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Vakkula. This Venerable One’s name means “good-bearing.” In the past, throughout limitless kalpas, he exclusively cultivated the precept against killing. His cultivation of that precept was not like that of us ordinary people at all. His mind did not even give rise to the thought of killing. Not only did he not kill outwardly, inwardly he was spotlessly clean in that he never killed a single living creature. Because of this, he received five kinds of non-dying retribution.
When he was born, he was able to speak. He smiled and laughed and said, “Mama” and “Papa,” and was very playful. His mother thought “What on earth! I’ve never heard of a child who could talk and joke at birth. It must be a monster.” Since she was rather cruel and not compassionate, she put him in a frying pan and tried to fry him. But he wouldn’t fry. It was as if nothing were happening. The pan was red hot, but Vakkula was just as happy. “All right,” she said, “you may be fireproof, but you’re certainly not water-proof!” and she tossed him in a pot of rapidly boiling water, but he still didn’t die. Then she tried to drown him by holding him under water, but he couldn’t be drowned. Do you think this is strange or not?
She left him in the ocean and he was gulped down by a fish and he went right into the fish’s stomach, escaping the fish’s teeth. Just then, strangely enough, the fish was caught in a fisherman’s net and the fisherman cut the fish open with a knife. Vakkula was not harmed by the knife either, and jumped right out of the fish’s belly. Thus, he received the five kinds of non-dying retribution: the fire didn’t burn him, the water didn’t boil him, the ocean didn’t drown him, the fish didn’t chomp him to death, and the fisherman’s knife didn’t cut him. He received these five as a response from his observance of the precept against killing and among the Buddha’s disciples he was the foremost in longevity.
Mahakaushthila. The Venerable Kaushthila’s name means, “big knees” because big knees were a family trait. This Venerable One was Shariputra’s maternal uncle. As previously related, he made a bet with the Buddha that if he lost in debate, he would cut off his head. He was a gifted and eloquent debator. He was one of the Buddha’s constant followers, and the foremost disciple noted for eloquence.
Nanda.here are three disciples with the name of Nanda: Nanda, Ananda, and Sundarananda. Nanda is known as “Nanda the Cowherd” because he watched cows when he was a lad.
Nanda’s name means “wholesome bliss.” As a cowherd, he heard the Buddha speak the Eleven Matters of tending cows, using the tending of cows as an analogy for cultivation of the Way; Nanda, realizing that the Buddha was possessed of all-knowledge, resolved to leave home and soon attained the fruition of Arhatship.
On one occasion the Buddha instructed Nanda to preach to a group of five hundred Bhikshunis. Hearing him speak, they all attained Arhatship. In the past, the five hundred Bhikshunis had been the concubines of a single king. The king, a great Dharma protector, built a large pagoda in honor of a Buddha. The concubines, believed in the Buddha and made offerings at the pagoda, vowing that in the future they would all obtain liberation with the king. The king was a former incarnation of Nanda
Sundarananda. Sundarananda was named after his wife, Sundari. Sundari means, “good at loving”. Whom did she love? Nanda (Sundarananda). Her name also means “attractive”, because she absolutely stunning; it could be said that she was the most beautiful woman in all of India. Sundarananda was so beguiled by her beauty that he never left her side. It was as if they were magnetized or glued together; walking, standing, sitting, and reclining, they were an inseparable couple.
Shakyamuni Buddha wanted him to leave home. Sundarananda was the Buddha’s younger brother. When the Buddha saw that his causal affinities were mature enough that he could leave home he also knew that Sundarananda couldn’t give up his wife to do it. Thus, the Buddha decided to apply an expedient measure. One day, when Sundarananda and his wife were eating lunch he went to the palace to beg for alms.
When Sundarananda saw his older brother he wanted to offer him some food, but the Buddha said, “Take it to the Jeta Grove.”
“How can I do that?” said Sundarananda. “How can I leave my wife home alone?” He didn’t dare contradict his brother’s orders, so he asked his wife: “The Buddha said I should take the food to the Jeta Grove. Is it all right if I go?”
