The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra
Chapter 14: Happily Dwelling Conduct
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
It is like a powerful
Who bestows rewards
Upon soldiers successful in battle:
Elephants, horses, carriages,
As well as fields, houses,
Villages, cities, and countries.
Or he may give clothing
Or various rare treasures,
Servants or other valuables,
Giving them joyfully.
Should there be a hero
Who can do difficult deeds,
The king will take from his top-knot
His bright pearl, and give it to him.
I2. Verses praising this Sutra
J1. General verses about the two analogies
It is like a powerful wheel-turning king who rewards his troops. A wheel-turning sage king has great power and awesome majesty. In this world there are four kinds of wheel-turning sage kings: Gold Wheel-turning sage kings, Silver Wheel-turning sage kings, Copper Wheel-turning sage kings, and Iron Wheel-turning sage kings.
Gold Wheel-turning sage kings rule over all four continents: Eastern Purvavideha, Southern Jambudvipa, Western Aparagodaniya, and Northern Uttarakuru.
Silver Wheel-turning sage kings rule over three continents: Eastern Purvavideha, Southern Jambudvipa, and Western Aparagodaniya.
Copper Wheel-turning sage kings rule over two continents: Eastern Purvavideha and Southern Jambudvipa. Iron Wheel-turning sage kings only rule over Southern Jambudvipa. Here, the Buddha is referring to a Gold Wheel-turning sage king who possesses seven treasures which are rare in the world.
It is he who bestows rewards upon soldiers successful in battle. The soldiers fought and triumphed over the rival countries, so he gives them all kinds of wealth and valuables, such as: elephants, horses, and carriages. These represent the Two Vehicles. Personal ornaments are Dharma-doors to be cultivated. He bestows these as well as fields and houses, which represent the powers of Samadhi and wisdom, respectively; villages which represent the first and second fruitions of sagehood; cities which represent the third fruition; and countries, which represent the fourth fruition.
Or he may give clothing, speaking for you the Dharma doors of being gentle and patient. He also gives various rare treasures, not one kind, but many, many kinds. If you list them, they include gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, red pearls, mother-of-pearl, and carnelian. However, every kind of gem is represented. He bestows servants upon them, which represent the function of spiritual penetrations. Therefore, you should not think that spiritual penetrations are highly unusual. From a Buddhist point of view, they are merely servants which you are free to use at will. If you have the penetration of the heavenly ear and you decide you want to listen in on others' conversations, you can know what they are saying from a long way off. The penetration acts as your servant. With the penetration of the heavenly eye you can take advantage of your power to see what people are doing even though you may be far away from them. With one look, you will know whether they are sleeping, eating, or what they are doing. The power is also like a servant. Your spiritual penetrations will do for you whatever it is in their power to do. He bestows these and other valuables, giving them joyfully. It makes him very happy to offer them to you.
Should there be a hero, a most courageous, invincible general who cannot be beaten in battle and who never fails to capture what he sets out to get, he will win no matter whom he goes to battle with. It does not matter what city he attacks, he will certainly conquer it. He is one who can do difficult deeds. He can do what others cannot do. Because he is so courageous and can defeat his adversaries, the king will take from his top-knot his bright pearl. When the Wheel-turning sage king regards this general, he realizes that no other gift would be adequate to equal the value of this man's contributions to his country, and so he takes the pearl from his cowl and gives it to him. He removes the bright pearl from his top-knot and bestows it upon this most heroic general. And now, the Dharma Flower Sutra is likened to that precious pearl. The Buddha speaks the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for living beings. He refrained from speaking it in the past, but now the time has come, so he is speaking the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
The Tathagata is also thus.
As king of all the Dharmas,
With patience, great power
And the precious store of wisdom,
With great kindness and compassion,
He transforms the world according to the Dharma.
He sees all people
Suffering pain and agony,
And battling with the demons.
For these living beings
He speaks various Dharmas.
Using great expedients,
He teaches them the Sutras.
Once he knows that living beings
Have become strong,
Then at the very end
He speaks the Dharma Flower for them.
This is like the king who unties his top-knot
And gives away his bright pearl.
Highest among the host of Sutras,
This Sutra is venerable.
