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The Flower Adornment Sutra: A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua: Chapter One: Part Four
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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
Moreover, Fire-ruling Spirit Treasury of Universal Flames gained a passage into liberation of totally dispelling all darkness in the world. Fire-ruling Spirit Banner of Universally Assembled Light gained a passage into liberation of eradicating all sentient beings’ delusions and their sufferings of aimless drifting and scorching torment. Fire-ruling Spirit Great Light Universally Shining gained a passage into liberation of a treasury of great compassion and steadfast power of blessings.
Moreover indicates that what was said before was not all, and more is to be said, namely that there was also Fire-ruling Spirit Treasury of Universal Flames. Her light shines everywhere; its blazing brilliance is multi-layered and unending, and so is called a treasury. This Fire-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of totally dispelling all darkness in the world. With her treasury of universally blazing light, she is able to get rid of all the darkness in the world. She attained that passage into liberation.
The next Fire-ruling Spirit isnamed Banner of Universally Assembled Light because the lights from her fires merge together and resemble a jeweled banner. She gained a passage into liberation of eradicating all sentient beings’ delusions and their sufferings of aimless drifting and scorching torment. She can eradicate all sentient beings’ delusions--all types of confusion, ignorance, and dim-witted stupidity, as well as “their sufferings of aimless drifting and scorching torment.” This means the burning agony of revolving in the six paths of existence--at times, being a person, then a ghost, becoming an animal, then turning into an asura, suddenly being in the heavens, and suddenly returning to earth. That’s the reference in “aimless drifting and scorching torment.” The scorching torment is worst in the hells, where the sufferings are ceaseless. She attained that passage into liberation.
The subsequent Fire-ruling Spirit is named Great Light Universally Shining. Her fires’ lights shine throughout all worlds. She gained the passage into liberation of a treasury of great compassion and steadfast power of blessings. What is steadfast power of blessings? The force of such blessings is everlasting, steadfast and unmoving. She cultivated such power of blessings and attained a treasury of great compassion, by means of which she earnestly and compassionately teaches and transforms sentient beings. She uses her own power of blessings to sustain and help all sentient beings, enabling them all to attain the steadfast power of blessings and a treasury of great compassion. She gained that passage into liberation.
The next Fire-ruling Spirit is named Palaces of Multitudes of Wonders because she adorns her palaces with all sorts of wondrous gems. She gained a passage into liberation of contemplating the Tathagata’s powers of spiritual penetrations. She contemplates the Buddha’s strength of spiritual penetrations and infinite manifestations. She observeshow the Buddha, by means of his inconceivable might of great self-mastery and spiritual penetrations, appears in infinite manifestations in countless lands in order to teach and transform all sentient beings. She attained that passage to liberation.
The previous section of sutra text spoke of how the Buddha teaches and transforms sentient beings in countless lands and oceans of eons. The present Fire-ruling Spirit, named Cowl of Infinite Light, gained a passage into liberation of discovering light that shines throughout boundless realms of space. This Fire-ruling Spirit’s light is infinite and shines endlessly. It illumines innumerable lands and limitless worlds, shining through infinitely many oceans of eons. Her light radiates to the ends of space and throughout the Dharma Realm, shining upon limitless and boundlessly many lands of sentient beings and oceans of eons. To the ends of space and the Dharma Realm, she inspires sentient beings to bring forth the resolve for bodhi. She attained that passage into liberation.
The next Fire-ruling Spirit is named All Kinds of Blazing Eyes. Her eyes emit various colors of light, such as green, yellow, red, white or black; and her eyes also send forth flames--hence her name. This overseer of fire gained a passage into liberation of perceiving a serene radiance derived from adornment with all kinds of blessings. She understands that the Buddha’s Dharma body is adorned with ten thousand blessings and ten thousand virtues. He has a kind of serene radiance that is the light of samadhi. That radiance is constantly emitted from within samadhi. She attained that passage into liberation.
The following Fire-ruling Spirit isnamed Palaces Resembling Mount Sumeru in the Ten Directions, suggesting being as lofty and adorned as all palaces throughout the ten directions, which resemble Mount Sumeru. She gained a passage into liberation, a state of the Buddha, of being able to extinguish all the blazing sufferings of all beings in all destinies in the worlds. “All beings…in the worlds” refers to the world of sentient beings. “All destinies” refers to the six paths in the cycle of rebirth, and more specifically to the four evil destinies of asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals--within which are all the blazing torments. “Blazing” indicates the sufferings are as intense as a raging bonfire that consumes all living things. Beings in the four evil destinies undergo torment comparable to being burned in a blazing fire. That was her passage to liberation.
The next Fire-ruling Spirit is named Awesome Light of Self-Mastery, for she has awesome virtue and emits a kind of light. She is also very free and at ease--very happy. This Fire-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of enlightening all beings in all worlds with ease. “With ease” indicates there is nothing forced about this, the process being very natural and comfortable. She enables sentient beings in many worlds to become enlightened and to complete their work in the Way successfully. She attained that passage into liberation.
Thenext Fire-ruling Spirit is named Light Illumining the Ten Directions. As you can see, most of these Fire-ruling Spirits have light from fire. This particular Fire-ruling Spirit was named for having light that shines throughout the ten directions. She gained a passage into liberation of refuting forever all foolish, attached views. People who lack of wisdom, clarity, and light are foolish. Yet fools do not consider themselves foolish. Not knowing that they themselves are fools, they insist on the exact opposite and say that intelligent people are fools. This is similar to the situation of a black crow landing on the back of a black pig and noticing the blackness of the pig, but not seeing its own blackness. Fools are the same way. They are fools precisely because they deny their own foolishness. Due to their foolishness, they have attachments that obstruct their understanding. Failing to understand situations, they become caught up in those situations. Rather than managing affairs, they are tied up by those affairs. With such attachments, they cannot achieve liberation, especially when they stubbornly cling to their own views. They insist that their own viewpoint is correct. An example of such intractable views can be found in our Way-place, where there are adults as well as children. When the children come here, they want to play. If the adults have a rigid outlook, they may claim that, because the children make so much noise here, their only recourse is not to attend the sutra lectures. They are so intransigent that they use the children as an excuse for not attending. Not only do they themselves not attend, they dissuade other people from attending. These are all instances of attachments to views. So long as people cling to such attached viewpoints, they cannot become enlightened. They cannot attain this passage to liberation. This Fire-ruling Spirit, however, could refute these types of foolish, attached views, and thus she did reach this passage into liberation.
Fire-ruling Spirit Thunder Sound and Lightning Flash gained a passage into liberation of loosing a great boom of thunder resulting from fulfilling all vows. At that time Fire-ruling Spirit Treasury of Universal Flames received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Fire-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.
The next Fire-ruling Spirit is named Thunder Sound and Lightning Flash because she has a voice of booming thunder that sends out great lightning flashes. She gained a passage into liberation of loosing a great boom of thunder resulting from fulfilling all vows. She helps all sentient beings carry out their vows. Whatever vows you make, she will assist you, affording protection and support so you can fulfill them. The great rumbling boom of her thunder can be heard and felt throughout the Dharma Realm. She attained that passage to liberation.
At that time, just at that moment, Fire-ruling Spirit Treasury of Universal Flames received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power. She availed herself of the greatly majestic spiritual power of the Buddha, universally contemplated all the multitudes of Fire-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse. She used verse to describe the passages into liberation again.
In the present stanza of four lines, when it says, “Contemplate,” ultimately who is speaking? And who should contemplate? When it says, “the Tathagata’s,” which Tathagata is meant? The line is addressed to all sentient beings. The speaker is Fire-ruling Spirit Treasury of Universal Flames, who was previously discussed. She says, “You should take a look. Everyone, look! All you sentient beings should see this.” What should you look at? At the Tathagata. Which Tathagata? Shakyamuni Buddha, who is also known as Shakyamuni Tathagata. What about him should you look at? At his Thirty-two Hallmarks and Eighty Characteristics? No. You ought to observe his power of vigor. The Tathagata’s was far more vigorous and energetic in cultivating the Way throughout infinitely many past eons than even the most vigorous of you are now. He could renounce his body, mind, and life. He sacrificed everything; gave up everything. He forgot about everything else and only practiced with vigor. He pushed out all thoughts of desire, sleep, and laziness, and drove away the Ten Great Demonic Hordes . He was able to be that vigorous.
The Buddha was vigorous in the daytime and throughout the night–constantly vigorous in the six periods of the day and night. He was able to cultivate without resting or slacking off; he applied effort and energetically pushed forward. He could do things others could not do, such as sacrificing his own body to feed a tiger. If you think about it, a tiger is an especially noxious beast, so why feed it? For the tiger to starve to death would mean one less tiger in the world, and one less menace for human beings. Why rescue one? But the Buddha was able to give up his own body to save a starving tiger. He was also able to cut off his flesh to feed a hawk. The hawk is also an evil predator, which preys upon other creatures. It’s a bandit among birds, the worst kind of bird. But he could slice of his own flesh to feed the hawk. See what powerful vigor he had! Which one of us could compare with him? Most of us just know how to selfishly pursue personal advantage; most of us do little to benefit others. Most of us only know how to be selfish and cannot be public-spirited and altruistic—indications that we lack vigor.
Observe the Buddha’s power of vigor. Truly, for inconceivably vast, great kotis of eons, / He appears in the world to benefit beings. The practices that he cultivated during vast, great kotis of eons, infinitely many eons, are all inconceivable. Why does the Buddha appear in the world? He does so in order to bring benefit to sentient beings. Why do we appear in the world? It’s to be feared that many of us end up bringing harm sentient beings. Many are intent upon usurping other beings’ benefits for themselves. Most of us are selfish and don’t realize we ought to benefit others. We only think of ourselves and don’t consider other people. The Buddha appears in the world to benefit sentient beings. We, on the other hand, often end up harming them. There are those whose attitude towards other beings is, “The sooner you die, the better! The things I should be using are all being used by you. If you were dead, I could enjoy a lot more of the material possessions of this world. More would fall to my share.” This even goes so far that a son may think, “Father, you have so much money. I wish you would die earlier so the money would be mine. Why haven’t you died yet?” This is truly a case of old people who haven’t died being regarded as thieves! There are sons who want their fathers to die. Think it over. Isn’t it the case that many of us come to the world and end up harming sentient beings?
The Buddha appears in the world for the sake of sentient beings, dispelling all obstructions of darkness. He can demolish all the impediments caused by the dull delusion of sentient beings, their obstacles of afflictions and obstacles of knowledge. When all their obstructions and impediments of dullness are gone, sentient beings become clear-headed and wise. Fire-ruling Spirit Treasury of Universal Flames achieved that passage into liberation.
Sentient beings are obtuse and opinionated,
Their afflictions like a torrent and a blaze;
With skillful means, the Guiding Master quells them.
Banner of Universally Assembled Light awakens thus.
His blessings and virtues, like space, are never ending.
One seeks their limits and boundaries in vain.
Such is the Buddha’s unmoving power of great compassion.
Light Shining awakens to this and is delighted.
Sentient beings are obtuse and opinionated. Obtuse sentient beings are in the majority, and intelligent beings are in the minority. There’s only one intelligent being in ten thousand. The intelligent being has proper knowledge and proper views, whereas the obtuse beings hold various wrong opinions. “Opinionated” means subscribing to any of the various wrong views. Beings with wrong views get afflicted, whereas those with proper knowledge and views have no afflictions. Afflictions arise from misguided knowledge and views. Their afflictions are like a torrent or a blaze. What are those afflictions like? They resemble rushing flood waters that uproot trees in their path and destroy houses and buildings. They are also similar to a huge blazing torch that burns things up. Obtuseness and wrong views resemble a raging flood and a blazing fire.
With skillful means, the Guiding Master quells them. The Guiding Master is the Buddha. The Buddha is a Guiding Master who gathers in sentient beings and expediently extinguishes their afflictions completely. The Buddha employs various expedient Dharma-doors to quell those afflictions that are like a raging flood and a blazing fire. Banner of Universally Assembled Light awakens thus. Fire-ruling Spirit Banner of Universally Assembled Light enters deeply into this passage to liberation.
His blessings and virtues, like space, are never ending. The Buddha’s blessings and virtues resemble the void in that they never come to an end. Even though space has nothing to it, you can’t say there is no space. The Buddha’s blessings and virtues resemble space in that they could never run out, never be used up. One seeks their limits and boundaries in vain. If you tried to discover just what ultimate perimeters there are to the Buddha’s blessings and virtues, they could not be found. You could never calculate them or understand them through numerical reckoning or analogy. Such is the Buddha’s unmoving power of great compassion. The still and unmoving strength derives from the Buddha’s greatly compassionate mind, which is a treasury of great compassion. Light Shining awakens to this and is delighted. Fire-ruling Spirit (Great) Light (Universally) Shining understands this state and is joyful at heart.
The verses in the Sutra text were contributed by Ananda when the Sutra Treasury was being compiled. It wasn’t that a particular individual presented them in that way at the time described in the Sutra. The verses reiterate what was expressed in the preceding prose section. It’s not at all certain that the particular spirit spoke in just that way. She might not have used exactly that line to praise the Buddha, but another line instead, and when the Sutra Treasury was being compiled, Ananda summarized the meanings. When the introduction says that such and such a spirit “received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power and spoke the following verse(s),” it definitely doesn’t say that spirit represented all ten spirits and spoke the ten stanzas which follow. She just received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power to speak her own four lines of verse, and afterwards each spirit spoke her own four-line verse.
This point is very important! You can’t use a literal interpretation as the basis for understanding the Sutra. That would be a mistake. That’s what’s known as relying on words to understanding the meaning. Being attached to the text of the Sutra basically does not accord with the Buddhadharma. Before the Nirvana Sutra arrived in China in its entirety, people read the first half of the Sutra, which said, “Icchantikas do not have the Buddha-nature.” Dharma Master Daosheng, however, maintained that icchantikas do have the Buddha-nature. While the second half of the Sutra was not yet available, no one could accept his statement. When the rest of the sutra finally arrived, part two did indeed say that icchantikas do have the Buddha-nature.
The Venerable Ananda, during the compilation of the Sutra Treasury, used reiterative verses to restate the ideas conveyed in prose. The verses also represent what the Fire-ruling Spirits had said. Since the prose section had already named the first Fire-ruling Spirit, her name does not appear in the four-line stanza. That’s why some of you thought the subsequent stanzas were also spoken by that Fire-ruling Spirit, but this interpretation does not accord with the meaning of the sutra. The sutra means that each Fire-ruling Spirit elucidates the state of the Buddha that she herself has achieved, the passage into liberation that she herself has entered. These verses are spoken by the Venerable Ananda, who uses verses to express the principles once again. Fearing that people might not have completely understood the previous meanings, he restates them in verse form.
Now the text says: I contemplate the Tathagata’s cultivations. Who is saying, “I contemplate”? Fire-ruling Spirit Palaces of Multitudes of Wonders is saying “I” of herself, and it was Ananda who represented her in saying that when Ananda wrote the line, “I contemplate the Tathagata’s cultivations,” referring to observing the practices cultivated by the Tathagata. Boundless, they stretch through oceans of eons. Those practices were cultivated throughout oceans of eons. And so we need to look at the repeating verses along with their corresponding prose section in order to understand them. The prior section of prose said, “Fire-ruling Spirit Palaces of Multitudes of Wonders gained a passage into liberation of contemplating the Tathagata’s powers of spiritual penetrations and infinite manifestions.” The powers of spiritual penetrations that the Tathagata attained were the practices he cultivated throughout oceans of eons. “Oceans of eons” isn’t just referring to one great eon, or two or three, or even hundreds of thousands of great eons. Rather, the eons are so many they are like a great ocean–infinitely many eons. That inconceivable and boundless amount is termed oceans of eons. This extended throughout such oceans of eons, that you could never find their boundaries or state ultimately how many great eons there are. There are no bounds to them. They could not be known through calculation or analogy; hence they are said to be boundless.
The text continues: Such displays of powers and spiritual penetrations. Over such a vast periods of time, the Buddha displayed all kinds of spiritual penetrations to teach and transform sentient beings, inspiring all beings to bring forth the resolve for bodhi. This is what the Spirit Palaces of Multitudes of Wonders understands. You don’t have to use any other words to explain this, just the words “Palaces of Multitudes of Wonders spirit understands. ” That line of verse indicates that the verse was spoken by the compiler of the Treasury of Sutras. Therefore, when the previous prose section mentioned a certain Fire-ruling Spirit by name and said he “received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power and spoke the following verse(s),” if that Fire-ruling Spirit received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power and spoke the following verse(s), why couldn’t the other Fire-ruling Spirits also receive the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power and speak the following verse(s)? All of you should reflect upon this principle. You ought to be able to figure it out without my having to explain it in detail. I didn’t go into the details before, because I thought all of you, being so much more intelligent that I am and so learned, would understand this principle. It never occurred to me that you would go so far as to consult a commentary about this principle. And is the commentary necessarily correct? Commentaries represent individual points of view. You have your commentary, I have mine, and other people have theirs. But it’s not for certain that any particular commentary can stand the test. Then why are the commentaries included in the Tripitaka? It’s not for certain that everything included in the Tripitaka is totally right! For that reason Mencius said: “It would be better not to have books than to have total faith in books. In the Wucheng Chapter I select only two or three passages.”
