THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Chapters: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * 11 * 12 * 13 * 14 * 15 * 16 * 17 * 18 * 19 * 20

The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra

Chapter 14: Happily Dwelling Conduct
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

“He will always receive offerings from and be revered, honored, and praised by Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasika, kings princes, great ministers, common people, Brahmans, lay-people and so on. The gods in empty space will always follow and serve him in order to hear the Dharma. If, in villages and cities, in the wilds or forests, someone wishing to pose difficult questions approaches him, all the gods, for the sake of the Dharma, will protect him day and night, and he will cause the listeners to be joyful.”

Outline:

K2. Clarifying the benefits
L2. The clarification

Commentary:

He will always receive offerings from and be revered, honored, and praised by all the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasika, kings, princes, great ministers, common people, Brahmans, lay-people and so on. Not only will those in the human realm revere make offerings to, and praise this great Bodhisattva who is cultivating the Bodhisattva conduct, but also the gods in empty space will always follow and serve him in order to hear the Dharma from this Bodhisattva.

If, in villages or cities, in the wilds or forests, and in the mountains—in the places where he is cultivating—someone wishing to pose difficult questions to give him a test, approaches him, all the gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division, the Dharma-protecting good spirits, for the sake of guarding the Dharma, will protect him day and night. He shall cause the listeners to be joyful. When someone asks him difficult questions, he answers with the wonderful meaning of the Great Vehicle, so that those who hear the dharma will be made happy.

Sutra:

“Why is this? This Sutra is protected by the spiritual powers of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.”

Outline:

L2. Concluding explanation


Commentary:

Why is this? This Sutra is protected by the spiritual powers of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future. The Buddhas of the three periods of time guard the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Therefore, whenever problems or difficulties arise, they are taken care of so that they disappear.

Sutra:

“Manjushri, throughout limitless kalpas, it is not possible even to hear the name of the Dharma Flower Sutra, much less to see, receive, uphold, read, or recite it.”

Outline:

I2. Praise of this Sutra
J1. General praise


Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha continues speaking. “Manjushri, throughout limitless kalpas, it is not possible even to hear the name of the Dharma Flower Sutra, much less to see, receive, uphold, read, or recite it.” It is definitely not easy to get a chance to even hear the name of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Now there is a certain sect that exclusively recites the phrase “Namo Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra,” showing that they have been able to hear the name. Some people never even get to hear the name, so, those of that sect, having heard it, constantly recite it. It is not easy to lay eyes on this Sutra, much less to receive, uphold, read, and recite it.

Sutra:

“Manjushri, it is like a powerful wheel-turning sage king who wishes to subdue other countries by force. But all the lesser kings do not follow his commands. The wheel-turning king then mobilizes his various troops and goes to punish them. Seeing his troops successful in warfare, he is greatly delighted and rewards them according to their merits, giving them fields, houses, villages, cities, countries; or else clothing, personal ornaments, or various precious treasures of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, carnelian, coral, or agate; or elephants, horses, carriages, servants, or subjects.”

Outline:

J2. Expanded praise through analogy
K1. The analogy of not giving away the pearl
L1. Setting up the analogy
M1. Using force to subdue other countries
M2. The lesser kings’ lack of compliance
M3. Sending out troops to punish them
M4. Happily rewarding the successful


Commentary:

Manjushri, it is like a powerful wheel-turning sage king who wishes to subdue other countries by force. He wants to use his awesome virtue and might to conquer other lands. But all the lesser kings do not follow his commands. All the kings of the smaller countries do not listen to the wheel-turning sage king’s orders. The wheel-turning king then mobilizes his various troops and goes to punish them. The king then sends out all kinds of military forces to impose discipline on those countries.

Seeing his troops successful in warfare, the wheel-turning sage king is greatly delighted and rewards them according to the size of their merits, giving them fields, which represent samadhi; houses, which represent wisdom; villages, which represent the first and second fruitions of Arhatship; cities, which represent the third fruition, or countries, which represent the fourth fruition. Or he gives them clothing, which represents patience with insult, personal ornaments to adorn the body, or various precious treasures of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, carnelian, coral, or agate. The seven gems represent the good Dharma of the Seven Limbs of Enlightenment, also called the Seven Bodhi Shares. Or he gives them elephants, horses, and carriages, which represent the Two Vehicles; servants, which represent the functioning of spiritual penetrations; or subjects, which represent wholesome Dharmas.

