Chapter Fifteen: "Welling Forth from the Earth"
This is the fifteenth chapter of the twenty-eight chapters in the Dharma Flower Sutra. There are thirteen chapters left to explain. Why is this chapter named "Welling Forth from the Earth"? The title refers to the Great Bodhisattvas who rise up out of the earth. How many of them do this? A tremendous number of them; six hundred billion, or as many as the number of sand grains in eight Ganges Rivers. Each of those Bodhisattvas also brings along six hundred billion members of his retinue. All these beings are disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha whom he taught and transformed in past lives. And so this chapter, number fifteen, has the title "Welling Forth from the Earth."
At that time the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, who had come from other lands in numbers exceeding the grains of sand in eight Ganges Rivers, rose up in the great assembly, placed their palms together, made obeisance, and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, if you will allow us, after the Buddha's tranquillity, here in this Saha world we will with ever-increasing vigor protect, maintain, read, recite, write out, and make offerings to this Sutra, and we will speak it far and wide throughout this land."
At that time the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, who had come from other lands in numbers exceeding the grains of sand in eight Ganges Rivers, rose up in the great assembly. This multitude of Great Bodhisattvas came from other worlds and other lands to the Dharma assembly to see the Thus Come One Many Jewels and Shakyamuni Buddha. They placed their palms together, made obeisance, bowing to the Buddhas, and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, if you will allow us, after the Buddha's tranquillity, here in this Saha world we will with ever-increasing vigor protect, maintain, read, recite, write out, and make offerings to this Sutra, and we will speak it far and wide throughout this land." They spoke to Shakyamuni Buddha, saying, "Please allow us to make this vow before the Buddhas. After the Buddha goes to Nirvana, we here in this Saha world will diligently increase our efforts in protecting those who are vigorous cultivators of the Way and in explaining the Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra. We will use the power of our various spiritual penetrations to protect such people in the Saha world, and we will explain the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for all living beings. We will protect those who read and recite the Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra and the Bodhisattvas who write out the Dharma Flower Sutra. We will make offerings to the Bodhisattvas who bring forth the Bodhisattva resolve to read and recite this Sutra."
The mother of one of my disciples was here today for the Ullambana festival. Recently she was walking in the mountains and ate some sort of wild herb, which made her sick. At the time, she remembered that her daughter had told her that when she had been sick, she recited the name of Amitabha Buddha and her sickness was alleviated very quickly. Her daughter had even written out the name of the Buddha on a slip of paper and given it to her mother. She looked in her purse, found the slip of paper, and began reciting "Namo Amitabha Buddha." After just a few minutes, she felt better.
Do you believe this? Some people might not. Some people might say that the Chinese are always telling unbelievable stories. But now Americans have such things happen to them, too. Actually, events like this are very common. You'll hear of more as the days go by. Often when they happen, people don't know what to think, because the events are inconceivable, wonderful states. They happen whether you believe them or not. This disciple's mother is very happy that her daughter is studying here and is very supportive of her interest in Buddhism. That's why she obtained such a response.
After this, whenever something unusual happens, you can bring it up and tell everyone in the assembly, so that it can become part of the public record. We can examine it according to the methods of Western logic.
I 'll tell you a wonderful secret in one sentence: Those who have faith are saved. There's nothing more to it than that. Those who believe are saved; those who don't are not.
In Christianity, they say the same thing: "Those who believe will be saved." Those who believe get to go to heaven and be with God. The only problem with that is that the heavens are still within the wheel of rebirth. To be "saved" in Buddhism means to transcend the wheel of rebirth-to end birth and death. The Christian version of salvation is only a temporary arrangement; it's not eternal. It is true that if you cultivate according to their teachings, you can be born in heaven, but when your heavenly blessings are used up, you fall back down again. If you are saved according to the Buddha's teachings, you will be saved forever; you won't fall again.
Although the Christians claim that life in heaven is bliss eternal, it's only a claim. No one can prove it. People with wisdom won't believe that one cannot fall from the heavens. The Buddhist Sutras clearly state that if you are born in the heavens, once your heavenly blessings are exhausted, you will fall. There's no need to argue the point, however. Suffice it to say that there are differences in the Christian and Buddhist concepts of salvation.
In America there are weird people who lump the Buddhas, the gods, the spirits, and Jesus together, and say they are all the same. Why? To confuse the issue so that people can't understand. They want to keep people in a state of confusion. Their aim is to keep you from understanding. My method is different. I want you to understand.
The Buddha then told the host of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, "Stop! Good men, you do not need to protect and maintain this Sutra. Why not? Within my Saha world itself there are Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, each of whom has a retinue equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. After my tranquillity, all of them will protect, uphold, read, recite, and vastly speak this Sutra."
The Buddha Shakyamuni then told the host of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, "Stop!" When he heard the Great Bodhisattvas, in number as many as the grains of sand in eight Ganges Rivers, express their wish to make a vow to read and recite the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha's extinction, he said, "Stop! Don't make that vow! You don't need to protect and uphold my Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Good men, you do not need to protect and maintain this Sutra. Why did he stop them? Probably Shakyamuni Buddha wanted his own disciples to amass more merit and virtue, and so he objected to these Bodhisattvas from outside coming to protect and maintain his Dharma Flower Sutra. If these Bodhisattvas from outside protected the Sutra, his own disciples, whom he was teaching and transforming, would not have any work to do. Therefore he quickly said, "Stop, don't make that vow. I already have someone for this job." It's not necessary for you to do it. I don't need you to make this vow to protect and uphold the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
Why not? Within my Saha world itself there are Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, each of whom has a retinue equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. These are the ones I have taught and transformed. Each of these Bodhisattvas in turn has taught and transformed many other beings, who now make up their retinues. After my tranquillity, all of them will protect, uphold, read, recite, and vastly speak this Sutra. They have already made this vow to protect and maintain the Dharma Flower Sutra, as well as to protect those who read the Sutra, recite the Sutra from memory, and who expansively explain this Sutra.
Just as the Buddha said this, the earth in the three thousand great thousand lands in the Saha world trembled and split open, and from its midst limitless thousands of tens of thousands of millions of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas simultaneously welled forth.
Just as the Buddha Shakyamuni said this, the earth in the three thousand great thousand lands in the Saha world trembled and split open. "Saha" refers to our world, which is "able to be endured." Within it there are three thousand great thousand lands. All of them quaked and split open. And from its midst limitless thousands of tens of thousands of millions of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas simultaneously welled forth.
All at the same time, they rose up out of that place where the earth had split open. Would you say that was an amazing sight or not? Who were these Bodhisattvas? They were those whom Shakyamuni Buddha had taught and transformed in previous lives. That's why they all came to where Shakyamuni Buddha was speaking the Dharma Flower Sutra; they wanted to listen to the Dharma.
All of those Bodhisattvas possessed golden-hued bodies, the thirty-two marks, and limitless light.
All of those Bodhisattvas who rose up out of the earth possessed golden-hued bodies. Their bodies emitted purple-golden light, and they were replete with the thirty-two marks and limitless light.
They had been dwelling beneath the Saha world in the empty space belonging to that world.
They had been dwelling beneath the Saha world-the world we live in-in the empty space belonging to that world. Below the Saha world, the Able-to-Be-Endured World, is the wheel of empty space, and that is where they had been staying.
Upon hearing the sound of Shakyamuni Buddha's voice, all the Bodhisattvas came up from below.
Even though they were quite far away from our world, they could still hear Shakyamuni Buddha's voice as he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra. Upon hearing the sound of Shakyamuni Buddha's voice, all the Bodhisattvas came up from below, from the empty-space wheel beneath this Saha world.
Each one of the Bodhisattvas was a leader who instructed and guided a great multitude. Each had a retinue numbering as many as the sand grains of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. Still others had retinues numbering as many as the sand grains of fifty thousand, forty thousand, thirty thousand, twenty thousand, or ten thousand Ganges Rivers. Others had retinues numbering as many as the sand grains of one Ganges River, one half a Ganges River, one fourth, and on down to one thousandth of a ten thousandth of a millionth of a nayuta of a Ganges River.
Other has retinues numbering in the billions of nayutas. Others had retinues numbering in the hundreds of millions. Others had retinues numbering in the tens of millions, the millions, and on down to the tens of thousands. Others had a thousand or a hundred and on down to ten. Others had five, four, three, or two disciples, down to one disciple. Still others came alone, preferring isolation. And so it was that their numbers were limitless and boundless, beyond the power of calculation or analogy to make known.
Each one of the Bodhisattvas was a leader who instructed and guided a great multitude. They were guiding masters who were teaching and transforming living beings. "Instructed" means they lectured on the Sutras and spoke the Dharma. "Guided" means they told beings what path to take, what method to use in their cultivation. These Bodhisattvas acted as eyes for living beings, and living beings looked to them to find out how to practice. Each had a retinue numbering as many as the sand grains of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. Each of the Bodhisattvas, who were as numerous as the sand grains of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, brought along retinues of disciples and students numbering as many as the sand grains in sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. They were like one Dharma family. We are one big family in the Dharma, regardless of where we came from. Those who have taken refuge with the Triple Jewel are all of one family. There were as many Bodhisattvas as the sand grains of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, and each had as many disciples as the sand grains of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. Can you count how many that would be? Still others had retinues numbering as many as the sand grains of fifty thousand Ganges Rivers. Although it is said that each Bodhisattva had a retinue numbering as many as the sand grains in sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, some had less. Perhaps they had retinues numbering as many as the sand grains in forty thousand, thirty thousand, twenty thousand, or ten thousand Ganges Rivers. Others had retinues numbering as many as the sand grains of one Ganges River, one half a Ganges River, one fourth, and on down to one thousandth of a ten thousandth of a millionth of a nayuta of a Ganges River. That is a relatively small number.
Others had retinues numbering in the billions of nayutas. Others had retinues numbering in the hundreds of millions. Others had retinues numbering in the tens of millions, the millions, and on down to the tens of thousands. Others had a thousand, or a hundred, and on down to ten. Others had five, four, three, or two disciples, down to one disciple. If we explain these numbers as representing aspects of the Dharma, the "five" here could refer to the five skandhas; "four" to the four truths; "three" to the three nonoutflow studies of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom; "two" to samadhi and wisdom; and "one" to the one true path.
Still others came alone, preferring isolation. There might have been a Bodhisattva who didn't want to take disciples. "Too much trouble," he said. "They never do what you tell them to do!" Such a Bodhisattva might even have vowed not to take disciples. It's true! He might fear the trouble, because with disciples, one is laughing while another is crying, or that one is crying while the other one is laughing. Another one is getting angry, and yet another is crying. Then the one that was angry may start laughing and say, "I'll think of a way to make you get angry, and that will prove that you don't have any samadhi either-that you are no better than I am." Therefore the Bodhisattva may not want to take disciples. It's pretty nice, not having disciples.
These Bodhisattvas prefer isolation. They run off to the mountains to get away from everyone. Perhaps a man feels that women are just giving him a lot of trouble, so he runs to the mountains to get away from them. That's seeking isolation. But if you retire from the world, you should do it properly. Don't go into seclusion and then send a publicity package out, telling everyone to come and make offerings to you-the Great Hermit! If you do that, you will have even more company and more problems. People will flock to you seeking wealth, blessings, wisdom, and liberation, wishing for this and hoping for that, and you will be in a fine fix! Those who genuinely prefer isolation do not want others to know that they are isolating themselves. They are not concerned about whether or not other people know that they are cultivating. Cultivation is something you do yourself. Why tell other people about it?
Someone says, "But if no one knows, how can we teach and transform beings?"
You do not teach and transform beings in a single period of time or even a single lifetime. You have to practice the Bodhisattva Way life after life and time after time. Before you have realized the Way, your main responsibility is to cultivate the Way.
And so it was that trying to compare them in order to know their number could not be done. Their numbers were limitless and boundless. That's because the number was simply too large. Some numbered as many as the sand grains of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, some as many as in five Ganges Rivers, four, three, or two Ganges Rivers, and if you tried to add them all together, how many Ganges Rivers' sand grains would that be? No one could know precisely what that number would be; it would be beyond the power of calculation or analogy to make known. It would have no limit, no end, no bounds, and you could not even make an analogy that would come close. The best mathematician could not count them. All you could say is that those Bodhisattvas were limitless.
A mathematician may not believe that they cannot be counted. "Any number, no matter how large, can be calculated," might be the protest. But even if you did get a count, it wouldn't be one hundred percent accurate. It could only be an approximation. To say nothing of anything else, we cannot even count the number of beings here at the Buddhist Lecture Hall! We also have to approximate that number.
I have always liked math. When I was a child I always wanted to figure out what the biggest number would be. I would write a "1" and then start adding zeros to make 10; 100; 1,000; 10,000; and so forth. I kept adding zeros, covering the floor, the ceiling, and everything in between, on and on until I had written zeros on everything between heaven and earth and filled up empty space as well. What do you think the total was? Could you figure it out? Essentially, that is what is happening here in the text. We just keep adding zeros, filling up all of empty space, heaven and earth, and the wheel of empty space beneath the world. Nobody knows what the total is. You could not even count the number of zeros, let alone what they represent! Numbers are endless. I don't care how gifted you are in mathematics, you couldn't figure this one out.
Having welled forth out of the earth, all the Bodhisattvas went to the Wonderful Stupa of Seven Treasures in empty space,where the Thus Come One Many Jewels and Shakyamuni Buddha were. Arriving there, they turned toward the two World Honored Ones and bowed with their heads at those Buddhas' feet. They went on to the places of all the Buddhas on lion thrones beneath jeweled trees, circumambulated them three times to the right, put their palms together respectfully, and praised them with various Bodhisattva praises. Then they withdrew to one side and gazed joyfully at the two World Honored Ones.
Having welled forth out of the earth, all the Bodhisattvas, the uncountable Great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, emerged from the ground and went to the Wonderful Stupa of Seven Treasures in empty space, where the Thus Come One Many Jewels was. Each Bodhisattva went up into space to the place where the stupa made of seven treasures was. They went to see Many Jewels Thus Come One and Shakyamuni Buddha. Arriving there, after they got to that place, they turned toward the two World Honored Ones, Many Jewels and Shakyamuni, and bowed with their heads at those Buddhas' feet. They made full prostrations with their five limbs on the ground. They were single-mindedly respectful, and they placed their palms together. They went on to the places of all the Buddhas on lion thrones beneath jeweled trees. They went to the Buddhas who were seated on lion seats underneath jeweled trees and who had come from the ten directions. Each of those Buddhas who had come from the ten directions was on a lion throne, and the Bodhisattvas went to where they were and bowed to them. They made obeisance to them and circumambulated them three times to the right. Walking to the right around them thrice was a gesture of particular respect. They put their palms together respectfully. Placing their palms together represents purity of mind karma. Their body karma was also pure, and they praised them with various Bodhisattva praises. They sang praises that Bodhisattvas use to mutually laud one another, as well as praises to Buddhas, such as the one that begins "Amitabha's body is the color of gold."
We, too, sing praises every day, such as the praise to Shakyamuni Buddha:
In the heavens above, and in all that is below,
Nothing compares to the Buddha.
Throughout the worlds of the ten directions,
He is beyond compare.
Of all I have seen in the world,
There is nothing at all like the Buddha.
We also recite the praise to Amitabha Buddha:
Amitabha's body is the color of gold;
The splendor of his hallmarks has no peer.
The light of his brows shines round a hundred worlds;
Wide as the seas are his eyes pure and clear.
Shining in his brilliance by transformation
Are countless Bodhisattvas and infinite Buddhas.
His forty-eight vows will be our liberation;
In nine lotus stages we reach the farthest shore.
Those are praises to the Buddhas. Since we sing them every day, we should know when we sing them that we are using praises to laud the Buddhas. Don't sing them through, and then when you're done wonder what you've been doing. Don't let it be that you know only how to sing but don't know the meaning behind what you are singing day after day, thinking, "Oh, this is really good to listen to," and not having any idea why you are singing. Don't say that that dharma is praising the Buddha.
