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 3: A Parable
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Sutra:

If there be those who hear it,
And rejoice, receiving it atop their crowns,
You should know that such people
Are Avaivartika.
Those who believe and accept
The Dharma of this Sutra,
These people have already seen
The Buddhas of the past,
Reverently making offerings,
And hearing this Dharma as well.
Those who are able
To believe what you say,
They then see me,
And they see you,
And also the Bhikshusangha,
As well as all the Bodhisattvas.
This Sutra of the Dharma Flower
Is spoken for those of profound wisdom;
When those of shallow understanding hear it,
Confused and deluded, they fail to understand it.
The Hearers, every one,
And the Pratyeka Buddhas,
Find the contents of this Sutra
Far beyond their powers.
You, Shariputra,
Gained entry to this Sutra
By means of faith.
How much the more so other Hearers.
Those Hearers,
Because of their faith in the Buddha’s words,
Comply with this Sutra.
But it’s beyond the range of their own wisdom.

Outline:

I2. The explanation.
J1. Explaining the effable and ineffable.


Commentary:

If there be those who hear it, and rejoice, receiving it atop their crowns. Shakyamuni Buddha says, “If there should be those who hear The Dharma Flower Sutra, and who rejoice, praise and receive it with great respect, you should know that such people are Avaivartika. Avaivartika means “non-retreating.” Those who believe in this Sutra have the resolve of a Bodhisattva and attain to the non-retreating position. They do not retreat to the Two Vehicles. They attain to non-retreating practice; they do not retreat to the status of a common person. They also attain to non-retreating thought, because their thought to cultivate the Great Vehicle never retreats.

Those who believe and accept the Dharma of this Sutra, these people have already seen the Buddhas of the past.
Those who believe and accept the Great Vehicle Dharma of The Dharma Flower Sutra have in past lives seen limitless Buddhas. Who are “these people”? If you believe in this Sutra, it is you. If I believe in it, it is me.

Reverently making offerings, and hearing this Dharma as well. This is like those of you who now hear this Sutra. In former lives you planted good roots. Consequently, now you can hear the Sutra. Take a look at how many people there are in the world. How many of them have heard The Dharma Flower Sutra? Are the numbers of those who have heard this Sutra in the majority, or are the numbers of those who have not heard it in the majority? You do not have to be a mathematician to figure it out. Those of you who have graduated from college should certainly have no trouble with such calculations, right?

Those who are able to believe what you say.
If people can believe in the doctrines of The Dharma Flower Sutra that you preach, they then see me, and they see you. This is Shakyamuni Buddha speaking of himself. “If you can believe in The Dharma Flower Sutra, then you see my complete body.” When Great Master Chih-che was reciting the twenty-third chapter of this Sutra, “The Events of the Past of Medicine King Bodhisattva,” he came to this line:

“This is called true vigor.
This is a true Dharma offering.”

As he read this line, he entered Samadhi. In Samadhi he saw Vulture Peak and the Dharma assembly there which had not yet dispersed. He then obtained the “Dharani of a single revolution,” and entered the Dharma Flower Samadhi, opening limitless, boundless wisdom. So you see, The Dharma Flower Sutra is especially wonderful. Shakyamuni Buddha says, “If you can believe and accept this Sutra, you are seeing me. And they see you too, Shariputra.”

And also the Bhikshusangha,
the assembly of great Bhikshus.

As well as all the Bodhisattvas.
Not only do they see the Bhikshus, but they see all the great Bodhisattvas in the Dharma Flower Assembly.

This Sutra of the Dharma Flower is spoken for those of profound wisdom;
only for those with genuine, profound Prajna wisdom. When those of shallow understanding hear it, confused and deluded, they fail to understand it. If stupid people hear it, they do not understand it. What qualifies one as “stupid”? People with big tempers are stupid. People with big tempers have the most ignorance. People with great ignorance are on fire all day long. If such people hear The Dharma Flower Sutra, they get angry! “What is this, anyway? What is this Dharma Flower Sutra? If you do not eat, will it make you full? Huh? You lecture on the Sutras all day long. Well, do not eat for a couple of days and we will see how hungry you get, okay?” Very wise, very wise…

The Hearers, every one, and the Pratyeka Buddhas, find the contents of this Sutra far beyond their powers.
Those of the Two Vehicles are incapable of propagating The Dharma Flower Sutra. They do not have that much power.

