The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra
Chapter 10: Masters of the Dharma
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
“The Bodhisattvas are also like this. Know that those who have not yet heard, not yet understood, or not yet put into practice The Dharma Flower Sutra, are still far from anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Those who have heard and understood, thought upon, and put it into practice certainly should be known as coming near to anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”
I3. Correlating the analogy to the Dharma.
Bodhisattvas are those who practice the Bodhisattvas’ way. The Bodhisattvas are also like this. They are like those mentioned in the previous analogy. Knowing that those who have not yet heard, not yet understood, or not yet put into practice the inconceivably wonderful Dharma door of The Dharma Flower Sutra, are still far from anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Although they may practice the Bodhisattva Path, if they have not heard The Dharma Flower Sutra, understood its doctrines, or cultivated according to them, they are very far away from the Buddha-fruit.
You should know that those who have heard and understood, thought upon, and put it into practice. This represents the three types of wisdom: the wisdom of hearing, the wisdom of thought and the wisdom of cultivation. The wisdom of hearing arises when one hears the principles in the Sutras. The wisdom of thinking refers to wisdom arising through contemplating the doctrines and decreasing one’s false thinking. If you had no wisdom, if you were stupid, you would not be able to cultivate according to The Dharma Flower Sutra. Not only would you be unable to cultivate, you would not even be able to think about it, and in fact you would not even have a chance to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra. It is through the three types of wisdom, hearing, thinking and cultivating that one enters Samadhi.
Certainly should be known as coming near to anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Because they understand genuine principle, The Dharma Flower Sutra “opens the provisional and reveals the real.” There is nothing false in it. Therefore, those who understand The Dharma Flower Sutra have great good roots and great wisdom. If they did not, they would not have the opportunity to hear it. You should not think that it is easy to come and listen to the lectures on the Sutra. It is extremely difficult. You must make yourself quiet inside and listen to the Sutra—that is an inconceivable state. However, your habits from many lifetimes and many eons are heavy. You may want to listen to the Sutra, but sometimes you have false thinking.
One person told me that they felt as if they were two people. One wanted to listen to the Sutra the other did not! A war was going on between them. Well, the one of you that wants to listen to the Sutra, that is your original nature. The one of you that does not want to hear the Sutra is your old habits that make it impossible for you to subdue your mind. You should examine yourself closely and ask yourself, “Just who is this person who wants to listen to the Sutra, and who is this person who wants to indulge in false thinking?” When you have figured it out, you will not listen to those old habits anymore. You should know that the one who does not want you to listen wants you to fall, to get off the track and fall into the three evil paths. The one that wants to listen wants to keep you on the Path and keep you from the three evil paths. So pay attention! Do not get confused by your habits.
“What is the reason? The anuttarasamyaksambodhi of all the Bodhisattvas belongs to this Sutra. This Sutra opens the expedient Dharma doors. It demonstrates the true, real mark. The storehouse of the Dharma Flower Sutra is deep, solid, recondite, and far-reaching. No one could reach it except that now, the Buddha, in teaching and transforming the Bodhisattvas and bringing them to accomplishment, demonstrates it for their sakes.”
I4. Showing the nearness of Bodhisattvas to it.
What is the reason? Why is anuttarasamyaksambodhi near to some and far away from others? The anuttarasamyaksambodhi of all the Bodhisattvas belongs to this Sutra. It is all included within The Dharma Flower Sutra. All the Bodhisattvas are born from The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. The realization of the supreme Buddha fruit comes from this Sutra as well. The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is the mother of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions.
This Sutra opens the expedient Dharma doors. It opens up all the expedient Dharma doors—they are not used anymore. It demonstrates the true, real mark. It points to and instructs us in the wonderful doctrine of the true mark. It points out the principle substance, that which is complete within all of us. The principle of the real mark is not obtained from the outside. Every single person is complete with it.
As to the principle substance of the real mark, on the part of all the Buddhas, it is not “more.” On the part of living beings it is not “less.” It is the same in all of us. Most people, however, turn their backs on enlightenment and unite with the dust. Thus they do not know that they have the real mark. The Buddha shows us how to turn our backs on the dust and unite with enlightenment, in this way realizing the true mark.
The storehouse of The Dharma Flower Sutra is deep. It is deep because the Sutra is complete with limitless meanings. It is like the great sea, deep and unfathomable. Solid means that there are no heavenly demons or outside ways who could harm the Sutra’s wonderful Dharma. Recondite means that the doctrines of The Dharma Flower Sutra are exceedingly abstruse and hard to fathom. They are secret and hard to see. They “hide out,” as it were, like Heng Yin who cultivates on the stairs where no one can see her.