“Yes, on one condition,” she said. “I am going to spit on the floor; you must return before that spit is dry. Otherwise, you needn’t bother coming in the door, because I won’t let you in.”
“All right,” said Sundarananda, thinking he would easily make it back in time, but when he arrived, the Buddha wouldn’t let him go! He ordered him to shave his head and leave home. Sundarananda spent all day trying to figure out a way to sneak back home to see his wife because he simply couldn’t let her go.
One day all the Bhikshus went out to beg and Shakyamuni Buddha told Sundarananda, “Stay here today and watch the door. You’re not going anywhere today. Sweep the floor and clean the place up. We’re going out to beg, and we’ll bring some food back for you.”
Sundarananda was ecstatic. “Finally! A chance to escape!” he thought. He planned to sweep the floor, wash the windows and run. Strangely enough as soon as he got one end of the hall swept, dirt would collect on the other side. He swept all morning until he was perspiring with exhaustion, but he still couldn’t get the floor clean. As soon as he closed one window, another would blow open and the sweepings would fly around the room; then, when he shut that window, yet another would fly open. He was getting more and more frustrated the later it got. The morning was slipping away; the Buddha would return soon, and he would have missed his chance. Finally, in desperation, he ran.
He knew if he met the Buddha, he would have to return to the Jeta Grove. He also knew that the Buddha always travelled by the main roads, and so he took a side road and who do you think he ran into? The Buddha! He was returning from his alms round. Sundarananda jumped behind a big tree and, as he backed around the tree, the Buddha followed him. He would reverse his direction and the Buddha would do so as well. Finally, they met face to face and the Buddha said, “What are you doing?”
“I waited for you until I couldn’t wait anymore,” said Sundarananda. “I decided to come and escort you back to the Jeta Grove.”
“Good,” said the Buddha “let’s go back.”
Since he had no other choice, he returned with the Buddha and after he had eaten lunch, the Buddha asked him, “Would you like to go out sight-seeing with me today? I’ll take you out to play.”
Sundarananda thought, “I don’t have the heart to go play. I’m only concerned with running home. I really don’t have the spirit, but if the Buddha wants me to go I can’t refuse,” and he forced himself. They went to a mountain where there were a lot of monkeys. The Buddha asked him, “Tell me, which is more beautiful, Sundari or these monkeys?”
“Why of course my wife is more beautiful. How can you compare these ugly monkeys with my wife? What an insult!”
The Buddha said, “You are truly intelligent; you can tell the good from the bad. Now let’s return.”
By now, Sundarananda was obsessed with thoughts of his wife. Several days passed and no opportunity to run away presented itself. The Buddha said to him, “You seem so depressed every day. I can’t imagine what’s on your mind. Let me take you up to the heavens for a look around.”
“I wonder what the heavens are like?” thought Sundarananda. They ascended into the heavens, and there they saw a lovely heavenly palace filled with exquisite heavenly maidens. The Buddha said, “Who do you say is more beautiful, the maidens or Sundari?”
“The heavenly maidens!” said Sundarananda. “Compared to these goddesses, Sundari looks like a monkey! There’s no comparison.” As they went on their way, Sundarananda lagged behind and stole a word with one of them. “Who is your master?” he asked.
“Our master is the Buddha’s little brother, Sundarananda. He has now left home under the Buddha and cultivates the Way. Next life he will be reborn in heaven and we are to be his attendants.”
Delighted at the prospect, Sundarananda resolved to cultivate. Forgetting all about Sundari and thinking only of goddesses, he cultivated to be reborn in the heavens. When he had cultivated for a long time, the Buddha, seeing that he was no longer thinking of Sundari, but only of the maidens, thought: “I think I’ll show him something unusual.”
“Sundarananda, ” he said, “You’ve been to the heavens, but you’ve never seen the hells. Would you like to accompany me there?”
Since the Buddha taught that the hells were most unpleasant, Sundarananda wondered what would be the use of going there, but agreeing to go and take a look, he followed the Buddha there. They saw the hells of the mountains of knives, the hell of sword trees, the hell of boiling oil, the hell of fire-soup--all the hells. In one of the hells, he saw a pot of oil that was barely simmering. Two ghosts who were supposedly tending it, were nodding off, and the fire was on the verge of going out. One of the ghosts in fact was even lying down sound asleep! Two truly lazy ghosts, neglecting the pot for their nap. Sundarananda asked, “Hey, Old Friend, who’s your boss? How can you get away with sleeping on the job?”