Many who study Buddhism favor certain people who lead the ceremony and sing particularly well. Some leaders of ceremonies recite so beautifully that the women who hear them become confused by it. They pursue the leader so they can listen to him recite the Sutras. Some who can do the "Ceremony for Those with Flaming Mouths" recite, "nan wa dz la nan cha ya hung," and those listening are moved: "Oh, he recites well." But they don't know what he is saying. If you ask them, "What is he reciting?" they reply, "How should I know?" They just listen to the sound of the recitation, and if it is sung well, they become confused. Many, many people are like that. That's what's meant by being superstitious. In China there's a saying about the people who are doing the "Ceremony for Those with Flaming Mouths" that refers to what they are really chanting: wa dz la, na chyan ya hung, kan kan ji dyan jung. They say, "It's not early. Watch the time. Recite faster!" Originally, the line should be: na cha ya hung. But they say na chyan (take the money) ya hung. Now that I've taught you this, you can all recite this way when you do the "Ceremony for Those with Flaming Mouths," especially here in America where the language is English, not Chinese. Everyone will be awed and say, "Oh, they're reciting mantras!"
Then they, these Bodhisattvas, withdrew to one side after they had made obeisance and sung their praises to all the Buddhas. They gazed joyfully at the two World Honored Ones. The Bodhisattvas were happy. They liked to look at Shakyamuni Buddha and the Thus Come One Many Jewels. You see, Bodhisattvas also have attachments: They like to see the Buddhas. There is a certain amount of attachment at whatever level you have reached. Getting rid of those attachments is what is meant by "You should produce that thought which is nowhere supported."
Someone is having a false thought: "Who does the 'Ceremony for Those with Flaming Mouths' that way?"
I'll tell you: Me!
Someone else is thinking, "You talked about men who felt that women were giving them trouble, and so they ran off to the mountains. What about women? When they run off to the mountains, who is giving them trouble?"
Do you need to ask? Men, of course! You should be able to figure that one out for yourself.
From the time the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas first welled forth out of the earth, and while they praised the Buddhas with various Bodhisattva praises, a period of fifty small eons elapsed. During that time, Shakyamuni Buddha remained seated in silence, and the four assemblies were silent for fifty small eons as well.
From the time the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas first welled forth out of the earth. The Great Bodhisattvas had initially come out of the ground, and while they praised the Buddhas-Shakyamuni Buddha, Many Jewels Thus Come One, and the Buddhas of the Ten Directions-with various Bodhisattva praises, a period of fifty small eons elapsed. They praised the Buddhas for fifty small eons. During that time, Shakyamuni Buddha remained seated in silence. The Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas were singing praises to the Buddhas for fifty small kalpas. How long is that?
Each eon goes through "one increase and one decrease." During the rise of an eon, every one hundred years, people's life spans increase by one year and their heights increase by one inch. When people reach an average life span of 84,000 years, then a decline begins. Having started from an average life span of ten years and increased to an average life span of 84,000 years, a decline then sets in. Every one hundred years, the average life span decreases by one year and the average height by one inch. When it has decreased until the average life span reaches ten years, people are only ten inches tall. One cycle of increase and decrease is considered "one small eon." The Buddha sat quietly for fifty such small eons and did not speak the Dharma.
Someone might start calculating and say, "It's true the Buddhist Sutras are certainly boundless, but Shakyamuni Buddha was only in the world for about eighty years, and he lectured on the Dharma for forty-nine years in over three hundred Dharma assemblies, propounding the Dharma Flower Sutra for eight of those years. Why does the text of the Dharma Flower Sutra say that Shakyamuni Buddha spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra for fifty small eons? That's way off. There's no proof. Well, we won't talk about the fifty small eons. Let's talk about the Vimalakirti Sutra. The Elder Vimalakirti stayed in a ten-foot-square room. But that space was able to contain 32,000 lion thrones, each of which was 80,000 yojanas tall. How could his ten-foot-square room contain lion thrones 80,000 yojanas high? The thrones were so tall that the Hearers found it impossible to climb up and sit on them. That's a case of,
The small manifests within the great;
The great manifests within the small.
The small does not obstruct the great;
The great does not obstruct the small.
This state of unobstructed interpenetration is not one that ordinary people comprehend.
If you understand it, then fifty small eons is like a single thought. If you don't understand it, then one knows not how long fifty small eons will be. Therefore, the small can manifest in the great, and the great can manifest within the small. The near can manifest within the far, and the far can manifest within the near.
Thus, fifty small eons is not a long time, and the time it takes for a single thought is not a short time. One thought can take fifty small eons, and fifty small eons can be contained in a single thought.
There is a story that makes this point very clear: Dhyana Master Miao Kau Feng was a cultivator who sat on the inverted lotus precipice of Hsi-tien Mu and meditated. Why did he go there to cultivate? It was a very dangerous ledge. Were he to doze off in meditation, he would fall thousands of feet into the valley and be smashed to pieces. Even a rock dropped from that height would be smashed to bits, to say nothing of a person.
He very much liked to sit in meditation, which he did quite often. In order to urge himself on in his cultivation, he vowed to go to that dangerous place. "Let's see me fall asleep now!" he said, positioning himself near the edge. He sat there for about seven days without falling asleep; he didn't dare! After all, his life was at stake. Therefore, no matter what, he simply would not fall asleep.
However, on the eighth day, he could no longer control himself. While sitting in meditation, he dozed off. As soon as he fell asleep, he slumped forward and tumbled right off the edge. Waking, he thought, "It's all over. I'm certainly not going to come out of this alive."
Just then he put down his body and mind. "If I must die, then I will die. I'm not going to pay any attention; I'll get ready for the big sleep."
When he had fallen halfway down the mountain, Wei Tou Bodhisattva manifested his spiritual powers. From right there in empty space, he dragged the Dhyana Master back up to the top of the mountain.
"Who is this protecting my Dharma?" the Master said.
"It is I, Dharma Protector Wei Tou!" came the reply.
The Dhyana Master suddenly became arrogant and had the thought, "You mean I moved Wei Tou Bodhisattva to protect my Dharma? Probably, in this world, the number of cultivators who are as courageously vigorous as I am is very small." And so he asked Wei Tou Bodhisattva, "How many cultivators are there in the world who work as hard as I do in their cultivation?"
"About as many as the hairs on a cow," said Wei Tou Bodhisattva dryly. "And since you are so arrogant, I'm not going to protect your Dharma again for eighty thousand great eons!" So saying, he took his jeweled pestle, rose up into empty space, and disappeared.
Dhyana Master Myau of Kau Feng really regretted what he had said. "Wei Tou Bodhisattva was protecting me, and I had to go and get arrogant. That was really a mistake," he lamented. Tears of remorse began to roll softly down his cheeks. He cried for quite a while before he gave rise to a renewed resolve: "I was cultivating before I knew that Wei Tou Bodhisattva was protecting me. Why should I quit cultivating now that I know he isn't? I should cultivate whether he protects me or not!" Then with great determination, he took his seat on the ledge once again and commenced to meditate.
A little while later, sure enough, he fell asleep and dropped over the edge again, plummeting down the mountain. "This time, I've really had it," he thought. "It's all over now!" Suddenly, he was hauled back up to the top again; he had been caught in midair when he was about halfway down. "Now, who saved me this time?" he asked.
"It is I, Dharma Protector Wei Tou, once again," came the reply.
This irritated Dhyana Master Myau. "Old Brother Wei, didn't you say that you weren't going to protect my Dharma for eighty thousand great eons? Why did you save me again? Doesn't that make you a liar?"
Wei Tou Bodhisattva replied, "Your tears and shame were very genuine; they canceled out eighty thousand great eons worth of time. Therefore I was obliged to come to your aid. Your one thought of repentance took you across eighty thousand great eons!"
Why is this Sutra called the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra? Because it is extremely wonderful, inconceivable. It's a state you have no way to see. If you use a telescope lens you can see things very far away, just as if they were right before you. Without the telescopic lens, you would have no way to see that far. The above story about Dhyana Master Kau Feng Myau proves that one thought can transcend fifty small eons, or even eighty thousand great eons. This is the same principle as looking at things through a telescope: What is long can become short; what is short can become long.
Time is not fixed. According to mundane truth-speaking of it from the point of view of worldly dharmas-everything exists. But in terms of the real truth, everything is empty. Nothing is indestructible; nothing lasts forever. As to time, there is no past, present, or future. Past thought cannot be grasped; present thought cannot be grasped; and future thought cannot be grasped. Since the three periods of time cannot be grasped, time is also nonexistent.
For fifty small eons, Shakyamuni Buddha remained seated in silence, and the four assemblies-the Bhikshus, the Bhikshunis, the Upasakas, and the Upasikas-were silent for fifty small eons as well.
Because of the Buddha's spiritual power, all in the great assembly were caused to say it had been as if half a day long.
Because of the Buddha's spiritual power, the strength of his spiritual penetrations, all in the great assembly were caused to say it had been as if half a day long. Although it seemed like half a day, more than fifty small eons had passed. Although it had been fifty small eons, it seemed like half a day's time. Most people had that impression.
At that time the four assemblies were also able, because of the Buddha's spiritual power, to see all the Bodhisattvas completely filling the empty space of limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of lands.
At that time the four assemblies of Bhikshu Sanghans, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas were also able, because of the Buddha's spiritual power, to see all the Bodhisattvas completely filling the empty space. How many were there? They filled up limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of lands. How many Bodhisattvas were there altogether? No one could know.
Speaking about the relativity of time, a day and a night in the Heaven of the Four Kings, the heaven we can see above us, is equal to fifty years in the human realm. The gods there live for five hundred years, so you can figure out how much time that is in human terms.
In the Heaven of the Thirty-three, a day and a night is one hundred human years, and the gods live for a thousand years.
When the Buddha was in the world, a believer in an externalist way once challenged Mahakatyayana, saying, "I don't believe in rebirth. If it's true that there is rebirth, then why hasn't anyone who has died ever sent a message back to tell us about it?"
Mahakatyayana said, "Let's take the example of a prisoner who has been put in jail. Is he free to send a letter home?"
"No," said the nonbeliever.
"People in hell are even less free to communicate," said Mahakatyayana.
"Well, what about the people in heaven? They're free," said the nonbeliever.
The Venerable One answered him, saying, "One day and night in the heavens equals fifty years on earth. Two days equal a hundred years in the human realm. Once they arrive there, first they want to rest. The second day they want to get settled in, unpack their bags, make the bed, and rearrange the furniture. By the third day in heaven, they might think about sending you a letter, but you will already be dead. That's because if they were to come back three days later, a hundred and fifty years in the human realm would have passed. How would you be able to see them?"
The externalist had no answer.
Therefore, time in the heavens and time on earth are experienced differently. A day and night on earth is equal to five hundred years in the hells. You should not be attached to time. Time is basically empty. People create their concept of time, but time itself does not exist. Its very substance is empty. Since it has no self-nature, no substance of its own, why be attached to there definitely being a certainty about time ?
Among the multitude of Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas were four leaders. The first was named Superior Practice, the second was named Boundless Practice, the third was named Pure Practice, and the fourth was named Secure Practice. These four Bodhisattvas, among the assembly, were the foremost leaders, the spokesmen and guides. Before the great multitudes, they joined their palms together, contemplated Shakyamuni Buddha, made deep bows from the waist and said, "World Honored One, are you in good health and free from worry? Are you peaceful and happy in your practice? Are those who should be crossed over receptive to the teaching? They do not cause the World Honored One weariness, do they?"
The four Great Bodhisattvas then spoke verses, saying:
Is the World Honored One happy and at peace,
Free from worry and disease?
In teaching and transforming beings,
Is he free from weariness?
And further, do living beings
Receive transformation easily?
They do not cause the World Honored One
To become fatigued, do they?
Among the multitude-the limitless, boundless, uncountable number of Great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas filling up the empty space in hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of lands-were four leaders. They were guides and models for living beings and the other Bodhisattvas. The other Bodhisattvas studied from them; they were the senior-seated Bodhisattvas. The first was named Superior Practice. His cultivation, his practice, was the very highest. None were more lofty than he. The second was named Boundless Practice. The entrances into practice that he cultivated had no limit, no end. The third was named Pure Practice. The meaning of his name is that he became a Bodhisattva by cultivating pure practices. And the fourth Bodhisattva leader was named Secure Practice. He was able to peacefully and happily establish his entrance into practice. These four Bodhisattvas, these leaders among the assembly in the empty space of limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of lands, among all those Bodhisattvas, were the foremost leaders. They were senior-seated Bodhisattvas. The leaders of the Great Assembly, the spokesmen and guides, were singing praises. They were the leaders in doing everything, the leaders before the great multitudes. They, the four Bodhisattva leaders, joined their palms together, contemplated Shakyamuni Buddha, made deep bows from the waist, and asked after the Buddha's welfare. They said, "World Honored One, are you in good health and free from worry? Probably, World Honored One, you haven't been sick, and there's nothing troubling you, is there? Are you peaceful and happy in your practice? In the four modes of peaceful and happy conduct-body, mouth, mind, and vows-are you well-established? Are those who should be crossed over receptive to the teaching? Are they easy to teach and transform? They do not cause the World Honored One weariness, do they? They don't present obstacles, do they?
"With living beings easy to teach, the World Honored One will certainly be happy. He won't grow sick and tired from teaching them."
The four Great Bodhisattvas then spoke verses in praise of Shakyamuni Buddha and to ask after him, saying, "Is the World Honored One happy and at peace? You are very content and tranquil, free from worry and disease, are you not? Certainly you have no sickness and no affliction. In teaching and transforming beings, is he free from weariness? Certainly the Buddha is not tired. And further, do living beings receive transformation easily? It is not too difficult, is it? They do not cause the World Honored One to become fatigued, do they? Since they easily accept the teaching and transforming, the World Honored One will not feel tired. Right?"
The World Honored One then, in the midst of the great host of Bodhisattvas, said this: "So it is, so it is, good men. The Thus Come One is peaceful and happy, free from disease and worry. All the living beings are easy to transform and cross over, and they do not cause me weariness. Why is this? All these living beings have, lifetime after lifetime, always received my transforming influence, and they have also paid reverence to and venerated the Buddhas of the past, thereby planting the roots of goodness. All these living beings, from the time they first saw me and heard my teaching, immediately believed and accepted it and entered into the Thus Come One's wisdom. As to those who cast aside their former cultivation and study of the Small Vehicle, I now lead them to hear this Sutra and to enter the Buddha's wisdom."
The World Honored One, then… "Then" is when the four guiding masters had finished speaking their verse on behalf of all the Great Bodhisattvas. In the midst of the great host of Bodhisattvas, the Buddha said this… This narrative sentence was added by the Venerable Ananda when he compiled the Sutras. "Then the World Honored One Shakyamuni, in the midst of Bodhisattvas who completely filled the empty space in limitless hundreds of thousands of millions of lands, such a great assembly as that, spoke." What did he say? He said, "So it is, so it is, good men. You asked how I'm doing, and it's just as you stated. I am just fine. Good men, I, the Thus Come One, am peaceful and happy, free from disease. I'm in good health and don't have cause to worry. I have no afflictions. All the living beings are easy to transform and cross over. They are all very obedient, and they do not cause me weariness. Therefore, I don't feel tired. I am not at all displeased. Why is this? All these living beings have, lifetime after lifetime, always received my transforming influence. They have throughout life after life, in time after time, been receiving my teaching. They have obtained my transforming instructions. And they have also paid reverence to and venerated the Buddhas of the past. Not only have they been taught by me, but in the presence of countless Buddhas of the past, they have been reverent and respectful, and have praised them. They have thereby planted the roots of goodness, planting many, many good roots; limitlessly, boundlessly many good roots. All these living beings that I have been transforming at present, from the time they first saw me, beheld my physical being, and heard my teaching-the Store House Teaching, the Connecting Teaching, and the Special Teaching-immediately believed and accepted it. Their faith was instantly born. Some certified to the fruition of Arhatship; others were certified to the fruition of Condition-Enlightened Ones. Still others were certified to the stages of Bodhisattvahood and thus entered into the Thus Come One's wisdom, passing through the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Transferences, the Ten Grounds, and on to the level of Equal Enlightenment. Having traversed forty-one levels altogether, they became Great Masters of the Dharma-body. Finally, they entered the Buddha's wisdom and obtained the fruition of Wonderful Enlightenment.