You, Shariputra, gained entry to this Sutra by means of faith.
You, the greatly wise Shariputra, you have the most lofty wisdom of all the Hearer disciples. You had to think about it. “I should believe this Sutra. I should not fail to believe in it.” Since you gained entry to this Sutra by means of faith, that implies that, in the beginning, you had doubts about it. If you had not had some doubts, you would not claim to have entered it by means of faith. You finally decided to believe it. Why? Because you have great wisdom. You truly believed the Sutra, without any doubt.

How much the more so other Hearers
who do not have as much wisdom as you do.

Those Hearers, because of their faith in the Buddha’s words, comply with this Sutra. But it’s beyond the range of their own wisdom.
It is not that they can understand it with their own wisdom. They basically do not have the wisdom to understand the doctrines of this Sutra. But because the Buddha spoke it, even though they do not understand it, they do not dare not believe it. They have got to believe it. The wisdomless Hearers do not dare doubt this Sutra. After all, the Buddha spoke it. Even though they do not understand it, they insist on believing it. This is a kind of mixed-up belief. Mixed-up as their belief may be, in the future they will come to understand. You should know that one is “mixed-up” because of ignorance. After one studies the Buddhadharma and comes to believe in it, then one would not be mixed-up anymore, one will give rise to wisdom.

Sutra:

Further, Shariputra
To the arrogant and lazy
And those who reckon the view of self,
Do not speak this Sutra.
Common folk of shallow understanding,
Deeply attached to the five desires,
Hearing it, will fail to understand;
Do not speak it to them, either.
If there be those who don’t believe,
And who slander this Sutra,
They thereby sever all
Worldly Buddha seeds.
Or if, with a scowl,
They harbor doubts and delusions
You should listen now,
As I speak of their offense-retribution:
Whether a Buddha is in the world,
Or has entered into Quiescence.
If there be those who slander
A Sutra such as this one,
Who, seeing others read or recite it,
Copy it out or uphold it,
Scorn, despise, hate and envy them,
And harbor grudges against them,
As to their offense retribution,
Listen now, once again:
These people at life’s end
Will enter the Avichi Hell
For an entire aeon.
At the aeon’s end, born there again,
In this way they will revolve,
Through uncountable aeons.
When they escape from the hells,
They shall take the bodies of animals,
Such as dogs or Yeh Kan,
Tall and emaciated,
Mottled, black and scabbed,
Repulsive to others.
Further, by human beings,
They will be hated and scorned;
Always suffering from hunger and thirst,
Their bones and flesh will be withered up.
During their lives they will be pricked by poisonous thorns;
When dead they will be buried under tiles and stones.
They suffer this offense retribution,
Because they have severed their Buddha seeds.
They may become camels
Or they may be born among asses,
Always carrying heavy burdens
And beaten with sticks and whips,
Thinking only of water and grass,
And knowing nothing else.
They suffer retribution such as this
Because of slandering this Sutra.
Some may become Yeh Kan,
Entering villages,
Their bodies covered with scabs and sores,
And also missing an eye,
Beaten and stoned
By young children,
Undergoing all this pain,
Even to the point of death.
Having died in this manner
They are then reborn as huge serpents,
Their bodies as long
As five hundred yojanas.
Deaf and stupid, without feet,
They writhe about on their stomachs,
Stung and eaten
By many small insects.
Undergoing suffering day and night
Without respite,
They suffer such retribution
For having slandered this Sutra.
If they become humans,
All their faculties are dim and dull.
They are squat, ugly, palsied, lame,
Blind, deaf and hunchbacked.
Whatever they may say,
People will not believe them.
Their breath ever stinking,
They will be possessed by ghosts,
Poor and lowly,
The servants of others,
Always sick and emaciated,
With no one to rely upon.
Although they may draw near to others,
Others will never think of them.
If they should gain something
They will quickly forget and lose it.
Should they study the ways of medicine,
Following the prescription to cure illness,
They will only make other’s illnesses worse.
Even to the point of death.
If they get sick themselves,
No one will try to save or cure them.
Although they take good medicine,
It will only increase their pains.
If they meet with rebellion,
They will be plundered and robbed.
People with such offenses,
Will perversely be subject to such misfortunes,
Offenders such as these
Will never see the Buddha,
The King among the sagely hosts,
Speaking the Dharma, teaching and transforming.
Offenders such as these
Will always be born in difficult circumstances.
Insane, deaf, with mind confused,
They will never hear the Dharma.
Throughout aeons as countless
As the Ganges river’s sands,
They will be born deaf and dumb,
With all their faculties incomplete;
They will always dwell in the hells,
Roaming there as if in pleasure gardens,
Or born in the other evil paths,
Which they will take as their house and home.
Among camels, asses, pigs and dogs--
These are the places they will walk,
They undergo such retribution,
Because of slandering this Sutra.
If they become humans,
They will be deaf, blind and dumb,
Poor and decrepit,
Yet adorning themselves therewith.
Swollen with water, or else dehydrated,
With scabs and boils,
And other such illnesses,
They will clothe themselves.
Their bodies will always stink
Of filth and impurity.
Deeply attached to the view of self,
Their hatred shall only increase.
Ablaze with sexual desire,
They are no different than birds or beasts.
They will suffer such retribution
For having slandered this Sutra.

