands this passage into liberation.

Sutra

The Buddha is hard to encounter in a hundred thousand eons.
If there are those who get to see him or hear his name,
It is not in vain, and they will certainly benefit.
Universal Renown spirit understands thus.

The Thus Come One, from every pore,
Emits bright light that extinguishes all disasters,
Putting an end to all the world’s afflictions.
Shining spirit enters this passage.

Commentary

The Buddha is hard to encounter in a hundred thousand eons. It is hard to get to hear the Buddhadharma. It is hard to obtain a human body. It is hard to get to be born in the United States. It is difficult to encounter a good advisor. As the verse goes,

The unsurpassed, profound, subtle and wonderful Dharma
Is difficult to encounter in a hundred million eons.
I now see and hear it, receive and maintain it,
And I vow to understand the Thus Come One’s true meaning.

Just as it is hard to encounter the Dharma in a hundred million eons, it is also not easy to meet up with the Buddha in a hundred million eons. Sometimes you meet him without recognizing him. Most people don’t realize they have met the Buddha until after the event. Zhu-ge Liang was able to know about things before they happened, but most people are confused when things happen and only figure out what’s going on later on.

If there are those who get to see him or hear his name . This is a hypothetical statement, “if…” Basically, this situation neither exists nor does not exist. But suppose there are people who see the Buddha or hear his name. It is not in vain, and they will certainly benefit. They will gain advantages, and the situation will not have been totally worthless. Universal Renown spirit, a Medicine-ruling Spirit with a great reputation, understands thus this passage into liberation.

The Thus Come One, from every pore, / Emits bright light that extinguishes all disasters. Every time the Buddha raises his hand, takes a step, emits light, or causes the earth to quake, there are causes and conditions for it. What causes and conditions? He wishes to benefit sentient beings and eradicate all disasters and hardships. Disasters and hardships are misfortunes. The Buddha wishes to bring people good fortune and get rid of their disasters. How do people’s disasters get eradicated? They simply have to see the Buddha’s light or the Buddha’s body, and their disasters will vanish.

Putting an end to all the world’s afflictions. There are all kinds of afflictions in the world. They are too numerous to describe in full. The Buddha displays great spiritual powers and eradicates the affliction-obstacles of all sentient beings. Once their affliction-obstacles are destroyed, their wisdom increases.

Shining spirit, a Medicine-ruling Spirit, enters this passage into liberation. She attains this kind of state.

Sutra

All sentient beings are blinded by ignorance.
Their delusion and karma lead to endless kinds of suffering.
The Buddha casts these out and reveals illuminating wisdom.
Destroyer of Darkness thus observes.

Commentary

All sentient beings are blinded by ignorance. We pitiful sentient beings consider ourselves intelligent, when in fact we have wandered unwittingly into the pit of birth and death. Why have we fallen into this pit of samsara without realizing it? Because we are ignorant. We are as if blind. Blind people can easily endanger their own lives by walking into the sea or into a river, or falling into a well. We foolish sentient beings may wish to be free from birth and death, but we cannot find our way out. We have no idea how to go about liberating ourselves from the cycle of rebirth in the six paths.

Their delusion and karma lead to endless kinds of suffering. “Delusion” means the same thing as ignorance. Sentient beings become deluded, create karma, and receive retribution, over and over again. They keep revolving in this cycle, never managing to get out. Turning around and around, they don’t know what they are doing. This results in limitlessly many kinds of suffering.

The Buddha casts these out and reveals illuminating wisdom. Seeing us wretched sentient beings, like trapped flies buzzing to and fro without being able to escape, the Buddha takes pity on us and casts out our delusion, karma, sufferings, and ignorance, causing our pure wisdom eye to open and illuminate everything like sunlight.

Medicine-ruling Spirit Pure Destroyer of Darkness thus observes. She understands this state and enters this passage into liberation.

Sutra

The Thus Come One’s single sound is unlimited.
It can open all Dharma doors, which are oceanic in extent.
Sentient beings who hear it gain complete understanding.
This is the liberation of Loud Sound.

Commentary

The Thus Come One proclaims the Dharma with a single sound.
Sentient beings each understand it according to their kind.

Thus the text says: The Thus Come One’s single sound is unlimited. It has no limits or bounds. It can open all Dharma doors, which are oceanic in extent. That one sound is replete with all sounds, all dharmas, and all meanings. Therefore, it can open the ocean of all Dharma doors. Sentient beings who hear it gain complete understanding. Every sentient being who hears the Buddha’s voice feels as if the Buddha is speaking directly to him. This is as when the sun shines, everyone feels the sunlight shining on him. This is the passage into liberation ofLoud Sound, which refers to Medicine-ruling Spirit Universally Roaring.

Sutra

Observe the inconceivable wisdom of the Buddha.
He universally appears in every destiny to rescue all beings,
All who see him are transformed by his influence.
This is the deep insight of Banner Eclipsing the Sun.

Commentary

You ought to contemplate and observe the inconceivable great wisdom of the Buddha, gained through limitless eons of cultivation. It is difficult to imagine or describe such wisdom. The wisdom of sentient beings cannot fathom the state of the Buddha’s wisdom. For that reason, it is said to be “inconceivable.”

He universally appears in every destiny to save all beings. “Every destiny” includes the four evil destinies, wherein sentient beings with heavy offense karma dwell. With sincere compassion, the Buddha contemplates the sentient beings in the evil destinies—the asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals—and in the good destinies, such as the heavens. “Every destiny” encompasses all sentient beings, regardless of whether they are good or evil. With his great spiritual might, the Buddha manifests in every destiny, teaching and transforming sentient beings according to their kind. The Buddha appears within the destiny of asuras in order to teach and transform the stubborn, unruly, and incorrigible asuras. Asuras are perverse and totally unreasonable. The Buddha appears in their midst as one of their kind, in order to influence them. Animals are of many kinds, and the Buddha manifests in many animal forms to teach them. The Buddha also appears as a hungry ghost in order to teach and transform hungry ghosts. The Buddha also goes into the hells in order to teach the beings there. He universally appears in every destiny in order to save all sentient beings.

The good flock together.
The evil gather in gangs.

Everyone likes to be with those of their own kind. People search for and hang out with others who are like them. The Buddha, using his spiritual powers, teaches sentient beings according to their potentials. All who see him are transformed by his influence. Sentient beings are easily influenced by the Buddha, and they cultivate according to his teaching. This kind of state is the deep insight of Medicine-ruling Spirit Banner Eclipsing the Sun. She deeply understands and awakens to this passage into liberation.

Sutra

The Thus Come One’s great compassion and expedients are oceanic.
For the sake of benefiting those in the world, he appears.
He extensively explains the Proper Path for sentient beings.
The Spirit Vision of the Directions comprehends thus.

Commentary

The Thus Come One’s great compassion and expedients are oceanic. The expedient Dharma doors of great compassion employed by the Thus Come One are as vast and deep as the ocean.

For the sake of benefiting those in the sentient world, he appears in the world. He extensively explains the Proper Path for sentient beings. The Proper Path is to be distinguished from deviant paths. The Proper Path refers to the Proper Dharma. He extensively expounds the Proper Dharma in order to show sentient beings the way to escape the Triple Realm. Medicine-ruling Spirit Clear Vision of the Ten Directions comprehends this state thus. She enters this passage into liberation.

Sutra

The Thus Come One sends forth brilliant light everywhere.
It illumines every being in the ten directions without fail,
Causing them to recollect the Buddha and create merit and virtue. This is the passage into liberation of Shining Majestic Radiance.

Commentary

The Thus Come One sends forth brilliant light everywhere. The Buddha dwells in the Treasury of Great Brilliance, and he releases that brilliant light everywhere. “Everywhere” means that every place throughout empty space and the Dharma Realm is within the Treasury of Great Brilliance.

Let me tell you a principle that many people might find unbelievable, but that ghosts and spirits will believe. Because people are too intelligent, people may be unable to believe this because they are too intelligent. Or their disbelief could also be due to excessive ignorance. Why is that? Those who are overly intelligent will not believe because their intelligence takes them too far. Those who are overly dull will not believe either, because their dullness does not reach the mark. What is this principle? It has to do with the library. There are libraries in various places in the world, and we ought to take good care of them. For example, we can install wooden shelves with glass doors to protect the books from getting dusty. Despite the protective measures taken in libraries, sometimes damage does occur. The damage or loss might come from the overprotectiveness of the librarian. For example, for the sake of protecting the books, he might take them to his own home and put them on his bed.

Dharma Master, what you’re saying about libraries is not a very profound principle. It’s quite common and easy to understand.” I haven’t gotten to the profound part yet. Don’t be impatient. I’ve just made the point that people go to a lot of trouble to protect the books in libraries. For example, the members of the Sangha have to protect the Tripitaka—the Buddhist Canon. If there is instability in one country, they will move it to another country. If that country becomes unsafe, they will transport it to yet another country. But when the Sangha members die, it’s not known who will protect the Canon.

“Is he talking about me?” someone is thinking to himself.

“What in the world is he talking about?” another person is wondering. “The more he says, the more ordinary it sounds.” Now I’ll tell you something out of the ordinary. When you open your Buddha eye, your Dharma eye, and your wisdom eye, take a look and you will see that throughout empty space and the Dharma Realm, there is an uncountable number of libraries. These libraries don’t need anyone to watch over them, and yet the books don’t get lost either. Do you believe this? What’s more, every Bodhisattva, Buddha, and Arhat is there reading the infinite, inexhaustible Dharma Treasury. Every sage is there reciting his own never-ending sutra. None of these sutras need to be protected. If you haven’t opened the Buddha eye, the Dharma eye, or the wisdom eye, then don’t even try to understand what this state is all about. I knew that if I spoke about it, no one would believe me. Nonetheless, I cannot hold back and not speak. When it’s time to speak, I must speak.

“Where are these sutras?” you ask. “There’s nothing there in space. How come you say there are all those sutras there?” You say there’s nothing in space? Space contains everything whatsoever. It’s just that blind people cannot see the state of wonderful existence. For example, although the Buddha sends forth brilliant light everywhere, people without eyes cannot see it.

It illumines every sentient being in the worlds of the ten directions without fail. No sentient being escapes being illumined by the Buddha’s bright light. We have a saying,

The Buddha’s light shines universally. The dew water moistens equally.

The Buddha’s light shines on beings, causing them to recollect the Buddha and create merit and virtue. The Buddha inspires all sentient beings to recite the Buddha’s name. By reciting the Buddha’s name, they are freed from all sicknesses and karmic offenses. Once they get rid of their sicknesses and offenses, they create merit and virtue. With merit and virtue, they are able to bring forth the bodhi resolve, cultivate the Unsurpassed Way, and ultimately realize Buddhahood.

We who study Buddhism should avoid indulging in far-out fantasies. The higher and farther our thoughts take us, the less we understand what’s right in front of us. Some people devote all their time to investigating rocks on the moon. But do they completely understand the rocks on earth—how they are formed and how they develop? If they don’t even understand the rocks on earth, what are they studying moon rocks for? That’s a case of renouncing what is near to seek what is far away, neglecting what is fundamental to pursue what is superficial.

Seeing this, the Buddha wrinkles his brow and wonders, “What can be done? These sentient beings have forgotten about themselves and only ‘make wedding clothes for others.’” They use cloth to help other girls make wedding clothes, but don’t get married themselves. This is also known as “neglecting your own fields and going to till someone else’s fields.”

This is the passage into liberation of the Medicine-ruling Spirit Shining Majestic Radiance.

All right, I’m not going to say anymore.

Great Master Zhizhe of the Tiantai School recited the Lotus Sutra to the part which says, “This is true vigor. This is a true offering of Dharma.” At that point, he saw Shakyamuni Buddha’s Dharma Assembly at Vulture Peak--it was still going on and had not dispersed.

Let me tell all of you good advisors another unbelievable principle: The Dharma assemblies Buddhas of the ten directions are all in progress at present. Therefore, everyone should work hard on his or her cultivation!

Sutra

Moreover, Forest-ruling Spirit Spreading Flowers Like Clouds gained a passage into liberation of an oceanic treasury of vast, great, boundless wisdom.

Commentary

Moreover, to elaborate further on the principles that were not fully discussed earlier, Forest-ruling Spirit Spreading Flowers Like Clouds gained a passage into liberation of an oceanic treasury of vast, great, boundless wisdom. This Forest-ruling Spirit spread and scattered a sea of lotus flowers in cloud-like formations. She attained a sea of vast, boundless wisdom. Such wisdom is immense and without boundaries, like an ocean, so it is said to be an “oceanic treasury.” She attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra

Forest-ruling Spirit Helping Trunks Grow Tall and Pouring Forth Light gained a passage into liberation of extensively cultivating purity on a universal scale.

Commentary

The next Forest-ruling Spirit is named Helping Trunks Grow Tall and Pouring Forth Light. She helps all the trunks of trees to grow taller day by day, and she also emits a pure light. She cultivates the Dharma door of vast purity. Purity refers to the absence of defiled thoughts. Defiled thoughts are thoughts of emotional love. Cultivators of the Way must first cultivate their skill in cutting off desire and getting rid of love. When they have perfected this skill, everything will be pure. This spirit gained a passage into liberation of extensively leading all sentient beings to be engaged in cultivating the Dharma door of undefiled purity on a universal scale.

Sutra

Forest-ruling Spirit Producing Sprouts and Emitting Radiance gained a passage into liberation of causing sprouts of various kinds of pure faith to grow.

Commentary

These spirits rule over trees. All trees have spirits watching over them. Very large trees are known in Buddhism as “villages of ghosts and spirits,” because ghosts and spirits dwell in them. Be careful when you go near great, big trees, for you might encounter ghosts.

Forest-ruling Spirit Producing Sprouts and Emitting Radiance gained a passage into liberation of causing sprouts of various kinds of pure faith to grow. This Forest-ruling Spirit produces sprouts of pure faith and emits the light of wisdom. She causes all kinds of pure faith to sprout. These are sprouts of bodhi. She attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Forest-ruling Spirit Auspicious Pure Leaves gained a passage into liberation of amassing all kinds of purity, merit and virtue, and adornment. Forest-ruling Spirit Overhanging Resplendent Treasury gained a passage into liberation of constantly beholding the entire Dharma Realm through a universal gateway of pure wisdom. Forest-ruling Spirit Wondrous Adorned Radiance gained a passage into liberation of universally knowing the ocean of all sentient beings’ practices and creating Dharma clouds.

Commentary

Forest-ruling Spirit Auspicious Pure Leaves is very auspicious, and the leaves of the trees she rules over are extremely pure. She gained a passage into liberation of amassing all kinds of purity, merit and virtue, and adornment. Her forests are pure, adorned, and endowed with an accumulation of merit and virtue. She attained that passage into liberation.

Forest-ruling Spirit Overhanging Resplendent Treasury gained a passage into liberation of constantly beholding the entire Dharma Realm through a universal gateway of pure wisdom. She causes all the trees to be pure, as if they had wisdom. She can constantly observe and pervade the Dharma Realm. She attained that passage into liberation.

Forest-ruling Spirit Wondrous Adorned Radiance gained a passage into liberation of universally knowing the ocean of all sentient beings’ practices and creating Dharma clouds. She knows the practices cultivated by every sentient being, and she disseminates all kinds of Dharma, which spreads over sentient beings like clouds.

This section of text on the Forest-ruling Spirits is quite easy to understand, so a brief explanation suffices.

Sutra

Forest-ruling Spirit Delightful Thunder Sound gained a passage into liberation of enduring all unpleasant sounds and uttering pure sounds. Forest-ruling Spirit Pervasive Glow and Perfume gained a passage into liberation of universally displaying in the ten directions the state of vast, great practices cultivated in the past. Forest-ruling Spirit Wondrous Light Unique and Sparkling gained a passage into liberation of using all dharmas of merit and virtue to benefit those in the world.

Commentary

Forest-ruling Spirit Delightful Thunder Sound . Delightful sounds are sounds that please the ear and that one is happy to listen to. This spirit gained a state of the Buddha and a passage into liberation of enduring all unpleasant sounds and uttering pure sounds. Unpleasant sounds are not delightful to hear, while pleasant sounds are delightful. Praise is an example of pleasant sound, while insults are examples of unpleasant sounds. Whether or not the sounds she hears are delightful, this spirit is able to bear them and produce pure Dharma sounds. She attained that passage into liberation.

Forest-ruling Spirit Pervasive Glow and Perfume gained a passage into liberation of universally and simultaneously displaying in the ten directions the state of vast, great, boundless doors of practices that she cultivated in the past in order to get rid of her bad habits and faults. That is her passage into liberation.

Forest-ruling Spirit Wondrous Light Unique and Sparkling , whose light stands out from that of other Forest-ruling Spirits, gained a passage into liberation of using all dharmas of merit and virtue to benefit all those sentient beings in the world.

We who are students of the Buddhadharma should learn a little bit, and then put that little bit into practice. That’s the important thing. If you learn something, but fail to apply it, then it’s the same as not learning it. After listening to sutra and Dharma lectures, we must diligently reflect upon ourselves and actually practice the principles we have learned. Never fear that you know too little. Only fear that you cannot cultivate. No matter how much you know, your knowledge is useless if you don’t apply it

At Gold Mountain Monastery, we have sutra lectures and Dharma talks every single day. The Buddhadharma is like the blood in our veins. It cannot stop flowing. After listening to the Dharma, we must cultivate in accordance with it. Otherwise, we would be wasting our time.

In particular, if you are still young, if would be worthless to devote valuable time to the study of the Buddhadharma if you do not follow through with actual practice.

Whether you are Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Shramaneras, Shramanerikas, Upasakas, or Upasikas, you ought to bring forth great courage and vigor. Open your eyes and take a look at the present state of the world. There is not a single peaceful place in the world. People everywhere are nervous and fearful, as if walking on the edge of a cliff or treading on thin ice. That’s how dangerous the situation is. Everyone is afraid that a third world war is about to break out. If we want to avert such a disaster, we must reflect upon ourselves and change our own hearts and minds. Is the world messed up? No. Are human beings messed up? No. It is people’s minds that are messed up. Since people’s minds are messed up, there is no peace in the world.

When people’s minds are at peace,
Serenity prevails under heaven.
When serenity prevails under heaven,
The commonwealth of peace and prosperity is achieved.

The present state of the world is caused by the deterioration of people’s minds. Students of the Buddhadharma should aim to reform people’s minds. We should cure people’s mental illnesses, their illness of being born and dying. See how Asian Buddhism is declining day by day? We must not let American Buddhism decline, but should instead cause it to flourish more with each passing day.

If we want Buddhism to flourish, we must cultivate diligently. No one at Gold Mountain Monastery should be lazy and sneak off to take a break. Everyone should do the work together and cultivate together. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much point to our living in this icebox together. We eat only one meal a day, and many people sleep sitting up. If, in spite of all this, we fail to cultivate diligently, then our efforts are in vain.

Take a look at Guo Zhan. Since I criticized him for dozing off during the sutra lectures, he now stands up to listen to the sutras. I see that Guo Hang is still dozing off as he listens to the lectures. He is constantly in the sleeping samadhi. I don’t know when he will come out of it.

Good advisors, time is precious. Don’t squander it casually. At all times, you should call your own name and ask yourself, “What am I doing here?” This evening it was originally Guo Zhan’s turn to lecture, not mine. However, since I am going to Seattle tomorrow, I will not be here tomorrow evening or Thursday. Therefore I am lecturing one night earlier. Tomorrow evening, since I will not be here, I invited Dharma Miaojing (“Wonderful State”) to lecture in my place. Even when I am here, I want to ask Dharma Master Miaojing to speak in my place, since I’m getting old and the younger generation should do more. However, he always excuses himself saying that his throat is hoarse. My throat is in much better condition than his. So I am only asking him to lecture on Wednesday and Thursday evening. He can probably lecture two evenings without getting tired out.

