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Chapter 1



For the sake of the Bodhisattvas, spoke a Great Vehicle Sutra named The Limitless Principles, a Dharma for instructing Bodhisattvas of which the Buddha is protective and mindful.


D2. manifestation of portents

E1. six portents in this world system

F1. portent of speaking Dharma.


For the sake of the Bodhisattvas, spoke a Great Vehicle Sutra named Limitless Principles. The Sutra was titled Sutra of Limitless Principles. The Buddha spoke it before he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra. He spoke the Sutra of Limitless Principles as a Dharma for instructing Bodhisattvas of which the Buddha is protective and mindful.

At that time, Six Portents were manifest.

What were the Six Portents?

1. The portent of speaking Dharma;
2. The portent of entering samadhi;
3. The portent of the raining of flowers;
4. The portent of the shaking of the earth;
5. The portent of the rejoicing of the assembly; and
6 The portent of emitting light.

Most likely these are the Six Portents. I may be mistaken, but I don’t believe I am. I don’t think my memory is quite that bad. Those are the Six Portents and we are now discussing the first, the Portent of the Speaking of Dharma.

Someone may ask, “But the Buddha very often speaks the Dharma and enters samadhi. Why have such common occurrences suddenly become auspicious portents?”

This speaking of Dharma differs from that of other times. This time, after he spoke the Dharma, the Buddha entered samadhi. Having entered samadhi, there was a rain of flowers. After the rain of flowers, there was an earthquake. After the earthquake, everyone rejoiced and the Buddha emitted the white hair-mark light. These all betoken an extraordinary circumstance; thus, they are called the Six Portents.

“For the sake of all the great Bodhisattvas, spoke a Great Vehicle Sutra.” “The Bodhisattvas” refers to the eighty thousand Mahasattvas present in the Dharma Flower Assembly. They were all great Bodhisattvas who listened to a Great Vehicle Sutra.

What is a Great Vehicle Sutra?

These are the Seven Qualities of the Great Vehicle, as cultivated by Great Vehicle Bodhisattvas:

1. The greatness of the Dharma. The entire Tripitaka with its Twelve Divisions of Sutra Texts, is contained within the Great Vehicle Sutras. The Small Vehicle does not include the Great Vehicle, but the Great Vehicle does include the Small Vehicle. So, first of all, the Dharma is great.

2. The greatness of the heart brought forth. What is meant by bringing forth the great heart? It is to bring forth the great heart of Bodhi, not the small heart of Bodhi, so that, from the level of a common person, right up until the realization of Buddhahood, one never retreats. An unretreating heart is a great Bodhi heart.

3. Understanding the Great Storehouse. This refers to understanding the doctrines contained within the Great Vehicle Bodhisattva Storehouse. The Great Storehouse is the Bodhisattva Storehouse. Understanding the doctrines of the Bodhisattva Storehouse and cultivating according to the Dharmas of the Bodhisattva Storehouse is to understand the Great Storehouse.

4. The greatness of purity. Bodhisattvas who study the Great Vehicle can see the Way and their hearts are great, immaculate, pure, and clear.

5. The greatness of the adornment. With what do they adorn themselves? Blessings and wisdom. They adorn themselves with blessings and virtue, wisdom and intelligence.

6. The greatness of the time. They pass through three great asamkhyeyas of kalpas. The sixth may also be explained as the greatness of the cause.

7. The greatness of the perfection. Perfection refers to the fulfillment of the Six Perfections and the Ten Thousand Conducts. They adorn themselves with the hallmarks and characteristics and obtain the fruit of Bodhi. So this may also be explained as the greatness of the fruit or result.

Because of these seven qualities, it is called the Great Vehicle.

Everyone says, “The Great Vehicle? Why that’s just Mahayana!”

“Well what is Mahayana anyway? How big is it?” I ask. “How many qualities of greatness are connected with the Great Vehicle?” And they don’t know.

Having heard the Seven Qualities of the Great Vehicle, we should note that they differ somewhat from the Seven Qualities of a Mahasattva which were previously enumerated. So it’s the Great Vehicle spoken for the sake of the Bodhisattvas. “Speak” means to expound. “Sutra” is a text. The word Sutra has already been discussed; it is a Sanskrit word which is interpreted as a “tallying text” for it tallies above with the principles of all the Buddhas and below with the opportunities for teaching living beings. It also has many other meanings which need not be reiterated here.

