The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra
Chapter 12: Devadatta
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
“I announce to the four assemblies that, after limitless eons have passed, Devadatta will become a Buddha by the name of King of Gods Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Right and Universal Knowledge, One Whose Clarity and Conduct are Complete, Well-Gone One Who Understands the World, Supreme Lord, Regulating Hero, Teacher of Gods and Humans, Buddha, World Honored One. His world shall be called Pathway of the Gods.”
H2. Showing the Dharma Master’s future realization of the wonderful fruit.
I1. The realization of the wonderful fruit.
I announce to the four assemblies, the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, that after limitless eons have passed, Devadatta will become a Buddha by the name of King of Gods Thus Come One. He will be called “King of Gods,” because when he has cultivated and attained Buddhahood. He will be a god among the gods, a sage among the sages. Since he cultivated to become a Buddha, he is the god among gods, the sage among sages. Therefore, he is the King of Gods Thus Come One.
And also by the title of One Worthy of offerings: he is worth the offerings of humans and gods. One of Right and Universal Knowledge: not only does he know what is proper, but he also knows what is universal. One Whose Clarity and Conduct are Complete: he has cultivated his wisdom to perfection. Well-Gone One Who Understands the World: he will become good and go to fine places. He understands the world and is the most intelligent person in the world, possessing a power of understanding. Supreme Lord: there is no one nobler than him. He is the most supreme. Regulating Hero: he can regulate the three realms, teaching and transforming beings; therefore, he is called the Regulating Hero. Teacher of Gods and Humans: he is the teacher and model for the beings in the heavens and humans in the world. And Buddha, World Honored One. He will possess the ten titles, which are common to all the Buddhas. Our world is called the “Saha” or “bitter” world. His world shall be called the Pathway of the Gods.
“He shall dwell in the world for twenty middle-sized eons, broadly speaking the wonderful Dharma for living beings. Living beings in number like the Ganges sands shall attain the fruit of Arhatship. Limitless living beings will bring forth the resolve to Enlighten to Conditions. Living beings in number like Ganges sands will bring forth the supreme mind of the Path, attain patience with the non-production of Dharmas, and arrive at irreversibility.”
I2. Those whom he will teach and save.
He shall dwell in the world for twenty middle-sized eons. In our world “one increasing and one decreasing” comprises an eon. What is meant by “one increasing and one decreasing?” Every one hundred years, people’s average life span increases by one year and their average height increases by one inch. When people’s average life span increases to the point of 84,000 years, it starts decreasing, one year at a time, and their height decreases also one inch a year. When people’s average life span is ten years, it starts to increase again at the same rate. One complete cycle of increase and decrease makes up one small eon.
Twenty small eons make up one middle-sized eon. Four middle-sized eons make up a large eon.
The entire world also goes through the process of creation, being, decay, and emptiness. The process of creation lasts for one middle-sized eon, the process of being lasts for one middle-sized eon, the process of decay lasts for one middle-sized eon, and the process of emptiness lasts for one middle-sized eon. Those four eons make up one great eon, or age.
When Devadatta becomes a Buddha, he will dwell in the world for twenty middle-sized eons. That means five great eons. He will be broadly speaking the wonderful Dharma for living beings during all that time. He will speak The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for living beings for the length of twenty middle-sized eons. Living beings in number like the Ganges sands shall attain the fruit of Arhatship. What is Arhatship? There are Four Fruits of Arhatship,
1. Arhat of the first fruit, the Shrotaapanna, is called one who has “entered the stream.” He has entered the stream of the Dharma nature of the Sage and he opposes the steam of the six senses of common people. He still has to undergo seven more rebirths among those in the heavens and among people before he comes to the end of the Path.
2. The Arhat of the second fruit, the Sakridagamin, is called a “once-returner.” He has one more birth to undergo in the heavens and one among people.
3. The Arhat of the third fruit, the Anagamin, is called a “never-returner.” He does not have to undergo birth again in the human realm.
4. The Arhat of the fourth fruit is called “unborn.” The fourth stage Arhat has attained Patience with the Non-production of Dharmas. This means that he does not see the slightest dharma produced or the slightest dharma extinguished. Such a vision is not easy to bear, but he has the patience to bear it. Therefore it is called “Unproduced Dharma Patience.”
