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Masters of the Dharma
It is like a person thirsty and in need of water
Who digs for it on a high plain,
And sees only dry, parched earth,
And knows that water is still far off.
Gradually he sees moist earth and then mud,
And knows for sure that water is near.
G2. Verses concerning prose text.
H1. Verse about fruition.
I1. Setting up the parable.
It is like a person thirsty and in need of water. This represents common people who are seeking the “water” of the Buddha fruit. On the ground of the common person it is very dry, and so one wish to drink the Dharma water and realize the Buddha fruit. Who digs for it on a high plain, digging a well. This represents cultivating the Way. Your cultivation is like digging a well. And sees only, dry, parched earth. This means that because your arrogance and pride are as high as Mount Sumeru, you cultivate coming and going but are always on dry ground. You have not reached moist ground. You are on the ground of dry wisdom. You cultivate, attain a principle, but you are still far from water. And knows that water is still far off. You are still far from Buddhahood, yet you know that eventually you will gain it.
Gradually he sees moist earth and then mud. After you gain dry wisdom you keep digging and gradually you see “moist earth”, that is, you gain a bit of the flavor and advantage of cultivation. “And mud”, means you attain the first, second, third, or fourth fruits of Arhatship. And knows for sure that water is near. You are sure that in the future you will realize Buddhahood. To explain the analogy in terms of the five periods of the Buddha’s teaching, the high plain also represents the Avatamsaka Period. If we want to understand The Avatamsaka Sutra, it is like being on a high plain and digging a well. You dig and dig, but you just cannot understand the Avatamsaka’s principles.
Then, you go to the Agama Period, which is like the dry earth and investigate it. Then you go to the Vaipulya Period. This is like seeing moist earth. The Prajna Period is like seeing mud. The Prajna Teaching is the pivotal point of the teachings where the wealth is passed on from the Vaipulya Period, through the Prajna Period, into the Lotus-Nirvana Assembly. In the Prajna Teaching the Buddha’s “will” is made out. The Lotus-Nirvana Period is the Buddha’s complete body. It is like finding water.
When one begins to cultivate it is very difficult. One feels that one cultivates and cultivates but does not get anything. One learns so much Dharma, and it is still as if there is nothing at all. There is nothing you can grab onto. You cannot see it. You cannot hear it. You cannot even think about it! It is empty any way you think about it. It is very, very difficult. But you still must continue working without cease. You continue working and you still do not get anything! It is like dry, parched earth. Then, after a time, things start to get interesting. One sees moist earth. One goes forward and feels that one has developed some wisdom and obtained the “mud” of Prajna, finally, one certifies to the water of the Dharma Flower, to the doctrines of The Dharma Flower Sutra.
These doctrines are endless. They have no beginning, no end, no inside, no outside. They are not great or small. They are ineffably wonderful, wonderful beyond words. The Dharma Flower is truly wonderful Dharma. Only the word “wonderful” can approximate the doctrines of The Dharma Flower. One who drinks the water of The Dharma Flower will never be a ghost again. What will one become? One will become a Buddha. Why would one become a ghost? It is because one never drank The Dharma Flower water. Why would one become an animal? It is because one never got the mud of Prajna. These birds, you see, never got the mud of Prajna—thus, their bird-existence. You can explain it this way.
There are many ways to explain the doctrines, because they are endless, wonderful Dharmas. We shall now explain the analogy according to the Four Additional Practices: Heat, Summit, Patience, and Highest Mundane Dharmas. Let us say that a person cultivates the Way. He is “searching for water.” He first comes to the position of “heat”. He does not know where it comes from, but it is warm. Eventually, he reaches the position of the “summit,” the highest point. He is “digging on a high plain”. Like a newborn child who does not understand anything, he is at the position of summit and cannot go forward. He just has to sit tight. This is called “patience”. You cannot strike up false thinking and run off, or else you might get caught by demons or ghosts. So you “continue your efforts without interruption.”
At the summit, you have to just stay there and be patient. You can try like Monkey King Sun Wukong and do a somersault across 108,000 miles, but you might not make it back. So even if you want to run, you cannot. You have to remain at the position of patience. Having cultivated at the position of patience, you gain the moist earth and the mud. Then, when you reach the place of water, you are the “foremost in the world.” To be foremost in the world means that you are the most eminent Sanghan in the world. You are an enlightened one as Dharma Master so and so said. This person who has become enlightened is the “foremost in the world.” At the position of “highest of worldly Dharmas,” you get to drink the Dharma Flower water.