Before Shakyamuni Buddha spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra, he spoke a Sutra called the Sutra of Limitless Principles. “Limitless Principles” means that the principles are uncountable. However,

“Where does the limitless come from?”
It comes from the limited.
“And where does the limited come from ?”
From the one.
“Where does the one come from?”
It comes from the markless.
“Where does the markless come from?”
It comes from the Real Mark.

Therefore it is said, “The Real Mark is unmarked.” The limitless principles come from the limited principles and the limited principles come from the one principle, the primary principle.

“Where does the one principle come from?”

It comes from the markless, the markless principle. The markless principle comes from the Real Mark principle.

The Real Mark is unmarked. Which mark does it not have? It has no mark of birth and death. The Real Mark is also not unmarked, for it has no mark of Nirvana. Without the marks of birth and death or Nirvana, it is the Real Mark.

However, there is nothing which is not marked by it. Everything, for example, the limitless principles, all come from it, from the Real Mark. For this reason, the Sutra of Limitless Principles is also the Sutra of the Real Mark Principles.

Previously I have explained the word “all”, as “one”. Why? For this reason: The one is limitless and the limitless is one. In fact, there isn’t even one. That’s the Real Mark.

“Where does the one come from?”

It comes from the absence of one.

Basically there isn’t a “one”, but people deliberately stick another head atop their heads and come up with a “one”. When there’s nothing to do, they go out and find ways to be busy. Basically there is no problem at all, but people fuss around and find problems to take care of.

What is the function of the Sutra of Limitless Principles which the Buddha now speaks? It is a Dharma for instructing Great Bodhisattvas, a method for teaching and transforming them, instructing Bodhisattvas in the methods used to practice the Bodhisattva Way. The Bodhisattvas study the Great Vehicle Dharma, of which the Buddha is protective and mindful. Basically, the Buddha had no intention of speaking this Dharma, and he remained silent for a long time not discussing it. Why? Because the Buddha is protective and mindful of this Great Vehicle Dharma. He had no intention of speaking it. If he did speak the Great Vehicle Dharma, it might cause all living beings to disbelieve it; certainly, it would not be appropriate to their potentials. Since it was inappropriate, the Buddha waited a long time before speaking this Dharma.

This has been a discussion of the first of the Six Portents: the Speaking of Dharma.


After the Buddha had spoken this Sutra, he sat in full lotus and entered the samadhi of the station of limitless principles, body and mind unmoving.


F2. portent of entering samadhi.


This is the second portent, that of Entering Samadhi.

After the Buddha had spoken this Sutra, after Shakyamuni Buddha had spoken this Sutra...“Which Sutra? Was it the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Sutra?”

No. It was the Sutra of Limitless Principles, which is the Dharma for instructing Bodhisattvas of which the Buddha is protective and mindful. Since he had spoken the Sutra, one might expect him to take a rest. He did not rest however. He sat in full lotus.

The lotus posture may be a full-lotus or a half-lotus, depending on whether both or only one of the legs are pulled up over the opposite thigh.

“Why sit in full lotus?”

It aids you in your cultivation of the Way. The lotus position is also called the “vajra sitting.”

No doubt you have all heard me relate the account of the “ghost-pressured Dharma Master” and so I need not repeat it now, but I will talk about the full-lotus position.

When practicing Chan, if you sit in full lotus, then you are less likely to doze off. That’s the first advantage.

“What is meant by dozing off?”

It means that you sit there and sleep! When you sit there in full lotus, you won’t fall over as it creates a solid balance beneath you. It promotes the easy development of your samadhi power. One meditates with the hope of obtaining samadhi power; the lotus position is helpful in this regard. When your samadhi power comes forth, your wisdom power will be increased, because wisdom power comes from samadhi power. Samadhi power comes from precept power. When you sit in full lotus, upright and sedate, that is your own inherent precept substance. From the precepts comes samadhi; from samadhi comes wisdom. Precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, the Three Non-Outflow Studies, are born from full-lotus sitting.

Another thing: When you sit in full-lotus, all the gods and dragons and the rest of the eightfold division protect you. With the gods, dragons and others of the eightfold division protecting you, the deviant demons, outside ways, weird demons and strange ghosts--all the demon kings retreat far into the distance; they run far away. Therefore the vajra full-lotus sitting is a most important factor in cultivating the Way.