As to those who cast aside their former cultivation and study of the Small Vehicle-the people who previously studied the Small Vehicle are not counted in this number-I now lead themto hear this Sutra. I want them to listen now to this Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, to be caused to turn from the small and go toward the great, to bring forth the resolve of a Bodhisattva, to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way, and to enter the Buddha's wisdom.
At that time the Great Bodhisattvas spoke these verses:
Good indeed, good indeed,
Great Hero, World Honored One,
That all the living beings
Are easy to transform and save,
That they can ask about the Buddha's deep wisdom
And, having heard it, believe and practice it.
We all rejoice accordingly.
At that time, after Shakyamuni Buddha finished speaking, the Great Bodhisattvas spoke these verses to praise Shakyamuni Buddha: Good indeed, good indeed. That is very good, very good, Great Hero, World Honored One. The Buddha is the Great Hero who has transcended the world. He is heroic both in and beyond the world. All the living beings who should be taught and transformed are easy to transform and save. They very easily accept the Buddha's teaching and transforming. They can ask about the Buddha's deep wisdom / And, having heard it, believe and practice it. After they listen, they believe, accept, and respectfully offer up their conduct. They practice according to the Dharma. We all rejoice accordingly. All of us, the Great Bodhisattvas, rejoice in this merit and virtue, and we wish to respectfully offer up our conduct and to rely upon the Buddha's teaching in our cultivation as well.
Then the World Honored One praised the leaders of all those Great Bodhisattvas: "Good indeed, good indeed, that you have brought forth a heart of rejoicing in accord with the Thus Come One."
"Then" means at the time when all of the Great Bodhisattvas had finished praising Shakyamuni Buddha in verses. The Bodhisattvas praised the Buddha, and now the Buddha praises the Bodhisattvas. The World Honored One praised the leaders of all those Great Bodhisattvas. They mutually praised each other. "Good indeed, good indeed. You Great Bodhisattvas are really good. You are the best Bodhisattvas. You are capable and have brought forth a heart of rejoicing in accord with the Thus Come One before him. You have resolved to rejoice in the joy of and to praise the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra spoken by the Buddha. You have been able to come to this Dharma Assembly to listen to the Dharma."
At that time Maitreya Bodhisattva and the Bodhisattvas in the multitude, numbering as many as the sand grains in eight thousand Ganges Rivers, all had this thought: "From of old, we have never seen or heard of these Great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas who have welled forth out of the earth and who are standing before the World Honored One, joining their palms, making offerings, bowing from the waist, and asking after him.
At that time Maitreya Bodhisattva. This is why the Buddha cannot casually praise the Bodhisattvas. It's all right for the Bodhisattvas to praise the Buddha, but it's not all right for the Buddha to praise the Bodhisattvas as he pleases. Here, as soon as the Buddha praises these Great Bodhisattvas, Maitreya Bodhisattva is the first to have a false thought. He gives rise to a doubt. What doubt does he have?
The Bodhisattva's name, "Maitreya," is Sanskrit, and is translated as "Invincible." No one can be victorious over him; he is the most victorious. Maitreya Bodhisattva andthe Bodhisattvas in the multitude, numbering as many as the sand grains in eight thousand Ganges Rivers, all had this thought. How strange! They all had the same false thought at the same time. "From of old, we have never seen or heard of these Great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas. Where have they come from? There are so many of them, and we don't recognize a single one." Maitreya Bodhisattva can fly and roam anywhere he wants to. He is a Great Master of the Dharma-body, and so he roams in all lands. He has been everywhere, but he has never encountered this great multitude of Bodhisattvas. Therefore he is quite astonished. "We've never seen them before. How can it be that we have followed the Buddha for so long and have never seen all these Great Bodhisattvas? We don't recognize a single one of them. They have welled forth out of the earth and are standing before the World Honored One, joining their palms and making offerings to the World Honored One. They are bowing from the waist and asking after him. We have been with the Buddha a long time. Why haven't we ever seen them? They know the Buddha; do they recognize us? Why don't we recognize these Bodhisattvas?" They gave rise to those kinds of doubts.
Then Maitreya Bodhisattva Mahasattva, knowing the thoughts in the minds of the Bodhisattvas and others, numbering as many as the sand grains in eight thousand Ganges Rivers, and wishing as well to resolve his own doubts, placed his palms together, faced the Buddha, and spoke verses.
Then Maitreya Bodhisattva Mahasattva, a Great Bodhisattva, knew the thoughts in the minds of the Bodhisattvas and others, numbering as many as the sand grains in eight thousand Ganges Rivers. We need not mention that Maitreya Bodhisattva had long ago obtained the five eyes and the six spiritual penetrations. And so as to what the Bodhisattvas and others, numbering as many as the sand grains in eight thousand Ganges Rivers, were thinking-the doubts they were having-Maitreya Bodhisattva knew. He was wishing as well to resolve his own doubts. He didn't understand either; he wanted to clear up his own questions, so he placed his palms together, faced the Buddha, and spoke verses. They spoke verses in order to ask the Buddha what the reason for all this was.
These limitless thousands of myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas are forming a great host,
Such as we have never seen before.
We pray the Doubly-Complete Honored One
Will tell us where they came from
And why they are gathered here.
They have huge bodies, great spiritual penetrations,
And inconceivable wisdom.
They are solid in resolve and will,
And possess the great power of patience.
Living beings delight in seeing them.
But where did they come from?
These limitless thousands of myriads of kotis, so many Bodhisattvas! Such a vast host of Great Bodhisattvas! Beyond count! Ultimately how many are there? Thousands of tens of thousands of millions of kotis-I can't figure out that number!
These Bodhisattvas are forming a great host. So many Bodhisattvas, such as we have never seen before. Although there are so many, I never met a single one of them in the past. I've been to many places, but I have never encountered any of these Great Bodhisattvas.
We pray the Doubly-Complete Honored One will explain. We hope the Thus Come One, who is replete with both blessings and wisdom will tell us where they came from. From what place are these limitless, boundless, thousands of myriads of kotis of Bodhisattvas coming? I've traveled to many places. I've gone on many vacations, but I've never happened upon any of these Bodhisattvas. I've been all over the Dharma Realm, and I never encountered a one.
Why are they gathered here? What are the causes and conditions that bring them to assemble in this place? They have huge bodies and great spiritual penetrations. They are physically big-extremely tall. With such large bodies, their spiritual penetrations are also certainly not going to be small. They must have great spiritual penetrations, no doubt much greater by far than those possessed by Mahamaudgalyayana. And their wisdom is inconceivable wisdom. We can't fathom their wisdom. We have no way to comprehend the magnitude of their wisdom. Both their spiritual penetrations and their wisdom are vast. We can neither conceive of them with our minds nor express them in words. They are solid in resolve and will. The determination of these Great Bodhisattvas is definitely firm and strong. Their three kinds of learning to be without outflows-precepts, samadhi, and wisdom-are certainly exceptionally solid. They possess the great power of patience. They possess the great power of giving, the great power of precepts, the great power of patience, the great power of vigor, the great power of samadhi, and the great power of prajna. Living beings delight in seeing them. Everyone likes to see these Great Bodhisattvas. Everyone delights in hearing them speak the Dharma. But where did they come from? Will the World Honored One please tell us? We all want to hear about these causes and conditions.
Originally I was going to ask you to identify one of the Arhat disciples, whose accomplishment I mentioned yesterday. I had told you that if you couldn't answer, then I wouldn't lecture. But I forgot to ask prior to the lecture, and only remembered as I began to lecture. Once I thought of it, I said to myself, "I'd better just go ahead and lecture tonight and then ask at the end of the lecture. And if no one can answer the question, then I won't lecture tomorrow night. Because if I asked at the beginning of the lecture, right after I had ascended the Dharma seat, and then didn't lecture, that would disappoint everyone. But to ask now, at the end of the lecture, will prepare you in advance for the fact that I'm not going to lecture tomorrow night if no one knows the answer.
Question: And so, who is foremost in debate?
All you need to do is remember this verse, and you'll be relatively well-informed about the Ten Foremost Disciples' abilities:
Shari is wisdom; Maudgal, penetrations.
Speaking the Dharma is Purna.
Subhuti is empty; Kaushthila debates.
Kashyapa practices dhuta.
Ruddha has the heavenly eye,
Pali upholds the precepts,
Rejoicing (Ananda) has much erudition.
Practice in secret is Rahu.
Each and every Bodhisattva
Has brought a retinue
Limitless in number,
Like the Ganges sand grains.
Some of the Great Bodhisattvas
Lead retinues of beings as many as
The sand grains in sixty thousand Ganges Rivers.
Such are the great assemblies
Single-mindedly seeking the Buddha Way.
These Great Masters,
In number like the sand grains in sixty thousand Ganges Rivers,
Have all come to make offerings to the Buddha
And to protect and uphold this Sutra.
Those with retinues comprised of as many as the sand grains in fifty thousand Ganges Rivers
Are even more in number.
Those with retinues numbering forty or thirty thousand,
Twenty, down to ten thousand,
One thousand, one hundred,
And so forth, down to the sand grains of a single Ganges River,
And those with a half, a third, or a quarter thereof,
Down to one ten thousandth of a millionth thereof,
Or one thousandth of a ten thousandth of a nayuta thereof,
And the ones with tens of thousands of millions of disciples, on down to half a million,
Are even more numerous.
There are also those with hundreds of tens of thousands,
Thousands, or hundreds,
Fifty, or ten,
Down to three, two, or one,
And those who come alone without a retinue,
All these come before the Buddha
In numbers surpassing those just stated.
So large is the assembly
That were one to count them
For eons numbering more than Ganges sand grains,
Still one could not fully know them.
Each and every Bodhisattva. Maitreya Bodhisattva continues to question the Buddha about the Bodhisattvas who welled forth out of the earth, not one of whom he has ever seen before.
Every one of those Bodhisattvas has brought a retinue limitless in number. The actual count of all these Bodhisattvas would be extremely difficult to ascertain. They were limitless and boundless, like the Ganges sand grains. / Some of the Great Bodhisattvas / Lead retinues comprised ofbeings, disciples, who are as many as / The sand grains of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers. They have that many disciples. Such are the great assemblies / Single-mindedly seeking the Buddha Way.
These Great Masters, / In number like the sand grains in sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, / Have all come to make offerings to the Buddha. They all make offerings to the Buddha at the same time, and they arrive to protect and uphold this Sutra. They wish to make vows to protect and maintain the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
Those with retinues comprised of as many disciples as the sand grains in fifty thousand Ganges Rivers / Are yet even more in number. Perhaps there are those whose retinues surpass the number fifty thousand or are less than fifty thousand. There are those with retinues numbering forty or thirty thousand disciples. Some bring twenty, down to ten thousand, / One thousand, one hundred, / And so forth, down to the sand grains in a single Ganges river. Those who bring disciples whose number was a half, a third, or a quarter thereof, / Down to one ten thousandth of a millionth thereof, / Or one thousandth of a ten thousandth of a nayuta thereof, on down to half a million disciples are more numerous. Maybe they bring more or less than the above numbers.
And the ones with tens of thousands of millions of disciples, on down to half a million, / Are even more numerous. / There are also those with hundreds of tens of thousands, / Thousands, or hundreds in their retinues. Some bring fifty disciples or ten disciples. Some bring down to three or two disciples or one disciple. And there are those who come alone without a retinue. Maybe there are Bodhisattvas who come by themselves because they prefer not to take disciples, feeling that disciples often fail to heed instructions and make all kinds of trouble. Preferring isolation, some cultivators come all by themselves. But now even they, all these, come before the Buddha Shakyamuni, in numbers surpassing those just stated. There's really no way to calculate their number. So large is the assembly / That were one to count them / For great eons numbering more than Ganges sand grains, / Still one could not fully know them. Never could their number be completely known.
Who spoke the Dharma for
All these of great awesome virtue-
This vigorous host of Bodhisattvas-
Teaching, transforming, and bringing them to accomplishment?
Under whom did they first bring forth their resolve?
Whose Buddhadharma do they praise and proclaim?
Whose scriptures do they receive, uphold, and practice?
And which Buddha's Way do they cultivate?
Such are the Bodhisattvas' powers
Of spiritual penetrations and great wisdom,
That throughout the four directions,
The earth quakes and splits open,
And they rise up out of it.
World Honored One, from of old,
I have never seen such a thing.
Pray tell us the names
Of the countries they come from.
I am always roaming through the lands,
But I have never seen this assembly.
I do not recognize
A single one in this multitude.
Suddenly they have welled forth out of the earth.
Pray explain the reason why.
Now in this great assembly,
The limitless hundreds of thousands of millions
Of Bodhisattvas all
Wish to understand this event:
The causes and conditions, first to last,
Of this host of Bodhisattvas.
O World Honored One of limitless virtue,
We only pray you will resolve the assembly's doubts.
All these of great awesome virtue, these greatly virtuous Bodhisattvas, must certainly cultivate vigorous practices. They definitely must be extraordinarily vigorous. That must be why now they are endowed with such awesome virtue. This vigorous host of Bodhisattvas form a great multitude, and they vigorously cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. But now they have become Great Bodhisattvas. Who spoke the Dharma for them in the beginning? Who did they study the Dharma with? Now we want to know this.
Who has been teaching, transforming, and bringing them to accomplishment? Who has been helping them to accomplish their Bodhisattva deeds in the Way. Who taught and transformed them? We are wondering about these things. Under whom did they first bring forth their resolve? Which Dharma Master were they following when they brought forth their very first resolve? Under which Dharma Master did they leave home and cultivate the Way? Under whom did they first bring forth their resolve?
In cultivation, bringing forth the initial resolve is the most important event for a cultivator. You should never forget your initial resolve. Why did you first bring forth the resolve to investigate the Buddhadharma? Why, after you investigated the Buddhadharma, did you want to leave home? Now that you have left the home-life, how should you proceed? These are important matters. You shouldn't be all muddled, learn some confused Buddhadharma, leave the home-life in a confused way, and then become a confused monk who does confused things. That's what you should not do. Therefore, you must be vigorous. Never forget that one thought when you first brought forth the resolve. Why did you decide to leave the home-life? There are so many other things you could have done with your life. And so the question is asked: Under which Dharma Master did they make their initial resolve?
Whose Buddhadharma do they praise and proclaim? Which Buddha's Dharma do they laud? What Buddhadharmas do they extol? Whose scriptures do they receive, uphold, and practice? What Sutras do they cultivate? Did they rely on the Store Teaching in their cultivation? Or did they rely on the Penetrating Teaching in their cultivation? Or did they rely on the Differentiating Teaching in their cultivation? Or do they rely on the Perfect Teaching in their cultivation? What teaching's principles do they use as the foundation for their cultivation? What Sutras do they follow in their cultivation? Do they rely on the Dharma Flower Sutra in their cultivation? Do they rely on the Shurangama Sutra in their cultivation? Do they rely on the Flower Adornment Sutra, with its endless, endless entrances into practice, in their cultivation?
Or do they cultivate the Pure Land Dharmas? Do they cultivate the Chan School? Do they cultivate the Secret School? Do they study and practice the Teaching School? Chan, Teaching, Vinaya, Secret, and Pure Land are the five teaching schools. Which ones did they use as their entrances into practice? And which Buddha's Way do they cultivate and practice? Do they hold precepts? Practice patience? Or do they practice giving? Do they cultivate vigor? Do they cultivate Chan samadhi or prajna? These are the things we are not clear about.