You see there are countless ways to explain the Dharma. You could never finish explaining all the doctrines. If you know how to listen to the Sutras, even if I did not explain the principles, you would still understand this principle. For those who do not know how to listen to Sutra lectures, I may talk about this principle and yet they will not understand this principle. “What is he talking about? Water? Mud? Dry earth? Warmth? Summit? Patience? What is “the foremost in world”? What is all this?” you would wonder.
You do not know? Well I do not either!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This afternoon we are going to “liberate life.” Americans see this as strange and wonder why it is done. We do it so that living beings can be free, so they do not have to be kept in cages. We also do it to nurture our compassionate hearts by giving creatures their freedom. By not killing we are cultivating compassion. In letting living creatures go we also cultivate compassion. Our compassionate hearts grow larger everyday until they are as large as the heart of the greatly compassionate Bodhisattva Guan Shi Yin. Guan Yin Bodhisattva do not kill living beings. She always liberated beings, and so she has a great compassionate heart.
We should imitate the great kindness and great compassion of Guan Yin Bodhisattva and liberate life. It is all very logical. If you liberate life it increases your compassion. Liberating life is just liberating oneself. Why? It is because you and all living beings are basically one substance. Living beings and oneself are the same. If someone put me in a cage, would I not be uncomfortable? Would I not wish that someone would let me go? If I were put in jail I would not want to live there. Likewise, I do not like to see birds put in cages. This is because living beings and myself are of one substance. Since I feel this, I want to liberate life.
What is more, you do not know which living being was related to you in a former life. One might have been your father, your brother, or your sister. You cannot know for sure. Perhaps they were your children or your friends. Right now you have not gained the Heavenly Eye or the Penetration of Past Lives so you do not know the cause and effect. When you see these creatures, you feel uncomfortable and want to set them free. Setting them free is not stupid by any means, as some people might think. It is a part of cultivation. There is not just one road in cultivation. There are eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors in cultivation, and every single door leads to the realization of supreme enlightenment. Liberating life is one of them.
In America, in the past, very few people understood this. We are leading the way in this regard and instituting the custom so that people can understand this Dharma. Be careful not to call it “stupid.” If you think that way, you will obstruct your own cultivation.
I just said that we would not want to be locked in jail. I will tell you a true dharma. This is not an analogy. Your own body is, in fact, a cage! You are stuck in your own body, and you can never get out of it. I just discussed the four positions—warmth, summits, patience, and highest of worldly dharmas. You have never reached the summit, patience, or the highest of worldly dharmas. When you make it to the highest of worldly dharmas, then you will have escaped from the cage of your body. You will have “liberated” your own “life.” That is the real liberation of life.
This is some real principle I am telling you here. If you want to liberate your own life you must first liberate these little creatures’ lives. One kind of liberation helps the other kind of liberation of life. Liberating life is a very important part of Buddhist practice. But if you have not understood it, you might think it very ordinary. If you do not cultivate one kind of liberating life, you cannot obtain the other kind. There are many changes and transformations. Do not look upon it lightly. The liberating of life brings great returns on your efforts. Do not criticize Dharma-doors that you cannot understand. Perhaps now you understand, perhaps you do not.
Medicine King, you should know
In this way, those people
Who do not hear The Dharma Flower Sutra
Are very far from the Buddha’s wisdom.
Those who hear this profound Sutra,
Will thoroughly understand the Hearer Dharmas.
This is the king of Sutras
And as to those who hear it and ponder upon it,
You should know that such people,
Have drawn close to the Buddhas’ wisdom.
I2. Correlating to the Dharma.
Shakyamuni Buddha called out again. Medicine King, you should know, in this way, those people, the ones I just talked about, who do not hear The Dharma Flower Sutra, are very far from the Buddha’s wisdom. You should know that after my extinction, all those people, gods, dragons, or spirits of the eightfold division who do not hear this Sutra will not have an opportunity to become Buddhas. Why not? It is because they do not have the Buddha’s wisdom. It will be a long time before they become Buddhas.
Those who hear this profound Sutra, The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, this profound, far reaching, and wonderful Dharma, will thoroughly understand the Hearer Dharmas. They will understand that the Hearer Dharmas are not ultimate. They will know that those of the Two Vehicles have not reached the ultimate point, but must still go forward. They must cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, the Six Perfections and the Ten Thousand Conducts, for these are the Dharmas for realizing the Buddha Path.
