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:

“Further, Manjushri, in the future ending age, when the Dharma is about to become extinct, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who receives, upholds, reads, or recites this Sutra should harbor no thoughts of envy, flattery, or deceit. He should also not ridicule or malign those who study the Buddha Way, nor should he seek their strengths or weaknesses. If there are Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, those who seek to be Hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, or those who seek the Bodhisattva Way, he should not torment them or cause them to have doubts by saying to them, “You are all very far from the Path, and you will never obtain the wisdom of all modes. Why not? Because you are careless and lax in the Way.” Further, he should not frivolously discuss the Dharma for the sake of argument.”

Outline:

G3. Happily-dwelling conduct of the mind
H1. Prose
I1. The statement
I2. The explanation
J1. The conduct of “stopping”
K1. Not being jealous and not flattering
K2. Not being scornful and not scolding
K3. Not making trouble
K4. Not contending or arguing


Commentary:

Further, Manjushri, in the future ending age, when the Dharma is about to become extinct, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who receives, upholds, reads, or recites this Sutra, the great Bodhisattva who, long after I have entered Nirvana, cultivates the Bodhisattva Way in the Dharma-ending Age, when the Dharma is about to perish, when people’s life spans are only twenty years, or fifteen years, or even as short as ten years, should harbor no thoughts of envy, flattery, or deceit. The person who is able to receive, uphold, read, and recite the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra should not have thoughts of envy or flattery. He should not ingratiate himself with rich people or be displeased when he sees the poor. Deceit refers to telling lies. To say nothing of acting out of jealousy, flattery or deceit, he should not even have such thoughts. He should not harbor thoughts of flattering rich people or scorning the poor.

He should also not ridicule or malign those who study the Buddha Way, speaking ill of them, praising some and denigrating others, nor should he seek their strengths or weaknesses. He should not accuse them of bowing to the Buddha and then beating their parents. He should not pick them apart or gossip about them.

If there are Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, those who seek to be Hearers, who cultivate the four truths, Pratyekabuddhas, who cultivate the twelve causes and conditions, or those who seek the Bodhisattva Way, those who cultivate the Six Perfections and myriad practices, he should not torment them. You must not trouble them or offend them or cause them to have doubts. If you cause them to become afflicted, they will give rise to doubts and will not be able to vigorously cultivate. How do you cause them to have doubts? By saying to them, “You are all very far from the Path. What cultivation do you have? You are way, way off. You will never succeed, and if you continue in this way, you will never obtain the wisdom of all modes.” “All wisdom” refers to the common truth. The “wisdom of modes” refers to the real truth. The “truth of the middle (Way)” is the truth of neither the common nor the real, and it is the wisdom of the Buddha. “Why not? Because you are careless and indolent. You do not want to work. You just want to take it easy and not follow the rules, and you are lax in the Way, sloppy in your cultivation. So you would not become a Buddha; you would not obtain the wisdom of all modes.”

Further, he should not frivolously discuss the Dharma, as if it were all a play or a joke, casually reciting his lines like a comic, using the Dharma as a joke or as topic for idle conversation. To “frivolously discuss” means to say things that are not based upon the truth. He should not do that for the sake of argument, deliberately misrepresenting the Dharma just to stir up an argument. When something is clearly in accord with the Buddhadharma, he argues that it is not. When a statement is obviously correct, he says that it is incorrect. He deliberately stirs up an argument and debates in a very unreasonable fashion. How should one act instead? One should avoid making people afflicted by saying things like, “You are so lazy, you will never become a Buddha.”

Sutra:

“He should give rise to thoughts of great compassion towards all living beings and think of all the Tathagatas as compassionate fathers, all Bodhisattvas as great Masters. Always he should deeply revere and pay respect to all the great Bodhisattvas of the ten directions. He should speak Dharma in equal measure for all living beings. In accord with Dharma, he should speak neither too much nor too little; even to those who deeply love the Dharma, he should not speak too much.”

Outline:

J2. The conduct of “contemplating”
K1. Thoughts of great compassion to counteract jealousy and deceit
K2. Thoughts of a kind father to counteract being scornful and scolding
K3. Thoughts of great masters to counteract trouble-making
K4. Speaking Dharma equally to counteract contention and arguing

Commentary:

He should give rise to thoughts of great compassion towards all living beings. He should always consider their great suffering and try to alleviate it, and think of all the Tathagatas as compassionate fathers, all Bodhisattvas as great Masters. We should think of all the Bodhisattvas as teachers in our cultivation, as kind teachers and skillful guides who can lead us on the path of cultivation. Always he should deeply revere and pay respect to all the great Bodhisattvas of the ten directions. He must be extremely sincere in making obeisance to all the Bodhisattvas.