Outline:

J2. Explaining when and where not to propagate the Sutra.
K1. The need for great compassion. Do not speak it to evil people.


Commentary:

Further, Shariputra, to the arrogant and lazy. As to arrogance, poor people are seldom afflicted with it. Rich people easily become arrogant. Prideful people think that no one is as good as they are. They treat everyone in a rude manner. Lazy people like to slack off. They are sloppy and indolent. They do not do any work at all, but feel that they are making great contributions and their hearts grow weary; they are not vigorous and they do not go forward. And those who reckon the view of self; they are conceited and lazy because their attachment to self is so deeply rooted. Do not speak this Sutra to them. Do not speak The Dharma Flower Sutra to people like this. Why not? If you speak it to them, they will not cultivate according to the doctrines expressed within it.

Common folk of shallow understanding.
Ordinary people have no wisdom. They are simple-minded. Deeply attached to the five desires. All they understand are wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep. These five are the five locks on the gates of the hells. If you commit offenses involving any one of these five, it is easy to fall into hell. If you are greedy for wealth, you will commit offenses. The same is true for sex, fame, food and sleep. If you sleep too much, you will become stupid. You should just eat until you are full and then stop; do not overeat. Do not crave the good food and keep eating and eating it. You will get sick if you do that. You can eat yourself into the hells, in fact. If you stuff yourself until there is no room, then the food will have to “move house”. If it does not move down and give you the runs, it will move up and you will vomit.

Now, if you fast for a few days, then when the fast is over, your desire for food may be extremely fierce. Everything looks delicious! Even the water is very sweet, to say nothing of the food. But you have to be careful then not to overeat, or drink more than you usually do. If you eat too much after a two or three week fast, it is very easy to ruin your intestines, to break them. Then you will have to go to a doctor. If the doctor is good, he can sew you up again. If you meet a bad doctor, he may just give you up as a hopeless case. Even if you do not break your intestines, it is easy to get diarrhea because of the changes in your digestion that has taken place during the fast. This all happens because you are not in control of your eating habits.

As to sleep: Young people like to sleep. When one reaches fifty or sixty, one is not that interested in sleeping anymore. But when you are young you cannot just let yourself sleep all you want to. If you do, you may sleep one day and still feel it is not enough, sleep for two days and it is still not enough…You can waste a lot of time that way. People who sleep too much get stupid. People are controlled by the five desires and turned upside-down by them. Therefore the text says, “deeply attached to the five desires.”

One can also explain the five desires as being sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, and dharmas. In general, do not be attached to the five desires.

Hearing it, will fail to understand;
because they are deeply attached to the five desires, when they hear The Dharma Flower Sutra, they will not understand it. “Hmm..” they say, “wealth is really fine. How can you say it is not good? Sex is not bad either; it is pretty wonderful, in fact. How can you explain the Sutra as saying that sex is no good?” they do not believe it. “Everybody likes fame,” they say. “Everybody likes the simple pleasure of eating good things. Sleep is not bad either. You say it is not right. I do not believe you.” Because they like these things, they disagree. Do not speak it to them, either. Do not speak the Sutra for people like that.

If there be those who don’t believe, and who slander this Sutra, they thereby sever all worldly Buddha seeds.
Severing one’s Buddha seeds means that their karmic offenses are deep and heavy indeed. In cutting off one’s Buddha seeds, the seeds of the hells arise. When the seeds of the hells arise, then one can fall into the hells. Why did I lecture The Shurangama Sutra before lecturing The Dharma Flower Sutra? The Shurangama Sutra is not as stern on this point. So whatever you do, take care not to slander The Dharma Flower Sutra,

Or if, with a scowl, they harbor doubts and delusions. A scowl means that you knit your eyebrows together in a frown. As soon as they hear the Sutra being lectured, they frown. Their eyes and their noses move together on their face to form a corporation. Why do they scowl? Because they have doubts and delusions. Perhaps in their hearts they object to the doctrines being spoken, thinking that they do not agree with them at all. “I really like these things and this person is saying that they are no good. This is just claptrap. What kind of Sutra lecturing is this, anyway? It is confused rubbish!” Their minds give rise to doubts.