ULLAMBANA

Before I finish explaining this passage of the Sutra, I have some news for everyone. This Sunday, we are going to celebrate Ullambana. “Ullambana” is Sanskrit. It means “releasing those who are upside-down.” It is very painful to be hanging upside down, and so now we are going to release those who are. Release whom? We are going to release parents and ancestors from our previous lives. We do not know if our past parents and ancestors created merit or if they created offenses. If they created merit, they may have been reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, or in the heavens, or among people as presidents or emperors. It is not fixed. If they created offenses, they may have fallen into the hells, into the realm of hungry ghosts, or into the animal realm. The fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month is the anniversary of the day when Bhikshu Mahamaudgalyayana saved his mother from the hells. One this day, Ullambana, all living beings can create merit and virtue for our parents and ancestors from the past seven lives and cross them over.

If you feel you have a big temper and too much “fire of ignorance,” it is because your parents and ancestors from the past have not left suffering and attained bliss. Every day they help you to get angry, and encourage you to commit offenses so that you can hurry up and join them. If you feel that this may be the case, you should take advantage of this opportunity to do merit and virtue to cross over your parents and ancestors from the past seven lives. This kind of ceremony has rarely been done in the West. You should not miss this chance. Every one of you should be a filial descendant and do some merit and virtue on your ancestors' behalf.

Sutra:

“Only the bright pearl on his cowl, that alone, he does not give away. Why not? Only the king can wear this pearl on his crown. If he gave it away, the king's retinue would surely be greatly astonished.”

Outline:

M5. Not giving away the pearl

Commentary:

Only the bright pearl on his cowl, that alone, he does not give away. The wheel-turning sage king wears a bright pearl on his crown and it is the only thing he will not give to his troops, generals, or anyone else. Why not? Only the wheel-turning sage king can wear this bright pearl on his crown. Therefore, he cannot give it away. If he gave it away to those meritorious soldiers, all the wheel-turning sage king's retinue would surely be greatly astonished. They would be incredibly surprised. They would not believe such a thing could happen. They would not believe they themselves could attain such a valuable gift.

Sutra:

“Manjushri, the Tathagata is also like this. Through the use of the powers of Dhyana samadhi and wisdom, he has gained the country of the Dharma and is king of the three realms. Still, the demon kings refuse to submit. The Tathagata’s generals, the worthy ones and sages, do battle with them. With those who are successful, he is delighted. For the four assemblies, he speaks the Sutras, causing their hearts to rejoice. He confers upon them the Dhyana concentrations, the liberations, the lack of outflow, the roots and powers, and all the wealth of the Dharma. He further bestows upon them the city of Nirvana, telling them that they shall attain cessation. He guides their thoughts, causing them all to rejoice.”

Outline:

L2. Relating the analogy to the Dharma
M1. Relating to subduing the country with force
M2. Relating to the lesser king’s lack of compliance
M3. Relating to sending out troops to punish them
M4. Relating to rewarding the successful

Commentary:

Manjushri, the Tathagata is also like this. I, Shakyamuni Buddha, am like the wheel-turning sage king. Through the use of the inconceivable powers of Dhyana samadhi and wisdom, he has gained the country of the unsurpassed, wonderful Dharma and is king of the three realms. Within the desire realm, form realm, and formless realm, he is the Dharma King. The Buddha is the Dharma King, and is at ease within the Dharma. He is endowed with great wisdom, great knowledge, and the true Dharma.

Still, although the Buddha has attained the unsurpassed, wonderful Dharma and is the Dharma King, the King of the three realms, the demon kings refuse to submit. They would not surrender. They do not want to meekly comply.

The Tathagata’s generals, the worthy ones and sages, do battle with them. The Tathagata leads all the generals, those of the Great Vehicle, the Two Vehicles and the Three Vehicles, to engage in battle with the demon kings. This is what our monthly journal “ Vajra Bodhi Sea” does. By publishing the journal, we are also doing battle with the demon kings. We wish to protect the genuine Buddhadharma, and so those with phony credentials are being exposed.