Far-reaching, for living beings to reach the Buddha-position, they must pass through nine stages—the nine Dharma realms. They are still a long distance away from the tenth Dharma Realm, the Dharma Realm of Buddhas. Therefore, no one could reach it because it is so far away. It is not easy for people to reach the level of The Dharma Flower Sutra. The Dharma Flower Sutra tells us that in the future everyone will realize Buddhahood. This is not easy to believe or understand. Except that now, the Buddha opens the provisional and reveals the real. He does away with provisional Dharma and points to the real path.
In teaching and transforming the Bodhisattvas and bringing them to accomplishment, demonstrates it for their sakes. He speaks The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. So the Great Master Zhi Zhe read The Dharma Flower Sutra to the part where Medicine King Bodhisattva burned his body as an offering to the Buddhas and the text said, “This is called true vigor. This is a true Dharma offering.” As he read these lines he entered samadhi. In samadhi he saw the assembly at Vulture Peak still in session. It had not dispersed. Shakyamuni Buddha was still lecturing The Dharma Flower Sutra there on Vulture Peak, and he was listening. Not only was Great Master Zhi Zhe in the Dharma Flower Assembly, but perhaps you people were there too! So now, although you are Americans, you have this chance to hear The Lotus Sutra in Chinese! With translation! This is an inconceivable state. When you lecture on The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, you are supposed to talk about wonderful dharmas. Well, my lecturing The Dharma Flower Sutra for you is in itself a wonderful Dharma. Your listening to it is also a wonderful Dharma. If it were not you would have no way to hear it.
“Medicine King, if a Bodhisattva upon hearing The Dharma Flower Sutra is frightened or afraid, you should know that he is a Bodhisattva of newly resolved mind. If a Hearer, upon hearing this Sutra is frightened or afraid, you should know that he is one of overweening arrogance.”
I5. Picking out the bad ones.
Medicine King, if a Bodhisattva upon hearing The Dharma Flower Sutra is frightened or afraid. He hears lectures on The Dharma Flower Sutra and thinks “Hey, how could this be? It is too wonderful. It is impossible. Is this a demon speaking the Dharma? Is it for real?” and he gets scared out of his wits. You should know that he is a Bodhisattva of newly resolved mind. He gets frightened because he is a newly resolved Bodhisattva who has never heard The Dharma Flower Sutra before. These are the eighty thousand Bodhisattvas Medicine King brought along. Bodhisattvas are of the Great Vehicle, but they get scared if they are just beginners.
If a Hearer, one of the Two Vehicles, upon hearing this Sutra is frightened or afraid, you should know that he is one of overweening arrogance. He thinks, “What is this all about?” Those of overweening arrogance do not believe in anything. They do not believe in their teacher, in the Buddha, the Dharma, or the Sangha. You can lecture and teach with great energy, but they let it all pass in one ear and out the other. Overweening arrogance was the fault of the five thousand people who walked out in the beginning of The Lotus Sutra. The Buddha said, “It is good that those of overweening pride have left. Now, only the best people remain, the most sincere.” The text here refers to these five thousand, and also to those in the future who run off when they hear that the Sutra is going to be lectured. They do not respect their teacher, the Buddha, the Dharma, or the Sangha. All day long, they just do not know what they are doing—they are those of overweening arrogance.
“Medicine King, if there is a good man or a good woman, after the extinction of the Thus Come One, who wishes to speak The Dharma Flower Sutra for the sake of the four assemblies, how should they speak it? This good man or good woman should enter the Thus Come One’s room, put on the Thus Come One’s robe, sit on the Thus Come One’s throne, and only then expound upon this Sutra for the sake of the four assemblies.”
G2. Demonstrating the model.
H1. The model itself.
I1. The statement.
Medicine King, if there is a good man or a good woman—perhaps they have left home, or perhaps they are at home. After the extinction of the Thus Come One, after the Buddha has entered Nirvana, who wishes to speak The Dharma Flower Sutra for the sake of the four assemblies. Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, how should they speak it? How should they go about lecturing upon it? I will tell you. This good man or good woman should enter the Thus Come One’s room, put on the Thus Come One’s robe, sit on the Thus Come One’s throne, and only then when these conditions have been met, can they expound upon this Sutra for the sake of the four assemblies.
Tomorrow we will discuss what is meant by entering the Thus Come One’s room, putting on the Thus Come One’s robe, and sitting upon the Thus Come One’s throne.