I’m telling everyone this good news tonight, so you can go home and tell your friends and relatives to come listen to the wonderful Dharma being lectured in a wonderful state. Don’t miss this marvelous opportunity. I’ll be back on Friday. During these two days, you will get to study some wonderful Dharma and then you can bury the crude dharma you learned before.

Sutra

Forest-ruling Spirit Luster and Flavor of Flowers and Fruits gained a passage into liberation of being adorned with a treasury of merit and virtue gained through enabling everyone to see the Buddhas appear and to recollect them with constant reverence and never forget them.

At that time, Forest-ruling Spirit Spreading Flowers like Clouds received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Forest-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary

Forest-ruling Spirit Luster and Flavor of Flowers and Fruits causes sentient beingsprajna flowers to bloom, so that they bear the fruit of bodhi. She emits the light of prajna and reveals the flavor of ghee. That’s the meaning of her name. She gained a state of the Buddha and a passage into liberation of being adorned with a treasury of merit and virtue gained through enabling everyone, all sentient beings, to see the Buddhas appear in the world and to recollect them with constant reverence and never forget them. Through such merit and virtue, she is adorned with particularly fine hallmarks. The abundance of merit and virtue makes it a treasury, a beautiful and adorned treasury of sublime merit and virtue. She attained that passage into liberation.

At that time, Forest-ruling Spirit Spreading Flowers Like Clouds received the Buddha’s awesomespiritual power, universally contemplated all the multitudes of Forest-ruling Spirits, boundlessly many of them, not just one, and spoke the following verse to explain certain principles which were not fully explained earlier.

Sutra

In the past, the Buddha cultivated practices for bodhi,
Achieving perfect blessings, virtue, and wisdom.
Endowed fully with all of the powers,
He emerges in the world with resplendent light.

Commentary

In the past, the Buddha cultivated practices for bodhi . In the past, the Buddha accumulated the practices for bodhi, so that starting out with a little, he gradually acquired a great amount. This accumulation took him from the near to the far, from the shallow to the profound, from not having any to having them. The Buddha started out being the same as sentient beings. However, he vigorously cultivated all manner of practices. In the beginning, he had no practices. So, he went from nothing to something. Then, when he had something, he went from one bodhi practice to many bodhi practices. He did not bypass even the smallest opportunity to do good. Therefore, starting out with a little, he accumulated a lot. He did all kinds of difficult ascetic practices. He was able to endure what most people found unendurable and cultivate what most people could not cultivate. In this way, he amassed a large quantity of bodhi practices, thereby achieving perfect blessings, virtue, and wisdom. Having perfected both blessings and wisdom, he is known as the Doubly Perfect Honored One.

Endowed fully with all of the powers . The Buddha has cultivated the Ten Powers to perfection. Upon realizing Buddhahood, he emerges in the world with resplendent light.

The Sino-American Buddhist Association at Gold Mountain Monastery was established out of the Buddhist Lecture Hall. In the beginning, some people founded the Buddhist Lecture Hall. Later on, it became the Sino-American Buddhist Association. Since the establishment of the Sino-American Buddhist Association in 1968, we have held Buddha recitation sessions and Chan sessions annually. These sessions have quietly gone by without much notice. Every year we hold them, but even the people right here in San Francisco are not aware of them, not to mention people elsewhere. Why not? First of all, it’s because we have not done any publicity. Our intention is to cultivate honestly. If other people hear about our sessions and wish to participate, they are most welcome. But even if no one knows, we continue to hold our sessions regardless. We don’t advertise, “Hey, there’s a Chan session going on! You ought to make offerings to these cultivators who have attained the state of freedom from thought.”

In China, the offerings given during a recitation session could last a monastery for a whole year. The income from one recitation session would more than cover a whole year’s expenditures. During Chan sessions, many people would make offerings in order to create affinities with the assembly. The offerings would pour in—huge quantities of rice, oil, flour, and so on. In the United States, on the other hand, since we have not resorted to any tactics to get offerings, we haven’t received any. If we were clever at using exploitative strategies, perhaps the offerings would be even more abundant than in China. Why do we refrain from using any strategies or maneuvers? We are determined to practice sincerely and leave it to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to take care of us. When the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the eight divisions of gods, dragons, and Dharma-protecting spirits see us truly working hard, we will naturally obtain a response. However, if we are not really applying ourselves, then we ought to be very ashamed of receiving offerings. There is a saying which goes:

Before the three thoughts are ended, Even water is hard to digest.

If we constantly think about the past, present, and future, we will have difficulty receiving even the offering of a sip of water.

If the Five Contemplations are understood, Even gold can be absorbed.

At noon we chant, “The Buddha told the Bhikshus: While eating, observe the Five Contemplations.” The Five Contemplations are:

    Consider the amount of work involved to bring the food to where it is eaten.
    Consider whether or not one’s virtuous conduct is sufficient to enable one to accept the offering.
    Guard the mind from transgression, of which greed is the principle cause.
    Properly taken, the food is like medicine, to keep the body from wasting away.
    This food is accepted only in order to realize the Way.

If we can practice these Five Contemplations, th e n we can digest even gold. Don’t take this literally and think that if you eat a piece of gold, your stomach will be able to break it down. This line means that you deserve to eat the finest and most expensive foods.

The Chan session begins tonight. Our Chan session differs from those held in China. In China, Chan sessions are basically “eating sessions.” In the evening the cultivators are served steamed dumplings with sesame oil. This is the case even at Gold Mountain and Gaomin Monasteries. The bigger the dumplings, the more energy the cultivators have. The more sesame oil, the more slippery their mouths. With slippery mouths, they get slippery heads. “Slippery heads” refers to people who join the session in order to eat sesame oil dumplings. Many old Chan cultivators, who have cultivated for so long that their hair has turned white, their teeth have fallen out, their ears have gone deaf, and their eyes no longer see well, are still attached to sesame oil dumplings. If one place doesn’t offer sesame oil dumplings, they will go to another. They search out the place with the best-tasting sesame oil dumplings. I am not slandering Chinese cultivators by saying that they are attached to food. I’m simply telling the truth. This is one point where our session differs from those in China.

In our session, no sesame oil dumplings or other snacks are served. What do I mean by snacks? Sometimes, during sessions in China, when you were sitting there you might be given two or four guiyuan (dried longans) to eat. Crackers might be passed out at another period. In yet another period, you might get a piece of rice-crisp to eat. That deep-fried rice-crisp tastes even better than what he had today. Sometimes you would be given peanut candy as a way to create affinity. The laypeople all wanted to make offerings to the cultivators who had attained non-thought, but they were actually causing them to have thoughts of eating. Sometimes tea is served, and one can tell whether a person is a seasoned cultivator by the way he holds his teacup. The teacup has to be held in a certain way. Drinking tea, eating crackers and sesame oil dumplings, one comes to have a perpetually stuffed belly. If one cannot even fit anything in one’s belly, how can one expect to accomplish anything?

In our Chan session, we start in the early morning and alternately walk and sit. Sometimes milk or tea is offered, but there is nothing to eat. It is quite austere. Our session is one of austere practice. We try to practice what others cannot practice. During this “birth and death” session, you must keep the words “birth and death” before your eyes. Don’t forget about birth and death. Don’t decide, “I haven’t had enough sleep. I’m really tired. I might as well sit here and enter the sleeping samadhi.” If you do that, you’ll achieve nothing. You must renounce life and forget about death as you participate in the session. Paying no heed to birth and death, diligently apply effort in the session. Be determined to attain the benefit you ought to attain. Don’t just follow the crowd, mindlessly walking and sitting when you see others doing so. Don’t think, “I just follow everyone else. When I see someone else doze off, I doze off too.”

I will tell you that in all the Chan sessions I participated in, the proctor never had to hit me with the incense board, because I never slept. I sat in the Chan Hall during the daytime, and at night I continued sitting in the hall. The words “rest” and “sleep” were not part of my vocabulary. In my student days, I never wasted a single second. I constantly worked at developing my skill.

All of you have deep, thick, good roots. You are endowed with intelligence and wisdom. You ought to realize the importance of this session. In this year’s Chan session, I insist that someone must get enlightened. If no one becomes enlightened, then after the session everyone will receive one hundred strokes of the incense board. If you feel you can bear that, then don’t get enlightened. If you don’t think you can take it, you’d better get enlightened. If you are really scared, you can back out before the Chan session starts. That’s acceptable. Once the session begins, however, you cannot retreat. Once you enter the Chan Hall, you bid farewell to birth and death, and you are not allowed to leave. Even if you die, we will simply stick your body under the meditation bench and not carry it out. If you haven’t died, then you have even less reason to casually leave. We are setting up the threshold of life and death. If you are not on the side of life, then you are on the side of death. If you are not on the side of death, then you are on the side of life.

If you cannot renounce death, you will not gain life in return.
If you cannot renounce the false, you will not achieve the true.

That is the threshold of Gold Mountain Monastery. This year’s Chan session differs from past sessions. First of all, we have a good advisor from Hong Kong with us. “What is a good advisor from Hong Kong coming to our Chan session for?” you ask. I’ll tell you, it’s not that he has not attended Chan sessions before. He has been in Chan sessions, but now he’s come to see what a Chan session in America is like. He wants to see if it is very beautiful. [Note: The Chinese name for America is ‘Beautiful Country’.] So, all you Americans should be nice and beautiful. Don’t show your ugly side. By your ugly side, I mean things like breaking down in tears during the session and crying, “How can I endure this? I’ve got to leave!” If the good advisor from Hong Kong sees that, he will laugh so hard his front teeth will fall out.

Secondly, there are two other good advisors. They are not from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or New York. They are from Gold Mountain Monastery. Who are they? You know them very well, and so do I. Before I tell you who they are, you feel they are very rare. Once I tell you, they will seem very ordinary.

“We have a lot of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas at Gold Mountain Monastery. Who could these two good advisors be?” you wonder.

One of them is Guo Yu, and the other is Guo Dao. Today, they took the bus from Garberville and have come back in time to join our Chan session. After the Chan session, they will resume their Three Steps One Bow pilgrimage to pray for world peace. The first time they telephoned, I asked them whether or not they were going to attend the Chan session. They said they would do as I told them. Today they called again to say that they were not going to follow instructions, but were going to come back for the Chan session. When they asked for my permission, I told them they were most welcome to join the session, but that they must get enlightened.

Everyone should make sure not to miss the opportunity to join this year’s Chan session. No matter what, you should be determined to recognize your own original face. If any of you fail to recognize your own face, don’t think about leaving Gold Mountain Monastery. You’ll be locked up in jail here. That’s a general introduction to this year’s Chan session.

Tell Guo Yi to go buy some more ginger. During the Chan session we will boil ginger soup to drink in the morning. I still have some ginseng left, so I will offer everyone ginseng tea. That way, no one will have to engage in idle thinking about stealing ginseng. Today somebody gave me some longan fruit, which I will offer to the assembly during the session.

During the session, we need not hold the full morning and evening recitations. The Three Refuges ceremony will suffice. We also need not hold the meal offering ceremony or recite the offering chant at the dining hall. We just go over to take our meal, and once we finish we should immediately return to the Chan Hall to do walking meditation. After the head of the assembly finishes his meal, he should strike the wall with the incense board, giving the wall more to “eat,” so to speak. The sutra lecture will be replaced with an instructional talk at 7 p.m. during the session.

In most places traditionally there is a “resting” sitting period, usually from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m., during which anyone who wants to sleep may do so, either sitting on the Chan bench, or going back to their own room. This year we can also have this expedient. We didn’t have this during the fourteen week Chan session. But this year if we allow people to sleep for an hour during that time, perhaps they will not doze off so much at night. All of you should look into it and see if you want to try it out. It doesn’t matter to me. If you want to sleep, go ahead. If you want to stick to the old way, you can keep on sitting. It’s up to you. I’m just making a suggestion.

Did we used to have a sutra lecture on Sunday during the Chan sessions? I don’t remember anymore. During this two-week Chan session, we won’t have a sutra lecture on Sundays. We will simply concentrate on attending the session.

From 9:30-10:30 in the morning, we can also have some instructional talks. Everyone should discuss it and see whether you can take turns giving talks. Find out who is willing to speak. If no one is willing, then we don’t have to have talks. Whoever is willing to speak may give instructional talks. However, during a Chan session, instructional talks are considered an interruption. So, it’s fine to have them, and it’s also fine not to have them.

Sutra

The Thus Come One, in the past, universally purified
Limitless ways of compassion, equal to the number of sentient beings.
And so he can benefit beings in the world.
The Spirit Helping Trunks Grow Tall understands thus.

Commentary

Limitless ways of compassion. Compassion has the function of alleviating the suffering of all sentient beings. There are immeasurable, boundless ways of compassion. Exactly how many are there? Their number is equal to the number of sentient beings. However many sentient beings there are, that’s how many ways of compassion there are. The Thus Come One, in the past, universally purified. “Thus Come One” is one of the ten titles of a Buddha. It means that, “traveling the Way which is Thus, he ‘comes’ to realize Proper Enlightenment.” Once upon a time, the Buddha cultivated all kinds of practices, causing them all to be pure and regulated. And so he can benefit beings in the world. The Buddha is able to be of benefit to the sentient beings of the world. The Forest-ruling Spirit Helping Trunks Grow Tall understands thus. She understands this passage into liberation.

Sutra

If beings see the Buddha but once,
He will surely lead them into the sea of deep faith,
Universally showing them the Path of the Thus Come Ones.
This is the liberation of the Spirit Wondrous Sprouts.

Commentary

If there are beings who see the Buddha but once . It is not easy for sentient beings to see the Buddha. It is even more difficult to get to hear the Buddhadharma. People who are able to go to a stupa or temple and see the Buddhas are people with tremendous good roots. Those without good roots have no opportunity to see the Buddhas, the Dharma, or the Sangha. The Triple Jewel—the Buddhas, the Dharma, and the Sangha—is not easy to get to see. If there are sentient beings who get to see the Buddha or an image of the Buddha, he will surely lead them into the sea of deep faith. The Buddha will enable these beings to gain a profound understanding the Buddhadharma, which is as vast as the sea, and to bring forth deep faith. The Buddha, by universally showing them the Path of the Thus Come Ones, enables sentient beings to cultivate the Buddha Path and realize Buddhahood. This is the passage into liberation of the Forest-ruling Spirit Wondrous Sprouts, who causes sprouts of various kinds of pure faith to grow.

Sutra

The merit and virtue accumulated in a single pore
Could not completely be described in oceans of eons.
The expedient means of the Buddhas are inconceivable.
Pure Leaves understands this profound meaning.

Commentary

The merit and virtue accumulated in a single pore . Within a single pore, the Buddha can display the lands of all Buddhas throughout the ten directions. Ordinary people do not understand this state. The merit and virtue accumulated in just a single one of the Buddha’s pores could not completely be described in oceans of eons. Even in measureless, boundless, innumerable, unspeakable, unspeakable eons, as profuse as an ocean, one could not finish talking about the merit and virtue in even a single one of the Buddha’s pores. Why? That merit and virtue is infinite. The expedient means of the Buddhas are inconceivable. The expedient Dharma doors of all Buddhas cannot be mentally conceptualized, nor can they be verbally expressed. Forest-ruling Spirit Auspicious Pure Leaves understands this profound meaning.

Sutra

“I recollect how the Thus Come One in the past
Made offerings to limitless Buddhas in lands like dust motes.
Before each and every Buddha, his wisdom gradually grew bright.”

The Spirit Resplendent Treasury understands thus.

Commentary

Forest-ruling Spirit Overhanging Resplendent Treasury says,“ I recollect how the Thus Come One , limitlessly many eons in the past, / Made offerings of various articles and money to limitless Buddhas in lands like dust motes. / Having made offerings before each and every Buddha, he became adorned with blessings and wisdom, and his wisdom gradually grew bright and increased day by day.” The Forest-ruling Spirit Overhanging Resplendent Treasury understands thus. She understands this state.

Sutra

In a single thought, the World Honored One fully apprehends
The ocean of the actions of all sentient beings
Such vast, great, unobstructed wisdom
Is understood by the Spirit Wondrous Adorned.

Commentary

The ocean of the actions of all sentient beings . All sentient beings includes those born from wombs, eggs, moisture, and transformation. Every sentient being has his own behavior, his own karma that he creates, and his own thoughts. This is the process of becoming deluded, creating karma, and undergoing retribution. Creating limitless karma, one must undergo limitless retribution. In a single thought, the World Honored One fully apprehends

all this. In a single thought, the Buddha can know the thoughts of all sentient beings. The Vajra Sutra says, “The Thus Come One completely knows and sees the various thoughts of all sentient beings.” There is nothing the Buddha does not know or understand. Such vast, great, boundless, unobstructed wisdom, / Is understood by the Forest-ruling Spirit Wondrous Adorned Radiance. She understands this state.

Sutra

The Thus Come One’s tranquil, exquisite voice proclaims forever,
Evoking matchless, great happiness in everyone.
Comprehending according to their inclinations, each becomes enlightened.
This is the method of practice of Thunder Sound.

Commentary

The Thus Come One’s tranquil, exquisite voice proclaims forever, invariable and constant, evoking matchless, great happiness in everyone. Sentient beings are happy to the extreme; their joy is unparalleled. Having heard the Thus Come One’s quiet, subtle sound and comprehending it according to their inclinations, each become s enlightened to the profound principles therein. This is the method of practice of Forest-ruling Spirit Thunder Sound.

Sutra

Manifesting great spiritual powers, the Thus Come One
Extends throughout every land in the ten directions,
Enabling all to see the Buddha’s past cultivation.
Pervasive Glow and Perfume enters this passage.

Commentary

Manifesting great spiritual powers within the unmoving Way-place, whereby he can transform something into nothing and nothing into something, the Thus Come One has infinite transformations and can mysteriously appear and disappear. He extends throughout every land in the ten directions and manifests his Dharma body, enabling all to see the Buddha’s past cultivation. All sentient beings see the practices cultivated by the Buddha. Forest-ruling Spirit Pervasive Glow and Perfume enters this passage into liberation.

We have discussed the Thus Come One, the Buddha, and the World Honored One. The Thus Come One is just the Buddha; the Buddha is just the World Honored One; and the World Honored One is just the Thus Come One. These many names all refer to one entity—the Buddha. “Buddha” is an abbreviation of the Sanskrit word Buddhaya, which means “Awakened One.” An Awakened One is one who has gained great understanding. The Buddha is the most intelligent person around, both in the world and in the transcendental realm. Not only is he intelligent, he can teach all sentient beings to be intelligent and to become Buddhas. For that reason, Buddhism can also be called the Teaching of People and the Teaching of Sentient Beings. You are included in Buddhism, whether you believe in Buddhism or not. All sentient beings have the opportunity to become Buddhas sooner or later. Buddhism is absolutely egalitarian. It is public-spirited and impartial. Anyone who puts the Buddha’s teaching into practice can attain wisdom. Anyone who does not cultivate according to the Buddhadharma will not attain wisdom. One who attains genuine wisdom is truly liberated. One who is truly liberated has left suffering and attained happiness.

Why do sentient beings become sentient beings? Since they are totally upside down, mistaking right for wrong and wrong for right. They cannot distinguish right from wrong, and so they do many deluded things. People study the Buddhadharma in order to learn how not to be upside down. When we are not upside down, we will attain purity. Once we attain purity, we will be happy.

[Answer to a question:] The “ten thousand virtues” simply refer to the myriad virtues which adorn the Buddha. There is no other meaning. In asking this question, is he hoping to be upside down, or not upside down, or upside down yet not upside down?