Such are the Bodhisattva's power. There are so many Bodhisattvas; you could never count them. Their spiritual penetrations and great wisdom are such. Their spiritual penetrations are great, and the power of their wisdom is great. Because their wisdom power is great, their spiritual penetrations are great. Because they have great spiritual penetrations, they have great wisdom. Throughout the four directions, / The earth quakes and splits open. Because their spiritual powers are great and their wisdom is great, the earth-north, south, east, and west-trembles and splits open, and they rise up out of it. They issue forth, welling forth out of the earth like a bubbling spring.
World Honored One, from of old-from the long distant past onwards-I have never seen such a thing. I have seen many inconceivable states, but this state I have never seen. Just imagine, even Maitreya Bodhisattva has never seen such an event. I hope the World Honored One will be greatly compassionate and tell us where these Bodhisattvas have come from. Pray tell us the names / Of the countries they come from. What countries are they in and what are the names of those countries? Although I am a Bodhisattva, I don't know anything about these matters. I am always roaming through the lands. Previously I told you that Maitreya Bodhisattva is always taking vacations-going on holidays-to all the different countries. Now he tells us that himself. No wonder Americans love to go on vacations; even Bodhisattvas like to travel. But I have never seen this assembly. Although I have been to many lands-I've been everywhere-I have never met these Bodhisattvas. I do not recognize / A single one in this multitude. I don't have a single friend among them. I'm not acquainted with any of them.
Suddenly they have welled forth out of the earth. / Pray explain the reason why. He is unclear about what is happening. Even Maitreya Bodhisattva is confused, because he doesn't know who they are. Not knowing is a kind of confusion. "Although I'm unclear, I'd like to get clear. Shakyamuni Buddha, please tell us about the causes and conditions of these Bodhisattvas. Let us hear about them. Will you do it? Shakyamuni Buddha, I know you are very compassionate, and surely you will tell us."
Now in this great assembly, / The limitless hundreds of thousands of millions / Of Bodhisattvas all-not just I, Maitreya Bodhisattva-wish to understand this event. They are of the same mind as I am. I want to know because I know they want to know. And so now I am requesting on their behalf. What are the causes and conditions, first to last, / Of this host of Bodhisattvas? Their very beginnings are their formative stages. I want to know their formative stages on through to the very end. I want to know their causes and conditions. We want to know their proximate causes and remote causes. I want to know their background. We want to know all about them. O World Honored One of limitless virtue, / We only pray you will resolve the assembly's doubts. World Honored One, you have limitless blessings, limitless wisdom, and limitless virtue. My only hope is that you will resolve the assembly's doubts, so we can all understand the causes and conditions behind what is happening here.
At that time all the Division-Body Buddhas of Shakyamuni Buddha, who had come from limitless thousands of myriads of kotis of lands in other directions, sat in lotus posture on lion thrones beneath jeweled trees throughout the eight directions. Each of the attendants of those Buddhas, seeing this great assembly of Bodhisattvas of the three thousand great thousand worlds welling forth out of the earth in the four directions and dwelling in empty space, said to his respective Buddha, "World Honored One, where have all the limitless boundless, asamkhyeyas of Bodhisattvas in this great host come from?"
Each of those Buddhas then told his attendants, "All of you good men, just wait one moment! There is a Bodhisattva Mahasattva named Maitreya, upon whom Shakyamuni Buddha has bestowed a prediction that he shall be the next Buddha. He has already asked about this matter, and the Buddha is about to answer him. For this reason, you may all hear about it."
In the previous verse section, Maitreya Bodhisattva expressed his doubts. Now the attendants that the Shakyamuni Buddhas have brought with them, their disciples, having seen this rare occurrence of the arrival of so many Great Bodhisattvas, have false thoughts and doubts, too: "Where did all these Bodhisattvas come from? Why have so many people come today? So many Bodhisattvas! Where could they have come from?"
At that time all the Division-Body Buddhas, whom Shakyamuni Buddha had sent to all the limitless lands, came to here from limitless thousands of myriads of kotis of lands in other directions. Beneath jeweled trees throughout the eight directions: They dwell in the eight directions-east, south, west, north, southwest, southeast, northwest, and northeast. There are four directions proper and four intermediate directions. They sat in lotus posture on lion thrones. Lotus posture is most honored, most venerated in Buddhism; those of you who study the Buddhadharma should first know how to sit in the lotus position.
Each of the attendants of those Buddhas were seeing this great assembly of Bodhisattvas. Every attendant looked at these Great Bodhisattvas of the three thousand great thousand worlds welling forth out of the earth in the four directions. In each of the cardinal directions, they issued forth from the ground and were dwelling in empty space, because the stupas of Many Jewels Buddha-the Thus Come One Many Jewels-and Shakyamuni Buddha were both in empty space. Each attendant said to his respective Buddha, "World Honored One." The title World Honored One here does not refer to Shakyamuni Buddha, but to all of Shakyamuni Buddha's division-body World Honored Ones. There were limitless, boundless asamkhyeyasof Bodhisattvas in this great host. Asamkhyeya means a limitless number. There were limitless, boundless numbers of limitlessly, boundlessly many Bodhisattvas. "Wherehave they all come from, this great assembly of Great Bodhisattvas? How is it that we have never met them before? What place have all these Great Bodhisattvas come from?"
Each of those Buddhas, all those division-body Buddhas of Shakyamuni Buddha, then told his attendants, the disciples he had brought with him, "All of you good men. You youngsters! Just wait one moment. Don't make so much noise. You aren't the least bit composed." The Buddhas certainly said, "Quiet! Don't make so much noise. Wait a minute. Don't be nervous. There is a Bodhisattva Mahasattva-there's already a Great Bodhisattva-named Maitreya. He is the one upon whom Shakyamuni Buddha has bestowed a prediction that he shall be the next Buddha. Maitreya Bodhisattva has been given a prediction and a name; he will follow Shakyamuni Buddha to become the next Buddha. After Shakyamuni Buddha enters Nirvana, then, in the future, within the Buddhadharma, Maitreya will be the next Buddha."
In the world, there are proponents of externalist ways who claim to be Maitreya Buddha. This one says, "I am Maitreya Buddha; I have come. Do you recognize me?"
Another says, "Actually, I am the real Maitreya Bodhisattva."
That's the way it goes. One transmits a Way and another one transmits another Way. Each transmits a different teaching. There's "receiving perfection" and "reaping the fruition" -lots of kinds. In China alone, there are many phony Maitreya Bodhisattvas. They say they are Maitreya Bodhisattva, but actually it's too early for Maitreya Bodhisattva to come.
Maitreya Bodhisattva will come in the future. When will that be? I've talked about this before. The average human life span decreases by a year every hundred years. The average height decreases by an inch. When the life span has decreased to the point that people live an average of ten years, it will begin to increase again at the same rate: Every hundred years, one year will be added to the average life span and one inch will be added to the average height.
When the average life span drops to ten years, people will be about the height of dogs. They won't grow very tall, and they will die by the time they are ten years old. People's life spans and heights will decrease each hundred years. But most people don't live to be a hundred, so we won't know how tall the people will be a hundred years from now. Also, you have to remember that this is an average, not a specific person's height and life span. You may want to argue that some people are taller than people used to be. But individuals don't count; we are referring to the average.
After the average human life span reaches ten years, it will begin to increase. Every hundred years, the life span will increase by one year and the average height by one inch; they will increase again. When the average life span has decreased to eighty thousand years, Maitreya Bodhisattva will come into the world. Therefore, these pretenders who say they are Maitreya Bodhisattva are mistaken. But you should also realize this: If you have conditions with Maitreya Bodhisattva, he can come now and teach and transform you; he can save you. There are no fixed Dharmas.
He has already asked about this matter. Maitreya Bodhisattva has already asked about what's going on here. And the Buddha is about to answer him. Shakyamuni Buddha is just about ready to reply to his question. For this reason, you may all hear about it. Don't make noise. Be quiet. Listen. Since Maitreya Bodhisattva has already asked and Shakyamuni Buddha is going to answer his question, if you listen, you will all understand as well. Don't be nervous, youngsters.
In the blink of an eye, the Summer Session has passed. Those of you who attended may feel it was very exhausting, and you may be tired. But you should know that although it may be invisible to you, your fatigue and weariness has actually created inconceivable merit and virtue for you within your self-natures. Therefore, in these last few weeks you should certainly be heroic and vigorous. Do not relax as you did during the break. Be careful to speak less and to refrain from false thinking. Everyone should work hard at cultivating, investigating the Sutras, and sitting in Dhyana. Do this seriously. I noticed you all slacked off in the middle of the Session. If a single person indulges in a lot of talk, he disturbs everyone, making it impossible to cultivate. We should protect the group and not do things to cause people not to cultivate. If the great assembly does not cultivate, it then becomes your offense. Do you realize that?
I told one of my disciples not to look after money anymore. There was an important reason for doing this. It wasn't that he is muddled, and so I did not want him to deal with money. Although he may be muddled all day long, and although he sleeps all the time, sometimes he's awake. And so why did I not want him to deal with money? Because there is another more important responsibility than that of looking after money that I want him to take care of. Some people are thinking I want him to be the president. No, this time I want him to sit Chan. That's because last year I thought that this disciple should become enlightened, but to date he has not done so and I have just let it go by. Basically I don't pay attention to these kinds of things. But recently I looked into the question of why he hadn't enlightened. I found that it was because he had entered the money samadhi, and being in the money samadhi, he didn't have any meditation skill. Because he had entered the money samadhi, there was no Chan samadhi. That's why he wasn't becoming enlightened.
I've instructed him that from now on he should practice sitting in Chan meditation; he should meditate every day. Every day he should develop his skill well, and he should become familiar with how to start and end the sitting periods. We've already announced the upcoming meditation session: fourteen weeks of Chan Sessions this winter. I want him to stay in the Chan Hall all the time and accompany all of you while you are working at your meditation skill. We are making several incense boards. If he doesn't apply effort himself, you can tap him. If you don't work, he can hit all of you, because he's so tall. If he doesn't work, you can hit him. This is called "striking seven in Chan," and so you can mutually hit each other.
And so his responsibility is to be the Wei Nwo in the Chan Hall. He will not be allowed to leave the hall at any time. In a Chan session, we want to end birth and death. It's not something to take casually. It won't be like the Summer Session has been, with lectures on the Sutras, Dharma talks, and investigation of the Sutras. At that time, there will be "wordless speaking of Dharma"; no one will talk. Perhaps there will be one or two instructional talks each day, but no more than that.
If I don't relieve him of his responsibilities involving money now, and if I wait until close to the time for the session to start, he certainly will not be able to put a stop to his false thinking. And so he has to start training now. From now on he should make special effort. If he doesn't become enlightened this year during that session, I will not allow him to eat, only to drink water.
Shakyamuni Buddha then said to Maitreya Bodhisattva, "Good indeed, good indeed, Ajita, that you can inquire of the Buddha about such a great matter. You should all single-mindedly don the armor of vigor. Put forth a firm resolve.
"The Thus Come One now wishes to disclose and proclaim the wisdom of all Buddhas, the power of all Buddhas' comfortable self-mastery and spiritual penetrations, the power of all Buddhas' lion sprint, and the power of all Buddhas' awesome courage and mighty strength."
At that time, the World Honored One, wishing to restate these principles, spoke verses:
Shakyamuni Buddha then said to Maitreya Bodhisattva, "Good indeed, good indeed, Ajita, that you can inquire of the Buddha about such a great matter." The attendants that the Buddhas of the ten directions brought with them, those Bodhisattvas, also had doubts, and each went to ask the Buddha whom he accompanied. They asked, "Where have these Great Bodhisattvas come from? Why don't we recognize them?"
And so each of the Buddhas told his attendants: "Don't be nervous. Listen. Just now, Maitreya Bodhisattva has already asked Shakyamuni World Honored One that question. Shakyamuni World Honored One is now going to answer. From their dialogue you will come to understand the causes and conditions."
"Then" refers to that time. Shakyamuni Buddha, the World Honored One, spoke to Maitreya Bodhisattva, saying, "Maitreya Bodhisattva, good indeed, good indeed!"
"Good indeed, good indeed" has two meanings. The first "good indeed" means that Maitreya Bodhisattva's question was excellent. Why? Because he understood the Buddha's mind. His question tallied above with all the Buddhas' minds. The second "good indeed" means that his question was again excellent in that it tallied below with everyone's thoughts. It tallied below with living beings thoughts, with their minds. That's why "good indeed" was spoken twice.
Why is it said to be a "great matter"? Because it "discloses the traces in order to reveal the origin, and discloses the near to reveal the far. "Traces" are the imprints left by previous events. Revealing the origin means manifesting the way it basically was, manifesting the events of one's previous lives.
The Buddha also wants to disclose the near to reveal the far. In the past, this Dharma-door had never been spoken. This Dharma-door was not spoken during the Flower Adornment Period, nor was this Dharma-door spoken during the Agama Period. In the Vaipulya Period, this Dharma-door was not spoken; and in the Prajna Period, this Dharma-door was also not spoken. Only in the Lotus-Nirvana Period was this Dharma-door finally spoken. It's only now, in the Lotus-Nirvana Period, that the Dharma Flower is spoken. This is "disclosing the near to reveal the far," a subtle, wonderful, inconceivable Dharma-door. And, since it has never before been spoken out in such an open and obvious manner, this is a great matter. Furthermore, the "great matter" does not refer to the virtue of the nature, but to the virtue of cultivation. The virtue of cultivation through which one attains the level of fruition is extremely profound and far-reaching. This is not referring to the principle of the equality of the virtue of the nature. Therefore, this matter is a specific, not a principle. It is a great matter.
The Buddha therefore says, "Good indeed, good indeed, Ajita, that you have been able to ask the Buddha about this great matter."
You should all single-mindedly… The word "should" is an exhortation, an admonishment. "Each of you in this great assembly should be single-minded. Do not allow your minds to be scattered," he warns them. "If you want to listen to me explain this Dharma, you must be single-minded. Don the armor of vigor. Put on vigor as your armor. Vigor implies that one should not be lazy. This is a warning to you not to be lazy. Go forward with vigor. Put forth a firm resolve; do not retreat. You should bring forth a determined resolve not to retreat."
The Thus Come One's genuine wisdom was perfected long ago. Long, distant kalpas ago it was perfect. Since it was perfected so long ago, he is able to provisionally manifest to teach and transform living beings. For the sake of the real, he bestows the provisional. He uses provisional, clever expedient Dharma-doors to teach and transform living beings. He has done this work of teaching and transforming living beings in the past, and he is doing it in the present. And so it is said that his teaching reaches throughout the three periods of time and benefits creatures in the ten directions. Thus the Buddha teaches and transforms those in the ten directions and the three periods of time. This is a state that those below the level of a Bodhisattva of Equal Enlightenment can understand. Therefore it is said to be inconceivable.
The Buddha takes advantage of the Bodhisattva's question to exhort and warn the great assembly. He tells them what they should do and what they should refrain from doing: They should be single-minded and not let their minds be scattered; they should don the armor of vigor and not be lax; they should put forth a firm resolve and not retreat. He told the multitude in that Dharma Assembly that they should think in that way.
The Thus Come One now wishes to disclose and proclaim the wisdom of all Buddhas. Shakyamuni Buddha said, "I, the Thus Come One, wish to disclose and proclaim the wisdom of all Buddhas."