When I was in Manchuria the following event occurred: there was a dharma teacher of an outside-way who had over three thousand disciples, but he knew that he had no skill in his spiritual cultivation. For this reason, he went everywhere, seeking the Way. He didn’t dare let his disciples know what he was doing, because if they knew he did not have the Way, they would no longer believe in him. He transmitted a non-Buddhist dharma and at the same time traveled everywhere looking for the Way. He looked for two or three years but still did not meet a bright-eyed learned advisor.

Later, he met me. How did that happen? I had known him some time previously, but had not seen him for a long time. He had heard of me when I was sitting beside my mother’s grave as an act of filial piety. He had heard of me, but had never met me. One day I went to his house. The night before, his nephew had had a dream in which he saw me, even though he had never actually met me and did not know me. When he saw me in his dream, he didn’t know why, but he sought the Way from me. His name was Guan Zhanhai. He heard me say, “You can’t seek the Way; you can’t cultivate the Way. Why? Because you are wearing a skin of foul retribution on your body; you have a skin of offense karma.”

He persisted in asking me for the Way and then, I reached out my hand and from the top of his head, pulled an entire layer of skin off of him. I threw it on the ground and when he looked at it, he saw it was the skin of a pig. Then in his dream I said, “Now that I have pulled off your skin of offenses, you can cultivate the Way.”

The day after the dream, I went to his house, for I knew his uncle, Guan Zhongxi. He said, “Uncle, who is he? I dreamt last night that he came here and pulled a pig skin off of my body.”

The uncle said, “He is the one who cultivates filial piety from Xihuangqi (West Yellow Banner) in Lalin. He’s well known as the Filial Son.” The nephew was delighted and related to his uncle the particulars of his dream. His uncle had the Way uppermost in his mind and he too, rejoiced. “The Way has been sent to our home!” he said. “We should quickly seek the Way from him!” The two of them knelt before me and refused to get up; they wanted me to accept them as their teacher. I was twenty-three at the time.

I said, “I can’t be anyone’s teacher. I don’t have the Way; I am seeking the Way myself at present.”

“Be compassionate,” they pleaded. “We both know that you are a cultivator of the Way and we must bow to you as our teacher!”

I said, “Don’t worry. I will take you around everywhere to seek for the Way. When you meet someone you feel is qualified to be your teacher, you may bow to him. Don’t bow to me as your teacher,” and I refused to accept them.

Today, we will just speak this far.

Yesterday, we were talking about sitting in full lotus. Guan Zhongxi and his nephew Guan Zhanhai had sought the Way from me. Guan Zhongxi had over three thousand disciples, but he had no method by which to end his own birth and death. He very anxiously went everywhere seeking the Way. After several years, probably about three, he had not found it. When I went to his home, his nephew had had a special dream, and so he knew who I was. The two of them knelt before me begging me for the Way.

I said, “I don’t have the Way, but I can help you find it. Come along with me and we shall search everywhere for it--in all the temples and monasteries, or wherever there are cultivators, and when you meet someone who suits you, you can take him as your teacher. They came along with me, and we traveled to all the well-known places where people cultivated the Way. I introduced them to the cultivators, but in all cases they were not satisfied with them and returned again to seek the Way from me.

I said, “I don’t have the Way. All I can do is instruct you in a method of cultivation. What method? The full-lotus sitting. Try it out and see if you can sit in full-lotus.”

When the uncle tried it, his right leg stuck straight up in the air, over six inches off the bench. This was because he was one of the native mountain people and they had the peculiar trait of having very large kneecaps. They were known as “big kneecap bones.” Although it was very difficult, still, he could get into that position and sit, so I told him to practice sitting that way and then I left.

Over seventy days later I returned to his house. His kneecaps had been quite large to begin with, but now they had swollen even bigger. They were so swollen that he couldn’t even walk. In Manchuria, iron-wheeled carts are used for transportation, and the wheels are about two inches wide. They make two-inch ruts in the roads. Guan Zhongxi was unable to step over a cart rut, his legs were so swollen. Seeing this, I felt the practice was too severe, so I said to him, “You shouldn’t practice sitting in full-lotus. It’s something you probably just can’t manage. You can stop practicing it.”