All sentient beings wish not to be upside down, and yet they are upside down. The Buddha wishes not to be upside down, and indeed, he is not upside down. He truly understands things and is not muddled. If you can recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha,” then why is that after you die, your body cannot recite? If you have a soul or a Buddha nature, what does it look like? Who is it? That’s what we’re looking for: Who is the one who recites “Namo Amitabha Buddha”? That’s the way to develop the sense of doubt in investigating Chan.

Sutra

Sentient beings are deceitful and do not cultivate virtue.
Confused, they sink and flounder in birth and death.
For them he elucidates all principles of wisdom.
The Spirit Wondrous Light perceives thus.

Commentary

Sentient beings are deceitful and do not cultivate virtue. Sentient beings are not straightforward. They like to be crooked and to resort to flattery. Instead of telling the truth, they lie and give people “high hats” to wear. They have a hard time learning the proper path, but easily master deviant paths. They do not cultivate virtue. It’s difficult to teach them to be straightforward, for they have crooked minds. Confused, lacking understanding and full of doubt, they sink and flounder in the sea of suffering of birth and death. / For them he elucidates all principles of wisdom, so that these sentient beings can understand. The Forest-ruling Spirit Wondrous Light Unique and Sparkling perceives thus.

Sutra

The Buddha, for beings laden with karmic obstructions,
Appears but once every hundreds of millions of eons.
At other times, he is still visible to them in thought after thought.
The Spirit Luster and Flavor thus observes.

Commentary

The Buddha, for beings laden with karmic obstructions, / Appears but once every hundreds of millions of eons. The Buddha never forgets sentient beings with heavy karmic obstructions and in thought after thought wishes to save them. However, sentient beingskarmic obstructions are so grave that they cannot gain a response in the Way. A very long time—countless hundreds of millions of great eons—must pass before the Buddha appears in the world. At other times, he is still visible to them in thought after thought. All sentient beings, in thought after thought, wish to see the Buddha. And the Buddha, in thought after thought, makes himself visible to sentient beings. Forest-ruling Spirit Luster and Flavor of Flowers and Fruits thus observes. She understands this principle.

Sutra

Moreover, Mountain-ruling Spirit Blooming Jeweled Peak gained a passage into liberation of entering the light of the samadhi of great tranquility. Mountain-ruling Spirit Flower Grove Wondrous Topknot gained a passage into liberation of bringing an inconceivable number of sentient beings to maturity through the cultivation of good roots of kindness.

Commentary

Mountains also have spirits ruling over them. Otherwise, the mountains would run about everywhere. But since the spirits are watching over them, the mountains dare not move. You shouldn’t think that the mountains are inanimate and motionless. If there were no spirits watching over them, they would go everywhere. Mountain-ruling Spirits are usually wild beasts that live in the mountains. For example, the tiger is the chief of the Mountain-ruling Spirits. Moreover, Mountain-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak Blossoms gained a passage into liberation of the light of entering the samadhi of great tranquility. In the samadhi of great tranquility, this spirit is tranquil and unmoving as it watches over the mountains. She has attained this passage into liberation of the Buddha.

Mountain-ruling Spirit Flower Grove Wondrous Topknot gained a passage into liberation of bringing an inconceivable number of sentient beings to maturity through the cultivation and accumulation of good roots of kindness and charity. When her good roots have ripened, she can save an incredible number of sentient beings. She attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra

Mountain-ruling Spirit Lofty Banner Universally Shining gained a passage into liberation of contemplating the minds of all sentient beings to see what they enjoy and then adorning and purifying all faculties. Mountain-ruling Spirit Immaculate Pure Topknot gained a passage into liberation of being diligent and vigorous throughout boundless oceans of eons without growing weary or lax. Mountain-ruling Spirit Light Shining through the Ten Directions gained a passage into liberation of using the light of boundless merit and virtue to universally awaken beings.

Commentary

Mountain-ruling Spirit Lofty Banner Universally Shining gained a passage into liberation of contemplating the minds of all sentient beings to see what they like and enjoy and then adorning and purifying all faculties — their eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. To purify the six sense faculties, one must diligently uphold the precepts and be stern and dignified in one’s deportment. The eyes do not casually look at things, the ears do not casually listen to sounds, the nose does not casually smell, the tongue does not casually taste flavors, and so forth. Mountain-ruling Spirit Immaculate Pure Topknot gained a passage into liberation of seeing the Buddha being diligent and vigorous throughout boundless oceans of eons without growing weary or lax. Throughout boundless eons of time, so numerous they are like a great ocean, the Buddha practiced vigorously without ever growing lax or fatigued. That’s the passage into liberation this spirit attained. Mountain-ruling Spirit Light Shining through the Ten Directions gained a passage into liberation of using the light of boundless merit and virtue to universally awaken beings. When sentient beings saw her brilliance, they became enlightened. She attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra

Mountain-ruling Spirit Light of Great Strength gained a passage into liberation of gaining full personal maturity and then enabling sentient beings to renounce foolish and confused behavior.

Commentary

Mountain-ruling Spirit Light of Great Strength gained a passage into liberation of gaining full personal maturity and then enabling sentient beings to renounce foolish and confused behavior. She saw the Buddha attaining Buddhahood and realizing the fruition of perfect enlightenment on his own, and then preventing sentient beings from acting foolishly. Once sentient beings have great wisdom and a clear understanding of right and wrong, they cease to behave foolishly.

Sutra

Mountain-ruling Spirit Universally Supreme, Awesome Brilliance gained a passage into liberation of eradicating all suffering until none is left.

Commentary

Mountain-ruling Spirit Universally Supreme, Awesome Brilliance gained a passage into liberation , the state of seeing the Buddha eradicating all suffering of sentient beings until none is left, and bestowing every kind of happiness upon them. Eradicating all suffering is great compassion. Bestowing every happiness is great kindness. He got rid of all sufferings entirely, and gave sentient beings total happiness. None of the suffering is left, meaning that there isn’t even a little bit, much less a lot. She attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra

Mountain-ruling Spirit Orb of Subtle, Concentrated Light gained a passage into liberation of using light to expound the Dharma, revealing the merit and virtue of all Thus Come Ones.

Commentary

Mountain-ruling Spirit Orb of Subtle, Concentrated Light gained a passage into liberation of using light to expound all the Dharma teachings—the Three Stores and Twelve Divisions of the Buddhist Canon. This spirit emits light and uses light to speak the Dharma, revealing the past deeds of merit and virtue of all Thus Come Ones. Ordinary people who have not attained spiritual penetrations will not understand this state. Those who have attained spiritual penetrations will know that within this light are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions, and all other types of sentient beings. The Buddha is there proclaiming the Dharma, and sentient beings are listening to it. This is an incredible state. She attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra

Mountain-ruling Spirit Universal Eye Seeing the Manifest gained a passage into liberation of causing all sentient beings to grow in good roots, even in their dreams.

Commentary

Mountain-ruling Spirit Universal Eye Seeing the Manifest gained a passage into liberation of causing all sentient beings to grow in good roots, even in their dreams. This spirit’s eyes can see very far away, which is why he is called “Universal Eye.” “Seeing the Manifest” means that those faraway sights manifest up close, in plain view, so she can see them. What state of the Buddha has she attained? She can cause sentient beings to do good deeds, increase their good roots, and cultivate blessings and wisdom not only when they are awake, but even when they are asleep and dreaming.

In the past there was a Buddha who did not speak Dharma directly. First, he made all the people go to sleep. Then in their dreams, he spoke for them all kinds of Dharma—suffering, emptiness, impermanence, and no self. And when they awoke, they realized the Way. That was how that Buddha spoke the Dharma.

There was another Buddha who appeared as a rakshasa ghost in people’s dreams in order to frighten them into cultivating the Way. They would think, “Oh no! Impermanence has come upon me, and I have nothing to rely upon. I’d better cultivate!” Don’t consider nightmares to be inauspicious. Actually, they are extremely lucky. They make you awaken to the fact that life is unreal. Even in dreams, that Buddha made people’s good roots grow so that they brought forth the bodhi resolve to seek the Unsurpassed Path. Mountain-ruling Spirit Universal Eye Seeing the Manifest understands this state of the Buddha, thus attaining this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Mountain-ruling Spirit Solid Vajra Eyes gained a passage into liberation of making appear an ocean of boundless great meanings.

At that time, Mountain-ruling Spirit Blossoms All Around received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, contemplated all the multitudes of mountain-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary

The next Mountain-ruling Spirit is named Solid Vajra Eyes. Her eyes are as bright, sharp, and solid as vajra. Such solid vajra eyes can discern all demon kings, yakshas, asuras, ghosts, and goblins. These eyes cannot be burned by fire or cut by knives. Thus her name is Mountain-ruling Spirit Vajra Solid Eyes. She gained a Buddha’s state, a passage into liberation of making appear an ocean of boundless great meanings. “Great meanings” refers to the meanings of great Dharma, which are as deep, vast, and measureless as the ocean. These principles are mysterious and profound, vast and great. She attained this passage into liberation.

At that time, Mountain-ruling Spirit Blossoms All Around received the Buddha Shakyamuni’s awesomespiritual power, by which she universally contemplated the multitudes of Mountain-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse. She was able to do this through the Buddha’s spiritual power. She did not claim that she herself had such power and spiritual penetrations. Instead, she relied upon the Buddha’s great awesome spiritual power to contemplate the multitudes of Mountain-ruling Spirits in the Flower Adornment Dharma Assembly. There were not just one or two, but infinitely many Mountain-ruling Spirits. The ten mentioned earlier in the text are the leaders. Now, this spirit speaks a verse.

Sutra

Boundless supreme practices cultivated in the past
Now yield spiritual penetrations beyond measure.
Extensively opening Dharma doors in number like motes of dust,
The Buddha brings all sentient beings to deep, joyful awakening.

Commentary

Mountain-ruling Spirit Blossoms All Around uses verses to praise the boundless supreme practices that the Buddha cultivated in the past. How many practices were there? They were without bounds, innumerable. Those numerous supreme practices now yield spiritual penetrations beyond measure. How great are the Buddha’s spiritual penetrations? We don’t know. Extensively opening Dharma doors in number like motes of dust, /The Buddhabrings all sentient beings to deep, joyful awakening. The Dharma doors in the ocean of teaching are comparable to a great sea. The Buddha opens them on a vast scale. How many are there? However many fine motes of dust there are, that’s how many Dharma doors the Buddha has. Why are there so many Dharma doors? Because sentient beings are also as numerous as fine motes of dust. Dharma doors as many as dust motes are used to teach sentient beings as many as dust motes. The Buddha leads sentient beings to profoundly understand the Buddhadharma and be happy.

Sutra

His body, adorned with myriad hallmarks, pervades all worlds.
Light issues from his pores, purifying everything.
With expedients of great kindness he instructs all.
Flower Grove Wondrous Topknot awakens to this passage.

Commentary

His body, adorned with myriad hallmarks, pervades all worlds. The Thirty-two Hallmarks and Eighty Subtle Characteristics adorn the Buddha’s body, which pervades all worlds. The Buddha is nowhere and yet everywhere. His presence pervades the worlds. Light issues from his pores, purifying everything. Each of the Buddha’s pores emits limitless light. Within that limitless light, more limitless light pours forth, and so on, in multi-layered profusion and mutual illumination. The lights from his pores mutually shine upon one another and upon all worlds, making them pure.

With expedients of great kindness he instructs all. The Buddha uses his greatly compassionate heart to bestow every kind of happiness upon sentient beings and remove all their sufferings. He employs various expedient methods to lead sentient beings to have faith, make vows, and cultivate. He uses expedient Dharma doors to instruct sentient beings and quickly bring them to enlightenment. Mountain-ruling Spirit Flower Grove Wondrous Topknot awakens to this passage. She understands this passage into liberation.

When I was practicing filial piety by my mother’s grave, a cultivator named Zhi Yi sent me a big basket of dumplings called wowotou. Wowotou is the kind of food that the monk Zhao Zhou wanted to find out about. He embarked on a quest to discover what food was known as “two inside and eight outside.” The food is so named because to make it, one places two thumbs inside and eight fingers outside to shape the dough into the form of a bowl. Zhi Yi was a Bhikshu, and he maintained the practice of eating only one meal a day. He sent me a huge basket of these wowotou, over a hundred of them. I ate two per day and didn’t pay too much attention to them. One day I looked in the basket and found long, furry mold growing on the dumplings at the bottom. Those moldy dumplings tasted horrible—worse than excrement. The other day I mentioned that those who eat meat should be able to eat excrement. Well, if you gave me excrement, I could eat it. If those people can do that, then you can acknowledge that they have some skill, that they have no thoughts of discrimination. Those moldy wowotou were than excrement. They were spicy, stinky, and sour—truly awful. I removed the mold and ate them all the same. [To a disciple) You can also eat that kind of food. For example, if you want to be there for a month, you can make ninety steamed dumplings and eat three a day. You can make one-pound dumplings!

Sutra

The Buddha’s body appears everywhere--boundless,
Spreading to fill the worlds of the ten directions.
His faculties are adorned and pure, delighting all who see him.
Lofty Banner understands and enters this Dharma.

Commentary

The Buddha’s Dharma body appears everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm and space. His presence infuses every single mote of dust. Thus his body is said to be boundless, / Spreading to fill the worlds of the ten directions. The Buddha’s body does not appear only in one world. All worlds throughout the ten directions of the Dharma Realm and space are filled with the Buddha’s Dharma body. His faculties are adorned and pure, delighting all who see him. The Buddha’s body is adorned with the Thirty-two Hallmarks and Eighty Subtle Characteristics. All his faculties are perfect and pure. Therefore, everyone who sees the Buddha is delighted. Mountain-ruling Spirit Lofty Banner understands and enters this Dharma. She understands this state, this passage into liberation, and this principle.

Sutra

He practiced intensely for eons without growing lax.
Untainted by worldly things, he resembles space.
With various skillful means, he transforms the flocks of beings.
The one named Jeweled Topknot awakens to this Dharma door.

Commentary

He practiced intensely from beginningless time until now, through an unknown number of great eons, without growing lax. The Buddha was never lazy. He was brave and vigorous, never letting a second pass in vain. He cherished every second as if it were worth more than gold. Our Chan sessions and Buddha recitation sessions are examples of intense practice. During the Buddha recitation sessions, we rise at four in the morning and recite the Buddha’s name, putting effort in cultivation all day long and not resting until ten o’clock at night. This is diligent cultivation. We diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, and extinguish greed, anger, and delusion, and in our cultivation we do not grow lax or lazy. We cultivate that way during Buddha recitation sessions. During Chan sessions, we are even more vigorous, starting at 2:30 in the morning and retiring at midnight. We sleep only two hours or so each night. That’s another case of diligent cultivation. But we cultivate this way only for a limited time. Our Buddha recitation sessions are one week long, and our Chan sessions are two weeks long. The Buddha isn’t as lazy as we are. He doesn’t have any fixed sessions. He is diligent day after day, month after month, year after year. In general, he is diligent at all times.

Since he never slacks off, he is untainted by worldly dharmas, such as fame, profit, wealth, beauty, fame, food, and sleep. Those are things that worldly people like. They like to eat good food. One kind is not enough; they demand a variety of dishes. And the better the food, the more their appetite grows. Thus, food is a worldly dharma, as is clothing. People enjoy wearing fine clothes. The better-dressed they are, the more they want to acquire even finer apparel. Wanting a fine house is also a worldly dharma. So is wanting to sleep longer hours. When one is defiled by worldly dharmas, one cannot achieve transcendental Dharma. When worldly dharmas prevail, transcendental Dharma seems insignificant. When transcendental Dharma takes precedence, worldly dharmas fade into the background.

The Buddha concentrated on transcendental Dharmas alone. Untainted by worldly dharmas, he resembles space. He is like clean and unpolluted air. Having cultivated the Unsurpassed Way and realized Buddhahood, with various skillful means, not just one, he transforms the flocks of beings. He uses many different expedient means to teach and transform the various kinds of sentient beings. The one named Jeweled Topknot awakens to this Dharma door. The Mountain-ruling Spirit who awakens to this Dharma door is called Immaculate Jeweled Topknot. She understands this state.

Sutra

Blind and in the dark, s entient beings enter dangerous paths.
Out of pity, the Buddha shines his light upon them,
Waking everyone in the world from their slumbers.
Upon realizing this, Awesome Light is jubilant.

Commentary

Sentient beings refers to people and all other beings endowed with blood and breath. Blind refers to the lack of eyesight, and in the dark means not being able to see the light. Sentient beings are extremely foolish. They wish to walk a good path, but because they have no eyes, they enter dangerous pathspaths filled with pits, puddles, jackals, wolves, tigers, leopards, rakshasa ghosts, or other ghosts and spirits.

Sentient beings in the world start out wanting to find a good method of practice, but in their foolishness they fail to recognize a good path and instead walk straight into deviant cults and heterodox sects. They go astray without even realizing it; they think they are on the right path. Even when they fall into the hells after death, they still don’t realize they are on a dangerous and evil path. This is very dangerous.

Out of pity for sentient beings who mistake right for wrong and wrong for right, who confuse black with white and white with black, who are so upside down that they mistake a thief for their son, the Buddha shines his light upon them, / Waking everyone in the world from their slumbers, causing them to bring forth great wisdom and attain enlightenment.

Upon realizing this, Awesome Light is jubilant. Mountain-ruling Spirit Light Shining through the Ten Directions, also known as Universally Shining Awesome Light, understands this passage into liberation and has insight into this principle, and this makes her tremendously happy.

Sutra

He cultivated extensively in all realms of existence,
Making offerings to Buddhas as countless as dustmotes in lands.
Upon seeing him, sentient beings bring forth great vows.
Great Strength understands and enters this ground.

Commentary

Before the Buddha achieved Buddhahood, he was the same as all sentient beings. But he brought forth a great resolve and cultivated extensively in all realms of existence, within the Three Realms and Twenty-five Planes of Existence. How did he cultivate? By making offerings to Buddhas as countless as dustmotes in lands. Why did he make offerings to Buddhas? Because Buddhas are the most virtuous, most cultivated, and most wise people both in and beyond the world. Buddhas are Doubly Complete Honored Ones of Perfect Enlightenment. Their blessings and wisdom are both complete, and they have achieved the fruition of Perfect Great Enlightenment. Thus, we ought to make offerings to Buddhas.

“Well, if I make offerings to Buddhas, can I also make offerings to sentient beings?” Sure. If you feed your pet dog, you are making offerings to it. If you raise a horse or a pig, you are also making offerings to it. However, such offerings accrue no merit or virtue. You are keeping them alive, but they cannot help you increase your blessings. The Sutra in Forty-two Sections says that making offerings to a hundred evil people is not as good as making offerings to a good person. That is, the merit and virtue are not as great. Making offerings to a thousand good people does not accrue as much merit as making offerings to one Upasaka or Upasika who has received and upholds the Five Precepts. The merit of making offerings to ten thousand Upasakas and Upasikas who uphold the Five Precepts is not as great as that of making offerings to a Bhikshu or Bhikshuni who has left the home-life. Making offerings to a million Bhikshus and Bhikshunis is not as meritorious as making offerings to a First Stage Arhat.

And so laypeople like to invite a thousand monks to a vegetarian meal, thinking that there will certainly be one Arhat among so many monks. Since it is impossible for one to be acquainted with so many monks, the Arhat can slip in among them without fear of being recognized.

Making offerings to ten million First Stage Arhats (Srotaapannas) is not as good as making offerings to one Second Stage Arhat (Sakridgamin). Making offerings to a hundred million Second Stage Arhats is not as good as making offerings to one Third Stage Arhat (Anagamin). Making offerings to ten billion Third Stage Arhats is not as good as making offerings to one Fourth Stage Arhat. There are that many distinctions in offerings made to Sages.