“Wucheng” is the name of a section in The Book of History. The Book of History says: “When King Wu attacked the tyrant Zhou, iron pestles floated in the blood that was shed in the slaughter.” Those pestles weighed a few hundred catties. The iron pestles wielded by warriors of those times weighed a minimum of two hundred catties, about three hundred pounds. You make the calculation: How many people would have to be killed for that to happen? King Wu was the best of kings, and the tyrant Zhou was the worst. King Wu’s army was a humane and righteous army. Using such an army, when the most humane person, the most virtuous king, was attacking the least humane of people, how could the number of people killed been so great that their blood made iron pestles float? Yet that’s what The Book of History says. If you believe this, well, is such a thing possible? Could this actually happen? How much blood would be needed to float iron pestles? For that reason, Mencius said it would be better not to have books at all than to believe the principles set forth in books entirely. We could do without books that only tend to make people confused.
We are studying the Buddhadharma, and all the principles in the Buddha’s Sutras tell people to break their attachments. As long as we have attachments, we will never achieve genuine wisdom. Those attachments will hinder us. Hence there is the saying: “When confused, one is a sentient being. When enlightened, one is a Buddha.” Buddhahood is a state of freedom from attachments. If we are attached, then we are still sentient being. But when we become enlightened, we are Buddhas. That’s why, after the Buddha achieved Buddhahood, he exclaimed, “Strange indeed! Strange indeed! Strange indeed! All sentient beings have the wisdom and virtuous characteristics of a Tathagata. It is only due to confused thinking and attachments that they fail to realize them.” Why do we lack wisdom? It’s due to attachments. If we’re attached to fame, we will die from fame. If we’re attached to profit, we will die from profit. Consequently, fame and profit are two major killers of people.
Unthinkable, his achievements in cultivation for kotis of eons;
The quest for their boundaries ends in mystery.
He proclaims the truth of all dharmas, delighting all.
Infinite Light spirit contemplates thus and sees.
While compiling the Sutra Treasury, Ananda spoke this four-line stanza to represent the passage into liberation of Fire-ruling Spirit Cowl of Infinite Light. He said that Cowl of Infinite Light had attained a passage to liberation. What was it? Unthinkable, his achievements in cultivation for kotis of eons. She knew how the Buddha had cultivated inconceivably many practices, inconceivably many spiritual penetrations, inconceivably many wondrous functionings for innumerable kotis of eons. In general, everything about this was inconceivable. The quest for their boundaries ends in mystery. Any search for the limits of the wonderful functionings of the Buddha’s spiritual penetrations, and of his adornments with merit and virtue, “ends in mystery.” Their limits are unfathomable. He proclaims the truth of all dharmas, delighting all. The Buddha speaks the wonderful Dharma of Truth, the wondrous Dharma of the True Mark, the wonderful Dharma which has no characteristics yet characterizes everything. Upon hearing such Dharma, all beings rejoice immensely, believe and accept it, and put it into practice. Infinite Light spirit contemplates thus and sees. This is the passage to liberation, the state contemplated and viewed by Fire-ruling Spirit Cowl of Infinite Light.
The ten directions are the zenith, the nadir, north, south, east, west, and the four intermediate points, which are the northeast, the northwest, the southeast, and the southwest. The vast, great multitudes in all the ten directions, so many sentient beings, all behold the Buddha manifest before them. Those vast, great multitudes of sentient beings are all before the Buddha, gazing up at him. His peaceful, quiescent light illuminates the world. The Buddha radiates a tranquil light from within samadhi. That light shines upon all sentient beings in the worlds. Wondrous Flames spirit understands thus. This state is the passage to liberation that Fire-ruling Spirit Wondrous Flames comprehends.
In all the worlds the Muni appears. The Muni is Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakya means “able to be humane,” and Muni means “still and silent.” This refers to the Buddha, who can be patient and who is also still and silent. He appears in every single world-system, seated within all palaces. The Buddha appears in the world, manifesting in a royal family. Kings dwell in palaces, and the Buddha appears in the world sitting in a palace. Also, when the Buddha is seated underneath the Bodhi tree, a palace made of the seven precious things appears, and the Buddha sits within that. He sends arain of infinitely vast great Dharma everywhere. The Buddha speaks Dharma for sentient beings everywhere, the way auspicious clouds appear in the sky. He teaches Dharma that fulfills sentient beings’ wishes, thereby liberating them. That’s why the text describes the Buddha as “sending a rain of infinitely vast great Dharma everywhere,” infinitely many great Dharma-doors. This is the spiritual state of Ten Directions spirit. According to Ananda, this is the state that Fire-ruling Spirit (Palaces Resembling Mount Sumeru in the) Ten Directions attained.
Most profound is the wisdom of the Buddhas. We could say “the Buddhas” refers to all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the periods of time; or we could say this is Shakyamuni Buddha. The Buddhas’ wisdom of prajna is most profound. No sentient being has higher or more profound wisdom than the Buddha. The Buddha appears in the world as a Great Guiding Master. He uncovers the wisdom inherent in all sentient beings, enabling them to return to the origin and see their own original face. The Buddha uses various analogies to speak the Dharma for sentient beings, helping them to understand the Buddhadharma. That’s why the text says: Sovereign over dharmas, they appear in the world. “Sovereign over dharmas” refers to the Buddha’s realization of perfect enlightenment. He totally understands both worldly and world-transcending dharmas, and so he is at ease with all dharmas. That means nothing he does is forced or contrived. He appears in the world very naturally and with great ease. He manifests in the world to help sentient beings open the knowledge and vision of a Buddha, disclose the knowledge and vision of a Buddha, awaken to the knowledge and vision of a Buddha, and enter the knowledge and vision of a Buddha. He causes all sentient beings to open, disclose, awaken to and enter the knowledge and vision of a Buddha. They completely clarify that which is true. The Buddha’s speaking of Dharma gives expression to true principle. Truth never changes. True principle has been followed from ancient times until the present , in all lands. Awesome Light rejoices in this insight. Fire-ruling Spirit Awesome Light of Self-Mastery understands this passage into liberation, and enters this state. For that reason, he is extremely delighted and rejoices exceptionally–and so the text says: Awesome Light rejoices in this insight.
The delusion of views casts a darkness that confuses
Sentient beings, so they drift and revolve without cease.
In order to teach them, the Buddha opens wondrous Dharma doors.
Illumining Directions spirit enters and awakens thus.
The delusion of views casts a darkness that confuses. “Views” indicates all sorts of wrong views. Wrong views are due to wrong knowledge. If our outlook and understanding are wrong, we will be ignorant. If our outlook and understanding are proper, we will have wisdom. With wrong views, we will be stupid and deluded, hence in the dark. Delusion is a kind of covering. It covers over the light of our wisdom. Deluded sentient beings drift and revolve without cease. Since we sentient beings have wrong knowledge and views, from limitless eons up to now we have still not escaped from the revolving wheel of the six paths. All that is due to wrong knowledge and views. Such misguided views confuse and delude people. Confused and deluded, they are unable to end birth and death, to get out of the wheel of rebirth in the six paths. Instead, beings flow and turn in the cycle of rebirths in those paths: suddenly in the heavens, suddenly on earth, suddenly among hungry ghosts, suddenly becoming animals, suddenly being people, suddenly turning into asuras. Such lack of clarity, such obscure ignorance, prevents beings from transcending the six-path wheel where they turn round and round. In order to teach them, the Buddha opens wondrous Dharma doors: The Buddha, for the sake of deluded sentient beings, reveals the doors of most subtle, wonderful and inconceivable Dharma. He tells people to recite the Buddha's name and be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. He instructs them on holding mantras and realizing Buddhahood in this very life. He encourages sentient beings to cultivate all kinds of practices, and so the text says: “In order to teach them, the Buddha opens wondrous Dharma doors.” Wondrous Dharma doors enable beings to end birth and death and transcend the cycle of rebirth. Illumining Directions enters and awakens thus. Fire-ruling Spirit Light Illumining the Ten Directions understands this state and enters this passage to liberation.
Vast, great, inconceivable is his approach to vows.
The Powers and Paramitas have been cultivated to purity.
Everything now manifests according to his previous vows.
Rumbling Sound spirit understands thus.
Vast, great, inconceivable is his approach to vows. There are approaches to vows, approaches to faith and approaches to practice. Faith, vows and practice are the Three Requisites. If you wish to become a Buddha, to cultivate and end birth and death, you must start by having faith. However, it’s not sufficient simply to believe; you also need to make vows. For example, if you want to be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, you must make the vow to attain rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Should you wish to be reborn in the Eastern Pure Vaidurya Land, you must vow to be reborn in the Eastern Pure Vaidurya Land. Therefore, the approach to vows is vast, great, and inconceivable.
The Powers and Paramitas have been cultivated to purity. The Powers are the Ten Powers, and Paramitas refers to the Ten Paramitas. The Buddha has cultivated the Ten Powers and Ten Paramitas to perfection, that is, to the point of purity. He has attained the fundamental pure substance. Everything now manifests according to his previous vows. Purity has already been achieved. In accordance with his past vows, and his cultivation in life after life and time after time for limitlessly many eons, “everything now manifests.” It’s somewhat like watching a film; frame after frame flashes on the screen; or like listening to an audio tape, where phrase after phrase is heard. Everything is now revealed. Rumbling Sound spirit understands thus. Fire-ruling Spirit Thunder Sound understands this and enters this passage to liberation.
Moreover indicates that the principles described before have not yet been completely presented and are continued here. The next spirit, the first Water-ruling Spirit is named Creating Banners of Clouds Everywhere . This Water-ruling Spirit can flourish in any place, like banners of clouds forming everywhere. She is one of the guardian spirits of water. We have seen how space has guardian spirits, and so does earth. There are spirits watching over fire, and spirits in control of wind. Both fire and water have spirits who preside over them. Water-ruling Spirits are in charge of water. We human beings think we can use water as we please, unaware that there are spirits in control of it. Actually, everything in the world is watched by spirits. If there were no spirits in control of water, floods would spread out far and wide, inundating the entire world, and every place would be water. However, because there are spirits in control, the areas where water travels are clearly defined. Water flows downwards, although sometimes it flows upwards, which is very rare.
I remember that one time when I was in Manchuria, in the village of Eastern Well, I encountered a king of water-demons who came there with the express intention of drowning the group of five of us who were there. At that time, the water in the wells rose twenty or thirty feet, overflowing the mouths of the wells. There was extremely heavy rainfall from the sky, as if water were being poured down by the barrel. Eight hundred homes were washed away, and more than thirty people died. People were drowned while standing on their brick-beds. [In contrast with the South, Northerners have fire-heated high brick beds.] The water was that deep. The house where I was staying was in the lowest hollow, surrounded by a wattle-fence of wood that left a lot of openings through which water could enter. On that occasion, the water was more than ten feet high outside the fence, but inside the yard it was only one or two feet deep. Hence no water reached the brick-beds where I was staying.
Water can benefit people, but it can also harm them. In excessive amounts it can be harmful, but in small quantities it is beneficial to people. Therefore Lao Zi said: “People of superior goodness,” people who are exceptionally good, “are like water. Water benefits the myriad things but does not contend.” It doesn’t declare, “’You sentient beings are lucky to have me to keep you alive. I am very beneficial to you!” It doesn’t contend. “It dwells in places people do not like.” Water stays in the very places people don’t want to stay in, because they are the lowest spots. No one wants to live in the most inferior locations, but water is willing to take the very lowest positions. That’s the meaning of: “It dwells in places people do not like, hence it accords with the Way.” For that reason, water is in harmony with the Way, and people of superior goodness are that way too.
This particular Water-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of impartially benefiting all sentient beings with kindness, using kindness and compassion to aid all sentient beings. She attained that passage to liberation.
The next Water-ruling Spirit is named Sea-Tide Cloud Sound. This Water-ruling Spirit has power like that of the clouds and the sound of the ocean tide. She gained a passage into liberation of being boundlessly adorned with Dharma, of all Dharma-doors whatsoever adorning the Path to Buddhahood. She attained that passage into liberation.
The next Water-ruling Spirit is named Wheel-like Cowl of Wondrous Colors. She gained a passage into liberation of contemplating the potentials of all those sentient beings suited to be taught by her first, and universally gathering them in with skill-in-means. She adopts a great variety of expedient Dharma-doors to gather in those sentient beings, enabling them to achieve a sort of enlightenment. That’s the passage to liberation she attained.
The next Water-ruling Spirit is named Whirlpools of Skillful Expedients. “Skillful” refers to being very intelligent and understanding the Dharmas of skill-in-means. “Whirlpools” indicates that this kind of Dharma is spoken over and over again in the employment of provisional expedient methods to teach and transform sentient beings. She attained a kind of samadhi of skill-in-means.
This Water-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of universally proclaiming the profound states of all Buddhas. She can describe all the deep states of all the Buddhas of the ten directions, using various methods to proclaim them. Sometimes she uses light to express expedient Dharma doors. At other times she makes her proclamations of the Dharma doors of skill-in-means through the medium of the sound of flowing water. Hence this is called universally proclaiming the profound states of all Buddhas, and is the kind of passage to liberation that she attained.
Thenext Water-ruling Spirit is named Immaculate Accumulation of Fragrance. She is free of all defilement. “Accumulation of fragrance” is as in the kitchen, which is the area where fragrances accumulate. The kitchen’s accumulation of fragrance refers to how the five flavors are blended exceptionally well, so there are all kinds of aromas and tastes. Water-ruling Spirit Accumulation of Fragrance gained a passage into liberation of universally displaying a grand, pristine radiance. She can purify the Dharma Realm with her universal display of intense, pure radiance. To the ends of space and throughout the Dharma Realm she reveals a great treasury of light. She attained that passage into liberation.
Water-ruling Spirit Bridge to Blessings and Voice of Light gained a passage into liberation of purifying Dharma Realms, of causing the Dharma Realms of the ten directions to return to purity, so that they are devoid of characteristics and a nature. The purification of the Dharma Realms indicates that they unite with space, so they have no appearances. Nor do they have a nature. In other words: “All dharmas from their origin are perpetually still and quiescent, and cannot be expressed by words.” There is no way you can use words and language to articulate them. She achieved the liberation of purifying Dharma Realms so they have no characteristics and no nature. Even if they have no characteristics, perhaps they have a nature? Not so. They are also without a nature. Having neither marks nor nature, they merge with emptiness. She attained that passage into liberation.
It’s just to be feared that people do not know how to be content. Discontentment is suffering, whereas contentment is bliss, hence the saying: “One who knows how to be content will always be happy. One who can be patient will naturally be at peace.” To be happy all the time, we need to be content with our lot; and to have natural tranquility is itself freedom and ease. The inability to be content brings acute suffering.
What do we mean by not knowing to be content? Someone, to start with, might have no money and no house, and have to live along the roadside, even lacking clothing. At that time he might think, “It would be nice to have a house to live in.” Everyday he would think and think about housing, clothing, and food. The day might come when he actually does have a house and clothes, and food to eat. The house is adequate to keep out wind and rain. The clothes suffice to protect his body. The food available to him can stave off the hunger and thirst. Yet, when that happens, he starts musing, “It would be nice to live in a bigger house. I would prefer to eat very nutritious food - at least get to eat some cottage cheese or butter, or steak and pork chops.” Before, he didn’t have anything to eat, but now that he does, he wants the food to be good. Previously he had no clothes to wear, but now that he has some, he wants to wear fine clothes. In the beginning he didn’t have a house to live in, but now that he has a place to live in, he wishes for a very fine house. He lacks the ability to be content.
When he does get his home and food and clothes, he further aspires to hold public office. Being head of the County Board of Supervisors turns out to be a minor position, too insignificant for him, so he wants to be the State Governor. After being Governor of his State, or perhaps the Mayor of a major city, he wants to be President. Once he is President, he has ambitions to be world-leader. Having achieved the position of world-leader, he muses about going to the heavens to be the Heavenly Lord. So, you see how much suffering it is not to be content, whereas being content brings happiness. “One who can be content will always be happy, and will always be at ease.” She gained a passage into liberation of sharing an ocean of unending great compassion. She constantly cherishes the wish to bestow happiness on sentient beings and to eradicate their suffering. Hence, hers is the passage into liberation of sharing an ocean of unending great compassion.
The next Water-ruling Spirit is named Kindly Sound of Pure Joy. She is always joyous at heart, and is very good at speaking Dharma. Therefore, she gained a passage into liberation of acting as a treasury of great delight within the Way -p laces of assemblies of Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas benefit themselves and benefit others, enlighten themselves and enlighten others, rescue themselves and rescue others; they make a great resolve for bodhi. In Way-places where multitudes of Bodhisattvas reside, she serves as a treasury of great delight. She enables all the Bodhisattvas in the Bodhimandas, all those great multitudes in the ocean-wide assemblies, to experience tremendous delight. Their great happiness is like a treasury, and so her passage into liberation is a treasury of delight. She attained that state and that passage to liberation.
The next Water-ruling Spirit is named Universally Manifesting Majestic Light. She appears everywhere and has a great resplendence about her. This Water-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of appearing everywhere through the unimpeded strength of enormous blessings and virtue. Her ability to appear in lands as many as motes of dust throughout the ten directions is unhindered. She employs the power of tremendous, boundless blessings and virtue. Blessings are cultivated, whereas virtue comes from one’s actions. Such blessings and virtue are immense, limitless and boundless, and through their power there can be universal manifestation of Buddhas in worlds as numerous as dust motes in the ten directions. Water-ruling Spirit Universally Manifesting Majestic Light understood that state and entered that passage to liberation.