Arhat is a Sanskrit word with three meanings,
1. “One worthy of offerings.” Arhats are worthy of offerings from humans and gods.
2. “Slayer of thieves.” They have killed the thieves of ignorance and affliction.
3. “Unproduced.” They have attained Patience with the Non-production of Dharmas.
That is what is meant by “the fruit of Arhatship” attained by living beings in number like the Ganges’ sands.
Limitless living beings will bring forth the resolve to Enlighten to Conditions. Those Enlightened to Conditions are the Pratyekabuddhas. They cultivate the Twelve Links and awaken to the Path. Living beings in number like Ganges sands will bring forth the supreme mind of the Path,attain patience with the non-production of Dharmas, and arrive at irreversibility. “Irreversibility” is of three kinds:
1. Irreversible in Position. The do not retreat to the Two Vehicles.
2. Irreversible in Conduct. In their cultivation, they go forward with vigor.
3. Irreversible in Thought. They never retreat from their resolve for Bodhi or in their Bodhisattva conduct. They make vows in every life to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, and to bring forth the Bodhi heart.
“After the parinirvana of the Buddha King of Gods, the proper Dharma will dwell in the world for twenty middle-sized eons. A stupa sixty yojanas high and forty yojanas wide, made of the seven jewels will be built to hold the sharira of his complete body. All the gods and humans shall make offerings to and worship the wonderful stupa of seven jewels, using various flowers, powdered incense, burning incense, paste incense, clothing, beads, banners, jeweled canopies, instrumental and vocal music.”
“Limitless living beings shall attain the fruit of Arhatship. Limitless living beings will awaken to Pratyekabuddhahood. An inconceivable number of living beings will bring forth the resolve for Bodhi and reach irreversibility.”
I3. Benefits remaining after that Buddha’s extinction.
After the limitless numbers of living beings bring forth the Bodhi mind and arrive at irreversibility, the work of King of Gods Buddha will be finished. He will have taught, transformed and saved those living beings he was supposed to have taught. When his work is done, he will enter Nirvana. Teaching and transforming living beings is the Buddha’s work. When he has taught those he was supposed to teach, he enters Nirvana.
After the parinirvana of the Buddha King of Gods, the Proper Dharma will dwell in the world for twenty middle-sized eons. While the Buddha is dwelling in the world, the Proper Dharma Age abides in the world. After the Buddha enters extinction, that is the Dharma Image Age. Then, after a long time we come to the Dharma Ending Age. This Buddha will dwell in the world for twenty middle-sized eons, and so the Proper Dharma will also dwell for twenty middle-sized eons. A stupa sixty yojanas high, “sixty yojanas” represent the Six Perfections, and forty yojanas wide. “Forty yojanas” represent the Four Applications of Mindfulness. This magnificent stupamade of the seven jewels will be built to hold the sharira of his complete body. The Buddha’s relics will be housed there.
All the gods and humans shall make offerings to and worship the wonderful stupa of seven jewels, using various flowers, powdered incense, burning incense, paste incense, clothing, beads, banners, jeweled canopies, instrumental and vocal music. Limitless living beings shall attain the fruit of Arhatship. While the Buddha, King of Gods is in the world, limitless living beings will attain the fruits of Arhatship, and after he has entered Nirvana, limitless living beings will also attain the fruit of Arhatship. Limitless living beings will awaken to and be certified as having attained Pratyekabuddhahood. An inconceivable number of living beings will bring forth the resolve for Bodhi and reach irreversibility.
The Buddha told the Bhikshus that in the future if a good man or good woman hears the Devadatta chapter of The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra with a pure mind believes and reveres it, having no doubts, he will not fall into the hells, into the realm of hungry ghosts, or into the animal realm. He will be born in the presence of the Buddhas of the ten directions, always hearing this Sutra wherever he may be born. Should he be reborn among humans and gods, he will receive supreme and subtle bliss. If born in the presence of a Buddha, he will be born by transformation from a lotus flower.
E2. Exhortation to believe.