Making offerings to limitlessly many Fourth Stage Arhats is not as good as making offerings to “one who is without cultivation and without realization”—a Buddha. A Buddha need not engage in further cultivation or realization. He has already finished his cultivation and need not undergo further existence. He has perfected the three kinds of enlightenment and is endowed with the myriad virtues. Therefore, one should make offerings to a Buddha.

When Shakyamuni Buddha was cultivating at the level of planting causes, he also made offerings to Buddhas—not just to one Buddha, but to Buddhas as many as motes of dust in lands. Having made offerings to infinitely many Buddhas, he increased his good roots and become endowed with the special hallmarks and characteristics.

Upon seeing him, the Buddha, sentient beings bring forth great vows. All those who have left the home-life to become novices at Gold Mountain Monastery should make great vows to achieve a great fruition. If you don’t make great vows, you won’t realize any fruition. Those who have left home at Gold Mountain Monastery should become Fourth Stage Arhats at the very least. Then we will not let down the donors of the ten directions who have made offerings to us. Therefore, we must make great vows.

Mountain-ruling Spirit Light of Great Strength understands and enters this ground. She understands and awakens to this Dharma door, this state and passage into liberation.

Sutra

He witnesses the misery of sentient beings in transmigration,
Perpetually caught up in all their karmic hindrances.
With wisdom’s radiance he extinguishes their woes.
The Spirit Universally Supreme is liberated thus.

Wondrous sounds issue from each and every pore,
Praising the Buddhas in accord with sentient beings’ hearts.
This lasts for measureless eons throughout the ten directions.
Orb of Light enters this passage.

Commentary

He witnesses the misery of sentient beings in transmigration . The Buddha sees sentient beings going round and round without end in the six paths of rebirth, suffering piteously. Why do they flow and turn in birth and death? It’s because they are perpetually caught up in all their karmic hindrances. These karmic hindrances come about when they become deluded, create karma, and then undergo retribution. With such karmic hindrances, they cannot cultivate. They are perpetually tied up and shrouded by their karmic hindrances. With wisdom’s radiance he extinguishes their woes. The Buddha uses his wisdom to dispel sentient beingsignorance and obstacles of dark delusion. The Mountain-ruling Spirit Universally Supreme is liberated thus. She understands this passage into liberation.

Wondrous sounds issue f rom each and every pore on the Buddha’s body, speaking Dharma for sentient beings, proclaiming wondrous and inconceivable Dharma doors, praising the Buddhas in accord with sentient beings’ hearts. / This lasts for measureless eons throughout the worlds of the ten directions. It is not only in one world that the Buddha emits wondrous sounds to teach and transform sentient beings and speak Dharma for them. It is not only for a short time that he teaches and transforms sentient beings, butthroughout measureless eons. Mountain-Ruling Orb of Light enters and understands this passage into liberation.

Sutra

The Buddha appears all throughout the ten directions.
Using various expedients, he speaks the wonderful Dharma.
With an ocean of practices, he benefits beings widely.
The Spirit Seeing the Manifest awakens thus.

Commentary

The Buddha appears before sentient beings all throughout the ten directions. / Using various expedients, he speaks the wonderful Dharma, teaching sentient beings and speaking Dharma for them even in their dreams. When they are awake, the Buddha uses a vast array of expedient means to teach them. With an ocean of practices, he benefits beings widely. The practices the Buddha cultivates to benefit sentient beings are as profuse and boundless as an ocean. The Mountain-ruling Spirit Universal Eye Seeing the Manifest awakens thus. She understands this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Dharma doors as boundless and measureless as the ocean
Are spoken with a single sound, yet understood by all.
The Buddha expounds endlessly throughout every eon.
Vajra Eyes enters this expedient means.

Commentary

The Buddha’s Dharma doors, which are as boundless and measureless as the great ocean, / Are spoken with a single sound, yet understood by all. The Buddha proclaims the Dharma with a single sound, and sentient beings each understand according to their kind.

The Buddha expounds endlessly throughout every eon. The Buddha never tires of speaking the Dharma. He speaks Dharma constantly in order to teach and transform sentient beings. Mountain-ruling Spirit Solid Vajra Eyes enters this passage into liberation of expedient means and understands this state.

Sutra

Moreover, Earth-ruling Spirit Pure Flower of Universal Virtue gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating all sentient beings in thought after thought with a compassionate heart. Earth-ruling Spirit Solid Blessings and Adornment gained a passage into liberation of universally making appear all sentient beings’ power of blessings and virtue. Earth-ruling Spirit Wondrous Flowers Ornamenting Trees gained a passage into liberation of universally entering all dharmas and producing the adornments of all Buddhalands.

Commentary

Moreover, to elaborate further upon principles that were not fully explained before, the text brings up Earth-ruling Spirit Pure Flower of Universal Virtue, who universally inspires thoughts of merit and virtue in sentient beings. The earth has spirits watching over it. Without these spirits, all the dust on the earth would scatter and disperse, and there would be no earth to speak of. So, spirits have to watch over the earth. This spirit gained a state within the Buddhadharma, a passage into liberation of seeing the Buddha universally contemplating all sentient beings in thought after thought with a compassionate heart. In every thought, the Buddha is mindful of sentient beings and wishes to teach and transform them. With a compassionate heart, he wants to eradicate their suffering and give them joy.

Earth-ruling Spirit Solid Blessings and Adornment also inspires sentient beings to make the bodhi resolve and enter the sea of merit and virtue. She gained a passage into liberation of universally making appear all sentient beings’ power of blessings and virtue. She enables all sentient beings to increase the strength of their blessings and virtue through the cultivation of blessings, wisdom, and virtue. She attained that passage into liberation.

Earth-ruling Spirit Wondrous Flowers Ornamenting Trees gained a passage into liberation of universally entering all dharmas and producing the adornments of all Buddhalands. She causes the lands of all Buddhas in the ten directions to become subtly and wonderfully adorned. That was her passage into liberation.

Sutra

Earth-ruling Spirit Universally Scattering the Myriad Gems gained a passage into liberation of cultivating all kinds of samadhis, enabling sentient beings to cast out obstructive defilements. Earth-ruling Spirit Pure Eyes Contemplating Time gained a passage into liberation of enabling all sentient beings to always travel about in joyful play. Earth-ruling Spirit Golden Color and Wondrous Eyes gained a passage into liberation of displaying all kinds of pure bodies to tame and subdue sentient beings.

Commentary

Earth-ruling Spirit Universally Scattering the Myriad Gems knows that sentient beings like precious things, so she scatters them everywhere—gold, silver, vaidurya, crystal, carnelian, red pearls, and coral. She strews the seven treasures about, and sentient beings who have affinities obtain them. She gained a passage into liberation of cultivating all kinds of samadhis, enabling sentient beings to cast out obstructive defilements. She understands that the Buddha cultivated all the different kinds of samadhi when he was at the level of planting causes. Since the Buddha obtained samadhi, he was able to help sentient beings get rid of their karmic hindrances and defiled thoughts. This spirit gained this passage into liberation.

Earth-ruling Spirit Pure Eyes Contemplating Time gained a passage into liberation of enabling all sentient beings to always travel about in joyful play. This Earth-ruling Spirit knows how to teach sentient beings according to their conditions. She knows that sentient beings like to play and be happy, and she understands how the Buddha always let sentient beings play and have fun, using that kind of samadhi to teach and transform beings. That is her passage into liberation.

Earth-ruling Spirit Golden Color and Wondrous Eyes gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of everywhere dzisplaying all kinds of pure, wonderfulDharma bodies to tame and subdue sentient beings. She subdues obstinate sentient beings until they are no longer obstinate; she makes angry and hateful beings become joyful. She tames all the sentient beings who are difficult to tame. This Earth-ruling Spirit attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Earth-ruling Spirit Fragrant Shining Hairs gained a passage into liberation of understanding the sea of merit and virtue and the tremendous, awesome power of all Buddhas.

Commentary

Earth-ruling Spirit Fragrant Shining Hairs must have a hairy body. Most people’s body hair smells of sweat and grime. Cowhair gives off a rank odor, and horse hair smells of horses. In America there is a kind of animal that causes a stink, and it can be said to have stinky fur. This Earth-ruling Spirit, however, has fragrant hair. Her hairs give off a fragrance. People who uphold the precepts purely emit fragrance. Those who are not pure in the precepts have a stench about them. They smell worse than fish. No matter what deodorant or perfume they apply, they still stink. This Earth-ruling Spirit’s hairs are not only fragrant, but also radiant. As a result of cultivating pure Dharma, she has a pure, fragrant light. She gained a passage into liberation of understanding the sea of merit and virtue and the tremendous, awesome power of all Buddhas. As a result of having cultivated a sea of merit and virtue, the Buddhas have great awesome power. All cultivators should possess such great awesome power. When you are afraid to lecture on the sutras in front of certain audiences, you have been intimidated and overwhelmed by the awesome presence of those audiences. If you yourself possess great awesome spiritual power, then no matter who comes to listen, you will not be afraid. Even if the president or the emperor is listening, it’s all the same to you. Earth-ruling Spirit Fragrant Shining Hairs entered this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Earth-ruling Spirit Delightful Still Sounds gained a passage into liberation of universally gathering in the sea of all sentient beingssounds of speech.

Commentary

The next Earth-ruling Spirit is named Delightful Still Sounds. “Still sound” actually refers to silence—the absence of sound—which is the sound of samadhi. This sound delights the minds of sentient beings. Although they cannot hear this sound, they sense it in their minds and feel extremely joyful. This sound can be likened to invisible waves of current that make one feel very happy. This Earth-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of universally gathering in the sea of all sentient beingssounds of speech. This passage into liberation of universally gathering in sentient beingssounds and speech is comparable to the function of a radio. It is said, “Silence surpasses the presence of sound.” Silence gathers in all the sounds of sentient beings’ movements. Earth-ruling Spirit Delightful Still Sounds attains this state of the Buddha and enters this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Earth-ruling Spirit Topknot of Exquisite Flowers gained a passage into liberation of perceiving the immaculate nature filling up the lands of Buddhas.

Commentary

Earth-ruling Spirit Topknot of Exquisite Flowers has inconceivably many wondrous, fragrant flowers, which are coiled clockwise to form a precious topknot, hence her name. She gained a state of the Buddha in which she perceives the Buddha’s fragrant light shining everywhere. Clouds of fragrance and flowers come forth from every pore of the Buddha, pervading the Dharma Realms of the ten directions. This is a passage into liberation of perceiving the immaculate nature filling up the lands of Buddhas. The lands of the Buddhas are just the Dharma Realms of the ten directions. When sentient beings see these clouds and smell their fragrance, they renounce all defiled thoughts and regain their pure, original substance. This spirit attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Earth-ruling Spirit Universally Supported by Vajra gained a passage into liberation of seeing the universal appearance of those who are gathered in and supported by the Dharma wheels of all Buddhas.

At that time, Earth-ruling Spirit Pure Flower of Universal Virtue received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Earth-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary

Earth-ruling Spirit Universally Supported by Vajra rules over earth that is as solid and indestructible as vajra, hence her name. She gained a passage into liberation of seeing the universal appearance of those who are gathered in and supported by the Dharma wheels of all past, present, and future Buddhas throughout the ten directions. Although we have come into the world after Shakyamuni Buddha entered nirvana, the Buddhadharma being expounded now is still the same as the Dharma spoken by all Buddhas of the past. The Dharma is mutually supportive. This Dharma connects with that Dharma, and that Dharma connects with this Dharma. The Dharma spoken by this Buddha was already spoken by that Buddha. The Dharma spoken by that Buddha is now spoken by this Buddha. It all perfectly interpenetrates without obstruction. The Way of all Buddhas is the same, and the Dharma wheel of the Buddhas turns ceaselessly.

When the Buddha turns the Dharma wheel, all sentient beings are gathered in and guided to cultivate in accord with the Dharma, and in the future they will all come into the world and manifest the attainment of Buddhahood. Earth-ruling Spirit Universally Supported by Vajra attained this passage into liberation.

At that time, Earth-ruling Spirit Universal Virtue Pure Flower received the Buddha’s awesome spiritualpower, universally contemplated the multitudes of Earth-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Sutra

The Thus Come One, in thought after thought in the past, Employed ineffable means of great kindness and compassion. Cultivating in this way without end,
He thereby attained a solid, indestructible body.

Sentient beings and Bodhisattvas in the three periods of time,
As well as all the blessings accumulated,
Are fully manifest in the Thus Come One’s pores.
Blessings and Adornment sees this and rejoices.

Commentary

The Thus Come One, the Buddha, in thought after thought when he was cultivating all kinds of practices in the past at the level of planting causes, constantly cultivated the Samadhi of Kindheartedness. He continually practiced the Dharma doors of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving. He treated all beings with compassion. No matter how badly beings treated him, he would draw them in with compassion. For example, as the Bodhisattva “Never-Slighting,” he would bow to people as soon as he saw them and say, “I dare not slight you, for you will all become Buddhas.” Although he dared not slight sentient beings, they would beat and scold him, calling him stupid. In spite of this, he felt compassion for them. He never got mad at them. In one of his past lives, when he was a Patient Immortal, his limbs were sliced off by King Kali, yet he felt no anger at all. These were signs of his cultivation of great kindness and compassion.

He employed ineffable means of great kindness and compassion. “Ineffable” means there were so many means one could never finish speaking of them. Cultivating in this way without end…He cultivated the Samadhi of Kindheartedness and refrained from killing sentient beings out of great compassion. His cultivation was “without end,” meaning he cultivated compassion for countless great eons. Even after achieving Buddhahood, he continued to practice the Four Unlimited Aspects of Mind of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving. He thereby attained a solid, indestructible body. Since the Buddha refrained from hurting other sentient beings, his own body was as solid as vajra—it was invulnerable to harm or injury.

Therefore, we should be clear about cause and effect. Why would someone kill us? We must have killed someone in a past life. Why would people scold us? We must have scolded others in the past. Therefore, when the causes and conditions assemble, we must undergo our retribution. Since the Buddha refrained from killing, he attained an adamantine, invulnerable body. If all of us cultivated the Samadhi of Kindheartedness and refrained from killing, our bodies will also be solid, healthy, and free from illness. Why are we so unhealthy and prone to illness? We have not done a good job of holding the precept of not killing.

All sentient beings and Bodhisattvas in the three periods of time—past, present, and future, as well as all the blessings accumulated, Are fully manifest in the Thus Come One’s pores. Earth-ruling Spirit Solid Blessings and Adornment sees this state and rejoices.

Some people have a doubt about these four lines of verse. They think, “The Buddhas of the past and present should only be able to manifest sentient beings and Bodhisattvas of the past and present. Sentient beings and Bodhisattvas of the future have not come around yet, so how can the Buddhas make them appear? It doesn’t make sense.” You should know that the state of the Buddhas is inconceivable. They can move the past to the present, move the present to the future, and move the future to the past. Past, present, and future are three and yet one; one and yet three. Therefore, it is possible for them to display in their pores the merit and virtue of future sentient beings. This is like television, which also has the function of moving past to present, present to future, and future to past. If television can do this, how much the more can the Buddhas’ pores? Every pore on a Buddha’s body is like a television.

“I’m still not sure I believe this,” you say. Then let’s take dreams. Sometimes people dream about events that are not due to occur for several decades. Sometimes we also dream of long-forgotten events from decades past—events from childhood. This is also a case of moving the past into the present, the present into the future, and the future into the past. I remember that some forty years ago, I dreamed I was sitting on a Dharma seat and there were some foreigners lecturing on the Flower Adornment Sutra. I didn’t understand the vision then, but now it has become a reality! I saw this in a dream forty some years ago. Not only did I see this state, I dreamed of many others as well. Now I say to myself, “So that’s what it was.” How do you explain this? If we can see future events in dreams, then why do you doubt that the Buddha can manifest the entire Dharma realm within his pores, including the merit and virtue of past and present sentient beings?

If you have opened the Five Eyes, you can also see events of the past, present, and future. You can see, “Oh, when I was a little kid, I climbed around on the floor naked. So that’s how it was.” Or, “When I die, I’ll lie there and my breathing will stop. That’s how it will be.” Or, “I’m going to sit there and pass away.” You can see all these things. You can know what the circumstances of your death will be, how many disciples and laypeople will be at your side and who they will be.

Sutra

Within a samadhi that is vast, great, and tranquil,
Unborn, undying, neither coming nor going,
The Buddha adorns and purifies lands and instructs beings.
This is the liberation of the Spirit TreesFlowers.

Commentary

Within a samadhi that is vast, great, and tranquil…This samadhi is the vastest and greatest. At the same time, it is still and serene, devoid of sound. This vast, still samadhi is unborn, undying, neither coming nor going. This is the Buddha’s samadhi, the Buddha’s state.

The Buddha adorns and purifies all Buddhas’ lands and instructs beings in the Dharma door of ending birth and death. This is the liberation of the Spirit TreesFlowers. Earth-ruling Spirit Wondrous Flowers Ornamenting Trees gains this passage into liberation.

Sutra

The Buddha cultivated every sort of practice in the past
To help sentient beings eradicate their heavy obstacles.
Earth-ruling Spirit Universally Scattering the Myriad Gems
Sees this liberation and gives rise to joy.

Commentary

The Buddha cultivated for the sake of sentient beings. He saw how sentient beings had such heavy obstacles and yet did not try to eradicate them. Thus, the Buddha cultivated every sort of practice in the past / To help all sentient beings eradicate their heavy obstacles. / The Earth-ruling Spirit Universally Scattering the Myriad Gems / Sees this passage into liberation, this state of the Buddha, and gives rise to joy.

Sutra

The realm of the Thus Come One has no bounds.
In thought after thought, he appears everywhere in all worlds.
Earth-ruling Spirit Pure Eyes Contemplating Time
Observes the Buddha’s deeds and rejoices in his heart.

Wondrous sounds, limitless and inconceivable,
Universally extinguish afflictions of sentient beings.
The Spirit Golden Color Eyes awakens to this
And sees the Buddha’s boundless, supreme merit and virtue.

The Buddha manifests transformations of all shapes and forms,
Filling up the ten directions of the Dharma Realm.
Fragrant Shining Hairs often observes the Buddha
Universally transforming sentient beings in this manner.

Commentary

The realm of cultivation of the Thus Come Onehas no bounds or limits. In thought after thought, the Buddha thinks of sentient beings, and so he appears everywhere in all worlds throughout the ten directions. Earth-ruling Spirit Pure Eyes Contemplating Time / Observes the Buddha’s deeds, his past cultivation and his present practice of teaching and transforming sentient beings, and rejoices in his heart. She feels tremendous joy.

Wondrous sounds proclaimed by the Buddha, limitless and inconceivable, / Universally extinguish the obstacles of afflictions of sentient beings. / The Spirit Golden Color Eyes awakens to this principle and sees the Buddha’s immeasurable, boundless, supreme merit and virtue.

The Buddha manifests transformations of all shapes and forms. The Buddha assumes the appearances of sentient beings of every shape and form, and then teaches and transforms those beings, filling up the ten directions of the Dharma Realm. The Buddha doesn’t do this in only one world; he does it throughout the ten directions of the Dharma Realm. Earth-ruling Spirit Fragrant Shining Hairs often observes the state of the Buddha. All the grains, fruits, and so forth, which are produced from the earth, are called “Fragrant Hairs.” The Buddha practices great kindness and compassion, universally transforming all sentient beings in this manner.

Sutra

His wondrous voice extends throughout the ten directions,
Speaking to the multitudes for measureless eons.
Having understood in her heart, the Earth Spirit Delightful
Feels deep reverence and joy in listening to the Buddha.

Fragrant, blazing clouds issue from the Buddha’s pores
And, according to sentient beings’ wishes, pervade the world.
All who behold this become mature.
Coiled Flowers contemplates thus.