The next Water-ruling Spirit is named Roaring Sound Pervading Seas, for the sound her roar pervades the seas of sentient beings in lands numerous as motes of dust. She gained a passage into liberation of contemplating all sentient beings in worlds throughout the ten directions, and bringing forth expedients like emptiness to tame and subdue them. She uses skill-in-means like emptiness to tame and subdue all those sentient beings like emptiness in the ten directions, teaching and transforming them all. Yet even though she teaches and transforms all sentient beings, sentient beings actually teach themselves and transform themselves. Consequently, her actions are as void, for she is not attached to what she does. That’s why the text says “like emptiness.” This principle is also stated in the Vajra Sutra, which describes taking all sentient beings to quiescence, without a single sentient being having been taken to quiescence. Even if the realm of sentient beings were empty, the Buddha’s vows would still not be fulfilled. Therefore, she observes all sentient beings and makes vows as expansive as space, using her vast spiritual penetrations to regulate those sentient beings. She employs all sorts of expedient Dharma doors to tame and subdue sentient beings. That’s her passage to liberation.
At that time, Water-ruling Spirit Creating Banners of Clouds Everywhere received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Water-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.
At that time, when Ananda had finished speaking the previous section of prose, he then used verses to restate what had been said in prose. The first Water-ruling Spirit isnamed Creating Banners of Clouds Everywhere. That particular Water-ruling Spirit received the Buddha’s great awesome spiritual power, just as all the other Water-ruling Spirits did. She universally contemplated the dispositions and conditioning factors of the multitudes of Water-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse, restating the prose section in verse.
</poem> Countlessly many passages leading to purity and kindness Are revealed within a single, wondrous hallmark of the Thus Come One; The same is true of each and every hallmark. Therefore, those who gaze upon him never tire of their beholding. </poem>
Water-ruling Spirit Creating Banners of Clouds Everywhere gained the passage into liberation of impartially benefiting all sentient beings with kindness. Now the meaning of the prose passage is being restated, and discusses countlessly many passages leading to purity and kindness. These gates that open upon kindness are pure, free from defiling dharmas. No defiling dharmas means no thoughts of desire. What is the function of these passages into kindness and compassion? They benefit sentient beings, impartially benefiting all. The kindness and compassion aid all beings equally. How many of these doors are there? Countlessly many. Where did so many passages into purity and kindness come from? They are revealed within a single, wondrous hallmark of the Thus Come One. The tip of a single hair of the Tathagata is replete with all those many entrances into pure kindness and compassion. The tips of hair of the Thus Come One are quite numerous to begin with, and the tip of every hair holds passages as many as dust motes in lands. Every single pore contains infinitely many pure doors of kindness and compassion, and so it says: The same is true of each and every hallmark. Within each of the Tathagata's hallmarks are found boundlessly many of such vast, great, pure doors of kindness to benefit all sentient beings. How many doors of kindness would you say there were in all? Therefore, those who gaze upon him never tire of their beholding. Since each hallmark of the Tathagata is replete with infinitely many doors of kindness and compassion, and all his hallmarks are thus, consequently, sentient beings are delighted to see the Buddha and to hear the Dharma. They gaze at the Buddha, their eyes never leaving him for an instant. It is as if their eyes have entered samadhi; their gaze never wavers from the Buddha. Why is that? It’s because they can never get enough. Sentient beings are attached to appearances, and when they see the radiance of the Buddha’s fine hallmarks and characteristics, they never want to leave him. They would like to gaze at the Buddha forever.
This verse concerns the aforementioned Water-ruling Spirit named Sea-Tide Cloud Sound, who gained a passage into liberation of boundless adornment with Dharma. That she “gained” it means she achieved that state and understood how diligently the Buddha cultivated when he was at the level of planting causes. That’s why her verse talks about When cultivating in the past, the World Honored One. The World Honored One is honored in the world and beyond it. He is honored by people in the world and by those who have transcended the world. This is one of the Ten Titles of a Buddha. “In the past” refers to when the Buddha was at the level of planting causes. Now that the Buddha has achieved Buddhahood, he is at the level of the fruition. How did he cultivate at the time of planting causes?He made pilgrimages to all Thus Come Ones’ abodes. He went everywhere and was universally present in all places. What places were those? He went to all locations where there were Buddhas. Which Buddhas? He went to see all those who had already become Buddhas before him. Shakyamuni Buddha had not yet become a Buddha. Since he wasn’t a Buddha yet, he drew near to all previous Buddhas, made offerings to them, and revered them. He practiced in various ways—never weary, never lax. “ In various ways” describes how he employed whatever Dharma doors he was capable of in order to make offerings to the Buddhas, to worship and respect all Buddhas, and to draw near all Buddhas. He forgot himself in his quest for the Dharma. In his pursuit of the Dharma he went without sleep and food, and disregarded even illness as he sought the Dharma.
“Does a Buddha still get sick?” you may ask. Well, that was before the Buddha realized Buddhahood. And even after he became a Buddha, he would sometimes have headaches. He underwent the retributions of the metal spear and of horsefeed. What were those retributions? In a certain lifetime the Buddha had been a young lad. At that time, some people had dragged a fish to the shore. The boy saw the fish and hit it several times on the head with a staff just for the fun of it . [Note: Another version of the story is that the boy hit the fish in order to knock it unconscious, so it would not feel the pain of being cut up by the fishermen.] As a result, after he became a Buddha, he still suffered occasional headaches for having hit the fish. The law of cause and effect is never off by a hair.
In general, the Buddha was not lazy, lax, or remiss when he was cultivating at the level of planting causes. According to the precepts, if a Dharma Master is delivering a sutra lecture or speaking Dharma less than 40 (Chinese) miles [between 14 and 15 English miles] away, you ought to go listen to the Dharma. If, instead of going to listen to the Dharma, you sleep or take it easy where you are, you break a precept. In the past when the Buddha was seeking the Dharma and cultivating, he practiced at all times and was never lax or lazy. Cloud Sound enters such expedients as these. All of the various kinds of expedient Dharma doors that were just described constitute the passage to liberation that Water-ruling Spirit Sea-Tide Cloud Sound enters.
The Buddha is described as being in all the ten directions. Our world-system has ten directions, and so do other world-systems; and so there is not just one set of ten directions, but rather a great many world-systems of ten directions. Thus it says: The Buddha traverses the ten directions while remaining / Quiescent and unmoving, neither coming nor going. The Buddha is still and quiet, without movement. Since he is still and does not move, he neither comes nor goes, hence the quotation: “The Thus Come One does not come from anywhere, nor does he go anywhere.” He doesn’t come or go, yet he responds to sentient beings; they perceive his teaching. The Buddha uses great powers of spiritual penetrations to enable all the sentient beings who have affinities with the Buddha to see the Buddha. Thus understands Wheel-like Cowl. This state is the passage to liberation understood by Water-ruling Spirit Wheel-Like Cowl of Wondrous Colors.
Man: It was a good trip down. No problems.
Man: Wednesday night it rained a lot, and was very bad driving. But Thursday was the best weather in three weeks.
Ven. Master: When you wrote earlier you said you feared flooding.
Man: After we started, there was no rain.
Venerable Master: This is a response from your sincerity, because of your whole attitude about the possibility of a flood and rain the first day, and in spite of that coming anyway. It was a response. It was just a test. How are the two children?
Man: Fine. They were better on this trip than on any other we’ve made.
Venerable Master: Y our coming from such a long distance despite your concerns about water—rain; your being so sincere to come all this way to take refuge makes me very happy. It would be good if everyone could have your attitude, whether traveling by plane or drive by car.
Inestimable are the states of the Thus Come One.
Not a single sentient being can fathom them.
His wondrous voice sounds throughout the ten directions:
Thus is the realm of practice of the spirit Whirlpools of Skills.
Inestimable are the states of the Thus Come One. This describes how the states of the Buddha are inconceivable. Due to their inconceivability, they are boundless and immeasurable. Not a single sentient being can fathom them. From the vantage point of sentient beings who have not yet opened the Buddha's knowledge and vision, not yet entered the Buddha's knowledge and vision, so long as they have not yet opened, disclosed, awakened to and entered the knowledge and vision of a Buddha, they are unable to understand the Buddha's state. As to the Buddha, his wondrous voice sounds throughout the ten directions. The Buddha sends forth a single kind of subtle and wondrous sound, and that single wondrous sound is not just heard in this world-system; rather, it extends throughout the world-systems of the ten directions. Thus is the realm of practice of the spirit Whirlpools of Skills. This state is the principle and the passage to liberation cultivated by Water-ruling Spirit Whirlpools of Skillful Expedients.
Eternal, the World Honored One’s radiance. The light emitted by the World Honnored One, the Buddha, is multi-layered and inexhaustible. That being the case, there is no time when it comes to an end. Inconceivable, it fills the Dharma Realm. A single ray of light of the Buddha’s can extend throughout space and pervade the Dharma Realm, filling it all. It cannot be conceptualized by thought or expressed in words. He speaks Dharma to teach and save sentient beings. The Buddha proclaims all kinds of wonderful Dharma to teach, transform, save, and liberate beings, enabling them to leave suffering and attain bliss. Water-ruling Spirit Immaculate Fragrance contemplates thus. Water-ruling Spirit Immaculate Accumulation of Fragrance personally observes this state; she herself understands and realizes this state.
The Tathagata is pure as space. The Tathagata’s Dharma-body is immaculate, the same as emptiness. It is not located anywhere, nor is it absent from anywhere, which is why it is said to resemble space. Formless, without marks, he pervades the ten directions. Even though he extends throughout the Dharma Realms of the ten directions, nonetheless he has no characteristics and no form. Though he is markless and formless, he is able to fill all Dharma Realms in the ten directions. The Buddha’s realm of being is just that wonderful and inconceivable. Yet all the assemblies see him, excepting none: In spite of the fact that the Buddha has no characteristics and no appearance, he still can make himself visible to all sentient beings in the assemblies in the Way-places without exception. No one fails to see the Buddha. Light of Blessings spirit well contemplates thus. Water-ruling Spirit Bridge to Blessings and Voice of Light understands this state.
In ages past, the Buddha cultivated methods of great compassion . Previously, the Buddha cultivated the practice of great compassion, both alleviating sentient beings’ suffering and bestowing happiness upon them. Such was the gate to great compassion he learned to enter, his mind vast, pervasive–commensurate with sentient beings. When the Buddha was cultivating the practice of great compassion, his mind was especially vast and extensive, all-pervasive, equal in measure to the number of sentient beings. The Buddha cultivated as many means of great compassion as there are sentient beings, so there was an equal matching with sentient beings. Cloud-like, henceforth he appears in the world: For that reason, the Buddha is comparable to a cloud in the sky, appearing above the earth, bringing refreshing coolness to over-heated sentient beings. We who believe in the Buddha should know about this. The Buddha resembles a cloud over our world, providing cool and refreshing shade to sentient beings. This passage to liberation Water-ruling Spirit Contentment understands.
All in the lands of the ten directions / See the Tathagata seated on his throne. You all know what the directions are, you have been to all lands, and you have seen all this. Open up and awaken to great bodhi. You have all experienced awakening. Sound of Joy enters thus. You have all been joyous – isn’t that the case? You have been to all the lands of the ten directions, and have come back from them. You have all seen the Tathagata seated on his throne, but then forgotten with the passage of time. You have all been enlightened, but have grown confused over time. Isn’t that the way it is? It is that way. Water-ruling Spirit Sound of Joy understands this state and declares it to all of you now in the great assembly.
Nothing can hinder the actions of the Tathagata.
He pervades all lands in the ten directions.
In place after place he displays great spiritual penetrations.
Universally Manifesting Majestic Light awakens thus.
Nothing can hinder the actions of the Tathagata. None of the things he does is blocked or obstructed. He pervades all lands in the ten directions. He is able to remain seated in stillness where he is, yet respond throughout the ten directions. Still and unmoving, without leaving where he is sitting, his responses accordingly extend through the ten directions. Wherever there is a being who evokes a response, a sentient being who wishes to see the Buddha and hear the Dharma, the Buddha naturally responds to that evocation. He never fails to fulfill a wish. Anyone who wishes to see the Buddha can do so. Therefore the text goes on to say: In place after place he displays great spiritual penetrations. In every location in the seas of lands as many as fine motes of dust in the Dharma Realms of the ten directions, he reveals his enormous spiritual penetrations. Those great spiritual penetrations are such that the great can include the small, and the small can include the great. The great and small can encompass each other. Lands as many as fine motes of dust are not outside a single mote of dust. A single dust mote can contain lands as numerous as motes of dust. Although a particle of dust is small, it can encompass the great. And even though the lands of the ten directions are great, nothing small is lost in them. The small appears within the great, and the great appears within the small. That is why they are called great spiritual penetrations.
Universally Manifesting Majestic Light awakens thus. When you hear this described, it seems very simple. Nonetheless, this principle is not all that easy to understand. How can something small contain something huge? And how can something huge retain the details of the small? It’s possible for the great to contain the small, but it doesn’t make sense for the small to contain the great. However, from the vantage point of the Buddha, there is no great and no small, no inside and no outside. There isn’t anything huge or anything tiny. There isn’t any inside or and any outside. Everything interpenetrates without obstruction. Water-ruling Spirit Universally Manifesting Majestic Light has awakened to this state. It just happened not very long ago. Just now she has understood this, whereas earlier she didn’t understand it very well. Therefore, she has just awakened to and understood this principle.
He cultivates boundless expedients,
Commensurate with and filling sentient beings’ many realms.
His spiritual penetrations never cease their wondrous functionings.
Roaring Sound Pervading Seas enters thus.
Moreover, Ocean-ruling Spirit Manifesting Jeweled Lights gained a passage into liberation of impartially bestowing seas of blessings and virtues upon sentient beings, so they become physically adorned, as if with myriad jewels. Ocean-ruling Spirit Indestructible Vajra Banner gained a passage into liberation of using clever expedients to guard and protect sentient beings’ good roots. Ocean-ruling Spirit Untainted by Defilement gained a passage into liberation of draining the seas of sentient beings’ afflictions. Ocean-ruling Spirit Ever-Dwelling in Waves gained a passage into liberation of freeing sentient beings from the evil paths.
He cultivates boundless expedients. Water-ruling Spirit Roaring Sound Pervading Seas has an understanding of the Buddha’s state, and so she says: The Buddha cultivates boundlessly many expedient practices, all kinds of skill-in-means. They are commensurate with and filling sentient beings’ many realms. These Dharma doors of expedient means are as numerous as sentient beings. They totally fill the realms of all sentient beings. His spiritual penetrations never cease their wondrous functionings. The Buddha’s powers of spiritual penetrations along with his inconceivable states of wondrous functionings never stop, even momentarily. Rather, the Buddha constantly manifests spiritual penetrations and wondrous functionings to teach and transform sentient beings. Roaring Sound Pervading Seas enters thus. Water-ruling Spirit Roaring Sound Pervading Seas enters this passage into liberation.
Moreover indicates that the principles presented previously were not fully elaborated, and something more is to be said. Now, the first Ocean-ruling Spirit to be discussed is named Manifesting Jeweled Lights, because she can make all kinds of gem-like radiance appear. She gained a passage into liberation of impartially bestowing oceans of blessings and virtues upon sentient beings. She attained the state of the Buddha of using an egalitarian, nondiscriminatory attitude to bestow seas of blessings and virtues upon sentient beings, so they become physically adorned, as if with myriad jewels such as gold, silver, vaidurya, crystal, mother-of pearl, red pearls and carnelian. She attained that passage into liberation.
The next Ocean-ruling Spirit is named Indestructible Vajra Banner. Her name conveys the meaning of solidity. This Ocean-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of using clever expedients, skill-in-means, to guard and protect sentient beings’ good roots. She doesn’t allow sentient beings’ good roots to be destroyed. Instead, she protects them and helps sentient beings to perfect their good roots. Her preventing sentient beings’ good roots from being destroyed led to her becoming an Ocean-ruling Spirit with the name Indestructible Vajra Banner. She employs clever, expedient means to keep guard over the roots of goodness of all sentient beings. That is the state of the Buddha that she achieved, and the passage to liberation that she entered.
Ocean-ruling SpiritUntainted by Defilement is extremely pure, wi thout a speck of filth, hence her name. She gained a passage into liberation of draining the seas of sentient beings’ afflictions. She can dry up the oceans of the afflictions of sentient beings. “Draining” means getting rid of them, drying them up, so afflictions are gone and beings’ wisdom opens up. Why haven’t we opened our wisdom? It’s because our afflictions are too heavy. Our seas of afflictions have not dried up. Probably this Ocean-ruling Spirit isn’t paying any attention to us. If she were, then the seas of our afflictions would also have dried up, and we would have achieved this passage into liberation. However, now that we have listened to the Flower Adornment Sutra, this Ocean-ruling Spirit is sure to drain the oceans of our afflictions dry. Nevertheless, we should not rely on her to dry up our oceans of afflictions. We should drain our own seas of afflictions, and not wait for this Ocean-ruling Spirit to do all the work, or give her a lot of trouble. We should find a way to dry up our own oceans of afflictions. That will make this Ocean-ruling Spirit very happy, and she will definitely never want to leave this passage into liberation.