You should listen now, as I speak of their offense-retribution.
Listen to what I tell you. As retribution for the offenses this person has committed, he is certain to fall into the hells, to undergo limitless and boundless suffering.

Whether a Buddha is in the world, or has entered into Quiescence. If there be those who slander a Sutra such as this one, who, seeing others read or recite it, copy it out or uphold it, scorn, despise, hate and envy them.
Whether or not the Buddha has entered Nirvana, if people slander this Sutra or slander those who recite and uphold it, they will certainly fall into the hells. If they say, “That is too superstitious. What is the use of reciting Sutras, anyway? If reciting Sutras enables one to end birth and death, then way back in the old days, what Sutra did they very first Buddha recite?” They seem to have some principle in their words, but actually they are just ridiculing those who recite the Sutras out of malice. They ridicule those who bow to Sutras even more. “Up and down, up and down…What are they doing? Senseless!!” They heap scorn upon them, despise, hate and envy them. Why? Because these people are different from them. They like to drink wine and take drugs. If you did that with them they would be happy. But they do not like to recite Sutras or cultivate. When people do that, they hate it. They get jealous and harbor grudges against them. For no reason at all, they hate you.

As to their offense retribution, listen now, once again: These people at life’s end will enter the Avichi Hell for an entire aeon.
They are certain to fall into the unspaced hells and will be there for an entire aeon. At the aeon’s end, born there again, in this way they will revolve, through uncountable aeons. They will be there for one whole great aeon and when that aeon is over they will be ping-ponged to another avichi hell to do it again. They will spin from hell to hell in this way for countless aeons.

When they escape from the hells, they shall take the bodies of animals.
One who slanders The Dharma Flower Sutra or who slanders those who read and recite it, will remain in the hells for countless kalpas. And what happens once they get out of the hells? They turn into animals! What kind of animals? Animals such as dogs or Yeh Kan, tall and emaciated, mottled, black and scabbed, repulsive to others. These animals live out in the wilds or atop tall trees. At night they roam in packs but during the day they hide. They have only one eye, too. Why are they born with only one eye? Because they looked down on the people who read, recited, and bowed to The Dharma Flower Sutra. They hated and envied them, so now they have only one eye. This is after they have escaped from the hells, mind you.

There is no flesh on the bodies of these dogs and yeh kan, and so they are as thin as sticks or firewood. They are spotted and black, covered with scabs that keep falling off and forming again without healing. Nobody wants to get near them. Actually, no one wants to get close to them because they stink. People who cultivate the twelve ascetic practices and who truly cultivate will always emit a fragrance from their bodies. Even their clothes will smell fragrant. They may look bad, wearing rags, so that no one will fall in love with them, but it is not because they do not smell good!

If you stank before you started cultivating, you will become fragrant after you have cultivated for awhile.

“Sure,” you say, “if you are in the Buddhahall all day where the incense is burning you will start to smell like the incense.”

Well, maybe. But if you truly cultivate, you yourself will emit a precept fragrance, a Samadhi fragrance, and a wisdom fragrance, as well as a liberation fragrance and a fragrance of the liberation of knowledge and vision. You will emit those five types of fragrance. If you truly practice the twelve ascetic practices, for sure you will emit a fragrant odor. You would not smell bad.

The animals mentioned here, on the other hand, had slandered the Triple Jewel and the Sutra and so they stink. Nobody wants to get near them.

Further, by human beings, they will be hated and scorned; everybody will hate them. Always suffering from hunger and thirst, their bones and flesh will be withered up. During their lives they will be pricked by poisonous thorns; when dead they will be buried under tiles and stones. Their lives are the epitome of suffering! Their deaths are filled with ignominy. They suffer this offense retribution, because they have severed their Buddha seeds. Because they have cut off their Buddha seeds and let the seeds of the hells start growing, they must suffer this retribution.