Sturdy and indestructible as vajra,
Immovable as Mount Sumeru,
Thus does the Buddha’s body dwell in the world.
Universally Supported sees this and rejoices.

Commentary

His wondrous voice as the Buddha speaks the Dharma extends throughout the ten directions, / Speaking to the multitudes for measureless eons. The Buddha’s wondrous Dharma sounds pervade the ten directions, and the duration of his speaking of Dharma spans the three periods of time—past, present, and future. Having understood this state in her heart, the Earth Spirit Delightful / Feels deep reverence and joy in listening to the Buddha speak the wonderful Dharma.

Fragrant, blazing clouds issue from the Buddha’s pores / And, according to sentient beings’ wishes, pervade the world. / All who behold this become mature. Everyone who sees the Buddha’s state achieves maturity. Coiled Flowers contemplates thus. Earth-ruling Spirit Coiled Flowers understands this principle.

The Buddha’s body is sturdy and indestructible as vajra. How did the Buddha get such a sturdy body? It was through practicing great kindness and compassion, cultivating the Samadhi of Kindheartedness, and protecting the Dharma. His resolve to protect the Dharma enabled him to attain such a solid body. Dharma protectors do not hold the precepts and rules of deportment themselves, but they wield swords and other weapons to guard the Dharma.

Once there was a Bhikshu named Jiaode, who held the precepts, but who was mistreated by other Bhikshus who did not hold precepts. The King went to war with those Bhikshus who didn’t hold precepts, and in the end was killed by them. At death, he was reborn in the Eastern Land of Akshobya Buddha, where he become that Buddha’s foremost disciple. The Bhikshu Jiaode later entered perfect stillness and was also reborn in the Eastern Vaidurya Land, to become Akshobya Buddha’s second disciple. Therefore, the merit of the one who protected the Dharma surpassed that of the one who was protected. In any case, protecting the Dharma enables one to attain a body of vajra.

As steady and immovable as Mount Sumeru, / Thus does the Buddha’s body dwell in the world. The Buddha’s body is likened to vajra and to Mount Sumeru. Earth-ruling Spirit Universally Supported sees this state of the Buddha and rejoices immensely.

Sutra

Moreover, City-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak Illumination gained a passage into liberation of expediently benefiting sentient beings. City-ruling Spirit Wondrously Adorning Palaces gained a passage into liberation of knowing sentient beingsfaculties and teaching and transforming them to bring them to maturity. City-ruling Spirit Pure Jewels of Joy gained a passage into liberation of constantly delighting in enabling all sentient beings to enjoy blessings and virtue.

Commentary

Moreover, City-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak Illumination gained a passage into liberation of expediently benefiting sentient beings. She uses various kinds of expedient methods to benefit sentient beings. She attained that state of the Buddha and that passage into liberation.

City-ruling Spirit Wondrously Adorning Palaces makes all palaces adorned and beautiful. She gained a passage into liberation of knowing sentient beingsfaculties, knowing whether their faculties are deep or shallow, and knowing what they like, and then using that knowledge in teaching and transforming them to bring them to maturity. She attained that passage into liberation.

City-ruling Spirit Pure Jewels of Joy gained a passage into liberation of constantly delighting in enabling all sentient beings to enjoy blessings and virtue. She likes to encourage sentient beings to bring forth the bodhi resolve and increase their good roots, blessings, and wisdom. She attained that passage into liberation .

Sutra

City-ruling Spirit Pure and Free from Worry gained a passage into liberation of a treasury of great compassion that delivers beings from all fear. City-ruling Spirit Flower Lamps and Blazing Eyes gained a passage into liberation of universal understanding and great wisdom.

City-ruling Spirit Clear Manifestation of Blazing Banners gained a passage into liberation of expediently manifesting everywhere.

Commentary

City-ruling Spirit Pure and Free from Worry makes sure that all the citizens in his city are free from worry and attain purity. She protects the city from danger, so the people have nothing to worry about. She gained a passage into liberation of a treasury of great compassion that delivers beings from all fear. With her compassionate heart, she rescues sentient beings from terrifying situations. She gives them fearlessness so that they feel no anxiety or fear. Her compassion is called a treasury because it is so immense. She attained that passage into liberation.

City-ruling Spirit Flower Lamps and Blazing Eyes gained a passage into liberation of universal understanding and great wisdom. All sentient beings attain universal understanding and have great wisdom. She attained that passage into liberation. City-ruling Spirit Clear Manifestation of Blazing Banners gained a passage into liberation of expediently manifesting everywhere. She uses expedient dharmas to appear universally before sentient beings, helping sentient beings to understand expedient dharmas and be liberated. That is her passage into liberation.

Sutra

City-ruling Spirit Flourishing Blessings Awesome Brightness gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating all sentient beings and helping them to cultivate a vast sea of blessings and virtue.

Commentary

City-ruling Spirit Flourishing Blessings Awesome Brightness gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating all sentient beings in the ten directions to see which sentient beings are ready to be saved, and helping them to cultivate a vastsea of blessings and virtue. Their blessings and virtue are as boundless as an ocean. This City-ruling Spirit attained this state of the Buddha and entered this passage into liberation.

Sutra

City-ruling Spirit Body of Pure Radiance gained a passage into liberation of enlightening all foolish and dim-witted sentient beings.

Commentary

City-ruling Spirit Body of Pure Radiance has a body that is both pure and radiant. This spirit also rules over a city. She gained a state and a passage into liberation of enlightening all foolish and dim-witted sentient beings. She enables foolish beings to gain wisdom, and dim-witted beings to attain brightness and “enlightenment.” Those who are blind from birth know nothing at all. People who do not understand the Buddhadharma are likened to blind people. The Nirvana Sutra describes a person blind from birth who asked what color milk was. He was told it was the color of a (white) shell. People also compared it to the color of rice flour, the color of snow, and the color of a white crane. They used four analogies for fear that he might not understand. The person said, “If you say milk is like a shell, is it as hard as a shell? If you compare milk to rice flour, is it as soft as rice flour? If you say milk is the color of snow, is it as cold as snow? And what is snow like? If milk is white like a white crane, does it move around like a crane?” Even with four analogies, the person still had no idea what people were talking about. Foolish people who do not understand the four virtues of the Buddha’s nirvana—eternity, bliss, true self, and purity—are like the blind person who did not know what color milk was even after being given four analogies. In the overall analogy, the shell represented the virtue of eternity, rice flour represented the virtue of bliss, snow represented the virtue of purity, and the crane represented the virtue of true self. Ordinary, ignorant people do not understand what the Buddhadharma is all about. If you explain the transcendental Dharma to them, they say, “Transcendental Dharma is included within the worldly dharma.” What they say has some truth to it. As the Sixth Patriarch Sutra says,

The Buddhadharma is here in the world.
Enlightenment is not apart from the world.
To search for bodhi apart from the world
Is like looking for a hare with horns.

When people who do not understand the Buddhadharma see this verse, they think it means there is no transcendental Dharma. They have no idea what transcendental Dharma could be. They are only familiar with worldly dharmas. The meaning behind the Sixth Patriarch’s words is that the transcendental Dharma can be found right within worldly dharmas. He was not stating that there was no such thing as transcendental Dharma. Worldly dharmas, when turned around, become transcendental Dharma. But if you turn transcendental Dharma back into worldly dharmas, you will never find the transcendental Dharma. The transcendental Dharma can be found within worldly dharmas, provided you understand it. If you lack understanding, then there is neither worldly nor transcendental Dharma. Once you understand, then the worldly is itself transcendental. Right within the mundane, you can cultivate the transcendental Dharma. This is a fundamental principle of the Buddhadharma, which the Sixth Patriarch expressed in his verse, “The Buddhadharma is here in the world. Enlightenment is not apart from the world.” You have to attain enlightenment in the world. If you are not enlightened in the world, there is no Buddhadharma to speak of. If you are enlightened, then the Buddhadharma—the transcendental Dharma—exists. Don’t seek to find some other enlightenment apart from this world. “To search for bodhi apart from the world / Is like looking for a hare with horns.” To seek bodhi outside of worldly dharmas is like looking for horns on a rabbit.

The City-ruling Spirit Body of Pure Radiance is able to enlighten all foolish and dim-witted sentient beings. She attained this passage into liberation of wisdom and light.

Sutra

City-ruling Spirit Fragrant Cowl Adornment gained a passage into liberation of contemplating how the Thus Come One’s sovereign power pervasively tames sentient beings in all worlds.

Commentary

City-ruling Spirit Fragrant Cowl Adornment is also known as Fragrant Banner Adornment. She rules over a city. She gained a state of the Buddha and a passage into liberation of contemplating how the Thus Come One’s sovereign and awesome power of spiritual penetrations pervasively tames sentient beings in all worlds throughout the ten directions. That’s the passage into liberation of this City-ruling Spirit.

Sutra

City-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak Bright Eyes gained a passage into liberation of using brilliant light to smash the mountain of all sentient beings’ obstructions.

At that time, City-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak Illumination received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, contemplated all the multitudes of City-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary

City-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak Bright Eyes and the City-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak Illumination are probably siblings, for their names differ by only one word. She gained a passage into liberation of using brilliant light to smash the mountain of all sentient beings’ obstructions. What is the mountain of obstructions? It is formed of greed, anger, delusion, and darkness. When the mountain of obstructions is smashed, the light of wisdom appears.

At that time, City-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak Illumination received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual might, universally contemplated the multitudes of City-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Sutra

The Guiding Master is thus inconceivable.
His light pervasively illumines the ten directions.
Every sentient being sees the Buddha appear before him.
Innumerable beings are taught, transformed, and brought to maturity.

Commentary

The Guiding Master is one who guides sentient beings to the attainment of Buddhahood. As one who first became enlightened himself, he leads the way for sentient beings. The Buddha has already gone through the experience. Based on the practices he cultivated, he realized Buddhahood and then set about to teach sentient beings to attain Buddhahood as well. Hence, he is called “Guiding Master.” He is thus inconceivable. The word “thus” contains many principles. It refers to the method of cultivation—namely, the Middle Way. Those who understand the Middle Way are “thus,” while those who do not understand are not “thus.” The Middle Way is that basis for the realization of Buddhahood. It is inconceivable. The Middle Way gives rise to innumerable Buddhas, innumerable Bodhisattvas, innumerable Arhats, and innumerable Patriarchs. All the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Sages are born from the Middle Way. And so it is said to be conceivable. You can never finish describing the wonders of the Middle Way, nor can you ever fully understand them. You cannot realize Buddhahood without cultivating the Middle Way. The Middle Way is just true emptiness and wonderful existence. True emptiness is not empty, which is why it can produce wonderful existence. Wonderful existence does not exist, which is why it is called true emptiness. The transformations of the Middle Way are infinite; its esoteric mystery is incomparable. All Buddhas cultivate the Middle Way, and because of that, they have powerful samadhi and wisdom. Due to his powerful wisdom and his successful cultivation of the Middle Way, his light pervasively illumines the ten directions of the Dharma Realm. Every sentient being in the ten directions sees the Buddha appear before him and feels that the Buddha is speaking Dharma directly to him. Innumerable beings are taught, transformed and brought to maturity. The Buddha has taught and transformed sentient beings beyond number, leading them to attain Buddhahood. “Innumerable” means their number cannot be known; it is unspeakably, unspeakably many.

Sutra

Every sentient being’s disposition is unique.
The Buddha understands them all without exception.
City-ruling Spirit Wondrously Adorning Palaces
Enters this Dharma door and rejoices in her heart.

The Thus Come One cultivated through measureless eons,
Protecting and upholding the Dharma of past Buddhas.
Constantly focusing on reverent practice brought him joy.
The City Spirit Wondrous Jewels awakens to this passage.

Commentary

Every sentient being’s disposition is unique. Every sentient being has his own individual karma. Each one plants his own causes and reaps his own results. Consider human beings, for example. No two people have identical faces. Just as their faces are different, so are their karmic retributions and causes and effects. There are sentient beings with deep good roots and those with shallow good roots. Some have already cultivated for a very long time, whereas others have just started. Therefore, each sentient being has a distinct disposition. This makes it difficult to know all their dispositions. Nevertheless, the Buddha understands them all very, very clearly without exception. Knowing their temperaments, he can speak the appropriate Dharma for them. City-ruling Spirit Wondrously Adorning Palaces attains this state of the Buddha. She enters this Dharma door and rejoices in her heart. She is very happy.

The Thus Come One cultivated through measureless eons in the past. How did he cultivate? He acted as a Dharma protector, protecting and upholding the Dharma of past Buddhas. He did his best to protect the Buddhadharma. There are various kinds of Dharma protectors. In protecting the Dharma, the Buddha was constantly focusing on reverent practice, and it brought him joy. He revered the Dharma and cultivated in accord with it, and this made him very happy. Those who protect the Dharma use all sorts of expedient means to teach and transform sentient beings. One of the Buddha’s disciples, the Venerable Mahakatyayana, often taught and transformed sentient beings by appearing in their dreams to cause them to become enlightened and bring forth the Bodhi resolve. What proof is there that he taught through dreams? He once accepted a disciple who was a king named Xila. After King Xila left the home-life, he went to the mountains and engaged in dhuta or ascetic practices, eating one meal a day and not sleeping under the same tree two nights in a row. Not bothering to cut his hair or shave, he assumed a very “natural” appearance comparable to that of modern-day hippies. As he was cultivating there, another king went to the mountains to hunt, accompanied by a large entourage of lovely concubines. Tired out from hunting, that king fell asleep. Meanwhile, his beautiful women grew restless and decided to take a walk. They happened upon the ascetic King Xila, who looked like a freak. The ascetic explained the Buddhadharma for them. When the other king woke up and found his women gone, he searched around and found them chatting with a freak. Provoked by jealousy, he beat up King Xila. Although King Xila had studied martial arts in former days, he had forgotten those skills from lack of use and was sorely defeated. This so infuriated him that he vowed, “I’m going to return to the throne, and then I’m going to make war on you and defeat you.” Out of anger, he decided to return to lay life. Before doing so, however, he had to tell his teacher. He said, “I must take revenge on this king who defeated me.” His teacher, the Venerable Mahakatyayana, tried to dissuade him, saying, “Forget it. This is just cause and effect. In a past life you probably beat up this king, and that’s why he’s beaten you up. Just regard it as paying back a debt.”

“You muddle-headed teacher,” said King Xila. “How can you tell me I have to pay a debt when he’s the one who beat me up? The facts are clear. You sure don’t know how to teach. You’re really confused.” He scolded his teacher like that.

“Fine,” said his teacher. “If you want to return to lay life, go ahead. But why don’t you stay overnight and go back tomorrow?” Since it was getting late, the disciple reasoned that he might as well leave the next morning. That night, the Venerable Mahakatyayana appeared in his dream to teach him. In his dream, he returned to lay life and mobilized the country’s troops for war. He chose several great generals and led several tens of thousands of soldiers to attack the other king’s country. He lost every battle. At the end of every battle, his troops fled in defeat. Finally, all the troops and generals were dead, and he was the only one left. He was captured by the enemy king and interrogated, “Why did you invade my country? As a prisoner of war, you must die.” He was bound and taken to be executed. Right before his execution, he remembered his teacher and thought in remorse, “Teacher, I scolded you for being muddled. If only I had listened to you, I would not have suffered such utter defeat. Teacher, please be compassionate and save me.” Just as he was pleading, the executioner swung the knife and chopped his head off. Right then, he woke up and realized it was all a dream.

The next day he told his teacher, “I’m not going back to lay life. I had this dream and saw that I would be defeated and beheaded. I’d better cultivate the Way instead.” That’s how the Venerable Mahakatyayana taught and transformed his disciple in a dream. Since his disciple refused to listen to him when awake, he instructed him through a dream, making him come to his senses.

There are many different ways of teaching and transforming sentient beings.

The City -ruling Spirit Wondrous Jewels understands this state of the Buddha and awakens to and enters thispassage into liberation.

Sutra

The Thus Come One has long had the ability
To rid all sentient beings of fear and terror
And to feel constant kindness and compassion for them.
The Spirit Free from Worry has this joyful awakening.

Commentary

The Thus Come One has long had the ability / To rid all sentient beings of fear and terror and rescue them from worry, affliction, and frightening situations. He can take sentient beings away from all delusion and fear. And the Buddha is able to feel constant kindness and compassion for them. Out of pity, the Buddha guides sentient beings to separate from grief, sorrow, suffering, and vexation. His heart is filled with great kindness and compassion. Kindness enables one to make others happy, and compassion makes one try to alleviate suffering. Sometimes the Buddha uses a visible form of kindness and compassion to allay sentient beingsdistress and misery. At other times he employs compassion invisibly, without letting them know that he is removing their pain and making them glad.

It is hard for sentient beings to understand this state of the Buddha. However, the City-ruling Spirit Free from Worry understands this state and has this joyful awakening. She is immensely happy.

Sutra

The wisdom of the Buddha is vast and boundless.
Like the void, it cannot be measured.
The City Spirit Flower Eyes has this blissful insight
And learns the Thus Come One’s wondrous wisdom.

Commentary

The wisdom of the Buddha is vast and boundless. No person or sage has greater wisdom than the Buddha. The Buddha’s wisdom is like the limitless void; it cannot be measured. There is no way to measure how great the void is. The City-ruling Spirit Flower Eyes sees this state of the Buddha and has this blissful insight. She understands this with joy andlearns the Thus Come One’s wondrous wisdom, which is infinitely great.

Sutra

The Thus Come One’s forms are equal to the number of sentient beings.
According to their inclinations all are caused to see him.
Clear Manifestation of Blazing Banners realizes this.
Practicing this expedient makes her happy.

Commentary

The Thus Come One’s forms are equal to the number of sentient beings. The Thus Come One appears in all places. As long as sentient beings wish to see him, the Buddha fulfills their wish. The Buddha’s physical forms are as numerous as sentient beings. According to their inclinations all are caused to see him. Whatever sentient beings want to see, they get to see. City-ruling Spirit Clear Manifestation of Blazing Banners realizes this state and principle. Studying and practicing this expedient Dharma door makes her happy. She enjoys cultivating this Dharma door.

Sutra

The Thus Come One cultivated a sea of many blessings,
Pure, vast, great and without boundaries.
Blessings and Virtue Banner Light
Contemplates and understands this passage with joy.

Deluded beings in the realms of existence
Are like those born blind in the world who see nothing at all.
For their benefit, the Buddha appears in the world.
Pure Radiance spirit enters this passage.

Commentary

When the Thus Come One was cultivating blessings and wisdom in the past, he would not neglect to cultivate even blessings as minute as a strand of hair or a speck of dust. In everything he did, he made sentient beings happy and did not upset them. He cultivated a sea of many blessings, blessings as profuse as an ocean. The Thus Come One’s blessings are pure, vast, great and without boundaries. City-ruling Spirit Blessings and Virtue Banner Light attains this state and passage into liberation. She carefully contemplates this state and understands this passage with joy.

Deluded beings in the realms of existence . All sentient beings drift and revolve in the Three Realms and Twenty-five Levels of Existence, not knowing how to escape. They are like those born blind in the world who see nothing at all. They can hear sounds, but cannot see anything. If you ask them what the sun looks like, they might say that it is triangular. If you ask them about the moon, they may say, “I know the moon is square.” If asked to describe people, they might say, “People all have a nose, eyes, a mouth, and ears, but their eyes cannot see.” Since they themselves are blind, they assume that everyone else is, too. People who are born blind are in a miserable plight. But not knowing the Buddhadharma, not knowing how to escape the Three Realms and cultivate, is the most miserable situation to be in. To understand how to cultivate and be accepted into monastic life is not an easy accomplishment.

Never say that leaving home is easy. It is only possible due to good roots planted in many past lives.