What is the wisdom of all Buddhas? The Dharma Flower Sutra contains the wisdom of all Buddhas. It has the wisdom of accomplishing the Buddha Way. If you want to know the wisdom of all Buddhas, you should investigate the Dharma Flower Sutra. The power of all Buddhas' comfortable self-mastery and spiritual penetrations. He also wishes to disclose and proclaim, explain and reveal, the power of all Buddhas' self-mastery and spiritual penetrations. "All Buddhas' comfortable self-mastery" represents the virtue of true self-one of the Four Virtues of Nirvana. Spiritual penetrations represent the virtue of bliss of that same list. The power of all Buddhas' lion sprint. The Thus Come One wants to proclaim and disclose all Buddhas' power of the lion sprint. What is that power? Of the Four Virtues-eternity, bliss, true self, and purity-it represents the virtue of purity. The virtue of purity is the power of the lion sprint, because the lion sprint can expel defilement. Since it expels defilement, the lion sprint is the virtue of purity. "The power of all Buddhas' awesome courage and mighty strength" refers to all Buddhas' great power of awesome virtue and heroic courage. Shakyamuni Buddha also wants to proclaim and disclose all Buddhas' power of great awesome courage, which represents the virtue of eternity. Because the Four Virtues are perfected, all Buddhas are able in the past, present, and future to have power to benefit living beings. Power refers to beneficent strength. "Great spiritual powers and comfortable self-mastery" means having entered the "ultimate dwelling place of compassion." The "power of the lion sprint" means "ascending to the ultimate throne of the emptiness of dharmas." "Awesome courage and mighty strength" represents the "ultimate clothing of patience." This is the same as "entering the Thus Come One's room, sitting on the Thus Come One's seat, and putting on the Thus Come One's clothes."
At that time Shakyamuni, the World Honored One, wishing to restate these principles in detail, spoke verses; he used the language of verse to reiterate his meaning:
You should be vigorous and of one mind.
For I wish to speak about this matter.
Hold no doubts or regrets-
The wisdom of the Buddhas is inconceivable.
Bring forth, now, the power of faith,
And abide in patience and goodness,
For the Dharma which from of old has never been heard,
You are now about to hear.
I am comforting you now,
So have no doubt or fear.
The Buddhas never speak falsely,
And their wisdom cannot be measured.
That foremost Dharma they have gained
Is extremely profound, beyond discerning.
As such, it should now be explained,
And you should single-mindedly listen.
"You should be vigorous and of one mind," Shakyamuni Buddha said. "You in this great assembly and all the Great Bodhisattvas who have come from the ten directions, as well as Maitreya Bodhisattva, should be vigorous and single-minded. You should don the armor of vigor. Don't be lax. Don't be lazy. Be of one mind. Become single-minded. Don't let your minds become scattered while you are listening to the Lotus Dharma I am about to explain for you. For now I wish to speak about this matter. Now I want to tell you about the causes and conditions of the great matter for which I appeared in the world. I want to tell you clearly about this matter. Hold no doubts or regrets. Don't give rise to doubts or fail to believe me. The wisdom of the Buddhas is inconceivable. The Buddha said, "The wisdom of the Buddhas of the ten directions and of mine, Shakyamuni Buddha's, is inconceivable. You ordinary people cannot comprehend it. You cannot understand the wisdom of the Buddhas. Bring forth, now, the power of faith. All of you in the Great Assembly should get hold of the strength of your faith and abide in patience and goodness. You should concentrate on the paramita of patience and do the good deeds born of patience. Set your minds on patience.
For the Dharma which from of old has never been heard. You have never heard this Dharma before. It's only now that you will hear this Wonderful Dharma. You are now about to hear it. Earlier I spoke expedient, provisional Dharma-doors. I did not speak actual Dharma for you to hear. Now I want to speak the inconceivable Wonderful Dharma for you. You will all be able to hear it. I am comforting you now. I want to comfort all of you; you should become single-minded and vigorous. Bring forth a firm resolve to listen to this Dharma. So have no doubt or fear. You should not have doubts. You should not become frightened. The Buddhas never speak falsely. The Dharma that the Buddhas speak is true, actual and not false. Now is the time to open up the provisional and reveal the actual, to disclose the near and reveal the far. I'm going to speak the inconceivable Wonderful Dharma for you to hear. The Buddhas never say anything that isn't so. You should bring forth faith.
And their wisdom cannot be measured. Buddhas speak true and actual words, and the Buddhas' wisdom is incalculable. There is no way to say how much wisdom a Buddha has. That foremost Dharma they have gained. The Buddhas have obtained the Number One Wonderful Dharma. The Wonderful Dharma for accomplishing Buddhahood is extremely profound, beyond discerning. It is especially deep, utterly profound. There is no way to determine how deep it is; it is beyond discerning. As such,it-this inconceivable Wonderful Dharma that cannot be discriminated-should now be explained. This is the time to explain it. And you should single-mindedly listen. All of you in the Great Assembly, including all of you Bodhisattvas, should become single-minded and listen to this Wonderful Dharma.
The World Honored One, having recited those verses, then said to Maitreya Bodhisattva, "I now, in this great assembly, make this announcement to all of you: Ajita! These incalculable asamkhyeyas of Great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, who have welled forth out of the earth and whom you have never seen before, are those whom I taught, transformed, and guided in this Saha world after I attained Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. I tamed and subdued the minds of these Bodhisattvas, causing them to bring forth the resolve for the Way."
Then, Shakyamuni Buddha, The World Honored One, finished speaking those verses, and having recited those verses, then said to Maitreya Bodhisattva, "Maitreya Bodhisattva, I will now tell you. I now, in this great assembly, make this announcement to all of you Great Bodhisattvas. Ajita! Pay attention to what I am about to tell you. These Great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, who issued forth from beneath the earth, are incalculable-one knows not how many-asamkhyeyas in number." "Asamkhyeya" is translated as "an incalculable number." Now there are incalculable numbers of incalculable numbers of Bodhisattvas who have welled forth out of the earth. You have never seen so many Bodhisattvas as these before, right? Now I will tell you. "In this Saha World," refers to the world that we are "able to endure," the world "full of a myriad evils." It is also known as the world where a myriad sufferings merge together. After I attained Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, the unsurpassed, proper and equal, right enlightenment, I taught, transformed, and guided these Bodhisattvas, and pointed out the Way to them, leading and guiding them. I tamed and subdued the minds of these Bodhisattvas. I caused those with afflictions to be without afflictions. I caused those with ignorance to be without ignorance. I caused those with delusions like dust and sand to get rid of their delusions like dust and sand. Those with view delusions and thought delusions also got rid of those view and thought delusions, the delusions like dust and sand, and ignorance. I tamed and subdued their minds, causing them to bring forth the resolve for the Way. I have caused them all to decide to cultivate the Way and to be resolved to practice the Bodhisattva Way. They have been brought to accomplishment through my previous teaching and transforming.
"All of these Bodhisattvas live in empty space beneath the Saha World. They have read and recited all the Sutras until they have penetrated them thoroughly. They have pondered their meanings in detail and have been properly mindful of them."
All of these Bodhisattvas, that is, the ones who have just now welled forth from the earth, live in empty space beneath the Saha World. Ordinary people cannot know of this state. If you obtain the Five Eyes and the Six Spiritual Penetrations, then the empty space you see will not be the same as the empty space that ordinary people see. In empty space, the seven treasures are profuse. There are all kinds of palaces, all kinds of pavilions, and various Way-places; they are all adorned with the seven treasures. Within every palace, pavilion, and Way-place are Buddhas speaking the Dharma and Great Bodhisattvas listening to the Dharma and cultivating. That's what the Dharma Realm is like. The entirety of empty space is filled with the Buddhadharma.
The Bodhisattvas who have just now welled forth out of the earth live in the empty space 168 yojanas beneath our Saha World. If you have not opened your Way-eyes, you will be unaware of this state. Once you open your Way-eyes, then when you want to recite a Sutra, there are Sutras everywhere for you to recite. When you want to cultivate a Dharma, there are Dharmas everywhere. When you want to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way, you can do it any time you want. And so this is a wonderful and inconceivable state. These Bodhisattvas reside in empty space. They have read and recited all the Sutras. They read and recite the Flower Adornment Sutra, the Shurangama Sutra, the Earth Store Sutra, the Vajra Sutra, and all the other Sutras in the Tripitaka. "Read" means to look at the book and read aloud. "Recite" means to recite from memory, without the book.
They have penetrated them thoroughly. Not one word do they read incorrectly. Not one sentence do they get wrong. Not one page would they forget. That's what's meant by "penetrated thoroughly": They have pondered their meanings in detail. In order to read a Sutra until one is familiar with it, one cannot stop at only reciting it. One must also reflect upon it and discern its meanings, ponder the wonderful meanings and principles in the Sutras. And they have been properly mindful of them. They are thoroughly attentive to the reading and reciting of the Dharma Flower Sutra. They are doing it right now. They are reading and reciting the Great Vehicle Sutras. At all times they have their minds on what they are doing. They do not forget the Sutras. They continually cultivate and study the doctrines in the Dharma Flower Sutra. And so these Great Bodhisattvas are those whom Shakyamuni Buddha in the past taught and transformed and brought to accomplishment.
"Ajita! All these good men take no delight in dwelling with the multitudes or in much talk. They always enjoy living in quiet places where they practice with diligence and vigor, never resting. They do not take up residence with humans or gods."
Shakyamuni Buddha called again, "Ajita Bodhisattva, all these good men, so many Great Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, take no delight in dwelling with the multitudes." They don't like being in places where many people are gathered. What is meant by busy, crowded places? It refers to within and beyond the Triple Realm. Within and beyond the Triple Realm are the five skandhas, and it is these five skandhas that "the multitudes" refers to. These Bodhisattvas have all illumined and viewed the five skandhas as empty, and so they take no delight in being with the multitudes. Their five skandhas are already empty. Nor do they like much talk. Since they have already transcended the Triple Realm, they have thoroughly comprehended all dharmas as basically inexpressible. There's nothing that can be said about them, and so they take no delight in talking. They always enjoy living in quiet places. They always like to be quiet; they like tranquil places. "Quiet places" represents the Truth of the Primary Principle. They are always within the Dharma of the Truth of the Primary Principle, and so they practice with diligence and vigor. They all have comprehended the doctrine of the Truth of the Primary Principle-the Dharma-door of no speaking, of no words. They practice vigor. They are diligently vigorous and not the least bit lazy, never resting. They approach the Buddhadharma with diligent vigor and do not rest. They never rest. For the sake of the Dharma, they forget themselves. For the Buddhadharma, they will forget all else. They do not take up residence with humans or gods. They don't live among people, and they don't abide in the heavens. Where do they live? They reside in empty space.
"They always delight in deep wisdom and have no obstacles. They also always delight in the Dharmas of all Buddhas. With single-minded vigor they seek supreme wisdom."
They always delight in deep wisdom. What they like is profound and far-reaching great wisdom and great knowledge. They have no obstacles. Why don't they have any obstacles? Because they have wisdom. Why do you, as a person, meet with situations that you cannot see through and cannot put down? You have obstacles. Of obstacles, there are (1) the obstacle of afflictions and (2) the obstacle of what is known. With the obstacle of what is known, you think, "I know more than you." That's an obstacle. "I understand more than you do." That's also an obstacle. The obstacle of what is known is the fiercest obstacle. The obstacle of afflictions is very obvious, and so people quite easily recognize it.
There's also (3) the obstacle of karma: When one's karmic obstacles overtake one, one cannot take care of oneself. Perhaps one goes insane or some other unusual thing happens. That's one's karmic obstacles propelling one, oppressing one, and causing all kinds of matters that are not in accord with the Dharma to occur. There's also (4) the obstacle of retribution, that is, the retributions one must undergo.
The obstacle of afflictions, the obstacle of karma, and the obstacle of retribution all hinder one, but the worst is the obstacle of what is known. Before you knew, there was no obstacle. As soon as you know a lot, obstacles arises. You become arrogant. For instance, before you began to study the Buddhadharma, you didn't have this obstacle. But after studying the Buddhadharma for a few years, you think, "I know a lot more Buddhadharma than you do." With that, you give rise to an obstacle. To begin with, we study in order to become free of obstacles, but many who study end up getting this obstacle.
These Bodhisattvas have no obstacles. No obstacles at all. It's said, "Everything you enter into goes favorably." Everything goes your way. Everything makes you happy. "Favorably" means you are very pleased. No matter what causes and conditions, no matter what the situation, you are always very happy. They also always delight in the Dharmas of all Buddhas. They always want to study and practice all Dharmas-all the Buddhas' Dharmas-with single-minded vigor. They don't think about anything else. They are of one mind. What is that mind about? They seek supreme wisdom. They want to obtain the highest, most supreme, most ultimate wisdom: the knowledge and wisdom of a Buddha. That is ultimate wisdom.
At that time the World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses, saying:
Then, at that time, Shakyamuni World Honored One, concerned that living beings might still not understand this principle or that they hadn't heard it clearly, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses to reiterate.
Ajita, you should know,
All these Great Bodhisattvas,
For countless eons,
Have cultivated and practiced the Buddha-wisdom.
They are all being taught by me,
And caused to bring forth great resolve for the Way.
They are all my disciples,
Dwelling in this world system.
Ever practicing the work of dhuta,
They are determined and delight in quiet places.
Renouncing the bustle of crowds,
They take no delight in much talk.
Study and practice the Dharma of my Way,
Vigorous always, day and night,
Seeking the Buddha Way.
They dwell in the empty space
Beneath this Saha world,
Solid and powerful in resolve and thought.
They are ever diligent in seeking wisdom.
They speak various Wonderful Dharmas,
With no fear in their minds.
Shakyamuni Buddha uses verses to answer again the question asked by Ajita Bodhisattva. He says, "Ajita, 'Invincible', you should know, / All these Great Bodhisattvas, who are now welling forth from the earth, for countless eons-from uncountable great kalpas in the past to the present time-have cultivated and practiced the Buddha-wisdom. In every kalpa, life after life, time after time, they have been developing the Buddhas' wisdom, seeking the unsurpassed wisdom of the Buddhas. They are all being taught by me. Didn't you ask who's teaching and transforming them? From the time they brought forth the initial resolve until now, they have become Great Bodhisattvas. And it has been I who personally taught them, transformed them, and caused them to bring forth great resolve for the Way. I will cause them to bring forth the Great Bodhi Way-mind. I will cause them to bring forth the Bodhisattva's Way-mind, cause them to bring forth the Way-mind to seek the unsurpassed Way. That is how I teach them."
You see how Shakyamuni Buddha taught and transformed these Bodhisattva disciples, so that in this life, when he is speaking the Dharma, they all well forth out of the earth, follow along and rejoice in the Dharma Assembly, and act as the influential assembly. They influence the Great Assembly to bring forth the Bodhi mind.
They are all my disciples. These Great Bodhisattvas are all my disciples. They are disciples whom I have taught and transformed. Dwelling in this world system, they reside beneath this world in empty space. Ever practicing the work of dhuta: They are always practicing asceticism.
There are twelve dhuta practices:
1. wearing rag robes
2. possessing only three robes
3. begging for food
4. consecutive begging
5. eating only one meal and only at midday
6. eating a fixed and moderate amount of food
7. not drinking juices after noon
8. dwelling in an aranya
9. dwelling beneath a tree
10. dwelling in the open
11. dwelling in a graveyard
12. always sitting and never lying down
They rely on the Dharma-door of dhuta in their cultivation.
They are determined and delight in quiet places. Their resolve and vows are that they prefer to dwell in tranquil, pure places, where there are no extraneous noises to disturb them. Renouncing the bustle of crowds, they stay away from places where there are many people. They tend to avoid noisy and confusing places, places that are full of loud sounds and are not quiet. "Renouncing the bustle of crowds" also means renouncing afflictions. They cast off the afflictions of view delusions and thought delusions, as well as delusions like dust and sand.
They take no delight in much talk. They don't like to talk. And this doesn't mean not talking for one day, two days, three or five days, or for a week and then talking even more to make up for it. They never like to talk.
Why are all these disciples of the Buddha like that? Because they offer up their conduct in accord with the teaching. Whatever Shakyamuni Buddha taught them, they cultivated in that way. Therefore the Buddha says, "They study and practice the Dharma of my Way. Because they study and practice what I taught them to cultivate, the Way I told them to practice and the Dharmas I taught them to cultivate, they are vigorous always, day and night." They cultivate vigor during the day and vigor at night. Day and night they are vigorous. Both their bodies and minds are vigorous. For instance, they sit in meditation regularly. They constantly bow to the Buddhas. They are always mindful of the Buddhas day and night- in the six periods of the day and night-and their vigor means they are using the cultivation methods the Buddha taught them. At all times, they are cultivating. They are vigorous with regard to all aspects of the Buddhadharma.