The Buddha told the Bhikshus that in the future if a good man or good woman hears the Devadatta chapter of The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra with a pure mind believes and reveres it, having no doubts, he will not fall into the hells. The “future” here refers to the future from the time of the Buddha, which is just the present for us. “A good man or woman” is one who cultivates the Five Precepts, and cultivates the Ten Good Deeds. A “pure mind” is a mind without defiled dharmas. Being without defiled dharmas means that in the world of good and evil, one does not make discriminations. One does not think in terms of good or evil. One has transcended such dualistic concepts. If you constantly discriminate, thinking, “This is good and that is evil; this is right, that is wrong; this is rotten, that is wholesome; this is black and this is white,” then with so many discriminations going on, you cannot be said to have gained purity of mind. If you can refrain from making discriminations in terms of good, bad, right and wrong, and so on, then you have a pure mind.
“But isn’t that like being dead or something?” you ask.
That is just what it is supposed to be like! If, amidst your daily “life”, you can be as if “dead”, then you will have obtained the subtle point of having pure faith. The sad point is that you cannot do it. Why should you not discriminate between good and evil?
For instance, if you start discriminating, right away you will draw the conclusion that Devadatta was a very rotten person indeed. But, you should surmount such discriminations and understands that Devadatta was really a great Bodhisattva. He just chose to save people in “reverse.” He gave them such a hard time that they cultivated much harder and realized Buddhahood much quicker.
What does it mean to be one who “with a pure mind believes?” It means you must have faith that in every lifetime, those people you meet who oppose you or give you a hard time are all helping you to become a Buddha. You are as if being smelted in a big furnace. You are smelted and refined until you are free of all habits and faults. You become as soft and yielding as cotton. To be like that is to have true, deep faith. You should know that those people who make trouble for you are really helping you in your cultivation. If you did not have any problems, how could you perfect the power of patience?
People who give you trouble help you arrive at the place where your mind no longer moves, you are no longer disturbed at any level. Their efforts simply do not affect you at all. Maitreya Bodhisattva’s verse about patience is so fine! I lectured it the other day. You will note that the word “patience” does not occur in that verse even once. He does not say, “I am perfecting patience.” He has gone beyond the concept of patience altogether, and so he does not even have to bring it up as such. To “believe” in this context means that those who oppose you are helping you to become a Buddha.
Those people you encounter who hate you, trouble you and subject you to great trials, you should think of them, “They are truly my Good Knowing Advisors. They are helping me. If they were not my Good Knowing Advisors, why would they bother to manifest such an entirely evil appearance?” When you meet people who give you a hard time you must think of them as your Good Knowing Advisors. That is to “revere” The Dharma Flower Sutra, and to revere such people as well.
Let us take the example of a bell. Why does a bell ring? It is because someone hits it with a mallet; when the bell is struck, it rings. If it is not struck it will not make a sound. Do you not agree? It is because it rings that people go on hitting it. If it did not ring, no one would hit it.
Pure gold has to be refined in the fire. Only when all the other minerals have been smelted out can you call it “pure” gold. If it does not go through the fire, its quality is not so fine. The process of smelting at high heat purifies it.
The plum that blossoms in the cold of winter is especially fragrant. Its fragrant aroma carries far and wide. Why is it so fragrant? It is because it has endured the cold of winter. We say,
If it had not endured the cold that pierces to the bone,
How could the plum blossom be so fragrant?
Therefore, if you can look upon your “worst enemy” as your Good and Wise Advisor, then you have genuine reverence.
Let us look at another analogy. When a baby is drinking its mother’s milk, it would never think of its mother as having any faults. No matter how terribly ugly the child’s mother might be, the child would never think of her as ugly. The child will not say, “You are so ugly, I am not going to drink any more milk!” It is also like someone who goes to the mountains to pick fruit—oranges, apples, and such. He would never say, “You are such a twisted, ugly fruit tree, I am not going to pick your fruit!” It does not matter how the tree looks, he still picks the fruit. If you can have this kind of attitude, then as the text says, that is “having no doubts.” Even though Devadatta did very evil things, if you do not discriminate it in this way, then you have no doubts about it. Without doubts you are a real cultivator and have the Three types of Wisdom:
1. Wisdom in Listening.
2. Wisdom in Thinking.
3. Wisdom in Cultivation.
He will not fall into the Three Evil Paths—hells, into the realm of hungry ghosts or into the animal realm. If you can avoid the Three Evil Paths, then you will be in a position to serve the Buddhas. If you can constantly draw near to the Buddhas, you will quite naturally hear the wonderful Dharma. He will be born in the presence of the Buddhas of the ten directions, always hearing this Sutra wherever he may be born. You will get to hear The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Should he be reborn among humans and gods, he will receive supreme and subtle bliss. If born in the presence of a Buddha, he will be born by transformation from a lotus flower. If you get to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra, you can be reborn in a Lotus flower.