“The Thus Come One’s room is the mind of great compassion towards all living beings. The Thus Come One’s robes are the mind of gentleness and patience. The Thus Come One’s throne is the emptiness of all Dharmas.”
I2. The explanation.
If after the Thus Come One’s extinction, you wish to speak The Dharma Flower Sutra for the sake of the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas and Upasikas, you must enter the Thus Come One’s room, put on the Thus Come One’s robes, and sit on the Thus Come One’s throne. After that, then you can lecture upon The Dharma Flower Sutra.
What is meant by “the Thus Come One’s room?” Does it actually mean the room where he lives? There are a great many people who lecture on the Sutras, but the Thus Come One has only one room. Obviously, they all will not fit. Even though he has spiritual powers with which he can take the limitless into one and expand the one into the limitless, still that is just a temporary arrangement. After a while it is bound to get crowded. Do we move the Thus Come One’s room to the place where you are and give it to you alone to live in? Then where would the Thus Come One move to? Doesn’t he has a lot of rooms? Could he not go somewhere else?”
If he did, then the room he vacates would no longer be “his” room! Besides, all the Dharma Masters are in different countries; they cannot all move to one place to live in the Thus Come One’s room. So ultimately, what do we mean by “the Thus Come One’s room?” All living beings are complete with the “Thus Come One’s room.” They do not all have to move house. Nobody has to relocate at all.
The text says, the Thus Come One’s room is the mind of great compassion towards all living beings. If you have a heart of great compassion, just that is the Thus Come One’s room. With a heart of great compassion, you pity all living beings. If living beings slander you, you do not get angry. If they scold you, you get angry even less. You maintain an attitude of loving kindness towards those who have no affinity with you and an attitude of great compassion towards those with whom you feel as one. “Having no affinity” means that a person is not well disposed towards you. The more they dislike you, the kinder you should be to them. Kindness means making people happy. To feel as one with living beings means that when living beings suffer, you look upon it as your own suffering, and find a way to relieve them of their suffering. Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva has great compassion. She sees the sufferings of living beings as her own sufferings and rescues people from suffering. If you can have great kindness towards those with whom you lack affinities and great compassion towards those of one substance, then you have entered the Thus Come One’s room.
The Thus Come One’s robes are the mind of gentleness and patience. This means that you have no “fire” at all. Even if one’s disciples bully you, or your children bully you, you do not get angry. One is very compliant and gentle, harmonious and patient. It is not easy to be patient, especially for young people. Patience does not mean that if the police come and beat me up, I bear it. It means, let us say you are the policeman and the criminal beats you, you do not get angry. It means that when those beneath you treat you unkindly, you can be patient. When your superiors appear upset with you and you can bear it, that does not count as true patience. Let us say your teacher gets mad at you and you do not get mad back; that is not counted as patience. Basically, you are expected not to get angry. But when your peers try to boss you around or get mad at you and you are not moved, that counts as patience.
“All right, then,” you think, “I am going to get mad at one of my friends and see if he can be patient. In this way I will be helping him to accomplish his karma of the Way.”
“Great. You help him accomplish his karma of the Way, but who is going to help you do it? When you get tested, will you be patient? If you can be patient yourself, then you can test others, but if you cannot, you have got no business testing other people. You must perfect yourself first. The robes of the Thus Come One, then, represent patience and gentleness, not blazing ignorance.
The Thus Come One’s throne is the emptiness of all Dharmas. This throne is not the throne on which the Thus Come One sits upon to lecture the Sutras and speak Dharma. All Dharmas are empty.
“Empty?” you say. “Does that mean I am just supposed to forget everything?”
Emptiness does not mean just getting rid of everything. It means to see the emptiness within existence. When it is time to use them, dharmas are there. Otherwise, they are empty. This is like when you cultivate patience, you do it in situations that require patience. Cultivating patience does not mean that you are obsessed with the concept of patience at all times, reciting “Patience, patience, patience,” all day long, and then when something happens that goes against the grain you still get mad, get upset. Say you cannot stand it when people get angry with you and everyday someone comes up and scolds you. You cannot use your patience Dharma then.
When nothing is happening in that area, you do not need to be preoccupied with patience. You must study all dharmas, but realize their emptiness at the same time. If you do not understand that they are empty, you will form an attachment to dharmas. Those who study the Dharma must see people and dharmas as empty. If people are not seen as empty, you will be attached to people. If dharmas are not seen as empty, you will form an attachment to dharmas. Therefore, you must sit on the Thus Come One’s throne to lecture The Dharma Flower Sutra. This means that dharmas must also be made empty. That is the Thus Come One’s throne.