For example, living beings with excessive greed may be greedy for beautiful forms, for wealth, for fame, for profit, and for other such problematic things. Living beings with excessive greed should contemplate impurity. They should cultivate the contemplation of impurity. Most people's biggest desire is for sex, and so they should cultivate the contemplation of impurity. They should contemplate that no matter how handsome or beautiful a person is, the body is just a stinking skin bag after all. It's just a bunch of bones carrying around a bunch of flesh. If you cut open the skin anywhere, blood will flow out. After a while it will form into pus. These stinking skin bags really have nothing about them that we should be greedy for or wish to become involved with. Besides that, the nine apertures are constantly excreting impurities.
Living beings with excessive hatred should contemplate compassion. People who like to get angry should cultivate the contemplation of compassion. Compassion means not getting angry at anyone. You should look upon all living beings as your own sons and daughters. You give rise to compassion toward all living beings. Stupid living beings should cultivate the contemplation of causes and conditions. They should see them as false, see them as empty, and contemplate the Middle Way.
Living beings with excessive stupidity should contemplate causes and conditions. Yesterday a Dharma Master explained how Shariputra cultivated the contemplation of causes and conditions. He also said that living beings with excessive stupidity should cultivate the contemplation of causes and conditions. But now we must add one sentence: Shariputra was definitely not stupid. And so why did he cultivate the contemplation of causes and conditions? He did it because that Dharma-door was very appropriate for him. And so although he was someone with wisdom, he also cultivated the contemplation of causes and conditions.
It's not a fixed principle that only stupid living beings can cultivate the contemplation of causes and conditions and that intelligent people cannot cultivate it. That's not the way it is. Nor is it the case that we say living beings with excessive greed should cultivate the contemplation of impurity, but that if a living being doesn't have excessive greed he cannot cultivate the contemplation of impurity. It's not like that. If you are not greedy, you can still cultivate the contemplation of impurity; it will work even better for you. Living beings who are stupid can cultivate the contemplation of causes and conditions and become enlightened, and so if living beings who are intelligent cultivate the contemplation of causes and conditions, they can become enlightened even faster. Therefore there are no fixed Dharmas.
Living beings with excessive obstacles should cultivate the contemplation of mindfulness of the Buddha. If, when you try to do things, you are obstructed, then recite the Buddha's name. When you recite the Buddha's name, you don't have to use any effort; there's no need to meditate or to contemplate emptiness, falseness, and the Middle Way. You don't need to do any of that. Just recite the Buddha's name: "Na Mwo A Mi Two Fwo." Just recite like that, and you will have success.
Living beings who are excessively scattered should cultivate the contemplation of counting the breath. In the contemplation of counting the breaths, you can:
1. count the (hu) exhaled breaths or
2. count the (syi) inhaled breaths.
Either method will do. But if you count the exhaled breaths, then do not count the inhaled ones; and if you count the inhaled ones, do not count the exhaled ones. You count from one to ten, and then start over, going again from one to ten. That's called the contemplation of counting the breaths. If at night you cannot go to sleep and you start having false thinking, that's a good time to cultivate the contemplation of counting the breaths.
Start counting, and after a few exhalations, you'll be asleep. Or you can breathe in a few times, and you'll fall asleep. It's quite miraculous. As soon as you pay attention to your in-breaths, your false thoughts cease, and then you can go to sleep very quickly. Why are you unable to fall asleep? It's because you are having false thinking. You think about this and think about that, and it prevents you from falling asleep. If you cultivate this contemplation regularly for a long time, very naturally you will have it in hand.
They are vigorous day and night in seeking the Buddha Way. Because they want to seek the Buddha Way, they dwell in the empty space / Beneath this Saha world. They are solid and powerful in resolve and thought. They are not lazy, nor do they retreat, nor are they scattered. They are single-minded in their cultivation. They don the armor of vigor and go forward to cultivate. They bring forth solid intent to cultivate and never retreat. They are not like we people are; we cultivate and use effort today, and then tomorrow we stop applying effort. They are not like that. The only exception would be if they were not cultivating a Dharma. If they decide to cultivate a certain Dharma, they will never retreat. They are ever diligent in seeking wisdom. They are always eager to seek wisdom. They speak various Wonderful Dharmas. They speak all kinds of Wonderful Dharma for living beings, with no fear in their minds. They have no fear. In speaking the Dharma, they always send forth the lion's roar, and they have no fear.
In the City of Gaya,
Sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree,
I realized the most proper enlightenment
And turned the supreme Dharma-wheel.
Only then did I teach and transform them,
Causing them first to bring forth their resolve for the Way.
Now they all dwell in irreversibility,
And all shall become Buddhas.
I now speak the truth,
You should believe it with a single mind.
From remote time past to now,
I have taught and transformed these multitudes.
"In the City of Gaya…" Shakyamuni Buddha says, "When I was in the City of Gaya…" Gaya is a Sanskrit word. It translates as "Mountain City." "In a place outside of the city of Gaya, I was sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree in meditation."
When he first sat down to meditate, Shakyamuni Buddha made a vow. What was his vow? He said, "Once I sit down beneath this Bodhi Tree, if I do not become enlightened, I will sit here forever. I will not get up." He meant he would not go anywhere else. He would remain seated in meditation under the Bodhi Tree.
"I realized the most proper enlightenment. Beneath the Bodhi Tree, I sat seven times seven"-forty nine days. And on the night of the forty-ninth day, he saw a bright star in the sky and awakened to the Way. At night he saw a bright star, awakened to the Way, and at that moment, he became a Buddha. What does it mean to become a Buddha? When one becomes a Buddha, one is still the same as living beings. Buddhas are living beings; living beings are Buddhas. But Buddhas have already become Buddhas, and living beings have not yet become Buddhas. Buddhas are living beings who have already become Buddhas, and living beings are living beings who have not yet become Buddhas. When Shakyamuni Buddha saw that bright star and became enlightened, he sighed. Why? He said, "Strange, indeed! Strange, indeed! Strange, indeed!" He said it three times. It's said he sighed three times, saying, "Strange, indeed!" His meaning was: "It's very strange! Extremely strange! Really strange!" What was strange?
He said, "All living beings have the virtuous characteristics of the Thus Come Ones." He said that the wisdom and virtuous characteristics that Buddhas have, all living beings have, too. They all have the seed of Buddhahood. They have the wisdom of a Buddha, the virtuous conduct of a Buddha, and the opportunity to become a Buddha. And so why haven't they become Buddhas? There's a problem. It's only because of false thinking and attachments that they have not yet been able to certify to and attain it.
Why haven't we become Buddhas? Because we have false thinking. Why haven't we people become Buddhas? Because we have attachments. Because of false thinking and attachments, living beings who should become Buddhas are obstructed. What obstructs them? False thinking and attachments. These obstructions hinder them, just as when a person walking on a road comes upon a blockade, he cannot go forward. An example would be the wall between East and West Germany, which kept the East Germans from being able to go to West Germany and the West Germans from being able to go to East Germany. So, too, we people who have not become Buddhas have a blockade hindering us. What is the blockade? False thinking and attachments. If you have false thinking and attachments, you cannot open the wisdom of the Buddhas. You have to let go of false thinking and attachments, and then you can become a Buddha.
How did Shakyamuni Buddha become a Buddha? He put down his false thinking and attachments. In the beginning, he was in the Royal Palace with many pleasures. In the future he would have been the Emperor. He would have been a wheel-turning sage king. But he put all that down. He didn't want to be an emperor. He didn't want to be a wheel-turning king. He renounced his lovely wife. He looked upon birth, old age, sickness and death as too much trouble, and so he resolved to leave the home-life, to cultivate the Way, and to end birth and death. Because he had cast out his attachments and false thinking, when he sat under the Bodhi Tree for forty-nine days, he became enlightened. We people don't have that much endurance and patience. We aren't that constant in our practice.
I often tell you to be firm, sincere, and constant, but you haven't been able to do so yet. Without a constant mind, you have not been able to put down your attachments and false thinking. Therefore we haven't yet become Buddhas. Do you want to become a Buddha? If you do, then quickly put down your false thinking and attachments, and you will do fine.
I realized the most proper enlightenment. The Buddha, beneath the Bodhi Tree, certified to Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment. There is nothing higher than this Proper and Equal Right Enlightenment. This is a Buddha's fruition. Having enlightened and become a Buddha, one is certified as attaining the fruition of Buddhahood. And then he turned the supreme Dharma-wheel. In the beginning he turned the Dharma-wheel of the Four Truths; later he turned the Dharma-wheel of the Twelve Causes and Conditions. After that, he turned the Dharma-wheel of the Six Paramitas and the myriad practices.
At the very beginning, he turned the great Dharma-wheel of the Flower Adornment. When he saw that ordinary people could not accept this great Dharma, he turned the Dharma-wheel of the Agamas. Then he turned the Dharma-wheel of the Vaipulya. Then he turned the Dharma-wheel of Prajna. At the very last, he finally turned the Dharma-wheel of the Dharma Flower. The Wonderful Dharma-wheel-the wheel of the Wonderful Dharma, the Dharma Flower-is the basic aim of the Buddha. His original intent was to speak the Dharma Flower. But, upon seeing that living beings' faculties were not mature enough, that it wasn't time yet, he first turned the Agama, Vaipulya, and Prajna Dharmas, and after that he turned the Dharma Flower. When he spoke the Dharma Flower, the time was right. The time had come. Therefore he turned the unsurpassed Dharma-wheel.
Only then did I teach and transform them. At that time, I taught and transformed all the Great Bodhisattvas, causing them to first bring forth their resolve for the Way. I enabled them to bring forth the Unsurpassed Bodhi Way-mind. Now they all dwell in irreversibility. These limitless, limitless, limitless Bodhisattvas all abide at the level of irreversibility. They are irreversible in position, in mindfulness, and in practice. They abide in those three kinds of irreversibility. And all shall become Buddhas.
I now speak the truth; the Dharma I taught you before was expedient. It was spoken to prepare you for the full truth, which I am now speaking to you. You should believe it with a single mind. You should turn your minds to become one in order to accept this true Dharma. From remote time past to now, / I have taught and transformed these multitudes. It's not just now, in this life, in this Saha world, that I have become a Buddha. Limitless eons ago I became a Buddha. The Buddha is said to be "not born and yet born, not extinct and yet extinct." Although he was not born, he manifested birth. Basically, he did not become extinct, but appeared to enter Nirvana. In the Brahma Net Sutra, the Buddha says, "I have come to this Saha world eight thousand times." If you obtain the Way eye-the penetration of the Heavenly Eye-and take a look into how many times Shakyamuni Buddha has come into this Saha world, you will see that it's not just eight thousand times. It's not even eighty thousand times, or eight hundred thousand times, but limitless, countless times. So the Buddha is telling the real truth here.
These limitless, countless Great Bodhisattvas filling up the empty space of three thousand great thousand worlds are all those whom I taught when I was on the causal ground during my former lives as a Buddha. You asked under which Buddha they resolved to cultivate the Way, who taught them, and by what methods. They cultivated the Dharma-door of the Dharma Flower. They recited the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. I am telling you now that I taught, transformed, and brought to accomplishment this great assembly.
At that time Maitreya Bodhisattva Mahasattva and the countless Bodhisattvas gave rise to doubts in their minds. Puzzling over this unprecedented occurrence, they thought, "How could the World Honored One, in such a short space of time, have taught and transformed such limitless, boundless, asamkhyeyas of Great Bodhisattvas and caused them to dwell in Anuttarasamyaksambodhi?"
When Shakyamuni Buddha had finished speaking his verse, Maitreya Bodhisattva spoke up again with a question. Maitreya Bodhisattva is the Bodhisattva with the huge belly. His stomach contains all of empty space. He didn't get that way from eating good food, however. His belly is simply like empty space and includes all of existence within it. This big-bellied Bodhisattva basically knows all there is to know and has complete understanding of everything. He doesn't need to ask people to explain things to him. But now he's confused. What's he confused about? About the verse Shakyamuni Buddha just spoke. Maitreya Bodhisattva doesn't understand it.
"Absolutely impossible," he thought. "These Bodhisattvas are so old. Shakyamuni Buddha has only been alive for a few decades. He's in his seventies. You are so young and these Bodhisattvas are so old. How can they be your disciples? That would be like a young person, twenty-five years of age, encountering an old man of over one hundred years and saying to someone else, 'Do you know that he is my son? That hundred-year-old man is my son.'
"And the old man agrees and says, 'Right, he is my father.'
"How can that be? A twenty-five-year-old father and a hundred-year-old son-who ever heard of such a principle? I can't believe such a thing could happen. In the same way, Shakyamuni Buddha is only a few decades old, and all these Bodhisattvas are tens of thousands of years old. How can he have such old disciples?" He couldn't believe it. "What's going on here?" Maitreya Bodhisattva is skeptical, and all the other Bodhisattvas are doubtful as well. But for now, we are not going to worry about that. Instead we are going to talk some more about attachments.
I just said that the reason people do not become Buddhas is that they have false thinking and attachments, and someone gave rise to a doubt, thinking, "That's wrong!" I don't have any false thinking. I'm old and haven't ever had a false thought. What's more, I don't have any attachments, either. I'm not attached to money, or a house, or property, or food, or clothes or anything at all!"
Perhaps, but you haven't put down not being attached to anything at all yet. It's just that very thing that has kept you from becoming a Buddha! If you know that you have some attachments, then there's hope for you. But if you have deluded yourself into thinking that you haven't any, then there's nothing that can be done, because in fact you have simply too many attachments!
"Too many? What do you mean?" you ask.
For one, you're attached to your physical appearance. You feel that you're good-looking. As ugly as you are, you still think you're beautiful. It doesn't matter who the person is, no matter how ugly he is, he doesn't think he's ugly. He always feels, "Although my nose isn't very pretty, I have lovely eyes, don't I?" Maybe he doesn't have good eyes, he can't see well, but his faculty of hearing is keen. In general, a person always feels that he is in some way better than the next person. Even stupid people manage to do this by thinking, "I am dumber than anyone!" At least they have an awareness of what they are actually like.
Smart ones think, "I'm smarter than anyone. I memorized that Sutra right away. You've been studying it for so long, and you still can't remember it!" People like that are attached to being smart.
Smart people are attached to being smart. Stupid people are attached to being stupid. Dirty people are attached to being dirty. "This is just the way I am-a long-haired hippie." Hippies are attached to not washing their hair. Those who aren't hippies are attached to it being wrong to have long hair. "Long hair isn't good. I won't let my hair grow." Letting your hair grow is an attachment, and not letting your hair grow is an attachment, too. So what have you put down? Nothing at all. And yet you say you have put everything down. If that isn't stupid, what is? People like that may claim to be wise, but I certainly don't believe them. I'd better not say anything more. If I say too much, I'll upset people.
Poor people have the attachments of poor people. Wealthy people have the attachments of wealthy people. Honorable people have the attachments of honorable people. Lowly people have the attachments of lowly people. Whatever position a person happens to be in, he will have the corresponding attachments. Left-home people have left-home attachments; laypeople have laypeople's attachments. You have your attachments, and I have my attachments. Put them down!
At that time Maitreya Bodhisattva Mahasattva, that Great Bodhisattva, and the countless Bodhisattvas beyond reckoning gave rise to doubts in their minds. They became skeptical, puzzling over this unprecedented occurrence. "This situation is entirely too strange. There is no such principle as this." They thought, "How could the World Honored One, in such a short space of time, have taught and transformed such limitless, boundless, asamkhyeyas of Great Bodhisattvas? How can this be? The World Honored One is so young, and these Bodhisattvas are so old. How could the Buddha, in such a short space of time, teach and transform so many Bodhisattvas-countless, boundless, asamkhyeyas of them. And how could the Buddha have caused them to dwell in Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, to abide at that level of fruition? This is entirely too strange."