The “hells” are places of punishment for evil people. “Hungry ghosts” are always under a lot of pressure. Why? They are always hungry, but they cannot get any food! They may get hold of some food, but it turns into fire in their mouths and never makes it as far as their stomachs. “Animals” are of various kinds—they are extremely stupid. Now, if you can believe the “Devadatta Chapter” without holding any doubts, you can avoid falling into these Three Evil Paths.
It is not easy to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra. Take a look at the people who come here. They want to study, but they often run off. Perhaps they do not have sufficient good roots, or perhaps they have personal problems or have a run-in with someone here, or perhaps it is just too much work; they may think up other various reasons, but in general, it has something to do with their good roots. If one has sufficient good roots, one will never run away from a chance to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra. If born among humans or gods, they will be extremely happy. If they get to be born in the presence of a Buddha, they will be born from Lotus flowers. They will take the nine grades of lotuses as their parents, and they will not be born as a result of lustful contact. Their pure self-natures will appear in Lotus buds. When the Lotus flower opens—there they are, and they become Buddhas. Their Dharma bodies manifest.
Here at the Buddhist Lecture Hall, we are very busy in our study of the Buddhadharma. In the morning we get up early and we do not rest until late at night. As busy as we are, we should do something worthwhile. We should not just act busy all day long, but not actually do anything.
It is my hope that you will work on behalf of Western people, and quickly propagate the Buddhadharma so that it may enter Western society. Then we will not have wasted our efforts in coming here this life. Under the pressures of the current work, do not revert to your previous lifestyle. What did it involve that you should now avoid? Fighting and making trouble! We are now doing the work of Bodhi, the Enlightened Path. Everyone should use wisdom, not afflictions! If you use afflictions, then you would be better off not cultivating. It would be better to retreat to your old ways—your previous way of life. We are now doing the work of Bodhi, so it is essential that we use our wisdom. Using your wisdom just means not having afflictions.
You should not be selfish and think, “What about me? What about me… me… me… me…?” You must take your “self,” and peel it off! Open up your Mind ground, open up your Prajna wisdom, and get on with the work.
The fifth magazine must be finished up and printed. Otherwise those who have subscribed will not get their issue on time, and we will lose face all around. Everyone should look at the big picture. Do not use your small knowledge and tiny views, just thinking about you and not thinking about anyone else! We must do this work perfectly, and it will make up our foundation, our accomplishment.
Now, I do not need anyone to trust in me. It is all right that they do not trust me. Why? Whether people believe in me or not, is no problem. But as for all of you, Western Buddhism is just now beginning. Therefore, you must be trustworthy; do not do things that make people doubt you. This is very important. All of you should take careful note of this.
At that time, a Bodhisattva-attendant of Many Jewels, World Honored One, from the lower regions by the name of Wisdom Accumulation, spoke to the Buddha Many Jewels, saying, “Let’s return to our own land.”
E3. Wisdom Accumulation asks to go home.
At that time, a Bodhisattva-attendant of Many Jewels, World Honored One, from the lower regions by the name of Wisdom Accumulation spoke. The Bodhisattva was a servant of Many Jewels Buddha, who had come along with him. The Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulation would often choose to be reborn in Suzhou, China. At Ling Yen Mountain, he would come there to save living beings and make himself manifest so people could see him. When they were building the Monastery at Ling Yen Mt., they dug up a statue of Wisdom Accumulation Bodhisattva. It was very strange. He spoke to the Buddha Many Jewels, saying, “Let’s return to our own land.” He said, “Can I go back now? Can I go home?”
Shakyamuni Buddha told Wisdom Accumulation, “Good man, wait a moment longer. There is a Bodhisattva named Manjushri. You should meet him and discuss the wonderful Dharma. Then you may return to your country.”