The next Ocean-ruling Spirit is named Ever-Dwelling in Waves. One way to explain her name is that she always dwells in the breakers. Another interpretation is that she can make the waves “dwell” or subside, so the ocean is always calm. Either explanation makes sense. “Ever Making Waves Dwell” would be the translation corresponding to the second interpretation that she always stops the waves. On the other hand, “Ever-Dwelling in Waves” stresses her not fearing any wave whatsoever, to the point that she passes her life in the breakers. This Ocean-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of freeing sentient beings from the evil paths. She achieved the Dharma door of helping sentient beings get far away from the three evil paths and reach the three good paths. That’s her passage into liberation.
Ocean-ruling Spirit Auspicious Jeweled Moon gained a passage into liberation of universally dispelling the somber darkness of dullness and delusion. Ocean-ruling Spirit Wondrous Floral Dragon Cowl gained a passage into liberation of eradicating suffering and bestowing happiness on those in the destinies. Ocean-ruling Spirit Universally Maintaining Flavor and Light gained a passage into liberation of purifying and regulating the views and deluded natures of sentient beings.
The next Ocean-ruling Spirit is named Auspicious Jeweled Moon. She gained a passage into liberation, a state of the Buddha, of knowing about the Buddha’s universally dispelling the somber darkness of dullness and delusion. The Buddha totally gets rid of all the darkness of stupidity and delusion. When the obscurity of foolishness is gone, the light of understanding emerges. Once the gloom of delusion is dispelled, brilliant light shines forth. This Ocean-ruling Spirit attains that passage to liberation and understands that state of the Buddha.
The following Ocean-ruling Spirit is named Wondrous Floral Dragon Cowl. She gained a passage into liberation of eradicating suffering and bestowing happiness on those in the destinies, meaning in the destinies of hungry ghosts, hell-beings, animals, and asuras. The agonies and troubles in those four evil destinies are overwhelming, but she can dispel them. She further enables sentient beings of those four evil destinies to be happy, to leave suffering and attain bliss.
Ocean-ruling SpiritUniversally Maintaining Flavor and Lightgained a passage into liberation of purifying and regulating the views and deluded natures of sentient beings. “Purifying” means cleaning up, and “regulating” means keeping in order, in this case regulating sentient beings’ views and deluded natures. She adjusts and balances their deluded natures by adding some wisdom to them, so the delusion is lessened. She purifies and regulates sentient beings’ views, “views” here meaning wrong knowledge and wrong views--the sixty-two views. She can adjust all those types of wrong opinions and outlooks, changing their deluded natures. She doesn’t cut off their deluded natures, but rather she transforms them into natures of wisdom. Wisdom counteracts delusion. This Ocean-ruling Spirit attained that passage to liberation.
Ocean-ruling Spirit Jeweled Blaze of Floral Light gained a passage into liberation of committing to the bodhi resolve, the seed nature that produces all gems. Ocean-ruling Spirit Wondrous Vajra Cowl gained a passage into liberation of the ocean of developing the meritorious qualities of an unmoving mind. Ocean-ruling Spirit Thunderous Sound of Ocean Tides gained a passage into liberation of attaining the samadhi that serves as a gateway for universal entry to Dharma Realms.
At that time, Ocean-ruling Spirit Manifesting Jeweled Lights received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Ocean-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.
The next Ocean-ruling Spirit is named Jeweled Blaze of Floral Light. She gained a passage into liberation of committing to the bodhi resolve, the seed nature that produces all gems. The seed nature of gems is the solid resolve, the firm resolve for bodhi. How firm is it? It’s as solid as vajra. Furthermore, this seed nature of gems is the fundamental substance of all precepts. When we left-home people receive the precepts, we receive the precepts of the seed nature of jewels. Once we attain the seed nature that produces all jewels, then day by day that seed nature of gems increases, that resolve for bodhi augments. She attained that passage into liberation.
The following Ocean-ruling Spirit is named Wondrous Vajra Cowl. She gained a passage into liberation of developing the ocean of meritorious qualities of an unmoving mind. She achieved a state of the Buddha and came to know about the oceanic merit and virtue of an unmoving mind. An unmoving mind is constantly still and quiet, and its meritorious qualities are so numerous that they resemble an ocean. She attained that passage into liberation.
Ocean-ruling Spirit Thunderous Sound of Ocean Tides gained a passage into liberation of attaining the samadhi that serves as a gateway for universal entry to Dharma Realms. One enters all Dharma Realms, and so this is the concentration, the samadhi, of universal entry into all Dharma Realms. She achieved such a concentration and entered such a passage into liberation.
At that time, Ocean-ruling Spirit Manifesting Jeweled Lights received the Buddha’s great, awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Ocean-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse. She used verses to reiterate what had been said in the prose, stating it in more detail.
Venerable Master: Not at all. If it weren’t for them, the oceans would long ago have drowned everyone. Since they are watching over the oceans, the water does not exceed its boundaries and drown people. Ocean-ruling Spirits help people, guarding and protecting them. They don’t harm people. Without these Ocean-ruling Spirits, the waters might have risen to the heavens by now.
Earlier on I discussed Ocean-ruling Spirit either “Ever-Dwelling in Waves” or “Ever Making Waves Dwell.” All of you should decide which interpretation is correct. Since we already discussed this spirit, we don’t need to repeat the explanation. If you remember it, you remember; if you don’t, you don’t. There’s no need to re-lecture it. Just use one of the names. You don’t have to repeat the two meanings I gave before. If there is time left, the translators can use it to translate. If they don’t understand or they forgot because they weren’t paying attention, that’s their problem. I explained to you all very clearly, and yet you still don’t know which meaning is correct.
Which of the meanings is more accurate, more forceful, and more complete? It’s decisions like this that determine whether you have Dharma-selecting Vision or not. You should use whichever interpretation expresses the principle more fully. There might not only be two interpretations, but millions upon millions of them. If you kept on explaining, there would be many, many meanings. And if you were to go into detailed and subtle analysis, then the meanings would be infinite and unending. However, just interpreting in a general way, which of the two meanings should be used? Do you know?
During oceans of eons—inconceivable and vast--
He made offerings to all the Thus Come Ones,
Bequeathing the merit and virtue to all beings everywhere.
Thus, he is upright and adorned beyond compare.
In each and every world-system he appears,
Knowing the disposition and propensities of each and every being.
For their sakes he universally proclaims oceans of great Dharma.
Solid Banner joyfully awakens thus.
Earlier, the prose section described how Ocean-ruling Spirit Manifesting Jeweled Lights received the Buddha’s great, awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Ocean-ruling Spirits, and spoke a four-line stanza. That verse of four lines was a restatement, by the compilers of the Sutra Treasury, of the previous prose, filling in meanings not completely presented there. Hence the verse discusses how during oceans of eons—inconceivable and vast. Ocean-ruling Spirit Manifesting Jeweled Lights speaks this verse, describing how for oceans of more great eons than could be conceptualized by thought or expressed in words—one knows not how many since they are limitless and boundless like the ocean—he, the Buddha, made offerings to all the Thus Come Ones. While at the level of planting causes, the Buddha made offerings to all Buddhas for a very long period of time. Sometimes he used wealth as the offering, sometimes he offered Dharma, and sometimes he made offerings of his body, mind, and life to the Buddhas. He gave his body, mind, and life to the Buddhas, employing that kind of sincerity in his quest for Buddhahood. An example of this can be seen here now at Gold Mountain Monastery. All the left-home people and laypeople take time out from their busy schedules to study and practice the Buddhadharma, apply and maintain it. That too is making offerings to all Thus Come Ones. We too are giving our bodies, minds, lives, wealth and Dharma as offerings to the Triple Jewel.
The Buddha cultivated all types of merit and virtue through making offerings to all Thus Come Ones, bequeathing the merit and virtue to all beings everywhere. He universally dedicated all his merit and virtue to sentient beings. He said, “I now transfer all the merit and virtue which I have to all sentient beings throughout the Dharma Realm. I don’t wish to enjoy the reward of that merit and virtue myself. I only hope all sentient beings will leave suffering and attain bliss. May the merit and virtue that I have cultivated enable their karmic obstructions to be eradicated and their good roots to increase and grow, so they will diligently cultivate the proper path and soon reach Buddhahood.” He made that kind of transference to all sentient beings. Thus, he is upright and adorned beyond compare. Since he dedicated all his merit and virtue to all sentient beings of the Dharma Realm, the Buddha’s body is most upright and adorned, especially subtle and wonderful, far beyond compare. No sentient being in the heavens or on the earth could equal the radiance of the Buddha’s hallmarks and characteristics, the wonder of his adornments, his Thirty-two Hallmarks and Eighty Subtle Characteristics.
In each and every world-system he appears. The Buddha manifests in all worlds, knowing the disposition and propensities of each and every being. The Buddha knows whether or not sentient beings have good roots, and what sentient beings are wishing for. For their sakes he universally proclaims oceans of great Dharma. For all sentient beings everywhere, he propagates the great Dharma, which is like the immense ocean. Solid Banner joyfully awakens thus. Ocean-ruling Spirit Solid Banner delights in, awakens to, and enters this passage to liberation.
Unfathomable, the great rain from the Dharma clouds
Bestowed by multitudes of Guiding Masters in all worlds.
It desiccates the limitless ocean of sufferings:
Free from Defilement enters this Dharma door.
Unfathomable, the great rain from the Dharma clouds, / Bestowed by multitudes of Guiding Masters in all worlds. “ Multitudes of Guiding Masters,” meaning the Buddhas, send out great Dharma clouds everywhere, which pour down great Dharma rain. This kind of state cannot be understood, guessed at, reckoned or known by ordinary beings.
It desiccates the limitless ocean of sufferings. The Dharma clouds’ great rain can eradicate the afflictions of sentient beings--their greed, anger and delusion. It can rid them of inexhaustible and unending amounts of afflictions. The “ocean of sufferings” refers to every type of suffering whatsoever. The sufferings are limitless and boundless, and so constitute an ocean. Free from Defilement enters this Dharma door. Ocean-ruling Spirit Free from Defilement understands this passage into liberation.
Sentient beings are shrouded in afflictions.
They flow and turn in the destinies, undergoing every sort of woe. For them he discloses the realm of the Thus Come Ones.
Palaces in All Waters spirit enters this passage.
Sentient beings are shrouded in afflictions. Basically, all sentient beings possess wisdom and are fundamentally no different from the Buddhas. However, because afflictions obscure their wisdom, that light does not shine forth. Just as when the sun is blocked by clouds, beings are shrouded by afflictions. They flow and turn in the destinies, undergoing every sort of woe. Shrouded by afflictions, they wander in the six paths of rebirth, suddenly in the heavens, suddenly on earth, suddenly among hungry ghosts, and suddenly among animals. They revolve non-stop in all destinies, undergoing myriad sufferings. For them he discloses the realm of the Thus Come Ones. For the sake of sentient beings, the Buddha discloses the state of the Thus Come Ones, hoping beings will attain it, that is, become enlightened and achieve Buddhahood. Palaces in All Waters enters this passage. Ocean-ruling Spirit Palaces in All Waters enters this door. Ocean-ruling Spirit Palaces in All Waters understands this passage into liberation.
Over inconceivable oceans of eons, the Buddha
Cultivated all practices—inexhaustible in number,
Rending forever the net of beings’ delusion.
Jeweled Moon understands and enters thus.
The Buddha sees sentient beings forever fearful and alarmed.
They flow and turn in birth and death’s colossal sea.
For them, he shows the Thus Come One’s unsurpassed Way:
Dragon Cowl understands thus, and rejoices.
Over inconceivable oceans of eons, the Buddha / Cultivated all practices—inexhaustible in number. The Buddha, in the past, cultivated all practices for such a very long time that it is termed “inconceivable oceans of eons.” How long are oceans of eons? The duration of time involved is so lengthy that it is beyond the mind’s ability to imagine. He renounced what was hard to renounce, practiced what was hard to practice, endured the unendurable, and yielded what was hard to yield. In general, the Dharma doors that were hardest to cultivate were the very ones he cultivated. And those hard-to-practice Dharma doors were inexhaustibly many. That resulted in his rending forever the net of beings’ delusion. He slashes through the net of sentient beings’ stupidity--not only once, but conclusively. He breaks that net. Ocean-ruling Spirit Jeweled Moon understands and enters thus, awakening to and entering this state .
Explain the line: The Buddha sees sentient beings forever fearful and alarmed. Who is afraid of whom, and who is not afraid of whom? [Two disciples explain.] Why did I tell the two of you to explain this? That’s because it’s very easy to misinterpret this line. It says: “The Buddha sees sentient beings forever fearful and alarmed,” and one might get the mistaken idea, “Oh, the Buddha is afraid of sentient beings. As soon as he sees them, he’s scared. The Buddha fears sentient beings more than anything.” If you miss the point, you might explain it that way, because on the surface it seems to be saying that when the Buddha sees sentient beings, he is always fearful and alarmed. But that’s not the meaning. It means that the Buddha observes how sentient beings themselves are always becoming fearful and scared. What are they afraid of? They are afraid because the problem of birth and death has not been solved. It’s not [as one disciple had explained] that they’re afraid of how hard it is to cultivate various entrances into the Dharma, because sentient beings don’t yet know what the Dharma is or what the entrances are. They are undergoing repeated deaths and rebirths, and not even trying to get out. It hasn’t yet occurred to them that they should try to get out of the Three Realms.
Therefore, the next line says they flow and turn in birth and death’s colossal sea. What is the most terrifying aspect of this? It’s that within the immense ocean of death and rebirth, they are born and then die, die and then are reborn, over and over again. Human beings live for several decades and then die, just as mayflies are born in the morning and die by the evening. The few decades of our lives seem, to the gods, like the brief life spans of mayflies that are born at daybreak and die at dusk. Fifty years in the human realm are just a day and a night in the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings. Comparatively speaking, isn’t that like being born at dawn and dying by nightfall? From the perspective of the Trayastrimsha Heaven, a hundred years among humans equals one day and one night in that heaven, the “Heaven of the Thirty-three.” The few brief decades of our lives do not even amount to a day and a night in the eyes of those gods. We die before that, like mayflies. The gods look upon people the way people look upon mayflies, as being born in the morning and dying by the evening. We experience the several decades as being a long time, but the mayfly also feels the time it passes through in that one day is quite lengthy, like hundreds of years. Perhaps for it one second is like a year of time for us, and so it lives to be over a hundred “years” of age, or at least many decades.
Consequently, repeatedly dying and being reborn in the great ocean of birth and death is extremely terrifying for sentient beings. On the other hand, you could say the Buddha is afraid for sentient beings, that he constantly stands in for sentient beings and is fearful for their sakes, since they have not ended birth and death. Hence, for them, he shows the Thus Come One’s unsurpassed Way. He points out the unsurpassed Path to Buddhahood.
Venerable Master: It amounts to the same thing. There is not much difference between the two. There’s no need to expend too much effort at this point--you won’t get enlightened from doing so. The spirits’ names are all false. If you try to find out their names, it will be a lot of trouble. Guo Ning can also be called “Heng Ching” and “Steve.” The three are one and the one is three. The Spirit called “Ever-Dwelling in Waves” is later called “Palaces in All Waters,” isn’t that right? He can have a palace in the water. People see it as a wave, but he sees it as a palace. The eyes of ordinary people see things differently from the way spirits view them. For example, this bowing bench contains the Dharma Realms of the ten directions, but we ordinary beings just see it as a bowing bench.
Inconceivable, all Buddhas’ spheres—
At one with space and the entire Dharma Realm,
They cleanse all beings’ nets of delusion:
Maintaining Flavor thus proclaims and tells.
Pure and inconceivable, the Buddha Eye
Apprehends all and everything.
The Buddha shows sentient beings many wondrous paths.
Thus awakens the mind of Floral Light.
Inconceivable, all Buddhas’ spheres…We sentient beings have our states of sentient beings, Buddhas have the states of Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas have Bodhisattva states. The states of sentient beings are conceivable, and the states of Bodhisattvas can also be conceptualized. Only the states of the Buddhas are inconceivable. The mind cannot conceive of them, nor can words express them. They cannot be reached by the thought processes and verbal expressions of ordinary beings.
They are at one with space and the entire Dharma Realm. As to the states of all Buddhas, all Buddhas are just the Dharma Realm, and the Dharma Realm itself is all Buddhas. The Dharma Realm and all Buddhas are both just like space. “At one with” indicates there is no excess and no deficiency, but rather absolute equality.
They cleanse all beings’ nets of delusion. The Buddhas’ states and their spiritual penetrations function wonderfully to purify and regulate sentient beings’ nets of foolish delusions, their lack of clarity and their confusion.
Sentient beings can be compared to flies. A fly zooms around to the north and south, east and west, up and down. It’s ultimate aim is to find something to eat, but often it pursues many futile paths without finding anything edible. It expends considerable energy without necessarily obtaining anything to eat. It keeps on flying because it is deluded. Deeply confused, it flies everywhere. How did it come to be a fly doomed to fly all over the place without any success? The reason is that at the level of planting causes, which means in previous lifetimes, it entertained all kinds of random thoughts—its thoughts flew all over the place. It admired the fly for being free to do whatever it wanted with no one controlling it. As a result of liking the fly, it became a fly. That’s how it entered the net of delusions. Fortunately for it, the Buddha can cleanse its net of delusions, and in the future it still has the opportunity to become a Buddha.