This is the king of Sutras. And as to those who hear it and ponder upon it. You should know that such people have drawn close to the Buddha’s wisdom. Those who hear this Sutra and who then very carefully ponder upon its meaning. This does not mean false thinking. It means thinking it over, meditating on it, like when you think on the topic, “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” If you meditate on this topic until you understand it, then you will be enlightened. Now, if you think about The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, wondering, “How can it be so wonderful? Why is it called wonderful Dharma? What does this mean?” A person who does this has drawn near to the Buddha’s wisdom. They are close to the Buddha’s wisdom, but they have not arrived at it yet. When you arrive at it, then you truly
Deeply enter the Sutra treasury
And gain wisdom like the sea.
How does one go about “deeply entering the Sutra treasury?” From the first words of The Dharma Flower Sutra, “This I have heard…” you illumine the real mark of all dharmas with your wisdom, which penetrates it from beginning to end. This does not mean that you merely read it by rote. It means that you understand it and penetrate it completely. You obtain the Dharma Flower Samadhi, like the Tien Tai Master Zhi Zhe who entered the Dharma Flower Samadhi as he read the lines, “This is called true vigor. This is called true Dharma offering.” In this flash of illumination, he understood the entire Sutra.
True recitation of Sutras does not involve the mouth, and a true offering of incense does not involve the hands. One of my disciples said he could not recite the Shurangama Mantra, and now he can recite it line for line. Who is reciting it? Sutras have wonderful Dharma just like this. For a long time he could not recite it, and then one day he thought, “I should be able to do this,” and he did without a single mistake! Reciting the Sutras is also this way. The true way to recite Sutras is not with your mouth. The true way to offer incense is not with your hands. These are just outward ceremonies. If you obtain the “incense offering samadhi” you can offer incense without using your hands.
You say, “What is this Dharma Master trying to say?”
I do not know either! Do not ask me. Not only you are in the dark, so am I. But it does not seem to me that I have said anything at all. Probably none of you believe this.
We say that in true recitation one does not use the mouth. However true recitation is not apart from the mouth either. Real offering of incense does not involve the hands, but it is not apart from the hands either. One does not use them, and one does not 'not' use them. What is this? True recitation of Sutras is the recitation of the wordless Sutra. The Sutra which does not a have single word, is not apart from words, and it is not apart from “non-words.” True offering of incense does not involve the hands, nor is it apart from the hands. This is because you use the heart to offer incense. In this way you are offering incense all the time, in the six periods of the day and night, however, the offering of incense does not depend on the hand, and it is not apart from the hand.
Today, one of my confused disciples asked his confused teacher about a confusing situation. The confused disciple did not understand himself. He said, “Sometimes when I talk, it is me. Other times when I talk it is not I. One person has turned into two people.”
Would you call that confused? The confused teacher did not understand what was going on either. The confused teacher did not want to be stumped by his confused disciple, however, so he thought of a confused solution to the problem. He said, “Do not have yourself talk and do not have the other person talk. Have the ‘truth’ do the talking. Whatever part is true, let that part do the talking. You do not use whichever one is false.”
The confused disciple heard this and his confused question answered. His confused teacher clarified his question. Who would have guessed that a confused teacher would instruct a disciple into non-confusion?
One who speaks this Sutra
Should enter the Thus Come One’s room
Put on the Thus Come One’s robes,
And sit on the Thus Come One’s throne,
And fearlessly, in the assembly,
Expound it to them in detail.
Great compassion is the Thus Come One’s room,
Gentleness and patience are the Thus Come One’s robes,
The emptiness of all Dharmas is the Thus Come One’s throne.
Dwelling in this, one should speak the Dharma.
If, when one speaks this Sutra
Someone would slander him with evil mouth,
Or hit him with knives, sticks, tiles or stones
Recollecting the Buddha, he should endure this.
H2. Verse about method.
I1. Statement of method.
One who speaks this Sutra. ‘To explain The Dharma Flower Sutra after my extinction,’ Shakyamuni Buddha told Medicine King Bodhisattva, ‘one should enter the Thus Come One’s room.’ First of all they must enter the Buddha’s room, put on the Thus Come One’s robes and sit on the Thus Come One’s throne. And fearlessly, in the assembly, one is not intimidated by the size of the audience. Expound it to them in detail, expound upon it broadly and in detail.