With those who are successful, he is delighted. There are those who earn merit by defeating the demon kings. That makes the Buddha happy. For the four assemblies, the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas, he speaks the Sutras. He may speak the Agamas, the Vaipulya, or the Prajna Teachings. He may speak the Storehouse Teaching, the Connected Teaching, or the Special Teaching. He may speak the Sudden, or the Gradual, the Secret, or the Unfixed Teachings. He expounds the doctrines in the Sutras for all living beings, causing their hearts to rejoice. He confers upon them the merits of Dhyana concentrations, the virtue of the liberations, the wisdom of the lack of outflows, the five roots and five powers and all the wealth of Dharma. The five roots are the root of faith, the root of vigor, the root of mindfulness, the root of concentration, and the root of wisdom. Once the five roots come forth, they generate five kinds of powers with the same names. The Buddha bestows all these wealth of Dharma upon all living beings.

He further bestows upon them the city of Nirvana. Why is Nirvana likened to a city? It is because it can ward off the attacks of enemies, that is, the demon kings. Demons have no way to destroy your nirvana. He tells them that they have already attained cessation. He guides their thoughts, causing them all to rejoice. He guides the minds of living beings, filling them with delight.

Sutra:

“But he does not speak the Dharma Flower Sutra.”

Outline:

M5. Relating to not giving away the pearl

Commentary:

He holds back and does not speak the wonderful Dharma. He does not speak the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Just as the wheel-turning king's precious crown jewel cannot be given away casually, so too, the Dharma Flower Sutra cannot be explained casually.

Sutra:

“Manjushri, eventually the wheel-turning king, seeing among his troops those who have been greatly successful, is overjoyed, and at last gives them the incredible pearl, which he has long worn in his top-knot, and which he would never casually give away.”

Outline:

K2. The analogy of giving away the pearl
L1. Setting up the analogy

Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha continues, “Manjushri, Wonderfully Auspicious, eventually the wheel-turning king, who represents the Buddha in the analogy, seeing among his troops those who have been greatly successful, is overjoyed, and at last gives them the incredible pearl, which he has long worn in his top-knot, and which he would never casually give away. But now he does give it away because they are entirely deserving of such a reward.

Sutra:

“So, too, is it with the Tathagata. As the great king of the Dharma within the three realms, he uses Dharma to teach and transform all living beings. Seeing the army of worthy ones and sages doing battle with the demons of the five skandhas, the demons of afflictions, and the demons of death, and being greatly successful extinguishing the three poisons, escaping the three realms, and rending the nets of the demons, the Tathagata is greatly pleased. He then speaks to them the Dharma Flower Sutra, which can lead living beings to All-Wisdom, which meets with resentment and disbelief in all the world, and which he has never spoken of before.”

Outline:

L2. Relating the analogy to the Dharma


Commentary:

So, too, is it with the Tathagata. I, Shakyamuni Buddha, am like the wheel-turning king. As the great king of the Dharma within the three realms, the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm, he uses the unsurpassed wonderful Dharma to teach and transform all living beings.

When seeing the army of worthy ones and sages—that is, sages of the first, second, third, and fourth fruitions, and Those Enlightened by Conditions, as well as the Bodhisattvas—doing battle with the demons of the five skandhas, the Buddha is pleased. The five skandhas are the five heaps we all possess: form, feeling, thinking, formations, and consciousness. He sees them battle with the demons of afflictions, and the demons of death. Everyone has to die; and death, too, is a kind of demon.

Now we want to be free of death. We want to cultivate to become Buddhas and put an end to birth and death, so we go to battle with the demon of death. And the Buddha sees them as being greatly successful in their battle with these demons of the five skandhas, of afflictions and of death, conquering all of them, thus extinguishing the three poisons of greed, hatred, and stupidity, and escaping the three realms of desire, form, and formlessness, and rending the nets of the demons. The Tathagata is greatly pleased. If in cultivation we defeat the demons of death, afflictions, and the five skandhas, then at that point the nets of the demons will be broken up as well. Now the Buddha sees that those cultivating the Two Vehicles and the Great Vehicle have had some success and he is delighted.

He then speaks to them theWonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra which can lead living beings to the stage of All-Wisdom, which meets with resentment and disbelief in all the world, and which he has never spoken of before. All the people in the world complain that the doctrines of the Dharma Flower Sutra are difficult to believe. For more than forty years of the Buddha's teaching, he did not speak this Sutra, but now he does. He will now explain the wonderful aspects of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for everyone.