If you lack good roots, then even if you wish to leave home, you won’t be able to. If you possess good roots but the circumstances are unfavorable, you still won’t be able to fulfill your wish. Some people say things like, “So-and-so is supposed to leave home, and so he has. I’m not supposed to, and so I haven’t.” What does “supposed to” mean? It simply means if you do leave home, then you’re supposed to. If you don’t leave home, then you’re not supposed to. If you’re supposed to leave home and you don’t, then you’re actually not supposed to leave home. If you’re not supposed to leave home but you do leave home, then you’re really supposed to. So, with the Path, it all depends on whether or not you walk it. Take Guo Lian [a young disciple under ten years of age], for example. He was supposed to leave home, but some people wouldn’t let him, so he couldn’t. Today he was in a car accident. You could say that’s a warning for him. He often talked about committing suicide. He should have been killed in the car accident, but he survived. On the other hand, he was supposed to leave home, but he didn’t. Therefore, nothing is definite. As the sutras say, “There are no fixed dharmas.” If a person is supposed to die, but he cultivates, then he won’t die. If someone is not supposed to die, but he doesn’t cultivate, then he might meet his death.

This reminds of when I was in Manchuria and I went with the Abbot of my temple to a village called Erdaogou (Double Trench) to solicit offerings. There was a boy named Sheng, whose father was named Wang. The boy was eleven or twelve years old—I don’t remember exactly because it was so long ago. He suffered from chronic stomach aches, and all the doctors’ treatments were to no avail. When we went to his house, the father knelt down, blocking the doorway, so we couldn’t go inside. Some people thought he didn’t want to give us offerings and was trying to make us leave. When we asked him why he was kneeling, he said, “My son, Sheng, has been ill for a long time. Now that the Elder Good One is here, he can save him.” Buddhists called the Abbot “Elder Abbot,” whereas those who did not understand the Buddhadharma addressed him as “Elder Good One,” “Old Cultivator,” or “Filial Son Wang.” He had many names.

This man begged the Abbot to save his son’s life and cure him. The Abbot turned to me and told me to do something. I said, “What can I do?”

He said, “When we were at Daba, you saved the life of a dying child. Why don’t you take a look at him?”

“Tell your boy to come here,” I told the father. The father called the son, and both of them knelt before me. I saw at once that the boy looked just like a monk. “If you want him to get well, send him to the temple to leave home. He will certainly get well.”

“If he gets well, I will certainly send him to leave home,” said the father.

“Fine,” I said. “He will get well in less than half a month.” The father was very happy. Basically he was very poor, but he gave an offering of ten dollars. We took our leave. Later, the son did get well. I kept my eye out for the boy, hoping he would leave the home-life. After a month, I passed through his village again and made a special visit to his home. When I asked his father, the father said the boy was well, and I said, “You’d better send him to the temple to leave home.”

“In a few days,” said the father. I left. After another month passed, I went to see them again. “Is the boy well?” I asked.

“He is,” said the father.

“Then you’d better send him to the monastery to leave home right away. Otherwise, his sickness will recur. This is the second time I have come to see you. If he gets sick again, I will not pay any attention.” The father thought I was trying to scare me and didn’t take me seriously. Once his son was well, he could not bear to give him up.

The third time I passed by their village, I heard that the boy had fallen ill again more than ten days earlier. That time, I did not visit their home. However, the boy knew—he saw—when I passed by his home and said to his father, “This time I’m not going to get well. Today the monk from Three Conditions Temple passed our house but didn’t come to see us. I probably won’t get well.”

“Don’t worry,” said the father. “Tomorrow I’ll go find him at the temple and take you to leave the home-life.” The father walked three or four miles to the temple. The boy stayed home, but strangely enough, his spirit followed the father to the temple. He saw which room his father was sitting in, the people he met, and everything that was in the temple. He saw it all very clearly. I was out that day, and so the father did not find me. When the father returned, the boy told him, “I followed you to the temple today.”

“But I didn’t see you,” said the father.

“But I saw you,” said the boy. “You talked to the Abbot, then you went to the Merit and Virtue Hall where there were a lot of plaques.” And he described the people who had been at the temple.

“Strange!” said the father. “You didn’t go, and yet you know exactly what I said and who I met, and all the people who were there.”

On my way back to the temple, I passed by their village again, and again the boy was aware of it. He told his father, “So-and-so from Three Conditions Temple has passed by our house again without coming to call on us. It probably means I can’t leave home.” That evening, the boy called out, “Father, light the lamp and see if I’m sitting properly.” The father lit the lamp and saw the boy sitting there in full lotus posture. He was sitting very erect, but he had already died. He was supposed to leave the home-life and someone told him to leave home, but after he got well his father could not bear to give him up. In the end, he died. This goes to show that whether or not a person leaves home is not fixed. Basically he was supposed to leave home; I saw that he had the appearance of a monk. However, his parents could not bear to let him go. Consequently, he didn’t get to leave home. This child, even after his death, still follows me all the time. Although he did not leave home when he was alive, after death he understood that he should cultivate the Way. The problem of birth and death is not easy to resolve.

For their benefit, for the sake of sentient beings, the Buddha appears in the world. Body of Pure Radiance spiritenters this passage into liberation.

Sutra

The Thus Come One’s self-mastery is boundless.
Like a cloud, it spreads pervasively through all worlds.
He even appears in dreams to tame and subdue beings.
Fragrant Banner thus observes.

Dark and deluded sentient beings are as if blind,
Shrouded by various obstacles and coverings.
The Buddha’s light shines through, opening their wisdom.
Jeweled Peak enters thus.

Commentary

The Thus Come One’s self-mastery, his wonderful functioning of spiritual penetrations, by which he teaches and transforms all sentient beings, pervades the ten directions of the Dharma Realm. Therefore, it is boundless and without limits. An analogy is given. It is like a cloud in the sky, in that it spreads pervasively through all worlds. The Buddha teaches and transforms sentient beings when they are awake and conscious. What is more, he even appears in dreams to teach, transform, tame and subdue those beings who have affinities with him, leading them to bring forth the resolve for bodhi. City-ruling Spirit Fragrant Banner thus observes this state of the Buddha. She attains this passage into liberation.

Dark and deluded sentient beings are as if blind and sightless. In their ignorance, they are shrouded by various obstacles and coverings. They are like monkeys always getting into mischief. Have you noticed how monkeys are always carrying something in each hand? They are never idle, but they never accomplish anything either. Sentient beings are the same way. They cannot relinquish their desires. For example, money-grubbers crave wealth. If they realized that money is not such a good thing, they’d be able to relinquish it. But once they cease to crave money, they start desiring beautiful forms or other things. “Various obstacles and coverings” includes the desires for wealth, lust, fame, food, and sleep. All these obstacles and coverings bind them up and cover them over so they cannot get free.

The Buddha’s light shines through, opening their wisdom. The Buddha sends out rays of brilliant wisdom, which penetrates and destroys sentient beingsdelusion and darkness. This wisdom-light resembles the sun shining in a clear blue sky, causing the wisdom of foolish beings to unfold. City-ruling Spirit Jeweled Peak enters and understands this state thus.

Sutra

Moreover, Bodhimanda Spirit Banner of Pure Adornment gained a passage into liberation of manifesting great power of vows to make offerings of vast, great adornments to Buddhas.

Commentary

The Flower Adornment Sutra is infinitely multi-layered and inexhaustible. The word “moreover ” signifies that the text will continue discussing principles of the sutra which have not yet been fully explained. Bodhimanda Spirit Banner of Pure Adornment is pure and adorned, like a precious banner. There are precious banners in bodhimandas, or Way-places. This spirit protects Way-places, of which there are numerous kinds. There are Chan Way-places, where people investigate Chan meditation. There are also Way-places where people study and explain the teachings. There are Way-places where one specializes in observing the Vinaya or precepts, Way-places where one cultivates secret practices, and Way-places where Pure Land practices are cultivated. There are infinitely many kinds of Way-places. Cultivators need to have a place where they can cultivate the Way. They also need Dharma protectors, spirits that protect the Way-place.

This Bodhimanda Spirit gained a passage into liberation of manifesting great power of vows to make offerings of vast, great adornments to Buddhas. She attained a state in which he saw the bodhi practices cultivated by the Buddha in former lifetimes. She witnessed the Buddha cultivating the paramitas of vigor, dhyana concentration, patience, holding precepts, giving, and prajna. The Buddha cultivated the Six Paramitas and the myriad practices. And she saw that what the Buddha liked best was to make offerings to Buddhas. He made offerings not just to one Buddha, but to all Buddhas of the ten directions throughout the three periods of time, to the ends of space throughout the Dharma Realm. He brought forth a vast, great resolve to make offerings to the Buddhas and adorn the Buddhas’ Way-places, thereby perfecting his merit and virtue. Such was the great power of his vows—his bodhi resolve—to extensively save sentient beings and guide them all to Buddhahood. Bodhimanda Spirit Banner of Pure Adornment attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra

Bodhimanda Spirit Sumeru Jeweled Brilliance gained a passage into liberation of appearing before all sentient beings and accomplishing vast practices of bodhi.

Commentary

Sumeru is a Sanskrit word meaning “wonderfully tall.” Thenext Bodhimanda Spirit is named Sumeru Jeweled Brilliance, Wonderfully Tall Jeweled Brilliance. She gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of appearing before all sentient beings and accomplishing vast practices of bodhi. The Buddha does not forsake any sentient being. While at the level of planting causes, the Buddha cultivated the Six Paramitas and myriad practices, vowing to help sentient beings cultivate and realize the Buddha Path. Vast practices of bodhi refer to lengthy practices that ordinary sentient beings must cultivate in order to realize Buddhahood. This spirit attained this passage into liberation.

Nobody has had a question for many days. If anyone has a question today, you can ask it now. If there are no questions, you should look for one to ask.

Q: Should we try to remember our dreams?

A: It depends on the dream. Some dreams are muddled; some are clear; some are stupid; some are wise. It depends on the kind of dream. If it ought to be remembered, one can remember it. If it shouldn’t be remembered, and one can forget it, that’s pretty good too.

Q: Should we look for a function or significance in our dreams?

A: People who are greedy for food often dream about eating. In their dream, they stuff their bellies 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 help us get rid of idle thinking and renounce all attachments. Once you are free of attachments and idle thinking, you will 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.

Sutra

Bodhimanda Spirit Thunderclap and Banner-like Characteristics gained a passage into liberation of according with what sentient beings like and enabling them to see the Buddhas speak Dharma for them in their dreams.

Commentary

Bodhimanda Spirit Thunderclap and Banner-like Characteristics gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of according with what sentient beings like, what makes their hearts happy, and enabling them to see the Buddhas speak Dharma for them in their dreams. All sentient 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 dreams are premonitions. 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.

Bodhimanda Spirit Thunder-Sound and Banner-like Characteristics attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Bodhimanda Spirit Raining Down Flowers Wondrous Eyes gained a passage into liberation of raining down all kinds of adornments made of a myriad treasures that are hard to give up.

Commentary

Bodhimanda Spirit Raining Down Flowers Wondrous Eyes gained a passage into liberation of raining down all kinds of adornments made of a myriad treasures that are hard to give up. She 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 acquired 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, she could give away these cherished treasures which most people cannot bear to give. She gave away all kinds of adorned articles made of these precious things.

Bodhimanda Spirit Raining Down Flowers Wondrous Eyes understood the Buddha’s state of being able to renounce that which is difficult to renounce. For example, she was able to give away external things such as her material possessions, properties, and family members. She was also able to give away her internal wealth—her body, mind, and life, including her head, eyes, brain, and marrow. She attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra

Bodhimanda Spirit Pure Blazing Form gained a passage into liberation of displaying marvelously adorned bodhimandas for the sake of extensively transforming sentient beings and bringing them to maturity. Bodhimanda Spirit Flower Garlands Draped from the Cowl gained a passage into liberation of speaking Dharma according to beingsfaculties so that they produce proper thoughts. Bodhimanda Spirit Raining Down Jeweled Ornaments gained a passage into liberation of everywhere raining down boundless aspects of happiness by means of eloquence.

Commentary

Bodhimanda Spirit Pure Blazing Form gained astate of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of everywhere displaying marvelously adorned bodhimandas for the sake of extensively transforming all sentient beings and bringing them to maturity, that is, helping them quickly attain the Buddha Way. She attained this passage into liberation.

Bodhimanda Spirit Flower Garlands Draped from the Cowl gained a passage into liberation of speaking Dharma according to beingsfaculties 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 sentient beingsfaculties, 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 delusion. Proper thoughts involve diligent cultivation of precepts, concentration, and wisdom. So, the Buddha enables all sentient beings to extinguish greed, anger, and delusion; and to diligently cultivate precepts, concentration, and wisdom. This Bodhimanda Spirit attained this passage into liberation.

Bodhimanda Spirit Raining Down Jeweled Ornaments, similar to one of the previous Bodhimanda Spirits, rains down myriads of wondrous treasures to adorn every Way-place. She gained a passage into liberation of everywhere raining down and sprinkling boundless aspects of happiness by means of her unobstructed eloquence, making all sentient beings happy and joyful. This spirit speaks this kind of Dharma and attains this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Bodhimanda Spirit Heroic Fragrance and Vision gained a passage into liberation of extensively praising the merit and virtue of the Buddhas.

Commentary

Bodhimanda Spirit Heroic Fragrance and Vision understood the state of the Buddha and gained a passage into liberation of extensively praising the merit and virtue of the Buddhas. “Extensively praising” means extolling the Buddhasmerit and virtue not only in one place, but in all Buddhalands throughout the ten directions, to the ends of 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 sentient beings. You may praise them, but they won’t be delighted. You may slander them, but they won’t be upset. Praise and slander do not affect them. In both favorable and adverse circumstances, they remain totally unperturbed, for they thoroughly understand the true state of things.

The Buddhas are individuals possessed of all-encompassing understanding. They understand all principles. Therefore, they are serene and unperturbed, enlightened and always clear. They are unlike sentient beings, for whom a word of praise is as delightful as candy, and a negative comment is more bitter than huanglian [the most bitter of Chinese herbs] and more pungent than hot pepper. That’s how sentient beings take things.

“Well, why should we praise the Buddhas, then?” you ask. When we praise the Buddhas, our merit and virtue grows. In praising the Buddhas, we are actually affirming ourselves. Affirmation of the individual 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 [ spiritual skill]. 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. Bodhimanda Spirit Heroic Fragrance and Vision attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Bodhimnda Spirit Vajra-colored Cloud gained a passage into liberation of making appear trees of boundless shapes and colors to adorn bodhimandas.

Commentary

Bodhimanda Spirit Vajra-colored Cloud gained astate of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of making appear trees of boundless shapes and colors to adorn bodhimandas. She made these trees appear out of nowhere. These trees have various shapes and everyone can see them. All these beautiful, ornamental trees appeared beneath the Bodhi tree. For what purpose did they appear? They embellish the Way-place and generate infinite energy for the Way. When you see those trees, like the “seven rows of jeweled trees,” you want to bring forth the resolve to attain supreme bodhi. This Bodhimanda Spirit attained this state and entered this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Bodhimanda Spirit Lotus Flower Brilliance gained a passage into liberation of being still and serene beneath the Bodhi tree and yet pervading the ten directions.

Commentary

Bodhimanda Spirit Lotus Flower Brilliance gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of being still and serene, sitting in samadhi beneath the Bodhi tree and yet pervading the ten directions. Although she remains unmoving, her brilliance pervades the ten directions of the Dharma Realm and teaches and transforms all sentient beings. She gained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Bodhimanda Spirit Dazzling Wondrous Light gained a passage into liberation of manifesting the various powers of the Thus Come One.

At that time, BodhimandaSpirit Banner of Pure Adornment received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Bodhimanda Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary

Bodhimanda Spirit Dazzling Wondrous Light gained a passage into liberation of manifesting the various powers of the Thus Come One. Although we speak of the Thus Come One as having Ten Powers, if listed in detail, the Thus Come One’s powers would number in the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands…he has infinitely many powers.

At that time, Bodhimanda Spirit Banner of Pure Adornment received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Bodhimanda Spirits, and spoke the following verse to reiterate the principles already expressed in prose.

Sutra

I recollect how the Thus Come One, in ages past,
Cultivated throughout limitless eons.
Making offerings to every Buddha appearing in the world,
He accrued merit and virtue as great as space.

Commentary

Bodhimanda Spirit Banner of Pure Adornment spoke the following verse: I recollect and think about how the Thus Come One, in ages past, at the level of planting causes, cultivated throughout limitless eons. What Dharma door did he cultivate? He cultivated the Dharma door of extensively making offerings, which is the third of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s Ten Kings of Vows.

Making offerings to every Buddha appearing in the world, / He accrued merit and virtue as great as space. When each Buddha throughout the ten directions appeared in the world, Shakyamuni Buddha would be sure to make offerings to him. In this way, he earned indescribably great merit and virtue.

Sutra

The Buddha did practice infinite acts of giving,
Equal in number to fine dust motes in measureless lands.
The Bodhi Spirit named Sumeru Brilliant Illumination
Recollects the Well Gone One with jubilation.

Commentary

The Buddha did practice infinite acts of giving. The Buddha cultivated not only the giving of wealth, Dharma, and fearlessness, but infinitely many kinds of giving—too many to speak of. His deeds of giving were equal in number to fine dust motes in measureless lands.

The Bodhi Spirit, that is, the Bodhimanda Spirit, named Sumeru Brilliant Illumination / Recollects the Well Gone One with jubilation. The thought of the Buddha’s past practices inspired in her tremendous joy, praise, and the wish to emulate the Buddha.

Sutra

The Thus Come One’s forms are endless.
His transformations circulate through all lands.
Even in dreams he makes constant appearances.
Thunder Banner is delighted to see this.

Commentary

The Thus Come One’s forms are endless. The Buddha’s Dharma body, Reward body, and transformation bodies are all inexhaustible. His transformations circulate through all lands. The Buddha’s spiritual penetrations are ineffably wonderful. Like swirling water, they circulate everywhere, going from one country to the next, teaching and transforming sentient beings. Even in dreams he makes constant appearances. The Buddha teaches and rescues sentient beings not only when they are awake, but even in their sleep. He often appears in their dreams to teach sentient beings, inspiring them to bring forth the resolve for bodhi and make great vows to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path and realize the supreme Buddha fruit.

Bodhimanda Spirit Thunder Banner is very delighted to see this state.

Sutra

In the practice of giving during measureless eons in the past,
The Buddha gave an oceanic quantity of eyes, which are so hard to give.
He practiced giving in this manner for the sake of sentient beings.
Wondrous Eyes spirit awakens thus and rejoices.

Commentary

In the Buddha Shakyamuni’s practice of giving during measureless eons in the past, when he was planting causes, he was able to give what other people could not part with. The Buddha gave an oceanic quantity of eyes, which are so hard to give. Just the eyes that he gave away were as profuse as an ocean. People cherish their eyes above all other faculties, but the Buddha gave away a limitless, ocean-vast amount of them. He was able to renounce what others could not. He practiced giving in this manner for the sake of teaching and transforming all sentient beings. / Wondrous Eyes Spirit awakens thus state and rejoices.

Sutra

His boundless forms, like precious, resplendent clouds,
Appear in Bodhi places throughout all worlds.
Bodhimanda Spirit Pure Blazing Form
Happily observes the Buddha’s self-mastery.

Commentary

His boundless forms refer to the Buddha’s special marks and adornments. The Buddha’s forms travel through numerous lands, like precious, resplendent clouds, and appear in Bodhi Way-places throughout all worlds. / Bodhimanda Spirit Pure Blazing Form /

Happily observes the Buddha’s self-mastery. Observing the Buddha’s wonderful use of spiritual powers and transformations, and his inconceivable self-mastery, she is delighted and full of praise.