He should speak Dharma in equal measure for all living beings. His teaching should be even-handed and he should not be partial, both in his compassion and in his teaching of the Dharma. In accord with Dharma, he should speak neither too much nor too little. He should not favor one with more Dharma and another with less. He should not pick and choose, speaking more Dharma to those who treat him with more respect and less to others. He should speak Dharma evenly to living beings regardless of how much respect they show him and how much faith they have. Even to those who deeply love the Dharma, he should not speak too much.

Sutra:


“Manjushri, in the future age, when the Dharma is about to become extinct, it will be impossible to trouble or confuse a Bodhisattva Mahasattva who has accomplished this third happily-dwelling conduct when he is speaking the Dharma. He shall gain good fellow students with whom he may read and recite this Sutra. Large assemblies will gather to listen to and accept it. Having heard it, they will uphold it; having upheld it, they will recite it; having recited it, they will be able to speak it; having spoken it, they will be able to write it out; to cause others to write it out; to make offerings to it; to revere, honor, and praise it.”

Outline:

J3. Conclusion regarding how to accomplish this conduct

Commentary:

Manjushri, in the future age, when the Dharma is about to become extinct, it will be impossible to trouble or confuse a Bodhisattva Mahasattva who has accomplished this third happily-dwelling conduct of the mind when he is speaking the Dharma, the Dharma Flower Sutra. While he is speaking, no one will be able to bother him or set him off course. That is because when he speaks the Dharma, all the Dharma-protecting gods, dragons and others of the eightfold division will come to protect him. Moreover, if in the past you did not bother others, now they will not come to bother you. He shall gain good fellow students, peers in cultivation, with whom he may read and recite this Sutra. You could say that all of us now studying the Dharma Flower Sutra have gained such good study companions. So we should not get angry at one another. We should respect one another. Large assemblies will gather to listen to and accept it. All of us have gathered here to read and recite the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Not only are all of us investigating this Sutra together, a great assembly has also come to hear the Sutra being lectured. Many people have come to listen.

Having heard it, they will uphold it. They will not just listen to the Dharma Flower Sutra and then forget it. They will reread and recite it, accept and uphold it. They will constantly uphold this Sutra and always study it. If one does not study it, then one cannot be considered to be constantly upholding it. Having upheld it for a long time, they will recite it from memory, without having to look at the Book. “Upholding” the Sutra means reading it from the book. “Reciting” it means reciting it from memory. Having recited it, they will be able to speak it; having spoken it, they will be able to write it out. It is not enough to just be able to lecture on the Sutra. One must also be able to write it out. This refers to the Five Kinds of Dharma Masters: those who (1) read, (2) recite, (3) receive and uphold, (4) write out, and (5) explain the Sutras. I once knew a Dharma Master named Ru Lian whose calligraphy was excellent. Everyday he sat in his room in full lotus and wrote out the Dharma Flower Sutra. It was later published. Previously he had been an official but later he left home and exclusively wrote out the Dharma Flower Sutra.

They will also be able to cause others to write it out; to make offerings to it; to revere, honor, and praise it. If one cannot write it out, one can ask others to write it out. After the Sutra is completely written out, one can bow to and revere it, praise it, make offerings to it, honor it, and recite it.

All the Buddhas, including Buddha Many Jewels, certify that the Dharma Flower Sutra is the most wonderful and inconceivable of dharmas. For every part of sincerity you bring, you will receive that much of a response. If you have ten parts sincerity, you will receive ten parts of benefit in response. You should not take it for granted and waste your time. It is inconceivable to be able to hear the Dharma Flower Sutra. Your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents never heard it, but you get to hear it. You have outdone your ancestors in this regard in terms of merit and virtue. This is an inconceivable state; do not think it is ordinary. Your study of the Buddhadharma now means that you have great good roots and virtuous practice.