What is the Thus Come One’s room? It is certainly not the room he lives in. Great compassion is the Thus Come One’s room. You must have a greatly compassionate heart and vow to save all living beings, helping them to leave suffering, attain bliss, end birth and cast off death, and quickly realize the Buddha Path. Compassion means that one would not deliberately harm even a blade of grass or a tiny bug, an ant, or a mosquito.
The purpose of Liberating Life in Buddhism is for the nurturing of compassion. If you have true compassion you will realize that all living beings are of one substance. Since we are all of the same substance, it is up to us to help creatures gaining their freedom. Yesterday, we liberated some pigeons. Perhaps they were your relatives, father, mother, brothers or sisters, from former lives—it does not matter—they are living beings, and they are suffering so we should help them to gain freedom. That is compassion. Compassion does not mean being compassionate in one situation and not in another. Compassion means a universal concern for the welfare of all creatures. It is not partial to human beings, or animals, or any particular form of life. Compassion should extend to all of existence, to the entire Dharma Realm. This is the Thus Come One’s room—great compassion.
Gentleness and patience are the Thus Come One’s robes. Gentleness means that one is not tough and stubborn. The Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra says, “Stubborn living beings are hard to subdue.” Gentleness is the opposite of toughness.
Patience is the most wonderful of Dharmas. It is the third of the Six Perfections. Patience is of three types: produced patience, dharma patience, and unproduced dharma patience. Produced patience refers to the ability to endure both good and evil treatment by other living beings and to bear what others cannot bear. You must yield when others cannot yield. You can endure hunger, thirst, fatigue, wind, rain, heat, and cold. Cultivating patience and gentleness are like the Thus Come One’s clothing.
Dharma patience means that in your investigation of the Buddhadharma you endure long periods of study. If you have no patience, your mind may become uneasy and impatient. You might think, “I have studied so much Buddhadharma and read so many Sutras and learned so many mantras, but so much remains. I will never get to the end of it.” And you think about quitting.
Or perhaps you have just begun to study and you get anxious thinking, “I will never catch up with the others,” and you cannot be patient. In studying the Buddhadharma you have to be patient. You cannot get nervous or anxious because that is just false thinking. If you have too much false thinking, you will forget everything you know.
There is also the unproduced Dharma patience. What is “not produced”? Ignorance is not produced. This refers to the state in which you view that within the entire three thousand great thousand worlds not a single dharma is produced or destroyed. This kind of vision is extremely hard to endure, but you can bear it. Or say your Five Eyes are about to open, and you have to be patient with a lot of uncomfortable states. You may get headaches or feel that you cannot see anything. You must be patient, pay no attention to the discomfort. Basically, it may be impossible to bear, but you must bear it. If you cannot bear it, you cannot get enlightened. You must not lose patience and get nervous or upset.
The emptiness of all Dharmas is the Thus Come One’s throne. Some people might get an understanding of all the Dharmas and then become self-satisfied. Take care not to do this. Do not think, “I know all about the Dharma. I can lecture The Shurangama Sutra and The Lotus Sutra and The Vajra Sutra. I am a lot more advanced than everyone else.” If you think like this, you have not seen the emptiness of all dharmas. On the contrary, you have become obstructed by the dharmas. Not only have you failed to gain any true understanding of dharmas, you have formed an attachment to them. With such an attachment, you cannot gain the throne of the Thus Come One, that is, the emptiness of all dharmas. If one has an attachment to Dharmas, one cannot obtain the emptiness of all dharmas and “sit on the throne of the Thus Come One.”
Those of you who had never seen liberating life would have first impressions about it. Yesterday we liberated life, and afterwards I asked you each how you felt about it. Once it is done it is done, but still your impressions remain.
Dwelling in this, one should speak the Dharma. One should not have an attachment to self and others. One should not have the mark of self, living beings, others, or a life.
If, when one speaks this Sutra, someone would slander him with an evil mouth. Let us say, while you are lecturing someone comes along and starts yelling at you. Basically, you are doing something meritorious, but this person reviles you for it. Or hit him with knives, sticks, tiles or stones. Recollecting the Buddha, he should endure this. Think of the Buddha’s great compassion, and remain gentle and patient. Remember the emptiness of all dharmas. Since all dharmas are empty, the one hitting you is empty, and you are empty, and so what is there to make you angry? Recollect the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Recollect the Buddha and cultivate compassion. Recollect the Dharma and cultivate patience. Recollect the Sangha and cultivate gentleness.
