The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra
Chapter 10: Masters of the Dharma
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
One who can receive and uphold
The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra
You should know the Buddha sent him,
Out of pity for living beings.
Those who can receive and hold
The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra,
Have renounced their pure lands,
And, pitying beings, have been reborn here.
You should know that such people,
Are free to be born wherever they wish,
And can, in this evil world
Vastly teach the supreme Dharma.
One should make offerings of heavenly flowers
Incense and heavenly jeweled garments,
And heaven’s finest, most marvelous gems,
To the teachers of this Dharma.
H2. Repetition of specific and general meanings.
I1. Verse of specific explanation.
So hurry up and learn to lecture The Dharma Flower Sutra! See all the offerings you will get? But I hope you will not learn to lecture it out of greed for offerings, really. You should cultivate and dwell in the Buddha Path.
One who can receive and uphold The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra, You should know the Buddha sent him. The Buddha told him to come. If this were not the case, he would not be able to receive and hold The Dharma Flower Sutra. If you can receive and uphold The Dharma Flower Sutra, then the Buddha sent you here. You just do not know, that’s all. It was so long ago, you have forgotten. You have forgotten your duties. If you read and recite and uphold the Sutra, then you are the Buddha’s messenger.
Why did the Buddha send you here into the evil world of the five turbidities? Out of pity for living beings. Taking pity on all living beings, the Buddha sent you into this world. And this evil world of the five turbidities is decidedly impure.
Those who can receive and hold The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra have renounced their pure lands. They themselves wished to renounce their pure lands of reward and come instead into the evil world of the five turbidities. And, pitying beings, have been reborn here. Because they have great compassion for living beings, they have been reborn in this world.
You should know that such people are free to be born wherever they wish. They did not come into this world on the wheel of rebirth. They picked this world out of their own choice. They chose to be born here in order to teach and transform living beings. And can, in this evil world, in this evil world of the turbid eon, the turbidity of views, the turbidity of affliction, the turbidity of living beings, and the turbidity of the life span—such a dirty world. Vastly teach the supreme Dharma. They have great fearlessness. They are not afraid of the five turbidities, and they are not afraid of the Ten Servants. The Ten Servants are the Five Slow Servants and the Five Sharp Servants. Fearless, they expound upon the supreme Dharma.
One should make offerings of heavenly flowers, incense and heavenly jeweled garments, and heaven’s finest, most marvelous gems. The gems are marvelous. In heaven they have jewel-cluster trays. The tray is empty, but when you put one thing in it, the whole tray becomes filled with similar things. For example, if you set a small piece of gold on the tray, the tray will be filled with gold. If you set a piece of silver there, there will be a tray full of silver. If you place a piece of gemstone on the tray, there will be a tray filled with gemstones. Such are the wonderful jewels in the heavens.
To the teachers of this Dharma, to one who speaks The Dharma Flower Sutra. So I told you to hurry up and learn how to speak the Sutra, but not so that you can get offerings. Offerings should not even enter into the picture. You should learn to speak the Sutra so that you can realize Buddhahood. I do not care if any of you make offerings to me, even though I am speaking the Sutra. If there are no offerings at all, I still keep on lecturing it. I do not do it out of greed for offerings. If I were greedy for fame or offerings, I would be just like Maitreya Bodhisattva! Ah…
Bodhidharma’s disciples, the Bhikshuni Zong Chi could recite The Dharma Flower Sutra from memory. After she died, a blue lotus flower grew from her mouth as a certification of the merit she had gained through her recitation of the Sutra.
You should arrange in your cultivation for special practices that you undertake, over and above the daily-required practices. For example, in addition to morning and evening recitation and translation work and so on, you should concentrate on memorizing or reciting a particular Sutra, The Vajra Sutra, The Dharma Flower Sutra, The Shurangama Sutra, or The Earth Store Sutra. You should investigate it in great detail and “put it in your stomach!”—that is, memorize it.
Do not just waste your time all day.
Regardless of whether you have left home or not, you should gather your thoughts and contemplate emptiness. Discipline yourself so that you reduce your bad habits and faults. Change your habits and toss out your faults. Then you will be able to dwell in the Buddha Path and gain a response from the Buddhadharma.