Sutra

Boundless is the ocean of sentient beingsdeeds.
The Buddha rains the Dharma rain everywhere,
Dispelling delusions according to their faculties and understanding.
Flower Garlands awakens thus with delight.

Commentary

The karma created by sentient beings resembles a huge ocean. Thus the text says: Boundless is the ocean of sentient beingsdeeds. The ocean of deeds is just the ocean of karma. The karma that sentient beings create and the retribution they receive are boundless like a vast ocean. The Buddha rains the great Dharma rain everywhere, extinguishing sentient beingskarmic hindrances, teaching and transforming them all, and dispelling delusions according to their faculties and understanding. Bodhima{#aSpirit Flower Garlands awakens thus with delight. She understands this principle and is very happy.

Sutra

Measureless Dharma doors, each distinct in meaning,
The Buddha can enter with eloquence like a vast ocean.
Bodhimanda Spirit Raining Down Jeweled Ornaments
Always recollects thus in thought after thought.

Throughout all lands, unspeakable in number,
The Buddha used the epitome of praises to laud all Buddhas,
Thus achieving renown and great merit.
The Spirit Heroic Vision thus recalls.

Boundless trees of various shapes and forms
All appear beneath the Bodhi tree, the king of trees.
Vajra-colored Cloud awakened and made this passage
And joyfully, constantly beholds the Tree of the Way.

Just as the boundaries of the ten directions are beyond our grasp,
So, too, is the wisdom of the Buddha seated in the bodhimanda.
Lotus Flower Step Brilliance gives rise to pure faith
And enters this liberation with deep delight.

Marvelous sounds issue from everything in the bodhimanda,
Praising the Buddhasinconceivable pure strength
And bringing to success all practices at the level of planting causes.
Wondrous Light spirit hears and receives thus.

Commentary

Measureless Dharma doors, each distinct in meaning, / The Buddha can enter…Since there are limitless Dharma doors, there are also limitless meanings, which makes for limitlessly many distinctions. To enter all Dharma doors and the wondrous meaning of all dharmas, one must be endowed with eloquence like a vast ocean. Since the Buddha possesses an eloquence of oceanic scope, he is able to enter the ocean of all Dharma doors. Bodhimanda SpiritRaining Down Jeweled Ornaments / Always recollects thus and understandsthis passage into liberation in thought after thought.

Throughout all lands, unspeakable in number, as numerous as motes of dust, when the Buddha was at the level of planting causes, he exhausted and used all worldly phrases and languages in praise of the Buddhas, / Thus obtaining the reward of great renown and great merit. BodhimandaSpirit Heroic Vision thus recalls and understand this passage into liberation.

Boundless trees of various distinct shapes and forms / All appear beneath the Bodhi tree, the king of trees. Bodhimanda Spirit Vajra-colored Cloud awakened and made this passage into liberation and joyfully, constantly beholds the Tree of the Way. She observes the King of Trees with perpetual delight.

Just as the boundaries of the ten directions are beyond our grasp, / So, too, is the wisdom of the Buddha seated in the bodhimanda. Just as the worlds of the ten directions have no boundaries, the Buddha’s wisdom is the same. Bodhimanda Spirit Lotus Flower Step Brilliance understands this passage into liberation and gives rise to pure faith / And enters this liberation with deep delight. Entering this passage into liberation gave her profound joy.

Marvelous sounds issue from everything in the bodhimanda. All Way-places broadcast wondrous sounds, praising the Buddhasinconceivable pure strength / And bringing to success all practices of sentient beings as well as her own practices at the level of planting causes. Wondrous Light spirit, this Bodhimanda Spirit, hears and receives thus and understands this principle.

Sutra

Moreover, Spirit of Foot Travel Jeweled Seal Hand gained a passage into liberation of raining down myriad treasures everywhere and producing vast happiness. Spirit of Foot Travel Lotus Light gained a passage into liberation of manifesting a Buddha’s body seated upon the throne of lotuses of all colors and lights, delighting all beholders. Spirit of Foot Travel Supreme Floral Cowl gained a passage into liberation of establishing bodhimandas in thought after thought for the assemblies of all Thus Come Ones. Spirit of Foot Travel Gathering In Good Views gained a passage into liberation of completely subduing boundless sentient beings each time one lifts one’s foot to take a step.

Commentary

Moreover, to continue the discussion, Spirit of Foot Travel Jeweled Seal Hand has a precious seal which can subdue all adherents of outside ways. Spirits of Foot Travel have many legs, like centipedes and millipedes. People also walk on their legs, but these spirits also include such beings as those in the eightfold division. Mahoragas, for example, are Spirits of Foot Travel. Beings who possess any number of feet—not necessarily two, four, six, eight, ten, or a hundred—are considered Spirits of Foot Travel. These are spirits that walk on their feet. This particular spirit gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation, of raining down myriad treasures everywhere and producing vast happiness. This spirit is skilled at giving. She makes all kinds of precious things rain down, and sentient beings are delighted to obtain them. This one gets a piece of gold, that one a 100 karat diamond. They are all happy.

The next Spirit of Foot Travel is named Lotus Light because she radiates that kind of light. She gained a passage into liberation of manifesting a Buddha’s body seated upon the throne of lotuses of all colors and radiating assorted lights, delighting all beholders. Everyone is delighted to see her. She attained this passage into liberation.

Spirit of Foot Travel Supreme Floral Cowl gained a passage into liberation of establishing bodhimandas in thought after thought for the assemblies of all Thus Come Ones In every thought, she sets up bodhimandas for the BuddhasDharma assemblies in lands throughout the ten directions. She attained this passage into liberation.

Spirit of Foot Travel Gathering In Good Views collects all the wholesome views that sentient beings have. She gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation, of completely subduing boundless sentient beings each time one lifts one’s foot to take a step. Every time the Buddha raises his hand or lifts his foot, his intention is to tame and subdue sentient beings and make them happy. Not only does he tame one sentient being, he tames limitlessly many of them and makes them happy.

Sutra

Spirit of Foot Travel Star Banner of Wondrous Jewels gained a passage into liberation of in every thought manifesting all kinds of radiant nets of lotuses that rain down a multitude of treasures out of which come wondrous sounds.

Commentary

Spirit of Foot Travel Star Banner of Wondrous Jewels gained a passage into liberation of in every thought manifesting all kinds of radiant nets of lotuses that rain down a multitude of treasures out of which come wondrous sounds. Her every thought is a treasury of Dharma. Therefore she can conjure up various kinds of nets of lotuses, not just one kind. These beautiful lotuses woven into nets release boundless light, within which boundless Dharma treasures rain down. From within the lotus nets, the lights, and the treasures, wondrous sounds come forth that proclaim the profound, unsurpassed, wonderful Dharma in order to teach and transform all sentient beings. This Spirit of Foot Travel attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Spirit of Foot Travel Happily Making Wondrous Sounds gained a passage into liberation of producing a boundless sea of happiness. Spirit of Foot Travel Radiant Candana Tree gained a passage into liberation of using fragrant breezes to universally enlighten the assemblies in all bodhimandas.

Commentary

The next Spirit of Foot Travel is named Happily Making Wondrous Sounds. This spirit likes to sing songs and express Dharma by means of sounds. She gained a state of the Buddha and a passage into liberation of producinga boundless sea of happiness. She emits innumerable wondrous sounds, and when sentient beings hear them, they feel tremendous happiness as vast as the sea. She attained this passage into liberation. Spirit of Foot Travel Radiant Candana Tree gives off a fragrance like that of the candana tree. She gained a passage into liberation of using fragrant breezes to universally enlighten the assemblies in bodhimandas. She uses her fragrant breezes to speak the Dharma. When sentient beings get a whiff of her fragrance, they bring forth the bodhi resolve—the resolve to seek enlightenment. All the assemblies in every bodhimanda bring forth the resolve for enlightenment. She gained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Spirit of Foot Travel Lotus Brilliance gained a passage into liberation of radiating light from every pore, broadcasting the wonderful sounds of Dharma. Spirit of Foot Travel Subtle Radiance gained a passage into liberation of having her whole body radiate various nets of light that illumine everything. Spirit of Foot Travel Gathering Lovely Flowers gained a passage into liberation of enlightening all sentient beings so that they bring forth an ocean of good roots.

At that time, Spirit of Foot Travel Jeweled Seal Hand received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Spirits of Foot Travel, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary

Spirit of Foot Travel Lotus Brilliance gained a passage into liberation , a state of the Buddha, of radiating light from every pore, broadcasting the wonderful sounds of Dharma. Within the light, the unsurpassed, profound Dharma is proclaimed. She attained this passage into liberation. Spirit of Foot Travel Wondrous Radiance gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of having her whole body radiate various nets of light that illumine everything in the trichiliocosm. Those nets of light shine upon all sentient beings throughout the ten directions of the Dharma Realm, dispelling the darkness so that they experience light.

Spirit of Foot Travel Gathering Lovely Flowers gained a passage into liberation of enlightening all sentient beings so that they bring forth an ocean of good roots. Not only did she enlighten sentient beings, she enabled those without good roots to develop extensive good roots. That was her passage into liberation.

At that time, Spirit of Foot Travel Jeweled Seal Hand received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Spirits of Foot Travel, and spoke the following verse.

Sutra

The Buddha cultivated for measureless eons,
Making offerings to every Thus Come One.
He constantly rejoiced, never growing weary.
His practice of joy was deep and vast like an ocean.

Commentary

The Buddha cultivated all kinds of practices for measureless eons in the past, but his main practice was making offerings to every Thus Come One. He extensively practiced the giving of offerings to all Buddhas. He constantly rejoiced, never growing weary. In making offerings to all Buddhas at the level of planting causes, he never grew weary and said, “I’ve had enough. There are too many Buddhas to make offerings to.” The more Buddhas he made offerings to, the happier he was. He never got tired of doing this. His practice of joy and giving was extremely deep and vast like an ocean.

Sutra

In every thought, immeasurable spiritual powers
Bring into being lotuses of various fragrances.
Buddhas seated upon them travel everywhere.
Scarlet Light spirit observes all of this.

Commentary

Spirit of Foot Travel Scarlet Lotus Light attained the following state of the Buddha: In every thought, she thinks of the Buddha’s immeasurable spiritual powers, which bring into being marvelous lotuses of various fragrances. / Buddhas seated upon them travel everywhere to all lands in the ten directions of the Dharma Realm, in order to teach and transform sentient beings. Scarlet Light spirit observes all of this. That Spirit of Foot Travel understands this state and enters this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Thus is the Dharma of each Buddha, Thus Come One
His extensive assemblies pervade the ten directions.
He displays inconceivable spiritual powers everywhere.
Supreme Floral Cowl spirit completely sees and understands all of this.

In every place throughout the lands of the ten directions,
Whether raising his foot or setting it down,
He brings all beings to accomplishment.
Good Views spirit realizes this with joy.

The Buddha displays as many bodies as there are sentient beings.
Each and every body fills up the Dharma Realm.
All of them radiate pure light and rain down a myriad treasures.
Star Banner enters this liberation.

The realm of the Thus Come One is boundless.
He sends down Dharma rain that fills all places.
The assembled multitudes behold the Buddha in delight.
Wondrous Sound thus observes.

Commentary

Thus is the Dharma of each Buddha, Thus Come One. The Buddhadharma of all Buddhas throughout the ten directions is this way. What way? His extensive assemblies pervade the ten directions. Each Buddha manifests a vast assembly in a great Way-place. These vast, great Way-places are everywhere throughout the ten directions. He displays inconceivable spiritual powers everywhere. / Supreme Floral Cowl spirit completely sees this kind of state and understands this passage into liberation.

In every place throughout the lands of the ten directions, / Whether raising his foot or setting it down, he brings all beings to accomplishment. Every move the Buddha makes and every word he says is for the sake of teaching and transforming sentient beings and bringing them to accomplishment. Good Views spirit, that Spirit of Foot Travel, realizes this principle with joy.

The Buddha displays as many bodies as there are sentient beings. / Each and every body fills up the Dharma Realm. / All of them radiate pure light and rain down a myriad treasures. Spirit of Foot Travel Star Banner enters and understands this passage into liberation.

The realm of the Thus Come One is boundless. / He sends down Dharma rain that fills all places. This universal Dharma rain fills up the Dharma Realm. The assembled multitudes in all Way-places throughout the ten directions behold the Buddha in delight. Spirit of Foot Travel Wondrous Sound thus observes. She understands this state.

Sutra

The range of the Buddha’s voice equals the void.
Every kind of sound is encompassed therein.
It subdues all sentient beings without exception.
Candana hears and accepts this.

Transformed sounds come out of every pore,
Proclaiming the names of all Buddhas of the three time periods.
Those who hear are filled with happiness.
Lotus Brilliance spirit thus perceives.

The Buddha’s body undergoes inconceivable transformations.
In every step his forms are like the ocean.
He shows himself according to sentient beings’ wishes.
This is the attainment of Subtle Radiance.

Displaying great spiritual powers throughout the ten directions,
The Buddha brings all beings to enlightenment.
Myriads of Lovely Flowers spirit sees this Dharma,
And having seen it, feels tremendous delight.

Commentary

The state of the Flower Adornment Sutra completely fills the Dharma Realm. Not to speak of hearing it explained, simply reciting it or listening to the way it sounds will enable one to plant measureless good roots. If one can understand its meanings, one will further increase in measureless good roots. The Flower Adornment Sutra is wonderful beyond words.

You should not think, “The sutra is being lectured every day, but I already understand it. There’s not much point in this.” You have these idle thoughts all day long. “Wouldn’t I be better off spending my time doing something else?” You ought to know that if you do something else instead of listening to the sutra, you will do even more idle thinking. For that reason, every day at this time, we lecture the sutra and speak Dharma. We get up early to do morning recitation and sit in meditation. These daily practices are to help you eliminate our bad habits and faults and prevent you from engaging in false thinking. However, you insist on indulging in your fantasies. What a pity!

The range of the Buddha’s voice equals the void. The Buddha’s sound pervades empty space and the Dharma realm. There is not a single place where the Buddha’s sound is absent. The measure of the Buddha’s sound is as great as empty space.

Every kind of sound is encompassed therein. The Buddha’s sound is such that,

With one sound he proclaims the Dharma, And sentient beings each understand it according to their kind.

Although the Buddha has only one sound, every sentient being hears it in that sentient being’s own language. Asians hear it and interpret it as being an Asian language. Westerners perceive the Buddha’s sound as being in a Western language. Without need for translation, the Buddha’s sound is transformed into every language. And this happens faster than could be done with any advanced scientific technology.

It subdues all sentient beings without exception. The Buddha’s voice subdues every stubborn being. When tigers hear the Buddha’s sound, they take refuge with the Triple Jewel and faithfully accept and practice the teachings. When lions hear it, they do the same. Every kind of creature can be tamed. The Buddha speaks the Dharma for all creatures in the realm of sentient beings. Spirit of Foot Travel Candana Tree Light hears and accepts this state and passage into liberation, and understand it.

Transformed sounds of wonderful Dharma come out of every pore of the Buddha’s body, proclaiming the names of all Buddhas of the three time periods—past, present, and future—and praising all Buddhas. Those who hear are filled with happiness. Every sentient being who hears these sounds is delighted. Lotus Brilliance spirit, that Spirit of Foot Travel, thus perceives. This is what she sees.

The Buddha’s body undergoes infinite and inconceivable transformations. In every step his forms are like the ocean. The wonderful forms manifested by the Buddha are as vast and inconceivable as an ocean. He shows himself according to sentient beings’ wishes. The Buddha appears to sentient beings according to their thoughts. This is the attainment of Spirit of Foot Travel Subtle Radiance. She understands this state.

Constantly displaying great spiritual powers everywhere throughout the ten directions, he brings all beings to enlightenment, leading them from ignorance to wisdom. Myriads of Lovely Flowers spirit, that Spirit of Foot Travel, sees this wonderful Dharma, / And having seen it, feels tremendous delight, being filled with the joy of Dharma.

Sutra

Moreover, Multi-bodied Spirit State of Pure Joy gained a passage into liberation of recollecting the sea of the Buddha’s past vows. Multi-bodied Spirit Light Illumining the Ten Directions gained a passage into liberation of radiating light universally upon boundless worlds. Multi-bodied Spirit Taming and Subduing with an Ocean-like Sound gained a passage into liberation of using a great voice to enlighten all sentient beings, making them happy and subdued.

Commentary

Moreover, since the meaning of the sutra has not been fully explained, the explanation will continue. Multi-bodied Spirit State of Pure Joy is so-named because she has attained a state of pure happiness. What state of the Buddha has she attained? She gained a passage into liberation of recollecting the sea of the Buddha’s past vows. She remembers the vows that Shakyamuni Buddha made in the past, which are as profuse as an ocean. Cultivators of the Way should not look lightly upon vows. You must have great vows, so that your cultivation can be great and you can achieve a great result. Cultivating without making great vows is like trying to cross the ocean without a boat—you cannot get across. Great vows are comparable to a boat that ferries you across the sea. Therefore, it is essential that cultivators make great vows, so that they can attain a great fruition. Shakyamuni Buddha’s past vows are as numerous, as extensive, and as deep as the great sea; they are measureless and boundless. As his disciples, we ought to make great, vast vows to cultivate the unsurpassed Way. The spirit named State of Pure Joy gained this passage into liberation. Multi-bodied Spirit Light Illumining the Ten Directions gained a passage into liberation of radiating light universally upon boundless worlds. Her light illumines the entire Dharma Realm, reaching all worlds, which are infinite in number. She attained that passage into liberation.

The next Multi-bodied Spirit is named Taming and Subduing with an Ocean-like Sound.She uses a voice like the ocean tide to tame and subdue sentient beings. When sentient beings hear her Lion’s Roar, they become liberated. This Multi-bodied Spirit gained a passage into liberation of using a great voice to enlighten all sentient beings, making them happy and subdued. Her voice is so loud that it wakes everyone up. All sentient beings are delighted to hear it. Obstinate beings change their bad habits and faults, tamely allowing this spirit to teach and transform them. Those without feet cannot be called Spirits of Foot Travel; those without bodies cannot be called Multi-bodied Spirits. Spirits are present even among the tiniest creatures and insects. There are even spirits among ants, to take the example of a tiny creature with legs. These spirits assume the form of ants in order to teach and transform ants. If you observe the ant society, you will find there are ants that do good and ants that commit evil. Good ants help other ants out. Evil ants try to seize the food of other ants, acting like thugs and robbers. The only difference between them and human robbers is that they have tiny bodies, so the things they do are on a tiny scale. As for bees, just think of how many of them are robbers who steal honey from others. Are you aware of what they do?

Sutra

Multi-bodied Spirit Cowl Adorned with Pure Flowers gained a passage into liberation of developing a body that is omnipresent like space. Multi-bodied Spirit Limitless Aspects of Awesome Comportment gained a passage into liberation of displaying the states of Buddhas to all sentient beings.

Commentary

Multi-bodied Spirit Cowl Adorned with Pure Flowers gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of developing a body that is omnipresent throughout the Dharma Realm like space. She attained that passage into liberation. Multi-bodied Spirit Limitless Aspects of Awesome Comportment gained a passage into liberation of displaying the states of all Buddhas to all sentient beings. That was her passage into liberation.

Sutra

Multi-bodied Spirit Supreme Light Adornment gained a passage into liberation of replenishing the physical strength of all starving and exhausted sentient beings. Multi-bodied Spirit Pure Light and Clouds of Fragrance gained a passage into liberation of ridding all sentient beings of defiling afflictions. Multi-bodied Spirit Protecting and Gathering In gained a passage into liberation of transforming the delusion and demonic karma of all sentient beings. Multi-bodied Spirit Universally Manifesting to Gather In and Transform gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting an adorned appearance in the palaces of all world leaders.