He said, “Only if I die will I discontinue practicing this sitting. As long as I haven’t died, I don’t care how swollen my legs get, I shall continue to practice, because if in cultivating the Way one is not able to bear pain, how can one possibly expect to succeed? If I can’t even discipline myself to sit in full-lotus, how can I possibly cultivate the Way? I am determined to accomplish it.”

I said, “If you are going to be that way, I won’t pay any attention to you. If you practice, practice! If you don’t, don’t. Do as you please,” and I left.

After one hundred days--the previous time it had been seventy days--I again returned to his house and saw that he could now walk. His legs were no longer swollen. I asked him, “Have you quit practicing the full-lotus position?”

“No,” he said, “and now, not only has the swelling gone down, but my legs no longer hurt. Both my legs lie on the bench, they don’t stick up in the air anymore, and they don’t hurt.”

I said, “Those with determination know success. Your strong resolve brought about your accomplishment.” I then taught him the methods used to cultivate Dhyana. He practiced them, cultivating the skill of sitting in Dhyana meditation.

His nephew, Guan Zhanhai, had traveled with his uncle everywhere seeking the Way. He sought it for three years, and then two more--five years in all--and still had not found a teacher. He was extremely well-disposed toward me and always gave me gifts on New Year’s and other holidays, perhaps good things to eat or other things, a great many of them. I knew he thought well of me.

Once, I took him to the Three Conditions Temple where I was staying, to meet the Abbot. I had assumed he would bow to the Abbot as his teacher, but he didn’t. We started out for his house. About half-way there, we passed through a small forest. Suddenly, he grabbed my sleeve and knelt down. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I have traveled for so many years and of all the people I have seen, I believe in you the most. Now I must bow to you as my teacher.”

Seeing him in such a state, tugging at my sleeve, I pretended to get angry. I jerked my arm away, turned around and stomped off. I walked about a quarter of a mile and turned around to see him still kneeling there. He hadn’t risen and tears were rolling down his face. I walked back and stood before him. “What are you doing?” I said.

“You must accept me as your disciple,” he sobbed, “otherwise, I am not going to get up. I’ll stay here kneeling until I die.”

“Oh? Well, kneel until you die; that would be the very best thing you could do!” I said. “If you want to die kneeling, go ahead, but nobody’s ordering you to do it. Kneel all you want, but I am leaving,” and I left again. I walked about one third of a mile and turned around to see him still kneeling; he hadn’t risen. At that point my heart felt a slight twinge, and I returned and said, “Very well, I’ll accept you.” He was the first disciple I received in Manchuria.

Before taking refuge he was a vegetarian. After taking refuge, he practiced sleeping sitting up. He never lay down, never allowed his ribs to touch a mat or bed. He also never ate after noon.

After his uncle had been cultivating for roughly five years, he knew himself on what day he was going to go to rebirth (die). He addressed the members of his household saying, “On such and such a day I am going to leave. You must not cry or grieve. Most of all, I would like to see the Filial Son. If he could come, that would be the very best. But I do not know where he is at present and have no way to send him a letter. Everything else, I can let go of, but this one wish alone remains unfulfilled.”

When the day arrived, he sat upright, and without any illness he died sitting. After his death, many people in his village had a very strange dream: they all dreamt that they saw two young lads dressed in dark robes, in front of him, leading him off to the West. This is what his wife later told me.

Sitting in full-lotus is a most important factor in cultivation of the Way. If you can master it, it will be extremely beneficial for you in your cultivation.

Having finished speaking the Sutra of Limitless Principles, Shakyamuni Buddha sat in full-lotus and entered the samadhi of the Station of Limitless Principles. To enter into the samadhi of Limitless Principles is also just to enter into the Real Mark Samadhi, where only the Real Mark remains.

Body and mind unmoving. Someone may ask, “When the body does not move, we can observe this, but how can one know if the mind is unmoving?”

If your body does not move, then your mind may also be unmoving. Once your body moves, your mind moves as well. Therefore, those who have entered samadhi do not move either in body or mind. The mind, or heart, being discussed here [in Chinese “mind” and “heart” are represented by the same character] is not the lump of flesh within your chest; it is the true mind. Whether or not you enter samadhi, the true mind is basically unmoving. So the text says, “body and mind unmoving.” Why is it unmoving? Because the Buddha has entered samadhi. His body and mind have obtained the realm of the clear, pure, basic source. For this reason, the body and mind are unmoving. This has been a discussion of the second, the Portent of Entering Samadhi.