Pure and inconceivable, the Buddha Eye…The Buddha has the Five Eyes and the Six Penetrations. Here the sutra text is discussing the Buddha Eye. The Buddha Eye contemplates everything everywhere. It is pure and inconceivable, and it apprehends all and everything. “All and everything” includes the states of the Buddha as well as the states of sentient beings. The Buddha Eye totally takes them in. Whether the states are those of the Buddha or states of sentient beings, they are all perceived by the Buddha Eye. The Buddha Eye is like a great, bright mirror that encompasses and includes everything. The Buddha discerns everything.
The Buddha shows sentient beings many wondrous paths. The Buddha knows whether the disposition of any given sentient being is predominantly good or evil. The Buddha also knows the propensities of sentient beings. He universally reveals to sentient beings many wondrous paths, which are simply the paths we walk in our daily lives, the ways we use each day.
The paths we take in our ordinary daily activities are very wonderful. Unless you pay attention and investigate them, you will not realize their wondrous aspects. As soon as you are attentive and look into this, you find that everything whatsoever is wonderful. A very obvious example is that of the items we utilize each day. Where do they come from? Their origin is very wonderful. Furthermore, how do they go away? Their disappearance is also quite wonderful.
The states we encounter every day are all wondrous paths. For instance, if we don’t eat, we feel hungry. This is very wonderful. How do we get hungry? After we have eaten, we are satiated, which is also wonderful. Even wearing clothes, drinking tea, imbibing Coca - Cola—which would you say was not wonderful? If these things were not wonderful, why would we want to use them? After we have used them, they don’t remain forever; they are temporal. Would you deny that is wonderful? You may claim that everyone understands this. They may understand, but only superficially. They are unaware of its wondrous aspect. Why do people want to eat good food? This is a wonder. Why do they like to wear nice clothes? This too is a wonder. Why do people wish to live in nice homes? It is also a wonder. It is a wonder in that you don’t quite understand, and it is included in the net of delusion. The wonderful exists within the net of delusion. If you understand, then it is wonderful; if you fail to understand, then it isn’t wonderful.
There is just too much to say about the paths of wonder. For example, Guo Yu and Guo Dao are doing Three Steps One Bow. Wouldn’t you say this, too, is a wonder? In the course of their bowing, sometimes people throw glass bottles at them, which is another wonder. One of them didn’t have trousers to wear, and some trousers appeared. That is also a wonder. If we go into this, there are a great many wonders. Thus awakens the mind of Floral Light. This state is the passage to liberation that Ocean-ruling Spirit Jeweled Blaze of Floral Light understands.
The ten armies of demons were discussed previously. Every army of demons transformed into ten armies of demons to make a hundred armies of demons. The hundred great demon armies changed into a thousand massive armies of demons. The thousand massive armies of demons changed into tens of thousands of extensive armies of demons. The more changes, the more armies; the more that were created, the more that came to be. One knows not how many sons of demons, grandsons of demons, demon kings, and demon masses there were. There were massive, uncountable demon armies. They were countless. It wasn’t just hundreds or thousands or millions or billions. Each army changed into hundreds of thousands of millions of billions. That is because the demons’ spiritual prowess was extraordinarily great. Unfortunately they belong to the forces of evil; it would be fine if they benefited beings, but they are always harming people. That’s why the demon kings are known as murderers.
Although there were so many, still, they were all routed in an instant. The power of the Buddha’s spiritual penetrations could subdue and tame them in an instant, a brief moment of time--so they were all overthrown and dispelled. That does not necessarily mean they were killed or anything like that. It means that they changed their way of thinking and behaving--they reformed in every way. What kind of change did they make? They become Dharma protectors. Thus, that they were routed means they surrendered.
Steadfast, unmoving minds are in a state of unmoving Thusness, lucid and forever clear. They are unshakable and have attained samadhi. Once in samadhi they are difficult to fathom. Steadfast, unmoving minds don’t entertain a single thought. When not a single thought arises, ghosts and spirits cannot perceive anything. Not having a single thought, one resembles a calm, placid sea without waves. When the wind is still, the waves subside. An ocean without waves is difficult to fathom. There’s no way to probe its depths.
Wondrous sounds in ten directions everywhere proclaim, Pervading all throughout the Dharma Realm.
This is the state of the Thus Come One’s samadhi.
Sound of Ocean Tides spirit practices in this realm.
Wondrous sounds in ten directions everywhere proclaim. The Buddha goes throughout the ten directions pronouncing wonderful sounds. You can observe that all the sounds in the world are expressing the Dharma in various ways. All of them are speaking the Dharma right here and now. Sometimes sentient beings speak the Dharma. Sometimes insentient entities speak the Dharma. Sometimes sound is used to express the Dharma; sometimes the expressions of Dharma are soundless. That’s the meaning of “wondrous sounds in ten directions everywhere proclaim.”
These are wonderful sounds pervading all throughout the Dharma Realm. Not only do these wonderful sounds pervade the ten directions, they reach every place in the Dharma Realm. To the ends of space throughout the Dharma Realm, there isn’t any place where the wonderful sounds of the Buddha’s proclamations cannot be heard.
This is the state of the Thus Come One’s samadhi: What gives him that strength? This state is accomplished by means of the Thus Come One’s samadhi power. Sound of Ocean Tides spirit practices in this realm. This passage into liberation and state is the state of the Ocean-ruling Spirit Thunderous Sound of Ocean Tides. She practices this method of samadhi. It’s not for sure that we can hear the wonderful sound of the Buddhadharma, and even if we can, we may not recognize it.
Let me tell you something about the radio. There’s no person in the radio, but the radio can talk, and quite loudly, too. Its voice is very loud if you turn up the volume. That’s not so spectacular, because you can only hear a voice. Take a look at the television--not only does it have sound, there are also little people who appear. If you told people about this phenomena 300 years ago, saying that in the future there would be something called television on which you could clearly see people talking and walking, those people from 300 years in the past would say, “You’ve gone mad! How could such an amazing thing be possible?” Now everyone believes that it’s possible. Now not only adults, but children are into watching television and do not doubt its existence. If you had mentioned television to people who lived 300 or 500 years ago, they would have said, “You’re just talking in your dream.” Wouldn’t that be a case of proclaiming wonderful sounds? Worldly dharmas include world-transcending Dharma; world-transcending Dharma also encompasses worldly dharmas.
Moreover, because the meanings of the sutra were not completely expounded above, the exposition shall continue. River-ruling Spirit Universally Initiating Swift Currents gained a passage into liberation of universally raining boundless Dharma rain. “Swift currents” refers rapidly flowing water. She obtained the Buddha’s Dharma rain, which is said to be boundless because there are no bounds above, below, in the north, south, east, or west. Nor are there any bounds in front--that is, in the past. Although this Dharma rain is coming down now, those in the past and future also obtain it. Since it is boundless in the three periods of time, and boundless in the ten directions, the text says “universally raining boundless Dharma rain.” She attained that kind of passage to liberation.
The next River-ruling Spirit is named Universally Cleansing Springs and Torrents. Springs and mountain torrents can be rather turbid and unclean. This River-ruling Spirit purifies the spring waters, which is a metaphor for getting rid of all sentient beings’ afflictions. Water that is unclean represents sentient beings with afflictions. Clean water symbolizes sentient beings who have left afflictions behind. This River-ruling Spirit cleanses springs and torrents, which metaphorically means she cleanses sentient beings of their afflictions. And so she says she gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting before all sentient beings and freeing them from their afflictions forever. She helps every sentient being to leave afflictions, separating from greed, hatred, and delusion. Once greed, hatred, and delusion are left behind, one is eternally free of afflictions. One attains an inherent, essential purity and gives rise to a great wisdom. She gained that passage into liberation.
The next River-ruling Spirit is named Pure Eyes Apart from Dust. “Apart from dust” means one has left behind all mundane defilements and false thinking. It could also be explained as leaving all defiled thoughts. If one has not left defiled thoughts, one is not apart from dust. Even if one has separated from the external dust, if one has not left defiled thinking internally, then one is not apart from the dust. Defiled thoughts are impure thoughts. With impure thoughts, we cannot obtain pure eyes. If our mind is pure, our eyes will be pure. If our mind is not purified of defiled thoughts, we cannot obtain pure eyes. These pure eyes are the pure Five Eyes. Only when one has purified the Five Eyes can one obtain the Five Powers.
What are the pure Five Eyes? They are the Buddha Eye, the Dharma Eye, the Wisdom Eye, the Heavenly Eye, and the Flesh Eye. Purifying the Five Eyes just means opening them. If you can let go of defiled thoughts, then you can open the Five Eyes.
If we went into detail, we could discuss the Five Eyes endlessly. For now I will give a general overview.
“The Flesh Eye perceives obstructions and does not penetrate.” The Flesh Eye can see objects that have material solidity. It can see both material and immaterial things. Whether objects are obstructive (solid) or not, it can see them. The Flesh Eye does not refer to the physical, flesh eyes of ordinary people. This eye can see things with shape and form, as well as things without shape and form. It can perceive both material and immaterial entities, so it is not the same as the eyes of ordinary people.
The physical eyes of ordinary people can only see material things that have color and form. Those eyes do not discern formless things. The Flesh Eye, on the other hand, can see things whether or not they have form and color. What kinds of things are formless? Ghosts are, for example, so most people cannot see them with their ordinary eyes. If you open the Flesh Eye, then you will be able to see them. You will be able to see people as well as ghosts and spirits.
“The Wisdom Eye understands True Emptiness.” The Wisdom Eye comprehends the principle of True Emptiness. It understands that True Emptiness is not empty, yet is empty; is empty and yet is not empty. The Wisdom Eye has a very clear grasp of this doctrine.
Upon opening the Five Eyes, one obtains five kinds of powers, namely, the power of faith, the power of vigor, the power of mindfulness, the power of samadhi, and the power of wisdom. With the Five Powers of faith, vigor, mindfulness, samadhi, and wisdom, one’s bodhi roots will grow and increase. The River-ruling Spirit named Pure Eyes Apart from Dust gained a passage into liberation of using expedients of great compassion to universally cleanse the filth of all sentient beings’ delusions. With her mind of great compassion, she employs various kinds of expedient methods, not just one kind. She universally cleanses all sentient beings throughout the ten directions. What does she cleanse them of? She rids them of all delusions, of that dust and filth. She washes away the filth of confusion, enabling sentient beings to obtain pure eyes apart from dust. That is her passage into liberation.
The next River-ruling Spirit is named Howling All Throughout the Ten Directions . This spirit, who is in charge of rivers and streams, has a particularly loud sound. Her howl can be heard everywhere simultaneously throughout the ten directions, hence her name, “Howling All Throughout in the Ten Directions.”
She gained a passage into liberation of constantly emitting sounds that benefit beings. Her howl is not a useless howl. Her howl is useful. What use does it serve? It constantly emits sounds that benefit beings. When a being hears the sound of her howl, that being obtains benefit. What benefit? When those who are greedy hear this sound, their greed decreases a little. When those who are angry hear this sound, their anger decreases a little. When those who are foolish hear this sound, their foolishness decreases a little. By continually hearing this sound, one’s greed, anger, and foolishness will imperceptibly disappear. That’s how these sounds aid beings. They bring tremendous benefit to beings. She attained this passage into liberation.
River-ruling Spirit Universally Rescuing and Protecting Sentient Beings has even greater spiritual penetrations. She can universally rescue all beings. For instance if sentient beings were about to drown in the river, she could rescue them from drowning. She rescues and protects all beings without discrimination, hence her name.
Her attainment involves any sentient being, including those born from wombs, born from eggs, born from moisture, and born by transformation. Sentient beings are those with sentience and awareness. Any creature with blood and breath is a sentient being. Some have breath but no blood; some have blood but no breath. Some have neither blood nor breath. These are also included under the term “sentient beings.”
She gained a passage into liberation of constantly giving rise to kindness and never vexing or harming any sentient being. Sentient beings of the Dharma Realm constantly give rise to kindness and compassion and refrain from vexing and harming sentient beings. This is the state, the passage into liberation, that this River-ruling Spirit attained.
Answer: He said he studied it before.
Answer:...He never knew that there were five.
Answer: He only heard it now, because in the Yoga School they say there is one...
Answer: He’s asking about the sixth chakra.
Answer: If this verse is talking about the Buddha Eye, why do they...?
Answer: About ten minutes ago.
Answer: They don’t understand...
Venerable Master: If people have any views, bring them up and we can all discuss them. We were talking about yoga, but then you brought up philosophy. After a while you raised the topic of science. There’s no end to this.
Answer: He came once. We asked him to come.
Do not cultivate for the sake of fame; do not cultivate in pursuit of profit. Do not base your cultivation on greed, anger, or delusion. Then you can cultivate that Dharma door. But if you get hung up on fame, profit, greed, anger, or delusion, then it will be impossible to cultivate that Dharma door.
Are there any other questions? Who else has a question? What are you doing that for - raising both your left hand and your right hand? You are too slippery. Even your hands have “slipped” up.
The next River-ruling Spirit is named Clear Light Devoid of Heat. Devoid of heat means devoid of afflictions. Heat is affliction. If there is no heat, one attains cool clarity. Since one has attained cool clarity, one gains “Clear Light”—a clear, pure brilliance.
She gained a passage into liberation of universally displaying all good roots that are clear and cool. All the clarity and coolness dispelled all the afflictions, so she attained the good roots of clear and cool wisdom. Such clear, cool, good roots are just the good roots of prajna, the good roots of bodhi, and the root of faith. She gave rise to the power of the root of faith. This kind of faith is extremely solid, without any wavering between doubt and belief. She also has the root of mindfulness. Mindfulness of what? Mindfulness of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. She also has the root of vigor, the good roots of vigor, which includes both physical and mental vigor. Aside from the good roots of vigor and mindfulness, she also has the good roots of samadhi. Samadhi is the state of remaining unmoved by any state. As it is said, “Unmoved by the Eight Winds, one sits upright on a purple-golden lotus.” One is thus and unmoving, with clear and constant understanding. What are the Eight Winds? There is praise, a favorable wind, and ridicule, an adverse wind. It’s easy to feel happy when there’s a favorable wind, and easy to get angry when an adverse wind comes.
There’s also the wind of suffering, which is extremely hard to bear; and the wind of happiness, which makes you joyful. Suffering is an adverse wind; happiness is a favorable wind. Suffering can also be compared to the north wind, which is very chilly, and happiness to the south wind, which is warm and gentle. There is also the wind of benefit, which is beneficial to you, and that of decline, which is harmful to you. There is the wind of gain, and the wind of loss. Praise, ridicule, suffering, happiness, benefit, decline, gain, and loss--these are all “winds.” However, these Eight Winds cannot blow and move the root of samadhi, so the good roots of samadhi are solid.
Then there is the root of wisdom. If you wish to have the good roots of wisdom, you must cultivate the Dharma doors of wisdom; you have to open the Dharma doors of wisdom. All you have to do is devote more time to studying the sutras and cultivating prajna, and you will be replete with the faith, vigor, mindfulness, samadhi, and wisdom--these five kinds of good roots. You will attain these clear, cool good roots, and gain this passage into liberation.
River-ruling Spirit Universally Inspiring Joy gained a passage into liberation of perfecting the practice of giving, freeing all beings from stinginess and attachment forever. River-ruling Spirit Supreme Banner of Vast Virtue gained a passage into liberation of being a field of blessed happiness for all.
River-ruling Spirit Universally Inspiring Joy makes all sentient beings everywhere happy. Once they are happy, they are free from stinginess and attachment. Stingy and attached beings cannot be happy. Those who have no stingy or attached thoughts are always happy. Hence this River-ruling Spirit has the name Universally Inspiring Joy.” What state of the Buddha did she attain? She gained a passage into liberation of perfecting the practice of giving. She attained the Dharma door of giving. The Dharma of giving includes giving wealth, giving Dharma, and giving fearlessness. Wealth can be divided into inner wealth and outer wealth. Outer wealth: One can give away one’s country, city, spouse, and children. Inner wealth: One can renounce one’s body, mind, and life. Giving Dharma includes the giving of conditioned dharmas and unconditioned Dharma. Conditioned dharmas have form and appearance. The unconditioned Dharma is unconditioned, yet there is nothing not conditioned by it. The giving of fearlessness involves comforting and allaying the fears of someone who is in a frightening situation. In giving fearlessness, you eliminate the fear in the person’s heart as well as any sources of fear in the environment.
Sometimes when people are frightened, they may panic and not know what to do. At that time, you can console them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. It’s not serious. There’s no real danger.” That’s giving of fearlessness. Suppose someone comes down with an illness and another person doesn’t know what the illness is and says, “This is serious. You’re probably going to die from this illness. It’s worse than cancer.” Hearing that, the sick person doesn’t have to wait for the illness to kill him; he will be scared to death. A person who understands the Buddhadharma would say to him, “Don’t be scared. Your illness isn’t a major one. You might have to suffer a little bit, but you’ll soon get well. Just see the doctor and take some medicine.” Such words relieve the person’s fears. That’s what the giving of fearlessness is all about. One cultivates giving to perfection, freeing all sentient beings from stinginess and attachment forever. Once stinginess and attachment are left behind, one is happy. That’s “Universally Inspiring Joy.”