Those who cultivate the Way should not tell people to make offerings of treasures to them. If you take valuable offerings from people, thieves will be interested in you. I say this because there was once an old Taoist named Lu Dong Bin who had the ability to point his finger at a rock and turn it into gold. He turned a lot of rocks to gold for the poor people, but after five hundred years, the gold would turn back into rock. A thief saw this going on and thought, “What an incredible finger that is! If I had his finger I would never be poor again. I could give up this life of crime.” He resolved to steal poor Lu Dong Bin’s finger. He made elaborate plans to break into his house and cut the man’s finger off. Lu Dong Bin may have been an immortal, but he still felt pain when the thief tried to cut off his finger. “Hey, what are you doing cutting off my finger!” he yelled. The thief tried to run away, but Lu Dong Bin who had many assortment of spiritual powers, used the power of “Pointing Fixation” and the thief froze in his tracks. He pointed at him and said, “You cannot move.” And he could not!
Then he asked him, “Why were you trying to cut off my finger?”
“Your finger is just too neat!”
“All you have to do is point to something and it turns to gold. I need your finger, I mean! If I get it, I will not have to be poor.” Lu Dong Bin thought, “This finger might turn things to gold, but it is a lot of trouble too. I am not going to give it to you, thief, and I am not going to use it myself anymore, not commercially anyway.” So cultivators should not have a lot of valuable stuff and you can see why!
One who can uphold this Sutra
After my extinction, in the evil age,
Should be worshipped with palms joined
As if making offerings to the World Honored One.
Fine food and many sweet delicacies
And various kinds of clothing,
Should be offered to this disciple of the Buddha,
Hoping to hear him speak even for a moment.
One who can, in the latter age.
Receive and uphold this Sutra,
Has been sent by me into the human realm,
To carry out the Thus Come One’s work.
One who can uphold this Sutra after my extinction, in the evil age. “My” refers to Shakyamuni Buddha speaking of himself. The evil age is a time of not only “five” turbidities, but also an uncountable number of turbidities. The evil age is the Dharma-ending age, the age when people are strong in fighting. Everyone wants to put everyone else down, to destroy everyone else. If I am the one, then you cannot be. If you are the one, I cannot be. People cannot exist side by side. This is a most difficult age in which to be born and live. So the Buddha thought of a method. He said, “One who can uphold The Dharma Flower Sutra, should be worshipped with palms joined. One who can cultivate according to the doctrines in The Dharma Flower Sutra should be greeted with palms joined, reverently. You should bow to them just as if making offerings to the World Honored One.”
The Buddha gave predictions long ago to those who uphold The Dharma Flower Sutra, saying that they represent him in propagating the Dharma. Therefore, The Dharma Flower Sutra is extremely important. Why do we say that The Dharma Flower Sutra is “the Sutra for realizing Buddhahood?” If you can hear The Dharma Flower Sutra you have a chance to become a Buddha.
When I was in Hong Kong one of my old disciples, over 70, always went to my lectures. She could not hear them, however, because she was deaf. Once, when I was lecturing on the Universal Door Chapter of The Dharma Flower Sutra, suddenly she could hear. She was no longer deaf. Is this uncanny or not? Once she got her hearing back, she insisted on attending the lectures even more. She never missed even one lecture. She would come regardless of wind or rain. She told people, “If I miss a lecture, I am upset for about two weeks, and regret it.”
There were also several young students who only went to my lectures. Even if I told them to go to someone else’s lecture, they would not go! I said, “You cannot just listen to my lectures. The other Dharma Masters lecture much better than I do. You should go listen to them.”
“Better or not, I am not going anywhere else,” one of them said. “Why should I go to their lectures? I could lecture better than they do.”
I said, “Do not be so arrogant.”
“But there is just no contest!” he insisted “You cannot compare them.”
Sometimes I would scold my young students roundly, but they did not care. You have not seen me really get angry yet. If you had, you would not dare to try to get away with the stuff you do.
As to Sutra lecturers and listeners, it is also a question of inter-personal affinities. If you have affinities with someone, you can scold them, and it will not matter. If you do not have affinities with someone, no matter how much you try to butter him or her up, they still will not like you. Affinities are very important.
A few days ago I did some nuclear testing. I got angry with my disciples to see if they would run away. I was not probably tough enough because no one ran away.
Fine food and many sweet delicacies. Oh boy! Good food. Do you want some? If you do, you cannot have any!