F1. The World Honored One detains him.
Shakyamuni Buddha told Wisdom Accumulation, “Good man, wait a moment longer. There is a Bodhisattva in this Dharma Assembly named Manjushri, ‘Wonderfully Lucky’ Bodhisattva. You should meet him and discuss the wonderful Dharma. You can be the Bodhisattva’s friend! Manjushri Bodhisattva is very wise. You can discuss the doctrines of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra with him and then you may return to your country. You will not be late, and you will have made a new friend! Won’t that be nice?”
Then Manjushri, sitting on a thousand-petalled lotus as large as a carriage wheel, along with the Bodhisattvas who accompanied him, also sitting on jeweled lotuses, spontaneously rose up out of the great sea from the Sagara Dragon Palace. They rose high into the air and went to Magic Vulture Mountain. Descending from his lotus, he went before the Buddhas and bowed in worship at the feet of the two World Honored Ones. Having paid his respects, he went up to Wisdom Accumulation and when they had inquired after each other’s welfare, they moved to one side and sat down.
G1. Manjushri Bodhisattva arrives.
Then Manjushri, sitting on a thousand-petalled lotus as large as a carriage wheel, along with the Bodhisattvas who accompanied him, also sitting on jeweled lotuses, spontaneously rose up out of the great sea from the Sagara Dragon Palace. “Sagara,” the name of the Dragon King, is a Sanskrit word, which means “salty sea.” They just rose up out of the sea. They rose high into the air and went to Magic Vulture Mountain, to where Shakyamuni Buddha was speaking the Dharma. Descending from his lotus, he went before the Buddhas and bowed in worship at the feet of the two World Honored Ones.Having paid his respects, he went up to Wisdom Accumulation and when they had inquired after each other’s welfare, they moved to one side and sat down.
Manjushri Bodhisattva said, “How are you?”
“Really good!” said Wisdom Accumulation.
Wisdom Accumulation Bodhisattva asked Manjushri, “Humane One, how many living beings have you taught there in the Dragon Palace?”
G2. Wisdom Accumulation Bodhisattva’s question.
Wisdom-Accumulation Bodhisattva asked Manjushri, “Humane One, how many living beings have you taught there in the Dragon Palace?” “Humane One” is another name for a Bodhisattva. He said, “You have been staying in the Dragon Palace. How many dragons have you saved? How many big ones? How many little ones? Are you enjoying yourself? Is it more meaningful than crossing over pigeons?”
Manjushri Bodhisattva replied, “An unlimited, unreckonable number, one that cannot be expressed in words or fathomed by the mind. Wait just a moment and you will have proof for yourself.”
G3. Manjushri Bodhisattva’s answer.
H1. Answering in terms of the great benefits.
Manjushri Bodhisattva replied, “An unlimited, unreckonable number, you could never count how many dragons and other marine-type creatures have been saved. Their number is one that cannot be expressed in words or fathomed by the mind. Wait just a moment and you will have proof for yourself.” You will see for yourself! Count for yourself! You will have proof. I will not have to tell you.
Now someone is wondering, “In the beginning of The Lotus Sutra, in the Introduction, Manjushri was present in the Dharma Assembly! When did he leave? How did he get into the ocean? Besides, Shakyamuni Buddha made the seas all disappear. How did he manage to pop out of the ocean?”
You might say this was very intelligent question; you could also say it is a really stupid question. You could say it is an important question, and you could also say that it is not important. In the Buddhadharma, such principles are not rigid.
Earlier in the “Chapter on Vision of the Jeweled Stupa,” Shakyamuni Buddha purified the lands three times. But this was just a transformation. It means that one could not longer “see” the oceans. It did not mean that they were not actually there.
You could also explain it by saying that although Shakyamuni Buddha has moved the great seas to some other world, Manjushri Bodhisattva himself had great spiritual powers, and he might have come from some other world. In the first chapter, Manjushri Bodhisattva was present in the Dharma Assembly. However, Bodhisattvas have limitless, boundless division bodies. At any time they can transform millions of bodies to go off to any world to teach and transform living beings. So the question is both important and unimportant, intelligent and stupid. My responses should have taken care of such questions. If you still cannot figure it out, perhaps you will have a dream that will make it clear for you.
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