The ghost yawned and rubbed his eyes. “What’s that you say?” he replied.
“I said I want to know why you are loafing on the job,” Sundarananda said. “Pots of oil have to boil, you know.”
“What do you know?” asked the ghost. “The person destined to undergo punishment in this pot isn’t due here for a long time.”
“What do you mean?” asked Sundarananda.
“The Buddha’s little brother, Sundarananda, has already left home under the Buddha. He cultivates the blessings of the heavens and in the future will be reborn there. When he has used up his heavenly blessings, the five signs of decay will manifest. He will then fall into the hells to be boiled in this very pot of oil, because he did not cultivate the Way properly. He’s still got several hundred years, however, so why should we busy ourselves boiling the oil now? Our jobs are quite soft; we can sleep all day if we like.”
When he heard this, Sundarananda’s entire body broke out in a cold sweat.
“That pot’s intended for me,” he moaned. “What am I going to do?”
The Buddha took Sundarananda back to the Jeta Grove and spoke to him of the Dharma-door that birth in the heavens is bound up with suffering, emptiness, impermanence, and non-self. He cultivated the Buddhadharma and certified to the fruit of Arhatship. Sundarananda was hopelessly in love with his wife, and yet he fell out of love as soon as he saw women more beautiful than her. Then, because he saw the sufferings in the hells, he decided truly to cultivate the Way, something he never would have done otherwise. The name Nanda also means “bliss”, but this Nanda is different from the one discussed previously. He takes his name from his wife, Sundari, because he was “Sundari’s Nanda”.
Purnamaitrayaniputra. Purnamaitrayaniputra takes his name from a combination of his father’s name, Purna, meaning “full” and from his mother, Maitrayani, which means “compassionate woman”. Putra means “son”. Among the Buddha’s disciples he was the foremost expounder of the Dharma. Just as he was born, an auspicious rain of jewels fell from the heavens upon his house.
Subhuti. Subhuti’s name means “empty-born” because when he was born the family treasuries were discovered to be empty. His father consulted a diviner who told him this was an extremely auspicious sign and so he was also known as “good and auspicious”. Then, exactly seven days after he was born, the wealth reappeared in the treasuries and he became known as “good appearance”.
Ananda. Ananda was the Buddha’s first cousin and his attendant. He also compiled and edited the Sutras. His name means “rejoicing” because he was born on the day the Buddha realized Buddhahood. Rejoicing, his father gave him the name and the entire country celebrated the Buddha’s enlightenment.
Rahula. Rahula was the Buddha’s son. The Buddha is said to have had three wives. The senior was Gopika, the next was Yashodhara, and the junior was Mrigadava. Rahula was the son of Yashodhara. When he was born, the members of the Shakyan clan from which the Buddha came were outraged because the Buddha had already left home for six years. They all said, “She’s certainly been up to no good. The Buddha has already been gone for six years. How could she legitimately have a son?”
In truth, Rahula had dwelt in his mother’s womb for six long years, but no one believed it; it was too improbable. The angry Shakyans wanted to punish her, to put her to death, and the evil rumors spread through the streets and all over the countryside. Soon everyone knew that the Buddha had been absent for six years and his wife had given birth to a son. One of Yashodhara’s servants spoke to the King on her behalf saying that she had not done anything untoward and that the child really was the Buddha’s, but no one believed her because it’s simply impossible to carry a child for six years. At that time, Yashodara made a vow. “If I have violated the rules of conduct, then, when I jump into a pit of fire, my son and I will burn. If I am blameless, then the heavenly spirits will protect us, and we will not burn.” Then people made a large pit, filled it with lots of wood, and lit a roaring fire. Holding Rahula in her arms, she threw herself into the flaming pit. Miraculously, it turned into a pool of water and a lotus emerged to catch them. Seeing this, the King and everyone else realized they had made a mistake. They knew that the situation with Yashodhara and her son was very special, and they stopped slandering her.