This line refers to a great variety of good things to eat, mouth-watering! Who gets them? The person who receives and upholds The Dharma Flower Sutra gets them. If you want some, you had better get to work on the Sutra. But you better get to work on the Sutra anyway, not just to get some good food. That is too greedy! Receive and uphold the Sutra so that in the future you can become a Buddha.
And various kinds of clothing should be offered to this disciple of the Buddha, hoping to hear him speak even for a moment. One who can, in the latter age, in the future, receive and uphold this Sutra. One who reads, recites, copies it out, or lectures on it, has been sent by me into the human realm. Shakyamuni Buddha sent him here to carry out the Thus Come One’s work. The Buddha’s work is not the work of ordinary people. What is the Buddha’s work? Receiving, upholding, reading, reciting, copying out and explaining The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
“I am listening to The Dharma Flower Sutra,” you ask. “Did the Buddha send me here?”
Ask yourself! Do not ask me. If you have genuine interest in the Sutra and study its principles, then the Buddha sent you here to protect the Bodhimanda. If on the other hand, you listen, but your mind wanders off to Golden Gate Park, to the beach, or the mountains with its great view, then I believe that you were not sent by the Buddha. It is because you are not really listening to the Sutra, you are false thinking instead. If listening to the lectures makes you very restless, Shakyamuni Buddha probably did not send you.
If for the space of an eon,
One were to harbor an unwholesome mind
And scowling, scold the Buddha,
He would incur measureless offenses.
But if one were, but for a moment, to speak ill
Of one who reads, recites, or upholds The Dharma Flower Sutra,
His offenses would exceed the former’s.
If one who seeks the Buddha Path
Were for the length of an eon
To stand before me with palms joined,
Praising me with countless verses,
Because of his praise of the Buddha,
He would gain limitless merit and virtue.
But one who praises the upholder of this Sutra
Would gain blessings exceeding that.
One who, throughout eighty million eons
Made offerings to the upholder of this Sutra
Of the finest forms, sounds,
Fragrances, tastes, and tangible objects,
And having made such offerings,
Gets to hear it for but an instant,
He should be filled with rejoicing
Thinking, “I have gained great benefit!”
I2. Verse of general explanation.
If for the space of an eon one were to harbor an unwholesome mind. An eon is a long time. An unwholesome mind means that: and scowling, scold the Buddha, losing one’s temper and blow up at the Buddha. Such a person would have to think that they had more personal power than the Buddha did. Let us say they kept up their tirade for a whole eon. He would incur measureless offenses, but if one were, but for a moment, to speak ill of one who reads, recites, or upholds The Dharma Flower Sutra, his offenses would exceed the former’s. If one were to scold one of the five kinds of Dharma Masters for even a second, to say nothing of an entire eon, his offenses would be greater than the person mentioned above would. So do not speak ill of anyone who lectures on this Sutra, regardless of whether or not they lecture well. For example, I am lecturing on the Sutra now so you should not slander me. Although I am compassionate, I would not be able to lighten your offenses, because Shakyamuni Buddha handed this rule down. Nobody can change it.
Notes for the gourmet: If you do not eat good food, you will be less stupid. If you eat a lot of good food, you will be more stupid. You probably do not believe this, but I sure do. If you do not eat a lot of good food, you can give rise to wisdom. That single thought you had, “I would like something good to eat,” is already stupid! To say nothing of how stupid you get after you stuff yourself, you will be stupid before you even eat it because if you were not stupid you would not think, “I want something good to eat.” Good or not good, it is just eating. Why have such false thinking about it? Your false thinking is just stupid. Not having that false thought means you are intelligent. You do not have to look for the answers anywhere else. The whole story is told in a single thought. Understand?
I just told you that I cannot lecture on the Sutras very well and several people have struck up some false thinking: “The Dharma Master is telling a lie. I know he can lecture yet he is saying he cannot.”
You are very intelligent. I tell one little lie, and you pick right up on it. Since I cannot get away with it, I might as well admit that, yes, I do know how to lecture on the Sutras. Part of the reason for this is because I have set aside my greed for food. I am not thinking about cookies or anything like that. And before when I said I could not lecture, I really was not lying. It is really really the case. If you tried to get me to lecture when I was occupied with eating, I would not be able to do it. The only Sutra I could explain at that time would be the “Gourmet Sutra.”