They may become camels or they may be born among asses, always carrying heavy burdens
on their backs, and beaten with sticks and whips by their owners. Thinking only of water and grass. All they think about is eating and drinking; and knowing nothing else. They suffer retribution such as this because of slandering this Sutra.

Some may become Yeh Kan.
They are even more cowardly than foxes. They have more doubts, too. In past lives, they looked down on those who read, recited and bowed to and lectured on The Dharma Flower Sutra. Entering villages, their bodies covered with scabs and sores, and also missing an eye, beaten and stoned by young children. Sometimes, when their karmic obstacles obstruct them, they go into human settlements. Why do they do this? Because they are sick and have nothing to eat. Because their brains get addled and they cannot think clearly, they go into town. The scabs itch terribly. When the children see a sick animal coming into town, they beat it with sticks or throw rocks at it. Undergoing all this pain, even to the point of death. They may hit it on the head with a large rock and kill it.

Having died in this manner they are then reborn as huge serpents, their bodies as long as five hundred yojanas. Deaf and stupid, without feet, they writhe about on their stomachs, stung and eaten by many small insects.
On the bodies of these huge snakes are many parasites. These bugs eat their flesh and blood so that they are undergoing suffering day and night without respite. The bugs eat them all day and all night too, to that they never get a break from their torment. Would you say that this was severe punishment or not? Why must they undergo it? They suffer such retribution for having slandered this Sutra, for slandering The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.

If they become humans, all their faculties are dim and dull.
If they should perhaps become human beings, their eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies and minds will all be dim and dull. Their arms and legs will be crippled. They would not be able to see or hear clearly. Their sense of taste will be blunted and their sense of touch inaccurate. Their minds will be extremely stupid. They may also be missing an arm or a leg. All their faculties do not listen to their instructions. They may tell their eyes to look at something but it will be five minutes before they get round to looking at it. The same goes for the ears and nose. This is because they are dim and dull. “Dim” means stupid and lacking wisdom. “Dull” means that they are very slow.

They are squat, ugly, palsied, lame, blind, deaf and hunchbacked.
Squat means that they are very short, maybe three feet tall and three feet wide, sort of like kumbhanda ghosts. Ugly means they are hideous. Not only are they very short, but they are horrible looking. Instead of two lips, for example, they might have four! Their lips might be split in the middle. One eye might be as big as a ball and the other as small as a soybean. How could they ever focus them? Palsied means that they do not have control of their limbs. They cannot stretch out their arms or legs or their back may be bent over like a bow ready to shoot an arrow. When you see people like this, you can know that limitless aeons in the past, they slandered The Dharma Flower Sutra. You should be able to recognize them. You would not need the penetration of other’s thoughts, the heavenly eye or the knowledge of past lives. You just need to remember that it said very clearly in The Dharma Flower Sutra that people like this have slandered this Sutra.

Whatever they may say, people will not believe them.
No one will even listen to them! When they talk, there will be an edge on their voice. They may sound like a dog barking. Their breath ever stinking, they will be possessed by ghosts, poor and lowly, the servants of others, always sick and emaciated, with no one to rely upon. This bad breath comes, first of all, because they slandered the Sutra. Secondly, it is because they are always sick and their digestion is poor. Whatever they eat fails to nourish them. Sometimes people may have bad breath when they are sick with a cold or the flu. Some people may have a kind of metallic energy which smells like bad breath but which they actually use to subdue heavenly demons and control those outside the Way. They are cultivators of the Secret School. If you always recite The Dharma Flower Sutra your breath will smell like a blue lotus flower. This is discussed later in the Sutra.

They will be possessed by ghosts, such as the kumbhanda ghosts and others, who will cause them to be afraid. Not only will they have all the above-mentioned problems, but they will also always be poor and have no money. Lowly means they will always do the lowliest type of work. They will be used as servants of others, doing their bidding. They will continually be sick and therefore extremely thin. They will have no one to help or protect them. No one will take care of them at all. If they die, even, their corpse will just lay there in the street for the dogs to eat. No one will pay the slightest bit of attention to it.

Although they may draw near to others, others will never think of them.
They have no one to care for them, so they may look for someone. They may draw near to someone, being very flattering and buttering them up, but no matter how nice they are to them, the person will pay no attention to them at all.

If they should gain something they will quickly forget and lose it.
If they study the Buddhadharma, and recite a Sutra, working very hard until they can remember it, as soon as they quit reciting it, they will forget it.