Rahula’s name means “obstacle”. In a former life, as a child, he had plugged up a mouse-hole with a piece of wood and waited six days before he removed it. As a result, he received the retribution of having to dwell in his mother’s womb for six years. Everyone should think it over. The network of cause and effect is indeed severe! Rahula was the Buddha’s son, and even he had to undergo six years of retribution.
“Obstacle” also refers to the fact that he created a lot of trouble for Yashodhara--he was quite an obstacle.
Ultimately, where did Shakyamuni Buddha’s son come from? Was he actually Shakyamuni Buddha’s son?
Did Shakyamuni Buddha have his son in the manner common to ordinary husbands and wives?
No. Before the Buddha left home, Yashodhara expressed her desire to have a son. The Buddha merely pointed his finger at her and she became pregnant. This may sound like a myth, but it is only one of many such occurrences within the Buddhadharma. It is an inconceivable realm. If you want to research and verify it, there is no way to do so except by working hard and cultivating until you reach the level where you will know that the realm of the Buddha is miraculous and hard to conceive of. It’s inconceivable.
Just now two people came in and listened to the lecture for a while, but probably they didn’t like what they heard, so they left. It is not easy to sit through the Sutra lectures every day. One must truly have great good roots in order to be able to sit here comfortably. The two of them left because they did not feel comfortable at all.
And other Great Arhats such as these whom the assembly knew and recognized. “Such as these” refers to the above mentioned twenty-one great Arhats whom the great assembly knew. Knew means that in their hearts, they understood them. Recognized means that they had seen them with their own eyes. To understand by means of the mind and eyes is called “know and recognize”.
In Chinese the phrase “know and recognize” also means “sense”. Those with good sense have wisdom. However, you can look at it from the opposite angle: if you can truly be without “sense”, that is genuine wisdom. If you can truly be without “sense”, then you can also be without “thought or schemes”. Without “thought or schemes” your own inherent wisdom will certainly manifest and this is your genuine “sense” and wisdom. So, in explaining doctrines, you must explain the opposite angles as well as the doctrines themselves. Thus these Great Arhats were known and recognized by the assembly.
Great Arhats are not small Arhats. In Hong Kong there is someone nicknamed “Little Arhat”. He’s a little monk and he goes around laughing and joking from morning until night. He’s very innocent and he won’t accept any offerings from people at all. If he does accept something he immediately gives it away to someone else. So everyone calls him the “little Arhat”.
Great Arhats accept offerings from men and gods according to the meaning of their name, “ones worthy of offerings”. They have also “slain the thieves” and undergo no more birth. As I previously mentioned, not only have they slain the thieves, they have slain the non-thieves as well.
“But that really sounds unreasonable to me,” you say.
What makes you think the Great Arhats are reasonable? They have spiritual powers and transformations. If you want to reason with them, it simply can’t be done. They have also slain the non-thieves. At the Arhat level what are not taken to be thieves, at the Bodhisattva level are still seen as thieves and so they must kill the “non-thieves”. In going from the Small Vehicle to the Great Vehicle, the non-thieves must also be slain.
Moreover, there were those with further study and those beyond study, two thousand in all. There was the Bhikshuni Mahaprajapati with her retinue of six thousand, and Rahula’s mother, Bhikshuni Yashodhara, also with her retinue.
F2. Moreover, there were those with further study and those beyond study, two thousand in all.--the lesser known.
E2. There was the Bhikshuni Mahaprajapati with her retinue of six thousand, and Rahula’s mother, Bhikshuni Yashodhara, also with her retinue.--the Bhikshunis
Moreover, there were those with further study and those beyond study, two thousand in all. Not only were there great Arhats present, but there were two thousand of those with further study and those beyond study. The position of those with further study is that previous to the attainment of the fourth fruit of Arhatship--they still have more to learn. The position beyond study is the fourth level of Arhatship. Altogether, there were two thousand of them. They represent the Ten Suchnesses which will be discussed later. To simply name them, they are;
1. The suchness of the marks;
2. The suchness of the nature;
3. The suchness of the substance;
4. The suchness of the powers;
5. The suchness of the functions;
6. The suchness of the cause;
7. The suchness of the conditions;
8. The suchness of the effect;
9. The suchness of the retribution; and
10. The suchness of the ultimate equality of the beginning and end.
Each of the ten Suchnesses divides into ten, making one hundred Suchnesses. Each of those hundred Suchnesses divides into ten again, making one thousand Suchnesses. Thus, the use of the word “thousand”--“two thousand in all.”