In a thousand myriads of millions of lands
I manifest a pure, solid body,
Throughout limitless millions of eons,
Speaking Dharma for the sake of living beings.
If after my extinction,
There is one who can speak this Sutra,
I will send by transformation the four assemblies,
Bhikshus and Bhikshunis,
As well as men and women of purity,
To make offerings to that Dharma Master.
I will gather living beings there
To listen to the Dharma.
Should someone wish to harm him,
With knives, sticks, tiles, or stones,
I will send transformed people,
To surround and protect him.
Should the speaker of Dharma
Be alone in an uninhabited place
Where it is lonely without a human sound,
And there be reading and reciting this Sutra,
I will then manifest
A pure and radiant body.
Should he forget a single passage or sentence,
I will remind him so he recites it smoothly.
Should persons of such virtue
Preach for the four assemblies,
Or recite the Sutra in a deserted place,
They shall all see me.
Should one be dwelling in an empty place
I will send gods and dragon kings,
Yakshas, ghosts, spirits and so forth
To be listeners in the Dharma assembly.
This person will delight in speaking the Dharma,
And explain it in detail without obstruction.
Because the Buddhas are protective and mindful of him,
He can cause the assembly to rejoice greatly.
I2. The five kinds of benefit.
In a thousand myriads of millions of lands, I manifest a pure, solid body. Shakyamuni Buddha says, “After I enter into Nirvana I will manifest bodies. Throughout limitless millions of eons, speaking Dharma for the sake of living beings. If after my extinction, there is one who can speak this Sutra, The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. I will send by transformation the four assemblies: Bhikshus and Bhikshunis, as well as men and women of purity--Upasakas and Upasikas. To make offerings to that Dharma Master; to the one speaking the Dharma. I will gather living beings there to listen to the Dharma. I will gather them together to listen to the Dharma.
Should someone wish to harm him; to hurt the Dharma Master with knives, sticks, tiles, or stones, I will send transformed people to surround and protect him, to protect the person from harm.
Although Shakyamuni Buddha has entered into Nirvana, now in other worlds and other lands, he has become a Buddha in order to teach and transform living beings. Now, here in this Saha world when someone speaks The Dharma Flower Sutra, then Shakyamuni Buddha, from other lands, is protective and mindful of that Dharma Master. Not only does Shakyamuni mindfully protect those who lecture on the Sutra, but he also protects those who receive and uphold this Sutra, those who read, recite, and write it out.
This is the Dharma Master Chapter, which discusses the five types of Dharma Masters of whom the Buddha is protective and mindful. Since Shakyamuni Buddha cannot come in person, he sends transformed people and the gods and dragons of the eightfold division. There are five types of Dharma Masters protected mindfully by the Buddha. Ultimately what is a “Dharma Master?”
Dharma is the teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. Master means first of all that they take the Dharma as their Master. It also means that they bestow the Dharma upon others. This passage is the final section on verses in the Masters of Dharma Chapter, the tenth chapter of The Dharma Flower Sutra. These verses praise the merit and virtue of Dharma Masters who explain The Dharma Flower Sutra.
Should the speaker of Dharma, “If after my extinction,” continues the Buddha, “there is someone who wishes to speak The Dharma Flower Sutra himself.” Perhaps he decides to do it on his own or perhaps others request him to do it. At any rate if he should be alone in an uninhabited place. This is a Dharma Master who decided himself to live deep in the mountains, perhaps in a cave, in a solitary place, alone where it is lonely without a human sound, an extremely pure place. All day long you never hear a human voice, for a whole month or even an entire year, ten years, a hundred years, you do not hear a human sound.
And there be reading and reciting this Sutra. In such a place it is easy to enter samadhi, to gain dhyana samadhi. Perhaps he reads it, or perhaps he recites it from memory, I will then manifest, right then in this solitary place, I will appear to this cultivator in a pure and radiant body. This pure and radiant body is also just pure wisdom. Pure wisdom means no jealousy or obstruction. It is pure and light. Shakyamuni Buddha will manifest this body. What is the pure and radiant body? It is just The Dharma Flower Sutra. The Dharma Flower Sutra will cause you to give rise to pure wisdom. When you have pure wisdom, then you obtain pure light. With pure light you manifest the pure Dharma body.