Should they study the ways of medicine; if they should learn to be doctors…

In Chinese medicine one speaks about the “four energies,” chill, heat for fever, warmth, and coolness. There is also neutral, drugs that do not incline towards warmth or coolness.

Chinese medicine also speaks of diagnosis by means of 1) looking, 2) hearing or smelling (the Chinese term means both), 3) asking, and 4) taking the pulse.

Those who truly understand the science of medicine do not need to do any more than take a good look at the color of the patient’s face to know where the sickness lies. It is said, “To be able to tell just by looking is called the spiritual method.” Hearing is called the sagely method. Perhaps they will listen to the sound of the patient’s voice or smell the patient’s breath. This is the way the sage does it. Asking and knowing is called work. They may ask the patient for symptoms such as, “Do you have a headache?” “No,” the patient may reply, “my stomach hurts.” Then they will know. Feeling the pulse and knowing is called using one’s craft. By feeling the pulse they can tell on which meridian the sickness is located. These are important principles in the study of medicine.

As to the pulse it may be 1) floating, 2) sinking, 3) slow, 4) fast, 5) slippery, 6) still, 7) hollow.

I have studied all the books on medicine, but I was afraid of “curing people to death” so I did not become a doctor.

That reminds me, however, of a story: One day King Yama got sick and wanted to find a doctor to cure him. He sent one of his ghosts to find a doctor. “Which doctor shall I get?” said the ghost. King Yama said, “Well, you are a ghost, so you can see ghosts. Take a look at the doctors’ doors and whichever doorway has the fewest ghosts hanging around it, ask that doctor to come. He is probably the best doctor because he will have cured the fewest people to death.”

The ghost went off and pounded the streets. At the door of every doctor there were many hateful ghosts shouting out things like, “You gave me the wrong prescription and cured me to death!” There were a lot of them. Finally, he reached one doctor’s door and saw only two ghosts there. He invited that doctor to go cure King Yama. King Yama asked him, “How long have you been practicing medicine?”

“I just started today.” he said.

King Yama groaned, “Oh, you started today and you already have two ghosts at your door! Good grief, I cannot use you for my doctor. I had better go find someone else.”

This goes to show you that, in China, doctors who use herbal medicines can cure non-fatal illnesses. If they are inept, then, even if the patient was supposed to get well, they would “cure them to death.” If one uses the wrong medicine, it is very easy to take a person’s life. This is especially true of Chinese herbal medicine. So the test says, “If they study the ways of medicine” to cure someone’s illnesses, they will cure one illness but another will take its place, or other illnesses will arise before the first one is cured until, finally the patient dies. Following the prescription to cure illness, they will only make other’s illnesses worse. Even to the point of death.

If they get sick themselves, no one will try to save or cure them. Although they take good medicine, it will only increase their pains.
If they get sick, no one will try to cure them. If they give themselves some kind of prescription, the sickness will get much worst.

If they meet with rebellion, they will be plundered and robbed.
If they encounter a time of social confusion and war, all these calamities will befall them. People with such offenses, will perversely be subject to such misfortunes, offenders such as these will never see the Buddha, the King among the sagely hosts, speaking the Dharma, teaching and transforming. The Buddha is the king among all the sages. He speaks all dharmas to teach living beings.

Offenders such as these will always be born in difficult circumstances.
Among the eight difficulties we find the difficulty of being born at a time when the Buddha is not in the world. Such offenders will not see the Buddha, hear the Dharma or meet up with the Sangha.

Insane, deaf, with mind confused, they will never hear the Dharma. Throughout aeons as countless as the Ganges river’s sands.
They are always plagued with insanity. They cannot hear and they are continually subject to mental disorders. They never get to hear the Buddhadharma. One who slanders The Dharma Flower Sutra will have no opportunity to hear the Dharma. Even if he does get to hear it, his mind would not be reliable. For example, people may come here to listen to the Sutra. They hear three or five sentences, they listen for three, five, ten or twenty minutes, and then they run off. Why do they run off? It is because their karmic obstacles are too weighty. Their offense karma is too deep. If you tell them to study something good, to investigate the Buddhadharma, their karmic obstacles will immediately arise and they will run off. Some people do not even understand Chinese, and right after the Chinese, they run off without even waiting for the English translation. You have seen many of these people. They run off because they do not have sufficient good roots; their offense-karma is too heavy. There is a verse which says,

If exhorted to do good, he says he has no money;
He has it, but not for that.
In an emergency, if he needs a hundred thousand,
He might not have it, but he will come up with it.

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