Thenext River-ruling Spirit, who isnamed Supreme Banner of Vast Virtue, has extensively practiced virtuous deeds. Her merit and virtue resemble an exquisitely adorned, precious banner. She gained a passage into liberation of being a field of blessed happiness for all. She attained the Buddha’s ability to be a field of blessings of happiness for sentient beings, so that sentient beings can plant blessings and plant wholesome roots of bodhi. This River-ruling Spirit gained this passage into liberation.
River-ruling Spirit Light Illuminating All Worlds gained a passage into liberation of making all defiled beings pure and wrathful beings happy. River-ruling Spirit Radiant Ocean of Virtues gained a passage into liberation of enabling all sentient beings to enter the ocean of liberation and constantly experience total happiness.
At that time River-ruling Spirit Universally Initiating Swift Currents received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of River-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.
The next River-ruling Spirit is named Light Illuminating all Worlds. She gained a passage into liberation of making all defiled beings pure. “Defiled” means impure, having both wholesome and evil, good and bad. It means one has both proper thoughts and improper thoughts. The good and the bad are mixed together. Within the good, there is a bit of evil. Within the evil, there is also some good. Those who are defiled are purified of their defilement, and wrathful beings happy. Wrath refers to the fire of ignorance and to anger, which is like a venomous snake. People who are prone to anger are seldom happy. This River-ruling Spirit makes people with big tempers become happy. She attained that kind of passage into liberation.
River-ruling Spirit Radiant Ocean of Virtues gained a passage into liberation of enabling all sentient beings to enter the great ocean of liberation and constantly experience total happiness. The passages into liberation are so numerous that they are like an ocean. Total happiness is a full, perfect, and supreme happiness; a joy beyond compare. She attained that kind of passage to liberation.
At that time the first River-ruling Spirit, named Universally Initiating Swift Currents, received the Buddha’s awesome spiritua lpower, universally contemplated the multitudes of River-ruling Spirits, observing their potentials and causal conditions, and spoke the following verse to elaborate upon the previous lines of prose.
Long ago, the Thus Come One, for the sake of sentient beings,
Cultivated boundless practices within the Dharma sea.
Just as a torrential rain cools the summer heat,
He pervasively quells the heat of sentient beings’ afflictions.
The Buddha, throughout inexpressibly limitless eons in the past,
By the light of his vows purified the world,
Causing those grown ripe in disposition to awaken to the Way:
The Spirit Universally Cleansing awakened to this.
Long ago, the Thus Come One, for the sake of sentient beings. When the Buddha cultivated for limitless eons in the past, it was not for himself, but for sentient beings. The Buddha saw sentient beings suffering, not knowing how to leave suffering and find happiness. He thereupon vowed to cultivate, and vowed that when he became enlightened and realized Buddhahood, he would rescue all sentient beings.
He cultivated boundless practices within the Dharma sea. The practices cultivated by the Buddha were limitless and boundless, like a great ocean. Primarily, the Buddha cultivated selflessness, giving, holding precepts, patience, vigor, dhyana samadhi, and wisdom. He cultivated the Six Perfections and the myriad practices. Among the Six Perfections, giving refers to giving to others, not demanding that others give to you. Holding precepts: you yourself must honestly hold them, not just tell others to do so without doing so yourself. Patience: When you have samadhi, then you will not be moved by the Eight Winds discussed earlier, and that means you have patience.
Patience is being able to bear what others cannot bear. You have to bear what ordinary, worldly people cannot bear. You also have bear what people who cultivate transcendental Dharma cannot bear. Patience is a kind of test. If you have skill, you pass. Otherwise, you fail. The practices cultivated by the Buddha were like this. He was able to bear what ordinary people could not. He could endure what most people found unendurable. Why? He first cultivated selflessness. Without a self, who is being patient? Who is doing the enduring? There is neither a person who endures, nor anything that is endured–no receiver and nothing received. While the Buddha was cultivating boundless practices in the sea of Dharma, it’s not known how much abuse he took. People beat him and scolded him, but he remained unmoved; his mind didn’t react. Cultivating boundless practices, he attained the wonderful functioning of boundless spiritual powers with which to teach sentient beings. There is an analogy for this.
Just as a torrential rain, a huge downpour that nothing can stop, cools the summer heat . The Book of Mencius has these lines: “Ominous dark clouds suddenly appeared in the sky, and the rain fell in torrents.” This was a timely rain. The rain came at just the right time, exactly when it was needed. It was neither too much nor too little, but just the right amount. “The crops suddenly sprang up.” This analogy compares the Buddha’s teaching of sentient beings to the torrential rain that cools the summer heat. In the extremely hot summer weather, a rain brings refreshing coolness that dispels the summer heat.
He pervasively quells the heat of sentient beings’ afflictions. The Buddha uses the cool and refreshing Buddhadharma to completely dispel the heat of sentient beings’ afflictions. Once the heat of afflictions is gone, beings are cooled off.
The Buddha, throughout inexpressibly limitless eons in the past, /By the light of his great wisdom and great vows, taught those in the world and purified the world. He helped all sentient beings to depart from suffering and find happiness, causing those grown ripe in disposition to awaken to the Way. Sentient beings whose good roots had matured, he caused to awaken to the Way. The SpiritUniversally Cleansing awakened to this. The Spirit named Universally Cleansing Springs and Torrents understood this passage into liberation.
Bestowing great compassion and expedients for all beings equally,
He manifests before them--a constant guide--
Making possible the purge of foul afflictions.
With profound delight Pure Eyes observes this.
The Buddha utters wondrous sounds for all to hear.
Delighted, sentient beings’ hearts fill with joy.
Unbounded woe is completely washed away.
Howling Everywhere spirit is liberated thus.
Bestowing great compassion and expedients for all beings equally, the Buddha rescues all sentient beings with a heart full of kindness. That heart of great compassion eradicates sentient beings’ sufferings and bestows happiness upon them. He employs skill-in-means, clever expedient dharmas, to make it easy for sentient beings to accept the teachings. These are temporary methods applied in a dynamic, expedient way. They are not rigid dharmas. How much great compassion and how many expedient means are there? They are as many as the number of sentient beings. They are equal to the amount of sentient beings.
He manifests before them—a constant guide. The Buddha constantly appears before sentient beings and uses various methods to teach them, guiding them to reform, to change their faults and renew themselves. He always teaches them, making possible the purge of foul afflictions. He leads sentient beings to get rid of all their faults, return to the source, and do away with afflictions. Afflictions are defilements that should be cleaned up and discarded. With profound delight and joy in her heartRiver-ruling Spirit Pure Eyes observes this kind of state.
The Buddha utters wondrous sounds --pure Dharma sounds, the inconceivably subtle, wonderful soundof Dharma—for all sentient beings everywhere to hear. Delighted, sentient beings’ hearts fill with joy. Beings take delight in and love the Buddha’s wonderful sound, and as soon as they hear it, unbounded eons’ worth of woe is completely washed away. Once the roots of suffering are washed away, their good roots come forth. Howling Everywhere spirit is liberated thus.
Long ago, the Buddha did cultivate for bodhi,
Wishing to benefit beings through limitless eons.
Hence, his brilliant light pervades the world.
Protecting spirit thus recollects with happiness and joy.
Long ago, when the Buddha Shakyamuni was cultivating at the level of planting causes, he did cultivate for bodhi. He cultivated the practices for enlightening both self and others, and for the sake of benefiting all sentient beings through limitless eons. He cultivated for such a long time, hence his brilliant light pervades the ten directions of the sentient world. River-ruling SpiritRescuing and Protecting Sentient Beings thus recollects this state with immeasurable happiness and joy. She attained that passage into liberation.
In ages past, the Buddha did cultivate for sentient beings,
Applying various expedients to bring them to maturity.
Everywhere, he purified a sea of blessings, casting out sufferings.
Devoid of Heat sees this, her heart rejoicing.
Vast and inexhaustible is the gate of giving.
It can bring benefit to all sentient beings.
Those who perceive that are freed from stinginess and attachment.
Universal Joy spirit awakens thus.
In ages past, the Buddha did cultivate for the sake of sentient beings, not for himself. The Buddha regarded all sentient beings as being the same as himself. Before sentient beings’ sufferings were eradicated, the Buddha felt as if his own suffering had not come to an end. He made vows to eradicate the suffering and afflictions of sentient beings, and then he cultivated, applying various expedients to bring them to maturity. The Buddha employed all manner of expedient Dharma doors–ingenious methods. To help sentient beings who had not planted good roots, he devised ways to get them to plant good roots. For those who had already planted good roots, he helped them to increase them. For those who had increased their good roots, the Buddha helped them bring their good roots to maturity. For sentient beings whose good roots were already mature, he enabled them to gain liberation. So, the Buddha used “various expedients to bring them to maturity,” to bring them to Buddhahood. Everywhere he purified a sea of blessings, enabling sentient beings to attain a pure field of blessings and to realize the supreme Way, casting out sufferings. Devoid of Heat sees this, her heart rejoicing. “Devoid of Heat” means free of afflictions. This River-ruling Spirit has encountered this state, understands it, and is extremely happy.
Vast and inexhaustible is the gate of giving. This River-ruling Spirit saw the Buddha cultivating the vast, great, infinite gate of giving. One can never finish discussing the Dharma door of giving, which includes the giving of wealth, Dharma, and fearlessness – all kinds of giving.
All these endless varieties of giving can bringbenefit to all sentient beings. All sentient beings, no matter what kind, derive benefit. Those who perceive that are freed from stinginess and attachment. The Buddha’s awesome spiritual might, his great power of wisdom, and his brilliant light can shine through and dispel all darkness. The Buddha enables beings who see his light, hear his Dharma, and listen to his voice, to let go off stinginess and attachment. Stinginess is a form of greed; it is the inability to renounce things. Cultivators should benefit others, not themselves. One should do what one can to help others. One should also try to do things beyond one’s capability to help others. That’s to be without stinginess and attachment.
Those who are stingy and greedy cannot give things up. However, we must give before we can get something back. If we cannot renounce things, we cannot obtain anything. We will not have virtuous conduct. When we benefit others, we have virtuous conduct. When we help ourselves, we are not engaging in virtuous conduct. Therefore, we who cultivate the Way should renounce all external possessions. We should also give away our internal wealth – out body, mind, and life. If we can give away your own body, mind, and life, how can we still be stingy and attached?
Universal Joy spirit awakens thus. Don’t think that this principle is easy to understand. It’s not easy at all. Why not? The text says that this is the state that the Spirit named Universal Joy was able to awaken to and understand. That’s why I said it’s not easy.
“Awakens” means she has just understood it now, and she didn’t understand it before. Having understood it, she speaks a verse in praise of the Buddha. The Spirit Universal Joy is a spirit, and yet even she did not understand until now. That is why I say it is not easy to understand. Before you heard the explanation of the Flower Adornment Sutra, you did not understand either. Now that you’ve heard the sutra, you understand a little, but not completely. That’s why I said it isn’t easy to understand. There aren’t any deep or esoteric principles involved; my meaning was just that the Buddhadharma is difficult to get to hear and to understand quickly.
The wise understand matters of wisdom. The humane perceive things in terms of humaneness. For example, when a wise person sees someone suffering, he wonders, “Why is he in such great misery? Oh, it’s because he didn’t cultivate in past lives. He only hurt people and never tried to help them.” He can see the previous causes that led to the present results. If a humane person who lacks wisdom sees a poor person, he may think, “I ought to give him ten dollars, so he can have a few meals.” The wise person understands that those in misery are that way because they didn’t do good deeds in their past lives. The purely humane person only commiserates with those in suffering and wants to help them right away. He may not understand that their suffering results from their past offenses.
In the past, the Buddha cultivated expedients for the sake of truth,
Accomplishing boundless oceans of merit and virtue.
Of those who see him, none are not elated.
Supreme Banner spirit’s heart awakens and rejoices thus.
In the past, the Buddha cultivated various Dharma doors of expedientsfor the sake of truth. He “bestowed the provisional for the sake of the true.” For the sake of the True Teaching, he cultivated expedient Dharmas, accomplishing boundless oceans of merit and virtue. The Buddha benefited and gave to sentient beings, creating all manner of meritorious virtue. As long as a deed was beneficial to sentient beings, he would to it. He wasn’t concerned with helping himself; he only wanted to help others. Thus he accomplished boundless oceans of merit and virtue.
Of those who see him, none are not elated. The Buddha made every sentient being who saw him feel happy. Supreme Banner spirit’s heart awakens and rejoices thus. River-ruling Spirit Supreme Banner understood this state and this passage into liberation.
Entirely purifying sentient beings’ defilements,
The Buddha transforms all malice into kindness.
Thus, his light radiates throughout space.
River-ruling Spirit All Worlds thus sees with gladness.
The Buddha is a field of blessings—an ocean of merit and virtue,
Leading all to part with evil,
Leading all to great enlightenment.
Radiant Ocean spirit is liberated thus.
Entirely purifying sentient beings’ defilements . Sentient beings have defiled thoughts, but the Buddha turns them into pure thoughts. The Buddha transforms all malice into kindness. The Buddha transforms all hateful thoughts into compassionate thoughts.
Thus, his light radiates throughout space. Having perfected the practice of causing all defiled beings to become pure and all angry beings to become happy, the Buddha has great wisdom light that pervades the Dharma Realm to the ends of space. River-ruling Spirit All Worlds thus sees with gladness. Having understood this state, she is extremely happy.
The Buddha is a field of blessings, a field where beings can plant blessings, and an ocean of merit and virtue for sentient beings, leading all to part with evil, so that they do no evil and practice all good. As you can see, the Buddha transmitted the precepts to sentient beings, helping them to refrain from evil and avoid making mistakes, to “do no evil and practice all good.” If they do no evil, they part with evil. Not only does the Buddha lead sentient beings away from evil – a relatively minor achievement – he is leading all to great enlightenment, to the realization of Buddhahood. Radiant Ocean spirit is liberated thus. River-ruling Spirit Ocean Light understands this passage into liberation.
After the ten River-ruling Spirits had each used verses to praise the Buddha, ten Crop-ruling Spirits in the Flower Adornment Assembly continued to use prose to explain the inconceivability of the realm of Flower Adornment, which is beyond the understanding of common beings and those of the Two Vehicles. Moreover indicates that there is a continuation of the explanation of the sutra’s principles. Crop-ruling Spirit Tender and Delectable gained a passage into liberation of giving all sentient beings the taste of Dharma so that they may accomplish the Buddha body. In ancient China, Emperor Shen Nong taught the people to farm. He taught them how to till the fields and irrigate and tend them so that the shoots would thrive and grow day by day. The seeds are first planted in the ground. Then sprouts come up, grow, and mature. In the same way, when beings mature, they can attain liberation.
This Crop-ruling Spirit was called “Tender and Delectable.” Tenderness is an expedient Dharma that makes sentient beings very comfortable. Delectable refers to a good flavor. The five flavors are sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, and salty. Each person has his or her individual taste. Some people like to eat sour things; others prefer sweet food. Some are fond of bitter-tasting things. Some like to eat hot and spicy food. Others enjoy salty food. Sentient beings have different dispositions and individual preferences. However, we are talking about ordinary flavors. Here the sutra is talking about a most delectable flavor, which is the most expedient of expedient means; the most ultimate of ultimate truths. Delectable flavor transcends the five flavors of sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, and salty. It’s even more aromatic and delicious–more sour, more sweet, more bitter, more spicy, or more salty. It’s a special kind of flavor, but don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean a foul flavor. It is a good flavor.
We can also explain it this way. People in the world all have their preferences. Some are attracted to Catholicism and feel that it is the highest religion. Some prefer Protestantism and consider it to be the best. Others like Confucianism and think that its principles of humanness, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trustworthiness are not bad. “Universal love is known as humaneness. Practicing in accord with it is called righteousness. These are superb principles,” they think. Others relish Taoism and enjoy wearing a Taoist cap and letting their hair grow so that you can’t tell them apart from women, except for the fact that they have beards. Still others are attracted to Buddhism. They think, “Buddhism is pretty nice. It has a sweet, delectable flavor.” You haven’t had a full taste yet. A full taste would surpass even the most delectable flavor, so the text says, “the taste of Dharma.”
Each one of us is like a farmer. We should each till our own field and eat our own food, being self-reliant and strengthening ourselves continuously. How do we plant our own field? When we plant a bodhi seed in the Buddha’s field of blessings, a bodhi sprout comes forth. The bodhi sprout grows day by day until it becomes a Bodhi tree. The Bodhi tree bears bodhi fruit. Once you reap that bodhi fruit, you have attained liberation. That’s why it’s said, “Enable those who haven’t planted good roots to plant them; enable those who have already planted them to make them grow; enable those whose good roots have grown to bring them to maturity; and enable those whose good roots have matured to attain liberation.” Crop-ruling Spirits are involved in that kind of work.
If you plant a bodhi seed, in the future you will reap a bodhi fruit. The text says, “giving all sentient beings the taste of Dharma” whoever cultivates can get a taste. But those who don’t cannot. The attainment depends upon whether or not you cultivate. If you rely on the Dharma in your cultivation, you will obtain the flavor of Dharma. “So they may accomplish the Buddha body.” Having obtained the flavor of the 84,000 Dharma doors, you nurture the field of your Dharma nature and realize the Buddha body; that is, you become a Buddha.