Just then they spoke to the Buddha, saying, "World Honored One, when the Thus Come One was a crown prince, he left the Shakya Palace and went to a place not far from the city of Gaya where he sat in the Bodhimanda and realized Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. From that time until now, only forty-some years have elapsed. How, in such a short space of time, could the World Honored One have done such great Buddha work-using the Buddha's mighty power and the Buddha's merit and virtue to teach and transform such limitless hosts of Great Bodhisattvas so that they can realize Anuttarasamyaksambodhi?
Just then they spoke to the Buddha, saying… Because of their thoughts, they immediately discussed this with the Buddha. "World Honored One, when the Thus Come One was a crown prince, he was in the royal palace. He left the Shakya palace. He ran away and went to a place not far from the city of Gaya. It was close to Gaya where he sat in the Bodhimanda. He sat beneath the Bodhi tree, accomplished the Way, and realized Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, the unsurpassed, proper and equal, right enlightenment. From that time, the time when the Buddha became a Buddha until now… The Buddha was about thirty when he realized enlightenment. He was staying in the Himalayas cultivating ascetic practices and eating only one grain of rice and one sesame seed a day. Five people were staying with him. They were his parents' relatives, and they were cultivating there with him. But three of them couldn't stand the suffering. "We eat so little every day. How can we go on living?" And they ran away. Three left and two remained. These two felt that cultivation must entail suffering; there should be no enjoyment whatsoever. Feeling that suffering was mandatory, they did not fear the bitterness of cultivation.
Then a heavenly maiden came to offer a bowl of rice gruel with milk in it to the ascetic Shakyamuni, who was by that time nothing but skin and bones; he had no evident flesh or blood. Wouldn't such a person be pathetic-looking? The heavenly maiden brought him some milk gruel. We know that it's all right for Buddhist disciples to drink milk, because our founding father drank milk at that time. The Buddha accepted the offering and drank it. When the remaining two cultivators saw that, they gave him a look and said, "He's not cultivating anymore. He's eating such a good thing. It will prevent him from being able to cultivate. Let's leave." And the two of them left as well.
We are cultivating here now, and no one wants to run away. If anyone does want to, he or she can just run, because at our Way-places the door is always open. If you want to come here, come. If you want to go, go. We don't stop anyone from coming, and we don't pursue anyone after they leave. We don't say "Don't come here," if someone wants to come; and we don't say "Don't go," if someone wants to leave. There's none of that here. We do things very naturally.
The five relatives and fellow cultivators of the Buddha eventually all left, until only Shakyamuni Buddha himself remained. Then he thought, "I'm leaving too." He wandered for five years and then returned to the Bodhi tree, saying, "I'm not going anywhere else. I have seen it all, I am going to sit under this Bodhi tree and accomplish the Way." He sat there and thought, "If I don't get enlightened, I'm not getting up from under this tree. He sat for forty-nine days and then became enlightened and accomplished Buddhahood. Not long after he became a Buddha, he took a look at causes and conditions to see whom he should save first. He saw that he should go cross over the five relatives who had been cultivating with him. He looked to see where they were, and found that they had gone to the Deer Wilds Park. Thereupon he went there to speak Dharma for the five who became Bhikshus. These five perceived that Shakyamuni Buddha had become a Buddha, and they immediately became enlightened themselves upon hearing him speak the Dharma. The first to become enlightened was Ajnatakaundinya.
From that time until the present-from the time the Buddha realized Buddhahood until this moment-only forty-some years have elapsed. It has been just forty years. The Buddha realized Buddhahood in his thirties, and he spoke Dharma for more than forty years. That's not very long, not a long time at all. How could the World Honored One have done such great Buddha work in such a short space of time? How could he save so many people, so many Bodhisattvas? Impossible!
He must have been using the Buddha's mighty power and the Buddha's merit and virtue to teach and transform such limitless, boundless multitudes of Bodhisattvas-a host of Great Bodhisattvas, so many of them-so that they can realize Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. They should quickly have realized the unsurpassed, proper and equal, right enlightenment. This is a case of "given the close, one doubts the distant." Basically, Shakyamuni Buddha accomplished Buddhahood not long ago. How has he been able to cross over so many older Bodhisattvas, Great Bodhisattvas?
World Honored One, the multitudes of Great Bodhisattvas are such that if a person were to try to count them throughout thousands of myriads of millions of eons, he could not finish or reach their limit. From the remote past onward in the presence of limitless, boundless numbers of Buddhas, they have planted good roots and accomplished the Bodhisattva Way, always cultivating Brahma conduct.
World Honored One, a matter such as this is hard for those in the world to believe. It is as if, by way of analogy, there were a man, twenty-five years old and with a fine complexion and shiny black hair, who pointed to some hundred-year-old men and said, "These are my sons." Then suppose the hundred-year-old men pointed to that young man and said, "He is our father, the one who begot and reared us." Such a thing would be hard to believe.
World Honored One, the multitudes of Great Bodhisattvas. Maitreya Bodhisattva addresses the World Honored One again. He says, "Those in this assembly of Great Bodhisattvas are such that if a person-a mathematician, an expert in making calculations, someone exceptionally skilled in numbers-were to try to count them… Even if he were so proficient in calculating throughout thousands of myriads of millions of eons, perhaps throughout a thousand kalpas and so forth, recording to a billion kalpas, he could not finish counting them. He might use his most precise and complex knowledge of numbers and methods of calculation, but he could not count to reach their limit, the total number of Bodhisattvas. He would have no way to count to the end of all those Bodhisattvas. From the remote past onward, these Great Bodhisattvas were beyond numbering, beyond limit, so that even the very best mathematician would have no way to know their number. Passing through thousands of myriads of billions of eons, there would be no way to calculate their number.
In the presence of limitless, boundless numbers of Buddhas, these Bodhisattvas-definitely before limitless, boundless Buddhas-have planted good roots. They have planted many, many good roots and accomplished the Bodhisattva Way. That's why they have been able to accomplish the Bodhisattva Way and are always cultivating Brahma conduct. At all times they are vigorous in cultivating pure practices. At all times, they are not lazy. "World Honored One," at this point Maitreya Bodhisattva again directly addresses the World Honored One, "a matter such as this, this kind of event, is hard for those in the world to believe." Worldly people are unable to believe this; in saying that it is difficult for worldly people to believe, he is making it imperative that the Buddha answer this question. It's not that I don't believe, it's that everyone in the world will be unable to believe it. Whether they are Bodhisattvas, ordinary people, or sages, they will all disbelieve this principle.
It is as if, by way of analogy, there were a man. Now I will bring up an analogy that is going to be extremely hard for people to believe. What kind of analogy? This person has a fine complexion. His coloring is exceptionally good-looking; "fine" means youthful. And shiny black hair. He had no white hair; his hair was black. When one gets old, one's hair turns white; young people have black hair. But that requires further explanation. Westerners have white hair when they are born; that kind of white hair is not the white that comes with old age. But the Lotus Sutra was spoken in India, and an Indian's hair was most often black. When they became old, their hair became white. Thus Maitreya Bodhisattva uses this description in his analogy. Twenty-five years old. A man like that would be about twenty-five. He-the man who was about twenty-five or twenty-six; let's not make it fixed-pointed to some hundred-year-old men. The men he pointed to who were "a hundred years old" might have been one hundred and one years old, or maybe ninety-nine years old. This is also not fixed; let's not say it was exactly one hundred years. The twenty-five-year-old can be analogous to the twenty-five realms of existence in the triple world. The hundred-year-old can be analogous to the hundred dharmas. He pointed to the men who were a hundred and said, "These are my sons." He said, "Do you see how old I am? These hundred-year-old men are my sons." That's what he said. Can you believe it? The twenty-five-year-old youthful father has fathered hundred-year-old elderly sons. Could such an event occur in this world? You say it never could be? But then suppose the hundred-year-old men pointed to that young man and said, "He is our father. He is our youthful father, the one who begot and reared us." They say, "Although we are a hundred years old, nonetheless we were fathered by this young man." Such a thing would be hard to believe. How could you get anyone to believe such an event? It's impossible to believe.
The Buddha is also like this. It has really not been long since he attained the Way. On the other hand, the great hosts of Bodhisattvas have already, throughout limitless thousands of myriads of millions of eons for the sake of the Buddha Way, practiced with diligence and vigor. They are well able to enter, leave, and dwell in limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of samadhis. They possess great spiritual powers and have long cultivated Brahma conduct. They are well able to practice in succession all wholesome dharmas, and they are clever in their questions and answers. They are jewels among humankind, extremely rare in the world. Yet, just now, the World Honored One said that only when the Buddha gained the Way did he cause them to first bring forth their resolve. By teaching, transforming, and guiding them, he led them toward Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.
It has not been long since the World Honored One gained Buddhahood, and yet he has been able to do these great and meritorious deeds!
The Buddha is also like this. Above, the twenty-five-year-old young man was described as having hundred-year-old men for his sons. And the old men also admitted that the young man was their father. Maitreya Bodhisattva says that such a thing cannot happen. If you try to get people to believe this, no one will. Now he goes on to say that the Buddha is also like this; the Buddha is like the young man. It has really not been long since he attained the Way. From the time he attained the Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment-the Buddha Way-until now has really not been long. At the most, it's been forty some years. That doesn't add up to a very long time. On the other hand, the great hosts of Bodhisattvas have already, throughout limitless thousands of myriads of millions of eons in the past, for the sake of the Buddha Way-seeking the path to Buddhahood-practiced with diligence and vigor. They are extremely vigorous in both body and mind. They are never, never lazy. They are well able to enter, leave, and dwell in limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of samadhis. They are well able to enter, well able to leave, and well able to dwell in limitless billions of samadhis. What does it mean to be "well able to enter"? It means being about to enter the Nine Successive Stages of Samadhi. What does it mean to be "well able to leave"? It means being able to attain the Lion Sprint Samadhi. "To be well able to dwell in" means one further obtains the Transcendent Samadhi. This explanation is based on principles of the Store Teaching and principles of the Penetrating Teaching.
If explained in terms of the principles of the Special Teaching, what is meant by "well able to enter"? From the First Ground to the Tenth Ground is called "well able to enter samadhi." Then one goes on from the Tenth Ground to enter the Door to the Mysterious and Wonderful, and then to turn the boat of compassion around and cultivate while doing the things that ordinary people do. Although one has certified to the level of a Tenth Ground Bodhisattva, one comes back and does the things ordinary people do. One manifests an appearance of being like ordinary people. That is called "well able to leave" when wonderful enlightenment is perfected, "well able to dwell in samadhi."
If this is explained according to the Perfect Teaching's principle, the "Dharma Nature Samadhi" is what is meant by "well able to enter." The "Foremost Shurangama Samadhi" is what is meant by "well able to leave." The "King of Samadhis" is what is meant by "well able to dwell in samadhi."
The nine successive stages of samadhi are:
The Four Dhyanas
1. the samadhi of the first Dhyana
2. the samadhi of the second Dhyana
3. the samadhi of the third Dhyana
4. the samadhi of the fourth Dhyana
The Four Samadhis of Emptiness
5. the samadhi of emptiness
6. the samadhi of consciousness
7. the samadhi of nothing whatsoever
8. the samadhi of neither thought nor nonthought
Add to those "the successive samadhi of the extinction of feeling and thought" (9), and together they are called the Nine Successive Stages of Samadhi. They are cultivated to accomplishment little by little. If you can obtain the Nine Successive Stages of Samadhi, that is called "well able to enter samadhi," and if you can then obtain the Transcendent Samadhi, the samadhi that transcends everything, that is called "well able to dwell in samadhi." That's a very general explanation of "well able to enter, well able to leave, and well able to dwell in hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of samadhis" according to the Store, Penetrating, Special, and Perfect Teachings. There are many, many different kinds of samadhi-hundreds of thousands of billions of kinds. Samadhi is a Sanskrit word. Translated, it means "proper concentration"; it is also called "proper reception." "They are well able to enter, leave, and dwell in limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of millions of samadhis" is explained like that.
They possess great spiritual powers. They obtained great spiritual powers-not small ones. Small spiritual penetrations are the penetrations of Arhats. Great spiritual penetrations are the penetrations of Bodhisattvas. And they havelong cultivated Brahma conduct. Very long ago they were cultivating pure practices.
They are well able to practice in succession all wholesome dharmas. They are also well able, step by step, to go from the shallow and enter the deep in cultivating and learning all good Dharmas. And they are clever in their questions and answers. Whatever anyone asks, they are able to reply to the questions in wonderfully clever ways. They are jewels among humankind. These Great Bodhisattvas are the most valuable and rare among humankind. Extremely rare in the world-in all worlds-they are exceptionally unusual. Yet, just now, the World Honored One said, Shakyamuni World Honored One said, that only when the Buddha gained the Way-now that you have accomplished Buddhahood-did he cause them to first bring forth their resolve. You will cause those Bodhisattvas to bring forth the resolve. By teaching, transforming, and guiding them, he led them toward Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. He taught and transformed them, pointed out the way, and instructed them and led them. He caused them to be able to walk along the Way to Buddhahood, to Anuttarasamyaksambodhi.
It has not been long since the World Honored One gained Buddhahood. Shakyamuni Buddha realized Buddhahood not very long ago. And yet he has been able to do these great and meritorious deeds! He has not been a Buddha for long; the time span has been short. How can he have done such a tremendously virtuous deed?
We believe that the Buddha speaks in accord with what is appropriate, that the Buddha has never spoken falsely, that the Buddha's understanding is complete and penetrating.
However, when Bodhisattvas who have just brought forth the resolve hear these words after the Buddha has passed into extinction, they may not believe or accept them. On the contrary, they may give rise to the causes and conditions for the offense karma incurred in destroying the Dharma.
Maitreya Bodhisattva says, "We Bodhisattvas believe the Buddha. We very much believe the Dharma spoken by the Buddha and that the Buddha speaks in accord with what is appropriate. The Dharmas spoken by the Buddha accord with what is opportune for living beings. The Buddha has never spoken falsely. Not a single sentence of the Dharma that the Buddha speaks is false or untrue. The Buddha's understanding is complete and penetrating. We believe in what the Buddha has instructed and has awakened to, the principles the Buddha uses to teach and transform living beings. Those Dharmas are totally penetrating, without obstruction; all are principles founded upon the utmost intelligence. They are principles absolutely replete with prajna wisdom. We believe them all; we have no doubts.
"However, when the Bodhisattvas who have just brought forth the resolve… Although we believe the Dharmas the Buddha speaks, there are Bodhisattvas of the initial resolve. After the Buddha has passed into extinction-when you, Shakyamuni Buddha, have entered extinction in the future-when those Bodhisattvas hear these words-if they hear these principles, these ways of speaking-they may not believe or accept them. Maybe they won't believe the principles the Buddha spoke. They won't believe that these old Bodhisattvas are those taught and transformed by that young Buddha. On the contrary, they may give rise to the causes and conditions for the offense karma incurred in destroying the Dharma." Since they do not believe, they will commit violations and destroy the Dharma. If they destroy the Buddhadharma, they will create offenses. It is said, "Giving rise to delusions, they create karma and must undergo retribution." They give rise to doubts. Because they don't believe, they are skeptical. Once they are doubtful, they create karma that will destroy the Buddhadharma. In the future they will fall into the hells or turn into hungry ghosts or become animals. They will create those kinds of causes and conditions.
"This being the case, World Honored One, we hope that you will explain in order to dispel our doubts, and so that those good people of the future who hear of this matter also will not give rise to doubts."
This being the case, because that may happen, therefore we now want the Buddha to explain. We hope that you will explain. We very much wish that the World Honored One will explain this principle to us, in order to dispel our doubts. Get rid of the doubts of those of us in the great Dharma Assembly-the Bodhisattvas, Arhats, Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas-so that not only will you be able to dispel our doubts, but also those of the future, the doubts of good people, the good men and good women of the future, who hear of this matter. When they hear about this principle, they also will not give rise to doubts because the Buddha will have explained this clearly.