At that time there fell from the heavens a rain of mandarava flowers, mahamandarava flowers, manjushaka flowers, and mahamanjushaka flowers, which were scattered upon the Buddha and the entire great assembly.


This passage of text is the third, the Portent of the Raining of Flowers. At that time, when Shakyamuni Buddha had entered samadhi, body and mind unmoving, at that very same time there fell from the heavens a rain, falling down out of the sky, of mandarava flowers. Mandarava is a Sanskrit word. Mandarava flowers are interpreted as “white flowers,” or as “flowers which go along with one’s wish.” Mahamandarava flowers are the big variety of white flowers.

Manjushaka flowers are “red flowers.” Mahamanjushaka flowers are huge, deep red flowers. These were the flowers which were scattered upon the Buddha and the entire great assembly. All present in the Dharma Assembly received the offering of flowers.

“What does the rain from heaven of these four kinds of flowers represent?”

They represent the Dwellings, Practices, Dedications, and Grounds. In the Shurangama Sutra we have already heard about the Ten Dwellings. They are represented by the mandarava flowers. The mahamandarava flowers represent the Ten Practices. The manjushaka flowers represent the Ten Dedications. The mahamanjushaka flowers represent the Ten Grounds. Thus, the four kinds of flowers represent these four sets of positions, the four Bodhisattva levels.

“Which were scattered upon the Buddha”: The flowers drifted down and settled upon the Buddha and upon the entire great assembly as well. “The entire great assembly”: In cultivation everyone must pass through the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, and the Ten Grounds. This, then, has been a discussion of the third, the Portent of the Raining of Flowers.


All the Buddha universes quaked in six ways.


All the Buddha universes quaked in six ways. This is the fourth, the Portent of the Shaking of the Earth. Why was it that all the Buddha universes quaked in six ways? It was because Shakyamuni Buddha was about to speak the Dharma Flower Sutra. Before he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra, these various occurrences took place to indicate and point out the great significance of the Sutra. That is why all these states manifested.

“All the Buddha universes” refers to all the universes in which there are Buddhas. They all quaked in six ways. The Six Types of Earthquakes have been explained many times and in fact I even quizzed you on them once. Some of you may remember one of them, some two, some three, others four or five, but nobody remembers all six. Now, I am not going to ask you if you know them, I’ll just go ahead and tell you again:

The Six Types of Earthquakes are 1) banging, 2) roaring, 3) crackling, 4) shaking, 5) surging, and 6) rising. The first three refer to sound; the second three refer to movement, to the visible appearance of the earth as it shakes, rises, and surges. One set is sound; the other is movement.

The Six Types of Earthquakes represent the six faculties: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Generally speaking, there are Six Types of Earthquakes, but if one wishes to expand the explanation, there may be said to be Eighteen Types of Earthquakes by virtue of the fact that each of the six have three applications. Three times six, of course, is eighteen, and they represent the eighteen realms of sense. The eighteen realms of sense are composed of the six sense faculties, the six sense objects, and the six consciousness.

How do each of the Six Types of Earthquakes turn into three?

Let’s take the fourth, shaking, for example: the first is shaking; the second is universal shaking, and the third is everywhere universal shaking. That’s three. Banging works the same way: banging, universal banging, and everywhere universal banging. There’s also roaring, universal roaring, and everywhere universal roaring as another three. Crackling, universal crackling, and everywhere universal crackling are another three. Surging, universal surging, and everywhere universal surging are another three. Rising, universal rising and everywhere universal rising are yet another three. That makes eighteen in all.

“What is meant by the set of three?”

“Shaking” refers to shaking in one particular place. “Universal shaking” is the shaking in one set of four continents: Jambudvipa in the south, Uttarakuru in the north, Aparagodaniya in the West, and Purvavideha in the east. When the four great continents shake, that is termed “universal shaking.”

However “universal shaking” refers to only one set of four continents. “Everywhere universal shaking” refers to shaking throughout the entire three thousand great thousand worlds; they all shake. The Six Types of Earthquakes taking place to the ends of empty space and throughout the Dharma Realm is termed “everywhere universal shaking.”