There was the Bhikshuni Mahaprajapati with her retinue of six thousand...Maha means “great”. Prajapati means “love of the Way”. “Great love of the Way” was the sister of the Buddha’s mother. Seven days after the Buddha was born, his mother died and was reborn in the Trayastrimsha Heaven; her sister, Mahaprajapati, raised the Buddha as her own. Not only did she do so for Shakyamuni Buddha, but she was the aunt and foster mother of a thousand Buddhas. “With her retinue of six thousand” refers to her relatives, friends, and such.
And Rahula’s mother, Bhikshuni Yashodhara, also with her retinue. The Buddha’s wife, Yashodhara, later left the home-life as the Buddha’s disciple to become a Bhikshuni. A Bhikshuni is a woman who has left home. The word also has the same three meanings as the word Bhikshu, that is, a mendicant, a frightener of Mara, and a destroyer of evil. With her retinue refers also to a great many people. All assembled at the speaking of the Dharma Flower Sutra.
There were eighty thousand Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas all irreversibly established in anuttarasamyaksambodhi. All had obtained dharani and the eloquence of delight in speech and turned the irreversible wheel of the Dharma. They had made offerings to limitless hundreds of thousands of Buddhas and in the presence of those Buddhas had planted the roots of myriad virtues.
They were constantly receiving those Buddhas’ praise. They cultivated themselves in compassion and were well able to enter the wisdom of the Buddhas. They had penetrated the great wisdom and arrived at the other shore. Their reputations extended throughout limitless world realms, and they were able to cross over countless hundreds of thousands of living beings.
D2. There were eighty-thousand Bodhisattvas.--the Bodhisattvas
E1. There were eighty-thousand Bodhisattvas--statement of category and number
E2. All irreversiby established in anuttarasamyaksambodhi. All had obtained dharani and the eloquence of delight in speech and turned the irreversible wheel of the Dharma. They had made offerings to limitless hundreds of thousands of Buddhas and in the presence of those Buddhas had planted the roots of virtue. They were constantly receiving those Buddhas’ praise. They cultivated themselves in compassion and were well able to enter the wisdom of the Buddhas. They had penetrated the great wisdom and arrived at the other shore. Their reputations extended throughout limitless world realms, and they were able to cross over countless hundreds of thousands of living beings.--statement of position and praise of virtues.
There were eighty-thousand Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas. Bodhisattvas enlighten living beings. Mahasattvas are great Bodhisattvas with seven qualities discussed below. Bodhi means “enlightenment” and sattva means “being”. A Bodhisattva is an enlightened being who enlightens other sentient beings. Bodhisattvas are also known as “living beings who have great hearts for the Way”. They are also living beings, but they have great, large hearts for the Way. They are also called “beginning knights”.
Mahasattvas are the great Bodhisattvas. The Mahasattvas have seven qualities of greatness.
1. They are complete with great roots. Their extremely deep foundation is a kind of greatness. They are great in that they have, as the Sutra text states, “planted the roots of a myriad virtues”. For many lives and throughout many eons, they have sent down and nurtured roots of goodness which are now extremely deep. Good roots are called “roots of virtue”, and they are the basis of moral virtue. They have sent down the roots of the virtuous nature. How many of them? A limitless and boundless number. “A myriad” indicates their great quantity.
As the Vajra Sutra says, “You should know that such people will have planted good roots with not just one Buddha, two Buddhas, three, four, or five Buddhas, but will have planted good roots with measureless millions of Buddhas.” The Mahasattvas have planted their good roots of virtue in the presence of as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in limitless, boundless, thousands of billions of Ganges Rivers. So, they are complete with great roots.