“Established securely in these one may then, with an unflagging mind expound upon The Dharma Flower Sutra for the sake of the Bodhisattvas and the four assemblies.”
I3. Exhortation to cultivation.
Established securely in these, in the mind of great compassion, the mind of gentleness and patience, and in the emptiness of all Dharmas, one may then with an unflagging mind. I tell you all the time, “Do not be lazy, do not be lazy.” That is just what The Dharma Flower Sutra tells you, too. If you want to lecture on The Dharma Flower Sutra you must not be lazy. A flagging mind is the opposite of a vigorous mind. With a vigorous mind you may then expound upon The Dharma Flower Sutra for the sake of the Bodhisattvas and the four assemblies. The Dharma Flower Sutra is a Dharma for teaching Bodhisattvas; it is a Dharma of which the Buddhas are mindful and protective. If you lecture on the Dharma Flower Sutra, all the Bodhisattvas, the Bhikshus, and Bhikshunis come to listen. In listening to the Sutra, you should not think it is such a simple matter. You have to be at the Bodhisattva level before you can hear The Dharma Flower Sutra. You must be at the level of the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas before you can hear the Dharma Flower Sutra.
In speaking the Dharma, why do we say it is the “Wonderful” Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra? When you lecture on the Sutra, all the gods, dragons, and the eightfold division of ghosts and spirits all come to listen. The Dharma rain nourishes all the living beings and so it is said to be “wonderful.”
“Medicine King, from another country, I will send transformed people to gather an assembly of Dharma listeners. I will also send transformed Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas to listen to the Dharma being spoken. All these transformed people, hearing the Dharma, will believe it and accept it, and comply with it without objection. If one speaks the Dharma in an uninhabited place, I will send gods, ghosts, spirits, gandharvas, asuras, and so forth, to listen to him speak the Dharma. Although I am in another country, I will at all times cause the speaker of Dharma to be able to see me. Should he forget a single punctuation mark of the Sutra, I will remind him of it, causing his knowledge to be perfected.”
H2. The five benefits.
This section tells of five benefits accruing to the speaker of The Dharma Flower Sutra.
Shakyamuni Buddha calls out, Medicine King, from another country, after I have entered Nirvana from this Saha world, I will go to another country to teach and transform living beings. Although I will be in another country, if there are people who enter the Thus Come One’s room, put on the Thus Come One’s robes, and sit on the Thus Come One’s throne, that is, if there is such a Dharma Master who speaks upon The Dharma Flower Sutra, I will send transformed people to gather an assembly of Dharma listeners.
This is the first benefit, that of the Buddha’s sending transformation people. “Transformed” means they are created by transformation. There are two ways to explain it. First, perhaps the Buddha will appoint gods to transform themselves into people. Or perhaps right when the lecture is going on, the people will show up in the audience, and nobody knows where they came from or where they went. Nobody recognizes them at all. Perhaps, they are transformed people sent by Shakyamuni Buddha, but no one recognizes them. Or else you could say that the transformed people look like friends of yours. You see them and think, “Oh, my friend has come to the lecture!” Then when the lecture is over you ask your friend, “Say, didn’t I see you at the lecture last week?”
And he says, “No! I did not go.”
“But I saw you there!” That is a transformation person. Some transformed people are born into the world just for the purpose of attending your dharma lectures when the time comes. Others appear on a temporary basis now and then. They do not come from anywhere or go anywhere. Now do you understand? You are all transformed people! That is why you are here listening to the Sutra now.
“I do not believe it,” you say.
You do not believe it now, but when the time comes for you to believe it, you will believe it. You just do not believe it right now. In the future you will. So much for transformed people.
To gather an assembly of Dharma listeners. What will the transformed people do? They will round up people to listen to the lectures. They will tell their friends and relatives to come and listen to the Dharma. This is like Guo You whose father just called. You should tell your father to come to the lecture—because you are a transformed person! That is your job.
You should know that by bringing people to the lectures you create a great deal of merit for yourself. If they come to the lecture and hear a sentence, which causes them to gain enlightenment, then you will have a share in helping them gain enlightenment. By helping others to become Buddhas, you yourself will become a Buddha—it is unavoidable, in fact. So if you have relatives and friends, brothers and sisters, you should encourage them to come to the lectures. It is very important. You cannot just be an independent Arhat. You cannot think, “I am just going to take care of myself. Why should I worry about them?” Since you enjoy listening to the Sutra lectures, you should tell everyone to come and listen to the Sutra lectures!