The Six Types of Earthquakes also represent the four levels: the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, and the Ten Grounds with the addition of Equal Enlightenment and Wonderful Enlightenment, a total of six positions.

What does the quaking represent?

It represents the breaking up of our ignorance, because as you break through six levels, the six positions, you break through ignorance six times. Each time you break through it, it diminishes. Thus they are called the Six Types of Earthquakes.

Everyone who sits in Chan undergoes these Six Types of Earthquakes. Those who do not sit in Chan may also experience them. They represent the six sense faculties: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. These are the Six Types of Earthquakes.

Let’s discuss the term “surging.” When there is surging in the east, there is sinking in the west. The east surges up and the west sinks. The movement begins in the east. The east is associated with wood and wood with the color green. In the human body, the color green is associated with the liver. Thus, the liver is associated with wood. The liver is associated with the eyes and so this deals with the eye faculty.

The south is associated with the color red. The south and the color red are associated with the heart and fire. Fire is red and is associated with the human heart. The heart is associated with the tongue; the tongue is red.

The west is associated with white and metal. Within the human body, metal is associated with the lungs. The lungs are white in color. Of the six sense faculties, the nose is associated with the lungs.

When the merit of the eyes arises, the afflictions of the nose are wiped away. When the afflictions of the eyes disperse, the merit of the nose arises. Each of the six faculties has its own merits. The merits of the eye, ear, nose and tongue are discussed later on in the Dharma Flower Sutra; they are discussed as in the Shurangama Sutra as well. So when the merit arises, afflictions are wiped away. When afflictions arise, merit is wiped away. So they interact in their quaking.

The north is associated with the color black, water. In the human body the color black is associated with the kidneys. The kidneys are associated with the ear faculty. With relation to the ear and tongue: when the merit of the ear arises, the afflictions of the tongue are wiped away. When the merit of the tongue arises, the afflictions of the ear are wiped away. They interrelate with regard to merit and affliction. The four directions are represented by the body, and the center, by the mind.

The body is complete with the four faculties and the mind conceptualizes through them. So the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Dedications, the Ten Grounds, Equal Enlightenment, and Wonderful Enlightenment are represented by the Six Types of Earthquakes. The eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind are also represented by the Six Types of Earthquakes. The inner quakings take place in the six faculties; the outer quakings have three involving movement and three involving sound. A lot could be said about them, but today we will stop here.

“All the Buddha worlds quaked in six ways.” This is the fourth, the Portent of the Shaking of the Earth. The Six Types of Earthquakes represent quaking at the gates of the six sense faculties. The six sense faculties--eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind--interact to aid one another. One could also say that they have formed themselves into a party, banded together like the lang and the bei. What is meant by “banded together like the lang and the bei?” The two animals, the lang and the bei must be together in order to walk. If they are not together they can’t walk. Why? Because the lang and the bei are unlike ordinary wolves. The lang has only forelegs and the bei has only hindlegs. The two of them must get together in order to walk. So it is said, “banded together like the lang and the bei.”

The eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind--the six sense faculties--are also this way. They can do evil deeds and they can also do good deeds. When they run downhill, they can drag your Dharma-body with them into hell, or perhaps into the realm of hungry ghosts, or the animal kingdom. This happens all because the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind have taken you there.

When one realizes Buddhahood, it is also because of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind cooperating with each other. They are no longer like the lang and the bei banding together for criminal purposes, but the function as a cooperative organization. You help them and they help you. For example, as I said earlier, “When the merit of the nose arises, the afflictions of the eyes are wiped away. When the merit of the eyes arises, the afflictions of the nose are wiped away.”

“What is meant by the ‘afflictions of the eyes’ and the ‘afflictions of the nose?’”

The afflictions of the eyes: When you see things you like but cannot obtain them, then there is affliction. When you see them you give rise to a heart of greed. Your eyes see them and your heart gives rise to greed, and so this type of affliction is created because of the eyes.

“Then what is meant by the merit of the eyes?”

The merit of the eye: When your eyes read the Sutras, you think, “The Sutras are truly fine. I’m going to read them,” and your eyes help your heart to understand the doctrines in the Sutras. When your eyes see images of the Buddha, you then bow to the Buddha.

Why did you bow to the Buddha?