2. They possess great wisdom. Where did they acquire this great wisdom? It came as a result of having brought forth the great Bodhi heart. Bringing forth the great Bodhi heart, they resolve to cross over all living beings. However, although they cross over all living beings, they do not become attached to the mark of having crossed them over. As the Vajra Sutra also says, “All Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, should subdue their hearts with the vow: ‘I must cause all living beings--those born from eggs, those born from wombs, those born from moisture, those born by transformation, those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not completely with thought and not completely without thought--to enter Nirvana without residue and be taken across to extinction. Yet of the immeasurable boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to extinction, there is actually no living beings taken across to extinction.’”
Although the Buddha saves countless living beings, in actuality there are no beings that he saves. Living beings save themselves. This is called, “Crossing over living beings but not attaching to the mark of doing so.” Mahasattvas are not like us ordinary people who do a good deed and then say, “I have caused a certain number of people to leave the home-life,” or “I have caused a certain number of people to believe in Buddhism. So and so is one I saved. So and so is one I convinced to believe in the Buddhadharma. So and so is one I introduced to the Buddhadharma.” Ah! Ordinary people are attached to so many marks! Why? Because they are deluded. If they had great wisdom, they would have no attachment to marks. Bodhisattvas should separate from all marks and then they may attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi. If one does not separate from all marks, one is not a Bodhisattva. Mahasattvas have great wisdom.
3. The third quality of the Mahasattva is: They believe in the great Dharma. What is the great Dharma? The great Dharma is the Dharma of the Great Vehicle. You must believe in the Dharma-doors of the Great Vehicle. You must deeply believe in Prajna. You must deeply believe in cause and effect, and you must deeply believe in the Dharma-door of the Great Vehicle’s Real Mark. You need a heart of such great belief because the Buddhadharma is as vast as the sea and can only be entered by means of faith. Without faith, although the Buddhadharma is vast, you will not be crossed over by means of it. Why? Because you have no faith. So it says,
Faith is the source of the Way
and the mother of merit and virtue, because
it nourishes all good roots.
Where do good roots come from? They come from faith. They grow out of the heart of faith. Faith is the mother of the merit and virtue which you cultivate. Therefore, belief in the great Dharma is the third quality of a Mahasattva. Great Bodhisattvas believe in all the great Dharmas. They have faith in the supreme wonderful Dharma; they believe especially deeply in the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Thus, they believe in the great Dharma.
If we have genuine and great faith in the Buddhadharma, then we are Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, too. The Vajra Sutra says, “All who hear these phrases and produce even one thought of pure faith are completely known and completely seen by the Tathagata.” Only one single thought of the most pure, firm faith brings blessedness and virtue which surpasses that of one who has made enough offerings of the seven precious things to fill the Great Trichiliocosm. The Thus Come One is certain to know your thought; your faith will not have been in vain. Students of the Buddhadharma should bring forth hearts of genuine faith and then they will be able to obtain a response.
For example, there are those in this Sutra assembly who have taken ill with the flu and who have coughs. I had intended to tell them to rest, but they still grit their teeth and insist on listening to the Sutra lectures. This proves that they have genuine faith. Belief in the Buddha and the Dharma should be as genuine as that. When I was young and listening to the Sutras, I too was sometimes ill, but I never failed to attend a Dharma meeting. I made up my mind that, as long as I had a breath of air, I would study the Dharma. I would not rest unless I was totally bed-ridden or unable to move. I never would have thought that now I would meet so many who “know my sound”, and who also listen to the Dharma, illness and all. However, one shouldn‘t force things. If you are too uncomfortable, it is all right to rest.
4. They understand the great principle. What is the great principle? Above, it is said that one must have great faith. In order to understand the great principle, one must do so by means of faith. In the Avatamsaka Sutra one speaks of the four stages of faith, understanding, practice, and certification. First of all you must believe, then you must understand. After you understand, you must put your understanding into actual practice. Through actual practice, you may gain certification.