I always guard and protect it,
And never speak it recklessly.
But now the time is exactly right
To speak it for all of you.
J2. General verses relating the analogies to the Dharma
The Tathagata is also thus. I, Shakyamuni Buddha, am like the Wheel-turning sage king who at last offers his crown jewel. The Buddha is the king of all the Dharmas and is at ease within the Dharmas, having obtained the wonderful function of unobstructed self-mastery.
He has patience, great power, and great awesome virtue. He has the precious store of wisdom. His wisdom is like a great treasure trove. With great kindness and compassion he bestows happiness and relieves beings of their suffering. He transforms the world according to Dharma. He teaches and transforms all living beings according to the Dharma.
If beings can be saved by someone in the body of a Buddha, he appears in the body of a Buddha and speaks Dharma for them. If beings can be saved by someone in the body of a Bodhisattva, he appears in the body of a Bodhisattva and speaks Dharma for them. The same applies to appearing in the body of a Pratyekabuddha, the body of One Enlightened by Conditions, the body of a Hearer, and so on. He manifests all kinds of bodies to teach living beings. This is how he “transforms the world according the Dharma.”
He observes the potentials and bestows the teaching,
Speaking the Dharma according to the person.
For example, if a particular living being is fond of eating, he will speak the Food Sutra to him. He will say, “Have some of this, it is good for you. If you are too fat, it will make you thin. If you are too skinny, it will make you fatter!”
“That is great!” says one person. “I am tired of being so fat and flabby. I will eat some of this food that will make me thinner.” So he eats up the Food Sutra that is spoken for him.
Another person says, “I am tired of being so skinny, I will eat some of this and put on a few pounds.”
This is the food of Dharma spoken by the Tathagata. You should not think that the expression “Dharma food” means real food! We say one takes Dhyana bliss as food and is filled with Dharma happiness, but that is just a figure of speech. Why is it that many of you can now eat only one meal a day? That is because you take Dhyana bliss as food and are filled with Dharma happiness. You eat a “Dharma meal” every evening. If you do not get enough today, tomorrow evening there will be another Dharma meal for you to eat. That is how the Buddha taught.
Other living beings may not care so much about food, but they like to sleep. Everyday they have to take a nap after lunch. The Buddha then speaks the Sleep Sutra for them. He says, “When you sleep, put your head to the south, your feet to the north, and lie on your right side. Place your right hand under your right cheek and your left hand on your left side. That is the “auspicious sleeping posture. You will have auspicious sleep and dreams and even auspicious waking hours.”
The person thinks, “Great! I will sleep that way,” and he enters the “sleeping samadhi.” Once he gains this samadhi, he wakes up and thinks, “I should not sleep so much It is not really very interesting.” He understands the Sleep Sutra and wakes up. But this is just an analogy. What is meant by “sleeping”? Entering samadhi is what is meant by sleeping. But actually, when you sleep, your head hangs down; whereas when you enter samadhi your head remains erect and your back straight. One is “in a state of unmoving suchness, clear and forever bright.” That is genuine sleep! Your kind of sleep is a false sleep; the sleep of the dead, not of the living. When you truly enter samadhi, you are lucid and clear.
If you can enter samadhi, you can shrink ten thousand years into the space of an instant, or you can stretch out an instant into ten thousand years. One thought is ten thousand years and ten thousand years are one thought. Would you say that was a long sleep or not?
“I do not get it,” you say.
Of course you do not get it. If you did you would be something else entirely!
The Buddha “transforms the world according to the Dharma,” speaking the Food Sutra to those who like to eat and the Sleep Sutra to those who like to sleep. For those who are greedy for money, he speaks the Wealth Sutra. The Buddha speaks the Wealth Sutra, the Form Sutra, the Fame Sutra, the Food Sutra, and the Sleep Sutra, depending on the listener's inclinations. That is known as transforming the world according to the Dharma.
He sees all people suffering pain and agony. He sees living beings attached to wealth, form, fame, food, and sleep, and undergoing all kinds of suffering because of their attachments. Those who are greedy for wealth are anxious and eager to get rich. They worry about it until they finally go out and steal or rob it. Then what? They are worried again! They have to guard it all the time. They are afraid that since they stole it from someone, someone will steal it from them. They cannot sleep day or night because they are watching their money. Wouldn't you call that an affliction?