I will also send transformed Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas to listen to the Dharma being spoken. So all of you have been transformed to come here and listen to the Dharma. All these transformed people, hearing the Dharma, will believe it and accept it, and comply with it without objection. This is the second benefit that of the Buddha’s sending transformations of the four assemblies. They will not object to the way you lecture on the Sutra. They will not say, “You lectured it wrong! That is not the way to explain it! They will be satisfied with whatever explanation you give.
If one speaks the Dharma in an uninhabited place where no one else is, I will send gods, dragons, ghosts, spirits, gandharvas, musical spirits in the heavens, and asuras who like to fight, and so forth,to listen to him speak the Dharma. This is the third benefit that of the Buddha’s sending transformations of the eightfold division.
Although I am in another country, I will at all times cause the speaker of Dharma to be able to see me. This is the fourth benefit, that of seeing the Buddha. Does this mean the Dharma body, the Reward body, and the Transformation body of the Buddha? Yes. What is the Dharma body? It is The Dharma Flower Sutra. What is the Reward body? It is The Dharma Flower Sutra. What is the Transformation body? It is also The Dharma Flower Sutra. If you get to see The Dharma Flower Sutra, you are seeing the true body of the Thus Come One. In hearing The Dharma Flower Sutra you are hearing the true body of the Buddha. Therefore, you should not look for the Thus Come One outside of The Dharma Flower Sutra. The Dharma Flower Sutra itself is the Thus Come One’s true body.
Should he forget a single punctuation mark of the Sutra, I will remind him of it, causing his knowledge to be perfected. This is the fifth benefit that of gaining “Dharani.” If he forgets some part of the Sutra when he is lecturing, I will remind him so that he will remember it all. You should not get attached and think that the Buddha is actually going to whisper it in your ear. The Buddha will help you to remember it for yourself. He will give you some wisdom so that you can remember what you have forgotten.
“I do not quite believe this,” you say. “Before I believed in the Buddha, sometimes in school I would forget things and then suddenly think of them.”
Well, who reminded you of those things? It was also the Buddha because you have the Buddha’s wisdom and virtuous characteristics, and there is a connection between you and the Buddha. Therefore, whether you believe in the Buddha or not, that wisdom is all through the help of the Thus Come One. That way you will not forget your Sutra texts.
As I said, you are all transformed people. If you admit it, you are. If you do not, you are, too. Those who listen to The Dharma Flower Sutra are all transformed people. That is for sure. The Buddha told us this long ago, and we should not deny it. Not only should we be transformed people, we should be transformed Buddhas. On the 10th of May we are going to bathe the transformed Buddha on the Buddha’s birthday. In the past the Buddha’s birthday was held by Pu Chi. He is too old and does not dare this year.
This year there are real Bhikshus, and Bhikshunis, so the Buddhist Lecture Hall will conduct it. I will not be in charge, but my young disciples will be. I told you long ago that I appointed Guo Ning as Chairperson and Guo Qian as the advisor. All of you transformed people will go there to help the Buddha propagate, transform, and participate in the Dharma Assembly. Those of you who can lecture, should give talks. You cannot act like you are dumb. Those who do not lecture should go and support the Bodhimanda. In the future you will lecture. This year we are going to do the Incense Praise and the Eighty-eight Buddha Repentance. This is the first time this has been done in America. Next year we will do it again.
At that time, the World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses saying,
“One who wishes to get rid of laxness,
Should listen to this Sutra.
This Sutra is hard to hear,
And those who believe it and accept it are also rare.
G1. General exhortation.
At that time, the World Honored One, wanted to make things even clearer, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses, saying, these verses arose from his great compassion.
One who wishes to get rid of laxness, which means laziness. Why are people lazy? It is because they like to take it easy. They do not like to move their arms and legs! Their hands do not like to work, and their legs do not like to walk. They prefer to sit or lie down and rest. As a rule, people do not like to quit being lazy. The Dharma Flower Sutra here is talking about someone who does want to give up one’s habit of being lazy. To get rid of laziness, you need a method, a plan. Should listen to this Sutra. If you want to get rid of it, here is the plan. It is not difficult at all. Just listen to The Dharma Flower Sutra. In this way you can get rid of your laziness. The Dharma Flower Sutra teaches you to be vigorous. When you hear it, you can change. This Sutra is hard to hear. Not just everyone gets a chance to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra. It is very, very hard to come by, and very hard to hear. And those who believe it and accept it are also rare. Should you get chance to hear it, it is then hard to believe it. If you do not believe it, there is no way you can put it to use and gain its advantages.
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