What is the great principle? I will tell you: You must understand that all living beings basically are Buddhas. That is the great principle. This refers to the first of the Six Levels of Identity with the Buddha, that of Identity with the Buddha in Principle. In principle, everyone is a Buddha. However, in order to realize Buddhahood you must cultivate. If you fail to cultivate and yet say, “I am the Buddha, the Buddha, Buddha, Buddha...” that’s useless. It’s like calling yourself the Emperor, saying, “I am the Emperor. I am the Emperor.” But do you have subjects and ministers who are loyal to you? Do the people support you? No.
Of what use is a self-proclaimed emperor? If you say that you are the Buddha, in principle, you are correct. But you must specifically cultivate, otherwise you will be unable to return to the root, go back to the source, and recognize your original face.
Why must one understand that all living beings are basically Buddhas? It is because the Real Mark wisdom is not separate from the hearts of living beings. The wisdom of the Real Mark is complete within the hearts of us all. Therefore, the fourth is to understand the great principle.
5. Cultivate the great conduct. Which Dharma doors should one cultivate? One must diligently cultivate the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Conducts. What are the Six Paramitas?
a. Giving. First of all, one must give. Giving means to give to others, not to instruct others to give to you. Some people talk a lot about giving by telling other people to give to them, but they don’t give to others. Not only are they not Bodhisattvas, they aren’t even as good as Arhats.
Giving has been discussed many times. There are three kinds of giving: 1) the giving of wealth, 2) the giving of Dharma, 3) the giving of fearlessness.
The giving of wealth includes both inner and outer wealth. Outer wealth refers to one’s kingdom and treasures, to one’s wife and children. Those who practice the Bodhisattva Way have no thought at all of self or others and so they think, “What is mine is yours and what is yours I don’t necessarily want.” They have no mark of other and no mark of self, and so they are able to give away their kingdoms, their homes, and even their wife or children. Shakyamuni Buddha for example, should have become a king, but he chose instead to become a monk. He had three very beautiful wives, but he didn’t want them; he renounced them and let them go their way. Relinquishing the glory of royalty, he went to the Himalayas to cultivate the Way.
Inner wealth refers to: your head--if someone wants your head you give it up without a second thought; your eyes--if someone wants your eyes, you also give them up. You give your brains and marrow in the same way. Head, eyes, brains and marrow, skin, blood, flesh, sinews, and bones--all can be given to others.
What is meant by the giving of Dharma? It is to speak the Dharma to benefit beings, to teach and transform all living beings by explaining the Buddhadharma to them.
Of all the offerings,
The Dharma offering is supreme.
The offering of Dharma is to propagate the Buddhadharma for the sake of all beings. Thus, students of the Buddhadharma should learn how to lecture on the Sutras. Do not hoard a lot of wealth and fail to come to the aid of the starving masses. Those who understand the Buddhadharma must introduce it to others. They should think, “If I understand one percent, I will explain one percent to others. If I know 100 percent, I will explain 100 percent.” This is the gift of Dharma.
The third is the giving of fearlessness. When someone encounters disasters or calamities which terrify them, at that very moment you should go to reassure them saying, “Don’t be afraid. It’s not important. You’ll certainly evoke a response because your heart is so good; certainly nothing terrible will come of it.” Having dispelled their fear, you have given the gift of fearlessness.
Thus, there are three kinds of giving.
b. The second perfection is that of morality. There are many different sets of moral precepts. There are the five precepts, the eight precepts, the ten precepts, and the ten major and forty-eight minor Bodhisattva precepts. There are also the two hundred and fifty precepts for Bhikshus and the three hundred and forty-eight for Bhikshunis. We should hold the precepts.
c. Patience. Patience is a fine quality indeed. If you are able to be patient, you possess a treasure. Haven’t I said before:
Patience is a priceless treasure
Which few know how to mine.
Patience is a priceless jewel but no one knows how to use it. People may be patient once, or, pushing it, even twice. But on the third time, they blow up. “Just what do you think you are doing bullying me like that? Do you really think I’m afraid of you? Hah! I’ve stood for this just about long enough. Once, twice, three times--I have had all I can take. This is really too much!!!” And then the fight is on. These things happen when one loses patience.