Commentary

Multi-bodied Spirit Supreme Light Adornment understood a state of the Buddha and gained the samadhi of a passage into liberation of replenishing the physical strength of all starving and exhausted sentient beings. “Starving and exhausted” means being impoverished, having nothing to eat and no strength or energy. Here, “starving” refers to being deprived of the food of Dharma and “exhausted” means lacking the awesome strength of spiritual penetrations. This Multi-bodied Spirit is replete with physical strength. In other words, she is in good health. Being healthy means being nourished by the bliss of dhyana and filled with the joy of Dharma. When sentient beings have not attained dhyana concentration, they can be said to be starving and exhausted. When they have not attained the joy of Dharma, they lack energy and vigor. Now that they are nourished by dhyana bliss and filled with Dharma joy, they are full of energy. This spirit attained this passage into liberation.

Multi-bodied Spirit Pure Light and Clouds of Fragrance gained astate of the Buddha and a passage into liberation of ridding all sentient beings of defiling afflictions. Afflictions are a form of defilement, and defilement is a form of affliction. In cultivating the Way, if you cannot turn afflictions around, bodhi cannot manifest. Once you turn afflictions into bodhi, purity is obtained. Before they are turned into bodhi, defilement exists. If those who have left the home-life still cannot renounce their polluted afflictions, then there is not much point in their leaving home. Whether you are a Bhikshu or a Bhikshuni, you should not compete with others to see who has the biggest temper. Instead, you should see who has more patience. Don’t compete to see who has the most afflictions, saying, “See how great my afflictions are? They’re bigger than yours!” If you act on your afflictions, you will never amount to anything; you will never achieve samadhi. Therefore, no matter what you’re doing, you should get rid of afflictions and produce the bodhi resolve. Multi-bodied Spirit Pure Light and Clouds of Fragrance attained this passage into liberation.

The next Multi-bodied Spirit is named Protecting and Gathering In because she guards, protects, and gathers in all sentient beings. She gained a passage into liberation of transforming the delusion and demonic karma of all sentient beings. Transforming means changing, such as when afflictions are changed into bodhi and delusion is changed into wisdom. The delusion of all sentient beings can be transformed so that wisdom is produced. Cultivation is all about bringing about such transformations. Demonic karma refers to impure karma and defiled dharmas. This Multi-bodied Spirit attained this passage into liberation. Multi-bodied Spirit Universally Manifesting to Gather In and Transform gained a state of the Buddha and a passage into liberation of universally displaying the splendor of the palaces of all world leaders. She causes the palaces of worldly kings and emperors, as well as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, to become extremely beautiful and adorned in appearance, inspiring faith and reverence in all who see them. This spirit gained this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Multi-bodied Spirit Unmoving Radiance gained a passage into liberation of gathering in all sentient beings and causing them to produce pure good roots. At that time, Multi-bodied Spirit State of Pure Joy received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, contemplated the multitudes of Multi-bodied Spirits, and spoke the following verse.

Commentary

The Multi-bodied Spirit Unmoving Radiance is so named because of her cultivation of unmoving light. This implies that she used to be very restless and active. Little by little, she cultivated until she became unmoving. In what way was she active? Her afflictions were active. She was constantly getting afflicted. Later, through cultivation, her afflictions changed into wisdom and bodhi, and thus she attained unmoving radiance. She gained a passage into liberation of pervasively gathering in all sentient beings and causing them to produce pure good roots. She attained a state of the Buddha of drawing in sentient beings and causing them to grow pure good roots through doing good deeds without outflows, deeds of ultimate goodness and purity. In other words, they did not get attached to the good deeds they did. Once they did them, they forgot about them. In that way, their good roots were pure and clean, free from attachments. This spirit attained this passage into liberation. At that time, Multi-bodied Spirit State of Pure Joy received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, contemplated the multitudes of Multi-bodied Spirits everywhere, and spoke the following verse to restate the principles of the preceding prose passage.

Sutra

I recall that as many eons ago as the motes of dust in Sumeru,
Wondrous Light Buddha appeared in the world.
The World Honored One, in the presence of that Thus Come One,
Resolved to make offerings to each and every Buddha.

The Thus Come One’s body radiates bright light.
His light fills the entire Dharma Realm, missing no place.
When sentient beings encounter it, their minds are tamed.
The Spirit Illumining Directions thus perceives.

The Thus Come One’s voice rocks the lands of the ten directions.
All his speech and sounds are full and perfect.
Universally enlightening beings without exception.
Hearing this, Taming and Subduing rejoices in her heart.

Commentary

I recall that as many eons ago as the motes of dust in Mount Sumeru, / The Buddha named Wondrous Light appeared in the world and realized Buddhahood. The World Honored One Shakyamuni, in the presence of that Thus Come One, Wondrous Light, made a great vow. He resolved to make offerings to each and every Buddha pervading space and the Dharma Realm. The Thus Come One’s body radiates bright light. Why does the Thus Come One’s body give off light? It’s because he has gotten rid of all his bad habits and faults. He has changed all his afflictions into wisdom and bodhi, so his body shines brightly. When a cultivator attains great wisdom, he will emit light which dispels all darkness, and those with whom he has affinities will see that light. Having seen the light, they will eventually resolve their minds. Even if they don’t make the resolve in this life, they will in a future life. After being illuminated by the Buddha’s bright light, they are bound to resolve their minds. That’s why the Buddha constantly emits bright light.

His light fills the entire Dharma Realm, missing no place. The Buddha’s light reaches to the ends of space and the Dharma Realm. Every place has the Buddha’s light. If we could change our ignorance and afflictions into wisdom and bodhi, we would see the Buddha’s light. When sentient beings encounter it, their minds are tamed. When sentient beings see the Buddha’s light, their minds become gentle and compliant. Obstinate sentient beings are no longer obstinate. Deluded sentient beings are no longer deluded. Sentient beings with heavy ignorance and afflictions are no longer plagued by ignorance and afflictions. They are tamed, so that their bad habits and faults disappear. The Multi-bodied Spirit Illumining Directions thus perceives. She understands this passage into liberation. The Thus Come One’s voice rocks the countries of the ten directions. The Thus Come One’s voice pervasively fills the Dharma Realm, as does his light. The Thus Come One’s body also fills the ten directions of the Dharma Realm. All his speech and sounds are full and perfect. The Buddha’s words and the sound of his voice are perfect. Universally enlightening beings without exception. The Buddha awakens all sentient beings, not leaving any out. Hearing about this state, the Multi-bodied Spirit Taming and Subduing rejoices in his heart. He is extremely happy.

Sutra

The Buddha’s body is pure and ever tranquil.
He displays a myriad forms everywhere yet is devoid of characteristics.
In this way he pervasively dwells in all worlds.
The Spirit Pure Flowers enters thus.

The Guiding Master is inconceivable like this:
He is seen by sentient beings according to their wishes--
Perhaps sitting, or walking, or sometimes standing.
Limitless Aspects of Awesome Comportment awakens to this passage.

It is difficult to encounter a Buddha in a hundred thousand eons.
He comes forth to benefit beings with mastery and ease,
Delivering all the world’s beings from poverty’s woes.
Supreme Light Adornment enters this state.

Commentary

The Buddha’s body is pure and ever tranquil. The Buddha’s body does not leave its original place, yet pervades the ten directions. He displays a myriad forms everywhere yet is devoid of characteristics. The Buddha’s body is still and tranquil. “All dharmas, from the very beginning, are always still and tranquil, and cannot be described in words.” The Buddha displays all bodies of wonderful existence, but these bodies are apart from marks; they are part of true emptiness. True emptiness reveals wonderful existence; wonderful existence is simply true emptiness. In this way, within true emptiness and wonderful existence, he pervasively dwells in all worlds throughout the ten directions.

The Spirit Pure Flowers enters thus this state and this passage into liberation. The Guiding Master is inconceivable like this. The great Guiding Master who receives and guides sentient beings can neither be conceived of with the mind nor described in words. He is seen by sentient beings according to their wishes. Sentient beings are able to see the Buddha, perhaps sitting, or walking, or sometimes standing. They may see the Buddha sitting there, strolling about, and just standing. Whether the Buddha is walking, standing, sitting, or reclining, Limitless Aspects of Awesome Comportment awakens to this passage. “Limitless aspects of awesome comportment” refers to the three thousand modes of awesome comportment and the eighty thousand subtle practices. This Multi-bodied Spirit has seen the Buddha’s awesome comportment and understands this passage into liberation.

It is difficult to encounter a Buddha in a hundred thousand eons. We have all been born after the time of a Buddha. This is one of the Eight Difficulties. We have come into the world when the Buddha has already entered nirvana. Since our affinities with the Buddha are not deep enough, we have not been born during the Buddha’s time. It is hard to meet a Buddha even in a hundred million eons. It is not easy at all. He comes forth to benefit beings with mastery and ease. The Buddha appears in the world to benefit sentient beings through the wondrous functioning of his sovereign spiritual powers, delivering all the world’s beings from poverty’s woes so they can attain the benefit of the Dharma. People who do not understand the Buddhadharma are the poorest of all. Those who do understand the Buddhadharma are the richest. Multi-bodied Spirit Supreme Light Adornment enters this state and attains this passage into liberation.

Sutra

From the gaps between the Thus Come One’s teeth,
Brilliant, blazing clouds like fragrant lamps issue forth,
Extinguishing the delusions of all sentient beings.
Immaculate Cloud spirit thus observes.

Sentient beings’ defiling delusions become heavy obstructions
They constantly drift and wander along demonic byways.
The Thus Come One reveals the path of liberation.
Protecting and Supporting awakens thus and enters.

Commentary

From the gaps between the Thus Come One’s teeth, / Brilliant, blazing clouds like fragrant lamps issue forth. These lamps give off various kinds of fragrance and light that form blazing clouds, extinguishing the delusions of all sentient beings. All beingsconfusion and doubts vanish upon being illuminated by that light. Immaculate Cloud spirit, that Multi-bodied Spirit, thus observes and understands this passage into liberation. Sentient beings’ defiling delusions become heavy obstructions. Sentient beings are deluded by defiled phenomena, so they lose their purity. In that state of impurity, all sorts of weighty impediments arise, obscuring their inherent natures until the light of prajna cannot shine forth.

They constantly drift and wander along demonic byways. Take a look. Only a few people attend Dharma assemblies where the Dharma is lectured. There are only twenty people or so here studying the Buddhadharma. Rock concerts, however, are attended by thousands or tens of thousands people who have to buy tickets to get in. If a famous rock star’s records are being given away, everyone goes crazy trying to grab one; people even come to blows over it. This is exactly what this line is referring to—being influenced by demonsinsanity and constantly drifting and wandering. Dancing is a defiled dharma, as are watching movies or plays. Nevertheless, people want to do these things and are willing to pay for them.

Our Dharma lectures are free, yet they don’t come. Maybe if we charged an entrance fee, they would want to come. If there is a striptease show, people will even go without sleep so they can watch it. Really, what is there worth seeing? What benefits are there in watching it? Even some who plan to leave the home life want to see one last striptease show. Isn’t that pathetic? That’s another example of following the insanity of demons and running about. People also know that taking drugs is harmful, yet they still buy it and take it. That is also to follow the insanity of demons and run about. The Thus Come One reveals the path of liberation for all these confused sentient beings. Protecting and Supporting awakens thus and enters. Multi-bodied Spirit One Who Protects and Gathers In is able to understand and awaken to this passage into liberation.

Sutra

I contemplate the Thus Come One’s power of self-mastery.
His light spreads throughout the Dharma Realm, filling it entirely.
Dwelling in the royal palace, he transforms sentient beings.
This is the state of Universally Manifesting spirit.

Sentient beings, confused by falseness, suffer a myriad woes.
The Buddha is in their midst, constantly rescuing and protecting them.
He helps them to dispel delusions and develop joyful hearts.
Unmoving Radiance spirit thus observes.

Commentary

I contemplate the Thus Come One’s spiritual power of self-mastery. / His brilliant light spreads throughout the Dharma Realm, filling it entirely. / Dwelling in the royal palace, he transformssentient beings. The Buddha lived in a king’s palace, and he taught and transformed all sentient beings. This is the state of Universally Manifesting spirit. That Multi-bodied Spirit understands this state.

Sentient beings, confused by falseness, having strayed off the proper path and gotten caught up in a profusion of false thoughts, suffer a myriad woes. Their numerous false thoughts are like birds flying every which way. These haphazard false thoughts bring on every kind of suffering—the three sufferings, the eight sufferings, and the limitless sufferings. They undergo all these woes. The Buddha is in their midst in the six paths, constantly rescuing and protecting them. / He helps them to dispel delusions and develop joyful hearts. Unmoving Radiance spirit, that Multi-bodied Spirit, thus observes and understands this passage into liberation.

Sutra

Moreover, Vajra-wielding Spirit Wondrous Narayana Physique gained a passage into liberation of seeing the Thus Come One manifest bodies of boundless forms.

Commentary

Who can explain the word Narayana? What does it mean? [A disciple explains.] You cannot completely explain the meaning. If people want to know more, they have to investigate on their own. In lecturing the sutra, you cannot explain everything in full, for if you did, it’s not known when we would finish lecturing this sutra. You cannot fully explain all the meanings even in a short sutra, not to mention a long one. Even if a sutra is short, it takes a long time to completely explain its meanings.

For example, the Great Master Zhi Zhe of Tiantai spent ninety days explaining the word miao “wonderful.” You might say that he went into too much detail in his explanation. Actually, not to speak of ninety days, even nine months, nine years, or ninety years would not be enough time to fully explain the meaning of “wonderful,” simply because it is wonderful. One can only give people an general idea of what it means, regardless of whether the meaning of the term is good or not. People who want to know more will spend time investigating in greater depth on their own.

Moreover, to continue the discussion of the meanings mentioned previously, Vajra-wielding Spirit Wondrous Narayana…Narayana means strong and solid. How do I know? Well, the text says that he is a Vajra-wielding Spirit. If he were not strong and solid, how could he wield a vajra jeweled pestle? If his arms were as weak as a baby chick’s, how could he hold a vajra jeweled pestle? Vajra jeweled pestles and vajra jeweled swords are weapons wielded by Dharma protectors. Vajra-wielding spirits are Dharma protectors. This particular spirit gained a passage into liberation of seeing the Thus Come One manifest bodies of boundless forms. He sees the Buddha manifest these bodies. The wordmanifest” indicates that these bodies are not real. They appear out of nothing. Originally they did not exist. The Buddha manifests boundlessly many of such bodies. This spirit attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra

Vajra-wielding Spirit Banner as Swift as the Sun gained a passage into liberation of seeing how every hair on the Buddha’s body displays assorted clouds of light, just like the sun. Vajra-wielding Spirit Flower Light of Mount Sumeru gained a passage into liberation of conjuring up measureless bodies and tremendous spiritual transformations. Vajra-wielding Spirit Pure Thundercloud gained a passage into liberation of uttering boundless sounds that accord with the categories of beings.

Commentary

Vajra-wielding Spirit Banner as Swift as the Sun is very speedy. He gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of seeing every hair on the Buddha’s body displaying assorted clouds of light, just like the sun. Every hair on the Buddha’s body sends forth a ray of light, just like the sun. This ray of light is not of a single color. It is actually a cloud of light of rainbow colors, like a five-colored auspicious cloud floating in the sky. That is this spirit’s passage into liberation.

The next Vajra-wielding Spirit is named Flower Light of Mount Sumeru. Sumeru means “wonderfully tall.” The light he emits has flowers in it, and the flowers in turn give off light. This spirit gained a passage into liberation and understood the Buddha’s state of conjuring up measureless bodies and tremendous spiritual powers and transformations.

Demons have the appearance of demons, and Buddhas have the appearance of Buddhas. Sometimes, in order to subdue a demon, the Buddha himself may manifest as a demon. However, he manifests in a form that is larger than the demon. For example, if the demon is five thousand feet tall, the Buddha might manifest as a ten-thousand-foot-tall demon, so that he is five thousand feet taller than the demon. When the demon sees how small he is in comparison to the Buddha, he submits and pays obeisance, promising to follow the Buddha’s instructions. After the demon surrenders, the Buddha reappears in his own body. When the demon sees the Buddha’s tremendous spiritual powers of transformation, he dares not disobey the Buddha’s teaching.

If you know how to apply the Buddhadharma, it is infinitely wonderful and mysterious. If you don’t know how to use it, it is like not being aware of a bright pearl that is sewn in your clothing. Once you discover the bright pearl, you can use it. The bright pearl can give you all kinds of treasures. You can use it forever, and it will never wear out. If you find the pearl in your clothing, you will be the richest person. If you wish for money, the pearl produces money. If you want gold, it produces gold. If you prefer silver, it gives you silver. You can have whatever you want. That is an analogy for the passage into liberation of conjuring tremendous spiritual transformations.

The next Vajra-wielding Spirit is named Pure Thundercloud. She gained a passage into liberation of uttering boundless sounds that accord with the categories of beings. He understood the Buddha’s state where the Buddha is able to appear in the appropriate form for different kinds of sentient beings, speak in a way that they can understand, and proclaim the wonderful Dharma for them. You shouldn’t have the idea that the Buddha always appears as a Buddha. The Buddha can take on any form at all. For example, if he wants to save fish, he appears in a fish’s body and goes into the water to teach and transform fish, speaking to them in fish language. If he wants to save dragons, he manifests as a dragon. If he wants to save other animals, he appears in their forms. Not only does he take on the same form as them, he communicates with them in their own language. This spirit attained the Buddha’s passage into liberation of uttering sounds that accord with the categories of beings.

Sutra

Vajra-wielding Spirit Celestial Lord with Splendid Arms gained a passage into liberation of manifesting as all worldly leaders and enlightening sentient beings.

Commentary

Vajra-wielding Spirit Celestial Lord with Splendid Arms gained a passage into liberation of manifesting as all worldly leaders and enlightening sentient beings. The wonderful thing about this spirit is that he can rub oil on his head using his hand. After rubbing, he turns into a slippery-head. When one hand is done rubbing, the other hand rubs some more. What is more, one hand can turn into countless hands, and those countless hands can turn back into one hand. One hand can become ten million hands, and ten million hands can become one hand, so he is said to have “splendid arms.” Splendid means inconceivable. With his hands, he can pick up as many things as he wishes.

Sutra

Vajra-wielding Spirit Delightful Brightness gained a passage into liberation of expounding all the different entrances into the Buddhadharma, so that they are fully understood without exception. Vajra-wielding Spirit Great Tree Thunderclap gained a passage into liberation of using delightful ornaments to gather in all tree spirits.

Commentary

Vajra-wielding Spirit Delightful Brightness understood the Buddha’s state and gained a passage into liberation of expounding all the different entrances into the Buddhadharma,so that they are fully understood without exception. He makes all sentient beings understand all the entrances into the different meanings within the Buddhadharma. They thoroughly understand all the principles of Buddhadharma without exception. That was this spirit’s passage into liberation.

Vajra-wielding Spirit Great Tree Thunderclap gained a Buddha’s state and a passage into liberation of using delightful ornaments, including toys, to gather in all tree spirits. He uses toys and adornments to keep the tree spirits under control. Probably tree spirits love to play and have fun. That was this spirit’s passage into liberation.

Sutra

Vajra-wielding Spirit Brilliant Lion King gained a passage into liberation of being fully endowed with and understanding the adornments accumulated from vast blessings.

Commentary

The next Vajra-wielding Spirit is named Brilliant Lion King. This spirit is very awesome and dignified, like the lion, the king of beasts. This spirit also has the radiance of wisdom. He gained a state of the Buddha and a passage into liberation of being fully endowed with and understanding the adornments accumulated from vast blessings. Because the Buddha never passed up even the smallest opportunity to create blessings, he eventually accumulated vast blessings. When blessings and