* * * * * * * * * *

I have good news. Now, every night many people gather in this small Buddhahall and there is not enough room. It is standing room only. Every seat is filled and there are no empty seats. So we need to find a bigger place. Every evening all of you Bhikhus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas have been reciting the Great Compassion Mantra hoping to enlarge the lecture hall! You have been reciting for so many days, and I believe the hall will get bigger. How big? Large enough to hold four or five hundred people. I think it will happen this week! Is that wonderful or not? You would not think this little lecture hall could grow so large; wait until it happens and you will see it is really inconceivable. You can recite at home, too, to help the Buddhist Lecture Hall and the Sino-American Buddhist Association expand quickly. The bigger they get, the better. The more people the better. Then even when many people come, they will all have a place to sit.

At Putuo Mountain, the Great Hall in Puji Temple appears to be one size, not too big, but it expands to accommodate a thousand people, ten thousand people, or even a hundred thousand people, with more space remaining. This is an inconceivable jeweled hall. We want such a hall here, that will expand to fit exactly the number of people who come. If you do not believe we will have that here, just wait three years and see what happens. That is my true, real good news for the evening.

Some people think, “I will never believe it.” Wait until you see it happen. When it happens, you will believe in what you do not believe. If you have not seen it, if you do not believe it, there is nothing I can do to make you believe it. Once you see it for yourself, I would not have to convince you. It is not a question of believing or not believing it; it is a matter of waiting until you see it. Then you will know.

On January 1, 1968, the year of the first Summer Session, I said to someone—I do not know if he was a Buddhist disciple or a demon king’s disciple—I said, “A great lotus flower is about to bloom in American Buddhism.” “Really?” he asked. “Wait and see,” I said.

The Summer Session got underway, but he could not wait to see the lotus flower blossom. He ran off and never saw it.

Sutra:


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

“If one wishes to speak this Sutra
He should rid himself of envy, anger, and arrogance,
Flattery and deceitful thoughts.
His practice should be honest and straightforward;
He should not ridicule others
Or speak lightly of the Dharma,
Or cause others to have doubts
By telling them they shall not obtain Buddhahood.”

Outline:

H2. Verses
I1. The explanation in verses
J1. Verses about the conduct of “stopping”


Commentary:


At that time, the World Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha, wishing to restate his meaning, spoke verses, saying: If one wishes to speak this Sutra, if a great Bodhisattva who cultivates the Bodhisattva Path wishes to speak the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, he should rid himself of envy, anger, and arrogance; he should get rid of jealousy, anger and pride, flattery and deceitful thoughts. He should not flatter the rich or tell lies. He should not harbor such improper thoughts. His practice should be honest and straightforward in speech and action, not deceptive or crooked. The straight mind is the Bodhimandala.

He should not ridicule others,
make fun of them, look down on them, or speak lightly of the Dharma, or should he cause others to have doubts about the Buddha Way, by telling them they shall not obtain Buddhahood, by saying, “You would not become a Buddha. You are too lazy and sloppy.” You must not torment them in this way.

Sutra:

When this son of the Buddha speaks the Dharma,
He is ever gentle, agreeable and patient,
Compassionate towards all
And never slack in his efforts.
The great Bodhisattvas of the ten directions
Take pity on the multitudes and so practice the Way.
He should bring forth a heart of reverence,
Thinking, “These are my great teachers.”
With regard to all the Buddhas, World Honored Ones,
He should think of them as his supreme fathers.
He should break through all thoughts of arrogance
And then speak the Dharma without obstacle.

Outline:

J2. Verses about the conduct of “contemplating”


Commentary:

When this son of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva, speaks the Dharma, he is ever gentle, agreeable and patient, donning the Tathagata’s robe, compassionate towards all living beings, entering the Tathagata’s Room and never slack in his efforts.

The great Bodhisattvas of the ten directions take pity on the multitudes and so practice the
Bodhisattva Way. He should bring forth a heart of reverence towards the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas of the ten directions, thinking, “These are my great teachers.” What kind of contemplation does he make? He thinks of these Bodhisattvas as the very best teachers he can have. What about the Buddhas? With regard to all the Buddhas, World Honored Ones, he should think of them as his supreme fathers, his greatly compassionate fathers. He should break through all thoughts of arrogance and pride. And then speak the Dharma without obstacle. When he speaks any kind of Dharma, he should be free of obstructions.

Sutra:

Such is the third dharma
Which the wise ones should always guard.
With the single-minded happily-dwelling conduct,
One is revered by limitless multitudes.

Outline:

I2. Verses about how the conduct is accomplished

Commentary:


Such is the third dharma—the happily-dwelling conduct of the mind. It is a Dharma which the wise ones should always guard. Those with wisdom rely on these methods in their practice and protect the happily-dwelling conduct. With the single-minded cultivation of the happily-dwelling conduct, one is revered by limitless multitudes. Limitless living beings will revere and respect this Bodhisattva who cultivates the Bodhisattva Way.