So I said not being preoccupied with good food makes one intelligent and thinking about food all the time makes one stupid. No matter whether the food you eat is good or bad, it all turns into the same thing. If you eat some good food, your excrement will stink even more. You might enjoy eating it, but when it hits the toilet you will think, “Yikes! Whew!” Well, who told you to eat that stuff in the first place and get yourself so smelly? A lot of money will make you all stinky, too. Do not think that eating too much alone makes you stink. Money will do it, too. Sometimes we say that high government officials are “stinky politicians.” Well, if Dharma Masters eat too much good food, they turn into stinky Masters! I do not want to be one, myself, so I do not like to eat good food.
All of you disciples should remember this and refrain from developing into stinky Dharma Master. Okay?
If you are a stinky Dharma Master no one will listen to you when you lecture on the Sutras. If you speak the Dharma no one will believe it. You can knock yourself out trying to tell people how wonderful the Doctrine is, but people will just stick their fingers in their ears and refuse to listen. This is like Gin Gui who absolutely refused to recite the Buddha’s name. No matter how they tried to trick him into it, he would not do it.
So, no one will listen to you. Why? Because you stink from “eating too well.”
If one who seeks the Buddha Path--who is it? It is just a person! What are you asking that for! Now, this person might be you or me. If you seek the Buddha Way, it is you. If he seeks it, it is he. If I do, it is I. If you do not seek the Buddha Way, then you are out of the picture. Anyway, suppose this person, were for the length of an eon. Not one, two, three years, or a hundred years…but at least 100,000 years. To stand before me with palm’s joined very respectfully, praising me with countless verses, because of his praise of the Buddha. Although the Buddha does not care if people praise him or not, still you gain more merit by praising the Buddha than by scolding him. If you scolded the Buddha for an eon you would fall into the Avichi Hell. If you praise the Buddha for an eon you can reap the fruit of unsurpassed enlightenment. He would gain limitless merit and virtue. Limitless means you could not count it. It would not be as much as the grains of sand in one or two Ganges Rivers, but as much as the grains in limitless Ganges Rivers. Would you say that was a lot or not? I would say it was a lot. You would not dare say it was not a lot. Why? It is because you could not count it either! But one who praises the upholder of this Sutra. The Dharma Master who receives, upholds, reads, recites, copies out or explains The Dharma Flower Sutra, would gain blessings exceeding that. This person would have more merit than the person who praised the Buddha for such a very long time.
Someone says, “That is just what he or she says.”
Yep, and that is what you just heard. They said it, and you heard it, and that is the way it is!
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is just that wonderful. You should not ask why the merit gained by praising the Sutra is greater than the merit gained by praising the Buddha. Whether you praise the Buddha or not, he is unmoved. If you praise those who recite the Sutra, they will be encouraged to be even more vigorous. If you scold them, and they get mad and quit cultivating and quit reciting the Sutra, then you have helped to cut off their Buddha seed. That is a grave offense. I did not want to explain this, but several people were wondering about it, and wishing that I would explain it. So, in answer to the questions in living beings’ minds, I am explaining this mind Dharma.
One who, throughout eighty million eons made offerings to the upholder of this Sutra of the finest forms, sounds, the most beautiful things, fragrances, tastes, and tangible objects--these are the five desires. Here, they are the best. They are like those in the Real Reward Adornment Land of the Buddha; they are not like those in our world. One time Shakyamuni Buddha was describing the sense objects in the Real Reward Adornment Land. Mahakashyapa, who had been in samadhi like an old cultivator, suddenly jumped up dancing. Such an old established cultivator, and he jumped for joy. It is not surprising that he did, though, considering how fine things are there. If you want to know how fine, ask Mahakashyapa. Go ask him: “What is gotten into you, anyway? Dancing at your age!” Then see what he has to say for himself.
And having made such offerings gets to hear it for but an instant, gets to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra for just an instant, He should be filled with rejoicing, thinking, “I have gained great benefit!” I have gained a chance for Buddhahood. Wouldn’t you say that was a great benefit? What could be better? If you get to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra, you have a share in becoming a Buddha. So, the Sutra says, “…and say but once, ‘Homage to the Buddha,’ they shall all realize the Buddha Way.’”
previous * next * Introduction * Contents
return to top