The next Crop-ruling Spirit is named Pure Light of Seasonal Blooms. Seasonal Blooms means this Crop-ruling Spirit has big, wonderful lotus flowers that bloom all the time and shine their pure light upon all sentient beings throughout the ten directions of the Dharma Realm, bestowing joy and happiness upon them. That’s why the text says she gained a passage into liberation of bringing tremendous joy and happiness to all sentient beings. All sentient beings includes you, me, and everyone else. This Crop-ruling Spirit brings tremendous joy and delight to all of us, ensuring that we will one day obtain this Dharma door as well. As long as we vigorously cultivate in accord with the Dharma and don’t retreat, we will eventually attain this Dharma door.
The next Crop-ruling Spirit is named Robust Strength. Strength refers to the body. Robust means vigorous and healthy. This Crop-ruling Spirit is a hard worker skilled at teaching sentient beings. She works hard day and night, constantly vigorous in the six periods of the day and night. She is stalwart and valiant and will undergo any amount of toil and suffering in order to teach and transform beings. Thus she gained a passage into liberation of using all perfect Dharma doors to purify all realms of existence. She uses perfect Dharma doors to teach and transform sentient beings, leading them back to the source of the mind to regain their fundamental purity. “Realms” refers to realms of sentient beings. She can lead all beings away from confusion and back to enlightenment, so that they renounce what is wrong and return to what is right, practice the Bodhisattva path and realize Buddhahood. She attained that passage into liberation.
The Realm of the Flower Adornment is inconceivable. Not only can those with common understanding never finish explaining it, even Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land of Eternal Stillness and Light could never finish explaining the principles of the Flower Adornment though they might speak all the time. Now we are just “bringing up one and leaving out ten thousand,” giving a very general explanation. Good advisors, if you have any questions or doubts, you may raise them. We can look into the principles together with straightforward minds. This is where the greatness of Buddhism lies. If there are questions, we investigate them. This differs from other religions where followers may listen but not question; that is superstition.
On the 9th of this month, we will have a Buddha Recitation Session. Each day from the beginning to the end, we will recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha” without stop. After we finish reciting and the session is over, we will ask, “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” during two weeks of Chan meditation. All day long, we will meditate continuously. Anyone who would like to participate is welcome. Today the Dharma protectors, the good and wise advisors, from the Zen Center have come to participate in this Sutra Lecture Dharma Assembly, and we are delighted and extend a warm welcome to them.
Are there any questions? How can one understand without participating? To understand, one must participate.
Crop-ruling Spirit Increasing Essence and Energy gained a passage into liberation of seeing the Buddha’s great compassion and his boundless power of spiritual penetrations and transformations. Crop-ruling Spirit Universally Producing Roots and Fruits gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting the Buddhas’ fields of blessings and enabling beings to plant indestructible seeds.
Thenext Crop-ruling Spirit is named Increasing Essence and Energy. Increasing means adding more. More of what? Essence and energy. Crop-ruling Spirits watch over the growing and harvesting of the various grains and crops, and so they are able to increase people’s essence and energy, as well as their spirit. When essence and energy increase, their vital spirit increases as well, and their bodies become healthy and free from illness. With a healthy body, one can cultivate. If one suffers from poor health and illness, it is not easy to apply effort in cultivation.
Now, we could also say that this Crop-ruling Spirit named Increasing Essence and Energy helps us to augment the wisdom life of our Dharma body as well as our bodhi resolve. She helps all beings increase their resolves for bodhi. She causes people to increase in good Dharma and wipe out all evil dharmas. Good Dharma refers to the bodhi resolve. Evil dharmas refers to thoughts that breed greed and hatred. Wishing to help sentient beings, this Crop-ruling Spirit plants fields of merit and virtue, and harvests the fruits of merit and virtue. What state of the Buddha has she understood? She gained a passage into liberation of seeing the Buddha’s great compassion and his boundless power of spiritual penetrations and transformations. She saw how Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated great compassion in previous lives, thereby obtaining limitless, measureless powers of spiritual penetrations and transformations beyond conception. If we cultivate in accord with the Dharma, vigorously cultivating great compassion, we can also obtain infinite powers of spiritual penetrations and transformations.
Transformations are not static. There are no static dharmas. Ordinary transformations require movement and cannot happen in stillness. Within the Buddha’s state, transformations can also occur in stillness. The Buddha’s spiritual penetrations and transformations can function in both movement and stillness. Thus the Buddha can speak Dharma in response to people’s potentials and teach and transform all beings. That’s the passage into liberation that the Crop-ruling Spirit Increasing Essence and Energy entered after she understood a little bit of the Buddhadharma.
Those of old had a saying, “With movement, there is change. With change, there is transformation. Only one of utmost sincerity in the world can bring about transformation.” So I said that movement brings about change and transformation. Americans are generally familiar with the Book of Changes (Yijing). This book explains the principles of transformations in movement and stillness.
The qian hexagram has three unbroken lines. When the first line moves, it becomes the dui hexagram, which is empty on top. If the first line remains the same and the second line moves, it becomes the li hexagram, which is empty in the middle. If the first and second lines remain the same and the third line moves, it becomes the xun hexagram, which is broken on the bottom. Those of you who have studied the Book of Change s will understand these principles. The transformations brought about through spiritual penetrations are generally the same way, so you might as well cultivate until you attain spiritual penetrations. Then you can try it out! When you have spiritual penetrations, you will understand transformations. Those with utmost sincerity can know things in advance. But if you have foreknowledge, you shouldn’t want to know too much, because knowing too much can be a lot of trouble. Do you understand? This is also movement; it’s also idle thinking.
Crop-ruling Spirit Universally Producing Roots and Fruits not only moves, but produces. What does she produce? She produces roots and fruits. What kind of roots? The roots of fruits. What kind of fruits? The fruits of roots. If there are roots, then there can be fruits. For there to be fruits, there must be roots. What roots are these? bodhi roots. What fruits are these? Bodhi fruits. “How do you know they are bodhi roots and bodhi fruits?” you may ask.
Anybody who doesn’t know that must be totally ignorant! Why? The text that follows very clearly says that she “universally manifests the Buddhas’ fields of blessings.” What is planted in the Buddhas’ fields of blessings is none other than bodhi roots and bodhi fruits. This Crop-ruling Spirit helps people produce bodhi roots and bear bodhi fruits. That’s how she gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting the Buddhas’ fields of blessings. And as if that weren’t enough, her passage into liberation is also that of enabling beings to plant indestructible seeds. If you have never heard the Flower Adornment Sutra, then there’s nothing to talk about. When you hear the Flower Adornment Sutra,
Once it goes in your ears, it becomes a seed for the Way.
That’s what’s meant by “enabling beings to plant indestructible seeds.” These seeds will not get spoiled or fail to sprout. No matter when you plant them, they will definitely grow bodhi roots and bear bodhi fruits. The bodhi seeds are indestructible.
This is like when someone ingests vajra, even though it passes through his stomach, it remains unharmed. No matter how strong our digestive system is, it can’t digest vajra. The roots and fruits of bodhi are like vajra. Once they enter our ears, they become seeds for the Way. Having heard this passage of the sutra, it’s certain that we will eventually bring forth the bodhi resolve. Those of you who have resolved to leave the home life have done so because your good roots have matured. Since everyone has different causes and conditions from past lives, sometimes when people make a resolve, they run into a lot of obstacles. However, the seeds that this Crop-ruling Spirit helps beings plant cannot be lost or ruined. Once they are planted, they are bound to grow roots and leaves, and bear fruit. So don’t worry. Sooner or later, you shall realize Buddhahood.
Crop-ruling Spirit Wonderfully Adorned Circular Cowl gained a passage into liberation of universally causing flowers of pure faith to blossom in sentient beings. Crop-ruling Spirit Moistening Pure Flowers gained a passage into liberation of rescuing all beings out of great compassionate mercy, increasing their ocean of blessings and virtue. Crop-ruling Spirit Accomplishing Wonderful Fragrance gained a passage into liberation of extensively explaining all methods of practice.
Crop-ruling Spirit Wonderfully Adorned Circular Cowl is adorned with merit and virtue. What merit and virtue? Subtle, wonderful, inconceivable merit and virtue. The circle represents infinity. The cowl symbolizes the appearance of adornment with merit and virtue. That’s a rather shallow explanation. If we were to go into detail, we could discuss this for endless eons without finishing. This Crop-ruling Spirit understood a little bit of the Buddha’s state and gained a passage into liberation of universally causing flowers of pure faith to blossom in sentient beings. “Universally” means that these flowers of pure faith bloom in all beings. Their blossoming means that previously they did not exist, but now they do. Sentient beings formerly had a lot of defilement, confused thinking, and selfish desires, and it was impossible for their flowers of pure faith to bloom. But now they have bloomed. So, beings who had not brought forth good roots before now plant them. This is all included in the meaning of “blossom.”
For example, when seeds are planted in the ground and all the conditions of heat, moisture, soil, and so forth are present, they germinate, grow, and eventually bear fruit. Once the flowers of pure faith have bloomed, they must bear the fruit of pure faith. It cannot be that there are flowers, but no fruit. Such flowers are barren. If there is fruit but no flowers, then that is like the fig [which in Chinese is literally the “flowerless fruit”.] Pure faith is perfected through merit and virtue. Such flowers are a manifestation of the realization of the Bodhi Way. They are flowers that bear the fruit of perfect enlightenment. Flowers of pure faith are the cause; the fruit of perfect enlightenment is the result.
The next Crop-ruling Spirit is named Moistening Pure Flowers. The flowers of pure faith need moisture. To nurture flowers of pure faith, one must create all kinds of merit and virtue. If you have merit and virtue, your flowers of pure faith will flourish. So the name of this Crop-ruling Spirit is “Moistening Pure Flowers.” She gained a passage into liberation of rescuing all beings out of great compassionate mercy. Compassion can gather sentient beings in. Mercy means taking pity on all beings and loving and protecting them.
With compassionate mercy, which is a teaching of Confucianism, one regards all beings as if they were one’s own children. This spirit’s compassion and loving protection is that of “loving all children as one would love one’s sons and daughters.” That’s a Confucian doctrine. Buddhism also teaches that we should love all children equally, with impartial great kindness. “Rescuing all beings”: What is meant by rescuing? Suppose someone falls into the water and is about to drown. He’s in the middle of the water, far from either shore, and he’s close to drowning. You can toss him a lifesaving ring or rope, and pull him to shore. Imagine another scenario in which a boat breaks down in the middle of a river or sea. You can go out in another boat and take the passengers to shore.
In ancient China, there was the story of “burning of boats at the Ji River.” I can’t remember which dynasty it happened in; it was probably during the Era of Warring States. There was a general who led a large army to invade another state. After the troops had crossed the river, he burned all the boats. He was letting his men know that they had to fight well, for there was no way to go back. They had to forget about whether they lived or died; only then would there be hope of going home. Cultivation is the same way. Once you reach the other shore, don’t think about going back. Once we arrive at the further shore of nirvana, we should burn the boat we used to come over. Don’t think about going back.
Once you’ve severed it, it’s severed forever.
Once you’re saved, you’re saved forever.
Once you’re done toiling, you’ll enjoy leisure forever.
Once we reach the other shore, we don’t want to come back. If we come back, we still have to undergo birth and death. “Rescuing all beings”: We don’t want to go to the other shore alone; we want to rescue all beings and bring them to the other shore. What for? For the purpose of increasing their ocean of blessings and virtue, so that, for example, they may go to the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, where they can cultivate to become Buddhas. When the amount of blessings and virtue becomes very great, they are like an ocean, limitless and boundless. It is difficult to measure the ocean’s breadth and depth; the same holds true the ocean of blessings and virtue. That’s the passage to liberation that this Crop-ruling Spirit attained.
The next Crop-ruling Spirit is named Accomplishing Wonderful Fragrance. Crop-ruling Spirits also rule over all flowers, so this Crop-ruling Spirit perfects all kinds of wondrous fragrances. When beings smell these wondrous fragrances, they change their evil ways, become good, and bring forth the bodhi resolve. Wonderful fragrance is the fragrance of precepts, the fragrance of liberation, and the fragrance of liberation of knowledge and views. This Crop-ruling Spirit gained a portion of the Buddha’s state, namely, the passage into liberation of extensively explaining all methods of practice. “Extensively” means her explanations are endless. She instructs sentient beings in all methods of cultivation-–from the limitless and boundless Dharma doors cultivated by all past Buddhas, to the limitless and boundless Dharma doors cultivated by all future Buddhas. We sentient beings should not be intimidated by all these Dharma doors. We should not say, “The Buddhadharma is as vast as the great ocean. When am I going to finish cultivating so many Dharma doors?” We can liken that attitude to a person standing beside the ocean and saying, “The ocean is so huge. How could I possibly drink up all the water in it? How could I ever cross it?” He heaves a sigh and concludes, “I’ll never be able to drink the ocean dry. I’ll never get to the other side.”
What should we do? We must truly and honestly get down to cultivation. Then, in a fingersnap, we perfect the cultivation of 80,000 Dharma doors; we penetrate and master them all. With such unobstructed penetration, “in a kshana the three asamkhyeyas of kalpas are done.” In the briefest instant, we perfect the cultivation of three great asamkhyeyas (an uncountable number) of eons. So, there’s no reason to feel that the Buddhadharma is too difficult to practice. Crop-ruling Spirit Accomplishing Wonderful Fragrance attained this passage into liberation.
Today I have a question for you. Instead of asking you for questions, I will ask you my question. I would like to know: “Among the 84,000 Dharma doors, which Dharma door is number one?” If you know the answer, please tell me.
[Answer is inaudible.] Which one is your Dharma door?
Venerable Master: If you don’t know how to sleep, then how can you consider that your Dharma door? If you master the Dharma door of sleeping and attain the sleeping samadhi, then being asleep would be the same as being awake, and being awake would be the same as sleeping. Wakefulness and sleep would be one and the same. There would be no difference between them. That’s the attainment of the “sleeping samadhi”; it’s also the attainment of the “no sleep samadhi.” Sleeping and waking, waking and sleeping – it’s all the same. So, what about your Dharma door? Tell me what your state is.
Venerable Master: So confused thinking is also a Dharma door. Why do you say none of them are number one? You have to have a reason. You can’t just make baseless claims. What are your grounds? The Vajra Sutra says very clearly, “The Dharma is all the same, with no high or low. There is no number one and no number two.” If you don’t believe this, you can look into it. If your Dharma door works for you, then your Dharma door is number one for you – sleeping. If my Dharma door works for me, then it’s number one for me – eating. If her Dharma door works for her, then it’s number one for her – wearing clothes. Eating, wearing clothes, and sleeping – that’s all there is. Now, quickly go to bow the repentance ceremony. After bowing, quickly go to sleep. After you wake up, put on your clothes. After putting on clothes, at eleven o’clock you can eat your meal. You don’t have to do anything else.
Crop-ruling Spirit Delighting the Beholder gained a passage into liberation of enabling all beings in the Dharma Realm to renounce laxness, worry, affliction, and other evils, so that they all become pure.
Crop-ruling Spirit Immaculate Light gained a passage into liberation of contemplating the good roots of every sentient being and speaking Dharma accordingly, thus gratifying and delighting the entire assembly.
The next Crop-ruling Spirit is named Delighting the Beholder. When sentient beings see this Crop-ruling Spirit, they experience adoration and joy, hence her name. She gained a state of the Buddha, a passage into liberation of enabling all sentient beings in the Dharma Realm – that many sentient beings – upon seeing this Crop-ruling Spirit or hearing the Buddhadharma, to renounce laxness. All the sentient beings present at Gold Mountain Monastery right now could be said to have renounced laxness. Why is this? Before they heard the Buddhadharma, these people were like ordinary young Americans – feeling that they had a share at every meal but didn’t have to share in the work. When it came to eating, they had no mark of others. When it came to work, they had no mark of self. When they got into a fight, they had no mark of sentient beings. When they ate meat, they had no mark of beings with a life span.
Now that they have come to Gold Mountain Monastery, some people have no mark of self when it comes to eating. They think, “It doesn’t matter if I eat or not, as long as other people can eat their fill.” When working they have no mark of others. “I can do all the work myself. I don’t need others to do it.” They are completely different from the way they used to be. When they get into a fight, they have the mark of sentient beings, so they think, “I should not fight with this person.” They don’t eat meat anymore, because they have the mark of beings with a life span. They say, “May all beings enjoy a long life,” and they refrain from killing. They are very diligent and hardworking, and not afraid of there being too much work. These are all ways in which they have given up laxness. They have forgotten their physical comfort for the sake of the Dharma. They even go without sleep so they can study more Buddhadharma.
Guo Zhan was especially vigorous today, standing up during the sutra lecture to avoid nodding off. [To Guo Zhan] Was that why you stood up? I saw him starting to doze off when he was sitting there. Yesterday he heard me talk about the sleeping samadhi, and today he wanted to get out of that samadhi. That’s also a case of renouncing laxness.
One also renounces worry, sorrow, pain, and affliction, and other evils. Cultivators should not become depressed or sad. Nor should they become afflicted. They should not constantly worry, like the man from the state of Qi who worried that the sky would fall down. He kept thinking, “I wonder which day the sky will collapse. What am I going to do when the sky falls?” He worried about this all day long to the point that he stopped planting his fields and did no work whatsoever. Now, wouldn’t you say this was going a little too far?