Sutra:

“Manjushri, the Dharma Flower Sutra is the foremost among the Tathagata's teachings. Among all the teachings it is the most profound, and it is only bestowed at the very end, just like that bright pearl which the powerful king long kept and then gave away. Manjushri, the Dharma Flower Sutra is the secret treasury of all the Buddhas, Tathagatas. Among all the Sutras it is the highest. In the long night of time it has been guarded and never recklessly expounded. Today, for the first time, I am speaking it for you.”

Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha continues, “Manjushri, theWonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is the foremost among the Tathagata's teachings. It is the foremost teaching of all Buddhas of the past, present, and future. Among all the teachings, all the Sutras spoken by the Buddhas, it is the most profound, and it is only bestowed at the very end. The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is by far the most supreme and profound; there is nothing more lofty, nothing more deep. It is only spoken for living beings at the very end. It is just like that bright pearl which the powerful king long kept and then gave away. The mighty wheel-turning sage king of awesome virtue wore that pearl on his crown for a long, long time before he finally gave it away. In time, his troops were so successful that they deserved to have it.”

Manjushri, Wonderfully Auspicious Bodhisattva, theWonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is the secret treasury of all the Buddhas, Tathagatas of the ten directions and the three periods of time. It is a secret, a Dharma that ordinarily is not transmitted. Among all the Sutras spoken by the Buddhas, it is the highest. This Sutra is above all the other Sutras. In the long night of time, for such a long time, it has been guarded and never recklessly expounded. It cannot be casually explained for people. Today, for the first time, I am speaking it for you. I am explaining the Sutra in detail for all the people in this great Dharma Assembly. Do not think this is an ordinary Dharma you are hearing.

Sutra:

At that time the World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses saying,

“Always practicing patience,
And being merciful to all,
One will then be able to proclaim
This Sutra praised by the Buddhas.”

Outline:

H2. Verses

I1. Verses about the method to achieve this practice
J1. Opening verses about how to accomplish this conduct

Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha, having spoken the above passages out of great compassion, at that time spoke verses to elaborate these principles for those in the Dharma Assembly. The World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses saying, “Always practicing patience is what the great Bodhisattva cultivating the Bodhisattva Way does. He must bear what other people cannot bear. Always practicing patience and being merciful to all, having sympathy for all living beings, one will then be able to proclaim this Sutra praised by the Buddhas. The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is praised in unison by all the Buddhas of the ten directions and three periods of time.

Sutra:

In the future Ending Age,
One who upholds this Sutra,
Should bring forth kindness and compassion
For those at home, those who have left home,
And those who are not Bodhisattvas,
Thinking, “Those who do not hear
Or believe this Sutra
Suffer a great loss.

When I have gained the Buddha Way
I shall use expedients
To speak this Dharma for them
So they may abide within it.

Outline:

J2. Subsequent verses about how to achieve this conduct
K1. Verses about the realms that the vow affects
K2. Verses about the reason for bringing forth the vow
K3. Verses stating the vow itself


Commentary:

In the future Ending Age when the Dharma is about to become extinct, one who receives, upholds, reads, and recites thisWonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutrashould bring forth kindness and compassion, for those at home, those who have left home, and those who are not Bodhisattvas. “Those who are not Bodhisattvas” refers to those who are neither lay people nor left-home people, and who do not understand the Buddhadharma. One should be kind and compassionate to them, in order to make them happy and alleviate their suffering.

He should take pity on such beings thinking, “Those who do not hear or believe thisDharma Flower Sutra suffer a great loss.” This is the greatest loss of all, because if you do not believe in the Dharma Flower Sutra you cannot become a Buddha. If you want to become a Buddha, you have to believe in the Dharma Flower Sutra.

He should think, “When I have gained the Buddha Way, I shall use expedients, the power of my Dhyana samadhi, the power of my wisdom, the power of my spiritual penetrations, and various other skill-in-means, to speak this Dharma for them. I will speak the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for these living beings so they may abide within it.” He wants to speak so that beings may obtain the wonderful advantages of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra and dwell in that wonderful state.

Those who study the Buddhadharma should day by day become more vigorous, more sincere, more compliant with the rules, and more intelligent. Today you should be smarter than yesterday, and tomorrow you should be smarter than today. Bit by bit you will gain genuine wisdom. If you want to gain genuine wisdom, you have to follow the rules and apply true effort. From now on, you should keep watching over yourselves. If you can look after yourself, then one day you are sure to have success.

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