Should he forget a single passage or sentence, I will remind him so he recites it smoothly. Perhaps in a dream I will come and tell him, “You forget a word there. Remember to put it in.” Or perhaps the Buddha will remind you when you are sitting in dhyana samadhi and your memory lapses. “How do those verses in the Masters of the Dharma chapter go? Let us see, ‘Should the speaker of Dharma be alone in an uninhabited place, where it is isolated without a human sound…then what? Oh! I remember: And there would be reading and reciting this Sutra.’” You will suddenly remember it.
Actually it is not you remembering it. It is Shakyamuni Buddha in the Land of Eternal Quiescent Light, shining his wisdom light upon you so that you can remember it. Would you not say that was wonderful? It is even more wonderful than buying your own computer! It is faster than a computer, and you do not have to program it or get a print out or anything. The Buddha’s computer is more efficient than ours!
Should persons of such virtue, that is people with pure cultivation and virtuous practice, people without lust, greed, hate and stupidity, people who have morality, samadhi, and wisdom. Preach for the four assemblies, speak The Dharma Flower Sutraor recite the Sutra in a deserted place. They shall all see me. “Me” here, just means The Dharma Flower Sutra. If you recite The Dharma Flower Sutra and obtain the wisdom of The Dharma Flower Sutra, then you have opened the wisdom of the Buddha and attained a vision of the Buddha himself.
Should one be dwelling in an empty place, I will send gods and dragon kings, Yakshas, ghosts, spirits, and so forth to be listeners in the Dharma assembly. Because there are no human beings there, the Buddha will send all the gods and dragons, Dharma protectors and so forth to be the audience. This person will delight in speaking the Dharma and explain it in detail without obstruction. One principle will expand into limitless meanings, and the limitless meanings will return to the one principle. He will be unobstructed—light upon light interpenetrating, like Indra’s net.
Because the Buddhas are protective and mindful of him, of the one speaking The Dharma Flower Sutra, he can cause the assembly to rejoice greatly. Because the Buddha is helping this person speak the Dharma; there is not a single person who is unhappy. They are all happy and delighted. Even if this Dharma Master scolds people, they like to listen to it. Why? It is because he has virtue.
One who draws near this Dharma Master
Will quickly gain the Bodhisattva Path.
One who follows this master in study
Will see Buddhas as countless as the Ganges’ sands.
G3. Concluding exhortation.
One who draws near this Dharma Master who expounds upon The Dharma Flower Sutrawill quickly gain the Bodhisattva Path, the way cultivated by the Bodhisattvas. One who follows this master in study will see Buddhas as countless as the Ganges’ sands. If you study the Buddhadharma with this teacher, you see countless Buddhas. The Buddhas will rub you on the crown and give you a prediction saying, “Good man, in the future you shall become a Buddha,” and so on.
Do you see how inconceivable The Dharma Flower Sutra is? Today we have finished The Dharma Master Chapter.
On the first day of the Summer Session we will start Chapter Eleven: Seeing the Jeweled Stupa. Whoever wants to see a jeweled Stupa should not miss it.
“What is the use of seeing a jeweled Stupa?” you ask.
If you see one then you can live in one, and you will not have to worry about having no place to live!
Originally the Buddha’s birthday is Tuesday, but since everyone works during the week, we are having it on Sunday. If you bathe the Buddha, in the future people will come and bathe you. If you do not, when you become a Buddha no one will remember your birthday! Everything is a matter of cause and effect. Why do so many people remember Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday? It is because in limitless eons in the past, he bathed other Buddhas. Bathing the Buddha now is for the future when you become a Buddha. If you do not want to become a Buddha, you can forget about bathing the Buddha. If you do not care about the result, you do not need to plant the cause. However, if you think, “The Buddha is not bad. He is greatly enlightened and really understands everything. I would like to be like that,” then you should join in and bathe the Buddha.
Basically, the Buddha’s body is perfectly clean and he does not need a bath. The ceremony is a manifestation of our filial thoughts towards the Buddha. “Our teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday has come around. When he was born nine dragons came to bathe him and so we follow their example and bathe the Buddha. We are Buddhist disciples and so we should be filial to our teacher.” One need not give a lot of money in exchange for bathing the Buddha. Since, unlike some places, we do not charge money for bathing the Buddha, our ceremony is really clean. I hope this is clear now. We are not in it for the money.
The Dharma which is transmitted here is the “everything okay” Dharma.