At that time, Maitreya Bodhisattva, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses, saying:
At that time, Maitreya Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva with the big heart and the broad girth, wishing to restate this meaning, wanting to reiterate the meanings he had just expressed, spoke verses, saying:
In the past, the Buddha of the Shakyan line
Left home and drew near the city of Gaya
To sit beneath the Bodhi Tree,
And it has not been long since then.
All these disciples of the Buddha,
Incalculable in their number,
Have long practiced the Buddha Way
And now dwell in the power of spiritual penetrations.
Well have they studied the Bodhisattva Way.
Undefiled by worldly dharmas,
Like a lotus flower floating on the water,
They have welled forth out of the earth.
All give rise to reverent hearts,
As they stand before the World Honored One.
In the past, the Buddha of the Shakyan line… Maitreya Bodhisattva says that the World Honored One, Shakyamuni, in the past was born into the Shakyan clan, left home, and drew near the city of Gaya. You left the home-life and became a Bhikshu. Then, near the city of Goodness, you went to sit beneath the Bodhi Tree, opened enlightenment, and became a Buddha. And it has not been long since then. From the time the World Honored One became a Buddha to the present has been a very short time, not at all long.
All these disciples of the Buddha, all of these Great Bodhisattvas, disciples of the Dharma King, are incalculable in their number. Even using the wisdom of a Bodhisattva, there is no way to count how many there are. They have long practiced the Buddha Way. For a long, long time already, they have been practicing the Way of all Buddhas. And they now dwell in the power of spiritual penetrations. That is why they now have the strength of great spiritual powers. Well have they studied the Bodhisattva Way. They have excelled in their study and practice of the six perfections and myriad practices that Great Bodhisattvas cultivate.
Undefiled by worldly dharmas, they don't allow worldly dharmas to sully them. They cultivate world-transcending dharmas, pure dharmas, and they are not tainted by the defiling dharmas of this evil world of the five turbidities. Like a lotus flower floating on the water, they are like a lotus flower in a pool that comes up through the mud but remains undefiled. Passing through the mud, it emerges pure and clean. They have welled forth out of the earth. Now these Bodhisattvas have come from beneath the earth and well up through the surface to abide in empty space. And they all give rise to reverent hearts. They are all very respectful of the World Honored One. As they stand before the World Honored One, they are abiding in the empty space directly in front of the Buddha.
Such a thing is hard to conceive of,
How can it be believed?
The Buddha only recently gained the Way,
Yet his accomplishments are so very many.
Please dispel the doubts of the Assembly
And tell us how this can actually be.
It is as if a strong young man,
Only twenty-five years of age,
Pointed to some men a hundred years old
And said, "These are my sons."
And the sons also said, "He is our father."
A father so young with children so old
Is a thing hard for the world to believe.
Such a thing is hard to conceive of. Now these Great Bodhisattvas, uncountably many of them, are abiding there before the World Honored One. This event is inconceivable and ineffable; it causes people to be unclear. How can it be believed? What's the principle here? How can you expect people to believe something like this? The Buddha only recently gained the Way. Why can't anyone believe this? Because the Buddha attained the Way only a short time ago. He's very young in his Buddhahood, yet his accomplishments are so very many. The living beings he has taught and transformed have all become Great Bodhisattvas, and there are so many of them. Please dispel the doubts of the Assembly. We all hope the Shakya World Honored One will get rid of the doubts that plague those of us in this assembly and tell us how this can actually be. Tell us in detail the reality of this event.
It is as if a strong young man… Why can't we believe this matter at present? We'll bring up an analogy: It's like a young man, only twenty-five years of age, with a handsome face, who displays his youth-his hair is black and there are no wrinkles on his face-a youth in his twenties. He pointed to some men a hundred years old / And said, "These are my sons." He told some people "these hundred-year-old men are my sons." Ridiculous! Those hundred-year-old men with white hair and wrinkled faces that he called his sons were not adopted or purchased for a price. They were begotten by him; they were sons born of his seed. And the sons also said, "He is our father." The hundred-year-old men admitted that he was their young father. A father so young with children so old. The father's age is very young and the sons' ages are very old. This is a thing hard for the world to believe. In the whole world, no matter where you go, no one will believe this principle.
The World Honored One is also like this;
He has only recently gained the Way
And all these Bodhisattvas
Of firm resolve, neither weak nor indecisive,
Throughout limitless eons
Have practiced the Bodhisattva Way.
Clever in answering difficult questions,
They have no fear in their minds.
Patient under insult, resolute in their thoughts,
They are upright and proper, possessing awesome virtue.
Praised by the Buddhas of the ten directions,
Skilled in their ability to distinguish and explain,
They take no delight in being with the multitudes,
But always prefer Dhyana concentration.
Because they are seeking the Buddha Way,
They have been dwelling in empty space below.
Maitreya Bodhisattva says, "The World Honored One is also like this." Now the World Honored One is being likened to a young father, and all the Bodhisattvas are being likened to old sons. Thus he says, "The World Honored One is also like this. He has only recently gained the Way. From the time the World Honored One became a Buddha to now is not a very long time. It's been a very short time. And all these Bodhisattvas-all these Great Bodhisattvas whose number is unreckonable-are of firm resolve, neither weak nor indecisive. Their resolve is firm. Their vows are exceptionally vast. Their cultivation is the six perfections and myriad practices. Their minds are not weak, and they are not afraid. They fear nothing. These Great Bodhisattvas haven't cultivated the Bodhisattva Way during just this one short life span. They have, from limitless kalpas past, been cultivating the Bodhisattva Way. Throughout limitless eons they have practiced the Bodhisattva Way. / Clever in considering difficult questions. They cultivate the Bodhisattva Way and open prajna wisdom. Therefore, no matter how difficult the problem, they can resolve it. Not only can they resolve it, they do so in very astute and wonderful ways. They have eloquence without obstruction-the four kinds of unobstructed eloquence. Because they have unobstructed eloquence, they are able to answer all hard-to-answer questions. They have no fear in their minds. Their minds do not experience fear.
They are patient under insult and resolute in their thoughts. Patience is not easy. Without knowing why it's so, people like praise and dislike being scolded. It's very difficult to cultivate patience. You may be patient once, you may even be patient twice, but by the third time, you can't take it. All of you who hear the Buddhadharma here every day should be able to make use of it. When the time comes, when a situation arises, you should know it. If you know it, you will not be turned by it. If you do not know it, you will be turned by that state. Not knowing means not recognizing it. If you know it, then you recognize it. That is why I say:
Everything is a test
To see what you will do.
If you don't recognize what's before you,
You'll have to start anew.
A state comes up, and whether it's pleasant or unpleasant, you should recognize it. Don't let it be that when you encounter a favorable state, it's as sweet as candy, but when you encounter an opposing state, it's as bitter as hwang lyan. If you feel that favorable states are sweet and opposing states are bitter, then you are being turned by states. If in both favorable and unfavorable circumstances you can remain unmoved, so that even your mind does not move, then you can be said to have a bit of skill, of gung fu.
What is a favorable state? Suppose someone praises you, saying, "He really cultivates. He works hard! He's vigorous day and night. He never quits." Hearing this you think, "That's great. That's as sweet as honey." Your heart rejoices; you feel great. Now, let's suppose someone slanders you: "He's terrible! He's lazy, he's gluttonous, and he doesn't cultivate at all. He says he's a cultivator, but he never cultivates." You respond, thinking, "I don't want to hear this. How can he talk like that about me?" It's as bitter as hwanglyan. Hwang lyan, in case you don't know, is the bitterest of Chinese medicinal herbs. However, although it's bitter, if you have illnesses stemming from excessive fire and you take hwang lyan, it will get rid of your fire. It's an excellent medicinal herb, but it's very bitter.
You also have to consider where the state is coming from. For instance, if you are a cultivator, perhaps a left-home person, and you are scolded by your teacher, you think, "I won't argue or get angry or talk back. I'll just act as if nothing were happening." That doesn't count as patience. Why? Because where disciples are concerned, they should bear what should be borne and even bear the unbearable when it comes from their teacher. That can't be classed as the cultivation of patience.
On the other hand, if, as a teacher, you can bear up when your disciples scold you, that means you have a little skill. If the disciples scold the teacher, and the more he is scolded the happier he gets, then he has some skill. Or suppose you are scolded by a beggar, and you feel as though it didn't even happen, that can be counted as patience. But if a policeman scolds you, even if he's being totally unreasonable, even if it's unbearable, you still have to bear it. For example, you are out on the street looking around as if you might be about to steal something, and a policeman comes up and says, "Hey! What are you up to? Are you a thief? I'm going to search you." You must be patient. Why? Because the policeman has authority, and you don't have any authority. And so you have to endure his questions. That doesn't count as patience. If an inferior bullies you and you can bear it, you have patience. At this point, I've thought of a story.
What Do You Think Happened?
Long ago, Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples were walking on a road in a particularly barren place. For one hundred miles around, they hadn't come across a single person. The disciples asked the Buddha, "Why are there no people here?"
Shakyamuni Buddha sighed and said, "It's a very painful matter."
"What happened? Please tell us!" said the disciples.
Shakyamuni Buddha said, "Long ago, an old cultivator who had tremendous virtue in the Way lived here. He had been cultivating patience for one hundred years, and he had never gotten angry. It so happened that the king of the country lost faith in his prime minister and dismissed him, even though the minister had done nothing to deserve it. The prime minister was still attached to his desire for power and leadership: "What am I going to do? How can I get my position as prime minister back? Oh, I have an old friend who practices patience. He's a Patient Immortal. He'll have a way! I'll go ask him." Thereupon he went to see the old cultivator who was his friend. He told him the emperor had dismissed him from his position as prime minister, and asked if there was any method that would enable him to regain his position.
The Patient Immortal replied, "That's very easy. At present your destiny is inauspicious, but now you can take that inauspicious energy-that energy that has caused your downfall-and pass it on to me. Then you will be able to be prime minister again."
"How can I pass it on to you?" he asked.
"There's a method we can use. You take a clod of earth and throw it at my head. That will suffice to pass your inauspicious energy on to me. Then you will be able to continue as prime minister."
The former prime minister did as he was advised, and sure enough, on the very day that he got back, the emperor called for him and said, "Before I dismissed you as prime minister, but that was a mistake. Will you come back now and continue on as my prime minister?" Thus he was invited back, and he thought, "Oh, that cultivator is really capable! He really can make things happen." Thereupon he continued on as prime minister.
After a while the queen of the western palace was dismissed by the emperor. He removed her to the "cold palace," meaning she wouldn't have the opportunity to see the emperor anymore. The queen of the western palace thought, "Before, the prime minister was dismissed, and he's regained his post. He, no doubt, has a method. I'll ask him." And so she called for the prime minister and asked him, "How did you go about getting your position back?"
"It wasn't my own doing," he said. "I went to an old cultivator I know, and he told me that I had unlucky energy. He said I should transfer that energy to him, and I would be back in office. So I did, and here I am."
"Do you think he would help me?" she asked.
"I'll go ask him," said the prime minister. When he told the story to the old cultivator, the old cultivator said, "Fine, tell her to pour a cup of water over my head, and her unlucky energy will be transferred to me. Then the king will want her back again."
The queen of the western palace followed the instructions to the letter, and the king took her out of the "ice-house" and invited her back. The Patient Immortal's method was most efficacious indeed!
Soon the country went to war. Every time they engaged in battle, they lost. The king said to his first wife and to the prime minister, "We are losing every battle. What are we going to do?"
The prime minister said, "I know what we'll do. I have an old friend who is a cultivator. We call him the Patient Immortal. He has a number of dharma tricks. He'll know what to do."
Upon hearing of this situation, the Patient Immortal said, "I live in this country; I should help out. The country is losing its battles. Very well, we are going to take the unlucky energy of the country and transfer it to me." Then he told the king, "Get a huge pot of stinking, dirty water to represent the unlucky affairs of the entire country and pour it on me."
That left the old cultivator smelling pretty bad, but nonetheless, the king began to win all his battles and eventually won the war. The king said, "That old cultivator has tremendous Way-virtue." Once that announcement was made in the palace, the whole country knew about it. Soon people were lined up for miles, waiting to spit, throw dirt, or otherwise transfer their messes to the old cultivator. They all expected him to be patient, didn't they? He should just let the spit dry, shouldn't he? Day after day, first ten people, then hundreds, then thousands, tens of thousands, and finally the entire populace converged on the Patient Immortal. The Patient Immortal simply couldn't respond to them all properly, so up popped a false thought: "I can't stand it! Why don't all these people drop dead?" What do you think happened? They all did! That was how great his spiritual powers were. As soon as he produced the angry thought of wishing them all dead, they all dropped dead on the spot. So now, for several hundred miles around, there are no people in this area.
It's not easy to be patient. But although it's not easy, we are still going to cultivate patience. Instead of speaking of it as difficult, let's think of it as easy. But whatever you do, don't get angry and think, "I wish they would all drop dead!"
Patient under insult, they are resolute in their thoughts. Their patience is decisive. They definitely won't take it casually. They are upright and proper, possessing awesome virtue. Their physiognomy is upright, and their awesomeness is magnificent. Praised by the Buddhas of the ten directions, these Great Bodhisattvas are skilled in their ability to distinguish and explain. They are well able to delineate and describe all dharmas.
They take no delight in being with the multitudes. They don't like living in noisy places. They like still and quiet places. They prefer the mountains, but most of all, they always prefer Dhyana concentration. What makes them happiest is dwelling in Dhyana samadhi. They cultivate the samadhi of Chan meditation. Because they are seeking the Buddha Way, / They have been dwelling in empty space below. Because they want to cultivate the Buddha's unsurpassed Bodhi Way, they are living in the empty space in the nadir. In the empty space there, no one bothers them. Probably people didn't fly planes into that area or send rockets there. Therefore in that empty space, they are very much at ease, tranquil and pure.
Hearing this from the Buddha,
We have no doubts about this matter,
But we hope that the Buddha will, for those of the future,
Give explanations to cause them to understand.
For if they were to give rise to doubts
And fail to believe this Sutra,
They would thereupon fall into the evil paths.
Thus we have asked for this present explanation
Of these limitless Bodhisattvas
And how, in such a short space of time,
You have taught and transformed them,
Causing them to bring forth the resolve
And to dwell on the Ground of No Retreat.
Hearing this from the Buddha, / We have no doubts about this matter. Maitreya Bodhisattva says, "All of us here in this Dharma Assembly, we Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, have personally heard the Buddha speak the Dharma of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. We have personally seen all the limitless Great Bodhisattvas well forth out of the earth, and so we have no doubts about this matter. We heard Shakyamuni Buddha say that he personally taught and transformed these Bodhisattvas, and we knew it was really true, not made up. There was nothing to doubt in that analogy, but we hope that the Buddha will, for those of the future, speak. We do not doubt this, but living beings of the future, Bodhisattvas of initial resolve, whose roots of faith are not solid and whose good roots are not deep and thick, might fail to believe this. We now wish that the Buddha would explain this matter so that those of the future who have first brought forth the resolve will not doubt it. Give explanations to cause them to understand. Explain this principle to enable the Bodhisattvas of initial resolve to understand and be clear. For if they were to give rise to doubts / And fail to believe this Sutra-if they don't understand and no one makes them aware, no one clarifies their thinking; if they were to fail to believe and had doubts-they would thereupon fall into the evil paths. If they don't believe in the Dharma Flower Sutra, in the future they will fall into the three evil paths-the hells, the animal realm, or the realm of hungry ghosts. Thus we have asked for this present explanation. We want Shakyamuni Buddha to bring forth great kindness and compassion, and for the sake of living beings of the future, speak of these causes and conditions. Tell the reason why these limitless Bodhisattvas have in such a short space of time been taught and transformed by you. How did the Buddha manage to teach all these Bodhisattvas in such a short space of time? How was he able to cause them to bring forth the Bodhi resolve and to dwell on the Ground of No Retreat? By now, they have all obtained the three kinds of irreversibility:
1. Irreversible thought
2. Irreversible practice
3. Irreversible position