End of Happily-dwelling Conduct of the Mind.

Sutra:

“Further, Manjushri, in the future Ending Age, when the Dharma is about to become extinct, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva who upholds the Dharma Flower Sutra, should give rise to thoughts of great kindness for those at home and those who have left home. He should give rise to thoughts of great compassion for those who are not Bodhisattvas.”

Outline:

G4. Happily-dwelling conduct of vows
H1. Prose
I1. The method used to achieve this conduct
J1. The statement
J2. The explanation
K1. Clarifying the realms that the vow affects


Commentary:


Shakyamuni Buddha continues speaking to Wonderfully Auspicious Bodhisattva: Further, Manjushri, in the future Ending Age when the Dharma is about to become extinct, The Bodhisattva Mahasattva who upholds the Dharma Flower Sutra should give rise to thoughts of great kindness for those at home, and those who have left home. Wonderfully Auspicious, if there is a great Bodhisattva who cultivates the Bodhisattva conduct and who receives, upholds, reads, and recites the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra in the Dharma-ending Age of the future, he should have thoughts of great kindness and compassion for Upasakas, Upasika, Bhikshus and Bhikshunis. Kindness makes living beings happy. He should give rise to thoughts of great compassion for those who are not Bodhisattvas. Towards those who are not Buddhist and even those who slander Buddhism, he feels great compassion. Compassion pulls beings out of suffering which they are undergoing because of the offenses they have committed.

Sutra:

“He should think, ‘People like this are missing a great deal. Although the Tathagata speaks the Dharma expediently and appropriately, they do not hear, know, or awaken to it. They do not inquire into it, believe it, or understand it.’ ”

Outline:

K2. Clarifying the reason for bringing forth the vow


Commentary:

He should contemplate and think in this way: “People like this are missing a great deal. The benefits they are missing are tremendous. They are taking the greatest loss. The Tathagata speaks the Dharma expediently and appropriately. According to the wishes and intent of the people he meets, the Buddha speaks the Dharma. If he meets a Great Vehicle person, he speaks the Dharma of the Great Vehicle. If he meets a Small Vehicle person, he speaks the Dharma of the Small Vehicle. As it is said,

The Buddha speaks the Dharma with one sound;
Living beings understand it according to their kind.

Living beings are different, yet, they all in their own way understand what a Buddha speaks. Although the Buddha speaks in that way, there are people with offenses who do not wish to study the Buddhadharma. They do not hear, know, or awaken to it. Why don’t they hear the Buddhadharma or know about it? Why don’t they study the Dharma or awawken to it?it is because they do not inquire into it, believe, or understand it. They do not understand and they do not ask questions from those who do understand. They do not believe and they have no intention of understanding the Buddhadharma. People like that suffer the greatest loss.

Sutra:

“Although these people do not inquire into, believe, or understand this Sutra, still, when I attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi, wherever they happen to be, I will use the power of spiritual penetrations and the power of wisdom to lead them to abide within this Dharma.”

Outline:

K3. Stating the vow itself


Commentary:

Although these people do not inquire into and ask about the wonderful principles of the Dharma Flower Sutra, or believe the wonderful principles of the Dharma Flower Sutra, or understand this Sutra, still, when I attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi,” vows the great Bodhisattva who is cultivating the Bodhisattva Way, “when I attain the Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment, wherever they happen to be, I will use the power of spiritual penetrations and the power of wisdom to lead them to abide within this Dharma.” I will welcome and lead those who do not ask, do not believe, and do not understand and enable them through the use of my spiritual powers and the strength of my wisdom to dwell in this wonderful Dharma.

Sutra:

“Manjushri, after the Nirvana of the Tathagata, the Bodhisattva, Mahasattva who accomplishes this, the fourth dharma, shall be free from error when he speaks this Dharma.”

Outline:

J3. Conclusion about how to accomplish the conduct
K1. Clarifying how one is free from error


Commentary:

Manjushri, after the Nirvana of the Tathagata, the Bodhisattva, Mahasattva who accomplishes this, the fourth dharma, happily-dwelling conduct of making vows, shall be free from error when he speaks this Dharma. When he has accomplished all four of the happily-dwelling conducts just explained, he will make no mistakes when he explains the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.

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