Form, fame, food, and sleep are the same way. Before you get some, you worry about getting it. Once you have got some, you worry about losing it! Would you say that was a lot of trouble or not? They suffer from these kinds of pain and agony and start seeking liberation. After undergoing such suffering for a long time, they want to get free and not be attached anymore. They want to fly in the skies and travel through the earth, and so they start battling with the demons. They fight with the demons of affliction, the demons of death, the demons of karmic obstacles, the demons of greed, the demons of hatred, the demons of stupidity, the demons of pride, and the demons of doubt. They fight with the five poisons. The three poisons of greed, hatred, and stupidity expand into the five poisons of greed, hatred, stupidity, pride, and doubt. He defeats all of these demon kings.
For these living beings, he speaks various Dharmas. For those living beings who have gotten involved with demons, the Buddha speaks various Dharmas so that they can attain liberation. He does this by using great expedients. Expedients dharmas are used with no thought of self. For the sake of taking living beings across, one is even willing to descend into the hells. One wants to take on the sufferings of living beings oneself. Consider what Earth Store Bodhisattva does: he accompanies living beings who are in the hells, teaching and transforming them there. He is using great expedients.
He teaches them the Sutras. Shakyamuni Buddha sets forth the Three Storehouse teachings, the Vaipulya Sutras, and the Prajna Sutras. Once he knows that living beings have become strong and have benefitted from the Vaipulya teachings and the Prajna teachings, then at the very end, he speaks the Dharma Flower for them. The Buddha's final aim is to speak the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
This is like the wheel-turning sage king who unties his top-knot and gives away his bright pearl. He bestows the crown jewel upon his most meritorious general.
Highest among the host of Sutras, thisWonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is most venerable. It is unsurpassed, the most lofty of all the Sutras. I, Shakyamuni Buddha, always guard and protect it and never speak it recklessly. I never just casually speak it for people; I hold back from speaking the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for a long, long time.
But now the time is exactly right. It is neither too soon nor too late. It is the perfect moment to speak it for all of you. So now we are lecturing the Dharma Flower Sutra here at the Buddhist Lecture Hall, because it is just the time to lecture it.
* * * * * * * * * *
In this country, the first major lecture series I gave was on the Shurangama Sutra. The Shurangama Sutra is false. Why? People become dazed when they read it. They get confused, so they mistakenly think it is false. It is not really false. Even if it is true, if you think it is false, then it becomes false. If it is false, but you think it is true, then it becomes true. Why? Everything is made from the mind alone. True and false are merely discriminations made by your mind. It is people who make discriminations. What does it mean for the Sutra to be true or false? If it helps you, it is true. If it does not help you, it is false. If you benefit from it, then it is true. If you do not benefit from it, then it is false. True and falsity depends on you, not on the Sutra. We are lecturing the Dharma Flower Sutra, and it is true. If you do not understand it, even if it is true, it is of no use to you. If you understand it, then even if it were false, it would be of some use.
The second Sutra I am lecturing on is the Dharma Flower Sutra. The third Sutra I will lecture on will lecture on will be the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. “What about Earth Store Sutra and the Vajra Sutra that you have lectured?” you ask. Those are smaller Sutras. I am talking about the major Sutras.
Tomorrow is Great Strength Bodhisattva's birthday. Great Strength Bodhisattva is Amitabha Buddha's disciple in the Land of Ultimate Bliss in the West. Guanshiyin Bodhisattva stands on Amitabha's left, and Great Strength Bodhisattva stands on the right. When Amitabha Buddha retires, Guanyin Bodhisattva will take over as the teaching host of the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Then, when Guanyin Bodhisattva retires, Great Strength Bodhisattva will become the teaching host. The three of them are known as the three sages of the Western Paradise. Tomorrow and the day after we will recite Amitabha Buddha's name and in this way we will celebrate Great Strength Bodhisattva's birthday and also celebrate the Ullambana Dharma Assembly in order to rescue all living beings. We will recite the Ullambana Sutra and perhaps lecture on it as well.
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