Sometimes people fret about things unnecessarily. For example, they may think, “I wonder if my father is about to die. I wonder if my mother will get sick.” These are worries about one’s elders. Others may wonder, “Will my child grow up? Will my pet dog get skinny? Will my cat know how to catch mice?” These anxieties are uncalled for. Some people make a big deal out of trivial issues and are always worried about something.
As for affliction, some people who have nothing better to do look in the mirror and think, “How irritating! Why do my nostrils point downward? It would be nice if they pointed upwards, so I could look different from everyone else.” They get afflicted about that.
“Other evils” refers in general to greed, anger, and delusion. Sentient beings forsake laxness, worry, affliction, freed, anger, and delusion, so that they all become pure. This is the state of Crop-ruling Spirit Delighting the Beholder.
The mind is the root;
Dharmas are the dust.
The two are like streaks on a mirror.
When the streaks are entirely removed, light begins to appear.
When mind and dharmas are both forgotten,
Then the nature is true.
In order to leave filth, mind and dharmas must both be forgotten. That means to leave behind the two attachments to self and to dharmas. Attachment to self is filth, and so is attachment to dharmas. Once you have left these two attachments, so that people and dharmas are both empty, the light of wisdom inherent in your nature will come forth. Thus she is called the Crop-ruling Spirit Immaculate Light. She gained a passage into liberation of contemplating the good roots of every sentient being. She uses wisdom to contemplate and illuminate the good roots of all sentient beings. Sentient beings’ good roots may be shallow or deep, few or many, small or great. We have to use the Buddhadharma to nurture and irrigate them so they will grow. How do we nurture and irrigate them? We do that by speaking Dharma accordingly. Whatever Dharma a sentient being needs to hear, we speak it for him or her. We give each being exactly the right teaching, the one that accords with that being’s potentials. We dispense the teaching in accord with the individual’s needs, just as a doctor prescribes medicine according to the patient’s sickness, thusgratifying and delighting theentire Dharma assembly. All those at the feast of Dharma obtain just the amount of Dharma they are supposed to receive, so they are delighted and satisfied. This Crop-ruling Spirit attained that passage into liberation
At that time in the Dharma assembly, Crop-ruling Spirit Tender and Delectable received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of all the Crop-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.
The Thus Come One, an unsurpassed ocean of merit and virtue, Appears everywhere as a bright lamp shining upon the world. Rescuing and protecting all sentient beings whatsoever, He bestows peace and joy upon all, omitting not a single one.
The Thus Come One is an unsurpassed ocean of merit and virtue. The Thus Come One has perfected the three kinds of enlightenment and is replete with the ten thousand virtues. Thus he is said to be an unsurpassed ocean of merit and virtue. There is no merit and virtue higher or greater than that of the Thus Come One. Thus his merit and virtue is an ocean of merit and virtue, because it is measureless and boundless, infinite and inexhaustible.
He appears everywhere, teaching and transforming all sentient beings impartially. He is as a bright lamp shining upon the world and destroying all darkness. Before the Buddha came into the world, the world was as if devoid of the light of sun, moon, and lamps, going through a long, dark night. When the Buddha was born, it was as if sunlight, moonlight, and lamplight illuminated the entire world. The Buddha realized Buddhahood for the sake of saving sentient beings. His work is to save sentient beings, so the text describes him as: Rescuing and protecting all sentient beings whatsoever. Sentient beings are drowning in the river of love and the sea of suffering. The Buddha steers a great, precious ship of compassion to save them all. He rescues every single being. Even the most evil being gets rescued. The Buddha doesn’t say, “You’re too wicked. I won’t save you.” He doesn’t discriminate among sentient beings.
He bestows peace and joy upon all, omitting not a single one. He makes all beings peaceful and happy without leaving out or forgetting any. Every single sentient being gets saved by the Buddha. As we say in Buddhism, “Sentient and insentient beings will all perfect the Wisdom of All Modes.”
Boundless is the World Honored One’s merit and virtue. The One Honored both in and beyond the World, the Great Guiding Master of the Triple Realm, has limitless, boundless, infinite, and inexhaustible merit and virtue. His merit and virtue is inconceivable. Those who hear him include you and me. Those who hear the Buddha’s name or the sutras spoken by the Buddha do not do so in vain. Their hearing will not be in vain. What use will it be? They leave all suffering and feel perpetual joy. All beings will have no suffering, but will enjoy every kind of happiness.
All the powers perfected, the Well-Gone One
Appears in the world, adorned with meritorious virtues.
All sentient beings are thoroughly tamed and subdued.
Robust Strength understands and attains this Dharma.
Long ago, the Buddha cultivated an ocean of great compassion.
His mind is intent upon each and every being in the world.
Thus, his spiritual penetrations know no bounds.
Increasing Essence and Energy sees thus.
All the powers are perfected by the Well-Gone One. “Well-Gone One” is one of the ten titles of Buddhas. “All the powers” refers to the Buddha’s Ten Powers. Having cultivated all the powers to perfection, the Buddha appears in the world, adorned with meritorious virtues. Adorned with all the meritorious virtues he has accomplished, the Buddha appears in the world of sentient beings.
All sentient beings are thoroughly tamed and subdued. The obstinate beings of the Saha World are difficult to tame and subdue. You may try to teach them wholesome Dharmas, using all kinds of expedient means to teach them, whether speaking to them directly or hinting indirectly, yet they won’t believe you. On the other hand, when they encounter unwholesome, unclean, perverse conditions, they pursue them like crazy. Sentient beings may be hard to subdue, yet the Buddha can subdue them. They may be hard to teach, but the Buddha manages to teach them.
His mind is intent upon each and every being in the world. His every thought is to save beings from suffering and make them happy. Thus, his spiritual penetrations know no bounds. In order to teach and transform obstinate and incorrigible sentient beings, one must possess all kinds of spiritual powers and expedient means. Thus the Buddha’s spiritual penetrations are boundless. Increasing Essence and Energy sees thus. Crop-ruling Spirit Increasing Essence and Energy understands this state and this passage into liberation.
Constantly, the Buddha manifests throughout all worlds.
None of his expedients are ever used in vain.
He thoroughly purifies beings’ delusions and afflictions:
Universally Producing spirit is liberated thus.
Constantly, the Buddha manifests throughout all worlds. The Buddha is nowhere present, yet nowhere absent. The Buddha pervades the entire world. Why can’t all sentient beings see the Buddha? If the Buddha is everywhere in the world, beings should all be able to see him. But sentient beings are enveloped in their delusions and afflictions. Delusions shroud them like clouds covering the sun. Although the sun is there, clouds block it from view. Likewise, although the Buddha is present everywhere, sentient beings cannot see him because they are obstructed by their own ignorance, delusions, karma, and suffering. Even so, the Buddha constantly appears before sentient beings. Although beings cannot see him, the Buddha always sees them.
None of his expedients are ever used in vain. The Buddha uses all manner of expedient methods to teach and transform sentient beings, leading them to bring forth the resolve for bodhi and realize Buddhahood. He thoroughly purifies beings’ delusions and afflictions. The Buddha dispels the clouds covering sentient beings, so that the sun can shine forth. Universally Producing spirit is liberated thus. This state is the passage into liberation that Crop-ruling Spirit Universally Producing Roots and Fruits understands.
An ocean of great wisdom in the world, the Buddha
Releases pure radiance that reaches absolutely everywhere.
Hence, all give rise to vast faith and understanding.
Adorned Cowl understands and enters thus.
An ocean of great wisdom in the world, the Buddha. The Buddha is the wisest and most intelligent sentient being in the world. The Buddha is an enlightened one among sentient beings. He possesses the highest understanding. There is nothing he does not know or understand. He is the Greatly Enlightened One. Not only is the Buddha an ocean of great wisdom, the Dharma is also an ocean of great wisdom, and so is the Sangha. The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha are all oceans of great wisdom in the world. They are also lamps of inexhaustible brightness for the world.
The Buddha, an ocean of great wisdom, releases the pure radiance of great wisdom that reaches absolutely everywhere. The Buddha emits a pure light that shines upon the waters of all sentient beings’ minds. The Buddha’s light shines into beings’ hearts, causing them to bring forth the resolve for bodhi and realize the unsurpassed Way.
The pure wisdom light emitted by the Buddha universally shines upon sentient beings’ hearts. Hence all give rise tofaith and understanding that fills their minds. Beings who have attained the Buddha’s wisdom light give rise to vast and inconceivable faith and understanding.
Guo Hu, you explain the next four lines of verse.
[Guo Hu: The Thus Come One, beholding the world, gives rise to compassion. Some people talk about Thus Come One Buddha. Actually, the Thus Come One is just the Buddha, and the Buddha is just the Thus Come One. Here, the Thus Come One refers to Shakyamuni Buddha. Seeing how miserable the sentient beings of the world were, experiencing suffering in everything they do, he brought forth a heart of compassion and wished to relieve their suffering and make them happy.
Showing them the supreme path of serenity and bliss: The Buddha sees that sentient beings have 84,000 kinds of suffering, so he leads them onto the supreme path of serenity and bliss. He teaches him ways to make their minds serene and peaceful. This sublime path is one by which the Buddhas achieve purity in the Triple Realm, and by which the Sangha – those who have left the home-life –are purified. Pure Flowers spirit is liberated thus. She understands this state of the Buddha. This is her passage into liberation.
Is his explanation completely correct? Does everyone know its problems? How do you explain the word “serenity”? [ Serenity means that what sentient beings do leads them to enlightenment. Serenity refers to being still and quiet; the absence of affliction. Alright, if no one else has any objections, I don’t have any, either.
The pure practices cultivated by the Well-Gone One
He fully proclaimed beneath the Bodhi tree.
Such teaching and transforming fills the ten directions:
Wonderful Fragrance spirit thus hears and accepts.
The pure practices cultivated by the Well-Gone One. Well-Gone One is another one of the titles of Buddhas. The pure practices cultivated by the Buddha in the past involved staying away from all evil and carrying out all good deeds. In other words, he stayed away from all unwholesome dharmas and cultivated all wholesome dharmas. Unwholesome dharmas are defiled dharmas, whereas wholesome dharmas are pure dharmas.
He fully proclaimed beneath the Bodhi tree. One night, while the Buddha was seated beneath the Bodhi tree, he saw a star and awakened to the Way. Thereupon, he exclaimed, “How strange! All sentient beings possess the wisdom and virtuous characteristics of the Thus Come One. It is only because of confused thinking and attachments that they cannot realize them.” It is clear from this that confused thinking and attachments are great obstacles to the cultivation of the Way. If we had no confused thinking or attachments, we would very quickly realize unsurpassed, proper and equal right enlightenment. Why haven’t we realized it yet? Our attachments are too great, and our confused thoughts are too numerous.
The Buddha spoke the Great Flower Adornment Dharma and all the other sutras to teach and transform all the sentient beings throughout the ten directions. Thus the text says: Such teaching and transforming fills the ten directions. The sentient beings of the ten directions can all be taken across to liberation.
Wonderful Fragrance spirit thus hears and accepts. Crop-ruling Spirit Accomplishing Wonderful Fragrance gains insight into this passage into liberation. She hears and accepts this Dharma door of liberation.
For those in the many worlds, the Buddha occasions the rise of
Freedom from distress, the upsurge of great joy.
Whatever dispositions and desire—he purifies all.
Delighting spirit awakens thus.
The Thus Come One, appearing in the many worlds,
Ascertains the inclinations of delight in all beings’ hearts.
Hence, with skillful means he enhances their maturing.
This is Pure Light spirit’s passage to liberation.
The Spirit named Delighting the Beholder used a verse to praise the Buddha, saying: For those in the many worlds, the Buddha doesn’t appear only in our Saha world. He appears in all worlds throughout the ten directions. What for? The Buddha occasions the rise of / Freedom from distress, the upsurge of great joy. The Buddha pities sentient beings, for he sees them undergoing endless births and deaths in the dangerous paths of transmigration. They are suddenly born in the heavens, suddenly among people, suddenly in the hells, suddenly among hungry ghosts and animals, revolving endlessly in the six paths of rebirth. Being greatly concerned, the Buddha works tirelessly to save beings, trying to find ways to free all sentient beings from grief, suffering, and affliction so that they can experience tremendous happiness.
Whatever disposition or desire—he purifies all: Some sentient beings have good roots; others lack them. For those who have good roots, the Buddha uses numerous expedient means to help them increase their good roots. For those who lack them, the Buddha leads them to plant good roots. “Desire” refers to what sentient beings are fond of. Some are fond of wealth; some like beautiful women or handsome men. Others enjoy drinking wine or liquor. Some like to eat meat; others like to take drugs. Beings have many different kinds of dispositions and desires, but the Buddha is aware of them all and he can regulate and purify their habits accumulated from numerous lives and eons. He can transform their defilement into purity. As a saying goes:
Yet, with his awesome spiritual might, the Buddha transforms defiled thoughts into pure ones. Thus the text says: “Whatever disposition or desire--he purifies all.” This is also as when an ordinary person who does not know anything about cultivation or following rules hears the Buddhadharma, and then starts following the rules, begins getting rid of his bad habits, and decides to cultivate. He casts aside his defiled thoughts, and pure thoughts arise. Delighting spirit awakens thus to this state and enters this passage into liberation.
The Thus Come One, appearing in the many worlds, / Ascertains the inclinations of delight in all beings’ hearts. The Buddha, observing what sentient beings delight in and wish for, expediently uses those things as tools to teach and transform them. Hence, with skillful means he enhances their maturing. It can be seen that saving sentient beings is not an easy thing to do. If it were easy, the Buddha would not need to use various skillful means. One kind would be enough. That the Buddha must use all manner of expedients goes to show how difficult it is to liberate sentient beings. If he tries one expedient method and doesn’t manage to save the sentient being, he must try another one and see if he can get that being to believe in, understand, practice, and realize the Dharma. Thus all kinds of expedient Dharma doors are used to bring beings to maturity, to realization of Buddhahood. That’s one way to explain this.
Another explanation is that all kinds of expedients are used to teach all kinds of beings. Since beings’ basic dispositions are all different, many different expedient methods must be employed to teach them. Each kind of sentient being requires his or her own kind of Dharma door.
This second explanation makes a little more sense, I feel. If the Buddha has to use all kinds of expedients to teach one sentient being, as per the first explanation, it seems to imply that the Buddha doesn’t understand that being’s dispositions and inclinations. Since the Buddha does know sentient beings’ dispositions and inclinations, he can convert a sentient being by using just one expedient teaching. He doesn’t need to use all sorts of Dharma doors to teach one being. Various Dharma doors are for teaching various beings and bringing them to maturity. Once one begins to teach and transform a sentient being, one must constantly help that being in his cultivation until he becomes mature and realizes the Way.
Moreover, Medicine-ruling Spirit Auspicious prepared to elaborate further on the principles discussed previously. “Auspicious” has the meaning that when sick people take this kind of medicine, they will be cured. When those who are dying take this medicine, they will not die. When healthy people take this medicine, they will never get sick. That’s what’s meant by “auspicious.” What kind of medicine is this? Happiness. If you are happy, then if you are not ill now, you will never get ill. If you are ill and you can be happy, your illness will be cured. If you are dying and you give rise to happiness, your life will be prolonged. The “medicine” of happiness is auspicious. There’s a saying:
Immortals do not die. How is it that they can avoid death? They are happy every day, and never sad. Medicine-ruling Spirit Auspicious wants people to be happy, for happiness itself is auspicious. To have good luck, you must be happy. If you aren’t happy, things won’t be lucky. And if things aren’t lucky, you won’t be happy. If everyone is joyful and happy, everything will be lucky and auspicious.
Medicine cures illness. For each illness, there is a certain kind of medicine that must be taken. If you have a cold, you can take some yinqiao tablets. If you are coughing, you can buy a bottle of loquat syrup to take. These are all medicines.
This Medicine-ruling Spirit named Auspicious gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating all sentient beings’ minds to see what diseases afflict their minds. Do they suffer from the disease of greed? Do they have the disease of anger, or that of delusion? The disease of greed is not easy to cure. The disease of anger is also difficult to cure, and the disease of delusion is even harder to cure.
What is meant by the disease of delusion? An example of a deluded person would be someone who has never studied hopes to come out first in the imperial examination. Well, he might win first place in illiteracy! Another example would be a person who does not plant the fields and yet wants to reap a harvest. Perhaps someone who has never studied the Buddhadharma wants to lecture a sutra. Wouldn’t you say that’s being deluded?
“How nice it would be if pretty flowers could bloom forever,” they think. Or perhaps they think, “Moon, you really don’t know how to be a moon.” Why don’t you stay full every night? Why must you wane? That’s so annoying!”
People who are fond of drinking think, “Instead of having to spend money on wine, how nice it’d be if all the pools of water turned into wine!” People who covet wealth have even more incredible fantasies: “In order to have money to spend, I have to go out and make it. If money grew on every tree and all I had to do was pluck it when I needed it, wouldn’t that be wonderful?” Such people are foolish, and their foolishness if not easy to cure.
Yesterday we mentioned Great Master Shaokang, and the verse in praise of Elder Master Hsu Yun, which has the line, “Leveling the Bodhi path.” I don’t know if you remember the verse. Maybe I can recite it for you:
In past lives, he made pure vows
To diligently be mindful of the Buddha.
With prajna he transformed the multitudes,
Leveling the Bodhi path.
He saved countless people
Through skillful guidance and remonstration.
His radiance is Buddhahood.
The Buddha is just radiance.