Because your eyes saw the image of the Buddha and so you wished to pay reverence and make offerings. This came about through the merit of the eyes. The eyes can help you and so can the nose, the ears, the tongue, the body and the mind. All of the six sense faculties work in the same way with the same power. They can help you or they can destroy you. It depends upon what you do.

If you base your actions on wholesome merit and virtue, the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind will help you do acts of wholesome merit and virtue. If you operate from a base of transgression, offense, and error, the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind will also come to your aid in doing acts of transgression, offense, and error. For this reason the Shurangama Sutra says, “If you fall into hell, it’s because of your six sense faculties; if you realize Buddhahood, it’s also because of your six sense faculties.” Nothing else.

So when I say that stupidity is just wisdom, the principle is the same as that of the use of the six sense faculties. When you’ve heard Sutras explained for a while, you will reach the point where, comprehending one point you will comprehend all; understanding one you will understand all; knowing one, you will know all; awakening to one, you will awaken to all.

The inherent nature is like empty space;
It contains both the true and false.

The inherent nature of human beings is just like empty space. Contained within empty space there is both true and false.

Awaken to and fathom the basic substance:
In one penetration, penetrate all.

Once you have understood the doctrine of the inherent nature, then when you understand one thing, you will understand everything. Take, for example, eating: Why do we eat?

To satisfy the hunger in our stomachs. All of our food and drink, whether it tastes good or bad, is merely to satisfy our hungry stomachs. It all serves the same purpose.

Why do we wear clothes?

To keep out the cold. No matter what kind of clothes you wear, they all serve the purpose of protecting you from the cold.

Now, everyone needs to eat, wear clothes, and sleep, and we look upon these three things as extremely important. Why? Because without them our every lives are in danger. We should now look upon our study of the Buddhadharma as important as eating, as important as wearing clothes, and as important as sleeping. Without the Buddhadharma our inherent natures are in danger. We must employ our six sense faculties in the quest of the Supreme Way of enlightenment and then it may be said that “the great earth quaked in six ways.”

Those who have not sat in Dhyana meditation will not know of this, but those who have may have experienced the sudden jerking of one of their hands, or perhaps their eyes, nose, or ears will shake. This is the manifestation of what is termed “the quaking of the six faculties.”

At the point of most extreme stillness,
the light penetrates through,
And another heaven appears.

When you work intensely, when your efforts reach their most extreme point, another state entirely manifests.

Last summer during the Shurangama Sutra sessions, someone had some experience with this. As she sat there her hand would suddenly and involuntarily jerk up into the air. This is a transformation undergone by the body. When there is movement, there is change, and with change comes transformation.

Those who have applied effort and obtained skill such as this, must still receive the guidance of a genuine bright teacher in order to avoid taking the wrong road. Without the guidance of a genuine bright advisor, a good knowing advisor, it is very easy to go astray, to become frightened, and then not dare continue to apply effort. If anyone experiences these kinds of states, they should not be frightened, for they are just one of the Six Types of Earthquakes.

The doctrines in the Sutras must be applied to our own bodies and our own natures. What are the Sutras for? They are to point out to each one of us, personally, the road which we should walk down. That is why the Buddha spoke so many Sutras. The roads are all contained within the natures of each one of us. The Buddha taught eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors to cure the eighty-four thousand kinds of bad habits and faults of living beings.

We ourselves may be unaware of our faults and continue to be influenced by them in our actions. Running after our faults, turned by them, we take it as happiness. In reality, day by day, we sink lower, and are unaware of what is happening. So, in the Sutras, the Buddha clearly points out the path to each one of us. The Six Types of Earthquakes are not separate from our own six sense faculties.

Why do the six sense faculties quake? The quaking represents the destruction of ignorance. Why are there six? Because ignorance is broken through six times. Ignorance is broken at the First Fruit, and the Second Fruit, at the Third Fruit, and at the Fourth Fruit. Then, ignorance is broken at the level of Equal Enlightenment. Having broken through ignorance at the level of Equal Enlightenment, one realizes Buddhahood. So the Six Types of Earthquakes represent these six levels, six positions: the First Fruit, Second Fruit, Third Fruit, Fourth Fruit, Bodhisattvahood, and Buddhahood. This has been a general explanation of the Six Types of Earthquakes.

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